Millicent Wiedrich –Growing Up in Batavia
She was born Millicent Arlene Wiedrich in Batavia, NY on May 15, 1928. From a young age she was called Midge. Many people say they grew up poor but in fact most just didn’t have that they would have liked or as much as the neighbors. My mom grew up poor although there were others who had even less than her family had. Her dad had various jobs like ice man, farmer, wood gatherer, junk man, plow
|Ed Wiedrich delivering ice.|
factory worker. Her mom had her leg amputated up to the hip as a teen but could still help with the family finances by selling handiwork like crochet items and operating her own doll hospital where she repaired beautiful china dolls. While she was still in primary school the family moved to a small family farm on the Creek Road just outside of Batavia. She often recounted happy stories about roller skating in the attic, playing games and more. One thing she didn’t enjoy was going to the creek at the back of the farm to swim. She was severely afraid of the water even though her three sisters loved to swim. Summers they would go to the Coby
farm to “camp out”. She described it as fun but I’m sure her dad was helping with the harvest when he wasn’t working at his regular job and her mom was working cooking and canning for everyone. The foods they ate much of the year were things canned during the summer and fall. My grandfather would also go to the factory that produced dried beans after work hours and sweep the floor. He would bring home the sweepings and the children would play a “game” of picking out any bean from the refuse to supplement the family food. They ate a lot of beans and it was a good thing mom liked them. In fact it was one of her favorite foods throughout her life. She went to a one room school. She and her girlfriend, Arlene Cook were the only two students in
|Creek Rd School, Batavia, NY 1935|
her grade. She often took a potato to school and put it on the potbelly stove to bake for lunch. A special treat was when Arlene’s mom brought a pot of spaghetti for all the children to share. Some of the children were very poor and had only black bread and lard sandwiches to eat. The teacher not only had to teach but made sure there was firewood and made a fire in the stove in the morning. Once when my mom was playing baseball and was running the bases her teacher started to run after her and was slapping her on the head. It turns out the teacher had been burning caterpillar nests in the trees and a spark fell on my mom’s head starting her hair on fire. The teacher was only trying to put the flames. Things took a turn for the worse late in the 30s and they lost the family farm.