Violet Krueger has been in and out of The Lutheran Home: Belle Plaine since she was a teenager, but not for her health. She started working there after ninth or 10th grade, when she decided high school was not for her.
“I had no luck with school,” Violet said.
Born and raised just 3 miles outside Belle Plaine, Violet, née Gruetzmacher, grew up and married a local boy named Fred. The couple settled on a farm east of Belle Plaine. When her husband got a job at the creamery, Violet left The Lutheran Home to wash milk bottles.
“That was the time when we got bottled milk,” she said.
Violet tried several different jobs in her life, but kept coming back to The Lutheran Home.
“I worked awhile and quit, and worked and quit again. I did everything – housekeeping, cooking, everything. And now I’m here to live,” said Violet, who moved to The Lutheran Home in 2010.
Things have changed a lot since she first visited as a child, when her mother would bring Violet along to see her aunt.
“Years ago it used to be when you went visiting you took your kids along. I could show you the room she had,” Violet said. “Ever since those visits as a girl, I always liked The Lutheran Home, just something about it.”
When she began working there in the 1940s, the building was smaller with only one floor and fewer residents.
“We had a matron. She was the nurse and everything. She did it all,” Violet said.
Almost did it all: The janitor was the one who would dress whole hogs ordered directly from Belle Plaine farmers — namely, Violet’s dad and her brother.
“There weren’t such things as lockers years ago. The matron would call them up and say ‘Mr. Gruetzmacher, would there be any chance of you having a pig?’” Violet said. “Then they slaughtered
it and packed it up in great big coolers. They would deliver the pig and the janitor would come the next
day and cut it up.”
In those days, Violet and Fred enjoyed summer fishing trips near Annandale, Minn., or meeting friends at Sauk Lake.
“We would be going just about every weekend if we could,” Violet said.
Now she likes to do crafts, play bingo and generally keep busy. The walls of her room are decorated with art, including still-life paintings she made. She can often be found “out gallivanting” around the
“I have to go downstairs and see what’s going on. I’m not one to sit in my room,” Violet said.
It’s a perfect fit for her role as president of The Lutheran Home’s resident council, which meets regularly and hears concerns and suggestions from residents. When Violet moved in five
years ago, the administrator immediately asked if she’d join the group.
“I asked her what I had to do and she said, ‘You can be president.’ And I’ve been on it ever since,” Violet said.