Visiting Grandparents, Part 2

This is grandpa and grandma Anfinsen celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary.

My grandparents on my mom’s side were a lot different than my grandparents on my dad’s side. Grandpa was a house painter for the first few years of his work life; and then, when he was about forty, he began working in the Minneapolis Post Office until he retired. I think what people most remember about Him was his dedication to Christian ministry. In his younger years he would travel around and sing gospel songs in a men’s group, and my mom would play the piano. She was only about 16 or 17; of course, I wasn’t born yet, but I heard about it and have seen pictures.

My grandpa was also a fill-in preacher. But I think his biggest mission was what he did with Christian literature. He and a few others would meet regularly and box up and send used and slightly damaged books and literature overseas to missionary groups and churches all over the world. I helped out one time and I was quite impressed by how much literature they were able to get—which was donated from Christian book stores, and groups such as the Billy Graham Association.

Grandpa and Grandma Anfinsen moved a few times, but the place I remember most was their house in Minnetonka, Minnesota, right on Lake Minnetonka. I remember that house so well, and grandpa saying that Rosie (or grandma) wanted a pink house. So he painted the entire house bubblegum pink. He also painted the garage pink and the fence around the house pink, and even the fishing barge pink. Grandma loved it! And she loved flowers; she planted mostly pink ones all around the house, and the garage, and along the fence, and around the trees. It was plain to see that grandpa and grandma loved each other—just by the way they looked at each other and how they talked to each other.

Every summer they invited all the relatives (about 50, on my mom’s side) over to their home just to sit and visit and eat. There was always plenty of room in the back yard, and it was beautiful with all the flowers. And for the kids, grandpa or uncle Marv would break out the croquet set. And then later in the afternoon grandpa would fire up the barge motor to go fishing. The pink barge was quite large, about 20 feet square. Grandpa made it himself. It was a simple floor with a fence around it; and under the floor were 60-gallon drums that made it float. Fishing was always good. We never caught any big ones, like Northerns or Walleyes, but we always caught plenty of Crappies and Sunfish—with worms.

Christmas time was always special, and it was the tradition to meet at grandma Knutson’s house in Minneapolis. That was my grandma Anfinsen’s mother. Grandma loved to see everyone; and she was funny, and would love to laugh and talk to the kids, and to remind them to be good! She was all Norwegian and had a strong Norwegian accent.

The thing I remember most about Christmas at grandma Knutson’s house was when all us kids, about a dozen of us, would go wild in the basement and run around and around the furnace. I must have been very young then, about 6 or 7. I also liked all the sweet foods laid out on the tables—all the Norwegian sweets like krumkake and lefsa.

The last thing we all did was gather around and sing carols—and opened gifts. Grandpa would always take charge of announcing and leading the songs, and leading the devotional and prayers. And the way he led, and what he said, and the way he said it was always so inspirational. You could tell he was so proud of his family; and you also knew he was so dedicated to God.

Later in life grandpa and grandma moved to a smaller house in Ortonville, Minnesota; and again, on a lake. And I didn’t see them much anymore. And the most touching thing was when they died. Both of them died almost at the same time, only a few hours apart. Everyone said that that was so fitting; for just as they were always together in life on this earth, they left this earth in the same way—together.

Visiting Grandparents

This is my grandpa on the left after his successful deer hunt.

Our visits to the grandparents were always fun. My grandparents on my dad’s side were totally into farming. They had a huge farm, located not far from our farm, with many animals, and acres and acres of corn, oats, soybeans and flax. Besides my two uncles that were still living at home, Mike and Lyle, they always had hired help—as many as they needed. And grandpa was always working too. And so was grandma. She was the brains of the outfit—much more than grandpa. She kept the books, made the schedules, and I think even made sure grandpa got up in the morning to milk the cows! And then after the early chores were done, all the workers came in for breakfast, which grandma had all ready for them on the big kitchen table. Breakfast was always a big deal—eggs, bacon, pancakes, juice, milk, coffee, whatever you wanted.

I guess you could say that when we came over to visit, nothing stopped just for us. The farm work had to keep going and we understood that. Many times, us kids would just set in the living room and watch TV. That was fun for us because we didn’t have TV at our farm. I also remember walking around in the barn while the milking was going on.

Everything on Grandpas farm was so much more modern and bigger than on our farm. All the milking was by machine, and unlike our old wood barn, grandpa’s barn was made of shiny, silver-looking metal; and it was huge! And all their buildings looked modern and huge. And their tractors and machinery looked so new. And they had horses, which we didn’t have.

And they also had other properties. Besides their farm in Montevideo, they also had land in South Dakota, where they had Black Angus cattle—hundred of them. I remember riding with grandpa and my dad one day to check on them. Grandpa said he just needed to check to see if they had enough salt blocks, and also to see if there were any new calves.

I liked grandpa. He laughed at my stories (when I was about 7), and he told stories to me too. Unlike my dad, grandpa was a hunter. He hunted deer and pheasants, and even rabbits. And he always had his rifle in his pickup truck. I remember once when I was with him hunting rabbits. The way he would do it was just to shoot them out the window of his truck as we drove through the fields.  I heard some stories about grandpa after he died, that he would go into town to drink, and that he had a wild side. I never knew that about him. I guess for some reason grandma and my parents wanted to hide that from us. But I still have always liked him.

Next post: part 2.