In Memory of Anna "Annie" Alles
Oct. 11, 1925 - Jan. 21, 2014
Funeral: Jan. 24, 2014
I am Martha Rasche. I worked with Annie at The Herald, and my father was a first cousin to Chick.
A few days before Annie died, her doctor commented that she had a strong heart.
That didn't come as a surprise to her family, and it probably doesn't come as a surprise to you. Annie put her strong heart into everything she did.
Let's start with her marrying Chick and raising her family.
Annie was a year ahead of Chick at Jasper High School. She graduated in 1943. She and Chick were dating by the time he left for the Army in October 1944, and she wrote to him every day.
They married May 22, 1947.
Annie had grown up at 1425 Vine St., and the young couple shared the house with Annie's parents for a few years before moving to 1507 Vine St.
"She never moved up much," Chick said yesterday afternoon. "Just a block."
By the end of 1960, Chick and Annie had seven children: Bev, Joe, Evie, Bob, Bill, Tom and Jerry.
To hear the children tell it, no one had a better childhood than they did. Although Annie worked a full-time job most of the time, her first priority was being sure all of the bases were covered at home.
If Chick was the family CEO, Annie was the person who kept schedules on track, clothes clean, meals prepared. In short, she made sure everything worked.
And she made a point to put extra effort into making things special.
Like decorating boxes for the annual Labor Day Box Parade.
And like Halloween, when many years saw Annie creating costumes for several of her children and altering old costumes as hand-me-downs. One year, a lampshade over Tom's head helped give an egg shape to a yellow cloth, and a skirt of sorts was made of tissue paper that looked like bricks. Can you picture it? He was Humpty-Dumpty.
Another year one of the kids dressed as a green door, in honor of a song of the same name that was popular at the time. George Washington and Mary Mary Quite Contrary also made appearances.
Then there were the birthday cakes Annie made.
When Jerry turned 3, his cake looked like a clock showing 3 o'clock. Tom remembers cakes shaped like a fish, with Life-Saver eyes, and a bat and ball. One year one of the boys got three tiers featuring cowboys and Indians.
And a young Evie got a doll cake; cake formed the skirt of the ballgown and a doll stuck out from the middle. The problem with that cake, though, is that the family couldn't eat it until they took a picture of it. And they were out of film.
Some claim that cake stayed on top of the refrigerator for weeks.
The family got their first car -- a 1959 red-and-white Ford station wagon -- in 1961. In the summer the kids invited their friends for station wagon sleepovers.
The Alles house was the place to be on Christmas Eve. For decades, from evening until the wee hours of Christmas morning, as many as a hundred or more relatives, friends and neighbors filed through the house for good food and merrymaking. Word has it that some came just for Annie's baked beans, though the rest of the spread -- including hundreds of homemade cookies that she had spent weeks baking -- was just as tasty.
The Alles children walked to school. One snowy day when the school buses didn't run, and the bus riders had the day off, the children who walked to school were told to report to school anyway. That didn't seem quite fair to Annie, and to her children's disbelief she let them stay home that day. Ordinarily, she was all about education, but that day she let her children play in the snow and they remember enjoying hot chocolate when they went indoors to warm up.
Annie and Chick, children of the Depression, were proud to graduate from high school. But they were "immensely proud," Joe said, that all seven of their children graduated from college.
Something else Annie put her heart into was politics. Her mom was a staunch Democrat, and Annie grew up in a home where Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a saint. Annie was involved in local politics in her younger days, including fundraising door to door and helping with voter registration.
Just a side note -- about a century ago, two of the three Dubois County commissioners were Annie's Grandpa Hoffman and Chick's Grandpa Alles.
When Chick became mayor of Jasper in 1980, the city's first lady was his biggest promoter and biggest defender. She also saw to it that he was dressed appropriately when he left the house each day.
They were a good team, Bill said. Chick likes things concise and no-nonsense. Annie was very outgoing and chatty and was a good judge of character; she could, and did, tell Chick whom to watch out for and whom he could trust.
In 2008, Annie was glad she got to vote for a woman for president and then vote for a black man.
For 44 years Annie worked at The Herald. She started there full time as a typist in 1965, about the time Jerry started school. As the technology changed, she moved to putting stories on pages and then spent some years working part time to compile the weekly "Looking Back" column. To type the column, she had to learn to use a computer. She kept a journal along the way, and many of the entries read: Computer problems today.
Annie knew the community as well as anyone, and if reporters were looking for people to talk to about particular topics, especially things about the past, they could depend on Annie to help point them in the right direction. Even though Annie retired from The Herald in 2009, I know for a fact that at least two reporters called her and Chick for leads just last year. As always, the lifelong Jasper residents came through.
As I mentioned earlier, Chick likes concise and no-nonsense. He never liked a city council meeting to run longer than it needed to. He's probably looking at the clock by now, so I'll speed this up.
Here are a few quick facts about Annie:
*She didn't learn to drive until Chick taught her when she was in her late 30s. She never liked getting to an intersection with a yellow light, so she tried to time it out to avoid that whenever she could. When another driver did something she didn't like, which was often, she'd say, "You dirty dog!"
*She was fascinated by being able to access the Internet on a small phone.
*When she watched Indiana University basketball games on TV and the score was close in the waning minutes, she got so nervous that she usually left the room.
*She was sensitive and felt sadness deeply. When she saw a TV commercial about abused children or neglected animals, she cried. And when her children and grandchildren went though a struggle, she hurt right along with them.
*She was the last of the Hoffman siblings. Preceding her in death were her sister, Helen, who lived only two days, and her brothers, Cy, Ed and Maurice, known as Bumps.
*For years, she and Chick hung out with four other couples: Dorothy and Walter Buechler, Helen and Charles "Botts" Bohnert, Esther and Ed Rumbach, and Gus and Vic Wagner. The women played cards together, the couples vacationed at Kentucky Lake in the summers, and the entire families went tree-hopping at each other's houses every New Year's Eve.
And finally, these are a few things Annie loved with her strong heart:
*Watching Lawrence Welk on Saturday nights.
*Wine. Her dad grew grapes and made homemade wine, and drinking wine always reminded Annie of those days.
*Callie, Bob's Yorkie and Maltese mix that he often takes with him when he visits his parents. On some days when Bill visited Annie and Chick after Bob and Callie had been there, Bill heard all about Callie's antics. "Callie did this today." "Callie did that today." On one visit Bill asked, "Mom, who would you rather see - me or Callie?" "Well," Annie replied with a mischievous twinkle in her eye, "We really like Callie."
*She loved to see her children fight for causes they believe in.
*She loved to dance at weddings.
*She loved her Vine Street neighborhood.
*She loved people.
*She loved to have a good time.
*Not only did she love life, she loved HER life.