Thursday, August 25, 2011

The First Christmas Wreath - Mickman Brothers Holiday Fundraiser

So, as my Grandma told the story to me many, many years ago, this is how our family business was borne.

"When I was a young girl in Norge (Norway) back in the late 1800's my mother used to make a wreath each year from evergreens we children would gather from the forest alongside the fjord on which we lived.  It wouldn't take many boughs, and I liked gatheing them.  When I was older, my mother showed me how to make the wreath that we would display on the door of our small cottage each year.  Ours was a tough life and all of my brothers eventually died at sea, as either fisherman or merchant sailors. 

After I met your Grandpa in England in WWI, we moved to America and, because the people in New York told us there were many Norwegians living in Minnesota, we moved to St. Paul.  Our small family had a hard 'go of it' during the Great Depression as did all of our friends.  However, each Christmas I loved making a nice wreath and hanging it on our front door; as it always reminded me of my own mother so many years before.

One year when your father (John Victor Mickman) was about 12 years old, he came home from school and saw my nice wreath on the front door.  He wanted to buy a Christmas present for me, and had an idea that maybe he could sell that wreath down the street to someone.  Well , that is just what he did.  He walked down Summit Avenue where all the rich people lived, until someone purchased his wreath.  (My dad said it was James J. Hill's daughter, founders of the Great Northern Railroad, that purchased this first wreath.)

With his newly earned money, your dad went to a store and purchased a lovely set of porcelain figurines - the set that I have on my bedroom bureau.  The sales clerk was kind enough to wrap this gift for your dad, and he came home and presented it to me.  Well, I knew your dad didn't have ANY money and I pinched his ear until he told me how he got the money to pay for the present.  He finally confessed that he had taken our wreath off of the front door and sold it down on Summit Ave.  I couldn't imagine that anyone would want to pay money for such a thing, and asked your dad if he thought he could sell any more.  He said he thought he could sell as many as I could make.

So, your Grandpa, your dad and I gathered as many boughs as we could and I made wreaths out of all the boughs we could find.  Your dad was able to sell these wreaths as fast as I made them, and he sold every single one - we didn't even have a wreath on our own door that year (of 1934)."

We hope you and your fundraising organization (boy scouts, girls scouts, church youth group, high school marching band, and every other fundraising group) will be as successful as my dad in your wreath selling adventures! 

John Mickman

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