Uncle Fred Rescues Holland and Eleanor

The maternal grandfather of Mother Goose has been gone awhile, but his memory lives on. Uncle Fred always considered himself much too young to be called “Grandpa” — and maybe he was. Sometimes the old people in our lives are simply ageless when we think about them.

Fred Barrett was the second husband of Eleanor Sidenkrantz. My grandmother divorced her first husband, Verde, after he abandoned the family. She was left to support three children under the age of five in the days before child support and alimony were enforceable through payroll deductions. Alas, her ex-husband ended up out in California with a new life and a new wife…preposterously negligent of the children from his first marriage. But I do digress…

Eleanor Mattson (nee Sidenkrantz) was resourceful though. She obtained her teaching certificate from the Bemidji Teacher’s College, relying on her family to take good care of the three children while she completed her studies and began her career as a elementary school teacher. And then she met Fred Barrett who was home on leave from the U.S. Army. It was love at first sight!

Fred was an army paratrooper, trained in Newfoundland by jumping backwards off the back of an army truck. That was standard training for the army in 1943 — it taught the men to be fearless and to roll when they hit the ground. That was enough training. More than enough. The next stop was Holland. The motto for the 501st Airborne Infantry Regiment was “Geronimo” and here’s a cartoon that Uncle Fred drew later on his his life, depicting that notorious invasion to rid Holland of the Nazi troops.

"At least he won't hurt his feet when he hits the ground."

He survived the war, but returned home with some major PTSD which bothered him mostly at night. He didn’t talk too much about the invasion, but he talked much about marching into France and the ladies called out to him, “Chocolat? You got chocolat?”

Fred Barrett and Eleanor were married upon his return to the states, and they began their loving lives together on a farm south of Staples, Minnesota. But Fred was no farmer, and he decided that working on the railroad suited him much better. So Eleanor taught school and Fred was a brakeman, conductor, a switcher, and a fireman on the Burlington Northern railroad.

Eleanor, Fred, Clara and Lawrence -- the inlaws of Nate and Vonna, and eventually the potential grandparents of Mother Goose.

The potential mother of Mother Goose grew up. She met the potential father of Mother Goose. They fell in love and got married. And pretty soon, they were the parents of a goose. I’m sure they asked themselves and each other, “How could this happen?” And so they dressed up the fat young goose and took her to be baptized. Here I am in the arms of my beloved Grandma and guarded by dear Uncle Fred.

All dressed up for the baptism of a goose.

Please come back tomorrow when we learn how Uncle Fred was a true genius and renaissance man.

Mother Goose at Work

Recently, many of my loyal and curious readers have asked Mother Goose whether she has a regular job. I always answer with an emphatic honk, “Yes, I do!” and then they quickly scamper away. Of course, we all know that Mother Goose manages a very large family of multi-age children and adults. That would be classified as work, but not necessarily as a job. I’m assuming that job implies some sort of financial compensation for services or products rendered in which case my domestic responsibilities would not be included…

Perhaps you have read of the other enjoyable pastimes of Mother Goose. I am training for my 5K race on April 1st — this takes approximately three hours each week, walking around the neighborhoods of Oak Park. I’m quite sure that many of my dear readers are aware of my involvement in the Blue Star Banner campaign — a civic and patriotic volunteer opportunity to bring back the old tradition of hanging a service flag in your front window to indicate a family member in the military. Although these are all very nice and time-consuming, these are not the jobs of Mother Goose.

Or did you think that Mother Goose is somehow making a career of telling stories about people I know? I’m sorry to say that this is not the case…

Frantically working at the typewriter...

However, Mother Goose DOES have a job as a writer. I’m pleased as punch to report that I write little stories about events that take place in the suburban regions of Minneapolis and St. Paul. I also write little stories about construction projects in the same Twin Cities area of Minnesota. Does this come as a great surprise to my readers? Let’s just have a little chuckle about that….

My Minnesota stories all have a common thread, and you will perhaps fall off your chair laughing when I tell you what the common thread is….

Mother Goose writes about places that have outdoor portable sanitation stations. And yes, I do receive payment for my creative services as regards this topic. You see, Mother Goose knows how important these services are and Mother Goose has a passion for sharing the good news that port-a-potties are available practically anywhere you go in the metropolitan area of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

A very small, but portable sanitation station in our front yard.

I specialize in writing about athletic events such as marathons and other races, local art and craft shows, car shows, and village festivals. Wherever there’s a crowd, there’ll be a need for “necessary services”, and Mother Goose is here to write about that! I’m often astounded at the number of events happening “up north” — the folks in Minnesota know how to throw a good time!

Also, I truly enjoy writing about construction projects because that’s a sign that the economy is roaring full-steam ahead if building sites need portable sanitation stations. Even construction workers have a right to comfortable, clean care. My ever-rapidly beating heart goes out to them working in the cold weather in Minnesota — I want the world to know that there is a place for them to go, a place for them to be.

To see the other side of Mother Goose, I invite you to visit these other websites. The writings of Mother Goose can be enjoyed in so many different contexts and venues….

My Minnesota Events

Building Minnesota Today

Mother Goose Moments

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” Cesare Pavese

We have moments stacked upon moments that make up the stuff our lives. Mother Goose has so many moments piled up in her heart and in her memory, it’s difficult sometimes to just pick one. The fun of my stories is the process of picking a moment out of my metaphorical hat and turning it over and over in my hand, looking for just the perfect perspective when the moment turns into a shiny gem of a story.

This morning during my prayers, God spoke to me in a quiet moment. He reminded me that it was twenty years ago today that I surrendered my life to Him. That was a moment worth remembering! On my bony goose knees with tears streaming, I declared that I couldn’t go another day without the help of Jesus. The moment is as clear in my memory as if it happened last night, but I sure couldn’t tell you much about the rest of the day.

There is a moment that I look forward to every autumn and cherish when it happens — the moment when I spot the Sandhill Cranes flying over us, heading for southern climes. Maybe it’s because I’m an amateur naturalist, maybe because I’m a woman, or maybe it’s because I’m a goose, but that moment when first I hear them calling to me from dizzying heights is always the highlight of fall for me. People stop their cars and stare at Mother Goose when the cranes are flying overhead because she’s flapping her wings, pointing up towards heaven and squawking as though the Cubs had just won the World Series.

That moment is always repeated in the early spring, of course, when the cranes are heading back up north.

The moment when we fall in love. The moment when we first see our newborn babies. The moment when we hear the sad news that our precious loved one has passed away. The moments of mothering, the moments of celebration and those of mourning. And all of the moments of traveling — our first airplane ride, our first train ride, our first boat ride. The moment when we see the ocean, the mountains or the Mississippi River for the first time.

Growing up in northern Minnesota, one of our favorite family moments occurred every time we traveled to Grandma’s house in Nimrod! Yes, there’s really a town named Nimrod — you can google it if you’d like… We had to sit in the small car (no SUV’s or minivans in the 60’s) for hours and hours, but finally we would round the last corner of the endless highway and somebody would shout out, “First to see Nimrod!!” In my memory, it’s truly a golden moment.

Take a moment today and count your blessings! Don’t worry about the days, but gather up all the golden moments that you can. Mother Goose will be sorting through her moments and waiting for the cranes to fly over.

Important Stats for a Goose

  • 79,780 honks to date

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June 2023