GRANDISH, GEORGE AND ELVA
My parents, George and Elva Grandish, had a desire to open a business in Herbster after having married and live in Chicago for a time. It was close to home and aging parents for my dad, and only a few hours drive from my mother’s parents in Cromwell, MN.
It was around 1946 when they began construction on a large building to serve the community. Half was a garage where my dad did auto mechanics and body work, and housed the school bus he drove. The other half was a small two-bedroom apartment and a lunchroom. The menu was quite simple at first…hamburgers and French fries, ham sandwiches, homemade soup, pies and various ice cream treats. Coffee, a scoop of ice cream, a Dixie cup, Cho-Cho or Cherio each cost a nickel. A bottle of Orange Crush with a straw in it cost a dime and hamburgers cost a quarter…AND…you could also purchase a piece of delicious homemade pie for dessert for a quarter. The good ole days. In the beginning, we had to carry pails of water from the hand pump across the street behind the little grocery store and Sam and Rose Luoma’s, now the post office. Laundry was a monumental task using washtubs, a strong wooden clothes stick (also used for paddling), and a scrub board…later a wringer washer was bought. Oh how I remember the long day of hard work for my mom on wash days. Buddy, being ever so helpful to put the clothes through the wringer, got his fingers caught once and was soon stuck all the way up to his armpit.
The Lakeland Coffee Shop and Auto Repair was also a Texaco gas station. My dear dad had a large, extremely fragrant, rose bush next to the driveway that he transplanted from Grandpa’s farm on Lenawee Road. Every lady present in a car that came for gas received a freshly cut rose from him. He loved flowers and had two flower beds of petunias and pansies. Our first customer was Arvid Forsberg. His dollar was framed and hung on the wall. My mom said she ran out of hamburgers and all her food on the first day they were open for business.
We had a crank telephone and our number was 2-longs. All calls had to go through the operator, Mary Luoma, whose number was 2-shorts. Everyone was on the party line and knew whenever anyone got a call. I suppose it may have been the reason people were so well informed since everyone’s phone would ring no matter who was calling who. I remember our first “dial” phone. Unbelievable! Not to mention the wonder of a real bathtub with both hot and cold running water, and flush toilet. Joe Bruneau had the first TV in town. He would invite people to their home in small groups to see it. What a thrill. He even added color with his sheet of blue, red, and green plastic he put over the front of it.
My dad drove the school bus and loved being with the kids. He was a hero to all when he courageously drove the bus over large planks to cross the Cranberry River when the bridge would wash out every spring. He never failed to get all the Herbster and Cornie kids home safely (and almost on time). Our place was filled with music and warmth. My dad had a king-sized heart and love for people and would do just about anything for anyone…often getting up in the middle of the night to supply some poor soul with gasoline who couldn’t make it home. He would get all snazzyed up on Saturday nights for the evening crowd and I’d get to roll up the sleeves on his Hawaiian shirt. My mom had an awesome sense of humor and lived each day for the moment.
Holidays were special to us. Every Christmas Eve day, my mom would make and serve a flaming Swedish Glug to the public. It was a hot drink with fruit and nuts (and a lot of other things). We would close the business for the evening and always had guests for dinner, often our relatives, the Diamons, and alternating with Thanksgiving, usually someone without a mate or children, or someone that may be lonely. It was an awesome community to grow up in and I’m so proud to be a Herbster girl!!!