My husband and I have lived in this home for over thirty years and for the first time I have Orioles at my bird feeder. This morning I had both a male and female Oriole singing to me from my grape jelly feeder. Actually, I can still hear them singing.
Each time I see an Oriole, I always think of my Great Uncle Ing who was the first person to ever show me one of these gorgeous orange and black song birds.
Uncle Ing Kronbeck lived his whole life on the farm where he had grown up north west of Litchfield, MN. He was the youngest in a family of six children. Esther the oldest was my grandmother, then there were Hilda, Anna, Ida, Victor and Ingvald.
Their childhood was one of hard work, poverty and a very sick mother. My grandmother once told me that she was more of a mother to her brother Ing than her own mother.
This family worked together on their farm and survived World Wars, economic depression and contagion. Several of their family members contracted the flu during the deadly epidemic of 1918. Aunt Ida told me she once spent an entire year lying in bed with an ice pack on her chest, due to an enlarged heart from an illness. I do not remember anymore if it was the flu or Rheumatic fever.
Against all odds, all of the children survived to adulthood. Not only that, but these strong people, while suffering through bouts of depression and sadness thrust upon them by the circumstances of life, always were steadfast in their faith in Jesus Christ and kept their sense of humor and wonderment of simple things.
Uncle Ing holding his daughter Marion
Uncle Ing married Aunt Doris and they had two daughters Marion and Kathy. What probably was more important to me at the time was that they had two amazing dogs Penny and Skippy. Penny was the softest tri-color collie in the world and Skippy was a magnificent fetcher of a Springer Spaniel.
Not only were these dogs friendly….they were generous. They had no problem with me climbing on on top of their dog house and pretending it was my pony. At that age anything and everything became a pony.
Skippy’s favorite toy…a cow teat holder
In those days, Sunday’s were for church and visiting relatives. For those of you that do not know what visiting is, it is actually taking time to be with the people you love. You share stories, laughs and very good food.
Sometimes at Uncle Ing’s home, he’d play guitar and sing us songs in English and Swedish.
Uncle Ing played a twelve string guitar
He would also let me sit at his “Seed Corn” sales desk and draw with his remarkable little pencils. They came in a case that had bright colored advertisements on them.
To use the pencil and you had to pull the pencil out and insert its metal capped end into the back of the case. They were dainty and delightful, and a perfect gift for a little girl who needed a pencil to fit into her tiny Sunday School penny offering purse.
Visiting Uncle Ing and Aunt Doris was one of my favorite childhood stops. It sure beat visiting the Aunties in town as every child in our family knew that their house was dark, scary and haunted. However, had I known then that both of my great grandparent had died in Uncle Ing’s house, I probably would have been a bit more jumpy when the back door would open and close on its own.
Everyone else had black and white milking cows, not Uncle Ing, he had the only weird brown cow in the whole community.
What I remember most was that Uncle Ing and Aunt Doris’ home was filled with happiness and peace.
On one Sunday’s visit Uncle Ing walked us kids to a big tree in his front yard and showed us the nest of an Oriole. It was a funny looking bird’s nest. It hung off of the branch of the tree just like a beard hanging off the chin of a Mennonite. There, too, in the tree sat a male Oriole. It was the very first time I had ever seen an Oriole. He was beautiful! We stood silently and listened to its beautiful song.
Beautiful memories like beautiful days and people are the real treasures of this life. That is why I have a treasure box. I do not think even my daughter knows about my treasure box. It is a very stained and tattered little cardboard box where I keep all of the handwritten recipes given to me by the greatly loved women in my life who have found their eternal rest in heaven. One of those was my Great Aunt Doris.
My first year in college, I lived with my Aunt Doris during the winter months. I had a great time. One day we sat down at the kitchen table and she had me go through her recipes and choose which ones I wanted. Then, in her own hand, she copied them for me. They are in my treasure box along with Grandmother Helen Vacinek, Grandmother Esther and Great Aunt Ida’s handwritten recipes.
I get a kick out of the great interest in DNA ancestry tests. A DNA test can only tell you what you are. It is family tradition, lore and heirlooms that tell you who you are.
When I think about it, I have come to the conclusion that it really is a shame that email and text messaging were ever invented. It saddens me to think that future generations will not be able to take out a treasure box filled with handwritten notes, letters and recipes from the people that loved them. The expressions of love and wisdom from past familial generations that provide comfort and strength will surely elude children of the electronic age for their communications will be no more.
I hope you enjoy these recipes. I have shared them as written by my Great Aunt Doris.
1/2 cup salad dressing (mayonnaise)
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice – blend these and add
1 cup crushed pineapple well drained, so it’ll be a firm salad
2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup small marshmallows
1 cup grated carrots
Stir only to distribute evenly
Zucchini Freezer Jam
6 cups grated zucchini, peel, add water to cook for six minutes. Drain well.
6 cups of sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon or orange juice
6 ounce can crushed pineapple with juice
Boil six minutes, take off stove and add
2 3-ounce packages of apricot jello. (Or, one each of lemon or orange jello.)
Pour in jars
Keep in freezer.
Kathryn Hepburn’s Brownies
This is just the way Hepburn did it
First melt two squares of unsweetened chocolate and 1/4 pound butter in a heavy saucepan. Stir in one cup sugar, add two eggs and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and beat like mad.
Stir in 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 cup of chopped walnuts. Not all mashed up you know, just chopped, good sized pieces, now mix all that.
Butter an 8 X 8 inch pan and dump the whole thing quickly, stuff into 325 degree oven for 40 minutes. Cool awhile and cut into one and a half inch squares and dive right in.
Editors note, tested in the kitchen of Ladies Home Journal and is delicious because of the 1/4 cup flour they have a pudding like texture. Pat, I’ve also made them. (No baking powder or soda)