Local centenarian reflects on growth of hospital
By Kris Leonhardt
Turning 100 on Nov. 11, Mabel Schreindl is a living testament to local history; but, her home just one block away from the Marshfield Medical Center, and her career with the genesis of those facilities, give her a unique perspective on its evolution.
Born in Boyd, Mabel moved to Athens at the age of two, where her parents Joseph & Gladys Brickheimer ran a cheese factory before buying a farm there.
After graduating from Athens High School, Mabel met a man named Clarence Schreindl at the Country Ballroom on the corner of State Hwy 29 and State Hwy 97.
Schreindl was from Marshfield and was employed at Roddis Lumber & Veneer Company. The two married and Mabel came to Marshfield.
The newly-wed couple made their home in a house behind the home of the priest for St. Joseph’s Hospital. This home later became the Ronald McDonald House.
Mabel had also started a 29-year career with St. Joseph’s Hospital, first in the kitchen and later as a nursing assistant.
“Lots of running and walking,” she said. “In five minutes I was there.”
Mabel has watched from her spot on the hill as the hospital facilities flexed and changed both inside and out.
“When we moved here, there was no doctors’ lot over here. It was just grass. (The kids) played ball and skied down the hill, and did everything over there. Derge’s Store was right next to it.
“The sisters had the farm in the back – the cows and the chickens. They had the farm and the chapel was out there. It was so different. (They had the grotto out there); everything out there was really nice. It is all gone now.
“The hospital is all torn away. Hospice is new, and the hospital is new now. First was the nurses’ home, (then) hospice, (then) hospital.”
As a staff member, Mabel began her first years with St. Joseph’s Hospital in the kitchen, where the nuns made everything from scratch and much of food came from the working farm. At that time about two-thirds of the hospital was run by nuns.
“When the nuns said, ‘We have to have someone serve the doctors.’ I thought ‘Oh my gosh, all of these doctors.’ Nobody would give in and she said, ‘Mabel you have to.’ I had 100 doctors. Three big tables I had to serve. You wouldn’t believe the gifts they gave me for Christmas, Easter, my birthday – they were unbelievable.”
Mabel has watched the development of the hospital for nearly 70 years. While she has seen many changes over the years, the ones most vivid in her memory are of the beautiful chapel and grotto that once stood on the property and the farm that helped support it.
The farm was special to Mabel’s six children as well. The family was particularly endeared to a nun they affectionately called the “Chicken Sister,” who allowed them to help with the animals.
“The kids, it didn’t take them long to come from school when they helped her with her chickens and her goat,” she recalled.