My mother was an artist. She attended the Art Institute of Chicago and graduated from Drake University with a BFA in Art. Art is just who she was.
I don’t remember when she was first diagnosed with macular degeneration, but she lived with it for well over ten years. At the time of her diagnosis, she was doing finely detailed hand-painted cards. As the disease took away her ability to focus on these details, she explored other paint methods and settled on alcohol ink, loving how fluid the medium was, and yet she could manipulate the paint to create finely detailed pieces of art.
Cards were always her way of sharing her talent. I have copies of Christmas cards going back to the 1960s. Cards that she created by cutting her design into a linoleum block, then inking, stamping, and hand painting the detail. Others were in watercolor. My birthday invitation was just a black marker on orange paper. Because of this, I have years of her art, created just for me.
Mom passed away from kidney cancer in February 2021. At the end, she was almost blind. She could no longer pass the day reading books on her iPad. She could no longer spend sunny afternoons painting. Today I decided to tackle a stack of paper that was set on a shelf in her closet. I found this handwritten piece dated 18 Feb 2016. Her handwriting was still good. She wrote of her macular degeneration.
“I understand that everyone who has macular degeneration experiences it differently. This is my experience.
I can see the world around me, but I cannot see the fine detail.
I cannot see to read a book a magazine, a menu, people’s faces are distorted — but I can see geese in the sky migrating in the fall, stars on a clear night (what a thrill!), the beautiful white clean world after a snowfall. My world will never be dark. Not perfect, but not dark. Thank you, God!”
In 2018, I took a photo of a blazing orange sunset that I was watching from my kitchen window. I sent it to Mom, wanting to share its beauty and knowing that she could access it on her large iPad, blowing it up, expanding the image with her fingers so that she could see it. The next day, she painted what could see of our backyard and the blazing sky.
Macular degeneration is a funny thing. Mom could not see the television, and listening to programs irritated her. Yet there were mornings as I sorted our supplements, I would drop a Vitamin D gel tablet. Moving to quickly find it before our dog Lizzy would come to help, I would not see it, yet mom could always see it glisten and know just where it was. My mom’s world was not perfect, sometimes irritating, but never dark. Thank you, God!
In January of 1915, Hubert Fassbender’s cheese factories in the Town of Ellington, Outagamie County, Wisconsin, were running at full capacity. His wife Anna was about four months pregnant with their fourth child, their first-born, a son they named Clemens, was born on August 10, 1904, but sadly passed away just eight days later, and was buried in the St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Greenville. Living at home were eight-year-old Mabel, born May 24, 1906, and five-year-old Gertrude, born July 28, 1909.
It was around this time that Hubert was approached with a business proposition. He met with Appleton resident John L. Jacquot whom he had known for several years. Jacquot who had moved to Appleton in 1903,1 owned and operated a cold storage and distribution depot on College Avenue, which moved local cheese all over the country. At the Jacquot facility in 1910, the first “Big Cheese,” a 4,000-pound American cheese, was constructed for the National Dairy Show, held in Chicago, from October 20th through the 29th.2
Hubert was invited to join Jacquot, who had partnered with the Ingersoll Packing Company of Ottawa, Canada, and the Martin Brothers and Company of Denver, Colorado in a new business venture, the business to be called The Bluhill Cheese Company would manufacture Anona Cheese for distribution west of the Mississippi.
In preparation for this new phase in life, on March 20, 1915, Hubert purchased a home in Appleton on Prospect Street from Flank Slattery.3 The home which was located at 930 Prospect Street, was renumbered in 1925 to its current address, 410 West Prospect Avenue. Hubert would live in this home until his death in 1947, and it was here that he and Anna welcomed their son, Hubert Peter, on July 27, 1915.
Six days before to the birth of his son, on July 21st, Hubert joined John Jacquot and Fred V. Heinemann in the office of George T. Richard at the Outagamie Loan and Title Co. to execute the new firm’s Articles of Organization.4
Two days later on July 29th, The BluHill Cheese Company, was incorporated with a capital stock of $30,000, three stockholders, and three hundred shares valued at one hundred dollars each. The stated purpose of the company was to “Manufacture, Buy, Sell, Store, Ship and deal in Cheese, Dairy Products and Food Products and to conduct such business incident thereto.”
The new company planned on opening on October 1st on West College Avenue next to John Jacquot’s cold storage facility at 1102 College Avenue.5 The building was just across Locust Street “where the Ruhsam Grocery store” was located. The address was 1086 College Avenue,6 and the building was situated on the west side of the block with College on the south, Richmond Street on the east, North Locust Street on the west, and West Washington Street on the north. Walgreens is currently (May 2023) the only building on this block, numbered 700 West College Avenue. The Ruhsam grocery building was to be the temporary location for the new company, as plans were being made for a new “factory, modern in every respect” which they planned to build in 1916.7
O. J. Ruhsam announced on August 18 that he had secured a new location, and Monday, August 23rd he would be open for business in the “old Maurer brick store at the corner of College avenue and Cherry street, near the C. & N. W. tracks.”8
While the newspaper does not announce the opening of the Bluhill plant, we can assume that it occurred on schedule as on December 10th an amendment to the articles of incorporation was filed, changing the name to the Anona Cheese Co., with C. C. L. Wilson of Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada as president, and J. L. Jacquot, secretary and treasurer.9
By January 1916 the factory was in full operation, and there was a curiosity about this new product that “looks like a cross between cheese and butter,” which “can be spread over bread the same as butter” with one “brand” containing green chili. “It is very appetizing, and from an economical standpoint is a good product. Butter at present is worth about thirty-eight cents, while [a pound of] Anona Cheese sell for ten and fifteen cents.” “One package of the Anona cheese would go as far as one pound of butter.”
The Appleton Evening Crescent reported that “Hobart [sic] Fassbender, Maker is Closely Guarded During the Mixing Process—Cream Cheese and Other Ingredients Unknown to Public Used in Manufacturing.” “…he is closely guarded, because be it known, he alone knows the process by which Anona Cheese is made, and his employers are very desirous that this knowledge remain where it belongs, in the factory on the west end of College avenue.”10
Hubert was “enclosed by a big cage of wood, within which he is again caged in a steel enclosure, where he does the mixing that produces the Anona cheese, made from the best cream cheese and other ingredients unknown to the public in general…the secret of the process remains with him alone. Day after day he enters the cage, works all alone and emerges after the day’s work, conversing with no one except at meal time and evenings. Lonely work, but important.”11
The cheese used in Anona cheese was all made in Outagamie County from “summer made cheese.” While there was no retail outlet for the cheese, a “number of local concerns” were selling the product which was first placed on the market the last week in December 1915.12
Wednesday, January 12, 1916, may have dawned bright but soon darkened. While working in the plant Hubert “suffered a broken arm when he was caught in a belt.”13 Arriving home after his arm had been set, he learned that his five-month-old son who had the flu, was not getting better.14 Hubert Peter Fassbender passed away that evening at 6:00 p.m., “after a severe attack of convulsions.” He was buried two days later on Friday in St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery.15
In May plans to build a state-of-the-art facility were well underway, with the Appleton architectural firm DeLong and Son in charge of the design. The location chosen for the new building was on “the north side of the ravine, near the Maurer tailor shop, but across the ravine from it”16 and “opposite the Godfirnon Grocery store, adjoining the Haussmann property on the north side of the avenue.”17 The location? Where the Viking Theater would be built in 1941.
The building was to be eight stories tall, and the three below ground would be used as a cold storage facility, principally for Anona Cheese, and the Simon Cheese company, with room for other industries. The Appleton Ford Company would occupy the ground floor, and other industries and offices utilizing the rest of the space. Estimated to cost $100,000, the building would be “the most imposing structure on College avenue, the front to be of enameled terra cotta…[with a] frontage of 100 feet, and a depth of 150 feet.”18 The building will be of heavy construction, reinforced concrete, suitable for manufacturing purposes. Two elevators will afford transit accommodations for the building tenants.19
In 1942, at the time the Bahcall Building’s Viking Theater was built, the Appleton Post-Crescent described the ravine property this way: the property was “once a deep ravine in which rubbish and snow removed from city streets was dumped…Residents of Appleton who have forgotten the depth of the ravine, and since the filling in have lost their conception of the building’s [the Bahcall Building] depth under the ground level, will be amazed at the floor space in the basement and sub-basement. Not only are they tremendous in size, but both are 16 feet in height with the exception of the portion under the theater which varies from 10 to 16 feet because of the auditorium’s sloping floor…”20 The perfect space to house cold storage.
On June 21st for $2,500, the Appleton Ford Company purchased two tracts of land adjoining the land for the new building. This T-shaped piece of property would presumably have been a car lot, with the showroom located on the ground floor of the new building.21
The location of the building was chosen not only for the benefit of the ravine but theproximity to the railway lines. Surveys were run “for the trackage, which will reach the building on the north and west sides,” and the company now awaited “sanction of the city council before going ahead with the actual construction” of the building.22 The plan was to have two Chicago & Northwestern railway tracks “one running along the north side of the building, the other on the west side. Besides these, there will be team tracks on the west side. If the tracks are laid as outlined, one of the cement sheds near the market on Walnut street will have to be removed.” “Mayor Knuppel said…that no decision would be given relative to running the track through the stock fair grounds until an engineer has shown them just what was desired.”23
It is not known whether the city did not approve the petition for a new sidetrack from the C. & N.W. Railway, or the fact that the Chicago and Northwestern Railway failed to build a “much heralded” new freight depot. The new depot had been promised by the railroad for more than two years and was to have been constructed in 1916.24
Whatever the reason, the Anona stockholders decided not to go ahead with the proposed building on College Avenue. Instead, they reversed course and made the decision to move the company to Chicago citing “poor shipping facilities” as the reason for the move and they “expected that better shipping facilities will greatly aid business.”25 Interestingly enough, the Appleton Evening Crescent published an article directly above the Anona announcement titled: “New Freight Depot Now A Certainty” which reported that the plans for the new freight depot were ready, and work would start in the spring.
His young family was settling into life in Appleton, and Hubert decided not to move with the company to Chicago, sending a letter on February 10, 1917, to C. C. Martin in Denver stating his decision and inquiring about disposing of his stock. Martin responded on February 17th, stating that he had forwarded Hubert’s request and decision to the Ingersoll Packing Co. in Canada. He went on to say that the company would prefer the stock be held by the original incorporators, but if not, at the “proper time” it would be “absorbed by those remaining in the company.” Hubert agreed to stay with the company to assist with preparing for the move, which Martin expected to occur “about the last week in March.”26
By the middle of March the new facilities near the Fulton markets, were ready, and the packing of the machinery was completed, ready for the three-day journey to Chicago. Work had already begun in tearing down the plant on West College Avenue.27
On April 18, 1917, following a special meeting of the stockholders, “the articles of said corporation be so amended so as to increase the capital stock of said Anona Cheese Co. from three hundred (300) shares of one hundred ($100) dollars each, to five hundred (500) shares at one hundred ($100) dollars each, so that the authorized capital stock of the corporation shall be fifty thousand ($50,000) dollars; and that the said articles be further amended empowering the said corporation to do business both within and without the state of Wisconsin.” The change was signed by C. C. L. Wilson, President, and J. L. Jacquot, Secretary and Treasurer.28
With Anona leaving Appleton for Chicago, Hubert was left without a job. His whole life having been spent in the dairy industry, it is no surprise that 10 months later, in early February 1918, Hubert, his wife, Anna, and Peter Ulmen signed incorporation documents for the South Kaukauna Dairy. The new factory was located in South Kaukauna, Outagamie, Wisconsin, and was incorporated with a capital stock of $10,000.29
Hubert never forgot his short time with Anona. He loved to talk about his years in the milk and creamery business, and area Rotary Clubs were eager to invite him to speak. In April 1929, speaking at the Kaukauna Rotary business meeting, he had this to say: “At [sic] the honor of making the first Anona cheese. This still is being made by that company in Chicago.”30
Two years later on March 2, 1931, Borden Company acquired “the entire assets and business of the Anona Cheese Company of Chicago…”31 The dissolution of the company occurred at a stockholder meeting held in Madison, Dane, Wisconsin. “The firm had 1,000 shares of stock and all voted in favor of the dissolution. Officers of the company were: C. C. Martin, president; and J. F. Tines, secretary.”3233
And two years after the dissolution of the Anona Cheese Co., Hubert introduced a natural cheese product that “Spreads Like Butter.” He created four flavors: Plain, Chili, Pimento, and Limburger. Coincidence? I personally don’t think so. But that is a story for another day.
Thomas H. Ryan, Editor-in-Chief, History of Outagamie County Wisconsin: Being a General Survey of Outagamie County History including a History of the Cities, Towns and Villages throughout the County, from the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time (Chicago, Illinois: Goodspeed Historical Association, 1911), p. 946-947.
“To Make 4,000 Pound Cheese,” Appleton Evening Crescent, 9 Sep 1910, Friday, p. 1, col. 1; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 13 Jun 2023).
“Real Estate,” Appleton Evening Crescent, 20 Mar 1915, Saturday, p. 5, col. 5; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 3 Sep 2018).
Anona Cheese Company, Corporation Documents, 1915-1931; File no. A 001286, Box no. 0022; Domestic Corporation; Outagamie County, Corporations Index; Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Dane, Wisconsin, United States.
Anona Cheese is Now Being Made in City,” Appleton Evening Crescent, 5 Jan 1916, Wednesday, p. 1, col. 7; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 3 Sep 2018).
It was a warm July day 117 years ago this month, when an Appleton Evening Crescent reporter strolled through City Park accompanied by a staff photographer, Le Roy.
They were looking for the men who, for the past ten years , had been spending lazy afternoons in the park. The men, ranging in age from 58 to 85 lived within walking distance and on “sunshiny afternoon[s]” “when the park trees made oasis of shade, and the lawn mower hummed busily away over in some distant corner of the green square,” they would gather. The men were known as Appleton’s “Uncommon Council.”
It started simply. The retired men would “take long rambling walks about the city, and one after the other formed the habit of stopping for a moment at the city park.” Peter Fassbender was one of these men who after his move to Appleton in 1901, found his way to the park, to the northwest corner where there were high-backed red benches, “more comfortable than the usual family of park bench.” “One can’t imagine how comfortable and homelike three plain park benches can be made to look until one has seen those three benches occupied by a group of white-bearded, snow-haired old men, leaning on the cane that rests between their knees, their hats in the hands, their pipe, perhaps, held comfortably in the hollow of the left palm, and their faces full of the look of comfort, and companionship, and now and then wreathed in a smile that is followed by a chuckle, as one of their numbers breaks into a witticism.”
There was a green bandstand in the center of the park. In those days it contained four tables, shiny from years of coat sleeves and card paying, games such as seven-up or Schafskopf. The perfect spot to spend a rainy afternoon.
When they were not playing cards, you might hear them speak of the past. Of their days serving our country during the Civil War, or as they swatted a mosquito, recalling the pests of times past…”’Why, back in Oconto county we used to wear gloves on our hands and veils on our faces when we ploughed…’”
The reporter states that “old age means loneliness, sometimes” as wives pass away, and children marry and move away. But these men found friendship, companionship, and a way to spend a hot summer afternoon in the cool and shady park. 1
‘“Appleton’s Uncommon Council.”’ Appleton Evening Crescent, 1 Jul 1905, Saturday, p. 1, col. 2; digital imges, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 31 Aug 2018).
The listing read: “Located on a quiet cul de sac is where you will find this Federal Style Home. Exceptional finishing both inside and out. Impressive all brick exterior. Side loading garage. Private yard w/beautiful garden. Stunning entrance w/turned staircase. Formal & informal spaces. Prized kitchen w/commercial appliances. Fabulous 3 Seasons Rm w/1 of 6 fireplaces thru out. Cozy hearth Rm, Piano space, 1st Fl. Office, Grand Master Suite w/private patio. Finished LL for family fun. Garage can accommodate 3 cars.”
Piano space. Our homes have always had “piano space.” When I met Gary he owned a spinet, and there was space for it in his living room. This was the piano that we brought with us to Pinewild Court and the piano that both of our children used as they started piano lessons. As they grew both in size and competency, we decided that it was time to upgrade, and we purchased a Yamaha Studio Upright. This larger piano also found space in our home.
As the house was going up, I remember standing in the family room with Gary and our contractor discussing the progress. By this time we were wondering if the family room was too small, and so asked the question about the possibility of someday building out by blowing out the wall and adding the screen porch to the interior living space. Yes, was the answer. Followed by the statement that it would be about $150 now, or $1,000+ later. We decided to go ahead and add the additional header right away.
Ten years later it was time. We loved our screen porch but dreamt of a larger space. One that had a fireplace, a four-track window system to block out inclement weather and extend our use of the space, and room to spread out. Our children continued to play the piano, and we dreamt of upgrading our piano once again to a Yamaha C2 Grand. We discussed the design of the porch, and how we would transition the porch into an interior living space – a Music Room.
What I can relay in just a few sentences was actually the result of months of study, planning, visits to an architect, and talks with our contractor, now the son of our original builder.
We started our time in the house with the original screen porch nestled in the L of our family room and breakfast room and was roughly 10 x 15’, its sister porch, accessed from the master bedroom, was directly above. We accessed the lower porch through french doors through the breakfast room. These french doors would be re-purposed, matched with a second set, and used to access the new screen porch. The original window in the family room looking into the porch would be moved to the outside wall of the music room. The room would be entered from both sides through arched openings designed after the arch found at Carter’s Grove Plantation in Virginia.
Work began in October 2003, and it was a super cold day in January when they finally opened the house to the outside. I was stripping wallpaper in the kitchen wearing a heavy Irish fisherman sweater with the fireplace in the family room roaring. Working quickly, they soon had the window moved into place, and the doors set in their frame.
A few weeks later and the wall was ready for Gary and me to free-hand the arch opening. We were also busy removing carpet as we planned for hardwood to flow from the existing kitchen and breakfast room into the family room and music room.
This new space was a beautiful addition to our home. The music room was a cozy place to sit with a cup of coffee or evening snacks with a glass of wine. Listening to our daughter play the piano was an added bonus. For us, it was more than a piano space, it was our music room.
This archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” was first published 18 Aug 2013.
At the time that we built our home in 1993, White Clover Dairy was in the middle of an expansion, and because of this, trees that had been on the property for many years needed to be removed. We took advantage of this and moved a large crab apple tree and a maple to our property. The trees were moved in November 1993, the maple straining the size limits of the largest tree spade that the tree moving company owned. We placed the crab to the right of our driveway, positioning the “flat side,” the side that had been growing against the building, away from the street. This tree has rewarded us for the last 19 years with the most glorious blossoms each spring.
The maple was planted in the backyard with the idea that it would provide a nice dapple-shaded area for the swing set and patio. While it took a while for it to settle into its new home, we soon had a large and beautiful tree – with a history!
Gary received a 1972 Cougar XR7 as a high school graduation gift. It was blue with a white vinyl top and a blue leather interior. He loved that car. But it soon became a favorite of Marie’s, and as she did not at that time have a car of her own when she needed a vehicle and Gary’s was available she would choose the Cougar. As it happens this particular model of Cougar had a flaw, while idling in park, it would unexpectedly pop out of park and throw itself into reverse. One summer day Marie packed her eldest grandson into the car and made a quick stop at the factory to let them know she was heading to town. While she was inside letting Butch know where she was going, the car popped out of park, spun around, and rammed into the maple that had been recently been planted on the neighbor’s property near the factory office. Luckily Rich was not harmed, the car was intact, but the tree bore a scar from the impact for years. The neighbor had great concern that his tree might not survive the brutal Cougar attack, so in typical Butch fashion, he paid the man an agreed-upon value for the tree. The tree survived but the money was not returned.
Jumping forward 40 years, late Tuesday night, August 6th, six tornadoes ripped through the Fox Valley. The storm woke us up just long enough for us to close windows, comment on the strobe light lightning and the wind that was pushing harder at the side of the house than an other time in memory. Then we went back to bed. No sirens went off that night, so many of us slept safely through the storm. Looking at the damage the next day, it is amazing that no one was killed by the tornadoes. We do count ourselves one of the lucky ones, we only lost a tree.
Meatballs – From Ken’s Mary
3 lbs ground beef – I, Susan, like a mix of 90% lean and 80-84% lean
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 large eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup saltine crackers, crumbled
24 oz. chili sauce – 2-12 oz bottles
24 oz. Water – fill the chili sauce bottles
3 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp white vinegar
Combine the first 6 ingredients, and roll into balls, bake in a 350° oven till brown. Approximately 10 minutes, turning at 5 minutes.
You can freeze the meatballs at this point.
Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil, and then simmer the browned meatballs in the sauce for 3 or more hours.
NOTE: We discovered that if you still have sauce remaining when the meatballs have disappeared, you can freeze the sauce for a later time and just add meatballs.
This is an archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” and was first published 14 Jul 2013
This morning I woke up to a beautiful summer day. A perfect summer breeze, low humidity, and robins in the fountain. Nothing says summer to our family as much as Rhubarb Sauce and I was pretty sure the rhubarb was ready.
I used the recipe that was included in Kate’s rhubarb post from last summer. I am not very good with directions that are cryptic such as: “Place in saucepan with just enough water to keep from burning…” Ummm how much? I think I added too much water – but I don’t think it turned out too badly for a first go. Thank goodness there is more rhubarb to pull so I can get lots of practice. (Thanks Frank for the great plants, they are thriving in my garden.)
Recipes, time spent with family and great memories are all part of what makes our lives rich and full. How many times is a great memory sparked by a smell, or the taste of a favorite food? A recent conversation on Facebook sparked such a memory for a cousin of Gary’s. She shared with me her memory of sitting at Marie’s kitchen table copying recipes in long hand out of Marie’s collection. I can imagine her mother next to her at the table, Marie at the stove, and comfortable smells accompanied by soft conversation filling the kitchen with love.
Lynn shared one of the recipes she copied that day, and it appropriately fits the rhubarb theme.
Marie’s Rhubarb Dream Dessert
1 cup flour
5 Tbs. confectioners sugar
1/2 cup butter
Blend together well. Press into an ungreased 7 1/2 X 11 X 1 1/2 inch pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. (Watch it.)
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp. salt
Beat eggs and then add ingredients together slowly. Add 2 cups or more of chopped rhubarb. Spoon into crust and bake 35 minutes, or less if rhubarb is done. Serve warm with topping or plain cream.
NOTE: 29 Mar 2015, I found the recipe. It was “(very good)”