Editor’s note: The Country Today reader Toni Lubich sent us this story along with the following note: “My grandfather, Walter E. Swenson, of Pierce County, recalled memories of his life, including his service in the Army. I am attaching that story. He passed away in 1986 at the age of 88. We are so blessed to have his writings.” For part two, see this page in next week’s edition. ... Read more

When I was a kid, the bakery in Wautoma sent a truck throughout the countryside, stopping at each farmer’s place with the hope of selling bread, sweet rolls, doughnuts and much more.

I wrote the following embedded poem 30 years ago, although by then it was already 20 years in the making. This year marks the 50th anniversary of that Christmas in Vietnam, 1968, and, unfortunately, little has changed except the decades.

When I was a kid, the Christmas season began the Monday after Thanksgiving. With the Thanksgiving celebration now a memory and the deer season over, my brothers and I turned our thoughts to this special season. The Sears Christmas Catalog had arrived to tell us that Christmas was just around…

The smell of Swisher Sweets often complemented the aroma of the Christmas feast at Grandpa Reeson’s house during the holidays. Grandpa’s laughter was boisterous — almost childlike — and always accompanied by a slap on the knee. He wore his pride as the patriarch to the family on his face and…

My brother Richard jabbed a fork into his mashed potatoes. He knew what was coming.

It was the week following Thanksgiving, and it had snowed 6 inches, enough for sledding on the hill behind Chain O’ Lake School. I dragged my old sled from the storage place above the woodshed, ran some sandpaper along the rusty runners, and headed for school. I knew that during first recess…

The back door opened and the chore crew came in for supper. Mom asked me to get the milk out of the refrigerator and place it on the table as she removed the roast from the oven that had been making the house smell so delicious. I swung the refrigerator door open and reached for the one gall…

My mother cut my hair with a hand-operated clipper that pulled like the dickens. Getting a haircut was in the same category as having a tooth filled. When she finished with her hair-pulling clippers, loose hair settled between my long underwear and my skin, and I itched until Saturday night,…

We had our first snow tonight in Sunset Hills, Mo. The first snow always takes me back to the day in October, when someone would look out the window of our one room Happy Corners school and whisper, “It’s snowing.” Education came to a halt as we rushed to the window to take in this marvelous…

With the fall harvest nearly complete and winter just around the corner, I sat by wood stove in my kitchen. A cold wind blew from the northwest all day, tearing leaves from the aspens and oaks and sending them scurrying. As the sun set, the wind died down and a great calm settled over the la…

On the 29th of September, my friend Sandy and I (I was her guest) attended a wedding at the Heidel House in the beautiful village of Green Lake. The bride, a godchild of Sandy’s brother, comes from a farm family outside of Chilton where they cultivate crops and milk a multitude of Holsteins.…

It is simply unbelievable that one can recall the name of their first heifer calf, sing the song “Oklahoma,” and recite the 4-H Pledge, but can’t remember where the car key is in the morning.

National 4-H Week, held Oct. 7-13, celebrates the foremost organization for rural American youth. An Illinois man from a century ago is credited by many as a forerunner to the 4-H movement.

Approximately 1948, my Dad bought a power takeoff manure spreader. It was made by Skyline. It was one of the first power takeoff spreaders in our neck of the woods. This meant the power takeoff shaft on the tractor powered the spreader.

Harvesting small grains was always a major task each summer for farms not only in Manitowoc County, but throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest. 

Growing up on our family farm in northwest Wisconsin back in the 1950s and 1960s was a lot of fun, but also filled with long days of just plain hard manual work. We had a small herd of Holstein cows that provided a subsistence-type living with regular milk checks which helped provide money t…

The soft, soothing voice of the Masked Man “bringing law and order to the Old West” came over the Philco radio on the Scheckel farm out on Oak Grove Ridge, north of Seneca in the heart of Crawford County in the 1940s and 1950s.

The first day of school as a young fellow of 10 or 12 years old was almost as exciting as the last day of school. If I could go back in time, I would like to go back to the fall of 1936, at the little country school, South Clayton District No. 7.

Millions of Americans will hit the road, fire up the grill, and swarm to the beaches for the Labor Day weekend. The holiday has evolved dramatically from its origins, which are debated today.

“Fair fever” affects a lot of people. It is not only limited to youth who exhibit their animals or finished projects but also to vendors, business exhibitors, and to those who enjoy carnival rides, fair food and grandstand shows.

The memories came flooding back to me driving home from a Green Bay Packers game in November 2017. It was early evening on Highway 29 heading west toward Glenwood City. The scenery was blinded by the setting sun, but when the sun went under the horizon I noticed it to my left — a barn lit up…

Wisconsin supplied plenty of the fine fighting men to the Civil War effort. But as with men from other states, misbehavior was all too common in the ranks.

It is getting close to that time of year, mid-July, when families make the pilgrimage to Door County for the annual cherry harvest, and that always brings to my mind the summer outing of 1957. I would have been 9 or 10 (depending on my birthday in early July) and my brother, Mike, was two ye…

I can only recall my grandfather crying three times. He shed tears when Grandmother died, when the doctors had to amputate his leg, and when the old, black Percheron, horse, Queen, died.

As a young boy, I loved to go with my father to the old farm auctions. I was always amazed at how fast the auctioneer could talk and rattle off his spiel.

In 1936 when I was 6, Dad and Mother bought a 120-acre dairy farm in western Sheboygan County for $8,500 from the Farm and Home Administration, one of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. The farm had been in foreclosure by the previous owner who couldn’t pay his property taxes. The fa…

One of the best baseball movies of all time is the 1992 hit “A League of Their Own,” a seriocomic look at life in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League of the wartime era. The state of Wisconsin was well-represented in the league.

All the animals were taken care of, as were the rest of the chores, until evening came. Mom would be busy getting lunch ready for our noon break. A 2-quart jar of hot coffee was rolled into a newspaper to keep it hot, but warm is what it would be when it came to lunch time. Then along with t…

Many of my childhood memories involve the barn. As an only child until I was 7, I was my Daddy’s shadow. My favorite playmates were the barn cats and their kittens. I especially remember an escapade that I had while playing with the kittens in the barn.

The following is the story my mother, Jennie Hoftiezer Neerhof, read at her 80th birthday party on June 4, 1977, to an audience of relatives who came to help celebrate the event.

After having completed our evening farm chores, our family was busily preparing to go to a town hall gathering on a beautiful Saturday evening during the summer of 1962. It was to be a farewell gathering for our pastor, who had accepted a call to lead another church. 

The Civil War is often described by romantics as “brother against brother,” but in many cases, brothers fought on the same side. In Wisconsin, a leading example were the Salomons, four brothers who held high-ranking positions both in the field and in state government.