Kathryn Hill – a beautiful blend
Kathryn Louise Schott Hill grew up in Cornwall, PA and knows – yes KNOWS – farm life. Went off to Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC from a choice made by her parents after they perused a brochure. Taught Biology and Bio-Chemistry for high school students in Norwich, NY and Havre de Grace and Aberdeen, MD.
She raised two fine children with her husband, Cecil. At one time, she sold life insurance and later became active in real estate and rental properties with her husband.
She continues to be actively involved with Soroptimists and many other community organizations, Kathryn may have come from out-of-state, but she adds a wonderful thread to the tapestry of or Havre de Grace community!
I related to so many of her stories including growing acres of tomatoes, living near Norwich, NY where she had her first teaching position, and moving a lot. I’m reminded once again that how we know a person is most often merely a glimpse of a full and interesting life.
She laughs when mentioning that she moved 10 times – yes TEN – in Havre de Grace! She also shares a great story that proves you shouldn’t make a woman angry – even if she is only in elementary school!
…. I was running a bit late on this one…. but I did get it online at 12:30 today (Friday, Jan. 13). Thank you for checking back!
Kathryn Louise Hill
Born: 12/03/1937 at home in Cornwall, PA Interviewed: 10/11/2016 w/Ellie
I was born at home at Cornwall, PA and that was several miles from the Cornwall Ore Mines, which was very important for the iron for the Civil War to make the cannonballs. I lived on a farm. My brother’s oldest daughter lives in the same house. Our uncle (our father’s brother) lives at the top of the hill one farm. Then across the railroad tracks, from the bridge, my grandfather lived on that farm. They were all farmers. That’s how you got your food. My father would share the food with anybody who needed it, but don’t steal it from him, just ask him.
He had a lot of pheasants, rabbits and hunting. We did our own butchering. The family came together in the coldest months (January) and the family came together and worked and helped to do that.
During the year, raising pigs and beef cattle for meat. He made his own dried beef, bologna and sausage and scratch.
(So you came from the original homesteading type family!)
Right! And now my niece lives on the other side of the railroad tracks. My brother lives underneath another bridge across the other way on lots sold off the original farm.
My father’s name was Leonard Zimmerman Schott. His ancestors came from the Speicher (Spiker ?) Family (Berne, Switzerland). I attended a family reunion, so I have a Coat of Arms from there. My mother was Carrie Irene Bachman Schott. She came from the city of Lebanon, NY and was one of four children. Her father was a cabinet maker, wooden cabinet maker for organs, furniture. He worked in Lebanon, NY at the factory.
My parents met in church. I had an older sister, who just passed away – Frances Veronica Schott Yeager. She had no children. I have an older brother – three years older than I was. Being a boy he could drive, go with his friends, get out and do things. I couldn’t go anywhere unless somebody came and picked me up. My father said, “I’ll take you anywhere.”
He bought me a pony when I was old enough to care of one, probably around 12 – between 7 and 12. That was my transportation to go see my girlfriends. It beat walking. It worked fine. The one day I didn’t tie the pony tight enough and Betty went home without me. After that I really appreciated her. And I learned how to make sure that I tied her with a proper knot because that was a long walk.
(What was your childhood like?)
Being the youngest, I had one cousing…. My one aunt had two girls and a boy. Her youngest – Mary Grace, she’s deceased now – 14 years. She had Alzheimer’s inherited from her father. Her father and mother met on a mission field. So when they came home, they had nowhere to live. So they lived with us.
We were close (my aunt’s youngest girl) – 18 days apart, we were close in age. We were little girls, they laughed at us. Even when we went to the outhouse, which was a two-seater, we’d go together. We went every place else.
(Sorry about the background noise.)
I was the youngest of three. I was on the end of money too. Being on a farm, the cash came from milking cows. I helped my brother with these heavy cans of milk. We put it on a balloon tire wagon. It was made with hickory boards and was very strong. The tires lasted most of my lifetime. The boards broke and my father would replace them. It had a brake on it and you could ride down the hill. But we also used it to take the cans to the road and put up on a stand.
My brother would go and look up and down the road to make sure there were no cars coming. He didn’t want anyone to see his younger sister helping him carry these heavy milk cans across the road to the stand. It was funny. He said, “Now you stay here!” I’d have to stay by the edge of the barn until he checked the road. Then we’d high tail it across the road.
(How old were you then?)
You start working very young on the farm. But when I was doing that kind of lifting, I was a teenager.
My brother would always tease me and say that I was three years younger. So I couldn’t do this… couldn’t do that. He agitated me. When we walk to the bus, it was about 3/4s of a mile. I didn’t go to kindergarten, but I started out at 5 years old and first grade. That meant when I graduated and went to college, I was 17 years old.
My brother wasn’t in love with farming. So he wanted to go off to the Army. He wanted to see the world. When he joined the Army, they stationed him at the other end of Pennsylvania from where he lived at Blaw Knox outside of Pittsburgh. He’d never been away from home and didn’t like to go away from home.
Came a time when he had a girlfriend. She lived in Quentin, a little town where the Quentin Riding Club is – a very prestigious riding club and had quality horse shows. So he went in the Army and started dating when he came home. At 21, they got married at her church in Quentin. Then she went with him to Pittsburgh. They befriended her Aunt Lucy and lived in a small one bedroom, sounded more like an efficiency apartment, with Aunt Lucy. You had to go in – straight in and then close the door so that you could sit down on the commode. It was so small. They soon got tired of that and wanted to come home.
When he got out of the Army, they were back home living on the farm with my parents.
(So tell me more about you, the early years up to college.)
School was fun. I enjoyed school. When I started school, it took a while before we had ??? We walked 3/4s of a mile and then rode a bus. I had to cross the highway in the morning. Most of the time I was by myself except when I was younger, I had my brother with me. But as I got older he was in junior high, he went off with his friends.
Walking down to the bus with my brother, I had my snowsuit on, my snow pants, my boots. It was blowing. We had snow fences that kept most of the snow off the road. But we had to walk through some snow and it would slow me down. He’d run ahead of me and wait until I caught up with him. Then he’d take off again. He’d agitate me like that.
One when I was still in elementary school, I got so upset with him. He learned to go to the bathroom and be protected because I wouldn’t go in the bathroom. So he had the bathroom door closed. I got upset and he wouldn’t negotiate. I went ran downstairs on the back porch and got a hoe. I said, “You better open this door.” I ‘hoed’ on the door and saw chips falling. I got scared and ran downstairs.
My oldest niece’s husband took a picture of that. The door is still there. And they will not repair it and it’s a family joke. They look at me like I’m the bad guy. But he’s the one that negotiated it!
Anyway, in middle school and high school I was doing as best as I could. I was average or middle/above average student. The principal said, “Schott, you’re never gonna get anywhere. You’ll never be able to go to college.”
Well, that kind of discouraged me, but it encouraged me, too. One day when I was in Plain Trigonometry class, 11th grade, we had smart boys and then some smart girls. I was kind of in between. I decided I was going to learn how to do this one section that seemed simpler to me. I figured it out.
The next day Mr. Brubaker came into the room and said, “Class, we’re going to have a quiz today.” I got an “A” on the quiz. He never did tell me, but I figured it out. He said, “Looking over these grades here, we can’t count the quiz.” But it was because the good kids hadn’t studied and didn’t do well. I studied and did well.
(Was your school big?)
No. I went to the same school building for 12 years. I rode the bus for 12 years. So, I tell my grandkids how to ride the bus (laughter), “Sit down and keep your mouth shut.” (more laughter)
(What kind of things did you do for fun?)
On the weekends my cousins would come, we jumped rope. We played jacks. When the boys were around, we’d all play baseball. If they were in a good mood, they’d let us play with them. I wasn’t very good at it but they’d let us play. I always ended up on the other team because they knew I’d make outs. That’s okay. I was included.
We’d play “upjinx” …. The same number of people on each side of the table, each side had a quarter and shuffled it around with your team. Someone would holler “UPJINX” and you’d put your hands up in the air. Hopefully they can’t see who has it in their hand. You’d have to guess who was holding the quarter. If you guessed it, you got points. That team would lose the quarter and it would go to the other side.
We’d have ginger ale when we had company and ice cream. My father would get a big 5 gallon container of ice cream. Always had friends showing up at meal time, “Oh I’m so sorry I didn’t know you were eating.” They knew about when we ate every day. (laughter) Mom would say, “Come on in.” She always had enough for two or three more people.
She baked. She’d have to bake the table – a large table – full of pies. I make a couple cakes for her. But she was a good pie maker. We’d have Montgomery pies, Smith pies …. (What’s Montgomery pie?) It has like a lemon pudding type on the bottom, a light yellow cake on the top. It was really good. It moistened the cake on the top, especially if you used fresh lemon.
(You started school about the time of WWII, do you remember anything impact of the war?)
I remember air raids, having to go inside. I remember planes going over and air raid sirens to warn you to get inside. We sat close to the radio. My father always listened to the radio for the news and things. I remember Roosevelt talking on the radio about Communism, the war, where it is…. I didn’t pay as much attention as I should have.
In other words, we had a cistern outside that collected rain water from the roof. It had a metal door that we lifted up to clean it out or get any extra water. We’d use it sometimes for washing clothes. There would be a lot of bums, men who were walking the railroad. We lived close to the railroad and they’d come up to the house. My mother said, “Well, just wait a minute.” My mother had certain old plates that she would use. She’d fill it up with food and put it out on the cistern. Then we’d disappear into the house and they’d come and get it.
They would ask to sleep in the barn for the night. My father would have to come and make sure they didn’t have matches. If they did, he’d gather their matches and in the morning they’d pick ‘em up and just go on.
Now those railroads are all pulled up and it’s a hiking/biking trail. We had the coal in the engines. Sometimes depending on the direction that the wind was blowing, the clothes on the line were always hung up and would get dirty.
(Did you have a ringer washer?)
Ringer washer – yes! I had to watch everything that came through the wringer and make sure it didn’t catch. I had to watch my fingers, too. Oh that was tricky. It could hurt too.
(Wash day was pretty much a full day of work.) Yes, it was.
We had big iron kettles that we used for butchering. We put the water in there and strain it through cheesecloth or flannel or something to be sure we didn’t get any spots on our clothes. We had to build a fire under the water to heat it – a big iron kettle. You couldn’t wash until the water was the right temperature. Then you had to take it by the bucket and put it in the washing machine.
(Did you have running water inside?)
We had running water inside. We did laundry in the wash house, the back side of the house. We had two big gardens in the back yard, to the back of the wash house. I had to help weed those. Down the lane we had a truck patch. We didn’t have any tea bags. We picked mint tea or spearmint. My mother had a drying rack in the summer house. We’d dry it and steep it in the winter to make tea, right from the dried leaves.
My mother would sell chickens. I’d help her catch ‘em. We had to raise them from peeps. We’d get large boxes of small peeps. We’d put them in the chicken house, downstairs and upstairs. The young ones would go upstairs. When they got bigger and started to lay their eggs, we had metal nests for them to go in and lay their eggs.
My sister had a big oval scar from having had chicken pox. At the end of her chicken pox, she helped me pick the eggs out from under the chickens. This one chicken pecked her and took the scab right off her nose. She had a scar ever since.
My father would visit a few people on Sunday. Sunday you couldn’t go swimming. You could listen to the radio and read your Bible….and rest. Sunday afternoon people would come by and visit. Dad liked that, people or couples. Of course you’d need pie and ice cream, ice tea and lemonade.
That was one of my jobs when I was in elementary school. They were working in the wheat field. I had to take an enamel bucket of lemonade or iced tea. Mom and I would make a bucket full, well, not completely full so that I could carry it. I’d walk across the field with a ladle in it. It was an enamel ladle. Everyone would drink out of the same ladle. We didn’t have paper cups. You didn’t need paper cups. You didn’t want ‘em. They (workers) always wanted to see me when I came home from school. But nobody got any germs from it. Lemonade and iced tea, that was our soda!