Posts Categorized: Probits

Virginia Zotalis

Interviewed by daughter-in-law Lynne Zotalis.

It’s so interesting how things come around. I will have two new grandchildren by spring.  Their great grandma, Virginia, will not have the privilege of knowing them. A chapter ends and another begins. The cycle of life. “I’ll take my periscope and watch them from beyond,” Virginia promised. I have no doubt.

Best Advice? Moderation in all things.
What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a traveler. From our farm on the Missouri River bottoms, I’d climb a hill and watch the cars on the highway. I would wonder where they were going, imagining myself riding along. I’m like my oldest granddaughter that way.

What was your favorite job?
I was secretary to the editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Dispatch. The employment agency sent me over there for an interview. When they wanted to hire me I said I wasn’t going to pay the fee. It was $400. They paid it.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?
Face cream, reading material, and my family.

What is your favorite food?
A t-bone steak, especially the part right next to the bone.

How did you meet your husband?
We both worked at Bannon’s department store in downtown St.Paul. He was in the floral design and I was at the Green Stamp counter.  You got 10 stamps for every dollar spent. But if they spent 99 cents I’d still give them 10.  You weren’t supposed to. Someone asked him if he noticed the girl at the end of the counter. He said, “That infant?” He was 10 years older but he actually made me look like I was the elder – he was so fun and full of life. I was serious. There were errand boys that ran around between the departments so he would hand one of them a flower, “Here, take this to the lady at the end of the counter.” That’s how he introduced himself.

Describe your wedding day.
Everyone from up here went to Iowa to get married. That was the thing. It was a little town with a Congregational church, if I recall. I brought my girlfriend. He brought his friend to stand up for us and that was all there was to it. And guess what? I cried through the whole thing. Don’t ask me why. My girlfriend lived in Southern Minnesota so we went to her house for cake and all. Then we spent a whole week in Chicago for a honeymoon.

Rita (Leibold) Hackman

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Honesty. Don’t speak badly about others, and never say a “bad” word!

What did you want to be when you grew up?
After I graduated the eighth grade I lived with my parents until I was married. Both my parents passed away just a few years after that – I really just wanted to get married and raise a family of my own.

What are you most proud of in your life?
I’m a proud mother of 13 children – and all the grand and great-grand kids. I’m also a life long member of St. John’s Catholic Church in Ft. Atkinson.

What do/did you do?
We farmed – milked cows by hand for many years, gathered and sold eggs, raised and butchered chickens, gardened and canned vegetables, and sold raspberries and strawberries. I also sowed a lot, including clothing, bridesmaid dresses, etc. In more recent years I have crocheted baby caps – more than 50 – both for my grand kids and for others.

Try to describe yourself in one sentence.
A great bread maker.

If you could eat anything everyday for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Anything rhubarb! Baking powder biscuits with rhubarb sauce, just like my mom used to make.

Multiple Choice: tell us about…. Your wedding day…
I was married on September 10, 1940 to Leo Hackman. We lived just a couple miles from each other and knew each other quite a while, although we went to different parishes. It was just sort of a given that we would get married. I don’t even really remember thinking about it. We were married early in the morning, and then all the neighbors and relatives came for dinner on the farm and stayed until supper.

Regina Cecelia Broghammer

Regina Cecelia Broghammer (nee Knox) Born at home “on Groundhog’s Day” (February 2), 1908 in Plymouth Rock Parish in Winneshiek County, Iowa. Regina is the eldest of nine children: eight girls and one boy. 1908 was the year of a devastating hailstorm that struck the area in June. “My parents were at the ‘Old Settlers’ Picnic’ in Burr Oak when the sky grew dark as night. We went home to put the chickens in the henhouse, and my folks left me in the baby buggy while they corralled the hens. The weather grew so bad, however, they decided to take me into the storm cellar. When we emerged a while later, my buggy was full of glass: the windows on the North and West sides of the house had shattered. They had to use horse blankets and scoop shovels to clean up the mess.”

What’s the best advice anyone every gave you?
“Don’t be afraid to give a little more than 100%.”  This is the advice Regina told her own children.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
“A teacher.” Regina’s mother was a teacher, and so were several of her Aunts.

What did you do?
“I taught in a one-room schoolhouse for three years, and then I worked at McNeil’s coat and suit store (now J. Tupy’s) for ten.” Her first school was in Burr Oak Township, the second at Lost Nation, now Willowglen Nursery. After their marriage, Regina and her husband, Leo, lived and worked on the Broghammer Century farm and raised two daughters, Barb and Mary. “Both girls graduated from St. Theresa’s College.  Barb earned a degree in Sociology and joined President Kennedy’s Peace Corps, spending two and a half years in Bolivia. Mary received her B.S. in nursing and was an R.N. first at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, and then at the University of Iowa Hospital while her husband was in graduate school there.”

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?
“Food, water, and a short-wave radio.”

If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
“A good-quality beef pot roast cooked in a Dutch oven all day with vegetables.”

Name one thing you could not live without:

Describe your wedding day:
“My husband Leo and I got married on October 19th, 1940, at St. Benedict’s Catholic Church in Decorah. It was a gorgeous fall day. All the flowers were still in bloom, and we picked chrysanthemums, which are my favorite, for the altar.”  Regina met her husband dancing at Matter’s Ballroom. Their farm was located next to Matter’s, and Leo Broghammer was “the last one in the neighborhood to stop using his horses for planting corn.”

Memory of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic:
“I was about 9 or 10 years old. A local boy trained at Camp Dodge near Des Moines contracted influenza and was sent home. He spread the disease to his family, and two of his brothers died. I remember my mother putting food in a laundry basket and securing it to a sled. I pulled the sled to houses where people were sick, and my dad knocked on their windows to ask them if they needed anything and to let them know there was food outside for them.”

In your opinion, what is the biggest human accomplishment of your lifetime?
“Putting a man on the moon.”