By Nancy Hayden Field
Evelyn was the third child of Mary Jindra (Pelkey) Peltier and Andrew (Pelkey) Peltier. She was born in Lena, Wisconsin on November 25, 1905. Her sister, Irene, and brother, Earl, were both older. At sometime in her early childhood, they moved to Manitowoc. In those early years, they lived on 6th street, closer to downtown Manitowoc. Later they moved to 847 North 6th Street.
Evelyn had a lovely childhood. She did not mention many specific things, but one event stood out in her mind. One Christmas she was leaning over the Christmas tree and a burning candle set her afire. In order to save her, they rolled her up in a rug. Also, sometime during her childhood, she had scarlet fever. That disease left her hard of hearing for the rest of her life.
She attended Sacred Heart for elementary school and Manitowoc High for high school. She enjoyed many friends and was class treasurer one year. She was a very good student, graduating near the top of her class. In her generation, going to college was still not common for women.
Out of high school, Evelyn worked for the Wisconsin Public Service as a payroll clerk.
There she met John Charles Hayden, called Charlie, and married him in a small, private service on July 3, 1937. At that time, women could not continue working for the company if they were married to another employee. Thus Evelyn became a fulltime homemaker, a roll she enjoyed all her life. They purchased a home at 730 North 6th Street in Manitowoc and lived there all their lives. Evelyn had at least one miscarriage. One of them was a tubular pregnancy, resulting in surgery that led to other births having to be C-sections. They had three children, Nancy Ann born March 15, 1941. Marjorie Jeanne born July 1, 1942 and John Patrick born January 7, 1947. Evelyn and Charlie provided a warm, loving home, with wonderful memories for their family. They spent a lot of time with Evelyn’s parents, Mary Jindra and Andrew Peltier, as they lived close and lived to old ages. They included her sister Irene in their daily lives. Her children don’t remember her hardly ever getting mad. She had a calm, easy way about raising her family.
Having been one of the top students in her graduating class, she valued learning and passed that value onto her children and grandchildren. They were all subject to her correcting their letters. She would circle their mistakes and send them back. Evelyn should have been an English teacher, for she would edit her children’s papers in high school and college. She even helped edit and type one son-in-law’s doctoral thesis, thereby taking partial credit for his degree.
Being as Charlie was also a farmer, owning a family farm in the Grims area, they would spend a considerable amount of time on the farm. This led to plucking chickens, making sausage and preparing years of great meals. One cooking experience backfired on Evelyn. She was using a pressure cooker and it exploded. It left a permanent scar on her shoulder. She was great with all her children’s friends. There was always one friend or another staying for dinner. But some friends were a bit skeptical to come to dinner until they heard what was going to be on the menu. They did not want to come over if she was serving something exotic like fish eggs, or a rabbit she had caught in a trap out in the back yard.
She didn’t mind her kids having slumber parties. She would go to bed and take off her hearing aid, so she would sleep like a log all night. That left her husband, Charlie, to deal with the unruly kids! Smart lady.
She participated in many Catholic Church activities including the Alter Society. She enjoyed playing cards with her friends. She was always involved in her children’s activities such as girl scouts and boy scouts. She loved crafts, and perhaps might have been an artist if times were different. She painted and made objects out of tiles, broken glass, leather, shells and driftwood. She always seemed to have one project or another. Her children recall bits and pieces, random memories. They recall the odors coming from her kitchen, rhubarb and strawberry jam, Christmas fudge, the pictures on the wall and photos on the shelves, her Fiestaware dishes, the kitchen table she designed to fold into the wall, the wild roses she transplanted from Pennsylvania, bird feeders, green plants, warm registers to sit in front of, holy cards, rosaries, crucifixes and braided palms from Palm Sunday.
Evelyn managed to travel over the years. She and Charlie had a honeymoon to Yellowstone National Park. They took their family to Northern Wisconsin most years for a family vacation. Once her children were grown, she visited many places, such as Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Washington, Oregon, California and several other states. When her son John moved to Paris, France, she visited France and surrounding countries.
Her later years were a difficult due to a complicated surgery and a fall resulting in a broken hip. She spent the last three years of her life living in Madison/Middleton with her two daughter’s families. She lived to be 90 years old, dying on December 29th, 1995.
Evelyn was a warm, loving and contented person. She took every opportunity to enjoy life to the fullest. She was known for her generous nature, quick wit and incredible sense of humor. It was a life well lived. She definitely left the world a better place.