Reminiscences of June, a Traveling Grandmother
Special People in June's Early Life
- Published on Thursday, 29 May 2008 18:26
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
This Chapter in June's life is a collection of selected early day friends, neighbors, relatives and schoolmates who impacted June's life and who continued to be cherished in her later years. In some cases they lived on only in her memory. These are people who probably were in some way factors that did influence or may have influenced the shaping and forming of June's character and personality.
Jacob “Jake” and Myrtle Varnes:
Jacob and Myrtle were June's uncle and aunt. June had many fond memories of both Jake and Myrtle. Jacob was born in Rodoy, Norway in 1900. He immigrated to the U. S. in 1915 with his father and mother (Lenning and Christina Varnes) and family. Included in the family were Grandma's mother Haldis and her mother Hannah. On arriving in the U. S., the family first went to Blooming Prairie, Minnesota. Later in 1917, the family settled on a dairy farm near Ridgeland, Wisconsin. This farm became Jacobs home place. In 1927-28 the farm became his when his father and mother moved to Alaska. He married Myrtle Lee in 1927. They had one son Dewayne who was born in 1930. Jacob and Myrtle lived in the house on the home place for 60 years until 1987.
(Photo - lower right - June and Uncle Jake Varnes - in the year 1996)
Jacob died in the year 2000 in a nursing home at the age of 99 years. Myrtle had preceded him in death the year before at the age of 93. June fondly called her Uncle by his nickname of “Jake.” Uncle Jake seemed to be a friend to everyone. He never swore but he had a habit of punctuating some of his expressions with a colorful “By Jiminy Crickets”. When Jake said “thank you” it was always expressed as “a thousand thanks.” With his artistic talents he was fascinating to both the young and the old. He was as comfortable speaking with the young people as he was with people his own age. Our daughter Julie recalls him as a person with “kind” eyes. He was an excellent wood carver and his home was adorned with his many carvings. He frequently played the violin at family gatherings with Myrtle accompanying him on the organ.
Jake's greatest talent was that of a self taught artist/painter. He painted literally hundreds of landscape oil paintings that were sold as fast as he could paint them. Jake won many awards for his paintings but his greatest honor was having some of his paintings exhibited at the Smithsonian. He presented one of his paintings to Great Grandma Haldis. This was a large oil painting of his and Great Grandma Haldis hometown in Rodoy, Norway. This magnificent framed painting is 63” x 32”. It is my good fortune that it eventually found its way into my office.
The Buchholz Family:
The Buchholz's were, a kindly hard working German family, was one of the key families that provided friendship to June's Mom and Dad and their entire family during the hard depression years. They are fine examples of good friends and neighbors.
Emil and Lena Buchholz were the foundation of the Buchholz Family. Emil immigrated to the United States from Germany when he was only 6 years of age. Lena (Lutz) was from Osceola, WI. They were married in the early 1900's and settled on a dairy farm in the Ridgeland area of Wisconsin.
Emil and Lena had two children. A boy Harold was born in 1909 and a daughter Lola was born on 9 January 1917. Lola and Harold were raised on the home farm. Harold later continued farming on a nearby farm.
(Photo below right - Lola and Everett Frisle)
Lola in her 20's, married a handsome young farmer named Everett Frisle at Prairie Farm, WI on 31 December 1941. (Immediately aftter Pearl Harbor.) They made their home in a separate house on Lola's home farm where they assisted with the farming operations.
With the death of Emil in 1969 and Lena in 1979, Lola and Everett assumed the total management of the farm.
Lola and Everett retired in 1984 after over 40 years on the home farm and moved to a retirement home at the north edge of New Richmond.
The Buchholz's and the Rolstad's first became acquainted through the Lenning Varnes family in the late 1920's. They all lived in the same general farm neighborhood near Ridgeland.
Grandma recalls that when Emil and Lena came to visit, Lena always brought some special “goodies” like a cake, raised donuts or other favorites of the Rolstad Children.
Grandma also recalls how Lena before departing, would always hide some money under her plate for Grandma Haldis to discover later. Their economic status was better than June's family so they were able to make such gifts.
Sundays were usually visiting days and invitations were never considered a necessity. Card playing was a common pastime during the visits. Grandma recalls how excited and loud Emil would get, both when the cards were and were not going his way.
The Buchholz and later Frisle families were very hospitable people. June's (our) children always enjoyed visiting the families. Dan and David recalled the “great meals” that were always served. The Rolstad and the Buchholz families remained life long friends.
Lola and Everett have continued this traditional family friendship to the end of their lives.
Lola recalled an occasion when June and her/our family were visiting. Lola introduced our daughter Julie to one of their new little kittens and invited her to name it. Julie suggested “Pansy” as the name. “Pansy” remained the kitten's life long name.
When June and I would have our frequent cheese, fruit, French bread plates with wine at the Hotel Sofitel in the days prior to Alzheimer's taking over June's life, we always sat at a small lobby table. Lola would almost always come up in our conversations. In those early days, the lobby area was decorated to resemble a Pairisian street scene with the East side of the lobby second story painted to resemble 2d story homes and balconies on a residential street in Paris...One painted balcony had a lady holding a cat...June would almost always remark "There is Lola" as the painted lady on the wall appeared to June to resemble her family friend "Lola".
Editorial Update: The Barron News-Shield for Wed. February 22, 2012 contained a notice that Lola R. Frisle had passed away on Wednesday February 15th, 2012 at the age of 95. She died while a resident at the Knapp Haven Nursing Home in Chetek, WI. (This is the same Nursing Home that June's mother Grandma Haldis was living when she passed away.) This same notice indicated the death of Lola's husband Everett had taken place a year earlier on 6 February 2011. Lola's funeral services were held at the St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Prairie Farm, WI on Tuesday 21 February 2012 with burial at the church cemetery.
Ione Christianson Riskedahl:
. Grandma has many cousins (cousins by the dozens). While Grandma is fond of all of her cousins, one of her cousins has occupied a special place in her heart. This special relationship resulted from their close association in Grandma's early years.
(Photo below right - June with cousin Ione - 1981)
Ione is that special cousin. Ione described their relationship as “June you and I were close from day one.” They both lived on farms that were about a mile apart. This was close enough to allow them to frequently play together during pre-school years. They also both attended 1st and 2nd grades together.
Ione recalls that June would frequently wear bib-overalls to school. She said she could still picture how cute June looked in her bib overalls. Ione also recalls that one day June came to school with a new pencil. Ione said she talked, or “conned” Grandma into giving it to her. However, when Ione got home that night with the new pencil, she was told she had to return it. Ione said that she had to march the 1-mile to June's home that very same night and return the pencil. Considering the poverty of the times, a pencil was important and valuable.
Ione recalls that June frequently stayed over night with her at their farm home. During her 2nd grade school year, Ione's parents moved to St. Paul. Ione finished grade and high school in St. Paul. Grandma and Ione were still were able to see each other on special holidays when Ione's parents came back to their old home farm to visit. (4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas etc.)
June remembers visiting Ione in St. Paul and staying a week or two at Ione's home. Going to the big city of St. Paul at that time was a very special event for a farm girl like Grandma. Ione now lives in Hubbard, Iowa where she has lived with her husband Stan for many years. Because of the distance limitations, June and Ione's contacts in recent years have been by phone, cards and letter.
Several years ago, June and her family had an overnight visit with Ione, and her family at their farm home in Hubbard. Ione's daughter Judy, who was a teen-ager at the time of Grandma's visit, was recently asked if she remembered June. She responded “Yes, she was the one with the “friendly smile and the kind eyes.” Ione recently wrote me a gracious note in which she summed up her relationship with June by saying – “I'm so happy to be her cousin and her friend. June's smile is like a ray of sunshine that spreads into the hearts of those around her.”
Gladys (Freestone) Delaitsch:
June has maintained contact with a number of her old friends from both the grade school and high school years. One of June's most current best friends was Gladys (Freestone) Delaitsch.
June first met Gladys when she was in the 7th grade (and Gladys was in the 6th grade) of the Trout Creek grade school. (1938-39 school year.)
June recalls how some of the boys would try to make Gladys laugh when she was drinking her milk at the noon lunch. The boys would put a half an orange in their mouths and cheeks to distort their faces. This would cause Gladys to burst out laughing and spray the milk onto anyone and anything in close proximity.
In recent years, June and Gladys currently get together at least once a month to visit and reminisce. Gladys now lives in North Minneapolis with her husband Myrl.
Arlys (Knutson) Deutsch:
(Photo below right - June and friend Arlys (Knutson) Deutsch - Colfax Class Reunion - September 2002.)
One of Grandma's best friends during the school years was Arlys (Knutson) Deutsch who now lives in Chetek, WI.
They were classmates in both Plainview grade school and Colfax high school.
In the more recent years they exchanged cards, letters, and an occasional phone call and would see each other 1-2 times a year.
Arlys's family the Knutson's were also good friends of June's Mom and Dad. The families socialized together as well as attending the same church.
June recalls a near tragic accident that took place one Sunday afternoon while June's family was visiting the Knutson family farm. June's Dad was visiting with Arlys's father Edwin by the back porch where Edwin was working on his car. The car a Hudson was up on wood blocks while Edwin was under the car making some repairs. Somehow the car slid sideways off of the blocks and landed on Edwin's chest pinning him to the ground. The children were all very frightened thinking the car would surely crush his chest. Grandma remembers her father and others feverishly working to get the car up and off of Edwin's chest. They were successful and thereby averted what might have been a tragedy. Edwin escaped serious injury, ending up with bumps and bruises. Grandma remembers that both her mother and Arlys's mother were of the opinion that the accident was the result of God's retribution for working on the Sabbath Day.
Another of Grandma's life long friends is John Sanford. John first met Grandma in 1943-44 through a friend in the Prairie Farm, WI area.
John's recollection of his first meeting in a letter to me is: " I've been trying to remember how I met June and got to know her. As nearly as I can remember, she (June) was going with one of my friends and we "double dated". I might have been going with your cousin Lois Nedland, at the time..." (Lois Nedland's father Harry Nedland was the town Barber in Prairie Farm.) "I can't remember June in High School at Prairie Farm, but she might have been there for just part of a year while I was at Prairie Farm. I went to High Shool just two years at Prairie Farm and because our house burned down and we had to move to Eau Claire. I went my junior year there (1943) and after about a couple months of my Senior year, I enlisted in the navy. (1944)" Editorial Note: Grandma June's High School years were split between two high schools. Because of school bus route changes, Grandma was switched between Prairie Farm, WI High School and Colfax High School. Her freshman year (1941-42) was at Colfax High School. The following two school years (Sophomore and Junior) ending in 1943 and 1944 were completed at Prairie Farm High School. She eventually completed High School at Colfax, in 1946. (Grandma would have graduated a year earlier in 1945 at Prairie Farm, however, her mother’s health problems required her to drop out of school for one year to help care for the younger children in the family. It would appear that both John and June were at Prairie Farm during the same time periods.)
(Combination photo below right are photo's exchanged by June and John Sanford in 1946)
John also recalled: "I remember wrting to June a couple times whe she and my friend had some kind of arguments and I was asked to "patch things up". Thinking back there might have been a little "John Alden - Priscilla"..."Why don't You Speak for Yourself John?" Editorial Note: This amusing reference to John's serving as an intermediary has root in the American Poet Longfellow's narrative poem (1858) "The Courtship of Miles Standish". This was the narrative/poem of the Plymouth Colony Pilgrims John Alden, the Maiden Priscilla and Miles Standish. Priscilla issued the famous "Why don't You Speak for Yourself John."
John also recalled: "We wrote back and forth while I was in the Navy which must have been when she (June) sent me the graduation picture. As I remeber at that time I also wrote to some Eau Claire girls. In those days everyone did lots of letter writing." Editorial Note: The graduation picture referred to was an exchange of pictures in 1946. John sent Grandma June a picture of himself in the Navy and Grandma June sent John one of her graduation pictures.
Their friendship continued during the time Grandma June was working in Eau Claire, WI.
John recalls: "She (June) was working in Eau Claire one time while I was home on leave and I remember taking her to a movie and doing fishing or boating on Half Moon Lake...At that time she was still going with ...my friend so we just enjoyed each other's company as friends. This must have been in 1945 or 1946." Editorial Note: Since Grandma June graduated from Colfax in the spring of 1946, she would not have been working in Eau Claire until after her graduation. Probably the summer of 1946.
June recalled how much fun they had fishing together. “Half Moon” lake at Eau Claire was very handy for this purpose.
John further recalls: "After the navy, I got out in 1948, I remember visiting when June was on the farm near "Arland....I think the next time I saw june was at a class reunion at Rice Lake."
June and John have continued their friendship over the years through occasional visits in their homes and the exchanging of cards on the holidays.
John obviously has a great sense of humor. Part of his online address name is: "Calfthief" in relation to his cattle buying days.
John and his wife Peg were guests at June and my 50th wedding anniversary in 2002. At that time June was midway in her journey into the shadows of Alzhmeimer's. June was still doing well at the time and very much enjoyed our anniversary celebration held at and hosted in our daughter Julie Berg's home. Being the special friend that John was, he arranged for a special prayer Mass for June at his Church in Mora (St. Mary's Catholic Church) on a Sunday shortly after he received word of June's Alzheimer's diagnosis. When June later passed away on October 23rd, 2008, John and Peg Sanford sent a note in which John said: "We will have a Mass said for her in my church here (St. James Catholic Church in Aitkin) . She was a special lady."
John who is a a retired cattle buyer, lives at Aitken, MN with his wife Peg.
Editorial Note: A Christmas card received from John during the Christmas season 2009, contained the sad news of John's wife Peg developing short term memory problems. Short term memory loss is a Hallmark symptom of the early stages of Alzheimer's.
Phyllis (Christopherson) Webb:
(Photo low right (L-R) June and friends, Gladys (Freestone) Delaitsch, Phyllis (Christopherson) Webb - October 1998)
Phyllis was another of Grandma's Colfax High School classmates. Phyllis recalled that while they did not have any classes together, they did have “Study Hall” together. Phyllis remembered an incident one-day while they were both seated side by side near the back of the room. Normally one of the teachers would monitor the room. On this occasion, the room monitor was Professor Anderson. He was noted for liking to take a quick nap. Apparently Phyllis and Grandma felt it was safe to spend some time talking together. Unfortunately on this day the good Professor must have been napping with one eye open. He caught them busily whispering together. He called the entire rooms attention to what they were doing by announcing loudly “What are you two girls doing?” It seemed like every eye was upon them and they were both very much embarrassed and red faced by the incident. Their friends subjected both of them to much teasing after class. Phyllis recalled one of the upper classmates asking – “How could two little mice get into so much trouble?”
Phyllis currently lives with her husband Don at Machesney Park, IL. Grandma and Phyllis usually see each other at the yearly Colfax reunions held at the White Tail Country Club in Colfax. They also have occasional contact by correspondence and the phone.
Beverly (Nereson) Hainstock and Elaine (Flynn) Simonson:
These two more of June's Colfax high school classmates that June continued to maintains contact with over the years. Beverly remembers June in school as the “pretty girl with the bubbly personality.” Beverly presently resides at Colfax. Elaine presently resides at Boyceville, WI.
Much of June's contact with her old friends is by way of various holiday greetings, messages and the Colfax High School class reunions. It is now over half a century (55+ years) since June graduated from Colfax High School. June finds it hard to believe that it was such a very long time ago that they were all friends together in school.
JoAnn (Ottum) Bartilson:
(Photo below right - June and friend JoAnn (Ottum) Bartilson. Photo at 6025 Gardena Lane - December 1989)
JoAnn was one of June's neighbors in the Wheeler, WI area during the pre-WWII days. Because JoAnn was younger then June, she went to school with Lenore, Lyndelle, Jerry and Dennis at the nearby Blairmoor School.
JoAnn recalls that some of their wintertime fun consisted of playing on the ice on a dammed up portion of a small creek running through a nearby swamp. She remembered that Grandma and her sisters had only one pair of skates that they would share.
JoAnn also recalled that going to Grandma's home was special because Grandma's mother, Haldis baked such good treats.
Such visits would usually include sliding on a hill behind Grandma's house. Grandma has maintained contact with JoAnn over the years by way of visits and correspondence. JoAnn resides in the Columbia Heights area of Minnesota. She is currently employed at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association headquarters in Minneapolis.
Note: In 2002, JoAnn moved to Charlotte, NC when trhe Billy Graham Orgainization moved their headquarters from Minneapolis to Charlotte. The picture was taken on JoAnn's goodbye visit just prior to moving to Charlotte. Grandma June never saw her friend again. June at this point was over 4 years into her Alzheimer's disease. Up to this point the disease caused mostly memory problems and June was able to experience a relatively good quality of life. In the next few years however, the disease would gradually take over and control June's life completely and eventually took her life on 23 October 2008.
After an almost 12 year journey into the shadows of Alzheimer's, early one morning in late October 2008, an exhausted June felt God's gentle touch on her shoulder and heard the words: "Come Home June!" As June lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield, it was God's Angels that ushered June into a Heavenly Kingdom to the sound of a chorus of Angels...and into June's new home, a "Mansion on the Hilltop", where there is no pain, nor illness nor tears...June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website in the drop down menu under the "In Memoriam" label - just Click on:
Reader Notes: Readers are encouraged to read/review other chapter's (31 chapters) in this story of June K. Berg's life. (Reminiscences of a Traveling Grandmother) Each chapter is intended to be a capsule view of a small segment of June's life and travels'. It is also intended to be a small segment of history from a time period of World War II and the periods both pre and post World War II. You will find the history is accurate and continues to be updated as new records and photographs become available.
June, a very humble person would never consider her life worthy of a story. To me June has been a lady for "All Seasons". A very unique, bright and highly principled Christian lady. While June like everyone, has likes and dislikes, I have never found her to be uninterested or bored with any thing that life has presented her. June was well traveled. She traveled to Europe eleven (11) times and made at least 100 trips in and around the United States. June would be included in Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation."
It has taken the horror of Alzheimer's to awaken me to finally plumb the depths, and scope of June's Character, Spirit and Being. After battling Alzheimer's for almost 11 years, an exhausted June was finally called home by God on October 23rd, 2008.