From the book about Southwest and South Central Wisconsin
Oh, What Fun!
Submitted by Helen M. Ring of Rio, Wisconsin
I was born on February 4, 1926 at Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. My parents were dairy farmers. My mother came from a family of eight and helped to take responsibility to bring up these children. My mother only went to third grade in school. My father came from a family of fourteen, namely nine boys and five girls. He had an eighth grade education. He helped us do arithmetic problems, he had an alert mind.
My mother did not drive a car, so my dad took us to town to buy a new pair of shoes and get us a haircut. When dad broke a part on a piece of machinery, we all hopped into the car. We knew dad would get his new part and buy us an ice cream cone. Oh, what fun!
On Saturday evening dad would pile lots of wood in the old stove and mom would give all of us a bath in the warmth of the old stove. She would probably have to wash out some of our clothes for the next day with the old wringer wash machine. The clothes would be hung out to dry and then half frozen would be brought in and placed on a clothes rack to dry. It took time for all of this.
We went to a one room, rural school for eight years. We carried a dinner pail for all eight years. Later on in years, the teacher would place a large pan of water on top of the stove and put containers of soup etc. in it. It was tasty to have a hot lunch with our sandwich.
In one-room schools, we had check tests with all grades and indeed learned from each other. We played ball and I was a good batter and a good runner too.
Later in my life, I taught a rural school. It was a great accomplishment.
Mom, dad, and my older sister milked eighteen cows by hand. It took quite some time for this.
We lived near Beaver Dam Lake and on Sundays, dad would drive us to church and he would chop ice for the ice cream which mom had stirred up. We all took turns “helping” turn the crank to make the ice cream.
On Saturdays, mom baked bread, and the aroma could be scented all over the house. She at times made butter, or jam to spread on our delicious bread. The cottage cheese was made and hung out on a line to ripen.
We did not have indoor plumbing or a hot water heater so later on mom heated water in a large copper boiler on the old wood stove and we all took a bath in round metal washtubs.
We had so much fun at grandpa and grandma’s house. They had an orchard of trees, lilac bushes and a place for us to make mud cakes. Oh, what fun we had!
My uncles would make homemade root beer and store it in their attic. Us kids would unknowingly sneak up and get one of their delicious root beers. Now, do not tell my uncles!
My dad raised his own pigs. They would heat the water, kill and scald the pigs, cut up and can the meat for us. When we knew it was time to butcher, us kids hid under the bed till all this was finished. It was so-o scary!
Mom canned a lot of vegetables for us and even made delicious homemade mincemeat. Times were hard and we did a lot with very little.
We always had some chickens to buy groceries. They would roam the yard and once in a while, we’d find a cluck hen with eggs under her. Surely, she would set on the eggs till little chicks came out. Mom would feed them chopped yolks and water them by dipping their little bills in water. Many would live to roam the yard again.
I kissed my first and only real lover when I was seventeen. He too was a dairy and hog farmer. My sisters and brother laughed and said he bought my diamond ring from a load of hogs. Ha! I think he did. We lived together for five days lacking 59 years. He passed to eternal rest at that time with our countless memories. Our children were daughter, Lyndal Marie, and sons, Larry Alva, and Gerald William.
I was a church member all my life, a scripture reader in church and a volunteer in many civic events. I am now eighty-seven years of age and grateful for my many years.