Mom’s Story

Mom’s Story April 21, 2024

My Mom was born in 1914. From what I understand, she was born in a two-room
log cabin that was part of a lumber camp in northern Wisconsin.
Her parent’s borrowed some money to buy 20 acres of cut-over land to begin a
small family farm in northern Wisconsin.
She would tell me that they never went hungry; although, she wanted her mother
to buy a box of cornflakes which they couldn’t afford. She worked hand in hand
with her parents on the farm, along with three of her uncles who lived with them
as the farm eventually grew to 160 acres.
Mom had two younger brothers who also worked on the farm.
As we know from history, the Great Depression took its toll on millions of people.
At that time, the local school district did not have a high school. Like so many
others, she couldn’t leave her parents to attend a high school that was 25 miles
away. She was needed on the farm.
When she was 19 years old, she started to work at a small grocery store that had
recently opened that was three miles away from the farm. She spoke about
walking the three miles to the store and the three miles home. If the snow was
deep and the weather was frigid, her father would bring her to work with the
horse and sleigh.
She worked at the store until she got married. She and her husband moved to
Superior where she continued to work. She worked for the Great Northern
Railroad during WWII. After I was born, she worked at a Dime Store and cleaned
When I was six, Mom and Dad, bought the farm from her parents. Three of the
uncles continued to live with us while my parents farmed. Mom worked from
daylight until she went to bed. Mom is probably the hardest worker I have ever
And yes, as the three children got older, we also worked hard and contributed.
There’s nothing like getting the cows early in the morning with the frost on the

ground and herding them into the barn. Or working in the hot, burning summer
sun making hay.
Most likely, my parents could not afford health insurance. And we only went to a
doctor if it was an emergency. And of course, they never made any money.
When I was 11, my parents decided to start a small restaurant about 3 ½ miles
south of the farm. They sold the farm land to a farmer; although, they did keep
the buildings for several years. The times for farmers were very poor, and the
cattle, machinery, and the land were sold for next to nothing.
As the business grew, they expanded the restaurant. During the 11 years that my
parents owned the restaurant, they employed 33 people. The four cooks were full
time which meant Mom had to pay them benefits—including when they were laid
off. As the owner, Mom did not receive unemployment benefits. They closed
during the winter for a few years because it didn’t pay to stay open.
Mom often said she worked for the help, to pay wages, to pay insurance, property
and other taxes, health insurance, attorney and accountant fees, etc. She never
made much money. I have saved a few documents proving this to be true.
Mom relied on the three children to work; and of course, we were never paid.
Working at the farm and at the restaurant was an educational experience in so
many ways.
After 11 years, she and my father sold the restaurant, and Mom went back to
work at the grocery store where she started when she was 19 years old. She
worked at the store until she was old enough to retire.
They bought some land close to the restaurant and lived in a mobile home
alongside the highway.
My dad worked odd jobs for most of his life, and never made a lot of money.
Once Mom retired, she did have a few years where she enjoyed her family and
friends. And she did some traveling with family members.
And then the strokes began; at first they were mild, and then they got worse.
Both Mom and Dad were in a nursing home for four years. Mom died from a
stroke at the nursing home. My dad died in a hospital from a heart attack.

Why am I telling you my Mom’s story?
If it hadn’t been for Social Security, who knows what would have happened to
them. They never were able to save a lot of money from the farm, the restaurant,
or the jobs that they had worked at from early one. And they worked so hard!!