BC: The Rosary Lady Thirty-three years and 26,659 rosaries ago, Ethel Derks, "The Rosary Lady" began to string together prayer beads. "My Reward in doing all this," said Ethel, "is knowing that I'm helping others to join together in a powerful prayer for world peace." She is known in her community as “The Rosary Lady” because of her dedication to her faith, praying the rosary, making, and repairing rosaries. In fact, any postal mail simply addressed “The Rosary Lady, Bloomer, Wisconsin” was automatically placed in her mailbox. As Ethel prayerfully assembled her rosaries she'd say “Saint Theresa the Little Flower pray for us." Then as she worked with the rosary beads a sweet fragrance of roses filled the air. Ethel's handmade rosaries have been distributed world-wide. She initially handcrafted wire loops to make beaded rosaries and then expanded her craft to include crochet, cord, and knot rosaries. The Rosary lady also devoted time to creating unique “ladder” and “seed bead” rosaries. Ethel's life stories help us to know and remember that God is always present. No matter what is happening in the world, God is continually communicating his presence. He uses a multitude of methods to speak to us, such as angels, birds, a book, or miracle events. God's love is ever-present. If we are not experiencing His Love, it is because we have turned our awareness away from Him. This book is account of her inspirational life stories. It includes snapshots of her childhood, married life, humor, miracles, and beyond. Gianna Rosewood (Jane Marie Hable) Editor of Ethel Derks' Autobiography "The Rosary Lady" Faithfully Strings Beads For World Peace Mother's Day, May 12, 2013
FC: The Rosary Lady Faithfully Strings Beads for World Peace | By: Ethel Anna Katherine Bischel Hable Derks
1: Six Pound Baby Girl I was born on September 21, 1919 at 8:00 p.m. Dr. Frankle delivered me at my home farm located five miles east of Bloomer, Wisconsin. My paternal grandmother, Catherine Bischel ran the household and cooked meals to help mother and dad during this time. October 5th, 1919 was the day of my first outing. On that day, Father John Laurer christened me "Ethel Anna Kathrine Bischel" at St. Paul's Catholic Church. Sometimes I think I remember the priest pouring the water over my head. My baptism sponsors were my maternal grandfather, Wenzel Sarauer and Catherine Bischel. The image above and below (right) are from my baby book. The entries my mother wrote in this book have faded into a soft, blue ink over the last ninety-three years because she used bluing for ink. We used bluing in the laundry rinse water to make our clothes look whiter. Mother wrote with an old fashioned dip pen (it had a wood handle with a removable metal tip). When the metal tip got scratchy, she put in a new one. | My Parents My parents, Edward William Bischel and Anna M. Sarauer were married on November 26, 1918. Their attendants were Pauline Zwiefelhofer and Oscar Bischel. This is the first day that the church was reopened after being closed because of an outbreak of flu and a lot of people had died. | Ethel Anna Katherine Bischel | Mr. & Mrs. Edward Bischel Oscar Bischel & Pauline Zwiefelhofer
2: The Old Farm Where I Was Born When I opened the milk house door, my dad thought I was a bear! What I remember about the old farmhouse is that we had a strip of trees behind it and a garden all around the strip of trees with beautiful roses next to that. Behind the house we had a lot of caraway seed bushes. When the seeds were ripe, we put a white sheet under the bushes and shook the seeds out. Mother always mixed both white and rye bread with caraway seed. We also put caraway in cottage cheese, sauerkraut, and in roasts. I recall gazing across our fields over to my paternal grandparents, John and Catherine Bischel's farm. They lived close enough that I could see them, Uncle Oscar, and Aunt Mildred walking across the yard as they went about their daily chores. As for the old house I was born in, it was old. We were always warned not to go in the old part upstairs as we might step through the boards because they were so rotten. On the west side of the house, below the hill, was a big oak tree. On this tree, Dad put up a rope swing. And below the big limb was an outdoor toilet. To the northeast was a smoke house. When we butchered pigs, Dad smoked hams. East of the house was a separator house. The cows milk was brought to the separator house to be separated. Whey was a by-product we got from separating milk. We fed that to our pigs and chickens. It was my job to wash the separator. Washing it was quite a chore because it had about fifty metal disks and each had to be washed separately. Some years later, we no longer separated the milk as it was sent to the creamery in ten-gallon, metal milk cans. And because the milk cans were not insulated it was important to cool the milk to keep it from spoiling until it was delivered to the creamery. In order to cool the milk, we set the milk cans in a big tank of cold water. We had a hose running from the outside water pump into the tank. My sister, Bernice I took turns at the water pump, pumping water. Each of us would count so many strokes of the water pump handle until the tank was full. While Bernice and I were waiting for each others turn to pump water, the other one of us would be in the milk house stirring the milk with a long stick to help it cool down. Bernice is nineteen months younger than me. She was born on April 28th, 1921. One winter night, it was so cold in the milk house that Dad said, “Ethel go up to the house and get that black robe to cover the milk tank to keep the milk from freezing.” The black robe looked like bears fur. Of course, I was almost frozen too. So on the way back to the milk house I threw the robe around my shoulders. When I opened the milk house door, my dad thought I was a bear! Boy! I really scared him.
3: My Mother Did a Lot of Canning Mother did a lot of canning in two-quart jars. One year we picked and shelled forty-five quarts of peas. Mother also canned tomatoes. She really liked citron sauce and we canned a lot of that too. We grew citrons in our garden. The citron seed looks very much like a watermelon seed. They grow big and round like a watermelon. In order to can citrons, we cut them open, took out the seeds, chunked it up, added water, and sugar. We usually canned 40 quarts. I can still remember the taste of that wonderful, light yellow citron sauce. | She Took Off Her Shoe & Out Jumped a Mouse! When we got home from church, Mother always set her dressy slippers on the upstairs steps. The following Sunday, she'd put on her slippers and off to church we'd go. One Sunday, we went to dinner at Uncle Jake and Aunt Theresa Schwab’s house after church. Theresa is Mother's sister. We were eating and Mother said, “I don't care what you think, I can't stand wearing my slippers any longer.” She pushed her chair away from the dinner table, took off her shoe, and out jumped a mouse! Before long, there was a dead mouse. After dinner Bernice, my cousins, Lucy and Florine Schwab, and I played outside. We walked up to the hill and picked winter green leaves and berries. Uncle Jake lived north of Bloomer on Highway 64. | In Back: Aunt Teresa Sarauer Schwab Left: Ethel's mother, Anna Sarauer Bischel Seated: Aunt Rose Sarauer Dudak | Little Ethel & Her Puppy
4: The Old Farmhouse Was Very Cold In The Winter & We Had Outdoor Toilets Let's go back to the old house. That old house was very cold in the wintertime. We only used the kitchen and closed all the doors leading to other rooms. One door was covered with cardboard and slatted around the edge on the outside. The upstairs was even colder. It had just one room with a brick chimney running through it. My bedroom was up there. Bernice and I would undress, quickly put on our nightgown, and run to our beds. We were both afraid of stepping on a mouse before we got our feet off the floor. As soon as we hopped into bed we laid back to back to get our bodies and the quilts warm. We'd say our prayers together, watch the stars twinkle through the ceiling where the shingles were missing, and listen to the lightening rods twist and twirl on the rooftop. We took our baths in a washtub. We also had outdoor toilets. In the middle of the night, my sister and I would accompany one another to the toilet. We used old catalogs for toilet tissue, which was sorta rough. It sometimes balled up in the toilet hole so high that we'd have to sit aside. After Mother and Dad decided to build a new house, the old rotten part of the house was sawed off right next to the upstairs steps and was closed off with boards. Then they hooked up the good part of the house and moved it very slowly off its foundation half way down the hill. With the house sitting on a hill, part of the kitchen floor slopped downward. I'll never forget the time when I was only seven years old. It was time to eat dinner. I was sitting on the south side of the table and I fell backwards in my chair because the floor was slopped. Everyone laughed. The fall surprised me but I thought it was funny too. While we were still living in the old part of the house, Mother had to cook all summer for the three carpenters who were building the new addition. Mother was a good cook and always baked pies. She was pregnant with her fourth child, Vernon who was born on September 28, 1926. A few weeks after Vernon was born, we moved into the new house. It was very windy & cold that day. I can still see Mother wrapping Vernon up in a blanket to go into our new home; she laid him on the table in the dining room which had three windows facing west. Vernon often liked to say, "That's where she always laid me. And because the sun was shining on my back end, I grew a lot hair on my body.” Vernon really did have a great mass of hair on his body. I never saw anyone with so much hair. His body looked like a fuzzy bear. Vernon didn't have the same luck on his head. He went bald by the time he turned seventeen.
5: I Was Too Young To Milk Cows At night, we sat alone in the dark in fear of tipping over a kerosene lamp. At night, after supper, when Bernice and I were too young to help milk cows, we sat alone in the dark in fear of tipping over a kerosene lamp. Baby Jerome was put to bed, and we hoped he wouldn't wake. Jerome is the third child born into our family on January 14, 1925. Bernice and I would sit and watch the light from the crackling fire in the wood stove. It seemed like a long time every night before Mother and Dad finished milking. Dad had to finish feeding and bedding up the cows and put the milk out in the milk house before they could come back to the house. One night, I had to fetch Dad before he was done with chores. It all started when Dad picked up old Mr. Winzig. Old Mr. Winzig lived with his son John but always ran away. Dad thought he'd take care of the man by picking him up and bringing him to our house for supper. Mr. Winzig always carried a two-quart tin syrup pail. In it, he kept his tobacco. After supper, Dad and Mother went milking. So Bernice and I were alone in the house with old Mr. Winzig. He decided to go into Mother and Dad's bedroom next to the kitchen. I was going to follow him but he said, “NO” and closed the door. There wasn't any electricity and it was dark. Before long, he came out of the bedroom and went outside. He walked out near the water pump. It was winter so there was slippery ice nearby. He fell, got up, and started walking along the fence out into the field. I ran to the barn to get Dad. Dad went after old Mr. Winzig and took him home while Mother finished milking the cows. I went into the bedroom to see what Mr. Winzig had done. Mother had a nice gray vanity set with three mirrors. On it stood fifteen-inch high statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. Mr. Winzig had taken these statues and set them on the floor side-by-side without breaking anything. The next day Old Mr. Winzig ran away again. No one ever found him. We think he got into a deep swamp and died. May he rest in peace. Lamps, Lanterns, & Bed Bugs On Saturdays, my job was to fill lamps and lanterns with kerosene, clean the wicks, and wash the lamp chimneys. If it was a gas lamp, I had to pump air into it. If there wasn't enough oxygen in the house for the lamps to burn bright, I opened the doors to let in fresh air. Every spring and fall the house got a special cleaning. The bed mattresses were taken outside and Bernice and I had to pound out the dust with a broom. If you ask me, we pounded the dust in. And some of those mattresses had bed bugs so they needed to be sprayed.
6: Christmas Eve Santa came while we were gone. I often think of the winter months. It was so cold. One Christmas eve Dad took Bernice and I to midnight mass. He hooked the horses to the sleigh and put bells on the harnesses. We used warm robes and dressed heavy. The stars were shining bright. We rode down our long driveway, then went north toward John Winzig's farm, turned right going the length of that road, came down past golf coarse hill, and arrived at church in Bloomer. After mass was over, the blankets were cold. We threw the blankets around our heads and took off for home. That sled sure rode smooth and the bells jingled in the air as the horses galloped along. | Dad had the cold job. He had to take the horses to the barn and unharness them. Of coarse, Santa came while we were gone. Pictured here on the right is a storybook I got when I was five years old. I'm surprised Mother found a book like this. The name of the book is “Play Days” and it has a lot of nice poems in it. When I opened the book to the first page, I was so pleased to find my own name on the poem shown above entitled "Ethel's Family". | I Sat On His Shoulders We always had a pretty Christmas play at school. Each one of us learned our part. One year, I wore a white dress that had silver tinsel draped over it. In another play, the biggest boy in our class was supposed to be really tall like he was on stilts. So the teacher sat me on his shoulders to make him look taller.
7: Farm Chores We had to clean the manure out of the horse barn. I always had to get up at five a.m. by the time I was five years old. We had around twenty-five sheep and I had to pump water by hand for them to drink. I'd carry hay, ground feed, or clover chaff in a bushel basket to feed them. Sometimes, the bushel basket wire handles were off and I'd have to grip the sides of the basket. And as for the clover chaff, I often wonder why I didn't just put a gunnysack over myself to keep the wind from blowing that chaff down my neck. Maybe I was too short to be wearing a gunnysack. I don't know. Watering the sheep was the worst. If I filled the water-pail too full, I’'d slop it on me and get wet. Sometimes I'd make several trips to get enough water to the sheep. Farm chores can be a real messy job. When I was about five years old, a lamb didn't want to nurse. I had to sit down and put ground feed in its mouth. Then I would feed it milk with a bottle and nipple that I brought to the barn from the house. We kept this lamb in the barn because it was warmer than in the sheep shed. I sure didn't like picking ticks off the sheep. Nor did I like going through the barnyard everyday to pick up the sheep turds. I also had to pick up cow pies with a pitchfork and throw them on a pile that would be loaded into the manure spreader. These filthy tasks made it necessary for me wash my overshoes before I hurried off to school. When I was around seven, we had a straw pile near the barn about the length of one quarter of a city block. Next to the straw pile we had corn stalk bundles that had been hauled in from the field. They were piled four-feet wide and five-feet high the length of the straw pile. We had around five of these piles. My brothers and sisters played hide and seek with me around these bundles. During the winter, we'd go to the straw pile with a backward tined fork to pull out the straw. Sometimes it wasn't easy to get the straw loose. The next chore was to put the straw together in order to carry it into the barn with a fork. Since I was so small, I liked the ten tined pitchforks because it had a shorter handle. The straw was used to bed down the calves, cows, and horses. Sometimes, Dad had as many as seven or eight horses. One of the horses was tied in a single stall and I'd need to get past her to get into the barn. I'd shout, “COME ON – GET OVER!” and the horse would step aside to let me through between her and the wall. I rushed through the opening as fast as I could. It sure took a lot of straw to bed down all those horses, two calf pens, and about twenty cows. Anyway, we liked it best on Sundays because we observed our Catholic custom of going to Mass and it's a day of rest so we didn't have to carry straw, husk corn bundles, or do extra unnecessary work. But when Monday came, we had to clean the manure out of the horse barn. Imagine, the horses with their hooves packing it down. It was really hard to get the manure to slide down the gutter, especially if corn stalks were mixed in with it. When I cleaned the horse barn, I'd start at the west door and push the manure with a shovel to the door on the other side of the barn. Dad would load it on spreader or the sled if the snow was too deep. Then he'd take the manure to the field and spread it out by hand with a fork. When he got back, I'd have the horses bedded down with straw and the door open for the cows to go outside. On Saturdays, I had the job of cleaning the manure out of two calf pens.
8: Wash Day As a three year old, I had to help Mother when she washed clothes. Doing laundry required a lot more work when I was a little girl than it does today. Keep in mind that we had no electricity or running hot water. By the time I was four, on the days when Mother did laundry, after my sister Bernice and I finished our regular farm chores, and before we could eat supper, we had to fill the copper boiler with water from the hand pump outside. Of course being small it was hard to haul water in the bucket from the pump across the long porch into the house. Sometimes I accidentally spilled a bit of water and my stockings got wet. We also had to carry a pail of water into the house for drinking. That was put aside with a water dipper in it. Next, we needed to carry in wood to start a fire in the big, black wood stove. Then we used the hot stove top to heat water. And finally, we set up the folding bench to hold two square tubs used for rinse water. Once in a while, when Mother had time, she would surprise us when we got home from school by having these chores done. | To wash the clothes, Mother ran clothes through the wash machine that we pumped back and forth with our foot until they were clean. Then we put the clothes into the first tub of rinse water. The second rinse water was blue because we put bluing in the water to make our clothes come out looking whiter and brighter. Before we had a washing machine, our clothes were rubbed on washboards. We used a hand wringer with a handle that turned. I stood on my tippy toes on top of a chair in order to reach the handle. Otherwise I couldn't reach the handle when it got to the top of the turn. That was important because I had to be careful not to wring the whole piece of clothing through so the next piece would catch easier. Later, my grandpa Bischel bought Mother, Aunt Ida, and Aunt Mildred a gas Maytag. It used a quart of oil mixed with gas. We stepped on a pedal and pulled on a wire to get it started. Sometimes it would get flooded and it wouldn't go. We also had to have a hole in the door to run the exhaust fumes outside. In the wintertime, we had clothes lines in the old part of the house and hung our clothes out there to dry. | Feather Pillows When I was four years old, Grandma Bischel, Aunt Mildred, Mother and I had a feather strip gathering. We used chicken, geese, or duck feathers. We'd take a feather and strip it off the stiff centerpiece. We threw the stiff center away. It was a messy job! We didn't dare make any breeze. The feathers would fly all over. We had feathers in our hair and up our noses. It took a long time to strip feathers for one pair of pillows. Sometimes it took two or three days. Fine feathers make the best pillows. On Sundays in the fall of the year, they used to have a chicken, duck, and goose shoot. Dad went to these. Bernice and I got to go along and played with other kids. Mother was glad to have an afternoon alone. Occasionally, Mother went along if she knew a relative or friend was there to visit with. We always cleaned the birds by plucking the feathers out instead of scalding them so we could use them for pillows. Anyway, in my pillows, the feathers are not scratchy. I cannot sleep on polyester or cotton filled ones. I did buy two feather pillows as mine were to the point where they were getting pretty well smashed. And then what do you suppose? The darn feathers were chopped and I had to be careful, as the stiff stick would come through the ticking. So I went back to using my old pillows.
9: Grandma Bischel Made Coats Mother didn't like it when my grandma Bischel made coats for us from her old ones. I'm not sure they were hers. I wonder where she got them. I know I had a black one that had the sleeves turned up inside with a big hem. The next year, it was a little nicer to wear because the hems could be let down. Then the year after that a big red ruffle was put on the coat to lengthen it. So the coat lasted three years. We also had leggings to put on. One year I had a pair of shoes that went over my ankles with buttons. I used a button hook to fasten them. Then I also had overshoes that had to be washed off before coming in from the barn so I could wear them to school. Mother Sewed Our Dresses Mother always made nice clothes for us. She bought material and sewed our dresses. We had two dresses. One week we wore one to school and changed when we got home to go to the barn. The next week we put on the other one. We had another dress that was saved for Sundays. We never wore pants. It was not acceptable for us to be dressed in slacks or shorts. In winter, we had long sleeves and leg lined underwear with long stockings to go over the underwear. We kept our stockings up with a garter belt. In back of the pants part of the underwear, was a flap of fabric, a drop seat, which had buttons on the corner to hold it up. I called it a barn door. I had to reach back between my legs and pull it to the front when going to the toilet. I had to be careful with this particular piece of clothing to avoid making a real mess! We were always happy when spring came so we could get rid of the underwear and wear anklets. For school, I carried a book bag over my shoulder. In winter, we had long knitted scarves we wrapped around our head. And when we got to school, our eyelashes and the hair in our nose was all frosted. We also wore knitted woolen mittens and our fingers got cold carrying our metal dinner pail. | Ethel, Jerome, Bernice, & Vernon | Image From Ethel's Baby Book
10: I Learn How to Milk Cows One day my dad said, “Well Ethel, now that you are nine years old you have to learn to milk cows.” Sometimes we had to go out in the dark to get the cows. One cow always wore a cowbell. That made it easier to locate the cows. Once in a while, the cows would surprise us and already be at the barn. I couldn't sit on the three-legged milking stool my dad used. So I sat on a little bench made especially for me. My legs were so short that I could hardly hold the milk-pail between them, much less try to keep the cow next to the one I was milking from pushing me. First, I had to wash and rub the cow's bag so she would let her milk down. Then I was taught how to milk a cow by hand. If the cow was an easy milker, it didn't take long to finish milking her. The next hard part of this job was to get up and step across the gutter. Remember, I'm short and it's quite a task to step across the gutter with a pail full of milk. After getting across the gutter, the milk was poured into a strainer that had a milk pad in it to catch any dirt in the milk. Then I'd place a cover back over the strainer to keep the flies out. It wasn't a pleasant job when the cows would switch their tails and hit me in the eyes. And if they squatted to take a piss I would get a leg bath. Oh, what fun I had! I liked it in the summer time when I finished milking each cow; I could open the stanchion and let her out of the barn to graze in the pasture over night. The cows also got sore teats from the wind and sun and would kick when I milked them so I applied salve to heal their wounds. And then there were those annoying flies that would nest on the cow's backs and bite them. I was in charge of filling the fly sprayer with insecticide. Then I'd need to go in between each cow and spray their backs. When the milking was done, the hay had to be thrown down from the haymow. To get into the haymow, I had to lift a door and hook its strap onto a peg to hold it open. The door was very heavy for me to lift. It was about three-quarters the size of a regular door. After I got the door open, I would climb a long ladder to get to the peak of the barn. Next, I'd try to pull myself up to get into the haymow. When I finally managed to get into the haymow, I used a pitchfork to loosen the hay and sometimes it was so bound up, I could hardly get it loose. After that, I'd throw it down and push it to the hay shoot. Of course, on Saturdays, I would have to throw down a double batch of hay because we didn't do extra work on Sundays. In July, after the corn crop grew to about five feet tall, Dad chopped some down. Then I would have to feed the green corn stalks to the cows in the field after I was done milking. Every morning and night, we led the horses out to a big washtub behind the milk house to drink water. I had the job of pumping water. There was a trough hooked onto the hand pump that ran into the washtub. I needed to pump as fast as I could to keep the tub from getting empty while Dad got the next horse. This chore was especially difficult when it was cold out or if it was hot. It was even worse when mosquitoes kept biting me. Dad would stand and wait to see if a horse wanted more. He'd say, “Come on Maude drink!” Saturdays were nice because we didn't use the work horses in the fields the next day. In that case, we unharnessed the horses and put them out to pasture. They'd run free in the barnyard; shaking off their sweat and dust. Afterwards, they trotted to the creek for water and fed on grass all weekend. This was good because it made it easier to clean the manure out of the barns.
11: Nice Hard Egg Shells & Chicken Noodle Soup For a nice hard shell on the eggs, we mixed broken plates and cups with oyster shells. I was in charge of breaking the dishes. I put them on a rock and chipped off small bits with a hammer to mix with the oyster shells. I had to be careful not to get the bits in my eyes when I smashed them and then fed them to the chickens. My mother used to spend an entire day making noodles for chicken soup. We cut the noodles and then hung them on wooden cloths bars to dry. Then we stored them to use in the winter. Dad always wanted chicken noodle soup on Sunday. | The Task of Raising Chicks The separator house stood empty after we started sending our milk to the creamery, so Mother set clucks in there. Sometimes we had as many as ten to twelve of them sitting on a dozen eggs or more to keep them warm so they'd hatch. However, if the cluck was smaller, we'd only put twelve eggs in the nest. So every day I'd take them feed and water. It was hard for me because I wasn't tall enough to get the separator house door open. To get the door open I had to stand on a block of wood and crawl up to get inside. If a cluck wasn't sitting on the eggs to keep them warm, out she went. Then I'd replace her with another cluck from the chicken coop that was down the lane that led to the creek. After three weeks, the eggs would hatch and we'd be busy feeding little chicks. The clucks knew their own chicks. So if a chick that wasn't hers came near, she pecked at it. We also had to be sure to keep the cats away from the chicks so they wouldn't get eaten. There was a coop south of the separator house where we kept the chicks until they got bigger. On a nice day, the clucks and her chicks wandered out in the grass and into the field. This put them in danger because once in a while a chicken hawk swooped down and got it. Mother always put the eggs in crates that held fifteen dozen. She would have two or three of these crates put into the basement for the winter. Each day the crates were turned. We did this for about three weeks so the egg yolk stayed centered. We kept these eggs to use in the winter because the chickens didn't lay eggs then. | Little Ethel at her grandpa John Bischel’s farm with the chickens
12: Spooked Horses Every year a farmer came around with his threshing machine. The threshing machine separated the stalks and husks from the grain. This produced a large straw pile and bushels of grain that we put into sacks and stored in the granary. Around six a.m., the owner of the threshing machine arrived. He'd get the machine started to warm it up. Then he blew a whistle at seven a.m. to let everyone know it was time to begin work. One morning my brother Vernon got caught off guard when the farmer blew his whistle; it spooked the horses that were hitched to the wagon on which he was standing. The horses took off across the field to the west. We were all frightened by this turn of events. When horses run away, they are blind. They don't stop for anything. Would Vernon survive? However, this time the horses did stop when they came to a rock pile on the edge of the field. We were relieved to find Vernon only a bit bruised and scraped-up and not seriously hurt. | The Hayfork Pulley Lift System Dad had a 160-acre farm. When the hay was ready to be cut, I had to drive the horse to unload the hay. In order to load the hay, horses were hitched to a hay loader that was attached to a wagon. The horses were driven along a windrow of hay (hay that has been raked into a row and allowed to dry). The hay loader picked up the dried hay and dumped it onto the wagon. Then the wagon full of hay was brought back to the barn. Now it was my turn to drive the horse so we could unload the hay into the haymow. To unload the hay we used a hayfork that had four gigantic long tines. The hayfork was attached to a pulley lift system with a carrier track at the top-center of the barn in the haymow. Using a rope attached to the pulley lift system, Dad lowered the hayfork down to the wagon loaded with hay and stuck it into the hay. In the meantime, I waited on the opposite side of the barn in the barnyard with our horse, Maude. She was hitched to a big heavy rope connected to the pulley lift system. When the fork was set, Dad yelled, “GO”. Then I had Maude move ahead to pull the forkful of hay up and into the haymow. Once in the haymow, the hayfork rolled horizontally on a carrier track. When the hay got to the place where we wanted to dump it, Dad jerked on the rope. This tripped the hayfork, making it drop the hay into the haymow below. At that point, I had Maude stop and back up, and then I dragged the heavy rope back along the ground to its original position to make it easier for Dad to pull the hayfork out again. We repeated this process over and over until the wagon was empty. | Vernon, Bernice, & Ethel
13: I Hated Shocking Barley My dad cut oats, barley, and corn with a horse hitched to a binder. I often had the responsibility of oiling the binders. The grain binder had a large apron on it. As chains went around the apron, it would elevate and then after three or four bundles of grain were collected, and the binder released and dropped the bundles in the windrow to be shocked. To make a shock, we stacked seven bundles of grain together. The seventh bundle was bent down with the hand to put a cap on the shock to keep the rain out. The shocks were easier to set in the evening because the bundles began to get a little damp. If there were thistles in them, it wasn't so nice to handle. I hated shocking barley. That was the worst! The barley beards were terrible to harvest because the sharp, spiky beards would scratch and stab us. Even though we wore shoes, the hay, corn, and oats stubbles would sometimes pierce our legs. In our family, we (girls) always had to wear dresses in the field and were never permitted to wear pants. Black Smut Fungus After the grain shocks were standing for about ten days, depending on the weather, a threshing crew came. The horses pulled the wagons that were loaded with bundles. The bundles were taken to the threshing machine to separate the stalks and husks from the grain. The grain went into sacks and the men carried them on their shoulders to the granary, dumped it out, and then returned for another sack full. The threshing machine blew straw out the other side through a big chute. So someone had to build a straw-pile. It was the dirtiest job of all as the chaff was very itchy or if the grain was infected with black smut fungus – it was black. As a result, the man who built the straw pile would literally end up totally black. | Our Corn Crop The job of planting corn started with putting seed corn into the planter. Then we spent a whole day planting corn. About a week later, we hitched up the horses to blind cultivate crosswise, across the cornrows. Blind cultivating helps to uproot very small weeds but avoids uprooting the crop. We also had to walk barefooted through the field's dry, hard ground and pick rock. As the corn came up, it was cultivated again to keep down the weeds. The next thing we had to do was to harvest the corn. First, Bernice and I went up and down the cornrows and snapped out the real large corncobs to be husked and dried. We stripped the husks off the cobs using a husking pin. The husking pin had a rope on it so we could securely fasten it to our hand. Otherwise, the husking pin would slip off and get lost in a bundle. After drying, the corncob was put into a hand crank corn sheller. We put the cob in the sheller, turned the crank and the teeth of the sheller pulled the cob down; it took the kernels off the cob, and dropped the kernels into a box below. Next, we cut down the corn stalks. We used a single-row-horse-corn-binder to do that. Then we shocked the corn stalks. Being small and short, the bundles were heavy and much taller than me. So this required my sister's help. Bernice and I would stand up two bundles and one of us would hold onto them while the other one set up six or seven more bundles. Dad would help too. He tied the twine around the bundle about two feet above the ground and again at the top of the shock. Shocks were set in straight rows around the field leaving about eight corn stubble rows between. Bernice and I also went around the field and picked up the corncobs that fell when the corn stalks were cut down and threw the corncobs on piles.
14: What Is Bluing? Laundry Days Years Ago Bluing is used to mask the gray or yellow soap film left on the fabric. It makes white fabrics look whiter. You may notice that many of our modern day laundry detergents have blue in them. There are various ways to make bluing. One method used is a water-based colloidal suspension of very finely powdered blue iron. Years ago, laundry day was just one of the many labor-intensive chores. Women took pride in how clean they made their clothes. They didn't have synthetic fabrics, most everything was cotton and it required a lot more care. Women spent hours ironing clothes. And people didn't use paper tissues to blow their nose. Instead, they used a handkerchief that needed to be washed and ironed. Many adults performed hard labor on farms or in factories. These activities resulted in heavily soiled laundry. Children worked and played hard outside rather than being indoors watching television, playing with computers, sending text messages, or talking with friends on their cell phone. | My First Quilt Around the middle of May, the sheep were sheared, the wool was spun, washed, and knitted into mittens or socks, or it was taken to the spinning mill. At the spinning mill, the wool was made into two or three pound bats to use in making quilts. To make a quilt, we'd spread out a piece of cotton material and unroll the woolen bat to fit the material. Then we put another piece of material over that. Next, we attached the quilt to a quilting frame and tied the fabric and wool together with yarn. The very first quilt I ever made was a "Sun Bonnet Girl" quilt. It had fifteen-inch blocks that were sewn together with strips of plain material the length of the quilt. Then I hand-stitched around the Sun Bonnet Girl and the strips with a needle and thread. It took a long time to finish so the quilting frame was set-up in the dining room for several days. When I was too small to make quilts, Bernice and I had fun playing under the quilting frame. It was set-up on chairs to support the four corners of the quilt. I Crocheted Judy's Wedding Dress & More... I crocheted many things in my life. I made baptism caps and dresses, my daughter's first communion dress, my daughter, Judy's wedding dress (photo above-left), vests, table clothes, doilies, lace, fine trim on pillow cases, rosaries, and more. I crocheted over 325 hearts (shown above, right) and gifted them to people. | Judy on her Wedding Day, January 8, 1977 Ethel Crocheted her Wedding Dress
15: School Days The toilet was west of the school almost a city block away. How old was I when I started school? I was old. My birthday is on September 21st but I needed to be six years old by September 1st, so I had to wait until I was seven to start school. Dad asked if I could start school because I was only a few weeks too young, but they said no. It's a law. Her birthday is after the first of September. Bernice and I walked a mile to Woodmohr School southeast of Bloomer. Woodmohr School is now Woodmohr town hall. In the winter, when I walked to school, I sometimes got very cold. We carried our lunch in a two quart metal syrup pail and also a book bag. Our fingers got really cold carrying that metal pail. Our school had one teacher that taught all eight grades in one room. I had Malvina Zeckerle for my first four years of school. Then Mill Abel taught me in fifth and sixth grade. She rented a room from Aunt Ida and Uncle Oscar Bischel. Aunt Ida was a teacher but she never taught after getting married. In the 7th grade, Sister Julietta was my teacher at St. Paul's Catholic School. I went back to the country school in the 8th grade and had Elsie Polanski as a teacher. Some days it was so cold at school that the teacher had us go into the basement and warm-up around the wood furnace. Our lard sandwiches were frozen so we thawed them out. The toilet was west of the school house almost a city block away. We had to hand-pump our drinking and wash water into pails. We used our own drinking cup, soap, and a towel that we brought to school from home. During recess, we played tag, drop the handkerchief, hop scotch, jump rope, hide and seek, and baseball. We were also assigned chores. We had to sweep the floor, take down the flag, and throw wood into the basement for the furnace. The wood was piled outside in three feet high long rows. East of the school, the Rondeau residence (no longer there) had foster children living with them. One of these children was a boy whose last name was Weirline. This boy owned a big police dog. After school, he used his dog to hold us kids back and wouldn't let us go home. This continued until Mrs. Zeckerle put an end to it. They Found Mr. Jones Frozen to Death Dad never took us to school or picked us up except for one night when I was about nine years old. This happened around the 14th of March. When we walked up the school road, we usually met Mr. Jones going to Bloomer with his one horse-buggy. On this spring day, it was nice and warm in the morning. In the afternoon, the wind switched to the northwest and it started to snow. It blew so hard, Dad took the sled and some blankets and came to the school to get Bernice, some of the other kids, and me and took us home. That night it was so cold and the drifts were so high that Mr. Jones was unable to drive his one-horse buggy. So he tied his horse in a shed on the corner of old Highway 53 and began walking home. Unfortunately, Mr. Jones never made it home. The next day he was found frozen to death near Mr. Valencamp’s farm.
16: I Win First Prize In 4th grade, I drew and colored two pictures and framed them with teal, yellow, and black construction paper. The pictures illustrate the story of Aesop's fable, "The Fox and the Stork." The first picture on the left shows the fox in his home serving a meal with his guest, the stork. The meal is being served on plates. The plate made it awkward for the stork to eat because of her long beak. The second drawing, below is of the fox as a guest at the stork's house. In this drawing, the stork serves the meal in a tall long necked vase. This made it impossible for fox to eat his meal. I displayed my artwork at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. I was so happy to win first prize. I received a ribbon that was tacked onto my drawing with a common pin (see the upper left hand corner of my drawing above-left). The reward was one dollar! That was a lot of money in 1929. I did not get to keep the money but instead had to give it to my dad. | The Fox & the Stork At one time the Fox and the Stork were on visiting terms and seemed very good friends. So the Fox invited the Stork to dinner, and for a joke put nothing before her but some soup in a very shallow dish. This the Fox could easily lap up, but the Stork could only wet the end of her long bill in it, and left the meal as hungry as when she began.“ I am sorry,” said the Fox, “the soup is not to your liking.” "Pray do not apologize," said the Stork. "I hope you will return this visit, and come and dine with me soon." So a day was appointed when the Fox should visit the Stork; but when they were seated at the table all that was for their dinner was contained in a very long-necked jar with a narrow mouth, in which the Fox could not insert his snout, so all he could manage to do was to lick the outside of the jar. "I will not apologize for the dinner," said the Stork. Moral of Aesop's Fable: "One bad turn deserves another."
17: Our Sunday Best Dresses The day before our church holy days of obligation, my parents wrote a note for the teacher. The note explained that Bernice and I would be a few hours late the next day because we had to go to mass at St. Paul's Catholic Church in Bloomer. During mass, the priest always had his back to the people. We had to pay pew rent and everyone had their own pew. Our family sat about ten pews from the front on the north side of the church. After mass, Dad dropped us off at school in the country around eleven o'clock am. We wore our Sunday best dresses for church. So on these days we got to wear our church clothes to school. Bernice and I sure thought we were smart, because the other girls that didn't go to Mass were dressed differently and they got sorta jealous. I Was Running Late To School I was seven years old when I ran late getting to school one day. It happened on a sunny September morning as I scurried down the hill from the old house, climbed over the gate by the chicken coop, crossed the lane, crawled under the fence, and ran south across our field where the sheep were grazing. I worried the sheep-buck would get me. I got about one quarter of the way across the field, and sure enough, he saw me. He started charging after me, so I dropped to the ground and did not move hoping Dad would see me. He did! I thought Dad would never get there. The buck was afraid of Dad. So when Dad came, I jumped up, sprinted as fast as I could, dived under the fence at the edge of the field, scrambled through the ditch, and finally got on the road to school. I arrived late so I had to explain to the teacher and other kids my exciting adventure. | My Bottom Was Red Hot! When we got home from school, we had to hurry, change clothes, and get to the barn. One night it was very windy and way below zero. On my way home from school, I met my dad going to the creek with the cows. Dad was going down to the creek with an ax to break a hole in the ice. Then he'd come back home to let the cows out of the barn and follow them down to see that they all drank. I knew Dad expected me to be at the barn to let the cows in so their teats wouldn't freeze. That night he was ahead of schedule or apparently, I was running late for chores. After meeting Dad, I hurried as fast as could. I changed my clothes quickly but I couldn't get to barn fast enough to open the door when the first cows came back. That night my Dad put me across his lap, pulled my pants down, and hit my bottom so hard with his big hand, I thought he'd never stop. Finally, my mother said, “For God's sake Ed, quit!” My bottom was so red and hot I could hardly sit for a few days. In school, I tried to sit on the edge of the seat. Oh well, it did heal up, Thank God. | Ethel & Bernice
18: My Holy Communion & St. Paul's Catholic School I went to St. Paul's Catholic School in the 7th grade in preparation for the Sacrament of Holy Communion. I received a special prayer book and rosary for my Holy Communion. The rosary was my best friend when I was a child. For this special occasion, my grandma Bischel took an Easter Cactus she had in bloom to church. She set it on a three-foot tall jewel encrusted pedestal. It was so beautiful. I made my Holy Communion on the 28th day of May in 1933. Father Paul Pitzenberger performed the ceremony. It was a sunny day but the wind was very chilly. I stayed with Grandma and Grandpa Bischel during the school week. My grandparents had moved to town and lived on the southeast end of Main Street in Bloomer. Sometimes I had to walk from the family farm all the way into Bloomer on Old Highway 53’s gravel road. Old Highway 53 is now Double S. When I got to the railroad tracks southeast of Bloomer, I was glad because I knew I was almost to my grandparents house. During Lent, it was different because Dad would come to town and join us at church for the Stations of the Cross and Benediction at 3:00 pm. Then I could ride home with him. One day, on the way to Grandpa and Grandma's, I found a fifty-cent piece on the road. It was so battered I could hardly see that it was fifty cents. When I showed Dad the fifty cent piece, he took it. He was so happy to get it. Dad never let us kids have money. However, he did give Grandma Bischel money so we could get an ice cream cone on our way home from school. All I could think about all day in school was that five-cent ice cream cone. I could hardly wait until school got out at 3:30 in the afternoon. We often took a two quart pail of milk to my grandparents on Sundays. Grandpa Bischel sometimes came out to the farm to rake hay or help hoe. One day, when I came home for dinner at my grandparents house, I had to eat in a hurry and get back to school. I'm not sure if we had a half an hour or one hour during lunch. That day Grandpa said, "tonight I'm making supper." When he said that, we all knew supper would be late, as it took him forever to make thin and crispy potato pancakes. Of course, he wasn't hungry because he ate while he made them. After I got home from school that night, supper wasn't served right away. While I waited, I finished all my homework, swept the big porch outside, and mowed some lawn with an old push lawn mower with blades that twirl around. Finally, at 7 o'clock, Grandpa opened the living room door and announced, "it's ready." We ate our supper, did the dishes, and then he said "You all rested so now we can play pinochle." We couldn't blame him for taking so long to make supper because there was five of us to feed. Angel of God, My Guardian Dear Visit we beseech thee Oh Lord this home, and keep away from it the snares of thine enemy. May the Holy Angels dwell here in and keep us in peace, Amen. Angel of God, my guardian dear, To whom His love commits me here, Ever this night be at my side, To light and guard,To rule and guide. Amen.
19: Better Than a Sleeping Pill Roll over and relax. Think about the life of Jesus. Meditate on him as a child growing up. Joseph and Mary had to go to Jerusalem to register. After Jesus was two years old, they went back to Bethlehem as King Herod wanted two kill all boys under the age of two. Or think of Jesus at age twelve teaching in the Temple. Meditate on his life after he left home. I can go on and on with this meditation. See him catching fish and walking on water. Actually, the other night, in my sleep, I went to meet Jesus on the water, I didn't fall in, and then I woke up. Try this meditation to fall asleep. It's better then warm milk or a sleeping pill. | “I'd Like to Become a Nun” After being in the country school, I felt like my classmates at St. Paul's Catholic School were smarter. If I had to speak, I was nervous and my heart pounded. Sister Julietta was my teacher. I loved Sister Julietta. She was so nice. I thought it would be wonderful to become a nun. So I told my mother, “I think I'd like to become a nun.” Mother said, “You must be foolish!” I don't know why she said that. I think it was because we didn't have any money. I never said any more about becoming a nun after that. | Ethel, Ethel's mother holding Cecilia, Ethel's dad, Bernice, Vernon, Jeanette, Jerome | Ethel's Holy Communion
20: All That Farm Labor Pulled My Body Down My grandma Bischel always patted me on the back and said, "Ethel throw your shoulders back." You are going to end up hump backed. I do feel better if I throw my shoulders back but I just cannot keep them back. Grandpa Bischel always said to my dad, “Ed you are making those girls work too hard.” Yes, I feel that while I was growing my bones were still soft and all that extremely hard farm labor just pulled me down. I often wonder when I was real small why they had me lying on the bed with a lite candle placed in my navel and a glass over it. Was it the doctor's orders? I really don't remember how long I laid there or if they did it more than one day. Tonsillectomy I was so sick with a sore throat when I was nine years old. Dad took me to the doctor in Bloomer. Then he took me to St. Joseph's Hospital in Chippewa Falls where I had a tonsillectomy. After surgery, a nun came in my room to make my bed. She picked me off the bed, sheets and all, and sat me on the floor. When she finished, she put me back in bed. | Appendicitis When I was eleven, I had so much pain in my right side that my dad took me to the doctor. I was diagnosed with an appendicitis. I had my appendix out on August 19, 1930 at St. Joseph's Hospital in Chippewa Falls. I recovered from surgery in room 322. Breast Cancer In 1993, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. A mastectomy was performed on my left breast. They went deep into my lymph glands to get it all. I refused chemotherapy treatments. Kidney Infection & Stroke I went through many trials with kidney infection and a stroke for two and half months from January through March 2008. During this time, I had to be away from my lovely apartment. It was so difficult being in the hospital and then in the care of Hetzel's Nursing Home. Fortunately, I had prayer to support me in my recovery. Each day I prayed the rosary. I also continued to make cord rosaries when I was able while I was recovering. My Baby Toe On February 19, 2013 I went to the hospital to have surgery. My little toe on my left foot got infected so I had it removed at 12 o'clock and was home at the Country Terrace assisted living by 2:30 that afternoon. It was very painful and took a lot of time to heal. | Helen Brown At a class reunion a gentleman walked up to a lady and said, “You look like Helen Brown.” She said, “You don't look so good in blue either.” Helpful Lady This may sound funny but today a lady helped me. I didn't see the lady, and the lady didn't see me. I was in a public bathroom. This lady came into the stall next to me. I said, "Ma'am, is there toilet paper in there? She said, “Yes” unrolled some, handed it under the stall. Did her work and left. She didn't see me, and I didn't see her. Thanks to that lady, she helped me out in a time of need. She went her way, and I went mine. Clogged Sink? Do you have problems with your sink draining? Close the drain and add one quart water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup vinegar. Then add 1/4 cup baking soda. As quick as it foams up, open up the drain. Flush well with water. Repeat as necessary. It does a good job. It's cheaper and better than "Draino". Good Peanuts! A lady riding the bus was seated behind the driver. She kept handing him peanuts. The bus driver asked, "where did you get such good peanuts?" She said, “I just suck the chocolate off and hand them to you, my teeth are too poor to chew them.
21: Tear Down That Old Granary! The summer of 1929 was very hot. The grass dried up, turned prickly brown, and it hurt to walk barefooted on it. One day, Dad came into the house and said, ”Ethel, you and Bernice are going to tear down that old granary before someone gets hurt.” Just below the hill to the southwest of the house we had an old granary. The north part of the granary was practically on the ground. The south side was propped-up about two feet on blocks. We would crawl under it because chickens laid eggs way under the north side. We'd have to crawl on our bellies to get the eggs. Bernice and I began the work of tearing down the granary. We used a hammer and crow bar. The nails had to be pulled out of 2 x 4’s. We saved the 2 x 4’s so they could be sawed up. The granary also had steps. The steps led to an upstairs. The stairs were used when the grain bins got quite full. Sacks of grain were carried upstairs and were dumped to the lower floor. We worked day in and day out. It was a very hot, dirty, and dusty job. We couldn't wait to get into the washtub at night. We were really glad when we got the job done. We were always happy that Mother made refreshing drinks for us. After such a hot and dusty job, it felt rewarding to drink homemade root beer. Mother had big, glass bottles that she capped with a bottle capper. She also made a few batches of ginger ale and eggnog. The eggnog was made with eggs, sugar, vinegar, nutmeg, and water. Taking down the granary opened up a new space to plant a garden. So the next summer, we didn't have a garden in its usual place behind the house. We still planted potatoes and a few things at the west side of the house but to the south of the granary that was torn down, stood an old fenced in area were we had kept pigs. The granary no longer cast a shadow on the pigpen. The soil in the pigpen provided fertile ground for a new garden. So the old fence around the pigpen came down, a nice garden was planted, and a new fence was built. We had this garden for only a few years when Dad sold the farm to Aunt Mildred and Uncle Bill Score. This garden sat in a better location than the old garden. The old garden behind the house took a lot more work because we had to carry garden tools, plants, and seeds a lot further. Helpful Household Hints Grease on your carpet? Rub cornstarch in it and let it absorb the oil. Vacuum the next day. Repeat if necessary. Use the mesh your onions comes in. Fold and stitch around the edge. It works great to clean my counter top after rolling out a pie crust. I just whisk the mesh across the counter and it's clean. It works in the dish water on Teflon dishes too. I also use the mesh bag to sack up jelly beans and place them in Easter baskets for the elderly. That way they don't get lost in the Easter grass. It is useful in many ways. It isn't easy to open cans where you put your finger into a ring and the tin comes off like opening a pop can. Anyone can get cut. I wipe off the bottom of the can and use a can opener on the bottom side and it goes a lot faster, even if I am old fashioned.
22: Aunt Mildred & Uncle Bill After I received my Holy Communion, I went back to Woodmohr School in the country to complete my last year of school (eighth grade). That year my dad wanted to buy a farm with better soil. The farm where I was born had sandy soil. One day he went to Durand, Wisconsin. And the farms for sale were terribly hilly so he went north of Bloomer and bought a farm from Albert Lueck. Dad sold our farm to his sister, Mildred and her husband Bill Score. This was the spring of 1933. I had a few more months of school left before I graduated so I stayed with Aunt Mildred and Uncle Bill Score while I finished eighth grade. When I finished eighth grade, I received my public school diploma pictured below. It says, "This certifies that Ethel Bischel is entitled to this Diploma given at Chippewa Falls, in the county of Chippewa, State of Wisconsin, this 2nd day of June 1934." | Five Batches of Filled Cookies One Saturday, my grandpa and grandma Bischel came to keep me company while my aunt Mildred and uncle Bill went ice fishing. I was still living with my aunt and uncle and wanted to surprise them so I made five batches of filled cookies. Uncle Bill liked filled cookies and he couldn't believe I did all that. Plus, I made dinner and put all the cookies away. The cookie jars were all full and I was real tired. I could have taken it easy but grandma and grandpa slept so much that day. She Took Her False Teeth Out of the Coffee Cup In the summer, my mother was always happy to go blackberry picking. She went one day with Aunt Mildred and Uncle Bill Score. She really enjoyed their company. She said Aunt Mildred and Uncle Bill are so very nice. Anyway, when she came home from picking blackberries, we canned 45 quarts. Once I went along with Mother, Aunt Mildred, and Uncle Bill to pick blueberries with a Mrs. Tollard in Trego, Wisconsin. When we went out to pick blueberries, I was surprised to see that Mrs. Tollard didn't seem to wear any underwear. She only wore a dress. If she had to take a leak, she just lifted her dress and went. We stayed over night with Mrs. Tollard. The next morning we were all sitting around the table eating breakfast. Then Uncle Bill asked for a cup of coffee. I was facing the cupboard so I could see what Mrs. Tollard did. She got up from the table, went over to the cupboard, took her false teeth out of the cup, dumped the water out, filled the cup with coffee, and served it to Uncle Bill.
23: Family Leisure Time On days when Mother wasn't too busy, she went over to Aunt Ida's for a visit. They didn't have a phone, so I don't know if they always found each other at home. Other than that, Mother didn't get out very much. Some afternoons Mother, Bernice, and I went north of the house and picked pin cherries or chokecherries along the fence. We took a sheet and lowered a branch and stripped them. They made good jelly. We ate a few of the cherries, but the chokecherries really puckered up our mouth. On other days, Bernice and I packed a lunch and went to the north end of the creek. We'd spread out an old blanket and just spend the afternoon. | We took a fishing pole with us. We usually only caught a lot of minnows but it sure was a thrill having fish jerk on the line. Sometimes we decided to go to the south end of the creek. There was a nice cool spring bubbling there. The water was clear and cold. A Miserable Job As soon as I completed eighth grade, I went back to live with my parents on our new farm north of Bloomer. Once again I was milking cows, washing dishes, helping mother with the housework, and doing a lot of farm chores. One chore I hated was cutting thistles. Bernice and I had to get the thistles cut before July or Dad would have to pay more taxes. I think someone came around to see if the thistles were cut. The first day of this terrible job we packed our lunch and went out northeast of house in the big field down toward our neighbor, Harold Lueck. We used a scythe and a hoe to cut down and dig out the thistles. Bernice and I took turns using the hoe and the scythe. At noon, we stopped to eat. Then we went back to work chopping down and digging up thistles again until evening when it was time to go home to milk cows. The next day we went out to the field south of machine shed. We had corn in that field. | Wilbert Lueck's wooded farmland joined our farm at the edge of this field. It was really hot out and the mosquitoes were horrible. It wasn't funny. It was a miserable job. To make matters worse, Bernice and I'd sit down to eat at noon and watch the thistle fuzz fly onto our land from Wilbert Lueck's woods. The thistle fuzz carried seeds and it was already planting next year's crop on our land. It seemed like a hopeless task. We never understood why no one checked Wilbert Lueck's woods for thistles. Cross Cutting Trees Then there was wood to be cut for winter, Bernice and I would go out and notch the trees, cross cut them down, and pile it in lengths to be sawed-up. Dad would sharpen the saw and get everything oiled up. When that was done, we helped carry the lengths to the circle saw, sawed them up, and then threw the cut blocks of wood away from the saw. It was loaded onto a wagon and brought home and thrown on the ground by the house. We then cross cut the big blocks of wood to use in the furnace. We threw the smaller pieces into the basement or piled it near the house. In the winter we carried wood into the house for the cook stove. If we had room in the basement for all the wood, that made it nicer because we didn't have to dig the wood out of the snow in the middle of winter. | Grandma Catherine Bischel, Ethel, Grandpa John Bischel
24: Bare Hands & Feet Cutworms & Insects Mother had a big garden on our new farm. So we had the task of hoeing, weeding, and dusting plants with pesticides for insects and cutworms. We cut the bottom out of gallon pails and placed them around plants. This kept the cutworms away and also protected the plant from the hot sun and wind. There were a lot of rocks in the fields on this new farm. The rocks had to be picked in order to prepare the fields for planting crops. The first year we picked 136 wagon loads of rock. It was hard to walk in the plowed ground with our bare feet. And we picked rock with our bare hands because it cost too much to buy gloves. We loaded the rocks onto a wagon-box. Then we unloaded the rocks onto a pile at the corners of the fields. It seemed like an endless job. We picked rock every day. Then we had to do milking and chores after getting home from the field. After we had supper and chores were done, it really felt good to get washed up. We didn't care to go anywhere. We were ready to go to bed. If we worked hard, dad bought a gallon of ice cream as a treat on the fourth of July. And we got to have a few firecrackers. | Leaving Home To Earn Money One day Dad said, “Ethel it's time for you to work out and earn some money." So on August 15, 1936, I left home and began work as a live-in maid for Henry Schwab whose home was on Main Street in Bloomer across from St. Paul's Catholic Church. By this time, I had six younger siblings (three sisters and three brothers). I already talked a great deal about Bernice, as she was only nineteen months younger than me. We worked, played, and slept together. I also talked about my brothers Jerome and Vernon. My other three siblings are: Jeanette born May 24th, 1930, Cecilia born September 11, 1932, and Donald born September 3, 1935. After I left home, my mother gave birth to three more children, a boy and two girls. My brother Laurell was born December 7th, 1938. My sister Delaine was born December 9th, 1940. And my youngest sibling, Madonna was born on October 14th, 1944. Sadly, three of my brothers have already passed away. As of this year (2013), Donald has passed away at age sixty-four, Vernon at age sixty-eight, and Jerome at age eighty. | Ku Klux Klan I remember when the Ku Klux Klan burned an American Flag on the hill by Dad's land in the middle of the road. On Palm Sunday, Dad went to the top of that hill and buried a palm. He also buried a palm on each corner of the farm as a way of protecting and blessing the land. A Song I Made Up Oh, Let us sing of that good old American flag, with the blue sky above, and the beautiful green trees below, and the red and white stripes waving to and fro, with the fifty stars, and its stripes running through, diamonds shining too. All Sing: Oh' God Bless America, Our Home Sweet Home, Our Home, Home Sweet Home Chasing Squirrels Some Sunday afternoons Dad and I went squirrel hunting. Squirrels live in trees and if one saw us coming, it would scamper around the back of the tree trunk and hide. So Dad had me chase the squirrel around the tree to make it run back in sight. He stood in the distance with his gun ready to shoot. We were usually lucky and bagged enough squirrel meat for supper. Dad cleaned the squirrels. Mother roasted them or sometimes made sweet and sour meat.
25: Two Dollars & Fifty Cents Per Week When I began working for Henry Schwab, he wasn't doing well and was hospitalized at St. Joseph's Hospital. He passed away that same month. The wake was held in his home. Two nights after taking his body out of the house and over to the church, I had to take down chairs. Then tables had to be set up for seventy-five dinner guests. It wasn't like today with all the modern conveniences. The tables had to be set with white cloth linens, plates, and silverware. Mrs. Heffler, who lived next door, offered to help. That week I didn't get to bed until after midnight. Henry's son Walter was a field hand and would bring gunnysacks of canning beans home to clean. So we'd snip beans half the night. Three of the family members worked at the Farmers Store. That required ironing white, cotton shirts and trousers. I ironed on a flat board and it took twenty minutes to heat that old electric iron. That electric iron never did work well. The flat irons I used at home weren't electric. They were heated on the cook stove. I washed all the windows outside on a ladder and put on storm windows. I got paid $2.50 per week and was given room and board. I started work at five o'clock in the morning and usually went to bed after ten-thirty at night. | Oh Lord, What Do I Do? On November 15, 1936, I started work as a live in maid for Leonard and Alice Kranzfelder. They lived on 16th Avenue in Bloomer. I was paid three dollars per week and later I earned fifty cents more per week. I loved working there. Once again, I had to get storm windows on the house. It was cold out by now. This would be my second batch of windows I had to wash in the fall of 1936. I had to send a portion of what earned home. I gave my dad $2.00 a week. The rest I could use to buy clothes. Leonard and Alice had four girls. I had to iron the ruffles on the girl's dresses. I also had to mend the holes in their socks with a darning needle and thread. All the wash had to be hung out on a clothesline. On the shores of Lake Como, in Bloomer, sits an old icehouse. In the winter, it was used to store ice blocks that were cut out of the frozen lake. They put sawdust between the ice blocks to keep them separated. Henry Bischel delivered huge ice blocks that were 24" X 24" in size. He handled them with a long tongs. Kranzfelders kept an icebox on their back porch. I didn't like cleaning it in the cold winter. First, the icebox had bars that had to be pulled out. Second, the ice needed to be melted and the water drained. Third, I cleaned it. Finally, I could put the new ice block in the icebox. That was cold work! On my days off, I walked to Aunt Rose and Uncle Casper Dudek's house and played muggins. If they had company, Uncle Casper played the accordion. I also liked going home to help Mother on my days off. It made me feel good. Sometimes I'd walk up to church and sit alone or kneel and pray in the front pew. I asked the Lord to please help me. I wanted to know what good things I could do with my life. One day, as I sat in church, father came up and asked me if I had someone sick because I frequently came on Sunday afternoons to pray. | The Kranzfelder Family
26: Tuesday Wedding We didn't have a flower shop in Bloomer so we got our wedding flowers in Chippewa Falls at Christensen Florist. A shower was held a week before our wedding. Wedding showers were different in those days both the future bride and groom attended. It was a big event with many guests. We picked our flowers up the day before the wedding and were a little late getting back to St. Paul's Catholic Church for our dress rehearsal. Years ago, weddings were held on either a Tuesday or Wednesday and they started early in the morning. We booked our wedding for June 7, 1939 on a Tuesday. It was really hot and humid the week before our wedding. | Answered Prayer I met my future husband, Theodore (Ted) Hable in April of 1937. Ted and I were attendants for his brother, Louie and my cousin, Lucy Schwab's wedding. Louie and Lucy's wedding dance was especially enjoyable as Ted was an excellent dancer and we danced the night away. Looking back on that occasion, I believe meeting Ted was an answer to my prayers. Ted was studying at Marquette University in Milwaukee to become a priest. Yet, he never felt good and said he'd feel better on the farm getting fresh air. He said, “I tried, it's better not to continue, rather than be a priest who doesn't feel well." Ted also wanted to help his elderly father (72 yrs old). He left the seminary and went back home to work on his Dad's farm. | Louie & Lucy Hable's Wedding Ted Hable & Ethel Bischel | Ethel & Ted | Theodore Hable | Only One Necklace I left my job at Kranzfelders in March of 1939 and went back home to prepare for my wedding. I wanted a necklace for the big day, so I went to the jewelry store on the corner of Main Street across from the Hotel Bar in Bloomer. The necklace I have on in my wedding picture is the only one they had. Therefore, it didn't take much time to decide what to buy because I had no choice.
27: A Candle Light Ceremony The morning of our wedding, a storm came up. It was thundering and lightening and the wind turned to the northwest. Mother had a cluck sitting in a little crate and it went rolling down the hill. Aunt Rose Dudak hastily walk to church in an effort to beat the storm when the wind picked up her out-door toilet and blew it over her head. Trees were down in town and the power went out. We had no lights. A 7:30 a.m. Mass was scheduled at St. Paul's Catholic Church. We were married by candle light and had no organ. Father August Frinch didn't keep us long as it was so hot and humid. After it was over, it cooled off, the sun came out, and it was a real nice day. | Mr. & Mrs. Theodore Hable Bernice Bischel & Leonard Bohl
28: Beer Barrel Polka The wedding reception was at Ted's parent's farm in hay creek on F & C crossroads. Photo on right. This is were Ted and I lived after we got married. Brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles were invited. A full meal was served. The first course was homemade chicken noodle soup followed with chicken, dressing, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, and all the trimmings. In the evening, we had a wedding dance at the Pines Ballroom. A big crowd greeted us. The Beer Barrel Polka came out that year and the band played it often that night. | Mr. & Mrs. Theodore Hable | Jeanette, Ted, Ethel, Cecilia | Mrs. Theodore Hable | Back Row: grandma-Catherine Bischel, grandpa-John Bischel, dad-Ed Bischel, Leonard Bohl, Ted, Ted's father-John Hable, Ted's mother-Katherine Hable Middle Row: grandma-Eva Sarauer, mother-Anna Bischel, Bernice, Ethel Front Row: Vernon, Jerome, Jeanette, Donald, Cecilia.
29: No Honeymoon The day after our wedding, Ted and I got up at five o'clock and went out to milk cows. We couldn't afford to go on a honeymoon and lived with Ted's parents, John and Katherine Hable. The milk checks were small that first year. We were allowed to use his parents car every other Sunday. Sometimes Ted and I took the truck and went fishing at Knickerbocker Lake. We attended the Colfax Fair in August. That month we were pleased to find that I was expecting our first bundle of joy. In April, 1940, we went to the Pines Ballroom where the Moose Lodge was sponsoring a dinner. The next day I ran a temperature and had a few chicken pox on my neck. I stayed in bed all week. On the night of the 25th, I kept having labor pains. So my mother told me to come back home as it was hard for Ted's mother to get around and help me. In those days, women were required to stay in bed for nine days. I think that was the worst thing you could do. After, nine days in bed, when I stood-up my feet would tingle from lack of moving around. Ted drove me up to my parents home. They didn't have a telephone and had no way of knowing when I would arrive. Consequently, the empty bedroom was cold and mother hurried to heat it. | The Hable Farm "Circa 1955" | Enough Milk to Feed A Little Pig On April 26, 1940 we welcomed first child, Donald John into this world. The doctor said if he was going to have chicken pox, he would be born with them. He was born without chicken pox. I was so plastered with chicken pox that Donald could hardly nurse. And I had to pump my breasts. I had enough milk to feed a little pig besides. My breasts hurt so bad. When Don was a week old, he began running a temperature and started to break out with chicken pox. He was just as plastered with pox as I was. When I got back home at the Hable Farm, it wasn't easy. Our bedrooms were upstairs and we had to go up and down the stairs all the time. However, we managed. Our second son, Gerald Joseph (Jerry), was born on July 26, 1941 on a Friday night. That Sunday we had Jerry baptized. | Ethel, Jerry, Donald, Ted
30: It's a Girl! After giving birth to three boys, no one can imagine how happy Ted and I were when we got our little girl. Helen Mary was born on February 16, 1945. The doctor and nurse said she had the most beautiful complexion. She had nice, round, fat cheeks with a double chin and all the rest of her little parts were round too. Helen had very nice black hair that hung down her neck. At four months she laughed out loud. It was really fun to handle her. I made Helen a tiny pink ribbon on a small bobby pin. It looked so cute in her dark hair. She wore a tiny gold baby ring that I also wore when I was a baby. The ring was a gift from my grandmother Bischel. At seven and a half months, I had very few dirty diapers. | God Will Take Care of Us In January of 1942, Ted's parents bought a house in Bloomer on 1332 Future Street and sold the farm to us. Then we had to payoff Ted's siblings for their share of the property. Ted and I didn't have much money but my daily prayer was, "God will take care of us." We had a large garden filled with vegetables and fruit and always had dandelion greens salad, elderberry blossom fritters, and dried blossoms to make tea. I canned pickles, tomatoes, crab apples, carrots, peaches and all sorts of berries and made sauerkraut. On July 13, 1943, God blessed us with our third son, Norbert William. Our home was now filled with the cries and laughter of three healthy boys. Glory Be Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. | Donald, Norbert, & Jerry | Helen Mary Hable
31: “She Looked Up at the Crucifix, Pointed, & Said, “JESUS.” On May 4, 1946, Helen got up with a fever and was sick every day. I thought she was cutting teeth. Five days later I took her to Dr. Hudek and he gave her a shot for trench mouth. That night, every time I picked her up (about every quarter hour) she was wet. At three a.m. she started vomiting. At five a.m., I changed her and went out to the barn to milk cows. The next morning on Saturday, May 11th Helen didn't need her diaper changed and only wanted to sleep. I talked to the doctor and he said, "she was up all night; just give her water and she'll be all right. Sunday arrived and Helen wasn't getting any better so we took her to the doctor again. The doctor said she has yellow jaundice but she'll be all right because she has no fever. Her body was sorta puffy. Monday, May 13th, at 8:30 a.m., we decided to take Helen to St. Joseph's Hospital in Chippewa Falls to see Dr. C. Hattlebey. He told us she has kidney infection and poisoning of the urine. She hadn't urinated since Friday May 10th before five o'clock in the morning. A nurse gave Helen a hypo and started putting fluids in her veins. While under this hypo, she opened her eyes, looked up at the crucifix high on the wall, stretched out her hand, pointed and said, “JESUS”. She looked over at me, rolled her head back, and closed her eyes. She was only 15 months old and hadn't ever said Jesus. On Tuesday evening, I asked the doctor what he thought. He said, “Well she is critically ill and more hopes for the worse than the better." Helen's whole body was so plump with toxic fluids; she looked like a midget. There was a lady in the hospital room next to ours, she came to me an said, "We lost our baby. The Lord has given him to us and now he has taken him away." I had a hard time battling my feelings when she said that. In addition to Helen's serious condition, I was also a few months pregnant. I just couldn't bare the thought of losing either child. Everyday I went to the chapel to Mass and Communion and then went to see Helen before going to breakfast with my sister-in-law, Helen Altlman. On Wednesday, Ted brought the Annals down and placed them under Helen's pillow. I promised St. Anne if she'd save my little Helen, I'd have this story published in the Annals. The Annals is a monthly magazine published by the Redemptionist Fathers on behalf Of the Shrine of St Anne de Beaupre’. The hospital priest came up and blessed all the babies. Ted brought St. Anne's oil and rubbed Helen's forehead with it. I went home for a while in the afternoon because Donald and Norbert had tonsillitis. I then went to Bloomer and ordered a Mass in honor of St. Anne. In the evening we came back to the hospital. Helen opened her eyes for the first time since Monday. It was now Wednesday evening at ten o'clock. The next morning when I got back to the hospital, a nun rushed toward me and shouted, "we found your baby in a big puddle of urine." Helen had gone six whole days without urinating! A week later we took Donald and Norbert down to the hospital for hernia operations. The following Tuesday, May 28th, at four o'clock in the afternoon we all went home. Helen was still vomiting and had diarrhea but I insisted on bringing her home. Two days later Helen's stomach was settled and she was getting better rest. It took Helen a few months before she fully recovered. I did keep my promise to St. Anne and published this story in the Annals.
32: Ever Shall Be of the Eternity On the night of November 11, 1946, we had pea soup fog. Visibility was zero distance. My first cousin, Roman Dudak had just arrived home from the service. That night, he was killed in an automobile accident on Hwy. 40 west of Bloomer. The next night, I sat on the edge of Norbert's bed and said his prays with him. Norbert is three and half years old now and already knows how to pray the "Our Father, Hail Mary, and Angel of God." After we finished praying, Norbert said, "Momma can you teach me how to say the Ever Shall Be of the Eternity?" I thought to myself, "older people wouldn't even think of this." Then I looked out the window into the heavens. I had never seen the sky so peppered with stars. At that moment, I saw a star fall to earth. | Momma, I'm So Cold Two weeks after my cousin's death, I was hand milking the cows and could hardly wait to finish. I was tired, seven months pregnant, and the boys were getting on my nerves by tearing up and down the feed way in the barn. They were giggling, creating a commotion, and goofing around using their middle names. Donald shouted, "I'm John", Jerry yelled, "I'm Joe", and Norbert hollered, "I'm Bill". I told those kids you're not gonna quit until something happens and someone gets hurt. Later, I was relieved to finally finish milking, bathe the boys, and tuck them safely into bed. The next morning Norbert came downstairs and went to the bathroom. He usually went back to bed by himself. However, it was cold and windy outside so I followed Norbert upstairs to be sure he was covered. On the way up, he said, "momma, I'm so cold." So I put an extra blanket over him, went to the basement to stoke the wood furnace, and left to milk cows. When I got back to the house an hour later, Norbert came downstairs and said, "I'm so sick." So I took Helen's little bed and pushed it next to the warm, wood stove in the kitchen. I bundled Norbert up, put him into bed, and covered him. Then he said, "I'm so cold, why don't you cover me up?" So I got another blanket, folded it into four, and laid it him over him. Ted came in from the barn 30 minutes later and advised me to take Norbert's temperature. I told Ted, "I just took Norbert's temperature and it was 103." Nonetheless, I took his temperature again and was shocked to find that it had shot up to 105 in just a few minutes. So I called the doctor and he drove out to our house right away. When he took Norbert's temperature it was 107. Then the doctor decided to go back to town to get penicillin. He came back with a nurse and gave Norbert a shot of penicillin at 9:45 a.m. | Norbert William Hable | Norbert's Locket from Oct. 4th, 1943 Mother gave Norbert his 1st haircut
33: Coat of Maybe Blue The song "Bell Bottom Trousers, Coat of Navy Blue" was recorded by Guy Lombardo in April of 1945. The boys loved singing this tune. Norbert sang it like this, "Bell Bottom Trousers Coat of Maybe Blue." And Norbert always said he wanted a sailor suit for Christmas from Santa. When I went Christmas shopping in October of 1946, I was surprised to find a navy sailor suit with red and white trim in Norbert's size. It tickled me to think of how happy he'd be on Christmas day to finally get his sailor suit. I'd could never have imagined that Norbert would die before Christmas arrived. Instead, Norbert wore that sailor suit for his funeral. His funeral was held on November 29th, 1946. A Mass of the Angels was sung. The altar was decorated in white. During mass, as I was kneeling in prayer, I felt a heavy hand press down on my left shoulder. My keen Mother's intuition told me that it was Norbert comforting me. It was his way of letting me know he's safely wrapped in the arms of angels in heaven. Norbert was buried in St. Paul's South Cemetery, Bloomer, Wisconsin. | and Heaven numbered ONE MORE ANGEL After Norbert got a shot of penicillin, he sorta started choking, so Ted picked him up and held him. By eleven a.m. Norbert's temperature had dropped to 98 degrees. I told the doctor, "his temperature is falling too fast!" Meanwhile, a robin kept bobbing back and forth, and pecking at the dining room window. It was odd for a robin to be around as late as November 27th. Why did this bird keep pecking at the window? Was it trying to tell us something? At one o'clock, Ted and I were stunned when our little Norbert passed away. Mysteriously, a children's storybook titled, "and Heaven Numbered ONE MORE ANGEL" was delivered in the mail that same day. I believe this book was a message sent to us from the angels. The image of the book's cover is shown above. In the evening, Ted and I drove to the funeral home in Bloomer. As Ted drove over the first big hill on County Hwy F, a big bird swooped down in front of our car. I turned to Ted and asked, "Did you see that!!!?" We were both surprised by this bird's sudden appearance.
34: Eugene Edward, Arthur Ambrose, & Rita Ann Our fifth child, Eugene Edward was born on January 22 of 1947. I finished milking the cows that evening; then I went into the house and gave birth. The kids were late getting home from school due to a snow storm. Eugene was born just eight weeks after Norbert died. He always said, "I came and took Norbert's place - didn't I Momma." Early one morning a terrible thunder and lightening storm was brewing just as I finished milking cows. As I rushed towards the house, three year old Eugene excitedly shouted, hurry up momma! it's going to thunder and blitzen, three-forty times. Eugene also had surgery for a hernia when he was a toddler. It seems that all the boys inherited Ted's health problem as he had hernias too. Ted accidentally injured himself when he was fourteen years old. It happened when he was sliding down a hill. His sled turned over and he landed on a stump. Our sixth child, Arthur Ambrose (Art) was born on October 1, 1949. I picked cucumbers the night before and had a light backache. The next day, here he comes. By the time Art turned three, he needed a hernia operation too. Our neighbor, Tom Grill was supposed take us to St. Joseph's Hospital in Chippewa Falls on February 3rd but it was fifty degrees below zero. So we canceled his operation and rescheduled it two days later when it was only twenty-five degrees below zero. We were so pleased to finally have our second baby girl when Rita Anne was born on May 18th, 1951. I went to Dr. Hudek for regular checkups before she was born. At that time, I asked him if he thought the kids were getting the whooping cough. He told me it's just a bronchial cough. After Rita was born, he changed his mind about his previous diagnosis. So he came to the house and gave the kids vaccinations for whooping cough. One week later, as I put Rita in her crib, she made just a little cough. I said to Ted, "I wonder if she's getting the whooping cough?" | Ethel's sister, Jeanette holding Eugene Edward (7 months) | Helen, Jerry, Donald, Baby-Arthur Ambrose, Eugene
35: Rita Anne & Helen Mary | Her Face Was Black & Blue As it turned out, I was right. Rita did have whooping cough. Each day she coughed a little more. At night, I pushed her crib beside my bed, put the railing on her crib part way down, threw a blanket over the railing, and leaned on it to rest my head in my arms. As soon as Rita coughed, I had to grab her up or she would choke. I made a space on the kitchen cupboard where I laid Rita during the day so I could pick her up immediately when she coughed. Sometimes, I had to run in from the clothes lines several times before I finishing hanging clothes. One of the older kids watched Rita and would holler, "MOMMA, RITA!" One Sunday, after Ted and the older kids came home from church, I said, "I just have to get out of the house. I'm going to the garden and pick one quart of strawberries and I'll be right back." I picked only a handful of berries when I heard the kids frantically shouting, MOMMA, RITA! I said, "dad's in there ask him to pick her up." I hurried back to the house and was shocked to find that Rita was out of breath and her face was black and blue. We got her breathing again and took her to St. Joseph's Hospital. At the hospital, they wouldn't do anything for Rita. They didn't want her there because whooping cough is contagious. Eventually, all the kids came down with whooping cough. It was so difficult because I couldn't be at everyones bedside at once. At night, when the kids laid down, they'd cough and vomit. I had pillow cases and sheets to wash and hang on the line every day. That whole summer was shot. It took nine weeks for everyone to recover. | Rita's First Holy Communion Ethel Crocheted the Dress
36: 50 lbs. of Flour Every Week Horse & Sled Photo (center-left): Ted's driving our team of horses. They are pulling a sled loaded with manure. Ted is on his way to spread the manure in the field across the creek. Barn Photo (bottom-left): I set a hot bed west of the silo next to the barn. I built the hot bed with a wood frame and then used old storm windows to cover the frame. I used the hot bed to plant lettuce, cabbage, and radishes in February. The location next to the barn was protected and faced sunny south so the plants did really well. By the the end of March, we had early lettuce to eat. It's hard to see but there is an old milk cart with milk cans loaded on it in front of the silo. And notice the old fence posts on the left of the photo that encloses the cow yard. I baked my own bread (a dozen loaves every other day) and made potato dumplings. Ted bought a fifty pound bag of flour every week. I always raised popcorn in the garden. I'd dry the popcorn on the wood floor of the sleeping porch. I shucked the corn off the cob with a small glass washboard. Then I used a fan outdoors to blow out any debris accumulated. That made a good treat for the kids and guests. In September, just before it froze, I picked all the tiny one inch cucumbers and made the last batch of sweet relish for the season. During the winter, Ted and I often took the children ice fishing. It was a good way to spend time together and put food on the table. I preserved whole fish in blocks of ice in the freezer so we usually had fish on hand to eat. However, when Ted and I were first married there wasn't even a refrigerator in the house. | Ted driving our team of horses Another view of the Hable Farm House | Hable Farm House | Hable Farm - Barn and Silo
37: 45 Quarts of Blueberries One year, during blueberry season, Ted said, “They say there are so many blueberries east of Rock Dam, let's go check it out." So I hurried to take my clean clothes off the lines, gathered pails, and packed a blanket for the little ones to sit on. I think Eugene was about three years old. After dinner, we drove to Rock Dam. When we arrived, we were pleased to find that the bushes were loaded! There were so many berries the landscape was literally blue. Ted was a fast picker. I don't remember who all went. I think Helen went along. Anyway, the next day we went again. I canned 45 quarts, made a few pies, and had enough blueberries left over to eat with cream and sugar. Plus we stuffed plenty of berries in our mouth while we were picking. What a luxury! The following year we decided to go again. We packed a lunch and drove to the same place. Sadly, we only found bare ground. Everything had been flattened by a bulldozer. Ted Gets the Dirtiest Job On the farms in Hay Creek, the threshing crew would gather at each neighbors place to harvest oats. Andrew Paulus owned the threshing machine. Some of the neighbors that gathered were: Gib Reischel, Maynard Kressin, Ed Hable, Herb Kressin, Laurence Zwiefelhofer, Ted Stoffel, Frank Dallman, Herb Samens, Ed Bleskachek, and Ted Hable. That was a lot of men to prepare food for. The men always wanted my Ted to build the straw pile. It was the dirtiest job of them all. I always had bath water ready for him when he came home. His body was so dirty from the grain that was infected with black smut fungus – it was black. I could only see the whites of his eyes. | Jerry, Helen, Ethel, Don, Ted, & Eugene | (1940) Back Row: Ethel's mother - Anna holding Laurell (Anna is six-months pregnant with Delaine), Jerome, Vernon, Ethel holding three month old Donald, Bernice, Ethel's dad - Ed, Front Row: Ethel's brother - Donald, Jeanette, and Cecilia.
38: Here Comes the Pickle King! Every summer we planted several acres of cucumbers on the farm. It took a lot of work to get the crop ready. Raising cucumbers involved preparing the ground, marking the rows, digging holes, and planting the seeds. Once the plants came up we had to sprinkle powdered poison on the bushes to prevent yellow beetle and cutworm infestation. Then we had to hoe and cultivate the plants. Of course, it was also important to watch for frost in the spring. One morning, frost threatened to ruin the whole crop. However, Ted got up early and lit old car tires to put a smog over the patch. The smog saved the crop. Cucumbers like moisture and warm weather and were ready to pick by the end of July. By then, it was hot and humid so it wasn't as nice to be outside. Each morning we started picking cucumbers at seven o'clock. Thus, our day started very early as we would already have finished milking the cows, washed the buckets, ate breakfast, cleaned up the kitchen, and put a roast on the stove. Every Saturday I cut lettuce from the garden, washed it, and stored it in the crisper. Someone said, "I can just see what her house looks like inside." And the answer she got was, "Her house is spick and span inside." It takes management! I'd take the clothes of the line, piled each kids clothes by age on one side of the stairwell, and each one put their own away. Anyway, we picked cucumbers wearing gloves to protect our hands because the vines were rough. The kids counted to see who could pick 100 cucumbers first. Eugene was a very good picker; he would put a bushel basket down and run around and pick the big ones. I didn't mind as the small ones weren't as heavy. One thing I could never understand was that after picking cucumbers all day the kids still had enough energy to hop on their bikes, ride up to bluffs southwest of the farm, and pick huckleberries or blackberries. That meant I had to make a couple of pies with the berries. One pie didn't go around. One year we made $1,000 on cucumbers. Ted hauled them to Chippewa Canning Factory. In later years, they closed down and Ted took them to Old Albertsville. Once in a while, some of kids or I would go along to the factory. It depended on how much other work needed to be done at home. If the pickle money was a certain amount, Ted would buy wieners. Of course, the kids had to have candy. In Old Albertsville, when they saw Ted coming, they would say, “Here comes the Pickle King!” We had a big truck load. Most people only delivered a few gunny sacks full. The cucumbers were put through the sorter and we got paid by the pound. The tiny cucumbers were worth a lot more than the slicers. Most of the cucumbers were put in a big pickling vat filled with salt water. The hard part came when school started and it was usually still hot outside. I was alone with Ted and the little ones who needed to be put to bed for a nap. Then if they were napping, I'd be out in the pickle patch wondering whether the baby was awake again. Most the time we picked cucumbers clear through September. School started in August or the first week of September. And of course, the school supplies and clothes all had to be lined up ahead of time. And when the kids got home from school, they had homework for me as they had to have this or that. They went to St. Paul's Catholic School in Bloomer. Art Stuck was the bus driver. Then I always had to see that they had money for lunch and the bus.
39: I'll Have this Baby on the Floor The day before our son Kenneth was born, my brother, Jerome married Lucille Yeager on June 7th, 1953. The wedding reception was in an upstairs near the Chippewa Court House. Anyway, I can remember that I thought I'd never get to the top of that stairs. It was hot and stuffy in the reception hall. The next morning, I had labor pains so Ted took me to St. Joseph's Hospital in Chippewa Falls. Then he left and went home to milk cows. The nurse put me to bed and told me to stay laying down. There was another lady in the room next to me who was having problems. The nurses put all their attention on her. That ladies husband was overseas. Around 7:00 p.m., I told the nurse, "I'm going to walk the hallways." I had such pains as I walked the floor that I begged the nurses to care for me but still they spent all their time helping that other lady. So finally I told the nurse, “if you don't take care of me, I'll have this baby on the floor.” Another nurse finally put me to bed in the delivery room and started to give me a shot. I said before you do that call my doctor in Bloomer. She gave me the shot anyway and said, "When the water breaks put the light on." She stepped out and I turned on the light. She came back in and asked, “Now what do you want?” I replied, "My water broke." Then the nurses frantically took action. They held the baby back until my doctor arrived. What were they doing holding him back? Once the doctor arrived, I gave birth to our sixth son, Kenneth Paul. He was born on June 8th, 1953. It took him some time to breathe. They took me back to my room after he was born. The next day, I kept asking to see my baby but they didn't bring him in until about four o'clock in the afternoon. When I finally got to see him, his face it was sorta blue. Sometimes, Kenneth had seizures after that but grew out of them as he got older. | Baptized of Desire Our seventh son, Joseph was due in March of 1955. One night, in early September of 1954, I was tying the cows into their stanchions. I was usually careful of this one particular cow because she had a habit of butting her head into a person. That night I wasn't so lucky. That cow gave a quick bump in my stomach. It didn't hurt but I thought to myself, "That'd be just enough to tear things loose." A week later I rode to LaCrosse, Wisconsin with our son Donald and enrolled him into the seminary there. I had a mild backache that night when I got home. The next evening, Ted took me to St. Joseph's Hospital. At the hospital, I painted the floors red with blood. Joseph was born premature on September 10, 1954 and baptized of desire. He did not survive. His body was sent home with me in a shoe box. We buried Joseph beside his brother Norbert at St. Paul's South Cemetery in Bloomer. | Kenneth Paul Hable
40: Jane Marie Hable | Judith Susanne Hable | Jane Marie & Judith Susanne On October 27, 1955 (Ted's 48th birthday) I was having labor pains, so I had the doctor come out to the house to check me. It was just a false alarm. Our third baby girl waited one more week to make her appearance. Jane Marie was born on November 3, 1955 at the home farm. Jane always said, "Daddy always loved me so much I wanted to be born on his birthday." After, Jane was born I suffered so terribly from childbirth related complications that I wonder why I'm still here. I could have bled to death. I hemorrhaged excessively passing a massive gallon size blood clot and later a two quart size blood clot. My mother was there to help change my pads. Anyway, Jane is doing just fine with her black hair and her dad's dark eyes. And my little Judy, I thought she was going to be a New Years Baby. I planned to go to St. Joseph's hospital with Judy because the doctor insisted I go to the hospital with this birth due to the hemorrhaging complications I had when Jane was born. I went into the St. Joseph's Hospital on Friday, December 20th, with labor pains. My water had broke and then they sent me home. Later in the week my neighbor lady, Rosie Zwiefelhofer called and asked how I was. I told her I didn't feel very well. Then she asked, "What's wrong?" I explained that I had been in the hospital with labor pains and that my water broke last Friday and they sent me home. She said, "You mean you're pregnant?" No one knew I was pregnant. A week later I went back to the hospital to give birth. I had a hard time delivering this baby because my water broke a week earlier; it was a dry birth. Our family welcomed Judith Susanne two days after Christmas on December 27th, 1957. She weighed six pounds, was nice and round, with the nicest neckline. Her neckline looked like it was trimmed at the beauty parlor.
41: Ted Gives Up Dancing After our youngest child, Judy was old enough to go to school, I started to work two days a week at Marek's Nursing Home cleaning in addition to managing the chores on the farm. I painted all the walls at the home too. Later, I wanted to switch to doing laundry at Marek's Nursing Home so applied for Viola Revoir's laundry job when she left. I got the job and worked doing laundry for five years. On weekends, Ted, the kids, and I went dancing at Birch Point Resort. One Sunday, Ted said to me, "I have to give up dancing, I don't feel well enough to do it anymore." So I'd dance with the girls or a friend. It became hard to work on the farm with Ted not feeling well. He had farmer's lung. This disease causes shortness of breath and a feeling of general illness. People with Farmer's Lung need to avoid breathing in dust from moldy crops or feed. This prevented Ted from helping in the barn. And limited his ability to farm. | I Get My Driver's License We decided to buy a house in th town of Bloomer in 1969 and our son Art and his wife Ida took over the farm. Our new home was located at 1832 Main Street and it needed a lot of work but we did a fine job remodeling and repairing it. After moving to town on May 18th, 1969, it really seemed different to not milk cows and buy our milk at the store. Meanwhile, I continued to work at Marek's Nursing Home. One day a lady came in to apply for a job doing laundry. The owner of the home, Marion Marek said, "Ethel has been here nine years and I think it will be a long time before she quits as she just moved to Bloomer." The following week my daughter, Rita called and asked if I would be main cook at the White Pine Steak House. I asked myself, "Will I be able to handle nighttime work on weekends as well as daytime work during the week?" I decided I'd give it a try. I'd been working at the nursing home nine and half years. I was lucky to have transportation to and from the White Pine. One of the girls took me to work and Ted came to get me when I finished. In previous years, I depended on Ted or someone else to drive me to work, church, or shopping because I didn't have a driver's license. After Ted started feeling poorly, I tried to get my license several times but never passed. One evening, while working in the kitchen at the White Pine, Jackie Meyer came to me and asked if I would crochet a white shawl for her. I told her if you convince your husband, Gordie (Gordie Meyer was the driver's education teacher at Bloomer High School) to take me out driving on the road, I'll do it. She agreed. Gordie Meyer gave me twelve hours of driver's education on the road and I got my driver's license in 1972. | Ethel Vacuuming At Marek's Nursing Home
42: An Apparition of Ted's Mother One morning, just before I got up from bed to get ready for mass, I had a lamp on in the bedroom and saw an apparition of Ted's mother who passed away in November of 1956. She was standing between the dresser and Ted's bed and was looking over him. Then she left. It made me feel like Ted was going to leave me! I went to mass every day since then until the spring of 2006. Anna Sarauer Bischel On the last day of March in 1981, Bernice called and said mother had a heart attack and was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital. Mother was then transferred to Luther Hospital and eventually came back to her home. On January 17, 1982 my mother, Anna M. Sarauer Bischel died at the of age eighty. | Ted's Parkinson's Disease Shortly after we moved to Bloomer, Ted was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Caring for Ted became a full time job because I couldn't leave him alone for very long. I'd take Ted to 8 p.m. mass on Saturday. On Sunday, I'd bring Mother to 8 a.m. mass. She usually needed to get groceries afterwards. Then I'd be nervous getting home to see how Ted was doing. He fell one time and hit his head on the door frame and it left a blue mark. It caused a blood clot and he had to have a shunt put in leading from his brain around his ear over his chest into his heart. He had so many surgeries I can't remember them all. Ted's illness and medications took a toll on both of us. One day he reached into a kitchen drawer, pulled out a butcher knife, and came after me. He was delusional. He wanted to carry his pills in his pocket. I couldn't let him do that because he lost track of how often he took them and would overdose. | 50th Wedding Anniversary (1968) Mr. & Mrs. Edward Bischel Pauline Zwiefelhofer (right) | Edward Bischel My Dad was hospitalized on February 15, 1975 due to a build up of fluids throughout his whole body. On the evening of February 24, I was working at the Gateway Inn as head cook. I was tired and it was very cold and windy outside and couldn't wait to get home. When I arrived home, the phone rang. It was my sister, Bernice calling to say that our Dad was dying. So my brothers, Vernon and Jerome went with Bernice and me to the hospital to be with our Dad. My Dad, Edward William Bischel passed away the next morning on February 25, 1975. He was seventy-nine years old. He is buried at St. Paul's North Cemetery in Bloomer. | The Bischel Family - (Back Row) Jerome, Laurell, Donald, Vernon, (Middle Row) Cecilia, Ethel, Delaine (Front Row) Madonna, Jeanette, Bernice
43: Never Give Up! Ted slept a lot during his illness with Parkinson's Disease and I spent a great deal of time alone. On August 15, 1979, I read in a magazine about making rosaries. I thought I'd give it a try and ordered a beginners kit. When it came, I had to figure out the instructions. This was so time consuming. I used a big roll of wire and worked with my Fatima pliers to make wire links to assemble the beads. It was so hard that I thought, "it's not for me". But then I remembered that Father Tom Langer always said "never give up". As time went on, I could turn out a 5 decade rosary in forty minutes. I just kept on going no matter what. Eventually, I shifted to making cord rosaries because the arthritis in my shoulders was too painful to continue twisting wire loops with my pliers. Here it is thirty-four years later and I have made 26,659 rosaries and distributed them to missions all over the world. I got to meet a lot of new people far and near that I never knew before. Our Rosary Monthly To name our Rosary Monthly for our Lady Rosary Makers Quarterly pamphlet report, I chose, “In this garden, the Blessed Virgin Busy Bees,” They added, “have pollinated many Rosaries with Love.” Good, Better, Best If a task is once begun, Never leave it until it's done, Be the labor great or small, Do it well or not at all. Good, Better, Best, Never leave it Rest. Until the Good is Better, And the Better is Best. | Frame designed by Ethel The gold lace is her exquisite handcrafted crochet work
44: The Rust Colored Bird On April 1st, 1981, Ted had to be taken down to the hospital. I got up at dawn, pulled out the drawer to get the phone book, and heard a tap-tap on my south dining room window. It was a real large rust colored bird. I went to look out the window and another one like it flew into the tree. One night as I was leaving Ted at the hospital, he said, "What ever you do Ethel, take good care of yourself." On another day, I came into the hospital and asked Ted, "Aren't you worried?" He was smiling, he replied "I'm not worried, I'm ready to go." Ted died on Sunday, July 26th, 1981 at six p.m. at the age of seventy-three. He was buried on the 29th of July at St. Paul's South Cemetery next to our sons Norbert and Joseph. That rust colored bird that sat on the window was trying to tell me that Ted was leaving me and not coming back. | (1979) Ted & Ethel's 40th Wedding Anniversary Grandchildren- Back Row: Tammy, Carol, Cheryl, Cathy 3rd row: Brian, Dalen, Brad, Jim, Steve, Lisa 2nd row: Wayne, Shelley, Kevin, Jennifer Seated: Ted with Ryan, Barb, Christine, Ethel with Kendra. | 1977 - Ted's 70th Birthday Party | A Cross Country Tourist A cross country tourist stopped for gas at a back woods station. The attendant was a perfect specimen of manhood, tall, broad, and muscular. When the tourist remarked how unusually healthy the area was, the attendant explained. Healthy is right, the healthiest place I ever lived. You won't believe it mister but when I came here, I couldn't speak a word, I had no teeth, and I just had a few hairs on my head. I was so weak I couldn't walk one step. They had to put me to bed and take me out to feed me. And now, look at me. “Unbelievable!” said the tourist. How long have you lived here. The attendant declared, “I was born here.”
45: Back Row: Eugene, Jerry, Don, Ken, Art, Judy Seated: Ted Helen, Jane, Rita, Ethel | A Nice Big Family What a nice big family I have. They are always ready to lend a helping hand because I'm unable to do a lot of the things that I used to do. Now That I'm Old & Gray So now that I'm old and gray For a nice family I always did pray and as they all grew older, They all flew away. So now that I'm old and gray, Some went north & some went south, Some went east & some went west, And here I am all alone in my nest. So now that I'm old and gray, The days of my youth have slid away, So now that I'm old and gray, I'm alone in my apartment here to stay.
46: Ted Looked So Nice & Young It's May 2004. As usual, the polka music came on my radio alarm clock at 5:30 a.m. I'd get out of bed but it's Saturday and there's no Mass. I can rest a while longer. Falling back to sleep, I dream that my daughter, Jane was here somewhere at a dance so I thought I'd go home to get some dancing shoes. I walked and walked. I got lost. I met different people and asked which way to go, and they looked at me, they were strange. I stopped to ask a lady and man at their home, they didn't even answer me. I thought, “Oh well, I'll be O.K.!! I'll go this way." I look down over the hill, which seemed to be in a town, I saw my blue Dodge parked down there and was going to get in it and see if I could drive and find the music again. Meanwhile, my radio with the old time music is still playing. I started down the hill and here was Ted Hable. He looked so nice and young, he grabbed my arm and started to cry. I told him, I was going to try and find the dance that Jane is at. Then I woke up. | My Last Birthday with Ted Ted wasn't feeling very good the day before my birthday in 1980. He left the house and walked down town. He wasn't gone long. When he returned home, I said, "What did you go for a walk for, did you want to fall over on the street? I was worried constantly for his safety. His Parkinson's Disease made it difficult for him to navigate without falling down. He said I just walked to Ben Franklin and turned around and came back. The next morning, when I sat down to breakfast, Ted had placed a birthday card on the table for me. He said, "I didn't feel good enough to look for anything else." I told him, "Thank you, this is great." I also felt bad because I complained to him about his walking downtown the day before. | My last birthday card from Ted.
47: Stone Pillows There's a chill in the air tonight, no lullaby, no kiss tonight, no one here to tuck me in, as darkness falls the tears begin. Stone pillows and darkness, I have to steal so I can eat. Stone pillows and sadness, I'm just a kid that lives on the street and I hope the morning comes. God frequently comes into our lives, In the shoes of other people, and aren't we blessed when he does. And the burdens that seems so heavy to bear, are lifted away on the wings of a prayer. When Will it be in early spring, When flowers cover everything, When fresh and green the sod Will my soul then go to God? Or will it be in summer time When birds warbling my funeral chimes, In Autumn when the leaves turn bright, Will my darkness turn to light? Or will it be some winter's morn, When all nature seems quite forlorn? And will a carpet white with snow Cover the earth the day I go? It matters not what time or place, If I see Christ's sacred face. | Ted's Rose Petal Rosaries There were a lot of roses at Ted's funeral so I made rosary's from the petals of those roses. I gave a rosary to each of my nine living children in memory of their dad. Rose petals work well for making beads because they hold together nicely. St. Teresa the Little Flower As for miracles, I wonder when I often sit making rosaries about the presence of Divine Beings. Daily I'd say “Saint Theresa the Little Flower pray for us." Then as I worked with the rosary beads I smelled a sweet fragrance of roses in the air. Sister Ethel The Eucharistic Minister In the 1970's, when Father Tom Langer was pastor of St. Paul's Catholic Church, a nun performed the Eucharistic Minister duty of offering wine during Holy Communion. After a few months, she moved to Minnesota. So one day during mass Father Tom looked at me and said, “Sister Ethel come up and be our Eucharistic Minister." I did that for a long time. Father Tom gave me a special pin to wear as the Eucharistic Minister It felt like such an honor to serve as Eucharistic Minister . I also worked once a month at the church cleaning altars for many years. This included washing and ironing the altar boys cassocks and its rope belt that required re-braiding. I cleaned with Margaret Bischel for a few years. After Margaret couldn't clean any more, Bonnie Koehler and I cleaned together. We had a big altar on the east side with real long altar cloths that had to be done quite often. A heavy thick glass was laid over the cloths. The flowers were a messy thing plus the candle wax got on the glass, cloths, and carpet. Altar cleaning required a lot of special care.
48: Never Give Up! During my rosary making days, I was blessed to meet numerous folks from around the world. I received so many letters, cards, photos, and blessings as a result of making rosaries. Fortunately, I decided to continue with this adventure even when it seemed like an impossible task. Thank God I decided to let go of thinking "This is so hard, it's not for me!" and continued on this journey with the thought "never give up". Above is a thank you letter I received from Our Lady's Rosary Makers. The photo on right is a picture of Mary Apel, a woman I met through rosary making. She is from LaCrosse, Wisconsin who came with her daughter to my house for a visit. We went out to eat at Bohemian Ovens. She had a stroke a year later. The last I knew she was in a nursing home. | Mary Apel from LaCrosse, Wis. | A Card in Ethel's Collection
49: The Derks Family Front Row: Helen, Verona, Henry, Sister Rosie, Kathy Middle Row: Verona, MaryKay, Deloris, Joyce Back Row: John (Duane), Norman, George, Ted, Jim | New Neighbors In 1947, during holy week, the Derks family moved onto the farm in the pouring rain, up the hill on County Hwy F about a mile away from Ted and me. A few weeks later, Ted and I decided to welcome our new neighbors. Henry and Verona Derks were happy to meet us and said we were their first visitors. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that their son, Ted and our Eugene was to be baptized together the following Sunday. The Derks family sent their children to St. Paul's Catholic School like we did. So Henry and Ted took turns transporting all the kids to school. They also occasionally helped each other on the farm. Henry was also a carpenter. Later, Henry built a house in Bloomer and he and his wife, Verona rented out their farm and moved to town. After that, we only saw the Derks family occasionally at St. Paul's Catholic Church. | Verona Derks Thirty-one years after our first meeting with the Derks Family, Father announced the death of Verona Derks during Mass. I was stunned! I didn't even know she was ill or in the hospital. I made a hot beef casserole and took it to the Moose Hall for Verona's funeral dinner. Upon arrival at the Moose Hall, Ted wasn't feeling well and passed out on the steps outside. The ambulance was called and he was taken to the Bloomer Hospital. So we didn't get to attend Verona's funeral dinner. Four years later, Ted died on July 26th, 1981. Dating Henry On the 10th of September, 1981, Henry telephoned and asked me out to dinner. In order to maintain our privacy, we decided to go to La Hacienda in Chippewa Falls where we wouldn't meet anyone we knew. That plan was short lived. We ran into someone at the restaurant Henry did carpentry work for. A week later, we went on a date at the Lake House Inn and encountered the same people. Our secret was quickly revealed when we sat together at our church picnic. Father Crubel said to someone, "I guess Henry has a lady friend." Henry and I went to mass daily after that and then we'd go to the Coffee Cup for breakfast. One day Father Crubel, Father Hugh, and Father Langer came in to the Coffee Cup and I said, "Here comes the three Our Fathers." They laughed and joined us for breakfast. Henry and I dated for almost three years until our wedding day on July 2, 1984. We had supper together a lot. If one of us couldn't get together for a meal, we'd meet in the evening to pray the rosary.
50: A Meaningful Gift A couple of years ago, my granddaughter, Jennifer Odejewski who lives in Denver, Colorado told her friend that I make rosaries. So he was very interested in getting one. When Jennifer came to visit me, she told me about her friend and asked if I had any rosaries. I did and gave her one to give him. He has cherished this gift and keeps it very close. He studies Science of Mind and just graduated from practitioner training. He plans to be a youth minister some day. During his studies, this rosary has been blessed and prayed with by several Science of Mind students, practitioners, and ministers. Everyone has had a wonderful experience with it. Jennifer says that her friend also had an impact on her. He has taught her that there is a deeper meaning and beauty of the rosary then she ever knew. | Brother Dick Bantz I mailed rosaries to Brother Dick Bantz who was a member of the Divine Word Missionary stationed in Flores Island, Indonesia. His folks Eugene and Mary Bantz lived in Butler, Wisconsin so I sent my rosaries to them and they delivered them to Dick. During a visit with my brother, Donald, who lived in southern Wisconsin, I mentioned to him that I knew a Eugene and Mary Bantz. Donald said that that name sounds familiar. I think they go to my church. So one Sunday Donald introduced himself to Eugene. Donald asked Eugene if he knew Ethel Derks saying, "Ethel is my sister." Eugene replied, "Yes, she sends me rosaries to give to my son, and I can see that you resemble her as she sent me her picture." Eugene told Donald that his son, Dick was very ill with cancer. After that, Donald delivered my rosaries to the Bantz family until Brother Dick Bantz passed away. | Understanding Not more of light I ask, O God, but eyes to see what is. Not sweeter songs, but ears to hear the present melodies. Not more of strength, but how to use the power that I possess. Not more of love, but skill to turn a frown to a caress. Not more of joy, but how to feel it's kindly presence near. To give to others all I have of courage and of cheer. Not other gifts, dear God, I ask, but only sense to see, how best these precious gifts to use thou hast bestowed on me. Author Unknown | The first rosaries Ethel made were sent to Sr. Mary Naughton in Zambia, South Africa | Ethel's Drawing & Vision "I think of the rosary encircling the world and when it is complete there will be peace."
51: Ethel's framed artwork. She crocheted this scene of Jesus Christ's crucifixion. | The Power of Sincere Prayer adapted from free-lance writer Richard Bauman publication a reprint from the Liguorian Magazine, Liguori, MO 63057 I am fascinated by stories like the mysterious staircase that came to be built in the Chapel of our Lady of Light in Santa Fe, New Mexico. "Who was the old carpenter who came in answer to nine days of prayers to St. Joseph by a group of nuns, arriving in secrecy, and leaving as testimony to his presence the remarkable staircase of Santa Fe? The most striking thing about the staircase, even today, is that it has no visible means of support. Architects and engineers have studied this staircase in the Chapel and they say there is no reasonable explanation for its existence." The mystery grows even deeper when the wood used to build the staircase is examined. The hardwood is not a native of New Mexico and there is no trace of how the carpenter procured the wood. My daughter Jane took the photo above (right) and photo on (left) of this mysterious stairwell when she visited the Chapel of Our Lady of Light in 2009. | The Mysterious Staircase of Santa Fe | A close up view of the staircase in the Chapel of Our Lady of Light
52: Our Private Wedding We Fly to Hawaii Henry's family welcomed me like one of their own. They were so happy to have me marry their father. We were secretly united in marriage at St. Paul's Catholic Church on July 2, 1984. Our good friends, Clifford and Josephine Goettl were our attendants. We picnic reception was held with our families a few weeks later at Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls. Henry's daughter, Rosie had a condominium in Maui so we flew out to Pearl Harbor and from there we took a smaller plane to Maui which wasn't as smooth riding. We visited Charles Lindbergh's grave and the ships that were damaged from the bombing at Pearl Harbor. We swam in the ocean, stayed in high rise hotels, visited with Rosie, and were up at the crack of dawn to view glorious sunrises over the ocean. | Mr. & Mrs. Henry Derks Wedding Day - July 2, 1984 | Ethel & Henry Touring Pearl Harbor & U.S.S. Arizona | Ethel & Henry cut their Wedding Cake at their Irvine Park Celebration
53: Henry's Health In October of 1986, Henry started going to Milwaukee to see a doctor as he had health problems and his son, James wanted him to see someone down there. Henry's face would swell up because he was allergic to something. When we went to see the doctor in Milwaukee, I had to wait a lot so I took my rosary supplies along and kept busy making rosaries. On one trip, we checked in at the doctor's office, Henry got his checkup, and then we headed home. Henry drove for a while and said now you take over. We got as far as Wisconsin Dells and he said, "I'm so sick, we'll rent a motel room." We stayed overnight and I drove the rest of the way home in the morning. When we got home, Henry sat in the recliner that night and the next day as he couldn't get air lying down. On Friday night at two a.m., I took him to St. Joseph's Hospital. Then, Henry was transferred to Rochester, Minnesota. They put intravenous on him and started dialysis and I stayed in a motel. After leaving him at night, I was afraid until I got to my motel room especially if someone was walking behind me. I felt better after they passed me. After getting Henry home, he had 17 different pills to take and it took me a while to figure out how to administer them all. Henry was on oxygen and it was a noisy thing. I had to take him to Luther Hospital in EauClaire for dialysis on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. | Repairing A Nurse's Rosary While Henry was in the hospital, a nurse saw me making rosaries and asked if I could fix hers. Her rosary had clear pink beads with one missing. This was Holy Saturday. I took her rosary home and cleaned every bead. The dirt in the beads had to be pushed out with a common pin and soaked in a cleaning solution. I went through all my beads and found I had just one to match to replace her missing bead. The next morning, on Easter Sunday, I returned her rosary. She couldn't believe it. Her rosary looked brand new. Henry Made The Sign of The Cross & Was Gone Henry was in the hospital a long time and then once he was home he needed to have dialysis at home. They wanted me to study up on how to do it, or have a nurse come to do it. I wouldn't do it because I didn't want to be responsible for such a complicated procedure. We met with the doctors and they said Henry's prognosis wasn't good. Henry's children took turns with me staying over night with Henry at the hospital. One Friday morning, before breakfast, a large tan bird flew to the window next to the foot of Henry's bed. That bird's appearance sent a shock wave into my heart. Henry is leaving me! In mid-afternoon, Henry's children were called. They were all present. Henry kept sitting up and down in bed. I said, "Henry relax now, we'll say the rosary." He was very content as we all prayed the rosary. When we finished, Henry made the sign of the cross and he was gone. Henry Anton Derks died on Friday, July 10, 1987 and was laid to rest next to his first wife, Verona in St. Paul's North Cemetery in Bloomer, Wisconsin. He was seventy-eight years old. | Ethel & Henry Derks
54: 10,000 Rosaries & Counting The Times Review, Profiles In Faith, People of The LaCrosse Diocese (1994): Ethel Derks presents 237 rosaries to Father Joseph Smetana, a Capuchin priest from Nicaragua. Father Smetana will distribute them at his parish in Nicaragua. (pictured below). Ethel reached her goal of making 10,000 rosaries in 15 years. She has had the rosaries shipped worldwide to various missionaries, who in turn distribute them to the poor who request one. Her handiwork has gone to Ireland, Honduras, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Africa, Tanzania, Mexico, and Canada. Some of her rosaries were distributed to service personnel in Saudi Arabia during Dessert Strom. The United States has benefited from her hobby as well. She has shipped rosaries to New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois, Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Maryland, and West Virginia. "My Reward in doing all this," said Ethel, "is knowing that I'm helping others to join together in a powerful prayer for world peace. | Times Review, May 26, 1988 Nine Years and 6,000 rosaries ago, Ethel Derks began to string together prayer beads and makes an average of three rosaries per day, adding up to more than 1,000 per year. Her second husband, Henry Derks, used to help her regularly before his death in 1987. You Lead the Rosary Today Rose Gunderman and my sister-in-law, Eleanore Sarauer took turns leading the rosary for the congregation at St. Paul's Catholic Church before the 7 a.m. mass during the week. I sat in a pew right behind Eleanore and if she forgot the next decade to pray on the rosary, I'd help her remember what to say. One morning she turned around, handed me her rosary, and said, "here you you lead the rosary today." From then on, I lead the rosary Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Sometimes I'd lead every day if no one showed up. I never led the rosary in church before. Therefore, the first few days my heart would just pound. I told myself, "Oh Ethel it isn't that bad, shape up."
55: The Rosary Lady Honored at St. Paul's Catholic Church Mother-Daughter Breakfast On Sunday, May 4th, 2008 the Parish Council of Catholic Women (PCCW) gave special recognition to Mrs. Ethel Derks for her volunteer efforts in stringing rosary beads for world peace. Thirty years and 24,000 rosaries ago, Ethel began to string together prayer beads. Throughout the years, Ethel has donated her time and materials for making rosaries that have been distributed all over the world. She initially began making wire rosaries and then expanded her rosary making craft to include crochet, cord, and knot rosaries. Ethel also dedicates her time to creating unique kinds of rosaries such as a “ladder” and “seed bead” rosary. In addition, she does rosary repair. Ethel was given a basket of flowers and a wood-framed nun-doll as token gifts for work well done. Ethel would like to extend a heart-felt THANK YOU to Ron and Dorothy Zimmerman, Irene Reischel, and to all of those who made this wonderful surprise recognition possible. | My Christmas Tree in 1998 In 1998, I created a unique Christmas tree (pictured above). It's decorated with 122 rosaries that I handcrafted with mother of pearl mission beads of pink, blue, yellow, green, aqua, lilac, white, red, and burgundy. Fifty of my fine-thread crocheted snowflakes highlight the tree along with crystal stars, a star-angel tree top, and clear lights. Seated just below the tree top is a nine inch statue of Our Lady of Fatima (Blessed Virgin) holding her rosary. "LET'S PRAY FOR WORLD PEACE!" Rosary Repair & Requests I got so many phone calls from people requesting rosary repair. People also left broken rosaries at church in a basket for me. I also made some very different rosaries for people for specific occasions. For instance, some families took the rosary off the casket of their loved one and gave it to me. I'd replace each bead with a ribbon rose I fashioned myself. Then they'd hang the rosary in their bedroom. | Ethel's basket of flowers & Framed Nun Doll
56: I Felt so Calm & Peaceful My party originally seemed like a long way off, but as with everything else, the time on the calendar said August 29th. It was a really beautiful, sunny day. I was ready to go as son, Don and his wife, Claudia came. Claudia pinned on a beautiful yellow rose corsage. They took me to St. Paul's Catholic Church. We had an eleven o'clock mass offered for me. Fr. Arthur had a real nice mass. Don gave readings and handed out communion. My nephew Freddie Bischel, wife, and family brought up the communion gifts to the altar. I was the first to receive communion. I can't tell you how I felt. I hoped I wouldn't get nervous. Instead, I felt so calm and peaceful. After the mass, my daughter's, Judy and Jane took me to the foot of the altar. Fr. Arthur came down the steps and gave me his blessing. Then the congregation sang Happy Birthday and clapped. I said, “Thank you” and waved back. The church was packed. Following Mass, a dinner was served at the White Pine Pavilion. My granddaughter, Lisa Blank spent a great deal of time making a wonderful DVD of my life, set it to music, and played it continuously at my party. A grand celebration of music, dance, and photo sessions were held throughout the afternoon. The Rubenzer Hot Shots provided Polka music for 225 guests who attended from Washington State, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and from the far reaching corners of Wisconsin. I saw so many people I hadn't seen for a very long time. At six o'clock the orchestra packed up. I think my party was a big success for the work all my children did for me. I really appreciate everything they did. Judy had a garage party that night and served delicious food. I opened my gifts there. Don and Claudia brought me, my gifts, and some left-over food, back to my apartment at 9 o'clock pm. I got to bed at midnight. Thank you Lord for giving me such a lovely family and such good friends! | My Biggest Birthday Party Ever My 85th birthday party is the biggest birthday party I've ever had. Jane called from Monroe, Washington in March. She said, “Mother we're going to have an 85th birthday party for you.” I said, “It costs too much, don't do that.” Jane told me it's all right because all of the brothers and sisters said they'd help. Then we needed to set a date. My birthday is September 21st but I have nine living children and I wanted to have them all there. I said Rita and Bob come home on a two week vacation before Labor Day. Let's make sure she can come. So the date was set for August 29th, at the White Pine. Then the whole family got busy sending out invitations and made plans to celebrate. I made 200 rosaries that we placed in pretty mesh bags and gave them away at the party. I made each rosary with a different color for each decade: white, blue, green, and yellow. Each color represents a different part of the world. I thought, “At eighty-five years old, I can include the whole world in my birthday celebration!” | Ethel holding her "Happy 85th Birthday Party" Cake decorated with her photos and a rosary
57: Ethel's Nice Big Family So now that I'm 85 yrs. old and gray, For a nice family I always did pray And as they all grew older, they all flew away. Now that I'm old and gray, they are always ready to lend a helping hand too, Because I'm unable to do a lot of the things that I used to do.
58: Writing Thank You Notes Sunday, September 19th 2004, it's hot, and 90 degrees. I am seated at my table with the fan running. Its gentle breeze cools my face. I glance around at my surroundings and reminisce. The table is piled high with birthday cards. My 85th birthday party was August 29th. I received cards before and after my party, being that my birthday is actually September 21st. I'm busy writing thank you notes. The day after my party my kids went back to their own lives and I felt they were all leaving me. However, each day I'd get a card, a phone call, or someone would drop in. This afternoon Art stopped by to deliver some liver.
59: Floating In The Air, This Powerful Energy Carried My Body After Art left my apartment, I took the liver out to my little freezer in the garage and left my cane behind in the kitchen. As I turned at the doorway to go back into my apartment, I lost my balance on the padded step, twisted, and landed on the sharp edge of the door frame with the heavy metal, spring-loaded, automatic closing door on my back and my heels both caught under the padding on the step. I worked a long time to get my right shoe off. Then I grabbed the door frame on the outside and finally pushed my left shoe off but my heel was still caught under the padding, so I pushed around until I finally got my heel free. I was sweating heavily. It was over 90 degrees in the garage. After a great deal of effort, I got my left knee up. It hurt so bad. I worked hard and finally got my right foot on the step. Here I am, two knees in the air and both feet on the step with the heavy door on my back sitting on a sharp door-frame edge. “Oh Mother Angelica!” I prayed, “You went through so much during your whole life, and you said if the Lord lets me live another day, I'll suffer if only I can get more souls out of purgatory, I too will offer the same”. I pushed, and pushed until I got off the door ledge but the door was still on my back. So I worked while laying on the floor on my back. Finally, I managed to press back and get the door off my back but it was caught above my butt. O Dear Lord, I thought to myself, I'm going to crack, chip, or break a bone. I worked around some more and the door went off my butt, but it was caught under my knees. Oh dear! my skin is so thin I know I'm going to get skinned with that sharp door pushing against it. Again, I worked until I got it out from my knees, but now it caught my heel. Oh well, just a sore heel but surprisingly it slipped off my heel. So now I use my right foot to push the door shut. Good riddance! I pulled myself along the linoleum floor towards the laundry room in an attempt to grab a door frame where I might help myself up. I continued to struggle for a long time to get to my feet with no luck. So I prayed again, Dear St. Anthony, please send someone to help, all for the love of Jesus through Mary.” Without warning my left arm fell to the floor. I found myself trying to grab at something only to be grasping at thin air. A sharp pain shot into my heart. I then said, “Oh Dear Lord I know I'm going to get hurt, but please don't let me be knocked unconscious.” Suddenly, I felt massive surge of power run through me and under both my feet. This power raised my 165 pound body two feet off the floor. I remember thinking, “Oh Dear Lord” “I hope I don't hit the ceiling.” Still floating in the air this powerful energy carried my body to my kitchen table. Then with great force my stomach hit the table as I was set down on my feet. I grabbed with both hands onto the table lifting it up into the air throwing everything onto the floor. I let the table down, as I felt my feet stabilize in the soft, spongy carpet. I slid around the table trembling and sat down on a chair. I put my elbows on the table, placed my head in my hands and said, “Oh thank you St. Anthony, thank You, Mary and Jesus." The phone rings. Fortunately, the phone is lying next to me on the table. It's Judy. She says, “Mother open the door, I'm coming over. I said, “I am trembling, I can't, you have a key, come in.” I tell Judy my story. She picks things up that fell off of the table. I didn't break any bones. I wasn't hurt one bit. In fact, I didn't have any pains in my whole body for a few weeks and that is highly unusual for me. The power that went streaming through my body seems to have given me more energy since. It was about three o'clock when this was all over. At 5:45 a shower went through and the sun began to shine leaving a rainbow. And no one will ever realize the power I had felt as I was lifted. It was really something. After that Sunday, every time I went to my laundry room entrance, I called it my “Holy Door Step” and said a Hail Mary, Eternal Rest Grant Unto Thee O’ Lord and let Perpetual Light Shine On Them. Amen.
60: March 29, 2008 I lived ten weeks at Hetzel's Care Center going through many trials with kidney and bladder infection and I had several mini strokes. I was so relieved when the nurse said I had a choice, I could either move to assisted living or go home and have Monday, Wednesday, and Friday care come in for one hour. "I'll go home" I said, and started to cry for joy. Then the nurse, Don, and Claudia all started to cry too. I'm so happy to be back in my lovely apartment. I thank the Lord every day to have a roof over my head and a nice bed to sleep in. Each night I sing my Family Litany where I pray for each of my family members individually. That takes a long time. Then I think only of the lord and slowly drift off to sleep. At 5:20 a.m. my good old radio that Ted won many years ago wakes me up. I hear the weather report and then listen to good Old Time Music (waltz's and polkas). I can't dance anymore. Some day maybe. I don't know what the good Lord has planned. They came and got my blue car yesterday. I cried to see it go but thank God I have Don, Claudia, and many good friends for transportation. I pay for my rides because gas is pricey. It's now $3.39 a gallon. | Ethel's 90th Birthday Celebration Bloomer Advance, Wednesday, November 4, 2009 A 90th Birthday Celebration was held on Sunday, September 20th in honor of Mrs. Ethel Hable-Derks. Ethel would say "I wasn't officially 90 years young until September 21st, at 8:00 p.m. That's the actual time of my birth!" Hence the (unofficial) 90th birthday celebration began with an 11:00 a.m. Mass at St. Paul's Catholic Church officiated by Father James Arthur. Ethel's great-granddaughter, Emily Krhin played piano selections prior to Mass, Ethel's brother and sister-on-law, Laurell and Roberta Bischel and her sister, Madonna Harmon carried up the offertory gifts, and Ethel's granddaughter, Heidi Kouba sang "Ave maria" during Holy Communion. The Mass concluded with family, friends, and parishioners singing "Happy Birthday". Following the service, a reception was held in the church basement. The PCCW served a dinner catered by Main Street Cafe. Family and friends celebrated Ethel's life by taking a trivia quiz "How well do you know grandma?" Short stories of Ethel's childhood were recounted in a two-page news letter. Ethel's great-grandchildren, Loren Beaudette and Clarice Hable recited the story of the "Fox and the Stork" in honor of Ethel's 1929 prize winning childhood art work. The celebration concluded by playing bingo. Of course, Ethel won the first game and the final black out game. It just goes to show that she's a winner from start to finish! Will I Make It To 100? January 1st, 2013. I got to see it (the new year). Do you think I'll make it to 100? I watched the Mass on television's EWTN station, old year out and New Year in. I'm at Country Terrace with 16 other elderly men and women. I pull the pull cord (buzzer) for a Happy New Year greeting to the girls working here. Brittany Monnier works here and cares for me, each night she gives me a sponge bath, putting lotion over my whole body. I sleep on my back in my recliner as it holds my left leg up which I cannot bend, with two pillows under my neck and under my legs. | Ethel & Great-Grandson, Isaiah Kouba (born 12/6/2009)
61: Now That I'm 93 So now that I'm 93 years old and gray, for a nice family I always did pray. My family keeps growing by leaps and bounds. I now have so many beautiful grandchildren, step-grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-step grandchildren. They continue to multiply like the number of rosaries I've completed as a powerful prayer for world peace. May these wonderful souls continue the tradition I began of establishing world peace and sharing the gifts that God has bestowed upon them.
62: Mother Cabrini & Birds Birds seem to be in my life as God's little messengers. I have a great fondness for birds and enjoy feeding them. Therefore, I am attracted to this story about Mother Cabrini. It was frequently noted how animals had an instinctive attraction to Mother Cabrini just as they had for St. Francis of Assisi. While birds would fly away from others, they came to her playfully and unafraid. One day while walking through the streets of Paris with a sister, she felt tired. She sat on a bench in the garden to rest. Soon she was surrounded by a flock of birds which alighted on her shoulders, on her lap, at her feet, chirping, warbling, and trilling. None of the birds even came near her companion who stood there admiring the pretty scene. After a while, Mother Cabrini reluctantly rose from her seat. “Sorry,” she apologized to the birds, “Duty calls and we have to leave, now go and continue to praise your Creator.” The tiny songsters flew off in all directions. | Mother Cabrini's Dream According to www.cabrini.com, Mother Cabrini was born in Italy and was the youngest of thirteen children. As a young girl she helped her parents work the family farm. Due to a deep abiding faith in God, she founded many hospitals, orphanages, and missions. She was the first American citizen to be canonized a Saint by the Roman Catholic Church. I was fortunate to see the orphanage that Mother Cabrini founded in Seattle, Washington on August 31, 2006 with my daughters, Judy, Jane and, Jane's husband, Ken Holmes. I viewed the orphanage from a boat on our Tour of Lake Washington in Kirkland. This is the story that www.cabrini.com tells of how Mother Cabrini founded the Seattle orphanage. “One night Mother Cabrini had a dream in which she saw a beautiful house on a hilltop. The next day Mother Cabrini and some sisters were walking when Mother Cabrini waved down a chauffeur-driven limo and asked for a ride. The lady in the limo was happy to help the sisters, and on the way, Mother Cabrini spoke of the house she dreamed of. When they arrived at the convent and were saying goodbye the lady told her: “Mother Cabrini, that house you dreamed of is mine, I own it. I never thought of parting with it, but if I may be allowed to enter your Holy House for a moment and receive a glass of water in the name of Our Lord, your little orphans shall have their home with my blessing.” When asked later how she obtained such a beautiful property, Mother Cabrini would say, “I paid for it with three treasures: my love, a dream, and a glass of water in HIS NAME.” | Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini 1850 - 1917
63: Catherine Hable It's March 4, 2005, Holy Thursday. I didn't want to drive in the dark at night so I stayed home rather than go to Holy Thursday services. Instead, I went to bed, said my prayers, and drifted off to sleep. At 2 a.m., I woke up and and immediately thought, “O Dear Lord I'm so happy that you left my sister-in-law, Catherine Hable here so that she was able to come to my birthday party. The next day, on Good Friday, Father Arthur made an announcement during his sermon. He said, "I got a phone call at 2 a.m. to come to the hospital to anoint Catherine Hable. She passed away. He said it was a celebration that Catherine was welcomed to the Lord's Table at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. I was surprised to receive the news that Catherine had passed away at the same time I woke up and thanked the Lord for letting her be at my party. | Prayer & Miracles In 2009, I sat with Father Arthur in deep conversation about my Mother, Ethel Derks. Father said he felt proud to think of Ethel as his own mother and that he strongly believes in her miracle. The miracle that occurred on September 19, 2004. During our discussion, Father mentioned that one day he felt we could make an application to the Vatican for Ethel's canonization to sainthood. He said that once Ethel makes her transition, people can ask her to pray for them. Then if miracles occur, a written report can be made to the Vatican for the consideration of her canonization. Catholics do not pray TO saints, but rather that Catholics can ask saints to pray FOR them. The official position of the Roman Catholic Church is that asking saints for their prayers is no different than asking someone here on earth to pray for us. Gianna Rosewood (Jane Marie Hable) Editor of Ethel Derks' Autobiography "The Rosary Lady" Faithfully Strings Beads For World Peace Mother's Day, May 12, 2013 | Fr. Arthur Blessing Ethel at her 85th Birthday Mass with her daughters, Judy and Jane | Ethel with Catherine Hable