Saturday, December 03, 2011


I would like to introduce you to the person I consider to be the REAL Rosie the Riveter.

And that person would be my mother-in-law, Alma.  She has been living in heaven for more than twenty years now, but her memory is alive!  Tomorrow would have been her 96th birthday. 

My mother-in-law was one remarkable woman.  She actually was a real live Rosie the Riveter!  She, and my father-in-law, worked in the ship yards of San Francisco during WWII.  She actually did weld ships together!  But there was so much more to her than just being a strong woman who answered the call to help during the war.  My little bitty 4 foot 11 inch mother-in-law gave birth to 9 boys.  You heard me right.  NINE. BOYS.  Yup!  One of the boys died in infancy during the influenza epidemic,  and another son died in his 30's.  There are 7 boys remaining.  Yes, my hubby has 6 brothers living.  Here is a picture of 6 of them when they were young.
 All blond Norwegians.   Hubby is second from the left.  Can you imagine?  Nine boys.

After the war, they came back to Northern Minnesota, and farmed.  My MIL had a huge garden and she canned and preserved many vegetables and fruits.  She washed clothes on a scrub board and hung them on the line.  She baked loaves and loaves and loaves of bread. She made a mean spice cake.  Her donuts were famous!  She did all of this without electricity until the late 50's.   

Their farm house burned down in the late 50's.  They lost everything, and at that time they moved to southern Minnesota and worked at the same college where hubby and I worked many years later.  He was a custodian, she the cook.  How many cooks at colleges will make home made buns for the students?  Well, Ma did.  And that is what she was called by the students, Ma. 

My MIL did beautiful embroidery.  I always said you could scarcely tell the top side from the bottom side of her embroidery project, as both were beautiful.  She began to make quilts, first for her kids, then for the grandkids.  She liked to embroider the state quilts, with the state outline, the name of the state and the date that it was admitted to the union, the state flower and the state bird.  I have no idea how many of these quilts she embroidered and then hand quilted, but I am privileged to have one.

After my inlaws retired, they moved back up to the farm for awhile, and because we were stationed at the AFB in Grand Forks at the time, we were able to go over to see them on weekends.  Ma had an old cookstove set up in the yard, and she preferred to start a fire in it and cook outside when weather allowed.  One of her specialties was cooking a beef roast and a pork roast in the same pot.  Each piece of meat seemed to retain it's own flavor, but the gravy she made from the juices was to die for! 

Later, they moved back down to southern Minnesota where several of her sons lived.  When her health started going downhill, she and dad came to live with us.  About this time our kids were starting to marry and to begin their own families, so many meals were served in our dining room with four generations around the table.  After she died, my father-in-law continued to live with us for another 6 years, until just a few months before his death.

My mother-in-law was never rich.  In fact, for many years on the farm, the family struggled.  But there was always food on the table.  She always found something to feed her large family.  She loved her family and made everyone feel like family.  There was always room at the table for another person, and always enough food to go around.  She was a tiny thing, but a strong hard working woman.  She loved the Lord, and she  received her crown of life.

And I loved her.


DynamicDuo said...

Thank you for this memory, it makes me think of my mom and my grandma.... I love these kinds of memories ;0)

vulture peak muse said...

what a beautiful and inspiring story, marge, and you tell it so well....nope, i cannot imagine how she did it, ANY of it.

how's the diet going? looks like you are continually having ought to try vegan, it's such fun..... wry smile ;) xoxxo