Landscapes 15

Leora Carol Mattern

December 28, 1931 ~ February 23, 2022 (age 90)

Obituary

LEORA CAROL MATTERN

As a young man, Ernest Cadwell travelled by covered wagon from Colorado to Montana, where they homesteaded.  Ernest and Reathel had six children.  Into this family was born a little girl on a cold December day three days after Christmas in 1931.  They named her Leora Carol.  Carol's mother and older sister, Thelma, had travelled to Denver a few days before Carol's birth.  They stayed with an aunt until the birth. After Carol's birth, the three of them travelled back to Montana by train.    Carol was four years old when her oldest sister, Evelyn was married. Her older brothers Francis and Gilbert loved to tease her. Once her pillow strangely disappeared with an attached string pulled by an amused brother.

Growing up on a ranch, all the children had jobs to help out.  One of her earliest responsibilities was to gather the eggs.  All the younger children were supposed to pick up chips to start fires, and they also were to carry wood to fill the wood box each evening.  She helped with the dishes and the ironing. She learned by doing the flat pieces such as hankies and pillowcases with a sad iron. She helped in the garden and with canning its harvest. Once when her mother left for a visit to town, she baked her first pie to surprise her mother. Although the crust had to be pieced together because of not rolling out properly, her mother was so pleased and bragged on her good job!  At times, she had to bring the milk cows back from pasture or feed the bum lambs with a bottle. When she was 10 or 11 years old, it became her job to herd the sheep for her father when he had to go to town on business.  At times she had to stay all night in the sheep wagon.  It was quite a distance from any relatives, so there was no way anyone would hear her if she screamed for help.  She always wished that the sheep would bed down before it got dark, and many times she drove them to the bedding ground, but they would go on grazing until dark, which was a scary ordeal for her.  One night when she was in her sheep wagon bed, the wagon began to rock.  She was so scared; her “blood ran cold”.  She knew she couldn't call for help.  Finally, she picked up courage to sit up in bed and look out the window.  It was her saddle horse scratching himself on the corner of the sheep wagon!  What a relief!

Sheep shearing time was very interesting.  A crew of 12 men would go from ranch to ranch to shear the sheep.  The sheep had to be corralled and separated from their lambs.  When the men were ready, a sheep would be turned into the place where it would be grabbed, sat up on its rear while leaning against the legs of the shearer.  They would shear the stomach first and then if the sheep became unmanageable, they would tie two opposite feet together while they sheared the rest.  Sometimes the sheep would receive a bad cut which needed to be stitched up.  The fleece had to be tied with binder twine and thrown into a big gunny sack and someone stood inside the wool sack and tromped down the wool so as many fleece as possible would go into a single wool sack.  When the sack was filled, it had to be sewed shut, taken out of the way and another one put in its place.  After the sheep was sheared, she was put into a pen where someone branded her and then she was turned out to try to find her lamb.  The family had to cook big meals for the crew and the children had to wait until the workers were finished with their meal before they could eat.  The children just hoped they wouldn't eat all the good fried chicken and dessert before they had a chance to get some of it!

Their family butchered their own meat, poultry, pork or lamb and her mother canned the meat when they did a big butchering.  She remembers them killing five hogs at one time, and the men hung them up in the trees by their hind legs to chill.  The animals were cut in quarters and then her father would bring a quarter into the kitchen and saw it up in pieces.  He smoked the hams and slabs of bacon. Sausage was ground up with a grinder, made into patties, and preserved in a big crock of lard---one layer of sausage, one layer of lard.  Her mother made their bread.  She kept some yeast starter on hand all the time. They grew a huge garden and canned hundreds of quarts of vegetables from it. They also picked wild fruit in the summertime such as choke cherries, plums, buffalo berries, currants, and their mother canned them.   They bought peaches and pears when they went to town.  Her mother's cellar looked like a miniature grocery store.  They raised their own potatoes.  The children had to go out in the potato patch with a can of kerosene and pick the potato bugs off the plants and drop them into the kerosene to kill them.

She started school when she was five years old and would walk 1 1/4 miles to the one room schoolhouse where 8 to 10 students attended.  She tended to "get the giggles" now and then.  The punishment for "the giggles" was to stand in the corner, with her face to the wall.  The punishment didn't help very much because even the fact that she was standing in a corner struck her as very funny.  For her fifth grade, that school was closed due to a lack of students.  That year she went to school at the old Drain school which was about nine miles away.  Her older sister Ruth was her teacher.  Another older sister, Thelma, was in the school as well.  Some of the time Ruth, Thelma and Carol rode horseback to school and then batched in an old shack close to the propped-up schoolhouse when the weather was very cold and bad.  They all had their jobs.  Ruth walked to the well to get buckets of water.  Thelma had to milk the goats, and Carol had to help wash the dishes. One night some drunk fellow came and pounded on the door.  That really scared the girls!  Ruth locked the door just in time to keep him out.  Carol had nightmares over it. 

In Carol's sixth grade she attended the Ranch Creek school, which was probably 10 miles from her home, so she boarded at her oldest sister, Evelyn’s home.  She rode horseback 3 miles to school with her nephew, Francis, sitting behind her holding onto the saddle strings.  She had a sheepskin coat she wore in the wintertime when it was so cold.  In her seventh and eighth grades the school nearer home opened again, so she was able to live at home again. The children would freeze different parts of their bodies when they walked to school in the winter, so when they got their wraps off the teacher would thaw them out by putting snow on the frozen area.  A familiar sight was that of sitting around the old "pot-belly" stove studying their lessons with a foot in a pan of snow.  In the really cold winter, they liked to have some hot food for their lunch.  Sometimes each of the children agreed to bring a potato to school.  The teacher would put their potatoes in the ash pan and cover them with hot ashes.  They would take notice where their potato was in the ash pan.  At noon the teacher would dig around in the ash pan and find their hot baked potatoes.  Yuuu-mm!  That tasted so good with butter, salt, and pepper on it!  Then there were times that they would have macaroni and tomatoes.  Each family took their turn to furnish the ingredients and the teacher would put it all together.  She really liked it when they had macaroni and tomatoes.  The teacher put the kettle on the old pot-belly stove and by noon they had a feast!

Christmas was a very exciting time!  The day before the children went out to the woods with their father to find the tree.  When they picked the tree, he would cut it down and drag it home behind the saddle horse.  They then all helped to decorate the tree. In the morning they were awakened to the phonograph playing "Silent Night" or "Star of the East".  They would hurry down the stairs to see what was under the tree for them.  Some gifts were not wrapped.  Carol remembers a doll sitting under the tree for her and also a small ironing board. They also had a school program.  She remembered going to the program in a hay-lined sleigh pulled by a team of horses.  They sat in the wagon box with their backs against the side and then their father wrapped a heavy blanket or robe around them to keep them warm.  Carol had muffs for her hands.  The horses kicked snow in their faces and the jangling of the harness almost sounded like bells.  It was thrilling for them!

The day that Carol received her 8th grade diploma stood out to her as a more meaningful time in her life than any of her other graduations.  Her mother made her a new peach-colored dress, and she got her a pair of ladies' hose (royal purple hose).  She felt that surely now she was a grown-up!  All the eighth graders were supposed to go to Broadus, Montana, the county seat, for the graduation exercises.  Students came from all over Powder River County.  Carol was so afraid that it would rain hard, and they would not be able to get there, but the big day arrived, and her parents drove the 40 miles to get her there.

The next big decision Carol had to make was where to go to high school?  Her mother wanted her to go to the same school as Thelma, her older sister, and she was in Colorado Springs.  It took a while to make the adjustments, but with time she began enjoying the good music, and singing in church and in school. There was a good-sized orchestra that played in church, and she enjoyed the band as well. She earned her Music Certificate in 1954. Carol loved good music, and she always wanted to play a harp.  That never happened, but she thought that maybe she would play one in Heaven.   Carol graduated from college in the spring of 1955 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.  She was asked to teach the next school year in Herndon, PA.  She went with Gwendolyn McMullen, who taught the upper grades, and Carol taught the lower grades and taught music lessons.  The next year she went back to teach alone, so she was very busy that year, sitting up very late to grade papers and make lesson plans.   

It was in October that she received a letter from Paul Mattern who was out in school in Colorado Springs asking if he could write to her?  They began writing to each other.  When Paul came home to Pennsylvania for Christmas, they had several dates.  About Easter the following year she received a letter proposing marriage.  After the school year ended Carol went to Colorado for Paul's graduation and they began making wedding plans.  She got some jobs to help pay for the wedding while Paul began pastoring a church in Rocky Ford, Colorado.  They were married in Herndon, PA on July 19, 1957.

While pastoring the church in White Haven, PA, their lives were blessed with the arrival of their first son, Darrell. Three years later, during their pastorate of Hayes Center, NE, their second blessing, Dale, arrived.  As soon as he came home his older brother wanted to take him for a ride in his wagon.  Three years later their third blessing, Robert, arrived while they were pastoring in New Philadelphia, OH.  Busy and happy years passed, filled with the regular activities of life as well as happy family times made while camping, including a trip to New England.  When Robert was two, their family moved to Vineland, NJ to pastor there.  When the downtown church and parsonage was sold and a new property was purchased out in the country, this new location turned out to be an ideal location for growing boys who loved playing in the creek and riding their bicycles on the country roads.  Carol loved to sew, crochet, and embroider. A few of us have some of her handiwork framed, hanging on our walls. 

Their last move as a family came with their move to Colorado Springs, to pastor the church there.  Their boys entered their high school and college years there.  All too soon it seemed their boys became interested in a girl and then expanded the family as they brought in daughters-in-law.  After a few more years, Dale and Robert presented them with their four precious grandchildren, of whom they were so proud and loved so much: Krista Kay, Kiara Beth, Kent Robert, and Kyler Dale.  This chapter of life brought the joys of family, but also the final good-byes with beloved parents.  This period included a lot of travel, with several trips to Guatemala.  One of those was with a great group of young people for a work project, which they both enjoyed so much!  There were also trips to the old home ranch near Ridge, Montana, and trips east to visit family in PA, the West coast, and the Grand Canyon.

After Paul and Carol retired from the ministry, they bought their first home at 2226 W. Kiowa St. in Colorado Springs, which they really loved.  They worked in the yard and made it a beautiful place with flowers of all kinds, a little pond as well as a waterwheel and windmill which Paul artistically created.  They loved having their family over for picnics in their backyard. Her family will always remember those special times, with delicious food served with love and care.  She loved her family so much!

Dark clouds began to build on the horizon as tests showed that Paul had a tumor in his brain. Surgery seemed to go well, but in a year, he began to have trouble walking and talking and the family wondered if he had another tumor?  Tests revealed not a tumor, but fluid building up and causing pressure on his brain.  Surgery to insert a shunt to drain the fluid was performed and a lot of additional therapy was performed, however he never seemed to get back to normal, and was never able to do the things that he used to do.  On May 16, 2013, as he was sitting in his recliner he said: “I have chest pain".  Carol responded: "You know they say if you have chest pain you should go to the emergency.  Are you willing to go?"  He said "No".  Finally, Carol decided to call Darrell, and he went right over and took them to the emergency room.  Paul and Carol walked into the emergency room hand in hand.  Three hours later he had passed on.

The last chapter began with Carol trying to adjust to living alone, keeping in touch with loved ones and friends.  Several serious "wake-up" calls, including being scammed by a caller, alerted the family that she was no longer capable of living alone, and she moved into a cottage on the lovely Myron Stratton Estate in March 2014. She made three more moves as she needed more care.  The staff at Winfield House, The Retreat at Sunny Vista, and lastly Constant Care Woodburn were so gracious and helpful as her required level of care increased.  Many of the staff and caregivers expressed how they enjoyed Carol and felt that she was special.  We are grateful for each of those who cared for her.

She suffered a debilitating stroke on February 19, 2022.  Pikes Peak Hospice gently and lovingly cared for her until her Heavenly Father received her into his loving arms on February 23, 2022.  Her well lived 90 years were just the beginning of eternal joys in the mansion prepared for her by our Lord whom she served and loved so well.

 

She was preceded in death by her parents, Ernest and Reathel Cadwell, three brothers: Francis, Gilbert and Philip and three sisters: Evelyn, Ruth and Thelma.

 

She leaves behind her three sons: Darrell (Carolyn), Dale (Melinda), Robert (Carolyn), four grandchildren: Krista, Kiara, Kent, and Kyler, her sister, Grace McKnight and a host of nieces and nephews.

 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Pikes Peak Hospice: 2550 Tenderfoot Hill Street, Colorado Springs, CO 80906 or online at www.pikespeakhospice.org

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