On the east side of her cozy home were masses of vigorous day lilies. This morning they were strung with pearls of evening dew.
It was as if they knew today was unique.
Taking a temporary residence beside them were a collection of step stools some store-bought and look a blue one crafted by hand.
Charles Repnow is a freelance writer who lives in Rugby. His column appears alternate Wednesdays in The Minot Daily News.
Across from them was an assortment of enamelware that had once been the kings and queens of household usefulness.
Sitting on the narrow sidewalk was a court of cast iron just waiting to hear the auctioneer's verdict at the estate action of Walt and Elizabeth Miltenberger of Rugby.
Under an umbrella of pine, flowering crab, and various other monarch trees is displayed part of their life collection. Previously, the family had selected their keepsakes, and now the public is invited to vie for treasures of their own.
When an auction sale is held at the home of the owner, one gets a real sense of this person and memories flow freely.
Such was the case as folks gathered and shared stories of Walt and Elizabeth. Foremost were the many memories of Walt playing the community Santa Claus for over 40 years making home deliveries on Christmas Eve with the assistance of the entire family. Then there was Walt's time as the sheriff of Pierce County, and operating Miltenberger Sales and Service.
It is true the more outgoing we become the more unique and interesting people we come in contact with. So was the case when I joined the Rugby Lions Club in June of 1988. Shortly after joining, I had the good pleasure of meeting Elizabeth Miltenberger whose husband, Walt, was a long-time, active member. In fact, he was well known for his wit as the club's energetic tail twister.
Elizabeth appreciated the work of the Lions in the community and was always quick to support our efforts. I sold her countless tickets for dinners and raffles. Though this connection, I came to know this woman of pure spunk and home-styled get-up-and-go. Her gentle, youthful face was framed by a boundless head of hair that took well to the magic of the beauty salon. She had a mind as quick as a jazz dancer's step and continued to drive herself about Rugby in her little gray car until age 95!
Elizabeth could be hard-wearing when she wanted to accomplish something. So was the case when she stopped by the studio to purchase a Lions club ticket. Of course, I had left them at our home. She was insistent to have the ticket NOW! Thus came about my ride in her car to get them, and forever a friendship was bound. For many years, I went to her home and sold her tickets, and since I had shown her our front porch she insisted that I see hers. It was easy to see that this was certainly a favorite room of hers. Plants flourished in the beautiful south light and she had set up her "office" complete with round oak table. She shared "Often in the morning I come out here in my housecoat with a cup of coffee and watch the people go by!"
At the auction I had the gratification of speaking at length to her daughter, Theo, about her mother. As she strolled about the trailers where sewing items abounded, she shared her mother's love of sewing and her gift with the needle "which she could thread with ease even in her later years."
She shared that her mother took the time to make quilts of their special dresses which she had previously sewn from just looking at a picture from the catalog. The talents of sewing continued when she became a grandmother sharing with this next generation a stitch to their heritage.
Another trailer is loaded with dishes and kitchen items of all sorts. Many of the dishes such as snack sets and giant drip coffee pots were often used at the Knox Birthday Club which was held the first Friday of each month.
So they are not merely dishes, but rather a span of friendships that have been grown in the goodness of life's sun and shade. The pattern of routine included couples such as the Christensons, Hillestads, Nestegards, Wolfs, Whalens and others who enjoyed a potluck and volumes of card playing. This pattern of enjoyment continued even after the Miltenbergers moved from Knox to Rugby.
Was it chance or did the inspiration of Liz guide the family to place many of her canning jars, Kerr cookbooks, and beet stained recipes on the trailer right over her garden? Here was a woman who never tired of the scents, sights and thrill of a hot afternoon of canning! In respect to their mother, bricks and a sturdy metal fence surrounded her spring crown of rhubarb.
What a day and what a tribute to lives of Walt and Elizabeth whose petals of kindness, wisdom and magic made many lives boom in our community.
One of my delightful purchases was a vintage Universal waffle maker and griddle combination. Designed in the '40s in art deco, it looks like a silver diner thin and rectangular and in pristine condition what a dandy.
Upon opening the lid, I discovered Liz's waffle recipe in her own handwriting on the back of a recycled piece of paper the Weekly Historian dated May 15, 1960, from Little Flower Catholic Church. It is oil-stained from being well used. She also commented that when she cooked for the prisoners they loved these waffles.
I have tried it and assure you it is a real winner.
2 cups of flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons melted butter
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs separated
1-3/4 cups sweet milk
Sift dry ingredients together into mixing bowl
Separate whites from yolk of eggs
Beat yolks in mixing bowl
Add the milk, continue to beat with beater
Add the sifted dry ingredients and beat with egg beater until smooth
Add melted shortening and beat slightly
Beat whites of eggs stiff in separate bowl.
Fold in stiffly beaten whites of eggs.
Put 4 to 6 tablespoons of batter into waffle iron. Quickly close the iron bake 4 to 5 minutes.
In the making and baking of waffles, little can go wrong when you understand the two essential things to be considered using a good waffle recipe and the proper heat of the iron.
Today we are blessed with waffle irons which have ready lights. The perfect waffle should be well browned and crisp on the outside and well baked through. It will not be soggy or tough when you follow these directions.
Several years ago our neighbor in Underwood added 1/2 cup of shredded coconut to a basic waffle recipe. It has been a favorite of mine ever since.
When considering waffles for an evening meal, add 3/4 of a cup of cooked corn cut from the cob to a basic waffle recipe. Duet these corn waffles with fried ham and all diners at the red-checked gingham will be smiling.