By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — It all started with some friends from Florida and lunch at the Farmhouse Cafe in Colfax.
And it ended with a surprise visit and the Juel Olson Maytag sign going home to Sheboygan.
“We had friends from Florida that were visiting. We like to take them to different places, to fun places. So we took them to (Kim Borofka’s The Farmhouse Cafe). I pointed out the sign to them. And I took a picture of it,” said Beverly Spagnoletti, a resident in the Town of Tainter.
The Juel Olson Maytag sign was part of the decor at the Farmhouse. The sign had been stored in the basement of the building owned by the Ray and Marlene Johnson family, and Kim Borofka thought it would make a nice addition to her cafe.
Beverly Spagnoletti was a cousin to Juel Olson.
“Juel’s mother was an Everson, and my mother was an Everson. My uncle, Bill Everson, had the Coast-to-Coast store in Colfax,” Spagnoletti explained.
“I sent the picture to Juel’s sister’s son, who lives in the Minneapolis area. He then e-mailed it to Janice and Joan (Juel’s daughters). The minute that Janice saw the picture, she wanted to buy (the sign). She e-mailed back and wanted to know all the particulars of who owned it,” Spagnoletti said.
Janice Hill, the daughter of Juel and Julia Olson, lives in Sheboygan.
“Janice called and was told that the sign was not the property of The Farmhouse but had been found in the basement of the building. She and her husband and daughter were coming up here for a Special Olympics event in Eau Claire. They were here on a Saturday, and then at noon, we all met at the restaurant. That was first time I’d seen her since she was about five years old,” Spagnoletti said.
You might logically think that would be the end of the story — with Janice Hill visiting Colfax to see the sign that went with her dad’s business — but it’s not.
“Over time, Brian and his wife and my husband and I have had lunch at (The Farmhouse) for fun, and the owner of the restaurant, Kim, told my brother, Wally Bjork, that they had decided to give the sign to Janice because it really did not have any meaning to them, other than something they had found in the basement of the store, but they could see how much it meant to Janice,” Spagnoletti said.
Brian Hoel is Juel’s sister’s son — the one who lives in Minneapolis.
After that, “Brian and his wife, Judy, planned a trip to Sheboygan, to take the sign to give to Janice as a surprise,” Spagnoletti said.
Early during the week of November 12 — Brian and Judy Hoel picked up the sign in Colfax and then headed for Sheboygan.
According to Brian Hoel — Janice was so surprised and pleased to receive the sign, that she immediately installed it above the cupboards in her kitchen.
Juel Olson was born and raised in Colfax on the first farm on county Highway M, just across from the present-day location of Windmill Dairy. He was the second child of Clara and Sam Olson.
During the years of the Great Depression, Julia (Meinhardt) Olson’s family relocated to Dunn County and farmed near Colfax.
After Juel graduated from high school, he went into the Army Air Corps and served during World War II. Juel and Julie (as she is called by family members) were married while Juel was in the service.
When Juel came home from WWII, he opened the Maytag and refrigerator and radio repair shop in Colfax.
Lifelong Colfax resident Dick Toycen remembers Juel Olson’s Maytag shop.
“It was in the building where the post office is now. Dave Thomas had a farm machinery shop in that building, and Juel Olson rented part of it for his Maytag business,” Toycen recalled.
“The reason I remember that is my dad sold Speed Queen washing machines at that time for Running and Martin,” he said.
When the implement shop and Maytag shop were in the post office building, “you could drive right up in there. It was on a slant for the farm machinery,” Toycen said.
“They have really changed that building over the years,” he said.
Julia Olson’s family was originally from Sheboygan. After Juel had operated the Maytag business for a while, Julie wanted to move back to Sheboygan, and Juel landed a job repairing the sewing machines at Wigwam Socks.
Juel and Julie’s second daughter, Janice, was born in Sheboygan.
Julia Olson passed away at the age of 90 in January of 2012. Juel Olson died in 2002 at the age of 83.
“The fun part of this is that we would all exchange Christmas cards, but now it has rekindled old family relationships. It was cordial, but only at Christmas. It has just been great fun,” Beverly Spagnoletti said.
“It was so nice of (the Johnsons and Kim Borofka) to do that. But then, that’s like Colfax, isn’t it,” she said.