Home of Mabel and John HYDE, 5335 Izard street, Omaha, NE. Taken 1933, photograph in possession of author.
As I stepped out of the rental car, a warm spring breeze gently blew away my trepidation. I recognized the large Tudor Revival style home from the photographs my mother and grandmother shared with me. Located in the historic Happy Hollow District of Omaha, Nebraska, the house at 5335 Izard Street appeared as charming as I’d envisioned. Nervous but excited, I rang the doorbell and waited. A tall, slender, woman opened the door. Her blue eyes gazed warmly at me as if she thought she recognized me. We’d never met in person, but I knew her immediately. I introduced myself. Mabel NICHOLS HYDE, my great-grandmother, wrapped me in her arms and invited me inside.
Mabel NICHOLS HYDE, portrait taken by Claude Constable 1940, Omaha, Nebraska. Photograph in possession of author.
I followed Mabel into the kitchen where the aroma of a freshly baked dessert filled the air. An excellent baker, Mabel’s specialties included her husband’s favorite cakes, chocolate, and angel food. She served us each a slice of light angel food with a dollop of whip cream and fresh berries. We had a lot a lot to talk about.
No, it wasn’t real, just a fantasy. When I research and write about my ancestors, I envision what it might be like to meet them in person. I know Mabel NICHOLS HYDE through many anecdotes my mother and grandmother told me. They always called her “Nana” which is how I think of her. My grandmother, Anna Jane BEATON HYDE, lived with Mabel, her mother-in-law, from 1935-1940, and again from 1950-1953. Anna Jane experienced first-hand Mabel’s loving and challenging personality.
Even when they didn’t share a home, the two HYDE families lived less than a mile apart. My mother, Jean HYDE, was an only grandchild on both sides of her family. Mabel was her “young” grandmother. Time spent together included: playing card games, stories, shopping excursions, and travel.
Mabel HYDE and Jean HYDE, Evergreen, CO, 1942. Photo in possession of author.
The two HYDE families often shared Sunday dinners and holiday celebrations.
Christmas 1949 Mabel NICHOLS HYDE & John HYDE, Anna Jane Beaton Hyde, Jean HYDE and Sunny. Omaha, NE. photograph in possession of author.
At age ten, my mother learned that visiting a grandparent and living with a grandparent paint different pictures. Her grandfather, Dr. John HYDE, died unexpectedly March 23, 1950, from a cerebral hemorrhage. Devastated by her loss, Mabel asked her son and his family to move in with her. My grandfather had just designed a new home for his parents the year before his father’s death and Mabel was too distraught to leave.
Significant events affected Mabel’s life in ways I can only imagine. Keeping a timeline in mind enables me to appreciate local and world events that shaped her life. She gave birth to her children before the discovery of childhood immunizations; lived through two World Wars worried her husband, son and brothers might be called to serve; gained the right to vote at age 31, and opened her home to family members during the Great Depression.
MAJOR EVENTS TIMELINE
- 1913 – [Mabel age 25] Omaha Tornado struck on Easter Sunday, about 6 p.m., F4 storm, 103 people killed, 240 injured, 3000 buildings damaged, property damage $3.5 million (equal to $89 million today). It swept diagonally across the city in a path six miles long and two to three blocks wide. Today it is still considered one of the most catastrophic events in Nebraska history. The day after the tornado a snowstorm struck the town.
Courtesy of Library of Congress, Chronicling America, The Omaha Bee, March 30, 1913.
- [Mabel and John’s home was not in the path, but her parents and siblings were narrowly missed by the tornado.]
- 1914-1918 – [Mabel age 26-30] World War I – U.S. enters WWI April 6, 1917. [Mabel’s brother Johnnie served briefly in the Army Signal Corp. He was one of 20,000 Omahans who served in the armed forces. Although this created labor shortages “…the most serious hardships experienced on the home front were “wheatless” and “meatless” days.”]
- 1915 – First long distance telephone service between New York and San Francisco
- 1917 – First regular airmail service begins with one round trip a day between Washington D.C. and New York.
- 1918 – Worldwide influenza epidemic strikes; by 1920 nearly 20 million are dead. In U.S. 500,000 perish.
- 1919 –[Mabel age 31] Prohibition
- 1919 – Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, granting women the right to vote.
- [Mabel’s mother-in-law, Florence FOLLETT HYDE, campaigned in 1914 for women’s right to vote. She became an active member of the Lincoln, Nebraska League of Women Voters.]
- 1923-1927 – First vaccines developed for diphtheria, pertussis, tuberculosis, and tetanus.
- 1928 – [Mabel age 40] Bacteriologist Sir Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin.
- 1929 – Stock market crash precipitates the Great Depression
- 1939 -1945 – [Mabel age 51-57] World War II
- [John HYDE jr. exempt from service due to flat feet; John HYDE Sr. served as an examining physician for the Selective Service System of the United States from Oct 10, 1940-May 3, 1947.] My grandfather had flat feet; he passed this genetic trait on to members of my family. However, I do wonder if Mabel told her husband that she did not want her only son to serve in the military.
Bird’s eye view of Omaha, NE, 1918-1920, with permission by Omaha Public Library.
A “gate city to the west,” Omaha prospered in the early twentieth century. It was the Terminal for the Union Pacific railroad which made it easy to ship agricultural products throughout the United States. It was also home to the “Big Four” meat-packing plants, Armour, Cudahy, Swift and Morris.  To celebrate the city’s Golden Jubilee in 1929, The Chamber of Commerce adopted the slogan “Onward Omaha.” A promotional publication stated:
“Omaha faces a future rich with promise of continued domination in field, garden, and stockyard. Omaha faces a future in which the great economic battles will be fought and won by cities with transportation facilities and quick contacts. Omaha is the country’s center. Already it is the fourth railroad center; already it commands the highways, but now commerce is to travel by water and air…Omaha leaders have been quick to grasp their opportunity, and the city is riding the rising tide of aviation. Omaha faces the future backed by all of her old allies, and fortified with the strength of two new ones – water and air.”
Omaha was also an immigrant city. “In the 1920’s when roughly fifty percent of the population were immigrants and their children, Omaha reached the zenith of its ethnic diversity.” It gave the city a diversified cultural heritage as well as caused tensions. Mabel grew up in one of the many immigrant neighborhoods on the north side of Omaha with her Swedish born mother. Omaha’s immigrant community was a mix of Germans, Czechs, Italians, Polish, Bohemians, Irish, English, Welsh, French, Belgians, Lithuanians, Serbs, Croatians, Romanians, Hungarians, Austrians, Scandinavians, Syrians, Greeks, and Mexicans.
In a earlier blog, I described Mabel NICHOLS’ marriage to Dr. John Fay HYDE on May 8, 1909.  The newlyweds took a few days after the wedding to visit friends and the groom’s parents in Lincoln, NE. When they returned to Omaha, Mabel continued to work as her husband’s receptionist for about a year, possibly until she became pregnant.
Mabel NICHOLS HYDE c. 1909, taken at Dr. John HYDE’S office at 460 Brandeis Building, Omaha, NE. Photograph in possessionof author.
After she married Dr. John HYDE, Mabel’s life changed drastically. Her childhood home didn’t have indoor plumbing or electricity; she eventually had houses with every modern convenience. Her mother and sister had worked as servants; Mabel employed housekeepers. She could afford beautiful clothes, travel, and a life of leisure.
Family connections played an essential role in Mabel’s life. Cards and photographs recorded family events. Newspaper articles, census records, directories, and death records revealed Mabel’s devotion to family in difficult times.
Two years after their marriage, Mabel and John’s first and only surviving child, John Frederick HYDE, arrived on Friday, October 13, 1911. Typical for the time period, Mabel gave birth at home, attended by a colleague of her husbands, Dr. Charles Pollard.
My favorite studio photograph of Mabel and my grandfather, John Jr., taken in 1912.
Mabel NICHOLS HYDE and John HYDE Jr. 1910, Omaha, NE. Photo in possession of author.
Both mother and child have a playful smile on their faces. John Jr. wore a cotton romper. Mabel wore a delicate silk and lace gown. Pinned to the ruching on the bodice is Dr. John Hyde’s Medical Fraternity pin, Phi Rho Sigma, he gave to her upon their engagement.
John HYDE Sr., Medical Fraternity Pin, Phi Rho Sigma.
Mabel pampered John Jr. as a baby, a child, and as a young man. An adorable boy with blond curly hair and blue eyes, John’s photographs depict a cheerful child.
John HYDE Jr, 1915, Omaha, NE, photo in possession of author.
Ten years after their son’s birth, Mabel, and John had a baby girl in September 1921. Joan HYDE survived only a few days. Her tombstone has one date on it, Sept. 3, 1921.
Joan HYDE, tombstone, Forest Lawn Cemetery, Omaha, NE.
From 1915 -1931 Mabel lost five family members.
- July 26, 1916, Carrie Bertha NICHOLS (sister age 34 – no death certificate on file.)
- Sept. 3, 1921, Joan HYDE (infant daughter)
- May 19, 1929, John Mathews NICHOLS (father age 72– cause of death myocardial degeneration, died at Covenant Hospital, death certificate signed by Dr. John F. Hyde.)
- Nov 9, 1930, Charles Clinton NICHOLS (brother age 47– suffered fatal internal injuries when he was struck by a car while crossing a street.)
- Jan 15, 1931, Mary NELSON NICHOLS (mother age 74- Mary died at Mabel and John Hyde’s house after a month-long illness of bronchopneumonia and influenza. Dr. Hyde signed her death certificate.)
A SHARED HOME
Four years after Mary NICHOL’S death, the HYDES celebrated the marriage of their son John to Anna Jane BEATON, on June 25, 1935. The young couple moved in with Mabel and John Sr. at 5335 Izard Street while John Jr. built up his practice as an architect. There was little demand for architecturally designed homes during the Great Depression. My grandparents, John and Anna Jane, lived with my great-grandparents for five years. They moved into their own apartment in 1940 after the birth of their only child, my mother, Jean Ann Marie HYDE.
Mabel HYDE and granddaughter, Jean HYDE, 1940, Omaha, NE. Photograph in possession of author.
Also adversely affected by the Great Depression, Mabel’s younger brother, John Lee NICHOLS, known as Johnnie, had difficulty finding a job. In 1935, Johnnie was 45 years old, divorced, and needed a home and a job. He moved into the HYDE household at Izard street and lived there from 1935-1940. Mabel and Johnnie shared a strong sibling bond. While going through family photos and negatives, I discovered a blurred image depicting Dr. John HYDE and Johnnie NICHOLS playing poker.
Dr. John F. Hyde and John Nichols, c. 1939 playing poker, Omaha NE. Photo in possession of author.
It might have confused the family to have three “Johns” in the same house, except two of them used nicknames. Dr. John HYDE was always called ‘Doc’ by everyone in the family. John NICHOLS had the nickname ‘Johnnie’ from childhood because his father shared the same first name. John HYDE Jr., my grandfather, went by his given name, ‘John.’
Mabel Nichols Hyde and Dr. John F. Hyde, 1942, Evergreen, CO. Photo in possession of author.
Thanks to my mother I have some ideas about my great-grandparents shared interests. As loyal Nebraskans, they attended college football games to watch the Cornhuskers play. The sixty-mile drive from Omaha to Lincoln also offered the HYDES an opportunity to visit John’s relatives. His younger sister, Hazel HYDE KIESSELBACH lived in Lincoln as did his mother, Florence FOLLETT HYDE.
1923 “Mr. and Mrs. T.A. Kiesselbach [John’s sister Hazel and brother-in-law Theodore] will preside at a family dinner for twenty guests after the games….The guest list will include Mrs. Florence HYDE [John’s mother], Miss Lorraine Follett [John’s aunt], and Mrs. C.W. Roberts and family [John’s youngest sister Elizabeth and husband], Dr. and Mrs. J.F. Hyde and son John Jr., of Omaha.”
Leisurely weekend afternoons or evenings would include a game of canasta, pitch or bridge with friends. Traditional games were an alternative to reading, which Mabel and John also enjoyed. In the 1920’s, mass marketing and mail-order book clubs promoted Tales of the Old West and mystery novels. Mabel relished western pocket novels or stories such as Little Orphan Annie while John Sr. preferred the classics.
The 1930 census noted that John and Mabel owned a “radio set,” then considered a luxury.
Sears Roebuck Catalog Fall 1937, p. 661, Ancestry.com.
 Perhaps as they sat together in the evenings, Mabel sipped her preferred cocktail, a Bourbon Mist, while she relaxed to her favorite piece of music, Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.”
- Bourbon Mist Cocktail
- 2 oz. bourbon
- 2 oz. crushed ice
- 1 twist lemon peel
- Pack a Collins glass with crushed ice. Pour in bourbon. Add the twist of lemon and serve.
Mabel and John Sr. also listened to popular radio shows. I don’t know their favorites, but I can imagine them enjoying the same episodes of the Lone Ranger, detective Sam Spade or Jack Benny that my husband and I listened to on Armed Forces Radio when we lived overseas.
The HYDE family traveled more than I’d anticipated. After reading newspaper articles about their trips, I learned that Mabel had extended stays with family and friends.
1924 – “Dr. and Mrs. J.F. Hyde and son, John, accompanied by Bobbie Young, son of Dr. and Mrs. G. Alexander Young have returned after spending two weeks in Estes Park.”
Downtown Estes Park, 1924. Photographer Frank Phelps. With permission by Estes Park Museum.
Note- the Hydes frequently traveled to Estes Park, Colorado during the summers and often stayed at Sprague’s Lodge in Rocky Mountain National Park. It became a family tradition for my great-grandparents as well as my grandparents and mother. Sprague’s Lodge is where my parents met and fell in love. Three of my siblings live in Colorado and still explore the same areas.
My grandparents, Anna Jane and John HYDE Jr. took the photograph below in 1949. Sixty-seven years later, my sister, Kimberly Stansberry took the second photograph from nearly the same vantage point on one of her visits to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Spragues Lake and lodge c. 1949, Estes Park, Colorado. Photograph in possession of author.
Spragues Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, 2016, photograph by Kimberly Stansberry.
1925- “Mrs. J.F. Hyde has returned after a six-week trip through the Black Hills and Yellowstone Park. Dr. Hyde and son, John Jr. returned earlier in the month.”
1930 – “Mrs. J.F. Hyde has returned after spending five weeks with her uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Charles K. Nichols, [Mabel’s uncle and aunt] in Pittsburgh, and in Chicago, where she was cruising with Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Shukert of Council Bluffs, who have their yacht in Belmont Harbor. Mrs. Hyde went east with Mr. and Mrs. Nichols, when they stopped in Omaha on the way by motor to their home, after spending the winter in Los Angeles.”
1936- Mrs. John Hyde sr. is visiting Mr. and Mrs. Charles Nichols in Hollywood, Cal. Mr. and Mrs. Nichols spend their winters in Tarentum, Pa., and stopped here en route to the west coast to be joined by Mrs. Hyde. Dr. Hyde expects to leave for California the first week of September, and they will return together the middle of the month.”
1938 – “Dr. and Mrs. J.F.Hyde are home from Estes Park, where they spent two weeks at Fall River Lodge, and a brief stay at Denver.”
1941 – “Dr. John Hyde Sr. made a solo trip home for Mrs. Hyde who accompanied him west on the special is settled for the rest of the winter in a Los Angeles apartment.”
Note – Mabel enjoyed traveling by train to California. She made annual visits to see her younger brother Johnnie who moved to Oakland circa 1941 to work for Western Pacific Railroad. A 1941 article in the Omaha World-Herald featured enticing advertisements to explore the west coast.
“Many Americans have unknowingly seen parts of Santa Catalina Island, Death Valley, Palos Verdes, Lake Arrowhead and other scenic contrasts of southern California in the movies. they thought they were seeing the South Sea isles, parts of Africa and Arabia, French Riviera or Swiss Alps – so nearly do the southern California counterparts of these areas duplicate landscapes famed throughout the world.” Streamlined trains offered a day and a half trip on “the speedsters of the North Western Union Pacific-Southern-Pacific. Such trains as the City of Los Angeles and City of San Francisco carry both Pullmans and coaches.”
Pullman car built 1938 – Arizona Railway Museum.
Note – As a young girl, my mother traveled to California with her grandmother in a Pullman. Recently, I toured two train museums to view sleeper and buffet-lounge cars. My mother recalls it took 2-3 days to reach the coast. When she exited the train in California, her legs felt a bit wobbly.
Sleeper Car 1938, Arizona Railway Museum.
Pullman Dining Car 1938, Arizona Railway Museum.
1943 – “Mrs. W.H. Taylor was joined at San Antonio by Dr. Taylor, Dr. and Mrs. Calvin Davis, Dr. and Mrs. John Hyde and Dr. and Mrs. Clarence Rubendall…The Omahans traveled to Mexico for a two-week stay, making their headquarters at Mexico City.”
Acapulco, Mexico 1943, Mabel Hyde (front left), Dr. John Hyde (back right). Photo in possession of author.
Note – The trip to Mexico is the only trip the John and Mabel made outside the United States. Their visit to Mexico with friends included a fishing excursion. Finding newspaper articles has helped me date photographs.
25th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY
To celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in 1934, John Hyde Sr. surprised Mabel with a night out at the elegant Blackstone Hotel. Built in 1915, it developed a nationwide reputation as a premier hotel.
“Dr. J.F. Hyde entertained last evening at the Blackstone at a surprise dinner for Mrs. Hyde on the occasion of their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Dinner was served in the Fern room, and silver and pink tapers, with pink and white flowers, were used on the table around a huge wedding cake. Forty-six guests were present.”
In honor of their 25th anniversary, the HYDES received two silver footed bowls, one with the initial “M” and the other with “J”. Engraved on the bottom of each is the date “1909-1934.”
Silver wedding anniversary gift, footed bowl engraved with letter “M”, and 1909-1934 on the bottom.
Between 1909-1950 Mabel and John HYDE shared six homes together.
2410 South 10th Street
– 1909 – Rented home #1 located around the corner from Grace Baptist church where the HYDES married, and a short distance from where Dr. HYDE worked as a staff physician at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Original home no longer exists.
2528 South 10th Street – 1911- Rented home #2 located one block away from their first home. Original home no longer exists. [Home where John HYDE jr was born.]
John F. Hyde Jr., baby book.
2541 South 10th Street – 1916 – Rented home #3 across the street from home #2. Original home no longer exists.
3227 Lafayette – 1918 –Not sure if they owned or rented home #4 located six miles from home #3. The house still exists.
3227 Lafayette Street, Omaha, NE. Google images
Description: Single-family home, 1,511 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 1 bath.
5335 Izard Street – 1926- 1949– Owned home #5, the house still exists.
5335 Izard Street, Omaha, NE. Home of Dr. John F. Hyde and Mabel Hyde, c. 1940. Photograph in possession of author.
Located in the Happy Hollow neighborhood a garden suburb with “…rolling hills, lush shrubbery, manicured lawns, numerous trees, Tudor-style homes, and winding streets.”
Description: Single-family Tudor style Brick home, shingle roof, 2 ½ stories, built 1926. Designed and built by Bert Hene Construction Company. 3,852 sq. ft., 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, screened porch, 400 square foot basement. Value in 1930 – $23,000. The HYDES sold their home on Izard street in May 1949 for $25,000.
5335 Izard Street, Omaha, NE, taken about 1990, photograph by my sister Karen Kenagy.
A description in the Omaha World-Herald features a charming description of the garden. “The garden is of simple, informal design, adaptable to the city home grounds, where space is limited. Some interesting feature is to be placed in every view from the house. Many varieties of shrubs, trees, and flowers are to be used. They will be arranged and selected as to give almost a continuous succession of bloom the entire summer, and yet all are to be in harmonious relation with each other. The landscape department of the Sonderegger nurseries designed the garden, which will be planted in the early spring. The residence is being built by the Hene Construction company, which is also architect.”
Note – John HYDE Sr., a passionate gardener spent his free time tending to the yard. An impressed passerby inquired if John was available for other jobs not realizing Dr. Hyde was the homeowner and not the gardener.
420 JE George Boulevard 1949- Owned home #6, still exists.
420 JE George Boulevard, Omaha, NE, taken 1949. Home of Dr. John F. HYDE and Mabel HYDE. Designed by John F. HYDE , Jr. Photograph in possession of author.
Description – Colonial style single family home, designed by John F. Hyde Jr., 1.5 stories, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 3402 sq. Ft.
420 JE George Boulevard, Omaha, NE. Google images.
My grandmother saved several newspaper articles about the house. The home had to be rebuilt after a fire nearly destroyed it when it was near completion. The fire started about 2:30 a.m. in the morning caused by salamander stoves used to warm the concrete floors. Mabel and John’s son and family lived in an adjoining lot. Alerted by their barking Cocker Spaniel, Sun Tan, known as “Sunny,” John Jr. rang the fire department at 2:59 a.m., but it was too late. “Mr. Hyde found the building ‘a mass of flames.’”Although the house carried 15 thousand dollars of insurance, it was valued at 35 thousand dollars.
“Omaha World-Herald”, November 27, 1949, p. 69.
“HOME FINISHED DESPITE BLAZE – Hyde Residence has Fine Features.
Dr. and Mrs. John F. Hyde were dismayed last January 13 when fire destroyed their nearly-completed house at 420 J.E. George Boulevard. So was their son, John Jr. He was the architect who designed it.
The house was too fine to abandon, however. Now completed, it is one of the most attractive in Omaha.
Yellowwood siding, a green door, and a white board fence give it a color that suits its colonial lines. It faces east on a large lot and looks, as Mrs. Hyde says, ‘as though it grew out of the ground.’
A fireplace surrounded by bookshelves and a welcoming bay window are features of the living-dining room.
The dining area has built-in cupboards which are back-to-back with cupboards in the brightly decorated breakfast room on the west side of the house.
Off the living room to the south is a cheerful sun porch, glassed-in now, but equipped with removable screens for summer outdoor dining.
Off the kitchen is a utility room containing heating and laundry equipment and nearly enough cooking facilities for a second kitchen.
A “back porch” room contains air conditioning equipment and can be locked off from the rest of the house for package deliveries when the owners are away.
There is further storage space in the garage, and a garden tool room opening off the garage. The Hydes realized they would need plenty of storage room about the house because it has no basement.
A closet near the front door contains a wood box which can be filled from the garage and racks for the storage of card tables.
There is a powder room on the first floor and a bathroom for each of the three upstairs bedrooms. The lavatory in Dr. Hyde’s bathroom has a now seldom-seen marble top, an old-fashioned idea that fits in well with modern design. Silvered wallpaper adds to the charm of Mrs. Hyde’s bathroom.
Old oak furniture, given a gray finish are in the doctor’s room. It includes a desk and shelves for his medical books.
William Votava helped plan the interior decorating”.
A few months ago I rediscovered 265 color slides from my grandparents. They included an image of my mother and her constant companion, Sunny, in the living room at 420 George Boulevard. I examined the image and found eight items that still belong to family members.
Jean HYDE with Sunny seated in living room at 420 JE George Boulevard. Photograph taken 1949, in possession of author.
#1 Regency mahogany round table with spiral legs – Victorian reproduction
Regency table, lamp, and cigarette dish from Mabel HYDE.
#2 Dresden porcelain cigarette dish designed by Carl Thieme. [A chain smoker, Mabel displayed her cigarettes in a classy container. It held 19 cigarettes as depicted in the photograph above with Jean and Sunny.]
Dresden porcelain cigarette dish designed by Carl Thieme.
#3Cobalt blue lamps [Mabel and Anna Jane both had these lamps in their homes. I’ve had to change the lampshades and have them rewired, but they are still elegant.]
#4 Framed wedding photograph of Mary NELSON NICHOLS and John Mathews NICHOLS taken in 1881. Mabel kept the treasured picture on a bookshelf in her living room.
Wedding photograph of Mary NELSON NICHOLS and John Mathews NICHOLS taken in 1881, Omaha, NE. Photograph in possession of Karen Hopp Kenagy.
#5 Wingback chairs x 2 (Mabel HYDE had the chairs upholstered in a purple floral pattern as featured above. I’ve had them reupholstered.)
#6 Set of Junior Classic Books that belonged to Dr. John HYDE
#7 Dresden Porcelain Figurine
#8 Steubenware glass bowl
Mabel kept an impeccable house that looked like a show home. She didn’t accomplish this on her own; she had several maids over the years. A fastidious housekeeper with strict expectations, it wasn’t easy to live with her. My mother and grandmother described cleaning day as “a revolution.” The oriental rugs were taken outside and beaten; the bedframes set out on the lawn and cleaned; countertops had to be smoothly polished; the carpet vacuumed so no footprints were visible. My mother distinctly remembers each fork tine had to be thoroughly dried. Mabel supervised and assisted.
Despite being very particular, Mabel did have a house cat. I wasn’t surprised when I saw that “Rattles” was a Persian cat. Or is this “Boots”, the other cat my mother remembers?
Mabel Nichols HYDE, Jean HYDE, and John HYDE Jr. & Rattles, 1940, Omaha, NE. Photograph in possession of author.
Mabel had a pleasant relationship with her housekeepers but expected near perfection. The 1940 census lists the following members in the HYDE household: Dr. John HYDE worked 60 hours a week; John L NICHOLS’ occupation is listed as a railroad yardman, but he was unemployed during the census taking; Irene Franklin, the housekeeper, worked 70 hours/week.
1940 U.S. census, Douglas County, Omaha, NE. Ancestry.com
- John F. HYDE age 56 Physician worked 60 hours/week
- Mabel HYDE age 52
- John L NICHOLS age 50 yardman/RR
- Irene Franklin age 34 servant worked 70 hours/week
During WWII the HYDES kept a Victory Garden. Mabel canned the surplus produce including homemade jam. The housekeeper assisted with some of the daily cooking, but Mabel preferred to do the baking herself. My mother recalls walking into the home on Izard street and the delicious aroma of fresh-baked treats. I think the special ingredient she added to her baking was love.
Recipe cards from Mabel HYDE.
Chocolate cake– John HYDE Sr.’s favorite. While scanning negatives, I found the only known photograph of Doc celebrating his birthday and it includes a chocolate cake.
Dr. John F. HYDE, 64th birthday celebration with a chocolate cake. Taken in 1949 in his new home on George Boulevard. Photograph in possession of author.
Angel food cake – In honor of Nana, I baked an angel food cake from scratch. I’d forgotten it requires 12 egg whites. The only dilemma was what to do with 12 egg yolks. What did Mabel do with all those yolks?
Angel Food cake ingredients.
Angel Food Cake – Delicous – thanks Nana.
Brownies – Chocolate remains a favorite in our family, in any form.
Chocolate drop cookies with nuts and dates – A Christmas tradition started by Mabel HYDE that my grandmother continued. My mother, sister and I make them every year and think of Nana and Grams (Anna Jane).
Hot sauce for gingerbread – I like gingerbread but haven’t tried it with sauce.
Homemade ice cream – made with real cream, chocolate, vanilla, or fresh fruit.
Sweet milk pancakes
Like her mother, Mary NICHOLS, Mabel was a talented seamstress. Mary sewed clothes for her grandson, John HYDE Jr, as described in his baby book.
John F. HYDE Jr. baby book with description of “first short clothes.”
“First Short Clothes – Made by Grandma Nichols & put on 1st time Jan 30, 1912. Got so large that all clothes had to made over.”
Mabel liked to sew skirts and dresses for her granddaughter. My mother, Jean, is pictured here in a darling blue and white gingham dress. Her playmate Sunny delighted in all the attention.
Jean HYDE wearing dress made by Mabel HYDE; playing with Sunny, 1946, Omaha, NE. Photograph in possession of author.
When Jean was a young teen, Mabel made her a Christmas party skirt. It’s gaily decorated with felt Christmas trees, stars, and bells outlined with beads and sequins. Although the colors have faded, my sister still wears the skirt for special Christmas gatherings.
Karen Hopp Kenagy, wearing Christmas skirt made by her great-grandmother, Mabel HYDE, Dec 2017, Tucson, AZ. Photograph in possession of author.
Karen Kenagy with niece and nephews wearing the Christmas skirt made by Mabel HYDE. Taken in Berthoud, CO, photograph in possession of author.
Mabel HYDE’S sewing kit and pin cushion.
Mabel’s trim 5’7” frame made it easy for her to find beautiful clothes and she delighted in shopping. Trips downtown to her favorite department stores, such as Orchard and Wilhelm or Aquila Court,might include a visit to the hair salon and then lunch in the Ladies Tearoom. She might have needed another bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume which would be displayed in colorful perfume bottles on her dresser.
Perfume bottles from Mabel HYDE. In possession of Karen Kenagy.
Going to a department store entailed a bit of ceremony. Fashionable attire required dressing up and wearing a hat and gloves. My mother has fond memories of shopping trips with her grandmother, getting her hair done and then having a ladies luncheon with dainty sandwiches.
An active volunteer in the auxiliary to the Omaha-Douglas County Medical Society, Mabel served as president 1935-1937.
Mrs. John F. HYDE, President of Medical Auxiliary. Omaha World-Herald, April 4, 1937.
Founded in 1927 by a group of physician spouses to socialize, it developed into a volunteer organization focused on community health concerns. Funds raised by the auxiliary went to various causes, the Nebraska Tuberculosis association, infantile paralysis, medical services for families with lower incomes, improving standards for pasteurization of milk, and during WWII a civilian defense committee to coordinate hospital, personnel, and facilities for the patient care that could arise. The organization is now called the Metro Omaha Medical Society (MOMS) and is still very active in the Omaha community.
THE FINAL YEARS
Even though my mother thought of Mabel as the “young” grandmother, she had an assortment of infirmities. Severe migraines forced her to retreat to a darkened room until they passed. ‘Doc’ occasionally gave her “sugar pills,” according to my grandmother, and sometimes they worked.
Sadly, Mabel’s last few years were very painful. When John HYDE Sr. died in 1950, she asked my grandparents to move into her house on George Boulevard. After two years the stress of living together became too intense. Mabel had to sell her beautiful new home and move into the Buckingham apartments on Chicago street. The last six months of her life she developed liver cancer and moved in with my grandparents. A nurse assisted with her care. Mabel died in her son’s bed without her beloved doctor by her side.
© 2018 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.
 Douglas County, Nebraska, death certificate no. 50-02615 (1950), John Hyde Sr.; State of Nebraska Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics, Lincoln.
 U.S. History: Progressive Era and World Wars – 1900–1949.” Infoplease.
© 2000-2017 Sandbox Networks, Inc., publishing as Infoplease.
28 Jun. 2018 <https://www.infoplease.com/history-and-government/us-history-timeline/1900-1949/>.
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