Fond memories of growing up in Osterdock

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Ivanelle Bolsinger fondly remembers her adventerous childhood growing up in Osterdock. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

Ivanelle Bolsinger grew up in Osterdock with 12 siblings. Listed from oldest to youngest are Alvina, Ruth, Clyde, Arlene, Clark, Ila, Ivan, Harvey, Ivanelle, Marjorie, Loren and Velma. Her parents, Frank Daniel "Jack" Moser, and Maggie Augusta (Noack) Moser, had their hands full with their spirited children. 

Ivanelle, who celebrated her 91st birthday on May 28, recently sat down with The Press and recalled her adventurous life. 

"We didn't have much, but we always had plenty to do, and never were without," she began. 

Her father, who was a talented musician, performed locally."My dad enjoyed music and played a fiddle, coronet, trombone and trumpet. My sister, Ruth, played the piano. Once in a while the two of them played together at events," she commented. "Eventually Clarence and Walter Meyer, Irvin and Martin Walter, and Ernie Wolters joined my dad and they formed the 'Jolly Ridge Hillbillies Band.' They played for barn dances and lots of wedding dances. I'll always remember my dad bringing home one Mr. Goodbar candy bar for seven of us kids. We would divide the candy bar so we could all have a little bite. What a treat! We always looked forward to it."

Ivanelle's father earned money for his large family cutting hair and working as a carpenter and mason worker. On April 25, 1940, he passed away at age 50  leaving his young widow to raise their large family. "My dad had been ill throughout the previous winter with a lingering sickness and died of a heart attack. My brother, Ivan, happened to be home from school that morning," she remembered. "Good thing he was with mom, as he went for help. It was a sad day. The rest of us kids were in school. I remember Connie Borrett telling us our dad passed away. My sister, Velma, was only one year old at the time."

There were still seven children living at home at the time. Ivanelle's mother was very resourceful with her meager widow's stipend. "My mother got $35 dollars a month for her and seven of us kids. Even though it wasn't much she was able to buy a brand new Speed Queen washing machine from Hank Willman at the Osterdock store. It cost $90 dollars, and she paid $5 a month until she paid it off."

A wood cutting accident provided a strange curiosity for the Moser Children. "One day Ivan, Harvey and Clyde were cutting wood for firewood on top of the hill. Ivan cut his big toe off and they ran to town to see if Dr. Palmer could save it and stitch it back on. Dr. Palmer couldn't reattach it but he did put it in a jar so Ivan could take it home," she laughed. "Us kids put the toe in a jar and buried it by the outhouse so we knew where it was. Once in awhile we'd dig it up just to look at it and bury it again."

Mischief followed the Moser children wherever they roamed. "We lived right by the creek and like to go fishing. Lots of time Leland Sprague, our nephew, went along," she looked back. "We had to dig fish worms for bait. We had some ducks that followed along and ate the worms as we were digging them up. One of the ducks was only half grown, and we decided to put him in the bucket with a bunch of worms and let him eat until he was full. When he jumped out of the bucket he keeled over dead. We all cried. I don't know if we were crying over the duck or if we were afraid of our mom. After all, that was meat for the table."

The Moser children had a very patient mother who never complained. "One fall we had a duck hen that hatched some little ones. One of them was a tiny little yellow one. We put him in a box in the house overnight. He was peeping, so I thought he was cold," she recollected. "I put it in bed with me to warm it up,  but forgot to put it back in the box. The next morning it was flat as a pancake. His little yellow legs were stiff as a board. We all started crying. I wonder how my mom put up with us. I never heard her complain. She had a hard life."

Fetching water from a nearby spring provided entertainment for the Moser clan. "We had to fetch our water from a spring far across a field and road. We carried the water in a ten-gallon cream can – two of us at a time," she noted. "It seemed like whenever we got there a toad would jump in the water. We didn't worry about how much he would drink, but we had to let the water clear before we could fill the can." 

Ivanelle's brother purchased his first car, which led to another adventure. "My brother, Clark, had a Model A car. He gave mom and us kids a ride to Guttenberg to get groceries. On our way home we got stuck in the mud going downhill!" She exclaimed. "We had to spend the night with Paul and Flossie Troester. The next morning Flossie made pancakes for breakfast. They were so good. Paul had to use a team of horses to pull the car out of the mud."

The Moser kids carried their lunch during the school year. "My sister, Ila, made chocolate pudding for our school lunches. We used half-gallon Karo Syrup buckets for our lunch pails. Our sandwiches were usually peanut butter or a fried egg sandwich," she noted. "We also used the buckets to carry milk to Grandma and Grandpa Moser's. In the winter our gloves would freeze to the pail." 

The Mosers moved to Guttenberg in 1947 and experienced electricity for the first time. Ivanelle's family would experience another loss, when her sister, Velma, who suffered from Bright's disease, passed away on Nov. 19, 1953. 

Ivanelle married Harold Bolsinger on June 23, 1953. "We lived in Millville at the 'Tip KcKinney' house, better known now as the honey house," she explained. "One night we were awakened by a loud crash! The window had been broken. We thought it was a burglar at first. My husband, Harold, went to investigate and found that an owl had flown through the window! The owl, which had a forty-inch wing span, flew up on top of the cupboard, where there was also a canister set. Harold fired at the owl with his revolver – shot the owl and the canister set too! The incident was in The Dubuque Telegraph Herald and televised on the WMT-TV news. Ruth Kolker-Benstine was a reporter for The Guttenberg Press at the time and wrote an account of the incident. The headline read, ‘It was an ‘owly’ night in the Bolsinger home at Millville.’” 

Ivanelle’s brother Harvey and her brother-in-law, Clarence Fischer, purchased a home across the street from the hospital for Ivanelle’s mother. “Harvey and Clarence built an outdoor fireplace on the property,” she said with a smile. “Just about every Sunday we had a cook-out. The good smell just about drove the people out of the hospital. My mother rarely missed church and always had fried chicken on hand if anyone stopped by. She was particular about her looks and always fussy about her hair,” she proudly remembered.

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