The Day Aunt Georgia Was Born

25 Oct

The Day Aunt Georgia Was Born[1]

July 5, 1918, would be a typical hot July day in Ohio.  The temperature would crest somewhere in the mid-90s which would be about fifteen degrees hotter than the average (Midwestern Regional Climate Center, 1918).  Although there was no rain in the forecast, the humidity would make the air hang heavy. (I imagine a truly uncomfortable day.  No electric fans.  No air-conditioning.)

The Federal Census indicates that Grandfather was a farmer (1910).  It must have been getting time for wheat harvest.  I don’t know whether Grandfather harvested alone, had hired help, or whether harvest was a community effort.  I don’t know whether Grandfather had access to a thresher that would cut the wheat and separate the grain from the straw or whether he still had to cut the wheat either by hand and form it into shocks or mechanically with something like a McCormick Deering binder (Flegel, n.d.) that would do the cutting and shocking in one operation.

However, on this particular day Grandfather had other things on his mind; his 35-year-old wife was in labor with his fifth child.

Grandfather decided to get the other four children out from under foot.  Dorothy, my mother, was the eldest; she was 13.  Alta was seven.  Lillian was five.  And Willis was three.

He loaded the children into “the machine”[2] or what we would call an automobile.  I don’t know what kind of “machine” that he had.  However, it didn’t have an electric starter; it had to be cranked.  He plopped Dorothy behind the steering wheel. Cranked “the machine” to get it started and told Dorothy to take the children swimming in Deshler which was about nine miles away.  Perhaps he gave her a picnic lunch to take along.  He told her that someone in Deshler would start “the machine” for her when it was time to come home.  It was after six in the evening when Dorothy returned home with her entourage to discover a new baby sister — Georgia.

Here’s the Smith Clan: back row from left to right – Alta, Dorothy, Lillian, and Georgia; front row – Estella, Willis, C. Earl.  (I don’t know the date of this photograph.)

Smith Clan 3


Flegel, A. E. (n.d.). Binding, Shocking, Heading and Threshing Wheat in Kansas. Retrieved from Germans from Russia Heritaage Collection:

Midwestern Regional Climate Center. (1918, July 5). The weather on the day Georgia Smith was born. Retrieved from What was the weather like on the day you were born?:

The United States Federal Census. (1910). United States Federal Census. Retrieved from

[1] Mother told me this story when she was in the nursing home.  I don’t know whether all of this is true or not.  I’d like to think that there is a kernel of truth in this story.

[2] “The machine” was Grandfather’s term for the automobile.  I remember that they had a black and white Mercury Monterey or Custom in the 1950s.  Grandfather always spoke about taking “the machine” and going somewhere.


One Response to “The Day Aunt Georgia Was Born”

  1. RACHEL April 22, 2016 at 12:10 am #

    I’ve always been very fond of the name Alta. Amazing story of the children going to the swimming pool to relieve mother of the children.


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