The Schroeder family moved into the house on the upper farm in North Freedom, Wisconsin in 1948. Carolyn was one-and-a-half years old; her brother, David, was a baby. Carolyn’s maternal grandparents lived at the end of the half-mile road on the lower farm. Allen was born less than a year after David, Randy was born 7 years later.
The early years were a jumble of babies and toddlers who grew up fast because the next younger child pushed each of them along, anxious to take their place. Simple tasks like washing and drying dishes were early chores, followed by picking strawberries, weeding gardens, and pushing the reel lawn mower; then, caring for Randy or barn chores.
The population of North Freedom in the 1950s was about 600. This thriving village boasted a: bank, post office, restaurant, locker plant, feed mill, a canning factory, grade school, library, lumberyard, cemetery, car dealership, and garage, barbershop, blacksmith shop, shoe repair shop, railroad depot, jail, and volunteer fire department. There were also: 4 grocery stores, 2 gas stations, 3 churches, 2 hardware stores (one sold antiques), 2 bars, 2 ladies had beauty salons in their homes, Brook’s Egg and Feed Store, Lanky’s oil and gasoline company, and Vodak’s television and radio sales and service shop. The Woodmen Hall was occasionally open for special events.
Given the many amenities in the village, there was little reason for the Schroeder family to leave. They ate meat, vegetables, fruit, and eggs they raised on their farm. Bread was the only staple purchased from the grocery stores uptown in the village. Pearl was not keen on baking bread.
Long vacations were not possible because the family’s herd of dairy cows needed milking twice each day. Day trips to visit relatives sufficed for vacations. The annual trip a couple of miles southwest of the village to help relatives make maple syrup was a highlight. Carolyn spent a week in Minnesota several summers helping her aunt prepare and serve the mammoth meals that fed her uncle’s threshing crew.
During this seemingly innocent time, days were busy with work, but Carolyn and her brothers found time to create adventures on the farm, go fishing in the Baraboo River, or ice skating on the Schroeder Ponds.
To read more about North Freedom, WI, buy the book here.
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