April 29th……..“WHEN WAS THE FIRST TIME, GRANDPA, THAT YOU ATE OLEO MARGARINE INSTEAD OF TASTY SWEET CREAM BUTTER”?
There was a culinary, dairy-induced allurement as my eager teeth sank their shanks into Mom’s superb homemade bread. It was still hot from the oven, with real sweet cream butter ooozing over my bite mark and onto the plate. Ohhh…..the aroma, the delicious delectable delight….. it was utter childhood ambrosia!!!
Having been raised on true to goodness, bona fide creamery butter, I could never imagine Mom cooking or our family eating any food without golden, genuine butter. Our Kiester Co-op Creamery Association displayed a “no brag, just fact” promotion on every butter carton that left their plant in town…….”A TREAT TO EAT” and that was gospel, for sure!!! 😉
From every society, down to every individual, we all have parameters by which we measure wealth. One man’s trash, may be another man’s treasure, and so forth. Tender to the monetary rigors of our family’s financial restrictions, I felt we were just as rich as anyone else in town. Why is that, you ask? It’s because our beloved parents inculcated us with the same basic tenets that they were raised on, which was our Christian faith and foundations based on the New Testament book of 1st Thessalonians Chapter 5 and Verse 18: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God”. In this specific life scenario, speaking about butter, I was so thankful for the talented men who faithfully provided fine dairy products for our community via our Creamery located along the south boundaries of Kiester.
What I didn’t know at the time was, our dear farm’s landlords were about to throw a bit of a curveball into my golden bubble world of butter.
In the Spring of 1946, Morton and Tina Holstad had retired to Kiester town after an agreement with our parents to begin renting their farm which was three miles northwest of our village on what is today called 560th Avenue. The Holstad’s gentle ways quickly enamored them to us and vice versa. The amicable ways and respect of our two families eventually led our parents to sign papers to begin purchasing the farm versus renting.
For most family farms of that era, farm life consisted of a one man/one wife daily operation and a vacation from said farm was a near unheard of experience. Yet, our dear Morton and Tina had invited us to visit them at their vacation cabin along the shores of Woman Lake near Hackensack, Minnesota. It was to be a day or two of fishing, boating and good old times of visiting and fellowship.
Somehow, in their creative ways, Dad and Mom were able to secure some dear neighbors to “pinch-hit” for us in doing chores and milking of cows while Dad pointed our family car northward to waiting pleasant adventures.
Being relegated to “back seat bouncers”, in those young years, sister, Candi, and myself passed the hours reading, playing with some toys and napping. Upon waking from one of those naps, the scenery had morphed from green, rolling farmlands to forests infused with white birch trees that resembled tens of thousands of white soldiers saluting us as we eventually banked into the driveway of “Woman Lake Lodge”.
The lake was immense, covering over 5,500 acres, and held a coveted bevy of fish ranging from Walleye to Northern Pike. What we noticed most was the zillions of mosquitoes that hung in black clouds when winds died down. Minnesota may be known for having 10,000 lakes, but they need to also warn you about the 10 trillion mosquitoes that are part of that deal 😉
The curve ball I had mentioned earlier came into play when we sat down for our first meal with the Holstads. Tina put something on the supper table that evening that looked somewhat like butter, but I sensed a deviancy from what I had been used to at our farm. Never wanting to offend, I politely asked what this butter was called. Tina responded, “Ohhh, that’s not butter, it’s Oleo Margarine”. With the first bite of my bread, I about gagged on the dead flavor of this butter substitute, yet, I was always taught to finish what was on my plate and gave her thanks for our meal with them. Later in life, I heard this saying that goes………“Margarine is only one molecule short of being plastic, and, it shares 27 ingredients that go into paint”!!!! Not even flies would land on that stuff and they were usually hovering over almost any food that would left out, ya? That was quite an experience.
Now, of course, I can’t blame what happened next on the Oleo, but that night, Dad and I shared the same bed while we were at the cabin. In my dream world, I must’ve been intently fustigating someone, because, upon waking the following morning, Dad said, “You sure were angry at someone in your dreams last night”!!! “I was”? I questioned? “Yup, being up against the wall, like you were, you kept slugging the wall with your fist and with each punch, you intensely said, “S**T, S**T, S**T!! “!!!! Sure enough, I checked the wall and there were the knuckle dents from this Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!! 🙂