Holding childhood memories in her hand

Old mug and eggbeater transport Susan Manzke back to her childhood and memories of loved ones.

Susan Manzke
The image of her grandfather's weak hands encircling a white coffee mug, and memories of 
making suds with an old egg beater while "helping" her mother, stay with Susan Manzke to this day.

Today I came across two items that brought back childhood memories. The first one was in a kitchen cabinet on a shelf with glasses and mugs. This big white coffee cup reminds me of my grandpa—Henry Fuchs.

I was the first grandchild born to Henry and Josephine Fuchs. My sister was second and the rest came later. My earliest memory of Grandpa is when he came for a visit to our home in the country—my parents had moved us out of Chicago where I had been born.

Grandpa was a hearty soul, at least he was from my view as a three-year-old. The best image that demonstrated his strength was the time he brought a toy box for me and my sister. He had the toy box under his left arm and me under his right arm. That’s the way he brought it into our home.

Too soon, Grandpa’s strength failed. When he was able to walk, he shuffled. Eventually, he was bedridden. From then on Grandma tended to all his needs.

I remember seeing Grandpa with his wrinkled hands holding onto a large white coffee cup. If there were other cups like that in their Chicago home, I don’t remember, but the image of his weak hands on that cup stays with me to this day.

The cup I have in my cupboard isn’t Grandpa’s. I wish it was. I purchased mine many years ago because it reminded me of Grandpa. On the other side is a logo for Alto Dairy, but it’s the blank side that brought back memories.

The second memory-laden item is a vintage hand-cranked eggbeater/mixer. This gizmo came from a garage sale, not from my childhood, yet it holds quite a few memories, too.

I was pretty young when I started using my beater. No, Mom, didn’t let me beat eggs—that came later. I was handed the eggbeater when Mom wanted to keep me busy.

Sometimes, when Mom was working in the kitchen, she didn’t want her little girl underfoot. Those were the times the eggbeater came in handy.

First, Mom would pin a towel around my neck, making a giant bib. She would then pull a chair up to the sink. There she ran lukewarm water into the sink, adding soap so suds would start to form.

Next, I was lifted onto the chair and presented with the beater. With me cranking like crazy, I filled the sink with bubbles and stayed out of Mom’s hair while she worked.

I might have had a few pieces of silverware to wash, too, but other than that, all I did was make bubbles and soak myself with water—I wonder if there was more for Mom to clean up after I was finished ‘helping’, but all these years later, I still remember the fun I had.

Later, before we got an electric mixer, I used that hand-cranked beater to mix cake batter—I was much older then.

It’s interesting how memories show up when you least expect it and mostly it’s the little things that come to mind.

Here’s a perfect example. After visiting Brookfield Zoo, Grandma asked what animal I liked best. My answer surprised her. I liked the squirrel best—maybe because the squirrel wasn’t behind bars and was flitting around free, but that was my favorite animal when I was little.

Wishing you good memories to brighten your days.

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