Laverne Gorman, a good man!


The first six years of my life was spent in Schofield and the earliest photo that I can remember of myself is a Christmas picture with me sitting on a tractor that I could actually pedal.

As long as I have been alive, I have always loved farming and indirectly that is what this week’s column is about.

In 1969, my dad, the late Robert Walters, moved my sister Lynn, brothers Mike and Tom, and myself to Poynette. My mom and my brother Bobby would reside in Florida and it was a very diffi- cult time for all of us as divorce back then almost had a stigma like racism.

Enter Bruce Gorman who was a fellow third-grader at Poynette Elementary School and soon to become my very good friend. Bruce’s parents, Laverne and Vivian Gorman, were dairy farmers that I would soon find out were possibly the most self-sufficient and kind-hearted people that I would ever meet.

As crazy as this may sound, I still remember the first time I stayed overnight at the Gorman farm and told Laverne that I wanted to be a farmer when I grew up.

That handshake and revelation started a relationship that would make Laverne one of the most important mentors of my life.

Within one year, I was fortunate enough to become a part of the Gorman family and when Larry Gorman (Bruce’s older brother) left for military service during the Vietnam era I was given the honor of using his room for sleeping.

Though I used Larry’s room, anyone that knows a Gorman is aware that their entire life is spent outside, in the barn or at the kitchen table eating or visiting with the humongous amount of friends that Laverne and Vivian drew into their lives.

Each morning Laverne gave Bruce and I his gentle wake-up call and we were off to the barn to milk cows, which back in the day was done by pail (attached to the cow). I was actually in the Gorman barn when it came over the radio that Elvis died.

Laverne never held back the horses when it came to training me to become a farmer. By the time I was 10, I was driving a tractor to move the stone boat which is harmless as you are just going forward to the next batch of stones in a field and by 12 I was grinding feed and driving a hay baler.

Laverne was an incredibly kind and fair man, and I remember the first time he told me to get off the hay wagon where Bruce and I were stacking bails as he drove the tractor. In about a two-minute lesson (remember I was already grinding feed) I was shown how the PTO power take-off worked and how fast to drive.

Bruce and Laverne stacked hay and from that day on it was evensteven as far as who drove and who was on the hay wagon.

Laverne loved to take Bruce ice fishing and because there were cows to milk our fishing took place between milkings (9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.).

Vivian would send us off after the best breakfast on earth and each of us had an awesome lunch packed and a thermos of coffee or cocoa. No matter what the weather, if we had planned on ice fishing we went.

Our favorite spot to fish was the springs on Buffalo Lake near Montello. In the winter everything from northern pike to crappie, bass and bluegill head to the springs for oxygen.

Bruce and I would lay on the ice and it was our version of going to Sea World as we watched the fish that were 1-4 feet below us.

The Gorman farm was loaded with pheasant and rabbit back then, and Bruce and I became about as good as you could possibly be at small-game hunting for two very young boys.

At night, after the chores were done and another incredible meal was served by Vivian (Laverne and Vivian were married 68 years) Bruce, Laverne and myself would head down to the basement where there was just enough room for a pool table. We would play cutthroat which is basically a game of pool where each player has five balls and you try to knock your enemy out of the game.

Other then the noon and evening news and Hee Haw, I do not remember the TV as being a part of our life. Each day after lunch we all laid on the living room floor and slept for 20 minutes.

Two weeks ago there was hundreds of people that went to this great man’s wake and funeral.

We all are given opportunities to help kids in one way or another, Laverne and Vivian Gorman took me into their home and did just that!

This was a very difficult column for me to write!


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