Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Niblets and Bits

Mildred Hovick Monge (1907-2003) - my aunt Mim - was talented, funny, smart, and loving. My mom's oldest sister, she was a pianist, organist, teacher, and family historian.

Her 1974 memoir, Remember, is a family treasure, telling the stories of generations as my family made its way across the ocean in the 1880's, ultimately settling in western Minnesota.

Ten years later, over the course of 1984-1990, she wrote what was to become Niblits and Bits, published when she was 83 years old. Unlike the epic scope of her earlier work, this was a collection of intimate stories. These are the tales of her childhood, growing up in and outside of the small town of Madison, Minnesota.

It gives a remarkable view of daily life in the early 1900's. Detailed descriptions of their homes and furnishings.

Sneaking off with a friend to investigate a nearby house under construction where she fell from the second floor to the cement slab of the basement - and walked away unscathed.

1918 was a big year. The dam at Big Stone Lake broke, flooding farm lands for miles. Mim, age eleven, had her first piano recital in a matter of days, but the farm was separated from town by a mile of open water. So my grandfather and his brothers fashioned a raft to ferry the budding pianist to her auspicious debut.

It was also that year that she and her sister Signe survived the Spanish Flu pandemic.

And there's one particular story about an old oil lamp. She was told that she could have a keepsake from the old family farm house, and she chose the oil lamp. And that lamp is now with me.

So here is Mildred's final collection of writings, available online.

From My Growing-Up Years
Mildred Ingeborg Hovick Monge

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