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Annie Crevier

Annie, born in 1875, came from Norway to Spicer. Charlie Crevier, born in 1855, had come to Paynesville from France. Neither one could speak English, nor could they understand each other's native language. In spite of the language barrier, they courted and planned to be married at the Mardin Pavilion in Spicer's city park. Before the vows, Annie became frightened and ran away. Mr. and Mrs. Claude Doty, who were there, went to find Annie and explain what was happening. She returned, and the wedding resumed.

Charlie and Annie purchased a small frame house from the railroad company. It was located near the ice tracks (tracks leading from the railroad to the lake used in the winter ice harvests). Claude Doty pulled the house with his stump-puller the one-half mile to a location at 208 North Lake Avenue. One side of the house had a small lean-to used as a "summer kitchen." The unheated bedroom upstairs for the children was accessible only by an outside stairway. The room had a hole in the floor over the kitchen stove for heat.

Annie had a huge garden. She also raised many ducks and chickens, selling eggs and produce in town. The ducks and chickens lived in and out of the house with the family. The ducks wandered all over the neighborhood, laying eggs under porches or wherever they felt like it. The neighbors didn't like them because of the mess they made. One year 40 ducklings hatched out and went back and forth across the road to the lake, stopping traffic for quite a time.

When farmers butchered sheep, Annie would get the wool when possible, wash it, card it, spin it into yam on her spinning wheel, and knit it into hats, mittens, and socks, especially for the men working on the railroad or the ice works.

Annie was a very hard worker. She worked for many people in town, cleaning houses and cabins. She would walk to Crescent Beach, pulling a little red wagon in which she brought laundry home to wash.

At home she carried water from the lake, heated it in tubs on the wood stove, then boiled the clothes and scrubbed them on a scrub board. Though she cleaned for other people, she was known to be a poor housekeeper at home, but she still turned out sparkling white laundry. When the weather was 30 degrees below zero, neighbors would see her door open, steam pouring out of the house, and she would hang the clothes on the lines outside, later taking the frozen laundry down, all with no gloves on.

Annie worked at many homes in town. Florence Bratberg hired Annie at her home frequently. Once Florence came into the kitchen and found Annie drinking milk out of the milk bottle from the refrigerator. Annie also worked at Hultgren's Cafe and was always collecting garbage to take home. Often she would slip a pound of butter or some other good item into the garbage to hide and take home. She would sometimes shoplift in the stores, but people who knew her needs would look the other way. The clerks would stop her when they thought enough was enough. Annie would stop at the locker plant and ask for bones "for my poor sinner of a dog." Annie also worked as a cleaning woman at the Green Lake State Bank. One day Mrs. Tait came in and told her, "Annie, you work much too hard." Annie answered in her high, thin voice, "Vell, if I had a rich man like you, I vouldn't have to vork so hard!"

Charlie was a woodsman and bricklayer, but Annie brought in most of the money. Charlie kept a huge woodpile to keep Annie's stove hot. Both of them learned English eventually. Charlie died on December 24, 1938.

The Creviers had three children: Louis, born in 1903; Carl, born on August 29, 1905; and Mildred, born in 1907. Mildred had a tragic death at the age of 7 on November 24, 1914. The children slept in the unheated bedroom over the kitchen, and Mildred slipped through the hole over the stove, fell into a tub of boiling water, and was scalded to death.

The boys were usually the first to go swimming in the spring. They would go out and swim between chunks of ice; they even were reported to jump into a hole in the ice and walk on the bottom of the lake to the shore. Louis is the first person known of to swim across Green Lake.

The two boys did a lot of fighting. Annie would never let Charlie discipline them. If Charlie asked them to do anything, Annie would say in her squeaky voice and broken English, "Don't you say anything, Charlie; I'll yust do it." With no discipline, the boys did more fighting, worsened when they started drinking. They fought with axes or whatever was handy, their friends often intervening to make peace.

Annie got very little thanks for all she did. As the boys grew up, she bought their cars and gave them money, which they spent on alcohol. Carl worked for Sig Simpson building telephone lines. Louis worked for Halvorson Implement Co. One night in 1948 Louis was driving his 1942 Buick, had a heart attack and died. Carl committed suicide in his home on the south side of Green Lake on February 22, 1956.

For a few years a niece, Ruth Buvick, lived with Annie and attended high school in Willmar. Then Ruth returned to Minneapolis.

During an electrical storm, lightning struck Annie's house, causing a small fire. When the firemen came, they put out the fire, but they couldn't find Annie. She was outside, lying on her stomach on the ground, hugging a tree.

As Annie grew older, she still did some work for other people. A common sound late at night or very early in the morning was the squeaking of her now rusty little wagon. Two of the rubber tires were worn down to the metal rim. Annie wore clothes people gave her, no matter what the size; usually her shoes were many sizes too big.

Harvey Wig would often go to Annie's house. One day he came and opened the door to be met by billowing smoke and a terrible smell. Fearing Annie was inside, he looked for her, but she had left the house. On the stove was a kettle with a kidney in it that she was boiling for her dog. The kettle had boiled dry; the kidney, burned to a crisp, smelled up the whole neighborhood.

Annie loved to be with people and enjoyed playing cards. Elizabeth Orred had tourist friends who would sometimes need a fourth person, so they would call Annie.

Sometimes people would stare at Annie. Some young persons laughed at her and dogs would bark at her, but many people were very good to her. Some of the town ladies gave her big birthday parties, bringing cakes and other food, gifts and cards, and spent the evenings singing. As many as 40 people would come to Annie's birthday parties.

Ruby Engwall would do one of the kindest things ever for Annie. She would take Annie into her home, bathe her, clip her toenails, and wash her hair. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me."

Annie always said she wanted to live longer than her children. She'd say, "I'll live to bury all my children." "I yust didn't have more children than I could raise." She missed her family and made many trips to the "burying ground," as she called the cemetery.

Annie Crevier lived to be nearly 90 years old, dying in 1964. She was buried in the Spicer cemetery. The family home was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Albert Barber.