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A love story in Barton: Did Hank say the word ‘Love?’

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Emotional reunion at St. Mary’s School

Friday’s 50th anniversary gathering at St. Mary’s School in Barton hit quite a few alumni right in the feelings.


Essie walked the halls with a handful of former classmates. They toured the classrooms and smelled the aroma of education. “I brought a report card but what I didn’t realize is I got a D in art,” said photographer Fuzzy Deunkel.



Robert Moser, a graduate of the Class of 1940, recalled how he had a lot of “growing-up experiences” with strong guidance by the nuns. “When you got in trouble, you paid for it with the ruler across the back of hands,” he said.


Bathrooms and Latin were a hot topic for Claude Duernberger. “You had to have 100 percent correct on Latin responses in order to become a server at Mass,” he said.  “And I remember the transition from outdoor bathroom facilities to indoor facilities, those winters were quite cold!”


Essie caught up with former classmates and they chatted away like school girls on the playground. “I just love your red dress Essie and you don’t look like you’ve aged at all,” said Amy Leitheiser, who attended the Saturday celebration with husband Ric.


The howls of laughter echoed through the empty hallways as the women reminisced.  “Remember in 8th grade when the girls had a sleepover at the convent and Rev. Dick came over dressed as a woman,” said Sandy Seitz.


That story just about took the cake.


Hank asked to stay in Kentucky

Essie had no ‘plus one’ at the St. Mary’s Celebration on Saturday as Hank was asked to spend a little more time in Kentucky. He’d been gone more than a week now as he left to bury his Army buddy Clete who was killed in an automobile accident.


“My my Essie you sure are a purdy sight,” said Duenkel, admiring Essie’s red dress. The simple piece from Play’n for Pennies really showed off her figure.  “That Hank is a pretty lucky guy but he’d better act quick before someone comes and snaps you up.”



Essie took the compliment with a polite, “thank you” and than gravitated toward the punch bowl and on to the table of memorabilia with its class pictures and diplomas.


After spending the past few months with Hank, Essie found herself yearning for his company.


Many miles away Hank was having similar thoughts although his days were full of distraction as Clete’s family grieved their loss.


Hank spent quite a bit of time with Clete’s brother Sylvester who worked at a nearby distillery and he went for long walks in the fields by the horses with Clete’s basset hound.


Hank brought his 22 hunting rifle that he picked up from Mike at Woodland Iron & Firearms but he was sadly disappointed that nothing was in season in Kentucky; even the squirrels were off limits.


A letter from Essie

Did he say “Love?” Essie read the letter again. And again.


I can’t wait to see you again and sit in the park and hold your hand.

P.S. I love you more every day. Hank


Yup, there was no mistaking it. There was that four-letter word as clear as day. Essie was beside herself. The couple had done some fierce hand holding but neither really put into words what they were feeling.

Essie took out a tablet of paper from her grandmother’s desk drawer and sitting in the rocking chair the words started to flow.


Hi Darling,

Saturday night and our first weekend apart and I don’t like it. I just finished putting grandma to bed, took a bath and am in my robe drinking a beer.

The St. Mary’s reunion was a hoot. Lots of familiar faces albeit a bit rounder with wrinkles but hearts of gold.

I made fried chicken, apple pie,  and jello this afternoon so my day went pretty fast. Grandma took charge of the chicken and rolled it heavy in Mies breading. I swear if she could put Mies on milk and cookies she would.

They rushed George Staechel (Bud’s accordion player) for an emergency appendicitis operation last night. He is coming along fine today. Bud had to take  him and wait with his mother until he came out of it last night. It was about 12 before he got home.

Joyce Cler went to the dentist in town today and she has to have all her teeth pulled and plates put in. “Store teeth” is what Joyce calls them. She said she won’t go out to celebrate her anniversary with Ray because it’s going to take a couple months to get used to them.

I called La Verne and he is going to come with a tube tester one of these nights and look at the radio because it is humming again and I don’t want to call a repair shop if it is a tube because they would cost plenty. He said anytime I needed him to just call so I did.

Well darling I better run along. I miss you terribly. Be good and write often.

All my heart. Essie


Come hear the story of Hank & Essie

On Tuesday, April 26 at 7 p.m. the Barton Historical Society will host its monthly meeting at the Barton Roller Mill. Everyone is welcome to come meet Hank & Essie and learn the on-going adventures of the couple as they live life in Barton and meet some of the long-time residents and shop the businesses in the area.

Folks are also welcome to share their memories of attending St. Mary’s Catholic School.

There is no charge and everyone is welcome. Hope to see you there.


Build. Boost & Buy in Barton  – – Shop these local businesses

          Wisconsin House Woodworks 

           Undercar Service & Repair

          Albiero Plumbing

         Master Electric

           Mies Products
           Lake Lenwood Beach and Campground

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