East Side History Madison’s Blog

By and for the East Side History Club, a project of the Goodman Community Center

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.

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One Response to “The Irish-Norwegian Connection”

  1. Cheryl (Cullen) Schuelke said

    My grandparents bought groceries from Stub’s until the day the store closed. They had cookie bins when I was little. Stub gave each child his or her choice of one free cookie. The bins were at kid height. What fun it was to peer in each glass window the next always better than the last. Stub would let me go in back to watch him do bills and take my Grampa’s receipt out front to him. My grandfather
    charged groceries all month and paid his bill in full at the end of each month.
    No credit cards, just trust. Stub carried people who could not pay, trusting they would pay when they could. They never let him down.

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