REMEMBERING DAD ON HIS BIRTHDAY, MARCH 26
A Guest Post by Cousin Gayle Neuhaus
Dad was born March 26, 1912 at Papillion, Sarpy County, Nebraska. He was the fourth son of German immigrants, Wilhelm and Maria Seltz Neuhaus. Two sisters later joined the family. Although he was christened Otto Wilhelm, he insisted he was officially William, NO middle name, nicknamed Bill.
The family lived in a big, beautiful old house in Papillion. In 1920, when Dad was eight, they moved to another big, beautiful house in Knox County, Nebraska.
His mother died when he was sixteen. Since he was the youngest boy, the housework and cooking fell to him with the help of his sisters (ages 12 and 10).
I have two of Dad’s report cards. He got excellent grades. The Neuhaus children attended Olcott school across the road, west of their home.
When I was young, as we drove to Venus to visit his brother’s family, Dad would point out his old school building, then used as a machine shed. The school is now long gone, only a small cemetery remains, beside which a church once stood.
All the Neuhaus boys had inborn talent. Although they had no training, they could build and repair houses and furniture, draw, paint, carve, do plumbing, electrical and mechanical work. In the 70’s, Dad made a Falcon pickup out of three old Falcons. It still runs.
Dad was also very musical. He played by ear, an accordion and a harmonica. He enjoyed playing an organ he had made from an old accordion. He whistled tunes constantly, even when falling asleep. He would lightly snore, then whistle. This “music” was repeated over and over, until he was fast asleep.
Another talent was playing ball. Dad and his brother, Al, played on several teams in the Nebraska league…Al, the pitcher, Dad, the catcher.
While living in California, he worked at Guardian Service. This company made aluminum pots and pans. During WWII, they made airplane parts. I have an ashtray and a bracelet made from these parts. Of course, Mom had the cookware. It is now collectible.
When we moved to Nebraska, Dad farmed with a horse and a mule, Dick and Jack. In 1950, he purchased a new Ford tractor, which I still have.
For over 20 years, my parents operated a tavern and café in Winnetoon, Nebraska. Of course, Dad built the tavern himself, using an inheritance of $1500 from an uncle, who did not believe in drinking. Dad, later, added a basement apartment to the back.
Dad’s blustery German heritage occasionally surfaced. Yet, underneath, he was a softie. He was true, honest and hardworking.
He was the shortest of the Neuhaus boys, just 6 foot tall. His hair had thinned some over the years, but it remained dark brown with just a hint of gray.
Dad died August 8, 1982. But that is another story.
Click on picture below to magnify.