Egg Coffee, Norwegian Goodies and Reminiscing
DATE AND TIME HELD: Sunday, June 8, 2014, at 9:30 AM.
Approximately 50 people stayed after morning worship service at West Prairie Lutheran Church to reminisce and share memories of West Prairie over a cup of egg coffee, Norwegian goodies and other treats. Some of the delicious treats served were Norwegian Egg Coffee, Oatmeal-Lace Cookies (Havrekniplekaker), Kringle, Lefse, Spritz, Rosettes, Rommegrot, Norwegian Cookies, Angel Food Cake with Strawberries, Rusk and Krumkake.
This delicious coffee has been served at many a church gathering at West Prairie down through the years. Irene (Hauge) Eide remembers her mother, Mrs. Carl (Bertina) Hauge, making the egg coffee for many years at West Prairie. Mrs. Hauge was followed by Mrs. Alfred (Clara) Swenson and then Mrs. Edward (Andrina) Flugum. For the June 8th gathering, Irene Eide and Janell Carson got together and practiced making egg coffee using Irene’s memory of her mom’s recipe along with other information from the internet. Here is the recipe used:
15 cups water
3/4 cup plus 3 Tbsp Medium Roast Coffee (Folgers)
1/4 cup cold water
Bring the water to a rolling boil in a stove top coffee pot (as pictured) or saucepan. Meanwhile, with a fork stir the egg into the coffee grounds, adding 1/8 to 1/4 cold water until the mixture looks like moist potting soil. (NOTE: Some recipes added the crushed egg shell in as well. The calcium carbonate in the shell reduces the acid in the coffee. We did not add the shell.) Once a rolling boil is reached remove the pot from the burner and add the egg mixture to the water. Give it one or two stirs. Return the pot to the burner and bring to a rolling boil once again. Boil for three minutes. Remove pot from the burner and pour in 2 cups of cold water. The cold water will settle the grounds. Cover and let stand for another minute or so to allow the grounds to sink to the bottom. Strain through a strainer into a large pot. The coffee will be a beautiful clear amber color. Rinse the grounds from the coffee pot or pan. Pour the hot coffee back into the pot or pan and cover. You can hold the coffee on the stove burner at low setting for quite a while without affecting the quality of the taste. This coffee is also known as Lutheran Church Basement Coffee.
While enjoying our egg coffee and Norwegian goodies we sat together and shared many stories of earlier times in West Prairie Church.
DeAnn Ambroson and her sister, Louaine, both who grew up attending West Prairie Church, were guests that day and shared many fun memories, the first being of all the fun Christmas programs. DeAnn especially remembered the brown paper bags they received at the end of the service. In them were assorted candies and peanuts and of course a big red apple. Some of the candy that was in them is no longer available. So sad.
Marlas Reimann told a story about her brother, Allen Peterson, when he was too young for Sunday School Christmas program so he couldn’t get a present. She said they took one of his toy tractors and wrapped it up and gave it to him. Allen then said “I’ll tell you the real story. It was a toy horn. When I opened it I thought, I have one just like this at home. Now I have two. I guess I thought I could play two at once. I looked all over at home but could never find the other one.”
Jill Holland told us that Shirley Schutter made her cry because Shirley told her she had to say her piece louder. It frightened her. She still doesn’t like speaking in front of church. Everybody remembered the Sunbeam Choir started by Marlys Haugen. DeAnn and Louaine even remembered the words to the song. Jan Reimann told about when Judy Norstrud was the choir director and “tolerated” the three boys, Terry Durby, Jan and Steve Reimann. Terry corrected him however, and said they were angels. “Oh yeah”, Jan said. “We were angels”. I guess they couldn’t stand still. It wasn’t called ADHD then but………
Jean Peterson shared that one of her Sunday school classes was made up of all left-handers. West Prairie used to have a two week Bible school sometimes playing baseball on the southeast side of the church. Lots of memory verses were learned and still remembered today. Shirley Schutter remembered Jodi Fjeld riding her horse to Bible school. Jodi told that she had very fond memories of DeAnn and Louaine Ambroson teaching the summer Bible School. She especially remembered the singing. She would pack a sack lunch and sometimes ride her horse to the church. The horse would be tied to a tree during the Bible school activities.
Couples club was formed in 1957 with about 15 to 20 couples. These couples all had young children. This club allowed the parents to leave their children at home with someone else and get out. They would meet at each member’s home for Bible study, food and fellowship.
DeAnn remembered being told by Marlas Reimann that the altar originally had spires on the top. Pastor Sampson removed them because he thought they were a distraction. Marlys Haugen’s brother made the replacement spires and Eldon Hagen and Caroll Carson installed them. Now the altar is complete again.
DeAnn’s mom, Clarine Ambroson, had told DeAnn stories of the big Christmas trees the church had. A farmer would donate it. The congregation put real candles on the tree. Hiram Peterson; Clarine, Allen Peterson, and Marlas Reimann’s father, was in charge of putting out the small fires in the branches during services. He had a wet rag on a fishing pole and would blot out the fires. It was an important job and he was proud of doing it. He also made the manger for baby Jesus which we still use today.
Our bell in the steeple is 122 years old. It was removed and cleaned for the 100th anniversary when the steeple was repaired. There are two clappers. One inside the bell so when the rope is pulled the bell swings causing the clapper to strike inside. The second one is mounted on the side on the frame and is used to toll a specific number of times for funerals. Marlas Reimann said the bell was rung when the hearse came in sight from the east. Allen Peterson said it called the angels. Other’s recall it being tolled for the age of the deceased.
In early pictures of the church there were windows on either side of the altar on the east wall. Shortly after Marlys and Truman Haugen’s wedding the pastor had the windows removed. He felt it would prevent people from daydreaming during his sermon.
In 1955, a Pastor Karl Stendal painted the shake shingles on the steeple. The Alfred and Duane Peterson families donated the new cross that was placed on top of the steeple at that time. The new cross was made by Wayne Ambroson. He covered it in copper so that it would withstand the weather. In 1975, Roy Lovik painted the steeple. Jester Hill had a rope tied to his pick up and pulled Roy up and down by pulling forward and backing up. John Brown and Christian Charlson assisted with running errands. Terry Durby said that at some point in time the cross was covered by white aluminum because it had rotted.
When Allen Peterson was eight years old, he and his father were driving by the church and Allen’s father told him about the time capsule that located in the church foundation and approximately where to find it. On the 100th anniversary, with the help of a metal detecting device and drill, he found it. Allen said everybody thought he was crazy but luckily for the church he remembered what his dad told him. They dug it out and looked inside and found some fun things. Wayne Ambroson made a box out of copper to replace the original one. They added things from the 100th anniversary and buried it again. They know where it is this time. Robert Nath reported that a list of the items found inside was made and perhaps is in the secretary’s record.
In the early years of the church the reader was called a klokker (lay reader). It was a very important person. The klokker og kirkesanger (lay reader and song leader) were appointed to give the opening prayer for Sunday services and lead singing.
One of the major projects West Prairie has done was purchase and send a bell to a church in Namibia. They have members that come for miles and they needed the bell to call the members to church. The ladies packed quilts around the bell as packing thinking that when the church got the bell they would get the quilts as well. However, since the quilts were not on the packing slip the government called them contraband and demanded an extra $900. The church got the bell but we don’t think they got the quilts.
Before the church got water the outhouses were east of the church by the trees. DeAnn could remember them and knew they could not play in them after the church got water which comes from her parent’s farm, Wayne and Clarine Ambroson. It was in 1959 that a water system and two bathrooms were installed at the church. It was thought that Roger Peterson’s dad Melvin had the tiling machine that put in the water. The pipe runs from the Wayne and Clarine Ambroson property across the road to the church. The old outhouses remained standing even after the water system was installed and the church had indoor restrooms. DeAnn Ambroson can remember the children being told that they were not to play in or around the old outhouses. DeAnn remembers the outhouses being removed when she was a very little girl.
The original church did not have a basement. In 1930, the Ladies Aid voted to raise the church and build a full basement under it. A man was hired to raise the church building. Men of the congregation furnished much of the muscle power behind the shovels. When the digging had progressed far enough and there was room for them, Irene (Hauge) Eide’s dad (Carl Hauge) used a slip scrapper pulled by horses to dig the basement. It would pull the dirt out from under the church. The cost of the basement was almost eighteen hundred dollars.
DeAnn Ambroson reminisced about the time her mother, Clarine Ambroson, told her that lightning struck the tree outside the church and also the organ. Clarine was the organist at the church for many years. It was not known if it was the organ given by the Luther league.
The ladies were asked if they remembered their mothers talking about the time when the women of the church were allowed to vote and had a voice at meetings. No one remembered hearing anything about this. At the annual meeting in 1955, the proposal to give women the right to vote was voted on and passed. In 1956, the women were allowed to attend, speak, and vote at the annual meeting.
The church services at West Prairie were held in Norwegian until 1927. The change was gradual, but by 1927 they were entirely in English.
There is a West Prairie cemetery about 4 miles straight west of the church. There were originally two West Prairie congregations! We are the “east” West Prairie, or the West Prairie of Leland. They were the ‘west’ West Prairie, or the West Prairie of Thompson. The congregation split in 1890. The “west” West Prairie church is no longer standing but the cemetery remains and is well maintained.
Allen Peterson and Denny Norstrud played in a city ball league.
The quilts hanging on the wall in the fellowship hall at the time of this gathering were given to former pastors as gifts. At some point the pastors donated them to the church for historical purposes.
DeAnn is trying to get West Prairie church on the US Farm report Country Church Salute. The Country magazine also has a church salute. What a great idea for this year with our 125th anniversary around the corner.
This fellowship time was blessed by old memories and new feelings. Thanks to all who shared their remembrances. The Norwegian goodies were great, especially the egg coffee.