Sharing family stories

Susan Manzke

Often, when families get together stories are shared. I heard a family story over Thanksgiving when Bob and his sister, Ginny, were talking. It was Ginny who had the memory that was shared that day. Bob didn’t have as clear a memory of this happening as she did. I’m going to retell it here as best I can.

Bob and Ginny hang out with the family pooch in this photo from 1952.

Bob was 11 or 12 years old. Ginny was five or six. Exact ages or dates aren’t really important.

Corn was coming out of the corn-crib that day. It was being shelled from the cob to sell. The only trouble was the mass of mice that had taken up residence in the granary. Help was needed for the rodent situation.

Bob and his friends, Lee and Ron Yunker, were given the chore of catching and killing as many of the mice as they could. They would get one cent for each mouse body.

This was the 1950s. One cent per mouse meant something. Each of the three boys figured they would do better than the others. To make things fair, a total for each, Bob, Lee, and Ron’s catch would be kept separate.

Ginny wanted to be part of the ‘fun’ but she was too small to go after the scattering mice. Her way of helping was to keep track of her big brother’s catch. Bob would hand her the ones he clobbered and Ginny kept them safe for the count at the end of the hunt.

The race was on when the granary door was opened. The boys were not slackers. These farm boys took care of as many rodents as they could—a good many as Ginny remembers.

 As the hunt went on, Bob kept handing his kills to Ginny. She popped each one in her bib overalls. Ginny was happy being a helper.

Photo from the 1950s by the granary. Bob is on far left. Ginny on far right.

Eventually it was time for a break. Work stopped and everyone went into the house for lunch. Of course, adults and children washed up, but when Ginny came to the table Mom noticed something odd. Sticking out of the top of her bibs were at least twenty mouse tails.

Ginny had to relocate Bob’s catch of mice and rewash before she was allowed to join the rest of the work crew at the table—I sure wish there was a photo of this, but back then photos weren’t snapped as often as they are today with digital cameras.

No one remembers how many pennies were earned that day, but the story now is shared again and will go down in Manzke family history.

Today, our photo Christmas cards arrived. All our grandchildren were corralled before Thanksgiving dinner for this snap shot—have you ever tried herding cats? Well, that’s about what we had with all the wiggling and giggling going on that afternoon. Perfection was forgotten in the fun of the gathering. I was happy to get what we did. You can see the fun we were having.

Christmas cards are now being mailed. If you’d like one, remember to send a holiday card to us, with a loose postage stamp to help with the cost of mailing. We’ll get one in the mail to you as soon as possible—we’d love to read any family stories you’d like to share, too. (Email greetings will get an email in return.)

 Also, if you need gifts maybe you’ll consider one of my books. You can find a selection on Amazon, or get a signed copy from me in the mail. Each book is $10, plus $3 postage, even for large print. Up and Down Twins picture book is $7, with $1.50 postage. Buy three or more books and postage is FREE. Chicken Charlie’s Year has fun stories about a boy in the 1930s. Good for all ages, especially those who remember the old days.

I can’t wait to go to the mail box to collect Christmas cards now. Hope to hear from you soon.

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