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Chuck Hinman, IJMA #10, My Dad, Arley Hinman

It's Just Me Again #10:My Dad, Arley Hinman This long biographical story is a must read for anyone who enjoyed Ernest Hemingway's My Old Man, Erskine Caldwell's Georgia Boy or any story about a father-son relationship will enjoy this fascinating account of Arley Hinman by his son, Chuck Hinman.
The next earlier Chuck Hinman story is Not in my boat Reader comments to CM are appreciated, as are emails directly to Mr. Hinman at:

By Chuck Hinman

My Dad -- Arley Hinman

In all my writing the last couple years, I have written a lot about everyone else but not much about my dad, Arley Hinman. My readers could ponder if there was some reason for my writing so little about him. I can assure you, there is none.

I don't deny I could be characterized as being more of a momma's boy than a daddy's boy -- I see nothing abnormal about that. That probably is true in the majority of families. It probably is an indication of where the tough discipline came from. Even then, my discipline was never physical, often verbal and highly effective. When Dad chewed me out, if I was facing the sun, I often saw a rainbow from the amount of spit coming from his mouth in the chewing-out process. I just ducked and took it -- it went with the area.

Let me tell you about my Dad.

He was born June 14 (Flag Day) 1893 to Artie (Miller) Hinman and Lansing Hinman, farmers in the Wymore, Nebraska area. Those grandparents died when I was young. They were not red-neck farmers. Quite the opposite. They were refined, interested in the arts -- and that characteristic rubbed off on my Dad and his sister Grace.

Dad and Mom inherited the Hinman family's "doctor's book case" -- the kind with 5 shelves and glass doors that rolled up and over the books. The book case was jam-packed with the books of the day as well as some timeless classics. I suggest such a bookcase tells more than any one other single item about the people who developed that library.

Doctor's book case contained priceless letters

I don't know how many times I ratted around in the books in that library. Some of them contained priceless letters written or received by Grandmother Artie. One was a letter written by her to her daughter Grace when she was a student at the University of Nebraska. Grandma was urging on Auntie Grace the importance of chaste living. It was kind of "hokey" sounding but tells a ton about the family values my Dad was raised under. I suspect that Grandma wrote the letter, then didn't have the nerve to mail it and stuck it in the book. And no doubt those same values had a distinct bearing on my own rearing. Isn't that interesting how it all comes together? I feel so fortunate to have inherited my Dad's genes. They have stood me well.

Dad and Mom enjoyed reminiscing about their school days. They were high school sweethearts. They talked of their study of German and Latin, spelling bees, family get togethers. Dad was on the debate teams in both high school and college. He delighted in helping all 3 of us kids, brother Bob, sister Joy Ann, and myself with our homework where math was involved. His interest and help apparently paid off because in later years when I went to college, the only subjects in which I could depend on an "A" was anything having to do with Math. I loved math because of him! Thanks Dad!

Winter days were enjoyed ice skating on the Blue River

Mom and Dad told of winter Sunday afternoons they enjoyed as they and their ice-skating friends skated the Blue River from Blue Springs to Holmesville and back. Who thought our folks lives must have been a drag!

I think it is interesting that Auntie Grace, a product of a Nebraska farm got a degree in music from the University of Nebraska. My Dad, Arley was just a year short of receiving a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Nebraska when his parents decided to quit farming suddenly. Dad had to make the difficult decision of keeping the farm going or pursuing an Engineering career. Obviously he opted for the farming career and so, important life decisions are not the lot of my generation only, apparently Arley Hinman, my Dad faced some early day challenges as well.

One decision speaks volumes of his character

Another decision my Dad made speaks volumes about him and his values. Mom was born with the most disfiguring birthmark I have ever seen. It was called a "port wine stain" and covered generally one-half her face and body. It was everywhere. I have done a writing piece on Mom's birth-mark and it appears in my book soon to be published. I mention it here only to show that my Dad had strength of character to know that a pigment impediment in his soul-mate did not deter him from marrying and sharing his life with her. Not everyone would have or could have done that. Do you begin to see what kind of man my Dad was?

Started farming in 1922

My folks started farming a few miles north and west of Blue Springs, Nebraska where I was born in 1922. I'm not sure of the details but I believe my Dad's parents, Artie and Lansing in 1925 exchanged their Blue Springs farm (somehow) for a 160 acre superbly-improved farm between Liberty and Wymore, Nebraska, the home where I grew up in the 1920's and 1930's. It was a showcase home of the day and I have written other stories about that luxury in our lives. Funny that I would remember this detail about our fancy house. The living room and dining room were combined and there were extra large windows throughout those rooms. When we moved in, the windows were covered with elegant blue damask drapes. Apparently Mom thought they needed to be "aired-out" from their previous owner and she hung them on the clothes line. Our dog made havoc of the drapes, chewing them to shreds in an afternoon of fun for him! There went the fancy drapes and the dog!

I'm guessing but I think that farm represented the bulk of my grandparent's estate when they passed and it was inherited equally by my Dad and his sister Grace. We lived there and called it our home but my Dad struggled through the bad Depression-drought and everything else years just making interest payments to Auntie Grace. That ended after the war when he was able to make other financial arrangements to buy her interest.

I have written tons of material on the vexing problems my parents faced in their family bearing years -- a time-period of about 15 years running roughly from 1929 to 1944. Everything that could go wrong went wrong -- the stock market crash, the Great Depression, and year after year of shortage of rain and insect plagues. It was the pits for farmers especially! Cash flow was hard to maintain. I imagine there were many times when my Dad wondered if he took a wrong turn when he decided around 1915 to abandon plans for an Engineering career in favor of a farming career.

Farming was characterized by owning expensive equipment

Farming in those rough days was characterized by farmer's owning expensive farm machinery together.

I would give anything to visit with my Dad right now about his decision to farm. I wonder if he really had a farmer's heart -- I suspect he had more of a gentleman farmer's heart all the time. Things don't fit together -- like for example this. Before times became hard, Dad bought things for himself like Florsheim shoes and Hart-Schaffner and Marx men's suits. Doesn't sound very farmerish to me. The folks played bridge and buddied with their old high school friends -- the Rice's, the Patton's, the Chamberlains, the Connetts, Verneil Griffin, and Marjorie Custer. These people were not farmers, they were bankers, insurance salesman, railroad workers, store operators, and school teachers. Dad used to enjoy returning to the University of Nebraskan for football games on Saturday afternoons. He took our young family to the YMCA in Lincoln for Saturday lunches before the football games. It was where he used to hang-out when he was going to college and it didn't go away just because he had a young family and was farming. Do you see where my Cornhusker roots come from? I was born a Cornhusker and nothing has changed in 84 years. Thanks Dad! Go -- big Red!

The 25 good years of farming

Well fast forward a few years through and past the bad times. Dad and Mom had probably 25 good years of farming. They paid off the place and had a wonderful, comfortable life style. During that time, Brother Bob married Lindy Lundine of Chanute, Kansas and Bob and Dad farmed together. Bob and Lindy had their own land nearby but they shared ownership in some of their machinery.

He was an active Mason

Dad was very active in the Masonic lodge over his lifetime. He was an expert at knowing and teaching the ritual of the lodge. Dad enjoyed being on a bowling team for many years. He enjoyed playing pitch with his buddies in a Wymore pool hall when farm duties weren't occupying all his time.

He was a Republican who was conservative, politically; liberal in religion

He was active in the Republican Party. In my day and age, people's politics and religion can be described as "conservative" or "liberal" and that goes a long way in predicting their thinking on a broad range of subjects such as politics and religion. I would have considered Dad a conservative in political matters but perhaps a liberal in religious matters. I may be wrong in that judgment of Dad.

He was active in the community

He was active in the community -- on the school board, the telephone board, the Island Grove township board, and other boards of the day. He and Mom were active in the Liberty Congregational church. They took many nice trips. Dad was a regular at the Indianapolis 500 mile automobile races and he enjoyed going to corn-shucking contests all over the mid-west.

And most of all, Dad was a compassionate soulmate to my Mom when she was eventually crippled by arthritis and couldn't go as much. He could have gone on and on but to his credit -- he stayed with his sweetheart and cared for her. Dad eventually got a bad case of emphysema which eventually did him in. Dad neither drank or smoked - he was a tee-totaler.

A tribute to brother Bob and his wife Lindy

Although this is a piece primarily about my Dad. It seems a fitting place to pay respect to my brother Bob and wife Lindy for their selfless looking after the affairs of our aging parents. I know my sister Joy Ann English shares my feelings about the debt of gratitude we feel toward Bob and Lindy for stepping in and doing for Dad and Mom that which needed to be done, never once complaining that Sis and I were not doing our share! I particularly make mention of the fact that after Dad passed away in 1969, Mom wanted to stay in her home. Because of her handicaps brought on mostly by arthritis, Bob and Lindy made that possible by Bob spending countless nights away from his own home and bed so that Mom could avoid a nursing home. That went on for 4 years when Mom passed away suddenly after a fall in her beloved home. Neither Mom nor Dad spent one day in a nursing home -- the very thing they had longed for. Thanks Bob (now deceased after spending several years in a nursing home himself) and Lindy for your kindness in helping Mom and Dad to achieve that in their lives -- never spending a night in a nursing home! We love and express our heartfelt thanks for your sacrifice!

Merle Hinman summed up Arley Hinman best

I think a fitting end to this account of my Dad, Arley Hinman is this simple account of his last days written by my Mom after his death. It's the only thing we have in writing from Mom and it chronicles in pretty "plain vanilla" the close of the Arley Hinman - Merle Hinman union -- a life with it's ups and downs but typical of life in general in rural United States of America and in particular Nebraska -- where the road signs on entering the state proclaim -- "You are entering Nebraska -- the Good Life." And so it is!

Rest In Peace Dad! You did good!-Written by your loving son "Shorty" aka as Chuck Hinman, May 6, 1969

Dad's asthma got progressively worse all winter. Just occasionally a shot or some medicine gave relief and only for a few days. It seemed like nothing much ailed him but asthma. He sat up several nights in order to breathe.

On Thursday morning he came out saying he couldn't stand it any longer and had to do something. We'd previously planned if he should have to go to the hospital, I would stay here and Bob or LuAnn would stay nights with me.

He wasn't able, but he got ready -- took the necessary things in my cosmetic case and drove to Wymore. They gave him medicine and then called Dennis to drive him to the Lutheran Hospital at Beatrice. When Dennis returned he called Bob and told him he had just driven Arley to the hospital. Bob came right up to see what was the matter.

He (Dad) seemed real good the rest of the P.M. and visited. He was not so well when Bob went back next day -- Friday. He didn't eat and didn't respond to medicine so they put him on oxygen which helped him breathe some.

Saturday, Bob and I went up all P.M. He was breathing with oxygen.

Sunday noon, Bob, LuAnn, and I ate dinner at Nancy's and afterward the girls drove me to the hospital. He was on an oxygen tank and didn't respond to us at all and was breathing awfully hard.

As we went through Wymore, we talked to Dr. Nelson. He said Arley had had a stroke in the night. They'd tried to call us at Bob's but no one was at home.

Anyone who knew Arley would have known he wouldn't want to live that way and God in his mercy released him.

If a funeral can be beautiful, his was beautiful -- a nice sun-shiny day, his children, grandchildren, relatives, and friends from Blue Springs, Wymore. and Liberty were there.

Written by Mom Hinman on the passing of Dad.-Mom passed away four years later in 1973 as a result of a fall in her beloved home from which she never recovered. Our family has often expressed the thought that if you can WILL yourself to die, that Mom did it. The doctor never understood why she didn't recover from the fall.

Mom had left verbal instructions with Bob some time before her death that she wanted the family to gather at her house immediately upon her death and look in her dresser drawer for some personal bequests to each of us, the children and grandchildren. It wasn't much, mostly little things we had given her previously -- a picture, a dish, a piece of jewelry etc. The item she left for me was a ruby red depression glass platter I had given her for Christmas in 1932. I will always cherish her handwritten note -- it said "Thanks for everything, Chuck" -- Mom

That's our Mom and Dad.
Chuck Hinman, 87 year old former Nebraska farm boy, spent his working days with Phillips Petroleum Company in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and Houston, Texas. He lives at Tallgrass Estates in Bartlesville where he keeps busy writing his memories. Chuck is visually impaired. His hobbies are writing, playing the organ, and playing bridge.

This story was posted on 2009-08-23 07:16:19
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