Early Memories of Gladys (Quinn) Small




Small Early


The farmhouse in 1907

with Caroline Braden, Maud

Braden Quinn, Gladys, 2, and

Henry Quinn.

(From a written account by Gladys Quinn Small in the 1990s and a video

interview made by her granddaughter Sarah Sims Erwin in August 1993).

Transcribed and lightly edited by Marilyn Small Erwin, Gladys' daughter.

Please forgive typos and repetitions.)

I am Gladys Mary Frances Quinn Small. I was born

Thursday, September 21, 1905, to Maud Braden Quinn and

Henry Elvas Alvin Quinn at home in Raleigh, Illinois…back

in those days it was Box 14. The name Gladys was for

a friend who took care of my Mother; Mary was for my

Father's mother Mary Riegel, and Frances was for my

Mother's mother Caroline Frances Thomas Braden. I lived

in the farmhouse that my grandfather James A. Braden built

around 1880 with my Mother and Father and Grandmother


We had such a nice grove of trees in front that you

could hardly see the house from the road. My grandmother

had a nice fence with a gate in it for people to come in. My

grandfather James A. Braden was a deacon in the Bethel Creek Primitive

Baptist church and on Saturdays and Sundays, wagonloads

of people would park their wagons in front of the house in

the grove, tie up their horses (we had a well there for water),

and have their meals with my grandparents.

The farmhouse was built of new “green” wood (oak)

cut from the surrounding forests. A sawmill was brought in

and the logs were cut into boards right on the spot. The barn

was built at the same time.

My Father first went to work in the telephone business

in Indiana. Then he came back to the area and met my

Mother. He drove his horse and buggy over to date her. She

was the youngest of 11 children.

My Grandmother Braden died in this house and my

Grandfather too. He died of typhoid fever. My Grandmother

died several years later. She lived with my Father and

Mother till she died. It was customary that the youngest child

takes care of the mother.

Life on the farm was lonely for an only child. I had

two cousins across the road for 13 years. They, Bessie and

Homer Jones, were the children of Bill and Elvira Jones.

Aunt Elvira was one of Mother Maud's sisters; Uncle Bill was

a brother of Glen Jones' father John Jones.

Maud Braden Quinn

Gladys 1910

I remember many events. My parents started me on

piano at age 6. I remember the first big upright piano. We

had a stool to sit on for many years. Finally, the salesperson

brought out a bench. We used it as a coffee table in Chicago.

When I was 3 or 4, there were not many children in

the neighborhood. I visited the other farms in the area with

my little wagon with my toys… a teddy bear and dolls, and a

dog and cat that would follow along to see the neighbors. I

had a cousin across the road that played jazz on the piano. I

would stop there and listen to her play.

My music lessons were taken in Raleigh given by

Mr. Ed Mitchell on Wednesdays and Saturdays usually at 2

o'clock. I liked him. He had a talking parrot, loved roses, and

had lots of beautiful flowers. I don't remember when I started

driving a horse and buggy to Raleigh (about 3 1/2 miles).

The horses were Charley and Daisey.

Uncle Jim (Dad's help) lived in a log house northwest

of the house. His wife Mary, a kind person, had big living

room that served as bedroom with two double beds and a

huge fireplace and an upstairs. Uncle Jim was wonderful to

me. I followed him everyplace, they tell me. He always got

my horse and buggy ready to go for my music lessons. Dad

gave me the nickname Jim from Uncle Jim. On cold, chilly

rainy days, Uncle Jim would take me to Muggin Country one

room school with one teacher for all grades. He also called

for me at 4 o'clock.

In those days we had wood stoves. My parents would

have friends over in the evening to play cards and have

popcorn. They were usually my cousins that lived nearby,

and they would stay over night and I loved that. My parents

never worked on Sundays. We were not religious people

but they enjoyed the day off. When we went to church it was

to the primitive Baptist church and there's a cemetery there

where many of my relatives are buried.

On Sunday, I usually went to visit girlfriends. They tell

many stories of my playing with their toys, which I enjoyed

much more than my own. My folks took me many places in

the neighborhood. I have a memory of going to one of our

neighbors who had a little log house that had a big fireplace,

and I enjoyed seeing the big fireplace and all the kettles. I

would go in the afternoon with my dog. He wasn't on a leash;

he'd just follow along. He was a beautiful white dog. When

the mulberries were ripe, I'd climb the tree, sit on a limb, and

pick my mulberries. Usually there were so many birds that

would keep squalking and sometimes get very near to me

because I was picking the best berries.

During cold wintry days Dad took me on horseback on

his favorite pacer called Red. I got so I could ride her alone.

If Dad needed to meet and go to work in another town, he

would ride one of the horses, tie reins to saddle, turn them

around and they would come back home. The farm had lots

of animals, female horses, stud, hogs - male hogs, cows and

bull, geese, ducks, turkeys, chickens, guinea hens, roosted

on top of barn. If they heard or saw something unusual,

they would squawk and make a noise in the middle of the

night. The farmers liked to keep them for watch. They were

eatable, had to be shot as other birds.

Aunt Mary and Uncle Jim Lane were very much a

part of my childhood. There were no children my age out

here. The Lanes had a black mulberry tree in their backyard.

When they go ripe (black) in June or July, I would go climb

up in the tree and eat the berries. Frequently, the anxious

birds would bother me. I always took a medium size red

wagon, with my favorite dolls, stuffed animals, and bear.

The white bulldog followed me to every house. I visited

three houses at least once a week — the Lanes, Aunt

Elvira, Bessie (played jazz well), Homer and Uncle Bill if he

was around and the farmer tenant that lived in a log cabin.

Sometimes a family rented the five-room log cabin place. I

didn't seem to get to know any of them very well. They didn't

seem to want to play with the toys that I had.

My first spanking, which I still remember, was at

haying time. My Father had two or three men helping him

plus my Mother. They would bring the hay to the barn, which

had a pitchfork. My dad would load the pitchfork and my

Mother would drive the horse to lift the pitchfork up into the

barn. Someone in the barn would tell them when to drop the

hay in the loft on the top floor of the barn where it was stored

for the winter. They were very busy, and I was very impatient

but I took my dog and my toys and wanted the tongue of my

wagon to be extended to be much longer. I had my piece

of wood and my nails, and my wire. I was very impatient at

the gate and my Father came out to spank me for being so

impatient and told me to go back home and I went with my

animals and the dog following me. We never discussed it

afterward. I knew not to push too hard the next time.

There were many young men in this area that were

drafted for World War I. Dad was always able to get help with

harvesting or haying time. Labor was $1 to $3 per day. We

had to feed them a big meal at noontime. Uncle Homer was

one of them. He worked for Dad at busy times.

Where did we get our clothing? Mother Maud made

our everyday clothing as work clothes. She did not like

sewing. Our good dresses were made by a dressmaker

north of us in Hamilton County. She made a pretty black

long jacket suit with fur for Mother. She made pretty piano

recital dresses for me. Dad's suits, maybe one or two in his

lifetime, were gotten a Burnett's clothing store in Eldorado.

I am sure some of our clothing came from Sears Roebuck

& Co. I remember seeing packages from Sears. It was

usually yard goods to be used for underwear. The underwear

pants, vest, bras, slips were all made by hand. The material

was unbleached muslin. We women and girls all had fancy

camisole, loose fitting, with lace — some were used as

pants. Ruffles and lace for blouses worn with long full skirts,

I don't know about winter coats. I know we all had long


Raleigh had many stores at one time. The streets

were mud for a wagon and horses. We never went to town in

a wagon because it was not to be done especially if you had

a horse and buggy. At one time it had a bank, drug store,

two or three general stores, two or more ice cream parlors,

doctors' offices, hardware store, and blacksmith shop where

the horses had metal shoes put on their hooves. There was

a millinery shop where we bought hour hats, ribbon, flowers,

etc. She was a friendly lady and always tried to please me.

Her husband was the druggist. Mother Maud always kept me

dressed in my best. I was a tomboy at heart, not all feminine.

I remember my Father carrying me from my bed to my

cousin's home to the storm cellar if a storm was coming. We

were all afraid. Dad would carry me, maybe at midnight, to

wait the storm out. That was an experience I well remember.

The house was located in a grove of trees. I

remember playing under the trees in the grove with my dolls.

We always had homemade ice cream on Saturday evenings.

My grandmother lived with us. We enjoyed having her with

us and she was a big help. I was with her a lot as a baby.

Around six years old, my parents bought a large

upright piano. It was quite an occasion when a family bought

a piano. Shortly after that I started taking piano lessons. I

enjoyed it a lot. I never enjoyed performing, but just knowing

something about the music. My teacher insisted that I

subscribe to “Etude” and “Musician” magazines so I could

learn more about the history of the music because I was an

avid reader.

I took music lessons (in Raleigh) during the summer

twice a week on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.

I went by myself on Wednesdays. I drove the horse and

buggy. My Father would always be busy at being a brick

mason doing public work so he had a helper in Uncle Jim

Lane (he had a long beard and cut his hair once a year).

I got my nickname from him because I followed him every

place. He helped me with the horse and buggy. Charlie was

the horse I used with the buggy. They were breeding animals

and we always had little colts.

I'd go along the country dusty road to my music

lesson. We didn't have gravel or paved roads. I hitched the

horse to the hitching post near the music teacher's home

and go in and take my music lesson. I had a little purse I

always carried and my parents would give me ten pennies

and I'd stop in the general store and get a long piece of

chewing gum, and then I'd stop at the ice cream parlor and

sit at one of the round tables with the ice cream chairs. Then

I'd finish that and go get my horse and chew my gum and eat

my candy..

My Father, Henry, worked six days a week. I don't

think he worked on Sunday. We usually went to church,

had company, or went to visit friends. As long as my Mother

Maud lived, we went to Bethel Creek because all the sisters

had joined there. Grandfather James Braden was a deacon

in the Primitive Baptist Church. It was a Braden burial ground

many that are buried there are relatives. My Mother

Maud joined the church on her deathbed with no baptism or

immersed in pond.

Dad Henry went to the fields or public work to town

to work on a house, chimneys, anything that needed to be

done in using brick and mortar or concrete. In those days

they mixed their own and needed men to help called “hod


Most farm people were up by 4 a.m. They fed the

horses, milked the cows. My Mother would fix my Father's

dinner pail and he'd be off to do public work. Uncle Jim was

here by 6 a.m., and my Father could leave for his other work.

The farming was done on weekends and early mornings and

evenings before dark. My Mother helped with the farming

and worked alongside my Father. They loved each other

so much. She did a lot of the farm work and they got along

beautifully. They were frugal people and it was very difficult

making a living. It was normal for women to help with the


Any time you're on the farm there's always something

to be done. If there's a garden you have to tend it, if you

have a flower garden yard or house you have to keep that

going too. Now we have our cars and we can go to the store.

The Braden and Quinn families were probably mostly

laborers. Of my Father's Quinn brothers…one was a depot

master, one was a brick mason, my grandfather was a coal

miner, and the Bradens had 10 girls…one was a seamstress

and Aunt Dora could sew real well too. I wanted to be a

teacher or a nurse.

The women cleaned house, baked cake, etc. We

got the eggs together (from the chicken house), sometimes

taking three or four chickens to sell — to buy groceries. If

there were extra vegetables we sold them to stores. Mother

Maud and I would go to Raleigh to buy spices, materials to

make bread, some yard goods. Mother ordered most of our

yard goods (they referred to cloth or fabric as goods) from

Sears Roebuck and Co. The women had two and three sets

of clothing. ... one to work outside in the vegetable garden,

another to clean house or cook in, and the third for churchgoing

or visiting. The same with shoes. In wintertime we

stayed home and popped corn, made cracker jacks, made

candy, bought apples by the bushel or barrel.

We always had biscuit for breakfast. In the winter, we

always had cornbread three times a day. And dried beans.

We had a vegetable hill with turnips, cabbage, potatoes,

onions… That was a hole dug in the ground with straw in it

layered with sea grass bags over it and dirt on top. It kept

the vegetables …We would get into it several times a winter.

We always had a variety of food.

Once I forgot my fruit one morning on the way to

school and my Mother walked almost all the way to school

(about a mile and a half) to bring it to me. We had apples

and other fruits and she wanted me to have it! Those things

you don't forget.

During the warm weather, we would take our

featherbeds out on the upper porch for sleeping…my Mother,

my dad, and me.

My grandfather Bill Quinn came to visit with a crate

or box of oranges and a box of chocolate for me. He and

Grandmother Mary Riegel Quinn separated when Aunt Maud

(Dad's sister) was about 12. He would not support the family

of five. Grandfather went down in mine in the Eldorado area,

had a room and board with families that he got to know.

The church did not take much of our time as I was

growing up. My Father never worked on Sunday. I went to

many Sunday schools. If I was in Galatia and I was with my

friend Kathleen Ramsey, I went with her to the Presbyterian

class. Uncle Henry Riegel was our teacher. This was when I

was a teenager and got to know the young people in Galatia.

The years before my Mother died we usually went to

the Primitive Baptist at Bethel Creek. It was expected of the

family because it was our burial ground. If we had roses or

blooming flowers, they were taken and put on graves on May

30 or Memorial Day.

When I was growing up we were not always able to

give our Mother a gift (on Mother's Day). Aunt Dora (Kathryn

and Blondel's mother) didn't expect gifts. We went to church

and each one wore a white corsage if your mother had died.

If your mother was living, you wore a red corsage. It was

often a flower from our farmyard. After the service, we came

home, rode in the Allen car after about 1918, undressed, and

helped with dinner preparations. We always had chicken on


Neighbors were always very nice to me. I disliked

on Sundays when the young men would race their horses

up and down the road. They didn't have anything else to

do. They would take these horses that worked all week and

they would race them up and down the road. It was a typical

Sunday activity for them. I knew all of them, but had no

occasion to talk to them. I was just 9 or 10… A lot of them

rode horseback wherever they were going.

Muggin School 1918 Muggin School 1912

Gladys in a MugginSchool picture.

Age ten, 11, and 12 were fine … going to a

school called Muggin, but when I turned 13 it was most

difficult … a very sad time. It was a very bad winter when I

lost my Mother. She injured her body and death followed (in

January 1917). It made a big change in my life

My Mother had suggested on her deathbed that we

ask Aunt Dora, her sister, and her two girls, to come and

live with us. (they had been abandoned by husband and

father Guy Webb) Dad and I appreciated that. I had kept

house for about two months after she died. I had to learn to

make biscuits and do all the extra chores, and I wasn't quite

capable of doing it. My aunts Elvira, Stella and Ida helped

some too. But Aunt Dora came in about March. That created

quite a problem for me since I'd been an only child. My

Father helped me quite a bit. One morning before they came

to live with us, my Dad was at the cookstove and said to me,

“Well Jim, it's going to be a little difficult for you for a while,

but I'm sure we will find some happy times with it. Right now

it will have to be that way. We want you to go to school.”

So at 13, I acquired two stepsisters, Blondel and

Kathryn. My Father never adopted them, but he did the best

he could by giving them an education and keeping a home

for us. When I was at home, and Kathryn and Blondel were

here, we had strawberry patches, and even grew peanuts

here. We grew popcorn. My Father put in an apple orchard.

He had about 15 acres of red delicious and yellow delicious

apples, and pear and peach trees.

Blondel entered high school at Galatia. She went

in a horse and buggy and Kathryn and I went to Muggin

School. That year we did well. The second year of high

school I joined Blondel in Galatia. In the fall and spring we

went to school in the buggy, but in the winter we had a room

in a house in Galatia with bed and stove and cooked our

own meals and did our own shopping. Most of the food we

brought from home, canned peaches and canned meats.

The third year of high school in Galatia I lived with a friend,

Kathleen Ramsey, five days a week. I went home to the farm

on weekends.

Then when I became 17 I went to Benton High School

and went to live with my Father's brother and sister-in-law

who had invited me to come and be with them because we

had only a three-year high school in Galatia. I came home

often. I started learning the saxophone in the third year in

Galatia and played in the band and orchestra in Benton. I

enjoyed the music courses at Benton. After graduation from

Benton, my family thought I should go right on to Normal

School at Carbondale (now Southern Illinois University).

During the summers we often had excursions on the

railroad. Kathleen Ramsey asked me to go on a train trip

to Chicago to see a friend of hers, Miss Boyd in Cicero, Ill.,

who was a kindergarten teacher. I was anxious to meet her

and ask her for her recommendations. While there, I visited

Marshall Fields, the museum, and the Art Institute, and I was

attracted very much to Chicago. We arrived back home and

shortly after that I went to Carbondale and enrolled in their

program for education to be qualified to teach in one of our

small town schools.

I got the books for teaching from my cousin Blondel,

so I just followed in her footsteps. Katheryn did the same

thing. We met nice people in the teaching profession. My

Father was a big influence on me because we were the

closest. I also had lots of help from the relatives after my

Mother died.

In those days you didn't have to go to four years of

college to get a teaching certificate. At Carbondale, I joined

the only women's sorority they had. I lived in their house.

There were about 20 girls. I went to summer school too and

finished in a year and a half. I was able to get a teaching

job at the little mining town of Harco where there was a

five-room school with a principal and four teachers. I was in

charge of the kindergarten. I taught there for three years.

Harco Teachers - 1927 - Gladys Quinn is next to the Principal on the left, and her step-sister Blondel (Webb) Limerick, who taught Elementary School in Galatia for many years is on the far right.

I lived in a room over the Naugle Store in Harco and prepared

the evening meal for Cy and Justine Naugle..One fall we had

our teachers institute … We four teachers and principal went

as a group and sat in the assembly hall at the junior high

school in Harrisburg

“Hello, Miss Quinn, I would like you to meet my friend

Raymond Hawker. I see on your desk your name is Gladys

Quinn, Kindergarten teacher at Harco, Illinois Elementary

School,” (said the handsome Harrisburg High School teacher

Gilbert Small).

Mr. Hawker walked away and left us. I was at a loss

for words. We walked a short distance to the opening to

the auditorium at the Harrisburg Junior High School, down

the steps to the outside. In our walk to join my friends, Gil

asked if it would be possible to meet him here at 4 o'clock

that afternoon to find out how to get in touch with me. I had

to think fast. I was not driving. We smiled at each other and

walked away.

Practically every one had moved on to lunch. The

steps and street were empty. My friends, Helen Shafer, Iva

Malone, Carmen Stone, and I walked to Iva's car. I asked

the girls if they were in a hurry to get home. I told them Mr.

Small had asked to meet me here in front of the Junior High

School building at 4 o'clock. They all said, “Oh yes, we'll

stay and you meet him.” I was still in the dark as to what

his motive might be. We had lunch. I wondered what was

going on here. Had I done anything to provoke his desire?

I did not know him. I had noticed his programs in the paper.

Kate mentioned being in his presence in music groups. She

had been in Mr. Small's mixed quartet as one of the Indian

maidens in their spring operetta.

As usual we girls all tried to out dress each other. I

remember I wore a maroon colored dress and hat, dress

size 14. The Saline County Teachers Meeting took place in

September or October. The auditorium was large, probably

150 to 200 teachers. Mr. Small and fellow teachers were

seated on the east side of the auditorium. The lonely Harco

group of five or six teachers was seated on the last row of

the auditorium. My steady gentleman date on weekends

taught at Eldorado High School — math and coached

athletics as basketball. He was kind, played bridge well. I

had to be on my best game when we played auction bridge.

If I made a mistake, I heard about it as he was driving me


After our meeting, Mr. Small pursued me by calls

to Cy Naugle's store to try to make an arrangement for a

get together.” Our conversation was not at all satisfactory

because on my part there were several people in the store,

difficult to hear over the old box wall type telephone. He

wrote me several short letters. I never had time to answer

between preparing my schoolwork, dating Frank Allen

(Skeezil), and trying to figure out what to tell Skeezil. It was a

trying time. I remember it well. I never told any of my friends.

(I told myself), it will have to be my own big mistake.

Mr. Small had told me, it was difficult for us to see

each other. He didn't have a car. Mr. Small's friend Harry

Reed didn't have any interest in any of my friends. Finally,

he thought of meeting at the Harrisburg Country Club with

Harry Reed asking me and calling for me at Harco. Mr. Small

would ask Harry's colleague Wanda Jones Welsh of 1st

National Bank to be his date. We played bridge and talked.

All I can say of the evening is that Mr. Small like what he saw

in me. It was a chilly November evening in that large room.

He continued to call the Naugle Store to talk almost

every other day. Christmas came and, I finally wrote a short

letter. He told me he was going home to Chicago and would

make arrangements to have a car. While there his friend

Howard Crane promised to buy a car for him and drive it

down. Mr. Small sent me a box of candy in a sewing basket

to the farm. I kept it for years. I might still have it.

Sometime in January, Howard drove the car to

Harrisburg. As soon as possible, Mr. Small called to ask if it

would be all right to come out to see me. I was delighted. It

had been about a month. I had been seeing Skeezil but our

dates were not interesting any longer. I felt that a change

was coming, but still didn't know what Mr. Small's plan was.

I spent Christmas and a few days with Dad and Aunt

Dora. Kathryn was home. I did talk with sister Kathryn about

Mr. Small. I did tell her of our relationship. I was trying to

keep my love relation to myself. Gilbert and I knew we had

found our mate. And it wasn't going to be long before we

would be married! Silence to other friends and relatives!

I was frightened. A poor farm girl going to a salaried

professional life. I kept my sanity at all times. And I think I

came through it beautifully.

Gilbert and I spent practically every afternoon and

evening together after he got the car in early January, for at

least a week or more. I managed to write Skeezil a “Dear

John” letter. For a week I cried, wrote, trying to explain and

to be grateful to him for tolerating me. The letter closed that

chapter in my life. Gilbert and I were free to be together and

made necessary plans to be married.

Our backgrounds were so different! We spent much

of our time trying to sort out this relationship. Not once

did it flounder. Gilbert's goal was family, love, home, and

happiness. I fitted into all these categories. He wanted to

make me happy and I was anxious to see him happy.

One evening as we were driving back to Harco from

having dinner at Horning's Hotel, Gilbert stopped his car and

asked me to marry him. It was a mutual delight for each of

us. The moon lighted the fields and the telephone pole on

the right of the car. He got out of the car and said, “I must put

something here to remember this place. I think he found a

large stone.

We had been searching in our minds, something to

call the car. It had been helpful in our relationship. We had

been going out together every day since the car arrived.

We decided we should take sometime off to think this over.

It was decided that (we would take) a three-week period to

rejuvenate our tired bodies from all the excitement. There

was the name of the car, “Three Weeks.”

During the three-week period we tried to bring

ourselves back to civilization. Gilbert called Naugle Store at

least once a week. It always gave me a lift, to know that he


My friends, (Helen, Iva, and Carmen) and I had been

planning a trip to St. Louis since school started. The time

seemed to be right. We got together and went. We girls

had a lot of fun. None of the three suspected that I had

purchased my wedding dress. It was beige georgette with

lace trim, about size 10 or 12. I surprised myself. The price

was about $25. I thought it was pretty. I think it was worn

twice, and was quite dressy.

Around February 1, 1928, the three weeks was up.

We resumed normal dating weekends and Wednesday

evenings. [At about the same time, I came down with

chicken pox.] It was all over me. I wasn't too sick, but looked

terrible. Gilbert came out to see me bringing some popular

sheet music. Gilbert was surprised at my piano ability.

I shocked myself. Another plus for me. His singing was

beautiful. He sang as we were driving or out for a ride. It was


During this time, I tried to sort out my life. My family

had always been protective of me. Dad would say, “She is

worth a million, but couldn't get a dime.” During these weeks

I found time to write Dad and Aunt Dora. It was a letter that

talked about Gilbert. I explained that I wanted and felt was

time for me to get married and I did want a family. Gilbert and

I loved each other. [I told them that] we will call and come

over for you to meet. I remember, as if it had happened

yesterday. I drove Gilbert's car over the yellow clay roads.

The folks had a fire going in the stove in the parlor or south

room. I think we had kerosene lights. The electricity had

not come to us. I showed Gilbert the house. Aunt Dora had

cake and coffee for us. It was primitive — poor happy farm

family. Dad showed love for me by giving me a hug and kiss.

Gilbert kissed Aunt Dora. Gilbert asked permission to marry

me and told them we would probably live in Chicago, but we

would come home as often as possible. It had been a happy

meeting. Gilbert and I left feeling happy.

During the next six weeks, we saw each other on

weekends and Wednesday evenings. I continued to prepare

the food for the Naugles each evening. Gil came out for

dinner frequently, usually on a Wednesday. Our schoolwork

had been neglected and we needed to give some time to

meetings and preparation. The food I prepared was simple,

usually Justine made suggestions and I prepared whatever

they wanted. I was not a cook. I learned to cook after we

were married. Gilbert loved to eat and I had to learn and

adjust fast. The Naugle Store was open on Wednesday

evenings. Gilbert came early, had our dinner, and visited:

spending some time with music at the piano and his

singing and my playing piano as best I could. “Always” was

one popular tune at that time. A favorite of ours. He was

somewhat embarrassed to bring “The Song Has Ended,”

but we survived it by joking, etc. There are others that I'll list.

There was usually something going on at the high school

on Friday night. He came for me. And I was accepted by

his friends easily. My wardrobe (trousseau) was developing

each time I shopped at Friedman Dress Shop. I think she

was buying for me. The dresses were darling on me. I

weighed 113 pounds. Gilbert seemed to be pleased to

see me looking pert and cute. He the handsome, debonair


I was not accepted by everyone in the town of

Harrisburg (naturally). The high school seniors had their

priority, faculty members and friends. I was Gilbert's choice

and we were able to meet the criticism. We had not done

any wrong, held our heads high, and enjoyed every moment

of living. It was simple, two people who had fallen in LOVE.

I had not given the wedding date or marriage much

thought. The time, place, and how, evolved around his

Father's (Eugene Lester Small) March 17th birthday. Since

my heritage could be Irish — Mother Maud Braden Quinn

and dad Henry Quinn, I was labeled “My Wild Irish Rose,”

“My Irish Bride,” etc. I had always expected to be the brunt

of jokes, not at all serious. Keep my sense of humor, I tried.

Farmer's Daughter.

Another teacher's meeting included March 17, 1928.

It would be held at Carbondale, Illinois, in Shrock Auditorium.

Gilbert contacted his Father, brothers Ralph, Arthur (at that

time teaching in Culver, Indiana, at the boys' academy),

friends Howard Crane and voice teacher Estelle Pershing

and her husband Dave Pershing. He told me about writing

to see if all could give an evening to meeting his fiancÚ and

bride at parsonage of the Congregational Church in Chicago

Lawn in Chicago. Everyone wanted to be a part of the


The Secret Wedding Escape

We went by train to Chicago during the Carbondale

teachers' institute. He made all the plans. The train came

through Carbondale, but we drove to Effingham instead, left

the car there, and boarded the northbound train. He got me

a berth and I slept quite well, but who should peak in at me

to see if I was all right? I was.

The next morning we arrived about 7 a.m. We walked

from the station to State Street and had our breakfast,

checked in at the Stevens (now Hilton) Hotel and then we

picked up tickets to the matinee of “Desert Song” and from

there went by streetcar to lunch out to the Small home at

5832 Sawyer Ave. on the south side for a Chinese chop suey

lunch with his parents Eugene and Louise Pope Small, his

brothers Art, Ralph, and Sam, and Ralph's wife Helen (whom

I thought a great deal of). Then we went back downtown

to the theater to see the show. After changing clothes, Art

picked us up at the Stevens and took us to the parsonage of

the church in Chicago Lawn where they were members.

We were married in front of the fireplace with Art and

Elva as our “best couple” and joined by his parents, brother

Ralph and his wife Helen, stepbrother Sam, friends Howard

Crane, and Estelle and Dave Pershing. We all went back

to the house for a wedding supper prepared by Louise and

Helen. Dave Pershing sang “Because” and “Yours Truly” accompanied

by Helen on the piano. Around 11 we were given

lovely wedding gifts: silver from Art and Ralph, and a beautiful

linen tablecloth from Gilbert's parents..

We stayed back at the Stevens Hotel and left for

southern Illinois on Sunday morning around 8 a.m. Gilbert

got off the train in Urbana and greeted students he knew

who were attending the University of Illinois. We picked up

the car in Effingham.

It had rained and we were exhausted and he was

making a turn and the car slipped into a ditch. He had to go

to a nearby house to call a wrecker to get the car out. I was

in the car with the wedding gifts and hoping no one recognized

me. We went home to our own rooms so we could

keep our wedding secret.

It was, however, only about a week that we could

keep the secret. Then it was announced in the Harrisburg

Daily Register. We found an apartment and moved in together.

The students nicknamed it “blue heaven,” after the

popular song.

We spent the first summer in Chicago at the Small

home in their extra bedroom upstairs. We spent each

Sunday going to a well known church. Gil sang solos or

sang in a quartet. We had dinners with Helen and Ralph at

DeMet's and had delicious meals. Gil worked at Continental

Can while we were there for about two months. He helped

make cans for food.

Henry Quinn, 1929.

I did not have employement in Chicago but when

we returned to Harrisburg, Gil was asked by the assistantt

principal if I'd like to work half days at the public library.

I thought it was quite a compliment. We had enjoyable

evenings at the library. Gilbert would be doing work and

I'd be checking the books out. I believe it was about four

years. We belonged to a bridge club and enjoyed that every

Saturday nite. We had a series of little apartments. The next

two or three were furnished apartments and finally had a

nice place with the Perkins on the second floor. We had a

piano we bought at Lyon and Healy in Chicago and had it

sent down.

Gil wanted to teach in Chicago, so he took the

entrance exam that all teachers were required to take and

did real well. He was placed at Lakeview High School on

the north side. On the south side growing up, he attended

Lindbloom High School and grade school at Sawyer School.

His college degree was from the University of Chicago where

his brothers also went. He was quite musical and sang in the

university choir and was a soloist.

It was hard to leave southern Illinois. My Father

hated to see us go. We had spent a lot of time on Sundays

with them. Gil sang in the choir at the Methodist church,

and afterwards we would change clothes and go out to the

country for a wonderful chicken dinner or pork chops and all

the fixings. Blondel and Kathryn and their husbands would

always be there. We would miss coming out to the farm for

these gatherings.

We drove our car to Chicago and found a two room

place. It was all we could afford. It was located at 916

(Dakin?) Street on the north side and had a dinette and

kitchen and our bedroom was a sort of pull down bed in a

closet in the living room. We had our piano sent up from

Harrisburg and had dishes and kitchen equipment we could

use. We had to buy as we went along.

The Depression hit us and taxes were not collected

for the teachers salaries, so we were not paid. The building

owner did not charge us rent for about a year and a half,

and when Gil received a lump sum, we were able to pay him


We had to sell our car, so we took the train back down

to visit my family during the summer. Every summer we'd be

at the farm for a month or six weeks. Gilbert helped screen

in the front porch for comfortable sleeping on warm nights.

... Thus, the country girl made her home in the big city with

her handsome husband and began another chapter in her

long life The story continues in numerous family scrapbooks.

The above photo was taken in 1936 on the farm. Gladys passed away at age 102 on May 26, 2008.

  Email Marilyn Erwin