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.

We could have been neighbors, if I had been born 118 years ago. When I lived in Eau Claire, I could see where he lived from my front door, although I am not sure which house his father had built. The block, which is actually two blocks, is designated the 1000 and 1100 block now, and Venski’s…

What is a promise? It can be a vow, an assurance, an obligation, a guarantee as well as a prediction of behavior. For a child growing up in the 1930s, there were few promises from Dad, for he understood his credibility was at stake, especially in times when the future was unclear. Even thoug…


My father was a delightful eccentric who enjoyed the company of other eccentrics. These interesting folks were sometimes from other countries, other cultures or sometimes just out in left field. But all of them enriched the lives of us kids.

The Scheckel family milked cows by hand on the Oak Grove Ridge farm outside of Seneca in the middle of Crawford County. Oh, the neighbors had milking machines in the late 1940s and during the 1950s, but not the Scheckels. Count ‘em; Dad, Mom, Phillip, Lawrence and Bob. Five milkers with 10 hands.

You walk in and the silence is deafening. It surrounds you and you look around to see what is not right. The barn feels hollow. It is cold and smells of old, leftover hay. Hay that will be left in the mow to never be used, to just pass the years and rot.

What did no-spending-money farm boys do to acquire things like a bow and arrow, slingshot or snow skis in the 1940s and 1950s? We made our own on the Scheckel farm outside of Seneca in the heart of Crawford County. We had mixed success.

The month of March is when the chick hatching season is in full swing and the baseball season is about to hatch. Each year at this time, it brings back memories of my teenage years while growing up on a dairy farm in Manitowoc County in eastern Wisconsin. I always enjoyed going to the feed m…

Many people think of Lawrence Welk, the famous musician with the bubble machine, when they hear the phrase, “A one and a two.” For people living in Wisconsin in the 1940s and 1950s those words might also remind them of their favorite band at the local dance hall.

A one-cent picture postcard was mailed from Melrose, in Jackson County, to Tolt, Wash., in October 1909. It had been perfectly preserved for more than a century before I received it in 2015. It was delivered to me with a shoebox full of family pictures from West Coast relatives. Sophia “Soph…

South Clayton District No. 7 is where I spent nine years of my life going to school. There wasn’t kindergarten in those days, but it took me nine years to get through eight grades of school due to many bouts with severe illnesses.

I was born in April 1934 and Hal was born a year and two months later. As children, we were the fourth and fifth born of our parents. A brother and two sisters preceded us and two sisters would follow us in 1936 and 1938 to round out our family of nine including our parents.

I like pigs. Or, at least the idea of pigs. I like little pigs. I like mother pigs. I like grazing pigs when they stay in their fence. I like eating pigs. But some days pigs will make you question your sanity and wonder whether all your decisions in life are as suspect as your decision to pr…

The three Scheckel boys on the 238-acre Oak Grove Ridge farm outside of Seneca, in the heart of Crawford County, were involved in numerous farm accidents in the 1940s and 1950s. None fatal, mind you, as we all grew into adulthood.

When I returned to rural Wisconsin after a 40-year sojourn, mostly in the West, it was my distinct pleasure to visit with old neighbors from my “growing-up” years. It was 20 years ago that Evelyn and Harold Conrad gave me the picture of Harold with his team of draft horses with their names a…

My husband and I have farmed all of our lives and recently we were fortunate enough to take our first cruise. We left the farm for a week. Phone service was limited, at best, on the ocean as we explored snippets of the Caribbean. As the boat slipped through the water toward the dock in Miami…