Starting a new year

Susan Manzke
Now Media Group

Change is difficult sometimes.

Switching from daylight saving time to regular time is always a bummer. It takes me weeks to feel like I'm on the right schedule. Switching back to DST isn't any easier, but at least it's a better time of the year as the days are getting longer.

Writing the year 2016 is also a problem. I fumble with the numbers and often find myself failing and writing 2015. That's not so bad. It's when I start writing the year with 19 instead of 20 I know it's time to stop and do something else.

It doesn't help that I'm putting old columns in my computer again for another book, and all those dates start with 19, so my mistakes should be understandable.

I started sorting through stuff that has been stashed away in a back closet for years — really since we moved here. I found old photos I'm busily scanning and Kodachrome slides, too. I even bought a gadget to scan the slides that works pretty well. But boy oh boy, this is taking forever, especially with the number of photos I have to do. Our bookshelves also hold dozens of scrapbooks and albums needing to be scanned.

This is work that jogs memories, too.

One special treat was when I came across an audio tape that had my dad on it telling stories. I didn't even remember this tape existed. It was stuck in with some loose slides.

Last year, I bought another gadget that not only plays tapes, vinyl records and CDs but also transfers from a tape or record to a CD.

I had to get the directions out and reread them so I could do the transferring. I'm always pushing the wrong button or forgetting to tell the machine to finalize the CD. I was afraid of messing up this recording because the tape is pretty old. Dad passed away in May of 1991 — almost 25 years now. What a lovely gift to me and my family to find more stories, and Dad telling them.

One of the audio stories I was able to save was about him hating to eat pork. Well, he didn't hate all pork. Dad just couldn't abide eating his friends.

Back in the 30s, his family would buy a piglet for two bits — 25 cents. The piglet always came from someone working at the Chicago Stockyards.

Anyway, it was little Charlie's job to bottle feed the piggy and take care of it through its life. It never seemed fair to him that when the pig grew big enough, they butchered his friend.

It was Charlie's mama's idea to raise the pig to supply food to her family. Butchering time meant their larder would be filled again. Other family members couldn't wait to have fresh pork on the table, but never Charlie. He always turned down pork chops when they were set out.

Mama tried everything to get her boy to eat the good food she made. She went so far as to hide some of the pork in her purse and take it to the local butcher. There the chops were wrapped in regular butcher paper. She brought this home and showed the meat from the butcher to her son.

But Charlie couldn't be fooled. He also wouldn't eat rabbit. Those were his buddies, too. Eating chicken didn't seem to bother him, though.

One Sunday, Mama butchered one rabbit and one chicken. Each was cut into pieces and roasted together. When she dished out the meal and served Charlie two pieces of rabbit, he turned them down. 'I know what rabbit looks like, Mama, and I'm not eating my friends.' He switched to a piece of chicken.

Hearing my dad's stories again was a great gift that I can now share with my family. As you can guess, my novel, Chicken Charlie's Year, is based on stories Dad told. This recording sure was a nice remembrance from the past.

If you have memories, photos and/or stories, I hope you are working to save them, too. They are a gift to your family's future.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;