Farm Women Interviews at Bank of Evansville
March 10, 2011
Transcribed by Ruth Ann Montgomery
Participants: Barbara Broege Andrew, Mary Greatsinger Lange, Frances Fenn Lange, Virginia Fenn Mauerman, Patsy Gilbert Hermanson, Mary
McDermott Abey, Alice Peach Krause, Ruth Krause O’Connor, Ardis Templeton Zwicky, Kathy VanGalder Starostka, Linda Gallagher, Borghild
Haakenson Viney, Evalyn Fenrick Hagen, Janet Reese Wienke, Joy Andrew Olson, Sherry Braaten Crull, Elvina Patterson and Sally Mauerman
Reisem, John Ehle, Ruth Ann Montgomery, Gina Duwe and Kyle Geisler, Janesville Gazette and WCLO.
Thanks to the Bank of Evansville for hosting the program and to the Evansville FFA Alumni for lunch.
John Ehle: We’ve got a great turnout today. I think we’ve got great weather and that always helps. Having six inches of snow would not have been
very encouraging. Welcome, it’s nice to be together with everybody. I’d like to introduce some people. You all know Ruth Ann Montgomery. Ruth
Ann is our local historian and my hero. She’s the best. She’s told me for years, “Keep telling the stories” and that’s why you are here today, is to
tell stories. So let’s tell stories. I want to introduce some other people. Barb Andrew was on the planning committee; my aunt Elvina Patterson,
planning committee, was on the planning committee. Donald Maas was on the planning committee. Who else am I leaving out. Ruth Ann, can’t
leave her out. Sitting next to me is Gina Duwe. Gina is the Evansville correspondent, among other things, for the Janesville Gazette. This is Kyle
Sally Reisum: So that’s what you look like.
John Ehle: Kyle is vertically challenged as you can see (Kyle was kneeling down at the recording devices). Kyle is not only an employee of the
Gazette, but he also teaching at UW-Whitewater. He teaches journalism classes there, so he’s a multi-tasking kind of a guy . My brother Steve
sitting back in the corner.
Steve Ehle: I’m the youngest one.
John Ehle: Most immature is what he really means. Ok, I think what we will do is just go around, and you all know each other, but for the purpose of
identification and to just say hello. We’ll start with Barb and just around the table and it will give Gina and Ruth Ann an opportunity to get the
names. I’ll tell you, we don’t have to ask very many questions, if you guys are at all like your male counterparts that we had here in December, the
stories just come and it’s a lot of fun. So, let’s have some fun here together today.
(Counterclockwise around the table): Barb Andrew, Mary Lange, Frances Lange, Virginia Mauerman, Pat Hermanson, Mary Abey, Alice Krause,
Ruth Krause O’Connor, Ardis Zwicky, Kathy VanGalder Starostka, Linda Gallagher, Borghild Viney, Evalyn Hagen, Janet Wienke, Joy Olson, Sherry
Crull, Elvina Patterson and Sally Mauerman Reisem.
John Ehle: Well, one of the things that we started out talking about when the men were here, and we don’t have to duplicate that. But I guess I’ll
look for a volunteer; for somebody to talk about their first memory of being on the farm. I think we range in age here, participants anyway, from 64
Elvina Patterson: Sally is 55.
John Ehle: You didn’t think you were going to age that fast did you? Anyway, if somebody would like to start with a memory, that would be a good
way to go. Before you do speak, just say your name so that when Ruth Ann makes her transcript, and it will be in the Review again. So just say
Pat Hermanson: When I was on the farm, the first time on the farm, was when I married John. I had been a secretary, so I came from the city to the
farm. I didn’t really want to be a farmer, but once I was there then it kind of grows on you after awhile. I think it’s a wonderful place to raise kids. I
did a lot of the milking and John did the field work and I learned to love farming.
John Ehle: Pat, weren’t you the Rock County Dairy Queen?
Pat Hermanson: No, the Evansville 4th of July Queen. Thank you for remembering that. It was a long time ago.
Ardis Zwicky: I have a story. When I was probably five, I’m not sure just sure how old I was, but our barn caught on fire and it was the motor that
ran the milking machine equipment and it was in the upper part of the barn. This was an old barn, and so that could have caught all that hay on
fire. I remember sitting with Kenny Templeton, my cousin, on the top step of the porch, sort of hoping that fire would get going. But they got it out,
and with a little repair the barn was as good as it was before.
Ruth O’Connor: Nice kids!
Virginia Mauerman: Talking about barn fires. The barn over the farm next to us, burned just after we moved away. I remember waking up in the
night and we could just see the shingles coming off the side of the house. Well, Bill was just a little baby and he was in the bed. Both Harold and I
run downstairs and we went outdoors, and my goodness, we forgot that baby. I run back up stairs to get that baby because that barn was burning.
And you guys were mad at me because we weren’t over their helping.
Ruth O’Connor: This isn’t really a story, but I stood on my front porch and watched Mary’s barn burning when I was a kid, her home farm.
Mary Abey: I remember that too. Elvina wasn’t around there. I remember that L eon Patterson bought dad’s herd of cows that day and one of the
Lange’s, I think it was probably Ronnie and Archie and myself, with the riding horses. We took those cattle up to Patterson’s about noon and I
remember Bob, he was smaller than I, but he said,“ I got enough chores to do tonight.” He didn’t want those cows. It’ s surprising what you think
back and remember when you have to.
Pat Hermanson: Well, if we are discussing fires. I went out to get the cows, I think, about 3:00 in the afternoon and it was on Sunday afternoon
September 5th. So it was Labor Day weekend. I saw the flames or smoke coming out of the barn and went back in the house and called 911, I
guess. Then I proceeded to take the camera out and take pictures. At the time, just before this, I had had bunion surgery on both feet, both feet at
the same time. It’s not a good idea. So I was running around there with my broken feet . Being Labor Day weekend, it was awesome how the
farmers all rallied around you. We had seven manure spreaders. It was chopped hay that we had in the barn. There were seven manure
spreaders there working all day, or through the night. I don’t remember now, maybe it was on Monday. So, they were giving up their Labor Day
weekend to help us. Also the football team came out. I think Dean was on it at the time. They came out and helped pitch hay. The fire fighters
were there from 3:00 in the afternoon, or 3:30 until 8:30 the next night.
Sally Reisem: I have a story about Pat’s barn burning because my Dad was on the Footville Fire Department that weekend. Plus it was Thresheree
weekend and my Dad did not go to the Thresheree because he was at your barn. He came home so sick from the smoke and everything that he
laid out in the front yard just coughing for a sold hour from the smoke and the intense heat of the flames. All of us remember how tired, and how he
was just so full of the smoke coming from that fire. It was just something, your barn fire was.
Pat Hermanson: Ya, it was.
Joy Olson: Getting back to early memories on the farm. I was born right on the farm and years ago, I remember that…well, my first memories were
that I can remember riding my tricycle and we had a dog named Bing. I‘d ride my bike up and down the sidewalk and run over his tail and the dog
would never even move. I also remember getting lost at our farm and my mother called Grandpa and Grandma George to come quick, that I was
lost. When they got out there, I had gone after the cows. I was probably three. The cows were way down, close to the other end of the farm.
When Grandpa got there he noticed that he could see the dog and I was kind of beside the dog. So the dog always took care of me too. Another
early memory, I remember was, Buddy Kleinsmith came around the corner of the house and brought paper work for me to start school and I thought
that was just the living end.
Sherry Crull: My very first memory of the farm was my parents. My mother was born a Klitzman on the Larson farm, now. She always called it the
Maloy farm, Charlie Maloy’s or something. We lived in between Virgil Klitzman and the Larson farm now. I remember standing in my crib watching
my mother do chores out the window. My brother and I were in the same, you know, she’d just stick us together, because we were like two and
three. We’d stand there and watch her out the window until she got done with chores. Then she’d come in the house and we’d get out of our bed.
Dad was on the road or gone, or whatever he was doing. Next thing you know, I marry one, a farmer that is, and it’s been a lot of ups and downs. It’
s been a lot of fond, fond memories. One of the first memories, I remember. We weren’t married yet and he was going to teach me how to drive
tractor. Well, it was in a hilly field and he’s on the flat rack, the hay rack in the back and I’m on some kind of Moline or something tractor. It was a
monstrous thing. His Dad was also helping him stack the bales on the wagon. Sherry was going to drive, ok. “Whatever you do, when you go
down that hill, do not push the clutch in. You push the torque ahead, “ I think it was. And I’m like, “ok, the torque ahead, the clutch not in.” I get
going down that hill. It felt like 100 miles and hour. I pushed in the clutch and I went, “AH!!!”. I covered my eyes. But when I leaned back to see
where John was, and I looked back he was hanging onto the back of the wagon, going, “Oh’, my God, she is going to kill us. She’s going to kill us
for sure.” We got to the bottom of the hill and we were absolutely jackknifed together. I think it is a wonderful place to raise a family. I think they
get raised with a lot of morals and goals. We have meals together and I just think that instills a lot of necessary things in life to get through. So, I
have many more funny stories, but I will let someone else speak at this point.
Barb Andrew: I’m Barb Broge Andrew. I grew up on a farm on Carver’s Rock Road in Bradford Township. So, all my life I was on the farm. I guess,
some of the early memories, Mom helped out in the barn with my dad, because he was a dairy farmer. Or course, we had calf pens and fresh cow
pens. They made a little pen inside the pen to keep my older brother and I in, so we didn’t get out in the driveway and in the gutter while they were
milking. I remember too, learning to drive the tractor for the baler, early in life, because my older brother was three years older than I. So when we
got old enough, they would send Bob and I out to bale hay. Bob and I learned to do hand signals. He was back on the wagon loading and I was
driving. He also said, “Don’t Push the clutch in.” But I also learned that if you push the brake too fast and stopped a whole tier of bales will come
over on somebody. There were a lot of words. It was a good thing we had forty acres around us. I had the best sun tan when I was a teenager,
because I drove the baler. Now-a-days you would not be proud of that because we know the dangers of the sun, but I remember that. I went to
college and I remember going to college and thinking, “Ok, I am never going to marry a farmer. This is it. I’m not going to live on a farm. I know
what hard work it is, what the long hours are.” That was before I met Gordy. You know, life has a way of giving us what we need and that’s what I
needed. But I wasn’t going to be a farmer’s wife.
Kathleen Van Galder Starostka: I wasn’t born on a farm . I was born in Janesville but when I was twelve, my parents bought a small farm on Eagle
Road, because they wanted to get out of the big city. Janesville was about 27,000 people then. We had dogs and cats and seven kids and so they
wanted to be out in the country. So we moved out there and it was a big adventure for us every day, because we didn’t have all the limitations that
you have living in town. We could be out in the field and run and play with the dogs. We could make as much noise as we wanted. There weren’t
any neighbors that cared and it was great and I thoroughly agree with people that say that raising kids on a farm is a great way to raise your kids.
My brother Ed used to work for some farmers and he would get paid with baby pigs. So he would bring the pigs home and raise them. Eventually
the mother pigs would have babies which he would sell. It was sort of his fund raising thing. He had a big sow pig that was so mean. If you even
came close to her pen, she would practically go over the fence to get you. Well, as luck would have it, Ed sold his baby pigs. The day the farmer
came to pick up the pigs, Ed wasn’t at home and we couldn’t get those babies out of the pen without the mother going after us. So eventually we
opened the gate just enough that the baby pigs could run out. Then we were out there chasing 13 baby pigs all over trying to catch them for the
guy who had bought them. I still remember, baby pigs are pretty fast little critters and trying to catch them and get them into the truck. That
happened a long time ago, but I still remember that being, well, it was fun, but a little bit frustrating trying to catch those critters.
Ardis Zwicky: When I was young, I seemed to be this scrawny little kid, that was a weakling. So I never was asked to help or learned to drive a
tractor. Janice Abey used to always get to drive the tractor on her Dad’s farm. I used to feel badly about that. Well, I never did do anything on the
farm until I think I was in college or out of college. Dad was short somebody to drive the rake and he was baling and so he said, “Well, come on.”
Well, I could not even stay in the right row. I didn’t know what I was looking at in that field. I couldn’t see anything. So suddenly he would be on
the baler and he would motion, “over-over.” Ok, I’d get that thing wheeled into the next one and go a little more , until I came to a corner and then I
was in the same boat again. Well, twice he got off and got me back into the right spot. The third time he said, “Go and find somebody else.”
John Ehle: Fired!
Ardis Zwicky: Ya.
Sally Mauerman Reisem: I think some of the best memories all of us have are doing chores, even though we came home from school and we couldn’
t stay for activities because we were needed on the farm. I always laugh at kids now when you tell them to change into their everyday clothes. They
look at you and say, “What are you talking about.” Growing up on the farm, one of my first memories was in our barn, which used to be the horse
barn that they used back in the 1800s to dig the big cut there in Magnolia. Then they converted it into a barn for cows. We had a lot of pens in
there but we had a gate that kept the cows into the milking area. Then we had another area that us kids could play in. What we really liked to do at
night was to take that hook off the gate and swing back and forth, back and forth. I can remember standing there in my barn jacket, thinking this
was the greatest thing, going “Wee” all day long, back and forth, and then came haying time. I think haying time was my favorite time of the year,
because it was a time that I could really work with my Dad. Once in a while I got to work with my Grandpa and my uncles. One day when I was in
college, I came home to do one of those 1,000 bale weekends that you work really hard at. Mom was on the wagon lifting the bales onto the
elevator. Dad and I were in the mow. The two boys were down, doing the baling. We got done and Mom said, “You know what Harold, if you don’t
watch it, we are going to put too much hay in that barn and it is going to crack.” And you walked in and the main beam of the barn was cracking.
We had her run fast and get poles and everything to jack the main beam up in the barn. We didn’t do well the rest of the day with baling hay.
Borghild Viney: I‘m Borghild Viney and I remember back. I’m older than the rest of you, so I go back to the days when we had loose hay and I had
to drive the hay fork with horses to get the hay up into the hay mow. We always had jobs to do when we were children. The men were out in the
field. So, it was anything from I had to slop pigs and grind corn, one ear at a time with the grinder, and carry it out to feed the pigs. Always had to
go and get the cows and all that. I don’t think any of us ever said , “Well, I am bored,” like you hear now days. There was always something to do.
We found things to do. Our parents were not there supervising every time we turned around. We played in the trees and thought nothing of
climbing the windmill which was 40 feet in the air. Our mother’s didn’t call the emergency squad or anybody to come in get us down, or anything.
Our neighbor children would come down and play and they’d stay all day long. The parents never called to find out where their children were,
because they knew there was going to be room at the table for something eat. So they waited until evening. We had a wonderful time in our
growing up years.
Sally Reisem: Virginia why don’t’ you talk about when you moved into this property when it was a farm, because you lived on this property. [On the
location of the current Bank of Evansville]
Virginia Mauerman: I lived here. When we were first married I was teaching at the Brown School. My husband went to work for Mr. Brunsell. I
imagine the house sat right about where we are now. The big barn was here. The house was here and it was just really a lovely house. We had so
many good times in that house and it just seems amazing that now it is all gone. Everything is gone. It was a big house. We had sanded the floors
in the front room. A man came along selling vacuum cleaners and said, “I want to show you how this works.” Well, I said, “There’s nothing in this
room,” and he said, “Well, if there isn’t anything in this room I can vacuum, I’ll give you the vacuum cleaner.” He opened up the door and he looked
in and there wasn’t a thing in that room. And do you know, he got out of there so fast, you couldn’t believe it.
Pat Hermanson: You didn’t get the vacuum cleaner?
Virginia Mauerman: No!
Joy Olson: Another early memory, I remember. I was the oldest child of five and my Dad put me to work, probably when I was about three, sitting
me on the tractor seat and start the tractor and he would shovel the corn off the back of the wagon for the pigs. I thought I was pretty hot stuff
when I was driving the tractor that young. Then I got more brothers, so then I didn’t drive tractor quite so often. Except, I would drive tractor, too,
for baling hay, or raking hay.
Kathleen Starostka: How many people went to one room schools? (all raise hands)
Virginia Mauerman: I taught in one and so did she. (indicating Frances Lange)
Kathy Starostka: Because I think that is one of my fondest memories. I went to Barrett School on the corner of 14 and Eagle Road. My teacher
was Agnes Reilly. Agnes Reilly taught there for a long time until they closed the country school. We walked to school every day, just like everybody
else. We had to pump water and bring it in. We had outdoor bathrooms and somehow in spite of having all those grades and all those kids, we
learned. Isn’t that amazing? We did a great job. I loved it. It’s one of my best memories of living in the country, is going to that school.
Unfortunately the school burned down, shortly after they closed it. So it’s an empty spot there. I remember in the winter time when we had snow
days and we used to have lots of them. Miss Reilly lived on Seeman Road, and they never plowed Seeman Road. So if the teacher couldn’t get to
school, nobody got to school. If we didn’t have snow days, we had extra days in the spring and we had softball tournaments. Do you remember
having softball tournaments? We would play all the different little schools around, White Star School. Every year before Christmas, I think the
whole month of December was spent preparing for Christmas program. We learned plays, songs, dances, and poems. All the parents came.
Virginia Mauerman: What amazes me is that some of these people that went to these country schools really made a place in this world. Now,
Kenneth Seigenthaler that went to Brown up here, he went on to the Air Force Academy and he ended up in the Pentagon. He did stop in one day
to see me. John Taylor became a pilot. So many of these people, really, from coming from a country school, made great strides in their life.
Pat Hermanson: I think that my penmanship I attribute to the country schools. We had that Palmer Method. I don’t remember, maybe you can
refresh my memory. I think it was from 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, I was out at Union School. Did we help the younger kids?
Mary Abey: Yes, I think most rural schools did because I remember helping first, second and third graders when I was quite young yet.
Borghild Viney: I grew up in the rural schools and also I have to thank the teachers because they had to be prepared for first through eighth
grades. They stoked the stove that we had. They helped with carrying in water. I mean, they usually had assignments for the children. It just
seemed like if that child did not get it in first grade, he was there to listen in the second grade and on. I border out towards the Edgerton School
District. I think it was six years in a row, all the valedictorians for the high school were all from the rural area. I think that it was a wonderful place.
The teacher had to go out supervise all the children playing outside playing at noon hour. Once a month, we mothers, this is going back to when I
had children in school, they had hot lunches that we prepared for the children. That was the only hot lunch that they had. Once a week each
parent took a turn. We had card parties and all the community got together. It was a community function for everybody to meet each other and
make good neighbors. We knew our neighbors years ago. Everyone participated and helped make these things successful. They made just a little
charge so that they could give it to the school so they could buy the extra things that they needed. I thought that was something that you lose now
in this day and age.
Kathy Starostka: When we finished eighth grade we had to go take the 8th grade exams. It was a big, big deal. I can remember that. Miss Reilly
worked so hard to help prepare me for the 8th grade exam. When she got my scores she was so proud. And then we had the county graduation
ceremony at Marshall Junior High in Janesville. People got dressed up and your whole family came to see you graduate from 8th grade, a big deal
in our little lives.
Ruth O’Connor: We went to Monroe. I was in Green County, the Krause School. I went for eight years and had Wilna Francis Maas for the first
five years, which is a wonderful start. When we graduated we went over to Monroe and we did it in a big movie theater. So you don’t forget. We
got all dressed up and the whole family went. You talk about those Christmas programs, and I thought those things were wonderful. The Krause
School is out on [highway]C and the church is right next door. We did a big Christmas program at school and then we’d go over and do a big
Christmas program at the church. It was wonderful. It was great fun.
Pat Hermanson: Didn’t we do a lot of square dancing in the country schools?
Ruth Krause O’Connor: Lots of things, my folks played for house parties too. Push the table over.
Sherry Crull : Sometimes I just wish I could rip up the carpet up and push everything aside and say, “Come on in and let’s have a ball.” It just
sounds like good old country fun.
Janet Wienke: I don’t know how old I was when I went to Forest Academy and we had Arlene Allen from Evansville for a teacher. My sister got
scarlet fever. So, I don’t know if we had to all stay home a week or not. After a short time I went to my Grandma Luchsinger’s in Evansville and had
to stay with her for six weeks, because our house was quarantined. So I stayed and went to school with Arlene every morning when she went out to
go to school. Six weeks was a long time then. I think that’s where we got our penmanship, or I did from her, because she was an excellent writer. I
remember also going to Porter in the end of the school year, or Cooksville, for the play day. We had a play day. I don’t remember what all they
had, softball, bean bags, races.
Borghild Viney: Horseshoe, bean bags, relays.
Janet Wienke: Bean bags are kind of coming back right now.
Pat Hermanson: When our son, Mike was in the FFA, Evansville FFA, we were asked if we wanted an exchange student from Italy and we got
He couldn’t speak much English but it just seemed like he and John knew exactly what the other one was thinking. They got along just perfect. He
was supposed to be there for three months. He asked if he could just stay two months and then he wanted to travel around the United States. I
cried when he left, because he was just such a sweetheart. I’ll be darned if 15 years later, I think it was, he said when he left he was going into the
military and he called me on the phone and said “Pat?” And I said “Raffaele?” I said, “Where are you calling from” and he said “Rome, Italy.” So we
have kept in touch over the years and it just gives you such a good feeling to know that somebody cares, that far away. When he came to visit me,
it was after John had died and the farm was sold and so forth. He wanted to go out there and he felt so sad, even only being there two months. He
was a farmer in Italy, too. Anyway, that was just an awesome experience.
Sherry Crull: We had an awesome experience with an Italian boy for a whole year. The girls, Stacy and Kelly, were just out of school. I think it was
Mr. Willoughby called us and said, “Would you be interested in having a student from Italy, a boy?” And I said, “Yes, we would. That would be
interesting, you know” So when he came, he was this little guy and John and I were siding the house at the time. He came outside in the morning
and he said, “This looks like the desert.” And I said, “The desert? No, this is Wisconsin, the desert is way far away from here.” He said, “What do
you do with all this land?” I said, “We farm it. We work it. We grow crops.” He said, “Can I join in too?” I said, “Well, if you want to know what John
and I go through every day. There’s a pair of bibs hanging on the porch for you. When you feel comfortable, you get in those bibs and come out
and work with us.” And he absolutely loved it. One day we had company and we thought he was upstairs in his room, taking a nap or whatever.
Well, he was out in the shed rolling corn, the corn kernels, you know, breaking them in a roller mill. All of a sudden he come in the house and his
face was as absolutely as white as this can. He brings in this piece of material and he goes, “This is my shirt. I almost die. I got caught in that
roller mill and it almost took it right down to my neck.” “My mother must never know about this is shirt,” he said. He liked to be called Mikey. His
name was Michael, but he liked Mikey. He was a fantastic kid. The one thing that I really admired most about him is, he went to the Catholic Church
in town and if I couldn’t take him, he would ride his bike. He said, “I cannot believe there is one God for the whole world.” I thought that was really
interesting. John and I did get to experience going to England and visiting him. He was in England in school. So we went there instead of Italy.
Our girls and their husbands bought us tickets to go. It was wonderful except I drank the water and don’t ever do that because I was sick most of the
time I was there. The hotel rooms are so small that John’s shoulders rubbed as he walked down the hall. It was a 4-star hotel, I think it was. It was a
most wonderful experience. I would recommend it to anybody. You just have to be normal and tell them to hop in your life and away we go.
Anybody that comes to the house, I tell them, “You are on your own. You want a soda? Go get it because I don’t wait on people. I got better things
to do than wait on you. Just go help yourself.”
Kathleen Starostka: My husband and I have our 15th exchange student right now. She is from Afghanistan. When she first came to live with us,
she was scared to death living in the country because “It’s too quiet.” The trees scared her. Everything scared her. Even now, after over six
months, she is afraid to be there alone, if the dog isn’t there to protect her. It’s a totally different experience for her.
John Ehle: How about 4-H memories.
Borghild Viney: That was our life with our children. As a matter of fact I was in 4-H member for many, many years. That’s where I met my husband,
as a matter of fact. We each had the lead in the 4-H play and we went our separate ways and after a while we got together. When we were
married, we had four kids. Everyone of them participated in 4-H for years and years. It’s a most wonderful experience for a youngster because they
are taught a lot. They learn how to do things. The girls were in the home economics projects plus it was mostly cattle with our boys, dairy cattle.
We always said that what we wanted in life for our family was to keep them busy doing things so, that if they did things well, they would not be getting
into trouble and doing other things that they shouldn’t be doing. So we tried to keep them busy. Our motto always was, “Cows, Corn and
Continuity.” We kept that up for all the years that my husband and I were working on the farm. The cows finally left after a fire on our farm. We
sold our cows in 1982. The children each learned so much. They went on to college. My two boys came back to the farm to work. But they did not
want to stay with the dairying, because those cows had to be milked twice a day, seven days a week, regardless of what the weather was or
anything. So, they gave up that, but we still have the Corn and the Continuity. My grandson, the 5th generation now, is on the same farm. So, we
are continuing on. We hope that he will continue to do well. As of March 1st, he bought the original Viney farm, is buying it, I should say. So we
hope that it is going to continue.
John Ehle: There will be people who read this who won’t know what the 4-H’s are?
(the entire group): Head, Heart, Hands and Health
Virginia Mauerman: I have here a picture of when I was a leader for the gardening at the fair. I have the pictures here of an article that was in the
Gazette, of when I was a garden leader.
Sally Reisem: Virginia was probably the fair’s garden superintendent, we tried to figure it out, once upon a time. I think she was gardening
superintendent for close to 40 years. She’s had a lot of people come up to her and say, “weren’t you a leader when I was a kid.” Joy and I were
part of the Magnolia 4-H Club. Things have changed in 4-H but we still believe in citizenship and community service, always doing the best that you
can. I can remember going up to the Andrew’s home for club meetings and project meetings. I know the Andrew boys remember coming to our
house for project meetings as well. The best thing we ever did was our drama and music competition. I remember you couldn’t talk to kids on the
school bus if they lived in, or were part of Center or Evansville 4-H because you were not going to give them your secrets. It was really knock-down
competition. I know that Joy remembers some of those days. You just didn’t talk to anybody because you were going to really impress people with
your music talents and drama talent. I know from conversations with Joy’s brother, Kenny, her youngest brother, that he still tells stories about when
Virginia was the director of the play and how he had to kiss Laurie Larson on stage and they did it. They let the whole world see them kiss each
other on stage. I think that was some of the best times because it built our self confidence, how we thought about of ourselves and so many good
things have come out of 4-H. I hope that I can show this to the Extension office. Because at the present time, I am working for the UW extension 4-H
program in Janesville, bringing the 4-H program to after school children in Beloit area. They still believe in Head, Hands, Heart, and, Health. The
message is still so important. I think I am going to let Joy talk because she has some really good stories.
Joy Olson: I was certainly involved with a 4-H family. My mom was a fairgoer and her family were fairgoers. My dad not so much so. When I
joined the Magnolia 4-H Club I started with a sheep. I often wondered why I started with a sheep project. I guess it was because when my Dad was
going to start 4-H. Grandpa Andrew bought him a lamb and the dog ate the lamb before the day was over. So he was never in anything but
gardening in 4-H and he didn’t like it. So, I guess I was probably as active as any 4-H’er around and we did, we lived the fair. Dad would get up
early in the morning and take us all to Janesville. We’d do our chores. I guess it’s no different than it is now. Other projects, other than the
livestock projects, we were usually working on them on the way to the fairgrounds. I always enjoyed the foods project. Larry always tells how I took
28 things to the fair, 28 food things. I was baking all day and all night. It was an enjoyable time and our kids, too, were involved with 4-H in Green
County and it’s a great place for kids. I think that it was the one thing that most kids did. You don’t have to be in a 100 things like my grandkids are
now, where parents and grandparents are running in four different directions with 3 kids. It was a little slower pace back then, too.
Sally Reisem: Going farther back before Joy and I were in 4-H. Did any of you ever participate in the victory gardens that they had? Frances, do
you want to talk about what Victory Gardens is, or was?
Frances Lange: During the war they were encouraging everyone to raise gardens because of using food for the Army. They had a contest called
the Victory Gardens, and I believe it was sponsored by the Sears stores. We got some free seeds to start with our garden. It was a contest. I had
a very nice garden. Mr. Glassco and a group of judges came out in July, I believe, before the fair to judge it. It was just a beautiful day and my
garden was really great. I did finish very well in that contest. Everyone was supposed to be raising gardens at that time and a lot of people did.
Virignia Mauerman: Weren’t you and Paul Bass winners?
Frances Lange: I think the other one from Center was one of the Ballmer boys. Mrs. Bass was the leader of the garden club and we had a real
good garden club.
Kathleen Starostka: I was in 4-H and it was great fun. I belonged to the Porter 4-H, even though I was in Center township. Mrs. Viney was one of
my leaders. I can still remember going to her house during the summer time. I took sewing, food preservation, and baking. Then we had steers. I
wasn’t a very good person to be having animals because I became too attached to them. I had a Black Angus steer called Curley and of course,
you take your animal to the fair and then they sell them. Woodman’s grocery store, in Janesville, bought my Curley. I cried when they came to put
him in the truck and take him away and then I called everybody I knew and said, “Don’t buy any meat at Woodman’s, because it might be my
Curley.” So, I wasn’t a good representative for the store. I learned a lot. I was in choir. They used to have choirs then. My choir leader must have
been a saint because I know now that I can’t carry a tune but I can’t remember that she ever scolded people or criticized people. You were in
competitions then at the fair in different events and stuff with choir. I did that for a number of years. I would never do it today. It was really fun. I
also had Shetland ponies that I showed. So my parents would take me into Janesville in the morning to feed the ponies and get them all cleaned up
and stuff for whatever competitions. We stayed there the whole day long. Our parents didn’t stay there with us. I can’t imagine letting my grandkids
go to the fair and stay there from eight in the morning time, until closing time at night, all by themselves. They gave us a couple of dollars to buy a
hamburger during the day, or something to eat. We stayed there and all our friends were there. We hung around in the barns and went and
looked at all the exhibits and had a great time. I think kids miss out on that today.
Pat Hermanson: When we were in country school I can remember pictures of going to WCLO and giving programs or something on WCLO. I was
also going to say I could write a book on the hired help we had on the farm. Maybe if we paid them more we could have gotten better herdsmen. I
don’t know. John did most of the field work and I helped with the milking. We had a milking parlor. I know one gal that we hired worked at General
Motors, nights. So, when she got done at 2 o’clock in the morning, she would come back to our place and it would be time that she would want to
milk cows. So I would be going out to get the cows at 2 o’clock in the morning. We did that for a period of time while she worked at General Motors.
I guess we did whatever worked. I thought we were milking up to 200 cows. But I am looking in that article when we sold out that we were milking
120 and so that’s quite a difference. The hired help left a little something to be desired. I don’t know about the rest of you.
Borghild Viney: We had good hired help. I can’t complain. We had one hired man that was with us for 40 years. My husband was one that he
would not give a hired man a job that he wouldn’t do himself. He usually worked right along with them. I think it made a difference. To this day, we
are still good friends. It helps a lot. They are dependable and honest as the day is long. We are real pleased to have those memories back. They
get so they are part of the family when they are with you, you know. They were there in March of 1967, I think it was, we had an ice storm and we
did not have power for five days. We had a generator at our place. We had no heat in the house or anything but we had a generator which they
used for milking. When we got done with milking, then they took it over to two other neighbors and took turns and just rotated it around. They
would pump the water and stuff and bring us a can of water or bucket of water, or whatever we needed. We lived in one room and ate nothing but
cold sandwiches for five days. Also in that same summer, then, I think that we had a drought. It was just awful. I have a picture in my scrapbook of
my husband. He had an ear of corn that had maybe 8 kernels on it. You always think, “Well, maybe we should quit. “ But, you go to bed at night
and say a prayer and think, “Well, tomorrow is going to be better” and we start in again and keep going, plugging away, and it all turns out good in
Pat Hermanson: Getting back to the hired man, I probably should say, we lucked out with our last hired man, Richard Kelly. When we quit farming,
then he moved to Florida and then when John started his welding business, Dick came back and asked for a job. He and John worked well
together. It was wonderful. So there was some good in it.
Sherry Crull: Or, you could be like my husband, John, and just have John and Sherry do it. Because there is nobody that can do it like Sherry and
John, which is true. But, it has wrecked the bodies of Sherry and John, you know, at too young of an age and I would never do it any different. Our
grandkids absolutely love the farm. The one in Las Vegas is the best. She is six. She comes and boy, I tell you, she has a way with animals. If a
calf gets loose, she can catch it. Grandpa bought them a pony. She can be gone six to eight months and she’ll come, “Smokey Joe” and he comes
running over the hill. But, hired help, ya, the good are few and far between. I don’t regret ever having to do the work seven days a week. But when
it was 20 below zero and you had to go out and fix a window because a cow stuck her head through it. It’s just like, “Come on, we just have to be the
dumbest people on earth to keep doing this day, after day, after day.” But it all turns out in the end. I have been married for 37 years. Mr. Ehle
took our wedding pictures at the Cooksville church. I must say, that it’s been a fast 37 years. It really has. I can’t believe it. Our kids think of us still
in our 30s. I think, “How can you think that, because you are in your thirty’s.” But, that’s a good thing to think that way, yes it is.
Ruth O’Connor: May I go back to 4-H for just a minute. We’ve talked about Magnolia and Porter, so I have to get in here for Evansville. We had a
big club and a very active club. The Abey’s were the cattle leaders. The Disch’s were the sheep leaders and my Dad did the pigs. Mrs. Klusmeyer
was the general leader for many, many years. Evansville had this thing. We always decorated the dairy barn elaborately. This was a big deal with
us and I remember the one year, we worked so hard. We had streamers all over and it was just absolutely gorgeous and it rained before they
judged the barn. We came in and the streamers were all down to the floor and we had to do some repair work. That was one thing that was a big
deal, was winning that first prize for decorating the dairy barn. It was great fun. My sister and I did dairy. We did pigs at one time. We did sheep.
We exhibited chickens and turkeys, which is the dumbest thing ever God put on this earth. We each managed to take one home ec project each
year. It was great a great thing, great camaraderie. We toured all the dairy projects every year. It was just a great, great time.
Sherry Crull: Was fair week total chaos for anybody else in this room? Oh my goodness, it just seemed like there was so many things to do
because he would make them take 5 animals each, so then they had 15. They fought over who was going to wash this one and who was going to
take care, and it was just unbelievable. I finally, after I don’t know how many years, decided I am staying in the house the day they get ready to go
to the fair. I’d stay in the house, because they would come in the house, “Mom, Dad did this, and Kelly did this, and Stacey did that.” I’m just like,
“Oh, my gosh, this just isn’t worth it,” you know. But it was in the end. They very much liked their 4-H projects and did a very good job with them. It
taught them a lot of stability, I think.
Ruth O’Connor: We decided to make blankets for all the dairy cattle one year. Dyed all this green material and put all that white webbing on.
Unfortunately for my mother, my sister and I each had four entries, so that was a big deal.
Sally Reisem: I’m going to tell a tale on my mother, and she is not going to like it, about fair week. It was entry day and Dad was going to take the
whole week off from GM, except the first day of the fair. He had confidence in my Mother and my brother that they could get the pigs into the pen on
time. Well, we were old enough, that we were able, my younger sister and brother and I, could stay home by ourselves, while Mom ran the pigs into
the fairgrounds, with Bill. The pigs ended up on the midway. They had to chase the pigs around the fairgrounds a couple of times. Well, then the
gardening stuff had to get in by noon. So here they are tearing home and, lo and behold, Bill started getting a nose bleed that wouldn’t stop. They
ended up in Footville, at the doctor in Footville. He cauterized Bill’s nose. Mom came home, got the gardening produce, and we were back at the
fair by noon. There’s nothing like getting an animal loose and letting it go around the fairgrounds a couple of times. That’s when you learn about
team work and about how you depend on other people at the fairgrounds. But, that was a very hairy day. Then my Dad came home from work and
said, “OK, did you get everything in to the fair on time.” And we all kind of grumbled, grumbled, “Yes, Dad, we did.”
Barb Andrew: I was a member of the Bradford 4-H club, down at the other part of the county. So, we were in competition, of course, with most
people up here. I remember that my best friends during a lot of my high school years, my best friends were Joy and a young lady from Milton 4-H
club and one from Johnstown 4-H club. So even though we were all competitive during the fair, we tried during the sport seasons to get to their
basketball games and their football games. The friendships from across the county, I think are part of what I remember from the fair. Also, when
you talked about being at the fair the whole day, before my brother could drive, my older brother is 3 years older than I am. My dad would take us
to the fair in the morning and we would have strict instructions that it might not be show day, but any day, we were representing our dairy farm at
home and our cattle better look good. Because if somebody came through and saw them with dirt on them and my Dad heard about it, we would
hear about it, as well. I remember going to state fair. Of course, we stayed at the state fair in the dorms. The girls were in one dorm and the boys
in another dorm. I showed Holsteins. We usually showed, I think it was on Saturdays in those days. The chaos for them was for them at home
without us to help with the chores. They had to work harder. My Dad always made it to Milwaukee, from Clinton, Carvers Rock Road, the morning
that I showed and I never just felt right about going in the show ring, unless I knew my Dad was there to watch me. So, I think it was part of the
family relationship. You know. It cemented that, because you did a lot of things together.
Sherry Crull: I think you’re right. The kids really wanted to make Dad proud. Not that Mom’s aren’t not important, but Mom’s are just there for
everything. At one point in my life, I said, “What am I?” I mean, I feel like I just go every which way, just as all of you have felt. Somebody told me,
“Well, you are a domestic engineer.” I said, “Good title. I like that.”
Sally Reisem: I like what Barb said about friendships in 4-H, because one of my best friends in 4-H was Linda Barlass and of course she is a Viney
now. We traveled the whole Midwest together, one year we were on the Rock County livestock judging team. We had an agent by the name of Bob
Zeigler and we would travel all over the Midwest, Minnesota, all over, with him, as he was trying to teach us how to judge livestock. I got to know
Linda quite well, in the back seat of his car and how he really had so much confidence in us kids. He knew we could do anything that we set our
minds on. He was such an excellent role model for us. Even though it was not a fair project, I learned so much and I got close to Linda. We had
some of the best times together. We were always competing with each other, yet we were always really good friends.
Borghild Viney: When it was fair time, we would get up. The children had to be at the fairgrounds soon after 5 o’clock in the morning. So we would
get up and start the milking. My husband would go out to milk. I would take the children down to the fairgrounds, get back and help him finish up
the milking and doing that, and get back down there by 8 o’clock in the morning when it was show time. Then we had to go back home again and do
the farm work and stuff afterwards, then do the milking and then we went back to the fair again to pick up the kids at nine-thirty or ten o’clock at
night. What’s his name, down in Footville, that was the barn manager?
Sally Reisem: Mr. Hegge? He still is.
Borghild Viney: He says, “I admire these young farm boys and girls. All the responsibility that they have in taking care of those animals and they
are there on duty all the time.” He always commented on that and what a responsibility they had. And it was a responsibility because it was an
investment. Those children learned that. I mean, our children did. I think all children learn that. An animal is a big investment and they have to
take care of it. It has to be fed. If they had milk cows, they had to be milked on time, just like they do at home and stuff. Because at one time we
had ten head down there and it was a lot of work. Come show day, because we had Brown Swiss, we showed on Friday. Showmanship was always
on Saturday. So, I had to wait until they finished showing. Everybody had to show in white in those days. I had to wait until everybody changed
their clothes and I had to take all those clothes home and wash them and have them ready for three kids by eight o’clock the next morning.
Barb Andrew: My mom, as well. She had a special recipe of something that she soaked our white clothes in. It was something like dish washer
soap, and bleach and something else, the magic concoction, you know. She would put all our white clothes in a pail and soak them for awhile and
then she’d put them in the washer.
Borghild Viney: We all did the same thing. We all had the same recipe.
Barb Andrew: The last night of the fair, of course at that time it was Saturday night, my Dad would get the truck in line, in the day, in front of the
fairgrounds. So we would get our first load of cattle out on to the truck. Between the time that he got them home and got back with the truck for the
second load, was the only time that my brother and I were allowed to go down the midway, because we had to work and be in the barn, other than
that. So then we could have our fun for whatever the hour and half that it took him to get those home and then after the last load we would stop at
the Dairy Queen and we could have our ice cream and then we got the cows home. But you still had to get up the next day and help with the chores
and do the milking.
Janet Wienke: You were mentioning Bob Zeigler. Bob and Dennis really were Rock County. Bob put a lot of time in on a lot of animal projects with
the kids. I don’t think we will ever have another one like that, an adult, you know. The Holsteins and all the other stuff, he spent a lot of time with
Pat Hermanson: I think when kids go looking for a job, if they read that they have grown up on a farm. they know their work ethic is going to be
something that they want. So that has helped a lot too in the years.
Janet Wienke: But there aren’t very many farms left.
Pat Hermanson: No, but I mean when our kids were growing up. I know that Greg went to Platteville for two years. Then he quit. I know then, he
was trying to find a job, so he worked in tobacco, over in Cooksville, for Obert Nelson and I think he found out that just about killed him. But he went
door to door in Madison until he got a job. He just wasn’t going to give up. He got a job at American TV and then it was on from there. I just think
the work ethic of the kids meant a lot to everybody.
Sherry Crull: I belong to a farm women’s group called Wisconsin Rural Women’s Initiative, WRWI. It’s such a sensational circle to be at, because
we are all in a circle. We’re sort of in a circle now. We each have to face each other and talk to each other. I’ve learned through that group. I’ve
been involved for nine years now and I’m a facilitator for it. As farm women, sometimes we feel like there’s nobody that cares. I don’t know if you
can identify back to when you were first married, and to now, and how much respect you actually got as a farm wife. Because we do, do so many
different things. But the one thing I’ve learned is that all women need to be empowered, to be themselves, and to know that they are good, and they
are special people. “Behind every good man there is a good wife, successful farmer,” or however the saying goes. Just don’t ever, ever
underestimate yourself, because women are amazing people. We do a lot of amazing things and you don’t get credit for it a lot of times. I just
thought I would add that little piece. So everybody in here is special.
Ardis Zwicky: I have another hired man story. When my parents were first married, Mother taught. They had a hired man at that time. She kept
noticing that her teaspoons were disappearing. So, finally she said, “Where could they be?” I suppose she said this at the table and the hired man
and my Dad were there. She said, “Where are they? They just are gone. “ Well, nobody knew where they had gone. But finally, a day or so later,
they all returned. She knew it wasn’t my Dad taking the teaspoons. She said to him, “Well, what are you doing with those spoons? Where did you
have those?” Well, come to find out, he had been eating the jam and he had been taking jars of jam from the basement. Then, he would take the
jams out in the barn and he would eat them. Unfortunately, he would smash the jam jars against a rock someplace, out behind a barn. Because I
think she said, “Well, if these are all the spoons where are all the jam jars?” And of course that was his story. She said to him, “Well, after this if
you want a jar of jam, you take it, and you eat it, but please leave the spoon and the jar in the sink.” I don’t remember his name.
Steve Ehle: Was it John Dillinger, Ardis?
Kathleen Starostka: I think those were the days where everybody knew how to can and we canned all of our food. We made pickles, tomatoes,
peaches, jellies and jams and everything. I used to enter peaches and lots of different things in the fair. But, if you didn’t have a garden and can all
that food, you wouldn’t have food for the winter. So, I learned how to do all that. A few years ago, one of my sons called me and said, “Mom, how
did you do tomatoes? I’m canning tomatoes.” I was so proud of him, because he remembered that as the kids grew up, they would see me doing
all that. Today, you don’t do it so much, because trying to buy produce is so expensive that you can’t afford to do it. Back then we raised
everything ourselves. We had a big garden. We would go out and pick wild grapes and make grape jam. We would go to the strawberry fields and
pick strawberries and you used to eat as many strawberries as ended up in the bucket. That was great fun.
Pat Hermanson: Black raspberries along the road.
Sherry Crull: Cucumbers we had to raise. My Dad would poke the hole and we’d have to get down on the ground and put the three seeds in the
little hole and dab it all up. Good idea, Dad, but.
Ardis Zwicky: Black raspberries grew along the road.
Sally Reisem: In my family, we not only had a house garden, but we had a field garden. The house garden had the tomatoes and the cucumbers
but the field garden had the peas and the green beans. My mother always considered yellow beans a different vegetable than green beans, so we
had to have them separate. I will always remember when we planted pea rows. We would have like five field rows of peas. We planted them by
hand. We weeded them by hand and we picked them by hand. When we got out of school, after the strawberry season was done, we had to do
peas. And so us kids would go out and help Mom pick the peas, come back in the house and we had to shuck them. I hear these kids now and
they have to have their own personal IPods and everything on to do anything. I thought, “We sat around the kitchen table and talked all day, you
know.” We shucked peas and we shucked peas and of course we got them done in the afternoon, before it got really hot and thought, “we got
another day through.” After my Dad would get done milking cows. He would rinse out the milk pails again and we would see him go to where the
peas are, and here we’d start in all over again like at 8 o’clock at night, because my Dad wanted to get in on the fun. Even my brother, now days,
says that some of his best memories, the best part of his life, was sitting around the kitchen table, end and tailing beans, shucking peas and just
talking to each other. This is how you find out who your brothers and sisters, who they are. Because, you talk about what they are going to do, not
only the next day, but what they want to do in the future as well. Doing the gardening, even though it is a lot of work, taught us a lot. It taught us
independence, too, I think, because we also learned from our parents that as long as we had food in the house we were going to be ok. I still think
when my Mom got done with gardening at the end of the year, she was set, because she had a 100 jars of green beans, and 60 jars of yellow beans
and I don’t know how many things of pickles. Of course there was three different kinds of corn that you did. You did frozen corn, canned corn, and
then creamed corn, because all three are different vegetables. We always had something in the house to eat. Nowadays we have so many kids
who are going hungry because their parents don’t know how to do things like that or how to think ahead of time, as well. So, I’m thankful that my
Mom taught me how to garden and can.
Barb Andrew: It wasn’t just parents and children, it was intergenerational. I lived in a big old farm house, but my Grandpa and Grandma lived
upstairs and we lived in the lower level for much of my earlier life. The day that we did sweet corn, my Dad and my brother would go pick sweet corn
in the morning. Then they would all be out in the yard and we would be in the house and I just couldn’t wait until I grew up enough to where I could
cut it off the ear. Because that was the adult job to do and I wanted to do that. I can remember them also remember butchering an animal. My
Grandma and my Mom made pickled tongue and I thought , “Oh, how can you eat that?” But they did and they sliced it and made it into
sandwiches. Then they made liver sausage and that I liked. The generations working together, I think was something that we don’t see so much
anymore in homes, because people are so scattered. Children move away, so they are not right in the community. I think most of us are fortunate
that we aren’t that far from our roots and that is an advantage to us, I think, as human beings.
John Ehle: I would like to direct a question to Evalyn, and I hope you don’t feel like I’m pinning you down. You lived in a neighborhood out west of
town where my Patterson relatives lived.
Evalyn Hagen: I lived east of town.
John Ehle: Oh you lived east of town?
Pat Hermanson: When you were married though, you lived west of town.
John Ehle: What I was getting at was how cooperation worked, neighbor to neighbor in a smaller area, maybe even as far back as thinking about
threshing. Those are my earliest memories of being out there. Your Karl and Mr. Flood and Uncle Robin and probably some of the Krause families,
that was the interesting thing to me, how you are talking about the barn burning and everybody just thronging to where the problem was and solving
it. Would you be willing to talk a little bit about what it was like out there, and maybe out here, too for that matter?
Evelyn Hagen: Being at home, of course, my Dad had the threshing machine come. That was such a real experience at that time. Because as the
threshing machine was going to be coming to your house, they had a steam engine hooked to the threshing machine and they would blow the
whistle. You knew that they were coming down the road to your house. All the ladies, when they had to cook for the threshing, tried to put out their
best meal and you always knew which lady had the best thing in the neighborhood. Everybody cooperated together. Well, when you were
threshing, it wasn’t just a one-man crew. It was several men that would come. They came with their team and horses, of course. It was an
John Ehle: I remember the horses and I’d like to relay a quick story about walking out to the farm from town. Quite often I would go out with my
friend, Dave Erpenbach. This happened a couple of times. Your Karl would pick us up on his way home, maybe from the lumber company, I don’t
remember. I do remember that within two minutes that we were in the truck, he had us laughing. He was just one of those guys that, that was his
mission in life was to create laughter. One day, my friend Dave and I were turned loose and we were in the upstairs of the barn. We were running
and running and running and all of a sudden he disappeared. “What the heck?” I ran over there and there was a hole in the floor, of course, for
throwing the hay down. There he was laying in the manure in a calf pen. I said, “Did you land on the ground?” and he said: “No, I hit the animal
first.” He was alright.
Ardis Zwicky : Evalyn, when I was in high school, you had a barn that burned.
Evalyn Hagen: That was before we moved to that farm out west of town.
Ardis Zwicky: Who lived on that?
Evalyn Hagen: That was the Bryan farm and then we got the farm and it did burn. I think Steve was just a baby then.
Ardis Zwicky: But you weren’t living there?
Evalyn Hagen: No, we lived next door.
Sherry Crull: Family dinners was probably my favorite time. Every day since I have been married and had children. I feel sad that there are so
many families that don’t sit down together at a table. That was when we discussed, I mean, it didn’t matter what subject it was. From the time they
were two, that they could talk, right up on through high school, we were the type of parents that they could tell us things because they knew we
would not fink on their buddies, or whatever. Truly, you really got to know who your children were with and who they were around and the things
that were being instilled in their minds. You knew their parents. It was a good thing. I missed the family dinner, probably the most of anything. The
closest to making dinner for threshers is we raised 22 acres of tobacco. I thought I married John because he didn’t raise tobacco. Just kidding, but
that’s what I always told him. Of course Sherry raised tobacco from the time she was about nine. So we ended up raising 22 acres of tobacco. I
would cook meals for all the men and I’d do it at midnight and get up and wash clothes. The same as you guys did, back in the day. I don’t know, it
was kind of ….I’m trying to find the right word. It made you feel good to know and I really think, John and I both really think, that they only ate on the
days they came to our house. We were sure of that. Because you could make as much food as you wanted and it was always gone. It was just
phenomenal how much these people could eat.
Sally Reisem: Mom and Frances, would you tell the story about how you were like, 12 and 10 and had to feed the threshing crew by yourselves.
Virignia Mauerman: My mother went down to see my uncle who was in the service because he was going to be shipped out and he was down in
Louisiana. And so it was our turn to come to thresh and Frances and I were just kids. Let’s see, I was about 14 and you about 10? Well, anyway, it
was up to us to fix the dinner for the threshers. We really had some nice neighbor ladies that came to help us out. I know that Frances went out in
the garden and picked vegetables for us. Some of the ladies came and baked pies. We did manage to get through to have the dinner for the
threshers. But just think, Mother just went off and left us.
Pat Hermanson: Homemade bread and homemade bisquits.
Virginia Mauerman: Dad went down to Footville and got meat. There was a meat shop and got the roasts. Besides that we had Maxine and she
was not the easiest kid to take care of and the first thing she did was fall through the cellar door. Oh!!!
John Ehle: One of the topics that came up was about the divided responsibilities. Sherry and John probably switched back and forth. Patsy talked
about milking while John did field work. Who was kind of the business manager of the household when you were running the farm? Was it pretty
much the ladies that did that?
Borghild Viney: You mean who did the work, or who made the decisions?
Sherry Crull: Who was responsible for keeping the whole entire family going and that’s what he’s wanting to know. It’s always the women.
Borghild Viney: I want to mention this about going back to threshing crews and that. I can remember back, this was before I was married, when I
was a young girl, that Ray Smith in Evansville had the butcher shop. The day came for Mother and Dad to have threshers at their place. They
would call up Ray Smith and say “I need 20 pounds of roast beef,” and whatever else he had in the shop. He’d say, “Is there any groceries that you
want? I’ll run over to the Grange Store and I’ll bring them.” They’d give him a list of the groceries that they wanted. He’d go over to the grocery
store and get all that and he’d deliver this out there at 6:30 in the morning. And he says, “John, when you come in town, then you can pay me.”
And they did that year after year. How many would allow such a thing now adays?
Sherry: I remember Cal Anderson. Does everybody remember the appliance store up there? When we raised tobacco we were filthy rich. I mean,
we always had money in our account once a year, you know. We would go up to Cal, if we needed, like one year we would get a washer and dryer.
We still have the TV that he sold us and it still works great. Knock on wood, it will last. We would charge everything, all of our appliances for the
whole year and then we’d go in and pay the whole bill. We would do it year after year after year, just like she is talking about. Nobody will do that
for you anymore. This morning, my Mom and I were going to Las Vegas. Barb Andrew got her wish that we didn’t get on the plane, because we
were on stand-by because my daughter works for the airlines in Las Vegas. My Mom has to pay $27.50 to go each way. So, you pay it when you
go and then you pay it when you come back. They could not accept cash. That’s the new rule. Because then they can keep track of everybody,
and what they are doing, and identity theft, I suppose and all that. So we ended up dragging our stuff back home, because they said we weren’t
marked for any luggage to be put on the belly of the plane. It’s standard procedure for important people like us who have the tickets, you know,
the freebies. Anyway, I knew there was a reason that I didn’t get on that plane today. I think I know why. I think I was supposed to be here. Thank
John Ehle: Thank you Sherry.
John Ehle: Barb has something that Barb George wrote.
Barb Andrew read memories of Barb George: It is with much regret that I cannot join you on March 10th for the roundtable. I have enjoyed reading
all the other discussions. I have just a few stories to share.
In the auction and appraisal business we worked with farm families as they were beginning a new phase of life many times. The entire community
showed up to help. The women of the neighborhood and beyond would bring food for births, deaths, and auctions. Any life changing event was
easier to get through with food from the best cooks in the community. Paul used to come home with new recipes from the ladies serving food as
they prepared for the sale and the day of the big event. They are still some of our family favorites. I can tell you the sale each recipe came from.
I do remember when the tornado took our barn and did severe damage to our house and other buildings when I was eight months pregnant with our
fourth child. People came from 30 and 40 miles away with food and to work. For several days afterwards people came to pick up litter in fields, patch
windows, bury debris and to take curtains and bedding (full of glass shards) to launder. It took two people just to keep track of who was bringing
food and helping so the thank yous could be written later. There were hundreds of people at a time working in our yard. It was amazing - I am not
sure that would happen today.
When we were first married we socialized with other young farm couples and often shared stories about the division of labor in large farming
operations (large at that time not today). At that time I started gathering information for vignettes that exaggerated the situations we heard our
friends describing. My plan was that when people saw the humor in situations in the newspaper or a farm magazine it might make them think their
situation wasn’t so bad after all and perhaps get them laughing and talking to each other about the issues and solving some things. Well I never
had time to pursue that avenue, but I did follow seminars and publications for a while from the S.O.B. group. Yes there is, or was, a national
organization for sons (and daughters) of bosses. Many members were in family auto dealerships, insurance companies and small businesses that
had multi-generation family involvement. My mother-in-law, Harriet George was a saint and always took care of the girls her sons brought into the
family, but we heard that all mother-in-laws weren’t that way. Now I am one and it is tougher than it looks! Family relationships are hard enough, but
when you add business and monetary decisions to the family dynamics it can be very difficult. Many rural people can’t leave work at the office! The
work conflicts complicate the family conflicts and vice versa, some days people saw it all as a loosing battle.
The marriage relationship is also slightly different on the farm. Can any other farm women remember the first time you helped sort cattle or pigs and
the wrong one got through the gate you held. I can only tell you that I hated holding a gate and always let the wrong one by it seemed. The worst
story was the summer we got married; Paul came in and just needed me to help unload feed he just ground from the mixer mill into the feeder. He
just needed me for a few minutes. I had never driven the tractor, which didn’t register with him as a problem because anyone can drive a tractor. I
smashed the new feeder pretty good. He found other help from then on and made sure our girls could drive the tractor and the skid steer.
My mother always drove tractor and could maneuver the worst hills pulling the hay baler with four kids sitting on top of the piled hay while my dad
stacked them as the baler shot them out. (Today my parents probably would have been arrested for child abuse and unsafe conditions because it
was!) She told me not learning to drive the tractor was one of the best decisions I could make.
My mother-in-law told about one day early in their marriage when she was helping her husband and things didn’t go well. If I remember right there
were some words or a scolding. She just drove the tractor up to the house and made him walk from the far field back to the buildings. She said it
went better from then on and they both laughed at the story as she told it years later.
Farm life was a great place to raise our kids. They learned how to work hard and accept responsibility. They learned to make decisions individually
and how to come to a conscientious as a group. They nurtured sick calves, exercised their pigs, bought feed, built fence, mowed lawn, plowed snow
and all the rest to help the family and more importantly to develop their own lifelong skills for success.
John Ehle: Thanks to Barb. Alice, you have been conspicuously quiet. Do you want to tell a story?
Alice Krause: I don’t know if I have any stories like the other women.
Borghild Viney: Everybody’s got them.
Alice Krause: One thing I did think, of, the Rock County Fair originated in Evansville. I don’t remember now the year. I’ve got it at home. I had to
write a paper on that and I don’t remember what that was for either but I remember it was in Evansville. I can’t remember when I didn’t have to work
on the farm. I was the oldest in the family and my brother was the youngest. So, it was up to me. We never went far from home. We were just
workers, I guess. We were active in 4-H, like a lot of the others. I was leader for a few years. I had 140 kids in 4-H.
Sherry Crull: One thing I’ve learned is that everybody has stories. It doesn’t matter who you are; what age you are; what size you are; what color
you are; everybody has stories. If it weren’t for telling your story the world wouldn’t be a very fun place, I don’t think. Stories are the most intriguing.
I was complimenting the two ladies that are 91 and 92. Is that the ages? Ok, and I said, you know, when you are gone, your stories are gone. I’ve
promised myself that I’m going to, well, you are not suppose to say try, you are going to do it, you know. I need to write down some stories that I
have heard from my grandfather, and John’s father, the women and my Mom. My grandparents lived with us and I remember them both dying in our
home, when I was three. You know, like I said, once people are gone, the stories are gone too. That is just so important to capture those moments.
I remember one thing in particular about Barb and Gordie’s daughter. She was a pompom girl and sometimes you can just look at the whole
pompom squad, we’ll say, and there is one person that sticks out to me usually every time and their daughter was one of the them. I said to John,
when we were at a ball game, I said: “Look at the Andrew’s daughter, look at the class that girl has. She can wear the short skimpy skirts and she
has got class. She has been taught.” So a compliment to you, for your daughter.
John Ehle: One thing about stories, and this occurred to me last night watching the national news, which is laborious enough. There is a new Bible
and I was reminded that the first Bible was printed in, I believe, the 1500s by Gutenberg. I think I am right in this, before that the Bible was an oral
history, so it was stories that were passed on by word of mouth, all the years before. So it does not surprise me, that every time a new Bible is
written and printed, that it is just somebody’s interpretation of a story that started out six hundred years ago, or near abouts. So stories are
important and given that it probably won’t happen again, we’re all together here. I hope that if you have a story that is important to you, believe me
it is going to be important to somebody else too, so, just a little pep talk there.
Sherry Crull: There is a book that is called “A Mother’s Legacy” and my daughter Stacy bought one for my mother. In it is, like, from childhood on
up. It’s a book about this thick and you really have to think about what you are going to put in there, you know. It’s about your first date, your first
kiss, your favorite food and I didn’t even know my mom’s favorite dish until I read that book, you know. It was just so interesting. So, I encourage
everyone to try and write for their daughter, your legacy for your daughter. Because that’s something that you can get out and look at, anytime you
want to. Anytime you are missing her, or feeling sad, or you know, whatever. It just makes you bloom and feel fresh and happy inside.
Sally Reisem: We already know we’ve got the Porter area, and the Magnolia, and the Cainville, and I call the county line over there. Every
community kind of had traditions that they kept going in their community and I don’t know if you others had this type of tradition. In the Magnolia and
Cainville area, when two people were getting married they would have these big huge community showers. This is when you would get your dish
towels, your dish pans, maybe a cookie sheet, a muffin tin, just odds and ends that you probably used for the kitchen. I know many people who
come into the community, that were going to marry one of our fine upstanding young people, Barb. They’d say: “What are we going to do?” And it’s
a community shower. I always thought us girls really were waiting for it. I found out later, the guys were so eager to have this too. Because it was
not only for the young lady, the groom came; men came; the women came, the kids came. We would have a program. Some kid would get up and
sing or we would do a stupid skit. You might not be invited to the wedding but it was a time that you got to participate in the celebration of a new
start in the community. I think this was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me, not only being able to participate and getting to know
the people of my community but when it happened to me later on, that all these people really do care about me. They wanted me to have a good
life with the person I chose. I go through my house now and I still have things I got that night. A little candy dish from Mary George or my muffin tins
from Esther Harper. They still mean a lot to me, even though these people are gone. I’ve got pillow cases that Grandma Lange made me. I don’t
know why, I have them in a chest. I should be able to use them now. I’ve been married that long. It meant a great deal to us. I don’t know if other
communities had these types of traditions. I heard about parents having house parties or anything like that. I’d just like to know if other
communities had these great traditions that were part of their communities. It was like something that was very special.
Barb Andrew: Before she goes on with that, Gordie and my shower was on June 22, 1976. Frances played the accordion for part of the
entertainment. Georgia Hamilton wrote us an original poem and recited it. It was, I guess, my introduction into Magnolia and the friends and
neighbors that Gordie had known all his life, but I really didn’t know a lot of them. At that time I was teaching school in Clinton and had lived down
there. But I knew Sally from 4-H and you know, there were certain ones that I knew. Gordie reminded me this morning, he said, “Well, don’t you
remember?” He said, “Mom made sure that we had a basket of candy bars to hand out.” Because that was the other part of the tradition, when the
couple had opened their presents, at the end of the evening you handed out candy bars as thank you’s to everyone who came. I said, “Now do you
remember that shower? Can you remember who else did something?” “No, but I remember those candy bars. Mom made sure we had the candy
bars.” I can also remember, even years later, after we had Kelly that there was, I don’t know who’s shower it was. But Kelly, she was just little and
Kelly was in ballet class. She and somebody did a little ballet or dance performance for somebody else’s shower. So it was a pay-it-forward and
pay-it-back kind of thing, as the years went by.
Joy Olson: I remember all kinds of activities at Dougherty Hall. When I was a little girl, that’s where all the parties were held. That reminded me. I
had to bring the pictures of the entertainment one year at Dougherty’s Hall. Georgia Hamilton wrote the skit for the bride and the groom. My
husband was the groom. He said, his mother told him he was going to be the groom. Of course at that time, you did what your mother said. I was
the bride and we were ten and eleven. And we still have the pictures of it. He has told the story many times. We think that a lot of people think we
ought to tell Oprah our story. We were married first at 10 and 11 and then at 20 and 21, the second time. We, too, had the shower. Brad Beal was
father of the bride and Sandy Rowley and a lot of Magnolia kids. Howard Popanz was the minister. I was Lucy Doolittle and Larry was Tony
Domuch. Then, we were part of the community shower 10 years later. Only we were the bride and groom again. That’s kind of a cute story. You
always had cake and jello. I remember sandwiches and you always had the candy bars.
Mock wedding performed at a shower in Magnolia. The bride and groom, Joy Andrew and Larry Olson; minister, Howard Popanz; mother
and father of the bride, Sandra Rowley and Brad Beal; mother and father of the groom, Susan Austin and Billy Mauerman; flower girls,
Barbara Woodstock and Terri Olson; Ring Bearer; Clinton Flood; Bridesmaids, Linda Fenrick and Shirley Woodstock; Groomsmen, Dale
Thompson and Elmer Krause. Gordy Andrew sang “Davy Crocket”. The same skit was performed at “Joe’s Café” in Evansville.
Ardis Zwicky: When I was young, there would be neighborhood suppers on a Friday night and there would be oyster stew. Do you remember any of
Joy Olson: We had them in Magnolia.
Ardis Zwicky: I can remember we were at the Kleinsmiths and those people aren’t living in that area at all anymore. My uncle said to me, because I
did not like the oyster stew. He said, “I’ll give you a nickel if you swallow that oyster.” Well, I got it in my mouth. It fell out on the floor, but I got it
back in my mouth and swallowed it, anything for a nickel. I don’t like oyster stew yet.
Ruth O’Connor: That wedding reminds me of mock weddings that used to happen. Do you remember those? My dad was a bride many times.
Joy Olson: They did that at Magnolia too. Where the men were the women and the women were the men.
Sherry Crull: I was just talking about how my Dad was the bride for Harlan and Ethel’s. I have a small picture of it and my Dad as the bride. She
wants me to look that up so we can enlarge it. I did a scrapbook this year for my mother, from age two to her age now. I had so much fun doing that
book. It’s just fabulous. Even though I made it, I still think it’s fabulous, lots and lots of memories for her.
Sherry Crull: Kind of a newish story; back to kids again. When we had the dairy breakfast in 2008, there were a couple of young fellows that
damaged some of R & K Construction’s vehicles, or machinery. So their penalty was to work off the damages by helping John and I get ready for
the dairy breakfast. This young fellow and I, he was from Evansville, I seriously can’t remember his name anyway. He and I were landscaping. We
were both sitting on the ground in the dirt. One of the six-year-old or five-year-old grandkids goes by on the 4-wheeler and he’s like: “How old is
that kid?” I said, “Five.” “And she’s driving a 4-wheeler?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “How can that be? I don’t even get to drive a 4-wheeler and I’m
sixteen.” I said, “You see it works this way, you work on the farm and you gain respect and then you are able to learn at a young age how to drive
and do these things, but if you don’t follow the rules you get it taken away.” He said, “This is amazing, I don’t know how come I wasn’t raised on a
farm.” He was just absolutely blown away. I mean, he was absolutely blown away. I mean, he had no clue that farm kids could drive vehicles at that
young age. I think we all did it, not 4-wheelers though. We pushed buggies or something, I don’t know for sure. I remember my first donuts I made.
Mr. Eugene was not very glad to eat them. I made them and he said to John, “Boy, these are nice looking donuts.” But he said “I would have sworn
they were off the baby stroller.” He thought they were the tires for the stroller.” I never made them again.
John Ehle: Anybody remember getting electricity the first time?
Virginia Mauerman: Oh, yes. Grandpa Fenn had electricity but we didn’t. We always had kerosene lamps. And we had an Aladdin lamp and when
you would come up over the hill, way over south you could see that Aladdin lamp setting on the table because it gave off so much light. But, oh, was
that ever wonderful to get that electricity. It was just wonderful.
Pat Hermanson: The things we take for granted now.
Virginia Mauerman: It was so great. In fact the line didn’t even come by our place. They had to come and put the line through before they could
hook us up to us. Do you remember, Frances?
Frances Lange: I think it was in about 1938.
Virginia Mauerman: 1938, but it was great.
John Ehle: Anybody got any good party-line stories. Alice, I see your hand go up.
Alice Krause: I had a cousin in Evansville and he called me and he said, “I’ve got some tires here. They’re not too bad, but they’re worn. I thought
maybe Delbert might want to use them on the farm.” I said, “I’ll check with him, you know.” So I hung up and my phone rang again. My neighbor
who said “Who was that guy that had the tires?” It was Ron Purintun.
Sherry Crull: Somebody’s listening.
Virginia Mauerman: When my uncle came home from the South Pacific. There was none of this correspondence. It was a long time between
letters. When he got back to the states, he called home. Mrs. Kratz the telephone operator knew it was him. So she hooked him up with Mother,
my aunt and his mother. All four of them talked over the telephone. Now that was really quite a project on her part down at the Footville Telephone
Company, but anyhow, he got to talk to all of them.
John Ehle: Now they call those conference calls and it’s a big deal.
Virginia Mauerman: No, but I mean, this was back with old telephones.
Borghild Viney: I remember that we had a party line and my mother was born in Norway, so she did not use the phone anymore than what she had
to. She did learn to speak quite good English, but it was very broken. She had some Norwegian friends and we had a lot of people in the
neighborhood that were not Norwegian. So that when they would call, they would always talk in Norwegian and the receivers would go bang, bang.
“Talking Norwegian, can’t understand them.” That happened more than once. They had a good time over that.
Virginia Mauerman: If you had five long rings you knew there was a fire somewhere.
Borghild Viney: That’s right. Ours was two longs and three short. That’s what our telephone ring was.
Sherry Crull: Did you have four numbers that was your phone number?
John Ehle: Ours was 5440.
Joy Olson: My Grandma’s was 13J
John Ehle: Gallager and Bewick Attorney, 1. This is from another round table, but when we had the Depression era folks together a couple of
years ago, a really nice guy named Tom Kennedy, who you may know, came down from Janesville and he was talking about the first time that his
folks got a telephone in town. Shortly afterward, he asked his mother if he could Gibbs only lives four blocks away, you walk over there and talk to
Joy Olson: That’s what we ought to tell our kids today.
Janet Wienke: They can’t even get out of school and they are on the phone.
Sally Reisem: On our party line, we not only had our neighbors, but we had Sam Fenrick or Browner Fenrick and he owned a business. He
delivered fuel oil. So you not only had all the other people on the line, you had business calls coming through. My sister always loved when the
new next door neighbors moved in, a couple of houses down. Because, we learned new words in our vocabulary, affairs, divorces. We didn’t hear
those words before, but these new people got on the line, and we “shhh” It was better than a soap opera, when you can pick it up and “What’s
happening?” Before I came today, I was thinking about growing up in the Magnolia-Cainville area and how always safe and how always you were so
confident because there so many people to help you. Everybody stayed married and you didn’t have all this strife that we find in our homes today. I
just think I am so lucky that I grew up where I knew everybody in the neighborhood. Not only knew the neighborhood, but my friends, the people
who I went to visit on a summer afternoon, the older people, knew my great grandparents or my great-great grandmother. They could tell me stories
about what they did at my age. Or just was interested in what I was doing. It was always very comforting because I knew the Andrews were always
on top of the hill. My Aunt Frances was my other next door neighbor. I was always surrounded by so much support and very good mentors. I think
in a farm community, you had your Mom, and maybe your grandmother. But you might have your neighbor lady, who you could go over there and
talk to, if you thought you had a problem. I know my mother always said that she always escaped and went to see some of the older neighbors in
her community. They would just listen to you or you would just listen to them. We don’t have that community anymore. We don’t know our
neighbors. We don’t know what anybody is doing in our neighborhood. Even though we had the party line, we knew what was going on with our
neighbors and in a round-about way we could show that we cared about them. I just thought we lived in such a safer community, where the kids
could go up and down the street. Everybody would watch out for them. If they misbehaved, everybody had permission to yell at you. And you
wouldn’t go home and say, so and so yelled at you. Your mother, then she would yell at you too, because if they yelled at you, you had a right to be
yelled at. You were always on your best behavior. You would always tried to do stuff that would make a good impression about your family, on your
neighbors too. You always cared about what your neighbors thought about you. On the party line, it was something unique when you also had your
neighbors and you had a business on the other end. He ran a business like that for 30 years.
Sherry Crull: I started out, in the beginning, in a neighborhood and relatives out on Highway 59, but then my Dad, for some odd reason, we moved
17 times while I was in school. I never had that connection again. I think that really hurt me in the long run. Because I love older people and I love
and respect family and we didn’t really have that after we moved around like it. Now I’ve had it for 37 years and there is nothing like stability. You
know, you don’t have to wonder, “Am I going to be able to make friends when I go to this school?” I was, believe it or not, the absolutely shy, “spider
legs.” That was my nickname, “spider legs”. It was really awful. I did get to enjoy my four years of high school in one school. All of you that have
had the family community and so tightly sewed together are really very fortunate. I realize that now, but as a kid, you can’t do anything about it. I
was glad our children got to experience having the same friends and having a community where they knew everybody and you know, fit in well.
John Ehle: I think it was part of the culture of the farm to sit down and have conversations. You not only had conversations, but if your mother or
your grandmother thought you should know somebody over in Albany, they would drive you over there and meet people. I can remember my
mother brought that to town. She would take me to see Mrs. Finn. I don’t remember Mrs. Finn’s first name, but we would go down there and we’d sit
and have a conversation. She took me to see Daisy Spencer because Daisy Spencer was a lady whose paper I delivered. But I never saw her
because, she left money in the mailbox, so we went over to see Daisy Spencer and she came to the door. I don’t know if anyone remembers Daisy
Spencer. She’d had Bell’s Palsey and her face had drooped a little bit, but she was so nice and so interesting. She gave me a coke. When we left
she said, “Now, when you come on Saturday to collect, I want you to knock at the door from now on,” which taught me a lesson about how you
communicate with people.
Borghild Viney : That was one of the important things was to go and visit people. I think that was probably one of our outings in my growing up
years. I mean, it was our community, our church and our relatives, that was about it. A big outing was to go for a ride on Sunday and get an ice
cream cone. That was really a big outing for us. My Dad would do all the grocery shopping and once in a blue moon he would come home with an
Eskimo pie. We thought we had gone to heaven. We just didn’t have any treats like that, you know. To get an Eskimo pie, that was really a big
John Ehle: My grandparents, my father’s parents, would come on Sundays for dinner. They would watch Lawrence Welk and What’s My Line.
They didn’t have a television in Stoughton. When it was time to go home, Grandpa would give each of the three of us a stick of gum and a mercury
dime. That was a big deal.
Ardis Zwickey: What’s a mercury dime?
John Ehle: It was before the one with Roosevelt on it.
Ardis Zwicky: I don’t remember that one.
Kathleen Staroska: My parents used to buy these cases of pop with these little bottles with orange, and lime, and strawberry, and cherry and stuff,
in summer. If we were really good, we could have one on Sunday afternoon. That was about the only time they ever bought soda pop in the whole
year. In the summer time, they would buy one of those cases. I was the oldest of eleven and so, a case of pop, we each got two bottles, and it was
a really exciting. It was a really big treat. It’s not like kids today that think they have to have Coke every fifteen minutes.
John Ehle: Bireley’s orange.
Sherry Crull; I was just going to mention that, at the Grange Store. Mom and Dad would come to the Red Barn. They were fabulous dancers.
People would sit to watch them dance. Every Saturday night, when they would go out to the Red Barn to dance, (anybody know Ruby Carlson and
Connie?) Connie was our babysitter and we would get to have Bireley’s orange pop and she would play the piano for us. That was like one of the
best memories. I can really remember at a very young age, the fun things that were in my life.
Barbara Andrew: I can remember going to the feed mill with my dad and they had a refrigerator at the feed mill, and bottles of pop were in the
refrigerator and a tin can, and my Dad would put in a nickel, I think it was, and we’d share a bottle of pop on the way home. When you talk about
the entertainment, the things we did growing up. I can remember like Sunday afternoons to go and visit people and family. We lived down by
Clinton, but we used to come up and visit Ed and Mabel Fenrick up here. I can remember in the fall we would come up to pick up hickory nuts.
Then we would take them home and they would dry and then my grandma would use the hammer and crack them and dig them out. That was
always a Sunday afternoon kind of outing. I had a great uncle who lived on the Rock River near Jefferson and we would go up once in a while on a
Saturday or Sunday in the summer and go fishing there. Kids now-a-days, it seems like, have so many activities that they are in and ours were
more limited, I suppose because we had more responsibilities at home.
Kathleen Starostka: We used to take our bicycles, in the summer, and ride up to Gibb’s Lake. Then, we’d spend the whole day there. We’d make
a little picnic lunch and take our lunch up there and we’d spend the day swimming and fishing and have lunch, looking for frogs or whatever and
have a great time. I don’t think our mother ever worried about us. There wasn’t any life guard there and we did just fine. My parents, in the
wintertime, loved to play cards, so we would have just tons of relatives would come out. When you were littler, you got to watch. When you got a
little bit bigger and they invited you to play euchre, you had made the big time, when you got to play with the adults. I still love to play cards. I just
love to play cards, but I learned that from a kid with my folks and all my aunts and uncles.
Joy Olson: I remember as a kid that our big outing on Sunday was; we’d go up to Madison, up Highway 51 past the Big Rooster, and go out to the
airport. At that time, the airport was just a one-story building and I think there was a restaurant downstairs. From the outside you could walk up and
sit up on top and watch the planes come in and out. That’s what we did a lot of Sunday afternoons.
John Ehle: What about games? I remember playing games out at the farm with Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma would teach us how to do Cat’s
cradle. We learned how to play checkers. Another treat we always got was homemade eggnog, because she had milk and chickens. I think that is
an automatic blocker these days to have too many of those. It was rich and it was good, special treats.
Sherry Crull: Red Rover, played a lot of that.
Sally Reisem: Star Light, Moon Light with and Larry Olson and Terry. If you are talking about visiting, Joy’s in-laws used to be part of the Cainville
community. They moved so far away. They moved over to Albany. It broke my heart.
Joy Olson: Mine too.
Sally Reisem: It would be Friday night. Dad would get home from GM and milk the cows. “We’re going over to Olson’s.” So we’d go over to Olson’
s. We’d get a call Saturday afternoon and it would Pauline. “We’re coming over tonight.” It didn’t matter. It would be two or three nights in a
weekend we’d see these people and these become your other brothers and sisters. We ended up making up a lot of our own games, but doing a
lot of Star light Moon Light and hiding out in the yard at night could be quite challenging.
Sherry Crull: When she speaks of Pauline, I’ve got to tell you this story about Thorvald, Pauline’s husband, and Larry’s father.
Joy Olson: My in-laws.
Sherry Crull: I’ve come to the point where, whenever we can be together, that’s when we have Christmas. Because Christmas Day means nothing
to me. Whenever my kids and grandkids and son-in-laws can be together, to me that’s John’s and my Christmas. It was in January, because Kelly
and her husband and family were in Las Vegas. It was on a Saturday or Sunday, or something, I don’t know. Thorvold he strolls in and he walks in
and “Hey, anybody home?” I call him gramps. He strolls in and he goes, “Well, are you having a party today? “Ya, we’re having Christmas.” And
he says, “You don’t mind if I have a chair?” We have pictures of Thorvald sitting in Christmas with us. It’s awesome. That’s just how he is. I’ll always
respect him and love him for that. The girls: “I can’t believe that Thorvold spent Christmas. He sat down and had Christmas with us.” I’m like, “That’
s a true friend.”
Joy Olson: The first time I can remember them coming to our house. It must have been Halloween. They came from Rockford. They were always
involved in a party, apparently, over there. They came to our house and they were all dressed up and I think Thorvold had a mop for a wig. Pauline
had a pail of cider with donuts floating in it. It scared me.
John Ehle: You mean that’s not normal.
Virginia Mauerman: I think they went all around the neighborhood.
Sherry Crull: They are two special people. I’m telling you. Pauline is very diabetic and my husband’s sister makes sugar-free jelly for John because
he is also very diabetic. One year she made it with no sweetener whatsoever and you can put, you know, like a Sweet and Low or Splenda or
something in it. His sister thought, I’ll just make it with absolutely no sugar, because these are sweet grapes or whatever they were. Elderberries,
that’s what it was. John could not stand the taste of it. He just could not even stomach a teaspoon of that stuff. It didn’t set so it was runny.
Pauline said, “Bring those jars over to me. I love it on ice cream.” And she ate all those jars of jelly with absolutely no sugar in them.
Barb Andrew: She got the sugar from the ice cream.
Sherry Crull: I don’t care for elderberry.
Ruth O’Connor: My maternal grandmother loved board games. She loved Chinese checkers and liked to play board games with my sister and me.
One of her favorites was one from her childhood. It was called Nine Men of Morris, and she drew it on a piece of cardboard. It was played with
buttons. She loved that. She never won and to this day I don’t know if she let us win or if she was really bad, but we had a lot of fun. Many years
later when we visited the replica of the Mayflower, some of the sailors were playing a game. I walked over to watch and was surprised to see that it
was Nine Men of Morris. I identified the game and one of the sailors said I was the first person that day who had known the game.
Sherry Crull: Does anybody remember the game where you had two sets of cards?
Several responded: Canasta.
Sherry Crull: Yes, that’s it. Does anybody remember how to play that? We used to play a lot. I love that game.
Joy Olson: Grandma had a “kick in the pants” board, too, which was a marble game that we played a lot of. It was just on an old slab of wood that
somebody had made the game I think. Does Gordie have that? I wonder what happened to that. Something I’d like to talk about is probably the
one-room-country school teachers. Sally was saying how you wouldn’t dare come home and tell that the neighbor lady had scolded you about
something. Well, the old teachers took care of any problems, too. The problem didn’t really have to come home. I can remember one of my
classmates had real bad language. I can remember Mable Klusmeyer was our teacher. She took him down to the basement and paraded us all
down there. She took a bar of soap and gave him in a headlock and washed his mouth out with soap.
Janet Wienke: And that was that?
Joy Olson: There were some big boys at Cainville School. I think they were older. I can remember one of the boys coming at her with a pair of
scissors and she wrestled him right to the ground and took care of the situation.
Sally Reisem: Why don’t you tell about the guy who did something over here at the Brown School.
Virginia Mauerman: When I was teaching over there, one of the boys jumped out the window and I tell you, I met him just about the time he touched
the ground because I couldn’t have everybody over there jumping out the window. I wailed him all the way back into the school house and sat him
down and that was it. You know, that night is the first night I ever locked my door. Because you know that he was known for carrying a knife and his
mother was in prison. So, I really, I just tell you, I didn’t sleep all that night because I worried about what was going to happen in the morning. I got
there in the morning and I opened up the door and here he comes with a big bouquet of flowers for me, from out of the neighbor’s garden. Do you
know, that he was my best helper from then on.
Brown School 1940s
Borghild Viney: We had a boy when I was in grade school that went in the kitchen and took the butcher knife and he came at the teacher right in
front of all of us. She just went over and she grabbed him by the shoulder and marched him out of the school house. There was a little snow on the
ground and when we walked home, it had been snowing that day, and we saw where they had been tousling on the corner. She finally came back
and she was white as snow, I remember that. She came back and everything was fine. This boy was trouble all the time and he was trouble all
through his life. But, it was an awful thing for the rest of us to see. Anyway, he just came right at the teacher with this knife. It was an awful thing for
a teacher to have to put up with.
Sherry Crull: The thing I remember about this country school that I went to is I had very buck teeth because I sucked my fingers. Mom and Dad didn’
t have to buy braces for me because it was mother’s club day. They’d meet at school and us kids would go outside and play ball. One team had
red sweatshirts and one team had yellow, or something, I don’t know. I came around the corner and I was laughing and my teeth sunk into the top of
this kid’s head and they were just hanging there. I went in and it hurt so bad. I went in and I jumped on the table and started screaming and
hollering. Mom said, “What the heck is the matter with you?” She looked in my mouth and said, “Oh my gosh, what are we going to do?” She took
me to the dentist and he said, “Nothing. Just let them be and they’ll be perfect when they tighten up again, they will be straight and everything.” I’ll
be darn. They were, but the nerves ended up dying after I was married for several years. Now I have these beautiful expensive crowns.
Ardis Zwicky: What happened to this kid’s head?
Sherry Crull: I don’t know and I don’t care, because it was hard. He must have had a hole in it. I’m sure he did.
John Ehle: Old fashioned orthodontia.
Joy Olson: We were having a family get together at our house, one time. It was nighttime and all the cousins were outside playing. Paul George
and I met at on a corner. I was four years older and just enough taller. I got him right in the head too. He probably still had the hole.
Sherry Crulll: Did it straighten your teeth?
Joy Olson: I have one that sticks out further than the other. It’s probably that.
Sherry Crull: Aren’t these stories just terrific.
Joy Olson: Another bad thing that happened at our school was that, I think I was seventh grade. We had always had a big hill at Cainville school. It’
s not near as big as it looked like when I was in seventh grade. Everybody would take their sleds and go down the hill. Larry convinced me that we
should go down the hill together and I was on the sled and he jumped on top of me and we went down the hill and ran into a first grader. We ran
into Clinton Flood and broke his leg. I can still see him lying on the table inside the school waiting for his mother to come to get him, to take him to
the hospital. But that didn’t break up the community and nobody sued anybody.
Virginia Mauerman: Frances slid down that hill too.
Frances Lange: We went right straight across the road and into the ditch and there was brush and everything. I had a gash in my face, but they
didn’t think it was anything at first, but then it ended up that there was a long splinter in my cheek. That was my worst time. That was a bad hill,
though, that the school is on.
Joy Olson: I can remember the water rushing down the ditches. I can remember walking in the water clear up to my waist, when I was walking home
Frances Lange: One thing that was bad, was, for years, country schools did not have a telephone. If you had an emergency, you had to send one
of the older kids to the neighbors to call their mother. When I taught at the Brown School, they did put a telephone in there, the last year that I was
there. So, they were getting more modern.
Joy Olson: I didn’t much care for the outdoor toilets, either.
Sherry Crull: No, definitely not.
Virginia Mauerman: We had to put a rock in it, so the door didn’t close.
Joy Olson: The little house with the moon on the outside.
Sally Reisem: What was bad about the Cainville bathroom facilities was there would always be a dead gopher in the field next to it. And here would
be the boys, swinging the gophers around the girls’ bathroom. They’d chase the little girls all around the school building with the dead gopher.
That was my bad experience.
Sherry Crull: Or they tried to peek through the moon and see what was going on in the bathroom.
Joy Olson: That was pretty high.
Sherry Crull: They managed. Good grief.
Sally Reisem: Mom, tell them about your sledding stories from over here at Brown, what Dad used to do.
Virginia Mauerman: At noon he would bring the Allis Chalmer over and he’d bring a trailer. The kids would all eat their lunch quick and then they
would all put their sleds or their sheets or whatever they were going to slide on. We went over back up there on the hill and for an hour we would
really have a great time. Then we’d have to load them up and bring them back and go back to school. But oh, they always had such a good time.
John Ehle: Is that what they used to call Searle’s hill over here?
Viginia Mauerman: It’s up by Norby’s there. It’s an apple orchard
Sherry Crull: We had a lot of fun on the hill by the apple orchard up there. We had a silver bowl and we used to stick the kids and let them go.
They loved it but these days you would be in jail. They’d just go as fast as they could down that hill.
Sally Reisem: Joy, one of my first memories of your dad, even though we grew up next to each other. One Sunday afternoon, Dawn and Mom must
have gotten sick of their kids. Russell and Harold took all of us up that hill and we went sliding. I remember we didn’t slide on our hill. We drove
somewhere to go sledding. It was the Andrews and the Mauermans. I figured, it must have been the time that Dawn was expecting Kenny and Mom
was expecting Jeanne and we had to get out of the house.
Joy Olson: I tried killing my children sledding.
John Ehle: Finally it comes out.
Joy Olson: We had been down in Illinois to Miller-Moore farms, which was a very well known Holstein farm at the time. He was inventing the calf
hutches, at that time. I think he might have had the patent on it. He had these big pieces of fiberglass. I remember it was a big piece of blue
fiberglass, as long as the table and wider. He said to Larry, “Take one of those home, they are so much fun to slide on.” So I took out the drill and
we put a rope in it. The kids could put probably four bales of hay on it and our barn was higher and the heifers were down here. So, we could all
get on and ride the piece of equipment down the hill. You could put pails of feed on, but you had to be careful that you didn’t spill them. Well,
anyway, we had a big snowstorm. We were just over on English Settlement and I can remember hooking that piece of the fiberglass up to the truck
and I was going to give the kids a ride on the road because it was so slippery. We got up the hill and went down the hill by where Dean Holberg
lives. It was a Spinhirne farm at one time. Shelly was probably six. As we are going around the corner, here is the piece of fiberglass still going
straight and it would have gone under the truck and onto the wheel, if Shelly hadn’t been smart enough to put her foot up and stop it from going, by
putting her foot on the bumper of the truck.
Sherry Crull: We did the same thing. I’m sorry. It was about 1983 and there had a big snowstorm in April. The girls were like, “We have to go
sledding one more time.” A couple of the cousins were over, Jeremy or Shawn, or somebody. John says, “I’ve got a great idea.” The same
fiberglass thing and it was scooped, you know. John and I, he might have drilled the holes and I put the string in, or whatever, I don’t know. We
went down in the hay field. It’s a 20-acre field. We took the pickup truck. They were older, but when I think about it now. We pulled the kids on this
thing behind the pickup truck, but we didn’t go real slow at it either. They were having a blast. Then they tried to ride shovels, backwards, hanging
on to a corn shovel, scoop shovel. That did not work at all. But you know, you think about it now. My Mom will say, “Don’t those kids have
helmets?” and I’m like, “Did you have a helmet?” I know that everything has really changed, but sometimes it’s just kind of fun to go back to basics,
just really, really, have fun with your kids. We had a blast with ours, and I know Joy did.
John Ehle: Without a bunch of rules.
Sherry Crull: Ya, that’s right. It was just one of those flukes and it was gone in a day. I can identify with blue fiberglass.
John Ehle: Well, this has been really a lot of fun. There are a couple of people that have been very quiet. I guess that’s the way it always is. Does
anybody have something that you would like to share in kind of rapping up? This has been great fun for us.
Virginia Mauerman: I do. How many remember the feed sacks? Do you remember them?
Sherry Crull: That’s a feed sack?
Virginia Mauerman: [Held up a feed sack.] Yes, that’s a feed sack. They had many uses. When the men went up to buy the feed, somebody went
along and picked out enough that matched so that you could make something out of it. This is a feed sack. Now, this don’t really look like one, but I
have a picture here of a dress my mother made out of that, the year before I got married. Feed sacks played a big role in our family. Frances says
she remembers the skirts we had that mother made out of them.
Sherry Crull: That is really interesting. I like that.
Virginia Mauerman: Did you ever have a feed sack dress?
Borghild Viney: Absolutely, with bloomers to match. They hung down below my knees. Absolutely.
Sherry Crull: I knew about feed sacks, but I didn’t know they came in such tremendous colors. I thought they were just blasé, you know.
Borghild Viney: I had dresses like that.
Virginia; Mauerman: That [picture] was the year before I got married. Let’s see, I made $225 a month teaching school. And I really was not too
flush before we got married, so Mother made that dress for me that summer. But anyway, feed sacks were a critical part of people’s lives. How
many here did wear feed sacks? (Several raised their hands.)
Borghild Viney: I had a girl friend that her mother was quite a seamstress. They bought their feed sacks like that. They bought Pratt feeds. Her
mother was real, real proud. She fixed up her bloomers so that “Pratt” was on the back. So, she could always lift up her dress and say, “See my
new pants,” she said.
Joy Andrew: I remember bloomers falling off of my aunts when they walked.
Virginia Mauerman: But anyhow, during the Depression they really saved people money. I can remember my poor Dad looking through to find
three bags alike so that my mother could make something out of it.
Sherry Crull: Is it thick cloth? Is it thick like today’s cloth?
Borghild Viney: Some of it’s very nice material. Very nice material, some of that was. Oh, my goodness sakes, my mother had a closet full of them.
What I did, we took them all down to the church.
John Ehle: There was a cub reporter in Chippewa Falls and a man got his hand caught in a corn picker and he lost it, of course. The headline in
the paper was, “Man Losses hand in Bloomer.”
Barb Andrew: Weren’t there gunny sacks that were used as dish towels, too? When did the gunny sacks come in? Gunny sacks were much
Virginia Mauerman: I don’t know who thought up the idea.
Frances Lange: I think a lot of these nice ones the chicken feed came in because our grandmother had chickens.
Borghild Viney: This is a nice fabric. Isn’t that nice.
Sherry Crull: Do any of you remember Marian Klitzman. Marian Golz, does anyone remember her? Well, that was my Mom’s sister. Speaking of
the rags and stuff, my Aunt Marian had long auburn hair. I guess about the same color I had when I was growing up, until it started to get grey.
Anyway, her mother, Alma Klitzman, put rag curlers in her hair. Well, I guess they got caught and she couldn’t get them unwound and she had to
cut each one of Marian’s curlers off and I guess she had just beautiful long hair. Can you imagine having to have your hair cut off, a chunk here
and a chunk there and its layers long and then it’s just nothing. I love to sit and listen to the things they did when they were children. Oh, they were
rotten. They were just terrible.
Barbara Andrew: The one thing we haven’t talked about is the artistry and the crafts of women who had the time to do that. Now, my Grandma was
a quilter, but that’s something I’ve never learned to do, but I’m guessing that many of you did some quilting.
Borghild Viney: They had quilting bees at everybody’s homes. All the neighbor ladies would come in.
Barbara Andrew: They also made the rag rugs. I mean, I can remember my Mom tearing things into strips and sewing them together.
Virginia Mauerman: And crocheting.
Barbara Andrew: She learned to hook rugs too. They rolled all these rags in balls and she would take them to somebody else that put them
Sally Reisum: Probably Aunt Bertha.
Barbara Andrew: Well, maybe.
Sally Reisum: My Aunt Bertha Kraft was known throughout the Southern Wisconsin area for her Luker loom. It would be a loom and she’d make
them and her and her husband did it for years in Milton.
Sherry Crull: One thing I would love to learn is tatting. That is so beautiful for a tablecloth or hankies. There were a lot of hankies. John’s
grandma, I remember, tatted a lot and darned socks. How do you darn socks?
John Ehle: With a light bulb. We have got a half dozen side conversations going on now and they are all good stories but they are not reaching
the microphone, so.
Sherry Crull: Send a microphone down that way. We want to hear some of those.
John Ehle: There are no secret microphones under the table, so we are going to have to find a way to get these good stories on Kyle’s machine so
that we can hear about it later. How are we doing on energy and time and what have you?
Borghild Viney: I don’t think too many people remember the 1936 snow storm. We were home from school for two weeks and snowbound. They
didn’t have snowplows like they have now. They had those caterpillar tractors. I can remember they started up. We lived out on what is now
Highway M when I was growing up. The farmers would get together and they would go ahead. It got very cold and that snow got so hard. They’d
go ahead and chop off blocks so that caterpillar could keep coming and keep coming. Finally they got the road open from M and they went down
Tolles road and then got on 14. So, finally, all the neighborhood kids got acquaintances with somebody in Evansville and we were all loaded into a
sleigh and my cousin took us all in town and dumped us off at all these different houses and we were here for two weeks, in town. They couldn’t
send their milk. So all the men separated the milk and the women scrubbed out all their washing machines and churned butter in the washing
machines. I can remember that so well. They were down there with bleach and stuff sterilizing these washing machines and everything. When they
thought they were good enough, then two or three of them got together. They had enough and so then they would divide the butter up afterwards
and so forth and so on. They fed all the milk to the pigs. The cows had to be milked regardless.
John Ehle: Borghild, can you remember when you didn’t pasteurize milk that you consumed. When did the pasteurization start exactly?
Borghild Viney: We drank raw milk for, oh, let’s see how old were my kids when we started to pasteurize milk?
John Ehle: In the ‘50s?
Borghild Viney: I would say late ‘50s, late ‘50s or ‘60s, I would think. We drank raw milk all the time.
Patsy Hermanson: We were married in ‘60.
Borghild Viney: You had pasteurized milk then? No. Well maybe it was after that. Maybe it was later than in the ‘60s.
Pat Hermanson: I think so, because we’d go out and scoop off the cream off the top.
Borghild Viney: Everybody didn’t start pasteurizing. Some of us did it earlier than others. Everybody didn’t start at the same time. It was a thing
that you had, a little pasteurizer. You had to learn how to do it. We were all green at it.
Patsy Hermanson: But, we drank the raw milk and I don’t think anybody ever got sick.
Borghild Hermanson: We drank the raw milk. We ate a lot of eggs and stuff. We raised chickens in the brooder houses. Got up at five o’clock in
the morning, have to go down there. The electricity would go out and you’d have to sit there all night long with them. It wasn’t fun.
Ruth O’Connor: Along with our cattle, pigs, and sheep, we also raised chickens. They were not only for our needs but we sold both eggs and
chickens. The chore of gathering eggs fell to my sister and me. Some days that could be quite challenging, if some of the hens decided not to
leave the nest and not to give up the eggs willingly. We developed techniques, some of which resulted in broken eggs, and had to be changed.
The eggs were taken into the house and cleaned. This did not involve water. We used a soft buffer and then put the eggs in crates. Those were
sold in Evansville. Selling the chickens was more fun. My father did the catching of the chickens and they were put into large wire crates. They
were taken to Madison to be sold. This meant a family trip for some shopping and a stop at the Bowman Dairy on the way home for an ice cream
Sherry Crull: Does anybody know about, I think we used to call it glubb, but it’s blood sausage with pig blood. Does anybody remember making
Borghild Viney: I made it just about four years ago.
Sherry Crull: If I recall. It was one of my favorite things, I remember as a kid. You’d cut it and Mom would fry it in the frying pan.
Borghild Viney: What you do is you take blood and water and then you add flour, whole wheat flour or white flour, and you have to have leaf lard.
My mother had kind of special, because she made it in little sacks, so you didn’t have to have quite so much flour. It’s much more tender. Then you
had to fill all these little sacks, and sew them all by hand and you dropped them in a big tub of water and cook them for a half hour, so they were
done. The last time I had it, I had 18 men there to eat.
Sherry Crull: Oh, my. Then did you slice it and put butter and syrup on it?
Borghild Viney: Just plain butter. Not oleo, butter, spelled, b-u-t-t-e-r.
Sherry Crull: I can remember my great grandpa and grandma bringing this, blood. I liked the glubb. It was good.
Borghild Viney: It was very good. You put spices in it. You have to season it and that. It’s very good. I gave some to my cousin who hadn’t had it
and she said, “You know, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.” She liked it that well. You probably know her, Norma Hatlen. That was the last
time. The only place you can get it now, (I mean, I suppose it’s the food and drug, I don’t know who it is, the inspectors, anyway) you can buy it over
to Fort Atkinson at a butcher shop, but they keep it hidden. When you come, you just tell very secretly what you are there for and they are gone for
a long while and they come up and put it in a little brown bag for you.
Mary Abey: Our youngest son, John, gets a steer every year and last night he brought what meat he had left over. I couldn’t believe. Now, I told
Alice, I don’t know if it was liver or tongue. It was just shocked the heck out of me and I didn’t think he knew what it was either and he sure wasn’t
going to eat it. He brought it over to my place. We used to have that all the time, like Borg said.
Sherry Crull: I remember Mom boiling a tongue.
Ruth O’Connor: And the heart.
Borghild Viney: I mean years ago, you had to have that stuff. You ate everything except the squeal of a pig.
Mary Abey: They made pickled pigs’ feet at home. Fred and Famie used to do that. They didn’t use the squeal was the only thing. They utilized
Sally Reisem: I remember once Mom made head cheese from a pig’s head. We had it twice. It’s a very strong taste to it, very rich. Unfortunately,
my town cousins came to play that day and they said, “Aunt Ginny, what are you making?” She opened up the lid and here was the pig head and
they said: “Oh thank goodness, Mom, you came, because Aunt Ginny is having pig head tonight for supper.” It was good. It was a very rich
Sherry Crull: I can remember somebody donating squirrel soup to John’s Mom and Dad and there was like feet in it. For some reason they asked
John and I to have lunch with them. And we’re like, “I think we’ll pass because there is feet in that soup, you know. It was just absolutely
Borghild Viney: I wouldn’t eat that. They’re in the rodent family. I don’t eat that kind of food.
Sherry Crull: The people who gave it, that’s what they had to do to survive. They had to capture critters to eat, you know. This wasn’t that many
years ago, so I guess, I feel really fortunate that I can have a pork steak or a tenderloin once in a great while, or something, you know. Because
squirrel soup is definitely not on my menu.
John Ehle: Anybody make sauerkraut?
Virginia Mauerman: My husband made lots of sauerkraut.
Borghild Viney: Reuben sandwiches and stuff.
Sally Reisem: My dad went to an auction and got a huge crock, just huge. Then I think he went to another auction and got the sauerkraut cutter
and my dad could not cook. It took him three pans to make macaroni and cheese, ok, but he could make good sauerkraut. He would go up to
Shoemakers in Evansville here. It was my aunt and uncle’s and got all their split heads of cabbage and he could make the biggest mess in the yard,
you know, with all the cabbage. Because this was a 50 or 100 gallon crock. I don’t know how did you get it into the house, Mom?
Virginia Mauerman: I don’t remember.
Sally Reisem: Then they would have to lift it up into the back room and then it was Mom’s job to keep skimming it off every day and adding more
Virginia Mauerman: He made a round cover to put down on it and then a weight.
Sally Reisem: How long did it take him?
Virginia Mauerman: It took a while.
Sally Reisem. It took awhile and then Mom got to can it. It was the best sauerkraut ever.
Sherry Crull: I bet it was. There is a really good recipe that my stepdad, who has passed away now, made us all try. It was chicken and you brown
it in butter, in the frying pan, like a bigger, deeper frying pan. Then you lay sauerkraut over the top of it and you just simmer it for three or four
hours. Oh, you talk about good. It kind of absorbs the grease out of the chicken and makes the sauerkraut. It is just fantastic. It is really, really
good. You don’t have to add salt and pepper, whatever. You don’t have to add anything to it much. I’ve made it and it’s very, very good.
Barb Andrew: What do you put in the crock with the cabbage to make sauerkraut?
Virginia Mauerman: Salt.
Sherry Crull: Not much.
Joy Olson: No vinegar?
Virginia Mauerman: I’ve got the recipe how to do it.
Sherry Crull: It kind of makes its own vinegary taste, don’t it.
Borghild Viney: You just put water and salt on the cabbage to make a brine.
Joy Olson: We were on the subject about crafts. I can remember my Aunt Lil Haney, that was my Grandpa George’s sister. I don’t remember her
husband. He was a horse trader here in Evansville. She lived down on Maple Street. She was a very frugal lady and she would make wool braided
rugs. I remember we had several at our house, of wool braided rugs. She also spent her winters in Florida and she would collect the teeny, tiniest
shells. And she always bought the shells back and when she was up here in the summer time, she always made pins and earrings made of shells. I
can remember having the shell jewelry when I was really, really little. I can remember staying with Grandma George and she would always send me
down with something to Aunt Lil. Aunt Lil would always give me a treat of a kumquat that she brought from Florida and I just hated them, absolutely.
Sherry Crull: Are they like a date?
Joy Olson: No, they looked like little baby…
Sherry Crull: Birds?
Joy Olson: Little baby oranges.
Kathleen Starostka: You eat the peeling and everything.
Joy Olson: They are kind of citrusy. I can remember throwing one down by the sidewalk on the way and I always wondered if she met her kumquat
someday when she was out for a walk.
Sally Reisum : In our community, we also had some really talented writers. Georgia Hamilton, like Barb had mentioned, she could always come up
with poetry or a story so quickly. They were always so inspirational and so good. My grandmother wrote poetry and she wrote a lot of poetry for
those community showers as well. We had a lot of people that really took time to think and to create and to use words very well. We talk about what
our people are doing now politically. I remember farm women writing letters to political representatives telling the state of farming. I know my
grandmother did. She wrote to Bill Proxmire quite often and he wrote her back. I knew other ladies of the community, as well. They might have
been good cooks, and they could sew, and they could remake a coat or hem anything. But they also had a gift for words. I think we are losing so
much of that, too. I work with children in an after school setting. They don’t know how to talk. They don’t know how to create a story. I think about
all the wonderful stories that Georgia had written to me at one time in my life. That was Georgia Hamilton and the way they could just create a story
and just make you feel good about it. I think sometimes we lose how smart some of the women who have been our mentors were. They were very
well educated. They had to be to survive some of the Depression that they all had to live through during that time and being farmer’s wives. I just
marvel at so many people who are gone now and how they survived the Depression. And this is what we have to teach our children now with the
lives that we are living now. Look towards your grandparents. Look towards your great grandparents. What did they do to get through some of
these times. It is to use everything except the squeal of the pig. My husband is studying to be a culinary chef. Right now tongue and sweet breads,
is something for gourmet cooking. Instead, this is what our grandparents ate as much as they could when they had it. We need to show our kids
how to use what we have and to enjoy the life that we have and make life good with simple things, just like people who came before us.
Sherry Crull: There is nothing better than a nice summer day and we have a little playground that we made especially for our four granddaughters.
Grandpa and I sit in the swing and we watch the kids play or we push them on the swing. They are all laughing, giddy and having fun. It’s just the
most remarkable thing. You created it, these people, you know and they are just incredible beings, you know, ever since time began, you know. My
aunt Dorothy Klitzman just passed away. She had a lot of grandchildren. She had four children but they had a lot of children and I’m just like, “Just
look at this. Two people created this whole entire thing.” To me, it’s just absolutely incredible.
Sally Reisem: You haven’t said much, Mary.
Mary Lange: I’m listening.
Virginia Mauerman: Sally, why don’t you tell about the pretend storyteller.
Sally Reisem: Talking about Georgia Hamilton, who was so well known in the Evansville community. Like I said, she was a writer and I’m going to tell
a little bit more. Back in 1965, unfortunately, I was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which was a shock to the whole community because everybody had
to get a TB skin test. I was sent to the sanitarium in Madison, the children’s one in Monona. I can still remember the letters I got. I knew what was
happening in everybody’s home because they wrote to me. I knew what they were having for supper. I knew who was going here. I knew what they
were doing at school. I knew things that Dawn Andrew didn’t know about Joy, because Joy wrote to me, too, ok. And one of the things that Georgia
Hamilton did for me was, she wrote me these wonderful stories, and on the bottom she would put down, “Pretend Storyteller.” She would never tell
me who this person was. Fortunately, I do still have the letters, and I will put them in a book, so people can see what is happening in the community
that I lived in. Because, I sit back and on a bad night that it is storming or something, I re-read these letters and I laugh because, if I put them in
order, I can tell you what everybody is thinking in the neighborhood at that time. Like I said, Georgia never told me who the pretend storyteller was.
I graduated from eighth grade and she sent me a card. She said, “Pretty soon I will tell you who is the pretend storyteller.” I graduated from college
and she wrote again and said, “I hear you are getting married and I’ll tell you then. Look for the uninvited guest.” Georgie was my 4-H leader. She
would be invited to my wedding. So, on the day I was getting married and with all the hoopola. She pointed at me and said, “Come here, closer.”
And I went, “Oh, Georgia” and gave her a big hug. She said, “I’m the pretend storyteller.” I have given copies of the letters to her children and
things like that. The saga of when I was in the sanitarium, was people wrote to me. I remember this when I was ten that children usually got a lot of
gifts and a lot of letters the first month that they were there. I always got something in the mail. I got packages from my 4-H club, my Girl Scout
troops, my church group. Like I said, I knew who was in trouble on the bus. I knew who was getting good grades. They kept me being part of the
community, even though I was gone. Therefore, it helped me feel more comfortable when I came back home, because I never really left.
Sherry Crull: My husband was hung when he was in seventh grade. Do you remember that John?
John Ehle: I do.
Sherry Crull: Buzz Whitmore, it was one of his first ambulance calls, and still to this day, says it was his worst ones. What they were doing, was he
and his cousin were playing basketball in the haymow and they would swing on a rope and dunk the ball. His cousin went out of turn and the
cousins rope caught John around the neck. Had he known, had he been aware, he could have buckled his knees up and he could have touched
the ground. Well, the breeder was down in the barn breeding a cow and the cousin ran down and said “John is in trouble.” He said, “He’s hurt.” And
the breeder thought “I’d better go up and see what’s going on,” and there he was hung. He was comatose for around three weeks or something like
that. And he said. This is hard. The little Spooner boy that is going through hell right now. You can’t talk about people that are comatose, around
them, because they can hear everything. John remembers everything everybody said. He’s told me the same story for I don’t know how many
years. So, everybody please just pray for this poor little 12-year-old.
Barb Andrew: I think that brings up, too, the fact that people do respond to that in good ways. I think all of us have experienced that in the
community. In 2000, when the storm went through, I know that there were a lot of people that brought food and came to help us, when Gordie was
hurt five years ago, the same thing. Even though technology is not always used to the best advantage, I have seen it here, that on Facebook,
somebody has set up a page and a place to link people who want to donate. Once again we do see the good in community come together in
support. I guess we don’t know why the tragic things happen. Yet, we do see, as it always has been, community comes together and helps, so that
is the one good thing, maybe, comes out of it.
Sherry Crull: I feel bad because he won’t have closure ever in his life. Because the visitation is tonight and the funeral is tomorrow and the poor kid
is never going to have closure. He’s always going to remember seeing them dead, you know.
Sally Reisem: Never take your community for granted. Because, like I said, I work in Beloit. A lot of these young people that I work with have no
sense of community. We are so lucky that we are from--I live in Evansville now, but I’m never going to be from Evansville-- I’m from Magnolia. It’s
just one of those things. You always have a sense of community. You always know who to count. We all have that community where we live, or
where we are from and we are so lucky to have it because there are so many people who don’t have it.
John Ehle: You know, that might be a good way to cap this great afternoon. That was pretty. Thank you. I think I can speak for everybody. This
has been an enriching experience. It is fun to get together and hear people’s thoughts and just pass the time pleasantly. Remember way back
when and think about how fortunate we all are. So would anybody else like to make a final contribution.
Linda Gallagher: I brought Evalyn today, who is my mother-in-law. I’m not at all from a farming background. In fact, I was telling someone here
today, when I met my husband, Steve, 18 years ago, I had been a farm three times in my life. So, I’m definitely not from the farming background.
But in the 18 years I’ve known Steve, I’ve really come in more contact with the rural community. We have lots of friends on farms and through his
business and of course, Evalyn having her farm, and so on. I really appreciated today, learning a lot more from everyone. So thank you, everyone.
Borghild Viney: Thank you for being with us.
Sherry Crull: I’m a big person of quotes and I have these appliques that I put up and this one is from Vince Lombardi. And I have it right on our
desk, that our entire family is surrounded by pictures of everybody. The saying is, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time
we fall.” John and I live by that faithfully. Last year was a real true test of that. All of us have done it many times in farming. There is no way to
John Ehle: I’d like to thank Gina and Kyle and of course, our Ruth Ann and all of you for coming together to make this a special afternoon. I always
look forward to what Gina is going to have to say in the Gazette. It’s always wonderful. It’s always gives people some exposure that they richly
deserve, whether they are World War II veterans, or Vietnam veterans, or farm people. It is just a way to let people know about our community and it’
s a wonderful community and it’s made up of nice people like you. This is a lot of fun. This is my idea of a good time and so thanks everybody and I
hope you feel the same way. It is much appreciated.
Two of a Kind
by Georgia Hamilton
A woman's work is never done....
The Farmer! He's another one....
Cook the Food; Cows to feed;
Love the brood; Corn to weed;
Wash the dishes; Grain to mix;
Hear the wishes; Fence to fix;
Mop the floor; Barn to clean;
Fix the door; Pigs to wean;
Scrub the hall; Stalls to bed;
Paint the wall; Roof the shed;
Wash the clothes; Manure to haul;
Water the rose; The vet to call;
Balance the books; Cattle to count;
Replace the hooks; Tires to mount;
Iron the shirt; Calf ready to sell;
Sweep up the dirt; Repair pump for the well;
Buttons to sew on; A machine to weld;
Weeds to hoe on; Dead tree to be felled;
Telephone to hop for; Tractor is balking;
Groceries to shop; Windows need caulking;
Appoints to keep; My bills to pay;
(I'm really in deep); (What a long day);
Busy, busy, day by day;
I'm compelled to work away,
Till all life's needs have been fulfilled.
And life is pay