Sunshine Club current members.
Photo from Independent Review Newspaper
The Sunshine club has met for 82 years. Agnes Palm was a founding member and my mother has been a member all of my life. I have many memories of going with mom to club when I was a very young girl, especially when it was held at Mrs. Palm’s house.
I remember the delicious desserts, being horribly bored and being allowed to play with two plastic horses. One was extra special as it had little gold chains for reins. I will never forget her beautiful white faced cows and calves and the big mean old bull that once escaped the pasture and tried to ram our white ford station wagon with the red interior.
My most vivid memory is of her youngest son Darrel. He was in his late twenties by the time I first met him when I was just a preschooler. He had wonderful dark hair like me, unusual in Swede Grove Township, Minnesota. Darrel was always all full of smiles…even though he was totally paralyzed from cerebral palsy and had lived his whole life in a wooden box with wheels that was parked in front of the east window in their dining room.
I liked him and always visited with him should I find myself in their house. At first I must admit I was afraid of him, but his smile held such merriment that I soon got over that. He was smart, and even though his speech was affected by his condition I could figure out what he was saying. He knew all about his farm such as when the calves would be born. He loved sharing about his summer trips to the Courage Center Camps. They brought him such joy.
I still remember the day at school when I learned he died. He was only in his early thirties. It hurt that his life seemed to be trading life in one box to just be buried in another box. I knew that he was a Christian and I took comfort in the image of him finally being able to stand tall and run as free as a breeze for all eternity.
When, due to my bone damage to my spine from my cancer, I ended up in a hospital bed looking out my east window for over two years, I often thought of him. If he could find joy in his affliction then so could I. I woke up everyday, said that this was a day that the Lord has made, let me rejoice and be glad in it. Some days when I couldn’t move because of pain from my broken bones and nausea from my chemotherapy, I would just lay there and pray for those I love and those I do not love. Even on those days the peace would come.
Many people cannot see much of a value in the life of a disabled soul such as Darrel, but on my darkest days, it was the image of him with his positive attitude in his bed box laying there smiling that helped me again see the sunshine of life.
The following link tells about the club and its founder Agnes Palm.
Desserts were very important to the Sunshine Club members. Each cook tried to outdo the other. Most of their desserts were rich creamy concoctions. This recipe, while looking like one of their desserts, is a wonderful light freezer dessert for the pumpkin pie season. I hope you enjoy “Frozen Pumpkin Dessert”.
Frozen Pumpkin Dessert
1/2 box of vanilla wafer cookies crushed. (I have used homemade gingersnaps too.)
1/4 cup butter melted
3 Tablespoons Sugar
Mix together and press into the bottom of a 9 X 9 pan.
1 package ( 8 ounce) softened cream cheese
1 can (16 ounce) of pumpkin
3 Tablespoons Brandy (optional)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 (8 ounce) container of cool whip (I made my own whipped cream using a pint of heavy cream, 1/4 cup sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla. I come from a long line of Sunshine Club cooks we do not use Cool Whip unless there is some sort of emergency situation.)
In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine cream cheese and sugar. Mix well with and electric mixer. Add pumpkin and pumpkin spices and mix well.
Reserve one half of cool whip for topping and add the rest to the pumpkin mixture by gently folding it in.
Spread remaining cool whip on top of pumpkin mixture and cool in the freezer for several hours before you serve. Enjoy!