Bringing Johnson Gunfrunk Back to Life

My Grandpa Dale was a farmer in southwestern Wisconsin. He died some years back but I can still picture him telling a story. He had a rough voice and even though he always talked calmly it carried well. He was constantly smiling; both with his mouth and his eyes when he talked and would let out a rumbly chuckle here and there. He folded his hands on the table when he talked and would move his head in such a way to accentuate the important parts of his story. He was a master story teller.

My Grandpa wrote countless short stories under the alias, Johnson Gunfrunk, that were published in magazines and in his local newspaper. Today they are still featured in The LaFarge Episcope, a small town newspaper in Wisconsin ran by my Uncle Lonnie.

I wanted to share one of his stories today that proves…Motherhood has ALWAYS been an art form!

Grandma’s Apron

I grew up in an era when all the womenfolk wore aprons and a more indispensable piece of apparel was never invented. Mother Eve probably started the ball rolling but hers was a rather skimpy inefficient model, and about as useful as a bird’s nest with the bottom knocked out.

Grandma always wore an apron and she used it for everything, to gather eggs in, to scoop up strayed baby chickens, she carried hot boiled potatoes to the table in a clean corner of it and then wiped the nose of a snotty grandchild on another corner. It made a handy pouch to carry wood chips and corn cobs for kindling and, although grandma never smoked some her neighbor ladies did, and they carried their clay or corn cob pipes in an apron pocket.

In a pinch it could be whipped off and used as a milk strainer; yes, I have seen that happen, but it was back before the days of milk inspectors.

Aprons were also useful to cry into when the old man came home drunker than a skunk and the missus realized she was going to have to do the milking all by her lonesome.

Grandma could be out slopping the hogs or teaching a new calf to drink out of a bucket when suddenly she would let out a whoop that meant company was coming. Making a beeline for the house, she would snatch off her dirty apron, exchange it for a freshly-laundered one, make a few splashes in the wash dish, pat her hair into place and emerge to meet the guests with poise and confidence.

You seldom see anyone wearing an apron nowadays and the outdoor type farm wives of the present who do get out and mix it up with the livestock all wear blue jeans and a tee shirt. No doubt this is more practical in this mechanized age as an apron would have a great predilection for winding up in a power take-off shaft. However, if I were a little snot-nosed kid again I would rather have my nose wiped on a corner of grandma’s apron than on the cuff of a pair of blue jeans.

By: Johnson Gunfrunk, farm reporter

My Grandpa Dale aka Johnson Gunfrunk

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21 responses

  1. This is where we get it from, huh? I bet Grandpa is dancing in heaven that his grand daughters have grabbed a pen, well a keyboard actually, so that another generation of story tellers will take up where he left off. Thanks for sharing this! Great start to my day, once again.

  2. I remember reading grandpa’s stories…the crown is now up for grabs, u have the most subscribers to your blog as of now so mom needs to step it up. That’s good you two are writing i enjoy your blog’s.

  3. It’s nice to see you following in a tradition that has been in your family for years… Keep it up… You are the inspiration that I know our kids will someday look back on and share their memories of how you inspired them to be GREAT!!!

  4. Great story. Excellent writing. Your Grandpa would like me, I think. I wear an apron. Seriously. In the suburbs! I would go with the full-on duster if I thought I could pull it off. And yet, I have managed to resist the “Mom” jeans.

      • I have always felt more of a kinship with Phyllis Diller; she was droller than Lucy and far less physical. Don’t get me wrong, Lucy was groundbreaking, but so was Phyllis Diller in a different way. Roseanne, to me, was always a rip-off of Phyllis Diller. Not nearly as funny, though and certainly without the sex appeal. Both Phyllis Diller and Lucy were beautiful women, but there was just something sultrier about Phyllis Diller. Of course, she wouldn’t be caught dead in an apron!

  5. We need more aprons, I think. I only think to reach for mine once I’ve gotten a splatter on my clothes. Your grandfather was handsome – what beautiful wavy hair! You are very fortunate to have his writings. I’m sure they give you a great window into your family’s history.

  6. Your Grandfather was a great writer! Must be in the DNA. And, I agree. He was a hottie!
    Thank you for sharing this piece of history. And I have an apron that I love. It is designed to look like a frog is hugging me.

    • Thank you!! I have read enough of your writing now that I’m pretty sure that is what I would have guessed your apron was otherwise a picture of someone picking their nose and saying “Are you Ready for Dinner?” I think I’m going to start just posting pictures of my Grandpa..he was quite the hit with a lot of ladies today!!!

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