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Rural Route Bookstore

          An online-only bookstore featuring books about
                  Rural and Small Town Life
and the History, Heritage and Humor of Scandinavian-Americans

   Books by "Those Lutheran Ladies"

Caragana Press Books and Tapes

Caragana Press is a kitchen table operation owned and run by Suzann Nelson and Janet Martin where coffee breaks are ongoing, uniforms are flannel nightgowns, and wages are dirt "sheep." Hours are 23/7, with one hour off for Sunday Services.  Benefits are not discussed because being 100% Norwegian-Lutheran Farm Girls is enough.  Shoes and snakes at the worksite are forbidden.

You Know You Are Lutheran If... You Know You are Lutheran If...   by Suzann Nelson & Janet Martin

This book, boldly emblazoned with a picture of Martin Luther smack-dab on the front cover, is divided into 10 categories so it has something for almost everyone...Steadfast Lutherans, Contemporary Lutherans, Scandinavian Lutherans, Country Church Lutherans, Lutheran Church Basement Women, etc.

A great gift idea for Lutherans of all types, (ALC, ELC, LFC, LCA, LCMS, AFLC, ELCA...) and for non-lutherans who are trying to figure out their uiet and decent non-dancing, hotdish-eating neighbors.

CA 2 - 17     Paperback     $8.95

Growing Up Lutheran
Growing Up Lutheran: What Does This Mean?  by Suzann Nelson & Janet Martin

Still a bestseller, this is a cradle-to-grave humorous look at Lutherans in the '50s, especially those who were triply blessed by being rural and Scandinavian as well as Lutheran.

Winner of the 1998 Minnesota Book Award for Humor and the Minnesota Independent Publishers' Award! Check out Those Lutheran Ladies.

CA 2 - 06     Paperback     $14.95

Luther's Small DictionaryLuther's Small Dictionary: From AAL to Zululand    by Suzann Nelson & Janet Martin

This is written for full-blooded Lutherans, halfhearted Lutherans, Lutheran Wannabes and non-Lutherans who get dragged to the St. Olaf Christmas Concert and don't know why. It contains entries such as, "Zacchaeus -- a New Testament figure who, like many a Lutheran woman, was up a tree because company was coming to visit" and "Dust -- the origin of mankind, and the downfall of Lutheran women."

CA 2 - 07     Paperback     $9.95

Just how much Scrap Lumber does a Man need to Save?

Just How Much Scrap Lumber does a Man need to Save?   by Suzann Nelson & Janet Martin

This book, perfect for the men in your life, traces the history of scrap lumber to the cavemen and Noah right up to Martha Stewart, President Bush, Stephen King, Ralph Lauren and Sally Jesse Raphael. If you really want to make a statement, top it off with a Scrap Lumber King cap or the t-shirt.

CA 2 - 15     Paperback     $10.95

Cream Peas on toast
Cream Peas on Toast    by Suzann Nelson & Janet Martin

Subtitled "Comfort Food for Norwegian-Lutheran Farm Kids and Others," this book, although not a cookbook, is ideal for anyone who has ever eaten white food on a white plate in a white house.  The authors are quick to point out that they would "rather eat food than write about it," so they have dished up another serving of humorous rural memories topped with lots of black and white pictures. Nora Nord -- avid summer canner, winter reader and napkin collector -- quoted on the back cover sums it up best: "So good you almost laugh out loud!"

CA 2 - 01     Paperback     $10.95      NOW $6.00

Is It Too Windy Back There, Then?  by Suzann Nelson & Janet Martin

This is a collection of phrases many of us don't hear much anymore.  Things like "Mom, can I drive home from the mailbox?" or "Sure thought he'd make it through Christmas!" and "It doesn't smell spoiled!"  (The implication: "So just eat it and quit whining!")

CA 2 - 04  Paperback  $8.95   NOW $4.00

They Glorified Mary, We Glorified Rice They Glorified Mary, We Glorified Rice  by Suzann Nelson & Janet Martin

A Catholic-Lutheran lexicon for those who have forgotten what it was like in the 50's.  This little book is packed with great one-liners such as, "They had incense; we had Air Wick" and "They had patron saints; we pretty much fended for ourselves!"

CA 2 - 02  Paperback  $7.95

They Had Stores, We Had Chores  by Suzann Nelson & Janet Martin

This lexicon compares and contrasts the daily lives of town kids and farm kids in the 50's, and is rich with one-liners such as, "They had barber shops; we had Moms with bowls and wicked clippers," and "They had goldfish in a bowl; we had suckers in the stocktank"! 

CA 2 - 03  Paperback    $8.95      Now $4.00       


Uffda, But Those Clip-ons Hurt, Then!Uffda, But Those Clip-ons Hurt, Then!     by Suzann Nelson & Janet Martin

A booklet of cartoon drawings based on Norway's most famous artist, Edvard Munch, and his sketch of "The Scream."  We figure it never caught on among our people in the New Land because it is about mental anguish and we, the Scandinavian-Americans, don't have mental problems.  We just say, "Oh, snap outta it!"

CA 2 - 05  Paperback  $4.95    NOW $2.50

This deal is best when urchased with other items, or the postage will cost more than the book.

Performances by "Those Lutheran Ladies"

Those Lutheran Ladies: Live at Medora

Just when we think everyone in the U.S. and Canada must already have eight or nine copies of this 20-minute humor tape, we get more orders for it!  No, we aren't complaining, and no, it isn't music, and we don't sing or play instruments — at least not in public. But now, in response to requests, it is again available in both cassette and CD formats.

"Those Lutheran Ladies" are, of course, Janet Letnes Martin and me, Suzann Nelson.  Yup, I guess we are still funny, but perhaps not as peppy as we were in 1998.  Go to 'Those Lutheran Ladies'.    Recorded live in 1998 at the Medora Musical (held each summer in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park), this humorous tape, about growing up on farms in quiet Norwegian-Lutheran communities in the 50s in the Midwest, is perhaps tied in popularity with our book, Growing Up Lutheran.

                   Medora CD
                     CA2 - 10      $7.95 CD   format  

Growing Up LutheranGrowing Up Lutheran Sound Version   (Audiobook in CD format)

Read by authors Suzann Nelson & Janet Martin, & a few select friends

Authors Nelson & Martin read an abridged version of their bestselling book, Growing Up Lutheran, in their natural Norwegian-American brogues.  Chapters are introduced with excerpts from familiar Lutheran hymns. In other words, there are no hymns from the green hymnal or With One Voice.  Truckers can shoot right across Kansas or Montana when they listen to this, and people in the hospital can shoot right through the day...unless they have had stitches.  In the case of stitches, the authors recommend the book version.  Why get sewn up again? The doctor has better things to do with his time, like finding a cure for hot flashes.

Additional readers, also with great natural Norwegian-American brogues, add interest and humor in several chapters. Thanks to friends Ron Nelson, Miriam Nelson, Dr. Stephen "Gabe" Gabrielson, Olaf Bakke and Randy Johnson. Vocals are by Ron Nelson, and organ music is provided by "Gabe" Gabrielson, aka "Ole himself, then!"

NOTE: This is not a DVD or video.  It is an audio-book reading on three compact discs (CDs); three hours (180 minutes).

AB - 01     $19.95

Jiggle Your Jell-O DVDJiggle Your Jell-O DVD   Featuring "Those Lutheran Ladies," David Cook and Greta Grosch.

Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson, commonly known as "Those Lutheran Ladies," have adopted new personas for this crazy DVD.  Watch them portray Myrtle Klemetson and Ethel Urness, Emil's Mrs. — the ladies just down the road apiece — as they try to understand the younger generation and attempt to please their children by "working out."

To these two women the phrase, "working out," means being a hired hand on a farm, or working at the nursing home in town. Myrtle and Emil's Mrs. just don't get it, but they try! Like typical Norwegian-American women of a former era, Myrtle and Ethel don't have time to fool around exercising. They get plenty of that by just existing: dusting everything in sight both inside and out, "putting up," serving at funerals, rolling lefse, cleaning the church, and feeding the menfolk's bottomless pits. 

If you need a good laugh, or know someone who does, this DVD will handle the situation.  If you want to give a total "Jiggle Your Jell-O" Gift Package, add the T-shirt.

CA 9 - 03    DVD     $14.95 Now $10.00

Jewelry Designed by "Those Lutheran Ladies"


This exclusive sterling silver charm bracelet and the necklace are reminiscent of your high school days, but with a lot more class!  The bracelet and necklace were designed by Suzann Nelson and Janet Martin,  Those Lutheran Ladies (midwestern authors, humorists and performers), and sold exclusively by them.

Rural Charm Bracelet
Nostalgic Rural Charm Bracelet
Sterling Silver, 7 inches

JE - 01    $59.95

Charms are: 
a great tractor, most likely a '53 WD Allis -- wide front end with fenders and a hitch,  a majestic barn complete with a double-door hayloft,  an outhouse with a half-moon in the door -- shelter for the Sears Roebuck catalog, a windmill with blades that really turn, a charming farm house -- vintage 1910 but frequently remodeled, and a pickup truck -- maybe a '53 Dodge.

JE - Ext    Bracelet Extension   $2.50

Bracelet                                                         Necklace
Luther's Rose Pendant

This beautiful sterling silver pendant of Luther's rose and 24" chain make a perfect gift for your favorite Lutheran, from a new confirmand to a great-grandmother. The pendant is imprinted on both sides so there is no problem with it flipping over when you are bending down to pick up dropped church bulletins. The quality and size of the links in the chain are particularly nice--petite, yet strong, and the length of the chain allows you to just pull it over your head unless you are still sporting a foot-tall 1960s "beehive" plastered down with AquaNet.

JE-03    Luther's Rose Pendant    $22.95

Cloth Stuff Designed by "Those Lutheran Ladies"

Whether you're drying dishes in a steamy church basement after the Lutefisk Supper or just plain steaming from the inside out after a certain age, Caragana has a practical product (a bleachable dishtowel or a hotflash hanky) designed to help you maintain your cool.

And speaking of practical, how about a sturdy apron in "new" hymnal red.  Good for men and women of all sizes, the straps are adjustable unlike those on some modern garments. Eight of these aprons hanging in your church basement kitchen are just the incentive the men will need to help serve up that slippery lutefisk. Of course, for normal events we have normal T-shirts with abnormal slogans.

Jiggle Your Jell-O T-shirt
Jiggle Your Jell-O T-shirt

This new T-shirt is great for the Jell-O fanatic in your family. It also has a peace-keeping function: If you are a Jell-O Norwegian-Lutheran family hosting a Catholic family that hasn't quite adopted the changes proposed by the Pope following the Second Vatican Council which convened in 1962 and you feel you better serve fish (even though it isn't even Christmas so you can't offer up your favorite, lutefisk), have the kids go down to the river and catch some "Sunnies" and pan-fry them in lard. Sunfish are hardly bigger than minnows on steroids so make sure the kids catch a lot. Top off this multi-ethnic meal by serving Jell-O for dessert.  Just remember:  When serving fish, the Jell-O should be green — just like the bowl on this T-shirt.  See also our Jiggle Your Jell-O Mousepad and Jiggle Your Jell-O DVD.

CA 9-01   Navy T-shirt  S, M, L, XL    $16.00     Now $8.50      
CA 9-02   Navy T-shirt XXL, XXXL     $18.00     Now $8.50      

"Confirmed Lutheran" T-shirt

Above Martin Luther's Seal it says, "This is Most Certainly True" and below it the shirt is stamped just like a passport saying, "Confirmed Lutheran!" Good for today's confirmands as well as for those who "read for the minister" when memory work really mattered and "Public Questioning" or catechization was enough to make Lutheran boys' voices squeak in public.  Designed by Suzann Nelson and Janet Martin, Those Lutheran Ladies.

Available in Reformation Red.

CA 2-11a Red T-shirt  S,  M,  L, XL  -   $16.00

CA 2-11b Red T-shirt  XXL, XXXL  -  $18.00

Scrap Lumber Cap

Scrap Lumber King Cap

Norwegian Lutheran men, never known for their verbosity, can now make a public statement without saying a word! These caps are great for those quiet men in your life who save scrap lumber so they won't have to spend good money on new lumber, yet they spend money like flies plastered on a screen door in August when they see a new cap they don't yet own. These caps are so comfortable that some men, and not just Norwegian bachelor farmers, have been known to keep them on inside the local VFW. Don't forget to get the book that started this fashion trend, Just How Much Scrap Lumber Does A Man Need to Save?

The khaki cap is the same sandy color as the tan Scrap Lumber T-shirt. The brim is denim blue, and the strap in back is leather and fully adjustable.  Designed by Suzann Nelson and Janet Martin,  Those Lutheran Ladies.

CA 2-16     CAP     $16.00

Scrap Lumber T-shirt

A sketch of a happy, busy man looking over his scrap lumber pile and the saying, "Just How Much Scrap Lumber Does a Man Need to Save?," from the book of the same name, fill the front of this t-shirt. It has been suggested that a warning label belongs with this item because a man from Minnesota who wore the shirt to a tractor show in South Dakota almost had it ripped off his back by a woman who found the t-shirt more enticing than the old tractors.

Designed by Suzann Nelson and Janet Martin,  Those Lutheran Ladies

CA 2-14c   Tan T-shirt M, L, XL - $16.00
CA 2-14d   Tan T-shirt XXL, XXXL - $18.00

This Bag is not a Toy T-shirt "This Bag is not a Toy" T-shirt

Sure we played with sticks and rocks, but plastic bags??  Are you sick of dumb warning labels?  Stuff like warning infants who take cough medicine not to operate machinery, or people standing in the shower (under running water) not to operate a hair dryer.  Time to make a statement?  Then it's time to wear this new red T-shirt. In other words, "Hands Off!  Don't mess with me."  Designed by Suzann Nelson and Janet Martin

CA 2 - 19a   T-shirt   M, L   $16.00             Now $8.50       
CA 2 - 19b   T-shirt XXL, XXXL   $18.00     Now $8.50    

"Those Lutheran Ladies"

Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann (Johnson) Nelson
Minnesota-based Humorists and Authors

These two 100 percent Norwegian-Lutheran farm girls present programs -- together or individually -- for churches, civic organizations, farm associations, festivals, Sons of Norway lodges, and any other group they think sounds decent.  After performing for three weeks at the Medora Musical in 1998, their popularity moved beyond the Upper Midwest and now they entertain from Washington DC on the East Coast to Washington State on the West Coast. When they perform together they are known as Those Lutheran Ladies. Performances by these middle-aged women are heartwarming and nostalgic but also very, very funny. The basic theme in their programs is that of growing up Scandinavian-Lutheran in Midwestern farming communities in the '50s. This same theme is carried out in the nine books they have co-authored and published.

Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson met at Augsburg College during Freshman Week of 1964, two farm girls transplanted into the heart of Sin City to attend a Norwegian-Lutheran College. They found themselves surrounded by hippies and heathens, pizza parlors and neon lights, and all sorts of riffraff.

Until they moved away to college the only noises interrupting their peaceful and tranquil lives were church bells once a week, combines during harvest, roosters crowing way too early in the morning, the noon whistle from town and the nightly whistle of the Great Northern speeding through town. Martin is a native of Hillsboro, ND and Nelson grew up at Evansville, MN. They both attended Our Savior's Lutheran Church in different states.
Both had grown up in quiet Norwegian-Lutheran communities feasting on wholesome, bulky white foods: Cream and Bread, Cream Peas on Toast, Glorified Rice, and lutefisk, lefse, rømmegrøt, potet klubb, and anything made with their favorite ingredient, lard!

At first they had a hard time finding these foods at college but once they did, they discovered that these white, bulky foods were good bonding agents and they have been friends ever since. Whenever they get together a Those Lutheran Ladiescoffee pot and computer are close by, and they have lots of ideas for more books and products "in the hopper."

In 1998 they were awarded the Minnesota Book Award for Humor and an independent publishers' award for "Growing Up Lutheran."  A musical comedy, Church Basement Ladies, based on this book opened in the Twin Cities September, 2005 and ran through December, 2006.

Martin and Nelson plan to continue writing books, designing more humorous products, and performing until lumbago sets in and their daughters say, "Enough's enough, then!" and put them in a home.

Suzann (Johnson) Nelson and Janet Letnes Martin Receive Prestigious 'Gold Pen Award'

Attention Sons of Norway members:  Check out the August 2007 issue of Viking Magazine for a feature article on 'Those Lutheran Ladies'.  On the magazine cover are two confirmands and the girl with the stars coming out of her stomach is Suzann Nelson, co-author of many books and owner of this web site.

Speaking Information
For many years Suzann and Janet have given programs individually and together. When performing together they are known as  'Those Lutheran Ladies."  For the time being, Suzann is taking a moratorium from speaking engagements and program performances. Janet, however, continues to travel throughout the states giving humorous programs based on growing up Norwegian Lutheran on a farm in the MidwestTo obtain information about booking Janet for a program, phone her at 651-437-3179.

Order by using the 'Place an Order' form or you may order by phone (800 494-9124).  For payment and shipping charges, see 'Place an Order.'

All Caragana Press products are available at wholesale prices to qualified retailers, organizations, churches, schools, and libraries.  Call 800 494-9124 for details.