Written in 1976 about growing up in Peeksville, Ashland Co.
She turned 90 years young in January 2001
In Honor of
Gertrude MoselerBucheger Gisch's
90th Birthday, January 2, 2001
With modern times upon us, many things are changing fast;|
Our lives are very different than they were in days that passed.
We "oldsters: are good witnesses to these changes taking place,
We see most people living at much too fast a pace.
The background for this story takes place in northern Wis.
And, if you'll pardon me a bit, I'll try to reminisce.
My Mom and Pop heard nothing of this "sex discrimination"
But really were obliging, and with much anticipation,
When offspring number twelve arrived, a female, soft and sweet,
She joined six mails, and with five gals no doubt she would compete.
Our Daddy was a farmer, and a logger, in between,
And with Mom's household duties he would never intervene.
He taught his boys to fell a tree, and know the logging biz,
Hard work it was, but other jobs were scarce in northern Wis.
The household chores were doled to girls and outside chores "to boot"
We pitched the hay and hoed the corn and helped the crops take root.
As we grew older, one by one, we learned to milk a cow,
"It's quite and art," our Dad would say, and kindly show us how.
We sat upon a tripod stool, the pail between the knees,
And soon the ermine liquid flowed, when we would gently squeeze.
My brothers learned to mend a fence, and ‘sharpen up' a saw;
To go fishing on a sunny day was quite against the law.
We trudged a mile on gravel roads to attend the country school;
My father was a proud man, so we observed the Golden Rule.
No thermostat controlled the heat, not button furnished light,
Big windows let in sun and scenes of hillsides, green and bright.
No pressure brought forth water, as the faucet of today;
The water font was filled each day from a pump two blocks away.
Unheard of was the ballpoint pen, instead, each desk would hold
An inkwell for to dip the pen, and some young lad grew bold,
And dipped Miss Susie's tresses into the indigo;
And that night after school the culprit, later home did go.
Our teachers molded many "greats" though not in the Hall of Fame;
We'd recite the Gettysburg Address, and all state capitals name.
Hiawatha was our Indian friend, in fantasy of course,
And Romeo wed Juliet, with no thoughts of divorce.
The Barefoot Boy, Old Ironsides, The Village Blacksmith, too,
Were poems we knew from memory, just to name a few.
Our Daddy was a genius at Arithmetic, I know,
For he solved all the problems that our teachers didn't know.
No tennis courts, no swimming pools, the schoolyard was our ‘gym,'
And many a home run hero gave us cause to honor him.
On Saturdays we walked to town, a good four miles away,
To learn religion lessons on how to live and pray.
And when the Sabbath Day rolled ‘round, we donned our Sunday best;
Those old enough to stand the strain, would pray for all the rest.
Two gallant equine mammals, a sorrel and a bay
Took full responsibility to bring us on our way.
In winter when the feet got cold, while riding in the sleigh,
Our Dad would say, "Run on behind, you'll best keep warm that way."
Our Daddy bought a Model T, in 1922
And one by one, we learned to drive, ‘twas work, but pleasure too.
Speed limits were unheard of, which made the dangers less;
But we packed more folks into the car, than the law allowed, I guess.
My Mother was a counselor, a lawyer and a queen,
She was also the inventor of the "Learn to Work" machine.
Before each coming Saturday, lamp chimneys had to shine;
If I live to be a hundred, I'll recall that task was mine.
Ours set inside a bracket, and were filled with kerosene.
When butter churning time came ‘round, out came the wooden keg;
It set upon a wooden stand; for this task we would beg.
For while we turned the handle round, one hand would hold a book,
‘Cause, just to make the churn go round, you didn't have to look.
The end results were mounds of gold, butter, rich and yellow;
And if you didn't relish this, you'd be a stupid fellow.
In Autumn when the oats turned gold, ‘twas time to thresh the grain;
The neighbors came from all around, each year it was the same.
The fair sex cooked and peeled and proved their culinary art;
Potatoes, meat and vegetables, no fancy ala carte,
We children hurried home from school, and watched with interest keen;
The miracle from stem to grain, of the trusty thresh machine.
When Old Man Winter came each year, it meant cold hands and feet;
To offset this discomfort, our mother would retreat
To a rocker in the corner of our kitchen, near the stove
And bring the knitting needles out, and knit and purl her love
Right into socks and mittens, to keep us snug and warm,
We had no sheep, but wool was purchased from a neighbor's farm.
‘Twas cleaned and washed and sent to mills where skeins of yarn were spun,
And some was used to make wool batts, for quilts to keep us warm.
Wool swatches for one half the quilt from a tailor's sample book
Were sewed and tied on a wooden frame, and formed a novel look.
In Springtime when the garden plot was readied for the seed,
We all took turns with rake and hoe, to keep it free from weeds.
Aching backs and ‘sweaty' brows were part of this ordeal,
But all these products of the soil made many a luscious meal,
The yield was cabbage, turnips, beets and rutabagas, too,
Beans and peas and carrots, all ready for a stew.
Picking rocks to clear a field for hay or corn or wheat,
Seemed to be an endless task, it never was complete.
Each year a few more rocks appeared, we really thought they grew;
But I think the glacier long ago worked harder than we knew.
My tale would seem to indicate that pleasures were taboo,
But, it was quite the opposite, for when our work was through,
We had our favorite pastimes, card games, or playing Jacks,
Reading books or stringing beads, or other special knacks.
Busy minds were set to work creating handmade toys;
Whistles from a willow branch were whittled by the boys.
And dolls weren't just to look at, or put upon the shelves,
‘Twas no disgrace to play with them till you were nearly twelve.
TVs and even radios were quite unheard of then,
But the faithful Victrola, a gift from Edison,
Was the greatest inspiration for the young to want to dance,
And our father taught us how to waltz, and the Fox Trot to enhance.
Comic strips were interesting, just as they are today;
But many characters are gone, they have faded quite away.
The Katzenjammer's mischief, and Hairbreadth Harry's schemes,
Mutt and Jeff and Andy Gump were quite the rage, it seems.
In some ways growing up was hard, but it's rather still today,
Many new ideas now have come into full sway;
For instance, marijuana was not known to exist,
And today, much legislation is needed to assist.
However, boys would deviate from the laws of right and wrong,
They's congregate in woodsheds, where they did not belong;
And one brought out "Bull Durham," from the little muslin bag,
Another furnished tissue, they would thus create a "fag."
‘Twas quite a trick, they seemed to think to make a ‘roll your own'
Away from Mother's apron strings they showed that they had grown.
However, habits seemed to change, and we slowly did mature,
And later made our parents proud, of this I am quite sure.
One by one we left the fold, when Cupid shot her dart,
Into different walks of life, to make a fresh, new start.
City folks don't know the work involved in country living,
Endless chores, yet endless joys, the rural life was giving.
And, now, I shall conclude my tale of life in norther Wis.
And I thank you, my good readers, for a chance to reminisce.