Imogene Macal – Interviewed by Inspire(d)’s Benji Nichols • Originally published in the Winter 2018-19 Inspire(d)
Imogene (Moellers) Macal grew up on Silver Spring dairy farm just outside of Ossian, Iowa. She and her three siblings went to school and church at St. Francis de Sales in Ossian, and graduated high school in 1944. Imogene worked full time at Klisert’s store in Ossian, and then in Waterloo for a year before coming back to the Decorah area and marrying her husband Roy. The couple, from their young years on, loved to dance at local dances and ballrooms like the Inwood in Spillville, and Matter’s Ballroom near Decorah.
It wasn’t until they were raising their family of five kids (Lynn, Christy, Marlene, Joe, and Mary) in Decorah, with Roy driving a fuel truck, that Imogene started working in the kitchen of St. Benedict’s School – a job that she would hold for decades.
“We fed anywhere from 200-300 kids when I started, and I did much of the baking and such,” says Imogene. Many St. Bens students fondly remember her from lunchtime, and she says the job “was just ideal” for her.
Later in life, Imogene took up several varieties of needlework (including Hardanger embroidery) volunteering at St. Benedict’s Church in Decorah, and playing bridge twice a month. Her bridge group began with eight friends rounded up by Jo Tierney, who had a book on how to play. Regular phone calls to Jo’s sister in Oklahoma during games for advice helped the group keep playing! Imogene’s late husband, Roy, also worked at ACE Hardware for 13 years where he was well known to customers, and the couple were regulars at dances across the region.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I grew up on a dairy farm, and delivered bottled milk with my Uncle. Later I enjoyed working at Klisert’s in Ossian, but I knew I always wanted to have a family.
What do/did you do?
I met Roy at a dance at the Inwood Ballroom – although we had gone to high school together. After we were married, we had five kids, and I worked at St. Benedict’s school in the kitchen – I was there for over 40 years.
Try to describe yourself in one sentence.
“We loved to dance – I think I wore out quite a few shoes dancing!”
If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
We always had a big garden, and my Mom was a great cook – we grew everything we ate, and meals were always meat, potatoes, but also some type of vegetable – and a homemade desert! We always had a homemade pie, or cookies, or a cake.
Multiple choice: tell us about…
Your wedding day.
Roy and I got engaged on Easter Sunday, we were invited to a friend’s for Easter dinner. Roy gave me a ride home, and gave me the ring in the car – I was so thrilled – when I got out I walked the wrong way down the lane! We were married at (St. Francis) de Sales in May of 1948 – we had a reception at the house and then held a dance (of course!) at the Inwood Ballroom after.
Your first job.
I helped my Uncle Arnold (Timp), deliver bottled milk throughout the area, even receiving the nickname of “Speedy”, while riding on the running boards and running bottles of milk to doorsteps.
Your favorite memory.
We loved to dance, and Spillville (The Inwood) was always a popular spot – as well as Matter’s Ballroom. We spent a lot of Sunday afternoons on the dance floor.