On June 13, 2011, I spent part of the day downtown Atwater watching the clean up of the buildings from the February 28th fire. As I stood in the park under the coolness of the trees, my mind was filled with memories of good times.
Around 3 o’clock in the afternoon Jennifer Schwartz came out of the bank for a break. She told me to come see the sign that the Cat Hoe driver had just uncovered in the basement of the old Big Store. Jennifer asked me if I had ever heard of Boldstad and Nordlie ~ sure I said ~ they had a store on that corner. Nordlie lived in the house that the Ness family lives in now. Amazingly, Dale and I had invited Russell Olson to go for a ride around Atwater two days earlier ~ and the Nordlie name came up during that trip. If this sign would have been found before our car ride, I would not have known about the Jack Sprat Food Store in Atwater.
Timing is everything, Jennifer asked two of the workers if we could have the sign. Certainly, they went into the basement and carried the 15 foot sign out by walking on the
hill of bricks that had not been hauled away yet. Jennifer and I carried the Jack Sprat Food Store sign to safety and leaned it next to the orange cones on Atlantic Avenue AND Russell was sitting in his car to see what we had found.
Evidently the sign was hung up in the floor joists (on the ceiling) of the basement and when the fire happened the floor fell down on top of the sign. The floor protected
the sign from getting any air which fire needs to burn. When the Cat Hoe driver pulled the floor away, there was the surviving sign.
According to Russell, the Boldstad and Nordlie family moved to Atwater from New London. Genievieve Nordlie graduated from Atwater High School in 1933 and Kenneth Nordlie graduated from AHS in 1936. My dad George Swenson graduated from AHS
in 1936. Of course, many members of the Alumni Association know what year Russell graduated from Atwater High School or at least they know how to find that answer.
Photos by: Tami Tagtow