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Married Robert Ira (Bob) Hungerford of Portland Oregon July 22, 1948.
Betty Hungerford Built her lifelong home in Milwaukie Oregon 1949
Children– Marian June 6, 1950, Christie Oct 23, 1951, Robert (Rob) Jan 27, 1953, Eric June 1, 1954, John Oct 31, 1955, Nancy Nov 26, 1957, William Ira b/d 1959, Paul July 21, 1961, Ben Nov 13, 1962, Andy Dec 25, 1963, Betty died in the home she helped build 74 years before. December 19, 2023, age 98
Elizabeth Jane Hulda Hansen Born at home July 29, 1925, to Chris and Edith (Nilson) Hansen, Hampton Nebraska. Raised in Aurora Nebraska at Pleasant Hill Farm. Fathers’ family from Denmark, mothers from Sweden. Baptized Sept 6, 1925, Confirmed April 16, 1939, Immanuel Lutheran church Hampton. Dana College, Blair Nebraska. Elementary Education. Taught in Nebraska and Lake Oswego Oregon.
Betty had 5 fundamental influences in her life.
1) Strength and Hard Work- Grew up on a dryland Nebraska farm. With no electricity and most work done through muscle power. She learned to truly enjoy hard physical work and making do. She learned gratitude for little things like rain, clean water and the God given gift of life itself. She learned to push herself (and others) hard to get a job done. Extreme willpower.
2) Fear- The Great Depression hit during her early teen years. No rain, no crops & no money. Betty often told about losing the farm and her mother crying. In her 4-H work she tracked family expenses and only 1 item was purchased in a store the year she was 12. She developed an intense desire to be “in control” of her own life and the world around her. She tightly controlled her own emotions, actions and feelings and required the same from those around her. Doing her duty was paramount!
3) Faith– She grew up in a conservative Lutheran church and fully accepted it’s Bible based teachings. She tells of her 13th birthday at camp and the song- “Living for Jesus” during which she committed herself to obeying Jesus throughout her life. As an adult with children, she faithfully attended and was highly active in a nearby Lutheran church. In later years she described herself as a “missionary” working to counteract the extra biblical teachings she found there.
4) Intelligence and Innovation- An extremely intelligent woman in a time when such a combination was of-ten ridiculed. She was the top student in her college and often showed visionary wisdom far beyond her years. Throughout her life, she read 1 or 2 books per month, subscribed to, and read at least 5 thought provoking magazines monthly plus daily newspapers. Her home library had many hundreds of volumes to encourage a love of reading in her children. She was often frustrated by the tight social limits imposed on women but threw herself whole heartedly into the areas she found open. She taught her own children at least as much and often more than they learned in formal schools. She formed and led adult and child Bible studies, Brownies, Y Indian Guides, Campfire Girls, Girl Scouts, 4-H groups, cooking classes, Highland fling dancing, piano lessons, sewing classes and many more. Studied Architecture to plan her own house, and studied weaving so she could teach her young children. She made suggestions, plus the children built many things on their own- a fire pole between floors in the house, secret passages behind walls, triple deck tree forts with water and power. Whatever a child was interested in she would learn and help them do.
5) Family- She birthed 10 children in 13 years. She pushed her active, energetic children into a life of adventure, large scale gardening, faith, and fun. Exhausting, but she faithfully soldiered on year after year while husband Bob worked hard at his business to support the family. A pony for riding, chickens, cows for beef & daily milking. A reluctant son once calculated that it was cheaper to buy food than to do the work and raise their own. She responded- “I am not raising animals. I am raising children”. Long term vision!
Betty was brilliant in her college work. When her son John attended the same college 40 years later, 4 of his professors had been classmates of hers! One said. “Elizabeth and I always competed for top honors, but she cheated! After lights out, she would go to the fire escape stairs and study 2 more hours because there was a light there all night.” As a college student she wanted to try out a new name- “Lizzy” instead of Elizabeth. There was quite a fight when she got home between mother and daughter. They finally agreed on calling her “Betty”. Daughter Christie– “When I was in my mid 30’s I realized that my mother was a beautiful woman! I had always admired my Aunts. They wore fashionable clothes, pretty jewelry, and had professionally done hair. My mother had none of those. It took me a lot of years to realize that she expressed her beauty in her “garden,” which was the world around her that she was making grow. She poured herself into her children, church, and friends. She created beauty in them instead of focusing on her outward appearance.” When Betty was at her 50th class re-union at her teacher’s college in Nebraska her children sent large boxes of colorful dried flowers we grew on our own farm. A florist created bouquets for the reunion. The children sent a card- “We were the classroom that she excelled in as a teacher”. Food Betty was friendly, outgoing, energetic, and cheerful. But fun jokes, humor, and happiness… not so much. Except for the potato incident… At dinner with 11 around the table, a child said, “please pass me a potato.” Mother casually reached out, picked up a baked potato and passed it through the air like a football! Everyone was stunned! Our mother?! We children did not know how to react. Memorable be-because it was so unlike her. Another fun food memory– Dad was away on a trip and mom served… kangaroo tail, octopus, turtle soup, buffalo meat, squid, and a host of other exotic items. All from cans which she had slowly collected in secret. We kept the empties on a counter for years after. We children were accustomed to “hot food and lots of it” with salt & pepper being exotic spices. Meat, potatoes, and vegetables with lots of our own fresh squeezed cow juice (milk)– always nutritious though not fancy. But mom sometimes liked to try different things too. There were many St Pat-rick's days with green mashed potato’s and she always was buying what-ever the newest weird vegetable was. What's a rutabaga? What's a starfruit? She would buy all these different things and try them. We sometimes ate spaghetti made with spaghetti squash. With 11 of us around the table, it was always a lot of food to prepare. “I remember lots of little steaks. She kept going constantly for a long time, making the food for everybody. I remember that she would start with a plate stacked with pancakes and we kept eating them. She just kept making them and making them and making them.” Betty taught all her children how to cook, both indoors and outdoors on a fire. “I remember making those big deep-dish pizzas. Oh, that was fun. Making them from our own dough. We used the baking trays that have the tall edge on them. Filled with pizza. That's how thick they were. And we cut out big rectangular pieces.” “I think one of my favorite memories of food is the root beer floats. Oh, yes, that was fun. Once a month dad would bring home A&W root beer and ice cream for dessert.” At 4-H camp Colton, Betty was walking a trail when some young campers demanded a payment for crossing the bridge. “What's the fee to cross?”, she asked. “You have to stand on your head!” So she took off her wig, stood on it, then walked across the bridge- they all laughed. “I learned anatomy from mom when we butchered chickens. She explained what each part does. How it interacted with others, what to look for that might be disease.” She would say- “See how this joint can move both ways but that other one only goes back and forth.” “When friends came from the East and their daughter died while visiting us it was a huge concern for mom. She didn’t know at the time she was pregnant, but she knew the medicine we were all required to take while quarantined was super strong and dangerous. It probably was that medicine which caused the baby’s death. My eventual understanding was that on the way to us, the family had stopped to see newly arrived Zebras at the Denver Zoo and they died from Equine Encephalitis from that brief zebra contact.” “I remember her pride and her smile that went on and on when Christie got to ride on the Rose Parade float from Canada as the “Queen” when the real queen got sick the night be-fore. The people of Portland didn’t know the difference and she was a proud mama indeed to have a queen for a daughter.” Maybe it was because young Elizabeth was proud to be the same age as Queen Elizabeth of England. She was always interested in what “the other Elizabeth” did.
Betty did things in a BIG way. Ten children with 10 acres to raise them. That was not enough to keep her busy so each year she and her children gave tours to visiting busloads of children on farm field trips– What the various animals were, what they ate, how to milk a cow and the perpetual question from 6 year olds- how to tell a boy cow from a girl cow. With pony's, cows, pigs, sheep, guinea hens, peacocks, steers, goats, lots of chickens and more, it was like a trip to the zoo! She loved guests and organized hundreds of gatherings for adults and children over the years. Having 100 guests was common. For a grand-daughter’s birthday she laid out 12 big tables across the lawns and put a different month cake on each. January, February and so on. Then we all invited friends, and they were full. Over 100 people! We all had fun. After the concrete floor went into the barn, she enthusiastically joined the square dances the children organized and invited many of her friends too. A fun family story– When Marian was traveling in Germany, she stopped at a small randomly chosen church to worship. Instead of a ser-vice, they were showing travel pictures… and she saw pictures of our farm! Total surprise. The German couple had been guests of friends who came for a picnic at the Hunger-ford’s farm. The “big” house- With Bettys vision and Bobs willingness to add on with hammer and saw, the house ended up with 10 bedrooms, 4 kitchens, 5 bathrooms and was a maze where visitors frequently got lost. Bob and Betty did not always share the same vision, however. She wanted an open stairway to “let light up-wards in the house”. Bob said “no, it will send all the heat up too”. Betty took a hammer and put 50 holes in the wall while Bob was gone. Bob gave in to the inevitable and Betty got her open stairway. A relative visiting from the east pointed to a picture of them at the beach. Betty is looking north; Bob is looking south. She said “this is their life. They are together, yes, but they are facing different directions”.
Betty and her family shared their big home with foreign students who thoroughly enjoyed being included as family on trips and vacations. Most came for 1 year, some for 5 years, 2 for 35 years. Holland, Denmark, Japan, Hong Kong, Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, Guatemala, England, Zimbabwe, Honduras and many more places around the world. Her organic garden was big to feed her big family. 100’ of blueberry plants + corn, kiwi, beans, tomatoes, potatoes and more. 14,000 sf which is bigger than most house lots, plus fruit trees scattered everywhere. Changes seen in her life: She grew up with no electricity, which came to the Nebraska farm in the year she got married. Rode a horse to confirmation class each week. Water came from a hand pump, an outhouse for a toilet. “If it was freezing outside it was only about 10 degrees warmer indoors.” She would search with the other children for dry corncobs and bits of wood for the kitchen fire. They were not poor for the times, in fact were well off compared to many neighbors. Their house had “carbide gas lighting”. A powder was dumped into a water tank. Formed a gas which was piped through the house and lit for lights. It was a stable and happy home. Betty grew up with a very clear sense of “right” and “wrong.” with strict moral values applied to most situations. She struggled as some of that changed with the culture. She felt it to be “wrong” to eat more than a small amount of sugar. It is “wrong” to spend money on non essentials like fancy clothes. In the mid 1970’s when we “all grown up” high school students ridiculed President Nixon for his dishonesty she sharply reprimanded us- “The Bible says we should never speak ill of the ruler of our people”. In the early 1980’s Bet-ty wore pants to church. Her children noticed how nervous she was and she explained- “I know there is nothing morally wrong about a woman wearing pants. The culture has changed. And I know other women have worn pants to church for years, but this is the first time I have worn them and it just feels so... “wrong!”
Betty was organized– We could have 1 guest for our birthday in 1st grade. Two when in 2nd grade, three when in 3rd grade. When it was sixth grade, you could have your whole class. Our weekly allowance was 1 nickel for each year of age and a dime per year in high school. Her family from Nebraska had a “round robin” system of letters to pass the news. Each family received a large packet of letters from all of the others, added their own, then sent them on to the next on the list. When your own letter finished the rounds, you take out the old and put in a new one. Betty kept careful notes of what each said and was able to keep abreast of all the scattered relatives using this system. We also have lengthy letters written to her husband Bob where she lays out detailed views on the personality of each of their children and how to best work with each. A friend at church once said- “If you want to get something done, ask Bet-ty Hungerford. Very organized, inventive, energetic, determined.” Laundry for 11? She started with a wash tub and a wringer but quickly changed to public laundromats when children were born. Later she was one of the 1st to get a washing machine and a dryer at home. All 9 children were sent to Lutheran Bible Institute in Seattle for 1 year after high school. Her vision was to establish their faith on a solid foundation. Two met spouses while there, three returned on their own for a 2nd year, all were strengthened. Every 2 years the family packed up for a road trip to Nebraska where the children met with their 15 first cousins on Moms side- like the 10 on Dads side they knew in Port-land. For most trips Betty sewed matching outfits for her growing family which she was proud to show off. When asked if these trips were hard on her she responded with a smile- “At home I cook, care for the children and clean. On the road I cook, care for the children and clean… but at least I get to see the scenery!” She made every such trip an adventure. Most of the children have “Honorary Nebraska Citizen” papers from climbing the state capitol tower, a “one square inch of land” ownership document from the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer where her father had donated the church building she was married in. Trips to Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Disneyland, Pony Express stations, Mt Rushmore, Bryce Canyon and many more occurred on the way to or from Nebraska. Driving on vacations, she had Bob stop at every historical marker along the roadways. “We all got out and read it. Then, as we traveled on, mom would give us all the background about the history or the geology the sign talked about.” Always teaching! She both encouraged and permitted as she mothered her children. Some-times she gave directions and pushed for a course of action or learning. “I remember she taught us to ride the trolley into Portland. Mom would put us on down there on McLaughlin and Jennings and say, “you stay on the trolley till you see Daddy. He will take you off the trolley” and we rode all the way to town. Wow. And daddy would be along the rails waiting for us by his store, Hungerford Wholesale Florist. It was his responsibility to get the kids off. It cost a nickel.” But there was also a lot of “permitting” the children to build and explore on their own. For example, there was a spigot for water sticking up by the garden and the children played happily in the mud. Digging trenches, learning about water erosion, building bridges over the gullies. Betty had planted potatoes in that section but decided it was more important to let the children play and learn in this way than to harvest a crop. Betty was respected by the neighbors as a solid and safe person. Young mothers nearby would come to her when their children were sick or injured for advice and reassurance. During the Columbus Day Storm of 1962 her children were playing outdoors in the high winds “until a yard tree fell next to us. Mom ordered us into the house and there were a number of neighbors who came to us for safety. We had the only basement, a fireplace and food stockpiled.” They trusted her judgement when the electricity was knocked out for 2 weeks. In her later years, she developed a passion for genealogy, a perfect combination of her love for family, intellectual puzzles, and history. Her extensive research produced many stories to make us proud of our heritage. On the Hungerford side there was “the brave pioneer woman who captured a baby bear in her apron as bait, outran the pursuing she bear, slammed the cabin door in it’s face, grabbed the rifle off the wall, went out the back, then around the front and got a winters worth of meat for her family”. That kind of courage and ingenuity is inspiring!