A Chuck Paska Story

When I was a kid, my dad told my sister and me stories about his childhood. They were all funny. Here’s one we always laughed at. Dad was a much better teller than he was a writer, but I’m still happy to have a copy of this story written in his own hand. I actually adapted it in my book Chicken Charlie’s Year.

Charlie’s swing

          My sister Bernice is only five years older than me, but when I was five and she was ten, that made a big difference.

My sister Bea was the best swing builder in the whole world, or so I thought once.

“Sure I’ll make you a swing, Charlie. But it’s raining out, so I’ll have to make it in the basement. I’ll get some stuff and tie it to the heavy wood beans. Okay?”


          Well about a half-hour later there was my swing, a bicycle tire and a kite string.

          “See, Charlie, it’s a swing, only you can’t swing on it. Get it. It’s only to look at.”

          “What good is a swing you can’t swing on?” I asked.

          “Well, don’t swing on it.” She went upstairs then.           You guessed it. I didn’t make one full swing and there I went on my behind across the basement floor. I ran holding my backside, hollering, “Ma! Ma! Ma!”

Sorry, no childhood photo of my dad.

Copyright © 2019 Susan Manzke, All rights reserved

Looking back to 1980

I thought I’d go back in time to the year I began writing my weekly newspaper column. This column shows me as a harried mother of three young children. Hope you enjoy this memory.

September 4, 1980

He put on his jacket as he turned away from me. Heartlessly, he ignored the tears in my eyes as he went out without a backward glance.

 Without pride, I followed a few steps behind him. He was leaving me today and there was nothing I could do to keep him by my side. Robby was going to kindergarten.

Many a day this past summer, as I pulled at my hair thinking of answers to his never-ending line of questions, I looked forward to this day. Someone else would now have a chance to try to answer his questions. I would have a breather, if only for a few hours a day. (No one told me that in a few years, the baby in my arms, Russell, would have even more questions.)

But now he is actually leaving and I’m not rejoicing as planned.

Robby is not like my impression of the usual first-timer. He is not clinging to his mother, crying as if he is being abandoned. No, he is raring to go. He’s grown up … too grown up. He doesn’t need me anymore!

Today, I again give him into the hands of strangers. A short time ago, the stranger was the dentist. That was for all of a half-hour with me fidgeting in the outer office. He survived that experience better than his overly nervous mother.

This time I won’t be in the next room. I’ll be miles away from my little boy.

I won’t be there even if he cried. I’m sure he won’t—that is, if he doesn’t trip over his own feet and fall down.

I won’t be near if a big kid picks on my innocent 5-year-old. He’ll just have to learn to stick up for himself. He has to grow up sometime. BUT IF ANY HOODLUM EVER DID TOUCH A HAIR ON HIS HEAD…

I also won’t be around when Robby accomplishes a learning feat. I’ll just have to wait until he runs through the front door, waving his paper proudly.

I watched him climb on the bus and I sniffle. “I’m alone…” There’s a tug on my arm. Becky looks sad, too.

I pat her head and say, “You’ll get to go to school when you’re five, Honey.”

“I know that. But Mommy, when will Baby Russell quit eating my coloring book? Will he get a bellyache if he eats a crayon? Can I help you clean up the kitchen floor? Russell made me spill my milk. Does the baby like milk on his head?…”

What am I thinking about? I’m not alone. It’s two long years before Becky marches off to kindergarten (730 days to go) and five years before Russell follows (1,825 days for him).

I don’t have time for tears. I have to hurry to get something done before Robby gets home. He’ll only be gone a few hours.

Robby, Becky, and Russell 1980
Rob, Rebecca, and Russ

Copyright © 2019 Susan Manzke, All rights reserved

Pizza Pudgie pie making — step by step

End of summer means we’re squeezing in a few campfires so we can make pudgie pies. Here’s how we made pizza pudgie pies for my birthday celebration with Andy and Rebecca.

First, get a pudgie pie iron. Spray bread sides that will go against the iron. Put pizza ingredients on one slice of bread: pizza sauce, mushrooms, onions, pepperoni, black olives, and cheese–whatever you like.

Cover all with the second slice of bread.

Close the pudgie pie maker and clamp it shut.

Put it over hot coals and check it often.

Andy made sure mine was perfect.

When finished it’s good and it’s hot, so be careful when you bite your pizza pudgie pie.


Copyright © 2019 Susan Manzke, All rights reserved

One sign of fall

Fall might not arrive until September 23, but you can’t tell it by our Wisconsin weather. Today it is cloudy, gloomy, and cool.

One sign fall has arrived is that I’m ready to start baking again. Today I made chocolate chip cookies.

hot on the pan

I thought making cookies would be better than using my chocolate to make fudge. That seemed like a healthier option. (That’s a joke.)

I used the recipe off the Hershey chips package today
They came out pretty well.

Some of these went into the freezer for future nibbling.

I almost forgot to set the timer for the last batch, but for once I didn’t burn it.

Copyright © 2019 Susan Manzke, All rights reserved

Shopping @ Fleet Farm

We are expecting a repair person to come here next week to work on our clothes dryer. It hasn’t been working for over a month.

Today, Bob and I drove to Fleet Farm for dryer vent parts so we can start with a fresh venting setup.

Appleton Fleet Farm

Since we didn’t know exactly where the dryer vent parts would be found, we walked through the store, picking up dog food and cat food along our journey.

One of the parts we brought home was this vent kit.

Bob went to work as soon as we got home.

It took both of us to put everything together and hang the new vent section in the basement. Of course, there were no extra hands to take pictures when we were struggling to get it set up so you won’t see me in a photo.

We are now ready for the dryer to be repaired … or replaced. Let’s hope for the repair and not the costly replacement. Fingers are crossed.

Copyright © 2019 Susan Manzke, All rights reserved