Early Childhood

Now, to use baseball terminology, we're rounding third base. The preceding pages were a brief biographical sketch of the ancestral and generational accounts of our family. I will now complete this Wilken saga by relating some of my own childhood memories; a few of which are as dear as if they happened yesterday.

At age two I stayed overnight at my sister Annie. She had recently married John Schwartz. For breakfast they had huge oranges, bigger than any I had ever seen. Annie peeled me one and I began to eat it. John, teasingly said, "How about giving me some too?" I said, "Die sine nicht gut fur dich, die haven wurm. " (They aren't good for you, there's worms inside.)

One of my first memories of a neighborhood gathering was a barn dance held in our hay loft. The barn must have been relatively new and barn dances were the rage of the day. I was perhaps four years old. Adults love to tease little kids, especially if they don't appear to be bashful. Johnny's Annie told me of this event many years later how cleverly I answered the Kelly and Mullen ladies as they teased me. I failed to write down what Annie said I had answered, but I do remember running around the hay loft and having a good time with all the guests.

When I was five, a teacher at our District #72, Madge Nichols, taught me a song for a program she was putting on at the school. I came on stage and sat down in a rocker and rocked my dolly. The song I sang had these words "Hello central, give me heaven cuz my mommies' there. " After I finished, the crowd burst out with thunderous applause and I couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about. I had sung the song several times before at home, as this wasn't any different. Oh, the innocence of youth!

I suppose I was about the same age when suitors would come to see my sisters. In those days a young man would come to the home of the parents on a Sunday afternoon to visit and try to "make a hit" on their daughter. Well, Joe Hagedorn came on this particular Sunday afternoon and all he did was sit on a chair near the outside door and say nary a word. My brothers and sisters often received a little bag of candy from my parents after church. I seldom got a treat of my own. However, on this day, my folks had gotten me a bag of peanuts. My mother instructed her kids to pass around to the guests and other family members whatever food given us. Oh, I just loved peanuts, they were very precious to me. Now I got orders to pass them around and I hated to waste any on Joe Hagedorn, but I had to comply with ma's command. He took some, but offered no word of thanks. After a quiet moment or two he said, "Tony Lorsung's peanuts aren't baked enough. " That really got my dander up and I snapped back, "You aren't baked enough either. " Johnny laughed so hard, his legs stuck straight out and he left out a tremendous hoot. I failed to see the humor of it. I was too ticked off!

Another barn dance at age nine found me passing around a layer cake with nut filling. This was fun, something to do and I loved mixing with people. During the course of the evening, I kept making the rounds offering refreshments. A Mrs. Rosengren said, "You've been here once before already. " This hurt my feelings as I just wished to be a useful hostess.