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Updated 9/1/2021

From the Clutter of My Old Office Corner

A continuing saga of a cluttered office.

Submitted by anonymous Verona resident. 9/1/2021

Summer’s bounty…


As I write this, much of this summer’s bounty signals the end of the growing season. Canning is still part of the summer routine for some people. As I mentioned last month, a lot of activity centered around our family’s wood-burning kitchen stove and canning was part of that.


Here on my desk is a pair of quart canning jars. But now these two jars serve a different purpose being filled with more of my “treasures.” One contains a variety of colorful seashells, an assortment of seed pods, and a pestle used for grinding spices. The unique items (to me) are a little part of life gathered along the way. The other glass jar is protecting two completely dried onions. All that remains of the once-plump orbs is their shiny bronze, fragile outer skins; yet somehow they retain their original round shape and hold a special beauty.


One jar has a glass top and metal bail closing device. The trade mark on the bottom of the jar indicates it’s from Hazel Atlas Glass Co. and was produced sometime between 1906-1955. The other is a Ball jar with a glass lid and metal screw-on ring. The designs of the embossed word Ball changed ever so slightly over years. The particular design can be used to identify when the jar was produced. By going to the Ball web site, I found this jar’s design fits the period of 1933-1962.


Moving my thoughts away from the culinary, I glance up at the bulletin board. Prominently displayed are a group of three items whose purpose is purely protection. I think I collected them because of their commonality: their use; their size, all approximately 11”; and their elliptical shape.

The first, my favorite, is a large, snapping turtle shell. It is basically bone, formed by the turtle from protein and various types of calcium. Its color offered protection in the simplest of way – camouflage. The earth-tone hues served well in blending into the turtle’s environment as did the intricate 13-segmented design on top. It is nature providing a protective “helmet” from nature itself.


The second of this collection is a WWI GI-issue head-covering. Man’s protection from man. However, this simple, Army-green steel helmet offered minimal protection at best. It has two straps which can be adjusted. One circled around the inside to make it a “one size fits all” headgear. The other, a narrow chin strap, held the helmet in place.


The third is an early 1970s bike helmet. Man’s protection from self. This white helmet is constructed of “expanded polystyrene”. The amount of foam required for preventing serious head injury created a bulky, uncomfortable-to-wear piece of equipment. I have never seen anyone wear this type of helmet. When worn it must have made the person look like Speedy Alka Seltzer!


And so the collection and the remembering continues. Next month I’ll share more of the “treasure trove” from the office corner. Till then, you remember . . . it’s good for you.


The Ol’ Pack Rat

From the Clutter of My Old Office Corner

A continuing saga of a cluttered office.

Submitted by anonymous Verona resident. 8/1/2021

The ash shovel …


While sitting at the old desk in the cool basement on a hot July day thinking about the August Chronicle issue, I let my eyes wander to the space between the old Coke and beer cases. Leaning against the bulletin board between them is a special small shovel. As in all shovels, it has two parts: the handle and the blade. This is a unique shovel by size, three inches short of two feet. In our house we called it an ash shovel used to remove the ashes from the firebox of our wood-burning cook stove.


This tool is machine-stamped from a single piece of metal. The blade portion is long and narrow, 4” wide and 10” inches long. Its sides are slanted and tapered, ranging from 1” at the end to 4” high at the handle. The leading edge of the blade is not just worn uneven but is worn through in one spot from the constant rubbing of metal on metal over the years. The metal of the handle was rolled to form a tube.


My job as a kid was to empty the wood ashes when my mother needed it done. That was a several-step process: Go to the backroom off the kitchen and get the ash pail. Take the piece of old rug to put under the ash pail to make sure no hot coals landed on the linoleum flooring in our kitchen. Cautiously shovel the ashes out from the firebox.


When finished I put the ash pail back next to the wood box which also served as a reminder that box needed to be filled every other day. So out to the woodshed I would go, load my sled or wagon with wood and trudge back to the room off the kitchen.

Directly above the stove was a floor grate used to send heat up to my second story bedroom. It also sent up adult conversations from down in the kitchen! I could lie in my bed and listen to stories not always meant for little ears to hear.


It’s nostalgic to me…thinking of the old wood stove located in our kitchen at an angle near the wall. There was just room enough for me to carefully climb behind it on cold winter mornings. One end of the stove was a reservoir which was a continual source of warm water. Of course, that too required being filled on a regular basis just like the wood box. Filled not by water from a faucet but from the outdoor pump, and carried by a pail full through the backroom into the kitchen.


Our stove had four removable lids. On special occasions one lid would be removed and a cast iron waffle iron was put in its place. The round waffle iron had a top and a bottom lid, each with its own handle; the two were nested together. Directly opposite the handles, the lids were hinged to a circular base that sat on the stove. That allowed the waffle to be flipped, so one side would be baked at a time over the open flame.


Yes, I have lots of memories from the warm kitchen, the heart of our home. Maybe yours was, also… so remember, it’s good for you.


The Ol’ Pack Rat

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Posted 6/24/2019

July 2019


Arthur E. Clough


RSVP Vets Helping Vets Program Helps Veterans and Families Do What They Love


Arthur loves to sing, Judith loves books, and Amy loves to give back as a volunteer.  This amazing trio met through RSVP’s Vets Helping Vets (VHV) program.  The program provides rides free of charge to medical and other important appointments for Veterans and their family members who don’t have access to other transportation.


Judith and Arthur E. Clough came to Verona from Texas in 2017 to be near daughter Heather R. Bowers.  Arthur is a retired U.S. Army Veteran with 28 years of service. When her parents first arrived, Heather did all the driving for them.  Enter Amy Lasch, who volunteers for RSVP as a VHV driver and in the Madison office. Asked about why she volunteers Amy promptly said, “When my kids went off to college I had extra time, and I wanted to give back.  I enjoy volunteering and it’s important!”


Lasch works 70 percent as a Physician Assistant for UW-Health in Madison.  Amy said, “I’ve been driving Arthur and Judith for about a year now.  At first, Arthur couldn’t remember my name and called me ‘Tammy,’ but after a short while he made an effort to remember my name and says ‘I know, your name is Amy!’”  Amy enjoys driving Arthur and Judith to help them get to and from activities and to socialize.  “Arthur talks about himself and his memories, such as singing bass in a choir.  Judith is researching her family history and I drop her off at the library.


Arthur goes to activities such as Club 108 at the Verona Senior Center.”


Club 108 is an activity program for individuals with early memory loss named after the Verona Senior Center’s address, 108 Paoli Street.  Club 108 Program Assistant Jan Paul said, “Arthur forms friendships and interacts with different ages, physical abilities and backgrounds.  The program uses cognitive stimulating activities such as conversation, crossword puzzles, movies, games, skits, music, gardening, art and photo sharing from trips and guest speakers.”  Jan and longtime volunteer Lou Slamar run the Club 108 program. Verona Senior Center Program Manager Alasa Wiest said, “Club 108 is a growing program with a group of very involved 80 to 90 year olds who meet weekly.  Every other week, our caregivers support group meets at the same time as Club 108, allowing caregivers time for a short break and to confer with one another.”


Heather Bowers, daughter of Arthur and Judith said, “Dad sang on both Veterans Day and Memorial Day at the Verona Senior Center and my Mom’s rides to the library every two weeks are an incredible, critical thing for her.  She
sometimes leaves the library with ten books to consume!”  Heather loves the help she gets from Amy and RSVP’s VHV program, “I was doing all the driving myself, it is an enormous help, I would be at my wit’s end without the service.”


Amy remembers how proud Arthur was when he sang for Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.  Her greeting from Arthur says it all, “when he sees me he says with a big hug, ‘It feels like forever since I’ve seen you!’”


RSVP volunteers like Amy help folks like Arthur and Judith to keep doing what they love! If you are interested in learning more about volunteering as a driver, contact Mary Schmelzer, Driver Services Co-Manager at 608-441-7896 or


Written by Luanne Fax, RSVP of Dane County, Driver Services Marketing & Program Assistant