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A lifetime connection

Their relationship has spanned 81 years. It started when Jim Stutelberg was a wee baby and Anna Radischat a young woman. And it continues today, with Jim and his wife, Chariene, visiting Anna in the Golden Living Care Center in Benson every week.     Anna looks forward to those visits. “I took care of him when he was little and now it’s his turn to take care of me,” said the 104-year-old woman, whose mind is as sharp as it was when she was much younger.     Jim, who is 81, said he knows Anna babysat him when he was little but he doesn’t remember it. “I thought he was so cute,” Anna said. “He’s cute today too but he was such a cute baby.” He was very popular as a young man, she said, and she’s so glad he takes the time to come visit her because he’s like family.     Jim lived right across the road when Anna was growing up. “You could holler when you were by the barn and they’d hear you real well.”     She talked about taking care of Jim. “I thought he was the cutest baby until he started to squawk really loud,” she said, quickly admitting it didn’t take much to please him, “He was a good kid. I rocked him and sang religious songs to him. He liked that but he didn’t understand a word of it.”     Anna laughed a little as she looked at Jim, who was sitting next to her during the interview. “The Stutelbergs are alright. They were Germans but they were nice.”     They were a different religion too, she said, they were Catholic, but that was alright too.     The families did a lot of things together, Anna said, recalling how Jim attended the Catholic school in town while Anna and her siblings went to school in the country.     “His grandma was bound and determined to make him a priest…..Jim was going to be a priest, but that didn’t happen. Anna laughed as she glanced at Jim and said “Ah Jim, today in the world, what has to be has to be.”     Jim worked with Anna’s second husband, Otto Radischat, as did Jim’s wife, Clariene. “My chair was right across from Otto’s and I remember them (Anna, Otto and their four daughters, Margie, Lois, Ruth and Erna) coming out to the Stutelbergs to visit. That was good times.”     In looking back Anna said her most memorable time was her first teaching position. “Oh, I worked at that. So many kids and so many classes, I enjoyed it and I enjoyed the check of $90 a month.”     The kids could be a handful, she said, but they could be sober too. Some of the boys were kind of naughty, she said, and it was hard to keep them in line. She started a kitten ball (softball) team with them, which really helped. The second year of kitten ball they participated in a contest at the county fair and their team took first place.     “The boys were proud. They were the best team and they couldn’t believe it. I was proud, so proud.”     Anna drove horse and buggy when she was young since there were no cars, but when those cars arrived on the scene she learned to drive the one her dad purchased.         “It was a Ford with carbide lights.” She had to crank the car to start it and it was always a worry that it wouldn’t start. Horses were much more reliable, she said, and so were bicycles.     Anna grew up with three sisters and a brother, and of course there were the neighbor boys. She’s never forgotten them because they had so much fun together. When asked what she does to pass the time at the nursing home she smiled and said     “I daydream about the boys……they had to chase us, they liked to tease us, and I had a lot of boyfriends, certain ones I liked better….and then you get mad at them.” But she’ll never forget the good times, she said, there were many of them.     Anna said she always had an avid interest in politics but didn’t pursue that as a career. She remembers the first day she voted at age 18 and it was the first time her grandmother could vote.     “They couldn’t vote for a long time. I lived it. That’s why I know about this; and grandpa and grandma had nice fights about women voting. Women didn’t know anything supposedly, they were only supposed to raise kids, cook and clean the home.” Anna said she fought for women’s rights. And she still votes to this day.     Anna attended the Minnehaha Academy in the cities so she could be a teacher. “I liked it. I worked for my board and room and I became a teacher and I enjoyed teaching very much.”     Anna is also an avid Twins fan.     “They’re great and they make some mistakes but what team doesn’t.”     There’s been a lot of changes over the last 104 years, Anna said, noting she’s gone through three wars.     “I remember the first world war. My cousin from Sweden came over to be safe from the draft and lo and behold he was drafted by the United States. My mother was broken hearted.”     She said they hid him, he went to North Dakota on the train, then he came back home, became a Christian and married a local girl and they farmed. Anna said she doesn’t remember much more about the first World War, but she remembers how sad her parents were, and then happy when he came home safe.         Anna’s happy with her home at the Benson care facility. She said they feed her pretty good at the nursing home but she would like to get in the kitchen and help them cook. Jim’s mother was a good cook, she said, making both molasses and white cookies.     “His mother also made a good divinity candy. We’d look for it every time she came over and she always had it.” She added, “I guess she liked the girls and I told her I liked the boys.”         Anna said they had a good time, even when things weren’t so good with the wars and stuff because it split up families.     As to what Anna attributes her long life to, she really doesn’t know. “My sister tells me we ate things out of the garden, it was pure food out of the garden like carrots and other fresh vegetables.”     Anna said if she had to do all over again she wouldn’t change anything. “I’m happy with my life the way it is. I’ve been in the nursing home for 10 years and everybody seems to like everybody else.”     She said Jim and Clariene have asked her to come to dinner on weekends and holidays, her kids come and take her out but she prefers to stay right at the nursing home.     “They’ve come after me and I’ve gone to their places but I was anxious to come back to the nursing home where it’s quiet….its home.”

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