INTERVIEW WITH LUCILLE MILLER (Part 2)
This is a continuation of an earlier article featuring an interview with longtime Seymour resident Lucille Miller.
I remember going to Phinney Graham’s grocery store and Mrs. Graham had a tearoom in the front part of the house, where you could go for tea and food in the afternoon. I have a little folding table that is unique that I got from Graham’s store. Her name was Hattie Graham. I also remember going to Falck and Wolk Cash and Carry store. Art and Flora Boyden also had a general merchandise store. They had dry goods and a grocery store in the back. It was located across from city hall. Later on Bill Miller used it for a department store. The Boyden’s lived behind what is today called Kary’s Restaurant. Rita Gosse and Dorothy Steward were clerks in Miller’s store. Then Sally Burmeister took it over and ran a clothing store called “Sally B’s.” The Wassenbergs ran the Seymour Bakery. Kate was a fun person. Then Staplebrooks brought it and then Don Reed purchased it. It was located south of the RR tracks on the east side of Main Street. Ed and Emma Pasch also had a grocery store. After the war, their sons Leroy and Darrell ran it for a while. That was in the block where Chase Bank is now located. The Armstrong sisters had a boarding house in the same block. Forest Huth and Earl Fenn had insurance offices there. Alvin Wussow had the barbershop and Mack Miller was also in it.
Vandenberg’s originally had the garage on southeast Main St. and then the Melchert brothers took it over. Otto Maas had a meat market and then Joe Helmke owned it. McCord’s Drug store was where Don’s parking lot now is. They had a big gray cat that would sit in the window. That wouldn’t be allowed today but in those days cats were common to control the mice. Then Delmarcelle had it as a tavern and then Roger and Janice Eick ran it as Country Cousins. Later on they ran the Coachlite. Tillie Stueflat previously had the Nook at that location.
Where Krabbe Reader is now located used to be the post office. Grover and Edith Falck lived upstairs. They had property at Loon Lake. Half of Seymour had property up at Loon Lake. After Grover died, we used to visit Edith. The Wolks, Hittners, Freemores, Pasches, Murphys, Millers, Reeds, many people have property there. Muehl furniture had a big store where Don’s parking lot now is. They had a small area where you could choose a coffin. Then in the same block, you had the old reliable Seymour State Bank. The First National Bank was where the Beyond Horizons Realty is located, and then they moved into the Hittner Building and then in 1970 moved into their new building, which is now known as Chase Bank. Years ago, the stores were open on Saturday night. Nothing was open on Sunday. Then it changed to Friday night. Later it became Wednesday night and the high school band would play at the bandstand on Main St.
I remember when the GB & Western train derailed toward Black Creek. It took quite awhile and large equipment to clean that up. Years ago, they would have “hot boxes” on the RR where fires would start in the wheels. Harry Hanley traveled everyday from Black Creek to Seymour and he would race the train. One day he didn’t make it and was killed at the crossing on the highway.
Seymour High School
The Seymour school added an addition in 1936. I started in 1938 and some classes were in the new part of the building and others in old. It contained a very nice gym. I thought it was a shame to tear it down as it was well built. I started HS with 55 classmates and 51 graduated. Francis Haase died as a sophomore. He was Diabetic. The big change for me going from a one-room school to high school was having classes in many different rooms. At first, I rode to school with the Maas boys who came from Black Creek. Later our neighbor Everett Schneider was old enough to drive a car and I rode with him. They had a ninth grade in Black Creek then we had a long dark blue sedan type bus that we called “The spirit of 76” that would stop and pick me up. Then Huettl’s started their bus service, but my father had to pay for the bus fare. Ervin Huettl was my bus driver. My father was too busy on the farm to take me to school.
A high school degree then was almost similar to a Bachelor’s Degree today. I never liked English, but I did well in algebra and geometry. Bookkeeping and typing were favorite classes and that helped me a great deal later in life professionally. I did very well in bookkeeping. The teacher was Miss Jirtle. Harold Dopkins was one of my customers at the bank and he later gave the teachers credit for saving his life in WWII. When he went in the army, he got an office job because he could type and didn’t have to go to the front lines. We had a championship basketball team when I was in high school and we went to state, but no football team. I graduated in 1942 and Vernon Lubinski was in my class. Pearl Harbor was attacked when I was a senior. Most of the fellows who graduated went into the service. If you were working on the farm you were deferred because produce and farm goods were needed.
World War II
It was a sad time. Many men were wounded and Ken Kraft was killed. He was in my class. I had a boyfriend and two neighbor boys from the same family who were killed too. It was a sad time. Everybody planted victory gardens. I had a little garden on Mill Street and still called it that. Many people made a victory garden out of their front lawn.
During the war years, gasoline, sugar, and meat were rationed. The only meat that was not rationed was liver and Spam. It was not a problem for farmers since they had chickens and other animals to butcher. We found recipes to make cake with jam, corn syrup, and honey instead of sugar. During the war years there was a shortage of truck and automobile tires. Cars, stoves, refrigerators, and plumbing supplies were not manufactured. Everything went toward the war effort. After WWII, we purchased the first bottle gas stove available from the Gamble Store, which was owned by George and Fern Baerwald. Many service men returning home purchased appliances, so business was good.
I continued my education when I worked at the bank by taking classes in Green Bay at the technical school on Broadway and the new technical school. I had the equivalent of two years of college. My bookkeeping skills served me well wherever I worked. I had to change my way of thinking when I joined the First National Bank of Seymour. I always considered savings an asset, but at the bank it was a liability, because it was other people’s money and loans were an asset. When I started at the bank, I was impressed with using an electric adding machine instead of a manual one. At the end of the day, I would balance the bank’s books on a large sheet of paper. Today, a computer does it all.
During the first years of the Crystal Springs Golf Course I did the accounting and bill paying. Mel Jeske and Tom Fucik were the first clubhouse managers. Ray Ver Cauteren was the grounds keeper. It was very convenient for them to bring the records to me at the bank. After sometime the bank decided it was taking up too much of my time and Tom Fucik took over the record keeping.
When I worked at Kuehne’s I would have Noon lunch at Hauch dairy with other girls who worked in Seymour. Ethel Nagel worked at the Telephone Company, Toby Sutliff worked at Melchert Brothers Garage, and Dorothy Nagel worked at Brick Implement and later Florence Arndt at Bricks. Ethel and Dorothy Nagel lived in the house that now is Countryside Studio. They had a small farm in back, which is a part of the Seymour schools. Their hired man was Louie Baehler and his sister was Lil Baehler, who lived on Ivory Street. She took in roomers for a living. Many of them were schoolteachers.
Moving to the City
My parents moved to Seymour in 1945. At that time, Keune Street was the Keune farm and a small-lighted ball diamond was located there. I played ball with a young married women’s team, which was quite a joke since I was never very athletic. My first job was working for Forest Huth Insurance agency. Later it became Ebert-Truman and now it is Truman, Haase and Zahn. The Huth office was located where Chase Bank now is. Wally Wingate used to scrub the floors. I remember him well. He wore this jacket with all kinds of campaign buttons, the story is that one time he was holding the newspaper upside down and somebody told him, and he said, “Any damn fool can read it right side up”. Today they would say that he has special needs.
Church and Employment
My family attended church on the corner of Ivory and High St. We usually went every Sunday. I’m working on a history of that church. It was called, “The Zion Evangelical Church.” Then later on, it was the “Zion Evangelical United Brethren.” To shorten it up we called it the EUB. Now we are the United Methodist Church. Years ago, we were referred to as the German Methodist and there was also the English Methodist church on Main Street. The early sermons were in German. My folks didn’t believe in drinking and they weren’t supposed to play cards either, but they did. I was with Huth Insurance for three months. Although I only worked at the Forrest Huth Agency for a short time, it was my first job and a very good experience. I had to be very careful to type without any errors on insurance policies and I could practice my bookkeeping skills. I also remember delivering farm policies for the Hartland Cicero office, which was located in the Emil Gosse, Sr. home as he was the secretary and Hazel Puls was his helper. However, Forrest Huth only paid $10.00 a week and I couldn’t afford to stay in town for that. In January of 1943, Hans Kuehne came out and offered me a job with them. For a while, I stayed at Hauch Dairy and lived upstairs. Later on, I moved into the Marvin Peotter home.
Working at Kuehne’s
During the war Kuehne’s was a thriving operation. I wrote out many checks to the farmers. Hans and Carl were in charge. Their father Robert Sr. had a stroke and wasn’t in the best of health, but he still made the rounds to the dealers at the packing companies because he knew how to deal with them. Robert Jr. was in service and later joined R. Kuehne and Sons. Kuehne brought a tract of land from R. C. McIntire on Morrow Street. There were two alleys and the farmers would unload the cattle they would walk through the alley to be weighed then shipped by truck or train. That’s where I worked, figuring weights, doing the math, and writing checks. It got to be a million dollar business.
One day a bull got loose and the boss picked me up and carried me away to safety. The office was an old building and they had a stove to burn old papers in. One day it caught on fire. I was young and didn’t know what to do or how to get the fire department Smiley Nicodem was going by and he contacted the fire department. I worked for Kuehnes for five years. They were good people to work for, but I quit when our daughter was born. I worked for Kuehnes, eight years for Pauley Cheese, and thirty years at the bank. When Sally was three, I wanted to go back to work and my mother lived downstairs and took care of the girls. We were living on Factory Street so I was only a block and a half from work.
Living on Factory Street
My parents purchased a large home of Factory Street that was originally built by George Fidler who was the Seymour Postmaster and involved in county affairs. When we were married, they made the upstairs into an apartment for us and they lived downstairs which was convenient for my mother to care for our two daughters. Whether I lived on E. Factory or later on S. Mill Street, I always had only one and a half blocks to go to work at Pauley Cheese or the First National Bank. During the WWII, automobiles were rationed, but being a farmer, my father bought a 1942 Chevrolet. We lived about three and a half miles from town. In those days, you had a little fan to clear the windshield and I remember it running when the weather was cold.
Father had a Blacksmith Shop
Then my dad had bad health and he sold the farm. He lived to be 87 and was killed in a car pedestrian accident in Seymour. When he came to Seymour he got more rest and started feeling better. On the farm he would work all day and then do more at his little blacksmith shop. I believe that wore him down. Later when he found out the Lange Blacksmith Shop was for sale in town he purchased that and he operated it for more than twenty years until he retired. Blacksmithing was very important at that time. Farmers had to have their plowshares sharpened and sometimes new points put on the shares. Today equipment is so different and many of the past tasks are not required. In addition, equipment had to be repaired. R. Kuehne and Sons always had trucks and equipment to be fixed. They were his best customer.
When I was at Kuehne’s the Brick Implement Co. was located where the Petticoat Junction now is and across the street, which now is an empty lot, was the George Hajducke Shoe Repair Shop with their living quarters in back. Shoe repairing was a good business for replacing soles and heels. I recall some workers who did not have the money for new soles so they would put layers of paper in the inside of their shoes. I would have new lifts put on my high heel shoes for twenty-five cents.
The Seymour Creamery
Also at that time William Rankin owned the Seymour Creamery on Elizabeth Street at the corner of Morrow St. His wife was Mary Rankin, a nurse and long time office girl at the Hittner Clinic. Dr. Vernon Hittner was joined in business with Dr. Louis Sieb and Dr. Ray Groendahl. As a child, I remember going to his father Dr. James Hittner, to have a fish bone removed from my tonsil
While I was in high school, Mr. and Mrs. William Rankin had their nephew Paul Sabin, from England, live with them. He was a year behind me. The United States was not involved in WWII until December 7, 1941, but Hitler was bombing England extensively. I think Paul remained in the United States.
Herbert and Gordon Hartwig purchased the Seymour creamery and they later moved out on Highway G which was the Anna Puls Cheese factory. My husband, Bob Miller, made his popcorn with Seymour Butter. It was a popular treat at the fair and ballgames.
I often worked in the outer office at Kuehne’s. It had an oil burner. However, in the winter it was very cold as the doors were always being opened, so to keep warm I wore wool pants. No doubt, the first pants suit in Seymour. When I moved to the bank in 1960, the president did not approve of pants at work. When they became more fashionable he did allow us to wear pants suits.
About 1950 I worked on the Election Board at old city hall that had a bell in the tower, which I believe, was used as a fire alarm. On Election Day, after the polls were closed, we tallied the votes on large sheets of paper. I think Ed Thompson was the city clerk at the time. I believe there was only one city fire truck, a council meeting room, and a small jail cell in the back. The city library was on the second floor and Eleanor Tubbs was the librarian. When there was a fire, the telephone operator turned in the alarm and notified volunteer firemen who then would drive to the fire and - look out - as they would stop for nothing.
The telephone office was located where the municipal building is today. It was closed in the early 1960’s when a new automated system was installed next to the former post office on the corner of Wisconsin and Mill Streets. Century Link is still using the building. Some of the telephone operators were Doris Fiestadt, Marcella Oskey Rhode, Ethel Nagel and Ruth Wolk. Ruth then came to work with us at the First National Bank. Clara Kissinger and Bernadine Albert transferred to the head office in Plymouth.
Entertainment in Seymour
Dr. R. C. Finkle was a great entertainer with his city band. I recall going to his veterinary office with my father and I was fascinated with the mounted two-headed calf in his office. He was also a magician, he could find a quarter or half dollar under your nose or behind your ear that you did not know it was there. People would buy his so-called horse medicine but it was the best cough medicine for people. Occasionally on Sunday afternoon my folks and I would go to a baseball game in Seymour. Smiley Nicodem was one of the players along with Stanley Wanke and the Puls boys. In school we had the basic classes.
In May 1936, the Kiwanis and the American Legion presented a minstrel show with numerous men from Seymour and Ethel Nagel Ohlrogge was the pianist. My husband had a good singing voice and I remember him crossing the stage back and forth with a basket and singing, “Put all your eggs in one basket.” I did not know him at that time but we met after he returned from the army.
Music, Dancing, Parades and Movies
Ethel Nagel was a piano player and singer. She was extremely talented. She could hear a tune once and play it. Later she played at the Zuider Zee Supper Club in Green Bay. When the war ended, there was a lot of celebrating at the hotel in Seymour. She would play piano and people would sing along.
Julaine and Bonnie Rusch were popular tap dancers in the area. They had special costumes and won awards with their routine. Rosella Heagle was also a tap dancer and her father was also a veterinarian with his office next to the telephone office.
In the summer tent shows would come to Seymour and I would go to those shows with my parents. The Cousin Fuzzy Band presented some of the shows. The best show was when we went to Appleton to the three-ring circus. In the 1950’s the American Legion sponsored a big 4th of July celebration with a big parade and later festivities at the fairgrounds. One year it rain and was not profitable so they gave it up.
When I worked at Kuehne’s we girls would go to the movies for 25 cents. Arvin Otto was the owner, then Frank Ebert and later Otto and Sophie Stettle.
When I think of fires, I understand half of the city burned because of an arsonist. I remember as a youngster about three or four years of age and not in school yet. I could have burned the house down. Those days everyone had a cook stove for cooking and heating in the kitchen and a wood box nearby for wood for the stove and some shingles or kindling for starting the fire. The stove had a side vent to increase the draft or close to reduce the heat. I took a piece of shingle and poked it into the vent and it caught on fire. I then threw it into the wood box. My mother was resting in the bedroom off the kitchen, maybe not feeling well and heard me blowing as hard as I could to put the fire out. She came out to check what I was up to, poured a pail of water on the fire, and put it out.
The largest Seymour fire I ever saw was when the Seymour Lumber Company burned. The flames and smoke seemed to be a mile high. Another large fire was just a little south of town when the William Husman barn burned. When I think of that same area in the early 1980’s people thought they sighted UFO’s. So one night Carmen and I parked out in that area but we could not spot any UFO’s.
Working at Pauly Cheese Company
I did not especially enjoy staying at home and we needed the money, so in April 1952, I started to work at Pauly Cheese Co, and stayed until April 1960. The Pauly Cheese Co. was a laid-back operation with great coffee breaks in the morning and the men would have a beer with cheese and crackers in the afternoon. The head office was in Green Bay and Charles Pauly was the owner. After the war, his sons, Don and Ted Pauley, joined the company and they did not come to Seymour that often. I was hired by Fred Seefeldt, but never actually worked for him as he became ill and Roland Bishop, the assistant manager, became the manager. The men also worked hard and did the required work.
The cheese was graded, tested for moisture, paraffined, weighed, and boxed and stored in the cooler until it was shipped out. While I was working there, Pauly was bought out by Swift and Co. and they became Pauly Cheese Company, a division of Swift and Company. Sometimes they would sell a train carload of cheese to the government that would have to be graded by a federal grader who was Paul Heinie from Shawano. He was a very nice man and the father of Dr. N. E. Heike. When he came to Seymour he would call Dr. Heike’s wife, Wauva, and tell her to. “Put another bean in the pot,” and he would join them for lunch.
I replaced Claudine Thompson and later worked with her at the bank. Some of the people I worked with at Paulys are, Roland Bishop, Roy Bishop, Frank Schroeder, Ed Ziegenbein, Ray Kroner, Sid Sherman, and Marvin Dalke. When it was very busy in the summer, after the cows were out to pasture, and milk production was up, they would hire an extra girl to help test cheese for moisture. One year it was Jean Vietch and another year it was Lois Dalke. When I started at Pauly cheese there were 22 cheese factories shipping cheese to them. During the eight years I was there, the small cheese factories were being closed, and there were only about four large factories. They started making cheese in 40-pound blocks and even in barrels. As a result, I only had a part time job and then I applied at the First National Bank of Seymour.
Working at the First National Bank
I first started working at the bank in1960 when Mike Burns was the president of the board and Phil Dahlman was the executive vice-president. At that time you had to be approved by the Board of Directors. They really needed more help quickly. Two of the girls were expecting and they could not work in the bank while pregnant.
At that time the bank was located in the Hittner Clinic Building. I had a long (30 years) and delightful career there and saw many changes. In 1965 we made two important changes. We assigned account numbers to all customers and began imprinting names on the checks. Before that it was a guessing game trying to decipher signatures. In 1970 we moved to the new building ½ block south and began to enter the computer age with data processing.