MY LIFE HISTORY BY
ROBERT C. WICKA
-Born 06-20-1924 in St. Charles, MN
-When I was around 5 years old, we moved to
Fountain City, WI. During the move, we rode in a
Model T car and chased our cows as we went. For
three days Ed and Hank Wicka rode our horses across
the Winona Bridge and to our new farm.
- When I was 6 years old, I contracted polio and
became very sick with a high fever. I thought I was
going to die! As a result of the illness, I was left deaf in
one ear and a bum left leg which affected me the rest
of my life.
-Working at the creamery, I filled the stockers with coal
for .25 cents. One time Mr. Shaffner didn't have .25
cents to pay me, so another guy said he would give me
. 50 cents to take the coal BACK OUT - so I did!
-I started hunting and trapping at an early age and shot
my first deer at 11 years old. I sold rattlesnakes for a
.50 cent bounty and skunk skins for a $3.50 cent
bounty. In 8th grade, one morning I trapped a skunk
right before I went into school and was sent home by
the teacher for smelling bad. That was my last day of
-At age 14, I received my driver's license from Hank
Tire, who was the only police officer in Trempealeau
County. We filled out the paperwork in the bar and
bought each other drinks. Sometimes Hank would
get drunk and run himself off the road
-At age 19, I planned on going to Alaska to work on the
highway but was drafted into the Army.
-While in training at Camp Alice, I was assigned to a
truck because of my limp from polio.
-I boarded a boat for a 15-day ride to Scotland then
traveled to England by train for additional training.
While in England we built a 750 bed hospital for the
wounded. We also made cement slabs in the woods
to store bombs that would later be used in Germany.
- December 1944, I participated in the Battle of the
Bulge, transporting troops to the front line. I froze both
my feet and hand which affected me the rest of my life.
-For the invasion, I helped load airplanes for the first
army paratroopers. The jumpmaster forgot something
and came running down the gang plank and stumbled.
He along with 11 others died because he had a lot of
hand grenades with him when he fell. We had to pick
up the body parts and bury them in a cemetery.
-The Germans were destroying many bridges and
hampered our troop movement. Our division was
responsible for rebuilding many of the bridges .
-One day in Germany we found a cave where they
stored barrels of wine. No one knew how to get the
barrels open, so taking action, I took a pick ax and
opened them! We filled our water containers with
wine. My friend fell off the jeep so I backed up to pick
him up and backed right over him, luckily he was laying
between the tires and didn't get hurt.
-We landed in the Philippines to get ready for the
invasion of Japan. If the "bomb" wouldn't have been -
dropped, I would have been in the first wave to storm
the island, and most likely would not have survived the
invasion. Japan surrendered and our division went by
the ship where the peace agreement was signed. The
Japanese soldiers bowed to us and said, "So sorry, big
mistake." They were really friendly.
-After the war, I came back to the U.S. (Washington
State) and took the train through the mountains to Fort
McCoy - 10-day ride. The U.S. government gave me
$300 to start a new life!
-I stayed with Martin and Eleanor Peplinski while I
worked for Madison Silo where I managed to fall off a
35 foot silo when the scaffolding gave away and hit my
head on the way down. I had to spend the next 13
weeks in a full body cast at the "old" Arcadia hospital
-The highlight of my hospital stay was meeting my wife
Marian Rumple in the hospital. My brother Ed was
married to Margaret Rumple, who just had a baby, and
was at the hospital visiting his wife. Ed decided to visit
Robert, and Marian was along for the visit ... and as
they say, the rest is history.
-Madison Silo gave me another job and paid my
hospital bill. I stayed in Winona for a while and started
dating Marian. Later we would marry.
-We lived in Milwaukee for about a year where I had a
job operating a crane and Marian worked in a store.
This was my only experience of living in an apartment.
Unfortunately, I was laid off from my job.
-We should have moved to California because we
would have had better jobs and it would have been
warm! We moved back to Pine Creek to farm and we
both had an additional job also. I hauled "heavy" milk
cans and Marian worked in a store in Arcadia. Our
daughter Linda was born in Pine Creek.
-Marian and I moved to Traverse Valley in
Independence and farmed there until retirement. In
1965, I got caught in a silo unloader and Donnie Wolfe
carried me down the silo. Once again off to the hospital
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