Swedish Peddler - Carl Malmskog Part 2
This week is the second part about Carle and Amanda Malmskog from the
Badger area. Carle was a traveling salesman during the early part of
the century, carrying farm and household items to all parts of Roseau
Before Rudy Billberg moved he brought a broad ax, which Albert
Besserud bought at Carl Malmskog’s auction sale many years ago, into
the museum. Besserud felt it was important for an early tool be
available for future generations of children to see.
The Malmskog’s raised five
children: Martin; Lena (Mrs. Arne Anderson); Hilda (Mrs. John Eklund
Sr.); Freda (Mrs. Earl Reymore); and Arthur.
Although Carle had a very hard
life, he and Amanda lived long lives, Carle passed away at 88 and
Amanda at 86.
Mrs. Ethel Brandt Roesch, of Walla
Walla, Washington remembered Carle very well. She shared the Malmskog
story with her children for years. A native of Roseau County, Mrs.
Roesch is the daughter of Carl Brandt and a Roseau high school
Mrs. Roesch has written a
partially fictionalized account of Malmskog, which captures the spirit
of the legend he has become. Mrs. Roesch’s account follows:
Snow swept roads were drifted
closed for weeks on end. Telephone wires, weighed down by icicles,
hung to the ground. The Northern Minnesota wind howled. The air was
crisp and cold. The days short. Snowbound, each farmhouse was an
island of life in a frozen skog. The Swedish Peddler, a short rugged
man in a drab sheepskin mackinaw, fur lined hat and gloves, he was
newscaster, information bureau, poet, sage, and supply agent for rural
Roseau County. Ah, what a man! Jolly, twinkling, funny! A singsong
tune measured the cadence of his footsteps and announced his coming
and goings. Hearing his approach, children scraped frost off the
windowpanes and strained to hear his song a mixture of Minnesota
Swedish and accented English.
The Peddler’s entry into the
kitchen was accompanied by a chilling draft. He would slide the stiff
leather straps from his shoulders and lower his pack carefully to the
kitchen floor. Squatting, back to the wall, he wiggled out of frozen
boots and warmed red hands and cold feet by the hot stove. There was
always a hustle to get him a good, hot drink and a bit of lunch, and
then the family would crowd around, waiting to hear his sales pitch.
Funny rhymes to tickle children, county news for lonely adults! The
merits of his wares were told with a mixture of news comments, as
Malmskog was one of the early genuine ad and newsmen!
Children were never forgotten, but
they had to mind their manners and wait their turn! No shoving or
pushing or”gimme” was allowed with Malmskog, but each child knew that
in the wonderful depth of that magic pack, there was a treat!
Sometimes the hour grew late, darkness came, and Malmskog would bed
down behind the kitchen stove, his pack beside him. At dawn he’d be
up and off to the next farmhouse, his morning song beamed to the
sundogs dancing in the sky! Information from “Remembrances” compiled
by Hazel Wahlberg, “Roseau County Heritage”, Jeanette Erickson as
given on a “Look Back in Time” with Irene Olson KJ102 Radio.
An update on museum rehabilitation
activities is due. At the present time we are in the process of
preparing the former storage room as an exhibit area. It will house
the industry, logging, sewing and one additional exhibit.
A grant from the Minnesota
Historical Society replaced the following flood damaged items,
fire-resistant file cabinets, archival storage supplies, and storage
Up Coming Events:
Tuesday, March 25, 6 PM Roseau
School Commons: Annual Meeting followed by Dorothy Lund-Nelson’s
Orphan Train Rider at 7 PM in the Theater
Saturday, April 12, 2 PM Roseau
School Theater Bridal Show: Bridal Clothing of the Past and Present
Style show and tea.