Edith Busch

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#990 – Dick Bernard: A Reflective Time

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

(click to enlarge)

Feb. 5, 2015, Room 111 at St. Rose

Feb. 5, 2015, Room 111 at St. Rose

Uncle Vincent died Monday evening February 2. I wrote briefly about his death here. His funeral is on Tuesday in Lamoure. Details are here. The photo used there is one I took of him almost exactly a year ago at his sister, Edithe’s, funeral on Feb. 15, 2014. The one that people will see in the folder at the funeral Mass on Tuesday is of he and Edithe Oct. 25, 2013, couple of weeks before he joined her in the Nursing Home; and 3 1/2 months before she died. (That photo is at the end of this post.)

They lived together on the home farm for all but the last few years of their entire life. Nine children were born and raised there, and Vincent is the end of the line for “the Busch place” of Berlin ND. So is how it goes. There are lots of nephews and nieces, but we live all over creation.

There will be stories of course, some told on Tuesday. Others in other conversations.

My sister Mary and I went to clean out Vincent’s room last Thursday, reducing all of the possessions to a large box and some garbage bags. St. Rose provided a handcart to remove the possessions and as I was making my second and final trip a couple of staff opened the door for me: “Isn’t this as it always is: an entire life reduced to a few garbage bags….”

They see this trip quite often, of course. In one way or another, for all of us, it is the same. What we struggled for in this temporal life suddenly becomes irrelevant to us.

One of the possessions in the room was Vincent’s desk (pictured above), which I kept “off limits” till he died. It was important to him. It yielded an immense amount of stuff, which I have now been going through, piece by piece, to be sure that something of importance is not in hiding there. There are the usual questions, of course: “Why in the world did he keep THAT?” “Why is that pliers in here?” “Should I keep that 1987 fishing license?” And on and on.

Then there’s other stuff: an official document of a report on a U.S. Patent received by my grandfather Ferdinand Busch in 1925 for a “fuel economizer”. I knew Grandpa had a couple of Patents, in the 1950s, but had never heard of this one. It’s Number 1,541,684 if you’re interested. It expired in 1942, and already in 1925 many similar devices were being invented, so don’t presume you’ll get rich on it!

That this treasure appeared was not too much of a surprise. This desk had been Grandpa’s before, and had a very long history, perhaps going back to he and Rosa’s arrival on the ND prairie in 1905.

A folded and brittle piece of paper appeared in the pile of flotsam from the desk. It was from 1915 – 100 years ago – and was a detailed report on fundraising for the new St. John’s Church in Berlin (which closed in 1968). It was a single page listing of who contributed what to the construction of the church, and it appears from the pattern of contributions that the church was paid for in cash, $3,419.85. You can see the sheet here: Berlin St. Johns 1915001. It’s an important part of local history, perhaps inadvertently saved, but saved nonetheless.

Before we took down the pictures on Vince’s walls, I took photos (of the desk, and the other walls). Now, those things on Vince’s wall deserve the attention. What you see there is what was important to him….

On the way out of town, we stopped at the gas station and Mary Ann overheard an older guy (probably my age) talking to some of his buddies in a booth. They had seen the on-line obit, and he said: “I didn’t think Vince was that old.”

Maybe they’ll be at the funeral on Tuesday.

Vincent and Edithe and all of the family from rural Berlin are at peace.

For the rest of us, live well, but don’t forget the garbage bags who somebody will use when it’s your turn!

Feb 5, 2015 Rm 111 St Rose

Feb 5, 2015 Rm 111 St Rose

Feb 5, 2015, Rm 111 St Rose

Feb 5, 2015, Rm 111 St Rose

Vincent and Edithe, October 25, 2013.

Vincent and Edithe, October 25, 2013.

from Annelee, Feb 8:
I just read “MY Uncle Vince”you revealed much of the love you had for him — it touched me deeply.

The photos also gave me a glimpse of what kind of man Uncle Vince was. Warm and honoring the past, but living in the present.

When you wrote about the garbage bag — being part of the end of one’s life —that is only part of what happens.

I will always remember (until I die) what my papa said to me as we hugged for the final time before he left.

As he turned away and left I called out, “Papa, Papa, please don’t leave me just yet!”

I still can remember him standing there, he looked at me with so much love and he said, “Anneliese, I will never leave you.”

“But Papa”, —-

“Anneliese” he broke in, “ you will remember what I said and you will do things like I taught you. You see, I will be with you more than you know.”

He kicked a solitary tree trunk and walked away without looking back.

He was mot even 41, he is gone for more than seven decades. But I still remember these words, —

I taught much to my children of what he taught me. I told them about Papa —what I remembered.

So you see, Papa and all he owned is gone —but he is still with me in memories — and he will be with Roy [my son] because I tried to instill
the values my Papa taught me—in him.

Love and blessings Annelee

response from Dick: Annelee is our dear friend who I’ve known since 2003 when I learned of her book, War Child. Growing Up in Adolf Hitler’s Germany.

Her Dad and Mom refused to be part of the Nazis and as a result, he was drafted into the military engineers, and after the last visit home she describes above, her Dad went with the Germans into Russia and was never heard from again. They believe he died somewhere in Russia, but are not sure.

She will be speaking several times in the Twin Cities this spring, the next on March 8 at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum in Minneapolis.

#845 – Dick Bernard: Edith Busch, another reminder of the enduring value called “Community”

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

(click to enlarge photos)

The home where Edith was born and lived till she was 71, artist rendition by Karen West of Petaluma CA 1993

The home where Edith was born and lived till she was 71, artist rendition by Karen West of Petaluma CA 1993

Fr. John Kizito of St. Helena's at Ellendale ND presided at Edith's Funeral Mass.  Father Okafor was on retreat in Israel and could not attend.

Fr. John Kizito of St. Helena’s at Ellendale ND presided at Edith’s Funeral Mass. Father Okafor was on retreat in Israel and could not attend.

Yesterday was Aunt Edith’s funeral. My post on February 14 as preliminary is here. It was an inspiring two days. Seven of we nieces and nephews made it to LaMoure (and skated part of the way home afterwards!) and in all about 40 or so attended a most appropriate funeral, and a wonderful lunch followed, as always. Three of Edith’s nieces remembered how she impacted on them, individually, as a role model. For a sad occasion, nothing much could be better.

Our family is a far flung crew, so relatively few could make it back for Edith’s funeral.

My sister, Mary Ann, left a phone message from Vanuatu in the south Pacific, where she is serving in the Peace Corps.

Vince and Edith’s “double cousin”, Mel, who grew up next farm over, wrote from Eureka CA on funeral day, and summed things up well:

“Thanks for the update on the funeral plans. I hope that you realize that we could not attend due to time and distance , but my thoughts were there remembering the youth times of our lives and the great memories of that special time. I am sure that Vince will sorely miss the love of his sister for all of these years and [we] will keep both of them in our hearts and prayers.

As the passage of time is inevitable we will sometime all be together again. Of the original 21 young people reared in the old homestead, only 3 of us remain, Ruby, Vince and myself.”

Re “double cousins”: the “old homesteads” were adjoining farms, ten miles northwest of LaMoure. Brother and Sister Buschs and Sister and Brother Bernings in the country neighborhood between Cuba City and Sinsinawa WI married in 1905 and 1906 respectively, and took up farms very near each other. Thus all their kids were “double cousins’.

One of Mel’s nephews in Iowa, in another e-mail, described the close relationship well: “Regarding Edith’s photo in the obit … it was quite a shock to see it for all of us. She resembled our sister Marianne so much … Marianne passed away a few months ago at the age of 79.” Edith and Marianne’s mother, Lillian, were “double cousins”!

Below is my favorite photo of Aunt Edith with her sisters, in 1968, at her sister Florence’s farm near Dazey ND. There was a sixth sister, Verena, who died at age 15 in 1927. All of the five knew her as well. (There were three brothers, two younger than Edith). Bernings were similarly a family filled with girls, and only two boys. Another “double cousin” trait.

The Busch sisters summer, 1978.  Edith is second from right.

The Busch sisters summer, 1978. Edith is second from right.

Death is the great leveler. None of us escape. Funerals are reminders of deaths inevitability. They also remind us of coming together: community.

Twenty-one years ago we had a Berning-Busch family reunion at the Grand Rapids ND Park (a photo of most of us who came is below). You can find Edith in the front row towards the left; Vincent is near the back on the right side. Family members who look at this photo will find a great many pictures of people now deceased. It is a reminder that if you are thinking of doing a reunion, do it now.

The Berning-Busch Family Reunion, July 1993, at Grand Rapids ND Park

The Berning-Busch Family Reunion, July 1993, at Grand Rapids ND Park

But “community” is far more than just family. We all know this.

Friday night, Valentines Day, we arrived and gathered for dinner at 5:30 p.m. at LaMoure’s Centerfield Restaurant We had no reservations. No room at the inn, so to speak.

The hostess didn’t know us, asked why we were in town, “for Edith Busch’s funeral”, and said “wait a minute”. They set up a special table for 11 of us in the back of the restaurant.

I could relate many other similar happenings in these two days, and at other times, and so can you. A list would start with the personnel at St. Rose Care Center, and Rosewood Court, and Holy Rosary Church, but would go on and on.

In our polarized nation and world, where we are separated so often into competing “tribes” of all assorted kinds, the fact remains that we are really one community, and we never know when we will need that “other” who we choose not to associate with.

All best wishes, Vincent. Your sister, Edith, is at rest.

And if you’re ever in LaMoure, stop in at the Centerfield Restaurant, where hospitality is at home.

Centerfield Restaurant, LaMoure ND, February 14, 2014, 6 p.m.

Centerfield Restaurant, LaMoure ND, February 14, 2014, 6 p.m.

Wild Roses at corner of Hwy 13 at the road leading to the Busch farm home July 2013

Wild Roses at corner of Hwy 13 at the road leading to the Busch farm home July 2013

The front page commentary of the Basilica of St. Mary newsletter this morning seems to fit the “community” theme: Basilica Welcome 2 16 14001. And Fr. Bauer’s commentary on the todays Gospel, Matthew 8:20-37, the business of laws and lives generally, seems to apply as well. I always hesitate to interpret others expressed thoughts, but will take the risk here. As I heard the gist of Fr. Bauer’s remarks, the Law is fine, but essential is one one lives in relation to others. So, he seemed to call into question anyone who has a pure idea of what is right, and what is not…. But that’s just my interpretation.

#843 – Dick Bernard: Valentine’s Day 2014

Friday, February 14th, 2014

(click to enlarge. Stella and Verena were on neighboring farms, perhaps first grade age, when this card was made and delivered about 1920 or so.)

Homemade Valentine from Stella to Verena Busch about 1920, ND.

Homemade Valentine from Stella to Verena Busch about 1920, ND.

Today is Valentine’s Day. I wish you a good day today. For us, life has other plans, and the dinner we’d planned to have at a local restaurant is replaced by an unplanned trip to LaMoure ND for the funeral, on Saturday, of my Aunt Edith Busch, who died at 93 early Wednesday morning.

Such is how life often goes, unplanned. Hard as we try to control things, things happen. Usually we dust ourselves off, and some semblance of normal reappears. For Edith, life’s troubles are behind. At the funeral, those of us in attendance will try to put ourselves in the shoes of Edith and her brother, Vincent, who occupied the same space with her for all of his 89 years, most of those years on the Pioneer Farm where their parents broke the first ground in 1905 (at top left of the below photo you can see a portion of Grandma and Grandpas wedding certificate, which still hangs on the farm house wall 99 years later.

Grandma Rosa and Uncle Fred married in rural Wisconsin near Dubuque IA, Feb 28, 1905, and within a month took the train out to their undeveloped piece of land in North Dakota. They were 25 and 21 respectively, so the hard work was an adventure of youth. Together they raised nine kids, all but one surviving to old age.

Daughter Verena died in 1927 at age 15 from a burst appendix. Edith was 7 and Vincent 2 at the time. This was a hugely traumatic life event for the Busch’s. When I was checking on burial plots in the country cemetery in nearby Berlin, I found that Grandma and Grandpa had purchased ten adjoining plots then, the first for Verena, later for the two of them, and the rest of their other children living at the time.

Edith, and sometime in the future Vince, will be the 4th and 5th occupants of the space at St. John’s Cemetery. All the other siblings are buried elsewhere.

Here’s the photo I’ve picked for this Valentine’s Day.

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Edith and Vincent Busch, December, 1996

Edith and Vincent Busch, December, 1996

(The photo is as photos were in the pre-digital age, when you didn’t waste film and didn’t know what you got till it was developed, and that included expressions. The photo was taken in December 1996. I picked this photo specifically because of the heart on Edith’s Christmas sweater. You can click to enlarge it. You’ll see it has an American Gothic kind of theme, appropriate to Edith and for this occasion.)

Their town, LaMoure, is a town of about 1000, like all small towns so familiar to me on the midwest prairie. Those of we nephews and nieces who can make it to the funeral will have dinner at the local restaurant, Centerfield, which is, true to it’s name, just beyond the center field fence of the local Baseball diamond. It is a nice restaurant, and it will probably be packed. Probably Uncle Vincent will join us, then we’ll go back to the Nursing Home with him to just sit and reminisce, and have some dessert, brought ‘potluck’ by the guests.

Then, the next morning we go across the street, literally, to Holy Rosary Catholic Church for the funeral; the Church Altar Society will have lunch and there will be more visiting, and back in the car for the 315 mile trip back – that is always the constant.

None of Vince’s close relatives live in the town, and he’s now the last sibling, and only one sibling spouse survives. His “children” are we nieces and nephews, far flung as we are from the area he’s lived his entire life.

Sometimes we don’t think about that. The St. Rose Nursing Home staff and the local LaMoure caring infrastructure now become Vince’s family for his difficult emotional times ahead. I’m grateful that Vince and Edith lived there, and previously at Rosewood Court Assisted Living next door.

Valentine’s Day is today. I can’t say that it is a “Happy” Valentine’s Day for us, but then it is a day for friends and family to gather and remember.

Farewell, Edith.

All best wishes, Vince, as a new time in your life begins.

#842 – Dick Bernard: An Evening with the Minnesota Orchestra at Orchestra Hall; and watching a family wind down….

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

The “filing cabinet” on the Minnesota Orchestra Lockout is here.

Thursday, February 11, 2014
We attended the first post-Lock Out Concert at Orchestra Hall on February 8, 2014. This was an evening of immense emotional energy, with the Orchestra led by the father of Orchestra Hall, Maestro-Emeritus Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. The entire program, eight pages, is here:MN Orch Feb 7-8 2014002 This concert, and the one to follow this weekend (we attend on Feb. 15) seem to be “bridge” concerts between the 488 day Lock Out and a to-be determined future of this “family”, which is the Orchestra Management (MOA), the Orchestra itself (including the Conductor), and we in the Audience.

The Minnesota Orchestra is the essence of the perfection of a team sport: excellent players, outstanding conductor and an engaged audience make the team. The team was cooking on Saturday night.

On Feb. 8 all was in resonance.

I hope the good feelings continue, but….

I didn’t write immediately after the concert as the last three days have been devoted to family matters in ND. My Aunt is, as I write, near death in a fine nursing home. She is 93. In the next room is her 89 year old brother. Neither ever married. They are the last living members of Grandma and Grandpa’s family of 9.

There’s was a musical family, as country families often were. Their Dad was a school-trained fiddler and had a small band for local dances. To this day, Vincent is an excellent singer. Many of the kids and descendants of my grandparents are musical.

For their entire lives until 2006 Vince and Edith lived and worked together on the pioneer farm built by their parents, and when heart problems ended the farm career for my Uncle in 2006, they moved into Assisted Living, and then into the Nursing Home in nearby LaMoure ND. [Note 9:20 a.m. Feb 12: Aunt Edith passed away at 1:05 a.m. The funeral is Saturday. We’ll have to miss the Saturday concert, 5th row center. Anyone interested in the tickets at cost? Inquiries welcome. dick_bernardATmeDOTcom.]

My Uncle and Aunt are very familiar people to me. Often I would spend a week or more at the farm in the summer, helping out with whatever.

They were like all families: connected, yet disconnected. They had different personalities and different skills and different interests. They had their resonances and dissonances.

In other words, they were like the rest of us, regardless of what relationship we might have with some significant other.

With all the magnificence of the evening inside the hall on Saturday night, my thoughts following the concert have more focused on what recovery from the long lockout will ultimately look like for the big “family” that is the Minnesota Orchestra community.

Most of us with any seniority in living a life in any “community”, be it marriage, employment, brother and sister (like Vince and Edith) etc., etc., have at one time or another experienced peaks and valleys. I don’t need to be specific. Think of some instance where you, personally, experienced some huge hurt, followed at some point, and for some reason, by reconciliation.

The reconciliation is its own temporary “high”.

But it is a very temporary high; and to maintain and rebuild and improve requires a huge amount of work and compromise by all parties to have any sense of permanence at all.

So it is going to be with the three-legged stool that is the Minnesota Orchestra: the musicians/conductor, the management, the audience.

If last weekend, and the coming one, are considered to be the end of the past, everyone is sadly mistaken. They are only the beginning of the beginning of a new era with the Orchestra, and everyone will be on edge as this progresses…or not.

There can be no “business as usual” if this enterprise is to succeed long term.

In Saturdays program booklet, I was most interested in the words on the “Welcome” page (page two), pretty obviously written by committee consensus, and I read with even more interest page seven, about Beethoven’s Eroica. Whoever chose Eroica to highlight the first concert back in Orchestra Hall probably chose this work intentionally. Read especially the second paragraph of the descriptor, and the last.

The power of the Minnesota Orchestra to come is going to depend on a true spirit of working together by all three legs of the stool: orchestra, management, audience.

We’ll see how it goes.

And Peace and Best Wishes to Aunt Edith, and to Uncle Vince, in this time of transition for them both.

(click to enlarge)

Uncle Vince "fiddles" with his Dad's farmhouse fiddle, Oct 1992.  Grandpa had a country band and learned violin by use of sheet music.

Uncle Vince “fiddles” with his Dad’s farmhouse fiddle, Oct 1992. Grandpa had a country band and learned violin by use of sheet music.

Aunt Edith's flowers August 1994

Aunt Edith’s flowers August 1994

The Busch family 1927 "PIE-ann-o" (Vincents pronunctiation) August 1998

The Busch family 1927 “PIE-ann-o” (Vincents pronunctiation) August 1998

Aunt Edith August 4, 1989, in the old farm house.  She is at peace: July 20, 1920 - February 12, 2014.

Aunt Edith August 4, 1989, in the old farm house. She is at peace: July 20, 1920 – February 12, 2014.

#614 – Dick Bernard: The Summer of 1920

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Several photos are at the end of this post. Click on any to enlarge them.

Entrance to Veterans Memorial Park August 16, 2012

A conversation, a letter, and a visit to three ladies this summer brought to the surface some long ago memories, worth sharing.

Best I know, 1920 in North Dakota was a pretty ordinary year for farmers on the prairie. The horrid World War I had ended two years earlier; the Roaring Twenties were set to begin. It was, in relative terms, probably fairly good times on the prairie.

August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was enacted. It was the Women’s Suffrage amendment. Finally, women had earned the right to vote!

But the summer of 1920 was a bit more dramatic for three farm families, as I had an opportunity to revisit this summer with three surviving first cousins, Marion Placke, Ruby Fitzgerald and Edith Busch.

My grandparents Busch had farmed between Berlin and Grand Rapids ND since 1905; their sister and brother, August Berning and his wife Christine, came in1906 and lived the next farm over, a short mile walk across the pasture (if the bull was nowhere to be seen). Grandma and August’s oldest sister, Kate Placke, lived in the home country, at the base of Sinsinawa Mound, in rural Wisconsin, a few miles from Dubuque Iowa.

Farm families were large then.

By 1920, Kate had been married 25 years and had a dozen children. Grandma Rosa by then had six of her nine children; and Christina nine of her thirteen.

That summer, Rosa and Christina were both pregnant. Christina was carrying twins, and the pregnancy may have been difficult. Rosa had Edith on July 20.

Harvest was looming and while we normally hear stories about the men “trashing” (as Grandma wrote “threshing”), harvest time was where the women’s work was truly never done.

Of course, everyone’s harvest came about the same time, and it was not a good time to share labor between farms.

What to do?

Likely through letter, but possibly telephone as well, It was decided that Kate would come west to help her sisters. Kate probably brought with her the three youngest kids, Lucina, 10, Florence, 7 and Marion, 4. Another sister, Lena Parker, also lived nearby and probably helped as well.

At some point, Christina Berning came home to her parents home, the Wilhelm Busch farm in rural Cuba City, and gave birth to twin daughters on September 25, 1920. Ruby lived, Ruth died in infancy.

Sometime that summer, probably after the harvest, and before Kate Placke and family and the Bernings left for Wisconsin the families gathered at the new Veterans Memorial Park in Grand Rapids.

Grandpa Busch most likely brought out the old ANSCO box camera, which had accompanied them to the prairies 15 years earlier, and took the below group picture. (The camera was last used about 1963 – we know because it had an unused roll of film with an expiration date of 1964 when we opened the box a few weeks ago.)

Life went on.

The Bernings resettled in Dubuque IA, living there till 1933 when the Depression caused them to return to the ND farm during the awful Depression years. The Dubuque plant in which August made radio cabinets closed, and the reasoning was that at the farm they at least could eat. Even that became questionable during the dry years. Uncle Vincent remembers 1934 as the worst of them all.

Busch’s and Berning’s survived the Depression, but barely. The Wisconsin kin seemed to fare quite a bit better.

Seven years after 1920 Verena Busch, then 15, died as a result of a ruptured appendix, the only one of the Busch’s children to not survive childhood; Ruth was the second Berning child to die in infancy; the Placke’s had seen one child die at age three.

Today, there remain only three of the children alive in 1920: Marion, 96; Edith, 90; and Ruby, soon to be 90.

They’ve all lived good long lives.

Thanks for the memories.

Group photo at Grand Rapids Veterans Memorial Park in 1920. Standing at center were the park caretakers, Art and Lena Parker. Lena was the sister of Kate, Rosa and August.

The Busch's Ansco camera, probably brought with them from Wisconsin in 1905

The "innards" of the camera, all wood.

Verena Busch gravestone at St. John's Cemetery Berlin ND