Bernice tries iPad at age 82
By Sandy Bond
When Bernice Buechler of Selby was given a fuchsia iPad as a gift, she adamantly declared, “I’ll never learn to use this!” But after the 82 year old great-grandmother reluctantly conceded to “give it a try,” she now finds it’s one of her favorite things.
A self-described voracious reader as a child, “I always said I loved to read anything between two covers.”
“With my iPad, not iPod as my 3-year old great-granddaughter pointed out, I can write to my children, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren, and all my friends,” she said. “It enables me to keep in touch.”
As a polio survivor of the epidemic of the 1930s and 1940s, she feels so fortunate to be able to rise to this new challenge.
“Imagine at my age!” she said.
The sixth of 11 children born to John and Elizabeth (Bierbaum) Vetch growing up on the farm near Roscoe, there was a 10-year difference between Bernice and her elder siblings when she was born in 1931. Shortly thereafter, the twin girls were married and the boys went off to war.
“Dad always said I blew in like a tumbleweed,” she said. “I was sort of like the eldest child growing up. A lot of the chores, like helping to cook and bake and caring for the younger children, fell to me.”
“Times were tough being in the midst of the Dirty ‘30s,” she said.
“We never considered ourselves poor,” she said. “We always had plenty to eat because we had milk cows and chickens and a good garden.”
Their mom was an excellent cook and seamstress making all their clothes. Barefoot in the summers, they wore hand-me-down shoes to church and to school.
“I can recall my jumpers were made out of flowered feed sacks,” she said. “When we got home from school we changed into overalls to do our chores.”
She remembers sprinting the mile and a half to town school in Roscoe.
One day she developed an extremely high fever, and awoke to find her legs would not support her. Taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, the physicians diagnosed her with polio.
“I was fortunate that it only affected muscles in my legs.”
She relearned to walk but one leg remains shorter than the other.
“Thankfully, I could breathe on my own,” she said. “Many children were placed in iron lungs to breathe, and many didn’t make it.”
After graduating from Roscoe High School as salutatorian, she was the first one in her family to attend college; she graduated from Northern Teachers College with a certificate that allowed her to teach in any rural school.
When she met Athneal, the son of Maggie and Dave Buechler of Bowdle, “I knew he was the one for me. He was handsome, had a great sense of humor and was a good dancer,” she said.
They married in 1952. Athneal was drafted during the advent of the Korean War and the young family moved to Ft. Eustis, Virginia. By the time he was transferred to Nova Scotia to help build an air base, Bernice had already given birth to Gary. She returned home and continued to teach, receiving $400 per month. Grandmother Maggie offered to babysit.
When Athneal returned home, they bought the farm and continued farming and he found work in town at the creamery.
Maggie and David eventually bought a café in Bowdle, and after Bernice retired from teaching, she helped out.
“My folks were meat and potato people,” she said. “Maggie was a phenomenal cook and was great at the fancy stuff, too. I learned you cook what people want and not necessarily what you want to cook.”
Gene, Glen and Gary were in their teens when Athneal and Bernice purchased the café from Maggie and Dave.
“Today, I find myself critiquing the food when I’m at a restaurant,” she said. “I just can’t help myself. Once I was served cheese buttons that were chewy. Now, what could the cook have done to make chewy cheese buttons?”
She laughed when she overheard a toddler say to his mom that he couldn’t eat the salad because he didn’t have an “alligator mouth.”
The cook had ripped the lettuce. “I always ripped the lettuce and then cut it in strips,” she said.
Living in Selby, she enjoys visits from her children, 10 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren, as well as receiving letters from them on her iPad.
BERNICE BUECHLER’S RECIPES
Macaroni and Tomatoes
2 cups uncooked macaroni
1 pint tomatoes
1/2 cup cream
Cook the uncooked macaroni for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cream and spices. Continue to slow cook until done.
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup honey
1 cup butter
1 cup cream
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. vanilla
4 1/2 cups flour
Cream together brown sugar, honey, butter and cream. Add eggs. Baking soda, salt, vanilla and flour. Roll into logs and chill. Slice. Cook at 350 degrees until golden brown. Or bake immediately by dropping them by teaspoon onto cookie sheet.
Buechler Refrigerator Rolls
2 cups warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 pkgs. dry yeast
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup soft shortening or vegetable oil
3 1/2 cups flour
Combine water, sugar, salt, and yeast and set-aside until bubbly. Add egg, oil/shortening. Mix thoroughly. Beat 300 strokes and set-aside again for a while. Add 3 cups of the flour, and then knead to add the last 1/2 cup of flour. Do not leave the dough too sticky. Oil well and then cover with a wet towel and refrigerate. When it rises, knead it down or you can make it into buns. It takes about an hour for it to raise enough to bake. Cook at 350 degrees for 25 minutes to 35 minutes until brown. This recipe can be used for rolls, donuts, elephant ears, and dumplings. For dumplings, let little balls rise only about 30 minutes.
3 to 4 lbs. of diced ham
1 jar green olives (sliced)
1 1/2 cups Miracle Whip
1 cup Velveeta cheese
Stir all ingredients together to moisten. Spoon into hamburger buns, top with cheese and wrap in foil individually. Heat until cheese is melted for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees.