Memories of picking beans and Friday nights in Shawano

By: 

Lorna Marquardt, Leader Columnist

Last week, I completed a series of articles written from notes by my Aunt Arline Roggenbuck, daughter of Walter and Martha Robenhagen. This is the first article in a series I will be writing about my memories of growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents, Walter and Martha, and I hope my memories will take you back in time.

I was in kindergarten when we moved from Shawano to Marion. I remember crying and not wanting to leave. I would miss my grandparents who lived down the street from us on Lieg Avenue. I would miss my aunts and uncles, cousins, kindergarten classmates and my teacher, Miss Howe.

After we moved, I loved coming back to Shawano and staying at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. They lived through the Depression, and they were very frugal. There was never candy or soda, but Grandma did bake cookies. She also made Grandpa’s favorite chocolate pie. Although I was young, I knew the pie wasn’t very good. It was lumpy, but I told her I liked it.

Grandpa was a hard worker and a man of few words. I don’t remember hearing him laugh or even seeing him smile, but he was a good and kind man. Grandma was a talker. She told me the same stories over and over, but I loved Grandma and I always listened. When she sewed on her treadle sewing machine, I sat next to her and watched. Grandma always wore a housedress and an apron. She had ugly black shoes that laced up the front. She gave herself perms, and her hair was frizzy and kind of silly looking, but I sure loved my grandma.

I remember sitting on the floor listening to Billie the Brownie read letters to Santa on the radio. When I was only about 6, Grandma told me about Santa. My mother was furious, feeling it was her role to tell me when she felt I was old enough. I remember Mother scolding Grandma. Reading Aunt Arline’s notes and learning Grandma and Grandpa never had money to put gifts under their tree puts things in perspective now. Santa never visited their house.

When I was old enough, I picked beans in Fred Robenhagen’s (Grandpa’s brother) bean field located on what is now Shawano Community Middle School property. I was a fast picker, knowing the money would be put to good use. I remember riding along to the canning factory with Uncle Freddy and Delmar Buettner. Next stop was Reisner’s Bar, Uncle Freddy would say for a “short one.” I got a candy bar or a soda.

When the season was over, Grandpa would drive us to town in his old Model A. Grandma took me to Lauerman’s where she let me select material for skirts she would sew. With my bean picking money, I usually had enough to buy material for three skirts.

I loved going to Lauerman’s; a stop at the water bubbler was a must. There were grocery items and a meat counter in the back. They sold shoes, too. The salesman was Herbie Neeck. I remember the store clerk placing the money from a purchase in a metal container that hooked onto a pulley wire. The container was pulled across the ceiling to a clerk located in a balcony office. She would send back the change and a receipt. It was fascinating to watch.

A highlight of my stay at Grandma’s was Friday nights. Delmar and Erna Buettner (Erna was Dad’s cousin) took me along to town on Friday nights. I remember cars were lined up on both sides of the street. We always went early so we could get a good parking spot in front of Schultz Brothers and Penneys.

I loved going into Schultz Brothers and Woolworths; both sold bulk candy. Delmar was always very kind, and he would give me a few nickels if I didn’t have any. It took a long time trying to decide what candy to buy. I loved looking at the perfume; Blue Waltz and Evening in Paris were popular. There was also one called Lillies of the Valley. There was a food counter, too, but I rarely had enough money for a hamburger.

Occasionally Elaine (Buettner) Knope would let me tag along with her to Heinz Drug Store where we shared a cherry fizz or a vanilla phosphate. Dehn’s made wonderful malts, always served with soda crackers. I remember enjoying one with extra bean picking money. What a treat. When finished eating and shopping, we would just sit in the car and watch people.

To be continued…

Answer to last week’s question: Lakeland Center Inc. was established in 1971 and located at the Stony Hill School until moving to the Industrial Park in 1974.

This week’s question: What was the name of the woman’s apparel shop located at 113 S. Main St. in 1974 and managed by Anna Hintz?

Lorna Marquardt is a former mayor of Shawano.