Archive - Jul 12, 2013


Polk County Fair

It is sort of like a car accident: You can't help but to be drawn in by the spectacle and then go gawk. And the great food at the Concordia Church food stand is a draw. So I went in last night to the fair for a plate of meatballs and gravy. And custard pie! It took me over an hour. Visit, visit, visit. 

Yesterday afternoon, I stopped to visit Aunt Olla at the Hilton. She was in good spirits and good form. I should really come prepared with questions, as new questions can beget new stories. This time, only due to a request from Aunt Beth, I asked Olla if she remembered how my grandfather learned to play piano. Olla pondered, her wheels turning, and remembered that her father had hired a traveling piano teacher to instruct their eldest sister Gertrude back in about 1915. They had a pump organ. But after their father died, there was no money for such luxuries as lessons, so Gertrude passed on what she knew to Grandpa and Olla. 

As he raised a family, Grandpa bought a piano. He apparently loved to play hymns late in the evenings after the kids had gone upstairs to bed. My memory of his playing style was that it was utterly minimal, and that the rhythm heaved, rested, then heaved again. Sort of like a pump organ. Heave and rest. 

Olla then went of on another story about how her eldest brother Roy promised Olla and her sister Millie that if they cleaned the cream separator, he would take them to the movie Ben Hur at the theater in Ulen. This was after their father died. Roy, at age 15, was the man of the house and was looking for ways to motivate the troops. Well, Olla and Millie got so excited about going to the movie that they forgot all about the cream separator and started to play the pump organ. One would play while the other danced. 

Roy was none to happy, but took them to Ulen anyway. 

Aunt Olla keeps battling nightly strokes. "I suppose I'll just linger," she said forlornly, as if she's in some sort of vegetative state, which she most certainly is not. I gave her no sympathy. 

As I left, the nurse told me that the doctor had visited Olla yesterday morning. Nothing was said about the strokes. The only complaint Olla had was she needed a perm. She wondered if he could prescribe a perm. He said he would do what he could.