MOORHEAD — If there's ever a kitchen in town where a dish is never allowed to air dry, it just might be at the north Moorhead home of Harold and Sally Horpedahl.
In their home, the couple has worked together to produce more than 2,000 hand-painted flour sack dish towels that are now being sold to benefit the WDAY Honor Flight project.
Harold, 87, a Korean war veteran, flew with the WDAY Honor Flight in October of 2016 where he says a visit to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial was his favorite stop. All Honor Flight veterans take the trip to Washington D.C. free of charge and are never asked or expected to donate in return, but the Horpedahls' daughter Diane Murr says it's something the family wanted to do.
"I think it was just their way of giving back after Dad took the trip," Murr says. "They can't necessarily give a lot of money, but they can offer Mama's towels."
The towel-making started not long after Sally, now 83, suffered two strokes in 2002, the last of which left her with limited speech and nearly paralyzed the right side of her body. It proved to be a huge obstacle for the right-handed grandmother of nine as she attempted to keep making afghans and quilts for her loved ones.
"There's nothing Mama couldn't do — crocheting, knitting, sewing. But after the stroke it just became too difficult," Murr says.
Murr says that's when her mother's friend Lilly came over with some flour sack towels, fabric markers and an embroidery hoop encouraging her crafty friend to "give it a try."
Sally took to the craft like a fish to water, learning how to use her left hand to make quick strokes of the fabric marker on the cloth. Most of the dish towels take just a couple of hours to make, but Sally's No. 1 fan Harold is quick to point out her handiwork on an elaborate framed print of a peacock hanging on the wall.
"Isn't it pretty?" he asks as Sally looks at him and smiles. "It probably took her about four days to make that one."
Harold has a part in the crafting as well. After Murr purchases the flour sack towels, patterns and markers, Harold irons the patterns onto the cloth and gives them to his wife to finish.
"I never ironed a day in my life before this," he laughs. "I didn't do anything in the house. I liked woodworking."
But now the Horpedahls spend many hours a week working on the towels whose designs vary from patriotic to inspirational to funny — "If you want breakfast in bed, sleep in the kitchen."
Murr says they've given the towels to charities, like Honor Flight, to use for fundraising. Other times they just give them to anyone in their path.
"Doctors, nurses, cardio rehab, pulmonary rehab, dentists — I think they've given towels to all of them," Murr says. "I'm not sure about the mailman, yet."
Harold says his reasons are very simple for continuing to work on towel after towel, day after day while still serving as a caretaker for his wife of 62 years.
"It gives her something to do," he says. "That's important."
For more information:
The Horpedahl's towels sell for $5 a piece. All profits go to the WDAY Honor Flight.
If you'd like to purchase a towel, contact David Brunsvold at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Towels are also for sale where other Honor Flight merchandise is sold, including the FM Crusaders Bike Show on March 18 and the Toppers Car Show on April 1.