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ROGENE (MCBAIN) SKODINSKI INTERVIEWING HER MOTHER BEATRICE MCBAIN0

  ROGENE (MCBAIN) SKODINSKI INTERVIEWING HER MOTHER BEATRICE MCBAIN0    Rogene (McBain) Skodinski Interviewing Her Mother Beatrice McBain
(1903-1990) in March of 1989. Bea would be 87 in August, 1989


Gertrude Tubbs and I were good friends. One time there was a husking bee in Bronson's barn. Arthur Bud McBain was taking her and he said, "Bring Beatrice along she seems like a nice girl." He took her home first then when he dropped me off he asked me for a date. I said I would go, but I felt so guilty. The next morning I walked over to Gert's and she said, "I knew that was going to happen. He had told me that 'she was a nice girl.' She wasn't very upset.
We dated for about 2½ years. After six months we got engaged. He had a motorcycle and a Model T Ford. Grandpa Oscar and Grandma Nellie McBain had a farm and I would go and help them milk cows.

Married in Menominee

We didn't have much of a wedding. Everett McBain and Grace went along with us to the courthouse in Menominee, Michigan. Grace baked an angel food cake and we had a wedding lunch along the Menominee River. We actually eloped. Nobody knew about it for a couple weeks. Grandpa Sherman didn't want us to get married. We lived with Grandpa Sherman until he got remarried then we moved upstairs. Bud was working at the Deep Rock filling station in Seymour (at the corner of Main and Depot Streets) and I was working at the telephone office. I could look right down on the station where he was working. We were married the 19th of July and on the 7th of June the next year Roland was born.

The Fair

When I was a kid they had a three day fair and that was quite an event. Grandpa Sherman loved the fair and would always go. He would get up early in the morning, get the chores done, then we would jump in the horse and buggy and head to the fair. We would start in the morning, take a lunch and spend the whole day. They parked the horses and buggy inside the race track. As a rule, the whole Sherman family went to the fair. My aunts, uncles and all relatives would come from Appleton. Grandma Sherman would always fix a big chicken lunch. We would spread a big tablecloth on the ground and have a picnic.
We would have to do the afternoon chores, so when the time came we would jump in the buggy and head home. When we were finished with the chores we would jump back in the buggy and head back to the fair for the evening performances that included fireworks and fun stuff. We usually spent all three days at the fair. The only ride was the merry-go-round and when I was a kid I would ride and ride and ride. The fair was a big, big deal and it always was until we got the restaurant and that took all the glamour out of the fair.

Bartering for Groceries

My mother raised chickens. We would gather the eggs and put them in these 30 dozen crates. They would pick them up with the milk wagon and take them into town. My mother would take the eggs into Phinney Graham's store and trade them in for groceries and supplies. She usually had between 12 and 30 dozen every week. My dad would haul the milk cans to the cheese factory about 2½ miles away. Before I was in school every morning I would ride along with my dad to the cheese factory. I remember the neighbors commenting how cute it was to see me sitting next to my dad with my little sun bonnet on.
It was about a mile and a quarter to school and my Grandma Sherman lived along the way. She always wanted me to stop and when I did she usually had some cake, cookies or candy for me. If it was bad weather she wanted me to stay overnight, but I never did. I would trudge home. If it was a bad snow storm grandma would call my dad and he would take the cutter and pick me up.

Family Tragedy

I was 12 years old when my little sister Eunice died. She was only six. They never knew the exact cause. She broke out with a funny rash and Dr. Holz thought it was the measles. Then Dr. Holz thought it was scarlet fever. He wasn't sure so he called in Dr. Boyden from Seymour. He was a young doctor and Dr. Holz said he was very good at medicine. He couldn't do anything either. She lived for three or four more days. On the death certificate they said it was scarlet fever. Later when I was in high school dad talked to Dr. Holz and he said he studied and studied it and it was probably Erysipelas. The body was left in the house where the funeral was held. Before the funeral the house was fumigated with formaldehyde. They hung up sheets soaked in formaldehyde and we had to stay out of the house for several hours. Uncle Ervin put a mask over his face and rushed in and removed the sheets. When my mother died we also had the funeral in the house.

Christmas Traditions

We had Christmas with the Shermans. Our aunts in Appleton would pile in a type of cutter that had seats on both sides and travel to Grandma Sherman's. They would usually stay for a couple days. Everybody gave presents. I always came home with a huge stack. They all stayed in grandma's little house. In the morning they would load up the large cutter and head back to Appleton. They heated up bricks to put in the cutter to keep warm. Grandma made all kinds of baked goods to send with them.

Living off the Land

My mother was an excellent cook. When we had company she would go out in the garden and pick vegetables. Grandpa would kill a chicken and grandma would bake bread and rolls. We always had delicious meals. Often when we wanted to go somewhere the horse would be out in the pasture and dad would get so frustrated trying to catch him. The horse would kick up its heels and run to the far end of the pasture. We had a dog, but not as a pet, it was used to round up the cattle. It was so frustrating when the cattle would break the fence and get into the corn field. I was usually barefoot in the summer and I still had to run into the cornfield and get the cows when they strayed.

Wally Wingate

When we were first married we had very few conveniences. When we did the wash we set a big tub up on the lawn and used a washboard to scrub the clothes clean and hang them on the line. When Wally Wingate was around, your dad would get him to carry the water. He would whine, but always did it. We would turn the heat on the kerosene stove and boil the clothes. You wouldn't think of not boiling your white clothes. Wally lived nearby. He had strange furniture and wore unusual clothes. He filled his lapels with buttons and pins. Usually campaign buttons or anything else he could find. He visited all the churches and when he died they gave him a nice funeral. He couldn't read and there is a story that he was sitting in the barber shop holding the newspaper upside down. When someone mentioned that it was upside down he said, "any damn fool can read it right side up." He was a character but everyone loved him.

Bridge Duty

When I was nine or ten years old we lived about a quarter of a mile from a concrete bridge. They took out the bridge and were going to replace it. There was a red lantern that had to be lit every night and that was my job. Every morning I would go get the lantern take it home, clean the chimney and fill it with kerosene. Then toward evening I would take it back and hang it on the bridge. That went on for weeks. I think I got paid a nickel a day. But I thought I had a very important job. That old bridge is still standing. When I go by there I remember how I took the job so seriously. It was about a mile and a half out of town on "G" near the old turkey farm. Turn west off of "G" before you made the big curve. That is where we lived. That's where I went to school until I was in the 6th grade. So I walked that mile and a quarter to school.

Death of Mother

My dad never got over Eunice's death, but when my mother died he expected it. Old Dr. Hittner said she had a goiter and advised her to paint it with iodine. She did and it helped but it left her with a bad, bad heart condition. Dr. Holz came and then helped mother when I was in high school. He told me that her heart was very bad and that she could die at any time. She might be stepping into the buggy and her heart could fail. That was an awful thing to live with. I would be in school and wonder if she would be alive when I got home. My mother died in 1920 when I was in high school. They said she died of the flu and pneumonia. Everyone said she always had a cheery disposition in spite of her illness.

Seymour Auditorium

Your grandpa loved to go to plays, traveling performances and different activities at the auditorium in Seymour. We would walk into town, about a mile, and walk home in the dark without a lantern or anything to light the way. We always made it. There were many home talent shows and traveling Chautauqua programs at the auditorium. It was a real treat when the circus came to town. We would get the chores done early and go to town for the circus parade. We never missed the circus. Mother would go along even though she was ill.

Running the Restaurant

Bud was selling McNess products and wasn't doing very well. He got the idea of buying a restaurant. I said "OK if you can raise the money." He borrowed $500.00 from Grandpa Sherman. He was determined to make it go in the restaurant business. Neither of us knew anything about running a restaurant. He would buy halves of beef and grind it up into burger. We had a thriving business. I hated every minute of it! We were in the restaurant (McBain's Restaurant on North Main Street) for 7½ years (1937-1944). He was in his glory. We made good at it. When we decided to sell it was me more than him.
I would get up at 4:30 and bake the pies and get breakfast ready. We had hobos come in. The city would send over tramps with a slip for 25 cents. They would eat and go back to jail. The next morning they would show up for breakfast and have bacon, eggs, toast and the whole bit. We never had a problem with them. One morning it was snowing and one of the men shoveled the walk. One man came in and said he would scrub the floor for a chicken dinner, he was so grateful.
Sometimes we would stay open until 10:00 to 11:00 at night after basketball games. When the fair was coming up the men who took care of the horses would start coming in a couple weeks before the fair. During the fair we got so busy that Bud would lock the door and only let people in after others left. There weren't many places to eat at the fair. We worked around the clock. I think Hamburger Charlie might have been the only one.

Visitors from the Fair

The performers in the evening revue would come in for breakfast around noon and have dinner after the show. We were very busy. It was fascinating when people from the "freak show" would come in. The "fat lady" was actually a man (a morphodite). He wore a blond wig. but had a deep base voice. The midgets would have to get boosted up on the stools. They were usually friendly, but didn't want their picture taken unless someone was in the picture with them.
One time a man came in for breakfast and sat at the end of the counter. He kept looking out the window as he ate. He left and walked up the street toward the Lutheran Church. Soon two men came in and described the fellow and said they were looking for him. I said that I thought he went to church. They just laughed and left. I never did find out what happened. I think they were detectives or something.

Change

When we sold the restaurant your dad was very unhappy, I was thrilled. He wanted to get into business again, but I had enough of it. He went up to Bonduel looking to buy another restaurant. Finally I said yes, and this is when he purchased the resort (McBain's Pickerel Lake Lodge). I didn't dislike the resort. We had the winters to ourselves and we had many nice friends. Then we came back to Seymour and I took the job at school where I was head cook. I was there for 13 years.
I started the first hot lunch program.
I went to three different country schools and that was something. The girls all wore aprons and pigtails of course. I don't remember any playground equipment except a teeter totter. There were two entrances to the school, one for the boys and the other for the girls. We carried our lunches in syrup pails. Most kids had sandwiches with lard in them. I felt deprived because I had butter.

Tragedy Averted

When your dad was in the oil business a real tragedy almost took place. This was on a Sunday morning. He took a can and filled it with
kerosene for our kerosene stove. Roland brought it home and I put it in the kerosene stove. We got a phone call from your dad and he said "turn off the stove and get out of the house immediately." A short time later he arrived all shook up. He put naphtha, a highly volatile cleaner, in the can by mistake. He grabbed it and threw it outside. Fortunately the naphtha hadn't gotten into the stove yet. Otherwise we would have been blown up.

Medical Issues

When you were about four years old you had strep throat and German measles with a 106 degree fever. I called Dr. Holz and he looked at your glands and said, it looks like strep throat." After about two weeks you made a full recovery. We would carry you outside in the sunshine for a few minutes every day and gradually increased the time period. Fortunately, you pulled through.

Waukesha Mud Baths

Your dad got this gall bladder infection and that was terrible. The doctor couldn't figure out what it was. It wasn't actually an infection, it was a clogged gall bladder. Eventually he got yellow, as yellow as a lemon. He found out about the Waukesha mud baths. So he went down there for three weeks and that is the only thing that pulled him through. They would put him on a slab and cover him up with hot mud. He could only stay for a few minutes and they would monitor his heart. It was like a fancy hotel with doctors and nurses. After a few minutes they would take him out and put him under a hot shower to wash him off. Then they would wrap him in hot blankets. After about three weeks he was cured and came home.
Your dad got home and was getting around pretty good when Roland got jaundiced. While I was taking care of him you got a pain in your side and had appendicitis. So here I was, Bud was recovering, Roland was sick and you had appendicitis. I called Dr. Sieb and he took the two of us to the hospital. I think I cried all the way. That was the worst siege of illness I ever had to deal with. But you all pulled through and that is the main thing.
Years ago my dad was in the barn and he had one horse that he really liked. He slapped the horse and said, "get over Maud," to get it to move over. Evidently the horse didn't recognize his voice and she kicked him in the mouth. He came in the house bleeding with his teeth in his hand. The dentist came out to look at it. He had a bridge made, but it never looked as good as his original teeth.
Dad wore a truss to keep his hernia in check. One night he was working in the barn and experienced terrible pain. The hernia was strangulated and the pain was getting unbearable. We called Dr. James Hittner and he couldn't do anything with it so he called Dr. Quick, a surgeon from Green Bay. Dad was in excruciating pain and the doctor was delayed by a snowstorm and terrible roads. Upon arrival he felt he had to operate immediately. Dr. Hittner called Dr. Libby, a Seymour dentist and he came to administer anesthetic. Dr. Quick operated on your dad on the kitchen table. He took one of the headlights off his car and used it for light. He recuperated in the bedroom and eventually made a full recovery.

The Sherman Family - Five brothers came from one of the English speaking provinces in Canada. My grandpa was James Sherman. Grandma Sherman was a Heagle. My Grandma Keune was a Sherman. I have many third and fourth cousins living in Seymour. Grandpa Keune came from Canada.

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