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Generations Reflections by people 55 and over

January 2019

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D2 Thursday, January 24, 2019 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.

‘My long life … a bit puzzling’ Ninety-year-old Wilma Grothe has overcome the death of an infant, polio, four cancers and a stress-filled marriage. Since October 2016, she has lived at Bethesda Grand in Willmar where she is among the senior town’s “Puzzle Masters.” Like others, she takes on each day as it comes. The Madison, Minnesota, native recently reflected on her journey with Rand Middleton, a Bethesda volunteer and retired reporter for the West Central Tribune. In her own words, here is Wilma Grothe’s story.

Tribune photos by Rand Middleton

Wilma Grothe, 90, is one of the “Puzzle Masters” at Bethesda Grand in Willmar.

“I chose GlenOaks”

I expected to die when I was 80. My mother, grandmother and two aunts all died at 80 and I thought I would too. Ten years later I’m still here. I’m amazed. I moved to this area from Mesa, Arizona, to be near family. My son Loren and his wife live in Spicer. I have two other sons, twins living in Houston and Kansas City, Missouri; 8 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and 8 great-great grandchildren – five generations.

My husband, Marlton, was a farmer. We were married in 1947 and had the twins, Allen and Arlo, in ’49. We farmed in South Dakota, by Twin Brooks, which is near Milbank. We lost our daughter, Marlene, at age 10 months to a sudden illness. I got polio in 1959. I was on crutches and in braces and took therapy for three years. But I was able to work on the farm, I just couldn’t work in the plowed fields.

Puzzling continued on D3

Verona Thompson had a knee replacement. She planned her stay at GlenOaks with priority reservations which took the worry out of a transition from a hospital into a therapy unit. She started therapy shortly after her surgery. When she first came to Grace Living Community of GlenOaks’ therapy department she was using a wheelchair and in a lot of pain. Our in house therapy team started working with Verona shortly after her arrival. Both Occupational and Physical therapy met with Verona and developed a plan to start her on range of motion and strengthening exercises. Verona has now completed her therapy sessions. Her goal was to return to her apartment and live independently which she was able to do after just a few short weeks. Verona recommends that anyone who needs therapy make an appointment with the therapists here. “The staff are all wonderful, the therapy team was great and really made me feel comfortable.” “The facility had great qualities as well. I was able to watch wild life right outside my window!”


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West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. — Thursday, January 24, 2019 D3

PUZZLING: Continued from D2 I was raised on a farm outside Madison. We moved to town when I was 7. It was the Depression. My parents had a sale of all the big farm machinery, some Model Ts, supplies; everything sold for $100. I don’t remember dad ever being well. Doctors didn’t know what it was but eventually it was diagnosed as Parkinson’s, at Mayo, in 1938. He lived 10 more years. My husband had nerve problems that got progressively worse. We moved from Twin Brooks to Springfield where he worked for Oaks Brick and Tile Company, and we later moved to New Ulm for 10 years. In 1988, we moved to Mesa, for my arthritis, a result of having polio. Marlton continued to struggle and life was often hard. In his last years, he wouldn’t eat the food I made and didn’t speak to me. But I took care of him. People asked me, “Why didn’t you divorce him?” Well, our wedding vows said: “For better or worse, so we’ll keep it that way.’’ We had been married 48 years when he died in 1996. There were good times. We traveled a lot west of the Mississippi. We spent time in southern California where we had children and grandchildren, and to Washington where Marlton had relation. We went to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl. I worked, too. My first job was at the variety store in Madison when I was 15. I worked as a nurse’s aide for eight years when we lived in Springfield and one year I was an assistant school cook. In Mesa, I worked at a Carl’s Jr. restaurant as a fast-food cook and waitress. And after retiring, I did adult day care and babysitting.

I had gotten cancer in 1969. I took chemo for a while but lost my left breast. Doctors took half my colon in 2000 and the rest in 2001. I wear a bag. It took an entire a year to get use to it. In 2014, the right breast was removed. In December, I had hernia surgery. I was sore for a time but now I have an appetite again. I get around with a walker or a motorized wheelchair. I take therapy every day, mostly to keep my legs walking but also for my shoulders. I fell in the shower in my apartment in Spicer in 2014 and pulled a ligament in my right shoulder trying to pull myself up. I like it here. We play bingo and other games and have singalongs and there’s worship. The evenings and weekends are long when there are fewer things going on. It’s always nice to have visitors. I have to keep busy. Puzzles are just something to do. I got started down on H Hall where (a resident) was always doing puzzles on the table by the fish tank. I prefer 300- to 500-piece puzzles. I figure I’ve done 75 to 100 in a year-anda-half. I also do word puzzles, roll balls of yarn for the wife of a resident – anything to keep my hands and mind busy. About 40 years ago at a difficult time, I prayed to God that whatever you want, I give myself to you to take care of me. He’s taken care of me ever since and even before.

Tribune photos by Rand Middleton

Above: This 400-piece animal kingdom puzzle took a week to complete, according to Grothe. She said the animals were so much the same color, it was a bit more time consuming. Right: Grothe prefers 300- to 500-piece puzzles. She estimates she has completed between 75 and 100 puzzles in the last year-and-a-half. Below: “Minneapolis” took a week to complete, with 300 very small pieces.

D4 Thursday, January 24, 2019 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.

Lunser family’s first car

The store By Dorothy Carter Libby, Montana; formerly Grove City

By Alex Lunser As told to his daughter, Phyllis Wodash, Willmar

Paul Hunsmann, a Long Prairie manufacturer of farm implements, somewhat of an inventor and local genius, also sold Hupmobiles. One of the first cars I ever saw was Paul’s highwheeler. It may have been an International or Sears Roebuck and the first car to be seen around Round Prairie Township. With open drive train, hard rubber wheels and two cylinders, the contraption could be heard for miles, long before the eye could see it. On a typical Sunday, all playing ceased at the Lake Lattimer ballfield at the first sound of the car and would not resume until it was out of site and could no longer be heard. In 1916, my parents, Wilhelm and Ottilie, decided to buy their first automobile. They had heard a great deal about the all new Dodge Brothers car and that Mr. Hunsmann was about to establish himself as the local dealer. So they loaded up the fami-

ly, and, with team and wagon, headed for Long Prairie to talk business. Now Paul was expecting a box car full of new Dodges very soon but he still had his own Hupmobile which he wanted to dispose of. The paint was nearly worn off but he claimed it had been used for “demonstration only” and insisted that it was new. After escorting the family to his home on Lake Street, he opened a case of beer and commenced to sell Pa the Hups. Even though the case was nearly empty and Pa was quite tight, his efforts were in vain for Ma had heard too

Olney, Montana, population about 200, give or take a few depending on the beer supply. I raised my family according to the hit-or-miss payday at the local lumber mill. Usually the men folk worked there. We lived next door to a family of young kids who mostly much about the advanced had to tend to their own needs design of Dodge and would not let the papers be signed until because both parents had to the train arrived. work. There were several kids, Later on, the Dodge proved all under 11 or 12 years of age. best and I rode my brother A wood-burning clap-trap Emil to town on my Harley beat up metal stove was the Davidson to pick up the car. Since the family funds were source of heat. So the kids had a little lean, a note had to to tend the wood supply which be arranged at the bank for they carried into the house a somewhere between $100 and few sticks at a time to feed that $200. stove. They were supposed to It took less than a double keep the fire burning to keep wagon box of wheat to raise the room warm because there enough money to pay off the was a young baby in a crib a loan. The price of wheat was over few feet away. The stove was $3 then, while a loaf of bread the welded metal kind fastened on four legs so it is not a solid was a nickel.

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piece of metal. One day one of the little boys came into my kitchen jabbering away. I thought he wanted a cookie but he persisted to get my attention. Finally I understood him to say, “The stove tipped over.” So I ran to their house which was only a few yards away. Sure enough! The stove had tipped over – apparently the boys had been rough-housing. That stove was hot and spilling hot red coals. So I grabbed some clothes hanging on a washline nearby and I pitched that entire stove outside. When the folks got home the mom was really mad at me. I had ruined a pair of overalls hanging on that drying line and I wrecked their fragile stove. So be it.

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West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. — Thursday, January 24, 2019 D5

What’s in a number?

9 22

By Bessie Klose Atwater

I am not superstitious, but it does seem like some dates just seem to have special significance. For instance the number 22. Our first child, Jeff, was born on Aug. 22. Exactly two and a half years later our daughter, Lori, was born on Feb. 22. When we were expecting our third child, Lisa, she was due the end of August, so I figured the 22s would end there. But no, she managed to go three weeks overdue and arrived on Sept. 22. Then the family kept adding to this number. Lisa’s husband was born on March 22 and they were married on July 22. Our first great-grandson was born June 22. It’s gotten so when the 22nd comes I need to look at the calendar to see what

we are celebrating this month. The 27th runs a close second as my birthday is Feb. 27, my daughter-inlaw celebrates her birthday on Jan. 27 and our anniversary is April 27. When looking at our date book I discovered my in-laws anniversary was July 27. My husband celebrated his birthday on Oct. 10 and our son and wife’s anniversary is March 10. So they didn’t get the string going quite as well. Even my daughter’s two boys decided they wanted the same day so they were born on May 9, three years apart. They were both premature so she certainly hadn’t planned it that way. I guess God knew we had poor memories and was trying to make things easier for us.


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D6 Thursday, January 24, 2019 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.

You have found me!



Submitted photo

Corinne Dahl stands between Perryne and her husband, Eddie.

Live! o t y a the w This is

In the spring of the year, my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Kepler, announced, “Please pull out one slip of paper from the envelope. Now that you are all good writers, you are to write to the name of the 9-year-old that you have drawn.” That moment began an adventure that has opened the world up to me. I was given the opportunity to write to a girl in New Zealand. Being a task-orientated student I did just that, and in about a month, I had received a letter in return. We were two little girls writing to each other across a continent and the Pacific Ocean. For the next nine years we wrote and sent packages back and forth. She was from a farm; I was from a farm. She had one sibling; I had one sibling, albeit a brother. We liked the same things too … reading, sewing, animals. Our names even rhymed, for Heaven’s sake … Corinne and Perryne! We shared our grow-

By Corinne Dahl Willmar

ing up years together, and it was like we were sisters from afar. Then, our lives changed. We grew up and stopped writing. The only remembrance I had saved was a pillow Perryne had given me as a Christmas gift. In later years, I tried to find her via the internet, but had no luck. The one thing I did know, though, was that someday I was going to visit New Zealand. That opportunity came when I turned 60. My husband graciously accepted my invitation to join me on a Road Scholar hiking tour of this beautiful country. We trained for months, excited for the upcoming adventure. My heart, however, still held fond memories of my lost pen pal. I decided to ask our tour representative how I could go about trying to locate Perryne. She suggested I research the internet for all the families with her maiden surname in the white pages of her hometown. I did that and found eight families’ addresses to which I would write. Two weeks later, the letters had paid off. I received a long email with the words that I had been waiting for: “You Have Found Me!”

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Tears filled my eyes as I read about how a kind lady did her own research with Perryne’s first name and had located her working at the local hospital. Another kind soul had put my letter in the hometown newspaper. My first published work! Perryne wrote about her life since those long ago letters. She too had tried to find me; however, my rural address had changed shortly after I left home so her letter had been returned to her. After several emails back and forth, we made plans to meet. Our hiking trip would finish in Wellington on the North Island, just three hours from where she still lived. We were to stay with her and her husband, and she would come to Wellington to pick us up. We had a wonderful three weeks experiencing New Zealand, and the grand finale was to be a week with Perryne and Eddie. My husband was ready with the camera when she pulled up to our Wellington hotel. We were 60, meeting for the first time, having known each other since we were 9. What a day, and what a week. We are now awaiting Perryne’s visit to us sometime in the next year or two.!

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West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. — Thursday, January 24, 2019 D7

Freight train

Wow! It sounds like a freight train The wind is howling, it’s cold and raining If the temp drops we may wake up to SNOW! I’m not ready for that, it’s much too early Winter is such a drag with mountains of snow Thank God our angels watch over us They are such a blessing sent from God This is however Minnesota I’m thankful for neighbors who help A warm home to live in, roof over my head It can be pretty looking out But as for me, I like a black winter Less snow to struggle with.

By Bev Goodmund Blomkest

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I write simple poems of life’s ups and down. Nothing prolific, true to life.

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D8 Thursday, January 24, 2019 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.

Silent sound By Mary Lou Pederson Blomkest Dedicated to my brother Melvin’s grandson, Tony, who was born completely deaf. I praise you because I am wonderfully and fearfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14 God gave me legs that walk, arms and hands to use, eyes that see, but I hear differently from you. I hear a baby cry when I see him failing his arms and his lips are pursed. I hear someone call my name with a tap on my shoulder. I hear a call for supper when I smell fresh bread and coffee brewing. I hear the sound of thunder when the windows rattle and I

feel that vibration. I hear the wind blowing when it tosses my hair. I hear a man’s earnest prayer when I see tears run down his cheeks and drop into his folded hands. I hear the bell ring as I see the movement of its clapper. I hear bad weather coming as I watch nature in a frenzy. I hear the doorbell ring when I see my pet turn its head toward the door. I hear bacon sizzling in a pan when I see dancing bubbles. I hear the cries of a mama bird when she comes back to her nest and her babies are gone. My world is different from yours. All the sounds I hear are silent, but my world screams of

life going on around me. I hear the sadness in people’s eyes. I hear the sun rise in all its glory. I hear creation thanking God for each drop of rain and ray of sunshine. I can hear a heart break and that is an awful sound. I can feel the joy of music when I feel the beat of the drums. I can hear everything you can hear. My eyes, my nose, my sense of touch and my heart are my ears. People have a word for me. They call me “deaf.” What does that even mean? People with ears that hear have never heard some of the sounds in my world, a rich world filled with the beauty of silent sound. I am

Although I, the author, am not

completely deaf, I am severely

hearing impaired. I was born hearing



impairment and deafness are

hereditary in my father’s family line.

I have never let life pass me by





impairment. I am fully grateful

and thankful to God for the

hearing I have. I have heard

many beautiful sounds, many sad

and angry sounds that are not

pleasant to hear. I have sat in

Tony’s silent world many times.

I have the best of both worlds! I

understand silent sound. I praise His holy Name!

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Generations, formerly Prime Time, sections are published periodically throughout the year as a special section within the West Central Tribune. People age 55 and older are invited to write stories and submit pictures or other artwork for publication in these sections. We recognize that senior citizens have much knowledge and experience. What better way to share that with the community than by writing an article for publication? We invite all interested senior citizens to contribute articles. They may deal with serious issues, or tell human interest stories. Photos or other graphics may be included with the submission of your article to help illustrate the piece. If you need a photo returned, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Try to keep articles to within 500 words. Articles may be sent to: Generations, West Central Tribune, Box 839, Willmar, Minn. 56201; or emailed to with Generations in the subject line. Generations sections are currently published January, April and October. For additional information, call 320235-1150.

fearfully and wonderfully made.

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West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. — Thursday, January 24, 2019 D9

My Sis

Summer ‘really’

By Beverly Schneider New London

By Doug Bultman Spicer

I want to tell a story of many years ago when we met this couple of glory…

Summer’s finally shown its face, Time to warm the human race, It’s heat and storms that now disgrace, Predictors now a basket case.

Our genealogy is not the same. We do believe it is “a God thing.”

In three short months, life speeds by, Picnics galore and outdoor frys. Fighting hordes of skeeters and flies, Watching feats of baseball guys.

Diane has lots of sisters but I had none. I had no idea what a sister was all about – until she put her arms around me and said: “I am always with you wherever you will be.” The years have flown by and for sure now we are one. We will be one for eternity as sisters we have become. My sis is now retiring. All her achievements and goals, she would say, are still a desiring.

Reunions fill our time as well, School classmates have a lot to tell. What they’ve done and where they dwell, How in school they all raised hell.

In her garden she will meditate with prayers for those indeed. I know my sweet sis in God’s garden she’ll be free – she will find serenity and courage to change that in life still in need.

Relatives too, gather in place, Young in shorts and old in lace. Now our lineage we all trace, All resemble some elder’s face.

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Fishing fills a bit of time, On Mother’s day, the first time. New regulations not so fine, May hook one that is a crime. Summers a time for vacation trips, Defining or journey with detour tips. Backseat drivers with unzipped lips, Littering my car with potato chips. Summer’s soon over and I’ve gained picnic weight, Tired and worn, I’m in a dazed state. We all need a party on summer’s last date, For a hectic next summer, I welcome the wait.

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I never realized how connected we would be now we are sisters – and I have a brother? How in the world can that be?

D10 Thursday, January 24, 2019 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn.

Blues for Benson Avenue By David V. LeVine Fargo, formerly of Willmar

Strange that no one has ever penned this song. If I could, it would be a sad and ripping blues song. One that gets inside and twists your emotions. It most certainly could not be a polka, or any old-time music. Ideally, Hoagy Carmichael would come back to do it. In the 1940s and ’50s, Willmar’s Benson Avenue was sort of a seedy back street with only a few neons. It was comprised of an old $1.50-a-night hotel at the corner of Third Street, across from a side entrance/exit to/ from John’s Café and beer palace. The Bowl-A-Drome and Art’s pool hall were on Benson, too. Include Gus’ Billiards at Fifth and Benson, Cy’s burger joint and add some back-alley entrances to Pacific Avenue joints like Mynee’s pool room and other 3.2 beer joints that fronted the Great Northern railroad. From bowling to billiards to beer, it had all the ingredients for that blues tune. The Bowl-A-Drome had eight alleys, a front café and a stairway down to the roller skating rink, a place that was badly in need of exhaust fans. For whatever reason, it just

plain stunk. From changing stinky shoes to roller skates, maybe bad teen pits, damp basement or what, I don’t know. The roller crowd always seemed a little on the shady side, too. I made maybe two trips there and scrammed. Art’s pool room was a study, too. Art always wore a grey dress shirt with a bow tie and a full head of hair, parted in the middle and combed back. Art seemed like a nice guy, never said much. Through the day, men would come and go and always stop at Art’s counter. Art would produce illegal punch boards, look both ways and out the window for John Law, take their money and await the outcome of this very awful and sinful gambling. Sitting across the room in an old-fashioned wooden chair with armrests was the Benson Avenue Bootlegger. (Willmar and Kandiyohi County were dry but allowed 3.2 beer joints. Boozers went out of town for their cocktails and to fill their liquor stashes). Mr. Boot had a crumpled, very old brimmed hat and always wore a big, long overcoat. Sometimes he’d fall asleep and saliva drool would

hang from his mouth. His customers would wake him and he’d follow them back to this tiny bathroom, with barely enough room for two, he’d open his coat that was lined with sewn-in pockets for pints and half-pints of whiskey. The sale was made and Mr. Boot returned to his chair, his customers left through the alley exit. As a kid, you’re always curious. I remember walking through some Benson and Pacific Avenue alleys in the warm months when the saloon back doors were opened to let it some fresh air. I’d look in and wonder about the poor mopes sitting there with their tapered beer glasses, topped with foam and costing just a dime. Today I wonder how many dime glasses it took to get a good load on. An alcohol content of 3.2 percent by volume isn’t much. Not many Willmar guys, that I knew, hung around Gus The Greek’s Billiards on Benson Avenue and Fifth Street. Gus’ was a big place. Maybe the out-of-town guys whose wives were in town for groceries and shopping went there. I don’t think Gus took any action on punch boards or

bootleg whiskey, although he did seem to make a nice living and lived upstairs. Someone said he owned the building. For the album cover of my Blues for Benson Avenue, I would employ a creative, expensive photographer to take a midnight shot from about Third to Fifth, and another from a rooftop looking down. For musicians I would hire a tenor sax guy who could hang a sadly beautiful note and make it last, backed by a drummer who would use only brushes and play softly with a sexy cymbal beat. The bass man would strum low notes and the pianist would lay down chords for the sax. I would compose songs with

titles like: “A Night at Art’s,” “A Second-Floor Buck-Fifty Room” and “A Bump.” I might throw in a rock song and call it, Rock and Roll at The BowlA-Drome.” Other titles might be: “Bootleggers Have Soul” and “Billiards, Beer and Bowling Cha Cha Cha.” The concluding number would be joyous, an up-tempo “The Night Benson Avenue Went Wet,” celebrating, of course, its long 45-year wait to become the “Go-To City For Legit Sauce.” Someone should create a tee or sweatshirt made with the words: “I’ve Got the Benson Avenue Blues Ohhh Yeahhh!!!”



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West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. — Thursday, January 24, 2019 D11

D12 Thursday, January 24, 2019 — West Central Tribune — Willmar, Minn. 001823583r1

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Profile for West Central Tribune

Generations January 2019  

Reflections by people 55 and over; generational publication published by the West Central Tribune

Generations January 2019  

Reflections by people 55 and over; generational publication published by the West Central Tribune