Who would have thought?

Susan Manzke

On December 1, 1973, Bob and I tied the knot. I don’t think either of us imagined what life together would be. We just wanted to share whatever came our way.

Photo taken with Grandpa Chuck (Santa), Grandma Izzy, Robby and Becky in 1977 before we moved to Wisconsin.

Our Illinois home was to be temporary. The Manzkes were searching for a farm they could move to that was far from Chicago—Mokena is in the next county and is pretty much a suburb of the Windy City now. The area was busy enough for us then, imagine how our lives would have been different if we would have stayed. Houses now cover half the farm. The other half is forest preserve.

In 1973 Bob and I bought a used mobile home, nothing like the fancy ones they make today. He pulled it the few miles to the farm himself. I wasn’t there for the big move. I was scared to death something would happen, like being stopped for not having a permit. A thing like a permit never bothered Bob. He also didn’t have a permit for our temporary septic system. We got by with the trailer on the farm because we planned on moving soon.

Our home had two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen, which opened into the living room. Our double bed only allowed a narrow walkway around it with a space near the foot where I set up a sewing machine.

The second bedroom was even smaller. It was storage until Robby arrived in 1975. The hand-me-down crib we had fit nicely. There was plenty of room for a dresser and changing table. When Robby was older and could stand, he happily reached the light switch. CLICK! On and off the lights would go.

There was a single step to get from the kitchen to the living room. Robby walked at nine months. That step confounded him. Once Robby forgot about the step and took a belly flop onto the kitchen floor. After that event when coming to the cliff, he would be extra careful. He’d crawl backwards from the middle of the living room, reaching back with his foot, feeling for the step. After reaching it, Robby sat and then stood in the kitchen.

Robby was a climber. Too many times we found him standing in the center of our kitchen table. That daredevil had to be stopped. We ended up either laying the chairs back on the floor or standing them on the table.

One of my favorite photos of baby Robby from 1975

Robby once sneaked into the bathroom alone. He started pulling drawers open to use them as steps to get on the counter. When I went to open the door, the drawers blocked me. They went at an angle meaning Robby couldn’t push them back in.

In panic mode, I was ready to break the hollow-core door down. Happily our son managed to close the drawers. I guess you can say he rescued himself.

Becky was born the end of 1976. Our home got pretty crowded after her arrival. At this same time, Bob’s parents heard about a farm near Seymour, Wisconsin—wherever Seymour, Wisconsin was. They had been searching for the right farm for years and when they drove onto this place they knew they had found it.

It took a couple months before Bob and I could take the trip north to see the farm. Even mid-winter we knew we loved it, too. We just had to find a home of our own, which was tough because there was a shortage of homes for sale back then.

A year for the move, taking trips with farm machines north all summer and fall. Selling the cows—which was extremely painful.

As I said, when Bob and I married we expected to live in the mobile home six months. Four years later we packed up all that we had and moved to Seymour and we never looked back.

My writing was in its infancy in ‘73. Writing a column never occurred to me. No one knew where printed words would take us. Good thing I found the right man to share my life with. Happy 44th Anniversary, Bob.

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