Culture Overload

Daily Prompt
Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

Culture Overload

Just what do you mean, I ain’t got no culture? I got culture up to my eyebrows, but I’m still not a high brow. I was darn good at picking up paw paws down at the paw-paw patch, put them in my pocket or a basket or wherever you wanted them.

I had lots of edgecation, that raised my culture to stratospheric levels, could have been a dad burn astronaucht you might say “I was high on education for a while.” One of my professors once told me you can lead a hor to culture but you can’t make her think. He must’ve been a lot more edgecated than me, since he was trying to develope my moral faculties. Spruce up the old culture level you might say.

When you stop to think about culture, you have to wonder to yourself, “How much enlightenment and excellence of taste can one person acquire during his intellectual training. You can only absorb so much culture, until your full of it! Some is going to spill over I suppose. That will really mess with your head and cause mass confusion. If you can have mass confusion inside of one head?

I was awful sick for a while here a few months back. I had a terrible sore throat. The doctor looked me over had me say awe, stuff like that. Then he felt of my throat, squeezed on it and he says, “I better take a culture.” Doc, what do you mean take a culture?” “You gonna mess with my head?” I don’t want to lose none of my culture you know. He said, “I will send a swab to the lab, see what they got to say about having any kind of bacteria.

Here I go, still learning more, I knew absolutely nothing about people with culture having bacteria also. Life sure does get complicated at times, with all that culture and stuff crammed into your head!

Nothing Like Fish for the Holidays

It’s Not This Time of Year Without…

Nothing Like Fish for the Holidays

When my family came from Finland, Norway and Sweden to America in the late 1800’s one thing they didn’t leave behind was their love for fish. Many of them ended up settling here in South Dakota, in the midwestern part of the United States where there are many lakes. They no longer had their saltwater fish but they had a good supply of fresh water fish to satisfy their hunger. During the holiday seasons, I would imagine they were reminiscing the good days they had in the old country. They would have a special meal with their favorite fish from the old country.

My father’s family were from Norway and my mother’s family were from Finland. In our family “It’s not this time of the year without….”seemed to be all about fish.


My grandfather Andrew would send away for a whole salmon, it would come on the railroad in a box by itself. It would be salted very heavily to keep it from spoiling. The salmon was usually soaked in some water to draw out part of the salt before it was eaten. This was one holiday or winter meal made with salmon. We all truly loved it, I still enjoy eating it today. It’s a very simple recipe.

Peel some potatoes and cut them up into fairly small size pieces and chop up an onion or two. Put that in a pot of water and cook until the potatoes are almost done. Dice up some of the salmon into bite-size pieces and add it to the boiling water with the potatoes and onions, the more salmon the better. It only has to cook a very short time and then you add some milk to the soup, you don’t want to put the milk in when it’s too hot so it curdles. After you add the milk, add a generous amount of real butter to the soup. At those festive times we weren’t really concerned with clogged up arteries. In Norwegion this is called saltet laks suppe.

My grandfather Charlie Wayrynen came from a part of Finland where they had access to caviar. There was no caviar in the fish from our local lakes. The closest thing he could come up with was to take the roe or fish eggs out of a large northern pike. He put them in a crock with a lot of salt and he made his own poor man’s caviar, he enjoyed it on his bread as if he were spreading butter.



The Finnish dinner was made was salted herring. These were all male herring and salted in a very heavy salt brine. You had to soak them in water almost overnight to get the salt out to the point where you could enjoy eating the fish. These salted herring used to come in a small wooden barrel, almost every local market in this area sold these little barrels of herring. At one time there was a big demand for the fish. If you want this type of herring now, you would have to send away a long distance to find it.

This was a very simple meal, the fish was boiled after much salt had been soaked out of it. It was served on a plate with boiled potatoes and a gravy made with a lot of butter and onions, it would have a vegetable served with it. This was a very tasty meal and also a very simple meal, from a time long before fast foods. This herring specialty was called, suolattu mies silli.




Another holiday tradition, also involving fish, it is Lutefisk. It is cod fish that has been kept in barrels of lye water. It also requires much soaking in fresh water. The Norwegians also get the credit, or the blame for bringing Lutefisk to America from what I have been told. People eat it and come to love it, or vas de fibing bout dat to! Most people say, “vunce a year is yust fine.” Evidently there has to be some truth to it. I don’t think you’re going to eat that stuff just from national pride. You can boil your Lutefisk, which I prefer, or bake it in an oven. This is another fish dinner served with a lot of butter and a lot of mashed potatoes, cranberries and a vegitable. It should be served with lefse, a flat Norwegian bread rolled up similar to a tortilla.

It’s not this time of year without remembering all the loved ones who have gone on before, they helped mold us and make us what we are today.

Thanksgiving Day



Thanksgiving Day

This picture was taken at my grandparent’s home on Thanksgiving Day 1937, a few years before eight of us cousins were even born.
I would like to share some of my recollections of Thanksgiving day at my grandparents home. Andrew and Minnie Olson lived in a very small farm house, near Lake Poinsett, South Dakota, USA. Grandma always had about two dozen people for Thanksgiving dinner. She would set up a long table in the dining living room area and another long table in the kitchen. I don’t know how she seated that many people but she figured out a way to do it.

One thing about grandmother Minnie she never sat down to eat with the family. She was always busy bringing food to the table and doing the serving. Everyone had a very memorable banquet at her Thanksgiving meals. They later moved to a different farm, the house there wasn’t a lot bigger but the Thanksgiving dinners continued them for many more years.

I recall at their old farm the snow being so deep we could slide from the edge of the house roof, down long snowbanks. There weren’t enough sleds for all the kids so we also slid on scoop shovels. It was a very fast, exciting, crooked ride on a big old scoop shovel.

Another memory of Thanksgiving day was after dinner and everyone was done with their pie and other desserts, names were drawn for giving Christmas presents. Christmas Eve was at our house. The tree with real candles was an unforgettable memory. This was in the days before electricity, real candles were used on the Christmas trees. Christmas day dinner was held at Edwin and Alice Wayrynen’s home. A large two story house, room for kids to run, there was a bunch of kids.

During the war years, many of the aunts and uncles were home on leave for different holidays. Families seem to have been much closer back in those days, lifestyles were different, everything moved at a slower pace. It sure was a peaceful loving relationship in most families. Or people faked it real good!
Happy Thanksgiving Day to everyone.

Stone Boat




Stone Boat

When the last glacier slowly moved across this part of North America it left behind millions of tons of building material. That was in the form of field stones, there was every size, shape, or description imaginable. The engineer who wanted to build a building with fieldstone could turn his architecture talents loose. Before mortar mix was available, the combination of different stones was held together with a mortar that was made from local limestone and sand that they dug out. One part of limestone to three parts of sand.

The early pioneers had no equipment to move these rocks to their building location. This is when the old stone boat was invented. The rocks were loaded onto the stone boat and horses or oxen would pull the stoneboat back to the building location. Most all of the area here in America’s upper Midwest has plenty of rocks per acre, they usually didn’t drag a load of rocks very far. In this part of the country farmers will tell you, “there is always something to be done on the farm.” They are referring to picking rocks, you could farm here for 80 years and pick rocks every year, you will hardly notice any have been picked. Many rock piles bear witness to the fact there has been a lot of rock picking going on ever since the first settlers arrived. Yes, those rocks got to the pile on a stone boat.

Huge stones were used for the cornerstones and for the foundation. When you look at the size of some of those stones it is hard to imagine how a couple of men slid them onto the stone boat. They had to have been very good engineers, using every form of leverage to slide those huge stones onto the stone boat. I can picture many fingers and hands with homemade bandages wrapped around them, the bandages no doubt stayed on long enough for them to get back to work

After the stone boat arrived back at the building site, the task of unloading the huge rocks and moving them into the proper location started. When you think about all of this being done manually, it seems like it was almost impossible. They were driven by the image of the finished stone house that would be able to stand through any storm. Also in this area a house made of stone could withstand a prairie fire. There was a time when prairie fires started by lightning destroyed much property.

My great uncle Eston Olson Hoel and his family were living near Hayti, South Dakota in 1890. A huge prairie fire came roaring through the area and destroyed everything they had. After the fire, all they had were their clothing and the bedding that they carried out to the garden. In 1905 they moved to Ward County North Dakota. They tried farming there for a few years, it was so dry crops would not grow. Some family members where left buried there.

They continued to move north to Canada. They traveled by train to Red Deer Alberta, rail tracks ended there. From there they went West traveling by oxen and wagon, that they were used to. They finally settled at Rocky Mount House, Alberta Canada. That is where they spent the rest of their lives. My great grandfather went with them and spent the rest of his life in Canada. He left my grandfather here in South Dakota. I have often thought, I was almost a Canadian kid. I think I could have gotten used to that real easy.

I would imagine they moved many things by stone boat or bobsled in those early days at Alberta also. Eston’s son-in-law Jack Edgerton started a dray line there with a wagon and six black horses. He later had several trucks and men working for him, making deliveries in that area of Canada. There has been much progress made since the first stone boat was dragged across the ground, probably by people power.

Scorched Earth/Fry Pan

Daily Prompt
Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt
Scorched Earth
Ever since wars first started there has been a scorched-earth policy. The military powers plan is to leave nothing behind that the enemy may find useful and that would help them or sustain them in any way. This included water supplies, food supplies, power grids, anything that the enemy population could use. At the Geneva Conventions of 1977, papers were signed to help stop the scorched-earth policy. It would be awful hard for NATO forces to enforce any type of scorched-earth policy. If there are any future wars, the scorching no doubt will be very severe, with mushroom clouds circling the globe afterwards

I have walked around in Death Valley as a visitor and got a good sense of what scorched-earth is from the rays of the scorching sun bearing down on it. Any life that can survive in Death Valley California has the worlds best survival instincts. Only tough critters survive in a place that resembles a scorched frying pan.


A scorched frying pan is still something that gets my temper boiling, until it is scorched and dry. I have become very familiar with scorched quick cooking pans. A watched pot never boils, just walk away for a second! With gas turn the flame down, the boiling stops. With electric turn the temperature knob down, it still glows red until it boils all over. My wife never cooked with electricity and she seems determined that she will not learn how to do it properly. The word properly, is possibly impossible when you’re cooking on an electric stove.

To save the homemakers from themselves No stick cookware was developed from some space-age material, your eggs and bacon or whatever your cooking will slide right out of the pan like magic. Slide right onto your plate, slick and clean, as a picture of a breakfast set up at a restaurant. There is only one problem with the new non-stick cookware on the electric range, not made for hot temperatures. Just forget to watch your temperature one time and that no stick surface has become a sick, sticky surface, you will never again see an egg slide from that pan. If you don’t buy a new pan you will start having black eggs and bacon or black fried potatoes or black whatever you put in it. Next weeks menu boiled eggs, topped with bacon bits, or oatmeal.

It shouldn’t be that hard to cook with electric ranges but you have to be right there. Johnny on the spot, one hand on the control knob and both eyes on the pan and the burner. When you turn that burner on, it starts to turn red, your no doubt already in big trouble, it cools down slowly. If you leave a burner hot with no pan on it, best leave a CAUTION HOT BURNER warning sign on it.

We have been living here for over three years now. I have lost track of how many pans have gone up in a cloud of black smoke or how many times I pulled the circuit breaker on the smoke detector. It seems like it’s impossible to learn to cook on an electric stove after cooking with gas all your life. We seem to have accepted that fact anyhow. I don’t order my eggs and bacon any special way, I know exactly how they’re going to look on the plate when they get in front of me I will have blackened bacon and eggs again. Blackened or scorched food is said to contain cancer-causing carcinogens but I suppose at this late date we can’t consume that much cancerous carbons.

Or For Sure


Daily Prompt
Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

Or For Sure

Or is used as a function word to indicate that there is an alternative. With my father, when he used the word or, there was usually no alternative. His most famous or was, “You kids better quiet down upstairs. Or, do you want me to tuck you in with my belt? Or, if you kids keep that up, Your mother will have a conniption fit. Or do you care? There will be a price to be paid by each one of you?

Or, if you’ve been acting up at the dinner table, there will be no dessert for any of you. Do you want to wash the dishes or dry them? Do you have your homework done, or are you just going to school to take up space? They already have all the astronauts they can use, or did you know that? I would recommend doing your homework right after the dishes, or there will be no TV. Our parents got divorced as we were just entering into our teen years. Life suddenly got harder, or we at least thought it did.

Our mother must have been lonely or afraid, she married a fellow who was 20 years older than her. This sounds like it’s impossible, he was a cross between a mean, nasty, junkyard dog and sneaky as a snake. With him, “everything was always,  my way or the highway.” My brother and I took all the abuse we could handle for a couple years. That’s when we remembered my way or the highway, we chose the highway. We ran away from home and went to an aunt and uncle’s house. The sheriff said, “you boys can’t do that, you have to go back and stay with your mother until the court decides where you should live. We looked at each other, an instant or quick conclusion was made. There was no way we were going to go back to that house again.

The sheriff said, “Well boys you will have to go to school from the County jail until the court makes its decision, or maybe longer.” We agreed, we can live with that, or so we thought. So for over a week we went to school from the women’s jail. Our friend gave us some funny looks, like wondering what kind of mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. The judge decided we could live with our aunt and uncle. We both felt bad for our mother, letting her down or running out on her after all she had done for us.

There are many times during a life when the two letter word or becomes a very big word with a lot of meaning.

Easy Scratch Recipes Week 38



A Great Nut Loaf

2 c. graham cracker crumbs                1 c. nut meats

1/2 c. sugar                                               2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 c. flour                                                 1/2 tsp. salt

1 egg, unbeaten                                        2/3 c. milk

2 tsps. salad oil                                         1/2 tsp. vanilla

Combine crumbs, flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in bowl. Add chopped nuts. Stir to blend. Pour in milk, vanilla and oil. Beat well. Add egg and beat one minute more. Pour into greased wax paper line 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Then remove from pan.

Simon and Torsten Dakota Land 1880’s




My great-great-grandfather Ole Estensen Hoel was born in 1806. He lived in an area of Norway near Kaafjord, on a farm, he also worked in the copper mines. Most of the families worked in the copper and silver mines, or as fishermen. Our genealogy lists family members there since the 1600’s. Ole and his wife Johanna had eleven children between 1839-1864, three died young. Scarlet fever took many lives in those days.

Copper and silver mining was the main means of employment for the men of the area. Working conditions were bad, primitive and dangerous. In the 1850’s many mines were in trouble because of low copper prices, management and political unrest. There were many different reasons but the mines started closing in Norway, families there were desperate.

The hard times prompted many families and young people without families to think of going to America where copper mining was booming in the state of Michigan. My great uncle Simon Hoel born in 1848, was one of those who decided to leave in 1868. His first cousin Torsten Estenen born in 1852, also decided it was time to search for greener pastures. Torsten’s mother Inger was a sister to Simon’s father.

They went to Michigan together and found work near Calumet and Marquette were they both met and married their wives. Working in the copper mines there was not their goal, or desire. The two fearless, hardy young men were driven to continue west to Dakota Territory. Plentiful, rich farmland was just becoming available to those who were willing to stake a claim on it.

Simon and Torsten ended up living on adjoining land on the southeast side of Lake Poinsett where they both raised their families. The Lake Poinsett area must have been very appealing to them, with a plentiful supply of fresh fish.

They knew all too well, many hardships lay ahead of them, much in the way of trials and tribulations could be expected. Above all else, hard work from sunup to sundown would be the norm. Along with that, howling winds and subzero temperatures in the wintertime, they were used to winter weather, coming from near the arctic circle in Norway.

Simon and Torsten were both men with a strong faith in their creator. Torsten was a preacher, it is said that he baptized over 500 children, into the Old Apostolic Faith. The church’s in Norway kept very good records of all families. Children learned the bible at home from their parents, starting at a very young age.

Their childhood faith traveled with both Simon and Torsten as they came to the United States. Simon married Christina Lindolahti while they were still living in Michigan, they had six children together. Torsten married Greta Kaisa Taskila at Calumet Michigan, they had eleven children.

In the 1880’s those two pioneer families started life in South Dakota in holes dug into a hillside, as any animal would do for shelter. They then built sod houses. Their lives steadily improved from their diligent labors. Simon built a house from the plentiful field stones left behind by the glacier period. Torsten built a wood frame house. Their families did very well.

I wanted to write this story for those who are living today and for future generations. They should be proud to have come from such a heritage, a pioneer spirit, an unshakable faith. May we be always thankful for the blessing of the memory of those who have gone on before us. Let us hold on to and keep that faith that sustained them.