Jack Sprat Food Store Sign

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

1.  Video: Atwater Downtown Fire ~ Gerald Schwartz ~ Fire Chief ~ West Central Tribune, Willmar, MN (Gerald is Jennifer’s husband)

2.  Video: Overnight Fire Destroys 4 Businesses ~ WCCO-TV, Minneapolis, MN

3.  Video: Overnight fire destroys businesses in Atwater ~ KARE 11 TV, Mpls. ~ St. Paul, MN

4.  Video: Downtown Atwater Fire Destroys Businesses ~ KSTP TV, Eyewitness News, Mpls., MN

5.  Photos from the Atwater multi-building fire on Feb. 28, 2011 ~ West Central Tribune, Willmar, MN

6.  Fire destroys businesses in small Minn. Town ~ Minnesota Public Radio News

7.  Video:  Atwater Fire Ruled Arson ~ updated 4/20/11 ~ KSAX-TV, Alexandria, MN

8.  Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Press Release

9.  Video:  Demolition of downtown Atwater buildings ~ West Central Tribune, Willmar, MN

10. Video:  Clean Up of Atwater Fire Remains ~ Tami’s Channel ~ YouTube ~ ttagtow

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10 Responses to Jack Sprat Food Store Sign

  1. You have arrived! Welcome to Area Voices!
    Jannet Walsh

  2. Dale Tagtow says:

    Way to go Tami You are now an official Blogger on the West Central Tribune Enjoyed your story.

  3. Pingback: Jack Sprat Food Store in Fillmore County | Look At This

  4. Pingback: Jack Sprat Newspaper Ad | Look At This

  5. Tami, Jack Sprat brings back memories. Back in the 1950’s my Mom’s sister, my Aunt Tillie, ran a grocery store in New Market, MN for a short time where she sold Jack Sprat products. Her husband had died of a heart attack at the age of 47 and she still had 3 children at home to raise. Unfortunately, there were other stores in the town & not enough customers in the area to support several stores so she closed the store & moved to a larger town where she could get work. But not all inventory was sold out so we ended up with lots of Jack Sprat spices that took us years to use up. Thanks for memories!

  6. Pingback: A New Home for Jack Sprat | Look At This

  7. Debbie Tagtow says:

    well written story Tami. Its nice to see there are some keeping memories alive..

  8. Pingback: Atwater Threshing Days ~ Sept. 10 & 11 | Look At This

  9. John Miller says:

    I think it was Ben Sackrider who owned and ran the”Jack Sprat Store” when I was a boy.

  10. Jean Draegert Shutt says:

    My father ran a general store in Thornburg, Iowa in the 1940’s. He sold Jack Sprat foods and a Jack Sprat sign hung over the front door . The store was torn down last year , but the sign was saved. I am interested in knowing the original colors of the sign. It is going to be repainted.
    Can you be of any help?
    Jean Shutt

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