Mary Hartman! Mary Hartman! The opening lines of a prime time Emmy Award winning soap opera back in 1976-1977.
This was my first thought when 20 years ago my mother said we needed to go to Wray, Colorado and visit Mary Hartman. Our fist visit was in 1999. She was excited to have company and welcomed us to look through her photo albums and pictures. She brought the Foreman family history alive with her stories of growing up in Vernon, Colorado just 10 miles south of Wray.
Mary Geneva Foreman Hartman was first cousin to my grandmother Mary Frances Foreman Hancock. Both ladies were good friends from childhood until 2000 when my grandmother died. For years they would send letters back and forth to each other several times each month.
In 2000 my mother and I went back to Wray for “Vernon Days” which is held each August. Tractor pulls, tractor parades, very old tractors on display, good food, flea market and the historic school building open for displays with quilt shows and WWII memorabilia or whatever the featured subject was for that year.
Mary Hartman checking out the old post office boxes and clerk’s window. She pointed out the box that belonged to her family.
Quilts on display.
In 2001 I went back to Vernon Days to visit Mary Hartman. My mother had passed away and on this trip my grandmother’s brother Robert Foreman joined me. Mary Hartman was delighted to see her other cousin. Mary added a grand tour of the area around Vernon, showing us where all the Foreman’s had homesteaded and several of the cemeteries that held family members from Wray to Idalia. We even searched through a freshly plowed field turning over the big chunks of dirt looking for the headstones of Harriet Foreman Long and her husband. Never found it, we were in the wrong field!
Wray Rattler – 1903
As we drove the county roads surrounding Vernon, she pointed out the farms where Foreman’s had homesteaded and talked about who lived there now. What I found most interesting was her concern for the condition of the dry land crops. She would tell us of a storm that moved through the area and completely flooded the field of corn. Sod Soaker’s or Gully Washers they were called!
Wray Rattler – 1923
She mentioned the wheat crops that were destroyed from hail storms years ago when she and her husband farmed near Idalia.
The scariest storms of all were the the tornadoes and high winds.
Bob Foreman and I continued to visit Mary Hartman for Vernon Days until 2007 when at age 90 Bob decided the trip was just too much for him. The same year Mary Hartman had turned 90 and I made a solo trip. I learned that Mary’s daughter Gloria, wasn’t feeling well. Turns out she had colon cancer and died in July of 2008 at age 62. In September of 2008 Mary passed away at age 91.
Boy, I miss those trips to Vernon. I miss Mary Hartman and her stories.