Category Archives: Family

Father and sons

When Rachel, Dave, Eli, Arianna, and Wyatt visited over the weekend, it was to camp out in the backyard, but it wasn’t all fun and games.

Dave took a look at one of Bob’s tractors to see if he could get it running–there are tricks to get it going and Dave figured them all out.

He then drove it over to the log splitter Bob and his dad made many years ago. Hooking up the hydraulics would have been a challenge, but I happened to remember a bit so that Dave had a good start.

Eli is on the tractor seat. Dave is putting logs on the splitter. Wyatt watches from the sidelines.

Once the tractor and log splitter were working, Dave took a position in front to set in the logs and Eli sat on the tractor, working the hydraulic levers.

Eli helping Dad by working the hydraulic levers.

Father and son worked well together. Since the running tractor made a lot of noise, most directions between the two were hand signals.

It was so good to see the machines working again.

Now we have more firewood drying out for future campfires thanks to Dave and Eli.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

Animals are her thing

Granddaughter Arianna loves animals. When she’s been on the farm she has picked up frogs and chicks. This day was a time for furry friends.

On a cool evening, Arianna shared her blanket with Joy, her family’s new rescue puppy.

The following day, Car-E, my rescue kitten, was in Arianna’s arms. The dog and the cat wouldn’t sit quietly together, but I bet if Arianna had time she would teach them to be friends, too.

This girl will grow up either taking care of animals or rescuing them. Or maybe both.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

Another story told by my dad

Bea was 5 years older than her brother Charlie. Here’s an account he often told of their childhood.

Layer cake

          I can remember coming home from school and my sister Bea calling me. “Charlie, come here. I want to show you something.”

          Downstairs, in the kitchen on the table sat a giant layer cake, at least four layers high and very big around.

          “Wow!” I gasped. “Can I have some?”

          “Sure. Help yourself.”

          “Can I have two hunks?”

          “Sure. Have all you want.”

         Well, that remark was a big mistake. Sister went upstairs and I stayed with the cake.

          About an hour later Bea came downstairs looking for some cake. “Charlie, where did you hide the cake?”

          “I didn’t hide it. I ate it.”

          Bea could not believe her ears. “What?! You ate it all?”

          “Yup,” I said. “You said to eat all I wanted and I did.”

         You would think I would have been sick of cake for a while. Sure I was! ‘Till the next cake.

In this photo my mother is holding baby Russell, Robby is between Grandma Izzy and Grandpa Chuck, who is holding Becky.

Robby and Rebecca remember Grandpa telling them fun stories like this.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

Another story from Dad

I thought I’d share another of my dad’s stories. Playing Chicken was also adapted to be part of my novel, Chicken Charlie’s Year.

Playing Chicken

My sister, Bea, always could out do me of any candy or popcorn that I might have. Her chicken game always backfired on me.

“Baloney! You’re always the chicken and I’m always the farmer. I want to be the chicken for once,” I demanded.

“Okay, you can be the chicken,” Bea said. “Give me your popcorn and I’ll feed you.”

Down on all fours I went, crawling around, going, “Cluck, cluck, cluck,” and my sister Bea scattering popcorn on the floor.

Everything went fine until I got a popcorn stuck in my nose.

“Just close your mouth and blow,” she suggested.

A couple of tries and out it came.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized she had fed me my popcorn and ate mine, too, hiding her own until later.

Bea wasn’t selfish, just too clever for little old me. She enjoyed playing her games and jokes on me.

Mom and Dad on their 40th anniversary

Dad and his sister teased each other throughout their lives. It was all done in fun with love.

When Dad told this story he emphasized the dislodging of the popcorn kernel. In my book, I made it more graphic, too.

I hope this gave you a giggle today.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

A Chuck Paska story

My dad told stories about his life all the time. I thought I’d share one of his earliest memories today.


          My mom was very easy going with me. I don’t think I ever got a smacking.

          I remember riding my tricycle on the sidewalk alongside of our house. My mom was washing clothes in the basement with the window open.

          I would stop and talk to her. On one stop she was gone, but on the windowsill I found three pennies. Well, into my pocket they went and I was on my way to Louie Sults’s Grocery store. – In those days three cents bought a lot of candy: soldiers, six for a penny, Mary Janes, five for a penny.

         Well, me and my bike and a bag filled with candy headed home. I turned into our yard. My mom was standing by the basement window. She called me over and whispered. “Do you know what happened? While I was gone somebody came over to the window and stole my three cents. Now, I know you wouldn’t do that because you’re such a good boy. Do you have any idea who could have taken my money?”

          With a red face, I held out my bag of candy. “It was me, Mom. I took the money and bought this candy.”

          My mom took the bag and said, “I guess the candy is mine, Sonny.”

          With my head bowed, I said, “Yes, Mom, it’s yours.” – To this day, I can remember how ashamed I was.

          With head down, I rode my bike down our walk, back and forth, too ashamed to look at my mom.

          As I rode past the window, Mom called out to me. She held in her hand two pieces of candy. “Here, Sonny, this is for being honest. You could have said that you didn’t take the money.”

I loved the candy, but I loved my mom much more. My face brightened into a big smile. Life was great again.

          As the day wore on I think I finished the bag of candy one piece at a time.

          Our kitchen was in our basement and soon it was time to eat. Mom was a great cook. We were very poor, but I didn’t know it. I thought I was the richest kid in the world and really I was because of Mom.

A favorite pastime of Chuck Paska was fishing.

This photo was taken closer to the end of Dad’s life, but he still was telling stories.

Some of Dad’s stories were adapted to fit my novel, Chicken Charlie’s Year.

Thanks, Dad for all the love you gave me and Karen and all the stories you shared with us.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved