Viking Recollections

Click here or on the web link for this week's program.(These are the words of former Viking, Minnesota resident Earlene Solmonson as dictated to and sent by neighbor J. Radke Anoka, MN on 7-29-05)



I wish I could have been there in person. My daughter and I planned on being there right up until yesterday. I got word my brother passed away and the funeral is Saturday. My heart and thoughts will be there.

Sixty nine years ago I came to Viking ( at the tender age of 22) to Viking to work at the Farmer’s Coop Store. This was in the midst of the “Great Depression”. In spite of that, I found people in Viking very generous and hospitable. The ladies were great cooks and often invited me for coffee or even dinner. So, I felt very welcome.

Mrs. Franson, who was my landlady, also invited me occasionally to eat with them. My 2 room apartment was on the 2nd floor of the Franson building which housed many apartments on the 2nd floor. A favorite memory of that place was my neighbor. Across the hall from me lived a sweet lady named Mrs. Krohn. When I got home from work, she had hot pancakes ready for me and the best fruit soup you ever tasted. On the first floor of the building was where the Jensen’s restaurant was located. At the store we sold: groceries, hardware, yard goods, mens work clothes and occasionally ladies house dresses. Candy bars, and Cracker Jack were 5 cents each at the time.

Occident flour came in 50 lb. bags. The cotton bag the flour came in was a valuable by product – used as dish towels. Girls undergarments were often made from the cotton sack fabric as well. When I was very young I remember wearing these home sewn garments called “bloomers”. It mattered not if the Occident print was still on the garment and I was unaware of the free advertising I was doing for Occident Co. I never knew why they were called “bloomers”! Here I also learned about Brown’s Mule Tobacco which came in a long solid brown bar.

On the counter was a tobacco cutter with measurements for cutting of 10 and 15 cent pieces. Tobacco lovers would say, “Give me 10 or 15 cents worth of Brown’s Mule tobacco.!” We also sold Copenhagen snuff and Prince Albert in a can, but no cigarettes. In the hardware was kitchen ware, nuts and bolts, tools and baling wire etc. This was the store for everything!

After working here 2 years my friend and future husband came to be a mechanic at Shefveland’s garage. We were married at Christmas time. The Farmer’s board members gave me a set of dishes as a wedding gift. But, I had no cupboards so I asked if I could have some empty orange crates. They became my 1st cupboards. I sewed some curtains for them and I was Happy!

We lived in Viking 3 more years before we moved to Warren. Our first of 3 children was born the following November. Our daughter Gwen was born while we lived in Viking. When she was about 6 or 7 months old Roger Sackett and Arlis Anderson came often to play with her after her nap. They taught her to walk early. She was 9 1/2 months old when she started walking.

Grandma Tanquist was a dear lady. She was mom to 6 daughters and 2 sons and they all lived in and around Viking. When Gwen was a year old, she had whooping cough as did the Drotts children and Arlis Anderson. That was when Grandma Tangquist passed away about that time. I remember how sad I was because I couldn’t attend the funeral. So, I decided to have all the kids with whooping cough to come to my place during the service so their parents would attend. You could say we had a whooping good time at my house!

One of the recreational activities that I remember fondly was Old Mill State Park. The WPA Program was a wonderful program started by the President at that time. There was a swimming pool, picnic tables, shelter and bridges. I could go on and on there are so many good memories. Earlene Solmonson  Anoka, MN 55303

(submitted by Jeanne Radke – apartment neighbor.)

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