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Happy St. Valentine’s Day, 1923

This photograph was dated February 14, 1923.  In Wisconsin, either you learn to dress warmly to play in the deep snow, or you face a long, dreary, cold winter.  It’s obvious in his picture that in spite of the cold weather and their poverty, Emma’s three younger children knew how to have fun in the snow.  Shown left to right are Cecil Eilene Aldrich, Harold Wesley Aldrich and Delbert Elsworth Aldrich.

Emma (De Keyser) Aldrich and Her Five Children

When Emma Aldrich was widowed, she was left with four children and a fifth on the way.  Her last child, Delbert Elsworth Aldrich was born about two months after his father had died.  At first, Emma took in boarders, washing and ironing, anything that she could do at home to help keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.  They didn’t have government subsidies in those days.  Relatives and friends helped as much as they could.  Alma continued to stay with Bert’s mother, Esther (Spear) Aldrich and his sister Ada.  They also helped take care of some of the children during the day.  As time went on and the children were old enough to be left alone, Emma cleaned houses, and cooked for some of the wealthier people in De Pere who could afford to hire help.  It wasn’t easy on her and it wasn’t easy on the children, either.  Their diet was scant and lacked variety.  Potatoes were their main staple, usually with not much to supplement them. They couldn’t afford milk to drink.  The only drink they could usually afford besides water was coffee because it was cheap then.  It wasn’t an easy life for them but they made it through with all of the children surviving to adulthood.  Alma married young, at age 16, with hopes to escape poverty.  Estella went to work after she graduated from eighth grade and Cecil also married young, when she was still 15.  Everybody contributed what they could to help out as they grew older, and they all got through.  Thank the Lord for willing workers in a family, especially in those circumstances.

ABOVE:  Emma Aldrich is with her five children in front of their home on Helena Street in West De Pere, Wisconsin, about 1922.  Back row, left to right, Estella (age 17), Emma (age 42), and Alma (Aldrich) Verhagen (Age 18).  Front row, left to right, Delbert (age 6 or 7), Harold (age 11) and Cecil (age 8 going on 9).  Ages are approximate, assuming this was taken in the summer of 1922.