m. 26 Jan 1910
Facts and Events
My Life Story
The Life Story of Ivyl Phylena Greenley (born 26 May 1914 in Farley, Taylor Township, Dubuque County, Iowa)(written during several interviews by her son, Donald)
I would walk to the family farm (about a mile away) every day to bring back milk and eggs. I would also go downtown (only about a block) to do most of the shopping and have it delivered if it was more than I could carry. Almost every Sunday after church, aunt Bessie (and uncle Harvey Briggs) would come over for dinner. As long as I can remember, my grandpa Wilkinson was an invalid due to arthritis. Grandma had to help him get out of bed and get dressed, but he could feed himself. She would only leave him home alone while we went to the Methodist Church on Sunday. He died just before Christmas when I was fourteen (on 19 December 1928). My namesake grandmother “Lena” and I lived together in that house on Main Street while I was in high school. I have fond memories of her love for me and she gave me a lot of good advice.
I also have fond memories of looking out the window of my grandmother’s bedroom and waiting for Viorene Bradley, who was in my class and my best friend throughout grade school and high school. We always walked to school together and did everything together; we were both in the school play during our senior year. She and Hank Husemann were married before we were and Ken & I used to drive to Epworth to see them and maintain our life-long friendship. We went to see Hank when he was in the hospital in Dubuque in 198?. We still call each other on our birthdays and more often.
My dad’s parents had died early, his mother before I was born (Jane Hinde, born 9 August 1845, died 17 November 1902) and his dad before I was two years old (Thomas Marwood Greenley, born 5 July 1842, died 7 February 1916). Unfortunately, when his wife died, my dad did not seem to get very much help from his siblings (brothers = Joseph Russell (born 4 October 1872), Walter B. (born 6 September 1878) and Russell Merry (born 29 August 1886), sisters = Jannet (born 24 July 1870), Ella M. (born 27 January 1876), and Alice Edna (born 26 March 1885).
After harvesting the Kiester farm crops in the fall of 1919, my dad (Herbert Thomas Greenley, born 23 June 1881 in Concord, Dubuque, Iowa) moved onto the Wilkinson farm, which was nearby (about a mile northeast of Epworth), which was being run by my Uncle Bert (Robert Burton Wilkinson, born 5 December 1882), who was living on the farm with his wife (Nellie Trilks, born ~1883) and their daughter (Eleanor, born ~1915, who later was in the nursing class behind me at Finley). After living in his in-law’s home for a time, my dad lived in a wood shed on the farm site, while helping his brother-in-law work the family farm. He even invested in the farm and helped build a new silo.
Partnership farming did not pan out for my dad and a few years later he rented an apartment above the general store in Epworth and somehow bought all kinds of equipment to start up a shoe repair shop. Within a few years and because of his location on Main Street, he was appointed town Marshall and Zelda had moved in with him, giving excuse for some ugly gossip. He was also the custodian of the Methodist church and rang the bell every noon, with extra zeal on Sunday morning. He was a very considerate, hard working man who went to church every Sunday.
Because I started grade school early, I graduated from Epworth High School in 1931 shortly after my seventeenth birthday. My eleven classmates were Viorene M. Bradley, J. Clayton Brady, Dale M. Comer, Mabel R. Edwards, Elizabeth O. Greene, Erma E. Hinde, Honora McDermott, Vera McDermott, Harvey J. Nelson, Lois L. Stocks, and M. Ellen Whitehead. At that time, both my dad and my sister were working in the Independence Mental Hospital. Zelda never graduated from high school and married William Karsten in 1932. Because I was too young to start my nurse’s training right away, I filled the gap by working for a year as a housekeeper for my Aunt Laura’s parents (Willis E. Main and Bertha Mae Curtis) on a farm southwest of Independence for room and board plus $3/week.
One afternoon during that first summer in 1931, my Aunt Laura (Laura Jeanette Main had married Russell Merry Greenley on 7 May 1914) drove her daughter (Edna Avis Greenley (born 25 February 1915) who was already my good friend) and me to a farm near Independence to see her friend Emma’s newborn daughter (Dorothy Ruth Quass, born 25 June 1931). While there, I met for the first time my future husband, Kenneth Werner Quass (born 5 December 1917 in Independence, Buchanan, Iowa), who had just graduated from eighth grade in Independence High School.
Ken and his friends were a group of about 20 young people (some of them were also my cousins), who frequently had tame parties at each other’s homes during these post-depression years. The group included the Quass youth (children of Ralph & Emma = Ken & Norman and children of Charles & Meta = Edward, Harold & Dorris), the Greenley youth (children of Herbert = me and children of Russell & Laura = Edna, Russell, Oliver & Victor). Other members of the group included the Webb youth (children of Lindley & Nora = Elizabeth, Mildred & Charles) and other friends from school (Irene Boyack (Aunt Hattie’s daughter) & Joseph Prenosil). Edna and I attended many of these parties where we played cards, board games, and social games, including charades and even post office. These were fun times that initiated my relationship with this very handsome young man.
When I started nurses’ training in the fall of 1932 in Finley Hospital in Dubuque, Iowa, my dad gave me a beautiful nurse’s watch with a sweeping second hand. After studying in Dubuque for three years, this shy young woman participated in our Junior-Senior dinner (on 4 May 1935) by giving the Class History and the tongue-in-cheek Class Prophecy (see my scrapbook for text). My six classmates were Aline C. Allyn, Verga Dittmer, Marie Louise Durrstein, Blanche Francomb, Elinor J. Kleih, and Winifred L. Shine. I participated in my formal capping ceremony on May 28th 1935, but even though my smitten boyfriend wrote to me frequently (he really loved me!), I don’t remember anyone coming to my graduation. However, soon thereafter, Ken (who had just graduated from high school) and my cousin, Oliver Greenley, drove over to Dubuque and moved me back to Independence, where I lived in the nurses’ dorm and worked at People’s Hospital. After passing my state board exams in Des Moines (on 22 September 1935), I received my Nursing Certificate (No. 11733 dated 2 December 1935) from the State of Iowa.
Nursing at People’s Hospital was my first real job and I felt very lucky to get it. While I was in training at Finley, my surgery supervisor liked my work and the Eye, Ear, Nose & Throat Doctor would always ask for me when he had a surgery to perform. Probably because of their encouragement and recommendations, I was only on floor duty at People’s for three months before being routinely assigned to surgery. My nursing colleague and roommate and good friend was “Gunny” (Elizabeth Gunzenhauser). While working at the hospital, I met the widow, Nettie Simpson Rathbun (born 19 May 1895), who subsequently met my dad when he came to visit me, and later on married him (on 28 July 1938 in Independence).
After almost three years of dating and saving money, Ken and I were married (on Saturday, 5 March 1938) in a simple ceremony at the home of his parents near Independence. My dad was there to give me away and my cousin, Edna Greenley, and Ken’s friend, Charles Webb, were our attendants. Ken didn’t want his younger sisters and brothers to attend the afternoon wedding because the house was small. We left soon after the wedding in a green Plymouth for our honeymoon in Chicago, staying along the way at a convenient hotel in Clinton, Iowa. In Chicago we stayed at the home of Ken’s uncle (Grant Howard Quass and his wife, Jessie Mae Sizemore) for four days. We even went to a musical (“Roberta”) downtown and saw Bob Hope before driving back to Independence through Epworth, where we stayed with my grandmother, who died just a few weeks later (on 5 May 1938).
When we were back in Independence, we rented our first home, which was a little house on the north side of town. My husband returned to his clerking job in the hardware store in Rawley about 5 miles away, but I had honored my husband’s preference that I not work by quitting my job before the wedding. The two of us were very happy there even though we didn’t have indoor plumbing, which was not very convenient when I was pregnant and sick.
Within a year we were living in Madelia, Minnesota, where Ken began his lifelong successful sales career as an area representative for Fertix (an automobile parts supplier headquartered in Chicago). My Uncle Joe (John Joseph Wilkinson and Gertrude Stocks) farmed near Alden, but the main reason that we chose to live in Madelia was that it was central to his territory and we could find reasonable housing there. During a trip to Iowa for Christmas, we visited with Gunny (wife of Azotis (Zote) Crane) in Rawley and while driving over rough icy roads, I went into labor. The next day, our first child (Kenneth Warner, born on Thursday, 29 December 1938) was born prematurely in the home of Ken’s parents in Independence with Dr. Tidball assisting me. During the next few years, we lived in a few other places, but returned to Madelia to raise our family.
Don was born in Ralph’s house near Randalia on Tuesday, 16 January 1940 with Dr. Woodhouse assisting Jean was born in a hospital in Madelia on Friday, 6 December 1940 with Dr. Coulter (Harold’s brother) assisting Pat was born in a mid-wife’s home in Sumner on Sunday, 29 October 1944 with Miss ?? assisting
During those difficult war years, Ken was inducted to serve for six months. While we were living in Marshall, Minnesota, and Ken was working for Arnold Motor Supply, he was notified (on 20 January 1944) that he was re-classified from III-A to I-A. After doing everything that he could think of to avoid leaving his young family, he was notified to report for induction (on 4 May 1945) at the New Atlantic Hotel in Marshall. By May 10th, he had arrived at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Chicago to be trained as a Radar Specialist, but he was discharged by November of that year. In order to visit him, we (I and our four young children) traveled by train from Sumner, Iowa (where I was living in a furnished house) to Chicago two or three times during those six months, staying with Uncle Grant.
Ken and I had a lot of friends in Madelia; we were active in the Eastern Star and the Presbyterian Church (I was a Den Mother for our boys) and the PTA (I even served as President). While Ken was the Superintendent of the Sunday School, I even taught a Sunday School class. He was also involved with the annual collection campaign for the church. Ken and I served as Worthy Grand Patron and Worthy Grand Matron together in the Eastern Star and later in his life, I enjoyed seeing Ken become very active in the Masons and Shriners. Our friends liked to get together for parties and Ken enjoyed entertaining them by telling jokes and stories. He was much more outgoing than I could ever become, but he helped me to be less shy.
We took our four kids on vacation to Yellowstone Park and had a great time as a young family. The kids had a lot of parties in our basement with their friends from school. Ken and Don were very active in high school sports, Ken in wrestling and Don in just about everything else. They were both in the band, Ken playing cornet and Don playing trombone.
One of the saddest parts of these years and my whole life was when Jean became very sick and died of ovarian cancer (on 3 February 1954). She was a wonderful daughter, and was just getting to be a beautiful teenage girl who played saxophone in the band and had a lot of friends. I missed her for many years and we were not as active in the church after she died.
In 1957, after Pat graduated from seventh grade and Don graduated from high school, we moved to Minneapolis and lived in St. Louis Park. After a brief stint at Dayton’s in Southdale as a salesperson wearing a nurse’s uniform, I went back to nursing (as a charter employee at Methodist Hospital in 1959) and especially enjoyed working with the newborns in the nursery. Ken Jr. was going to Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter and Don was going to St. Olaf College in Northfield, while Pat was going to high school in St. Louis Park. We had a 36- foot cabin sedan cruiser on the Mississippi River, but did not ever become as socially active as we were in Madelia. Ken worked out of an office in downtown Minneapolis and was active in the Masons. Just before we moved to California, Don graduated and brought a girl (Karen Ann Spriggs, born 2 February 1940) home from St. Olaf and married her in the Peace Presbyterian Church (on 10 June 1961). Pat and I stayed in St. Louis Park so she could graduate from high school before we moved to Glendale to join Ken in an apartment. Ken Jr. was getting ready to graduate from architectural school at the University of Minnesota and was already working as a store designer for Super Value Stores in Hopkins.
Ken started his own parts store down on Laurel Street and put his inventory system to work. We bought a 27-foot Catalina sailboat and had many enjoyable times sailing in the bay. He worked hard and made monthly trips to Mexico, where he had a business contact. He even started a second parts store on Convoy Street. During these years, Ken was very active in Shriners and we went to several parades each year, where he would either walk with the patrol or drive his little Model 160 Mercedes Benz. He was honored to become the President of the Patrol Unit of the Al Bar Shrine.
We also bought a Jamboree RV and went on weekend trips together up to the mountains, sometimes with Pat and Bob. Later on, we traded the RV in on a Cortez motor home and made several relaxing trips together. We went to the Presbyterian Church occasionally, but did not become as socially active as we were in the Madelia years.
I was greatly shocked to get a phone call (on 17 September 1982) and learn that Ken had had an in flight heart attack while flying home from a business trip in Miami. Although the plane made an emergency landing in Dallas, he could not be revived. He was buried next to Jean in Madelia. I miss him greatly, but I talk to him every day and his presence comforts me.