John Manke is an active former Bay View resident who is involved in numerous neighborhood organizations, including the Bay View Historical Society, the Humboldt Park Fourth of July Association and the Shore Shore Farmers Market. He believes Bay View has a fine tradition in its past that we do not want to lose in the future.
If my mother would be alive today, she would celebrate her 100th birthday. She passed away in 1981. When we were kids, she had to go to work to help support us six children. Both my mother and dad had jobs. My mother spent most of her life doing insurance work. She started when she was young and worked for her father. Her sister also spent her life doing insurance work. My dad did most of the major cooking in our house. My mother would cook on weekends. My sisters and I did much of the cooking during the week. My dad would make special meals like pea soup, vegetable beef soup, chicken soup, homemade chili, corn-on-the-cob and many other dishes that would last for several weeks. When my mother made roast beef, I thought that shoe leather was more tender. Sometimes we would have smoked chubs to eat. My mother made excellent boiled shrimp. During most of my youth, my dad would work on second shift. He would prepare a meal before he left for work. No matter who cooked the meals, we always had plenty of vegetables to eat, Sometimes, if we were lucky, somebody made homemade bread or rolls to eat.
My dad was an early riser, and would do yard work early in the morning. My mother liked to sleep late when she was not working. When she got up, we were put to work cleaning up the house. We had to scrub floors and steps, vacuum the house, scrub out the kitchen sink and the bathroom sink and toilet. If anybody was caught laughing at a meal, we were sent into another room as a punishment. I always wished that I could sleep late on certain days. After our housework was inspected and approved, we were allowed to go outside and play with our friends. When we were young, we only had a radio, no television sets. We had bicycles to ride and a coaster wagon. My dad brought home a pair of stilts that he used when he was child. We used to walk on them a lot. Growing up was quite an adventure. Now all we have is the memories of that time in our lives. The old house was razed, so we no longer can visit it or see it.
What was your childhood like? You should write down some of these happenings so that your children and grandchildren can enjoy reading and hearing of them. Establish a family history book and place names on the back of your old photos. Someday you too will pass on. This will be your legacy to your family.