Hanson likes to stay busy
She makes bears, masks, plates, ornaments and books
Jeanette Hanson, of Blue Earth, says she likes to stay busy.
“Everyday I have a whole lot of projects I want to work on,” Hanson says. “I have never been bored in my whole life.”
And, when the 80 year-old (soon to be 81 in March) says she likes to keep busy, she has the results of her work to prove it.
For instance, she has made about 50 Teddy Bears out of clothing that belonged to family members.
“I laminate little pictures of the people who’s clothes I use, and put them on a string around the bear’s neck,” Hanson says. “That makes every one of them special.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic going on, Hanson has also made about 60 face masks, all out of remnants of used clothing she has around the house.
She and her son, Allen, have created collector dishes that are made out of Blue Earth blue clay.
“Now we are also making Christmas ornaments out of the Blue Earth blue dirt,” Hanson says with a smile. “Jamie Holland (Blue Earth Public Works director) brings us some when he finds it.”
Hanson is also famous for making wedding cakes, and still does some from time to time, although the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a stop to most of it.
“It all started when my husband Bill’s sister Nancy was getting married and I said I would make the cake,” she says. “Then I started making lots of cakes. Some were pretty extravagant, depending on what the bride wanted.”
That is more than 50 years of making cakes, not just for weddings but other occasions as well.
And, if that is not enough, Hanson also loves electronics, and just got a new cell phone and computer. But she also has some serious video equipment where she transfers VHS tapes onto DVDs.
“I have done a lot of my family tapes,” she says. “Big VHS tapes, small tapes, even video cards. I transfer them onto the DVD discs.”
Right now she is working on transfering VHS tapes of past Relay for Life events onto DVD.
But, there is one more thing that Hanson has kept busy with over the past 50 or so years.
Her three-ring binders. Dozens and dozens of them, all fat and full. In fact, there are eight bookshelves in her house all stuffed full of three-ring binders.
So what is in all of these binders? You name it, it probably is there.
Many are devoted to members of the family. There are ones on genealogy, too. Some deal with all kinds of topics which Hanson found interesting. There are, of course, several binders devoted to all of the cakes she has made over the years. And eight of them are full of photos and clippings about Relay for Life, a bunch more cover family events and class reunions.
And, much, much more.
But one whole bookcase is devoted to all things Blue Earth. They cover a wide variety of topics and each one has a history of that topic, from long, long ago, to some things fairly recent.
Want to know about the restaurants, cafes and bars in Blue Earth? There are photos and newspaper clippings and even menus from many of them in one of the binders. There are even copies of the obituaries of some of the owners of those establishments of long ago.
So how does she do it?
Hanson tells how she gathers all the items, clipping out dozens of articles from old and new issues of the Faribault County Register, for instance.
“I put everything in file folders, by topic, first,” she explains. “Then, I take the items out of the folders and put them in plastic three ring binder pages. Then find the spot in the right book to put them.”
She has no idea how many hours she has invested into the books, but she says she loves doing it.
“I would sometimes have supper with Bill, play some cards or watch TV, and then he would go to bed early,” she relates. “Then I would spend another three, four hours working on the books.”
Hanson says she grew up on a farm, which she loved. Her parents were much older than usual, so she lived a pretty quiet life on the farm.
“Other than school, I remember coming to town maybe three times while I was growing up, before I was married,” she says. “Bill was always going to places and things in town when he was growing up.”
That came in handy when she was doing research for her history books on Blue Earth.
“He knew everything about the history of the town, what had been in each building in the past, things like that,” she recalls. “But he would talk so fast I had to tell him to slow down so I could get it all.”
Bill Hanson passed away a couple of years ago, and Jeanette Hanson says she misses him every day. Bill had several jobs during his career, but ended up at Blue Earth Light and Water, a job he loved.
Jeanette Hanson also had several different jobs in her time.
“I’ve detasseled corn, walked beans and painted buildings,” she says. “I also worked at the Hallmark store, jewelry store and video rental store. You can see I got a 40 percent discount at the Hallmark store, which explains all this,” pointing to her Christmas village and other collectibles on display in her home.
The couple had six children: Dalene, Janet, Billy, Patty, Allen and James. James passed away when he was just four months old. Her other five children all live in Blue Earth or nearby.
“It’s nice to have them all around here,” she says. “If I snap my fingers they would all be here in a second to help me, and ask what is wrong.”
Jeanette Hanson was the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award honoree in 2005.
“I don’t really know why they chose me,” she says. “Yes, I was doing a lot of things in the community, but I just feel like I should help out wherever I can. And besides, I like to keep busy.”
Hanson adds that she feels she has had a “phenomenal” life, blessed with a wonderful husband, kids and grandkids.
“I just plain love life,” she says. “Although I do miss Bill terribly. But I keep busy. And, I can’t die yet, because I am not caught up on all my books. There is still a lot more to do.”