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