DRUMMER FEATURE AUGUST 31, 2014
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Marvin and Ellen are
Staying together forever
By Doug Voerding
"...to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, from this day forward until death do us part."
These traditional marriage vows were pronounced by Marvin Scheuble and Ellen Babatz to each other on June 6, 1944, now more than 70 years ago.
"We took that promise seriously," said Ellen. "Getting married meant staying together forever. Failure was not an option."
And, after some bad times, after some poor times, after some sickness, and after all the good times, Marvin and Ellen still take those vows seriously and love and cherish each other, always watching out for each other.
Marvin and Ellen are best friends and have been best friends for more than seventy years.
Depending on whom you talk to, the story of Marvin and Ellen's first meeting is different.
The youngest of the seven children of John and Mary Ceryes Babatz, Ellen was born September 8, 1924, in Watertown. Her family moved to a farm northwest of Montrose in 1932. After her father died in 1934, she moved with her mother to a house across the street from Montrose School. Ellen attended Montrose School until her last year when she attended Buffalo High School. She was in the first class from Montrose to graduate from Buffalo High School in 1943.
Marvin is the only son of Alfred and Elizabeth Vossen Scheuble and had one sister Dorothy. He was born May 19, 1923, in Waconia, but when he was seven, his family moved to a farm south of Montrose. He attended several country schools. When Marvin was four, he was given an accordion. He has been playing by ear ever since.
Ellen says they met at a dance at the Owl Club in Montrose; Marvin says they met at the Waverly Pavilion. Both agree that Marvin was playing his accordion in the band that night.
They became engaged on Valentine's Day in 1943. "I was still in high school, my senior year," said Ellen. "We were engaged for a year and a half because Marvin wanted to wait until he was 21 before we got married."
Marvin Scheuble and Ellen Babatz were married at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Waverly on June 6, 1944. It was D-Day, when the United States launched an invasion of Europe on the beaches of Normandy.
Ellen remembers hearing the D-Day announcement on the radio, repeated several times, but did not realize its importance. After all, she was getting ready for her wedding.
The wedding reception was at Ellen's mother's home in Montrose.
Marvin and Ellen had no honeymoon. They just moved in with Ellen's mother, a temporary place until they could find a home.
FIRST AND SECOND HOMES
A year later, Marvin and Ellen paid cash, although they don't remember how much, for their first house on the south side of Highway 12 in Montrose. Back in those days, Highway 12 was much narrower, and the Scheubles had a front yard with a fence.
They built a large garage behind the house, and, as the family grew, added two rooms onto the house.
Their first child Melvin was born there in 1947, followed by Rick, Judy, Peggy, Darlene, Renee, Jan, Gary, and Debbie.
In 1957, they purchased five acres west of what is now Center Street in Montrose and, after extending a street, built a large garage. In 1960, they completed a house near the garage, built entirely by themselves evenings and weekends. The house was built with lumber from a Chevrolet garage in Wayzata that was demolished for Interstate 494. "I can't tell you how many nails we had to pull out of that lumber before we could reuse for our new house," said Marvin.
Rose Mary and Lori were born in that new house.
With so many children, the Scheubles had to be frugal. And they worked together.
Even living in town, they kept pigs, chickens, and a cow. They had large gardens for canning corn and tomatoes. They had a field of potatoes, dug for winter storage.
While still young, the children worked too, mowing lawns, baby-sitting, baling hay, and detasseling corn, while still working at home watching each other, cooking, ironing, and milking the cow.
Typical of the times, Ellen stayed home to manage the growing family, while Marvin started his own business and worked many jobs.
Ellen made clothes for the children and cooked, cleaned the house, and washed the clothes. "The wringer washer was always running with the clothes hung on lines in the yard," she said.
In 1947, Marvin started his trucking business, hauling cattle to South St. Paul and bringing back groceries, hardware, liquor, and plumbing supplies for the Montrose businesses. He also hauled gravel, at first, shoveling it by hand into the truck bed and then shoveling it out by hand. Later he got a hopper bottom gravel box and a tractor with a bucket.
In 1968, Marvin quit stock hauling, continued the gravel hauling, and began driving school bus for Montrose School. He continued driving bus for District 877 for more than 32 years. After the morning bus run, Marvin would return to his garage, haul loads of gravel and sand, and be back in time for the afternoon bus route. In the evenings, he sometimes had another gravel load to haul or would use the time to maintain his trucks.
"With so many children," said Marvin, "I had to keep my nose to the grindstone."
Ellen was the bookkeeper for the trucking business. "Whenever we needed to buy something, I had to get busy sending out the bills," said Ellen.
For extra money, Marvin played his guitar and accordion for weddings and barn dances. He was known as "Whoopy Scheuble" and played at several dance halls in the area with his son Melvin on the drums.
Ellen would go along, especially to the Oak Knoll Tavern near what is now Ridgedale.
"I had to," she said. "I had to drive them home because I was afraid they would fall asleep after playing so long."
While Ellen managed the family, Marvin also worked for the city in summer street maintenance and winter snow plowing.
For many years, every time it snowed, Marvin would be out at 1:00 a.m. to plow the streets in his open cab loader. After coming in for a little breakfast at 7:00 a.m., he would head out and "tidy up" the streets, making sure driveways were open and the streets were wide again.
After graduating from high school in 1965, son Melvin studied carpentry and built a garage and started building a house, just south of the Scheuble family home.
Melvin went off to Vietnam in March of 1968. On July 4, 1968, they learned that Melvin would not be coming home to finish his house; he had been killed in Vietnam.
The same year, Marvin and Ellen lost a full-term baby due to complications during the delivery.
In 2010, the Scheubles lost a grandson in a snowmobile accident.
Those were hard times for the whole family.
Marvin and Ellen have made the trip to the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C. to see their son's name permanently etched in the stone monument. They completed the house that Melvin started and moved there.
For vacations, Marvin and Ellen rebuilt an old school bus, adding in bunk beds, a kitchen, and eating area. The whole family went on camping trips to a lake up north, to the Grotto of Redemption in Iowa, and to the Corn Palace in South Dakota.
As the family grew older and moved away, the Scheubles continued to travel together. They have been to nearly every state and Mexico. Ellen was able to go to Canada to see the Pope.
But their favorite place is Branson, Missouri, where they have enjoyed Box Car Willie and meeting Minnie Pearl.
For many years, Marvin and Ellen worked together to make Christmas gifts for the grandchildren, hand-painted wood cutouts, Christmas ornaments, lawn ornaments, and lawn furniture.
AND THE CARS
The Scheubles have always been interested in cars.
They spent their free time rebuilding and repainting old cars. Marvin worked on the mechanical side, and Ellen worked on the interiors.
Their restored 1929 Model A Roadster received the People's Choice award a few years back during Montrose Days.
Marvin and Ellen sold most of their cars, 20 in all, at an auction a few years ago. Of course, some were bought by their children and grandchildren.
"It's surprising what a guy goes through in a life time," said Marvin, who also served on the Montrose Fire Department for many years and was in the Wright County Police Reserve.
"Of course," Ellen agreed. She has been involved in the VFW Women's Auxiliary for more than 40 years.
They have 29 grandchildren and 42 great-grandchildren, and all of their children live close by.
Marvin and Ellen are always together. If you see Marvin out mowing the grass, Ellen will be close by, watching out for him. If Ellen takes the golf cart to get the mail, Marvin will often be riding along.
Their advice on marriage: plan on staying together forever.
Some information is from a presentation at Marvin and Ellen's 50th Anniversary celebration, from a previous interview by daughter Judy, and from the 1981 Montrose History book.
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