The Gene Pool: JTR's Colorful Family History
LaVonne Arlene (Lackore) Todd
Written in 1997

I was born Oct. 27, 1923 in Forest City, Iowa. My parents were living with my Grandpa and Grandma Lackore. Because my Grandma didn't want a baby born there, my mother went to my Grandma Whiton's. When I was a few days old, we went out to the Lackore farm where I got a lot of attention. I was the first grandchild and they tell me that my unmarried uncle and two aunts were very attentive.

In 1924, we moved to the Durant place near Madison Center School, just a little over a mile from my grandparent's house. In 1925, my brother Don was born and I have heard several stories about our adventures. My mom said that Don ran into scalding water and burned both feet. I hauled him all over in a little wagon. One day, I decided we should go visit my dad who was working in a field. Before long, I came back alone. My mom asked, "Where is Donald?" I answered that I couldn't get him over the fence so left him there and came back for help. Another time we came in covered with axle grease!

My sister Veone, born in 1928, was a great addition to the family. I started school at Madison Center, the same country school that my dad had attended in his elementary years. In 1929 we moved to a farm near Thompson, Iowa. I remember herding cattle there and we had lots of bees. Don was always getting stung but I could play out all day and not one bee stung me - until the last day. They were removing the bees and I got stung. I think they told me only people that had been stung could have honey.

While my mother worked in the fields, I watched the kids. One day they were gone and weren't home by the time I got home from school and I was sitting on the porch not wanting to go into an empty house.

The next year we moved to the Clausen farm where we lived until we moved to Colwell.

My brother, Keith, was born in 1934. We hadn't had a baby around in a while and he got a lot of attention. My mom said to my grandma "Keith should be talking" and grandma answered, "Why should he?" Everyone waits on him, he doesn't need to!" Those of you who know Keith, know that he definitely learned to talk and has had a lot of experience at it ever since.

After Keith, my mom had a baby boy that died at birth. I remember going to his funeral and they sang "Near to the Heart of God." We were all happy when a healthy boy named Dale arrived and when I was away at college, the youngest child, Lois, was born. I remember coming home and thinking that was the most wonderful baby and I still think she is special.

We attended the Baptist Church in Forest City. Every Sunday, weather permitting, you would find each of us in our Sunday School class, and then attending the church service. After evening chores, we went back to church for the Sunday night service. That is where I got to know the Lord, and although I have failed Him many times, He has never failed me.

My best childhood friend was Jessie Packman. Her mother had died and she lived with her aunt and uncle, our neighbors. Her dad remarried and lived in Chicago. Sometimes they would decide that she should live with him for a while and that was always sad for me. We have kept in touch all these years and still write at Christmas time.

We went to a country school where Grades 1 through 8 were in one room. There were two in my grade, Mavis Helvick and myself.

We had to walk a mile to school and in the winter we got very cold. Sometimes my dad would come with horses and sleigh to get us. The snow would drift in winter and the snow banks hardened so you could walk on them. It was up and down each drift. We lived on a back road that wasn't plowed out very often, so couldn't get the car out. We would travel by sleigh to get groceries or visit friends. We had no electricity, so one job was cleaning lampshades.

The two main crops on an Iowa farm were corn and oats. When we were kids, one of our jobs was to pull the cockaburs out of the long rows of corn. As I remember it, we got 5-cents a row.

The main event with the oat crop was the "threshing ring." All the neighbors went from farm to farm with the big threshing machine. It divided the oats and straw. Oats went into the wagons while the loose, chaffy straw was blown from the end and stacked into piles. When it was our turn to thresh, my mom, my sister and I had the big task of cooking for the crew. My best friend, Jessie, came to help. About mid-morning, we would take lunch to the workers. At noon (the men were sweaty and dirty) would come in for dinner. We would take water basins and towels outdoors where a bench was set up for the men to wash up. We set the table and carried in all the food: chicken, potatoes, vegetables, etc. We always had plenty of pie for dessert. After the men had finished, it was our turn to eat and then all the dishes to do!! We raised sweet corn for the cannery. You had a glove with a hook on it, broke loose the ears of corn and threw them into the wagon. Then the wagon was hitched to the car and when I first learned to drive, I had the job of hauling the corn to the cannery. You had to wait your turn, be weighed and were unloaded.


You opened up a section of the kitchen floor to descend the steep stairs to a floorless cellar. The walls were all lined with shelves that contained LOTS of jars of canned food: meat when we butchered, vegetables, pickles and in one corner, a pile of potatoes.


Going from the country school where Mavis Helvick and I were the only two in the class, to Forest City High School was very bewildering. The town kids had been together since kindergarten and they didn't pay much attention to country kids. We had to go home after school so didn't participate in activities.


The year after I graduated from high school, I went to Des Moines to stay with my Aunt Julia. They had a big house and Drake University was a huge school. For a little country girl, it was overwhelming.

That summer, when I came home, a man from a country school came to see me and offered me a teaching job. It was during the war and teachers were hard to find. So I taught there two years. I taught all grades, had to build a fire on the coldest days, do my own janitor work. Now I wonder how I survived!

That last year, my folks moved to Colwell and I got a job there teaching first and second grades.

The Todd family lived about a mile out in the country. Jesse was in the high school and Yvonna was in the 3rd-4th grade classroom next to mine. Mrs. Todd drove a school bus and I didn't know at the time that she would become the grandmother of my children! Don came home from the service and it didn't take me long to fall in love.

We were married July 18, 1946 and Marilyn was born the next year. We then moved to Nora Springs and lived in an apartment at Don's Uncle Theodore Marah's and Don worked at Rewound Motors in Mason City.

We moved back to Colwell and lived in an old store for a while before moving into a small new house on 6th Ave. in Charles City. Don worked as a mechanic at the Ford Motor Co. We were happy there. Almost all the people on the street were young, married couples and we became very close to Chris and Hugh Whitesell. They had a daughter, Sheri, who was Marilyn's age and we both had babies. Their son, Jon, was a few months older than our daughter, Joanne, who was born Jan. 28, 1950.

We built a little bigger house on 8th Ave. and again had a lot of neighbors with small children. The John Martin family lived next door to us and were good neighbors. They had 3 small children.

When the girls were 7 and 4, my world came crashing down around me. During a trip to the doctor's office, I was told that Don had leukemia. In those days it was 100% fatal. He only lived a few months. I'm so thankful for the new medical knowledge so that when my nephew, Terry, got leukemia they were able to successly treat it. He is a healthy, successful man today with a wonderful family.

Well, with the help of the Lord, my two wonderful daughters and my family, I was able to pick up the pieces and go on with my life. I moved out to my folks for a few months and Marilyn was in my second grade class.

In 1957, my folks moved to California and I followed them the next year. When I think about it now it sounds pretty fool hearty, to leave a job, move two kids out to a place where I had never been and not have a job. We packed up a U Haul trailer and started west. My sister, Veone, and her four kids met me at the Todd's in Kansas City and the two of us, our six kids and a U Haul started westward.

I looked all summer for a job and the week before school started, a teacher quit at Oceano and I got the job teaching 4th grade and California history! Thankfully, I had taken it at summer school.

The next year, I got a first grade and taught there 10 years before transferring to Branch where I taught until I retired.

The years zoomed by. I was busy with my girls, taking night classes at Poly and teaching school.

We went to Calvary Baptist Church where I taught Sunday School and had the junior youth group on Sunday night.

I built a new split-level house on Elm Court in San Luis Obispo. Before I knew it, the girls were grown and I could not stand to wander around that big house alone, so moved into an apartment.

We took trips back to Iowa and I usually had to spend most of the summer in summer school. On June 16, 1962 I received my Bachelor of Education degree from Cal Poly.

After ten years of teaching at Oceano, I transferred to Branch where I taught first grade until I retired in June 1984.

My four grandchildren have been one of the great joys of my life. Joanne's daughter, Kelly, was born Dec. 3, 1968. Marilyn's son, Todd, was born May 27, 1969. Joanne's son, Marc, was born Sept. 1, 1971 and Marilyn's daughter, Megan, was born April 7, 1972. They are all different, but I am proud of all of them and love them very much. They are my crowning joy. Proverbs 17:1 says, "Children's children are a crown to the aged."

My retirement years have been very enjoyable. I bought a mobile home in a Senior Citizen's Park, so some walk by and we visit. I see some of them in the Jacuzzi. And the dearest of all, Elsie, stops by every day for a hug and a visit.


We had a party line and everyone's phone rang into our house. Our ring was two shorts and two longs. We knew the rings of all the neighbors and if you were curious enough, you could take down the receiver and listen. When our phone rang, we could hear the click-click-click as neighbors took down their receivers to find out who was calling and what they had to say.


With a large family, there was always lots of ironing to be done and I did a lot of it. The first irons I used were flat irons that sat on the stove. We had a handle that attached to them and when one iron cooled off, you would put it back on the stove to warm and click on another iron. After that, we had a gasoline iron. The tank was right on the iron. I can remember it flaming up and it was a bother to try to iron.


After the long winter, the snow finally melted and we could finally drive the car on the road. Our back road was one of the last ones to be visited by the snowplow.

What I remember most about springtime was the sheer joy of shedding our heavy winter clothes. We wore long underwear in the winter and the bottoms had to be folded to pull on the long stockings. We had a grove behind our house and I remember walking and the twigs brushed against my bare legs. I loved spring.

We always had a big garden so there was planting, weeding and more work to do, but I have always enjoyed watching plants grow. What a joy and thankful heart to God for making a seed that can produce valuable food and beautiful flowers.


We had to carry in water to fill the boiler. I remember my mom added lye to soften the water and we skimmed off the particles that came to the top. We carried the water to the washing machine. When washed, we turned the wringer by hand (watch out that your hand doesn't get caught). The clothes dropped into a tub of rinse water, through the wringer, into a tub of second rinse water and through the ringer into the basket. There was no dryer, so clothes were hung on the line, even if they froze. If they couldn't be dried outside, we had to hang them inside (we had lots of clothes!). Then all the water had to be carried outside.


There were two uses for old catalogs: toilet paper in the outhouse and for cutting out families of paper dolls and their furniture. We made the room partitions of sticks and spent much time playing house.


I always wanted to be a schoolteacher like my Aunt Viola and spent a lot of time gathering up whomever I could find for students and making plans.


1. What is your full name and why were you named it?

    I was named LaVonne Arlene Lackore. My mother had a friend in elementary school named LaVonne Anderson and named me after her.

2. What were your parent's names, birth date and birthplaces?

    My mother's name is Winnie Belle Whiton. She was born in Mineral Ridge, Iowa on June 20, 1903. My dad's name was Clifford Eugene Lackore. He was born Jan. 21, 1898 on a farm near Madison Center, Hancock County, Iowa.

3. Where were you born and when?

    I was born in Forest City, Iowa on Oct. 27, 1923. That year Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as President of the U.S.A. A first class stamp cost 2-cents.

4. How many sisters and brothers do you have?

    I have 2 sisters and 3 brothers. I am the oldest.

    • Donald Eugene, Oct. 12, 1925
    • Veone Ruth, Oct. 4, 1928
    • Keith Arden, Nov. 30, 1934
    • Dale Clifford, May 20, 1939
    • Lois Rae, Dec. 26, 1941

5. What kind of relationship did you have with them?

    I got along with all of them. I can't remember fighting.

6. What do you remember about your grandparents?

    I lived near all of them, but I don't remember them paying much attention to me. No one asked "How is school?" or any other questions.

7. Where did you live as a child?

    Our houses were small and old. A lot of the details are the same as my mother's book, page 3. We lived in the country near Forest City, near Madison Center, near Thompson and 3-1/2 miles northwest of Forest City.

8. What are the happiest memories of your childhood?

    I guess being a part of a large family. I went to stay at my dad's cousins (no kids). I got so lonesome they had to take me home. 4-H Club was a nice outing with the other kids in the neighborhood. We had skating parties, etc.

9. The saddest memory of your childhood?

    I guess when my baby brother died when he was born. Also Marilyn Kay Alm, a toddler neighbor who was scalded and died. She looked like a doll in that casket in her frilly dress. I was always sad when my friend Jessie had to go back to Chicago to spend time with her dad.

10. How did your parents punish you?

    I always tried to obey the rules and can't remember any serious punishment.

11. Who were your very best friends when you were growing up?

    My very best friend was Jessie Packman. My friend Luella Scheopf, became a missionary in Africa and after retirement lives in a missionary home in Florida.

12. How much did you travel with your family in a year and where did you go?

    I can't remember any family trips. I do remember staying home and taking care of the kids when my folks went to the State Fair. I remember taking care of my grandparents while the family and Aunt Viola went to Lake Okoboji. Also, my mom went to a Christian Camp and I took care of the kids for a week. I must have been about 12.

13. Where did you visit?

    My cousin, Bonnie, and I took the train to Rockwell to visit my Aunt Mabel's family.

14. What was a day like?

    I remember having to wash the separator. There were lots of disks and it was a pesky job. We had to carry in wood. My mom chopped wood, I never did. There were sharp edges on the wood. Someone would stack them on your arms as high as possible and the sharp edges dug into your arms. There was a wood box by the stove. Ashes had to be carried out, as did the water you had used to wash with. Lamp chimney's had to be cleaned and there were lots of other jobs to do. All the animals had to be fed.

15. Can you remember anything about birthdays when you were a child?

    I can't remember ever having anything on my birthday, not even a cake. In later years, my mom always made fancy cakes for everyone.

16. What kind of medicine did you have for common colds and flu?

    Fortunately, I can't remember being sick. But not much medicine was available then.

17. Did you get an allowance?

    No allowance! When we went to the store, we might get a nickel or dime for some candy.

18. How long did $50 last in your youth?

    I never saw $50!! Money went a lot further in those days.

19. What were toys like in comparison with today?

    No comparison! We didn't have store-bought toys. I remember we played "Kick the Can" and a game where you dug a little hole, put a stick over it and hit it with another stick. Then you measured to see who hit it the farthest. We cut paper dolls out of catalogs.

20. What was your favorite sport and how did you play it?

    We played Ring Around the Rosy, Pum-Pum-Pullaway, Kick the Can and other games (described on page 7 of my mother's book).

21. What kinds of food did you like?

    When we butchered, we had fresh meat. Yum, yum! My mother would make steak and can it (no freezer). We always had a big garden, so lots of veggies in the summer. We had a strawberry bed and remember putting them in the homemade ice cream. We canned a lot of sweet corn and tomatoes. We had big fields of those as we raised them for the cannery.

22. What kinds of vegetables did you grow in your garden?

    We grew a big variety of beans, peas, carrots and other vegetables. Since we lived in Iowa, there was always lots of corn!

23. What kinds of presents did you get for Christmas when you were young?

    Nothing big. We had lots of kids and very little money. We spent every Christmas at my Grandpa and Grandma Lackore's. I always had a small gift over there.

24. Where did you go to school? And for how long?

    I went to a country school through the 8th grade, then attended Forest City High School and graduated in 1941. I lived with my Aunt Julia's family in Des Moines for one year where I attended Drake University. After I was married, I went to Mason City Junior College. I graduated from there on July 19, 1957. After we moved to California, I attended Cal Poly summers and nights and graduated in June of 1962.

25. What was your school like?

    It was a one-room school with eight grades. We had a recitation bench up front where each grade would go for instruction.

26. How did you get to school?

    I walked a mile. If it were very cold, my dad would take us with horse and sleigh.

27. What did you like best and least about school?

    I always liked school and always wanted to teach. I remember gathering kids up to play school and I would teach!

28. What was your favorite subject in school?

    I liked geography and history, anything to do with people.

29. What was your least favorite subject in school and why?

    I guess math and spelling. The reason being that I was not very good in either one.

30. Did you get good grades in school?

    I was a B student.

31. What kind of books did you like to read?

    I have always liked family stories.

32. What did you wear to school?

    We wore dresses, no pants. In the winter we wore long underwear and long stockings. I remember at home we had "day pajamas" (I guess a forerunner of jeans). I don't even remember what they looked like.

33. Can you remember your first plane ride?

    I have never liked to fly! The first one I remember was flying to Germany when Marilyn and Bud were over there.

34. What was your first car like?

    My parents had a Model A Ford. I remember that you had to get out and crank it in the front.

35. What kinds of jobs did you have?

    I have always worked at home. I did do a little waitressing, but not much besides teaching.

36. How long did you have to work each day?

    During the two years I taught in the rural school, I had to get there early into he morning to start the fire before the children got there to get the room warm. After school, I had to do my own janitor work besides checking papers and plan for the next day. Teachers always have long days, preparing work, checking it, meeting parents, going to meetings and PTA, doing bulletin boards and making out report cards. The list goes on and on.

37. What was your experience of the depression?

    We lived on the farm so we always had food. My cousin, Wayne, who liked to visit us, always said, "I was raised on fried potatoes and eggs." We had very few clothes and there was no money for extras.

38. How did you meet the person that you would later marry?

    Colwell was a small town and I knew the Todds well, so when Don came home from the service, it was easy to meet him.

39. Did your parents like him right away?

    Yes. I think my whole family liked Don.

40. When did you start to drive?

    I learned on the country roads and got my license as soon as I could. They needed me to run errands, etc.

41. Did you ever have a fight while you were dating?

    No, and not afterwards. I don't like fighting and Don was easy to get along with.

42. How old were you when you got married?

    I was 23 years old.

43. Describe your wedding?

    We went to Austin, Minnesota. My sister, Veone, and Don's brother, Clifton, went with us as witnesses and that was all.

44. Did you have a honeymoon?

    We traveled around Minnesota a few days and spent a day with my dad's cousin, Archie Lackore, and his family.

45. Did you have children?

    I have two wonderful daughters. They are so talented and so good to me.

  • Marilyn Kay was born June 6th, 1947 in Charles City, Iowa.
  • Joanne Louise was born Jan. 28, 1950 in Charles City, Iowa.

46. Where did you live when you were first married?

    At my parents.

    Then we had an apartment at Don's Uncle Theodore Marah's in Nora Springs. Don worked at Wound Motors in Mason City, Iowa.

    We lived in an old store building for a little while.

    Then moved to a new little house on 5th Avenue in Charles City. Don worked as a mechanic at the Ford Garage. It was a wonderful place to live. Almost every family had young kids. We were special friends with Chris and Hugh Whitesell and did a lot of things together including fishing in Minnesota. They soon moved to Nora Springs, but our friendship continued. Unfortunately, Chris died of cancer. Hugh remarried and I think he is very happy. I still hear from him at Christmas time.

    Then we built a two-bedroom house on 8th Ave. That was nice, too. There were lots of kids around and the Martins, next door, were good friends. We didn't live there long before Don got leukemia and passed away within a few months.

    My folks moved to San Luis Obispo, California in 1957 and I packed a U-Haul and came out the next year. We lived with my folks for a while and then built a split-level house on Elm Court. We lived there until the girls left home. It was too big and lonesome to wander around in by myself, so I moved into an apartment, then to another apartment and my final move was to my mobile home at Chumash Village. I love it here. Nice people, especially Elsie, Eleanor and Avice. I am close to the Jacuzzi and enjoy my flowers.

47. Was being a wife and mother as you expected it to be?

    I loved being a wife, just didn't get to be one for very long. I felt like I didn't get to spend enough time with my daughters, with being a mom, teaching and finishing my education, there were not enough hours in a day. But being a mother is a privilege and a joy.

48. What was the scariest thing that ever happened to one of your children?

    That would probably be Marilyn's car accident on San Marcos Pass. Her children were at my house and she was coming after them. It got late and then I got the dreaded call that she was in the hospital with serious facial injuries. Dale took me down there and her face was so swollen, I couldn't even recognize her. Thankfully, she recovered after surgery and treatment.

49. Did you celebrate Christmas the same way that you do now, or differently?

    Much differently! We have had many great Christmases. A tree piled up high with gifts, a great dinner and decorations. The main thing is when I can have as many members of my family as possible to share the day with me. We must not lose sight of the real meaning of the day.... the birth of Jesus, who came from heaven to die on the cross for our sins.

50. Do you agree with having the World Wars, Korean and Vietnam Wars?

    I hate war, but sometimes it is necessary to keep our country free and to rescue other nations from being enslaved by other countries.

51. What was the reaction to the Kennedy assassination?

    I think everyone remembers where they were when they heard the news. I had my class lined up for lunch when the principal came by and told me. We all grieved as we watched continued coverage on TV. It was a sad day for our country.

52. Do you feel that Kennedy was a good president during the time he served? Why or why not?

    I have mixed feelings about what he accomplished. He did some good things, but probably wasn't as perfect as he is depicted.

53. What historical events had a strong influence on your life?

    One was the ending of World War II. It was good to have the young men come home and no more had to die. Gas, sugar, etc. rationing ended. I remember they issued stamps for Marilyn when she was born and rationing ended so we never had to use them.

54. What woman had the greatest influence on your life?

    I think it was my Aunt Viola. I thought she could do no wrong and the first time she disappointed me, I was crushed. I wanted to be a teacher because that was her occupation.

55. What were the major problems you had to overcome in your life?

    Probably coping with life after my husband died and school-related problems. I have lived one day at a time and am thankful I have a Heavenly Father to take these problems to. He has always been faithful. Thankfully, I have had no major health problems.

56. How have ideas about women and women's rolls changed since you were a child?

    They have changed a lot! Women can now choose any occupation that used to be for men only. We may even see a woman president or vice president in my time.

57. What do you think about these changes?

    I am glad women can get as much education as they want and choose a vocation to their liking.

52. What experiences or accomplishments in your life are you the most proud of?

    My two wonderful, talented daughters! I loved to teach children to read and it was always a thrill to see children who had entered the first grade not being able to read to be able to read, write and do math by the end of the year.

53. If you had your life to live over, what would you do differently and what would you change?

    I would have spent more time with my daughters and definitely lived closer to the Lord. I would have gone to Grace Church much sooner than I did.

54. What advice do you have for your children and grandchildren?

    I would tell them to accept the Lord and live close to Him. I want all of them to be in heaven with me.

55. What advice would you give to a grandchild on their wedding day?

    I can't think of any better advice than my mother gave me. Always think of the other person first.

Some Favorites

  • What is your favorite song? Hymns

  • What is your favorite season? Summer

  • What is your favorite flower? Rose, but I love all flowers

  • What is your favorite holiday? Christmas

  • What is your favorite color? Bright colors

  • What is your favorite hobby? Working with my flowers, fancy work, reading and watching TV

  • What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Butter Pecan

We're through with the questions. Is there anything else you'd like to say?

I am so thankful for my family and that the Lord has allowed me to live in San Luis Obispo. He has allowed me to have enough money so that I (nor my kids) ever went hungry.

He has given me good enough health so I have been able to take care of myself.

I have seen so much progress. I remember our first TV. We had the first TV on the block and everyone wanted to see it. It was snowy and we could hardly make out the images on the screen. Then came the VCR and I could tape programs that I could not stay awake to watch.

Now I have e-mail and can communicate with family members daily!

I will soon have lived three quarters of a century and I don't know where the time has gone! Thanks to the Lord and to my wonderful family!

My Grandmother

By Todd Metters, March 2, 1982

My Grandma Todd is the nicest person I know. She teaches first grade at Branch Elementary School in Arroyo Grande, California. She goes to church every Sunday. She visits her parents and cooks dinner for them. She invites her family and friends over to her house to have dinner.

She was born in Forest City, Iowa in the nineteen-twenties. She lived on a farm until she got married. She has been teaching school since she graduated from high school. She went to college at night and during the summers. Her husband died of cancer and she and her daughters tried to forget about it and keep on living life regularly.

In nineteen fifty-seven she decided to move to California with her daughters. They sold their house and most of the furniture and drove to California. This was amazing because she had hardly ever been out of Iowa before.

Every month we go up to her house to visit her in her four-room mobile home in southern San Luis Obispo. We do lots of things... we go driving around town and see all of the sights. There is one placed called Bubble Gum Alley. She always buys us five packs of gum and we write things on the wall with it. One time, my cousin put all the gum in his mouth at once and we had to squeeze his cheeks to get it out. My grandma wiped all the saliva off of his face and we went to do other things. We always go to the park and have a fun time. We always go down to the creek, take off our shoes and socks and go in. My grandma can't make it down the hill so she always waits for us and then we go home. When we get home my grandma makes us one of her specialties from Iowa. Sometimes we watch a little bit of television. Then she gets our beds ready to sleep in and she reads us a Bible story. In the morning we wake up to the smell of eggs and bacon with orange juice. After breakfast we all watch the basketball games. She is really nice about it because she is not the sporty type. She lets us watch and she watches with us as if she were a real fan of the Lakers.

If I were in trouble or was hurt, I know that she would take care of me... and I feel the same way.

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