Aunt Arline reflects on life, past and future


Lorna Marquardt, Leader Columnist

Today’s article concludes the four-part series written from notes by my Aunt Arline (Robenhagen) Roggebuck. Aunt Arline was the daughter of Walter and Martha Robenhagen, my grandparents. Next week, I will tell you about my memories of my grandparents from the 1950s and 1960s.

Aunt Arline wrote: “Our summers were busy. We had to pick potato bugs (no insecticides) off the entire large potato field. We always had to do our work before we could do anything else. I remember wanting go to a Fourth of July parade, but I had to unload hay into the hay mow and then push it down along the edges. The mow was small, but it all had to go in. I didn’t get to the parade.

“We also had to hoe several acres of beans, and around the middle of July we started picking them. The kids from town all wanted jobs and many of them came back summer after summer. We got about a penny a pound-sometimes 1½ cents for the little green beans. If we picked a hundred pounds, that was considered a big day. My ma would keep track of our earnings and we’d maybe get a cash amount of 25 cents a week. At the end of the season, the money was used to buy clothes for school and 25 cents to go to the fair. Hamburgers were 10 cents, pop 5 cents and a ride 10 cents.

“We would go and hang around the Farmer’s Exhibition Building where Aunt Lena and Uncle Fred were in charge of the Town of Hartland booth. If we hung around long enough, they would give us 10 cents, or on a rare occasion, a whole quarter. But if we tried it too often, they caught on, and it didn’t work.

“The first movie I saw was ‘Rin Tin Tin’. We didn’t go often, so going was very special. There would always be a news reel first, a comedy, maybe a short subject, coming attractions, and many times a double feature. We got our money’s worth.

“During the summer, there would be free outdoor movies. Also, the Gagnon Pollack tent shows would set up about where Moede’s Plumbing is. They would have maybe three short live plays, not very special actors, but for 15 cents, it was pretty good. They sold ‘Guess What’ candy boxes for 5 cents — 3 candy kisses and a surprise. People flocked to these performances as there was little to look forward to during those depression days. Sometimes we had bread and lard for supper to afford the admission, but we went.

“It’s hard to imagine life without television My generation is the generation that knew a very primitive life without running water, electricity, cars and sidewalks. As we grew up, things began to change, but not really until after World War II. My mother and dad didn’t get electricity until shortly before I married in 1946, and my father got his first car in the forties. His co-worker, Joe Prusik, taught my dad how to drive. Pa tackled this challenge with zest, but Joe was leery of Pa’s driving skills and he stood on the running board while instructing him; ready to jump off if necessary. Pa and Ma never went too far with the car. Ma always watched for the traffic. I think Bonduel was as far as they ventured.

“I wrote these notes because I wanted to leave a few thoughts about what my life was like. I only wish I had asked my dad more about his days in Denmark. I’m not feeling sorry for myself that we grew up with so few material things because I think those of my generation learned to appreciate things much more than those today who have so much. My grandchildren can’t possibly imagine the thrill of turning on a light switch and getting light for the first time, replacing the old kerosene lamp; or turning on a faucet and getting water, instead of pumping water. A hot water heater was the ultimate luxury. I suppose future generations will have new things too, but ours were major changes to make life easier. The next inventions will be luxuries. Probably the major changes will come in transportation. I can foresee much different highway travel, probably some form of tube through which cars will go extremely fast, maybe without a driver. But from a horse and buggy to a giant jet plane is sufficient for me.”

R.I.P. Aunt Arline. Thanks for the memories.

Answer: Big Brothers of Shawano County was organized in 1971 for providing a male image and guidance to fatherless boys. First officers: Dave Gage, James Yeakey, William Gansen, Karla Westphal, Richard Kuepper and Dennis Wendt

This week: In what year and where was Lakeland Center, Inc. established?

Lorna Marquardt is a former mayor of Shawano.