April Ziemer | Amery Free Press

Shown clockwise from the top left: Connie Hunt, Edith Hammer, Avis Lutz, Jean Murphy, Bob Holm and Marcela Frokjer, recall some of their most cherished people, places and things they have been thankful for. 

Author Sam Lefkowitz once said, “When asked if my cup is half-full or half-empty my only response is that I am thankful I have a cup.” In a world when some of life’s daily extravagances seem easily taken for granted, it is important to take a lesson from those who have experienced difficult days. For individuals who were young children during the great depression era or felt the effects of later war years, there were times that seemed especially tough. Stories shared by local residents of Amery Memory Care prove that not only is there always a bright side to things, but there is also always a reason to give thanks. 

Marcella Frokjer knew times were tough for her family. They farmed outside of Balsam Lake and they made the most with what they had. She said, “We had a large garden and grew all of our own vegetables. We raised a variety of animals. Our poultry provided meat and eggs. We never went hungry on Thanksgiving or any other day.” She felt like she was blessed in many aspects of her life. “I was always thankful that I had such a good home,” she said.

Bob Holm was number 11 of 13 of kids. We were all born in our house near El Salem. When it was time, my mother would call the Cornwall clinic in Amery and a doctor would come out to assist with the delivery. My father and mother were both very hard workers. “My mother would bake seven loaves of bread three times a week and sometimes even more on Sunday too,” he said. She took such great care of our large family. Holm said, “We had no electricity, but we had each other, and for that I was extremely thankful.”

Connie Hunt was born and raised in Siren. She was baptized at St. Dominic’s Church there, which is also where she married her husband, Gene. Hunt’s husband was a disabled veteran who was injured during the invasion of the Marshall Islands. She worked at the Siren telephone company and said, “Sometimes the Good Ol’ Days didn’t seem so good. Things were tight for us, but I had three children and a great husband. That is really all that mattered.”

Edith Hammer said times were really difficult when she was younger. “My parents worked hard and us kids had to work hard too,” she said. Those kids consisted of eight girls and one boy who lived together on their family farm between Viola and Richland Center, Wisconsin. Even though money was scarce, she said they always decorated for the holidays and had good food. She is thankful that her parents instilled strong family values into their children that she was able to pass down to her four kids.

Jean Murphy was one of five kids who grew up in the countryside of the state of Kansas. Their Thanksgiving table was filled with the food they gathered from their farm. They worked hard for that food and enjoyed getting together for the big holiday meal. “We didn’t have much, but we didn’t even notice. It was like that for everybody,” she said. 

Avis Lutz grew up five miles south of Amery. Her Great-Grandfather started the homestead in the 1880s. She was one of five generations in her family that attended the Pleasant View School. She recalls that it was a different time in the world when she was younger, but she loved that both sides of her family celebrated together for the Thanksgiving holiday. “We had all the trimmings. Turkey, pumpkin pie and PILES OF LEFSE,” she said. She was always most thankful for the times of fun that were shared when her loved ones were gathered together for special days.

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