Last Friday the 1950 U.S. Census was finally released for viewing, and so I decided to make a trip to Hollandtown, Brown, Wisconsin to visit my in-laws, my husband’s grandparents, and any other family members who happened to be living in this small community in April 1950.
“Heading into town” that morning, I had no idea that I would still be there a few days later. I love how the enumerator, Mrs. Margaret Farrell used St. Francis Catholic church as the departure point for her notes. The homes were unnumbered at this time, so people lived on “County Trunk D 1/2 mile church,” or “1/4 mile church,” and “near church.” She enumerated this community of 1,017 people, living in 231 dwellings between March 31, and April 21st.
What kept me in Hollandtown was the insight into the lives of people I knew, some casually, some very well, all sparking memories of days gone by. Has it really been 36 years since I first stepped foot into Van Abel’s supper club for the 40th wedding celebration of Bernard and Marie Campbell Fassbender?
Speaking of the Van Abel’s, I “ran into” them first. Living a 1/2 mile from the church on County Trunk D, was Nell Van Abel and her son, Wilfred, or Will, as we knew him. Nell had just lost her husband Bill in January, and Will would not marry Anne Duffy until 1954. Nell was enumerated as Keeping House, and Will the Proprietor of a “Tavern-Bolding.”
The 1950 census includes many chances for a person to be part of the “Sample Line,” and Will, enumerated on Line 8, was one such person. Unlike other censuses, no indication is made as to who provided the information, so it is left to our imagination as to why questions 33a-33c were left unanswered. The questions read: “If Male— (Ask each question) Did he ever serve in the U.S. Armed Forces during—World War II, World War I, any other time, including present service.” These questions were simply left unanswered. Will most definitely served during World War II and had also spent 18 months as a prisoner of war. Was the memory just too fresh to even answer with a simple, yes?
Living a 1/4 mile from the church is his brother, and partner in the tavern, Don, who was enumerated with his family, wife Bernice, 3-year-old Patricia, and 2-year-old Sue. He was also enumerated as the Proprietor of a “Tavern-Bolding.” Bolding? I have to believe that Mrs. Farrell had a weak moment, and spelled the word Bowling as Bolding, as bowling lanes had been added to the property a few years before. Both men spent long hours working in the tavern, each stating that the prior week they had worked 84 hours.
Continuing my walk with Mrs. Farrell, I finally arrive at my in-law’s household. I was surprised to see that the street was named Church Road in 1950, and delighted to see that she named their place of business White Clover Dairy rather than the expected generic “cheese factory.”
And here was a moment of Oh My Gosh. On this day, the day of Mrs. Farrell’s visit, 28-year-old Marie was eight months pregnant with her second child; her first child, Dick, was 2 years old. Dick must have been a rambunctious child if the number of photos of him that include bandaids is any indication. Mrs. Farrell asked Marie the question as to how many hours her 37-year-old husband had worked the week prior, Marie answered, 84. 84 hours. That’s a lot of hours alone, and with all chores being much more labor-intensive than they are today – imagine the laundry! Well, I don’t have to, there are pictures.
Moving two doors down to take a look at Butch’s parent’s entry, I found that 70-year-old Henry was still working as a cheesemaker, working 70 hours the week before, and his daughter, 23-year-old Rose Mary, put in 48 working in the office. Rosie would marry Victor Busse in May 1951.
It got me thinking, how many people in this small community worked at White Clover? I found 19, and some even were part of the Sample Line. Four Fassbender family members, and 15 people from the community. A newspaper article dated October 1948 states that at that time the factory employed 14 people above and beyond the Fassbender brothers, so I am fairly confident that I have captured all of the employees.
Bernard W. Fassbender, age 37, Hours worked last week: 84
Henry J. Fassbender, age 70. Hours worked last week: 70
Norbert J. Fassbender, age 38. Hours worked last week: 75
Sample Line: Weeks worked in 1949 – 52, Income earned from working in own business – $3,000
Earl Vande Hey, age 23. Hours worked last week: 65
Sample Line: Worked in Own Business in 1949
Joseph F. Nies, age 24. Hours worked last week: 77
Donald J. Hart, age 23. Hours worked last week: 63.
Sample Line: Weeks worked in 1949 – 52, wages earned $2,181
Occupation: Office Work
Mike Flynn, age 54. Hours worked last week: 40
Sample Line: Weeks worked in 1949 – 52, wages earned $1,800.00
Rose M. Fassbender, age 23. Hours worked last week: 48
Occupation: Factory Helper/Cheese Helper/Helps Make Cheese
William Verheyen, age 18. Hours worked last week: 65
Alfred A. Brochtrup, age 21. Hours worked last week: 60
Clarence R. Kelly, age 43. Hours worked last week: 56
Occupation: Waxing Cheese
Theresa Van De Loo, age 18. Hours worked last week – not reported
Noeim Clark, age 20. Hours worked last week: 45
Occupation: Wrapping Cheese
Ann Van De Loo, age 18. Hours worked last week: 48
Sample Line: Weeks worked in 1949 – 26, wages earned $600.00
Dolores M. Liebergen, age 20. Hours worked last week: 51
Eileen M. Penterman, age 20. Hours worked last week: 32
Estella A. Hagens, age 31. Hours worked last week: 40
Arlene J. Fink, age 19. Hours worked last week: 54
Occupation: Hauls Milk
Donald J. Weber, age 25. Hours worked last week: 65
To round up the rest of the Fassbender family I had to travel first to Dundas:
Occupation: Cheese Maker
Hubert Fassbender, age 31. Hours worked last week: 84
Then to Kaukauna:
Fassbender, Harold, age 41. Hours worked last week: 65
Occupation: Cheese Wrapper
Fassbender, Mary, age 42. Hours worked last week: 27
Sample Line: Weeks worked in 1949 – 39, wages earned $1,200.
There were two residents of Hollandtown that worked for South Kaukauna Dairy. Namely, Jerome D. Van Abel, age 38, (brother of Will and Don), who worked 38 hours as a Bookkeeper, and Mary B. Wall, age 23, who packed cheese. She worked 32 hours the previous week, and her Sample Line tells us that she worked 26 hours in 1949 and earned $800.00.
Also working at South Kaukauna Dairy was the husband of Mildred Fassbender, Leroy C. Gerharz, age 41. He had worked the previous week 42 hours as a Traffic Manager.
Now that I have compiled this information, I am comparing it to the company financial statements I have from this period. Also, newspaper articles provide me with additional anecdotal information. So much, that my head is spinning.
Today is December 8th, and I am making cranberry sauce. We love cranberry sauce any time of year, and I don’t think any member in our family would turn down a helping of the canned variety. But the holidays require homemade sauce, and because of this I had a partial bag in the refrigerator leftover from Thanksgiving. Making sauce seemed like a good idea. Something to do while I wait for the fruit for Gary’s fruitcake to finish its steeping time.
I always start the sauce using the basic method printed on the Ocean Spray bag of fresh cranberries. Pulling the bag out of the garbage… I see that they now include a method for what they are calling “Homemade Jellied Cranberry Sauce.” This is a method that I have used, which is to follow the original recipe then strain the sauce through a strainer but to be honest, I never had good luck getting this method to jell properly.
It was holiday time, in a year now long forgotten that I was at the house while Marie was making cranberry sauce, and I asked her how she was able to get her sauce to jell. She told me that after she had strained the cranberries, she put them back in the pan, added another cup of sugar, and simmered the sauce for an additional 15 minutes. And there lies the secret to Marie’s cranberry sauce.
Today is also the anniversary of my father-in-law’s birthday. Born in 1912, he would be celebrating his 109th birthday. Where has the time gone? It seems like we have just celebrated his 80th birthday. While that birthday was a party at Van Abel’s Supper Club in Hollandtown, many birthday dinners were celebrated at Van Abel’s. I do miss the days when we would all dress up to meet for dinner. Starting with a drink at the bar, dinner in the small dining room, and ending the evening with a nightcap at what is now called the “New” bar.
Happy times. Holiday times with family.
Marie’s Cranberry Sauce
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 12-ounce package of fresh or frozen cranberries
Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; add cranberries, return to boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour sauce into a bowl. Cover and cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate until serving time. Makes 2 1/4 cups
To make strained cranberry sauce:
Follow directions in step 1 as written. After boiling the cranberries for 10 minutes, remove pan from heat and strain. Return sauce back to the pan, adding an additional cup of sugar. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
Pour sauce into a bowl. Cover and cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate until serving time.
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This is an archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” and was first published 20 Dec 2015.
It was a Saturday before Christmas, maybe in 1988 or 89, and Gary and I had headed out to Hollandtown to get some work done for Holland Veal. Walking into the house we were greeted by the wonderful smell of cookies baking. The smell of Christmas at Butch and Marie’s.
Entering the warm and wonderful smelling kitchen, we found Butch sitting at the kitchen table preparing the cookie tins for filling while Marie was working at the counter. They were relaxed, content in their companionship and conversation.
What makes this memory stick is not the relationship of my in-laws (that was constant) but how Butch was prepping the cookie tins. While I would just rip off a piece of waxed paper and stuff it in between layers, he was sitting at the table with pencil and scissors at hand, tracing and cutting each waxed paper round to fit perfectly inside the tin. He did this every year for Marie, and each year each tin was a perfect presentation of cookies.
The recipe that I am sharing today is a family favorite – for both my family and the Fassbenders. Marie and I made them for our families each year, but with one difference, the chocolate. Toffee Squares are a wonderful crunch of toffee flavored cookie topped by chocolate.
My recipe from an old Betty Crocker Cooky Book uses the heat of the “just out of the oven” cookie to melt the squares of Hershey bar that you quickly place on the cookie, then spread out. I shared this quick and easy way of adding the chocolate with Marie one year, but she “stubbornly” continued to melt chocolate in a bowl over boiling water. Either way, the cookies didn’t last long in either home.
Updated Addition: In November 2021 I unpacked a box of Marie’s old cookbooks and sat down with all of the loose pages to determine in which book they belonged. In the pile was a tattered book that Marie had stapled back together, and in this book dated November 1953, I found her Toffee Square recipe. It is pictured below with a transcription of her much smudged notes.
This archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” was first published 20 Apr 2014
Today is April 20th, Easter Sunday. After the winter that we all just lived through, one would have hoped for a warm and pleasant day, but it is only 52 degrees. And it is raining. Which brings to mind Easter of 1984, which was a cold, rainy, April 22nd.
Butch and Marie loved to hold Easter Egg hunts for their grandchildren. When the weather was warm and clear, they would hide the plastic eggs filled with treats in their yard and around the house. But what to do when it was cold and rainy? Five grandchildren racing around the house while Marie had the kitchen full of meal prep, was not a recipe for a relaxing and joyful Easter Sunday. Butch’s solution: head to the factory for an indoor hunt.
Early Easter morning, Butch, Gary and Dan would walk over to White Clover Dairy armed with a bag of filled plastic eggs. Heading for the basement warehouse they would hide the eggs on racks and pallets, both high and low.
Later that morning, the grandchildren would be let loose to run through the warehouse collecting the eggs. One flaw in Butch’s system. He didn’t count the number of eggs that were being hidden, nor did he track how many were found. For weeks following the Easter hunt the warehouse manager would appear in either Butch or Gary’s office delivering a missed plastic egg.
Marie’s Apple Crisp
8″ x 12″ pan or 1 1/2 recipe for a 13″ x 9″
6 apples 1 cup flour 1/2 cup butter, softened 1/2 cup brown sugar 2 Tbsp granulated sugar 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Peel and slices apples into pan.
Combine flour, brown sugar and butter until crumbly, set aside.
This is an archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” and was first published 1 Dec 2013.
This past Thanksgiving was bittersweet. The house has been sold, leaving an unexpected hole in our hearts. We were taken by surprise with the feelings of renewed loss that we experienced with the thought that we will never be able to enter the home again. I guess we were feeling a sense of being close to Butch and Marie every time we walked into the house, even though it had been sitting empty for 5 1/2 years. As we began the preparation for this year’s Thanksgiving “Feast,” Gary asked that I not only prepare our traditional wild rice stuffing but to add his mother’s famous recipe to our dinner list.
But what was the recipe? I, the collector of all things family!! had never asked Marie for a copy, nor asked her how she made it. This was just a dish that magically appeared each time we gathered for Thanksgiving in our home, the perfect complement to the wild rice stuffing that I was making. She was always going to be there to add another delicious element to the table, right? Wrong. With that being said, we realized that it had probably been over eight years since we had last tasted Marie’s recipe.
Our daughter Kate has a version written in paragraph style that she had received from one sister-in-law a year or so ago, and I also asked our other sister-in-law if she had a copy, which she then sent to me.
So I set about combining the two, looking for similarities, looking for the differences, and picking Gary’s brain as to what he remembered from helping his mother make stuffing for so many Thanksgivings. One big difference that we discovered is that the use of commercial breadcrumbs was more often used by our sisters-in-law than drying bread for the stuffing. Another was that one recipe included eggs, and the other did not. We dried, we studied, we tasted – and we baked small dishes of stuffing after making adjustments. While I am not ready to post my findings, I will say that the dish was deemed pretty close in flavor to what it should be. Once the feeling of being stuffed by Thanksgiving has passed, I will mix up another batch to use throughout the year to stuff pork chops, serve with chicken, etc. and we will take another look at how close I have come to Marie’s Famous Stuffing.
This archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” was first published 13 Sep 2013.
I heard on the news the other day that women drivers now outnumber male drivers. This got me to thinking “How long have I been driving?” and so the mental math began, 50 minus 15… 35 years! I can easily document the years, but wouldn’t it be interesting to be able to document the miles? Miles driven in cars from my early stick shift days with no air conditioning and AM radio, to my now 10-year-old Mountaineer with lots of bells and whistles.
This news was also the push I needed to write this blog post that I have had noodling around in my mind for a while. A blog post about a car. A 2000 Mercury Sable. A blog post about its first owner, Marie Fassbender.
It starts in the year 1947. When Marie was in the hospital, having just given birth to her first child, she received her first driver’s license. And I do mean that; she received her license. It was at that point that her husband, Butch, decided that she needed to drive. So he headed to the town hall to get her one. Stating his intent to the city clerk, the response was: “Well, she’s a Fassbender so she must know how to drive.” And he handed over the license.
Jump forward to November 2000. Butch had been in the home for almost two years when the decision was made that it was time to get rid of the problematic New Yorker that Marie had been driving to and from, first the hospital, and then the nursing home. Her son, Gary, had been looking at cars for himself and noticed the Sable on the car lot. It had all of the luxuries that his mother had always loved about driving Butch’s Lincoln Town Cars, but without the size. One added feature that we felt was important for this 5’2″ (-ish) petite woman, was the adjustable foot pedals. She would no longer need to sit so close to the steering wheel but could sit at a comfortable distance and bring the brake and accelerator to her.
One bright day, I picked up the car, collected Butch and Marie from the nursing home, and we went for a “test drive.” Butch sat in the back seat and gave his full approval of our choice of the new car.
Marie proudly drove this car until she went to live in a nursing home in June 2008. Later that summer as her granddaughter prepared to start her sophomore year at Edgewood in Madison, Gary made the arrangements for Kate to have the car and use it to go back and forth to school. Kate drove the car for the next three years, two of them heading back and forth on sometimes treacherous winter roads. The car never failed her, and is now being driven back and forth to college by yet another Fassbender granddaughter. Butch would certainly approve of the lifespan of his last car purchase.