For someone who grew up in Van Dyne—with a lot fewer amenities than we enjoy today – who raised five children, owned and rode as many motorcycles, and was married for 51 years, Nathalie Moore looks back with pleasure on a full and satisfying life.
“A lot of my activities as a young girl-centered around the village,” she recalls, “and my parents would just as soon not have me venture into town. My grade school years were spent with exceptionally creative pals who planned parades, dressed up for the fourth of July, put on puppet shows… and we seemed to have had so much more spontaneous outdoor fun than kids have today.” She recalls many pick-up baseball games after supper in the summer, and in winter ice skating on a farmer’s flooded field, and down the nearby creek, that froze over.
She remembers being very social. “I guess you could say I circulated freely and was well accepted during those formative years. I played the Lone Ranger and Tonto for years with a couple of neighbor boys, galloping around on our imaginary horses.” What she remembers with clarity as a small child is hanging around on the elementary school steps –a one-room school, eight grades and one teacher – waiting for school to let out for recess, playing with the kids and then trying to slip back in with them. Rather than discourage this enthusiasm for learning, and to stop having to bring her outside again, the teacher asked her parents if they would allow her to enter first grade. As Nathalie puts it, “I guess my mother figured this way she’d know where I was!” And so, at the age of about five, Nathalie began her academic journey…which currently brings her into many Learning in Retirement classes. “I loved school. Never remember having a bad school day. I enjoyed math and Latin, learned to tap dance and do the Highland Fling… and I had hoped to be a high school teacher,” she says.
Enter love. For some, it happens early. “He was persistent,” she admits with a twinkle, “and I was 18 and in love. And it lasted forever.” Her beginning college classes were interrupted by, yes…babies. And full-blown motherhood. She and her husband of 51 years had five children. Three boys, tow girls. Nathalie has six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, the oldest of who is 19. “You might say, my husband, Bob, was old fashioned, and I have never regretted staying home and raising my children the way we agreed to. I knew instinctively that I could not have it both ways, and while I may have sacrificed some of my own early ambitions, the later rewards of a close family more than compensated.” Nathalie feels lucky to be in frequent contact with her children. Her oldest daughter is in town working in the bakery at Pick ‘N Save, the oldest son is out west driving semis for Werner Trucking, youngest daughter is in customer service at Top Brands in town, another son has a college speaker’s booking agency in Waunakee. Nathalie does proofreading for him. Her youngest son has a computer business that he operates out of her basement.
When asked about her first job, Nathalie chuckled and said, “My very first job was actually a punishment? Some friends and I had played hard on a local farmer’s straw stack. We destroyed it. It was leveled. My father got me out of bed the next morning and said: “Hey, you’ve got a little job today.” We all had to pitch in to restore it.” Her first paid job was picking cucumbers at 10-15 cents a pail. It was in that same farmer’s field. Teenage years took her into babysitting for 25 cents for the whole night. “I often stayed the night, and in the morning we had donuts for breakfast. I remember thinking I would have babysat just for the food!” She would have liked to spread her wings as a teenager and work in the city, but her family had only one car, and her parents did not encourage her to be away from home.
In the early ‘70s, when there was a concern that this country might run short of fuel, Nathalie, who wanted to continue driving out to Van Dyne to visit her mom and dad every week, told her husband that she thought she needed to have a motorcycle of her own.
“I had ridden behind him,” she says, “but I really wanted to ride my own. I didn’t think I was going to get one, but for my birthday that year, at 42, I got a little 350cc Honda I affectionately named ‘Rosebud.’” It took two tries to get her license, and then she was off! She traded up over the years. Next a 750cc Suzuki. When her husband bought an Italian Motoguzzi “a big fat cycle that looks like a Harley,” Nathalie explains, she asked for one too and got it. Bob later went to a 1100cc Gold Wing.
“He was passing semis on the road,” she remembers, “and I could hardly keep up with him.” She finally settled on a 650cc Honda which she says “was just about right for my age…it handled nicely, and had enough zip to keep up with the Gold Wing.”
Nathalie and Bob took camping vacations on their bikes with Jack and Lorraine Sams, also cycling enthusiasts. It was Nathalie who introduced Lorraine to LIR. When Nathalie’s husband suffered a heart attack at 59 and decided he didn’t want to die standing at a machine at Rockwell, he retired and they bought an old motor home to spend warmer winter months in Texas. Bob liked being in the motor home better than cycling and sold his bike. Nathalie found herself without a riding buddy and, sadly, sold hers soon after. “That was 10 years ago. I haven’t been on one since. I do miss it in the summertime,” she admits.
From 1968 until her retirement in 1994, Nathalie was a secretary in the UW Oshkosh philosophy department. She left her university position to have more time with her husband.
“We went out to Lake Powell, Utah, with Jack and Lorraine for a wonderful vacation.” Bob had two more heart attacks and contracted colon cancer which spread further. He died in 2001. Through all this, Nathalie kept a remarkably upbeat, almost spiritual, attitude that everything always works out for the best.
“If you wait long enough,” she says, “things turn out OK.” She adds, “I joined LIR shortly after Bob died, and it has been like a new life for me. It has been just wonderful. Almost every day I am at a class. Sure I miss him. I am at home alone in the evenings. It’s lonely. But I keep busy during the day doing things I love. I think of LIR as a lifesaver, in a sense.” She was always afraid of water, but tow years ago learned to swim and is in the swim and aerobics program at Evergreen. “I traveled for a time. Trips to Switzerland and to France. I got that out of my system. I am very content where I am now in my life,” she says with certainty.
Nathalie enjoys reading fiction and is a fan of author Sheldon Siegel. She is doing a two-year stint as chair of the LIR Membership/Promotion Committee and says that the members of her committee step up all the time to make life a lot easier. “There is never a task we need to get done that doesn’t draw several committee members forward to accomplish it,” she says. And she adds, “I read an article recently that says that learning things when you’re older helps to ward off Alzheimer’s. Also, I work part-time on-campus whenever I get the opportunity. I just love this place.” Her tip to those ready to retire is to list the things they wanted to do earlier in their life and were unable to. Then just step out and do them.