Memories by Melva Birkholz

The following transcription is laid up in a monospace font to emulate the typewritten pages Matt inherited.

It will be useful to know that the distance between Milwaukee and Cedarburg is approximately 20 miles. At a pace of 4 mph, it is 5 hours each way — a long day.

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    Grandma and grandpa Birkholz were married in Schoenfeld near Walde
Province of Brandenberg Prussia on February 12th 1863.  They left for
America on April 12th of the same year.  The last words grandma's father
said to her as he saw her off were, "I know that I will never see you
again".  And he was right.  She never spoke of her mother.
    They brought their own food for the long voyage.  In a wooden chest
with leather hinges and painted a dark red they brought bread, cheese,
and smoked and dried meat.  For the rest of her life grandma use this
chest as a bread box and for storing fruit cake and stollen at Christmas
    She described the voyage as horrible because of filth and lack of
privacy and a shortage of water for personal hygiene.
    They settled in Cedarburg where they lived for 10 years.  Grandpa
worked in the quarry in Grafton.  The quarry is now a part of Lime Kiln
Park.  They were members of Immanuel Lutheran Church which is now a
Lutheran Landmark.  Six children were born to them while they lived in
Cedarburg.  Johann, the oldest lived only five days.  Then came Rudolph,
August, Emilie (who died at the age of three) William and Louis.  Johann
and Emilie are buried in the Old Cemetery in Cedarburg.
    At this time they did not have a horse so grandpa asked a neighbor
to walk to Milwaukee with him to buy a bed.  The two walked to Milwaukee,
bought a bed and together they carried it back to Cedarburg.
    Then grandpa broke a leg at work.  There was no workman's compensation
if you couldn't work that was your problem.  When he was able to walk
again he

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decided not to go back to the quarry.
    In 1873 they bought an 80 acre farm with a log house in Sheboygan Co.
near Batavia.  Grandpa later built a two story frame house.  The house still
stands and looks well kept.  There is a round window in the attic which
facinated me when I was a child.  This window was most likely the whim of
grandma's as there are no others in the area.
    The barns and out buildings are across the road.  They are not the original
ones.  Later grandpa bought an adjoining 80 acre farm without a house.
    Aunt Martha was born on the farm in 1874 and papa who was the youngest
was born in 1876.  With five sons grandpa had lots of help on the farm.
There were no tractors; you walked behind the plow.  Grain was cut with a scythe.
    One day when the children were home alone one of papa's brothers
accidentally shot him in the head with a shotgun.  For the rest of his life
he carried three pellets under the skin of his left temple.  I would count
them as I sat at his side at mealtimes.
    When grandma and grandpa were out at mealtimes the children made their
favorite dinner, potato pancakes.  When mothers parents were out the children
made taffy.  I have an idea the reason the Birlholz children didn't make
candy is because grandma hid the sugar.  She was very thrifty and carefully
guarded her hoard of canning sugar.
    An oft told story was about the time papa ate the plums that grandma
intended to make kuchen with.  He made the mistake of throwing the pits out
of his bedroom window.  Grandma found the pits and the culprit and felt that
misdeed called for punishment by grandpa.  When he came in to dinner he
listened with a stern expression and then he said, "Did they taste good"?
When papa nodded yes grandpa said, Then it's alright".  Grandma was furious.
He said,"How can I punish a chils for eating prunes.

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Grandpa retired in 1893 and sold the homestead to uncle Rudolph.  Uncle Willie
bought the other 80 acres without a house.  Although grandpa lived 22 years
after retirement and grandma 32 more years they had a foolproof hedge against
inflation with a contract drawn up so meticulously that years later uncle Willie
was unable to break it.
    The contract stated that uncle Rudolph was to deliver to grandma and
grandpa's redidence once a year; 10 bushels of wheat, 1 bushel of rye, 25
bushels of oats, 4 loads of hay and a 250# hog on the hoof.
    Uncle Willie was to deliver 25 cords of wood and (?) bushels of potatoes.
Roy and I disagree on the potatoes.
    Grandma and Grandpa held a $2,000.00 mortgage on uncle Rudolph's farm
at 6% interest.  Then they bought the house in Fillmore on ½ acre of land.
At that point they had it made.  They had free wood for cooking and heat,
they had wheat and rye for bread, 250 # of pork, hay for the horse and oats
for the horse and chickens.  They had enough land to raise vegetables, fruit
and berries for canning.
    After Grandma bought a coal stove for the living room uncle Willie gave
her money to buy coal and wood.  Uncle Willie retired in the early twenties
and no longer had a wood lot.  He then felt that since grandma was a widow
he should no longer have to pay the whole amount.  Although I don't know the
details he lost and had to live up to his obligation till grandma died on
April 20, 1925.  They were estranged for years although they made up before
grandma died.
    Uncle Rudolph who too was retired and had much more to pay did so without
a murmur.

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Although it is only a half-truth I like to tell people I was born in a
Methodist church.  The house where I was born was the former German
Methodist Episcopal Church.  It was organized in 1859 and in 1863 they
built a frame church and five room parsonage all under one roof.  An
area was fenced off in one corner for a cemetery and a barn was built
for the Pastors horse.
    Since there were also two lutheran churches in Fillmore, by 1908
the congregation could no longer support the church.  The trustees :
Gustavus Kuechenmeister, Emil Quass, and Frank Yahr put the property
up for sale.  In 1908 my parents bought the building and two acres of
land for $250.00.
    Papa remodeled the church into five rooms.  There was a large
sitting room, now it would be called a family room, a parlor, and three
bedrooms.  The parsonage kitchen became our summer kitchen, and what
had been the living room was now our kitchen.  A small bedroom was our
washroom (bathroom) and there was a small pantry.  Upstairs there
were two bedrooms and the area above the church was an attic.  We had
no dining room.
    The small bedroom off the sitting room was Grandpa's room.  Grandpa
Kraetsch lived with us part of the summer.  After Grandma died in
1909 he sold his house and lived with his children.  He spent the
winters in Chicago with Aunt Linda, Uncle Ed and Uncle Dick.  During the
warmer months he came to Wisconsin and lived with Aunt Ella, Uncle
Art, Uncle Henry and at our house.  He liked living at our house best
of all because it was quiet.  Roy and I must have been well behaved kids.
    Grandma's room was bright and cheerful with red flowered wallpaper
on a white background.  The bed and bureau were maple and there was a
window facing west.  This is where I took my naps.
    A trap door on the kitchen floor led to a root cellar.  Another
basement with an outside door had a cistern with a wooden cover .
This is where our cat Mitzi chose  to have her kittens.  Even after
we moved away if Mitzi was missing we would find her at the old house
with new kittens or just "mousing".She never forgot her old home.

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There was a grass walk from the front porch to the road.  A long drive-
way led to the cemetery.  One side of this driveway was lined with tall
Lombard Poplar trees and the other side with hazelnut bushes.  Outside
the kitchen window grew a peach tree that papa raised from a peach stone.
Lilac trees grew all over the place and wild grapes climbed the wooden
platform that led to the kitchen porch.
    Our garden was south of the house and beyond that was the potato
field.  After we moved to Grandma's we still had a garden there as the
soil was better for some vegetables.  A gnarled old apple tree in the center
of the garden sheltered us from the hot sun as we hoed and weeded .
    Attached to the summer kitchen was our woodshed.  This was a short
cut to the out-house in back right next to the cemetery fence.  I don't
remember going out there alone at night  but Roy's excursions were short
and speedy.  South of the out-house was the barn for our strawberry
roan horse Flora.
    I have a few vivid memories of mother.  Because papa didn't want me
to grieve for her he never talked about her and did not let others mention
her to me.  I know that she liked the song "After the Ball" because she
wrote the words in a note book I found among her things.  I know she read
the The Three Bears to me and told me You are Goldilocks.  When I told my
cousin Viola that I was Goldilocks she laughed at me and told me your hair
isn't golden.  I was crushed.  I remember one day mother made rosettes
and gave me one to eat while it was still warm.  I remember that mother
crocheted a pretty pink doll dress and hat as a wedding present for a

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neighbor.  This was a decorative doll for a bed.  When it was finished
mother put it on the bureau in grandpa's room out of my reach.  Although
I couldn't touch it I feasted my eyes on it by standing on my tiptoes.
 Others told me that mother had a great sense of humor and like practical
jokes.  As an example, one Halloween she told Roy he could invite some
classmates to a party after school.  She passed a plate of candy and when
the children bit into it they found raw potato inside.  Then she brought
out the real candy.
    Mother made an ivory wool coat for me.  It had pale blue satin cuffs
and collar covered with battenburg lace and a drawstring handbag to match.
She made this for me to wear on a trip to Plymouth to visit her cousin
Maggie Stolper.
    Although Plymouth was only about 30 miles away it was regarded as a
long trip and we stayed overnight.  We went by horse and buggy to Random Lake
where we left our horse in the stables of uncle Henry's hotel and took the
train from there.  The Stolpers owned a department store in Plymouth and
that is where Roy got a new suit .
    I wore my new outfit to a picnic in Boltonville where I wandered off
and got lost.  When they found me the handbag was gone.  Did I lose it? Or
did someone take it from me?
    One winter afternoon Roy and I walked to grandma and grandpas house.
They were not home but Roy found the big brass key behind the barn door
and we were soon in the house warming our hands at the stove.  About this
time I decided I had to go to the bathroom.  The outhouse was across the
back yard, past the barn, through the chicken yard, and past the shed.
For that reason grandma kept an array of thunder mugs in the summer kitchen

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during the winter months.  My kind and thoughtful brother picked out the
proper size for me, poured hot water from the teakettle into the icy pot
and carried it into the living room and set it down next to the stove.  As
you may have guessed the pot cracked in two.  I don't remember what happened
next but, I have an idea we made a hasty exit.  Years later grandma chuckled
whenever she told the story.
    After mother died our cousin Edna Birkholz was our housekeeper.  She
cooked, cleaned and did the laundry.  There was no running water but the
pump was right outside the kitchen door.  There was no electricity and the
washing machine was operated by hand.  Edna also worked in the garden and
canned fruits and vegetables.
    Edna had several beaus.  One of them let me sit on the front porch
with them and sometimes brought me candy.  She did not marry him.
    One summer afternoon Roy, Edna and I walked down to the North Branch to
fish.  A favorite spot was under the bridge where we could hear an occasional
horse and wagon rumble across the wooden planks.  Edna took off her glasses
and put them on a beam under the bridge.  They were forgotten until sometime
during the night when she woke us all up with a scream.  Papa told her to
calm down, as she didn't need them right now and they would be there in the
morning.  Then we all went back to sleep.  They were there in the morning.
    Grandpa Birkholz died on October 17, 1915.  As grandma didn't want to
live alone she asked us to come live in her house.  Papa held an auction to
sell the furniture we no longer needed and closed up his house.  It stood
empty after that.
    Grandma's house was light and cheerful with its many windows.  There
was a kitchen, summer kitchen, large living room a pantry and one bedroom

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downstairs.  Upstairs there were two bedrooms and a large open area for
storage and to hang our clothes as there were no closets in the house.
We had no dining room.  The living room ran all across the front of the house.
There were two windows facing east, two south and one west.  Over the couch
hung grandma and grandpa's pictures in guilt frames.  (They were left behind
in the attic of the house in Cheeseville when Roy and Edna moved to Fredonia.)
Above an oak table hung a lamp with a large hand painted globe with two
rows of prisms that caught the afternoon sun and filled the room with
dancing rainbows.
    The coal stove with an ornate crown-like top and fenders of nickel-plating
stood on the north wall.  Between the two east windows hung a tall mirror
(that uncle Rudolph made) over a shelf flanked by two tall vases of peacock
feathers.  The feathers came from a peacock that disappeared from their
farm one winter day and wasn't found till spring when the snow melted.
    Near the door on a high shelf stood a clock that chimed the hours.
Papa wound the clock every Saturday night after supper.  The kitchen was a long
narrow room.  We cooked on one end and ate on the other end.  The wood-burning
cook stove had a reservoir filled with rain water for washing dishes and
our hair.  This stove also kept the kitchen warm in winter.  Although the
fire would go out during the night.
    We had no running water.  In fact we had no well.  We got our water from
Hauchs, our neighbors to the east.  When I was old enough it was my job to
fetch the water.  On the pail was a water-mark.  I could fill it only to that
point.  It wasn't till I was twelve years old that I was allowed to carry a
full pail.  Near the pump was a mulberry tree and Mrs Hauch gave me
permission to eat all the mulberries my stomach would hold.

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    We had no electricity.  We didn't need any.  Our kerosene lamps with
neatly trimmed wicks and sparkling clean chimneys gave us plenty of light.
At an early age I had to take care of the lamps.  I kept them filled with
kerosene (at 17¢ a gallon in your own can) I cleaned the chimneys with
crushed newspaper and soon learned to trim the wicks so that they didn't
smoke.  I remember the day papa came home with a flashlight.  Now I was no
longer afraid to go down the cellar steps to get a bowlfull of apples at
bedtime.(Papa liked his apples polished with a dab of butter or lard.)
In the barn papa used a lantern.
    Since we had no dining room we ate in the kitchen.  Papa's rules at the
table were:  You do not come to the breakfast table till your hands and face
are washed and your hair is combed.  No dunking, no elbows on the table,
and don't lick your knife.  He always sliced the bread at the table.  next
to his plate was a small bread-board and a knife.  However,he always picked
up the loaf, held it against his chest and cut it that way.  This is a vivid
memory because I always worried that he would cut his chest.
    Papa did not drink coffee.  He would open the china cabinet, take out a
glass, hold it up to the light to check for finger prints or smudges, then he
filled it with water and carried it to the table.  He also didn't eat butter.
He liked a spread made of finely chopped onion browned in home rendered
lard, mixed with more lard and set aside to harden.  It was delicious.
    Papa loved potato pancakes but grandma didn't like to make them.  They
solved the problem by papa grating the potatoes and grandma frying them.
They were always served with current jelly.  No other kind would do.
At the top of the cellar stairs stood the icebox.  It was my job to see that

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the drip pan didn't run over.  I tried.  I really tried to remember to empty
the pan on time but often it wasn't till I heard the water running down the cellar
steps that I dashed to the pantry to tend to my job.  Anyway the steps were
cleaner in  summer.  In winter the summer kitchen served as our ice  box.
    My room upstairs had been aunt Martha's before she was married.  I used it
for everything but sleeping.  I like to sleep with grandma in her downstairs
bedroom.  Her room was small and cozy and the only bedroom with a wardrobe.
On her bureau stood a brown bottle about one-third full of whiskey.  It was really
moonshine at that time.  At the bottom of this bottle was about an inch of
camphor crystals.  This was grandma's magic cure-all.  It cured everything from
a tooth ache to a cramp in the leg.  If I had a stomache ache she would shake
the bottle vigorously and massage the hurt away with her gentle hands. If
that didn;t work I got a spoonful of kimmel.  I like the kimmel treatment
best of all.  For cold on the chest a rubdown with goose grease did the trick.
  When I was really sick with the flu (we had never heard of a virus)
 papa took over.  He mixed a drink of hot water, sugar, lemon juice and some
whiskey then put me to bed.  Under a thick feather bed I was soon prespiring.
When he brought my tray there were special goodies to whet my appetite.
When I came down with the measles he diagnosed my illness himself.  I was
put to bed, he pulled down the shade to protect my eyes and I got better.
It was as simmple as that.
    Papa did not believe in doctors.  He said "The body heals itself".
And he proved it.  When he was a child he was very sick (probably dphtheria).
The doctor left some pills (no handy pharmacy then) but after a few days
he got worse and the doctor was called during the night.  He didn't offer much
hope for a recovery but changed the medication to another kind of pill.

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It worked!!  In a few days he was out of bed.  When grandma cleaned his room
she found two neat piles of pills under the bed.  He hadn't taken any at all.
    In the early twenties there was a smallpox epidemic and all children
were to be vaccinated.  Papa ignored this advice till a girl from Silver
Creek died.  Only then did he take me to the doctor to be vaccinated.
There were no other vaccines for childhood diseases.  In winter we children
wore a small cloth bag of camphor crystals on a string (or chain) around
our necks to keep the germs away.
    Grandma's kitchen was for living not just for cooking and eating.  Her
door was always open to visitors.  Neighbors dropped in to chat and have a
cup of coffee.  Sometimes they brought their sewing or knitting to work on
as they visited.  This was only during the winter months.  In summer grandma
was too busy working in the garden or taking care of her flowers.  After the noon
meal her neighbors changed into a fresh house-dress and sat on their tree shaded
verandas.  Not so our grandma!!!!!  She held a Puritan attitude toward work.
    From the time the roosters first started to crow till the church bells
rang in the evening she worked.  From beerying time in June till pickling
season the summer kitchen was filled with the aromas of strawberry or
raspberry jams and jellies and spices and herbs.  Whatever we could not eat
during the growing season was canned or pickled.  What pride we took in the row
upon row of filled mason jars that lined the shelves in our cellar.  Or the
five gallon crocks of pickles or sauerkraut that stood beside the barrels of
papa's homemade wine.  He made wine from dandelion blossoms, wild grapes,
rhubarb, currents, beets and from the blossoms of the acacia tree that grew
in our front yard.

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 Grandma loved flowers but not in a vase.  All her pretty vases stood empty.
Only on Decoration Day would she allow flowers to be cut.  Early in the morn-
ing when they were still wet with dew papa cut two pails full.  Enough to make
a wreath for me to carry in the parade and a bouquet for grandpa's grave.
She had four large flower beds in the front yard plus a row of peonies. Pinies
she called them.  There were bridal wreath and snow ball bushes in the side
yard.  The path leading to Hauch's pump was bordered with her favorites:
tulips, phlox, and bleeding heart.
    The tulip bed was right next to the driveway.  When backing out my
uncles (aunts did not drive in those days) never failed to run smack into
the tulip bed.  Not so Roy's friends.  They drove right up to the kitchen
door and when leaving gunned the motor and roared back out the driveway
without disturbing one tulip petal.  Grandma held her breath every time
she watched them leave.
    Roy lived at home only between jobs.  When he worked at Begers store at
Random Lake he often came home week ends.  Grandma usually heard him come in
during the night.  Early Sunday morning I jumped out of bed and ran up the
stairs to see if he was home.  Sometimes before I got to the stairs Grandma
would say, "He didn't come".  Disappointed I crawled back under the covers.
When he was home we almost always played "catch".  Although he didn't think
much of my pitching.  Evenings Papa Roy and I played card games.  Or lotto.
    Roy had a barrel hoop on the shed to practice basket ball.  Indoors he
piled two kitchen chairs one on top of another against the front door.  On
top of this he used grandma's footstool turned upside down for a basket.
From the kitchen doorway he would aim and shoot.
    In the early twenties there was a prediction that the world was coming to

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an end.  On that day Roy was in bed with the measles.  As I was doing my after
school chores I fell on the porch with an armful of wood.  At the clatter
Roy jumped out of bed thinking the end had come.  In about two weeks when
he was well again he went back to his job.  The day after he left I was
miserable.  I went to school, sat at my desk and cried.  When the teacher
asked me what was wrong I didn't know what to say, so I told her I had a
stomach ache and she told me to go home.  When I told grandma I had a stomach
ache she was sympathetic and fussed over me then reached for her bottle of
whiskey and camphor and put me to bed.  When papa came home and asked why I
was in bed I heard her tell him, " She is homesick for Roy".
    The deep wrinkles in grandma's upper lip came from a habit of whistling
under her breath as she worked.  Never out loud.  That was not lady like.
I loved to watch her comb and put up her hair.  With the exception of a few
grey wisps at her temples her hair was a beautiful shade of chocolate brown.
After brushing it she pulled it back from her face and twisted it into a knot
at the nape of her neck.  Next she put on a long carefully folded scarf and
tied it under her chin.  "It keeps my ears warm", she would explain.  No one
outside the family ever saw her without a scarf on her head.  Only we knew
she had a bald spot on the top of her head.
    Grandma's long skirts swept the floor.  Her everyday house dresses were
either a pale blue or grey with a tiny white print.  Sunday best was always
black; even in summer.  I loved to go to Crass's store for her to bring home
swatches of material for a new dress.  I knew what she liked  but I secretly
wished she would wear brighter colors.
    Grandma had a gold bar pin and earings with a red stone for her pierced
ears.  That was the extent of her jewelry.  Or course she had a gold wedding
ring.  Make-up was worn only by hussies.  A sun tan was not yet fashionable

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so she wore long sleeves when working in the garden or berry patch.  Over my
arms I had to wear long black stockings with the feet cut off and a large
straw hat.  She wore a cotton sunbonnet.  If she felt that our arms and face
still were not pale enough we rubbed them with a fresh peeled cucumber.
    Drawing the dark green shades early in the morning kept the house cool
and dark. Cooking was done in the summer kitchen on hot summer days and we
let the fire go out between meals.  Windows and all the doors except the north
kitchen door were kept closed  to keep out the dust stirred up by teams and
a few cars that passed the house.  The road was not even blacktopped at that
    During a dry spell I had to fill two galvanized wash tubs with water
early in the morning so it would be warm enough to sprinkle the flowers and
vegetables at dusk.  The lawn never saw any water unless it rained.  There was
a huge acacia tree on the front lawn from which papa hung a swing.  Grandma
grumbled that I was ruining the grass but papa paid no attention and so I
kept right on swinging.
    At sundown on the day the ice ran low papa brought the wheelbarrow out
of the shed, I climbed in and got a ride to Wittig's ice house.  Every man
who helped "make ice" was allowed to take all he needed .  He found the size
he needed, loaded it on the wheelbarrow and  we walked home.  After rinsing off
the sawdust with several pails of water he chopped it down to the proper size and
dropped it into the ice chest.  The pieces that fell on the grass I picked up
and ate.  I never gave a thought to fish and turtles, leeches and snails that
lived in the river nor the cows that waded in it.  The germs I swallowed most
likely helped build up my immune system.

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    In the garden at the old house we raised mostly cucumbers, melons, and
radishes both the red and the white tangy ones that were papa's favorite.
About every two weeks grandma and I walked down there in the afternoon .We
took a large basket to carry home vegetables  and we also brought with us
a cool drink, made of icy cold water from the bottom of the well, sugar
vinegar and a bit of baking soda to add fizz.  This we put under a burdock
plant to keep it cool. Since the pump at the old house had not been used for
sometime we thought the water was not safe,to drink.
    Some evenings papa and I walked down to the garden and worked till dark.
He kept a set of garden tools in the basement under the summer kitchen.
When we got home we found grandma sitting on the front porch and the house dark.
She loved to sit in the dark ; to watch the night fall, to see the stars
come out.  In winter when it got dark early we got supper in the lamplit
kitchen then waited in the dark living room for papa to come home.  As soon
as I heard him turn in the driveway I lit the lantern and ran out to light his
way in the barn .  I watched as he bedded down Buster with fresh straw and
then gave him another forkful of hay.  It was my job to give Buster oats,
hay and water when I came home from school for lunch.
    A carriage horse was a status symbol, therefore buying one took as much
deliberation as getting a new car does today.  After Flora we got Prince a
small beautiful horse that cost $85.00.  Papa was proud of him and since he had
a harness shop prince was the best groomed horse in the village.  In summer his
flynet, a tawny gold color matched the lap robe we tucked around our knees
to protect our clothes from the dust of unpaved roads.
    After a few years Prince became lame and had to be sold.  Then came
Buster.  He was just an ordinary horse but, how I loved him.  When I was
able to sneak sugar out of the kitchen past grandma's watchful eye he took
it from my hand with his soft velvety lips.

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When I carried water to him he swallowed in large noisy gulps and he dearly
loved oats.In spring and again fall after the vegetables had been harvested
papa let Buster run in the field.  Like a frisky dog he rolled on the ground
then ran around the field and rolled again till he was exhausted.  Then papa
lifted me on his back and I rode him back to the barn.
    On Saturdays we listened for the butcher's bell.  Mr Norman had a butcher
shop in Waubeka and during the summer months he came in his horse drawn wagon
filled with fresh meats and sausages.  I made it my business to show up as
grandma dealt with Mr Norman because I knew I would get either a slice of
bolonia or a weiner which I ate on the spot. During the winter months we all had
canned or smoked meats from the fall butchering.
    Arthur Rudolph (who was my sponsor) lived in a house just down the road
next door to his blacksmith shop.  He had a few acres of land and kept a
few cows.  He was a bachelor and had a housekeeper by the name of Esther
Wittman.  Every summer Esther left on a two week vacation.  That is how I
got my first paid job.  On Saturdays I washed a weeks dirty dishes, cleaned
his lamp chimneys, made his bed and swept the kitchen floor.  For this I
was paid 25¢.  I thought I was rich. For 25¢ I could buy 5 candy bars or 5
ice cream cones or 5 boxes of cracker jack.
    Whenever Esther churned butter she asked me to take a quart of butter-
milk to Mrs Charlie Rieke (she was also my sponsor) and for this Mrs Rieke gave
me 5¢. We got our milk from our neighbor to the west for 6¢ a quart .  They
had one cow and supplied several families with milk.  You brought your own pail.
    Sometimes at the end of a hot summer day papa sent me to Wittig's
saloon to get a pitcher of beer for supper.  Grandma liked egg in her beer.
After breaking an egg in a glass she beat it thoroughly added a pinch of
sugar and filled the glass with beer.  It didn't taste bad if you could
forget that you were swallowing raw egg.

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    As much as grandma loved flowers that much ahe hated safety pins.  Except
for diapering babies(no pampers then) they need never have been invented
as far as she was concerned. If a strap broke or a button came off just as
I was leaving for school I was never but never allowed to use a safety pin
to fix it.  No siree.  She always had needle and thread at her finger tips .
    Besides teaching me right from wrong and the Golden Rule there was one thing
she stressed above all others and that was the eighth commandment.  Thou
shalt not steal!!  She may have been able to overlook the act of murder
but never stealing.
    At one time grandma belonged to our church (St Martins)  but for some
reason(?) she left the church  and never set foot in it again.  At the funeral
of our neighbor Mr Koenig , grandma and I walked up to the church and stood
across the street till the services were over and then we followed the hearse
to the cemetery.  She joined the Reformed Church which was across the road
from St Martin cemetery.  Because it was quite a distance to walk,the Pastor
came to the house to give her c ommunion.  She would usher him into the
living room and close the door.  He always left with a freshly baked loaf
of bread or cake or stollen.  It was a European custom.
    At the age of 5 I was sent to Sunday school which was held at the old
fielstone church on the lower cemetery.  Church services were held in the
new church on the hill and it started at 11.  Papa told me I need not go to
church after Sunday school unless I wanted to.  However,if you go you must
pay attention so you can tell me the Bibelstelle (text of the sermon) when
you come home.  I listened carefully and memorized the text number because
I knew he would ask for it at the dinner table.
    Although I don't remember this, Roy tells me that papa used to sing in

Page 18

church choir.  As I recall,papa went to church only on holidays or when I was
in a program.  He felt going to church was fine but what really counted
was the kind of life you led the other six days.  I once overheard papa tell
someone, " I thank the Lord every day for my blessings".
    Although papa never read a book on child psychology he believed you
could spare the rod without spoiling the child.  He raised Roy and I with
patience and kindness.  He was a very gentle man.  I felt coddled and smug
when my friends confided in me their fear of a trip to the wood shed.
    Papa believed that a child should not be punished if he breaks a
window accidentally.  But only one.  My turn came one day after school
when a robin perched on the eaves over the kitchen window.  I had a half
eaten apple in my hand and couldn't resist the urge to throw it at the
bird.  My aim was bad.  The bird flew away.  The apple went through the
window into the kitchen.  I didn't get punished although papa didn't look
too happy about having to repair the damages.  I was real careful around
windows after that.
    His razor strop hung on the window frame of a kitchen window facing
east.  The light was good and that is where he shaved with a straight
razor.  Over the dry sink there was a metal comb holder with a small mirror.
Because he was so tall he had to stoop when he combed his black hair.  When
I asked him why he parted his hair on the left side he told me, a man
always parts his hair on the left side and his buttons are always on the
right side.
    The buttons may still be on the right side but he would be shocked
at the pony tail and shoulder lenth hair men wear today.  Every two weeks
papa went to Sim Albinger to get a haircut.  Although Sim was a blacksmith
he gave haircuts in his kitchen evenings.

Page 19

    It was a real treat to go to papa's harness shop to watch him work.  I
went with him after his noon dinner.  He would lift me up on a high stool
at his workbench, give me some newspaper and a childs scissors and that
kept me entertained for hours.  Soon the floor would be littered with
snippets of paper.  While I snipped away I sang a German song he taught me.
"Ich Schneidt Papier und Kehre es Nicht Auf."  A rough translation:I'm
making a mess cutting paper and I'm not going to sweep it up.
    So as not to heat up the house in summer,grandma baked bread in the
outdoor oven that grandpa built in the smoke house,for smoking hams and
sausages.  She would build a fire in the morning and by the time the bread
was ready to bake she pushed the coals to the back of the oven and with a
long handled device set the loaves in to bake.  It was delicious baked this way
we didn't mind the flecks of ashes that stuck to the bottom of the bread.
    Grandma would not eat store bought bread.  In winter when her rheumatismus
was bad she had a problem finding someone to bake bread to her satisfaction.
She tried to teach Roy but he complained when the dough stuck to his hands.
Since she had a great sense of humor she laughed about this,telling her
friends that Roy would never make a baker.  Finally Mrs Hansman down the road
made bread that suited her fancy.
    Saturday was cleaning day.  I had to scrub the kitchen and the back
porch.  The hardwood floor in the kitchen had to be scrubbed till it was
white,with a strong soap and a brush.  If you eversaw a hardwood floor that
had never been varnished you would know what I mean by white.  The back porch
was easy to do because it had been painted.  THe next job was polishing

Page 20

the nickel plating on the wood burning cook stove.  Not till we were all in
bed did grandma polish the rest of the stove with a black paste polish.
All through the night it stood there all black and shiny till papa built
the breakfast fire when it turned an ashy rust color again.
    After supper on hot summer nights we sat on the front porch in the dark.
We could hear the low murmur of neighbors voices, the squeak of a wagon
wheel and the clop-clop of a horse's hoofs.  It was so quiet that we could
hear a team of horses or an ocassional car rumble across the wooden plank
bridges that spanned the North Branch.  We could tell by the sound if it
was Crass's, Pomahac's or Donath's bridge.
    Wittig's saloon carried ice cream only during the summer months and
only one flavor-vanilla.  A cone cost 5¢ and a pint 35¢.  About once a week
grandma gave me a nickel for a cone after working in the garden or picking
berries.  One day Albingers asked me to ride with them to Waubeka to visit
the Eisentrautds.  Mr E. ran a garage in Waubeka.  Eva E.'s mother gave
each of us a dime to go to the ice cream parlor.  I had never been to an
ice cream parlor and was impressed with the small round tables and the marble
fountain.  Eva ordered a strawberry sundae.  I didn't know what that was
but I ordered one too.  The waitress brought a scoop of ice cream covered
with strawberries in a metal dish!!! I can still taste it.
    In the early years our Sunday school picnic was held in Wittig's park
next to papa's harness shop.  Behind the shop was the dance hall and
attached to that was the huge shed where the undertaker kept his hearse.
The hearse was moved out and long tables were set up for a cold picnic lunch.
In the afternoon a band played in the bandstand and in the evening there
was a dance in the hall.

Page 21

    Next came the Turner picnic which was held in August at the Turner Park.
Papa was a Turner and therefore had to help.  He always worked in the bratwurst
stand.  It was a smokey job but he didn't mind.  A large juicy brat was served
wrapped in a large piece of rye bread.  Papa gave me one free although I
always got 25¢ picnic money.  When that was spent I could go back for more.
    I felt very grown up the first time papa gave me spending money and
let me go off by myself.  My first stop was the ice cream stand.  The lady
handed me the cone and change at the same time.  As I was trying to put the
change away with both hands full,the ice cream fell out of my cone.  Seeing
me in tears bystanders persuaded the lady to give me another scoop.
    Near the end of summer I looked forward to spending a few days at uncle
Arthur's farm to help feed the "thrashers".  The date was uncertain as it
depended on the weather.  Although the threshers were fairly accurate in
judging when they would be finished at the neighboring farm.  Sometimes when
they finished at dusk the threshers moved the huge threshing machine by
steam engine to the next farm so as to get an early start the next morning.
    Shortly after dawn farm neighbors came with horse drawn wagons to help
bring in the bundles of grain from the fields and feed them into the
machine.  Others carried the threshed grain to the granary and then there
was the straw stacker who was responsible for a well rounded straw stack.
Although strictly forbidden, there is nothing more exhilarating for a child
than walking barefoot through threshed grain (are you listening uncle
Arthur?) in the granary.
    In the meantime we were busy in the kitchen.  We peeled mounds of
potatoes, made pie crusts,and peeled apples and squeezed lemons for pies.
We frosted cakes that had been baked the day before.  We had to string
beans (no stringless beans then) that were picked fresh from the garden.

Page 22

    Then it was time to set the table,which was stretched out to its full
length and covered with a white table cloth.  No oil cloth in aunt Lizzie's
dining room on this ocassion.  All the extra dishes and silverware were
needed to feed this crew.
    Two deafening blasts on the steam whistle signaled the dinner hour.
The men washed up at the pump near the house.  Incidentally uncle Arthur had
running water in the barn for the cattle but not in the house.
    They ate with gusto the salads, the vegetables,the desserts smothered
in sweet cream, sour cream and butter.  This was thepre cholesterol and
calorie counting era.  After dinner they relaxed under the huge poplar tree
in the front yard before going back to work.
    I considered uncle Arthur's farm my second home and my visits there
usually lasted a few days.  It was fun to get up at the crack of dawn and
get the cows from the night pasture which was to the south in the upper
woods.  After the men were through milking ( I tried it once with nary a
drop) we took the cows to the day pasture which was down the road to the
corner then west and across the river to the back woods.  When we met a
team they would stop at the side of the road and let us pass.  In later
years an auto hit a cow and killed it but atthat time we didn't worry
about cars .
    After breakfast the milk was loaded onto the milk wagon and taken to
Charlie Rieke's cheese factory in Fillmore.  After filling some of the empty
cans with whey for the pigs we made our way back to the farm.  After the horse
was unhitched and the wagon put away the milk cans were washed,and set in
the sun to dry.

Page 23

The 4th of July started and ended with a bang.  A few days before the 4th
papa came home with a boxful of fireworks.  I was forbidden to touch them
till the big day.  I started to shatter the stillness of our little village
right after breakfast.  Neither grandma nor our neighbors complained about
the noise that went on all day.  Since there was no daylight saving time
then,it got dark early.  We waited for Crass's and Wittigs to shoot off
 their high fireworks first.  Then it was papa's turn to light the Catherine
wheels and Roman candles.  I thought I put on a great show by marching around
the yard with four or six sparklers.
    Children today may see more spectacular fireworks in the public parks
but miss the joy of shooting off their very own firecrackers.
    When ever I saw papa digging in the garden near the chicken fence I
knew he was going fishing, because that is where the big fat angleworms
could be found.  If he was going to the North Branch he sometimes took me
along but if he planned to fish Erlers or Seliger's Lake I had to stay behind.
I soon learned that he enjoyed the quiet and the song of the red-winged
blackbird as much as an ocassional nibble on his line.  When I would start to
chatter he told me I was scaring the fish away and so we sat quietly on the
river bank enjoying the great outdoors.
    Papa always cleaned the fish behind the back shed.  I stood close by
waiting for the bladders to pop and Mitzi waited for the entrials.  Whenever
papa came home with fish Mitzi appeared out of nowhere.
    When papa still had the harness shop just down the road he and Mitzi
played a little game.  Mitzi and I usually sat on the front porch waiting

Page 24

for him to come home from work.  When she saw him coming she would jump up
on the ledge of the gate and as he passed through he stooped low so she
could climb on his shoulder and get a ride to the house.  A smart cat.
    We did not have a telephone.  Our neighbors, the Joneses took our
emergency calls.  When we saw one of the Jones children come running across
the road we knew something dreadful had happened or was going to happen.
Otherwise whenever someone wanted to contact us they simply walked to our
house or wrote a letter which reached us with a two cent stamp or sent us
a penny postal.  So you see we didn't need a phone.
    Sundays we went visiting or received visitors.  Since we had no phone
we never knew when or if we would have company.  Grandma usually had a feeling,
a hunch that she had better prepare enough food.  Someone might drop in.
That someone often turned out to be more than one family.  Our guests always
expected a noon dinner and stayed for an early supper so they could get
home in time to do chores.
    Miraculously there was always enough food.  On Sundays papa helped in the
kitchen.  He felt that since he only worked six days (no five day weeks then)
women should not have to work seven days.  One Sunday when we had a hungry
horde waiting to eat,grandma asked him to pour the water off the potatoes.
Without looking into the kettle he poured the gravy off the meat instead.
Again grandma's sense of humor saved the day.  She laughed and said,"Today
we will eat butter on our potatoes because Frank threw the gravy away".
    When we went visiting (also without notice) we left right after I came
home from Sunday school.  Since papa was a big man, he and grandma filled
up the seat of the top-buggy and I sat on grandma's footstool at their knees
whithin reach of Buster's rump.  To protect us from the dust of unpaved
roads papa wrapped our gold colored lap robe around our knees.  Buster's
matching gold fly net protected him from flies.
    Buster set his own pace and so it took over an hour to travel the 8
plus miles to uncle Rudolph's farm.  As we drove into the yard Aunt Louisa
greeted us with two cats in her arms and several others rubbing themselves
against her floor length skirts. She always had a smile on her face and a
deep throaty chuckle.  She loved cats!!!!!
    Uncle Rudolph and aunt Louisa were first cousins.  She was the

Page 25

daugher of grandma's brother who lived in Port Ulao.  They had a baby girl
who lived only ten days and had no more children.  Although there were no
children for me to play with I  loved visiting there with the yard full of
cats.  The round window in the attic always attracted me.  How I longed to go
up to the attic to see if the world looked different through a round window.
I never asked.  I knew the answer would be no.
    Often papa helped with the chores before we went home.  He liked doing
this since it had been his home at one time.  It usually got dark before we
reached home.  Buster must have been able to see where he was going because
there was never a mishap on the narrow road when we met another traveler.
On the rare occasions when we met an on coming car papa held a tight rein
on Buster,as the lights frightened him.
    Later when a law was passed that all horse drawn vehicles must have
a light when traveling in the dark he bought a fancy lantern-like lamp
and attaached it to the side of the buggy.  The cutter and milk wagon never
had a light.  Although the lamp didnot light Buster's way it did make us
visible on the road.  The closer we got to home the faster Buster trotted
and when he reached our driveway he turned in without any direction from
papa.  He knew he was home and his stall and food were waiting.
    Papa told me that when he was courting mother his horse knew which
corner to turn and at which house to stop on Wednesdays and Sundays.
    Uncle Willie and aunt Tillie were a handsome couple.  They were both
tall; he with black hair and she was a strawberry blonde with her hair piled
high on her head.  Uncle Willie had a mouthful of gold teeth that simply
glowed in lamplight.  I thought that was the "cat's pajama's" and couldn't
wait till I was old enough to get my own gold teeth.  When grandpa retired
they bought the farm without a house, just down the road from the homestead.
They built a house at the end of a long lane at the edge of a dense forest
(now long gone).  When we visited them I was warned not to go into the woods.
They need not have worried about my getting lost as I didn't even go near
that dark spooky woods.  Their only child died in infancy.
    Uncle August and aunt Margaretta lived on a farm in a valley near
Random Lake.  All the out-buildings and their tiny house were painted red.
and neat as a pin.  Uncle August made all of the furniture and toys in
Viola's playhouse which was in one of the sheds.

Page 26

Being an only child (after her sister died at the age of six) she was showered
with all the toys and clothes she wanted.  Every summer I spent two weeks with
them on the farm.  Aunt Margaretta churned butter to sell.  Viola and I walked
all the way to the store at Random Lake (about 3 miles)  each carrying a crock
of butter.  We stopped often to sit down at the side of the road to rest in
the shade of a tree, and to pour the sand and little stones out of our shoes.
                     I have an idea that by the time we got to the store the
butter was on the point of melting.
    When "making hay" uncle August pitched the hay up on the wagon while
Viola and I each with a pitchfork spread it out evenly so the load wouldn't
be lopsided.  As the load grew higher we had to watch our footing so as not to
fall off the load.  All the while the horses stood perfectly still till urged
to move on to the next haystack.  When at last uncle August shouted,"Full load"
we rode across the fields to the barn.  Sliding down off the load was a real
thrill that took a bit of courage.
    Uncle Louis and aunt Emma lived on a farm about a mile down the road.
Their land bordered on a small lake where papa would sometimes fish.  I was
warned to stay away from the lake as therewas dangerous quick sand .  One of
their grandchildren  later got stuck in it but was rescued in time.
    They raised green beans for the canning factory at a time when  the beans
still had strings.  I remember so well their kitchen table piled high with
beans and six or eight of us bothyoung and old sitting there stringing beans.
    Uncle Louis broke his wrist while cranking his Model T Ford.  It was
swollen and discolored for many weeks.  That was a common occurrence in the
days before self-starters.  When I was little I always felt free to climb on
uncle Louis's lap same as I did on papa's.  HE HAD A GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR
and I loved the stories he told me.  Aunt Emma was a sweet soft spoken woman.
    Papa's sister aunt Martha ans uncle Gustave livedon a farm in a large
yellow brick house.  They even had a brick summer kitchen just a few steps
from the house.  Uncle Gustave looked like Burt Reynolds, only bigger and
brawnier.  He was very anti social.  When we visited there he seldom came to
the table to eat with us.  Grandma told me that when he and aunt Martha got
married he went upstairs right after the ceremony instead of mingling with
the guests.  Once aunt Martha took me along to the county fair at West Bend.
I had never seen a merry -go-round and was thrilled to get to ride one.
Cotton candy was also a first for me that day.  Papa had to work and  so he
couln't take me to the fair .

Page 27

After papa closed the harness shop he went into the carpentry business
with John Koenig and Mr Steinke from Newberg.  One summer they built a
duplex in Milwaukee for John Koenig's sister in the Washington Park Zoo area.  The first
weekend he came home he told us about the wonders of the big city.  The animals
in the zoo, the tour he took through all the floors of Schuster's
Department Store and the ride downtown on a street car.
    He bought me a pink organdy dress with rows of ruffles.  It fit perfectly
and I was so proud of it.  He brought grandma some material for a dress.
Roy now had a brand new Model T Ford ($525.00) and papa asked him to take us
to Milaukee to the Zoo.  The very next Sunday we piled into Roy's touring car
with the top up but the curtains off, and enough lunch to feed an army.
Grandma had been to a zoo in Germany but the rest of us gaped at all the
animals that we had seen only in books or pictures.
    We couldn't find a table so we sat on the ground to eat our lunch.
The flies and ants soon found us and grandma thought eating outdoors was
a dumb idea.  I counted all the cars we met on our 40 mile trip home.
There were 84.
    When Papa and his partners finished building Hoerig's house in Fillmore
(on the N.E. corner across from Weinreich's)he told me about a special feature
in the kitchen that he wanted me to see.  One evening he took me through the
whole house.  When we got to the kitchen he asked me to open what looked
like a cupboard door.  There it was, a built in ironing board!! Now Mrs
Hoerig no longer had to balance her board on the backs of two kitchen chairs.
 They also built the house Art and Marida Crass lived in after they left
the farm.  He even took me to see a house in Racine after the family had
moved in.  There I saw my first built in bathtub.  A big improvement over
the tub with legs.  However I would have traded either one for the
galvanized wash tub that hung on a nail in the summer kitchen between baths
and washday.
    Some families had a separate little building for a summer kitchen
but ours was right in the house.  The summer kitchen played an important
part in the households of yesterday.  In late spring the living room coal
stove was carried there to stand in a corner draped in a white shroud.
The ghost-like monster frightened me when I was little.  In the opposite
corner stood the hand operated washing machine.  This is where clothes
were washed in summer.  This is where vegetables brought in from the garden