Ole and Lena tales always keep sides splitting

I love the word “laughter” and its synonyms — chuckling, chortling, guffawing, giggling, tittering, cackling and snickering. Laughter is said to be the most contagious of all emotional experiences.

Laughing is good for our health. It stretches muscles, burns calories, triggers the release of our body’s natural painkillers, enhances oxygen intake, boosts our immune system and improves blood pressure.

I can remember laughing out loud at some of the shows that were on television years ago. A few of my favorites were “I Love Lucy,” “The Honeymooners,” “All in the Family,” “Red Skelton,” “The Carol Burnett Show” and “The Bob Newhart Show.” Today’s so-called comedy shows rarely make me laugh. I wonder if it is a generational thing, or maybe they just aren’t funny. I’m not sure.

I do love to laugh. I have always believed life is better when you’re laughing. No one has made me laugh harder than Steve Gueths. Many of you probably know him; he is Richmond’s town chairman.

Steve’s wife, Theresa, and I worked together for years at Citizens Bank. Employees often had get-togethers. The food, refreshments and company were great, but the highlight of the evening was when Steve started telling his Ole and Lena stories. His Norwegian accent, along with his delightful way of telling stories kept all of us laughing. When he was finished telling an Ole joke, he would join in the laughter with his slow belly laugh.

I think it’s time for a Citizen’s Bank reunion. Maybe Steve has a few more Ole and Lena stories. I can still remember a few of them:

When Ole quit farming, Ole and Lena were the only two Lutherans in their new little town of Catholics. That was OK, but the neighbors had a problem with his barbecuing beef every Friday; the tempting aroma was getting the best of them.

Hoping they could do something to stop this, the neighbors got together and went over to talk to Ole and Lena. “Since you two are the only Lutherans in this whole town and there isn’t a Lutheran church for many miles, we think you should join our church and become Catholic.”

Ole and Lena talked it over and decided the neighbors were probably right.

The big day came, and the priest had them kneel. He put his hands on their heads and said, “Ole and Lena, you were born Lutherans. You were raised as Lutherans, and now,” he said as he sprinkled some holy water over their heads, “now, you are a Catholic.”

Ole and Lena were happy, and the neighbors were happy. But the following Friday evening at suppertime, there was again the aroma of grilled beef coming from Ole and Lena’s yard.

The neighbors went to talk with them about this and, as they approached the fence, they heard Ole saying to the steak: “Yew vas born a beef. Yew vas raised as a beef,” and as he sprinkled salt over the meat, he said, “and now, yew are a fish!”

Another: Government surveyors came to Ole and Lena’s Wisconsin farm last spring and asked if they could do some surveying. Ole agreed, and Lena even served them a nice meal at noontime.

After their work was done, the surveyors told Ole, “You were so kind to us, we wanted to give you the bad news in person, instead of by letter.”

Ole asked, “Vat’s da bad news?”

The surveyor explained, “Well, your farm is right on the state line and, after our work was completed, we discovered your farm is not in Wisconsin. It is actually in Minnesota.”

Ole smiled and said, “Vell, dat’s da best news I’ve had in a long time. I vas yust telling Lena dis morning that I don’t think I can take a nudder vinter in Wisconsin.”

Ole and Lena, you were born Packer fans. You were raised as Packer fans, and now “you are going to win a Super Bowl with the Vikings,” said no ex-Packers fan ever!

“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” — Charlie Chaplin

Question: What was the name of Shawano’s first hotel, when was it built and where was it located?

Clothesline Conversation Answer: The first hotel (or house, as they were called in earlier days) was Wescott House. It was located on the southwest corner of Main and Green Bay streets. It was built in 1855.

Lorna Marquardt is a former Shawano mayor.