“Those Lutheran Ladies” ™2022-10-31T22:34:12+00:00

Books and products by “Those Lutheran Ladies”


Caragana Press Books and Tapes

Caragana Press was a kitchen table operation owned and run by Suzann Nelson and Janet Martin where coffee breaks were ongoing, uniforms were flannel nightgowns, and wages are (still) dirt “sheep.” Hours were 24/7, with one hour off for Sunday Services. Benefits were not discussed because being 100% Norwegian-Lutheran Farm Girls was enough. Shoes and snakes at the worksite were forbidden.


  • by Suzann Nelson & Janet Martin Paperback 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. ... more

  • Sale!

    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!") ... more

  • 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!" ... more

  • Sale!

    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"! ... ... more

  • Sale!

    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, ... ... more

  • Sale!

    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 ... ... more


  • 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' ... ... more

  • 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 ... ... more


“Those Lutheran Ladies”


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

Back in their heyday, these two 100 percent Norwegian-Lutheran farm girls presented 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 they entertained from Washington DC on the East Coast to Washington State on the West Coast. When they performed together they were known as Those Lutheran Ladies. Performances by these women were heartwarming and nostalgic but also very, very funny. The basic theme in their programs wass that of growing up Scandinavian-Lutheran in Midwestern farming communities in the ’50s. This same theme is carried out in the ten 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!

suz_janet_pursesAt 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 got together a coffee pot and computer were close by, and they had 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 had planned to continue writing books, designing more humorous products, and performing until lumbago set in and their daughters would say, “Enough’s enough, then!” and would put them in a home. However, in true feisty fashion, Suzann left God’s green earth in March of 2021.

While we, Suzann’s daughters, stay in touch with Janet and her daughters, we will continue to relish in all the laughter and memories of previous musicals, as well as that of the newest Church Basement Ladies musical comedy which is currently running play #9 – “Plowin’Thru” at the Ames Center in Burnsville, MN.  A variety of earlier plays continue running on a national circuit.

Here is our message to you about our mom from March 2021:

It is with heavy hearts that we, Suzann’s daughters Senja and Siri, share the news that our mom passed away unexpectedly on March 14, 2021.  It is with gratitude towards you who are reading this that she had such a wide customer base and fan base, and in knowing this, we find comfort.

Since her passing, we have heard her described, repeatedly, as “witty, fierce, intelligent, hilarious, strong-willed, passionate, an advocate, and one-of-a-kind”.  Indeed, she was all of those things, and so much more.

Her obituary can be found here: https://www.grandrapidsmn.com/obituaries/suzann-bendetta-nelson-1946-2021/article_899d2a02-8698-11eb-898b-0795290b4cad.html , and yes – it is okay to laugh when you read it.  She would want the laughs.

We will continue to keep her website going for as long as she has inventory, and we will do our best to get your orders out to you in a timely manner.


Senja and Siri


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, still in spirit, owner of this website.