Thursday, June 24, 2010


This is a special memory day for me, not that I was around 99 years ago when my grand parents were married but because they married one of their children married and I was born!

I like to think they were a happy couple. Times were tough, I know that, after all their parents were all immigrants from Norway, living not 100 miles apart but no roads, mountains in the way, and who had a bright red convertible to go courting even if..............

Grandpa was most likely doing carpentry in 1911, we know from the 1910 census that Grandma was a domestic in Thief River Falls, MN although they most likely knew each other from Strip, later called Rosewood as both their parents had land in the area of New Solum. It would not surprise me at all the all the Opseth's and the Ranum's were together at times, whether it be social or spiritual functions. The guys may have played ball together or worked together for that matter.

What we generally learn about these pioneers is simple, the the need to help each other far out weighs the church you belonged to. It is called survival.

Benhard and Julia lived in Rosewood until about 1947 when they moved to Thief River Falls. They would build a series of several hours over the years and, as Grandpa said, "Build up the bank account, don't want to die in the poor house". A term, at the time, I thought was a joke, but for those of you who have read any history of your family, you know the poor house and the fear of living there is very real, just as real as the fear of being buried in the pauper's field.

It is hard to know just when Grandma worked at NuWay Cafe, I do know she was very restless and needed something to do. She cooked, baked, and of course, like anyone in the restaurant business, washed dishes.

My grandparents lived with us one month short of two years. They were, for all practical applications, my parents, my mentors. It wasn't until I was reunited with Tom did I feel as safe as I did sitting in my grandmother's lap as she rocked and hummed, and crochet. I was truly amazed when I realized I wasn't going there in my mind for peace and security. I adored her and all she stood for. There were no conditions. None.

And then, there was grandpa with his teasing personality and his huge belly laugh. To mimic him would mean deep breaths from the toes and throwing ones head back to let out the music of the laugh. He was already my age when their service on Oakland Park Road began. Yet, he helped me catch a chipmunk in the garage for me to sell.

As they moved around town in new houses, they met new people. They were the kind of people the neighborhood enjoyed. The had an open door policy for the children and the cookie jar was always full.

For sport, they played cards with old friends, the women against the men. Grandpa said he would teach me to play but I could not look in the discard pile, I had to remember what was tossed. An early lesson applied to other things as well.

They would celebrate their 50th anniversary with a party on the lawn at their house on Arnold Avenue. When someone asked Benhard what he was going to do next he stated he was going to get himself a spring chicken. Grandmother announced he would be dead in a week if he did. She did not state if she would do him in or the chick would.

Grandma died in the fall of 1966. Grandpa had cataract surgery. He still played cards. He still whistled a no tune, and he still drummed on the table. He wrote his bike around town but missed his wife more than I will ever know.

Sweet memories linger.


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