Our Neighbors...Hiding out with Faye HenaginNot many people have their family name in the Urban Dictionary, a web-based dictionary of slang words and phrases mostly provided by readers. Faye Henagin does.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Not many people have their family name in the Urban Dictionary, a web-based dictionary of slang words and phrases mostly provided by readers.
Faye Henagin does.
In the Urban Dictionary, “Henagin” is defined verbatim as “the massively, enormous family native to central minnesota. generally related to everyone some way or another. product of one ancester having a hundred dayum kids. Of Irish descent.
Holy shenanigans, that girl is a Henagin, Watch out for her family, man!”
Although she isn’t certain, Henagin figures there’s a good chance that definition was written about her family. After all, the unusual spelling is the same. They lived in central-ish Minnesota. As well, Henagin was the youngest of 17 children born to Ken and Angeline Henagin.
The Henagin family lived on a farm about 15 miles from Camp Ripley, near Hillman, Minn.
“Brainerd and St. Cloud to the north and south and Little Falls and Onamia to the east and west,” Henagin said.
“Mom called it ‘God’s country,’” Henagin said. “Route 4, Hillman.”
She figures her mother was pregnant for 12 years and 7 ½ months in a 22-year span.
Only one baby, Joseph Gerard Henagin, never made it home from the hospital. Two other kids, Danny and Becky, died while both were in their teenage years in separate car accidents. The closest thing the Henagins had to twins were two sisters born on May 4, six years apart.
They weren’t the only big family in the area.
“One family up the road had 15 kids; another had 13 and another family had 11,” Henagin said with a chuckle. “The Rickes on the hill had nine. Dad always said they couldn’t hit double digits because they were Lutheran.”
Yes, she affirms, the Henagins were Catholic. Angeline was the head cook at the church, Holy Family in Hillman.
They were also tough, proud and incredibly hard-working farmers, raising dairy cows and pigs and whatever else on the central Minnesota farm. A family photo taken in 1975 shows the Henagin family “less one” – a brother was away in the military – standing on four steps of a church. The kids are dressed mostly in plaid; Faye was just a baby in the arms of an older sister in the back right corner of the photo.
Family reunions – held on Grandpa’s farm the first full weekend in August each summer – are massive.
Henagin tells how her mother would not accept help from the county except in the two winter months when “it was a choice between feeding the kids and feeding the animals.”
“That was the only time she would accept any food stamps,” Henagin said. “But she would drive all the way to St. Cloud to use them. If they sent them to her the third month, she would drive them right back [to the county].”
Henagin can hold her own with people twice her age when they start talking about how tough it was “in the old days.”
“I grew up in a one-bedroom farmhouse,” Henagin said. “We got a bathroom [instead of an outhouse] when I was in first grade. That was 1980. ”
Keep in mind that Faye was the youngest – there’s a 22-year span between her and her oldest brother – that’s a lot of years and a lot of kids going to the outhouse.
The bedroom took up the entire top floor of the house.
“It was just a bunch of double beds with big heavy polyester and blue jean quilts and no heat,” Henagin said, adding there was a wood stove on the first floor of the house. “And we had open shelves – like in a library – for our clothes that we could turn depending on whether there were more boys or girls in the house that year.”
The family garden was enormous, bigger even than the hayfield out back. Henagin said the kids would each get a 50-cent piece for the church bazaar in July if they weeded the entire garden twice.
Although they lived closer to Pierz, the kids all went to school in Onamia, because they were just over the school district border.
Faye Henagin started working outside the home when she was just 12 years old. She was supposed to be a dishwasher at a local resort where some of her sisters worked, but it got so busy her first weekend there that they put her out on the restaurant floor as a waitress.
Since then, she’s been bartender, waitress, chef, store manager, National Guard soldier, clerk, caterer and mother of three.
Henagin landed in Cloquet about 13 years ago. She’d come up to visit her sister, Vicky, who worked for the Fond du Lac Head Start program here. Her sister, Sheri, lives here now, too, and works at Sunnyside Health Care Center. Then pregnant with child No. 2 – Jolisa (now13) – Henagin said she applied for a job at the dollar store that was just opening and when she got it, she decided to stay.
She’s still raising her kids here: Kenny, 16, Jolisa, 13, and Jerome, 10.
And now she owns her own restaurant – named Henagin’s Hideout – which is in its second incarnation, after it and Southgate Bowl were torn down last summer to make way for a new Walgreen’s store. She’s working hard again, but that’s fine with her.
The reborn Henagin’s Hideout is located at 1711 Highway 210, in the building that housed the Junction Oasis until that longtime local restaurant closed at the end of October last year.
“I’ve always worked multiple jobs, even before I had kids,” Henagin said, rattling off the places she’s worked, from Park Lake to Spirits to Trapper Pete’s and Customer Link in Duluth. In between she went back to school and got two associate’s degrees from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, both in business.
Although Faye Henagin had nothing to do with the Junction Oasis closing – that was an owner decision – the timing was extremely fortuitous for the single mother, who had been trying to find a new location for her restaurant since the previous spring.
“We’d waited six months, I was getting very close to the point where I was going to sell my equipment,” she said, referring to the walk-in ’fridges and freezers, tables and chairs, pizza oven and other restaurant equipment she’d had in storage since the bowling alley and adjoining restaurant were torn down.
She’d been looking all over northern Carlton County to that point. She’d thought about putting a restaurant between Super One and the hockey shelter, in downtown Cloquet, even out at the old Kolar Chevrolet (before it flooded – good thing that fell through). Everything was either too expensive to remodel or purchase or simply fell through for other reasons.
“Then ICO [which owns the building that houses both the restaurant and service station on Highway 210] emailed me to say that the Piersons had given a 30-day notice,” Henagin said, telling how she lucked into the new site. “I nearly deleted the email.”
For various reasons, it took closer to four weeks to reopen the restaurant than the two weeks she’d originally planned, but she took the sheets off the windows and Henagin’s Hideout opened for business Nov. 26 in its new location.
“It needed some updates,” she said. “But I had pretty much everything, so it all worked out in the end.”
She also had a lot of help.
“It was 100 percent a group effort,” Henagin said. “One day I had over 30 people here … taking wallpaper off the walls, cleaning the kitchen, coating wood, putting down tile. People were scattered all over. I’m not really an emotional person, but it was a little overwhelming.”
The décor is pure Henagin.
Just like at the previous restaurant, high school sports jerseys adorn the walls, some bearing the name Henagin on the back. Others, like the White Bear Lake jersey, came from total strangers.
Like the restaurant owner, there are many stories to go with those garments.
The White Bear Lake jersey came from a team that ate at Henagin’s Hideout the second week it was opened. After she told some of the parents that she was hoping to decorate the restaurant with jerseys from around the state, they gifted her with a jersey – signed by the entire team.
Then there’s the checkered cheerleading skirt – complete with bloomers – hanging in a different corner. It came from some old neighbors in Onamia. Of course, there’s an Onamia jersey, Faye’s alma mater, that belonged to her brother Eddie who graduated in 1990, and of course the teams and car she has sponsored locally.
She’s added Barnum basketball and Floodwood track since she changed locations.
Out in the front room there’s a big American flag and two military shirts – one belonged to Faye, the other belongs to her nephew, Danny, who went to Iraq and Kuwait with the Cloquet-based Crazy Troop. Danny works at the restaurant now.
So far business has been good. It’ll get even better, she predicts, as the menu increases and she gets more equipment installed. But it’s steady already.
Henagin’s Hideout basically has three streams of customers: longtime Junction Oasis patrons, fans of Faye or her cooking (or the Henagin family) and those who simple happen by.
Whether it’s folks she knew growing up or people who got to know her at Park Lake, it seems like people do find Henagin eventually, even when they don’t know they’re looking for her.
She tells how Jason Crotty, a neighbor from back home, walked into Spirits when she was working there and told the waitress: “There’s a Henagin laughing in your kitchen,” he said to her.
“Well, she didn’t know what he was talking about,” Henagin said, noting that the woman thought the man was talking nonsense at first. “She didn’t even know my last name; she just knew me as Faye.”
Crotty, however, didn’t know her first name. He just knew she was from that crazy huge family in central Minnesota.
“Back home I’m just another Henagin,” she said. “Up here I’m somebody. I’m Faye.”