Friday, January 15, 2021

Time to Read Some Wisconsin History

 



On these snowy, often dark and dreary days of mid-winter, it’s a good time to catch up on your reading.  How about digging a bit more into the history of Wisconsin? I pulled a few books off my shelf as a representative group.  Your librarian can help you with more.

I start with THE SHADOW IN THE GLASS, a historical novel by August Derleth which is a story about Wisconsin’s first Governor, Nelson Dewey. Written in 1963. I was privileged to know Derleth, and took a novel writing class from him at one time.

WISCONSIN LORE by Robert Gard and L. G. Sorden. Early Wisconsin stories, Gard wrote several books about Wisconsin History, and I’m pleased to say, he was my writing mentor who started me writing books back in the late 1960s.

A MEMORY OF MUSKETS by Kathleen Ernst, an excellent contemporary writer, tells a tale centered at Old World Wisconsin. Kathleen has written several books—including a mystery series—all wrapped up in Wisconsin history.

WISCONSIN AGRICULTURE: A HISTORY by Jerry Apps.  The title says it all.

THE LAND REMEMBERS by Ben Logan.  A classic story of growing up on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin when small dairy farms dotted much of Wisconsin.

FARM GIRL by Beuna Coburn Carlson.  A true tale of a farm girl’s growing up experiences.

MEMORIES OF MARSHALL by Greg Peck.  Small town life at an earlier time. A long-time newspaper writer, in his retirement Greg, has turned to writing books.

CHEESE: THE MAKING OF A WISCONSIN TRADITION by Jerry Apps.  How Wisconsin found itself the leading cheese-making state in the nation.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Snow time is the right time to sit back and read a bit.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

To purchase Jerry’s books, several them about Wisconsin rural history, go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s. Say hello to Jana and Dave, and look at their great selection of my books, including my new ones, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.

 

 

 




Friday, January 08, 2021

The Importance of Keeping a Journal

 


I’m not much for making New Year’s resolutions, but my resolution for 2021 is to continue to write regularly in my journal—something that I have done for many years.  I suggest writing in a journal is something everyone should do. Why?  You are writing down history, your life, and how you are living it for your children and grandchildren.  For those who might be curious, here are some of the things I write about in my journal:

 Each day I write the date, the temperature, and few comments about the weather (it’s the old farmer in me), then I write about what happened that day. It might be about family; I’m writing a lot about my grandkids these days. It might be about a major purchase, a new car or tractor, or another piece of equipment. I record the model, make, and price. (What fun it is to compare the cost of a new car in 2021 with one purchased in 1960!)

Besides recording personal history, writing in a journal can help clarify thoughts, feelings, and observations. When I have a problem or I don’t understand something, I begin writing about it. What has been murky often begins to become clear.

As for right now, writing about how COVID-19 has affected you and your family is certainly worthy of consideration.  See my book, The Old Timer Says: A Writing Journal. Here I share more about how to journal.  The book also has many blank pages ready for writing, with the occasional “Old Timer Says” to get you started.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: It’s never too late to begin keeping a journal.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

To purchase The Old Timer Says: A Writing Journal, go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s. Say hello to Jana and Dave, and look at their great selection of my books, including my new ones, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.

Friday, January 01, 2021

 Looking to a Better 2021



It’s over. We can turn the calendar from 2020 to 2021.  What a year 2020 has been.  I have not seen one like it, not even close, including the years of the polio epidemic when everyone’s schedules were interrupted and fear hung in the air like a dirty black cloud.

This past year has been one of disappointment, trashed dreams, and too often tragedy as loved ones and friends came down with the dreaded COVID virus

But even in the midst of all the chaos, I learned several things, as I am sure everyone else has as well.  I’ve learned to keep going, to keep living a reasonably interesting life.  I have had to adjust. I have learned how to work virtually—I don’t like it, but I can do it.  I’ve not only become acquainted with Zoom, I have learned how to use it.

The epidemic has helped me appreciate the right now, today.  Too often my mind has me a year ahead, more than that sometimes.  There is a place for planning, but enjoying the moment is also important.

 Oh, how important my farm his been during this COVID mess.  The silence of a winter night, with stars winking and blinking everywhere.  The call of a whip-poor-will on a spring evening. Fresh produce from my garden.

And most of all, oh how I appreciate my family, knowing that they will help Ruth and me with a simple phone call. How important this is for those of us in the autumn years of our lives.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: There is much to be learned when chaos and fear are everywhere.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

To learn more about Christmas in days past, see The Quiet Season. Purchase my newest books, When the White Pine Was King, and The Old Timer Says: A Writing Journal, go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s. Say hello to Jana and Dave, and look at their great selection of my books, including my new ones, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Memories from the 1942 Sears Christmas Book



 What a surprise Christmas gift I received this year.  One I had not expected.  One I didn’t even think was available.  It’s a facsimile copy of the 1942 Sears Christmas book.   I was eight years old in 1942, a farm kid interested in about everything, especially the items on the pages of this catalog that arrived in our mailbox every November.

World War II had started on December 7, 1941.  And now, a year later, thousands of sons and husbands were off to war.  These were tough times.  The country had just begun to recover from the Great Depression of the 1930s, and now, War with all of its fears and challenges.  And I, a little eight-year-old feasting my eyes on things I would never have because I knew my family was just hanging on after 10 years of low prices and bad weather.

But it cost nothing to look. So, I pored over pages of fun looking toys: An “Exclusive 57-Piece Farm Set,” complete with barn, silo, farmhouse, chicken house, and other farm buildings.  Plus, model cows, horses and wagon, ducks, pigs, and chickens.  All for $2.98.

A cork gun shooting gallery of six crows on a fence, 52 cents. A miniature bowling game with duckpins, 85 cents.  And Tinkertoys.  Oh, how I wanted some Tinkertoys because then I could build things. Regular set, $1.05.  And books, so many books to choose from, “Black Beauty,” “Bambi,” “The Lone Ranger,” 48 cents each. 

And best of all, a windup train (we had no electricity at the time) with thirty-five pieces from a windup engine to the caboose and tracks for the train to run on, $3.88.  This I did receive one year, and I still have it and it still works.

Oh, the memories.  So many memories.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: An old catalog can bring back so many memories.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

To learn more about Christmas in days past, see The Quiet Season. Purchase my newest books, When the White Pine Was King, and The Old Timer Says: A Writing Journal, go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s. Say hello to Jana and Dave, and look at their great selection of my books, including my new ones, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Christmas and Snow

 



For me and many others who live in the north, snow and Christmas go together.  Maybe it’s because of songlines like,” I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” crooned by Bing Crosby.  The song debuted Christmas Day 1941, just three weeks after Pearl Harbor and the beginning of World War II.  It provided those of us who were living at that time a powerful image that helped us through the war.

Other songs add to that nostalgic view of Christmas with snow such as “Winter Wonderland (1934), and “Let it Snow” (1945).

 Or maybe the tune, “Dashing through the snow with a one-horse open sleigh,” (Jingle Bells), performed at each of the eight Christmas Programs I was a part of at our One-Room Country School. Jingle Bells was written in the mid-1800s and continues popular to this day. 

Oh, not to forget.  Does Santa Claus ride in a wagon, or in buggy, or a convertible auto? No.  He rides in a sleigh. How could Santa make his rounds with no snow?  Unthinkable.

As a kid, Christmas meant Christmas vacation, two weeks away from school.  Two weeks to go skiing, and sledding, and building snow forts, and throwing snowballs at your brothers. Christmas vacation without snow was like going swimming in a dried-up lake.

Often overlooked, but I suspect not so much this year with all the COVID worries, Christmas lights sparkling on new-fallen snow are as beautiful as anything imaginable.

Merry Christmas to all.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Freshly fallen snow makes Christmas special.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

To learn more about Christmas in days past, see The Quiet Season. Purchase my newest books, When the White Pine Was King, and The Old Timer Says: A Writing Journal, go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s. Say hello to Jana and Dave, and look at their great selection of my books, including my new ones, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Christmas Spirit

 


 


During these dark and dismal days, when many of us are challenged by the effects of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic, the celebration of Christmas is a bright spot, a chance to see light in the darkness.  An opportunity to feel joy in the midst of despair.

I.remember earlier times when Christmas boosted our spirits.  I recall the Depression years, (1930s) when I was a little kid, living on a sandy, central Wisconsin farm.  Our farm income had hit rock bottom.  To add to the economic misery, dry weather with sand storms  swept across central Wisconsin, day after day, week after week. But we always had something to eat, and a roof over our heads.  We celebrated Christmas with church services, oyster stew on Christmas Eve, a Christmas tree, and a present or, two, often homemade.

I remember so well the World War II years (1941-1945) when several of my cousins were in the military, and everyone prayed that they would once more return home (blessedly they all did). Rationing of everything from tires, gasoline, to sugar challenged everyone.  But we celebrated Christmas with church services, oyster stew on Christmas Eve, a Christmas tree, and a few presents.

I remember the dreaded years of the polio epidemic (1945-1955), when like today, many events were canceled and fear hung in the air like a dirty black cloud.  But we celebrated Christmas with church services—oyster stew on Christmas Eve, a Christmas tree, and some presents.

And now in 2020, my family will celebrate Christmas with virtual church services, oyster stew on Christmas Eve, a Christmas tree, and some presents. And we will feel the joy of the celebration during these trying times.

 THE OLD TIMER SAYS: The celebration of Christmas lifts one’s spirits.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

To learn more about Christmas in days past, see The Quiet Season. Purchase my newest books, When the White Pine Was King, and The Old Timer Says: A Writing Journal, go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s. Say hello to Jana and Dave, and look at their great selection of my books, including my new ones, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.

Friday, December 04, 2020

Perfect Christmas Tree

 



It’s an annual tradition, which usually takes place on the Sunday following Thanksgiving.  Everyone who is available, kids, grandkids, grandparents—all gather at Roshara, our farm, in search of the perfect Christmas tree.

This year it was daughter Sue, son, Steve, daughter-in-law, Natasha plus the Old Timer who drove the ATV and let the younger ones do the searching.  Searching for the perfect tree.  Not too tall, not to short, not too bushy, not bushy enough.  I heard these words as the search continued.

The search is not an easy one.  We’ve planted over 20,000 trees at Roshara-mostly red pine.  But we also have a goodly number of self-seeded pines—white pine mostly, but a fair number of Scotch pine as well.  Which one should it be—actually the trio was searching for three trees, one for each family, and each family wanting a special tree.  Grandma Ruth likes a full tree with short needles—a Scotch pine fits the bill. Sue and Paul like a similar tree—another Scotch pine.  Steve and Natasha go towards a soft needled white pine.

My job, hauling the trees, more than a half-mile from the back corner of the farm.  And of course, one of the trees fell out of the ATV, without me knowing it. Happens every year. So, it was turning back and searching for the lost tree. All part of the tradition.  All part of the fun. All part of finding a homegrown, wild tree, as we call them.

 THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Christmas is a perfect time for traditions.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

To learn more about Christmas in days past, see The Quiet Season. Purchase my newest books, When the White Pine Was King, and The Old Timer Says: A Writing Journal, go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s. Say hello to Jana and Dave, and look at their great selection of my books, including my new ones, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.