When Ole Met Lena: A Love Story

With Valentine’s Day coming it’s a good time to share with you some of the moments along the road of one of the great love stories of our time: Ole and Lena.

Ole and Lena first met during the summer when he was fishing at his uncle’s cabin on Mille Lacs and she was visiting from a far away land called Green Bay. When they said a long Minnesota good-bye at the end of summer little did they know they would end up going to the same high school – Leif Erikson High and Bait Shop.

Even though they kept telling each other “you’re da one dat I vant” ooh, ooh, ooh, honey; you’re da one dat I need ooh, ooh, ooh, honey” when high school ended they had said good-bye again.

As luck would have it Ole got a job at a highfalutin resort back on Mille Lacs Lake where he was in charge of filling the minnow buckets and teaching dancing to the guests. Well wouldn’t ya know Lena’s family showed up at the resort and “vell one ting led to another” and Ole and Lena were dancing the summer away except when Ole couldn’t find Lena because someone had put her in a corner.

But the summer ended and so did their fling. That would be the end of their story but as luck would have it …


Lena found a job as a cruise director with Nordwegian Cruises and yep, one summer Ole got a job on the same cruise as a deck swabber. Well they hooked up – not like the young folk say but one day on a fishing trip ashore their hooks intertwined and they hooked up.

For many nights at sea they danced, they frolicked, he drew pictures of her wearing gaudy jewelry and not much else — it was a blockbuster love.  Unfortunately one night he wanted to go one way, she wanted to go another and they got into a fight until they knocked over the giant herring ice sculpture in the middle of the dining room causing quite the disaster.  And again they went their different ways.

About six months later, by sheer co-inky-dink both Ole and Lena moved south – way down to Albert Lea (why that’s almost Iowa). Again they met up at the spring formal dance – the Codtillion. Lena looked gorgeous in her gown she made from the flaps of her tent while Ole looked handsome in his camouflage tuxedo. They danced the night away until in a moment of passion Ole swept Lena off her feet. She cried “Oh fiddle-dee-uff da put me down Ole. I think a tornado is coming.” And Ole, looked her in the eyes and said “Frankly my dear I don’t give a darn.” He put her down and he was gone with the wind.

Now you’d think these two would never get together but it wasn’t but a year later when the stars aligned and love was in the air – or it could have been something else in the air, there was a downward wind blowing from the Johansen’s Farm.

Ole and Lena’s families were having a picnic and the two love birds were back together again.  Just as they were about to announce that they were going to make it official, the ugly history of the great herring war of 1903 came up in conversation and the two families started yelling and throwing food at each other and ripping the love birds apart AGAIN. That night when Ole was walking through town he heard a voice crying “Ole Ole where da heck are ya Ole?”  Well Ole rushed over to the fence and shouted “Lena I’m right here fer heaven’s sake. Get on down here.”

Lena grabbed a satchel and filled it with her flimsies and dowry (which was a Krumkake roller and a lefse turning pin) and climbed out the window. She and Ole went running down the street, holding hands and hoping to find a Lutheran preacher that would marry them before their family knew they were gone.

Then, wouldn’t you know it, it started raining cats and dogs and they took cover in a gazebo they found just off the road. They swore their love to each other no matter what and sang a song about their rotten childhoods but they must’ve done somethin’ good.

Eventually the rain stopped and Ole and Lena decided to go back to town and tell their families they didn’t care what they said they were going to get married. Ole’s parents said they were sorry for being so mean and Ole told them “Love means you never gotta say ya is sorry.” Lena looked at him and said “Don’t count on dat buster, you’re gonna say sorry a lot!!!!”

Lena’s parents told asked her if she was in love, and she told them – “You can’t spell LOVE without OLE or else it would just be a V and that looks stupid.” They didn’t know what that meant but they were kind of glad just to get her out of the house so they agreed to the marriage.

And that’s How Ole Met Lena and they are still living happily ever after … most of da time don’t  cha know.