STORIES AND REMINISCENCES 1837-2012
The following excerpts from the book Sainte Marie, Illinois: Stories and Reminiscences 1837-2012 are only a small sample of the many wonderful stories, pictures and memorabilia included in this historical book. Contact the Foundation for more information or to order a book.
"Sainte Marie in WW II" by Joan Kirts Heneberry (p. 36-37)
On December 7, 1941, Sainte Marie was a fairly self-contained little village. Residents had little reason to venture out for basic living needs. I was eight and remember being distressed at the worry and concern my parents felt on that Sunday afternoon [the day Pearl Harbor was bombed]. I was afraid my Dad would be called up.
As the days of the war stretched on, we were issued ration books which had to be taken on every shopping trip. Meat, sugar and coffee were in short supply. One summer day in the midst of berry picking, we heard that there was sugar in Newton. My mother and lots of other Sainte Marie housewives, ration books in hand, rushed to Newton. Rushed is really the wrong word because the mandated top speed was 35 mph. Gas was rationed, and rubber was scarce. Tires available in those war days were made out of a synthetic material that didn’t last. People with cards enjoyed very little “pleasure” driving. During the war, no cars were manufactured. All the factories had converted to making tanks and other war machinery.
We all had savings stamp books, and when we filled them, we could turn them into savings bonds. We saved tin foil and used fat from cooking—everything was geared toward “the War Effort.” Even toys had a military aspect. My brothers collected toy tanks and planes and soldiers.
If you walked around town in the summer evenings, you could hear H.V. Kalternborn, Lowell Thomas or Edward R. Murrow playing on lots of village radios. Everyone hung on their words, trying to find something to be cheerful about.
Even mail to and from the service men was different. Called V Mail, it was written on very thin paper and folded over itself to send. May letters arrived with words or sentences deleted by a military censor.
On VE and VJ day, everyone flocked to the front of St. Mary’s Church as the bells rang. People shared plenty of thankful prayers and sighs of relief. Of course, the scarcities were still there, and it took a while to get the country back to a peacetime economy.
Sainte Marie was very proud of her young men who served their country.
"A Tribute To My Heroes: The 'Characters' of Sainte Marie" by Don Hartrich (p. 63-64)
What a time and place to grow up, I was born in 1958 and have spent most of my life in Sainte Marie. My generation was a product of peacetime America. World War II had ended, and we were on top of the world. America did what it wanted to do and didn’t take any crap from anyone. We were proud of our country and our veterans, the category into which most of the adult males of Sainte Marie fell. The American Legion was one of the most happening places in town; many of you can remember the frequent dances, parties and dinners at the Legion Hall.
The prosperity of our nation was predominate and shoved us forward in life like a raft floating down the Embarras River. People were secure in their jobs and knew that if they wanted work they could find it, even if it meant leaving our little town and going to the city as some did. Farms were small, and a guy could make a living off a hundred acres, some hogs and chickens. He could do all his farming with a Farmall tractor and a Case combine, hauling his grain into the elevator with a pickup truck with sideboards and a flat wagon.
Maybe it was because I was a kid, but I just don’t remember people having many worries in those days. I know there were the day-to-day problems and tragedies of life, but it seemed like folks just worked things out and went on without creating some big scenario. It seemed like being a good neighbor, a good friend and a functioning part of your town was most important. Everyone knew everyone, and we operated pretty much as a big family. Now don’t get me wrong, some of those family members could get pretty cantankerous.
This atmosphere contributed to making me the person I am today. But the most memorable parts of my life were defined by the “characters" that I grew up with. Please don’t think the quotation marks mean anything derogatory. In my book, being a character is a good thing – kind of like spices in flavorful food. “Characters” are a spice of life; they make everything interesting and kind of mysterious.
The character that most influenced my life as a child was a guy that I was privileged to grow up next-door-neighbors to. His name was Lawrence Huber, but everyone knew him as “Poss.” To me Lawrence was the undisputed king of the river rats, kind of a Daniel Boone, Sitting Bull and Grizzly Adams all rolled into one. As I would just be getting out of bed in the morning, here would come Poss, storming down the street in his pickup truck having already been out since who knows when, probably fishing the Embarras or running a trap line or squirrel hunting or who knows what. Whatever he was doing, it was adventuresome to a young boy. His home and yard was a wild place filled with Indian artifacts that he had found, guns, camping stuff, coon dogs, turtle shells, fish heads, gardening things and a lot of other stuff that you had no idea what it was, but it had to be cool. I’ll never forget the Possum calling me over while he was cleaning a snapping turtle he had caught. “Watch this,” he said as he extracted the heart. He cut it into four pieces and showed me how each piece would keep beating by itself. This demonstration was followed up with a lecture and a warning about how a snapper can bite you even after its head is severed from its body.
Lawrence wanted to share what he knew so he took on the local Boy Scout troop and before long had advanced way up the ladder and become involved in many of the higher levels of the organization. I’ll never forget one campout we were on as a troop. Lawrence had to do something in town, so he dropped us guys off at the woods to set up camp. He showed up later to get us going on the evening meal. As we were sitting around the campfire after supper, he said something like “Now, boys, I don’t want to scare you, but I was in the tavern today and the word is that a black panther escaped from a zoo up at Casey (we were clueless….), and he’s been spotted just north of here heading this way.” We immediately went on high alert, everyone grabbing his hatchet or knife or whatever you could find for self-defense. So we’re all scared to death and what we didn’t know was that earlier in the evening when Lawrence had left the fire to go relieve himself in the woods, he had taken a string and tied it to a stick about 20 yards out. So we’re sitting there as he’s freaking us out with his stories, and he pulls on the string behind his back and says, “What’s that, what’s that?” We about peed in our pants! He didn’t fess up till the next morning, and none of us slept a wink all night. He was as kind and knowledgeable a man as I have ever known, and I was blessed to be able to spend time with him and his wonderful wife, Dorothy, until the end of their lives.
Henry Kirts lived right across the street from us. He was a long time schoolteacher in the Sainte Marie schools. He loved biology and horticulture, and, if I remember right, he had an apple tree that grew seven different varieties of apples because he had grafted them on. He had a white grapevine trestle with a swing under it, and I can remember sitting in it and eating those grapes. Boy, were they good. In his little gardening shed, he had some kind of plants that when you would stroke the leaves with your fingers, they would close up and grab you. Henry’s, George, lives in the home place now, and it hasn’t changed much.
Another guy I remember but didn’t know all that well was Paul “Mouse” Faltemier. Isn’t it funny how a lot of guys had nicknames in those days? My dad told me that Mouse got his because when he was a young boy, he had a pet mouse, and he would bring it to school in his shirt pocket. Mouse worked up the street as the parts’ man at Kocher Implements, the local J.I. Case dealer. He had a crew cut, wore black horn rimmed glasses and always seemed to have a half smoked cigar in his mouth, but I can’t ever remember it being lighted. He was a cool character. When he’d look up a part number, say it was something like M432887, he would go down the parts’ aisles just singing that part number till he found it. Mouse and his wife, Jeannie, raised (I think) seven kids and all have done really well. More "Characters of Sainte Marie": in the book......
"Sainte Marie's Touchstone: The American Legion Post 932" by Donna Keller (p. 114-120)
Another vital part of the SM community for the last 66 years has been the Sainte Marie American Legion Post 932, which has spearheaded a number of philanthropic efforts while honoring SM’s contributions to our country’s armed services. The Legion Club Room serves as a place for Legion, Auxiliary and S.A.L. members and guests to socialize on Friday and Saturdays from 6 to 10 p.m. and on Sunday from 2 to 9 p.m. The upstairs is available for receptions, birthdays, and other social events, as well as the site of the Auxiliary’s annual December wine tastings.
The Legion has long been an organization that gives back to the community. The Legion proudly donates to the Jasper County Post Prom, the Oblong Post Prom, Jasper County HEA Toys for Tots, Jasper County Girls and Boys Park and St. Mary’s Church Pre-Labor Day Picnic Raffle. And as veterans helping veterans, they give to “Yanks That Gave,” Honor Flights, The Haven and Jasper County Home Front. They also sponsor a blood drive once a year. Legion members participate in the Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day services and serve at military funerals.
The annual Mother’s Day Breakfast has been a longstanding tradition at the Legion and is the Legion’s only fundraiser during the year except the Club Room sales. The Legion also sponsors the meal at the Legion Birthday Party in March, the membership drive kick-off meal in September and the Christmas party meal in December. Legion volunteers also sack up donated treats for Santa to hand out to the kids one Sunday in December.
The Sainte Marie American Legion Post 932 is a proud sponsor of the 175th Anniversary Celebration and will hopefully continue to be an important organization in the Sainte Marie community during the next 25 years and beyond. More about the Sainte Marie American Legion in the book....
Many individuals who grew up in Sainte Marie are featured in this book . Here 's a story about an artist who has an unusual relationship with well-known folk singer Bural Ives, who grew up in a nearby community.
"Becoming An Artist," by Elisabeth Hartrich Thacker (p. 178 & 181)
As a child, I was always drawing, anything and everything. Today, I am quite well known in the field of monument etching, mainly because of my work on the Burl Ives monument in Mound Cemetery, north and east of Willow Hill. Many people have asked how I got started in this field, which is basically controlled scratching with a motorized tool on granite monuments. Here is my story:
In the late 80s, my mom and dad decided to buy their cemetery monument pre-need, so they went to see Madonna [Hahn, also from SM] and Gene Schackmann who owned Clark Memorial Shop in Newton at the time. Madonna showed them some samples of etchings, and when they got home, Mom called and told me about it, adding, “I think you could do that.” So , I called Madonna to set up a time to talk to her and Gene when the fellow they were using for etchings at that time would be there….a big, biker-type dude from Indiana. I watched him for a while and to my utter delight, he answered ALL the questions I had as far as tools and processes, etc. about etching.
The Schackmanns sent me home with a scrap piece of black granite and an OLD etching tool, and a week or so later I brought that granite back with portraits of Elvis and Abe Lincoln (to show I could do likenesses well) and scenery etched on it. I will never forget Gene jumping a foot or so off the ground and saying, “We have an etcher!” So, for a few years I worked my day job at the Robinson Daily News (art director) and etched for them at night. Before long, news of my talent spread by word of mouth, and before I knew it, I had enough clients to forfeit my job at the Daily and start my own etching business. As of December 2011, I had 27 clients spread all over Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.
The highlight of my career was being asked to design and etch the monument for locally-born, folk singer legend, Burl Ives. I was able to meet and spend time working on the monument design with his wife, Dorothy. I traveled to her home in Washington State and spend several enjoyable days with her at her beautiful home there. Probably my dearest unfulfilled wish would be that Dad had lived long enough to see that moment.
Etching was finally the answer to the question my dad had posed to me many times as I grew up…. “What are you going to be when you grow up?” he would ask.
“An artist,” I would reply.
“No”, he would say, “what are you doing to do to make a living?”
“I want to be an ARTIST,” I would say.
“No,” he would reply, “what are you going to do to MAKE MONEY? You will have to move to Chicago or New York or California to be an artist and make a living at it. You can’t be an artist in the middle of a cornfield in southern Illinois and make a living at it.”
Unfortunately, Dad lived only long enough to see my career begin to take off, but I think he would have been very proud I proved him wrong.
To order the book or for more information Contact Us.
SAINTE MARIE FOUNDATION