If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
By Amber Hayden
GLENWOOD CITY – Irma Lindholm says she has very few memories from growing up, but what she does remember are the important pieces.
From memories of the farm where she grew up between Plum City and Elmwood to the holidays she and her husband spent with their children at the lake house in Turtle Lake — all are memories she continues to hold dear.
Irma and her husband, Wally, filled important roles in Glenwood City’s history.
The Lindholms’ have four children: Barry, Judy, Steve and James.
The couple met at UW-River Falls, and Irma Grace Saueressig married Wallace Lindholm shortly after graduation on August 5, 1950, at a ceremony in the Ono United Methodist Church in Grange Hall, Wisconsin.
From there, Irma and Wally went on to live in five different school districts.
Wally’s early career centered around teaching social studies and history and coaching football, basketball and baseball at Bloomer in 1950-51, at Pepin 1951-53, at Colfax 1953-55, and in Birchwood 1955-59. Wally earned a Master’s Degree in Education Administration, and in 1959, he began his career in administration as Superintendent of Plum City from 1959-66 and then superintendent of Glenwood City for the next 24 years from 1966 to 1990.
Following his full-time Superintendent career, Wally worked for the State Department of Public Instruction in Madison for one year and served as interim Superintendent for both the Unity and St. Croix Falls school districts.
Other community and organizational distinctions included President of the Wisconsin Superintendents for two years, Board Member of the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators for 11 years and the Governor’s Block Grant for three years, Board Member of Hiawatha National Bank in Glenwood City for 23 years, and the Mayor of Glenwood City for four years.
“When we lived in Colfax, my husband, Wally, was a football coach,” Irma said.
“I think the house is still there, even though we tried to burn it down,” she said.
“The house had suffered a chimney fire, and one of the football players noticed the smoke coming from the direction (where) our house stood. It was then Wally realized it was our home and quickly headed home,” Irma said.
Sears & Roebuck
Irma was born during the Great Depression, and her family lived eight miles from the grocery store.
Anything store-bought came from the Sears & Roebuck, Montgomery, or Spiegel catalogs, Irma said.
“If Mother ordered from those, they came by mail during the day, and we never knew how they got there,” she said.
For Irma and her family, a majority of the gifts they gave or received were handmade gifts, along with hanging their cotton stockings — hoping they were clean — and waking up the next morning to an orange or some other kind of fruit.
On Christmas Eve, Irma and her siblings were allowed to open one gift, and on Christmas day at home after chores were done, the rest of the presents would be opened.
For entertainment, the kids would work on the farm, Irma said, but they made sure to make time to build a snowman or go sledding.
“There was a steep hill, like a road, that we would go down, and we only ever went down once,” Irma said, laughing as she remembered the reason why.
“It was so steep, we didn’t want to have to climb back up it,” she said.
Christmas time was also spent with Irma’s grandparents on her father’s side of the family.
Her grandmother would give each of them money, and her grandfather would take them down into the basement to taste his treasured grape wine.
“Grandpa had a windmill, and he had a grapevine that went up it, and he specialized in his grape wine,” she explained. “Mother was never happy about that, but he said we had to try it.”
One of the rooms at her grandparents’ house was a parlor only used during holidays, and one of the things Irma remembers most is a limb with two squirrels on it that were stuffed. They were allowed to look at the squirrels but they were never allowed to touch them, she said.
“A couple traditions I remember is we always had oyster stew on Christmas Eve, and we always had the nuts in the shell that you were too busy cracking to eat a lot of them,” she said.
“Our biggest thing for Christmas was the rural school program. We started practicing for that right after Thanksgiving, and that was (first through eighth) grade, and then the church program at the Ono Methodist Church,” Irma said.
The programs were a big thing in the rural schools because they were held at night, and there was a meal or treats afterward, and the school was always packed, she recalled.
“I think back at that time, the teacher was hired or fired by what kind of Christmas program she put on,” Irma said. “The best part about it was seeing who got to pull the curtain up.”
Irma and her siblings also participated in the church program at the Ono Methodist Church, and they had another party after performing the Christmas story, complete with costumes.
“The big thing was who was going to be Joseph and who was going to be Mary,” Irma explained.
“We knew who was going to be the baby Jesus, and it was usually a doll of some kind, (but) sometimes if there was a little one, it was the little one,” she said.
Feed sack dresses
Irma also remembers her mother making clothes for the children in the family from cloth feed sacks.
Back then, there were designs on the cloth fifty-pound or hundred-pound bags that held flour or animal feed.
“The one thing for Christmas, we all had new dresses for the program at school made out of feed sacks. And back then the sacks were patterned. My mom made the dresses. We didn’t go buy dresses back then. It sounds so awful, but the material they had in the feed sacks wasn’t bad. It wasn’t like it is now,” she explained.
During the 1920s and 1930s, especially during the Great Depression, frugal farm women used the cotton bags that held flour or animal feed to make dresses, towels, curtains, quilts and other household items.
By the 1940s, manufacturers were producing cloth sacks with bright colors and printed designs as a marketing tool with the belief that women would choose the brands with the best designs.
During World War II, there was a shortage of cotton fabric, and recycling the cloth sacks to make clothing was an enterprise the federal government encouraged.
Knitting and reading
Nowadays, Irma spends much of her time knitting and reading, since, according to her, there is nothing good to watch on television.
She also attends the United Methodist church in Glenwood City a block and a half away from her home.
“If I can’t drive anymore, at least things are within a block to block and a half from where I live,” she explained.
Wallace Lindholm passed away in April of this year. He was born in 1929 in Watertown, Minnesota, and grew up in the Town of Maple Plain, Minnesota.
During his college years, Wally played for the college basketball team, where he has the distinction of playing on the only River Falls team to win the conference title four years in a row.
Wallace Lindholm was honored in September of 2017 with induction into the UW-River Falls Athletic Hall of Fame.