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September 13, 2006
Phyllis Starkebaum made life art
|PHYLLIS STARKEBAUM does with a needle and thread what most artist do with canvas and paint. Above she stands by one of many pieces of embrodery art that graces her home southeast of Haxtun.|
|Jean Gray photo|
HAXTUN, Colorado (STPNS) -- Phyllis Starkebaum made life an art form, creating, through embroidery, much of the decor that fills her home.
Phyllis Anderson entered her parent?s world one day after Christmas, Dec. 26, 1921, the youngest of five children, but her attitude and physical appearance defy her years.
Growing up in the Fairfield Community, Phyllis attended school there through her freshman year when her mother Hilma (Benson) Anderson, who was a teacher, decided she should transfer to Haxtun so she could take Latin. She boarded that first year with her aunt and uncle, living upstairs in their home. ?I was brought to town on Monday morning in time for school and picked up on Friday after school to go home for the weekend,? said Phyllis. ?You didn?t take any sports, because they didn?t have as much then.?
The following two years, she roomed in a woman?s house with two other girls. The rules didn?t change, however, she still came to town on Monday morning and returned Friday after school. ?I wasn?t allowed to spend many weekends in town,? she said, adding that they did not have cars like kids today. ?We went everywhere on foot.?
She did participate in music and worked in the school office as a secretary. She said hers was a competitive class, with five girls fighting for the top spot. ?I didn?t make it,? she said. ?It was a very smart group of girls.? She graduated from Haxtun High School in 1939.
She met Lorin Starkebaum while in high school, but they did not start dating until they were both students at the Colorado State College of Education in Greeley (now the University of Northern Colorado). Lorin graduated from HHS in 1940. Phyllis and Lorin married on Aug. 8, 1943.
Phyllis attended college for two years in order to earn her teaching certificate and then taught third grade in Holyoke. After teaching for three years, Phyllis became pregnant. ?At that time, women were not allowed to teach when they were pregnant,? she said. ?So, that was the end of my teaching.?
Once she began having children, Phyllis became a homemaker and mother, but Lorin points out that she was also a sheepherder for a time. ?That?s right,? said Phyllis. ?I used to take the kids out with me in the truck. I had to try that.? She said she raised a couple of hundred ewes for a couple of years before she quit.
Phyllis and Lorin have three children, seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren:
Son Richard ?Curley? Starkebaum and wife Kathy farm nearby. They have three children: Brian and wife Sammi Starkebaum of Haxtun; Stacy and husband Adam Tempel, Haxtun and their sons, Tyler, 5, Ryan, 3, and Maclin, 2; and daughter Jodi Starkebaum and friend Dave Brocker, Boston, Mass.
Daughter Pat of Haxtun, and her husband, the late Richard Meakins, have two sons. Mark and wife Cheryl Meakins live at Fort Collins with their children, Samantha, 5, and Nathaniel, 2. Steven and wife Heather, Haxtun, have two children, Eligah, 6, and Erika, 3.
Daughter Nancy and husband George Wallace live at Fort Collins. They have two sons, David and Thomas. David has one son, Christopher, 4.
Life for Phyllis has revolved around farming, family, church and community. Lorin farmed until a couple of years ago when health problems caused him to retire. Now, he goes out on occasion to help, said Phyllis.
In those early years of raising her family, Phyllis belonged to the Victory Federated Extension Club, which held home demonstrations on such things as ironing and canning. Phyllis said she remembers those demonstrations every time she takes out an ironing board. ?I remember teaching how to iron a man?s shirt. I think, I?ve got to go this way; I got to go that way.? She added that you ironed everything back then. These days she does not iron. ?I press. I don?t dampen it and put it in a bag. I bring it out of the dryer and press down the collars a bit.?
She does still can. ?I always loved to garden and I used to can a lot.? Now Rich does the gardening and she just goes over and picks what she wants, including cucumbers for pickling. She needs those for her Thousand Island dressing, she said. It is sort of a family joke. ?I often fix lunch for Adam and Brian and they said I should open the Hill Top Café and feature my Thousand Island dressing. I told them I really can?t do that because it?s difficult to give out my recipe because the summer before, you raise the cucumbers and then you make the pickles using Kathy?s mother?s recipe. You can?t make my Thousand Island dressing without those pickles. They quit right there,? she said, a gleam in her eye.
She also cans raspberry jam using berries from the farm she and Lorin raised their children on. Stacey and Adam live there now. She and Lorin built a new home two miles away a few years ago. It is a home filled with many memories collected over the years, including gifts she and Lorin collected in their travels, her mother?s dishes and the embroidery art she crafted over the years. She has lived in a two-mile circle her entire married life and in Phillips County her whole life. She remembers the town of Haxtun when it was a very active community, where Saturday nights meant going to town for shopping, socializing and band concerts.
A lot of things have changed over the past 85 years, said Phyllis. She remembers growing up in Fairfield and going to neighbors? homes for dinner on Sunday. ?It was a tradition. Sundays were spent visiting friends. It was a different home every Sunday. Sometimes it was yours. Sometimes it was somebody else?s. It was communitywide.?
After she and Lorin married, social time was Saturday night when they went out to dinner with other young couples and being there for their children while they participated in school activities and 4-H.
These days, Phyllis spends a lot of time on the computer and watching some TV. ?I think that is the main thing that has changed about the way we live,? she said. ?Because of the computer, you have access to anything you want.?
She mostly does the family books and corresponds with family via e-mail, but she has also worked on researching both the Benson and Anderson family genealogy. The Bensons came from Sweden. ?Lorin and I made a trip to Sweden and met a lot of the relatives,? said Phyllis. One day recently, one of those relatives, a second cousin, gave her a surprise. ?He called and told me to turn on Google and I would be able to see his house. I turned it on and, sure enough, there it was.?
While she does not watch a lot of television, Phyllis said she has her own because she does not always want to watch the same thing Lorin does. ?I always say Lorin speaks three languages ? football, basketball and baseball. He watches a lot of sports.?
When Phyllis climbs in the grand marshals wagon on Sept. 30, it will not be the first time she has had the honor. She and Lorin led the Phillips County Fair Parade as co-grand marshals in 2005.
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