Ginger Wood…Gingie Wood…Actually the name on her birth certificate was Virginia, but that name never caught on.
Historically, Hopkins has a background of two dominant ethnic groups, the Swedes and the Czechs. The marriage of Gingie’s parents reflects the trend. Albert Larson, the Swede, and Melvina Ciskovsky, the Czech, married and made their home on Church Lane in West Hopkins. Czechs are legendary raspberry growers, and Melvina’s raspberry patch was in the area that is now the parking lot for Cross of Glory Baptist Church.
As a 17-year old, Melvina had worked as a maid for the Hovander family and she decided, “I’m going to join Gethsemane.” Al’s membership came later.
Al Larson worked for Minneapolis Moline and later for Justus Lumber. Melvina was employed by a Minneapolis laundry, and then, for a time, worked at the Glen Lake Sanatorium.
Gingie’s older brothers were Ron, now deceased, and Dick. If you ask Gingie, “What kind of kid were you?” her answer is emphatic…”Fat!” As an over-weight high schooler, she loved her Phy. Ed. teacher, who convinced her that she could “do things” anyway. But her real favorite classes were in Home Economics. Bringing strong cooking and sewing skills from home, she remembers, “I wished I could have had Home Ec. five hours a day.”
Gethsemane is the church where Gingie was baptized, confirmed, and married…all by Pastor Lasse Stohl.
In childhood, every Saturday it was her job to polish the family’s shoes for Sunday church. Saturday was also the day for Junior Missions at church.
She has fond memories of Sunday School. “Miss Larson” (later Ruth Lindquist) taught them to sing about sunbeams and “all the little children” (with hand gestures, of course). For one Christmas program the children marched from the basement into the chancel, carrying lighted candles. “The hot wax was burning my hand, but I didn’t dare holler.”
Crowded into the old building on Ninth, her confirmation class was taught by Pastor Stohl and Pastor Clifton Trued. Theirs was the first to be confirmed in the present building in 1962. Of that class of 89, only three are still at Gethsemane: Gingie, Jeanne Paulson Pavelka, and Jeff Skold. Hi League and Youth Choir were both a part of her teen experience.
The Viet Nam war was on, and Gingie’s work after high school had a bellicose tinge. She was employed by Honeywell in Hopkins making torpedoes, and then transferred to the New Brighton plant to make bullets. Moving to Fridley for the second job, she lived in an apartment next door to three guys. Her roommate introduced her to one of them, Don Wood from North Dakota, the man she married in 1967.
Gingie is a genuine poster child for Weight Watchers. It was in 1988 that she lost a little over 100 pounds, and has had the self-discipline to keep it off.
A real struggle for her has been with arthritis. Two knee replacements have solved some problems, but her shoulders still need doing. She can’t manage heavy-duty lifting in the church kitchen but likes to help out with funerals, setting tables and serving.
A member of Rebekah Circle, she also lends a hand printing bulletins and newsletters for the church office. She enjoys sewing and counted cross stitch. Baking Czech kolaches, those sweet buns filled with apricots or prunes, she distributes them liberally to friends in nursing homes.
In recent years, Gingie and Don have lived in a town house in Plymouth. She hires out her housewifely skills, doing cleaning in homes; and Don has assisted with this business since retiring from the post office. As a couple, they enjoy playing 500 with friends.
Their son Tim and his wife Jennifer live in Farmington. They are parents of Kiersten, 5; and another baby is on the
way. Tim works on computers for the Navy. Daughter Holly and her husband, Greg Lindahl, live in Crystal with their children, Kari, 8 and Brian, age 6. Greg works as a Tech Support Engineer for a medical firm called Vital Images. Gingie admits to being a “professional grandma.”
Her hopes are high for the church of which she’s a lifetime member. Gingie Wood expects continuing effectiveness for the women’s work as well as a growing influx of vibrant young families into membership.