Bio: Mueller, Helen (1907 - ?)
Contact: R. Lipprandt
Surnames: Mueller, Tischendorf, Zak
----Source: The Tribune-Phonograph (Abbotsford, Clark Co., Wis.) Vol. 47, No. 31; Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007; Page 9 & 11; by Todd Schmidt
Mueller to Reach Century Mark Aug. 6
To Observed 100th Birthday. Helen Mueller, Dorchester, reflects on a long and rewarding life. Her 100th birthday is coming up Monday Aug. 6, 2007.
On Monday, Aug. 6, Helen Mueller of Dorchester will observe her 100th birthday.
The day will be made extra special with memories of an open house scheduled Saturday, Aug 4, from 1-4 p.m. at the Dorchester village hall, when many friends and family members will gather to honor her birthday.
Helen and one of her granddaughters sat down for a casual interview Tuesday in her modest Dorchester home to discuss the upcoming open house and reflect on Helen’s rich life of nearly 100 years.
She recalled hectic childhood days being the youngest of six children born to Olga and Robert Tischendorf (brothers Bill, Walt, Harry and Paul, and sister Clara).
Helen was baptized at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Dorchester, and confirmed at Evangelical and Reformed Church, now the United Church of Christ, Dorchester. She learned the German language at home and at church, and attended the one-room Cleveland Grade School, grades 1-8.
Her favorite subject in school was physiology, and her least favorite subject was math.
One memory of her school days was having a bigger girl constantly stepping on her heels when they were walking home during a snow storm. Helen dropped off her dinner bucket at home and then defended herself by washing the other girl’s face in the snow.
Her first driving experience was as a 17 year old. She drove her brother’s Model T, with a crank starter in the front. She never owned a bicycle, and was told not to ride bikes used by her siblings.
She and John Mueller were married in 1928 in the Town of Holton. The farmed during the Great Depression and through years of hard times. Helen recalls milking up to 15 cows by hand for many years and doing field work with horses.
"There were some bad times, with no rain and some hot weather," she said. "In 1933 we took our cows up to Prentice, where there was some pasture land and a creek with some water. We even tried to earn a little extra money by raising a few pigs."
She said a pig market was held every Saturday in Medford. Prices ranged from $5-8 per pig.
The young couple survived the tragedy of their farm house burning to the ground on June 14, 1933. With the help of good friends and family, they were able to rebuild the same year.
Thanks to their neighbors, who arrived quickly after spotting the smoke, many of their household items were saved. She said at that time village and city fire departments did not make calls in the country.
"There was a stone quarry in Dorchester," she recalled. "We planned on building a four room brick house, but they convinced us to use stone. They wanted a model house to advertise.
"They cut the stones in Dorchester and hauled them to the farm for a total of $300."
Through the years, Helen participated in many activities with the Bruckerville Homemakers and the Busy Homemaker. Church events were a focal point of her life. She attended church services regularly, participating in the choir and women’s guild.
Helen had a busy work career in addition to her farm chores. At different times she worked at Mildy’s dress store and the Maurina shoe and clothing store in Dorchester. She also offered babysitting for area families.
The family moved off the farm in 1955 and into the village of Dorchester in 1961. Her husband passed away in 1973.
With a group of local ladies she was able to do some traveling, to Germany for the Oktoberfest, to Italy and Canada, and to the states of Hawaii, Florida, California and New York.
After retirement Helen became a member and officer of the Dorchester Senior Citizens group. She volunteered at the nutrition site in Dorchester, preparing meals and goods for the Clark County Office on Aging. She volunteered to help fellow senior citizens, giving them rides to the doctor and other places until she turned in her driver’s license at the age of 97.
She also bowled in the senior citizens league for many years. She recalls scrunching her fingers between bowling balls in the ball return one time that slowed her down for a while.
Now her hobbies consist of playing cards, tending to her flowers, visiting friends and family and attending neighborhood birthday parties. She still does a lot of cooking and baking.
In the past she braided rugs, crocheted Afghans, patched countless items of clothing for her family and still found time to go dancing.
She stays busy with her family, which consists of five generations, including her daughter, Elizabeth "Betty" (Mueller) Zak, four grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and eight great-great-grandchildren.
"Mother is a very caring lady with a big smile," Betty said. "She is loved by so many people."
Helen shared a few tips on how to live to be 100.
"You need to work hard and keep busy," she smiled, "and you must take care of yourself."
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