I recently started working on my father’s biography again.
Robert Lyle Martinsen was born in 1912 and lived all of his life in Milton or Milton Junction. He died in 2008, about six month prior to turning 96.
In Dad’s later years, I interviewed him extensively about his life. I also printed out questionaires he could fill in, posing a variety of questions. (My daughter also gave him a list of questions.)
Since I told Dad I was going to write his “bio,” he took the time, on his own, to write in great detail about his life. My “big” regret is that I never carefully looked over those answers. Now, more than a decade after his death, I can’t decipher some of his words or sentences.
I still have a multitude of words to type, plus dozens of photos to sort and scan. This booklet will also have an extensive genealogical section, tracing Dad’s family roots back to Denmark. My goal is to have it printed by Christmas.
Here are two tidbits from the booklet I’d like to share:
My father was always working, even as a youngster. When he was in grade school, he had a job in a grocery store in Milton Junction. I think the store was called ‘Mabson’s Grocery.’ (I still have to research that.)
“My job was to ‘candle’ eggs,” Dad pointed out. That’s the process of holding a light near an egg to see if it’s fertile or not.
He then confessed to some occasional “unbecoming” behavior.
“I would go out in the store and swipe a piece of chocolate from the candy counter,” Dad admitted.
“One Saturday, before work, Mr. Mabson (the store owner) said, ‘Today you are to eat all the chocolate you want.’
“I said I would, and I did,” Dad recalled.
“After a few Saturdays, Mr. Mabson said, ‘You don’t eat chocolate like you used to.’ And I said, ‘I just don’t care for it anymore.’
“Mr. Mabson said, ‘I knew that would happen.’
Dad concluded this story by remarking that Mr. Mabson “was a very wise man.”
At one time, my father also worked at a popcorn stand.
He mentioned that band concerts were held on Saturday nights in the Junction, with cars “parked all around the bandstand.”
He added, “After each tune, people would ‘applaud’ by tooting their horns.”
During the concerts, Dad worked in a popcorn stand for a blind man, whose name was Harry Wright.
“The stand was actually a small shed with no room to sit down,” Dad explained.
My father would pop the corn, bag it, then add salt and butter. “Which was really oil,” Dad added. Each bag sold for a nickel.
Part of Dad’s job was to clean the stand early Sunday mornings.
“I had just washed everything and in came Harry. He said, ‘This counter is still dirty.’ He had run his hand over the counter, thinking he could feel more than I could see.
“I said, ‘Here is a key to this shed. I quit.’
“And I did.”
Leanne Lippincott-Wuerthele, a native of Milton, who has lived in Minnesota and Iowa, has been writing Sunny Side Up for about 40 years. A graduate of Milton Union High School and Milton College, she has written four books. She has two children, three stepchildren, and a blended family that includes 11 grandkids.