Oma Sue's Blog
Hi – I’m Sue Reyzlik. I recently realized my life-long dream of building a writing hut in the backyard. The writing hut serves as a creative space and home office for Oma Publishing. This blog will be intermingled with family history, varied experiences and insights on being a Grandma (Oma), creating my special backyard space, as well as, my “retirement” career as a self-publisher of children’s stories. And perhaps a little bit on the 32 years I served as Executive Director for Keep Fremont Beautiful and the wonderful people who are sharing this adventure.
Why would there be a picture of the Monke house in a 1920’s picture album belonging to someone in the “Green” family? I’m not sure who the album belonged to… it could have belonged to my Great Aunt Rose, Great Aunt Kay or maybe my Great Grandmother Katherine Green. I simply don’t know.
It was a strange thing to turn the page and see a house that so resembled the home that my parents would purchase in 1969… right there – big as you please. Upon closer inspection… it was indeed a picture of the home that my parents would purchase in 1969 in Fontanelle, Nebraska…
The photo of the Monke house revealed that the home was in pristine condition. The lightning rods were located perfectly on the roof. The chicken coop in the background was immaculate… There, on the second floor… were the windows that would become my bedroom in later years. The footbridge across the ditch hadn’t changed.
From other pictures in the album, the date the photo was taken was sometime between the mid 1920’s and the mid 1930’s. My Aunt Peggy had been born in 1927 and she appeared to be a toddler in surrounding photos – as were pictures of Charles the third. Why would there be a picture of the Monke house included in the photo album?
I sent the photos to my brother Stacy. He was as perplexed as I. I called attention to the farmland picture directly beneath the picture of the Monke house. I told him that I had seen those pictures before and had assumed that those were photos of the peony farm in Kansas. What could the peony farm in Kansas have to do with the Monke house in Fontanelle?
My parents had delayed moving to the country until after I graduated from High School. Stacy was going into second grade when they purchased the acreage in Fontanelle. He grew up on the “farm” and has many more memories associated with the house and grounds.
As we talked about the picture in the album, he recalled the times that Mom had been approached to sell the prized peonies she had growing in the garden. Stacy wasn’t sure who had made the offers but he remembered that people had wanted to buy the plants. I didn’t recall any such requests but I don’t doubt his recollection. In the fall of 1969, I had started college and was living at home and at my grandparents, so my interactions with visitors to the farm were limited.
The fact that the picture of the Monke house is glued quite permanently to the album page with the peony farm photo, doesn’t seem like it could be a coincidence.
Everything from here on out is speculation… a theory. Just one of many possible explanations of why there would be a picture of the Monke house on the same album page as Charles the third and the peony farm.
My Great Grandparents supplied a variety of plant materials to prominent homeowners and business owners throughout the region. Perhaps the Monke’s had requested that the greenhouse acquire a special variety of peonies to be planted in their gardens.
The picture of Charles the third, as a toddler, appears to be taken as the greenhouse in Colorado is being built. The timing may be significant as in relationship to a specific year. A year that the album owner would be aware.
Perhaps the same peony species was planted at the farm in Kansas and at the Monke property in Fontanelle, at the exact time of the building of the greenhouse in Colorado which would have been the exact age of Charles the third depicted in the photo.
What if this peony variety was expected to turn the peony universe on its head. What if this peony was to be so superbly vibrant in color and scent as to make any grower the envy of the region? This species of peony, the likes of which had never before been grown in this part of the world… a peony that had been improperly imported through Colorado and planted in Kansas and Fontanelle could ultimately reap great reward or result in dismal failure.
Documentation of the plantings were simply photos of the Monke home/property and the corresponding farmland in Kansas… The photos were a code – when would that variety bloom? The only connection between the Nebraska and Kansas properties were the peonies… If you knew the current ages of the children, you could back track and determine the growing success of the peony species.
The fact that my grandfather would nearly die in a car accident upon returning from the peony farm in Kansas, only adds more mystery to the Decoration Day Darlings and the mystery surrounding the photos in the family album…
And how amazing that my parents would end up purchasing the Monke home in 1969 and how odd that my little brother would remember such a peculiar peony purchasing request… someone mysteriously showing up and wanting to purchase the peonies for hundreds of dollars… isn’t that interesting and mysterious… the case of the perplexing picture and peonies…