Foodways

MARY AND WILLI LEHNER:
YODELING CHEESEMAKERS
Madison, WI

Jenny | Nick | Pakou | Mackenzie | Erika | Rodrigo
Mark | Pakou | Delia | Tim | Dylan | JP | Dylan
Anna | Alice | Gabby | Kyle | Brett | Martin
Sarah | Marcus

Do you know what yodeling is? It's when you change your voice to different sounds. It's like singing.

Willi Lehner is a cheese maker and a yodeler too. His family is from Switzerland. The person who taught him how to yodel is his mom. When he was in first grade, he sang a song for a Christmas party, and his mom said that when she heard him singing she decided to teach him how to yodel. She would play records for him, and he kept on playing them too so he would learn how to yodel. Willi said that now he is teaching his daughter the same songs.
--Jenny

Yodeling is when you sing, and raise and lower your voice just like Tarzan.--Nick

Willi practises yodeling every day.--Pakou

Mary Lehner came over on the Queen Mary when she was 22. The trip over took five days. When she arrived, she thought Wisconsin was really big, because Switzerland is one third of Wisconsin and a third of Switzerland is not livable because of mountains.

She brought with her a liking of gardening. She also brought with her some Swiss songs, and when she got married and had kids she taught them these songs. "We used to practice once a day," said Willi, one of her children.

Willi's dad was a cheesemaker. At age five, Willi started helping in the cheese factory, scrubbing machines and floors. He didn't actually start making cheese until he was nine.

Now Willi is still a cheesemaker, and he goes around to five different factories making different kinds of cheese such as swiss and cheddar. --MacKenzie

Willi Lehner is a very talented man. He can make cheese, yodel, and keep a family going. He came in and told us about his experirences and his culture.

Switzerland is like a fairytale land. There are cows on the hills and beautiful scenery. They make cheese and garden. But then again, Switzerland is quite small. It is about a third the size of Wisconsin.
If you drive out of one town, you are immediately in another.

Willi's mother moved here because her husband lived here. He also makes cheese and yodels.

Willi learned to yodel when he was seven. His parents thought he had a good voice. He said it takes about ten years to really know how to yodel. He sang a couple of songs for us, and they were beautiful. -- Erika

What I know about Will Lehner is that he yodels and he's a cheesemaker. And he came from Switzerland.

He started yodeling when he was just seven years old. It was fun for him, I think. He started by listening to records and singing with them and that's how he got good. When his mom went to see him perform she couldn't believe it. It was beautiful to her. He knows 20 songs.

He learned to make cheese when he was a young boy, too. He saw his Dad making it and that is how he got started. He makes it from milk and curds. To make it tasty, you put bacteria in. Not bad bacteria, good bacteria.

Now what I know about his mom is that her name is Mary and that she came to the US when she was 24. She has six kids, and all of them were singers. They had a singing family. --Rodrigo

Willi learned to yodel when he was ten years old. He listened to yodeling on the radio and practiced it. He was raised in Mt. Horeb. He felt mostly American but still felt Swiss, too.

His mom Mary is from Switzerland. She came to Mount Horeb where her husband made cheese. Mary would listen to the radio and yodel along. She makes her own bread and gardens. --Mark

Mary is the mother of Willi. Mary and Willi were born in Switzerland. Switzerland is very different than the US because it is smaller, they have different clothing, different foods, different songs, different language, different money, and different culture.

Willi started yodeling when he was seven years old. It took ten years for him to learn. He uses different tunes. Willi sang the song Come to the Mountain for us. He practises yodeling every day. He knows 20
songs.

Willi's dad was a cheesemaker and Willi always wanted to be a cheesemaker. He makes cheddar cheese, brick cheese, and swiss cheese.

Willi sells cheese to people himself, and he doesn't sell cheese in the store. --Pakou

They say that what makes a good yodeler is if he or she has their own style. --Delia

Originally yodeling helped people communicate. The low sounds traveled the farthest. --Tim

You don't want small holes for Swiss cheese. You want large holes. --Dylan

Mary Lehner had six kids who were singers. They had rosti and fondue for breakfast. --JP

Mary Lehner, Willi's mom, came to the United States from Switzerland when she was 24. She came over on a boat called the Queen Mary. It
took five days. When Mary got here her husband had already come over and was making cheese. Willi's cousins live in Switzerland and he lives in Blue Mounds Wisconsin USA.

Willi says Switzerland is like a fairytale land. Cities are very close together.

Mary likes gardens. They raise lots of leek in Switzerland, but they don't grow sweet corn.

In Switzerland, the grandpa usually gets the grandchild a Swiss jacket for Christmas.

Willi listened to records of people yodeling to help him learn. He knows about 20 songs. Mary made himn practice every day. He was seven when hear learned how. Most songs are about Nature.

The bacteria in cheese makes it taste different, and aging the cheese makes it taste diffrent. -- Dylan


Mary Lehner, Willi Lehner's mom, came to the US from Switzerland as a young woman alone on the Queen Mary, a journey that took five days. She then spent one year in Barneville with Willi's father before moving to Mt. Horeb, where she is today.

Willi traveled to Switzerland where he got his cheesemaking license. Switzerland is a third the size of Wisconsin, and a third of it is uninabitable because of mountains. Willi says that verything starts feeling compressed after a while.

Willi told us some interesting things about cheesemaking, like the fact that bacteria is the biggest part in the cheese's taste. --Anna

When Willi Lehner was a kid he felt more American than Swiss, but as he got older he felt more like a Swiss American because he had traveled to Switzerland and gotten to know people there. It's like a fairytale is how he described it. He told us the only reason he left was because it was so small and cramped.

Willi started yodeling when his mom heard him sing and decided to teach him some songs. Sometimes they would go around and sing in a group and wear special outfits. He learned how to yodel when he was seven, but it took him ten years to get really good. He had five other siblings, but he was the yodeling soloist.--Alice

Gardening hasn't changed for Mary. She grows almost everything she grew in Switzerland. To eat, she makes something like hashbrowns, it's called Rostil. She also makes bread and pies. --Gabby


This is sort of a how you make cheese. First, you get organic milk. Then you add a certain amount of bacteria that gives it flavor. Then you let the bacteria eat the milk sugar, then put it in a curder. You feel it. If it's rubbery, then you can cut it into slabs. You let it age in a refrigerator. --Kyle


Mary Lehner came to the US from a country called Switzerland. Switzerland is a third the size of Wisconsin, and a third of Switzerland is mountains, so it is a very small country. She came to the US because her boyfriend did. He was a cheesemaker in Mt. Horeb.

She came over on a boat by herself. She said that they gave her free drinks on the boat. Mary had six children, and one of them was Willi.

She taught them all kinds of Swiss songs and they learned how to yodel.

At one point, Willi knew 36 different Swiss songs, all with yodeling in them.

Willi also learned how to make cheese from his Dad. The diffferentbacteria in cheese give it different flavors. --Brett

Mary Lehner left her family, her heritage and her country and sailed on the Queen Mary to be with her cheese making boyfriend in Wisconsin. She was only 22 years old. The Swiss couple moved to Mount Horeb and had Willi and his five siblings. They all learned to sing and yodel at a very young age. Willi was the biggest yodeler in the family, and always sang the tricky parts.

He also helped his dad in the cheese plant at an early age. He has a picture of himself standing on top of a big wheel of cheese. As he got older, he began to do more and more complext things at the factory. He spent a lot of time scrubbing floors, pails, vats, machines, and many other things. Then he finally started to make cheese. --Martin


Willi is a yodeling cheesemaker. He visits Switzerland frequently. His mother, Mary, came from Switzerland because her boyfriend (Willi's Dad) was in the US making cheese and he wanted her to come join him. It took five days on ship.

Willi said that Switzerland is about one third the size of Wisconsin. It is very compressed. In Switzerland, they ate fondue, pies, bread,and braided bread.

Willi is an excellent yodeler. He yodeled a song in Swiss to us, then translated it into English. The song's English name is Come to the Mountain. Willi learned to yodel when he was seven. He learned by listening to records and sometimes singing along. He is teaching his daughter some songs. Most Swiss songs have something to do with Nature.

Willi's father started making cheese with an apprenticeship. He worked on a farm at first, then he worked in a cheese factory scrubbing a lot, and then finally he actually learned to make cheese.

Bacteria is the way cheesemakers make cheese taste different. Did you know that cheddar is not actually orange? The makers put food coloring in the cheese. Except Willi makes the white kind. I think that way is a lot more natural.

I think Willi and Mary are great, interesting people. I had a lot of fun with them! --Sarah

Willi has his own special cheese called Blue Mound. He goes to other cheese fatories to make this special cheese. He goes to other factories because he does not have his own. --Marcus

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This page last updated on October 2, 2002