Isabelle "Issy" Mielke, turns 100
She was born Oct. 31, 1913 in the very same home that she lives in today, a field stone and log five room, two-story home on Lisbon Road, immediately across from the Lannon Stone Products (former Vulcan Material) Quarry. She was born in an upstairs bedroom.
When asked about being born on Halloween, she said, "My grandchildren send me letters addressed to 'Grandma Good Witch.' That's what I am, a witch," she laughs.
The house belonged to her grandparents and her parents, Anthony and Gertrude Dabel. Her mother stayed at home with three girls and two boys. Her father was a longtime milk hauler who also held jobs as a stone quarry man and even hauled pea vines for the Mammoth Spring Canning Co.
One of the reasons she has lived in her own home all her life is that she accepted the job of taking care of her grandparents and her then invalid parents.
In order of birth, there was brother Herman, Margaret (Lund), Isabelle, Charles and Rose Mary (Beckman).
As a young girl, she said she had "dirty blond hair" and today, with a little help, she is still a blond.
She attended the nearby one-room school, the Lisbon Plank School, where she had only one teacher all eight years, graduating in June, 1929 with a report card that had all A's, something she had to proudly show me.
Her teacher, Miss Gladys Williams, used Issy from second grade on as an assistant teacher, as Issy took it upon herself to write up the lessons on the board the prior night as she progressed through the school. The one-room school had an average of about 44 students each year, mostly from surrounding farms. "I was no dumb bell," said Issy.
She got her first job that paid money at the Lisbon Plank School. It was to clean the blackboard and sweep the classroom, all for 5 cents per day, a quarter being paid each Friday for satisfactory work.
She remembers her girlfriends, the Lauer girls from the farm where the Lannon Stone Products Quarry is today. The second group of girls were the Mamerow girls.
Meanwhile, she was pressed into duty at home that included a half-acre garden, canning, cleaning, laundry and whatever else it took to keep the family together.
She did have a favorite toy, her doll, but her grandmother who lived with the family always took it away because she was afraid Issy would break it. Issy commented, "Yeah, I broke it. I fell over a wood pile and broke the doll's head off."
The family shopping was mostly done in downtown Sussex or Templeton, but then there was Waukesha for the A&P and Penny's.
"A lot of my clothing was from feed bags and our towels and pillow cases were made from flour sacks, as we always had a chicken coop in the backyard. Even my bed sheets were from feed bags."
In the 1930s, Issy married a Lisbon farmer, Charles Rademann, who besides farming had a Sussex area milk route where he delivered bottled milk, but after on son Arthur was born in 1934, the marriage broke up in divorce.
She then got a job at the Brook Hotel (which ended up being Sussex Place in the 1990s) which was a combination hotel, boarding house and saloon. Her job was cooking for the boarders, house cleaning, laundry, etc. Her initial salary in those days was 15 cents an hour. She commented that she would always have 30 minutes extra on her pay card and her employers, Lloyd Weaver, would argue about the 7 cents for the final half hour. After Weaver's ownership, she spent many years with the Schroeder family at the Brook Hotel, and even in the 1940s was there with Bernie Krueger. When he sold out to the Donkles, she followed him to what is today Tailgators, as by this time her big thing was cooking. Later, she would carry this to the Paul Relat Tavern (old Templeton Inn) as the Lions Club moved their meeting place there and they stressed that they wanted Issy to cook their banquet meals.
Her next and last job was at the IGA-Sentry, which was run by Tony "Bubbles" Shumann, where she was the baker. She retired at age 72.
In retirement, she found yet another job at the Three Pines Restaurant on Lisbon Road, where today one finds the Quarry Mart. She was the cook for many years at Three Pines.
In the post-World War II years, Issy had a second marriage to Sherman Mielke. They had two children: Sharon and Sherman Jr. He was a Lisbon farmer, handyman and mechanic. Both husbands are now deceased.
Asked why she has lived so long and still has such a sharp mind, Issy said, "I worked hard, I kept busy, helped everyone who asked and I remember Bernie Krueger watching me work on Sundays. He said 'The only things that work on Sundays are horses, mules and damned fools,'" adding that she worked hard and minded her own business. She gets along better now that she is old and can take her time, she said.
I think Isabelle is going to outlive all of us.