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Great Grandmother's Rocking Chair

Great Grandma’s Old Rocking Chair

Growing up in a large family has its challenges, not only for the parents, but for the siblings as well.  It also has its advantages.Our furniture was never purchased as new.  I remember the folks going to auctions to look for a certain piece they needed, or it was given to us from a friend or relative.

I own three pieces that have a special meaning for me.

Mother purchased an exceedingly small chair from a second-hand store.  The seat measures about twelve inches square and it might stand three feet.  The second is a wicker rocking chair.  It is most unusual, in that the seat is rather large.  I can still fit in it but I leave it for the only doll I owned.  She cares for it in my living room.  

The third piece is my Great Grandmother’s rocking chair.  When I was twelve years old, my parents presented us with twin boys, Donald Dean and Ronald Ray.  Oh, how happy I was!  Two new dolls to play with.  Oh, how I loved them!  It was so much fun to play with them, hear them giggle, listen to them “talk” to each other in their own lingo and snuggle them. 

Many a night I would sit in Grandmother’s rocker and rock them, one in each arm.  This would give Mother a chance to get some long-needed rest.  On the wall hung a plate with the words of the Norwegian table prayer.  My hands were full so I decided I would teach myself the words.   Of course, it was in Norwegian and I could not speak it but that didn’t stop me.  Years later, I was asked to give the prayer at a luncheon.  Little did the guests know, I only said half of it.  As the twins grew, the rocking chair became a toy.  They would sit in it backwards, and rock it until it began to dance across the floor.  It was their transportation.  Another time one would sit in the rocker and the other would stand on the rung.  The faster he could rock the chair, the better ride his passenger got. 

When they got a cold or just didn’t feel good, the rocker provided a wonderful place to snuggle Mother or a sibling.

No, we didn’t have a lot of material goods but what we did have was a home filled with children and love.  Great Grandmother’s rocker helped to provide a safe haven for us.

In memory of my brothers Donald Dean and Ronald Ray

Gwen Welk Workman 06-18-2017

 

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The Story of the Dala Horse
Dala Horse Magnet Dala Horse Standing Dala Horse Tile

THE STORY OF THE DALA HORSE

The traditional symbol of Sweden is the Dalahast, or Dala Horse. Since Viking times, the horse was considered a treasured animal.

A horse represented a creature of great value, a tower of strength in helping the family. It was a faithful friend who drew loads in the forest during winter, worked in the fields and meadows in spring and summer and carried equipment up to the delightful summer pastures and adjoining chalets of Scandinavia. Horses also provided transportation between villages and parishes and trips to the mill and to the market.

There was so much pleasure with having a horse. Children really enjoyed their company. They could ride bareback, and many children were able to sit on its broad strong back at the same time. Carved wooden horses were plain and made as children’s toys.

The Dala horse symbol originated during the 18th century in the Dalarna region of Sweden. Legend is that a hungry soldier came to Dalarna and he carved a horse from a piece of a tree. Then he took red clay, and mixed it with water to paint the horse. When it was finished, he gave it to a young boy who had been watching him. The child was so excited with the gift that he took the soldier and the wooden horse home to show his mother. In return for the kindness shown to her son, the mother gave the soldier a bowl of soup.

In the 17th century, the hand carved Dala horses were also sometimes used as payment for board and lodging. During the long winter months or in times of poor crops, it was necessary to augment income with revenues from other sources. The men would fill a wagon with brightly colored horses and other homemade articles. They would venture out to sell or barter for grain. To show their appreciation for overnight accommodations at farmhouses along the way, they would offer painted horses for the children, and they became treasured toys.

These wooden horses came originally from the Mora villages of Vattnas, Rise, Bergkalas and Nusnas. Tinkers traveled about the country to sell products of the cottage industry. Their wares were baskets, grinding stones and wooden casks. Often they took Dala horses to add to their collection of goods.

During the 19th century, it became the custom to paint the wooden horses with richly colored flower patterns like the Dala painting that decorated furniture and interior walls. The Dala horses appeared with the traditional Swedish folk art red color with kurbits (a big plant, with gourds and leaves) and flowers covering the saddle. The designs come from the Biblical story of Jonah. He sat outside Ninevah, and the Lord caused a kurbit of gourd vine to grow, protecting him from the desert sun.

In current times, nine people are involved in the making of one horse from the Nusnas factory. Dala horses are made in many sizes, from less than half an inch up to 60 inches (or five feet), and they are available in a variety of different colors and patterns.

Here at The Wooden Spoon we have all colors, shapes and sizes of Dala Horses! Check out our wooden horses sitting or standing, painted on ceramic tile, serving dishes, regular and travel mugs, wine glasses, snapps glasses, wooden spreaders, decals or magnets, or they can be found in wood or silver as necklaces or earrings. We have books on Dala horses, Dala horse key rings, cookie cutters, stencils, stamps, labels, Christmas cards, wooden ornaments, lapel pins, tablecloths, dish cloths, napkins, and paper pull-outs! We even have Dala socks! Visit and see for yourself.

Swedish people believe that if you don't like how things are going in life, change the direction of your Dala horse(s). And if you need to ward off evil, place your Dala horse with its hind legs towards the door, ready to kick the bad spirits away!

Gwen Welk Workman, February 2, 2002

The Wooden Spoon

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The Wooden Spoon Story

NAMING THE WOODEN SPOON

Before opening The Wooden Spoon, I had considered opening a small café. I wanted it named after a kitchen utensil. As my mind went through all of them, the Potato Masher or Wire Whip just were not appropriate. When I thought Wooden Spoon, it just felt right. At that moment, I made the decision to call my business the Wooden Spoon.

As you wander through the shop, you will notice how important the wooden spoon is in our culture. Wood is a natural product of Scandinavia. Many of the eating utensils and the preparation items are made of wood. It was inexpensive to make and the materials were available.

At the waist of the female bunad, hangs a “spoon bag”. Families only had enough utensils for their own, so if you were invited to another home, an event or a gathering, you carried your wooden spoon. Out of respect to each other, you provided for your own.
Ornaments and other decorations used in the Christmas season have the wooden spoon incorporated in them. It depicts preparing for Christ’s birth and all the festivities of the season. People were poor or of modest means, but all year plans were made to be sure an abundant table was set for Christmas.

Long cold winters provided time for men to use their creativity to carve spoons for many purposes. The love spoon, the twisted spoon, the anniversary or birth spoon are carved by our wood carvers, Danny, Trygve, and Tore. We sell books that tell the history of the wooden spoon, give you patterns and instructions on how to carve, Rosemal or coffekoln a spoon.

Yes, Wooden Spoon is the most appropriate name for a Scandinavian shop.

“Keep the Wooden Spoon stirring”. Shop often!!!

 

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The Legend of The Kitchen Witch
Good Luck Kitchen WitchLingonberry PreservesFlowered Coffee Mug

LEGEND OF THE KITCHEN WITCH AND GOOF-PROOF COOKING

The Kitchen Witch originated in the Scandinavian countries years ago. It is said that she has magical powers to bring good luck and to assure a smooth running kitchen.

For centuries, Norwegians have hung this good witch in their kitchen. They believe she has the power to keep roasts from burning, pots from boiling over, and sauces from spilling.

HANG the Kitchen Witch IN YOUR KITCHEN so that:

  • Pots won’t boil over
  • Roasts won't dry up
  • Breads will rise
  • Jellies will jell
  • Eggs won’t stick
  • Cakes won’t fall
  • Coffee won’t be bitter
  • Gravies won’t lump
  • Sauces won't spill
  • Cookies won’t burn

GOOD LUCK

Gwen Welk Workman, March 15, 2015

The Wooden Spoon

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The Forman House History

FORMAN HOUSE HISTORY, PLANO TX

 

I. OWNERS
James and Gwendolyn Workman purchased the Forman home in 1992. In order to purchase the
home and property, an appraisal was needed. The condition of the house was very bad. The appraisal listed the house as having no value. It was suggested the house be removed and that a light manufacturing company replace it. The Workmans saw beyond demolishing the house. After six years of renovating, the home is now restored. A large portion of the rear of the house could not be salvaged. It was removed and rebuilt. Most of the renovating preserved the original parts of the home. All original floors, trim and the stairway have been restored.

II. LOCATION
The Forman home is located in the historic part of old original Plano. It is located on Avenue K or the old Highway 75. It was built when Avenue K was the main entrance to Plano. It was, and still is, one of the busiest roads in Plano. It is north of the Carlisle home and 15th Street, south of Alpha Graphics and 18th Street, east of Avenue J and the railroad and west of the Municipal Center. The physical address is 1617 Avenue K.

III. HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF HOUSE TO CITY
The Forman home, built in 1867, is an example of Greek Revival. It was built by Joe and Elizabeth
Forman, as their home, amid the two thousand acres of land they owned. The city of Plano, founded in 1853, elected Mr. Forman as their Mayor in 1877 and aldermen in 1881 The home has served as a residence, a stage coach stop, apartment house, numerous types of shops and businesses and now as a Scandinavian Shop and Cultural Center.

IV. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

A. Legal description
The property's legal description is a part of the Joseph Klepper Survey, Abstract No. 213,Collin County, Texas and being described as follows Being described as part of Lot 6, Block 2 of the Original Donation Addition to the city of Plano, Texas according to the official plat and map in the County Clerk's office of Collin County, Texas. (See appendix for full legal description)

B. OWNERS HISTORY OF HOME
There is very little written about the history of this house. The following is an account of what we believe the history to be. It is based on our renovating and accounts of individuals who came forward with pieces of information.

In 1867, Mr. Forman and/or his help set the bois d&rsquo arc beams for a two-story 20 X 20  wood framed home. The entrance faced the south and the fireplace was built on the north side. The first addition was a 20 X 20  two-story to the south end of the house. The width of the right inside door, the rise in the floors, and the stairway and banister all document this. As the family grew in size and numbers, rooms were added to the west, possibly in two stages. At one time a small porch was added to the north side. This served as an entrance to the kitchen area. When the large portion of the back area was removed, three sets of roofs were uncovered. More room was needed so a lean-to was built over the existing roof and was repeated on two more occasions. The entire wood-framed house was built on bois d arc beams. Behind the main house were two out buildings. The larger one to the west of the main building was the barn. Located to the north, on 18th Street, was a milk house. We found a brick road, about two feet below the present drive, going from the back door of the main house to the garage. We have been told this served as a cooler way to transport the milk from the barn to the milk house on 18th Street. The smaller out building was not a part of the original plan, but was built in the early 1940's as a garage.

The Formans were dairy farmers owning two thousand acres of land in Plano. Cattle grazed in the open fields between the homestead and Central Expressway. Cows were milked in the large out building, and the milk transported and stored in the milkhouse on 18th Street. Vivian Newsome Gould remembers coming with her parents to purchase milk from a building in the back of the main house. See appendix for account from Chicago T. A. Battery and Co., 1889.

The homestead served as a residence for the Joe, Meroney and Ray Forman families. In the 1950's it was turned into an apartment house. We have been told that if you married and did not own a home, you lived in the Foreman Apartment House, Plano's only apartments. Several former residence have stopped in and told us this. The upstairs housed two apartments. The downstairs housed two apartments and living quarters for the Formans. The large barn was removed and replaced in the early 1940&rsquo s with a 20&rsquo X 40&rsquo one-story building. Later two story additions were made to each end to the south a 20&rsquo X 32&rsquo and to the north a 20&rsquo X 20&rsquo . This building now had two one-bedroom apartments on the upper level and garages on the bottom level. The 20&rsquo X 30 garage was built in the 1940&rsquo s as a
garage. It was built and used as a garage until 1992 when it was converted and leased to a business, Holman Pottery.

The Forman Home served many needs over it&rsquo s 130 years. First as a residence for families, then apartments, a stage coach stop, retail and now as a Scandinavian Shop and Cultural Center. In the 1980&rsquo s (Eleanor Hayden owner) the upstairs was converted into a two-bedroom apartment.
This property had the unique designation of residence/business/historical. In 1983 the City of Plano designated the site as historical.

C. OWNERS OF HOME
1992 to present Jim and Gwen Workman
1981 to 1992 Eleanor Hayden
1976 to 1981 Herb and Joyce Buck
1973 to 1976 James R. Canton
1971 to 1973 Childress, Waddell and Tillerson
1948 to 1971 Ray Forman, Sr.(wife Eula) agent and Attorney-in-fact for Clint Forman, Ray Forman, Jr., Joe
Forman, Eugenia Forman and Harriett Forman Cook
1908 to 1948 Meroney and Genoa Forman
1867 to 1908 Joe and Elizabeth Forman
See appendix for documentation.

D. RENOVATION HISTORY
On April 15, 1992, Jim and Gwen Workman purchased the Forman Home from the Estate of Eleanor Hayden. The first renovating was done to the hall and room to the right of the entrance. The heating, air conditioning and electric were upgraded to meet city code. The ceiling had fallen and its general condition was dirty and in need of repair. The original stairwell was covered with dirty mustard colored-carpet, sheetrock was missing from the walls and debris was everywhere. We stripped the carpet and multiple layers of paint from the stairs, only to find the original colors of the stairs. We repainted the steps back to the original color and installed rubber mats for safety. The
original handrail was sanded and finished with a fresh coat of clear varnish. The ceilings and walls were covered with sheetrock, textured and painted. All the floors were sanded and varnished, thus restoring the original pine and oak floors. This area is used for the selling of the gifts and food of Scandinavia at the Wooden Spoon. The entrance area is used to inform the public what is taking place in the Scandinavian community. Exterior repairs to the columns and second floor were done.

The second phase was cleaning, painting and bringing to city code, the garage, This was leased to Holman Pottery in August of 1992.

Next began the refurbishing of the upstairs level. One wall in the living area was removed only to have the ceiling completely fall down. All old linen wallpaper and insulation were discarded because of the accumulation of old dirt and dust. We found sewer lines that were left uncapped and covered with flooring. Gas, water, sewer lines and pipes, no longer used, were left hanging in the partition of the rooms. The flooring was removed, all nails and holes made by the pipes were cut out and the original floor re-installed. The windows and walls were painted, the flooring was sanded and varnished and vinyl was laid in the kitchen and bath.

With a demolition permit from the city of Plano, we tore down the south end of the large out building. The decay had made this part of the building unsafe and unsalvageable. In time, this will be rebuilt back to the original footprint.

The end of the building was framed, sided and an entrance door added. The exterior was painted and debris removed. J.L. Workman of Texas, Inc. is located in this building. The one bedroom apartment to the north has been cleaned and painted. New carpet and vinyl were installed on the floors. This now serves as a classroom for the Wooden Spoon and office for J.L. Workman of Texas, Inc.

Both levels of the center of the Forman house on the west side were removed in March of 1995. The decay of this area made it impossible to salvage. A new wooden framed structure was built in its place. This added 400 square feet to the building. All wiring, plumbing, heat and air conditioning were put in according to city code. A stairwell serves as a fire escape from the upper level. These rooms were sheetrocked, textured and painted. The floor in the downstairs was carpeted the upper room has an oak floor. We purchased used flooring and had it sanded and varnished so it would fit the decor of the entire upstairs. At this time the carpet was removed from the two smaller rooms on the north side. When we removed the carpet, we found two inches of concrete, a pressed wood floor and
then pine floors. The concrete and pressed wood were removed, the floors were then sanded and varnished. Now the upstairs boasts nice white walls and all wood floors. This area is used as Rosemaling and Decorative Painting studios, classrooms, meeting rooms and a library for the Wooden Spoon. The downstairs area is used as a store room and work room for the Wooden Spoon.

About one-fourth inch of paint covered the entrance. This was heat stripped and repainted to restore it. This was the original main entrance to the house. (Built during the second phase of the building)

In July and August of 1998 all the vinyl siding was removed and replaced with wood siding. This was painted white. All windows were repaired and painted farmhouse red.

The only unfinished area is now occupied by the Wardrobe, a consignment clothing store. Construction will begin in late October to convert this to a Scandinavian deli.

When we bought the house we looked at it and said, &ldquo It is a beautiful old house, but it just needs a hug&rdquo . We have been hugging it for six and one-half years now and we are proud of our work. To restore and preserve Plano&rsquo s oldest home has been very exciting for us.

E. HISTORY OF JOE AND ELIZABETH FORMAN FAMILY
William Forman and his sons Joe and William, II made a scouting trip from Kentucky to Austin, Texas in the mid 1840's.  Later they returned to Plano. Although the exact day can not be documented, Mr. Forman purchased land from Salmon Beck, a family who appears on the 1850 Collin County census.

The Forman family was industrious. They were farmers and cattlemen so set out to acquire a vast amount of land. In addition to farming they built a gristmill, a distillery, a sawmill and a
cooperage. These were located near the present Plano Mutual Cemetery on a small stream. Damming the stream provided water to operate the mills and cooperage.

Prior to the 1840, very little money exchanged hands. The early settlers were farmers who conducted there business by bartering. When the Formans arrived they started enterprises with products to sell for cash. This changed the economy of Plano. Now the farmers could sell their corn for cash and buy other things or the Forman&rsquo s whiskey.

Mr. Forman conducted a private post office in his home until 1851 when he applied for permission to establish an official one. He was Plano's first postmaster, serving from 1852-1856. It was during the process of establishing a post office that Dr. Henry Dye and Mr. Forman were responsible for naming this settlement, Plano.

William and Ruth Forman had nine children. One son was Joe. In 1843 Joe married Elizabeth Hughes. To this union, nine children were born. Joe followed in the family businesses of farming, cattle, distillery and gristmill. He was an successful farmer, owning much land and cattle.

In 1867 he built his family a home. It can not be documented as to what the original size of the house is, it is believed to have been a 20 X 20 two story framed house. As his family grew he built additions to the house. Here he and Elizabeth conducted their business and raised their nine children.

Joe Forman was a very responsible and involved man. The following accounts show some of his involvements. By early March 1861, Texas had seceded from the Union and had joined the newly emerging Confederacy. In August of 1861 Joe Forman and several others were appointed by the Commissioners Court in McKinney as patrols. These men were responsible for the safety of the citizens of the country. Joe served in the Confederate army from 1862- 1865. He served on the awards committee of the County Fair in McKinney beginning in 1860. He was a trustee of the Masonic Lodge. In 1868 the trustees purchased the Gossum storehouse for $1,000 from the estate of Hampton H. Gossum. This would become the Masonic Lodge and building. In 1873 he and several others formed the East Fork Plank and Macadamized Road Company. Their purpose was to construct a plank and macadamized road and to keep up a bridge that crossed the East Fork at Crum. In February 1907, the city council passed an ordinance granting the Texas Traction Company the right to construct and operate their electric railway in and through the city of Plano. In April of 1907 Elizabeth Forman, now a widow, and Meroney and Genoa Forman deeded a strip of their land to the city for the railroad&rsquo s use. The Forman family indeed were very instrumental in the settling and forming
of the city of Plano. Joe Forman (1822-1897) and Elizabeth (1824-1919) are buried in the Plano Mutual Cemetery on 18th Street and Jupiter.

F. SOURCES OF INFORMATION

1. Book, Plano, Early Days
2. Harrington Library, newspaper article.
3. Vivian Gould Newsome.
4. Mrs. Francis Wells.
5. Chicago F.A. Battery and Co. 1889.
6. Jim and Gwen Workman
7. Individual accounts.

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Snowy Storm
Winter Snow Scene RunnerWinter BookCheese Of Course

SNOWY STORM

Forecasters warned us; they tried to prepare us, they told us again.

Sure as snow is white, there it came! A blizzard leaving us with twelve inches of snow, a strong north wind, and temperatures of minus 20 below!

There we were, the five of us, alone together. We knew it would be several days before we would see a snowplow to clear our roads. I thought it was great. Now I had my family all to myself.

After the snow ceased to fall, the sun came out and the scenery was spectacular. The lake looked like a painting. The wind had blown the snow into drifts of every depth. The sky was a brilliant blue with a mist of soft clouds. The trees and bushes glistened under their piles of snow. One could truly see God’s paintbrush at work.­­

Inside, we were warm and comfortable. Living several miles from town, we were in the habit of stockpiling our food. We had a fireplace, and a woodshed full of oak and birch logs. Snowstorms were a part of our life.

The first two days everyone had their own projects and interests so life was peaceful. Naps were taken, cookies were baked, many meals were shared, snow was shoveled and phone calls were made.

But by day three, things changed. Minor disagreements began to flourish, the feeling of confinement was strong, and boredom was setting in.

Out came the game boards, new recipes were made, everything that could be cleaned was, and many bowls of popcorn were eaten. But, none of this took the place of the friends and the freedom to do all the things we were used to doing.

Because the snow was so deep, the snow sports could not be enjoyed. No snowmobiling, skiing, skating, or even ice fishing. No car travel, walking was out of the question, and we did not own snowshoes.

Then it happened! We heard the snowplow. Look! What a welcoming sight.

But then reality set in. We were now “free” to travel but how many of their friends were. Everyone ran for the phone at the same time. We all grabbed each other and gave a group hug. We had a great four days together and we survived.

My daughter looked at us and said, “Great, now we can go to town and get something good to eat”.

After all the meals and snacks we prepared, she wanted something good? I had to question her what was “good”.

“Well, ice cream and cheese” she said.

Gwen Welk Workman, January 12, 2013

The Wooden Spoon

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The Avenue of Trolls, Nissar and Tomtom
Tore The TrollHappy Pingvin Skier

THE AVENUE OF TROLLS, NISSAR AND TOMTAR

Deep down in our minds and imagination, lives the need for little people. They may be there to protect us, to scare us, or to just walk with us and be a companion. We have trolls, nissar, tomtar, gnomes, leprechauns, or bogeymen. They are found in most cultures.

As a child, my Uncle Iver told me that I had been born on Bear Island in Leech Lake at Brevik, Minnesota. I was born with a tail.

When questioned where it was, he informed me that Doctor Ringle, the doctor who delivered me, had cut it off and put it in formaldehyde, and it now sat on a shelf in his office.

As a small child, I accepted that story. Years later I asked him if the idea for this story had come from our Norwegian culture. His reply was that he had no idea where it came from other than his imagination. This just re-enforces my belief that it is in our DNA to have little people around us.

If you have ever laid on your back and watched the clouds roll by, your imagination will work overtime. How many “things” can you see? Now if you live in Scandinavia and are surrounded by mountains, hills, and fjords, won’t this be a natural place to see scraggy trolls lurking everywhere?

In Scandinavian culture, scare tactics were used to keep children safe. “Don’t go near the water, the trolls will get you”. “Don’t go into the woods, the trolls will get you”. “Don’t walk in the dark, the trolls will get you”. Children responded to “little people” being in charge quicker than adults. Over the years legends of the trolls have been passed from one generation to the next, each adding a personal spin to the story.

Trolls can take on the look of scraggly old men or young boys. They can be young children or women of all ages. Trolls are everywhere. On the Avenue of Trolls is a grassy medium. I have been told that the Jette live under the grass. Here they protect the small insects and animals that live under the ground. Most male trolls have a tail. Most females do not. Of course, a real troll has only four toes on each foot and four fingers on each hand. Be careful when someone gives you a troll. Count their toes and fingers to be sure it is a real one!

On Christmas Eve you must not forget to set out a bowl of rice porridge in a wooden bowl with a wooden spoon for the Christmas Nisse/Tomten. It has been said that they detest metals and insist that their spoon be of carved of wood.

On Christmas morning, if the porridge is gone, it means he will stay around for another year to be an invisible guardian spirit, watching over the prosperity and safety of the family. He is small like a child, has an old man’s face, a white beard, and is dressed in red clothes, and wears a red hat. He is not interested in receiving gifts but is more concerned about the family he lives with.

Watch for the little people in our culture!! They are everywhere including the “Avenue of Trolls” located at 1617 Avenue K in Plano, Texas in The Wooden Spoon.

Gwen Welk Workman, May 26, 2009

The Wooden Spoon

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Sam, I Am, Preach Jam I Am

Sam, I Am, Peach Jam I Am

Gramma and Popie planted a tree

For Evan ‘n Brandon, Nick, Ben and Me.

Peaches they grow

But how would they know

So many, for Sam I Am, Peach Jam I Am

So Gramma took a pan

Peach jam I can can.

Peaches, sugar and jell

Some extract to make it swell.

She added some heat.

This jam can’t be beat!

Just ask

Sam I Am, Peach Jam I Am

“On toast or bread

This is one fine spread”

Says Evan ‘n Brandon, Nick, Ben and Me.

From the peach tree to the table

We share if we are able.

But do we dare?

Let’s ask

Sam I am Peach Jam I Am.

“It is the best”, Gram

Says Sam I Am.

Come sit and we’ll share.

I guess we dare.

Milk, bread and jam

And a kiss from Sam.

“So glad they planted a tree

for Evan ‘n Brandon, Nick, Ben and Me”.

Says Sam I Am, Peach Jam I Am.

Grandma Gwen, 2000

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My Shining Star
Post BoxMagnus The Troll BookBirthday Cake

A SHINING STAR, OUR FAMILY JEWEL, AUNT MURIEL LIEN

Imagine a six year old child sent to get the mail. No big deal if you just walk to the mail box or simply take it from the mail drop on your porch.

Well, that is not what happened. In the small community of Brevik, Minnesota in the early 1940’s, we had the Brevik Post Office. My Aunt Muriel, two uncles and my Grandmother ran Lien’s Resort. Just walk up the hill, past several cabins and you would be at the Post Office.

Not me. I picked up the mail with no problem but finding my way back home was. I wandered around the cabins, and the lake until Fran Berger found me, picked me up and held me tight. She knew I was lost. She walked me back to my Aunt’s waiting arms. I was crying and so very scared. You can never imagine how wonderful it felt as she held me tight and wiped away my tears.

I was plagued with impacted ear wax as a young person. The only way to remove this wax was with a syringe and warm water. Patiently Aunt Muriel would warm water, put it in a glass, hand me a towel to put on my shoulder to hold a pan that would catch the water. She would slowly squeeze the syringe filled with water into my ear. If this were done too fast, I would get dizzy. Finally, after flushing with the warm water, the core of wax would be freed. Then in a teaspoon she would warm some oil over the burner on the stove. Then it was dropped into my ears and covered with a cotton ball. Only someone as gentle and patient would take the time to care for a niece as my Aunt Muriel did.

When any of my seven siblings were sick, she would cook for us the things we liked. I know that is why we recovered so fast. If she was cooking something and knew it was our favorite, it would arrive in the least amount of time. One of my favorites was fish soup. She made the best fish soup. It was made with fish stock, barley and veggies. What a treat it was when that grey soup arrived. Everyone knew it was for me.

Thoughtful, kind, and always thinking of others, is how she lived her life. She was also a full time caregiver for my Grandmother who was riddled with arthritis and an uncle who was epileptic. When my Mother was so ill with kidney disease, Aunt Muriel was our angel. She attended to Mother’s needs and the needs of our family. I am not sure we could have managed without her and the other members of the Brevik community.

Birthdays in our home were celebrated with your choice of meal, cake, presents and company. On my 12th birthday, my Mother was in the hospital giving birth to my twin brothers, Ronald and Donald. I knew Mom would not be able to fix my birthday cake, and I was feeling very dejected. I was happy to have baby brothers, but the day before my birthday?

Well you may have already guessed it, but the birthday cake came through the front door followed by the ever thoughtful Aunt Muriel. My birthday was celebrated with her homemade cake, ice cream and presents.

I loved spending the night with her. It was not hard to pretend you were a Princess, because that is how she treated you. She fixed meals that I liked, she showed me how to tat and embroider.

In the morning she bathed me, put on the best smelling powder, combed my hair and put it in French braids. Oh was I ever cute! Then from a special drawer she would take out a box containing glass vials of perfume. She would break off the tip and put the perfume on me.

After breakfast, I was ready to get on the school bus. Up the hill, she would walk with me and wait until the bus came. I would board the bus and wave good-by. Little did she know, but bouncing on the bus over twelve miles with that perfume made me queasy. I was so glad to see the school and get fresh air. It took me a long time to tell her to please forget the perfume, because I knew it would hurt her feelings.

I will never forget how upset she got when someone was teasing a child. She spoke with disgust, "Don’t do that, he is just a child".

Three years ago, she got a rap on her door. She did not recognize either of the men, but graciously invited them in. Soon the coffee, treats, and conversation flowed. The two men were researchers and writers from Brevik, Norway. They were interested in the history of Brevik, Minnesota. As the oldest member of the community, she was able to tell them its history. They kept in touch, sharing more information and about a year later, they rapped on her door again. She knew how she would be spending the next several hours and looked forward to it.

As a Lady of 92 years, her interest in family, community and world events, is unmatched. A conversation on almost any subject can be had. She never ceases to amaze me.

I am only recalling a few of the very special times spent with Aunt Muriel. I am sure many of you in the community where she lives have your own special recollections of this special lady. She is a storehouse of information, so someone is always calling her or stopping in to get some questions answered. She is never too busy for a cup of coffee and a treat.

I thank God daily that He has allowed us to have our "Family Jewel" with us for all of these years. Thank you Aunt Mona for all you have done for all of us. We love you.

Gwen Welk Workman, July 14, 2010

The Wooden Spoon

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My Nail in a Secure Place
Lutheran BookLuther League FudgeAngel Ornament

MY NAIL IN A SECURE PLACE

Margaret Jensen, an author of several wonderful books, described this lady as no one else could do.

My very special friend and mentor, Dorothea Felton, was my nail in a secure place or as Margaret Jensen would say, "A Nail In A Sure Place." This is the title of one of her books. I highly recommend it along with her other books.

As a young teenager, I was very involved with Luther League where I grew up. I loved being a part of this organization, so I spent as much energy and time as I could. At that time, Boy River, Remer, Longville and Outing, Minnesota were a four-point parish. As all of us know, this area exploded in the summer.

Our regular pastor, Reverend Hilpert needed help. He had interned in Omaha, Nebraska and had met Harvey Anderson who was going to attend the Lutheran seminar in St. Paul. He did what it took to convince the congregation that we needed help. The church hired this young seminarian Harvey Anderson, who was our junior pastor for two summers. ((Authors’ note: Forty years later at my church in Plano, Texas, this same "Young man" was our Senior Pastor for ten years.)

Because resources were very limited, it was part of our early training to know that if you wanted something, you worked for it. Dorothea was one of our leaders and taught us well.

She had the most awesome recipe for fudge. Later it was dubbed "Luther League Fudge". Many of us came from few luxuries. Dorothea was no exception. Yet with the grace of one great lady, the love of Christ in her heart, and the dedication to teach, Dorothea spent many evenings helping us make fudge to sell at the next Smorgasbord at Salem Lutheran Church to raise funds for the next project.

She is a dedicated Lutheran using her talents to teach Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Released time, or any of the women’s groups. She is a leader serving in many capacities as kitchen coordinator of the Smorgasbords, leader of the Christmas chicken noodle dinners, quilt maker, member of the choir, soloist, council member or President of the Congregation or cleaner of all things church.

When my father, John Welk, (Punchy) passed away, the service was held at Salem Lutheran. I had been living in Texas for a couple of years at that time, so I was not involved in Salem as I once had been. After the service, we all gathered in the church basement for the traditional Lutheran fellowship and celebration of his life. You will never know the feeling that overcame me when I looked into the kitchen and saw my "Nail in a Secure Place". Yes, Dorothea was leading the ladies one more time in the manner that only she knew.

God has truly blessed us with this great Christian lady.

Thank you Dorothea for all you have given us. You truly are one of God’s angels.

Gwen Welk Workman, June, 2008

The Wooden Spoon

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How To Eat a Swedish Wish Cookie
Swedish Cookie RecipesAnna's Ginger CookiesWish Cookie

HOW TO EAT A SWEDISH WISH COOKIE

First, place the cookie in the palm of your hand.

Make a wish.

Then gently tap the cookie with the index finger of the other hand.

If it breaks in three pieces, your wish will come true; if not, just eat and enjoy the cookie.

Gwen Welk Workman, December 4, 2016

The Wooden Spoon

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Evan Jay Workman

EVAN JAY WORKMAN

He is tall and lean,

A runner so mean.

A trip through the hills

Will soon test his skills.

 

He runs like a deer,

He does not fear.

Down through the trails

To the clearing he sails.

 

Soccer, student or skates

Football, swimmer or mate

Evan does his best

Whatever the test.

 

To the top he will climb,

Just give him some time.

Few are as fine,

As this grandson of mine.

 

He is                

A Fisher Man

A Sports Man

A Skates Man

A States Man

A Student Man

But best of all:                    

A Workman

Grandma Gwen, 2001

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Fear
Post BoxFindus DisappearsUff Da Shirt

FEAR

The word instantly brings to mind the most unpleasant emotion we possess.

Growing up in a very rural community, fear was taught. We were told not to go in the deep water, we might drown, don’t go in the woods, you might get lost, don’t stay out in the dark, etc. Rather than teach us to handle the situation, we were just taught fear.

So life was filled with fear. My first recollection of fear is when I left my Aunt Muriel’s home and went up the hill to the Post Office to get the mail. All went well until I tried to get home.

I always was a dreamer and could get side tracked very easily. All of a sudden, I had no idea where I was. I had wandered of the road and ended up by the lake shore. I was lost! I know my reaction was to cry because I was scared. A neighbor found me and returned me to my Aunt. I remember snuggling into her bosom and crying until she calmed me and reassured me that everything was okay. I don’t think she sent me for mail again.

My oldest son was about two years old. We had been outside playing for quite some time. He knew his boundaries. I had to run into the house for something. When I returned, no Jimmy. My heart stopped.

We had a business, were near a highway and had a river in our back yard. I kicked off my shoes and began running from one part of the property to the other, asked neighbors, but could not find him anywhere.

Then I remembered a cat had strayed into our yard. When a stray animal came on our property he would always chase them home. So on a dead run, up the river I ran. Sure enough, here he came through the tall weeds, wooden spoon in hand and said, "Got him, darn cat". I did not know if I should paddle him or hug him. I was so grateful, I hugged him and cried tears of joy.

My reaction to fear is first to try and figure out what is going on. Once I access the problem and can handle it, I collapse and cry and begin to shake and get a cold shudder through my body. After that, I say a word of thanks, pick myself up and go on with life.

Gwen Welk Workman, July 28, 2012

The Wooden Spoon

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Armistice Day/Veteran's Day, November 11, 1940

Bluebills flying off lakeMinnesota Blizzard

ARMISTICE DAY / VETERAN'S DAY - NOVEMBER 11, 1940

The morning was dark and cold. Leech Lake in north central Minnesota beckoned the duck hunters to climb into their boats and head for the blinds. My father, John Edward Welk (aka Punchy) was no exception. He and my Uncle Iver loaded their boat with plenty of hot coffee, guns, shells and decoys. They headed toward Bear Island and Jensen's point. Here was the perfect landing spot for the mallards and bluebills as they made their yearly journey. Leech Lake was turbulent but that did not deter these hunters. With motors and a full tank of gas, they left the dock and began their trek to the duck blinds.

Soon after setting out the decoys and getting the boat into position, the ducks began to fly. Wow, the weather was getting bad, but the hunting was excellent. My father and uncle filled their limits in a very short time.

My father was always concerned about weather. He often told the story of riding out a tornado in North Dakota. Back then, he was working on the railroad when a tornado hit the ground. He said he hung onto the rails of a boxcar. The wind was very violent, knocking his head against the boxcar. He thought at any moment that he would be knocked unconscious or be torn loose from the rail. Luckily, John Welk was a very strong man, so was able to endure the pressure.

But for the rest of my father’s life, he always watched the skies for signs of bad weather. When the rains, thunder and lightning started, we were all instructed to stay away from the windows and the sink, lest the lightning would strike us. Especially winter with its wind, snow, and cold had many warnings from my father. “Never dig a tunnel in the snow”, “never stand still when it is cold - keep moving”, “always wear a hat - it keeps you warm”, “never go outside with a wet head - you’ll get sick” and many more warnings.

On this cold November day in 1940, Dad read the weather, and he was very concerned that it was becoming very bad in a very short time. My father suggested they return home but Uncle Iver did not feel that it was that bad. So slowly, my father and my uncle headed the boat towards home.

By the time they reached the dock, the weather was now an extremely strong storm; the waves were beating up the boat and the dock. Finally, the two men were able to tie the boat to the dock. Quickly they removed the ducks, thermoses and decoys. The guns were put in the bow of the boat. All of a sudden, the boat began to rock due to a forceful wave, and the guns fell against the boat seat. The hammer of one of the guns, a 12-gauge double barrel shot gun, (manufactured at the turn of the century), hit the seat and accidentally discharged.

It caught my father in his right arm, splitting it wide open.

Dad was rushed to the house. Uncle Iver called for help, and neighbors administered what they knew about first aid. They loaded my father in a car and headed for the hospital. It was over 60 miles to the nearest hospital, and unfortunately he was bleeding profusely.

This all happened during the worst storm of the century. It was referred to as the "Storm from Hell". Without any warning (remember what communications were like in 1940), this storm quickly dumped several inches of snow, dropped the temperature several degrees to sub-zero levels, and delivered extremely strong winds all over the Midwest. The storm knocked out power and killed thousands of animals and hundreds of humans. Those who were traveling lost their way in the blinding snow and simply froze to death.

Off in the blinding snowstorm they struggled with my severely injured father. They stopped just a short distance from Walker, Minnesota at the state hospital, Ah-Gwah-Ching, and my father received more first aid. Then on to St. Joseph Hospital in Park Rapids they headed. St. Joseph was run by nuns as were many of the hospitals in northern Minnesota. My father was on the verge of passing out when a nun grabbed him by the hair and told him he was strong. "So sit up, you will be fine.” He would tell us if he hadn't been so weak, he would have punched her. (Remember his nickname is Punchy.)

Here my Dad would remain for several days. The nurses ground liver and made him drink it to replace the blood that he had lost. I am sure he received good care but knowing my father, he would not stay there any longer than necessary. He was a very stubborn German.

I often think of what went through my Mother's mind. My sister, Marilyn, was about 2 years old, I was 3 months old and Mother was pregnant with my sister, Charlotte. Now there goes her wounded husband to the far off hospital. She could not go with him, would she ever see him again, and how would she care for three small children by herself? Wow! What a load.

But the stubborn German healed and went on to father five more children. One evening he stopped talking, and with a strange look in his eye, he opened his mouth and showed us a BB that had migrated to his check. On another occasion, he took a knife and cut his arm to release a BB that had surfaced. Father said 96 BBs were still in his arm. His hand was crippled, having no use of his fingers. Why did one of these BBs not go to his heart or lungs? Sometimes because his fingers were so close to his hand, it would become irritated and salve would be rubbed into that spot. I don't remember of him ever complaining or considering himself handicapped. He was a logger and used a chain saw; he worked road construction, and he did many other jobs to provide for his big family.

My parents provided for us without the help of food stamps or commodities. We had a small farm where we raised enough animals for our use, we had a large garden, and we picked every berry we possibly could. They were hard working farmers and planned for the long winters by canning and smoking meat and raising their own food. We never went hungry. We were poor, but we didn't know it. We had a lot of good food, the fellowship of the community and the love of a big family. We were truly blessed.

Gwen Welk Workman, November 11, 2014

The Wooden Spoon

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Naming The Wooden Spoon
The Wooden Spoon Spoon Wall
NAMING THE WOODEN SPOON

Before opening The Wooden Spoon in 1988, I had considered opening a small café. I wanted it named after a kitchen utensil. As my mind went through all of them, "The Potato Masher" or "The Wire Whip" just were not appropriate.

When I thought "The Wooden Spoon", it just felt right. At that moment, I made the decision to call my business "The Wooden Spoon".

As you wander through the shop, you will notice how important the wooden spoon is in our culture. Wood is a natural product of Scandinavia. Many of the eating utensils and the preparation items are made of wood. It was inexpensive to make and the materials were available.

At the waist of the female bunad (Norwegian folk costume), hangs a “spoon bag”. Families only had enough utensils for their own, so if you were invited to another home, an event or a gathering, you carried your wooden spoon. Out of respect to each other, you provided for your own.

Ornaments and other decorations used in the Christmas season have the wooden spoon incorporated in them. It depicts preparing for Christ’s birth and all the festivities of the season. People were poor or of modest means, but all year plans were made to ensure an abundant table was set for Christmas.

Long cold winters provided time for men to use their creativity to carve spoons for many purposes. The love spoon, the twisted spoon, the anniversary or birth spoon are carved by our wood carvers, Danny, Trygve and Tore. We sell books that tell the history of the wooden spoon, and list patterns and instructions on how to carve, Rosemal paint or coffekoln a spoon.

Yes, "The Wooden Spoon" is the most appropriate name for a Scandinavian shop.

“Keep The Wooden Spoon Stirring”. Shop often!!!

Gwen Welk Workman, February 19, 2000

The Wooden Spoon

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Legend of the Dala Horse

The traditional symbol of Sweden is the Dalahast, or Dala Horse. Since Viking times, the horse was considered a treasured animal.

A horse represented a creature of great value, a tower of strength in helping the family. It was a faithful friend who drew loads in the forest during winter, worked in the fields and meadows in spring and summer and carried equipment up to the delightful summer pastures and adjoining chalets of Scandinavia. Horses also provided transportation between villages and parishes and trips to the mill and to the market.

There was so much pleasure with having a horse. Children really enjoyed their company. They could ride bareback, and many children were able to sit on its broad strong back at the same time. Carved wooden horses were plain and made as children’s toys.

The Dala horse symbol originated during the 18th century in the Dalarna region of Sweden. Legend is that a hungry soldier came to Dalarna and he carved a horse from a piece of a tree. Then he took red clay, and mixed it with water to paint the horse. When it was finished, he gave it to a young boy who had been watching him. The child was so excited with the gift that he took the soldier and the wooden horse home to show his mother. In return for the kindness shown to her son, the mother gave the soldier a bowl of soup.

In the 17th century, the hand carved Dala horses were also sometimes used as payment for board and lodging. During the long winter months or in times of poor crops, it was necessary to augment income with revenues from other sources. The men would fill a wagon with brightly colored horses and other homemade articles. They would venture out to sell or barter for grain. To show their appreciation for overnight accommodations at farmhouses along the way, they would offer painted horses for the children, and they became treasured toys.

These wooden horses came originally from the Mora villages of Vattnas, Rise, Bergkalas and Nusnas. Tinkers traveled about the country to sell products of the cottage industry. Their wares were baskets, grinding stones and wooden casks. Often they took Dala horses to add to their collection of goods.

During the 19th century, it became the custom to paint the wooden horses with richly colored flower patterns like the Dala painting that decorated furniture and interior walls. The Dala horses appeared with the traditional Swedish folk art red color with kurbits (a big plant, with gourds and leaves) and flowers covering the saddle. The designs come from the Biblical story of Jonah. He sat outside Ninevah, and the Lord caused a kurbit of gourd vine to grow, protecting him from the desert sun.

In current times, nine people are involved in the making of one horse from the Nusnas factory. Dala horses are made in many sizes, from less than half an inch up to 60 inches (or five feet), and they are available in a variety of different colors and patterns.

Here at The Wooden Spoon we have all colors, shapes and sizes of Dala Horses! Check out our wooden horses sitting or standing, painted on ceramic tile, serving dishes, regular and travel mugs, wine glasses, snapps glasses, wooden spreaders, decals or magnets, or they can be found in wood or silver as necklaces or earrings. We have books on Dala horses, Dala horse key rings, cookie cutters, stencils, stamps, labels, Christmas cards, wooden ornaments, lapel pins, tablecloths, dish cloths, napkins, and paper pull-outs! We even have Dala socks!                  Visit and see for yourself.

Swedish people believe that if you don't like how things are going in life, change the direction of your Dala horse(s). And if you need to ward off evil, place your Dala horse with its hind legs towards the door, ready to kick the bad spirits away!

Gwen Welk Workman, February 2, 2002

The Wooden Spoon

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