"Is Grandma in the back?" is a familiar greeting as customers enter the front door of Morris Floral. "Grandma" is Lucille Melberg, the matriarch of the Melberg and Morris Floral families.
Born on March 4, 1921, in El Dorado Township to Chris and Hannah (Wilson) Christensen, Lucille attended country school District 42. In 1927 the family moved to Everglade Township. She attended Chokio High School for one year.
Lucille had four siblings: brother Glenn, who died in 1976; and sisters Frances Wernsing; Joanne (Howard) Staples; and Doris (Victor) Zimmerman, all of Chokio.
She remembers that the first family car was a black Ford with leather, and plastic instead of glass, windows. The first Melberg family car was a dark blue Lincoln LaSalle. "We used to laugh at the line from the 'All in the Family' theme song: 'Gee the old LaSalle ran great,' said Melberg's son Chris.
In 1944, during World War II, Lucille married Earl Melberg, a union that would span 42 years. "[Earl] was drafted in 1942 and out in October 1944," she said. The Melbergs raised three children--Keith, who has worked for Otter Tail Power Company in Fergus Falls for 43 years and is head organist at First Lutheran Church there; Merton "Chris," who has owned Morris Floral for 33 years; and daughter Gayle of Sioux Falls, S.D. There are four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
"We farmed near Chokio," said Lucille. "All farming, both animals and crops. We started with a whole section then went to one-half section." Because the men were serving in the war, Lucille regularly drove the tractor, combined and plowed. She also helped her father with threshing. They sold eggs and geese in town. "The family worked together and we loved the outdoors. We cooked fried chicken, hot dishes, meatballs and garden vegetables. We baked bread and cookies. There was canning and freezing. We quit farming in the mid 1970s." And the farm was sold in 2005.
"Our parents taught us by example," said Chris. "We worked hard and were taught to 'do unto others...'"
Lucille began working with son Chris at Morris Floral in 1978, work she came to with prior experience. "She used to raise tulips," said Chris. "And a rock garden of 50 Siberian iris with blooms that grew six to eight inches across."
"I delivered orders within our delivery area when I started," said Lucille, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday. "Now I answer the telephones."
"People said 'If you get it from Lucille, you got the best,' " said Chris. "She's everybody's friend," shared a Morris Floral employee.
Prior to his death in January 1987 from cancer, Earl Melberg wanted three things: that the Minnesota Twins would win the World Series and that the television show "Star Trek" would come back on the air. In fall 1987, both of those wishes became reality. The third was to take Lucille to Hawaii, which she was able to do in November 1987 when Chris won the Morris Area Chamber drawing--a trip to Hawaii.
While Lucille's past interests have included cross-stitching and crocheting bedspreads and tablecloths--in addition to farming, gardening and raising a busy family--now she enjoys watching sit coms and mysteries on television. "Our first TV was an 18-inch black and white console."
As a family, the Melbergs enjoyed fishing in area lakes for walleyes, crappies and perch, along with some occasional ice fishing. In addition, attending her children's school events and piano recitals has always been a part of Lucille's family life. "Mom always put her children and family first," said Chris. She has traveled to Florida and California with son Keith and his family, and visited Pearl Harbor.
Now Lucille stays close to home and wouldn't live anywhere else "because of my family."