The Irish-Norwegian Connection
Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on January 30, 2010
This photo of Clarence and Hellen Gallagher in their grocery at 231 S. Fair Oaks Ave. appeared in the Capital Times of Friday, Dec 17, 1965 under the headline, “Lutefisk, the Irish Variety, Will Soon Pass From Madison Scene.”
Frank Custer of the Capital Times staff wrote that “the irish outlet for the Norwegian delicacy, lutefisk, on Madison’s East Side is going out of business. Clarnece W. Gallagher, who is known as ‘Stub’ to his friends, will close his shop by the end of the year.”
The business was established in 1914 by his father, R.D. Gallagher. Clarence worked for his father from the time he was 14, starting in 1914, when the store was located at 2935 Atwood Avenue*. In 1919 R.D. sold the business to Clement and McCutcheon. In 1921, R.D. returned to the grocery business with a new store at the Fair Oaks Avenue address.
During the interim, according to Custer’s article, young Clarence found work at the U.S. Sugar Company factory. “I was paid 25 cents a ton to shovel coal from a railroad car onto a pile on the side of the tracks… we would work the whole morning, earning $4.25 each, and then be through for the day.” The coal was used to cook up tons upon tons of sugar beets brought to the plant for refining into sugar.
Clarence met his wife, the former Helen Steele, while she was employed at the restaurant in the Fair Oaks Hotel at the corner of Fair Oaks and Atwood Avenue, across from his father’s grocery.
Photos and information courtesy of Charlene Brickson Hill of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Charlene is the niece of Hellen Gallagher.
*Atwood Avenue addresses were later renumbered, so this is no longer the correct street number for that store.