‘The Golden Girls’: 5 of Rose’s Best St. Olaf Stories

The Golden Girls character Rose Nylund (Betty White) is considered the show’s sweetheart. The kind-hearted yet naive Rose would do anything for her friends except stop talking about St. Olaf. For seven seasons, Rose entertained audiences with outrageous tales from her hometown. There were plenty of humorous St. Olaf stories, but these five are the best.

'The Golden Girls' actors Estelle Getty, Betty White, and Bea Arthur; wearing nightgowns and sitting in the kitchen.
Estelle Getty, Betty White, and Bea Arthur I ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

‘The Golden Girls’ Rose Nylund’s great herring war story saved the roommates’ friendship

Rose’s roommates often became annoyed with her St. Olaf stories on The Golden Girls. However, one of her tales helped repair their friendship. In the Season 1 finale, Rose, Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur), and Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan) recall moving in together.

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Flashback scenes show tension brewing in the household following a disastrous trip to the supermarket. The girls wonder if moving in together was a mistake, which leads to Rose talking about The Great Herring War between the Lindstroms and the Johanssons. Dorothy and Blanche break into fits of laughter when Rose explains how her family wanted to train the herring for a circus.

After having fun listening to Rose’s story, the roommates decide to give their living arrangement another shot and celebrate with cheesecake. Many fans consider this one of Rose’s best St. Olaf stories. As one Reddit user wrote, “The Great Herring War is my favorite. Watching Rue and Bea dissolve into laughter while Betty keeps a straight face is such a delight!”

Her brush with sexual harassment

The Golden Girls tackled many issues throughout its seven-season run. In Season 1, the writers delve into the topic of sexual harassment when Blanche’s college professor offers her a passing grade if she sleeps with him. Torn over what to do, Rose opens up about her brush with sexual harassment back in St. Olaf.

Rose explains that Nils Felander, a soda jerk at Lars Erikson’s Drug Store and Tackle Shop, attempted to harass her. Whenever Rose ordered a sundae, Nils would arrange the ice cream obscenely. However, Rose could never prove it to anybody because the evidence would melt.

Advice to Mean Old Lady Hickenlooper

Rose’s stories feature plenty of funny characters, one of which is Mean Old Lady Hickenlooper. Rose would pass by Hickenlooper’s house as a child, and the older woman would always have a scowl on her face. One day Rose finally got the courage to walk up to Hickenlooper’s porch and ask why she was in a bad mood.

Rose discovered the woman was born without any smiling muscles. But she told Hickenlooper that a smile is a frown turned upside down. Hickenlooper took Rose’s advice, and from that day on, the old lady would stand on her head and wave every time Rose walked by.

Plastic surgery almost ruined the town

Blanche’s looks are everything to her and at one time contemplated plastic surgery. Rose was against the idea and used a St. Olaf story to explain why it was a bad idea. Rose recalls the life of Olga Fetchik, the town’s only beautician. Olga was an ugly duckling who saved her money to get plastic surgery.

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After Olga’s procedure, she became a beautiful woman and attracted the attention of Adolph Step. Olga and Adolph married then left town to pursue a new career as a dance team. During Olga’s absence, St. Olaf was without a beautician, which meant women had to do their own hair. The results were disastrous, with many men being turned off by their wives, and the population began to decline, almost destroying St. Olaf.

‘The Golden Girls’ Rose Nylund lost the Butter Queen title

Rose and her pals miss out on the chance to meet Burt Reynolds when they’re arrested for prostitution. While in the jail cell, Rose recalls another of the worst nights in her life. Rose breaks out into the story of how she lost Butter Queen, the town’s highest honor.

She was in a world of her own, as she explained, losing in the butter churning round. Although Dorothy and Blanche didn’t care for Rose’s story, the other cellmates were intrigued and sympathized with Rose.