Dandelions for Mrs. Wilt

Neighbor Mary Wilt, in her 70s, was a neighbor of Wilsons. She moseyed across the highway in her slippers, because her feet hurt, to visit Leora Wilson. Mrs. Wilt had been born in Germany so spoke with a brogue. She paid Dale and Danny each a quarter to pick dandelions. Mrs. Wilt was born in Germany.

Pete Jensen, her half brother, was born in Iowa seventeen years later, the same year that Mary married Benjamin Wilt of Earlham. After Mary was widowed, she and Pete lived together just west of Pete’s pasture.

Mary (Jensen) Wilt and her bachelor brother Pete Jensen, Dexter, Iowa.

The Wilson brothers weren’t helping Mrs. Wilt weed her lawn. Prohibition had ended two years earlier, and she planned to use those blossoms make dandelion wine. 

The boys spent their quarters on baseball caps from the Sears catalog. Nine-year-old Junior wrote his big brothers, “We sent out an order and I am getting a baseball cap and a pair of shoes, and I get I’ll look like a dressed up millionaire.” Dale and Danny were also getting shoes. Danny wrote that now they’d be able to go to Sunday School. He and Junior would wear Delbert and Donald’s old knickers, the ones they’d worn to eight grade graduation.

Don’t forget what happened to Mrs. Wilt’s pump organ!

Ben and Mary Wilt are buried at Earlham, Iowa. “Born on the Island of Pellworm, Schleswig-Holstein. Parents: Julius Mathias Jensen & Dorothea Amalie Clausen. Maria came to America about 1870, with family. Her mother died aboard ship (of smallpox). The family lived in Dallas County, near Dexter. Married Benjamin Wilt, of Earlham, on March 24, 1887; he preceded her in death. No children.

Pete Jensen is buried at Dexter. He served in World War I: Iowa, Pvt Co G 161 Infantry.

From Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression.


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