Sandy Ginger and Sheila Burns

Recorded September 30, 2020 Archived September 30, 2020 43:17 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby020083


Sheila Burns (81) shares her memories of growing up on a farm with her daughter, Sandy Ginger (55). Sandy asks questions about Sheila's experience with polio as a young girl, her relationship with her sister after the passing of their mother, and what life was like on Aunt Nellie and Uncle Carl's farm.

Subject Log / Time Code

SG asks her mother SB about when she was diagnosed with polio as a little girl. SB shares that her family thought she had a kidney infection. She was eight years old and was in the hospital in isolation for 2 weeks with other kids who had polio. She shares that one side of her throat is paralyzed but she feels lucky because most people died.
SG asks SB about Aunt Nellie and Uncle Carl and shares that she didn't make the connection that they weren't her mother's parents until she met SB's dad. SB shares that she and her sister went to go live with Aunt Nellie and Uncle Carl after her mother passed away.
SB: "They had no children of their own but we were their girls."
SG remembers people telling her that her grandfather [Uncle Carl] was a very good horsemen. She remembers when he passed the people who bought his horses commented on how good the horses were.
SB shares that she went to boarding school because her uncle had gone to boarding school when he was younger. SB: "It sounds a little grim but it really wasn't, we had a good time."
SB talks about her chores on the farm. She did all the ironing, the cooking, a lot of cleaning and feeding the chickens - a chore she did not like. SB remembers her aunt saying to her: "'Chickens don't care how you feel. Go feed them.' That kept me in good stead over the years, you got to do what you go to do."
SB: "I look at them as my parents mainly because I lost my mother so young and Aunt and Uncle Carl raised us. He gave me away at my wedding and he also did for my sister." SB remembers Aunt Nellie being more like a sister to her mother than the two biological sisters her mother had.
SB shares that after high school from September to January she joined the St. Joseph's Convent in Milwaukee. SB remembers the nuns being good to her.
SB talks about getting married instead of going back to the convent. She shares that she knew Jim from church and they started dating when she was 19 and he was finishing college.


  • Sandy Ginger
  • Sheila Burns

Recording Location

Virtual Recording


StoryCorps uses Google Cloud Speech-to-Text and Natural Language API to provide machine-generated transcripts. Transcripts have not been checked for accuracy and may contain errors. Learn more about our FAQs through our Help Center or do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

00:00 My name is Sandy Ginger. I am 55 years old. Today is Wednesday, September 30th. I am in Las Vegas, Nevada and my conversation partner. Today is my mother Sheila.

00:15 Sheila Burns, I'm 81. This is Wednesday, September 30th 2020.

00:24 And I'm also in Las Vegas and I'm conversing with my daughter Sandra or Sandy.

00:36 And then we can just start.

00:41 The first Mom I wanted to talk about when when you were little, I want to talk to you about when you were little girl and when you got sick with polio.

01:01 So, can you tell me about that?

01:03 Well, my sister and I were staying with her aunt and uncle because your mother was in the hospital was staying out of the front and they had it first. I had a kidney infection, but when we went after my mother died, we went back for the funeral my dad took me to the doctor.

01:30 Right from there. We drove right to the hospital.

01:34 I was young I was in isolation are they ears old and I was in isolation for 2 weeks.

01:44 And then for two months, I was in a ward with other children with polio way. They treated us with hot packs which was a invented.

01:57 I am Sister Kenny worked with children with polio. I was very lucky and then I have Boba Coley on most people who haven't don't live. So I have a one side of my throat paralyzed. But so when you were in the isolation for 2 weeks that was in the hospital and was like no one Judy or Grandpa. Nobody could come see, you know, nobody even the priests stood in the doorway and waved at me.

02:31 So scary when you were only eight it was it where it it was scary and was totally boring. Did you have books know there were no TVs in the right? So yeah, it was pretty boring.

02:49 So then after two weeks you went in this unit was that in the same Hospital? Yes. I don't know how but they had converted for the children with polio. And then we're probably 8 to 10 of us in that room and buried and then in there could people come visit or we does. Yes, but the only one that was anywhere in the vicinity of that but then was my dad and he didn't come to see me and so where was that? Where was the hospital? Then it Omaha in Omaha. Where were you living?

03:36 So then where was Grandpa living then like wandering around that was right. And so you were when that happened you were staying with Aunt Millie and Uncle Carl look like Grandma Grandpa Carl like it's funny. I'm cuz I think like in my mind, I always knew you called them at Nelly and Uncle Carl but I didn't make the connection that they weren't your mom and dad like cuz I called him grandpa and grandma and so I think I don't even remember how old I was when I finally like Met Your Dad and went what I didn't even know their mother died Judy my sister and I went to live with at 9.

04:32 They had a farm in South Dakota. We used to visit him during the Summers when my mother was alive because it had no it was their sister which I think cuz I member I loved as a kid going to visit them on the farm like that isn't the greatest summer vacation ever for a kid from Las Vegas. But so when you would go visit them, when was that fun? But why was yeah young at that point and then we went there.

05:10 After mother died when he lived with an IHOP across I say they have a special place in heaven. They had no children of their own but we were there girls I said, I didn't even know they weren't your mom and dad so I think

05:32 I think we might need to take a break and go turn her phone. Can you hear her phone in the other room? So I'm going to take

05:58 Okay. Well you have that thing that announces anyway, sorry about that. Okay, so we were talking about when on the farm said cuz I still love to go there and then when you guys would go stay with them when you were little and you would your mom and dad would go to with you my mom. So we are remembering it was really beautiful car very meticulously.

06:48 Download picked a lot of weeds and everything was nice meeting. We had horses. Well, we had all kinds of animals on the farm when you was go there and visit versus when you went there and now you live there. Like how was that when you went there to visit I assumed you weren't baling. Hay know how was it different when you went to to live there from having been pretty young so we had chores but now it was pretty easy as we got older. We did a lot of hay bales made a lot of chickens.

07:38 But we also had our horses and Saddles that we have working Saddles and jumps at planned a lot of Western where we showed a matched pair of horses.

07:54 So we had a long Grandpa was a really good Horseman. Remember everyone always talked about you. I wouldn't know but I dismember everybody talking about how good he was and I remember when he passed and they came the people who bought his horses commenting on what good horses. They really are we on

08:22 And he always has had a lot of them and he had this thing that he would do if he was telling me how to get rid of some of these horses when he always kept mashed a Belgian Workforce has to be kept in Manure Spreader. So there had to be hitch the horses and not the tractor so that he had an excuse to have their sources in the parade with the Belgium's weird or fourth of July or something and it hasn't had that giant wagon. Maybe that was a manure spreader and my sister and I let a lot of parade carrying the American flag, and then I carry back and Judy.

09:21 Whatever we were represented now VFW are the 4-H or whatever great and he's going the horse shows in Downey, but you didn't think so. Where are you have to do something else while I think she like she had to have those matching horses cuz you and Judy are matching or matching girls yesterday. Look the same on the two horses that look the same.

10:01 That he like that.

10:03 It was just that was his thing.

10:09 Say used to go out somewhere and he buy another horse and he come in the door and he threw his hat in which was kind of an old-fashioned way of going back out. You can come in and shifters for sale KY attorney. She never threw it back at it.

10:40 And when the dad lives there.

10:45 Well

10:47 Don't wake me up until I went to college and message went to nurses training.

10:53 Stay there until we got married.

10:56 So when and so Aunt Millie grandma is I assume that's who taught you how to cook cuz I'm like, yes, she is going to do you like to work outside and I especially and so she would send me in and just say I thought out some meat cuz we had in the big freezer and I thought out to meet so get that started peel some potatoes and find a green vegetable and that was pretty much how I learned to cook I went in and did it now but I will course. I remember from Burns was dad's mom's dad was a member her being a good cook, but I remember that we ate really well always eating really well. I'm a farm boy and all that by watching her cook all that stuff.

11:51 And you are not trying to buy osmosis. I just said they open the kitchen. So right and we did a lot of baking on my weekends when I was at school.

12:03 I remember when when Grandpa died and Judy called you and said

12:12 She said don't she said there's one dish in canned chicken hot dish which is a chicken casserole chicken and noodle casserole. She said there's one in the freezer don't eat before I get there if you get there first because I'll never get to have it again. So I don't know why not. I did so many years. I made her chicken hotdish know the last of her goodness.

12:52 So when back to like when you were eight and you were staying with Farm because your mom was sick and how long had she been sick?

13:06 Well probably longer than I knew and thinking back about it. I think she had been sick probably for a year, but she was in the hospital and turn the end Paris for a month.

13:23 And she was in Omaha to where she was in Fremont Hospital in Fremont, Nebraska.

13:35 When we were studying to make a First Communion and then

13:41 Judy who is 8 what year younger than I got bumped up to my class. It's kind of annoyed me. It was mine first, but mother wanted her to make her first communion before she died. So we were in the same class, but then we went home with them afterwards his mother's in the hospital. We went to see her at the hospital and then we were in your truck and then

14:19 Being the oldest annoying that your younger sister had to hone in on your big day.

14:35 And so then when you were living on the farm, and then we're in when you were little where were you going to school?

14:47 Simple Andrew well, they are in Scribner. So you went into wherever you were cutting out wherever you were you went into the school that was in town. Right and then

15:02 Sennheiser Stockman high school we went to boarding school in Howard South Dakota, which is about 15 miles away. And we boarded their went to St. Agatha and how many other how many borders were there at that school?

15:26 And then the second year there were just four of us. And so you do you hear other people? Yeah, and then you're all I was just seeing you. It was just me and Judy and Dory her friend, so they were just three of us so

15:42 And where was the where did you stay was apart of the convent or not was the upstairs of the school up there in a bathroom across the hall in the same room.

16:08 No, no, no, no.

16:16 And we had our own dining room down there. We ate the same food that the nuns 8 but we had our own dining room had a lot of says in a lot of venison because all the farmers would bring it in to share with the sisters.

16:36 So, why do you think why did you go there when you like? Why did you go to a boarding-school? Well, maybe uncle Carl hat. So he just thought that was what we should do because there wasn't one of my where you were no so that when you would have been gone in Flandreau or yes. I know I need to be changed so same Farm though. And so then sofas 50, like now 50 miles away doesn't seem not far but write it really wasn't there but far enough you couldn't come home on the weekends Friday night took us back either are usually on Monday morning.

17:29 And what about the other borders? Did they go home on the weekend to? Yes, if you stayed you didn't stay in the dorm you staying with some friends or something? So was only Monday through Friday logic Monday through Sunday through Thursday. Yes.

17:52 And it wasn't bad. It sounds it sounds a little Grim, but we had a good time.

18:02 Why not and there were no mail bore? It was it wasn't all girls. So we were there male boarders is that they lived I lived with them. This is Whitener. Yeah, and there were like four or five boys that they did have to come up to the school where we all studied and we're all the borders Farm kids or neighboring town and in the world girls who stayed with families a lot of times that day that I wouldn't work for the family to offset their costs are staying there.

18:55 And have a good work ethic when you grow up on a farm.

19:05 And so what kind of like Judy worked outside what we're going to do to so what were your kind of chores on the farm?

19:14 I did all the ironing. I did all the

19:23 Cooking a lot of cleaning inside and out and feeding the chickens. I remember trying to get out of that. And then now he's saying chickens don't care how you feel. Go feed him and stood me in good stead over the years. You got to go do what you have to do.

19:46 Well, I do more than once. I believe you said that to me what you were supposed to do though.

20:05 So when?

20:08 I think of something about when when so when your mom passed away and then

20:22 Then you went to live on the farm with why call Grandma Grandpa and Grandma and Grandpa Carl because clearly she wasn't Grandma Carl Grumman man, and the era of Carl and then

20:38 So when you said you'd been there and you knew like with your mom at been there and stay there so when you went and now you're living there did your did you visit did your dad come visit or did you go visit him? Sometimes he remarried and had another family so we didn't see a lot of visitors sometimes.

21:14 Lucy still with Mike and David but wasn't he was married before that to my dear, but then he has a girl like you he like to be married to. Even when he wasn't married. I didn't even know I cut them a kid and I'm a person I guess it doesn't pay attention. But like I remember when we finally went to go see them. I think they were in Fremont and I was so confusing. Like what do you mean? This is your dad? What about Grandpa? Cuz I didn't pay

22:13 But I think Grandpa like said I I called to me that was Grandma and Grandpa for on your side because mainly because I lost my mother so young and

22:30 San Antonio Coco pretty much raised just gave me away at my wedding and any Oxygen for my sister. And so when you when you were little and you used to go to the farm with your mom were your mom and Nelly.

22:50 Like you and Judy pretty much.

22:57 Maybe two years younger, haha.

23:08 Very close together.

23:11 And they were they like you guys when they were together. I'm laughing all the time. Maybe not drinking this much wine think they did but they they had a good time together the firm that they lived on that. I remember going to run in the summer what little was a different one that had no electricity or running water at the farm in Flandreau where I basically where I grew up.

23:52 That's the one word to tease your hair machete, but I assume.

24:00 I thought I'd see a lot of my shin hurt. I don't know and the other ones to cardboard Cannon between the floor cracks. And what was the reason for the light on Alexa?

24:20 We were arguing about something. Did you and Judy argue a lot as you know, but then when Christmas came to visit their physical fight and other than throwing the hairbrush, which we are mostly we got a long you think that's cuz you because your mom died so young. Yeah. Yeah. I think I brought us closer together and I am being 15 months older Judy side everything. I was told I had to walk out my sister so

25:10 Probably the reason we got in a fight with cuz I bossed around a lot like that. Imagine that.

25:19 In boxing

25:27 Well, I know that when you were older that you guys I mean you talked every day and night was at I know after Stuart died for sure you talked everyday, but it was before Stewart died. Did you pretty much pretty much he wasn't too well, so he would sleep a lot.

25:54 So like when did it when do you think that when did not start my brother after I moved to this house?

26:05 And you would talk a long time everyday. Yeah, I'm x 2 hours. That's good.

26:22 Yes, it is.

26:25 And one online when you went to school at Saint Agatha's and

26:35 You are the prefix of the or whatever that prefect of the sodality student body president except spokesperson of the class.

27:13 And then when you have your reunions, I know Judy used to go to cuz she knew everybody else. Yeah, I got used to it came to accept it yet. And then so do you think by going to Catholic school and then and being the prefect of the modality?

27:44 Went so then when you decided to go to what you would do after you went got out of high school. So what like when you graduated what was your vision of like this is what I'm going to go do now, but I want to be a teacher and why you think you want to be teacher?

28:05 I knew your boss because I want your brother. I said nightmare about you yours.

28:15 One way to do it on you got that so pretty much. Yeah, it was waiting for your dad to get out of the service and we got married.

28:35 I'm at my talk tomorrow, but for a while you went to the Convent in it. So or the postulate that doesn't get me very far. I know it's so what did you think you would be like a nun who was a teacher and so you went to probably ended up being the same doing the same thing and I only got two great kids and great husband. So did you go from high-school into to be a nun right right away and September and January so in that and where was that what you're walking?

29:33 And then and what made you pick that comment sisters that I had two girls in your class go to not be to not to that order. But yeah, my friend went to the presentation are

29:55 Two of them my class did so you must have had a good experience there in good and bad side of the nuns must like you but they must have been they were good to it.

30:21 And then so then when you went there and what is it called not call it the called Nunn School. You just go to the convent. It's not a mother, right? They had a collagen in still do in Milwaukee. Is there a good well-known College in the midwest? So then it but you're done with your there's like a class apart how many of you were in your place till class, so probably 93 anymore, but there were so Almighty people were living like a dorm or wow. That had to be a big

31:19 So then we went to school during the day and you would have time to do your homework and stuff for being a teacher and we had classes at and then you have time now, and we're all of it clean but you are so when you are at the convent are all 90 of those girls in your class to be teachers or were there some members think it was a few nurses and they had some that were Cooks because when they went out to the schools to teach the missions they had to have somebody to

32:10 Take care of the house and cook the meals people in your 90 who were going to learn to be cooked to bypass. Oh, I think they evaluated whether you have the ability to be a teacher and the more I cook well and some of them turn out too good at it. So they give you a test like the ASVAB or like they just gave you an interview and decided you could do was pretty obvious if you came from

32:55 The intelligence to finish college and become

33:00 And so then you left there in the college.

33:13 Which is it at that time was a Catholic woman College in South Dakota. Now, I don't answer coed and at the University.

33:23 When you came home in January, like I said and then so then you were back on the farm. So you got better in time to go to college.

33:38 12 mile

33:51 Well, it was it was eczema and it was a migraine. I was really getting joe State over migraines, which is

34:01 It was probably putting pressure on myself.

34:05 Who knows? Yeah, and so then you came back and went to mount Marty and then you decided rather than go being non. You should marry what made the letter you think made that change in your life.

34:24 Well because I'm got sick and had to come home and write like if you got better call that why do you think you decided not to? I don't know.

34:41 I tried that didn't work out.

34:50 I'm at your dad. Well, I knew him before but you know, I'm from Flandreau from church and then those Burns boys and so then what when did you and Dad start dating them? I was 19.

35:11 Kisscartoon

35:13 He was in college because he graduated men year and went into the army.

35:22 But so when you came back in January, and then you went to school and then you start dating him that semester.

35:30 Or following summer home

35:35 And where did you meet up again with Dad for everybody?

35:49 Was down by the park.

36:00 No, well, maybe I don't remember that though, cuz it's Mark's been there my whole life, but I don't know what what point.

36:13 Nicole came home from

36:16 Mark McCollum came home from the Army and had all these kids so I brought that to make for a place for him to work.

36:26 And so then you met dad at the pool and where was Judy then when she is choosing their sister and where does she go there McKinnon? When did she approve of dad has a picture of Grandma said if you can't get along with Jimmy anybody?

37:03 Well that and so then and you and dad started dating and then he went to the Army and did you guys write a lot of letters?

37:15 Every week every month and a couple times a week and I would like to print out there were no Wars going on at that time. He did it. He did not like being in the army.

37:44 What will explain cuz like he grew up in such a big household. So it's not like he's never alone right now. He's always around a ton of people and didn't get a lot to eat. A lot of a ride would be good to go around and IQ is used to that situation being around a lot of people. Maybe he don't like we're having bossy people.

38:19 Network people telling him what to do maybe

38:24 And then I know when you got married you wore at Marcy's dress that you

38:37 Had I had it someone with a night with a really pretty dress that you could borrow.

38:50 NC necessary

38:54 And then when you guys got married you had a car right? I did hit it because I was teaching in.

39:03 Have you bought a car use more oil than gas? Not a real good car. It ran and dad didn't have a car.

39:26 Are we trading mine in and got a different one?

39:32 I know I didn't get Chevy think it was pink.

39:39 State-of-the-art, so did Dad guard finish before the Army going to school and then we're in the Army and then when he came back and he go right to the Hartford in Minneapolis.

39:58 Could the Hartford Insurance group and then we can get transferred to Fargo MN to Casper here to Las Vegas.

40:15 What time am I going where migrant workers but it was all transfers.

40:21 And how did he get a job with the Hartford?

40:25 I just applied there and they were it was an underwriter and then he was a they call him a special agent. He just when we lived in Wyoming He travel the whole state of Wyoming calling on Independent agents.

40:41 I was just saying go around saying Yaya for Hartford.

40:49 So was that lonely when my koreana to little kids as soon as he left?

40:57 Plumbing and go wrong and then cuddle and working.

41:02 Now y'all want two little ones running around.

41:09 And you weren't teaching man.

41:14 So what did you do while he was gone besides tissue kids? I did a lot of sewing.

41:25 Lot of reading the evenings particular and

41:31 And where you at such a big reader as a kid to yes, I used to getting a lot of trouble for reading when I supposed to be doing something else.

41:54 Then I just taught school.

41:58 About two places

42:01 Well, I didn't teach so many places. Let me teach a couple in South Dakota right be wrong one place. Now. It was the first you were mad at. Minneapolis and then I didn't eat again until we moved here cuz I went back to school and felt like I was at Saint Francis de Sales for 25 years teacher and principal.

42:33 And you were running the school district?

42:43 One thing that's all. I know. It's all my things. I think unless you have something else. I love you. I love you, and I'm glad I have such a great daughter. Also. Have a great son.