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05-09-06 Local woman stitches together family memories

By Margie Wuebker

  MONTEZUMA -- Helen Klosterman sits in the living room creating a special legacy one stitch at a time.

Helen Klosterman, 89, sits and crochets an afghan in her Montezuma home and places dough in a pan for a pie. At an age when many people are slowing down, Klosterman continues to bake, sew and crochet for her family. The display of afghans at left is just a sample of her handiwork. She has made at least one for each of her five children, 17 grandchildren and 38 great-grandchildren.<br></br>

  With three more great-grandchildren expected this summer, the time has come to make broomstick lace blankets to welcome the new arrivals.

  "We are a close family, and this is my way of leaving behind a little of myself for each and every one of them," she says with a smile.

  Klosterman, who will soon mark her 90th birthday, has five children, 17 grandchildren and 38 great-grandchildren. Each of them have examples of her handiwork.

  "I started mothering a long time ago," the former Helen Uhlenhake confides. "There were six of us in the family, and I was the second oldest. That meant baby-sitting for brothers and sisters as well as kids in the neighborhood."  She recalls being a teenager and attending weekend dances in St. Henry, especially in 1936 when she met Maurice Klosterman.

  "He asked to take me home, and I agreed because he seemed like a real nice person," she says. "Things turned out quite different than he expected."

  They walked toward his parked car, only to discover it was nowhere to be found. The missing car was located a short time later by her father, the town cop, who discovered it had been pushed behind the mill by neighborhood pranksters.

Their courtship withstood the inauspicious start and eventually led to the altar in October 1938. The newlyweds set up housekeeping in Rossburg.

"I went from a bath to a path," she says with a chuckle. "I was used to having a bathroom at home and now the path led to an outhouse. We were young and in love so that did not matter."

Times were hard; the groom worked at his uncle's grain elevator and the bride had no trouble staying busy with sewing, cleaning, cooking, gardening and canning. She likened their way of life to the Amish who enjoy no frills and few modern conveniences.

  Dale, the oldest of the couple's five children, was the only one born at home.

  "I remember the doctor came on Sunday morning expecting a quick delivery," she says. "He sat there all day and much of the night because Dale didn't show up until early Monday morning."

The Klostermans purchased a dairy farm in 1944. They worked side by side to make it profitable.

"I was a town girl, but I learned fast," she says. "I drove a tractor and did the discing; I don't think Maurice trusted me with the planting. Thank heaven for playpens and oven timers. I could watch the little ones and know they would stay put. The field work and meals all got done one way or another."

  The life of a farm wife was a busy one, but she always found time to do special things for the family.

  "Mom surprised me with a party for


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