Karma, Relics, History and a Class Reunion

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf printed in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of 8/27/2018

Last week when I wrote about my class reunion, it hadn’t yet happened. I thought I would report a little more on a fun night for those of you who can’t decide whether they should attend the event from their high school. It might change your mind.

class picture 1968The class of 1968 of Wells-Easton High School had a good turnout and people attended from as far away as California and Florida. Some we hadn’t seen since we graduated 50 years ago. But at this reunion, I felt as if something extraordinary happened that only the universe could put together.

Friday before the reunion, my friend Vicki and I received a message with a picture from a classmate’s wife who resides in Missouri and was not attending the reunion. The picture was a class ring with the year 1968IMG_0537 on it along with the initials WHS and BL. She had seen the picture on Facebook posted by a friend of a friend. She did not know the person posting but thought perhaps the ring might belong to someone in our class, although they could not think of who had those initials.

I read the message and immediately thought of my classmate Brad Lines who lives in California and who I have contact with on Facebook. I messaged him the picture and question in the post: Does this ring belong to anyone in Minnesota? It was found somewhere in Minnesota.

Brad messaged me back. He thought it was his ring. The ring was lost 50 years ago at a camp in Paynesville. He called the woman. She lived in Paynesville.

The interesting part of this was that he and his wife, Jill, were just about to hop on a flight to Minnesota to attend our reunion. They had decided not to attend but changed their mind the previous week and booked a flight. When they arrived in Minnesota they drove to Hutchinson, met the party who found the ring and made it back in time to join a happy hour that afternoon with our class. After 50 years, he was again wearing his class ring — on another finger because as you well know as we age our body tends to grow, meaning our fingers expand in size.

We also found out on class reunion weekend we were history in our museum. The Wells Depot Museum was honoring the class of 1968. We found our pictures (they had my picture from kindergarten in a showcase along with three other kindergarten classmates, which were better than some of the class pictures I wouldn’t have wanted seen), articles from our time in school and letter jackets, GAA shirts, articles of our accomplishments, etc. Whoever thought we would be museum pieces, although I must say I am already officially an antique. A ruler from my dad’s shoe store with my writing and my name and grade three on it were found in an antique shop in Iowa a few years ago. Antique store plus museum must make me a relic. I won’t add my classmates to that designation as I don’t want to offend them and risk the wonderful comradery we found at the reunion.

We savored the moments we spent together and hoped our 17 classmatesIMG_0558.JPG who have passed were having a heavenly reunion with each other, too, as we felt their presence when candles were lit and moments of silence were observed to honor them.

It couldn’t have been more fitting for Brad to get his class ring back the same weekend of our reunion. It filled us all with amazement, gave us more to ponder about the universe that keeps calling us back together. We reminisced with those who used to be our best friends, became better friends with those who were acquaintances in high school and because we all had a good time decided to not wait for another five years to meet again. We are going to call it a 70th birthday party. In two years we hit the magic age and what better way than to celebrate it with those who shared the beginning years of our lives?

Our class motto was: “Those conquer who believe they can.”  We believed, we conquered and 50 years later we are still going strong. img_0574.jpg

Note: I have been the Monday columnist for the Albert Lea Tribune since around 2005. That is so many columns. I am delighted they want to keep me on, and so I will be moving to Thursdays. It is also a time to rename my column Sprinkled Notes, which is what I use for my blog, which can be located at sprinklednotes.com.

Happy Birthday Gladys Johanson – 100 Years Young

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf published the week of 10/23/2017 in the Albert Lea Tribune

“If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of 10 years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.” — Confucius

I love this quote by Confucius. Confucius was a Chinese teacher, a politician, and philosopher that lived between 551 BC and 479 BC. This thought came to mind as I contemplated the people in my life who have reached the grand age of 100. I am awed by the fact I have an aunt that is going to be 101, an uncle who lived to be 102 and now I have a friend who celebrated her 100th birthday on Thursday.

File Oct 20, 9 26 32 AMMy friend’s name is Gladys Johanson and I first remember meeting Gladys back in my late high school years when one of her daughters was my best friend.

I want to share a little history on Gladys’ life. Gladys was born in Matawan on Oct. 19, 1917, and was the fifth child of Minnie and Herman Vogelsang. She had two brothers and two sisters and two brothers that died in infancy. She married Wilbur Johanson on Nov. 18, 1937. He passed away Nov. 29, 1975. She has lived in the same house since she married Wilbur.

One of the many amazing things about Gladys, at least to me, is the fact she has 14 children, having them all within 20 years. And of these 14 children, seven were boys and seven were girls. When I think of the stress we go through today raising one or two children, I can’t imagine raising 14. Yet, I always remember Gladys’ smile and her kind heart for everyone. Her smile today is as welcoming as it ever was. She has a happy glow surrounding her.

Gladys was a stay-at-home mom until later years when her final child was in school. She then entered the working world at Stamper’s factory, and she never missed a day of work in the 10 years she worked for them. I wonder how that happened with 14 children, even though at that point all were not still at home. We all know kids and germs go together and illness usually follows the adults in their life. How many of us now could say we haven’t missed a day of work in 10 years?

Here is another little tidbit I didn’t know. Not only did Gladys take care of her house and her children, she also was the bookkeeper for her husband’s carpentry business. Remember there were no computers back in those days, just brain work and the pen and pencil and maybe a typewriter.

I had the joy of sitting down with Gladys and her daughters Corrine, Kim and Dawn. I admit I had lots of questions because I was curious, not only on tips for aging but having been an only child myself, how it felt to be one of 14 children.

My experience in knowing some 100-year-old people has been that they didn’t seem like people that worried a lot. I asked Gladys about that. She answered, “I never worried, tomorrow was another day.” And, “When there is a will, there is a way.” As for being 100, she said she really didn’t feel any different than when she was younger. Her daughter Susan in an email told me as Gladys aged and started to discover things she could no longer do she would announce with a chuckle, “Well, I guess I can’t do that anymore.”

One of the things Gladys and her children attribute to longevity is a healthy diet. The backyard was a garden, and Gladys and her husband raised the food for their family. The gardening became an assembly line and even the smallest child was put to work doing something. Canning was a big part of their life in having their homegrown food year round.

According to Gladys daughters, each child had their own job. Saturdays were cleaning day and you did not go anywhere until the chores were done. And if you are a teenager out there today reading this column — the kids in this family had to earn money and put their own gas in the car if they wanted to drive.

Gladys is a fabulous cook and the girls shared one of their favorite dishes was their mother’s mashed potatoes. Corrine stated, “It must have been the love she put into it.”

Supper was always served at 6 p.m., and family members were expected to be at the table at that time. “When you heard the whistle blow you knew it was time to be in for supper,” Corrine reminisced. “The table was always set correctly and she still does that today.” The Johansons had different sets of dishes for every day than for special occasions. And prayers always did, and still do, accompany Gladys’ meals. Faith is an important staple in her life. The prayer at dinner: Abba Lieber Vater from her German roots.

At 100 years old, Gladys’ eyesight is still stellar and she can read the tiniest print. Her spelling and penmanship today are perfect.

Sitting down again after all these years at the Johanson table, I still felt the comfort of being a part of the atmosphere. I felt the love this family has for one another with Gladys being the role model for generations of Johansons. These parents had the secret we are all looking for in raising our children, and it was summed up by a statement from one of the daughters: “We had discipline but we always felt showered with love.”

Gladys has 20 grandsons, 11 granddaughters, 21 great-grandsons, 19 great-granddaughters and three great-great-grandsons. And she has made a quilt for each one.

After spending time with Gladys, I realize she led a simple, hardworking, content life knowing what was important and what wasn’t, and she is reaping the rewards of a long life with a family that loves her. Isn’t that what we all want but forget when we are caught up in the world we live in today? Gladys is a role model for all of us.

I would say Confucius statement fits perfectly with this family. Gladys planted a seed, the trees grew and those trees blossomed and planted new seeds for generations to come. Happy 100th birthday, Gladys.

 

Gladys Wilhelmina Irene Vogelsang Johanson

Born in Matawan, MN on October 19, 1917. The fifth child of Minnie and Herman Vogelsang. She had two brothers: Melvin and Milton, and two sisters Mabel Buelow and Ellen Meyer. Two of her brothers died in infancy, Elroy and Roger.

She married Wilbur Johanson on November 18, 19367. He passed away November 29, 1975. She has lived in the same house since she married Wilbur.

She gave birth to 14 children within twenty years: 7 sons and 7 daughters:

Kenyon Johanson

Corrine Schultz

Joan Kuntz

Jerald Johanson

Glenn Johanson

Russell Johanson

Vila Stump

Bruce Johanson

Emily Ness

Mark Johanson

Susan Johanson

Dawn Dutton

Richard Johanson

Kimberly Zimmer

Mom and dad planted a very large vegetable garden in the backyard more out of a necessity than a hobby, and from the harvest, they canned and froze food for the upcoming winter. In later years, mother worked at Stampers factory for 10 years in Wells – never missing a day of work!  Mother also worked for her husband Wilbur as the bookkeeper for his carpentry business in Wells. Her hobbies were sewing and for her 30 grandchildren she hand-quilted each of them a quilt. Embroidery also became her hobby, and she hand-embroidered tablecloths, many dish towels and pillow cases for her family. To this day, she still embroiders.

Mother never complains she takes life in stride; often you will see her sporting a big smile. As she aged and started to discover things that she could no longer do she would announce with a chuckle, “Well, I guess I can’t do that anymore.”

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