Turner Hall salutes Turner Ladies

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Turner Ladies Society President Barbara Becker, right, gives gift certificate and lifetime membership to Janet Dempsey, in honor of her 25 years of service with the Turner Ladies at the 161st Stiftungfest, the birthday of Turner Hall Sunday.

NEW ULM — Stiftungfest, the birthday of Turner Hall, was celebrated with a program saluting the Turner Ladies, Sunday.

Historian Dan Hoisington presented a video that included interviews with Turner Ladies talking about how they became involved with the volunteer organization that supports Turner activities.

“It’s wonderful to learn about the past here,” Hoisington said. “We have a lot of work to go but we’re moving ahead on a new facility for the state’s oldest gymnastics program. A century ago, there was a (World War I) anti-draft rally in this building.”

Hoisington said the Sunday event was to salute and honor the Turner Ladies and all they’ve contributed over the years.”

A number of Turner Ladies interviewed said they began working for the organization because of their interest in Turner Hall.

“It was a magical place for meetings, fun and games,” said a woman.

“I remember coming here during the war and getting candy here, which was a precious commodity,” said Jill Wagner. “Santa Claus came here too.”

Another woman recalled the Sunday gymnastics classes and that Turner Hall was “like my second home.”

“I remember making egg coffee here, carrying and washing dishes and cleaning up,” she said.

“I started working here in the kitchen when my youngest child started school,” said ‘Porky’ Reinarts. “Then a main cook got sick and they told I could take his job, so I did.”

Lucille Stegemann told of cleaning out the old freezer behind the bar one day.

“It had lots of ice and water dripping inside from the hot, black roof. Things you wanted were always at the back of it, so we decided to clean it out one day because it didn’t have enough shelves inside,” Stegemann said. “We took everything out including all the ice and wound up with lots more room inside.”

Another woman recalled making homemade ice cream at Turner Hall.

“It’s a good place to go work if you like to have fun meeting people. It’s like going to a party on weekends,” the woman said. “If you’re not a people person, there are other jobs you can do by yourself.”

Hoisington said it was a privilege to interview the Turner Ladies.

Turner Ladies President Barbara Becker presented a $25 gift certificate and lifetime membership to Janet Dempsey for her 25 years of service with the organization.

Earlier this year, the Turner Ladies pledged $25,000 over five years beginning in 2018 and $10,000 to purchase new kitchen equipment.

The Capital Campaign, announced last year, seeks to raise $500,000 to completely update the kitchen, pave the parking lot and replace a sewer line.

The Turner Ladies contributed $100,000 to a previous capital campaign that raised $1.2 million in Turner Hall improvements.

New members are always welcome. Interested ladies can contact Becker.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.