GRANDMA’S DIARIES • December 1954: Caring For Corky


Even though Grandma and Grandpa have a rough December caring for their aging German Shepherd, Corky, the month ends with a Christmas miracle.  Any who consider their pets as furry family members will understand how hard it is to watch them age and not be able to tell us where it hurts will also understand how Grandma and Grandpa feel. On the lighter side, we are introduced to a politician who celebrates his victory just a little bit too much and convinces Uncle George it is time to retire. Grandma attends all the Christmas programs that feature her grandchildren, but the program at the Butler Union Church stands out because little sister, Connie, and Tommy Anderson bring the house down with their antics. Happy holidays to all of you who enjoy the diaries and are warmed by the memories of our families, friends, and communities. Stay safe and cherish each other.

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 1954–Chilly. Connie swallowed a pin tonight according to Margaret while Merle and Margaret were at church. X-ray revealed nothing. We left home about 8 a.m. and drove to Wayne’s.  We four went to Springfield. Wayne took Carl to a garage where he made out his application for the car license. Wayne went to the State House where he stood in line for two hours before he could get both licenses. We ate dinner, shopped a bit, drove out to Sears and got home about 4 p.m. Corky is much more helpless. Sudden turn for the worse. We went to a call meeting at Methodist church at night. Everyone asked to go if they were at all interested in improving the churches.

Thursday, Dec. 2, 1954–Corky can’t even sit up for any length of time.

Friday, Dec. 3, 1954–Clear. I went quilting after dinner. Mrs. Robinson had invited the Helping Hand to come to her house to quilt. It is always so nice and warm there. We took Corky to Dr. Strattmier’s and left him. He can’t walk.

Saturday, Dec. 4, 1954–Carl finished the shelf in the bedroom. I must get a curtain. Went to Litchfield. We went to Litchfield after noon. I shopped until 3, and then we went after Corky. Doctor says he should be better by next Tuesday. He can’t stand up.

Sunday, Dec. 5, 1954–Wayne’s came while Linda and I were at Sunday School. Geraldine had peeled potatoes. The drop leaf on the table fell in Wayne’s lap spilling a cup of hot coffee on him. A Pyrex dish of carrot salad crashed to the floor making an uneatable mess. Wayne and Carl fixed the garage door, put a part of the TV wire up through the floor. Looks better. We went to Marian’s late p.m. Paul Skinn’s came, and they weighed the pups: Butchie, 28 pounds, Missis, 22 pounds.

Monday, Dec. 6, 1954–Clear. Wow! It is cold. I washed, and the clothes froze stiff. George and Fern (Best) came. I wasn’t looking for them for today. The new county officers were sworn in. Passoni for Christian County sheriff and Neely down here. Nolan in Christian County got so drunk he fell off a chair Sunday night. George had to take care of him. After working at the sheriff’s office seven years, George is through. Our pump in the cellar leaks from a hose connection. Carl and I hurried to Hillsboro to get six inches of hose. He couldn’t find any. His mistake. He was asking for three-quarter inch. Should have been one inch.

Tuesday, Dec. 7, 1954–Corky no better.

Wednesday, Dec. 8, 1954–Heavy mist, ice on pavement. We took Corky back to Dr. Strattmier’s, and he said we better leave him until Saturday. He thought perhaps the paralyzed condition might also have some effect on his kidneys and bowels which have not worked very good. The car skidded some, and Dr. Stratmier advised us to go home the Rocky Hollow road. We did. No slickness. The ice melted, and we went to the Watkins’ sale. Auctioneer could hardly get a bid on their red pullets. We bought 30 at $1.06 each. Mrs. Keith came while John went to ATA elections of officers. Besenthal’s house burned.

Thursday, Dec. 9, 1954–Cold. A bit of snow and ice last night. We culled our white hens again and took out 14 more. Some we left; I doubt if they ever lay. Mr. and Mrs. Grover Toberman came after two of them, $1 each. I got two pair of pajamas made for Linda’s doll by sewing after supper.

Saturday, Dec. 11, 1954–We went after Corky. Still helpless. Doctor is disappointed his treatment didn’t help apparently. Doctor thinks his trouble might he inherited-paralysis.

Monday, Dec. 13, 1954–Corky still eats good, but can only move one hind leg. The other three seem paralyzed. He can get up on his elbows by using his head to push.

Tuesday, Dec. 14, 1954–Didn’t get much done as I wanted to go to Home Bureau at Anna Neihaus’. I played the piano while Catherine Osborn and Mamie McCammon sang “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” We all took gifts for poor children. May be distributed by the Moose Lodge. Clara Cress cooked a meal in the oven, meat loaf, rice, tomatoes, apple pie. John Keith with help put the roof on his new shed. I ordered two pair white sox, .96 and two pair hose, $2.78 from Mrs. Charles Bradburn.

Wednesday, Dec. 15, 1954–Margie and the kiddies took us to Hillsboro at night. Carl stayed at Grover Toberman’s. We took Mrs. Toberman, and we went to Carole’s school program. Very good; 81 in the chorus. Carole sang with the alto section.

Thursday, Dec. 16, 1954–I washed, and then we went to Litchfield to shop and on to Dr. Strattmier’s. Doctor gave us more medicine, liquid which Corky likes and vitamins in powder from which he refuses to eat. We went to see Jimmy’s program at Butler. Very good. They used every scholar, 113 of them.

Friday, Dec. 17, 1954–Got my first pullet egg. The pullets are four months and 12 days old.

Saturday, Dec. 18, 1954–Snow enough to cover the ground. Snowed most of the day, fine and wet. Corky whined most of the night. I got up at six and ironed. We decided to call Dr. Strattmier and have him put Corky to sleep. Corky’s front legs and one hind leg are paralyzed. He still has a good appetite and drinks quantities of water. Lew Bueley killed by an auto. He used to always be Santa.

Sunday, Dec. 19, 1954–Dr. Strattmier came before noon. He took Corky home with him. He will give him a new medicine which had been tried for two years on nearly 1000 dogs. Doctor says Corky has the worst case of paralysis in a dog. The medicine is being used on some humans.

Tuesday, Dec. 21, 1954–Alberta’s box came today. She started it last Saturday. Quick work for Parcel Post. We went to Taylorville. I got a necklace for Carole. She wanted a basketball on the necklace, but I couldn’t find one. I took Linda’s last year’s doll home as I had pajamas, slip and a dress made for it.

Wednesday, Dec. 22, 1954–I dressed two hens, one for the Christmas dinner at Wayne’s. I cooked half the other one so Geraldine would have broth for gravy and dressing. We went to Wares Grove with Wayne’s to the Christmas program. Linda played two numbers on her accordion.

Thursday, Dec. 23, 1954–We went to Merle’s for a bar-b-que supper, pickles, olives and lemon pie. Later we opened the package from Alberta. She sent me a pretty blue snuggy, Carl, a plaid shirt, Carole, a scrapbook, Larry, a Papermate pencil, Linda, a sweater, Connie, pajamas. I gave Carole a necklace, Connie house slippers, Geraldine and Margie stationary, Jim jeans, Larry sox, Linda dresser set, Wayne cigarettes, Merle cigars. A phone call to Dr. Strattmier says Corky can use all four legs and can move some.

Friday, Dec. 24, 1954–We went to the Butler Union Christmas program. Connie and Tommy Anderson were to say a speech. Tommy backed as far away as possible. Connie shrugged her shoulders, spread her hands out and said she didn’t know her speech which brought down the house. Perletta Crawford married tonight.

Saturday, Dec. 25, 1954–Such a nice day. We went to Wayne’s for Christmas dinner. We had baked hen, dressing and other things for a very good dinner. Moray and Della Ward were the other visitors. Larry gave us a dressed, tame rabbit.

Thursday, Dec. 30, 1954–Mild. Mary Nimmons and I went to Leland Covers funeral, but few there. Mrs. Effie Cover, 82 looked feeble. We went out to Pat’s grocery for some groceries.

Friday, Dec. 31, 1954–We didn’t quilt. Mrs. Ione Streight gave up her chance to get a quilt so Mildred Taylor could have a quilt quilted for Marie who is getting married. The lining, cotton batts and thread hadn’t been bought, so we had no quilt to work on. I vacuumed the rug and cleaned up the house. Connie is coming to stay all night.

Carole (Best) Brown of Golconda provides Journal-News readers with this glimpse of the past from her grandmother, Mary Edith (Newport) Best, Butler farm wife. Carole may be reached at


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