Plastered Pioneers


When I first saw this picture what came to my mind was a vaudeville team. I knew we didn’t have vaudeville people in our family. At first glance you might think these two plaster covered characters are a couple of vaudeville entertainers. Far from it, there is no humor, no entertainment, absolutely no laughs in their work days. They are doing a plastering job at some ones home. This was their profession, they were proud of it and they did it very well. Plastering of walls and ceilings has gone on for centuries. These two fellows were carrying on the tradition. Many other artists preceded them.

The fellow with the mustache is Eddie Olaus Johnson born in 1879 at Chickasaw, Iowa. He passed away in 1960 at Lake Norden South Dakota. He was a brother to my great uncle Ole Andrew Johnston who was also a professional at masonry, plastering and stucco work. Ole was injured at a young age and spent most of his life in a wheelchair. He loved to share his thoughts with the world, a paper and pencil, one of a kind, early day blogger. He was born in 1873 at Chickasaw, Iowa and passed away in Watertown, South Dakota in 1959.

Their father came from Norway in 1850. His name was Ole Andrew Bilden Johnson. He passed away in 1888 in South Dakota. My great uncle Gideon Olson worked with all of these fellows in the masonry, plastering business. They put stucco on many homes in Watertown South Dakota that still look the same today, after a hundred years of extreme weather conditions. They were known to take a little nip at the local saloon on occasion, I guess I can’t blame them. After being plastered all day long.

The work that they did has to be the hardest work you can do, to damage the back and neck. I bet many could pass for chiropractors putting their own bones back in place, almost daily. Plastering with your arms over your head doing a ceiling or stretching high up walls with some plaster always falling back on you. Not a lot of competition for jobs.

Some did quite elaborate artwork with the plaster making flowers and birds etc..

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