Tag Archives: Mary K. Hanneman

An Open Letter to My Golden Retriever Pal, Korby

(The staple in the corner of the document was rusted. That gave me an idea of how long the story below sat in my paper files, unused. When finding this recently, I chuckled at the list of big publications I wanted to send it to. That never happened. It has been some 30 years since I wrote this. Mom and Dad are gone now. My three children are grown. But the memories of those days are still so vivid, of a cherished canine friend.)

I stood in my bedroom that Sunday night in July, tears rolling off my face and sobs shaking my body. An uncontrollable tide of grief welled up inside me, and although my wife Sue was with me in the room, I suddenly felt very alone.

I wasn’t prepared for how I would feel when you died, probably because I never thought I would have to face the situation. But now the shock of realization hit me with incredible force.

A million thoughts raced through my mind as I tried to come to terms with the news. I was at a loss as to why I was taking it so hard. I wondered if I was abnormal. The same feelings of loss and desperation haunted me as if Mom or Dad had died. But my tears were not for them. I was crying for you, Korby, my big-hearted, beautiful golden retriever.

As I sat down and sobbed into my hands, I remembered you laying on the hallway floor the last time I saw you. You couldn’t get up to play, or to take a walk around the block like you loved to do. I knew you were sick, but I convinced myself you would get better. I was sure that nothing— not old age, not sickness — would get the best of you. But when Mom and Dad called to say they had to put you to sleep, it cut me to the core. I could not accept that your time had come, and I didn’t want to believe that someone who added so much to my life was gone.

His legal name was Korbel: My Brandy Man, but we called him Korby. With me in 1986, college graduation day.

A rush of memories passed in front of me, and I realized just what I would be missing the next time I stepped foot in Mom and Dad’s house.

I remember the day Dad brought you home. You were an adorable, long-eared puppy with huge paws and the enthusiasm to match. You charged across the front lawn and jumped into my lap, chewing on my hand with your baby teeth. I was afraid of dogs, but you seemed different to me. You had boundless energy and limitless affection. It would have been hard not to fall in love with you.

I remembered how strong-willed you were while growing up. You were good at heart, but you always did what you wanted and went where you pleased. I’ll never forget the day you flunked out of dog obedience school because you couldn’t sit still. While other dogs were heeding commands to stay, you opted to run around looking for someone to kiss.

Your playfulness and spunky character quickly became the talk of the neighborhood. I always wondered what the neighbors thought when they rang the bell and you came to the door with an old shoe or pair of underwear from the laundry pile in your mouth. I’d laugh when they reached down to accept the gift you brought them and you ran away. Your face seemed to say “chase me,” and I always did. I never got sick of galloping around the living room until I was able to tackle you and retrieve what you had in your mouth.

The nights I came home late from work or school, no matter what the hour, you always came downstairs from your bed to greet me. Half the time you remembered to bring a gift, like one of Dad’s slippers. Your groggy eyes told me how much of an effort this was for you, but you came just the same. Even if you were sleepy, you always waited for me to go to bed before you went back upstairs. Thanks for watching out for me.

Joe and Korby: Christmas in the mid-1980s

The year after college when I was looking for full-time work, we became constant companions. After Mom and Dad went to work each morning, I waited for you to push my bedroom door open with your nose, then jump on the bed and fall asleep until I was ready to get up. Later in the day, if we had nothing else going (which we usually didn’t), we’d take a walk. I loved your reaction when I looked at you and uttered that golden phrase: “You want to go for a walk?” You cocked your head sideways as if to say, “Really?” Then all I needed to say was walkie to set you barking and dancing by the garage door. You got so excited on our walks, sometimes I thought you’d pull me off my feet.

Then there were the car rides. Sometimes I’d ask you if you wanted to ride in the car, just to see how happy it made you, even if I had nowhere particular to go. You were always first in the car door, pushing your way past me into the front seat. You were quite a sight, with your big head out the window and lazy tongue hanging out. When you sneezed on the window from the cold air blowing up your nose, I’d cringe and make a mental note to buy some Windex. And there was all that dog hair you left on the upholstery.

What I wouldn’t give to hear your “achoo” on one of those rides now.

During the winter, I remember us going into the back yard to play our version of canine football. I took off my hat and threw it like a Frisbee across the frozen yard. Then the race was on. It was too hard to catch you, but I always managed to get in a few good tackles. Thanks for letting me win a few. You were a good sport.

Korby loved to romp in the snow, chasing a football or any other object (hat, mitten, etc.)

One of my favorite games inside the house was when you came over to me with one of those worn out yellow tennis balls in your mouth. Being as coy and you could, you dropped the ball in front of me, but as soon as I made a move for it, you snatched it back. It was really funny how you loosened your grip on the ball just enough to let me think I could get it away, then clamped down on it when I tried. I don’t think I ever laughed so hard as when I rolled the ball down the hall and you chased it so hard you slid on your rear into the kitchen table. Whenever you got frustrated with the game, you took the ball between your paws and pulled the fur off it with your teeth. You gave us an impressive collection of bald tennis balls.

“You were not just my dog, or my pet. You were a part of me.”

You were always a great ally, Korb. I remember that year between college graduation and my first full-time job, when things got so frustrating I sometimes ended up in tears. But you were always there to lick my face and let me know things would be all right. And last Christmas Day, when Sue got called off to war with the Army Reserve, you knew I was upset and stayed by my side all weekend. Thanks for being so supportive.

You gave us plenty to smile about on Christmas mornings. We were all busy with our exchange of gifts, but you wouldn’t stand to play second fiddle to a bunch of wrapped packages. It became a Christmas ritual to watch you dive into the discarded wrapping paper, throw it in the air, then catch it in your mouth before tearing it to bits. Thanks to you, the living room looked like the wake of a paper tornado. I tried to save two or three stick-on bows, because I knew how much you loved pulling them apart. By the end of the morning, you usually found your gift, just by the smell of the rawhide emanating from under the wrapper. I still have a picture of you struggling to carry the 3-foot-long bone we gave you one year.

Korby helping cousin Laura with one of her gifts in the early 1980s.

One of my most vivid memories of you was from dinner time. It seemed that when it came to food, you had no idea you were a dog. Every day was the same story. Your bowl of food was put down at 4:30, but you preferred to wait until 5, when we sat around the dinner table. Like a professional panhandler, you made the rounds. You knew I was a soft touch. I figured that was why you always slid your nose into the crook of my arm and pushed your way in until your face was practically on my plate. I always gave in and slipped you a scrap of meat or a few vegetables. I could never figure out why you loved peas and carrots so much, but that came in handy for both of us. When you didn’t get what you wanted, did you have to knock your bowl of food over onto the floor? Oh well, just part of your strategy, huh?

What I wouldn’t give now to see you make that mess again.

I hope you don’t think we didn’t notice the one night you put your big paws on the kitchen table while we were in the other room and stole half the pizza. And Mom figured out real fast the time you plundered an entire ham from the counter. You probably figured you were doing Mom and Dad a favor the nights they had bridge club, by moving from one snack dish to the next, cleaning out the contents.

After I moved to another city with my job, coming home to visit you was a special treat. You made me feel so important when I came through the door. You grabbed a shoe and headed for the hills, and the chase was on until I tackled you. I always thought I was winning when I caught you, but now I realize that’s what you wanted in the first place. But I got my revenge when I’d take a dog biscuit, put it in my mouth and get down on all fours. You had a hard time getting the bone away from me. Well, at least until you threw your 100-pound frame on my back and knocked me over.

Korby wasn’t so fond of wearing someone else’s ski goggles.

After roughhousing for a while, I liked to lay down next to you and give you a big bear hug. You looked so peaceful as I scratched your ears and petted you. I’ll never forget the feeling of your smooth golden fur or the softness of your floppy ears. Your eyes would drift shut and your breathing grow deep. Then, just as you fell asleep, your paws would wiggle as if you were running. I used to wonder if you dreamed about running in a big, open field. I’ll bet that’s where you are now.

You always broke my heart when Sunday afternoon came and I had to pack up to go home. As I would gather my belongings, you looked up from the couch with big puppy eyes that seemed to say, “Aw, c’mon, don’t leave!” You got me to stay that one time when you grabbed my wrist in your mouth and pulled me back in the door.

Now that you’re gone, I wish I had stayed more back then.

Every time I called home, I got a sense of security and homesickness alike when I heard your bark in the background. Barking was one of your passions. It didn’t matter if it was a squirrel or bird in the back yard, or a common housefly on the sliding glass door that was your window to the world. You let out a resonating “woof!” that jolted anyone within 20 feet and shook the rafters. Just when we thought your eyes might be getting bad, you proved us wrong by barking at someone walking two blocks away.

When your fur started graying, I got a twinge of concern, and for a moment I was afraid you were getting old. But those thoughts always vanished in the face of your still-playful nature.

But last spring, I caught myself again worrying when you gained a lot of weight and had to be put on special medication to flush a buildup of water from your body. You got better for a while, as I was sure you’d be with us for years to come. And even though you were losing weight, I told myself you’d be fine.

Korby in his younger days, with David, who would be there for Korb in the end.

Then came one Friday I was home for a visit. You looked tired as you staggered over to greet me for a moment, then laid back down to nap. When I sat down to eat my lunch, you struggled and almost fell over trying to get up to come get your share. But after that second piece of pepperoni from my pizza you perked up. And again in the face of evidence that you were slowly leaving us, I believed you were fine. I hugged and kissed you extra long before heading home that day.

But the next day, when our brother David was up to see you, you didn’t get up at all. Even your favorite word walkie wasn’t of interest. You didn’t know it then, but Mom and Dad were worried. They had talked about having Dr. Sartori come over during the week and put you to sleep while they were away. They didn’t want to see you go. But David said no, if it was your time, he wanted to be with you.

So David, God bless him, took you outside for a short walk, then put you in his car. I picture the two of you as you drove down all the side streets on the way to the vet’s office. You even had your head out the window, just like old times.

The vet was not surprised to see you. We later found out you had cancer growing in you that caused you to lose weight and age so fast. When the vet came into the waiting room, you slumped to the floor, just like you always did when you didn’t want to go somewhere. You were vintage Korby, right to the end. It was so hard for David as he held you in his arms while the doctor gave you a shot. He could feel you relax as your worldly troubles slipped away.

One of Korby’s favorite spots: his side of the couch. Mom’s feet are in the shot.

But just as your pain was ending, Korb, ours was just starting. Tears flow from me every time I think of you. It’s going to be so hard to go into that house and not hear the click of your nails on the floor, or see that shoe or pair of underwear dangling from your mouth.

But writing this, I finally understand my powerful reaction to your death. You were not just my dog, or my pet, but a part of me. You knew me so well. Your selfless nature and affection did more for me that you probably ever could understand. Until I met my wife, you were my very best friend, whom I grew desperately close to. Even when I got married, you didn’t hold it against me. Thanks for that.

I know that I’ll always shed a few tears when I look at your picture or think about you. But I’ll also smile, because I know you’re somewhere much better now.

I can’t say goodbye to you, Korb. It would hurt too much. So keep that shoe handy. I’ll chase you again someday.

Love,

Your pal, Joe

©2021 The Hanneman Archive

Korby sprawls out on the grass for cousins Kyle Hanneman (son of Tom & Nancy) and Emily Olson (daughter of Jane & Charlie Olson).

Newspaper Article Details Parents’ 1958 Wedding

Small-town newspaper wedding announcements often provide all sorts of details that might otherwise be lost to history. While scanning a box of photographs I discovered a 1958 clipping about my parents wedding from The Reminder-Enterprise, a weekly newspaper in Cudahy, Wisconsin. The late David D. Hanneman (1933-2007) and the former Mary K. Mulqueen (1932-2018) were married at St. Veronica Catholic Church in Milwaukee. At the time, Mary was a teacher at St. Veronica Catholic School.

The text of the article is below the line, followed by a gallery of photos from the wedding and reception. A memorial Mass will be said for Dave and Mary at 11 a.m.  Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020 at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Catholic Church in Sun Prairie. August 9 is the 62nd anniversary of their wedding.


Miss Mary K. Mulqueen became the bride of David D. Hanneman at St. Veronica’s church on Saturday, Aug. 9, at 11 a.m.

The Rev. Johnson performed the double ring rites as the bride’s father gave her in marriage. Her parents are Mr. and Mrs. E.J. Mulqueen Sr., 3854 E. Cudahy Ave. The groom’s parents are Mr. and Mrs. Carl Hanneman, of Mauston, Wis.

A gown of Cupioni silk, in princess style, was worn by the bride. Panels of Chantilly lace were fashioned in the front and in the back. The back of the skirt extended into a short train. A Sabrina neckline and long sleeves were also featured.

The bride carried white orchids attached to a mother of pearl prayer book. The prayer book was given to her by the sisters of St. Veronica’s parish. 

Article from The Reminder-Enterprise of Cudahy, Wis.

Joan E. Mulqueen was maid of honor for her sister. Bridesmaids were Lavonne Hanneman of Mauston and another of the bride’s sisters, Ruth. They wore aquamarine sheath dresses fashioned of delustred satin with tulip overskirts. They wore aquamarine feather headpieces.

The maid of honor carried yellow spider mums with a rust and yellow mixture of leaves. The bridesmaids carried bouquets of yellow spider mums shaped in a spray. Slippers in the color to match their gowns were worn.

Donn Hanneman of 8518 Stickney Ave. was best man for his brother. Attendants were Thomas Mulqueen of 3723 E. Edgerton Ave. and Jack Richards of Madison. The groom and attendants wore Oxford suits, (black suit coats with gray vests and striped trousers).

Earl J. Mulqueen Jr., Patrick Mulqueen, Thomas McShane and Donald Dailey were ushers.

The wedding party, left to right: Jack Richards, Tinker Mulqueen, Donn Hanneman, David Hanneman, Mary Hanneman, Joan Mulqueen, Lavonne Hanneman, Ruth Mulqueen.

About 300 guests attended the wedding dinner and reception at the St. Frederick’s hall following the church ceremony. Mrs. August Lachal and the ladies of St. Frederick’s prepared and served all the food.

The young people will live at 3263 E. Layton Ave. when they return from a two week honeymoon in northern Wisconsin and Canada.

The bride attended Cardinal Stritch College and Marquette University. The groom attended La Crosse State College and the University of Wisconsin.

The wedding date proved to be an anniversary date for several members of the families. Ruth Mulqueen, sister of the bride, and Lavonne Hanneman, sister of the groom, both celebrated their 21st birthday on the wedding day. A cousin of the bride celebrated their 20th anniversary on that day. The wedding was also a reunion of Donn Hanneman and Thomas Mulqueen who served together in the U.S. Navy and have not met for 14 years.


A Glimpse at Life Through Letters Home, 1958-59

There was a time when letters were the primary means of long-distance communication for families and friends. Even short updates were dashed off on a card or a sheet of special stationery. Long-distance telephone calls were expensive and typically reserved for special occasions or emergencies. For family historians, finding old letters can unearth all sorts of details about life way back when. Sometimes the reveal big details, but often the small things that are otherwise lost to time.

I recently scanned a series of letters my mother wrote to her in-laws, my grandparents, Carl and Ruby Hanneman, who lived in Mauston, Wis. At the time, Mom was living in her hometown, Cudahy, Wis. In the first note, she was not yet married to Dad, but in the other ones they were newlyweds. They were married on Aug. 9, 1958 at St. Veronica Catholic Church in Milwaukee, where Mom was a teacher. I’m sure Mom kept up this correspondence beyond 1959, but only these letters survived (no doubt they were kept safe by my Grandma Ruby Hanneman).

Mom at one of their early residences; possibly their Layton Avenue apartment.

The letters reveal that my Dad had a temporary job at Sears before he started his career selling pharmaceuticals. It sounds like it was a bit of a grind with regular night and weekend hours. Sometime in mid-1959, he got a new job in sales. I can’t tell from these letters, but  I know back in that time frame Dad started working for E.R. Squibb & Co. Mom and Dad had an apartment on East Layton Avenue in Cudahy, which they later traded for a brick ranch home in Greenfield before moving to Grand Rapids, Mich.

The letters contained some good chuckles, too, like this train wreck of a sentence: “I hope this restful letter finds you all rested, at least a little bit rested, as well as I am rested.” Not what you’d expect from a woman who taught reading. But I considered the possibility that it was intended as a joke.

The regulars mentioned in these letters include my maternal grandparents, Earl J. and Margaret M. Mulqueen; Mom’s younger brother Joey Mulqueen; Dad’s sister Lavonne (Hanneman) Wellman;  Evelyn Mulqueen, wife of my Mom’s brother Earl J. Mulqueen Jr.Donn and Elaine Hanneman (Dad’s brother and sister-in-law); Mom’s sister Ruth (Mulqueen) McShane and her husband Tom; Mom’s sister Joanie (Mulqueen) Haske and her husband Dick; Mom’s sister the nun, Sister Madonna Marie; and Jack Richards, one of three groomsmen in Mom and Dad’s wedding.

The text of the letters is below:


Undated letter (prior to Aug. 1958)

Dear Mr. Hanneman,

This was the cover of the card containing this undated letter to Mauston.

I hope you’re fine and dandy – Lavonne and Mrs. Hanneman too! The reason for this little note is to ask a favor of you. Would you please order the man’s matching wedding band & my rings? I don’t know which catalog it was from but it’s an Honor ring. I’m sure Lavonne will know which set it is! As far as size is concerned, Dave’s ring is at Novak’s in Mauston to have the size adjusted. I’m quite sure it’s an eleven. You could check there on size. It’s just the plain silver band. If you run into any difficulty please call me – Sh. 4-5862 any nite about 5:30 or 6:30. I will then pay you as soon as I see you.

Also, my folks will be coming up this week-end if nothing unforeseen comes up. They will leave here about noon on Saturday. Joe would come with them. I don’t know if David & I will get there. We’ve been busy getting our place ready. I got sick from the paint. Ugh!!

Dave is fine – his foot is okay. Last Friday he had a wisdom tooth pulled. Don & Elaine & the kids are fine too. I must close now as I want to get this in today’s mail. I would certainly appreciate you ordering Dave’s ring. If you are unable to get it, I’ll match one as close as possible from a store here in Milwaukee. Tell Lavonne the dresses are in at Boston Store, but there’s no hurry to try hers on. So long for now,

Love,
Mary


Nov. 11, 1958 (postmark)
Milwaukee, Wis.

Mr. and Mrs. C. Hanneman
22 Morris Street
Mauston, Wisc.

Dear folks,

Hi! Hope all is well with you. Everything is fine down our way. I’m writing this at school at noontime, so one of my “monsters” can run it to a mailbox.

Dave plans on coming up this week-end to get in some deer hunting. We probably will get there on Friday night about 9:00. If for some reason our plans are changed, we will call you.

This photo could be from the deer hunting trip mentioned in the November 1958 letter.

My mom is doing very well. Will have to leave all news for the week-end, as I don’t have too long a lunch period. Love to you both again.

See you soon,
Mary and Dave


Dec. 31, 1958 (postmark)
Milwaukee, Wis.

Mr. and Mrs. C. Hanneman
22 Morris Street
Mauston, Wisc.

Dear Folks,

We rec’d your letter and was glad to hear too you had such a nice trip back. I’m sure you’re quite busy with your newly acquired family. The reason you couldn’t reach us Sunday afternoon was that we went over to Dick’s house while he changed clothes, and then Joanie and Dick and we went to the orphanage and visited with Sister Madonna Marie. She was very lonely for company and we had a nice visit with her and her boys. We came back about 6:00 and made a spaghetti supper. We drew names for the dishes and Joanie & Dick won. It was all Joanie’s idea.

The first page of the Dec. 31 letter to Mauston.

Well, the main reason for my my writing is to inform you that Dave & I won’t be able to be with you this week-end. Hamilton at first said he could  even have Friday off, but later changed his mind & said he wanted to take inventory on Friday & Saturday. That means Dave will even work Saturday. We’re disappointed because we did so want to do something different. We may, if he’s not too beat, drive to Madison and see Jack Richards, but even that is just a maybe!

I’m very happy you all enjoyed your visit with us as really the pleasure was all ours. You know you’re welcome anytime. That bed is up permanently, so there’s always plenty of room. I talked to Donn & he & Elaine are cleaning house like mad as long as there are six feet less to be underfoot the broom!!

Today (Dec. 31) Dave is working and I want to go downtown with my mom and just look around, then do grocery shopping, and then press our clothes for the party tonight. I must close now, wishing you & Carl a very Happy New Year filled with the best of health & happiness.

Tell the kids Happy New Year from us too. Carl, here’s to you (drawing of a drink glass) cheers!!! Hope to see you before too long. Still want to ice fish & skate on the Lemonweir!

xxxxx,
Mary


Apr 29, 1959 (postmark)
Milwaukee, Wis.

Mr. & Mrs. C. Hanneman
22 Morris Street
Mauston, Wisconsin

Hi folks,

I’d been intending to write sooner than this as I knew you probably were wondering how the dedication went. Well, all went very well indeed! Sister’s visit also but she was coming down with the flu bug that’s been hitting everybody. I wasn’t feeling too sharp that day either and was sick by ten that night. I missed the first three days of school last week & dragged myself back on Thurs. & Fri. I still have bronchitis or something. I’m seeing the doctor this week-end. Ten children from the class were out today, so that “bug” is really getting around. Some nice sunshine might help the situation, though.

We can’t thank you enough for being so thoughtful to remember to send the films & slides along. We were most anxious. They don’t look too bad at all.

Dad at their Cudahy apartment.

We’ve been very busy with choir rehearsal two nites a week. I’ve had to have a dress made for the concert & had to “run out” for fittings. I’ll be glad when it’s over, because it has involved so much chasing. I’m just not in a “chasing” mood.

Dave & I were both very surprised to hear about Jack Richards. If you hear anything else, let us know.

Dave has been busy at his temporary job & much busier answering ads, having interviews and weighing advantages & disadvantages. Nothing is definite yet & I feel he should take his time, as there’s no reason at all for a rush!

We hope Bob & Ruth Schroeder had a good time here. They seemed to. Too bad both games were called because of rain.

We also hope this letter finds you both feeling well and in good spirits. We haven’t talked to Vonnie yet but should tomorrow (Wed.) or Thursday. Dave doesn’t get home until 6:15 or so, by the time we eat and relax a bit, it’s time for choir. He works nites a few nites a week & Sat. until 6:00. Sometimes we go to choir at 9:30, practice until 11:30  & don’t get home until midnite. We’re both tired.

Ruth & Tom are back from Florida and had a wonderful time.

I must close now and get ready for bed. David is writing a letter to some friends from Davenport, Iowa. This is catch up on letters nite.

I don’t know when we’ll be coming to Mauston since Dave works Saturdays. I may have a Monday off soon & we could come Sun. & Mon. or when the job he wants comes through & he quits Sears. Til then, take good care of yourselves, enjoy life & remember we think of you often! Carl, don’t work too hard – go fishing! Catch me a big one & eat it all!

Love,
Mary


May 20, 1959 (postmark)
Milwaukee, Wis.

Mr. & Mrs. C. Hanneman
22 Morris Street
Mauston, Wisconsin

Dear people,

I hope this restful letter finds you all rested, at least a little bit rested as well as I am rested. What I’m trying to figure out right now is where the fine line is drawn between resting and being plain lazy!! I’m close to one or the other.

Dave arrived home quite excited about his job and week in Minneapolis, but very tired. He really is impressed with the company, their policies & all the people he’s met. This week he’s working with his boss from Minn. in the Milw. area and doing quite well.

He thinks he will be going up into Green Bay and Escanaba next week, but isn’t too sure. We sold the car to Lou Ehlers Buick (where he bought it) on Monday. On Sun. we picked up his company car. It’s a beautiful bronze Bel-Air Chevrolet. He’s very pleased with it. Tonite we’re having dinner with his boss. They’re letting me pick the spot. I can’t decide where to go, but I want to go someplace where I haven’t been.

I have to get a desk for Dave, take the bed out of the spare room & set him up a place to work with a filing cabinet for his records.

We got our TV back and it works very fine, finally!

Dad on one of his pharmacy sales calls.

Elaine came down for supper last nite. She left the children home. She really seemed to enjoy the evening very much. She looks at bit thin, but says she and the kids feel fine. Donn called her from New York here. The Mason girl sat with the kids.

I must close now and wash my hair & try to make myself beautiful for this evening. Thank you again Vonnie for coming down last week with me. I don’t know what I would’ve done without you.

I probably will be going back to school next week. I hope so. I have to have some blood tests done which will tell exactly how the liver situation is, but I feel pretty good. I hope everybody home there feels fine too! We probably won’t be up to see you folks until the first or second week of June. I will write before then & let you know what’s happening.

Til then, so long. Enclosed is a check for films. Carl, don’t argue about it!! (Teacher speaking)

Love,
Mary


Sept. 1, 1959 (postmark)
Cudahy, Wis.

Mr. & Mrs. Carl Hanneman
22 Morris Street
Mauston, Wisc.

Dear folks,

Thought I would write and say “thank you” both again for your generous hospitality shown Joe and myself when we visited you. He really was quite excited telling of the good time he had fishing running the boat on the river!

It’s Monday evening, the end of the month as I write this. It has finally cooled down here. I hope you people have had relief too! Dave’s hay fever has been quite bothersome this past week. But he left for Michigan this a.m., which means he’ll have relief while there.

I had intended to go with him but didn’t, since I’m helping Evie with the new one – (a boy, 9 lb. 3 oz – last Wed.,), a beautiful contented baby. I kept house for her from last Wed. thru Sat. while she was in the hospital. They’ve asked Dave and I to be sponsors this coming Sunday – his name will be Brian David Mulqueen. Also, I didn’t go with him because I’m going to teach 5th grade for a good part of September for a sick teacher, and so I’m busy this week getting the class room in good shape for the big day – September 9.

I hope you’re still coming down over the Labor Day week-end. Would be very nice to return some hospitality to you for a change!!

I’m going to help my mom tomorrow a.m. She’s having her Jesuit mission club for a luncheon. I have plenty to do during the day – but right this moment I’m kind of lonely for Dave. I think though I’ll survive until Friday. Must close now – I hope I hear from you if you don’t come down. We would much prefer the latter!

So long
Love, Mary


©2020 The Hanneman Archive

‘Play Me One More Song That I’ll Always Remember’

Song has the power to totally capture a memory or preserve a time in life that is worth remembering. Everyone most likely has a song that transports them back in time and helps them relive a painful, sweet or wistful memory. Music is truly the thread that stitches together the sometimes-ragged patches of our lives.

This was quite powerfully the case during the last weeks of my mother’s life in December 2018. The title song from Kenny Loggins’ debut solo album, Celebrate Me Home, became the anthem for the walk I made to see my mother off to Heaven. Just the first few twinkling notes on the piano are enough to bring me back, and draw bittersweet tears from my eyes. Every time.

“Play me one more song that I’ll always remember.”

I often listened to CDs on my drive each evening to the Brookdale Senior Living care center where Mom spent her final months. One of my favorites was Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, a compendium of greatest hits by Kenny Loggins. The first time I heard Track 14, Celebrate Me Home, I sensed it was previewing the events that would soon unfold, leading up to Mom’s death at age 86.

Mom holding Ruby Hanneman, flanked by cousins Samantha and Abby Hanneman.

Each night after Mom fell asleep watching television, I would quietly slip out and make the 10-minute drive home. Many times I played that CD. Celebrate Me Home always  put a lump in my throat. I could sense a little more every day that Mom was moving closer to her eternal home.

Please, celebrate me home
Give me a number
Please, celebrate me home
Play me one more song
That I’ll always remember

In the early morning hours of Dec. 27, 2018, this song overwhelmed me on my drive home. Searing tears made it hard to see the road. Mom had passed away two hours prior, just before midnight on Dec. 26. (I wrote about that elsewhere on this site.)

As I pulled up to the  stoplight at Broadway Drive and Highway 19, the lyrics hit me in a way they hadn’t before. Celebrate. Home. Beyond the grief was the reality that Mom’s going home was a cause for celebration. No doubt all of Heaven celebrated that night, for she entered eternity free from pain, sickness and the worries of this world. Just one day beyond Christmas, her favorite holiday.

Home for the holidays
I believe I’ve missed each and every face
Come on and play one easy
Let’s turn on every love light in the place
It’s time I found myself
Totally surrounded in your circles
Oh my friends
Please, celebrate me home…

For many months after Mom’s funeral, I could not listen to the Kenny Loggins CD. That song. It was seared into my brain like the work of a branding iron. Too painful. But eventually I found myself listening again. Now I could see through the pain, and felt the hope and joy in the melody and lyrics. Celebrate, celebrate. Celebrate me home.

Play me one more song
That I’ll always remember
I can recall whenever I
Find myself too all alone
I can sing me — home

I am forever grateful for the incredible talent that went into making Celebrate Me Home. It will always be atop my all-time play list. Until that one day when others might sing this beautiful song to celebrate me home. •

– Listen to a sample at the iTunes Store. 

– Watch a live rendition below from Kenny Loggins at The Grand Canyon

A Card & Letter for Your First Birthday, June 1965

Handwritten letters are a lost art, so it was particularly thrilling to find one inside a card  from my paternal grandparents, Carl and Ruby Hanneman, sent for my first birthday in June 1965.

My grandmother was a prolific letter writer, note scribbler and update scrivener. She wrote in a stream of consciousness.  Sentences didn’t always have punctuation and could stretch on for half a page. But she captured details that might slip past a less-careful correspondent. Like exactly what time on Tuesday she and Grandpa Carl got their car back from Floyd “Snuffy” Clark at the auto body shop.

Unlike a photograph, a personal letter brings out the writer’s personality. Reading the note in the birthday card, I could almost hear my grandparents voices. They switched off writing in the card. Grandpa went first, telling how Grandma loved the birthday card and money sent by my parents. Then Grandma Ruby took over and provided a full update on the happenings on Morris Street in Mauston, Wis.

Enjoy.

June 27th, 1964

Dear Little Baby Joey, 

The little sweetheart — one year old! Grandpa Carl and I send our love with big hugs and kisses to you — God blesses always Baby Joey —  love, love, love from Grandpa Carl and Grandma Ruby xxxxx

Dear Baby Joey & Little David, Little Lori & Mama Mary and Daddy David:

Grandpa: Ruby got her beautiful birthday card and money from all of you and she wants to say thank all of you so much — it was too much after all the others you have given me —

Grandpa wants me to go to Carpenter’s now to eat it is 7:30 p.m. & bad storm warning out & it’s thundering now. 

Ruby Hanneman crammed information into every spare inch of the birthday card.

Grandpa Carl had a nice Father’s Day — we stayed home and we ate at Noneng’s new restaurant — he got nice cards and things, too, and it was stormy bad weather then, too. David we got your nice letter & the check — Dad destroyed the other one. Pretty soon will have you all hear (sic) again. I think I will go to Aunt Emma this week. Donn is driving Tom, Jane & Mary Ellen on July 3rd. I go back on Sunday. The youngsters will stay here & at Lavonne’s for several weeks.

I called Marvin’s, talked to Mabel — I am not going to Aunt Emma’s this week. Marv is taking a week of his vacation & they leave Fri. a.m. for Tomahawk — so that upsets my plans. Now I won’t be able to go until later in July.

Mary is to have planter warts treated on bottom of feet 1st and 2nd of July. They had planned to come this Sat. & with my planning to go to Arpin we changed it. Now I wish they would come sooner.

Ruby and Carl with Baby Joe Hanneman at his 1964 baptism.

There was a big extra addition on Parade of Homes in Mad. Sun. paper for open house. 15th annual Mad. Parade of Homes from June 20th thru June 27th on Madison’s far west side. I hope David knows about it by now. I have the booklet saved for him whenever he comes this week. [Nota bene: I believe we were still living in Grand Rapids, Mich., in June 1965, but would soon move to a house on Lake Wisconsin. This was shortly before construction began on my parents home in Sun Prairie, Wis.]

Dad has been feeling much better. Mr. Clark (Snuffy) had the car Mon. & fixed all the rust spots & put new chrome on front — we got it back Tues 22nd at 4:00 p.m.

Thurs. a.m. 24th:

Dad drove to Camp Douglas & Hustler this a.m. to solicit more ads — he wants to go to Necedah tomorrow a.m. [Nota bene: Carl helped put together the printed guide for the Juneau County Fair. One of his duties was ad sales.]

Mary I keep thinking about your Mom. I hope and pray she is getting along nicely & eyesight will be helped.

First birthday, June 1965, with one big candle. At left is Laura (Mulqueen) Curzon and the frosting thief is none other than David C. Hanneman.

How are our three little cherubs? I really did miss them and Grandpa did too. He felt badly because he had to be in bed so much while they were here. They are little loves and we enjoyed all of them so. David wrote that Little David asked about us. How does Baby Joey manage in the little walker? If the back wheels rotated like the front ones do, I bet he would really walk soon.

Have some birthday cake for us & we will be singing Happy Birthday to Joey here — all love & XXXes to all. 

Dad & Mom xx


Top Image: The front of the birthday card at left, with a photo of Carl and Ruby Hanneman from around 1960.

©2020 The Hanneman Archive

Happy 47th Birthday from Grandpa Carl Hanneman

I just love this image. Back in 2007 I was photographing a variety of things from Mom and Dad’s house, at my mother’s request. I came across this birthday card from October 1979. It was from my grandfather, Carl F. Hanneman, to my Mom, on her 47th birthday.

Carl F. Hanneman (1901-1982)

What I found touching was that Grandpa Carl still sent a little cash gift to a daughter-in-law who was nearly 50. He signed the card “Grandpa” even though he was her father-in-law. I loved that my mother never cashed the check — not wanting Carl to spend the money from his very fixed income. She kept the card and the check. Precious.

It’s funny how these memories pop up so unexpectedly. I saw this photo two days ago while searching for something totally unrelated. Mom has been gone to Heaven for 18 months. Grandpa Carl for 38 years. Yet finding this photo brings them right back to me, just as if this card were received earlier today.

©2020 The Hanneman Archive

A Mother Dearly Missed, One Year Later

As I pulled my car into the darkened Sacred Hearts cemetery earlier this week, I noticed something remarkable. The cemetery was dotted by lights, even in the depths of winter darkness. So I felt right at home, as I had come to place a candle at the grave of my mother, Mary K. Hanneman. 

Mom left us at 11:49 p.m. on Dec. 26, 2018. That moment remains forever suspended in time for me. Her final moment reminded me in many ways of the birth of my three children. As soon as they entered the world, there was a moment before the first breath; a moment of anticipation. Time stopped and eternity intervened. This was so similar for the end of Mom’s life. With her last breath drawn and exhaled, there was also tremendous anticipation. Time stopped. Only I didn’t get to see her first moment in eternity. Although I knew it by faith.

Mom was a woman of great Catholic faith. She always arrived early at Saturday 5 p.m. Mass at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Catholic Church in order to pray the Rosary. She was always in touch with her prayer life. On any occasions that one of us needed extra prayers, Mom was on the phone to the good sisters at the Sacred Hearts convent. Much grace flowed from those prayers — great examples of persevering faith. In her final weeks and days, Mom knew where she was going. The night she died she sat up in bed and looked off into the distance with a look of wonderment. She knew. She saw.

We waited more than an hour at the beginning of a new day for her death to be officially declared. That could not be done until a hospice nurse arrived to check for a pulse. After she recorded the legal time of death (as inaccurate as it was), the nurse related some of her experiences at the bedsides of dying patients. She talked of the bodies of the recently deceased giving off smells. At first I thought of something unpleasant, but she quickly clarified these were good scents, like roses.

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Mom a number of years ago with another type of candle, celebrating the September birthday of her granddaughter Samantha.

As I pondered that notion, I looked around Mom’s small room at the Brookdale care center. I felt for a moment like someone unseen walked past me. I smelled a scent that I cannot accurately describe. It was not roses, or flowers at all. It was the most pure, clean scent I ever experienced. The closest descriptor would be a citrus smell. I looked around the room and in the hall to see if someone was using a cleaning chemical. Nothing. Then it was gone. I remarked to the nurse about it. “Did you smell that?” I said. I tried to describe it. “You see!” she replied. Then just as quickly as it left, the scent returned. It was powerful and amazingly present. I felt there was something well beyond a mere olfactory manifestation at work. What is that?

After perhaps five minutes of this scent permeating the room, it disappeared. Gone with no lingering trace. I was quite struck by it all; unsure if I had imagined it. Over the coming days and weeks, I pondered the experience. Could the presence of angels leave a heavenly scent behind? I’d often read about the bodies of saints giving off what is called the odor of sanctity, but this was typically a floral smell. I searched the internet, but could not find anything that described what happened in Mom’s room that night.

I turned to my friend Steve Ray, a Catholic filmmaker, author and great teacher of the faith. He did not hesitate. “God gives graces to those who love him,” he wrote. “It seems like a great grace was bestowed on you in the death of both of your parents.”

Steve recalled my description of my Dad’s death in my 2010 book, The Journey Home. How even after Dad died and was silent, he returned long enough to mouth the word “love” three times. I never thought I would have another experience so profound. Until Mom left us. It was so very different, but just as impactful. Mom’s final gift.

It took me a full year to be able to write about it. I knew it would be impossible to accurately describe what happened. What words could convey the depth of what I experienced? Surely writing about it would be almost a disservice, since words on a computer screen simply would not suffice. But it seems a gift like that should be shared, so I do my best in writing this post.

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“And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” —John 1:5

I thought about all of this as I placed the battery-powered candle at the graveside. I asked Mom and Dad to pray for me and my family.  I looked around the darkened cemetery again and was impressed with the flickering of candles and the glow of lighted wreaths at the graves of dozens of souls. “Look at all of these lights in the world, still with us,” I thought. As I walked back to my car, I said a prayer of thanks for the lives of everyone buried there, amid my hope they are all with Christ in Heaven.

Just before I pulled away, I turned back to look at Mom and Dad’s headstone.

It was just a little light, but how it overcame the darkness. •

©2019 The Hanneman Archive

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Candles on Mom’s final birthday cake, Oct. 21, 2018.

 

A Poem for Mary on Mother’s Day

My mother walked into the family room, looking almost sheepish, and said, “I want to show you something.” She was almost beaming as she got out a yellowed sheet of paper, folded into four panels, with a hand-written title on the cover: To Mary. It was evident that this paper, whatever it contained, was precious to her.

She held the document up to her heart and explained that my father had written it for her many years ago. She wanted me to know that they did have their moments of closeness that superseded any of the difficulties during nearly 50 years of marriage. And now, a couple of years removed from Dad’s 2007 death from lung cancer, Mom truly treasured a poem he penned back in the 1960s.

Poem
The paper was weathered, but the words were as impactful as the day they were written.

“Go ahead, read it!” she said, turning her head with tears in her eyes. And so I did.

To Mary

It has oft been said, “Please do not grieve.”

‘Tis far better to give than to receive.

And at this time of love and of cheer,

I think of all about me here.

The loving family with which I’m blest,

And know within, I’m not a guest.

That all about me is real and true,

That what I have is because of you.

Daily you give these gifts of love,

Of which I am recipient of.

And I wonder in my small way,

‘Dear Lord, how can I ever repay?’

This woman who is always ready,

to wipe a nose or wind a teddy?

Who at this time bears the gift of gifts,

A child of God sleeps within her midst.

A child who needs loving care,

To grow strong, to know what’s right and fair.

These few reasons and so many more,

Make it easy to see why I adore.

This woman, who is my wife,

Who will share with me throughout my life,

All the joys and troubles that we will face,

And put them in their proper place.

So I offer my gift at this time to you,

My deepest love, which indeed is not new. 

Needless to say, I was very touched. My father, despite his tremendous gifts in public speaking and dealing with people, found it difficult to express thoughts in writing. So this definitely came from the heart. Whenever he had a speech to give or a presentation before the Sun Prairie City Council or the Dane County Board of Supervisors, Dad wrote out a draft and Mom helped him polish it with structure and grammar. She was always the reading teacher!

I was tickled that she not only saved the poem, but seemed to get the same thrill as I’m sure she did upon first receiving it four decades earlier. This was a softer side of Mom we didn’t always see growing up, but which became a central part of her as the autumn years turned to winter. I photographed the card and gave it back to Mom, who put it away again for safekeeping.

I thought of the poem again shortly after Mom died in late December 2018. I was given the black-and-white photo atop this story to scan for Mom’s memorial video. I was struck by how young my parents looked, probably shortly after being married in August 1958. It was easy to see the sentiments of the poem in this photograph.

Dad, thank you for writing something that Mom treasured her entire adult life. And Mom, thanks for sharing it, and showing a side of you that you tried to keep hidden. As we observe the first Mother’s Day without you, we are heartened by the thought of you two, together in the company of the angels and saints. Happy Mother’s Day.

©2019 The Hanneman Archive

Just Saying Hello from Heaven (Updated!)

I heard the answering machine pick up a call in my office. Normally they are hangups or some robo-call, but I sensed this was different. I strained to hear what the woman was saying. It was clear it was something I needed to attend to, so I played back the message.

The caller was the owner of Suburban Studio in Sun Prairie, a portrait photography business that has been around for a long time. She had noticed my Mom’s obituary recently and realized she had a large, framed portrait of my late father from when he was mayor of Sun Prairie. The portrait hung in the studio for years as a sample of their work. She was calling to see if I would like it.

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This portrait of David D. Hanneman hung in Sun Prairie City Hall during his term as mayor.

I contacted her right away and made arrangements to pick up the portrait. She did not charge for the 16×20 inch print (although I did buy the frame it was in). When I stopped at the studio the next day to pick it up, I was really taken aback. Not just by the size of the  portrait, but the look of it. This was similar to the photo we used in Dad’s obituary in April 2007, but it was different. I stared at the image. Dad seemed so close and alive; almost as if he was about to speak. The studio owner agreed, saying the image had something about it. You almost sense the person is there in the room.

I kept racking my brain trying to think where I’d seen this photo before. Then it struck me. Dad used this photo in his literature when he ran for re-election in 2005. I vaguely recalled seeing his brochure back then and thinking this photo had a different quality.

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The Sun Prairie Star used the same photo in its editorial when Dad died in 2007.

I rarely believe in coincidences, so I chalk up this whole encounter to Divine Providence. It reminded me of the time I was sitting at my desk in my home office in Mount Pleasant in the early evening. I dozed off and was in and out in one of those semi-conscious sleep states. I was jolted awake though, by the sound of my father’s voice.

Hello? Are you there? Yes, it’s me. I’m still alive!

I sat upright and looked around the room. Where was his voice coming from? Dad kept talking and I recognized it as part of an oral history interview I did with him in November 2006. While we were recording in Dad’s room at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, he received a call on the cell phone from his brother, Donn (1926-2014). I have no idea how this recording started playing on my computer while I was half-asleep. My tears flowed freely though, as it seemed Dad was really speaking to me from Heaven. I will never forget that moment.

Listen to a portion of the oral history interview I did with Dad while he was being treated for lung cancer:

Now I have this beautiful portrait, a gift from Louise Floyd at Suburban Studio. I look at Dad’s expression and it, too, speaks to me. Funny, it seems to say just about the same thing as the recording from my computer. “I’m still here, son. I am alive!” 

UPDATE!! This will be a little hard to explain, but it brought more tears to my eyes. Yesterday I was at St. Mary of Pine Bluff Catholic Church shooting photographs. The main thing I photographed was the gold monstrance that holds the Blessed Sacrament for exposition and adoration. See my photo below. That holds the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus under the appearance of bread. When I was doing closeups, I kept noticing reflected colors in the glass of the monstrance. So I lined up my camera and shot a bunch of images. Later I sent one to Father Richard Heilman and told him to look at the reflection. I thought it looked like a veiled woman in blue.

When Fr. Heilman looked at that photo earlier today, not long before I published the first version of this article, he saw the reflection of a man in a suit and tie with glasses. When Father later read my post and saw Dad’s portrait, he said, “THAT’S THE MAN I SAW!” I saw the Blessed Virgin and he saw this very photo of my father. Let that sink in. What a blessed day this has been!

©2019 The Hanneman Archive
(This article has been updated to include an audio file with oral history)

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I shot this photo of the monstrance at St. Mary of Pine Bluff Catholic Church on May 3, 2019.

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I placed Dad’s portrait near what Fr. Richard Heilman calls my “God cave.”