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This Is Your Life ...

Vernon and Alma



On February 5, 1941 in the Emmanuel Lutheran Church east of Stuttgart, Kansas, Vernon Eltiste and Alma Kaiser were married.


They moved to Dawson County, Nebraska, north of Overton, where they set up housekeeping. Vernon had a 1937 Chevrolet that Alma loved to ride in with him in the rain so they could see 2 windshield wipers go back and forth. Vernon was in partnership with his brother Dale who lived with them, and they were engaged in farming. At the time they lived on the Wickard Place, that was owned by the Union Central Life Insurance Company.


From what we know, life was typical for the newly wed couple, with the neighbors stopping by to chivalry  them. Apparently this was done effectively because for the next three weeks the newlywed couple slept on the floor as the bedsprings had disappeared!! As Vernon went to the mail box to get the mail, and to shoot some rooster pheasants for dinner, he noticed a rusty pair of springs in the plum bushes where the chivalries had left them.


At that time they ran sheep on the hills and farmed the bottom land. They would plant the bottoms to cane, harvest the cane with a corn binder and feed the tops of the cane to turkeys.


They bought a barn at the Torry Ranch, east of the Bacon School House for $50.00. The barn was torn down in sections and put on a short wheelbase truck. Somebody sat on a ramp built on the front of the truck to balance it so they could get up the hills.


They had a John Deere D tractor that was always having trouble with the drive chain. Herman Eltiste came to visit and asked why there was no fenders on the tractor, they told him it ran cooler they way!! Herman also saw only 2 gears, but Vernon told him there were 3 - High, Low and Stuck.


Times were tough and so to raise some cash they planted 7 acres of trees on the Wickard Place. These trees were planted 12 feet apart in rows 12 feet apart. They received $3.50 per acre for planting them and $3.50 per acre for taking care of them. These trees are still there today.


Dale left the farming partnership and moved to Nemaha County to marry Opal Torbeck. On his wedding day, someone desperately needed help skinning a few skunks. Opal eventually forgave the offending party.

Vernon and Alma continued to raise turkeys and Vernon was one of the original cooperators of the Gibbon turkey processing plant. At that time much of what was available to feed turkeys was grasshoppers. The turkeys were herded on horseback using bamboo poles as the turkeys were afraid of sticks.


On January 13, 1945, Howard was born. The farm house where Vernon and Alma lived and where they spent most of their married life was kind of rickety at that time and the new parents were worried that the baby might freeze, but Howard quickly learned to burrow deep in the blankets so only a tuft of blonde hair showed.


This old house had been quite a challenge and when they moved into the main house, the previous occupants had left a few bedbugs. For quite a while Vernon and Alma slept on an iron bed set in gallon cans of kerosene so the bedbugs would drown if they tried to crawl into the bed. Finally the offending washhouse was bombed and the bedbugs gave up.


Raising a family and making a living presented its normal challenges. Including a lively son,  who when told not to play in the stock tank, did just that. Vernon spotted a brown wool cap floating on top of the water in the tank and expecting the worst, ran for the tank only to see a three year old boy pull himself up the outside of the tank and grab a wet cap and put it on. Vernon and Alma's life was filled with people including a "hired girl" by the name of Lorraine, who came to help after the birth of their second son John Dale was born on November 23, 1949. She had a problem figuring out the icebox handles, so Vernon showed her again. This time Howard watched, and the icebox was always open, and the ice melting.


The winter of 1949 was tough on the Eltiste's, as well as their neighbors, as they didn't have REA yet; so they survived without something we take for granted today. Snow, snow and more snow fell that winter, so the bulldozers were called out to open the roads.


As a toddler, John was out in the yard in his stroller, and he attracted a rattlesnake. When John was checked on again, the rattler was too close to the baby stroller to just jerk the stroller back, so Vernon took quick aim and killed  the rattler with his shot gun.


 Prior to this time, Alma had never had a driver's license and the only vehicle they had was a 1950 Ford F-2 pickup. So Alma took the driver's examiner for a ride in the pickup. When the drive ended, the examiner said, "Lady, you made a few small mistakes, but anyone who has enough guts to drive a pickup like this to get a license, deserves one."


In 1951, the Eltiste's began attending Fairhaven Baptist Church. At this time, many special and cherished friendships began to grow. We'll mention just a few, Gordon and Vic Pearsons, Bob Adams, Alvin and Dean Edeals, Shirley Bentley, Art and Floyd Burkey, Walt Withington, Roy Wolfe, Claris Triplett, Bert and Walt Hammonds, Lovell and Arbor Hodgson, Neff and Charlie Aboods, Earl White, Lavina Miller, Leo Mazanec, Fred Vollmer, Clyde Roadarmer, Glen Woodard, Uffie Jensen, Roy Pease, Pastor D. D. Kennedy and Pastor John Hooge.


Boys were tough to raise and more times then one, Vernon would be out in the field taking a nap, because he couldn't get a wink at home; the boys just made to much racket.


Electricity made it to the Eltiste household in 1958 and so did television. Telephones followed at a later date.


Vernon loved to hunt, and spent many hours enjoying his hobby. He was a good shot, but one night he woke up to hear a great-horned owl outside. As the owl flew away, Vernon shot, the owl fell, and the electrical wires danced about. In the morning, Vernon discovered he had shot the insulation off the wires leading to the house.


By 1962, the Eltiste's had built a new barn, with lumber salvaged from the old Bacon School House, where Vernon and his brothers had gone to grade school. Disaster struck and apparently a heat lamp caught the barn on fire. The building was lost along with some straw, 16 brood sows, their pigs and many other items. Alma, who loved the bake, had the previous day made a large batch of doughnuts. These were served to the firefighters, who consumed them with great enjoyment. A rebuilding project was undertaken and the church members helped with the completion of the new barn.


In 1974, Vernon suffered a heart attack and underwent bypass surgery at University Hospital in Omaha. When the time for harvest arrived, about 50 neighbors came to put up the silage in one day. A banquet was prepared and served at noon at the Fairhaven Church, for all those who worked.


In 1982, Vernon and Alma moved to Lexington. He had formed a farming partnership with David Karlberg. He continued to be active in the management of the farm, purchasing livestock for the operation. He also enjoyed playing pool and cards with his friends on Saturday morning. 


Alma loved to grow all kinds of flowers, especially Roses and Snapdragons, and always displayed a beautiful garden in front of her home.  She also helped people with their gardening problems and proudly acquired the status of "Master Gardner".  Her other hobbies included  dried flower arranging and candle making. Which she loved to give as gifts to her many friends. Alma also had a love of music, and in her later years acquired a keyboard organ and regained her talent that she had enjoyed so much as young girl,  playing for friends and family.


The Eltiste's typify the statement "Tough Time's Never last, Tough People Do!!"




Chevy Coupe


Vernon had "31" Chevy Coupe  that needed new kingbolts. Jake worked at a garage in Phillipsburg and told him to  "bring it on down".

While Jake was hitting the  kingbolts with a screwdriver,  the garage owner came by and said to stop doing that, as it was hard

on the screwdriver.

Jake's reply...

"they make more!!!"



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Last Up-Date   03/26/2006 02:12:12 PM