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Woessner was at Ben Franklin for 55 years

This was a fine busy week at Fair Oaks Lodge even if it was a bit too warm, with activities both inside and outside. A fox found one of our feeders last week while a wild turkey came to check them out this week. We love it when those wild critters come up to make friends with us.

We have been hearing stories of residents who have held jobs for 30 and even 40 years. Well, today's story is about Irella Woessner, who worked at the Ben Franklin Store in Wadena for 55 years!

Irella was born in 1916 to Ben and Floy Woessner in Dawson, N.D. They had six children. Ben worked for the railroad servicing trains.

The Woessners moved to a farm east of Wadena in 1935. Until Irella began working for Ed Tapley at Ben Franklin's, she was needed at home to take care of her mother who was not well.

Ben Woessner was the kind of a father who did not like the idea of his daughters taking jobs further away than he could take care of them, so Irella was pleased to find a job she liked so close to home.

Ed Tapley took the Wadena store over from his father. At that time the store was 25 feet wide and ran back to the alley.

Streets in Wadena were narrow with cars parked front wheels to the curb. Weekends were busy with Saturday night the time farmers came in to catch up on neighborhood news and compare crops. To rain, or not to rain, was the most common question.

Those were the days girls tried to have the puffiest sleeves, sleeves that stood out 6 inches, hard to make and still harder to iron without leaving a crease.

Irella was content with living in Wadena; she couldn't think of anything she would rather have done than clerk for Ed in Ben Franklin's. Ed Tapley was a thoughtful boss and a nice man.

The thought crossed Irella's mind that it would be great to be a nurse and help people feel better, but the thought was not strong enough to be more than just a thought. She liked her clerking job and met nice people who are still her friends. There were a dozen ways she helped people every day.

When it came to traveling to those "faraway places with strange sounding names" that Dinah Shore liked to sing about, they didn't give her the urge to start packing any more than going to Galway Bay. You know, that's the place in Ireland where the guys set by a turf fire near a cabin watching women in the meadow making hay.

There was a time, a long time ago mind you, that Irella would have liked to see Texas, the wide open spaces, the big herds of long horns.

And maybe the cowboys?

No! Absolutely not!