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The Aldriches on Helena Street

All of the pictures on these two pages were taken while they lived on Helena Street in West De Pere, Wisconsin.  Alma was already married then, but lived nearby and came over to visit often.  The pictures on this page were taken about 1922 and 1923.

UPPER LEFT:  Estella Aldrich dons another of her fancy hats.  This one is different from all the others in her previous hat pictures.  She certainly loved wearing hats and they were quite stylish in that day and age.

LOWER LEFT:  Alma comes to visit with her two oldest children, Eunice (left) and George Melvin (in arms).  Melvin was born in March of 1922 so this must have been taken later that summer or in the fall of that year.

LOWER CENTER:  Emma affectionately wraps her arms around her children on this mild winter day as she sports a fashionable hat and coat.  Although her budget was terribly lean, she loved to dress nicely when she went out.  perhaps they were dressed for church that day.  Several of her sisters would often box up their children’s outgrown clothes and send them to her so, although she didn’t  have much money, she could usually dress her children well in spite of their poverty.  She also received some hand-me-downs from other relatives and friends and she shopped at rummage sales to get a few good things for herself, too.  Left to right in this picture are Cecil, Delbert, Emma and Harold.  Probably taken in the winter or spring of 1923.

LOWER RIGHT:  Estella wears the same open coat as in the top left picture but without the hat.  This shot was taken the same day as the one to the left with her mother and younger siblings.   The pattern of the melting snow on the rooftops is identical in both pictures.  She and her mother, Emma, must have taken turns being the photographer.

Alma and Stella, Good Sisters and Good Friends

The Aldrich Girls were good friends as well as sisters.  In fact, all of Emma’s children kept in touch and enjoyed socializing together as they grew older and had their own families.  Family members were always among their main social contacts.  In this picture, Alma and Stella sit on a huge stump in front of the Helena Street house.  One wonders if it was the same stump that Emma used as a chopping block for her chickens in earlier years.  The two sisters are having a good, belly-ripping laugh together.  It’s fun to see them this relaxed because they were both usually rather subdued when their picture was being taken.  Estella was an especially reserved and shy person.  This picture was probably taken in 1924 after Alma had Wilbert, her third child.  Alma is on the left and Estella on the right, with Alma’s oldest daughter, Eunice, in front.  Eunice had turned three years old in March of 1924.

This probably became a habit because he was the youngest and that way they could both watch him better.  They used worms and night crawlers for bait.  But Emma didn’t like to put the worms on the hooks and Cecil didn’t like to take the fish off the hooks so Del, being the little man of the family, got to do all the putting on and taking off for all of them.  These extra duties became pretty old after a while.  He finally got quite disgusted with the arrangement because they kept him so busy that he wasn’t doing much fishing himself.  One day when he was a little older, he caught on to the solution of the problem and he announced to them, “Cecil, from now on, you and Ma can sit together.  You can put the worms on Ma’s hook for her and Ma can take your fish off the hook for you, and leave me out of it!”  So he got himself out of the middle of things and let them work out their own problems together.

Emma’s Babies are Growing Up

After Bert’s death, all of the homes Emma Aldrich lived in were in the same general neighborhood in West De Pere, Wisconsin.  First they lived in a big house on Pine Street for a while, then they moved kitty-corner across from Ada Aldrich, Bert’s sister, on Oak Street.  There were several of their Spear relatives living in that neighborhood so they were not alone.  From there they moved to the Helena Street house and finally, to an old school house building that had been converted to apartments on Fort Howard Avenue, just across the railroad tracks from Ada’s house on Oak Street.  These pictures of Cecil (left) and Delbert (below) were taken after they moved into the old school house, about 1925 or 1926.  During this period of time Emma, Cecil and Dell would often go down the hill to the river to catch some fish together.  There was a coal dock there with a slip where the big boats could dock.  The coal boats would unload on the east side.  When they got there, the three of them would always sit down together, with Dell in the middle. 

LEFT:  Sometimes it’s nice to have a little sister.  By the time Alma (Aldrich) Verhagen had her first three children, her little sister, Cecil Aldrich, was just the right age for baby-sitting.  Here Cecil is managing Alma’s oldest child, Eunice, while Alma holds baby Wilbert.  Melvin, who is the second oldest, is watching at the extreme right of the picture.  Cecil looks like she enjoys being the “little mother”.  She was probably a big help to Alma during those years.  Alma’s children were so close together that she hardly had time to breathe.  This picture was probably taken in the fall of 1924 or early summer of 1925.  Wilbert was born in January of 1924 and he was always a big boy, so it’s hard to judge his age on this picture.  He grew to be about six feet, four inches tall. 

RIGHT:  This picture of Delbert Aldrich is by their apartment in the “old schoolhouse” building.  A former schoolhouse had been converted into apartments and they had an upper flat.  Del smiles broadly in this grade-school-age picture.  Delbert was a boy that grew tall and fast.  He didn’t stop until he was about six feet three inches tall.  He must have taken after the De Keyser side.

LEFT TOP:  Harold Aldrich, about 1924 (age 13), is petting his dog.  He got it from Alma’s neighbor in Kimberly, where Alma and George were living at that time.  The owner told Harold the pups were “police dogs” (the popular term of the day for German Shepherds) and lucky Harold got “the pick of the litter”.  Harold chose the smallest and cutest one, with big pointed ears that stood up straight and tall like a German Shepherd’s should.  Unfortunately, the ears outgrew his body and were soon flopping down like a hound’s ears.  Some “police dog”!  At first he was quite friendly, but he had one bad habit that turned out to be his downfall.  Although he was Harold’s dog, every day he would follow Del to school.  Del was in the third grade then and his class met in the high school building on the west side of the river.  Del would try to send him back home but when he turned to walk up Main Street, the dog would head for the alley that paralleled it.  At every cross street Del would see him peeking around the corner from the alley, watching for him to pass.  When he got to school, the dog was always hanging around someplace.  He would try to sneak into the school with some of the kids and often he managed to do it!  Then the kids would come and tell Del that his dog was in the school and he’d have an awful time getting him out.  Every day Del would go through this same routine with him.  Some of the kids must have teased the dog a lot because eventually he got so mean he started biting and had to be destroyed.  Poor pup!

LEFT BOTTOM:  In this picture, Delbert Aldrich is in his teen years.  He always wore a cap during that period of time.

Early 1920’s