Gertrude "Gertie" (1994)
Contact: Crystal Wendt
Surnames: Becker, Lindberg, Blue
----Sources: Scrap book three: by Gertrude Wittlinger Becker
Contributed by Halbert "Bud" Hardrath
A LONG LIFE IS PRESERVED IN SCRAPBOOK MEMORABILIA
This lady remembers Lindberg - A photograph shows Gertie alongside a Charles Lindberg mail plane in the 1920’s. Gertrude Becker, a lady of 90 plus years, tells me of memories brought to life as she pages through her 12 scrapbooks. Pasting important events in scrapbooks was a hobby which she started in 1940. The first clipping cut and pasted tells of the death of a cousin, as reads from "Appleton Post-Crescent’, "Harvey Blue Jr. Died as a Glider Crashes on Ice." Another news item tells of a nephew killed in Luzanne in WWII, the second serviceman from the Loyal area killed in action. Clippings are preserved telling of floods, tornadoes in the Owen area, national disasters and occurrences. All this information stored now in computer memory banks but in personal, well-torn scrapbooks.
Gertie has the scrapbooks labeled and categorized as to: Family, Farm, Vacations, Cottage, Obituaries, Basketball, and Owen-Withee School Highlights. Two grandchildren, Chris and Beth Becker, were high school basketball stars and this made for good clippings. Becker begins her books with good intentions, in the respective categories, but finishes mixed with whatever is left over.
The scrapbooks tell the story of Gertie’s active and long lie. As she relates to me the following: Her birth in the Town of Beaver in Clark County where after a year was registered in lieu of a birth certificate, at date of birth. A farm like with eight siblings attending a country grade school. While in sixth grade she learned tatting from her teacher, remembered as Cleo Munson. This handicraft fills the spare moments in her still busy life. Gertie remembers high school with classed in Domestic Science, two years of cooking, and two years of sewing. The practical training has served her well in later years as a homemaker when most all of the family’s clothing was handmade.
Gertie graduated from high school, attended college, then went on to the cities for employment. The Boston Store in Milwaukee and clothing stores in Chicago kept Gertie employed in the winter months; the summers found her back home on the family farm. It was in Chicago set met the world famous pilot, Charles Lindberg, one of the guys in the group mail plane pilots who would met with her and a group of girls at a Chicago restaurant. The mail planes had a test flight before they were allowed to carry the mail so Gertie donned helmet and goggles and, with her friend, went on the test ride of this little plan. This only happened once and was not one of her favorite things.
As mentioned, Gertie’s summers were spent on the farm. This found her on Memorial Day of 1928 back with the family and on that weekend she met a farm and her husband-to-be Otto Becker. After a short courtship they were married shortly after Labor Day on a Wednesday (a day popular for weddings in that era). Although raised on a farm her mother kept her as a house girl so she was not familiar with farm work. The first months as a farm wife were scary especially gathering eggs; in fact on her fist visits to the chicken coop, her husband Otto accompanied her. It wasn’t long and Gertie was caring for 1,000 chickens, numerous ducks and geese. Life on the farm for Otto and Gertie was good and it continued for 25 years. After which the couple sold their farm, vacationed in Florida for a month, returned to Owen where they purchased a pretty little house and found employment at the Clark County Health Care Center. This employment gave the couple more free time than farming so they bought a cottage at Lake Holcombe. The cottage scrapbook reveals good times and good fishing.
Gertie with her family has enjoyed a rich, full life. She credits being busy, a variety of jobs, to keep life interesting, volunteer work and an active involvement in their Lutheran Church, have contributed to a good, long and healthy life. The couple enjoyed a marriage of 50 years plus, raising one son, Otto Jr. "Tex" added to the family a daughter-in-law Jane and two grandchildren Chris and Beth Becker.
Gertis has also inherited very good genes. She comes from a family who live long and healthy lives. Five sisters have celebrated Golden anniversaries; three sisters living at age 95. A cousin, who is now 100 years old, was inducted in the "Fox Valley Bowling Hall of Fame’ at age 97 years after 42 years of bowling.
Gertie Becker recently received recognition for 25 years of volunteer service at the Clark County Health Care Center. When asked her age, she said, "In ten years, I will be a centenarian." With such a positive attitude and living a full and active life, I’m sure Gertie will reach yet another milestone with another scrapbook filled. A wonderful collection of her life to pass on to the coming generations.
By Anne Gajesky
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