A Day in the life...
First hand accounts from our local citizens
As told by Valla Wilson Hind:
Opal Rae ‘Cupp’ Hummel was born February 8, 1916 to Nettie (Imhoff) and Marvin Bert Cupp. Opal was the granddaughter of one of Towanda's first settlers, Daniel H. Cupp.
Opal came to work for my grandparents, Harry W. and Vena Wilson in the mid 1940’s. They owned the beautiful majestic home at 121 N 2nd Street in Towanda, Kansas, along with several hundred acres to the north and west, all the way to the Whitewater River. They raised Quarter Horses and Cattle.
Opal had two children, a set of twins, Gene and Joyce, born in 1935. She and the twins settled into the small “Garage” house on the west high, just across the street to the east from my grandparents.
The “garage” house had belonged to Otis and Evelyn Nace. They had built the garage first and lived in it until they could get the rest of the house built. However, that did not happen as they ended up taking job in Pampa, Texas and moved.
The house was cozy but had an outdoor privy with a chain pull toilet. By the time I was born (1951), there had been an indoor toilet and shower installed.
Opal cooked and cleaned for my grandparents, but she was also considered one of the family and so were her children, Jean and Joyce. The twins were only a few years younger than my dad, Harry Wilson, Jr., who was the youngest of the Wilson children, born 1931.
When Grandmas and Harry, Jr. were away, Opal looked after my dad and made sure he was staying out of mischief. A near to impossible task, I’m sure!
Some of my fondest memories as a child were seeing my grandparents several times a week and getting to sample Opal’s sugar cookies with red hots. She would bake once a week and fill a large red tin in the pantry with ginger snaps and sugar cookies. Being a ranching family, people were always dropping by, so the cookie tin was always kept filled to the brim. Grandkids knew where it was kept in the pantry and were always welcome anytime to the cookies, but the limit was three.
Opal was also known for her wonderful chicken and dumplings and chicken and noodles. I would try to sneak a sample of her raw noodles only to be told to, “scoot”, and remind me “those noodles are for Sunday dinner!”
She was often invited along on trips with my Grandparents and family get togethers like the 4th of July picnics. We all always enjoyed her company!
Embroidery and cross-stitch was another wonderful skill Opal had. You were a very lucky girl to be presented with a set of her hand embroidered tea towels or pillows as a wedding or shower gift.
On hote summer afternoons, I can remember visiting with her and my grandmother as they relaxed in the sitting room of the big house and worked on their sewing projects. Grandmother with her quilt pieces and Opal with her embroidery. This is where I learned to sew. The would insist it was too hot to be out tiding my horse, and so coerced me into learning needle work. I’m glad they did!
Opal was very involved with her own children and grandchildren, as well as, being very close to her sister Millie, who lived in Wichita. She also loved collecting cup and saucer sets and miniature souvenir spoons from various states.
Opal was like another daughter to my grandparents as she was the same age as my dads older twin sisters, Eleine and Evelyn, born in 1916 and only two years younger than his older brother Melvin, born in 1914. My grandfather was aways teasing Opal and would catch her when both her hands were in dish water and jerk her aprons strings as he rushed past her. She always took the teasing well, and would laugh.
Opal suddenly became ill in 1972. Grandmother drover her to the hospital, where she died a short time later of heart failure. She was only 56 years old. Needless to say, we were all in shock!
As I stood at her gravesite during the funeral, I began to reminisces about my childhood days of getting to see her almost daily and the impact she had on my life, as well as, my siblings and cousins. She had lived to see me grown and married of which I am grateful.
I still miss her to this day. Especially, when I am trying a new recipe and it is not coming out like it was intended. I stop and think to myself, “What would Opal do to make this taste just right?”
- Valla Wilson Hind