A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Mrs. Olsen’

Stanton, Iowa

Posted by graywacke on January 25, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-time-I-get-around-to-it blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

Dan –  Starting to slip a little (down to 3/10) thanks to this OSer landing in . . . IA; 42/36; 3/10; 2; 155.1.

 Here’s my regional landing map:

landing 1

 My close-in landing map shows my proximity to Red Oak, Stanton and Stennett:

landing 2

 I’m closest to Stennett, but it’s so small, it’s not there at all!

Logic would dictate that I would feature Red Oak; a substantial community (pop nearly 6,000).  But a fairly thorough search of Red Oak on the internet came up pretty much empty, insofar as a topical hook is concerned.  (I’m sure it’s a lovely community and a great place to live).  A quick look at Stanton (pop only about 700), and I was convinced.  Stanton, it is.

 But first, here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot, showing that (of course), I landed in a farm field:


For only the second time, I landed in the East Nishnabotna River watershed, on to (what else?) the Nishnabotna River (also my second hit); on to the Missouri (366th hit) to the MM (780th hit).  Here’s a GE shot of the East Nishnabotna, at the Route 34 bridge just west of Red Oak:

 e nishnabotna

By the way, according to Wiki, “Nishnabotna” is Native American for “canoe-making river.”  I’m not sure how a river makes a canoe . . .

 So, Stanton.  It has long been known as the Little White City, because of the preponderance of white houses.  Here’s a great aerial shot of the town (aerial photo by Kevin McGrew, posted on the mchsi.com website), showing what looks like mostly white houses & buildings:

 Kevin McGrew on mchsi.com website

Here’s the town’s logo from the town’s website:


Huh.  Funny-looking water towers, eh?

 From Wiki:

Stanton was first settled by Swedish immigrants. The town is best known for its two water towers, the tanks of which are painted and shaped like a coffee pot (the largest Swedish coffee pot in the world) and a coffee cup.  These also allude to the fact that Stanton is the hometown of actress Virginia Christine, best known to TV viewers as “Mrs. Olson” in classic commercials for Folgers Coffee.

Well, there you have it.  Of course, we’ll need some pictures of the two water towers.  First, the pot (Panoramio by Denis Scannel):

 denis scannel panoramio

And then, the cup (Panoramio by nguyen463):


Roadside America has quite the write-up about Stanton’s water towers:

One of the few Big Coffee Pot towns with a semi-legitimate coffee claim-to-fame, Stanton is the home of “Mrs. Olsen.” Or, at least, it was the home of an actress — stage name Virginia Christine — made famous as Folgers’ Mrs. Olsen, hawking their “mountain grown” coffee in TV commercials. She’d long since departed the Iowa, but returned for the town’s Centennial celebration in 1970 as parade Grand Marshal. Stanton celebrated the connection, along with its own Scandinavian roots, with a 120-ft. Coffee Pot Water Tower erected in 1971.

The “Swedish-style” pot, painted with decorative hearts and flowers, holds 40,000 gallons and sits on top of a 90-ft. tower.  The pot is 35-ft. high, the spout is 10-ft. high, and the handle is 15-ft. high.  If you really care.

In 2000, a 96-ft. tall coffee cup water tower was erected to complement the coffee pot. Its capacity dwarfs the old pot, holding 150,000 gallons of water ready for percolation.  It won the 2000 “Tank of the Year” award from the Steel Plate Manufacturer’s Association!

Moving on to Mrs. Olsen herself:


I must insist that you check out one of her Folgers Coffee commercials on You Tube.  This is a priceless snapshot of a bygone era:

 Click HERE  to watch.

 After Dylan watched that commercial, he wrote “The Times They are A-Changing.”

Here’s my own Folgers story:  In the late 1950s, I lived in Oak Park IL, a Chicago suburb (before Mrs. Olsen).  We had a kitchen radio that was often on.  I remember a commanding male voice coming over the radio, saying “I will bring a mountain to Chicago.”  This was a topic around the family dinner table – Chicago is as flat as a pancake; how could someone bring a mountain to Chicago? 

 We heard this many, many times, and saw billboards with the same message.

 Finally, after a couple months of this, we received a one pound can of Folgers coffee in the mail (as did our neighbors), and the ads switched over to extolling the wonders of “Mountain Grown Coffee.”  What a let down.

 And yes, as I recall, my parents switched from Maxwell House (“good to the last drop”) to Folgers . . .

 I’ll close with this about Susie’s Kitchen, a Stanton restaurant featured on RoadFood.com (Michael Stern visited Susie’s and wrote the post).  Here’s Susie’s famous “Fruits of the Forest” pie, with Michael Sterns comments below:


“One of Iowa’s top pies: Fruits of the Forest, made in a fine, flaky crust that only the inclusion of lard can achieve.”

That’ll do it.



© 2013 A Landing A Day


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