This is a year for landmark anniversaries for local businesses, one of which is Cornerstone Assisted Living celebrating their 15th year. We visit here with two residents, each with a colorful Hamel and Medina history, now retired and relaxing within the Cornerstone community.
“Inn Kahoots used to be called Harold & Dwaine’s.” This is how Margie Osier, a resident at Cornerstone, begins describing her days in Hamel back when times were simpler.
“Thirty years ago we bought it from Frank Molitor when it was called Frank & Laura’s. For 10 years after we bought it, it was Harold & Dwaine’s, a working man’s bar. Some guys would stop by after work and have just one, some of them would stay a little bit too long,” Margie smiles. “But we never had any trouble in the bar, NEVER. See, because two policemen owned it, Harold and Dwaine.”
Margie and her family conveniently lived above the bar. “Harold lived in the apartment in back, and we combined the two apartments upstairs into one because we had a family.” Margie and Dwaine had four children when they purchased the business, oldest daughter Pam (19), sons Mark (16) and David (8) and, “Jean was the little one when we moved in. (Ages are approximate, according to Margie.) My oldest daughter had said, ‘No one will let their kids come over here!’” Margie replies, “That was baloney!”
Although details such as the exact ages of her children when they moved in escaped her, Margie remembers some events very well. “We couldn’t sleep on Sunday nights, and do you know why?” Margie asks me. I answer, “Sunday night? No, why is that?” “It was QUIET!” Margie burst out laughing. “Dwaine said if you can’t make a living six days, you can’t make it seven. So we were closed on Sundays. That’s when we cleaned. I learned a lot, I learned to waitress, and to clean a bar. ”
Fond memories included the convenience of the location. “The children were into sports, and the skating rink was back behind the bar. Before I had to haul them all up there, but this way they just went out the back door, and there they were!” Margie was the only one, when the time came, who didn’t want to part with Harold & Dwaine’s bar. “I was outvoted,” she sadly recalls.
Margie has lived in Cornerstone for four years. “My favorite part is eating lunch, and then playing bingo. I win a lot! I give it all away to my granddaughter who is in college. It’s all spending money for her up in Duluth!” Margie’s favorite lunch is spaghetti, “it’s very very good here and everyone is so nice!”
Bill Boucher, also from Cornerstone Assisted Living, turned 92 years old in July. “My birthday is 7/7/1927 ~ ALL those SEVENS!” Bill busts out laughing, with a happiness that is contagious. As we talk I can’t help but marvel at how amazingly sharp he is, recounting the exact year of whatever it is we’re discussing.
Bill worked for Culligan for 40 years since the age of 26, servicing the Hamel and Medina area his entire career. “I had one of the best jobs there,” Bill enthusiastically states. “I was a technical service man. I worked for the plant for a couple years, then did service work for both business and residential. Back then this entire area was full of farms!”
He continues, “I knew all three Raskob brothers of the Medina Ballroom, but I was closest to Bob Raskob. I used to bowl up there in a league for quite a few years. And I’ve worked with the Dorweiler brothers from Farmers State Bank, Julie, and Shorty, the bull rider! I knew their dad well too. I did a lot of fishing and played a lot of golf with all these guys!”
Every memory sparks a huge smile on Bill’s face. “Gerry Leuer and his two sons and I used to duck and pheasant hunt. I was close to the people in Hamel. At Kahoots I used to go up there when Margie’s husband Dwaine and his partner owned it. Dwaine was also a Plymouth cop. I used to see him all the time when I was driving around.”
Bill lived in Wayzata for 42 years, though he was born and raised in Southern Illinois. When asked what brought him to Minnesota, he earnestly leans in. “I had a chance during the war to work at the Caterpillar tractor plant in Peoria, Illinois. Back then they were so short of help because all the young guys were in the Army and Navy for the war. So Caterpillar would hire people who were 15 years old. We had jobs that weren’t real hard, delivering stuff and things like that. In 1948 there was a strike at the plant. Someone then told me, ‘Why don’t you go up to Minneapolis, there’s all kinds of work up there!’ So I came up in 1949 to Minneapolis and worked for three or four years at an upholstery shop, stripping chairs and tying springs. That’s where I met my wife ~ she was working at Dayton’s at the time as a model and working the floor. We went together for two or three years. All of a sudden we got married!” Bill grinned with a glint in his eye as he enthusiastically continued, hardly taking a breath, “We got married at that small church on Highway 12 by the high school. Well it was a little church then, Wayzata Community Church, but it’s HUGE now!
“Right after that I went to work for Culligan,” Bill pauses. “At the time my wife’s mother owned this small home on North Broadway in Wayzata. She decided she was too old to take care of it, so I bought it in October of ‘57. We stayed there until 2000.” Bill contemplates for a moment, “My wife had COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and we found mold in the basement. They said the only way to get rid of it was to tear the blocks out and redo it. The house wasn’t worth it, so we sold it and moved up to a new townhouse in Rogers until 2014. I loved the place but after my wife died and I lived there alone, I knew I needed to get out of there.”
Bill has lived at Cornerstone Assisted Living for five years. “Don’t I have good knowledge? I still remember when I was a kid. I love talking about stuff that happened in the ‘40’s, but there are less people now who remember those days.” Bill is surprisingly independent, claiming that he enjoys preparing the majority of his meals. “ I cook most of my meals, I especially like pork chops that are just barely seared on each side, then cooked with mushroom soup and other seasonings with a baked potato and green beans.”
The real pride in his voice comes when speaking of his family. He segues from cooking for himself to his kids. “I have a son who is a great cook. He lives in Eden Prairie, and I have a daughter who owns her own place in Opus of Minnetonka. Then I have another daughter who lives in Maple Grove, she’s been a nurse at North Memorial Hospital for 40 years. I see my kids all the time, well, except not when they’re working. He speaks fondly of his many grandsons and granddaughters too.
“I bet you’re wondering about my eye!” Bill catches me off guard, and I can’t help but laugh, he is so excited to tell me. “I had my eye put out when I was eight years old when I was playing with a dynamite cap. I had a glass eye for many years, then it went to plastic. Two years ago October the coloring on the eye I had was starting to get blurry so I went down to get a new one. There is only one specialist in the Cities that does this, so I told him, “My eye keeps falling out on me!” He gave me another one and after a week it fell out. He fixed it, and it fell out again a week later. It turns out the eye lashes turned under, then there was no muscle strength and that’s why it wouldn’t stay in! They wanted to operate, but I said, “No! If i was young, if I was 70 years old then maybe I’d consider it. So that’s why I have a frosted glass (pane) on my glasses.” I ask Bill if he’s always worn glasses. “ I don’t need to wear glasses because I have better than 20/20 eyesight in my good eye, but I wear glasses for protection.”
As we’re wrapping up our talk Bill turns to me, smiles, and says, “I’ve had an interesting life!” To top off the day, Bill goes on to win $5 at Bingo. His easy way and love for life builds upon itself, making not only his a happy life, but mine a bit better too for having the opportunity to share a moment with him.