"The Greatest" Generation

Trip Start Oct 20, 2012
Trip End Jul 11, 2013

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Where I stayed
My 97 Year Old Cousin Charlotte
What I did
River Falls Wisconsin

Flag of United States  , Wisconsin
Tuesday, October 30, 2012

   Billy didn't join me for this jaunt and it's all family stuff for and about me so any of you not interested in this, or seeking his wit and wisdom should probably move on to the next post! (I say this in good-hearted sincerity 'cause I KNOW for many of you its not as engaging as it will be for my family.)

 A little sidebar:    When my cousin Annie had her son Tony, he became the first "great grandchild."  And through the wonder and reasoning of a child, OUR Grandmother Mary Mallery HIS great grandmother became "The Greatest"  a name that has endured.  He would say "We're going to visit The Greatest!"

  I feel like this post is rather fitting, as today is "The Greatest" birthday. (She'd be 119!)

OK so I did a search of my "Contacts" (I used to call it my Rolodex... and database seems SO impersonal) after looking at my trusty atlas and remembered some cousins who lived in River Falls, Wisconsin. I knew it was close and Kristen said it was only 15 minutes away from Woodbury, MN so I found the number I had for Charlotte Jensen and called her... the same number from at least 20 years ago... maybe 30...

I told her who I was and asked if I could come visit.  Charlotte is 97 and as energetic and spry as I am (OK so not many of you would call me spry these days but SHE was and its a great word) She was quick to tell me she had a lot on her plate but our selected time would be "just right."

I had begun some family tree work with a family bible and inquiries with my Aunt Mary (my Mom's older sister and husband Uncle Poul Houlberg who had a home in Creston, Montana forever.) They helped me with my Grandmother's immediate family and I had saved that file and brought it with me on the trip.  (I only mention this to set the stage for my time with Charlotte.)

My grandmother was 9th of 12 children, born in1893.  One of her older sisters, "Aunt Liz" (born in 1887) was Charlotte's Mom so that would make my Mom her cousin,  and so Charlotte and I are second cousins. I had to question this over and over but I realized that my grandmother was 35 when she had my Mom so that's why there is such a great span in our ages and we're only a generation apart

Anyway the trip from Woodbury, MN to River Falls, WI was beautiful, and it was another glorious Autumn Day.  As we entered the Apartments (a Senior Assistance Residence) I knew her the instant we walked in. She was waiting to greet us in the Lobby!  I'm not sure she recognized  me but played along with my blatantly affectionate hugs... one for Kristen too.  (I have to say, Kristen is so family grounded and, like me, truly enjoys time with "Elders" and when I asked her if she'd take me her response was..."are you kiddin' me?  I wouldn't miss it!" And I believed her.

So Charlotte leads us up her apartment where she has lived alone for 15 years since her husband Harvey died.  She clipped along with the pace of a 20 year old and greeted everyone on a first name basis. 

She had coffee brewed for us and fresh flowers on the table, her home neat as a pin. She gave us a brief tour and then sat at the kitchen table. I just wanted to hear her talk. She was funny and frank and gave us the rundown of her busy, full schedule which included coordinating all the birthday parties at the residence, calling BINGO, running the (Rummy?) 500 games and half dozen other activities I couldn't keep up with.

My sister Carol (often referred to as Coco or OWC) reminded me they/we called her Mighty-Mite" at a 4'4" she IS that!. I sensed she enjoys authority and I was there the afford her that. She kept telling us her memory was bad but every name I threw at her it ignited a litany of "facts" and stories.

Unbeknownst to me, Kristen had the video recording on thru much of our visit but unless there is a major outpouring of requests (!!!!!) I will wait and share them with my brothers and sisters when I see them. Charlotte confirmed most of the history I had and added more info that was new to me so all in all a great visit.

When I asked her to share some stories about my Mother she became reflective and simply said Mom "was a beautiful, talented musician whom I remember loving to listen to and watch her play the piano and marimba with her Dad. We were all so proud of her."

  Another and final sidebar: Charlotte's Grandson Brad and his wife Monica came to Bigfork a few years ago (10?) and shortly after their visit I received a note from them saying that they had bought a Hale's (pronounced Holly)  "Island Noodle"  franchise from our friend Hale Lake, a hard-working successful Hawaiian entrepreneur we know from his years in Bigfork. Brad & Monica have a busy and successful business, I heard, as they travel throughout Minnesota , Wisconsin and elsewhere to State Fairs and County Fairs and major event where they have made a name for themselves.

Billy keeps nudging me to get in front of these posts so I'll try!!!!   Hi everybody!  
Leave a comment so we know you're finding us!   Mare




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Connie on

Sorry to correct you... but because she is mom's first cousin, you are Charlotte's first cousin once removed. Charlotte's children would be our second cousins. First cousins share the same grandfather and second cousins share the same great grandfather (same generations). The once removed comes in when you are of different generations. (Faye corrected me on this many years ago.)

Auntie Helen on

Another fun day of traveling with you. Keep us In the loop. Today Shirley is coming over. She has an event that requires 14 colorful bows of different sizes.
We will have fun making them --------and maybe just maybe ---talk and laugh A WHOLE BUMCH.

Ryan Nollan on

Thought your email had been hacked and I was receiving SPAM from you. After the 10th email I decided to check out what was going on. I just cranked thru all the posts and I'm glad to be on the trip now, you know how I love a good road trip.

Billy Marginot on

Hi, I love to travel and have not been to Minnesota yet. Have visited river falls and eagle river also other places in Wisconsin. When your done with upper midwest, come down to west Texas for a great visit. I owe you a stayover, Best, Billy

Elaine Vitullo on

your Cousin Charlotte reminds me of my Mom, even in looks. Just wondering what route you will be taking back to Mt. Any chance you will swing South?

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