Opa Memories - June



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When our grandson, Geoffrey, was four years old he sent me the book, “Grandpa, Tell Me Your Memories.” As I filled the daily pages  over the next year was able to relive many fond memories.Opa, Tell Me Your Memories
by W John Schuck


Jun 1: Tell about a strange person that lived in your town.

Mother used to seek out Louie Veeth when she needed the house painted or wallpapered. His family owned a company that did that type of work but Louie was an alcoholic and usually undependable. Mother would contact him a week before she wanted him to work and she would set up the job with the proviso that he would be sober and ready to work when she needed him. Part of the deal was that she would feed him breakfast and lunch during the time of the job. He did excellent work but we used to giggle when she told him not to throw cigarette butts into the wallpaper paste.

Jun 2: What was the funniest name or nickname in your town?

One of the girls was named Anita Husbecker and she received more snide remarks than laughter for her name.

Jun 3: Did you ever sleep under the stars?

Sometimes at Bear Paw Boy Scout Camp as a kid… even more often as a soldier when I was an adult.

Jun 4: Tell about hot dog or marshmallow roasting.
German-American brewer John Henes (pronounced "HEN-iss") donated the park, built in 1907, when industrial uses dominated Menominee's waterfront. Local residents welcomed being able to take the streetcar to a place designed for the Sunday outings (with brass bands and beer) that were so central to German-American culture. Germans love trees, and Henes wanted to preserve the native landscape, an unspectacular old-growth forest of hardwoods, hemlock, and pine. Today signs point out noteworthy trees along the woodchip paths.  (click to enlarge)
We would roast marshmallows and hot dogs on picnics at Henes Park in Menominee, Michigan. I liked to almost burn the marshmallows, pull off the skin, and re-roast the inside.

Jun 5: Did you ever go on a camp out? Tell about it.

Every summer I would go to the Boy Scout camp. It was on Bear Paw Lake and we learned to canoe, hike, take field trips and sing camp songs. The last day of camp they would have a “Pigs in the Blanket” breakfast where some of the counselors would grill sausage and others would make pancakes. They would take the pancakes and place them in cinnamon sugar and then roll the sausages up in them. I thought that was a great “outdoor” breakfast.

Jun 6: Did you ever go on a snipe hunt?

No, I think we were too serious to believe in snipe but I did believe that mincemeat came from minces.

Jun 7: What food did you learn to cook or prepare first as a youth?

I think the first thing I ever cooked were chocolate chip cookies.

Jun 8: Share a horse-riding story.

I don’t remember any. I would ride a pony at the carnival but that was just a “ride” rather than a horse adventure.

Jun 9: What was your first job?

My first job was as a delivery boy for the Milwaukee Sentinel. My route had about 45 patrons and required that I deliver the morning paper long before I had to go to school so I was up early each morning. The Marinette Eagle Star was an afternoon paper and many more people took that local paper than the Milwaukee paper so my route was about five times longer that what a local paper delivery would be. On Saturdays I would go to all the houses and collect for the paper.

Jun 10: How much did you get paid?

I think I made 2¢ a paper.

Jun 11: Tell about any other paying jobs you held as a youth.

Later in high school I worked at the St Onge Lumber Yard. We made frames for mattresses and I would run the 5-blade rip saw to cut slats. I caught my left middle finger in the blade and thought I would lose a finger but I only got a scar.

Jun 12: Were you ever chased by some animal?

Often when I rode my bikes on the paper route I would get chased by a dog. Most were just barkers but a few tried to bite.

Jun 13: If you were ever in a parade, tell about it.

When we had 4th of July parades we would decorate the wheels of our bike or a wagon and ride in the parade. Sometimes we would attach a playing card to the fork of the bike and it would make a noise when the spokes would spin by.

Jun 14: Tell another memory about a parade.

Years later, when we were in town for my 40th high school reunion, we took Lindsay and Geoffrey to see one of the local 4th of July parades. There were floats with people throwing out candy for the children. Another float, by the Scott Paper Company, had people throwing out rolls of toilet paper… that was a hoot for the kids. Then the University of Wisconsin Band’s tuba section marched too. It was a great, small town parade.

Jun 15: Share a childhood memory about a death that affected you.

As an altar boy we often went to funerals out in the county to serve for a funeral mass. I was impressed by the traditions of these Welsh, Irish, or German funerals. They each seemed to have a wake that was unique to their culture but very similar. I enjoyed serving for these.

Jun 16: Relate your happiest memory as a youth.

I think having the entire family sitting around the fireplace, listening to the radio on a Saturday evening and popping corn in the fireplace was a very special treat. Usually the corn was popped on the stove in the kitchen but the old popper held over the logs seemed special.

Victory Beach, Menominee, Michigan (click to enlarge)Jun 17: How did you learn to swim?

We each took swimming lessons as soon as we were able. Those were held at Victory Beach in Menominee. We would have the lesson and then swim on our own for an hour or two.

Jun 18: Where did you go swimming?
Another view of Henes Park from an old postcard... note the teepe in the woods to the right. (click to enlarge)
Because we also had classes there, we swam more at Victory Beach than any other place. But we also swam at Red Arrow Beach in Menekaune, and at Henes Park in Menominee.

Dad, is it time to listen to The Shadow? (click to enlarge)Jun 19: Tell a favorite memory of your father.

My mind’s eye can best picture dad sitting in his easy chair, smoking a pipe, and reading his newspaper while listening to the radio. That was a good time for him.

Jun 20: Tell about some good advice your father gave you.

Once you find a job you like, work hard at it and enjoy life.

Jun 21: Did your father ever make a special gift for you?

He taught me how to make a “motorized” engine of an empty thread spool, some wax, a rubber band, and matchsticks. He was not mechanically handy and it was fun to make them with him.

Jun 22: Did you have a special nature place where you went to explore?

It wasn’t a nature place but I like to walk down the ravine by the railroad tracks along Newberry Avenue to Main Street.

Jun 23: Did you ever go skinny-dipping?

Our swimming holes were really shallow beaches on the Green Bay and it took a while to get out to even waist deep water. We never went skinny dipping there.

Jun 24: Did you ever make mud pies?

Sure… and sand castles and forts.

Jun 25: Did you go barefoot in the summer?

We usually went barefoot in the summer.

Jun 26: If so, relate an experience about stepping on something.

While at Red Arrow beach I stepped on something sharp, probably a broken bottle, and I had to go to the hospital to have three stitches in the cut.

Jun 27: Tell about a bike you had.

My first bike was one my brother Jere had before me. I believe it was a Schwinn but it didn’t have the light and horn package in the frame, which was missing. It also had two spring “shock absorbers” on the fork. The bike was too big for me and I would have to rock down to the left when that pedal was at the bottom and then rock over to the right to make that down sweep.

Jun 28: Tell about your first very own car.
William John Schuck, 2nd Lieutenant, Infantry (click to enlarge)
When I finished Officer Candidate School at Ft Benning (I was 25) I bought a Dodge Dart with a standard shift (four on the column) and a radio… that was the only extra I had. The Tactical Officers alerted us that as a second lieutenant I couldn’t afford a new car but it was a big deal and I bought it anyway. It was a great first car.

Jun 29: Did you ever have or make a swing?

We didn’t have a tree that was tall enough to make a swing in our yard. We weren’t too far from City Park though and we could swing there.

Jun 30: Tell about seeing something you thought was quite beautiful.

Ocean going ships could unload at our harbor (click to enlarge)I always liked looking out over the Green Bay. Since it connected to Lake Michigan it went all the way to the horizon. It seemed endless, like an ocean. I liked to watch the ocean going ships come into our harbor or sail on to Milwaukee and Chicago. I thought that water was a path to the rest of the world.


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