Rembering Ben Nieland

"Favorite Family Memories" gathered for the August 1998 Reunion at Breda by Russ Bierl

— as told by the Pat and Della (Wittry) Nieland familyw

Pat Nieland: I drove a horse and buggy to school, so during the winter Mom put hot bricks in the bottom of the buggy to keep my feet warm. I was glad when the horse died, because then Dad took us to school in the car.

Craig Nieland: Dan and I arrived at Grandpa and Grandma's and saw their lawn needed mowing. We didn't want Grandpa to have to work that hard pushing his push mower (the old kind without a motor), so we went to work mowing. We came in the house when we finished and proudly told Grandpa what we'd done. He was surprised because he hadn't heard the riding mower running. We all had a good laugh over that. I also remember never going home without having a red hot dog and Grandpa trying to get us to try his horse radish mustard.

Sharon (Nieland) Johnson: I have many wonderful memories of coming to Breda. Playing school down the basement at Grandpa and Grandma's with my cousins, Grandma's great lunches and a cousin (I don't remember who) telling me, "Grandpa laughed so hard at a joke his glass eye popped out". I also spent part of my summer with Ann. One hot summer day we filled their claw bathtub as full as we could with water and then slid down the back into the water, laughing and splashing. We had a great time until Barb discovered our mischief. I also remember going to John and Joe's and having a great time.

Trish (Nieland) Wetzel: The first thing that comes to mind is Grandma's lunches. I loved her Jell-O and sweet pickles. But my favorite memory was going to Cyril and Barb's to play with Ann and Brenda. We explored a lot. One Sunday we were getting ready to leave and we couldn't find Sharon's shoes. After much prodding, Brenda admitted she'd thrown them into the pigpen!

— as told by the Cyril and Barb (Reis) Nieland family

Ann Nieland (Bond): One time when Pat and Della were over, we kids were outside playing with the horse and cart. The older kids were driving it and Sharon and I were running beside it and sometimes running across in front of it. Unfortunately, I didn't make it across one time and the horse and cart ran over me. The day of visiting came to an end, as my folks took me to the hospital.

— as told by the Robert and Florence (Nieland) Evers Family

Don Evers: My favorite memory involves going with Grandpa and Grandma Nieland to Sioux City to watch Professional wrestling. To watch Grandpa yelling at the wrestlers and Grandma telling Ben "Be quiet!" only to have Grandma yelling at the wrestlers herself.

— as told by the Paul and Connie (Leiting) Nieland family

Kathy (Nieland) Tassler: Sunday afternoons at Grandpa and Grandma's -- playing school in their basement with the blackboard and the little square swivel table. Also playing hide and seek in Grandpa and Grandma's grove and rock pile.

Nancy (Nieland) Mueggenberg: Spending part of some summer vacations at St. Benedict. Mary and Marge had the neatest and best "Barbie" dolls and clothes. Also driving around in Grandpa Nieland's car and trying to read the funny papers that laid on the floor, to protect it from getting dirty, along with the very hot vinyl seat covers. What a treat!
Karen (Nieland) Grundmeier: My favorite memory is of Grandma and Grandpa driving the yellow car out to the farm and helping them work in their garden.
Ken Nieland: Family reunions in Breda. It was held in the Legion Hall and I also think we had a Mass. Fr. Yetmar was still there.

— as told by the Bill and Jolene (Nieland) Jensen family

Vickie (Jensen) Bunting: Playing with our cousins and going to the park at Lake View.

Valerie (Jensen) Miller: Staying on the farm and playing with cousins. Also getting to eat that great sweet corn and luscious strawberries.

Curt Jensen: Going to Black Hawk at Lakeview to swim and picnic.

Joe Jensen: Getting rides on Uncle Paul's tractor John: Riding on the tractor with Uncle Paul.
— as told by the Ken and Charlotte (Nieland) Haberl family

Mark Haberl: Grandpa and Great Uncle Norbert took me fishing. It was my first time in a boat. Grandpa made a big deal about me catching the biggest fish all day. I also got sunburned very badly. I think I was around 7 or 8 years old at the time.

Mary Lou (Haberl) Gander: Going out and working with Grandma in the garden. Then going back to the house and making little dolls from hollyhock flowers and toothpicks.

Terry (Haberl) Hoefing: Staying with Grandma and Grandpa. Going fishing with them and using real long cane poles. Riding in the yellow Buick. Grandma wearing a big floppy hat and cotton flowered dress.

Gail (Haberl) Burger: Playing Old Maid with Grandpa and when he had the old maid, he would put the card higher than the rest, so you'd take that card when it was your turn. Then he'd laugh and make a joke of it.

Luke Haberl: Sitting on Grandpa's lap playing cards and winning.
Corey Haberl: Grandma giving me the red wagon.

— as told by the Virgil and Irene (Nieland) Bierl Family

Russell and Ron Bierl: My favorite memories of Grandma and Grandpa Mary and Ben Nieland were the weeks I spend there in the summer. Russ and Ron visited them every summer for two weeks after school was out. At that time our sisters were too young to spend time away from home. Sometimes Don and Ed Evers or Vicki and Valerie Jensen would also be there when we were. Before Charlotte was married, Grandma would sometimes make her play with us.

We enjoyed helping on the farm with feeding the livestock, driving the tractors, combining oats, and bailing straw and hay. Grandpa had a New Holland bailer he pulled with a "B" John Deere tractor and Uncle Paul Nieland would custom bail for people. It was fun to help with corn shelling because there were lots of mice to kill and the dog would grab them when they came through the cracks of the corncrib. Grandma always had lots of chickens and had to gather the eggs twice a day. The eggs were then brought to the basement and washed before putting them in crates to be taken to town. Grandpa always had lots of hogs and we helped feed them. We learned how to cut pigs and got real tired of holding them for Grandpa. The one task we did not like to do was clean the manure out of the chicken house. It was a big treat when we sold the hogs and went to Breda to pick up the check. The hog buyer would buy Grandpa and Paul a beer and Ron and Russ a soda pop at the tavern. One time the bull was going to take Grandpa in the cattle lot and the dog-named Jinks took after the bull. The dog was a real hero that day.

We always went to Mass at St. Bernard's Catholic Church on Sunday. We also went to Breda on Monday nights for the big $100 Silver Dollar Drawing. The Breda merchants gave you a ticket stub for each $1 you spent at their business and you had a chance in the drawing, but you had to be present to win.

One of our favorite things was to go to Black Hawk Lake. We traveled there in Grandpa's 1958 yellow Buick Special. It was a beautiful car and Grandma was very proud of having it to replace his 1950 brown Chevrolet. We went swimming at the lake and Grandma always brought a picnic basket with sandwiches and cool aid. Some times we went fishing at the lake with Grandpa. Grandma and Grandpa Nieland liked to play cards with us children. Their favorite games were Old Maid and Crazy Eight. Ben also played checkers with the children.

Holiday visits were special at Grandma and Grandpa's house. When all the cousins were there we had a great time playing in the grove or the basement of the house. We built tree houses in the grove and played cowboys and Indians or hide and seek. The farm had a very large cotton wood tree in the grove that us children played around. Grandma liked fire crackers and always had some for us. They took us to Omaha to a wrestling match one time to see Vern Gaunhia.

Grandma had a very large garden on the North side of the grove. She had wonderful strawberries, raspberries and sweet corn as well as watermelons. Ben and Mary would spend many hours tending the garden. Grandpa had a beehive under the walnut tree at the West end of the garden. The garden was fenced to keep the animals out. Grandpa had to put a kerosene lantern in the garden at night to keep the raccoons from eating the sweet corn.

We always helped butcher chickens when we were there for the summer. It was impressive how Grandma killed them by stepping on their head and pulling it off. After they were dead we scalded the chickens and picked their feathers. Everyone helped. They raised spring chickens in the white brooder house at the West end of the grove.

Grandma purchased her groceries at Determan's Store in Breda. The meat market at the store had the best natural casing hot dogs I have ever had. For lunch we often ate hot dogs, summer sausage, white bread with real butter, Jell-O, pickled yellow wax beans and green sweet pickles. To this day I could make a meal of these items. We still make sweet lime green pickles just about a good as grandma's.

Grandpa walked down the lane every day to get the mail and the Carroll Daily Times Harold newspaper. My parents would also get the same newspaper for over 30 years after they moved away from Carroll County. Grandpa was a serious reader but Grandma did not read much. Some times, when they wanted to say something secret in front of us children, they would speak in German.Grandpa spoke in High German and Grandma Low German. They would say something and then laugh real hard.

Visiting Grandma Mary and Grandpa Ben's farm was always a special treat. The love and warmth demonstrated by the Nieland family was something special to be part of. Hopefully this is something we have all carried on with our own families today.

Mary (Beirl) Gorhman and Marge (Bierl) Bowman: We always looked forward to and enjoyed our visits to our grandparents. The adults would stay in the house and talk while us kids would play outside or in the basement. We liked to play among the rocks in the grove with our cousins Kathy, Nancy and Shirley.

I remember a problem we would have during the summer when we ran around outside barefoot. At that time the chickens ran lose and we would sometimes step in the chicken poop. Grandma would help us wash our feet off at the well pump outside the house. One thing I remember well was when we played dress up at Kathy and Nancy Nieland's house. I could not get my feet in their mother's shoes because her size was smaller than mine.

Von (Yvonne) Bierl: I used to tell Grandpa elephant jokes and he would always laugh really hard.


back to History Page