February 14, 2017

Diary of a 1938 Cabin Dweller (Part 5)

My grandmother, Edna Olivia Olsen, has been living near Marquette in a cabin during the winter of 1938 - and has been writing a daily diary post of her experiences. This is the third blog about her experiences ... she is getting quite tired; the blizzard has passed but the drifts still remain 20 feet and higher. Her husband, Emil Berger Olsen, children, Richard, Donald, Betty and Russell Olsen are also in the cabin - times are hard.

Wednesday, February 9, 1938

"Baking bread today & coffee cake. Also get to iron some things. Feel positively lazy but must get busy – I’m ashamed of myself – no energy at all. Hope we can get rid of the cattle & so move. Too hard on the children out here and also on mother! Called up Dorais (sp) yesterday – hope he comes out to look at Beauty & Rosie. The pigs will probably butcher. Need the meat but how I do hate to kill them – they are such red beauties."

(me - picture of Emil sitting on the front porch at 616 Baraga Avenue, Marquette, in later years. One of the bedrooms is behind him - a cozy room with a large "feather" bed, clothes wardrobe, airy feeling.) 

Thursday, February 10, 1938

"Didn't wash yesterday, washed instead and got a real good old rheumatism in my back from hanging clothes with no coat on.  Cold as blazes out. Old Mrs. Dunck dead - feel kinda blue about it - she enjoyed life so darn much even if she did live in the poor house - & so to bed, getting scolded all the way round for exposing myself as I do when hanging clothes." 

(me - my question is how did grandma know this Mrs. Dunck who lived in the poor house. I know these houses were real, and must have been so sad to live in them. Picture of the huge old orphanage which overlooked Marquette. My kids, husband and I snooped around it, more than once, and old toys plus assorted items were on the ground out back - the place was quite worn down. We viewed some of the rooms from cracks in the windows. Fascinating the "ghost" noises coming from the building. It has now been purchased and is being renovated for low income housing.) 

Friday, February 11, 1938

"Ironed & baked again today. Started for town at 2 o'clock - expected to walk but got a ride right in with Big Joe. Called up Fine & he's coming out Sunday to look at the cattle. Also sent Don up to Trefly's to ask him if he'd buy them - & so when Dad & I got home he had left word for us to come up there. Had a nice visit. His offer is $45 for heifer & cow." 

(me - I wonder what the mindset was in selling off the family cattle - was grandma desperate to get out of the cabin? Or were they struggling so intensely with a lack of money that this was her only choice? Picture of our Uncle Captain Richard Olsen who lived at the cabin and went by "Dicky" in grandma's diary. What do people do when they are met with one of the great lakes? They line up and take pictures, of course. Impromptu line of our children with cameras: Ksusha and Adelyn Geissel with our exchange daughter, Mei Moriguchi, all appreciating what Michigan has to offer.)

Saturday, February 12, 1938

"Rosie the heifer’s birthday today – she was one year old. Was out to visit with her this morning. Fine offers $50 & will butcher them at our place but I’d rather lose $5 & let them live. Will tell Trefly to come & get them. Went to town – walked 7 miles before I finally gathered enough courage to stop a car & ask for a ride. Was I cold or was I cold. Called up Fine & told him not to come out Sunday."

(me – 7 miles! If you could feel how far that is to walk, in a blizzard, in the freezing weather. My daughter and I occasionally walk around Kensington Park – about 8.5 miles and I’m exhausted by the time we are finished; walk also 3 miles at a local park and toward the end of that, and ready for the end … but 7 miles! I tip my hat to the strength and stamina of Edna Olivia Olsen. Pictured are sisters, Janice Olsen Summersett & Betty Olsen Turrell, who at this time of her life had Alzheimers and was the last visit of these two gorgeous ladies – Betty lived at the cabin, Janice wasn’t born yet. Then there is Donald, Richard and Eric Olsen – brothers. Eric was not born yet but the others lived in the cabin, also. Tremendously sturdy, strong, resilient men.)

Sunday, February 13, 1938

"Sunday – whole Paveglis bunch out Sunday, played 500 in the afternoon. Trefly came up & when he found out I’d rather lose on the cattle than see them butchered his offer came down to $40. After much arguing, decide he could have them – save a lot of worry on my part & bother. Had potato sausage & maple cream pie for dinner, just coffee cake & cake for supper – take it or leave it – the P’s took it!! All told a hectic day."
(me – some say grandmother and my father had spindly legs – picture of me on the Appalachian Trail with those legs; the next picture from August 1962 with Janice Olsen (Summersett) walking on the beach of Lake Superior – look at those legs! Then we go back to reality of the snow with Alfreda and Steve Olsen walking through the drifts in Marquette.)


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