Friday, June 1, 2007

White Bread Makes you Dead

Siri died of tuberculosis in June of 1893. She was buried in section 22 on land likely donated at the time. Her remains were moved to the Rindal Cemetery in section 27 in 1902. This land may have been donated by Per Sorenson, a wealthy farmer in the area.

She is buried in lot 31. Two of her sons, Sanfred and Casper also died of tuberculosis, each were around twenty. A cemetery plot is generally a grouping of eight spaces.

Others in the plot are Knute, who died in December, 1918 of the influenza. The secondary cause of death was edema of the lungs. There is a seven year old named Claus, which may be Clarence, who was the fourth child of Kari and Knute, his second wife. Kari is buried in the plot, she died in 1928. Martin Greenly, the 20 year old son of Kari with her previous husband. The remaining site was saved for Karina Cora Ranum Ostgaard who died in August of 1968.

As you can see, a family plot is not just one single family. It is, in the case of plot 31, a mix of parents, children, children of the children. It is a mixture of extended families! It is a wealth of information.

If you came across this plot what would you think? Could you understand the mix? I know this cemetery, most of 'my' people are buried here but I walked in back and forth to find the people I was looking for!

Ever have one of those stories that is funny but isn't? Daddy always said he wanted a place for Greg to be buried. He wanted a final place for him close to the rest of the family. And the plot of eight left one grave site open for him.

And then, in 2002, when Greg died in Arizona, he was cremated and his ashes were sent to Thief River Falls. His funeral would be in May. His urn would be placed in the plot along with Benhard and Julia Ranum, Stan and Ella Ranum, Andreas and Hannah Opseth, and the Opseth brothers, Olaf and Gust. Mother's stone was laid, don't be spooked, she said, there is no death date on it as we stood looking at the plot. Count them. Eight. When the gravediggers started to dig, they hit a coffin. Of course they hit a coffin, the sites were already occupied!

Imagine you being called and saying, "We can't bury Greg there, there is already someone in that spot".

I will never understand the confusion. It may have been that mother wanted Greg buried in that plot not knowing there were no spaces. Certainly the map of graves at Rindal clearly stated who was were.

It was decided that Greg would be placed at the foot of Daddy's grave. I repeat, although a cemetery plot is generally 8 sites, this one was s t r e t c h e d to nine.

After he was buried we all went to the church for a typical lunch after a funeral. We had hot dish , bars, buttered bread, and red Jell-o. Much as I would like to offer you lime Jell-o with carrots and celery, Shirley, I fear the standard is red.

When Daddy died during Christmas week, we had GUESS! GUESS! Hot dish and red Jell-o. The lunch crowd was enormous. When it was over, Mother had two large coolers full of bagged hot dish to bury in the snowbanks in the back yard of the house on Kendall Avenue.

Now, tell me, when was Mother going to eat 80 quarts of hot dish? Wasn't there somewhere this food could have gone?

When Mother died, we did NOT have red Jell-o nor did we have hot dish. We had ham and scalloped potatoes and to my horror, they were the boxed kind. And we had bars, and bars, and bars. And when all was finished, the extra food was brought to a place where it could be used.

How odd it seemed, for someone who had been a member of a church for so many years and had taught, learned, donated, and helped would require a payment per serving for lunch. Especially the pure margarine, previously spread bread cut in restaurant style which was offered on a plate of half white and half wheat was made earlier in the day, refrigerated, stuck together, cold, stiff, and dried. We should have buried it! Shame on me the funeral should have been for the bread.

If I had communicated with Mother about lunch at funerals, I would have known that the circles, (groups of women who do good things and get together to study the Bible), made their pin money serving funerals.

Do you think all of those people in that cemetery had red Jell-o, hot dish, and bars? Probably. After reading the Rosewood News in the Thief River Falls Times for a span of 50+ years, I have made a note of which pioneers are buried in which cemetery, that is, Rindal or Wildwood. Some time this summer, I need to go back and walk the rows again and see those head stones. I would like to salute all these hardy pioneers who worked to survive and make the land how we know it today.

I am just now remembering Daddy's funeral lunch. When Mother finished eating, she lit a cigarette, smoked it, put it out on her plate then stood up and banged a spoon on her glass to get the attention of the people. And she thanked everyone for coming and announced that Stan would have hoped the mourning period was now officially over. After that statement, the noise level in the basement of Zion Lutheran Church on the corner of Main Avenue and Fifth Street went ballistic. And, since Mother smoked, swirls of smoke were intermittent through out the room.

White bread makes you dead.


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