St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Hanson 2011

In December of 2011, Russ reached the last major milestone in his life—age 65 with Medicare and Social Security kicking in. Officially he is a senior citizen now! Margo is only 6 months behind.

We have been retired for a few years already, so turning 65 was really much of a change other than Medicare. The first test of it will be Russ getting a new knee in February. 22 years ago he damaged the knee skiing and two years ago further damaged it and broke the leg in a fall. The leg bone is healed up strong, but the knee has been a real pain. Hopefully it will be ready for mid-March and maple syrup season.

We had a good maple syrup season last spring and sold much of our syrup at the local farmer’s market along with some other garden and orchard produce. Every Friday we set up our stand and sell a little and visit a lot with neighbors and lake folks coming through from the Twin Cities. It is fun and keeps us qualifying as a small farm business—useful for tax purposes.

We spent 6 weeks in Louisiana last January and February getting away from the frozen north. We pull our tent camper and stay in state parks where the temperatures are more like October in the north. We have lost our enthusiasm for winter in the Arctic MN and WI area.

Margo is in good health for as old as she is. She goes in a few times a year to get botox shots in her vocal cords so she can talk. Without it, they tighten so much she can barely force out words. With them, she can talk freely, but with a somewhat whispery, husky voice. She is very active and keeps busy caring for her old husband.

She spends some time visiting with her parents in the West Bend, WI area. Her mother, Myrtle, has been in a nursing home with Alzheimers for 6 years. She occasionally remembers a little, but mostly has lost her memory. Merlin lives in West Bend and is very active in the American Legion. He serves on the honor guard at funerals of his fellow WWII soldiers. He is 86 years old and doing well.

Scott continues to work in the skiing business, working near our Pine Island, MN home for Welch Village. He got off to help with maple syruping this spring. We have pretty much given up on having any grandchildren, as Scott seems to be happy as a bachelor.

Margo and I spend most of the year at our cabin in NW Wisconsin. We open it up in mid March for maple season and close it in early December when it gets too cold for the water system to work – not really winterized. Russ’ relatives mostly live in that area including his mom, Alberta, who turned 90 this year. She lives at her home of 70 years on the farm and is doing well—still gardens and takes care of her self and has help from her sons on home maintenance.

Russ continues to write a weekly newspaper column, somewhat centered around local history. He has been doing this for 7 years. He collected the year’s stories in a book again this year and published it. You can find it on Amazon books under River Road Ramblings—the name of his newspaper column. You can read the whole weekly newspaper at the web site look on about page 39 of the newspaper called the Inter-County Leader. You can read some of his older books on local history at by searching for St Croix Russ Hanson.

Russ and Margo volunteer at two local history societies and museums. One is at Luck, Wisconsin, the onetime Duncan Yo-Yo hometown where the wooden toys were made. Russ is also active in the local genealogical society helping folks learn about their family history.

We spent a few weeks on the road in August driving out to Seattle to visit our cousins there and in Oregon. Traveling west across the prairies is a quiet and pleasant drive, and visiting our cousins a lot of fun. Cousin Sally lives in Seattle. We stayed with her a week and had fun seeing what city life is like. There sure are a lot of places to visit and things to do. It is confusing though, as they mix up dinner with supper and lunch with dinner, etc.

We had planned to go south again this winter, but with Russ’ knee operations, we may not make it. He has been trying to get up ambition to work on arranging the research he has done on the Hanson family to write a family history. He started with Adam and Eve Hansson and got to Noah Hansson, but many of the records seem to have been lost in the Flood! It is hard to get started putting it all together.

Cousin Diane Shoemaker Wilcox wrote a semi-fictional account of Great Grandpa Charles Hanson coming from Sweden to America. I helped with the fragments of stories and details I had heard about his life. Her story guesses what life may have been like in Sweden 150 years ago and why he came to America – it is quite interesting. If you would like a copy, email her at Diane is descended through Olaus-Charles-Lathrop(Lote)-Alma and as her mother was a first cousin of my father, we are second cousins. My theory is that anyone 6th cousins or closer must be willing to share their spare bedroom with visitors!

Margo and I use Facebook to keep up with friends and relatives. We also have email. Margo is and I am We have gone into the Internet for most of our contacts rarely phoning or writing real letters anymore. It is quite amazing to have as Facebook friends cousins in Norway and Sweden.

Hope 2012 will be good for you and your family.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year