Faust and Weseman recount memories during mealsite

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Each weekday Guttenberg seniors gather for a nutritious hot meal and lively conversation in the lower level of the Guttenberg Municipal Building. From left, Verdamay Faust and Delos "Pockey" Weseman enjoy sharing childhood memories. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

Verdamay Faust and Delos "Pockey" Weseman have been supporters of the senior citizen mealsite for several years. They come for the nutritious, hot meal but the real bonus is the lively conversation and reminiscing they routinely enjoy. I met up with the two spirited seniors, and they shared their stories. As etiquette requires – ladies first. 

Verdamay Faust quickly spoke up. "I was born in a rented house up Miner's Creek Road. We rented the house from a Petsche. I went to kindergarten at public school. When the weather was good we walked up over the hill and down Beuchel Hill to get to school. When the weather was bad we had to walk all the way around," she said. 

Faust spoke of her favorite childhood games. "We mostly played games and went sleigh riding. Fox and goose and red rover were some of our favorites," she recalled. I asked her to describe the rules for fox and goose. "It was played in the winter in the snow. We made a large circle and formed paths through the circle for players to run through — like slices of pie. One person was 'It' and they had to catch the rest of us," she said.

Delos "Pockey" Weseman was also familiar with the game. "We are both about the same age. I will be 92 and Verdamay is 93." 

Faust called to mind, "When we moved to town I remember roller skating in the street with my friend Betty Carrier. We lived on the north end of town. One time when we were roller skating we got tangled up and fell. That was the end of that."

Faust reminisced about her first jobs. "I worked at the egg plant and the canning factory. My dad was the foreman at the canning factory, and he fired me and my friend Dorothy Jaeger," she said. Faust described the demanding work conditions. "There was never a regular schedule. You were called into work when the factory had enough corn to can – anytime, day or night. They blew a whistle and you better be there or else. Dorothy and I wanted to go to Lakeside. When they blew the whistle we went to Lakeside instead, so we got fired," she said with a mischievous grin. 

Faust and Weseman both fondly remembered dances at Lakeside with Lawrence Welk, Tiny Hill, Ted Weems, and many others. Weseman noted, "They had lots of big bands at Lakeside. They would be performing in Chicago and would stop in Guttenberg for a one-night stand."  

Faust and Weseman both shared, "If you lived in the south end of town you lived in 'South Town.' If you lived on the north side it was called 'Up by Lakeside.'"' 

Memories of a collapsed floor at Lakeside were shared: "There were so many people on the dance floor kicking up their heels that the floor collapsed. We all used to stand in the north corner of the building where the big furnace was." 

Faust chuckled, "When my husband, Bob, and I bought our house we paid $600 for it. I remember saying to him, 'We'll never live long enough to pay it off.'"  Verdamay and Bob had three children:  Sharon, Mike and Butch. 

Weseman was born in Littleport but moved to Guttenberg shortly after his birth. "We moved to Guttenberg when I was a couple of months old. My dad was a blacksmith. He worked for John Herboldsheimer. His blacksmith shop was located on the block where Fishback used to have his office. There was a blacksmith shop and a wagon shop on the same block," he said. 

Weseman grew up in a family with three sisters. "We played all kinds of games, and in the winter everyone went ice skating on the ponds. They were full every night.We would sleigh ride on second hill and swim in the river. Most of our time was spent climbing around on the hillside in a big old dry run," he commented.

Weseman lost his father at a young age. "My mom stayed home until my dad died in 1934. I was six years old at the time. He died of pneumonia. After he died my mom had to go to work. There was no Social Security at the time, so she had to work nights at the button factory. She also worked at the canning factory and the egg plant," he recollected.

Weseman remembered walking to school with Merrill Lau. "We were walking to school one day — we were in about the second or third grade— when we came upon a garter snake. Merrill wanted to take the snake home with him but we had to go to school. We ran into Doc Jenkens' filling station; his wife had a candy shop in the house, and we asked him for a cigar box to keep the snake in," he said. 

"Merrill put the snake in the box and put it in his desk. We had to attend gym class, and when we returned the snake was gone. All the girls were screaming! The teacher ran out to get the custodian to find the snake. We all had to stand in the hall while the custodian searched the room. He never did find that snake. I think it crawled out the door," he said with a chuckle. 

Weseman told The Press, "You could buy everything you needed in town. Every storefront on River Park Drive had a business. There were 14 taverns in town when I was a kid. You could get beer if you wanted. We used to play pool at Agnes' Tap." 

The Corner Cafe, Fred's, Jack Mahowald's, Kann's, and Wolter's were some of the restaurants the two seniors listed. 

Weseman recalled when they moved the building that is now Rausch's. "It used to sit at the foot of the north hill. They moved it to its new location and Lorraine Horstman put a gas station, garage and cafe in it from the 40s through the 60s."

Weseman met his wife, Katherine, on a blind date. "Katherine's dad worked with the Lock and Dam in Alma, Wis. They transferred him to Guttenberg when she was a senior in high school. She was in my sister's class. The senior class was getting ready for the prom and Katherine didn't want to go because she didn't have a date. I had just gotten out of the Navy the winter before, and my sister asked me if I would be Katherine's date. I had only seen her a couple of times, but I agreed to be her date. I bought her a nice orchid.  My sister brought it home from Dubuque.” 

He lovingly shared, “It was meant to be. We dated until we got married the following June.” Weseman and Katherine remained in Guttenberg and raised two daughters, Barbara and Judy. 

Weseman walked everywhere. “I bought a house before I bought a car,” he said with a hearty laugh. 

Faust spoke up, “We had a ‘38 Pontiac coupe. It never started when we wanted to go home!” 

The two visited about the local police department. “Our Police Chief was ‘Boots’ Luther. The Jaeger boys used to give him a run for his money.  They lived up Buck Creek. They used to come to town and hang out at Agnes’ Tap. One night one of them borrowed a wheelbarrow. They were steering it around town. Boots pulled them over for OWI (operating-wheelbarrow-intoxicated),” they laughed. “It was a warm summer night when Boots put him in jail to sober off. The Jaeger boy refused to take off his heavy overcoat. When Boots finally convinced him to take off his coat, he realized he had sewn his money inside the coat,” they recalled.

Weseman shared a frightful story: “I can remember when we were in the sixth or seventh grade and Lavern Moser, Loren Becker, Blackie Moser and I were playing on the hillside. We heard a shot go off and Lavern had got shot in the back of the head by a squirrel hunter. He never did go to the doctor. When he died many years later he still had that shot in the back of his head.”

The pair concluded their visit to the past with these final stories. Faust commented, “Every time you went to the doctor they gave you licorice pills. They were little black pills. I remember my dad bought me to town to have a boil lanced by Dr. Duffin. We stopped at what is now the Veterans Little League Field. It used to be a golf course. They had a tent show going on —The Jack Ripley Players.” 

Weseman and Faust  remember simpler times when marbles were played and everyone had a slingshot. 

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