S: THROUGH GRANDMAS EYES
BC: Like branches on a tree, our lives may grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.
FC: THROUGH GRANDMAS EYES | Author: Susan Leitermann-Jilk
2: I dedicate this book to the memory of my grandmother, Eleanor Erdman-Leitermann, whose daily strength and determination, hard work and perseverance and her strong faith in Jesus Christ gave her one hundred and two years here on earth. She was a wealth of wisdom and love.
3: I have been blessed by the one hundred and two years given to my grandmother. Caring for her during her later years will be held in a special place in my heart forever. She has given me a piece of her life captured in the many hours we spent together. I loved working side by side with her as she was no longer able to do daily things alone, sitting and chatting about politics, daily happenings, the weather, her family, and times long ago. I have much admiration for her. I am sure her strong-willed "matter of fact" attitude contributed to her long life. I have gained much.
4: On numerous Sunday afternoons following dinner at the Jilk home, Grandma would spend time reminiscing of days gone by. She enjoyed telling her stories in great detail as Steve, I and the kids sat intrigued by her recollection of special events and daily happenings, Questions would be asked and Grandma would set the scene and tell the story. Occasionally she would confess not knowing the answer only to have it come to her a little later and spark off another detailed picturesque story. It was exciting to hear about times seemingly so long gone, yet not so for Grandma. During the course of these conversations I would have to stop note taking and get refreshments as time passed quickly, but ah what way time could be better spent than relaxing, reliving the"god ol days." I believe her favorite story would be of the days at camp the first winter after she and Grandpa were married. But I'll jump back a bit further to when Grandma was a little girl. She begins by explaining that she, being the oldest girl, seldom had the opportunity to leave the house and do things other than household chores. Her father eluded to the fact that she needed to "help ma." However, she quickly stated her feelings to her father about the situation. It wasn't long and grandma was on her way down to the woods wither her brothers Fred, Reuben and her father. | LITTLE RED HOUSE IN THE COUNTRY | On numerous Sunday afternoons following dinner at the Jilk home, Grandma would spend time reminiscing of days gone by. She enjoyed telling her stories in great detail as Steve, I and the kids sat intrigued by her recollection of special events and daily happenings. Questions would be asked and Grandma would set the scene and tell the story. Occasionally she would confess not knowing the answer only to have it come to her a little later and spark off another detailed picturesque story. It was exciting to hear about times seemingly so long gone, yet not so for Grandma. During the course of conversations I would have to stop note taking and get refreshments as time passed quickly, but ah what way could time be better spent than relaxing, reliving the "good ol days." I believe her favorite story would be of the days at camp the first winter after she and Grandpa were married. But I'll jump back a bit further to when Grandma was a little girl. She begins by explaining that she, being the oldest girl, seldom had the opportunity to leave the house and do
6: Great Grandparents | things other than household chores. Her father eluded to the fact that she needed to "help ma." However, she quickly stated her feelings to her father about the situation. It wasn't long and Grandma was on her way down to the woods with her brothers Fred and Reuben and her father. They would pick butternuts that would later be used to make candy similar to peanut brittle, and the shells along with sumac leaves would be used to dye wool or flax that Grandma's mother and grandmother spun to make socks and other winter apparel. "Ma wanted the socks deeper in color so as to be easier to keep clean." Grandma quotes. The wagon now filled, it was time to make the three to four mile trek back to the house. Grandma and her brothers decided to pull the wagon home and come back later in the week for the remaining bucket of nuts. Her father standing nearby chuckled, but said nothing. Grandma giggles gently now as she recalls learning what had happened to the nuts The squirrels must have declared that day a "Holiday." When I began asking questions of Grandma during those early years of her widowhood, her stories were mostly about the farm which meant the Charles Leitermann Homestead. It wasn't until Grandma was in her late 90's that she began to speak more about her parents, siblings, and life on 136th Ave. Stettin township.
8: Her mother a short quiet woman is remembered as always wearing a bow in her hair. The family was very poor and was often talked about by others who observed their sandwiches at school made of brown bread. During those years white enriched bread was prestigious. Grandma and her siblings knew that a breakfast of oatmeal surely meant that there would be oatmeal bread for supper that night and just maybe some would be left over for school lunches the next day. On COLD wintry days lunch pails were allowed near the wood stove at school so they wouldn't freeze near the school entrance where they normally would be kept. | Grandma hand made this quilt and loved having it on her bed almost year round.
9: Realizing that Grandma was now more eager to share stories from her childhood I felt more inclined to probe her. Grandma often told about the summer kitchen on the Leitermann Homestead and countless stories about how she would be responsible for baking the cakes while living there during the early years of her marriage. Her sister-in-laws preferred cooking and child care in the main house so baking in the summer kitchen was fine with her. I was curious about how her mother (Meta) cooked and more detail about her childhood home, so I mustered up the courage to ask her. The tiny house in the country consisted of two rooms upstairs and two rooms on the main level. Turning in for the night was no easy feat. The children needed to exit the lower level and climb the stairs nailed to the outside of the house to get to the two bedrooms upstairs. A wood stove for baking and cooking had doors on either side, and a water reservoir too. It was housed on the main level in the kitchen where all meals were shared. My understanding is that the tiny home was built of rough sawed lumber painted red. The tiny plot of land that once held the little red house in the country one day burned to the ground. Grandma being the eldest child, was the first to leave home, returning only a couple of times to spend a night between jobs.
10: Wood from her grandfather's property was used in the little stove that both supplied heat to the home and was used to prepare meager meals to the family. Many pails of berries had been picked at her grandparents place as well as surrounding neighborhood. Nothing was left to waste during those early years. Grandma's father didn't have a horse for transportation, he would walk to his father's place about a half mile away and bring either Frank (who was a rather spirited horse) or Belle who seemed to love to go to the city. On one particular trip into the city Grandma tells me that her father came home with Frank, who didn't like the city. Once he saw the street cars he became anxious and couldn't be trusted. So her father handed the reins to his wife and Grandma held whoever the baby was at the time while her father lead the horse through the streets to their destination. As I spend time with Grandma I understand how she has had to conserve to survive, yet enjoy life and persevere with as much strength as she could. I can easily see that she continued to live each day in this manner. Gardening was a way of survival during those times. Squash was planted in between the sweet corn, keeping the weed growth down, Grandma
11: stated. Then spoke of growing not only popcorn but enough potatoes to last a year. Swiss chard, spinach and beet greens were among the crops grown on the home place. Onions were sold by the bushel to Rib River Ballroom. The carpentry trade kept Grandma's father, Fred, employed as well as being a night watchman at the local saw mill. (Menzner Lumber) He needed to be sure the boiler didn't go down during the night and would be ready for the men to return to work the following day. Homeless men would also have to be kept out as they would try to get in to stay warm on cold wintry nights. Grandma was the oldest of eleven children: Viola, Edna, Clara, Mary, Arletta and Meta completed the seven girls. The four boys were: Fred, Harvey, Henry and Reuben.
13: TALL DARK AND HANDSOME | Now you must understand that I enjoy writing stories and telling them as well, but I do admit that I MUST write the events down as my memory at age forty is not really as sharp as Grandma's is at age eighty-nine. Pausing only briefly, Grandma begins listing her first job away from home, acting as a farmers "nanny" so to speak. She recalls earning $1.50 per week. Unhappy with the position she moved on to another family's farm and took up household duties there, later making as much as $2.50 per week. At the age of 14 she acquired a cooking position in Marathon City at Menzner Boarding House. It was hard work but Grandma was accustomed to that and kept the $8.00 per week position. Most days were long and fatigue made one yearn for much needed sleep. It wasn't long and morning would bring about another busy day. Another cook at the boarding house befriended Grandma and urged her to keep an eye on one fellow in particular. Being rather shy and not real interested in these guys at the boarding house, Grandma weakens and keeps her eye on the "fella" anyway. The cook helps to arrange a meeting for Grandma and the boarder. The plan goes something like this and I must say. "Without a hitch." Easter Sunday is nearing and so is the usual Easter Dance. Grandma and the cook attend the Easter Services on Sunday morning. The plan continues with the boarder and Grandma to meet after services.
14: Introductions take place and a time set for the newly introduced couple to attend the Easter dance that evening. This tall, well respected boarder had a reputation of being a very polite gentleman, perhaps a good match for Grandma as she was known as a good cook and baker, a hard worker. This fella then asks Grandma out, she laughs. "On what I suppose you could call a couple more dates." He informs her that he will be taking another position in the Sturgeon Bay area for six to eight weeks. He then asks if she would be willing to write back and forth. She agrees. They write while he is away. A year and a half of "dating" and the couple sets a date to be married. Elmer had swept the young cook off her feet.
16: WEDDING VOWS | "There were no long engagements at that time, a decision was made to get married, you got busy getting the necessary things done before hand and that was that," Said Grandma. Grandpa and Grandma talked it over and made their decision. Grandma did not like her job at the Box Company in Wausau and it wouldn't work out to travel every day for the job so she quit her job. The fella that owned the business was rather grumpy, a trait that Grandma didn't want to deal with. Grandpa waited outside in the car while Grandma went in to collect her pay check in the office and pick up her apron from the work room. As she exited the building the owner yells down the walkway to her, "You might just as well stop at the office for your pay check," at which time Grandma yells back, "I already did that," and never turned back. A double wedding ceremony was held July 28, 1926 at St. Mary Catholic Church. The church is now known as The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish. The men wore matching gray suits, white shirts, and blue ties with white polka dots. Sleeveless, waltz length, light weight crepe dresses with cap sleeves inserted to cover the arms were worn for the church service by both brides. A large tent was erected on the farm allowing space for the meal to be served, however the newly weds were not in attendance. During those years the wedding party had to go to the photography studio for portraits. Narrow dirt roads were precarious to travel and therefore took time. The family cooked and served
17: July 28, 1926
18: baked chicken, mashed potato's, and chicken soup, serving lemon and raisin pie for dessert. Due to the large number of people attending, Ma Leitermann was concerned about how she would make chicken soup to serve so many. A large copper water boiler was purchased to accommodate the soup. Ma needed a new boiler anyway! A shivery was held that evening at which a half barrel of beer was consumed. Seems to me a good time was had by all. These times were financially difficult meaning there would be no honeymoon. The morning after the wedding was spent in town setting up household. First the dishes used to serve guests needed to be returned to the hardware store. More than enough serving trays were received as gifts so the couple returned two of them in trade for other items that they needed. Among those items was a slop pail, dish pan, bathing pan, wash tubs, kitchen table and kitchen cupboard. The cupboard proudly sits in my family room refinished to it's original white color. Grandma vividly remembers it having blue striping. The blue stove worked well with the cabinet. She wanted blue gingham fabric for curtains but couldn't afford that and decided on plain blue instead. Completion of this work quickly brought them to lunch. Grandpa headed downtown for something to eat.
19: She needed meat of some sort, flour to make bread and a few other staples to get by. Grandpa worked for a well drilling company at the time and would be traveling to Merrill, WI for the week. He wanted to be sure she had enough to eat while he was away. Much to Grandma's surprise he carried a loaf of bread home, which she knew couldn't be purchased in town. Someone had given him the loaf as a gift. The new bride eagerly took care of the items in the paper parcel that her new husband had brought to her. Beef, flour, the loaf of bread, and a few miscellaneous things she would need. The following morning he would be leaving for work and not return until Friday, she would be on her own in their three room apartment in town. Her days would be spent at work, her evenings would be alone. And so they began their lives as husband and wife in 1926.
20: FIRST CHRISTMAS TOGETHER | Shortly after their marriage Grandpa took work at the Albert Kutz Logging Camp north of Antigo, WI. Harvey Leitermann had taken work there also. One team of horses needed to be taken up to the camp, so Harvey took on the task. However, he wanted to return home for Christmas to visit a gal. It was decided that Harvey would return home and Grandpa and Grandma would stay at camp to take care of the team. Christmas was near, the remainder of the logging workers had left for the holiday. Grandma diligently began to tend to her work. She began by washing the bedding and then washing and boiling the towels from the bunkhouse. After the bunkhouse was cleaned and in order, Grandma returned to her cabin, for her usual duties there. Grandpa and Grandma needed to go to town to see what time Christmas Mass was and buy bacon for breakfast. While there, they also purchased a few small gifts for two little neighbor girls who would be having Christmas dinner with them. Grandma recalls the gifts of hair ribbons, pencils, crayons, and tablets for the little tike's.
21: The family of four returned the following day for yet another meal. Despite the trip to town for bacon there was none served on Christmas morning, as there was none to be found in town. Beef was served in its place.
22: LIFE AT CAMP | Late October days could be cool, winter in camp would come soon. It was time to settle in. Cooking for six men plus themselves at camp was a huge endeavor. Water needed to be carried from the spring in the woods. There was no well. When the spring froze over during the cold winter season, the ice needed to be chipped away and water dipped out. Grandpa usually carried the water to the kitchen for Grandma, but at times she needed to do the task on her own. Days were long and packed with work. The day began EARLY! Bread that was started after supper the night before was ready for the oven at 3:00 a.m. Breakfast would be served at 6:00 a.m. Potatoes boiled the night before were fried for breakfast. On one occasion Grandma recalls having six extra men for breakfast and knew she would need more food than originally thought, so she quickly made up two pans of biscuits. The butter served would be almost white in color, food coloring was not available. Canned milk and dry cake yeast were used for baking. Cakes had to be made without eggs. Raisins, shortening and sugar were boiled together and remaining ingredients added. The batter was placed in loaf pans and baked. The fruit made the cakes very moist and enjoyable for the hard working men. Several fruits would be combined for variety. Perhaps apples, raisins, prunes or peaches. Dried fruits were readily available and served twice each day and ALWAYS for supper. A long table with a bench on each side was cleared from breakfast and reset with blue and gray enamelware for the next meal. The silverware would need to be put into old flour sacks and a towel and shook until clean, then
23: dumped into a pan and put in the oven to dry and sterilize. The cook stove held the tea kettle, hot and ready to go at all times. Sandwiches were served for lunch. Vegetables of the root variety were brought out from their storage hole dug underneath the floor in the kitchen for preparation of the main meal later in the day. Cabbage, potatoes, rutabaga and carrots gave the cook a selection for her meal planning. Sauerkraut, dried peas and beans for baked beans were often served. Salt herring was easily kept at camp and served as well. Meat was stored in a small closet just off the shack and was stocked prior to Grandma's arrival at camp. Beef and pork were used most often. Later during the winter of 1927 the Albert Kutz Camp closed due to bankruptcy. | ALBERT KUTZ LOGGING CAMP
24: THE LONG RIDE HOME | Heading home was not as simple as one might think during those times. Transportation was scarce, not as we now know it. The trip to Antigo was about forty miles, quite the distance to go by horse and sleigh. It was agreed that Harvey would take Grandma to the bus station some five miles away. What comes to mind for many of us today is a beautiful bus, complete with a washroom and heat. Not so!!! A street car with side curtains was "the bus." Harvey leaves for the bus station so as to arrive fifteen minutes early only to learn that the driver left the station early, thinking that there would be no travelers due to the bitter cold weather. Rather than return to camp, Grandma decided to make the ride home by horse and sleigh with Harvey. He was not in favor of this idea but her persistence and determination to go home altered the decision. Harvey gave Grandma another sweater, an extra pair of stockings which she put right over the top of her shoes & a second pair of mittens. She was not prepared for the trip by sleigh. Sitting on her suitcase atop the sleigh with Harvey they begin the trip traveling about ten miles per hour. Along the way the two stop at a bar, only Harvey goes in. He makes a call home to let them know that they were on their way, knowing that a hot meal would be ready upon arrival. "That was the coldest I have ever experienced in my entire life." Grandma recalls.
25: While Grandpa and Grandma were walking in the woods together, a place that Grandpa truly loved, they talked about starting their family and perhaps it would be best if they returned to the Leitermann Homestead rather than staying in the logging camp. Their first born, Charlotte, was born August 1, 1927. Rita was born about three years later, March 25, 1930. March 13, 1934 brought about the birth of their son Allan, which completed their family. Grandma had a few stories to tell about these three little shavers. I'll save those until later. | BACK AT THE LEITERMANN FARM
26: So often the things we need to learn the most come from those older AND wiser than ourselves. Grandpa's father, Charles was a hardworking compassionate man. Sunday was always a day of rest in his book. He commented often, "What you do on Sunday you lose on Monday!" There were many occasions where Charles would allow "bums" to sleep in the summer kitchen out of the elements. The barn was off limits for fear of the wanderer's smoking and burning down the barn. Charles' greatest fear became a reality. The barn on the homestead burned to the ground years later, never being rebuilt. Most of us have probably heard the stories about sausage making on the farm. I certainly have experienced sausage making as a child myself. Great-Grandma Leitermann always stated, "If an ordinary butcher would use top choice meat for sausage making as Great-Grandpa did, they would go broke." One favorite dish of Charlotte's would be the "fried down beef." Various scraps of meat would be cooked down until the moisture was out and then packed into a crock and covered with fat to
27: keep it from spoiling. This was readily available on short notice for meals. To not mention Grandpa's team of horses would be like omitting family members from a family tree. The home place had two heavy working teams and one light working team. Queen and Bell were Grandpa's first team. Jewel and Barney, a mother/son team were the second team. Side raking required the use of a light working horse, while hauling and plowing were done by the heavier work horses. Grandpa's teams were noted for their excellent work abilities, they were often seen going down the road, off to help another farmer. Great-Grandma Catherine showed concern when watching Barney walk along the roadway. His gait was a bit off to one side. Her confidence in Grandpa's horsemanship was affirmation enough. If Elmer couldn't handle Barney, then neither could his father, Charles.
28: MOTHER DIES | My grandmother speaks little of her mother, Meta Wilhelmina Ida Kiepke-Erdmann. As I look at her wedding photo one can see that she must have enjoyed wearing bows in her hair as many people recall. She appeared to be a woman of small frame. I am also assuming she was a hard working woman from the stories Grandma tells. Meta had ten children in a short period of time. It wasn't long after Little Meta was born that her mother Meta passed. Grandma expects that her death was due to complications from Little Meta's birth. Grandma herself had also given birth to her first born, Charlotte. The mother daughter duo had been visiting each other and Grandma recalls her mother not looking well. Meta was 36. Grandma's Grandmother came to the little red house in the country and cared for the children for a while after. Sometime later she took Little Meta with her and raised her with her own children still at home, leaving the remainder of the children under their father's care.
30: FATHER DIES | On this particular February day I arrived at Grandma's as usual. We had no plans for the day so she asked me to just sit and talk. Although there are many things needing to be done at home I sit as she asks and I listen. She delights in these times. her days are long and I feel bad about that so I listen. "Why not ask her about her father," I ask myself. In the past I have heard bits and pieces of her dad but perhaps I will learn something new. "Well," she says. "He died young, about age 62." He was working in Mosinee, WI at the time and lived at the home place in Stettin. A call came in to the family that Dad had died along the roadside helping someone push their car out of the ditch. A positive identification of the body had to be made. So Fred ad Loretta picked up Grandma and headed to the Helke Funeral Parlor. Harvey and Henry had gone on ahead. Harvey decides he is the one to do the task. Money was scarce at that time for most people but especially so for the Erdmann family. Fred's brother, August offers a suit coat for the body and the kids pitch in for the remainder of his clothing. There are no funds available for the burial. After some discord it is decided that the kids will pay for a burial for their father. Grandma notes that they bought a bit nicer of a casket rather than the cheapest available. A headstone was already in place because mother had died years earlier. A small service was held at the Helke Funeral Parlor before the burial at which Rev. Piltz officiated. Carl Koening, Ed Hanke, Joe Merrick, Mr. Wenke and Mr, Wienke were the pallbearers. Grandma doesn't recall the first name of the last two men. At that time
31: pallbearers were responsible for digging the grave and had completed their job. Dad was now at rest. Shortly after the burial Fred's children went to the house to clean up, readying the house for sale. Items that were of value were split among the kids and lots needed to be thrown away. The whole process didn't take long. The women of the family had brought along food to share, the last meal they would partake of in their childhood home. Grandma took bread and a cake and Loretta brought Chili as she recalls. Others may have brought things too, she doesn't remember. The little red house in the country was purchased by a bachelor and later burned to the ground and was replaced by a trailer home. Grandma then loses track of who owned the property. Grandma notes that her father was a kind man despite the drinking he did in his later years. In early 2009, Arletta Engman, Grandma's sister stops by for a visit and the two sisters talk about their younger years and their father as well. Grandma tells the story of how her father would be walking along the roadside, come upon rose bushes and pluck out a bloom for his hat and continue on. When questioned about where the flower came from he would tell them "Along the roadside where God put them to be enjoyed."
32: THE VISIT | This morning Grandma requests a trip out to visit her parents grave. Her steps are now slow and unsteady as we walk through the cemetery. I hold on to her arm with one hand and carry a bouquet of "posies" as she called them in the other. She had thought it appropriate that we take the bouquet with us on that cool windy day. Standing at the grave site she focuses downward, perhaps whispering a prayer or having a chat. Not long afterward I place the posies and we return to the car. As we turn away and begin to leave she tells of how terrible it was to have her parents burial on the Non-Christina portion of the property. She knew in her heart her parents believed in the loving Savior she knew well. I could feel the hurt she carried for so many years. So I backed the car some one half mile back to the site and point out that there no longer is an archway and gate surrounding the graveyard depicting this. We talked about how God and Jesus Christ felt about that sort of situation, Christian vs non-Christian burial. How comforted she appeared to have become....no gate, no fence, no separation. Time had changed, we were united as one. We head south down 120th Ave toward Stettin Drive, Grandma points out who used to live where, these memories still very vivid in her memory although her vision very poor. Not far from the cemetery and church we stop briefly near the parcel of property
33: Our Ancestors | where she had once lived. Of coarse nothing is the same, yet she continues to look, perhaps picturing her mother sitting on the front porch with a bow in her hair, or her and her siblings working in the garden on a hot summer afternoon, later running in the yard near sunset. I left her ponder and chat enjoying each moment. It seemed like time had repelled backwards, stopping to frolic a while, then spurt forward again bringing her back to the present. The skies were now clouded over with gray, our morning trek had brought us back to Hickory St. in Marathon, a place she has called home for over 45 years now, we sit in her little kitchen and relive the morning over a cup of coffee. Twice after this visit Steve and I took her back for a drive to visit her parents on the hillside. She is now in her late 90's and remains in the car as we place the posies.
34: With the passing of Great Grandma Erdmann at a young age, the older siblings were left to raise the younger children, however, Great Great Grandma Kiepke took the baby for a while. Great Grandpa Erdmann often over indulged at the local saloon and wasn't caring for his children as he should have been. Perhaps being widowed young was difficult for him. At this point the three youngest were at home leaving Edna in charge. She had heard that the "Welfare System" was going to take the youngsters, Edna comes up with a plan. They must run away. Their father had come home late one evening and was very drunk and belligerent, frightening the children. Edna waited until their father fell asleep and then instructed Arletta and Harvey to pack their soiled clothes on the bottom of a brown bag with their clean clothing on top. Do it quietly and quickly. It was cool and raining that evening so they put on their jackets as well. All three quietly descend the stairs of the little red house in the country and began their journey. They walked quickly, frightened that their father might wake, find them gone and come after them. Not far down the dirt road was an abandoned building where the three would spend the night, none of them getting much sleep. Early in the morning Edna brushed her siblings' hair and dusted off their clothes, heading out to their grandfather's brothers home. | SIBLINGS LEAVE HOME
35: For fear of being caught by neighbors or the Welfare System the threesome travel through the woods rather than the dirt road, arriving just after milking. Their uncle promised to take the children to their Grandma Viergutz in Wausau as soon as the milk was picked up. The children briefly lived with their grandmother until a more permanent plan was made. Their grandmother was poor as well and there was a need for a younger family to raise the three although, Grandma states, "Grandma always had room for someone extra to stay." Grandpa and Grandma were approached for the task of raising the siblings and agreed they would take them in. When asked how this might work, my grandparents said that they would be treated as their own children would be. It was later decided that this arrangement wouldn't work. Grandma had left the Lutheran faith when she married Grandpa and became Catholic. It was the families wish that they be raised Lutheran. The final decision had been made: they would live with their Aunt and Uncle: Viola and Elgart Schulz, in Wausau, WI. And so that cold rainy night that the three Erdmann siblings ran away had been their last night on 136th Ave., in the township of Stettin.
36: DANCING | Entertainment years ago, was going to a dance. Everyone went. There wasn't a whole lot else to do and there wasn't much time to do it in either. There was a lot of work to be done before one was even able to go. "We always had a good time." Laughing till she shook, Grandma begins. "After Grandpa and I were going out for a while, we had a dance right at the farm. We took out the table and chairs from the kitchen only the oven was left in the room. The neighbors and friends came." Now a fella down the road (Mike Krause) had his eye on a certain girl and hoped she would be there. Carl Wilichowski would be coming and he had his eye on the same gal. Everyone at the dance felt that Margaret and Carl made a better couple than Margaret and Mike and decided to help Carl out. After a fun evening of dancing, the plan goes into effect. Guests are beginning to leave. Carl leaves and wanders around outside. Meanwhile Margaret sneaks upstairs and is helped out of the widow and onto the porch where Carl comes to her rescue. Carl walks Margaret home. Mike later leaves alone. | DANCING
37: Mission completed, and a successful one at that. Margaret and Carl later marry, living together happily for over sixty years. On one of our "work days" Grandma and I talk about the Rothschild Pavilion renovation. She had been there for dances in her early years. As she begins talking about dances around the area, she lists the ballrooms by name, and tells me about a gentle black man who attended many dances too. He apparently was from the Wausau area and people in the area called him Chocolate. I'll conclude this story with a quote from Grandma, "I guess you could say we got into a few things back then too!!!" She quickly adds, "Now days I don't call whatever it is they do on the dance floor dancing. One is over here wiggling and the other is over there jumping around and they are supposed to be partners, but they never even touch each other." "THAT is NOT dancing!" It is now 2008 and my husband, Steve and I are beginning a new hobby of "Ballroom Dancing." Grandma smiled and commented....."That will be good for you and Steve. Good exercise and lots of fun." She certainly is right. We are having a great time. Ballroom dancing is making a come back nationwide.
38: Life here in the United States in it's very early days I can only imagine, but Grandma can easily visualize those sparse days. Great Grandpa Viergutz had entered the United States by ship from Germany making his home in Central Wisconsin. He was born April 10, 1859 in Pommern, Germany. He came to this country as a young man and married Wilhelmina Kiepke on October 10, 1888. WIlhelmina was born on February 28, 1867 in the Town of Stettin. Carl farmed and ran a logging camp. Wilhelmina was a cook in the logging camp and also a midwife. Carl died on September 20, 1920 and Whilhelmina died on December 10, 1958. We know little about that journey other than the statement Grandma tells of him arriving with little other than his rocking chair. My curiosity wells up inside me. If only that rocking chair could speak of it's travels. Great Grandpa Erdmann came to the United States by ship from Germany as well. He led a life of hard work and honesty, not only providing for his family new to this country but his helping hand given to a widow and her children who lived nearby in their time of need. After World War I began Carl's family urged him to become a United States citizen or he could be sent back to Germany. He did not feel he needed to do that since he thought of himself as a hard working | CITIZENSHIP FOR GRANDFATHERS
39: man, surviving on his own and helping his neighbors too. It took much convincing by his sons before he actually pursued this necessity and became a citizen of the United States of America. I do not picture a large barn or shed complete with farm equipment or a large John Deer parked inside. Rather a few well used tools, perhaps a ax, hand plow and his mode of transportation. According to Grandma he owned a small sleigh, and also a small wagon. Her father often borrowed these items and Great grandpa's horses too. Carl and Whilhelmina Viergutz are buried in Wausau, WI, in the Pine Grove Cemetery. Fred and Meta Erdmann and a number of their ancestors are buried in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in the Township of Stettin as well as some of the Kiepke family. How fortunate I feel to have Grandma here to share her life with me. Not only she at age 99 but one of her younger siblings Arletta Engman who lives in her own home and visits Grandma by phone often. Edna Brown who gathered her siblings many years ago and led them to a better life lives in the Oshkosh area in a nursing home hear her children.
40: GRANDPA'S LINE OF WORK | Early in Grandpa's life his true desire was to work with horses, which he did exceptionally well. He knew just how to handle them, being known to manage them better than his father and was well trusted with them. Their health and well being was of utmost importance to him. Grandpa worked in logging camps, making him a strong man, hard working and dedicated. Grandma explains, "One Saturday evening when living out on the Leitermann farm, Grandpa's brothers went out to a dance. Great-grandpa Charles came up the drive just as Grandpa headed to the house from the barn," "sick animals?" questioned Great-Grandpa, "I just finished the chores, I'm the only one home and the work needed to be done." Over forty cows had to be milked by hand, fed and watered and the horses needed tending to also. Need more be said about the atmosphere when the brothers returned home that night? As a young man Grandpa learned to play the violin. He enjoyed playing and it later became a way of earning a little money playing for dances. As a very young boy Grandpa took lessons. Dancing was a primary source of entertainment at that time. A
41: group he often played with consisted of: Bill Bedynek, on the drums, Eddie Matthaie, on the concertina, Grandpa on the violin, and Gus Seliger and Ray Kirstein on the horn. The hard work at the lumber yard toughened Grandpa's hands putting an end to his violin playing. He commented, "You have to have agile slender fingers without callous' to play, that I can do longer do." "Woodworking and violin playing do not work together." If I'd ask for stories about Grandpa's violin playing I'm sure there would be many to be told. So let me tell one of my own, when I was about six years old listening to Grandpa play the violin at Christmas. The visit to Grandma and Grandpa's house was often detested as my siblings and I wanted to enjoy our new toys received the night before from Santa. However, we soon settled in and always had a memorable time. Grandma cooked for hours I am sure and everyone had to help carry the feast down to the basement despite the second oven down there. Grandpa had made a long table and benches to accommodate the growing family. Everyone listened as Grandpa asked for quiet during the meal prayer. And now, let the eating begin. Everyone helped to clear away what remained of the huge meal and the grandchildren began to gather in the living room upstairs. This room was not often used, we knew we had to sit quietly and wait patiently until Grandpa got out his violin and began to play. Every one joining in with song.
42: Now in 2007 as I help Grandma with her daily work the violin sits atop the Duncan fife table in the living room. Gracefully placed in front of a lovely arrangement of candles and flowers, under the now quieted violin sits Grandpas church prayer book, his retired glasses resting on top. Under the tree on one particular Christmas there sat many petty packages carefully wrapped. Each grand-daughter received a hand made flannel night gown. All eight night gowns were made by Grandma who peddled the treadle machine for many long hours. Grandpa served his community for 25 years by volunteering for the local fire department. Carrying on the service was his son, Allan, grandson, Kenneth and great-grandson, Clayton. During those early years with the department the men were called to the station by a loud clamoring bell being rung by hand. When the bell sounded Grandpa would run on foot across the street, jump over a chain link fence through the school yard and to the station. He then would dress and jump onto the truck holding on tightly as the truck pulled away. "that's correct, NO inside seats!" The department then installed a siren that called the men to the station and now in 2000 each man has a pager he carries to alert him to head to the station, dress, climb into a heated truck and head out to the scene. After many years with the department Grandpa retired, it had become difficult for him to hang on to the side of the truck.
43: When times were rough Grandpa tended bar locally to increase their income. I recall Grandpa's hands tapping on the chair arms, keeping rhythm while he visited or contemplated. The same hands that once played the violin so beautifully knew hard work, building solid wood furniture for his children and grandchildren. He proudly built a doll bed for Charlottes' daughters' which was also used as a bed for Allans' first born, Kenneth, weighing in at about four pounds. Charlotte, Rita and Allan's children were given child size cupboards. These cabinets are still being used by Grandpas great-great-grandchildren today. One of those cabinets now sit in my daughter Dawns' family room for her son Cole. It clearly stands out in my mind today how Ken and I would squeeze into the lower half of the tiny yellow cabinet, close the doors and hide. We would chuckle as mom called for us. We would not let out a sound. The air inside became stuffy eventually forcing us to come out. Perhaps that is why I do not care for closed in areas to this very day. As I glance at the tiny cupboard today I understand why mom warned us many times not to go in there together anymore, we could have gotten stuck.
44: Grandpa is pictured above to the far left at work at the local feed mill. The photo to the right pictures Grandpa playing the violin.
45: Susan's Great Great Grandmother
46: JOB AFTER JOB | For a brief time Grandma lived in Wausau with her Grandma Minnie, She then worked at McLean store for three months followed by six months at a paper product company. After her marriage she was forced to quit for lack of transportation as she then lived at the Leitermann farm at the intersection of Hwy S and 29 about fourteen miles west of Wausau. After their first winter together at the Kutz Logging Camp and their return to the Leitermann farm, Grandma began work at Marathon Rubber in Wausau. The work was difficult the eight months she worked there making clothing for the war effort. The job included making navy capes, then tan army coats. They really were not made of rubber for there was a shortage of rubber because it was used for the rubber tires on the war vehicles. Rather, they were made of an imitation fabric that was hard to work with and made her hands a yellowish color. Needing extra money during tough times Grandma would tend bar at the Rib River Ballroom to fill in the gap. Marathon Electric brought a little easier line of work for her. She stayed about eight years at that job also in Wausau. Grandma began at Marathon Cheese | JOB AFTER JOB
47: here in Marathon CIty while it was still a very small operation in the basement of the Raymond and Marie Goldbach home on 4th St. The branch moved to Edgar and later Wausau, renamed Pauly Cheese, where Grandma retired over sixteen years later in 1975. Not only was Grandma known for her fine bakery and cooking, but for her fine sewing abilities as well. She made wedding gowns for her daughters and many a bridesmaids dress as well. The sewing machine that she used many years ago remains in her home still. She no longer is able to sew because of poor vision and arthritis in her hands. The fabric was difficult to find for Charlottes wedding gown. Grandma ordered fabric from Winkelmans in Wausau. The store owner was gracious enough to offer two pieces to choose from the remaining piece went to another bride to be in the area.
48: LITTLE SHAVERS | Most kids love hearing stories about their parents, and YES, Grandma had a few stories to tell about her "Little Shavers." She again laughs about those silly times but also recollects that it wasn't always funny at the time. She gestures at me with her hand and laughs harder, then comments, "Well you know how that is." Only because Allan is the youngest and well ..... OK.....he is my dad, I'll begin by sharing what seems to be a favorite for Grandma. Both Grandpa and Grandma worked out so it was essential that everyone "pitch in." Allan's job was to scrub the floor on the sun porch. He attempted a short cut method of not rinsing after scrubbing. Grandma's eye easily spotted the streaks left behind and summoned him in quickly to "do it right this time." Which brings to mind how he wanted me to clean floors as a kid, until they were "done right?" He still "has a thing" about cleaning floors, he's now in his 70's and there are many times when I go to visit and he is sweeping the floors. Must be hereditary!? As long as we are on the subject of washing, let's picture this. "Time to get cleaned up Allan." Grandma scolds. Off to Charlotte Allan would go. If a harsh word or reprimand was given him, you got it....off he'd go to Charlotte. Hmmmmm? And Dad, care to tell us about those soda crackers you hid under your shirt and ate in bed? Perhaps we should feel a bit sorry for you Dad, for some kids just do not have the best of luck. As the story goes, Dad was just a real young boy when he came into the house crying. Looking into the situation it was discovered that a bird........
49: well.....you know....."messed on his head." Now to make things even a little more amazing, get this....a repeat occurrence happened in 1995 at age 61. Some days are "Just for the birds." I do not mean to brag about my father but I'd like to share this story of bravery. Dad's friend and neighbor, David Seubert, and himself wanted to be "big guys" and sleep out in a little shack they had made by themselves that day. That night it rained hard so Davids dad, Rich, went out to check on the boys. He discovered the shack collapsed and the boys already inside the house, tucked in bed. BRAVE Dad!!! It is only fitting that I share a few things from Rita's childhood at this point because she is a middle child and I myself know ALL about that. Any way you look at it, we are "in the middle." During those story telling times at the Jilk home we didn't talk a lot about Rita or Charlotte. Not to worry!!! There is always someone willing to tell their own version. It has been said that Rita repeatedly hid a kettle in the pantry without washing it. She supposedly "got away with it" for a about a day and a half. The Marathon Public School was located about two blocks away from where the Leitermann's lived, a place where Rita would go to swing. When her father called, she knew that trouble lurked at home. Britches were dropped and it became a "on the buns" situation!! Uh Oh! This story teller reports this as a "once only licking" Let's just say "lesson learned." Rita herself tells this tale. "I was sent to the store for milk with a returnable glass bottle. The money for the milk was put in the bottle for safe keeping. As I skipped and jumped over the railroad tracks to the store the money was shaking out. By the time I arrived at Weber's Store there wasn't enough money to pay for the milk.
50: "Now what do I do?" Things like this need to be overlooked, after all it was Rita, "The Great Protector" who slept outside the door so no villains could get in. Could it be that Allan learned his bravery from Rita? I am not trying to delay the wonderful story about poor, poor Charlotte, but it should be told that the three little shavers got along quite well with each other despite their own idiosyncrasies. The three often teamed up with Alexus, Auggie, Johanna, and David Seubert and played, "Tin Man Kill a Man!" What fun they had! Often times it is assumed that the youngest in the family tends to get special treatment. Let's take a look and see what happens in this family. When Charlotte was quite young she would run to her dad and report having gotten a spanking from mom. Her dad would question her about the situation, her dad stating, "We'll have to do something about that...huh?" It didn't take long before Grandma put an end to that. Charlotte always knew to go to dad when she wanted something too. She tells of the time she wanted white ice skates. Dad looked around and came home with a nice pair of skates for Charlotte. Grandma agreed, they were nice skates, BUT what about Rita? It wasn't long and Rita too had a nice pair of white skates. Because this account of "the unknown animal" is so cute I'll tell it in Charlottes own words, "I begged to get the cows in from the field alone on Grandpa and Grandma's farm, so mom and dad agreed. I took Trixie, the farm dog along with me. When I got down to the pasture, Trixie began to round up the cows, I opened the gate, in doing so I noticed an animal that I knew was not a cow. So I closed the gate and returned home with the dog. Grandpa asked where the cows were. I told him I had seen something in the
51: pasture that looked like a sheep but ain't a sheep. Grandpa went back down to the pasture with me and recognized the intruder as the neighbors' goat. Everyone had a good laugh! It's been fun telling these stories and listening to even more of them. How good it is to be able to look back to more carefree and simpler times and appreciate those time together. | Regina Leitermann holding Dad. Dad as a young boy. | Allan
52: ALL GROWN UP | I write bout daily happenings for Grandma and Grandpa, about the fun times, the good times, however that isn't always what life has to bring. Dad had scarlet fever as a young boy & years later went off to Germany to fight in the Korean War. It's ironic that he would be the grandfather of a little Korean gal, Dawn Marie Jilk-Gordon. Grandma speaks of how she and Grandpa prayed and how important church and discipline was for their children. Those efforts can be seen in the lives of their children today, as well as in their grandchildren. A deep commitment to God, church, family and values is apparent. Charlotte married Joseph Seubert Jr. on June 7, 1947. Grandma made Charlottes dress & the bridesmaids' dresses. The marriage took place at St. Mary Catholic Church, in Marathon, followed by a meal at the school and dance at Rib River Ballroom. They shared over fifty years together as husband and wife and had ten children. Ruth Ann (Al) Schreiber, Colette (Paul) Langenhahn, RoseMary (Bill) Gleason, Steven (Denise), Mark (Marla), Claude (Cheryl), Paul (Terri), Phillip, and Gerald (Beth) Seubert. Two more generations carry on the Seubert name. Charlotte & Joe have many grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. July 1, 1950, Rita married Charles Stieber. Their ceremony was held at St Mary Catholic Church in Marathon. Due to rain, events were held at the
53: Marathon Village Hall. Rita and Charles have four children. Catherine (David) Joswiak, Francine (Ed) Flanders, Lynette (Francis) Heil and Donald (Lyn) Stieber. Rita and Charles have grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well. Allan and Marcella were married at St Mary Catholic Church, May 16, 1956. The dinner was held at Allan's parents home at noon that day. A reception was held at his parents home followed by a supper at St. Mary School all in Marathon. A dance was also held at the Rib River Ballroom in the evening. The snowfall that occurred on this May day was filmed for us to enjoy yet today. It's not a snow fall with out a snowball fight....yes.....there was a snowball fight. Allan and Marcella have three children. Kenneth (Bonnie), Susan (Steven) Jilk, and Brenda Kaiser. They have six grand-children, and three great-grandsons.
54: Joseph & Charlotte Seubert June 7, 1947 | Charles & Rita Stieber July 1, 1950
55: TO HAVE AND TO HOLD FROM THIS DAY FORWARD | Allan & Marcella Leitermann May 16, 1956
56: THE MIDDLE YEARS | All three of Grandpa and Grandma's children were raised in a home on Fifth and Hickory Streets in Marathon City, each having been born in a different home. Some time after their children were married and on their own a parcel of property was purchased one block south on Hickory Street where they built a two bedroom home The home on Fifth and Hickory had been rented for many years and now they had an opportunity to purchase the home or move on. They talked about their options weighing out the possibilities. Grandma said she would be willing to buy the home but would change this and that to which Grandpa stated, "Well, you don't want this house, you want a new house." Grandpa heard about a parcel of land to the south of their rented residence which was up for sale. He drove out to visit the owner with instructions to not spend too much. Grandpa returned announcing the purchase of the lot for no more than what the owner had paid for it a year earlier. Plans for the home they wanted to retire in began. Grandpa felt the home's exterior should be painted white and so it was. There would be no steps other than to the basement, there would be plenty of closet space, in fact, one in each room. Two bedrooms would suffice. Building began on the home of their dreams. Grandpa suffered a heart attack soon after his retirement. Grandma continued working while Grandpa performed household chores and other responsibilities. Grandma alerts me to the fact that "Grandpa didn't always do
57: things the way I would have, but I NEVER said too much, I just appreciated what he did." There were times when visitors would leave their apple core in the ashtray with cigarette butts upon their departure. Grandpa would complain about this as he was now doing the cleaning and very much disliked the smelly mess. Grandma smiles and recalls how there were many times when SHE told Grandpa to throw his apple core away and clean out his ashtray. Fishing was an enjoyable pass time for both of them as they traveled short distances to spend time with family and friends at lake side homes and cabins. They loved playing cards with their friends and relatives too. Almost any family gathering had a card game going in some corner or another. In fact, after Grandma was alone she joined a women's card club, that club changed many times as its' members could no longer play or had passed on. Sheepshead was the game played most often, although I recall Grandma and I playing Rummy. When she first began playing the hand would only cost a nickel when it went to a quarter Grandma decided that was to expensive and quit the club. She had out lived three clubs at this point. "They just keep dying off," she said with a chuckle. After Grandma's retirement, Grandpa continued to raise and harvest a beautiful garden and yard with lovely flower gardens. Grandma helped with the tending of these gardens and also resumed the inside responsibilities after her retirement. It is now many years later and Grandma comments how much she loves the purple hue to her backyard, filled with violets.
58: While Steve and I were caring for Grandma's yard we were allowed to put weed killer on the dandelions but leave the violets alone. And so it was. Two large Bridal Veil bushes graced the corners of her home, their white blossoms sending a fragrant aroma into the house. How she loved those bushes. I had strict instructions to never trim them too much, that is not how they are meant to be. Got it Grandma! It's now 2012, Grandma's Great-Grandson has purchased her home, it is a plan that she is pleased about. She would like her home to stay in the family. Jason now owns her home, has decorated and repaired things that were necessary however, the two white fragrant Bridal Veil bushes remain on the front corners of the home on Hickory Street, just as Grandma said they should be. | After church services on Holy Saturday were finished as well as all the house work and meal preparations for Easter Sunday. Grandpa and Grandma and their kids headed to the Rib River to fish and roast marshmallows.
60: GOLDEN WEDDING | We all wonder at times, "Where has the time gone?" The same rings true for us as it did in 1976 for Grandpa and Grandma. Fifty years together! Their plan was to celebrate, and celebrate they did! It was a warm summer day, the sun high in the sky. A Mass at St. Mary Catholic Church began the days' celebration. Grandpa and Grandma exited the church accepting congratulations and well wishes from family and friends, not noticing the old time car near the curb that would whisk them away to the ballroom they once worked at. As guests arrived at the ballroom a grand-daughter was wearing Grandmas wedding dress. Someone had "borrowed" the dress without Grandma knowing. Grandpa always believed in feeding guests and this day would follow suit. A full sit down meal was served. It was fitting that the couple would conclude the day with a ballroom dance, that is in fact how they met over fifty years ago. A mock wedding was given by the grandchildren to their surprise. There sure was a lot of laughter at this silly sight.
62: HEADING NORTH | After Grandpas' heart attack he had a restricted drivers license, so when he and Grandma wanted to go North I volunteered to take them to my parents little place on the Rainbow Flowage just outside Lake Tomahawk, WI. We went out to dinner one evening for variety, played Rummy at almost any time of the day and went for walks. I think Grandma enjoyed cooking in the little kitchen facing the water. There was always something good to eat. On one occasion while I was driving north Grandpa asked me to beep the horn. My mind puzzled I asked why? He replied, "I don't want you to kill the fly on the road." He liked to joke around when there was too much quiet. Perhaps my driving skills made him anxious. I was in High School at this time and had the summer off. Dad's boat was rather large, too much for us three vacationers to handle so we would drive around looking for a place with easy access and throw a line in to see what we might catch. In the evening we would fish from shore near the trailer and watch the sunset, perhaps ending our day with a game of cards. This was a time in my life I really needed quiet. I didn't realize then how valuable this time with them would be later in my own life.
63: Both grandparents enjoyed fishing. They spent a lot of time at Silver Lake with Grandpa's siblings there each summer.
64: THE LONGEST DAY | We often assumed that Grandpa would be taken from us by a heart attack, however, after a winter of illness Grandpa was sent to Marshfield Clinic for further evaluation. I was attending State College of Beauty College in 1976 which allowed me to schedule my day off to take my grandparents to the clinic. We left early in the morning. The morning went quickly and we found ourselves wondering from office to office and finally waiting in late afternoon for the last appointment. By that time there was a tension and anxiety level that could be felt among us. It brought a hard lump up into my throat. No one was speaking out of fear. Grandpa's name was called and Grandma followed in with him. I waited alone for them to come out It seemed like an eternity. Driving home was quiet, they shared the diagnosis; leukemia. My heart sank. How could this be? How would his family respond? How would I tell my parents?
65: Over the months to come Grandpa received treatments at St. Joseph Hospital in Marshfield. He returned home after several long stays, enjoying his family and being at home, a place he so desperately wanted to be. Arrangements were made for him to remain at home where he was most comfortable. A local nurse (Mary Stieber) was so very helpful to Grandpa and his family. There were many times when she would come to their home and share her nursing skills and comfort Grandpa. I would go cut his hair during his illness. We discovered that he had wavy hair at that time. He no longer used VO5 to slick it down. He looked so handsome. Grandma too suffered as she watched Grandpa in pain. Until one day he told her had fought the best he could and there came a point in which one was no longer living. They talked about many things; how to manage the check book, what keys were for what, etc. She would one day have to be able to survive on her own. Grandpa struggled with his dreadful illness until June of 1979. His wish was granted he died at home with his family by his side.
66: In 1973 I had been diagnosed with Crohns Disease and battled this painful illness with many hospital visits, one such visit was on the day of Grandpa's wake. My parents took me to the hospital and had to leave me there alone to be with family at the wake. It was a frightening time in my life (age 16) not only to be left alone while so ill but because I would not be attending Grandpa's funeral. Aunt Rita brought Grandma to the hospital to visit me in the days following the funeral, bringing me a beautiful plant that was given to the family during the services. How difficult it must have been for her to put aside her grief and come to bring me well wishes. Since that time of my diagnosis it has been discovered that I in actuality had Ulcerative Colitis and still another diagnosis in 2003 of Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, a rare liver disease with no cure. It's now 2010, my latest diagnosis of possible Cholangiocarcinoma, a very rare liver cancer. I am awaiting a liver transplant at this time. Grandma learned of this news and promised that she would ask Jesus to cure me of this dreaded disease as she prayed each day. What a prayer warrior!
67: Christmas in her own home. 2009 Grandma and Susan | Allison House Assisted Living 2011 Grandma and Susan
68: SKIPPER | One day Don Stieber and Rita paid a visit to Grandpa and Grandma's house with a brown grocery bag containing a surprise. Furry little Skipper could not hold still inside the bag letting the surprise "out of the bag" shall we say! Skipper was a true companion to Grandpa, everywhere that Grandpa went Skipper was close by. He loved to ride in the back window of the car or sit on the floor in the living room near Grandpa's chair, but Grandma didn't like the furry ball on the carpet. Skipper would push the cardboard barrier aside and find a comfy spot. Perhaps that is why he never really took to being a close companion to Grandma. When Grandpa was ill Skipper became protective of him causing some problems. The furry friend was no longer able to stay alone with Grandma after Grandpa died. Poor little fur ball couldn't adjust to life without his companion. Skipper often sat near the stove in the morning waiting for his fried egg for breakfast. One spoiled dog I would say!
70: CONTINUING ON | While writing these stories from notes taken during one of those times of reminiscing at the Jilk home I've pondered over all my notes, what might be a favorite story. Christmas is what comes to mind, it's a favorite time of year for me and my family and it was for my dad and Grandpa too. Grandma tells me it's a difficult time of year for her due to Grandpa loving this time of year and no longer being with us. As life brings change, family traditions change too. We no longer gather at Grandpa and Grandmas' on Christmas Day The long tables and benches have been moved to Charlotte's basement to accommodate her large family who gather there on Christmas Day. Rita's family celebrates the holiday with her husband, kids and grandkids when those who moved farther away can gather. Grandma now joins Allans' family on Christmas Eve as all his kids are in the Marathon area. Dad and Mom usually take Grandma to church early that evening with dinner following at one of his kids homes. The host family provides the main course and beverages for the evening. All other families provide a dish to pass and goodies to taste. At the table there are now five generations. Grandma now sits most of the time, Allans
71: joints are bothersome, Ken comments about how he is slowing down, while his daughter, Melissa runs continuously after her two year old. We can all identify with one generations dilemma I am sure. Sue's husband, Steve, calls for quiet before the meal to say a prayer. The feast once again is on the table. After dinner we now throw away the plastic plates and cups, the remaining dishes go in the dishwasher. We no longer wash dishes by hand, sing carols in the living room at Grandma's after dinner. My kids now move to the living room where gifts are carefully wrapped and sit under the tree. New traditions are in place. St. Nicholas arrives, he has small brown packages for everyone after telling the story of Christ's birth. After all.....would there be a Christmas without Jesus' birth? We chat most of the night, nibble and nosh, then get out our camera's to capture stories that will have something to tell. There are family photo's this way and that, some of us laughing despite ourselves. Some with Godparents, others with grandparents, five generations, four generations other just being silly and acting like themselves? Oh dear!
72: Each of us holds memories like these close to our hearts. We will cherish them forever. In looking back through the rough times we see how we learned to be strong and in the good times we know how blessed we have been. For all these times I am grateful. It is a blessing to be a part of this family. | Old house on Hickory St. | Great Grandchildren on Hickory St. in the new house | New house on Hickory St.
73: HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY | Left to right; Rita, Jerry Petrowski, Grandma holding her three day old great-great-grandson Carter Stieber, Charlotte and Allan Grandma celebrated her 100th Birthday at her daughter Charlotte's home with an open house on June 13th. Family and friends helped her celebrate the day away! At this time she had 16 grandchildren, 41 great-grandchildren and 23 great-great-grandchildren. She enjoys living on her own in her home, watching the birds, listening and watching TV as best she can with both poor hearing and sight. She is a real prayer warrior and avid follower of her faith. She received well wishes and cards on her special day from family, friends, state representative Jerry Petrowski, the Bishop and even the White House!
74: HELPING HANDS | As can be seen through these writings, Grandma is a hard working person, determined to do whatever it takes to move forward. Grandpa has been gone for some time now making it difficult at times to get the daily jobs accomplished by herself. I was raising my two kids making me available to lend helping hands. During the first few years we ventured out to the grocery store together, now she no longer has the energy or desire to do so. Cleaning of the house on a weekly basis was also a job that we did together at first. Her greatest desire is to be able to remain in her home until she is gone. Her home is her castle as any woman can identify with. We now spend three mornings each week together and I can honestly say this is the "job" that has been the most fulfilling of any of the many jobs that I have had. At times she will follow me around puttering as she calls it. And sometimes I think she just enjoys having someone around. When I began my work twelve years ago Grandma walked on her own. Eventually she would use a cane. Her knees caused her pain and give way
75: at times. Her kids suggest she use a walker around the house, she reluctantly began, now using it regularly. I like to call it her car, we joke about it often. For one reason or another she would occasionally leave her "car" in the middle of the roadway unattended. I would pretend to reprimand her about it. She just laughed. My tasks are many; laundry, watering the flowers, grocery and other types of shopping, spring and fall house cleaning, pedicures and manicures, haircut, perms and shampoos, feeding the birds, baking, Christmas decorating, cooking and dishes. As Grandma was able to do less and less for herself, I also did her banking, taxes and all other paper work. You name it I did it. Sounds like an advertisement. There are times when I go home and the same mundane chores need to be done there, however that doesn't always happen. That no longer bothers me for I know in my heart that I am doing what I have been called to do. Care for Grandma.
76: SUDDEN DECISION | Over time as Grandma and I would chat I set a goal. I would commit to caring for her in her own home as long as I could. One morning her over-night care giver called as Grandma instructed. She wanted me to come visit now. Upon arrival there she states that she has made the decision to go to our local assisted living facility. I was asked to go there immediately and search out a room for her. I called her children to come down and chat about this decision right away. It was only minutes after their arrival that it was a sure deal. She thought I could go pick out a room and take her there. I went to the facility, talked with staff, choose a room, got the particulars and returned to Grandma's with the news. I began packing her favorite things, her best clothing, and we decided which furniture she would like to take with. In three days she was packed and ready to go. On the fifth day Lynette, Cathy, Grandma's kids and I helped her with the final decisions. She was eager to go! Spending time with my cousins that day was enjoyable but it was very difficult for me. My goal of helping Grandma stay in her own home the remainder of her life would not come to be. Just before lunch Cathy assists her in dressing, we find wool socks, her winter hat and coat but no mittens. I borrow her mine. She never looked back, once Grandma made a decision that was that. No more questions asked.
77: She loved her stay there, was treated well and never complained. She loved watching the birds out her window just as she did at home. There was only one misunderstanding shortly after the move. The day her wheel chair arrived. She thought it was going to be motorized. "What good does this do me," she said. "I still need someone to push me around." The adjustment to the routine and rules of the facility went well. She had a lovely room that soon became home to her. Many of the residents were from town and she knew them. She enjoyed her table partner, speaking kindly of her often. I tried to make the transition for her as easy as possible, continuing to visit often, folding her laundry and doing her personal shopping, dusting her room AND bringing her treats. She loved that. Steve visited almost every Sunday morning as he always had. That was good for her too. Steve did a lot of repair work for her over the years, she appreciated him and his visits. She looked forward to that kiss on her forehead before he left each week. Staying in her room was just fine with her. She attended Mass when she wanted, enjoyed the snacks the staff brought her each afternoon and evening, especially the hot cocoa during the winter and mostly looked forward to visits from her family. She didn't need the many activities that were offered her there she was content, enjoying others caring for her.
78: Grandma had worked hard for many years being the care giver to be many. Being alone for many of her later years, I thought she deserved to have someone take care of her, to cater to her for a while. She was so appreciative for what others would do for her. Most of her later years were spent praying for others. It was her mission, there was little else she could do. St. Patrick's Day came around, McDonalds had their shamrock shakes advertised. Steve and I stopped for one of those shakes before we visit one Sunday. We order two, one for me and one for Grandma thinking that she would not finish hers. Steve would take care of that. To our surprise she never put the shake down, finishing it in no time flat, commenting several times, "Now that was good." I recall her liking "Grasshopper drinks" occasionally. Perhaps that is what she thought it was. Since the big move in February Grandma would occasionally talk about her home on Hickory Street. She never regretted her decision. After Jason purchased her home he would update her on the projects he was doing on her former home when he visited with her. She was so happy knowing the home she cherished so much stayed in the family. After his move into his new home in May he and Dad took Grandma to see Jason's new home. She enjoyed the visit staying a little while for a bowl of ice cream. Our prayer had been answered, Grandma was comfortable with her decision to leave Hickory Street, she was happy and content, we too were happy and content.
79: Moving Day February 2011 | Grandma visits home May 2011 | 102nd Birthday! | St. Patrick's Day 2011
80: THE LAST CHRISTMAS STORY | It's early October 2011. Grandma is at Allison Assisted Living Facility. I'd continued to visit her at least weekly since her move there. As we chat and watch the birds Grandma talks of Christmas. She wonders where her Nativity set ended up, where her Christmas mouse went, and what about that little tree that I had in the den? I tell her I'm not sure where the Nativity set went BUT I had packed her tiny tree and the Christmas mouse and some of her and Grandpa's hand made ornaments. She is definitely thinking Christmas. I promised her I would decorate her room early this year because Dawn is due to have her baby around Thanksgiving. She is fine with that. On Thursday Steve and I visit Grandma and she admits not wanting to eat and she is struggling to find words to express herself to carry on a conversation. We are concerned about this. We talk about the changes we have seen and come to the conclusion that over the weekend we will go to Grandma's to decorate her room for Christmas. We arrive there, explain what we are doing, she's excited but continues to struggle with communication. I place the tiny lighted tree on top a cabinet in her room and plug it in. She loves it. We purchased her a new Nativity Set and arranged it near her chair on a large table. The Christmas mouse sits on the floor. She's relaxed, at ease, like perhaps she knows something we don't. She comments that now she is ready for Christmas. It was her last Christmas with us!
81: It's a cool October morning, the phone rings and jolts me from bed. It's dad. Grandma is not doing well today, he suggests I come to Allison House. I arrive there and see Grandma in pain. I greet her and try to converse. She's in too much pain to do so. I stay the remainder of the day in hope of helping to make her more comfortable if I could, as I had told her I would be for many years. The staff is wonderful to her. so very helpful in every way possible. I'm there for Grandma, keeping my promise. I stay late. Steve joins me for a visit. Steve loved Grandma, visiting her often, she enjoyed and looked forward to his visits and waited for the surprise treat he would be bringing. We return home and discuss how we feel Grandma is doing. She is now 102, she's tired, she wants to be with Grandpa. I return to Allison House the second day and learn that Grandma has rested well all night but isn't responding when spoken to. I decide I would spend the day once again, I know our time together is coming to a close. It's a melancholy time, I don't want to say good bye, yet I don't want her to suffer. Later in the afternoon dad informs me that the family has talked about having family members who would like to, take turns staying with her. I volunteer for Steve and I to take the first night. | HEAVEN BOUND
82: Steve is in agreement with the plan, however, he is "on call". I cook supper for us and pack some things to stay the night with Grandma. While doing so Steve gets called out to work. We plan that he will join me when finished, I would go on ahead. Aunt Rita, Uncle Charles, Fran and Ed Flanders are there visiting Grandma when I arrive. We get into a fun conversation about how Grandma handled Christmas during our younger years. The good times we had!! As they leave Brenda arrives to visit, not realizing that I was going to be spending the night and was already there. We too talk of the great memories we have of Grandma, and Christmas visits surface once again. We talk of the possibility that Grandma would be leaving soon. I tell Brenda I'm staying the night and I might be alone as Steve is "on call". She questions if I am afraid to be alone in the room in the event that Grandma should pass. "I am not," I tell her. She's surprised, then picks up a booklet that was left the previous day about the end stages of life. Brenda begins to read. I listen. She asks if I have noticed any of the signs. As she continues to read I watch for signs and notice several things. She reads further. As she's doing so I notice her breathing pattern changes and walk over to her bedside. I caress her cheek, stroke her hair, hold her hand, and we have a chat. I tell her it's ok to go meet Jesus, I remind her of our prayer request that she would ask on my behalf when she got there. She's resting SO well.
83: I call Brenda over to the bedside. Her breathing shallow, she breathes in once, then gently once again. There is a stillness I see. I know she's gone. "Come now." I urge. "Brenda...Grandma's gone," I state. She runs from her chair, booklet aside. I pull the cord on the wall for help. Brenda gets onto the bed, caressing Grandma as I kneel beside the bed. We tearfully talk with Grandma, telling her it's ok to go to heaven, Grandpa has been waiting a long time for her. We tell her she has worked hard for many years she deserves to be at rest, we will be fine here. "Go now," Brenda tells Grandma. "You have a Birthday cake to bake for Grandpa, his Birthday will be in two days." Staff arrives and begin their work. Brenda and I decide we should call our parents and Charlotte and Rita. How do we tell them. We agree that we just ask them to come now.....it would be a good time to come. As we wait I realize that I've just lost my friend, my confidant, my Grandmother who I loved very deeply. I know this is best for her, I know I will be fine as well. Family begins to arrive to say their good-byes, Steve joins me. It's a long difficult evening for us all. On the morning of the burial service Steve and I walk in to the church, I with a pink bear that we had given to Grandma for valentines day with a letter written to her. My final goodbye. I set the bear near her side....she's absolutely beautiful, SO peaceful. Pure white hair done so nicely. She's dressed in her night gown and house coat, as she wished. After all she often said. "I'm going to be resting."
86: RED PLAID JACKET | For a good many years as we cleaned out Grandmas closets we would come across this red jacket. She would look at it and decide to return it to the closet. Perhaps there were good memories associated with the wool jacket. I recall her wearing the red plaid jacket when I was a kid. She would play outside with us wearing it. When Grandma moved the jacket was left behind. How lonely it looked in the closet. Brenda came across the jacket and asked to take it home. She hung the red wool jacket in her closet and would occasionally sniff the jacket, reminding her of how Grandma's house once smelled. Late November she noticed the comforting aroma had since left the jacket. What do I do with it now, she questioned herself. Several days later she phoned me with an idea. Let's cut the jacket into various parts and design pillows as keepsakes from it. One for each of Grandma's kids, and dads kids and grandkids. Twelve in all. Early on opening of deer hunting weekend we began cutting. I became over zealous with my new sewing scissors and cut off the side of my thumb. Brenda using her
87: teachers aid skills attempted to fix the problem to no avail. After two hours in the doctors office we returned home. The thumb remained numb all day allowing us to nearly complete the twelve pillows, however I was not allowed to use the scissors the remainder of the day. THAT WAS THE RULE! I haven't used the scissors since that day and perhaps never will. Just prior to Christmas we delivered pillows to Aunt Charlotte and Aunt Rita letting them in on our Christmas surprise. No one else in the family knew of the project. They were touched by their gift. We scrounged a photo of Grandma at a picnic wearing the red plaid jacket, replicated the photo and attached one to each of the pillows. On Christmas eve we pulled out a huge red bag containing the pillows after dinner. Each one had been hand made and hand chosen for each family member. What a memorable evening of sharing of Christmas stories with Grandparents. Tears were shed that night, a few of sadness and loneliness, yet others of joy, for Grandma had now been reunited with the love of her life, just where she had wanted to be for some time. Occasionally I grasp my red plaid pillow from it's place in my living room, sniff it, squeeze it, and pause a moment to remember a time that Grandma and I had shared over the years. I can hear her laughter and wonder if she is looking down at me in my living room chuckling at me and my pillow antics. None the less I am sure I will clutch the pillow again and again reliving some of my favorite times with Grandma.
90: MARATHON CITY SESQUECENTENIAL | This piece was written for the Marathon City Sesquicentennial Celebration but was submitted to late to be printed in the celebration book, so I'll include it here. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to someone in our community that has seen much change throughout the years. Is she a prominent business woman or has she made headline news? No, however she has contributed much to our community in other ways. Meet my Grandmother, Eleanor Erdmann-Leitermann. We visit together several times each week, usually sharing a cup of tea while we chat, then do a little house work and sometimes have lunch together. She comments about not having much to say about her childhood, and then reaches back in time with vivid memories. She is the oldest of eleven children, the daughter of Fred and Meta Erdmann. Fred was a carpenter and night watchman for Menzner Lumber while Grandma was young. During the winter months he would move his family into town to live in a hotel on
91: main and third streets. This would allow him to have his family near while he kept the boiler going at Menzner Lumber. Often times when it was brutally cold, homeless men would wonder in to the mill to stay warm for the night. This was not allowed so Fred had to "move them along." Looking out the hotel window, Grandma would watch Mr. Geinger, the town lamp lighter and police officer lift his ladder and light the lamps. Naming the businesses along the street forces her to picture the dusty lane. She recalls which store, saloon, ballroom and hotel was located, and which are no longer there. Grandma attended Marathon Public School for third and fourth grade, when it was located on Fourth and Market Streets. This is no longer in the same location. That block now is home to the Marathon Area Swim Association and the newly built Marathon County Public Library. Two beautiful facilities. The school at that time had no additions on and housed all twelve grades. The remaining school years were at the Vilas Country School near the home where they then lived for the summer months on 136th Ave., Township of Stettin. Grade eight completed her formal school years. Before completing the 8th grade a written test had to be taken in Wausau at the School of
92: Normal. She was successful in doing so although she admits that spelling and math were her poorer subjects, while history and geography were her favorites. Raising a family of eleven during these early years I am sure was difficult, money was sparse. Fred came home from work one day and talked about a position that was available for a cook at Menzner Lumber Boarding House. Grandma tells me that she applied for the job and was hired. Young Eleanor packed her suitcase and prepared to leave home at age fourteen. I was amazed at how young kids were allowed to work out back then. Grandma then admits that she "fibbed". She told them she was sixteen. A portion of the wage was given to support her family at home and the rest was for her own needs. Not happy with the job she eventually left for better pay and headed to Wausau. But not before meeting Elmer Leitermann who also worked at the mill. He was a well respected man, known for his hard work and knowledge of having and raising a "good team" of horses. They continued to see each other and marred in 1926. Elmer continued to work at Menzner Lumber until his retirement. After their first Christmas together at a logging camp in Antigo, WI they returned to Rib Falls
93: Township to the Leitermann Homestead for a short time, located at the intersection of State Hwy 29 and County Road S. They rented various homes and apartments for several years and then settle into a home at 600 Hickory St. where they stayed until 1962 when they purchased a city lot at 708 Hickory Street. Grandma resided there until age 101. The home at 600 Hickory Street had been the first Monastery in town. For the most part the couple raised their children in this home. Their first born, Charlotte (Joseph) Seubert, their middle child Rita (Charles) Stieber, and Allan (Marcy) Leitermann the youngest of the bunch. Serving numerous wedding and funeral meals at St. Mary Catholic Parish was a duty Grandma felt she needed to do in her community. She served many hamburgers at Rib River Ballroom while tending bar there for weddings too. Today her hands can tell stories of many years of hard work and labors of love. While our country was at war she tells of sewing quilts by hand and then later pedaling her sewing machine to make her daughters' wedding gowns and bridesmaids dresses. She made lap robes for the Secular Order of Franciscan Missions until well into her 80's. I can remember opening gifts with my cousins at Christmas time at Grandma's house.
94: We all received a flannel night gown sewn by Grandma. Her Christmas tree still boasts of the beaded satin ornaments she and Grandpa made during their early retirement years. She still likes to serve her kids and their spouses a meal at Christmas, however, she now accepts help in the preparations. The long table made by Grandpa in the basement that once served her kids and grandkids now sits in her daughter Charlottes' home serving her family. Taking time to hold each of her seventeen grandchildren has given her such joy. As years continue to creep by, she relished those times and keeps tally of how many great-grandchildren that she now has. (41) She knows them by name as well as the sixteen great-great-grandchildren. She is always eager to see the newborns and motions to bring them to her, set them on her lap as she opens her arms to welcome them all in. Her comfortable home on Hickory Street is where she likes to be these days. As her vision fades she no longer plays cards, makes beaded ornaments, does word puzzles, or reads, but rather, sits and tells stories from the past, watches, the squirrels and birds outside her window and waits for visits from her family. She is a woman of strong faith, has years of wisdom and knowledge to share and has
95: determination beyond measure. She will chat about anything with much clarity. She will list wars she has lived through. Who was president at that time, what they did and then states her opinion about what they should and shouldn't have done. She is current in political issues and has her own opinion about it all. So what has she given to our community? Service, service from within, with the use of her hands and her giving heart. Many members of her family work at Menzner Lumber yet today. Grandsons: Don Stieber, Phil Seubert, Claude Seubert, and a great-granddaughter, Melissa Leitermann-Trevino. Four generations of fire fighters have served and continue to serve our community. Great-grandson, Clayton Leitermann, grandson, Kenneth Leitermann, son, Allan Leitermann, and husband, Elmer Leitermann. Our fire department has gone from a hand held bell and one truck to a paging system and six trucks. Still others of her family now wholeheartedly serve community as well. Teachers, coaches nurses, physical therapists, MRI technicians, factory workers, service workers of all kinds. They too volunteer in church groups and local organizations giving back to our community just as Grandpa and Grandma have shown them to do through their own lives.
96: When asked why she thinks she has lived for so long (99 years), she says, "I really don't know, all I can do is pray. "I do that for so many people, I used to pray for each family member by name, now there are too many of them so I pray for them in groups." "That is about all I can do, I can no longer do the many things I used to." A word of wisdom from her is, "You need to learn from the past and look forward to tomorrow." A statement Grandma said the last years of her life was, "Life is grand if you don't weaken."
98: The stories I have written in this compilation reflect the time I have spent with my Grandmother. Our time together is priceless, a gift to me. I have had a love of writing since a small kid, a fascination if you will. It became a dream project in the 1980's when family became more important to me as I was beginning my own family. When a story would surface I would take notes and then later write for relaxation. My kids are now in their late twenties and Grandma is 102. We now have a grandson. My husband Steve and I enjoy ballroom dancing as did my grandparents. We too fish, travel, and spend time with family and friends playing cards, sharing holidays, and enjoying each others company. My hope is that one day I too will have left stories of hard work, perseverance and faith that will benefit generations to follow me. This venture has been a journey that I loved along the way and will always cherish.
99: Our most treasured family heirlooms are our sweet family memories.
100: CHILDHOOD PRAYER | While chatting together one morning I learn that Grandma is tired of reciting the same prayers over and over each day. Unable to read she was in search of something. She admitted not remembering prayers that she used to recite years ago, but does remember the prayer her mother taught her as a young girl. During the Christmas of 2009 she eagerly recites the childhood prayer while I record it in both German and English. It's a keepsake of a lifetime! | I AM LITTLE MY HEART IS CLEAN BUT NOBODY SHOULD LIVE THERE BUT JESUS ALONE | ICH BIN KLEIN MEIN HERZ IST REIN, SOLL NIEMAND DRIN WOHNEN ALS JESUS ALLEIN."
101: Many of you have read parts of this book over the years, however I've written the final chapters since Grandma's passing. I miss her terribly but know we'll be together again some day for a hot cup of tea. Thank you to everyone who contributed to my project in many ways. Steve, for your encouragement, Dawn and Jason for listening to me talk of my dream. To each of you who submitted photo's and shared your stories as well. May you each be blessed in some way through these entry's as I have been. | Susan