Florence Goodman Update (1994 and 2004)

‘I married the cowboy of my dreams’

1994: Plants, quilts and family photos fill Florence Goodman’s home in Caplinger Mills and her thoughts through the day. At the age of 93, and as a resident of Cedar County since 1937, Florence has had plenty of time to collect memories and learn new hobbies to keep her active. The entrance into Florence’s home is proof of her green thumb. Plants of all types fill tables, and pots in macramé hangers dangle in every inch of available space along the room’s windows. One of Florence’s favorites among the plants in her “greenhouse” is an old, gnarled cactus which she brought from her farm more than 20 years ago. Since then her collection of cacti has grown through gifts from friends.

But Florence doesn’t keep her interests indoors. Her favorite outdoor activity, besides fishing, is caring for her irises. She has 25 different types of hybrid irises planted in beds on all sides of her home. Scattered around the yard are other bulbs: jonquils, tulips, hyacinths and crocuses, which now are beginning to peep above ground and add a splash of color to the winter. Florence learned her love of plants and her knowledge of how to care for them from her mother. When Florence raised her family of eight children, her green thumb came in handy in raising a large garden for food, especially during the Depression. “We Just lived hand to mouth,” Florence says.

Before she was married in 1920, Florence taught school for one year in Kansas. On her first day in the town she attended a rodeo where Roy Goodman won the bucking horse contest. Roy used to tell her that “when he saw me he said (to himself) there’s my wife.” A year later, she says, “I married the cowboy of my dreams.” The couple lived the rodeo life for 10 years, with Florence traveling across the western half of the United States to watch Roy ride bucking broncos, bulldog steers and sometimes even be a clown. “I thought I would like to ride a bucking horse, ” Florence says, but the closest she came to it was her white mare, Old Queen.

During World War II, Florence’s husband poured cement for plane hangars in Alaska while she kept the farm running. When he returned and began working in masonry around the area, Florence sometimes helped him lay the bricks. I enjoyed it because I was working with him.” The two bought a farmhouse to which they added a veneer of rocks from Florence’s old schoolhouse, from their original 40-acre farm and paving bricks from the various towns they had lived in and visited. The couple sold the farm and moved into Caplinger Mills when Roy became ill.

Since the move and Roy’s passing away, Florence has spent her time learning ceramics, macramé and tube painting. She watches the birds visit feeders outside her dining room window and has learned to tell the weather by them. “Before a cold spell, they eat and eat and eat,” she said. Florence continues piecing quilt tops, as she has for years, and donates many to church and other fund raisers. For presents she enjoys making what she calls “crochet critters. “And from a knitting tool her son made, Florence has made sweaters of all colors for her wardrobe. Since she uses a nut pick to help pull yarn off the loom, Florence calls her hobby “knit-picking.” And when she isn’t doing something else, she says she “still has time to play Yahtzee,” do crossword puzzles or play solitaire.

Florence has no shortage of visitors. She enjoys riding the OATS bus and attending church. And every two years Florence’s family including 34 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great-grandchildren pack into the Caplinger Mills Community Building next door to her home for a reunion. “At that time, the Goodman family takes over Caplinger,” she said. Throughout the year family pictures stretch across the wall of her home. Having her family visit her is among Florence’s favorite memories. She notes, “I never regretted marrying the cowboy.”

Postscript – 2004

On October 11, 2003, as she often did, Florence awoke and went next door to her daughter Shirley’s place for a cup of coffee and chat. After awhile, she told Shirley she was tired and was going back to her place to take a nap. Later that day, Shirley went over to Flo’s to check up on her, and found her dead in her favorite recliner chair. She had quietly passed away in her sleep, in her own trailer home in Caplinger Mills, at age 102 and 7 months, and had never lived in a rest home. She was buried next to Roy in the Caplinger Mills Cemetery, where she now rests in peace beside the cowboy, farmer and husband she loved so dearly.

And so ends the story of the cowboy and the schoolmarm.


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