February 9, 2017

Diary of a 1938 Cabin Dweller (Part 4)

Edna, Emil, Betty, Donald, Russell and Richard Olsen weathered through the worst blizzard in U.P. history as seen through the eyes of my grandmother, Edna. The family lived in the woods of Marquette, in a cabin a mile from the nearest road. The diary continues...

Saturday - Pay day, February 5, 1938

"Went in to town with Alphonse and Big Irene today. Trailed around town for an hour.  So darn good to get away from camp. Then went up to Billies.  Scrubbed her kitchen floor, got lunch. Also, when Emil came had another lunch & so to get my groceries & then home.  Feel a lot better today.  Betty had supper ready when we got home.  How nice! & I treated the kids to a round of cards." 

(me - this picture is the side of the Olsen Baraga Avenue home, which overlooks Marquette; the second picture is the ship crew with my grandfather's face circled; Aunt Janice, Edna's youngest, with my brother, Stephen, facing the Baraga home - the house in the background had a great history with a Polish woman, Mrs. Miluschas. She did everything herself including cutting her own wood. People those days had ice delivered for their ice boxes, weekly. Old McCarthy use to deliver a great big chunk of ice packed in sawdust, which kept it frozen. He would chip the ice to remove most of the sawdust, and give chunks to the Olsen children. They not only ate the road - "tasted like gum" ... see blog post Eating Roads in Hometown USA ... but also enjoyed these ice pieces with sawdust. Jan Olsen went into the Miluschas' kitchen once and said it was very rustic with a wood stove and water hand pump - almost like going to camp. Grandpa and Eric would help her on occasion. Mrs. Miluschas would sit on her porch all day to watch over things - if you went in her yard she would chatter madly and scream in Polish at you. Jan was afraid of her. I remember her being wrapped up in a lot of clothing, sitting on the porch, no matter the weather.)

Sunday, February 6, 1938


"Another boring day.  Got up supposedly at 10 o’clock.  Had fits cause Don hadn’t started chores yet.  He was up with dad this morning.  Was wondering when 5 o’clock came why it was so light & was rushing to get supper when Don came home - it was 1:30 - can you beat it.  I wonder how Emil felt getting to work this morning at 5 o’clock or rather nearer to 4:30. Wonder what happened to the clock." 

(me - where do you bathe at camp? Lake Superior, of course. Emil Olsen sitting on the steps, all dressed up with the cool cap. My mother, Alfreda, standing by the fishing shanty ... had something in her tooth.)
















Monday, February 7, 1938

"Was going to iron today but decided to wash instead. Hung my clothes with wet underwear & no wrap - darn cold too. Took me 1 hr to get warmed & had to get rubbed in good with liniment by the big boss before going to bed! Rusty came home with broken glasses. Max Tousignant’s work! & so what!" 

(me - remember the blizzard and snow drifts? I cannot imagine what grandma was thinking going outdoors to hang the wash not dressed properly. She sounds like me. I have a feeling that Max's parents are going to get an ear full, if you knew my grandmother, you would agree. Picture of Richard and Janice Olsen with Blair and Donna Turrell; likely Richard parked his ship at the ore docks in Marquette and was paying a visit to the family. Russell "Rusty" and his wife, Betty, round out the pictures. It was his glasses which were broken - wish we knew what happened.)

Tuesday, February 8, 1938


"Got the house straightened up this morning then started to walk to town to shop & Russel’s glasses to be mended at Clinic. Stopped at Tonsignant’s to register complaint! & so missed a ride with Alphonse. Walked 4 miles - then a fellow named Robinson picked me up - nephew of Nellie the warhorse from Blemhuber Ave. Spent the afternoon at Billies - she had a nice lunch for Emil when he called for me & so home." 

(me - snow drifts still 20 feet high and she's walking four miles before she got a ride. 1967 picture of my strong and determined grandmother, Edna.)


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