Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Part III of Otto's Restaurant: Uff Da!

 Those of you who have not heard this phrase are no doubt wondering what "uff da" means.  So... here's my definition...
Uff Da:  a Norwegian interjection   pronunciation: (oof-duh)   
Uff da denotes disappointment, irritation, exhaustion, dismay, anger, disgust, etc.
Examples:  It's 20° below zero. Uff da! 
                   I burned the lefse... uff da!
                   Mud on the kitchen floor. Uff da!!!

Cold work sledding a huge log past Evenson's restaurant... uff da!

Otto and Henrietta in the restaurant

Over the 40 years that Otto ran a restaurant, there were, of course, some uff da moments. How could it be avoided? Here are a few uff da stories:

Grandpa loved sports, especially baseball.  He supported the town baseball team, and signed my dad up as the batboy. He attended Luther College games if he could, and he listened on the radio to hear big league games. One day while listening on the radio, intent on the game, he was also pealing onions in the restaurant. I can imagine him now, dabbing his blue eyes on a white handkerchief while he worked, his mind totally focused on the game. Maybe the onions were meant to flavor the soup or gravy,  who knows? In any event, Otto lost track of what he was doing and put them into the coffee urn. Yes, it was full of coffee. Uff da!!! Probably the onions were salvaged, but I bet the coffee had to go.

Otto is the team sponsor, my dad Emil is the batboy

Creamers from Otto's restaurant... and a HUGE tip!

Do you remember the old time pressure cookers? They saved a lot of cooking time, so Otto and Henrietta got one for the restaurant kitchen. The gauge at the top showed the amount of pressure inside, and you had to pay close attention to it or there was big T-R-O-U-B-L-E. One day, apparently someone tried to open it too soon, and steaming hot chicken parts went flying all over the place. Uff da! Luckily, no one was hurt. But apparently some chicken bones were permanently embedded in the fancy tin ceiling. This story deserves two uff das!

The restaurant was open 7 days a week. I'm reminded of a Garrison Keillor saying "My people are not paradise people." No kidding! It must have been exhausting. So one day, Grandma Henrietta got up and opened the restaurant alone to make breakfast for the road crew. Maybe this happened about the time the Rovrud guys were putting blacktop on the roads. The road crew was important to the community, and the crew members needed their breakfast before a hard day of work. So Henrietta made and served breakfast to the crew and they went on their way. Later, Otto joined her at the restaurant and was shocked to see that the back of her dress was hitched up in her girdle. Now, Grandma had a good sense of humor, but still... I imagine she was mortified. They had always run a respectable business. And strangely enough, no one in the road crew had said a thing! Was it possible they didn't notice? Were they embarrassed? Respectful? Or was Grandma getting older and they felt sorry for her? Any way you look at it... uff da!!!  

Otto, Henrietta, my uncle Burnell and cousin Bill

Main Street in Spring Grove, unpaved, and Otto's Cafe 

The last story in this theme is a little colorful, a little hilarious. Consider yourself warned.  

Grandpa Otto was known to be generous, He would share food with those who were down and out. But... one day a woman came in demanding that he give her free food. Something about her brought out his bullheadedness... he didn't like her and he didn't like her rudeness. She continued to demand food. Otto told her that this was America, and we expected people to pay for food here. He refused her demands. She got angry, he held his stance. Before she left the restaurant, she unbuttoned her blouse, took out a breast and squirted milk at him. She was quite a distance from him, but she managed to spray him anyway! Otto was accosted with breast milk in his own restaurant! 

And that story, my friends, deserves an uff da! Or maybe more than one? I'm curious. How many would you give it?

Tusen takk for reading today. May these stories bring a smile.

1 comment: