Like many people in the surrounding area, Verna Casper enjoys visiting the Lancaster Country Club for an occasional lunch, or to take in the fine music of Larry Busch on a Thursday evening.
But for Verna, a visit to the Lancaster Country Club is more than a chance to get out of the house, it’s a chance for her to go back home.
You see, Verna, along with her husband Robert Slaght, and their two children, Ron and Penny, lived in the Lancaster Country Club immediately following World War II.
They lived there for about a year before moving to the family farm outside of Beetown.
Now, Verna lives by herself in Fennimore and is looking forward to celebrating her 88th birthday on Wednesday, Aug. 29.
She has fond memories of the Lancaster Country Club, and always sports a smile when talking about her time in Lancaster.
You can still find Verna at the country club on occasion, as she often times drives in for lunch, or loads up her green Cadillac with some close friends to hear Larry Busch play a bevy of memorable tunes.
At 87 years old, her mind is still very sharp, and her memories of yesterday are ones that evoke emotions you can clearly see in her eyes and on her face.
Living at the golf course
When you hear people say they live at the golf course, it usually means they spend more time there than they do at home.
For Verna Casper though, living at the golf course wasn’t all fun and games. It was, however, an opportunity for her and her family to begin a new life at the conclusion of World War II.
It was in 1942, one year after marrying Verna, that Robert Slaght, was drafted into the service.
While her husband had spent tours of duty in New Guiney, Guam, Okinawa and the Philippians, Verna and her son Ron lived with her sister and mother in Hanover, Ill.
A daughter, Penny, was born while her father was overseas, leaving Verna to raise two kids in an apartment that included her mother, a sister, and her two children.
The seven of them lived in what she called “The Manor,” which was an apartment complex where the families of military men lived while their husbands were off fighting in the war.
Robert returned to the states in November of 1945, and being a native of Beetown, wanted to bring his family back to southwest Wisconsin, but had no place to stay.
Verna remembers going to Joe Greer, who was the Grant County Sheriff at the time, for a driver’s license.
“He gave me the license for nothing, I didn’t have to have a test or anything,” said Verna. “We told him that we couldn’t find a place to live, and that my husband didn’t have a job.”
“He gave him a job as a policeman, and then he said maybe they would let us live (at the clubhouse), and that’s where he sent us.”
At the time, the Lancaster Country Club consisted of two separate buildings connected by a breeze way open at both ends.
On one side was a small building consisting of two small rooms, and on the other side was a large spacious room with a large fireplace that had a kitchen at one end and a screen porch on one side.
Golfers in those days never entered the building, they simply walked in between them where they paid for their round, or bought a soda or cigarettes at a window.
That window is still there too, located just to the left of the existing dining room entrance across from the restrooms.
So at the age of 21, with a husband back from the war, a two-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter, Verna and her family moved into the country club.
“We moved in, and we didn’t have much at that time, but of course back then people didn’t have much,” she said.
“It was inconvenient, but we had jobs and a place to live,” she added. “What more do you want? We were glad to find a place.”
To give you an idea of what Verna and her family endured while living at the club house you need to know the layout back then.
Where the women’s restroom is now used to be the only bedroom, which all four family members slept in.
Where the men’s restroom is now, used to be their living room, which consisted of a couch, a coffee table and a chair.
The only bathroom in the building was in the basement, which they had to go outside, walk around the back of the building and enter from the outside.
There was also a clothes washer in the basement and Verna would hang clothes out on a line behind the club house.
During the winter months, she strung a line inside the main building near the large fireplace in what is now the dining area.
The kitchen used to be located in the area just behind where the bar is now, which had a separate outside entrance from their living room and bedroom.
Verna clearly remembers having the refrigerator stocked with soda from Burrs Bottling Company, which she sold to golfers at the window.
“That was the best darn pop,” Verna said. “The strawberry, the orange and the root beer, oh that was so good, and we sold it for 10 cents a bottle.”
Verna also kept the country club clean, especially for any dances or parties being held in the main building.
Though she never golfed herself, Verna has a lot of fond memories about the golf course during that one year she lived there.
“I always remember how nice it was out here in the summer time,” Verna said with a smile. “It was just beautiful. I really enjoyed it in the summer time.”
At times, her and the two kids would go down to the creek, pick up balls and sell them, three for a dollar.
She also remembers a time when Emmett Terwilliger Sr. and some of the other men would park their cars near the first hole just so they could continue playing using the lights of their cars.
She also had a lot of praise for Bill Garthwaite, who took care of the golf course all on his own and had the place looking beautiful.
After nearly a year of living at the country club, Verna and her family moved to the family farm outside of Beetown.
“We didn’t live here very long because it was pretty chilly,” she said of the country club.
She does visit often and is quick to remind anyone how lucky Lancaster is to have such a nice golf course and the country club.
“Oh I just love to come here,” Verna said with excitement. “It’s just fun to come here, and when my son comes back, I always bring him down here. I sit here and sometimes can’t believe that I lived here.”