Remembering Joseph (1904 - 1978) and Susan Lappe Nieland (1906 - 1995)

— as told by Lorraine Nieland Starman to Kay Davis, November 4, 2001

Mom [Susan Lappe Nieland] kept a good many things. She still had a copy of the new furniture she purchased for her dowry for the house on the farm. [The furniture] was delivered the spring after they were married. She was also given a piano for a wedding gift from her mother. Mom worked for the Holley Music Co. in Carroll demonstrating sheet music of popular pieces of the time. She moved in with dad, grandpa, grandma, Louis, and Herman [Henry Nieland, Anna (Koster) Nieland, Louis and Herman Nieland] when she and dad were married in August of 1926. Grandpa and grandma moved to town the following spring but Louis and Herman did not, so mom had 3 men to cook, launder and clean for as a bride. Mom had Dad put a house fence with a gate in front (south) and in back, probably when I came along and started to be outside by myself.

Mom had a very nice lawn. There were good shade trees in the yard besides the grove on the north and west sides of the farmhouse. The house had a living room (parlor), dining room, bedroom, kitchen and pantry and an enclosed back porch where she used to do her washing in summer. In the winter she would bring the machine into the kitchen at night to warm it up. It ran on direct electric current from a Delco plant in what had been grandma's wash house north of the house, outside the fence. Upstairs there were 4 bedrooms with one open room where we kept our toys. Dad said it was so cold in the room he slept in that there was frost on the blankets in the morning when he would wake up in the winter.

— as told by Lorraine Nieland Starmanto Kay Davis, November 16, 2001

I can tell you a great deal about my mother as I was the eldest and only child until Denny and Marilyn came along. She is 11 years younger than I am. Dad used to read the Des Moines Register funny pager to me and there was a cartoon character called Skippy. I wanted Mom and Dad to call Denny that but they didn't.

My Grandmother Lappe [Margaret] went to Chicago with Kate Hoffman to a Congress (Continental or Eucharistic?). While Grandma Lappe was in Chicago she purchased clipped velvet material for my mother's wedding dress and then she made it. Mom saved a piece and I still have it. Mom died the dress black after the wedding and wore it as a party dress. They went to many ballroom dances and were married two years before I was born.

Grandma Lappe was an excellent seamstress. My mother was good at it too because she took a tailoring course. Mom had to sew my high school uniform blouse, which was white and had long sleeves. I was so tall for that time 5'8" and with long arms. After Mom and Dad separated she worked in a tailoring shop for a while. Before she was married, she worked as a clerk in a ladies dress shop. She also demonstrated sheet music by playing the songs on the piano in the music store. She loved to dance and one year she told me she and her friend Adelade went to every weekly dance at the Roof Garden in Carroll. I think that is were she met Dad.

Mom was given a large dowry when she married and with it she bought the furniture for the house. It was all Queen Anne style, including a 3-piece living room set, a library table and a floor lamp with a fringe on it. Also a wool room size rug for the floor. The dining room was furnished with a table, six chairs, a buffet and a china cabinet. The bedroom had a bow end bed, a chest of drawers and a vanity with a bench with a cane seat. For the kitchen she bought a table and 4 chairs, a kitchen cabinet, the kind you see in antique stores now. I think it's called a Hoosier Cabinet. She also bought a cook stove.

Mom was a good gardener and Grandpa Nieland used to come out and help her garden. She spoke High German and he spoke Low German, but they were able to communicate anyway and of course they both spoke English. Until WWII the children were taught in German at Sts. Peter & Paul School in Carroll where she went to school. Her First Communion prayer book is in German. The government stopped them from using German due to war with Germany.

Mom was petite and liked nice things. Her father [Joseph J. Lappe] died at the age of 39 in 1917. Then Grandma Lappe bought a lot in town, built a large, 4 bedroom foursquare house on it and bought the lot next to it for a garden, moved her five children into it and rented out the farms she and Grandpa had purchased. Grandma Lappe had chickens and kept a milk cow on the edge of town. Mom said she would milk it in the morning and Grandma would do it in the evenings. My mom was the eldest and she was 11 years old when her father died. Aunt Irene [Lappe] was the baby and she was 1 year old. There was another daughter, Florence, and two sons, Anton and Nicholas [Lappe]. Grandma was the most easy going person and so kind and generous. She took in sick family members when they had no one to care for them. She took in Mom and we three kids when Mom and Dad separated for the final time and bought acreage for us to live on. Mom planted a huge garden and Grandma gave her chickens so she could supply both houses with eggs and sell what was left. My mom was a wonderful woman and mother to me.

— as told by Lorraine Nieland Starman to Kay Davis, November 17, 2001

I remember so many good times at Grandma Lappe's house as I was growing up. It was a special place to me. Aunt Flossie who never married loved to entertain Grandma's neighbor kids and me. She would have tea parties for us and birthday parties for me. She never worked outside the home but lived her whole life with Grandma.

Once when I got up from a nap upstairs a traveling photographer from Chicago was there to take my picture. He said "comb your face and wash your hair," I suppose to get me in a good mood and laugh. I have the picture that Mom got then. I am sitting on grandma's piano bench with one leg under me and my wavy hair just so.

My Mother was given a player piano as a wedding gift from Grandma Lappe and I took lessons from the sister at St. Bernard's Convent. Mom was a good player and used to play a song called "The Edelweiss Glide" and it was very difficult. I never reached that achievement. My daughter Deborah [(Starman) Kelleher] is a good player and has played the organ for church choirs was well as accompany her students at Corpus Christi Catholic School in Fort Dodge, where she teaches. My granddaughter [Sarah Kelleher] plays piano, keyboard, horn and bass guitar. She received a full music scholarship to the Community College in Ft. Dodge. She is working in Minneapolis and hoping to go to a music production school there.

Mom left Dad when I was in the 3rd grade and she and Denny and I lived at Grandma's for a year and I went to Sts. Peter and Paul grade school. Denny was 3. I got the mumps that year on both sides and Irene said I looked like Kate Smith, who was a popular singer of the time. She painted my nails with polish. Funny how you remember the many trivial things.

Dad came many times to visit and in the spring took us on rides. Dad was a good singer, was in choir, and I remember singing with him on the way to school. I too sing in choir, Community Chorus, have done some solos in church, lead singing at Church Women United and sang "Second Hand Rose" at a camp convention in Mt. Pleasant Iowa. I am a member of a little theater group and have performed in "My Fair Lady", "Anything Goes", "Dolly" and other little things. I am a bit of a "ham" and like a good time.

— as told by Loretta Voss Schaefer to Kay Davis, November 17, 2001

Your letter brought back some memories I'd forgotten. One was of Lorraine Nieland. Her dad and mom, Joe and Susan [(Lappe) Nieland] came to Oklahoma to visit and Lorraine is near my age so we played together. She was so much fun. She had a brother, Dennis, I think. Joe Nieland used to come to Oklahoma after his divorce many times to see Grandmother Mueggenborg [Margaret Nieland]. She had such a soft spot for him. I know Gran always considered Susan one of her favorite people, long after she and Joe were apart.

— as told by Lorraine Nieland Starman to Kay Davis , November 19, 2001

Now I will tell you what we found in grandpa's attic when the electricians rewired the house for REA power. I asked Denny if I could boost him up through the hole in the storeroom ceiling where the electricians were working so he could look to see if there were anything up there. He was so excited when he saw a good-sized box. I asked him to drag it to the opening and maybe we could bring it down. So he did and when we got it in the room we saw that it was a brown, tin, upright box with part of the top hinged. We lifted up the lid and found women's clothes in it. As I remember there was a white, cotton skirt in 3 ruffled layers, a gold colored dress with pretty gold glass buttons, and a couple of what my grandmother called "waists" and we would call blouses. I really loved those things and would dress up in them.

— as told by Lorraine Nieland Starman to Kay Davis to Kay Davis, November 24, 2001

Yes, we girls [Lorraine and Marilyn] do have a completely different outlook. I was raised in affluence with beautiful clothes, fur trim on my coats, birthday parties at Breda and at Grandma Lappe's home in Carroll with her neighbor girls and all the good food that I wanted....

...Mom made bread and she was a good cook and really stretched a dollar. She kept a record of every cent she spent, even when she bought a 3-cent stamp. She had numerous books she kept with figures until she went to the nursing home. Marilyn had them for a while and then she gave them to me. I kept them for a number of years in mom's suitcase and finally this Spring I disposed of them.

In 1951 Grandma Lappe decided to sell the farms and divide the money between herself and her children. Mom used her share to build a new house on a lot right behind grandma's house and then mom worked at the hospital. I lived at home from 1947 after getting out of The Iowa School of Beauty culture and 1950 when I married Tony [Starman]. I made sure Marilyn got to be a Brownie and Girl Scout. My grandmother bought the acreage and we lived on it free till she sold it too and divided the money. The rest of the land (pasture) she sold to a developer. Uncle Nick [Lappe] bought the home place near Carroll and Uncle Tony (Lappe) bought the one at Lanesboro.


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