Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

     May 10, 2000, Page 36

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 


Good Old Days


Compiled by Dee Zimmerman


Mother’s Day Tribute of 1950


In the late 1940 and early 1950, Ruth Dern, of Neillsville, had to make some major changes in her life.  Her husband, Arthur Dern passed away in 1949, leaving her with two small children, Anton and Carla Kay.


Can any one woman manage two jobs at the same time and still have time for a life of her own?  Ruth Dern probably asked herself that same question and after some thought, decided to do just that.  She rallied her faculties and summoned her resolution to the immediate necessity of keeping alive the family’s bakery business. She took on the responsibility of managing the bakery, doing all of her own work in the family’s home, took care of her children and still found time for some social pleasures.


Keeping an eye on her two pre-schoolers, Anton and Carla Kay required taking them to the bakery shop with her every day at 8 a.m.  She found it a time-saver for them to eat some of their meals at the bakery, so she had a stove, refrigerator and necessary dishes for breakfast and lunch in the back portion of the bakery.


A schedule was set up and adhered to.  The shop had to be on a schedule, so she planned her other work likewise.  She did her own washing and ironing whenever time permitted. Sometimes when the shop was not so busy, she would walk home and do some clothes washing.  If the time for such tasks wasn’t available, she worked with the laundry in the evenings.  Occasionally it had to be done on Sundays. The ironing was done little by little in the evenings. She seldom retired before 11 or 12 o’clock in the evening. Because she had a large house, she converted the upstairs into an apartment which she rented out.  That saved on cleaning and gave an additional income.


The children learned to be neat and orderly which saved on cleaning chores also.


Anton and Carla Kay liked being at the bakery shop.  They enjoyed playing while their mother worked.  Some of their toys were taken to the shop and they seemed to be able to find places to play with them.  Anton liked looking at books and occasionally his mother or one of the girls working in the shop would read to him.  He would also go to the Neillsville Public Library often looking for books of his interest.


Carla Kay played with her doll.  It made trips back and forth between the house and bakery as often as Carla did. They liked their quiet times to play and found a space in back of the sales room for that, which accorded to their mother’s rules. Dern felt discipline was necessary in enabling the children’s presence in the bakery during working hours. With the rules of discipline and her working schedule, Dern’s children became more independent and self-reliant.  Playing alone, they found things of their own interest to occupy their time.  Anton learned to answer the telephone calls politely and would give proper information to the callers.  If a customer entered the shop while all adults were working in the back room, one of the children would summon a clerk immediately.  As young as they were, they learned customers must be served promptly.


Dern’s advice to a woman left alone was to continue working in her husband’s business, if it is possible.  In her situation, it was not only helped financially but helped her through a bad time in her life.  Her husband had made thoughtful provisions for his wife and children with joint tenancy on the family home reverting to her, with life insurance which provided a modest monthly income and the bakery business.


When Dern was left by the death of her husband the care of two small children and the bakery business, she was advised by some to let the business go. She felt her husband would want her to continue the business and that it would be best for her children.  So, upon the advice of her lawyer and her baker being in agreement, she became owner-manager of the Neillsville Bakery.


“It was not always easy,” she said, “There were lots of problems and worry, but they all seemed to come off some how.  I was always very busy and that was good. Work helps you forget your troubles. Too many women sit back and grieve, willing to let someone else support them.”


During Ruth Dern’s realm at the business, the bakery had not been closed a day or had not missed a delivery. She liked to work.  It had become an important thing in her life, for in developing the bakery business, she was also helping her children.  She was able to do any part of the work there but the baking, helped by six other employees.  There were two bakers, Forest Thompson and Norman Paquette; three girls in the shop, Erline Dux, Mrs. Clyde Oens and Violet Herbel and the delivery boy.  Dern did the bookkeeping herself.


Dern felt that in spite of the fact that some thought she was foolish to undertake the business, she had done quite well.  However, she felt she should give credit where credit is due. She said, “I never could have continued without our baker, Forest Thompson, who had been there 28 years, up to the year of 1950.  I felt I couldn’t replace him. He was quick and efficient.”


In spite of all the work she had to do, Dern said she didn’t work all the time.  She belonged to Eastern Star and held offices in the organization. She was a member of the V.F.W. and B. & P. W.  She found relaxation and enjoyment, meeting and talking with the other women of those services.


(About two years ago, Ruth Dern sold her home located on the corner of Hewett and Tenth Street, in Neillsville and moved to live near her son, Anton, and family, in Wisconsin Rapids.  She passed away last fall. 


Friends and neighbor ladies living along Tenth Street, often mention Ruth Dern. They recently commented, “We still miss Ruth as a neighbor. She was such a good person and a wonderful, caring neighbor.”


Regardless of the many business and family responsibilities that she had in the absence of a husband for many years, she found time to share a kind, caring concern for her neighbors and friends.  In Summary, Ruth Dern will be remembered as a good friend, neighbor and respected mother of her children. D. Z.)


Clark County News


May 1880


Tuesday was a desperate day for the fish in our local river. Quite a number of people from Neillsville and several buggy loads from the Windfall region spent the day at the Dells Dam area catching fish and all made good hauls.  Alex Halvorson and M. C. Ring caught about three bushels of fish, mostly red horse. At Dells Dam, every time the water is let off by the dam, large numbers of fish of a good variety, are left in shallow areas and upon the ground.  In such positions, it is very easy to capture them.  Many of our enterprising citizens have driven down there lately with spears, nets, rods and lines, and made large captures of fish, greatly enjoying the sport.  Halvorson, Jaseph, Bruley and a friend were there the earlier part of this week, coming back with a plentiful supply of muskellunge, red horse, etc.


The Wisconsin Sheep Breeders and Wool Growers’ Association finished a very profitable session at Elkhorn last week.  Some of the sheep sheared yielded from 22 to 30 pounds of wool each.


A free lunch is set forth at Jacob Rossman’s saloon every morning at 10 o’clock for those who desire to partake.  Rossman’s saloon is justly popular and the free lunch adds an attraction that will be appreciated by the inner man of the multitude.


Men began placing the wire for the telephone between Neillsville and Hemlock Dam last Sunday morning.  The wire being used is thinner than the common telegraph wire.  It was thought that the project would require 18 miles of wire, but 21 miles of the wire is estimated to be nearer the mark needed. The cost will be nearer $1,000 than $600 as was figured upon.  It will be a great convenience, forming another tie between the northern and southern parts of Clark County.


G. W. Nichols, of Unity, visited our office this week.  He reports that the village of Unity is gradually growing and enjoying greater prosperity now that the saw mill is under new management.  The mill’s new operators are paving their hand with cash.  Spring planting is later in that area due to a greater extent of forested land holding the moisture longer.  Nichols fears that Colby and Unity could be seriously injured by the new railroad, which is to cross the Central railway line between Colby and Dorchester.


A little village is building up quickly at Maple Works in the Town of Grant.  There is a large store owned and operated by Charles Cornelius.  Cornelius always has on hand a large assortment of dry goods, boots, shoes, tin-wear, dishes, stoves and all kinds of farming implements. The area post office is also kept in his store.  Ernst Crevecoeur, cabinet-maker, keeps a furniture store, having on hand or making-to-order bedsteads, tables, chairs, sofas, milk-safes or any sort of household furniture.  He also makes coffins to order. Dr. Kellor has an office there, attending to the sick.  The doctor seems to be well liked and his charges are said to be moderate.  Mike Grosser does all kinds of blacksmithing for the village’s patrons.  Henry Limburg, wagon maker, has made several wagons that give good satisfaction to the purchasers.  Nelson Marsh is one of the oldest settlers in the Town of Grant.  He is and has been Justice of the Peace for a great number of years, doling out impartial justice to all law breakers within his jurisdiction.  He also repairs boots, shoes and furnishes music for those who wish to trip the light fantastic. A good shoemaker who could purchase a small stock of leather would do well to start a business there.  Joseph and Lewis Marsh are building a public hall, 26’ x 50’, in the building, to be used for meetings of all kinds.


Last Sunday was Whitsuntide and on Monday the German citizens celebrated Pentecost with a dance and festivities at Neverman’s brewery and hall.  Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after the feast of the Passover.  It is also the anniversary of the gift of the laws to the Israelites which occurred 50 days after their departure from Egypt.


Mrs. Reddan has had the old cow-yard, behind her hotel, plowed up and turned into a garden.  It is a splendid place to grow watermelons, snug up to our newspaper office fence, so convenient.


Lots in Marshfield are being sold at the rate of eight to ten per day.  Those wishing to purchase lots for business or residence purposes would do well to do so now.


The earth removed from the site of the Lowe block was carted down to the hollow south of the Eyerly house.  The sides of the excavation caved in some during the rains of last Monday.  Masons are now plying their trade in the Lowe cellar on Main Street, laying the foundation.


Spencer is flourishing this summer more than ever before.  This activity is due mostly to the large quantities of pine, the sawing of which necessitates the employment of many men.  The saw mills are running full blast with one mill working day and night.


Dr. L. C. Bicknell and M. C. Ring arrived home Monday evening.  They reported having had a delightful time in the scenery of the northern boundary of Lake Superior.  Also, they brought back a nice mess of speckled trout, which they caught from Pine Lake in Bayfield County.


General C. C. Washburn will command the First Division at the reunion, week after next.  It will be a great honor to the men in blue to rally under a chief who is at the same time a grand soldier, patriot and great statesman and munificent citizen.


Mattie (Schuster) Marsh, a mother of two sons, Louis and Phil, occasionally took time out to read and relax in front of the fireplace.  She and her husband, Lute, resided with their family in their home in the 300 block of West Fifth Street, Neillsville, in the late 1800s.  (The house was razed in 1999)



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