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'Kaffe Slaberase'
pearl dance
Pearl Swiggum dancing a few years ago with granddaughter Barb Harris.

Pearl Swiggum's popular column, which came to be called 'Stump Ridge Farm', appeared in the Crawford County Independet for 45 years. She turns 100 years old on Monday, March 24.

In honor of Pearl's work and long life, we are reprinting her very first column, 'Kaffee Slaberase', which originally appeared on May 8,1958.

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In the early days of the Seeger Stevenson family, Towerville, we heard a bewildering assortment of “Mange tak’s,” “Gude dag’s,” and “Stige yente’s.” The spelling is my own.

None of the vocabulary nor the pronunciation rubbed off on our generation. We lost our chance to be bi-lingual at an age when learning was easier. Yet a love of Norwegian food, customs and language remains.

When we considered a title for this column, we wanted a Norwegian term meaning “talk over the coffee cups,” “Kaffee Slaberase” means just that — “coffee gossip.”

Our Norske authorities are Martha Wangen, (Mrs. Ole Wangen) of Gays Mills, who was born on a farm near Star Valley, and Lena Olson (Mrs. Ole P. Olson), Viroqua, born 94 years ago on the farm now owned by Raymond Dregne, Star Valley.

To our collection of lefse, molsa and fattigmand recipes, we hope to add knowledge of our paternal language.

• As many of your already know, I am associated on a part-time basis with the Crawford County Independent. If you have items of interest to be covered in this column, my phone number is 71.

• We must take off our hats to the young people whose memories enable them to compete in county, state and national spelling contests. At the same time we deplore our own. As we add years and facts to be remembered, we subtract the ability to remember. Fifty percent of the words the contestants were required to learn were unfamiliar to one with almost 40 years of reading experience. So again, an envious salute!

• National Library Week was observed this year with a slogan of ‘Wake Up and Read,’ in a nation that is waking up and reading. Young and old, we are getting up off our chairs and going back to the bookshelves.

Between the pages of books in our libraries can be found a good laugh, a satisfying cry, a free education. Words are the meat of a book, covering the bare bones of the pages. In spite of Alice’s assertion, “What good is a book without pictures or conversation?” the test of a good book is this—how do these words sound read aloud?

Nowhere will you find words so read-aloud-able as in the compilations of Aldo Leopold, Wisconsin conservationist, under the title, ‘A Sand County Almanac.’

• There is a rich philosophy in ‘Thinking Like a Mountain’ and ‘Axe-in-Hand.’ ‘Too Early’ will startle the reader with recollections of the very early morning hours. He says the vice of getting up too early is acquired by many things, including “some coffee pots from hunters.”

He tells of the trip of two college boys down the Flambeau River and of the trip of an atom named X through centuries.

A book that you will read again to recall forgotten passages—beg, borrow, or better yet, buy it to add to your library.

• My nomination for Kindest Man and any other office he ever seeks, is the man who, coming home in car from the opening day of trout fishing, carefully avoided killing five different squirrels. Skaal!

• The Independent’s snap-happy photographer got pictures and stories last week of three orchards: the one with a new owner, the easternmost new orchard, and the orchard doing the most planting. One appears on another page this week.

In the near future, we hope to compile pictures and stories of every orchard.

• A Sunday afternoon visitor at the Ed Nachtigal home was Earl Tainter, stationed with the armed forces in Illinois.

Miss Josie Mullany, Seattle, Wash., a former resident of Gays Mills, is visiting the William Carrolls.