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Viola Linderbaum

Interviewed by daughter Dianne Ameling

Viola Linderbaum turned 89 in April of 2022. She presently lives at the Ossian Senior Hospice nursing home. She lived on a farm south of Ossian from 1953-1996, and then moved to Ossian and lived in the same house that her grandparents and parents had also lived in during their retirement years. We had great fun (not really) cleaning out that house during COVID when we hauled out things from back to the 1940s!

Viola Linderbaum / Photo courtesy Viola Linderbaum

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?

 My dad, Elmer Lien, told me “Work hard, have a good attitude, don’t be a quitter!” and “Don’t forget church and Sunday School are important.” and “Make sure you have good, honest friends.”

How about the worst?

I don’t remember getting any bad advice.

What did you want to be when you grew up? 

I thought about being a school teacher in my younger years but after teaching a class of Bible School, I decided that wasn’t my thing.

What do/did you do?

After high school, I went to work at Sid’s Steak House in Decorah. I met a lot of people while working there. There were three of them whom were telephone operators at Bell Telephone. I really thought I might like that job so I applied and got the job. I worked there from 1951-1953. I was lucky operator #13. I really enjoyed this work. In 1953, I was married and we moved to the farm where I became a farm wife and mother. There were always plenty of chores to do along with milking cows and preparing food for anyone who stopped by the farm or was there for threshing and later combining etc. We had a son, Dennis, and daughter, Dianne. 

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?

My Bible, Coffee, and my Grandpad! (Sidenote: Viola’s nephew and grandnephew – Scott and Isaac Lien – invented the Grandpad and Viola is a “Grand Advisor” and tests out some of the apps before they go live. Scott calls her every Sunday.)

Try to describe yourself in one sentence.

I always try to have a positive attitude and patience. 

If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Lutefisk with lots of butter and lefse with sugar on!

Name one thing you could not live without.

Viola on the front of the tractor with all her siblings. They referred to themselves as the Iowa version of the Beverly Hillbillies (whose last name was Clampett) because it was like the Clampetts, gathered on their old rickety truck only in this case, it was the tractor. / Photo courtesy Viola Linderbaum  

My family

Tell us about your wedding day.

My wedding day was a cold day in February (February 22, 1953). All of my siblings as well as my husband’s siblings were in the wedding along with some of our friends. There were probably 150 people there and Springfield Lutheran Church was full. We held a candlelight ceremony at 7 pm on a Sunday night. After the ceremony, we went to the church basement and had sandwiches, fancy cookies, and cake and ice cream. Our wedding colors were blue and rose and the men wore gray suits – not tuxedos. The rehearsal dinner was at my parents’ home the night before. Afterward, we left for our honeymoon to Des Moines and some other Iowa stops. Our wedding cake was made by a lady from Ridgeway. She used pans she bought at the hardware store that were meant to feed or water livestock in various sizes to make the tiers of the cake so it looked like the bride and groom were descending down stair steps – pretty unusual for that time and many others had this lady bake their cakes afterward. We had little nut cups that we made with paper flower petals at the head table to hold nuts and mints as was popular at the time. We made big white bows for all the pews in church but it was nothing like some of the wedding productions you see today. My friend was there all Sunday afternoon helping place the bows and putting flowers out. We were married for 61 years before my husband passed away in 2014.