Garver Feed Mill story by Susan Rottier
Susan Rottier shares her family's history with the Garver Feed Mill, where her father was the foreman for many years. She tells about coming to visit him at work as a child.
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0:34 - FATHER, CHARLES PETTERSON, WORKED AT GARVER MILL 1931-1977
1:25 - HIS CAREER PROGRESSION, FROM UNLOADING TRUCKS TO FOREMAN
2:37 - GARVER MILL DESCRIBED AS FULL, BUSY, INDUSTRIOUS
4:35 - THE COTTAGE (MR. GARVER'S OFFICE), AREA AROUND GARVER
5:19 - NAMES OF RELATIVES WHO WORKED AT GARVER MILL
5:55 - MEMORIES OF FATHER DRIVING BY MILL ON DAYS OFF, HIS ATTACHMENT TO GARVER
[START OF RECORDING]
Amy Scanlon: This is Amy Scanlon, and I'm at the Garver Building. It's the grand opening on November 2, 2009. And I'm speaking with Susan. Susan, could you please spell your first and last name for us?
Susan Rottier: It's S-u-s-a-n, and my last name is Rottier, R-o-t-t-i-e-r.
Amy Scanlon: Thank you! Thank you so much for being here today. Do you have a memory or story about the Garver Building you'd like to share with us today?
Susan Rottier: Yes.
Amy Scanlon: Awesome! Tell us.
Susan Rottier: Well, my father worked here for forty-six years. He started working in 1931, when he was eighteen years old. And he continued until 19--, let's see, I almost forgot what year it was now, he continued until he was sixty-four years old. And he married my mother, and always lived on the east side of Madison. And grew up here and went to Allis Elementary. And my mother went to Lowell Elementary. So they were always east siders. And we lived just near Breese Stevens Field. He worked here and loved--he loved what he did and ended up foreman of it later on, after he was a little older. And Mr. Garver was almost like a father to him.
Amy Scanlon: Talk about how he progressed through his career here. When he started, what did he do, and where did he end up?
Susan Rottier: Mostly when he started, I believe, I was not born yet, obviously, but he mostly was in the warehouse here and just loading bags and unloading trucks, and I'm not even sure what year he became foreman, but I only knew him as foreman. I was born in '51.
Amy Scanlon: And you were talking about his office is located right here on--
Susan Rottier: Just inside the front door of this building. He had a small office, which I remember once I graduated high school and I was working, I would have to--the bus line only came this far, so I had to come inside--I had to come here, wait for my dad to have a break in order to take us--take me home to take care of my mother who was an invalid at the time, so.
Amy Scanlon: You guys would come into this building and you have memories of it as it was before?
Susan Rottier: Yes. Yes. Very much so. And I had my older brother worked here for a short time, and my oldest sister's husband worked here for a short time also. It was kind of--if there was a job, if someone needed a job, they usually got it here [laughing].
Amy Scanlon: So it was a center?
Susan Rottier: Yes.
Amy Scanlon: What things about the building, there are so many things that have changed, but what things about the building do you recognize immediately that are different from when you remember?
Susan Rottier: The entire inside is completely--except for the--I mean, the brick was always so beautiful, no matter what, when you walked in here. But there was not all this open space, obviously, before, because there was an elevator that took the bags up to the loft, so there was loft and it was not open like it is now.
Amy Scanlon: Even before the renovations started, there were certain rooms, outrooms, for example, where trees were growing, over there, and I'm sure that's not what you saw either.
Susan Rottier: No.
Amy Scanlon: It was a working--this was a really industrious place of business.
Susan Rottier: Yes, yes.
Amy Scanlon: Every room was full and things were happening.
Susan Rottier: And it was always well taken care of then, too. I mean, obviously, the fires did some damage and my dad was--there was one time I know that he got called back late at night because the fire had started in the building. They did have fires because of the heat, I guess.
Amy Scanlon: Right. What else about this place do you recall that you'd like to have us know as part of this collection? As far as your memories of how it looked or smelled or how it felt?
Susan Rottier: It was always so busy when I walked in. I mean, there was just activity and lots of employees. It was a nice place, my dad loved it here. He spent so many hours here that, and the cottage, I got to go through that and stuff, so it was always kind of neat to be able to do that. But, I don't know, it was just a very active mill. I mean [chuckling], you saw bags everywhere!
Amy Scanlon: Right. What was happening in the cottage?
Susan Rottier: That was Mr. Garver's office.
Amy Scanlon: Alone, he was in there by himself?
Susan Rottier: There were two secretaries. It was a beautiful building, and it still is. I just--the only thing that I remember, I went in there a few times, but I just remember there was a large safe in the basement [laughing].
Amy Scanlon: And what about what was happening behind the building?
Susan Rottier: There was never really--it was just seemed all open to me, I guess, I don't remember ever, yeah, being back in the backside of the building, because I always came at it from the other side, so I never really paid attention back here.
Amy Scanlon: Right. I don't think we've said, what was your father's name?
Susan Rottier: My father's name is Arthur Milton Petterson.
Amy Scanlon: And you had some other relatives who were here. What were their names?
Susan Rottier: My brother, Charles Petterson. He worked here for a short time. I don't remember what years it was, and then my oldest sister's first husband was Junior Rice, and he worked here for a short time, too. My dad managed to get them jobs. [Laughing] But none of them continued as long as my dad did, obviously.
Amy Scanlon: What other--you had a family soft spot for this building. Is there anything else, are there any other funny stories or--
Susan Rottier: Well, I wrote down one, I remember very vividly, when my dad was off from work, which was usually Saturday and Sunday, that was it, but sometimes Saturday not. He would--if we went anywhere, we would go for a ride, take my mother out, and we always had to come driving through here just to see it. He would never go a full week without, or a full day even, without driving us around and we had to, even if we went for a little ride someplace, we always had to come through here. He just--
Amy Scanlon: Check on it.
Susan Rottier: Yeah. It was pretty much his life. I mean, my mother became invalid towards the end and if he got called back to work here, or because something happened at night, he'd have to come in and get me out of the bedroom and lay next to my mom because she was--just in case she needed anything. He was torn between the two things, but he really loved working here. And, like I said, Mr. Garver was kind of like a father figure to him.
Amy Scanlon: Wonderful story, thank you. And you brought a lot of other photographs and things for us to look at, and hopefully those will be added to the collection. Is there anything else you want to talk about?
Susan Rottier: I can't think of anything else. I think I told what I'd kind of written down about it.
Amy Scanlon: Thank you so much for coming in today.
Susan Rottier: Thank you! Thanks, I'm glad I did!
[END OF RECORDING]