BioA: Mandel, Mr./Mrs. Alfred (69th -1995)
Contact: Crystal Wendt
Surnames: Mandel, Brecker, Hardrath
book one: by Elsa Lange Hardrath & Dorthaleen Edwards
Hardrath Family Photo Album
Contributed by Halbert "Bud" Hardrath
Mandel, Mr./Mrs. Alfred (69th - 1995)
Alfred and Lena Mandel of Marshfield have seen countries rise and fall, the computer age sweep the world and products invented to make life a little easier. Yet old-fashioned hard work is what they say it takes to have a successful marriage.
The two settled down in their mobile home on Marshfield’s north side to share details about their courtship and marriage. Lena sat in her rocker while Alfred settled in his, using his cane to gesticulate.
Alfred and Lena met through Lena’s brother-in-law in the early 1920s. Alfred was 22, Lena was 21. Their courtship consisted of songs sung around a piano and nights spent traveling by train to see each other.
Alfred remembered how he would walk from his loyal home two miles to the local train depot, travel to Atwood, then walk another three miles to Lena’s Sherry home.
"It (dating) was a lot different than today," he said. "In the winter you couldn’t go in a car, there was too much snow. There were no plows. In the summer we had cars."
"It was a beautiful day" when the couple married on June 30, 1926, at Lena’s childhood home, Alfred recalled. But their celebration was cut short as the majority of the guests were farmers and had to return to their chores.
"We didn’t go on a wedding trip," Lena added.
Their married life sounds so much like the average American story. Alfred worked at his family’s cheese factory for 30 years before becoming a carpenter. Lena worked in the home raising their six children - five daughters and a son.
Sixty-eight years, 39 grandchildren, 53 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren later, the Mandels are still working at their marriage, trying to make it even better than before.
"You can’t do it alone, you both gotta make it go," Alfred said. "It’s a lot of give and take. It can’t be all like a horse and rabbit. It’s gotta be somewheres around 50/50.
"We don’t have no tricks up our sleeves," Lena added in her quiet voice. "Some men seem to think when they get married they can make a drudge out of their wife. I don’t believe in that."
Alfred said some couples don’t give their marriage enough time to work, or put forth the extra effort to see it through.
"Now I think they buy the (Marriage) license and divorce permit together," he said.
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"I knew he was the one after the second date. It was like this instant thing. Some people have to date for a while and then they just kind of slide into things. But with me, I just knew. People talk about love at first sight, you know." Julie Green
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Notes typed up in the margin by Halbert "Bud" Hardrath.
Dave Mandel, father of Alfred Mandel, was a cousin of my grandmother, Emma Molle Hardrath. The comments below are the best recollections of my brother Harold and my self. Harold’s wife Dorthaleen sent me the clipping March, 1995. Bud Hardrath.
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Dave and Barbara Brecker (Sister of Anna Brecker Molle) Mandel had three sons, Alfred, Leo and Arnold.
Dave owed and operated a cheese factory on the town line between Beaver and Green Grove Townships, Clark County, Wis., on the north east corner of the Frank Brecker farm, eight miles north of Loyal. In about 1917 Dave Mandel died of the flu, an epidemic that spread throughout the country. Barbara with son Alfred continued to operate the factory.
After Alfred married he operated his own cheese factory a few miles north and east of Loyal. Barbara and her second son Leo continued to operate her factory until about 1928 when the South Green Grove Cooperative Dairy Association bought the factory from Barbara.
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Lena’s brother-in-law is Frank Brecker Jr. who was married to Hattie Thomas, Lena’s sister.
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As of this date, 1995, Alfred is about 94 years old and Lena about 93.
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Traveling by train to see each other. Alfred had to walk 2 miles north and ½ mile east to the train depot in Atwood. He rode the train about 45 miles (south east) to probably Blenker and walked 3 miles south to Lena’s home at Sherry.
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Photo caption - Alfred and Lena Mandel of Marshfield will celebrate their 69th wedding anniversary in June. After nearly seven decades working at it, the Mandels, along with two other area couples, shared what they think makes a marriage work. A lot of hard work, compromise and room from growth seem to be key in a successful union, but don’t rule out communication, romance and lots of love.
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