Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Hilda's son, Harvey Skinner sent this to me a few years ago. He had cropped the two out of a wedding picture in which both women were attendants. Harvey was experimenting with cropping people out and putting them together; although the original photograph, the two of them were not standing near one another. I am proud of Harvey for his talent and happy to receive the picture of the two women, again with their marvelous hair dos.
As previously stated, Hilda went to Minneapolis to work and I recently found on in a city directory that Grandma Julia, (the lady in the front of the picture), had gone to Thief River Falls to work. The city directory was from 1909 and she was living on Horace Avenue in the five hundred block.
In searching the Minnesota Census of 1905 for the Opseth family, Julia was not in New Solum Township as I had previously thought. She was listed as a boarder in Thief River Falls and her occupation was that of a servant. The only outside job I knew about was much later when she baked pies and washed dishes at the NuWay Cafe which was on LaBree Avenue.
There isn't a lot of information about it except what I heard when the adults were talking. It is like Shirley says, "It is something I heard". The story was always the same, I think I waited until I heard the phrase before leaving the kitchen at family dinners hosted by my parents. The phrase was: I will wash, I learned how to do it fast when I washed dishes at the NuWay Cafe."
Mother always tried to get to the washing sink first. She had a set of Westvale Syracuse China, made in America, which she had received as a 10Th anniversary gift. It was a full service set to include a coffee pot, serving bowls, platters, and a gravy boat. No doubt it came from Wangenstein's Jewelry Store. It was only used on holidays or very special occasions.
I can still see the serving bowl with riced potatoes with a little paprika and a dab of butter in the middle. The little serving plates had a square of green jello with shredded carrots setting on a lettuce leaf and a dollop of Miracle Whip on the top. When summoned to the table, the salad was on the top of the dinner plate. Daddy always set his salad aside saying "Why would I want to eat THAT when there is meat and potatoes." Dessert was served after the main meal was finished. Grandpa always said, "In the old days, we used to turn our plate over and put our dessert there." But then grandpa also would say that it wasn't unusual to be eating in a house with pigs and chickens running around.
Mother tried to protect her investment. It got so that when she hosted there would be a little discussion before the guests arrived. It went something like this:
Mother: Your relatives are like animals they have no manners.
Daddy: Let Ma wash the dishes, if anything gets broken, I will replace it.
Mother: There shouldn't be any breakage, and does Benhard have to talk about the pigs?
Daddy: He is just talking about what it was like. Don't listen.
Mother: All I can say is, if anything gets broken, you better replace it!
And then, it happened. It was not Grandma breaking a dish or goblet while washing them, rather it was two 'relatives like animals'. I remember it clearly. It happened on two different occasions.
His name was Otto. He looked at the plate. He held it up to the light. He could see through it. He said in his Norwegian brogue, "Dis is so tin I tink I could take a bite out of it". And he did. And as promised, Daddy ordered a new plate.
His name was Harry, he was Daddy's older brother. He looked at the stemmed glass ware and was certain he could take a bite out of it. And he did. And as promised, Daddy ordered a new plate.
The gold trimmed dishes are in the buffet. The silver is wrapped and put away. The Fostoria is on the top shelf in the kitchen. If you wish to eat in this grand style, let me know, everything will need to be hand washed first. The biggest question is, do you want lime Jell-o with carrots or ribbon salad?
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1 comment:

Shirley said...

I'll have the lime jello with the carrots in it..could you thinly slice a bit of celery in it too? A nice BIG dollop of miracle whip will top it off just right!