Elizabeth Ann Walsh Fecht and her baby girl Florence.
The Sullivan Family: Father Dan, Betty, Florence, Helen Doris, Bernard, and Dan as a little boy. Photos courtesy of Dr. Dan Sullivan - Omaha, Nebraska 2008
A story about Florence Sullivan by her son Dan.
"I don't know if you recall, but all the Fecht siblings loved music, and they loved to fish. (Florence's brothers and sisters.)
On the west end of our farm, there was a large pond, and there was a huge catfish in the pond. Mom wanted desperately to catch that fish, but couldn't get a strong enough line that the fish wouldn't break it. Finally, she used a hay rope and caught the fish, but wasn't able to land it. The fish commenced to pull her boat around the pond so fast that it caught fire and burned. She was lucky to make it to shore.
Finally, in the drought of '36, the pond dried up and Dad rode by there on horseback and saw the fish flopping around in the mud. He threw a rope on it and drug it home, and Mom threw a pan of dishwater on it and revived it.
You know, catfish can live a while out of water, and that fish became adapted to the occasional pan of dishwater or the leavings from the dipper.
It got along fine and would drink milk with the cats in the evening. Mom said that was why they called them "catfish." Along in the fall, there came up a big rain and broke that drought, and the fish got caught in a low place in the lawn and drowned. He was a great pet for her until then, though.
A true story about Aunt Florence and a baby chicken.
Florence and her husband Dan lived out the retirement years in a small farm just outside of Corning, Iowa. The Corning Unified School bus stopped there to let off my cousin Dan Sullivan. On occasion, when my brother Bobby was coming into town, I would get off at the Sullivans and play, until Bob took me home in the evening. It was a great little farm (a big step up from the Bergman farm where we lived … it had food.) and I loved visiting there.
One afternoon, just as my brother Bob pulled up to the house, Aunt Florence showed me a soft, little yellow chick and asked if I would like to have it. It's mother had gone to fowl heaven.
She put it in a shoe box, the lid of which had holes punctured in it to allow the chick to breath.
When I got home, my mom Mildred Fecht was furious. "That Florence!" It seems that my dear Aunt had foisted off on her kinfolk the responsibility of raising an orphaned chick.
As dark approached, the question arose as to where the chick would sleep. My mother objected intensely that she was poor, but did not have to live with chickens in her house. The winds blew, storm clouds pushed about black thunder, Iowa.
So, mom relented and the chick, shoe box and all, was shoved under a wood stove.
That week we were obliged to give the chick a name. Dad said he/she should be called Henry. It was cast! Henryitis the chicken.
Henryitis grew into the very ugly thing. Pinfeathers made him/her look like something from a Jurasic cat fish pool. It followed my mother everwhere. In the garden it grew glorious red feathered and fat from the worms my mom dislodged planting carrots and rhubarb.
Alas winter promised to return and my mother announced that she and her kids were going to Omaha where there was something called food to be had.
Henryitis would have to stay.
We gave her (it was a her by this time) to Mrs. Bergman for save keeping.
That next spring, when we came from Omaha to visit Aunt Florence, Uncle Dan and their son Dan, Genevieve my sister saw Mrs. Bergman in Corning town. "How is Henryitis doing?"
"Oh" said the farm woman, "she was delicious."
A thought from Genevieve Rebbe
I loved her best of all my aunts. Warm and cuddly, she was sweet tempered too. When she visited my mom and dad at Lake Stevens maybe in the 1960s, she had just shampooed her hair when I came in, so I put her hair up in curlers.
When women fix each others hair or do the dishes together the talk and visiting among them is priceless. Young girls get all sorts of educating this way.
She and uncle Lawrence were our favorites as kids.