Category Archives: History

Hints from Helga’s Granddaughter

I’m using my Grandma Britson’s name for the alliteration, just as the original “Heloise” did when she added an H to her name. Do any of you Babooners remember “Hints from Heloise” – household help in the form of syndicated newspaper columns, articles in magazines like Good Housekeeping, radio programs…  Well, there is still a Heloise, second generation, and of course a website:  a website , where you can find her Bio, Books, On Air offerings, Recipes (including Texas Caviar and Red Velvet Cake), and a section about her mom, the Original Heloise. The current Heloise has appeared on Oprah and Letterman, and is still writing books and making appearances.

I started this post thinking I would just share my tip for Trapping Fruit Flies, which seem to have shown up earlier this season. Instead of cider vinegar (which I’ve probably shared here before) I’ve found something less messy, and more attractive to the flies:

– put a peach pit (with some peach remaining on it) in a small container

– cover tightly in plastic wrap, into which a few knife holes have been punched; the flies can find their way in, but can’t seem to find their way out

– take outside periodically and release fruit flies; recover and begin again – they’re never completely gone

Then yesterday when I was complaining about how often I have to polish my favorite earrings with a silver cloth to keep their sheen, I was told this secret:

– find an old toothbrush and polish them with toothpaste

Who knew?

I’ve also managed to find a way to resurrect an old wicker rocker whose seat has broken through:  a couple of longish boards across the seat, anchored in place by a cushion, stick out on one end to create sort of side shelf, for books and (bird-watching) field glasses. A temporary fix, perhaps, but at least I don’t have to throw it out.

Do you have any Helpful Hints (household or otherwise) that either Heloise or I should bring to the attention of others?

Baboon redux-Bully!

This post went up on 11/17/ 2016.  Since then, it has all gone to hell in a hand basket.

North Dakota doesn’t have a native son who became president. I think the only president who ever lived in North Dakota was Teddy Roosevelt.  We have clasped him to our collective bosom, however, and his only presidential library is due to be built about 4 blocks from my house, on the former rodeo grounds at our local college.  The Theodore Roosevelt Center At Dickinson State University website tells us:

“Theodore Roosevelt established two ranches in the badlands of western North Dakota: one called the Maltese Cross seven miles south of the Northern Pacific Railroad (1883) and the other called the Elkhorn, 35 miles north of the village of Medora, North Dakota (1884). Roosevelt never owned a single acre in North Dakota. Like most other ranchers in the badlands, he was a squatter on lands that still belonged to the public domain or the NP Railroad. The Maltese Cross (Chimney Butte) Ranch had already been named by the time he invested in it. He named his second ranch the Elkhorn after he found the horns of two male elk interlocked at the site. The elk had been butting heads in a struggle for primacy when their horns became locked. Unable to extricate themselves, the elk died of starvation. This appealed to Roosevelt, who regarded life as a Darwinian struggle.”

“At the Elkhorn Roosevelt ranched and played cowboy, went on long solo horseback rides, often for many days at a time, and hunted for elk, mule deer, white tail deer, and other quadrupeds. He also grieved for his mother and his first wife Alice, who died together in New York City on Valentine’s Day 1884. In fact, at the Elkhorn TR wrote the only tribute he would ever pen for Alice, who died two days after giving birth to Roosevelt’s first child Alice. He also wrote parts of two of his 35-plus books at the Elkhorn.”

The plan is to rebuild the Elkhorn Ranch house next to the library. For that purpose, large cottonwood logs have been collected from the area, and local ranchers are encouraged to donate logs to rebuild the 60 x 30 foot cabin. A builder from South Dakota has been hired to build the cabin by hand using only tools that were available to Roosevelt’s builders. You can see some of the logs that have already been hauled to the grounds.

It will be quite a job, and I look forward to seeing progress on the cabin when I drive to work each day. The Legislature set aside many millions of dollars to build the library, as long as the TR Center could raise 3 million more. They have a ways to go, but are optimistic that the library and the cabin will both get finished.


June, 2018.  Well, the library committee, a group of people who are not from North Dakota,  decided for multiple reasons last month that the cabin and the library will be built in Medora, about 40 miles west of here.  The logs will be moved to Medora.  They are stacked in sad piles and it will be hard to move them.  The college administration is upset because they gave up the rodeo grounds and now they want the library committee to pay several hundred of thousands of dollars to restore the rodeo arena. The city donated a couple of hundred dollars to endure the library came to our town.  Now they want their money back.

From a recent local newspaper article:

Dickinson State University had to sacrifice its rodeo grounds to make way for what was going to be the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library—but with the library gone now to Medora, what remains is an unkempt field, neglected logs and a looming cost.

“Many of us were very hopeful that the library would go in Dickinson but we understand there are other desires by the foundation board,” Nicholas Hacker, chair of the North Dakota State Higher Education Board’s Budget and Finance Committee, said in a phone interview. “Our goal at this point was ‘how to ensure the land will be returned in the condition it was provided. DSU provided … about 25 acres of land, which effectively was a rodeo grounds.”

The university has been making use of a rodeo arena provided at the Stark County Fairgrounds south of town, but they had previously had their own grounds on their own property, which was in proximity to the department of agriculture building, allowing animals to be brought from the indoor structure there to the rodeo grounds without a lot of exposure.

“We removed the DSU rodeo grounds for the impending coming of the library. I’m extremely grateful to the county … who built rodeo grounds south of town and that allowed for DSU to not have to drop competitions but it’s still removed from the campus. We would not have taken down our own facilities had we known the library was not going to be built in Dickinson,” DSU President Thomas Mitzel said in a phone interview. “I’m asking that that structure be rebuilt and for the (Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library) Foundation to do that for us.”

Tell about debacles you have experienced or observed.

Brush Your Britches

This past week everyone in our house was groomed and  brought up to snuff, starting with the cats. Our short-haired tabby looks about an inch smaller in diameter since we took the furminator to her on Saturday. The birds have scads of grey hair to line their nests now. Our long-haired tortie has really furry back legs that make her look like she is wearing fuzzy pants.  She gets a slicker brush.  “It’s time to brush your britches” we tell her.  She isn’t real impressed with the procedure.

Husband’s barber moved to a new and improved space with four barber chairs,  a coffee bar, and beer parlour.  The barber is a devout Catholic who named his new shop after St. Martin de Porres, an influential New World priest during the 1500’s and 1600’s in Peru who is the patron saint of mixed-race people, barbers, innkeepers, public health workers, and all those seeking racial harmony.  Husband has curly hair and is fussy how his hair gets cut. He is happy with his barber. He had neither beer nor coffee during his hair cut.

My hair dresser of 30 years had a stroke a couple of months ago, so now I have to get used to a new hair dresser.  She is working out pretty well, but I must admit it takes a bit to get used to a new person messing with my hair, especially since my old hair dresser and I know each other so well and she knows the quirks of my hair and what works and what doesn’t. Change is hard, sometimes.

How would you define your relationship with your barber or hair dresser. How have your animals taken to being groomed?


Today’s post comes from tim.

I watched a lot of Turner classic movies over memorial day weekend about World War II issues

when my dad was alive I used to wonder how he could sit and watch all that army stuff and cowboy stuff and get amazes me how today I love the cowboy stop in the army stuff

simple storyline and the bottom line solution to the issue of how to deal with the challenge seems to be the reoccurring theme that is the attraction

I think today about how different the kids in high school are that they were when I was in high school and I remember my dad thinking how different the kids were in high school that they were when he was in high school also

Tom Brokaw wrote the book the greatest generation and I read and enjoyed it but didn’t fully appreciate the big picture

today’s 80 and 90 something are from the pre-television era when you had to find a way to amuse yourself and occupy your brain

what a person came up with was all you needed to know about that person
engineer brain, artist? go tinker with stuff in the workshop? read a book and write a book
the way a chosen lifestyle came into being was different dad that it is today.
or is it?

and it was pointed out to me once that baby boomers  like to talk on the phone,generation X likes to work by email and the youngsters today like to work by text

my dad’s dad used to get the car and drive over to someone’s house and sit and have coffee with them

My dad booked someone for lunch every day to enjoy conversation I’m talking about life.
those mornings breakfast groups at the coffee shop with the old codgers solving the problems of the world were his greatest joy as his world came to an end.

the greatest generation is almost gone . 5 more years will whittle em down 10 more will finish it

each group has its own style. clyde and steve and margeret are between the greatest and the boomers

boomers are of course the best then they are followed by xyz millennial and my youngest daughters group who will be here for 2020 as young adults

the world had interesting as part of the deal going back a while but now feels different

do they really not get it?
can’t they see my way is right?
if you do you only had 48 hours to live how would you wrap it up?
what is the set of priorities that’s important to you?

An Oma in the Kitchen

In May, 1914, my widowed, maternal great grandmother, Metta Sophie Bartels, left her small village near Bremen, Germany with  her four teenage daughters, teenage son, and one son in his early 20’s, and immigrated to Fulda, MN, where her father and siblings all had immigrated.  Her oldest son had inherited the Bartels family farm upon his father’s death.  One other son, my grandfather, had been drafted into the German army. He was discharged in July, 1914 because of flat feet, and he immediately left Germany for Minnesota. (It is rather humbling to know that I owe my existence to flat feet).

Metta was called “Oma”, a German term for grandma.  My mother had very fond memories of her. She remembered her as a kind and gentle presence in her life.  Oma lived with her children and helped them with their families as they married and had their own children. She was a hard worker. My mother remembers the time Oma broke her right arm, which was her dominant arm.  My mother said, “Oma just hoed the garden with her other hand”.   Oma died in 1947. The photo is of her prior to immigrating.

We now have a grandchild.  Husband and I thought pretty hard about what names we wanted to be called by our grandson.  Our daughter-in-law’s parents will be Grandma and Grandpa. My maternal grandmother was called “Umie”,  a diminutive for “Oma”.  Umie was interesting but rather difficult to live with, so I didn’t want that name.  For rather hard to explain reasons, Husband will be Grandpa Dazzle. I could be “Grandma Boom” because of my last name, Boomgaarden. That name, however, belongs forever to my paternal grandmother, a short, wild little person who drove really fast and cheated at cards.  I decided that I want to be called Oma.

We visited our son and DIL a week after the birth of their son.  While at their home I cooked and froze two soups (Bremer Huhnersuppe and Chicken Chipotle Chower), lasagna, four loaves of French bread, and a loaf of lemon poppy seed bread. I also cleaned out all their kitchen cupboards and drawers. Who has time for that with a newborn?  My grateful son said “Every  home needs an Oma in the kitchen”. I was glad to be of help.

What kind of help has benefited you the most?  What help have you given that has been the most helpful.  Have you ever had a nickname?”

A Bone to Pick….

“But see! nearer and nearer the great fish comes, mouthful after mouthful of the fishes falling into its horrid jaws. It must be starving; so eager is it for its prey that is seems unconscious of the fact that the tide has turned and is moving outward.  Now it discovers its danger and turns, but too late.  The water has gone back to the dep, leaving it struggling for breath in a shallow pool.   It thrashes wildly about with its tail, whose sticky secretions help to envelop it more and more thickly with mud and slime, until at last its struggles cease.”

This is from the autobiography The Life of a Fossil Hunter by Charles Sternberg, written in 1909.  I stumbled upon this title in the afterward of Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton.  His widow Sherri did a nice epilogue and mentioned the Sternberg book as one that Michael had used in his extensive research for Dragon Teeth.

As you can read in the section above, the style of autobiography and memoir was a little bit different back then than it is today. In today’s memoir, we would learn about how abuse in his childhood caused him to seek out a career in the wilderness, how his career caused lifelong challenges in all his relationships and he overcame all kind of obstacles to achieve his desires.  That’s pretty much how every memoir written in the last few years read anyway.  In Sternberg’s autobiography, he mentions a son about 1/3 of the way through the book.  Then he mentions a son about 2/3 of the way through.  We he mentions in the conclusion that he has “raised up a race of fossil hunters”, we learn that there are at least two sons, but that’s it.  No courtship, no marriage, no discussion of any toll his work/travels took on his wife… in fact, the word “wife” doesn’t even come up in this book.

But he did know how to breathe life into his fossil finds!

What’s the oldest book you’ve read recently?


Fading Fraternities

In early June our church handbell choir has a gig in Jamestown, ND at a regional convention of the Eastern Star.  Our director is active in the Eastern Star, hence our invitation to provide entertainment.  My grandmother was a member of the Eastern Star, as my grandfather was a Shriner.  I always thought of the Eastern Star as the old ladies who swept up behind the Shriners and Masons.  Our handbell director insists that they are quite independent of the Shriners.   I sometimes accompanied my grandmother when she cleaned and straightened up the Masonic Lodge in town. She didn’t seem too independent to me, but perhaps times have changed.

I note that today in history in 1819, the Oddfellows were founded. My grandfather belonged to the Oddfellows, too, as was my Uncle Harvey. I have my grandfather’s Oddfellow sword. It is very sharp and you could run someone through with it.  My father was a Mason, but in late life left the Lodge because he thought some of his fellow Masons had been rude to my mother.  The men in my mother’s family never joined fraternal groups, as that was frowned upon by the Missouri  Synod Lutheran Church.

In our town we have the usual fraternal groups such as the Knights of Columbus, the Elks, the Rotary, and the Optimists.  In Winnipeg I noticed a sign for an interesting group called the Zontas, I never figured out what they did.  Fraternal groups are fading.  We have a big Elks Club building here that sports a restaurant, bar, and space for parties and receptions,  The Elks decided they couldn’t keep it going as it was, and leased out the entire top floor, including the restaurant and bar areas to the local  Apostolic Pentecostal Church. I think it is a delightful combination. The Elks will carry on and drink and eat in the basement, while the Pentecostals will pray and repent upstairs.

Did you have family members who belonged to fraternal organizations? Make up a fraternal organization that you would be willing to join.