Special Memories of Mom and Dad
Mom, Dad, and the Author
Inspiration for Special Memories
The inspiration for this article is a photo which my sister, Doctor Pat, sent to me in November of 2017. It is a picture of dad, mom, and I that was taken in probably 1945 or 1946. I appear to be between one and two years of age at that time.
Although dad has been gone since 2004 and mom since 2011, this photo still brings tears to my eyes. How privileged I was to have had such great and loving parents during most of my life!
In this article, I recall special memories with mom and dad together from 1950 until 2003.
How Mom and Dad Met
Shortly after my father's passing away in May of 2004, mom revealed to me how she and dad first met and got to know each other. In the early fall of 1943, ma and dad were working at the same factory in Milwaukee. They rode the same bus home and on many occasions, dad would not get off at his first scheduled stop. Instead, he would stay on the bus and not get off until ma did. My mother who had just moved from her home in Marshfield was living with her maternal aunt in Cudahy. After a brief six week courtship, mom and dad got married in November 1943 and initially lived in Milwaukee.
Summer Vacation Trips to Marshfield 1950-53
One of my first fond memories of mom and dad was during our summer vacation trips to Marshfield in the early 1950s. I'm pretty sure that dad had a late 1930s Ford Model A that made the eight to ten-hour trip from West Allis to Marshfield about 200 miles away. On one or two occasions, the car broke down and we had to get it repaired en route.
Once we arrived in Marshfield, I was in heaven exploring grandma and grandpa's big house and playing with my aunt who is only eight months older than I. There was a field next to the house and we often had fun down by the brook that ran through it.
I always hated to go back to West Allis and started to cry as soon as we left grandma, grandpa, and Aunt Mary.
Saturday Night Visits to Uncle Augie
While living in West Allis in the early 50s, dad and mom would take me and my oldest sister Beatrice to visit Uncle Augie and his family on many Saturday evenings. Uncle Augie, dad's older brother, lived in an apartment on Brady Street on the East side of Milwaukee. My uncle who worked in the A&P bakery lived with his wife Georgeanna and their two children, Gail and Alan. Also living with Augie were a mother-in-law and two stepdaughters. One of the stepdaughters was about 18 and the other 13.
I liked going over to see my uncle because I could play with my two cousins who were about my age. Ma, dad, and I enjoyed watching the big 30-inch screen TV. Whenever we were there, the Burns and Allen Show used to always be on.
Babysitting in Early 1955
From 1954 until 1957, we lived on a rented farm three miles outside of Mukwonago and about 25-30 miles from Milwaukee. By early 1955, my second oldest sister Patty was born. In the early spring of that year, dad decided to take mom dancing on Saturday evening. Since being the oldest, I was expected to babysit my two sisters. The weather was still cold at night and I remember watching my sisters as we sat around a big oil burner that was in the living room. Mom and dad were only gone for a couple of hours but it seemed much longer than that.
Growing Pickles in the Summer of 1958
In the late spring of 1958, my parents decided to plant half of an acre of pickles in a field next to our house. The idea was to sell the harvested pickles to a pickle factory about 15 miles away. The money earned from this cash crop was used to buy school clothes for my oldest sister and me.
The hardest part of growing pickles was picking them in August when they started to come on the vines. This was back-breaking work and especially difficult in the hot and humid weather. When dad wasn't away working, he would help my mother, sister Beatrice, and I with the picking. Even four-year-old Patty would pitch in with the chore.
Before the pickles came on the vines that year, it was extremely dry. Dad came up with the idea to take water from a nearby creek and use it to irrigate the pickles. We did this by pumping water from the creek and transporting it by pipes to the pickle patch. The pump was attached to a power takeoff shaft on a tractor, and through carelessness, my pants leg got caught in the power takeoff shaft and made a big gash in my leg. I still remember going to see a doctor in Burlington on a very hot afternoon to get stitches to close the wound.
Mom and Dad around 1960
Honey Creek Community Picnic - July 4, 1960
In March of 1957, mom and dad purchased a farm located one-half mile north of the small village of Honey Creek. Honey Creek had two grocery stores, a small gas station, Baptist Church, and a one or two-room school. On July 4, 1960, the village organized a community picnic. It was a pot-luck picnic like lunch with a softball game for boys and their dads following the meal.
I don't remember much about the food, but how can I forget the softball game!! Dad and I were on different teams. While he was pitching, I came up to the plate and hit a home run over the center-field fence. I was so excited that mom, Beatrice, Patty, brother Philip born in 1957, and even one-year-old sister Connie heard my shouts of joy.
Parents' Night Football Games in 1960 and 1961
While attending Burlington High School, I was on the varsity football team during my junior and senior years 1960-1961. It was traditional to have the first home game of the year be designated as a parents' night. Although dad was working a second job in addition to dairy farming, he and mom always found time to attend the parents' night games and watch me play. Dad was disappointed that a neighboring high school beat us in 1960 but proud of me when I blocked an extra point try and helped Burlington High win in 1961.
Navy Basic Training Liberty in August of 1967
From June 15 until August 30, 1967, I was in Navy basic training at Great Lakes, Illinois just north of Chicago. After my sixth week of training, I was given 12-hour liberty. This liberty was on a Sunday during the first week of August.
Mom, dad, my brother, and three sisters made me extremely happy by picking me up from the base in the morning and first taking me home for dinner. After dinner, we visited Uncle Dick in West Allis before spending some time at the Wisconsin State Fair also being held in West Allis. While at the Fair, I ran into one of my fellow recruits and we traveled together back to Great Lakes late in the afternoon.
Mom, Dad, and Sister Connie
Summer Visits to Wisconsin 1978-2000
After I left for Taiwan in 1973 and got married, I didn't spend much time with my parents. Beginning in 1978, however, and continuing up until 2003, I made many summer visits to mom and dad in Wisconsin. The visits in 1978, 1991, and 1999 are the most memorable.
In July of 1978, I returned home after having lived in Taiwan for five years. When mom, dad, and my youngest sister Connie met me at Chicago O'Hare Airport, they were very happy to see me, my Taiwanese wife, and four-year-old son.
After a 90 minute drive back to Honey Creek in Wisconsin, I was soon together again with my brother Philip and second oldest sister Patty.
The highlight of this visit was a trip that my family, father, and mother made up to mom's still living relatives in Marshfield. While there, we first visited my two aunts Mary and Sissie before spending the night with Aunt Donna, Uncle Joe, and their boys on their small farm just outside of Marshfield. On the next morning, we drove a few miles north to Merrill to spend some time with great-aunt Martha and Hank on their farm. Before arriving at the farm, I remember stopping at a playground and admiring dad who was able to chin himself on the monkey bars. Early that afternoon, we departed Marshfield and drove down to Wisconsin Dells. While at the Dells, we took a guided boat ride on the Wisconsin River before returning home to Honey Creek.
During the trip back in 1991, dad, mom, and I made a trip up to Manitowoc to visit sister Dr. Pat on her farm. Patty was now a veterinarian and also a dairy farmer with my brother-in-law Donnie. I still recall grilling hamburgers and steaks outside Patty's home one evening while she and Donnie were finishing up barn chores.
On the next morning, after spending a night with Patty and Donnie, we drove over to Marshfield to see Mary, Donna, and Sissie. The night was spent in Aunt Sissy's home on a very comfortable bed upstairs.
Finally, the trip back in 1999, will always stand out. I drove directly from Maryland and it seemed like I was traveling on the hottest day of the year. Arriving in Burlington at about 6:30 p.m., the temperature was over 100 and the humidity was extremely high.
The next day, I helped day combine dad's oats. While he pulled the combine with a tractor, I followed behind and kept watch of the belts which were driving the operation of the combine. On many occasions, they came off and dad and I had to put them back on. It was hot tedious work, but we finally finished harvesting the oats to dad's great satisfaction and joy.
The Kuehn Family Farm North of Honey Creek, Wisconsin
My Sister Connie's Wedding in November of 2002
I will always remember my youngest sister Connie's wedding in November 2002. This was the last time that my brother, sisters, mother, and father were all gathered together. We had a good time at the courthouse in Elkhorn on a November afternoon and even a better time when we first gathered at Connie and John's house and then had a delicious meal at Old Country Buffet in Milwaukee. Mom and Dad were especially happy to have everyone together on that day.
Mom and Dad's Visits to Maryland in 1986 and 2003
Finally, I will always cherish the two visits which mom and dad made from Wisconsin to Maryland. The first visit was in 1986 and the second in 2003 one year before dad passed away.
In 1986, mom and dad spent a weekend in late February when I lived in Glen Burnie, a suburb of Baltimore. I still can see dad wearing a cowboy hat at the time I picked him and mom up at the airport.
On Saturday, we visited Washington D.C. and toured the White House as well as a few museums on the Mall. Dad seemed so energetic walking and I think he had his picture taken next to a cut-out of President Reagan.
On Sunday, mom wanted to see the Amish country so we drove up to Lancaster in Pennsylvania. We stopped at a restaurant there and had mom's favorite shoe-fly pie. Dad was interested in the Amish farms and the horse-drawn buggies the farmers used on the local roads.
My parents' final trip to Maryland was at the end of May 2003. Dad was suffering from depression during the last year of his life and it is a wonder that mom got him to go with her on this trip.
At that time, I was living in the Ellicott City area of Maryland. It was a very old small town that dad especially liked.
Early on Saturday morning, we drove up to Philadelphia and I showed dad and mom Independence Hall. After lunch in China Town, we drove to Atlantic City and spent an hour or two at the Trump Plaza Casino on the boardwalk. Mom and dad had been going on many gambling trips to casinos in Wisconsin since the early 1990s so they liked the Trump Plaza very much.
On Sunday, we drove south into the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia and stopped at the Luray Caverns. Mom had just developed Parkinson's and was carrying a cane. It turned out that dad used it more than she when we were walking through the cave. In exiting the cave, dad had an extremely hard time climbing up a few steps to get out. I now realized that dad had aged a lot and was not in the best of physical shape.
There are certainly other memories of mom and dad which I have not included in this article. On numerous occasions, we were together with my oldest sister Beatrice and her family. There were also many times that we were doing things with my brother Philip and youngest sister Connie. Mom and dad might be gone from this world, but they will always be remembered.
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© 2017 Paul Richard Kuehn