Harold “Solie” Erlandson
When I started this story, I
anticipated only a brief paragraph or two of each different period of years,
but as the memories return they almost tumble over one another and one leads
to another, and so on and on, making it difficult to leave anything out that
might be interesting or pertinent (or possibly revolting) to the reader. But
that judgment must remain with the reader.
I would not want anyone to take offense or be embarrassed by any
incident mentioned. It is to me
characteristic of all who have been my friends and family.
For my part I enjoy the task and it
becomes nearly an obsession to get it all right and factual with periods of
nostalgia, bits of humor and hilarity, as well as sorrow, and on an occasion a
feeling of self pity or bitterness. But
thinking back, I wouldn't mind going over the trail again. I am so grateful for having my family all these years and the
prompting, urging and encouragement of many people when they discovered my
plans for this story.
Finally, a special thanks to my dear
wife for sorting and preparing all my notes into a readable story that I hope
will be enjoyable. Again, thank
you, dear Ellen.
Dedicated to all the people who
have given me a wonderful life.
Nights at Lowry...................................................
Hobos and others....................................................
of E. O. Holen..................................................
is no way that my recollection of events of these years can be listed
chronologically because of my young age at that time, and this may also be
true of certain events of my later years as well.
However, most of these events, I am sure, happened after 1928 or when I
was three years old or older. Perhaps
the most obvious reason for recalling these memories and associating them with
those years is that during these particular years we lived on my grand- dad's
was born April 5, 1925, following Wally, Gert, Aggie, Gordy, and then me with
Georgie the youngest. Probably my
earliest memory is being held in my mother's arms, and that certainly was at a
very early age. My brother George
was born in 1927 and then she had a new child to hold and care for.
she would tell us bedtime stories of her and her sister Tina's life on their
claim (or homestead) in Berg, North Dakota.
Each claim holder had to build a shack on their claim and spend at
least six months each year for five years to "prove up" their claim
for homestead ownership. The
first winter my mother worked in a cafe at Watford City, North Dakota. The second winter she spent in Minot, North Dakota as a
seamstress. It was here that her
sister Tina became sick and died of rheumatic fever in 1912 in my mother's
spoke of the wild steers and coyotes and how afraid she and Tina sometimes
were. One of their neighbors, who
lived all year on his homestead, went to town and returned across the Little
Missouri River where his horses drowned when they and the sled broke through
the ice. Ma's exact words were
"the treacherous Missouri."
area of North Dakota was where oil was discovered in the 1950's. Whether or not it was where Ma's claim was, I do not know.
I would rather not know because then one starts wishing and wondering
what might have been! Gordy has visited the Berg country of McKenzie County and has
added to my story. Berg wasn't a
town--only a post office. Also,
there was no oil discovered on Ma's or Tina's claim, but a couple of producing
wells were found on Inga (Gryte) Fredericks homestead about three or four
miles east of Ma's claim. (Inga
was a sister-in-law of my dad's sister Jennie.
Jennie was in Watford City at the same time as Ma before she married
Ted Gryte, who died in the flu epidemic of 1918.
The Grytes were always friends of my mother.)
then returned to Lowry, relinquishing her claim, and understandably never
wanted to return. However, she
did have many friends and neighbors that she enjoyed: A. R. Anderson and C. R.
Anderson, who were brothers. My mother said that C. R. (Clarence) had to prod
his brother, A. R. (Alfred) into buying more food and fuel because he didn't
feel he was stocking up with enough supplies to care for his family. My mother knew these people at Lowry before they went to
North Dakota. According to Mrs.
Walter Hedlin (Mildred), who was the daughter of C. R. and Helga Anderson,
they returned in 1921. Mrs.
Hedlin was born there in McKenzie County, North Dakota. (My mother was
confirmed with Helga, who later married C. R. at Lowry.)
friends were the Obergs, who were extroverts in the true sense of the word! I
don't recall how many of the Obergs there were.
Adolph was one of the boys and Julia was a sister who married a
Mickelson. I don't know if the
Mickelsons were married before going to North Dakota or not, but Mr. Mickelson
left Julia very early in their marriage, according to my sisters. The Obergs
brought a sewing machine home from town that they had ordered and Adolph sat
by it in the buckboard trying to sew something all the way home.
I wonder if it survived the trip and if it still worked when they got
it home! The Obergs and
Andersons all came back to Lowry and were neighbors 4-5 miles northwest of
was midwife for Ma when I was born and she helped as a hired girl many times
at our home. There were six
children in our family and I for one was in mortal fear of Julia.
I can still picture her chasing my oldest brother Wally around the
kitchen table after some prank or other, and in those days punishment was a
certainty if not always so severe! My
sister Gert, like all of my siblings, has helped me recall, verify, and
correct some incidents. She said
that she and Aggie liked Julia Mickelson and got along quite favorably with
her. I suppose that because I was
so young, I feared everybody with authority.
my parents were married in 1914, they moved to Nashua, Montana to another
homestead. I still do not
understand what my mother's feelings about that were after her tragic North
Dakota experience. While there,
my oldest brother Wallace was born. My
mother came back to Lowry and stayed with her folks when Gertrude was born.
Agnes was born in Montana.
folks used to buy flour which came from the Lowry Roller Mills in Nashua and
the cost was less than in Lowry, which often happens in this day and age!
day my sister Gertrude stood on the table and fell against the window sill,
cutting her tongue. I suppose Pa
was in the field so Ma harnessed a horse to the buggy and with the children
drove to Nashua. The doctor was
there, but drunk. Not wanting to
have him touch her child in that condition, my mother took a pair of his
scissors and cut off the dangling bit of the tongue.
Gert's tongue healed just fine and she has never had a lisp or any
trouble with it in all of her years. I
cannot comprehend the strength of those pioneers!
spoke of another Montana family, the Hedines.
They, too, returned to Minnesota where one boy became a life-long
optometrist in Glenwood and his brother was a life-long jeweler in Alexandria.
My mother always admired how clean and white Mrs. Hedine's wash was on
the line, which was especially difficult to achieve in those days.
played in a small band they called the "Shamrock" band. I have a clipping advertising it in their local paper, most
likely a Glasgow paper, as I don't think that Nashua had a newspaper.
I also have an obituary notice from the Pope County (Minnesota) Tribune
from Glenwood of Mrs. Randy Brown. It
states that she was the first "white" person born in Nashua, Montana
Nashua homesteader and friends of my parents were the Adolph Nybakkens who
moved to Oregon or Washington. My
parents corresponded with these people all of their lives.
It must have been quite an exodus of people who gave up and returned to
former homes in Minnesota.
time, when Albert Schakosky visited us at Lowry, my dad asked him if he wanted
to buy dad's Montana farm to which he replied, "If I had a pocket full of
nickels, I wouldn't give you a single one for your farm!" As late as 1937, Pa could have kept his farm by paying the
back taxes of $700, and Pa still had that dream, but we children had no
romantic ties to Montana and Ma certainly wanted no part of it, so it went
back to the government. I believe
a John French owned it for years.
family moved back to Grand-dad Olaf's farm again in 1920 where Gordon, myself,
and George Jr. were born. The
times were not good and crops were bad so many left Montana, but the folks
over the years always kept in touch with their Montana friends.
The large Albert Schakosky family stayed there (former neighbors) and
occasionally came to Lowry to visit. Herbert
Bjorklund was a banker and stayed on as did Ole and Sophie Brenden. Sophie told me that she had helped care for Agnes.
The Loren Musgrove family moved to Washington.
The Oscar Dyrstad family moved back to farm near Glenwood.
The Arthur Ranum family moved back to farm near Starbuck. Evelyn Dyrstad said that she, too, used to care for my older
would break bronco horses for farmers for $1 apiece.
The farm was six miles north of Nashua near the Porcupine River. I
don't know how much livestock the folks brought from Montana but one was a
white bronco named "Dime." He
had developed an atrophy of the shoulder muscle and the "horse
doctor" suggested sewing a coin under the skin on the shoulder.
That horse survived that, the trip to Minnesota, and work until he died
in 1939. I remember cutting that
dime out of the lump on his shoulder after he died...I wonder what happened to
that dime. We never had a horse
that could outwork him and he lived for 23 years.
Oh the stamina of man and beast in those days!
some of my recollections of the 1920's...I remember the time my dad didn't
make his presence known and surprised a dozing horse which kicked him
shattering his kneecap. Young as
I was, I remember him making his way to the house using a fork and shovel for
crutches. I suppose Wally and Ma
did the milking and chores then for a time.
Occasionally, we would have hired help.
and his brother Henry used to like motorcycles in their younger days, and I
recall piles of old cycle parts laying in the scrap pile beyond the garage. My dad said many trips were spoiled by breakdowns and poor,
muddy roads. He said that once he
scared a horse so badly, by chasing it home from the pasture with a
motorcycle, that it died according to the veterinarian.
Often he didn't know when to ease up!
recall being so afraid of fire crackers.
I once took off down the road and my brother and sister finally got me
home again. We never were allowed
to go anywhere much and Georgie and I had a favorite and naughty trick. If we could not go to town with the family or wherever, we
used to say, "let's go lug," and we would take tools and things out
of the garage and drag them all over. Strange
that I don't recall ever having to find them and bring them back!
our grand-dad's farm, there was a big orchard.
That was a delight and real treat with all kinds of different
apples--early bearing Whitney crabs, to golden apples that kept all winter
long wrapped in paper in a tall wicker basket.
the time to fill the silo each year, Henry Brandt used to help us by coaxing
the machinery through the day. The
silo cutter was old and the tractor was a Titan.
One day Pa and Henry had to fix something in town and they returned
while we children were playing around the silo filler.
We raced down behind the granary and hid until they started filling
again so we could scoot for the house unnoticed.
We always said that no Marine Corps sergeant was ever tougher than
Henry. One yell out of him
subdued us for the year! (One of the reasons that I'm such an introvert, I'm
Olaf was now living in his large house in Lowry which also had room for other
renters. As we were now renting
the farm from him, he was out to the farm quite often.
We children loved it as he always had a bag of peppermints. I remember
that Ma always dreaded the extra meal preparation his visits meant, yet he
never seemed to notice.
farm always held a special place in my heart--maybe because I was born
there--but mainly because of all the good fun and enduring memories of the
place. Grand-dad had a brother
John that lived a mile away. He
used to walk over with his cane and visit.
I think he passed away before we moved.
Our neighbor on the west, Mr. Anton Berg, passed away at a young age
and his family had to move off the farm.
have to mention another place that we loved to visit and that was our Uncle
Henry's home in Ashby. He was my
dad's brother and his wife's name was Alice.
They had two children--Mildred, about my sister's age, and Winston, who
was Georgie's age. It was a big
event in our lives when every summer we would take the Model-T on that
perilous 50-mile journey once or twice. It
was fun for us kids and we may have even gotten an ice cream cone in some town
along the way. Uncle Henry worked
at the Ashby Creamery. Cousin
Mildred and husband Lennie are retired but still live on the farm near Dalton.
Cousin Winston and wife JoAnn are retired and live in Green Bay,
Wisconsin. They are our only
cousins on pa's side of the family that are still living.
can also remember Dr. Gibbon's funeral. He
died in 1930. His casket was just
inside the door of the clinic waiting room.
My dad lifted me up to see the doctor in his casket.
He was a very popular doctor in Lowry.
School District No. 7 was a mile and a half east of our place.
I probably was at a Christmas program or such there but I don't recall
it. My older brothers and sisters
speak fondly of it and have kept in touch all their lives with some of their
classmates. I don't know when the
school closed but perhaps it was about 1938 when it consolidated with other
districts. World War II made a
lot of changes for everyone. The
District 7 buildings were vacant for a few years, and used occasionally for
local meetings. I can't say when
it was bought by Ed and Myrtle Thompson and moved onto a farm that Ed owned
east of his dad's farm, the Knute Thompson
farm. Ed bought this farm from
his Uncle Hans Thompson. Ed did
all the work of wiring, plumbing, carpentry, etc., and made it into a lovely
home. Ed was very talented.
He and so many like him, with hardly an eighth grade country school
education, have built up this country. I really believe that!
other vague remembrances are a DeLaval milking machine that my mother hated
because of all the parts to wash. Also,
we had a battery-powered crystal radio set with ear phones. Very nearly worse than nothing!
of our place a mile and a half, was another little school called St. Olaf,
built and sponsored by the Lowry St. Pauli's Lutheran congregation for summer
parochial school and taught entirely in the Norwegian language (which soon
became English), and the children were taught in Lowry.
Being so far from Lowry, it stood vacant a few years and was bought by
Mr. and Mrs. Erland Erlandson and moved to his small farm east of his dad,
John's, farm. It served as their
house for several years, but now has been razed with the other buildings. This is its history:
records were kept and are still preserved of the many children and their
teachers who attended and taught the "Menighed Skolen" or
congregational school which was sponsored by the St. Pauli Lutheran Church of
Lowry. Often it was called by
different names such as "Vacation Bible School," or "Church
School," or "Parochial School," but to us who were too young to
go, it was always just "St. Olaf."
(I wonder if that name came from my grand-dad Olaf.)
school was organized in 1889 (the year my father was born) and its purpose was
to instill spiritual growth and faithfulness in future generations.
summer classes varied in length from two weeks to over two months but
generally were four weeks. Initially,
classes were held in the granaries of Thrond Stavem and Hans Bjokne south of
town, and in the hayloft of Ole Bjokne's barn west of town.
Later school was held west of town in the church when it was by the
cemetery, in the Lowry schoolhouse, and south of town in a building built on
the southeast corner of the Ole Slette farm, just diagonally across the road
from Bennie Bjokne's farm--the farm of his dad, Jorgen Bjokne.
Jorgen Bjokne and Jorgen Strandness plus other volunteers built the
little plain and bare schoolhouse which we called "St. Olaf."
sisters have told me of their long walks to school, of the cold and dampness
on rainy days and the heat of mid-summer days.
It was only a shell of a building with exposed studding and rafters.
The girls would pick the flowers that grew wild and in abundance during
recess. The boys would try to
catch gophers and all would play games. Syrup
and lard pails served as lunch buckets and the boys would carry drinking water
in a pail from Bennie Bjokne's with a common dipper used by all, yet no one
the language turned to English in 1925 because of the many non-Norwegians
1913, a Sunday school was organized and after 1920 when the church was moved
into Lowry, the Sunday school was reorganized.
My grand-dad Olaf was school superintendent for a long while until
Caroline Christenson took over and served as long as we children were there.
thought that my sisters were among the last pupils at St. Olaf but Gordy tells
me that he attended St. Olaf. He
was most likely in the last class as I was born in 1925, and the school was
closed before I was old enough to go.
I mentioned what became of the building itself.
For former pupils who lived nearby and saw it being moved, there must
have been a sense of sadness.
Hans and Marit (Dalen) Hansons lived on the farm one-half mile to the east.
Mary was a niece of Olaf's. The
Dalens lived a half mile southeast of Lowry, a large family, and they too were
all nieces and nephews of Olaf. Mrs.
Guri Dalen was a sister of Olaf's. I
remember Hans Hanson could splice rope so well, a trade he learned in the
Norwegian Merchant Marine.
early winter day I went down to the barn where my dad and Wally were, as
usual, doing the chores. I
suppose they had finished the chores and Pa reached up on the beam and brought
down a homemade sled that he and Wally must have built in their spare moments. I recall Pa saying that it was for Gordy for Christmas.
Strange as it seems, I guess that I didn't spill the beans to Gordy and
I don't recall Pa cautioning me not to. That
was the only sled we kids ever had and it lasted us for years.
never found out why, but we had a beautiful bay team called Barney and Bess
that Pa sold. I remember them
being driven across the yard to a spot near our mailbox where they were loaded
onto a trailer. It made me sad at
the time but I wasn't supposed to understand everything, certainly at that
sister Marie and our cousin Steve visited us one summer, perhaps in 1931,
because we were old enough to get into mischief.
I remember three baby chicks meeting an untimely end.
cousin George Teigen lived on the hill a scant quarter mile from us.
His wife Ella (Holen) was a glorious person, and it was fun to visit
there with their big orchard and strawberry and raspberry beds.
dad's mother died in 1928 when I was three years old.
My only memory of her is when we visited her on one of her last days.
She was ill in bed with cancer and I shook hands with her as we left,
all of us knowing that her life would soon be over. (People were generally
quite stoic in those days.)
I write on with my story, I may recall other events of my first six years.
We were fortunate that so many of our family lived as close neighbors
and near Lowry. Now my youngest
brother George and some of his family are the only Erlandsons around Lowry.
combination of events, it seems, led us to move to the farm a half-mile west
of Lowry onto what was always referred to as the Holen farm.
Ma's uncles Lars and Ole emigrated from Norway in 1868 and homesteaded
that farm. They built a sod
dugout on the southwest corner of the farm as they wanted to be as close to
the Bjoknes farm as possible. Two
years later they moved to the southeast corner of the farm to be near Ma's
uncle, the Iver Teigens. At that
site they built a log house and made it their homesite, in 1870 or 1871. It was a house that others envied because it had enough
windows to make it light and airy. Ma
said the Indians would rap on the door wanting food.
They were always friendly.
a large kitchen, also log, was added to the house and years later in the
1950's we added a frame bedroom. I
remember having to be so steady and careful driving spikes into the logs
because they were so hard. I
wonder now why we didn't drill holes for the spikes.
Also, at some time, vertical boards were put on as siding with the date
1868 carved into one board. The
date signifies when Lars and Ole Holen came to America.
And then, in the late 1940's I believe, my dad had it stuccoed and
added electricity and plumbing. It
now is a lovely little place and still used by Wallace's family when they
visit there as the house and quarter section are now in his estate.
Wallace passed away November 12, 1994.
I'm sure if he could, he would have spent much of his time on that
owned the 80 acres to the north of the quarter making the farm 240 acres in
all. I farmed it for three years
and then following brain tumor surgery, I rented it to Mark, my brother
George's son, and eventually sold it to him and he is now farming it.
am getting a little off the track here but I wanted to clarify the history of
the Holen farm.
July of 1897, a tornado came through from the southwest taking Lars' barn (he
was standing outside but not even touched) and windmill.
The Iver Teigen place across the road lost the house and Iver's foot
was injured. The storm then went through the north of Lowry doing much damage
and then passed on to the northeast. So
Lars' barn, Teigen's house and many of Lowry's buildings are dated from that
point in time.
dad had written a partial history of E. O. Holen's early days which I will
include at the end of this book. His
last job here in Minnesota was as a bookkeeper for William McIver at his store
in Lowry. E. O., as everyone
called him, wanted a day off from his six-day-a-week job but William McIver
would not let him off. So after
13 years of no time off, E. O. quit that day and prepared for his move to
brother Ole went on to homestead in North Dakota.
My uncles Ole and Tom (Ma's brothers) then farmed as bachelors.
Ma's folks, with all of the family including Ole and Tom with the
exception of Ma, moved to Pasadena, California in 1920.
My uncle Walter had a bone infection, or possibly osteomyelitis, and
the family hoped that the climate change would help him improve.
Ma told me that she believed that a teacher caused it by trying to
lance a boil on his neck with an unclean needle, but Walter mentioned having a
hard case of flu, leaving the bone infection.
I should mention here about another of Ma's uncles.
Here, again, I have an article published by the Park Region Echo
of Alexandria which I will include with better detail. This uncle was E. O.'s
brother Tom, whom my mother always called Tobias. I wouldn't know at what age he changed his name, but instead
of Holen it became Olson. The
only time that I saw him that I know of was sometime in the late '30s when Ma,
Pa, Georgie and I drove to Nelson, a small town east of Alexandria, where Tom
had a grocery store and post office in the same building as he was the
Postmaster of Nelson. We didn't
see his wife but we visited with Tom and I recall that he gave Georgie and me
each a Hershey candy bar. It had
been many years since he had closed his store, and I wondered how that candy
bar would have kept so long, but it tasted good and we didn't get ill. A greater detail of this family's tragedy can be read in the
newspaper article below.
Auction Recalls Tragedy."
first part of this sad story from the Alexandria Park Region Echo
newspaper I cannot find so this is my mother's beginning of the story.
Tom or Tobias Olson was my mother's uncle and this article is the first
and only mention that his name was William Olson. Lillie Olson, mother's cousin, had been out bicycling on a
very warm day and then had stopped by the water pump in their yard and drank
too much cold water, suddenly went into a coma and died. This is where the newspaper article continues the story:
was left in exactly the same place it was the day Lillie died.
And there the monument stayed for the next 50 years.
remainder of the large apartment over the Olson general store was also left
undisturbed. A few pieces of
furniture were taken downstairs, but even such necessary items as the heating
and cooking stoves were left in the same positions.
A beautiful piano, dated 1899, was also left undisturbed.
with the tragic memory of their daughter's untimely death, the Olsons lived
from day to day. Mr. Olson
continued as village postmaster for some 35 more years.
Olson drew further into her shell of seclusion, seeing but a few of her former
acquaintances and allowing no one to enter the closed-off apartment.
store was closed in the middle 1930s, though no one seems to know why, and
much of the unsold merchandise was left in the shipping boxes.
a few remote occasions, close friends of the family got a quick glimpse of the
upstairs apartment--and thus the stories circulated.
Olson, after 52 years of public service, 36 of which were spent when he was
not yet a citizen, died in 1939 at the age of 88.
and semi-helpless, Mary Olson had to rely on her nephew Edwin for help. Edwin and his mother moved into the small apartment at the
rear of the store. Later on,
Edwin's mother died and he was left in sole charge of the aged widow of Mr.
1944, Otto Clark of Osakis was appointed Mrs. Olson's legal guardian by the
courts of Douglas County. At that
time the present state representative had his first opportunity to examine the
mystery of the upper apartment. The
girl's room, Clark said, was just as it had been left 50 years before.
Olson died in an Alexandria hospital last December 31.
Clark, as administrator of the estate, went over the house and grocery
store from top to bottom. It was
decided several years before to auction off part of the Olson estate.
The grain elevator, a house in Alexandria and a hall were sold.
Then, last Thursday, the ancient store and the upstairs apartment were
cleaned out and everything placed on the auction block.
ran at a fever pitch as townspeople and outsiders who had heard the tale of
the mystery room crowded the creaking dwelling.
Bidding was spirited as antique chairs, dishes, lamps, the piano, the
girl's bicycle and other items were exhibited by the auctioneers. By evening the store was all but empty.
But up on the second floor, in a tiny room on the south side, a ragged mattress, a scattering of books and notebooks, a few crumpled valentines and a half-eaten 50-year old candy bar bore mute testimony to the grief of a mother who could not and would not forget her lost child."
want to add to this the remembrances that my aunt Edna has of her cousin
Lillie and the tragedy of that family. Edna
now lives in Hemet, California, and is the last of the nieces of Tobias Olson
(Holen). The original family name
in Norway was Olson and Tobias kept the Olson name even though there were so
many Olsons already in the U. S. Edna
remembers visiting there when she was very young (she lived in Lowry then) but
of that visit the thing that comes to her mind is eating canned peaches.
moving to Pasadena, California in 1919, Edna returned in 1924 for a visit with
my mother, Uncle Tosten, Cousin Elmer, and Tilman and old friends.
Elmer drove her to Nelson to visit her Uncle Tobias and she did visit
with him and Mary at the door, but they weren't invited in nor would they let
Elmer take any pictures. Mary's
despondency that led to despair must have been hard for Tobias to bear.
Edna says it isn't what comes, but how we take it.
story seems to vary back and forth here and I should perhaps check with my
brothers and sisters for exact facts. However,
perhaps for a couple of reasons that seem logical to me as our reasons for
moving are: (1) Grand-dad Olaf, perhaps because of his need financially to get
back on the farm, and (2) the Holen farm was then owned by Ma's parents and
could be purchased from them. Since
1920 the farm had been rented out; the last renter being the Adolph Pladson
family. At any rate, that leads
into the next chapter in my story--the years from:
more event comes to mind before we moved.
Perhaps it was the forerunner of the oncoming dry years and drought,
but Pa rented some pasture for the young stock just around Lake Minnewaska
south of Glenwood. That must have
been in 1931 and I was along when we herded them home.
I can't imagine what good I was at that age.
It was a good ten-mile trip and driving cattle that far or farther was
not unusual in those days, as I'll mention incidents of that sort later in
story I must tell before getting into our move to the Holen farm. My mother's uncle Tosten Torgerson lived on an 80-acre farm
just north of the Holen farm. He
had two small boys, Elmer and Tilman, and also his bachelor brother Peter
lived with them. Tosten's wife
died from tuberculosis in September of 1908 when Tilman was only three weeks
old. Tilman then stayed with the
Holens in Lowry for some time. Then
the Torgersons moved to what we call
the Ludke farm, southwest of Lowry, and again moved to a farm just east of
Starbuck where they lived until the beginning of World War II.
Peter passed away October 21, 1931, as I'll mention later, and Tosten
in March of 1939. After an
auction sale, both boys went into the army and I had better continue their
I mention all of this because when we moved, Elmer with his car and trailer
did so much of our moving. I
remember the round kitchen table in the trailer and Gert and Aggie sitting in
chairs around it as we moved. When
we moved to the Holen farm, Pa bought one-half, our banker Iver Engebretsen
bought one-half, and we rented Iver Engebretson's share.
It took a few years but we finally bought out Iver's share and then
owned it all.
was so much work to be done on the Holen farm before it was habitable--new
maple floor in the living room, a new dumb waiter with cabinets, new kitchen
cabinets--and the barn basement had to be widened with new stanchions, pens,
etc. A lot of barn work was done
by Anton Olson. Also a windmill
was set up. It was a used
windmill that I remember laying in the yard on Grandpa's farm.
I don't remember how they moved it as it was 50 feet long.
The Aasen brothers helped set it up.
I started first grade in Lowry that September of 1931 and I remember
coming home and the whole thing was up. With
all the field work, milking, chores, getting us off to school, I think it must
have been an ordeal to accomplish that task.
and Aggie started their final year as eighth graders in Lowry, Gordy was in
third grade and I, of course, in the first grade.
I think 1930 was the last year that at least 9th grade of high school
was in Lowry. This September
(1996) will be 65 years since I entered school.
We had first and second grades in one room, and third, fourth, and
fifth in another room. Upstairs
was sixth, seventh and eighth in one room, and another former high school room
was made into a gymnasium.
also was a large room in the basement used daily as a lunchroom. This room was also used to teach religion--the Catholics for
one hour Friday mornings and Protestants for an hour each Friday afternoon.
I don't recall who taught the Catholics but it was either a priest or a
nun. Caroline Christenson was the
Protestant teacher. I don't
recall how long that system was used but it ended sometime during my
elementary years in Lowry. Just
the thought of that would surely stir up some political faction in the nation
now! Each room had their own
cloak room and also upstairs was a library.
as I mentioned before, in September of 1931 I started school.
The first and second grades were together in one room and our teacher
was Miss Cora Bennett. Miss Bennett was a grand person and teacher, and did a
wonderful job of preparing a child like me to enter the third grade.
She taught me for both grades, after which she retired and married Dr.
Maynard Nelson of Lowry. The seats and desks were smaller than normal to be a better
fit for the small children, and I remember there was one larger desk that I
sat down in but as the children were all assigned to their desks I had to
move. That first day I came in a
pair of shorts--striped blue and white about an inch wide. I didn't like them but now school children can't wait for
warm weather to wear shorts!
of the duties of the first and second grade teachers also was to teach music
to all of the school, usually for a set period each week, except for Christmas
programs and the like when added emphasis was placed on efforts to put on
programs for the public. A bore
to some children but I looked forward to it as a lot of fun.
It has only now occurred to me how some of those eighth graders could
fit into a first-grade desk, because back then some of the eighth graders were
nearly adult in size. The
highlight program of the year, of course, was the Christmas all-school program
at the town hall performed always to a full house.
I don't remember it ever being stormy or too cold for the event.
third grade teacher was Miss Jennie Quitney, also a very good teacher. She was liked by all and, like Miss Bennett, had no
discipline problems. At this
point, I have to explain that until I entered fifth grade, the sixth, seventh
and eighth grade students on the second floor were taught by Mr. Martin
Knutson who had no control over his classes.
Oh how he must have dreaded coming to school as there never was a day
of respite. He had a daughter and
son younger than I but, young as I was, I was grateful that none of the
children teased or made fun of them. Possibly,
this was because everyone knew that Mr. Knutson, or "Martin" as they
disrespectfully called him, was in reality a very fine teacher. He had the most difficulty when I was in the first and second
grade, as the seventh and eighth graders were so very hard on him, as we all
knew. (My sisters, Gert and
Aggie, were in eighth grade in my first year, along with some boys that were
two to three years older.)
remember the Chlian children. There were four boys and one girl that came to
school in the winter in a covered sled and pulled with one horse.
They kept the horse in our creamery operator, Paul Peterson's barn, and
each noon the boys would go over to feed the horse. They had a long way to school.
Except for the town children, our family had the shortest distance to
school. It was a wonder how
everyone survived as I know we all froze our noses, cheeks, ears, and the
children with chilblains drumming their feet was a constant winter affliction
that was always tolerated by our teachers.
I have to explain that the clothes, even if we could afford them, were
not like present-day clothing. And
the winters were a lot harsher, too. We
never had a ride to school unless we could catch a bobsled going our way.
One day in 1936 we went to school and found the temperature was 43
below. The only other country
kids there were the Chester Bennetts and even many town children stayed home.
The school didn't excuse or cut the day short, either.
As I remember the Chlian family, I always thought of them as big,
strong and robust Bohemian people, and now the parents and all six children
have passed away. Adolph Chlian's
car was hit by a train in Kensington in the late 30's, and his twin Herman
died in a horrible farm machine accident.
All of the others have gone now, too.
Gwendolyn Neel of Villard, MN was my fifth grade teacher.
Sometimes, when a teacher had to be absent, Miss Verona Bennett would
substitute. I don't recall what
her regular job was or if she was employed elsewhere. I don't remember her
mother as living, so Verona probably kept house.
I do know that she surely fell right in as an accomplished teacher.
About 1937-38, or around that time, she married the oldest of the Robieson's,
recall our desks and how nearly all of them were so carved up with student
initials that it was hard to find a smooth place to write.
The initials surely gave away the carver, but I never heard of anyone
introduction to sixth grade found me upstairs, a forbidden place for the lower
grades, with Mr. Clifford Barsness as the new teacher and principal, replacing
Martin Knutson. From that time
on, there was no question of who was in charge of discipline. Mr. Barsness, who came from a farm near Brandon, Minnesota,
had such beautiful handwriting, I recall. (In later years his sister married
Bernard Bjokne from Lowry and they farmed a few years, but both had a touch of
polio in the 1940s.) With sixth,
seventh, and eighth grades all in one room, often I remember as a sixth or
seventh grader listening to the eighth grade when they had their class and
more than once the whole room would be drawn into the discussion and there was
no clock watching. I do believe
that we learned about things far ahead of what normally would be our class
seventh and eighth grade we again had a new teacher and principal, an Albert
A. Almlie from Foley, Minnesota, and he was my best teacher of all time. Everything seemed to be no effort with him.
I feel that my English, literature, math and all were so far ahead that
through my further schooling it all seemed so easy.
A favorite subject of mine was when we would study poetry and even
today I can recite titles, poets, and portions of poems.
Mr. Almlie had the most pleasing voice for delivering poetry.
He returned to Lowry in 1986 for our Centennial and he looked so much
like before, that I wished that I could go back and sit at that school desk
and listen to him again. After
only a short time at the Lowry schools, Mr. Almlie married Dorothy Jaenisch
and has lived since then in Lutsen, Minnesota.
the time that Mr. Almlie started teaching in Lowry, Dorothy Jaenisch began
teaching the third, fourth and fifth grades.
She also was a fine teacher and a lovely person. She was a farm girl
from Foxhome, Minnesota and her father owned a beautiful farm there.
He evidently was a fast driver as he was one day speeding down the
highway with his arm out the window and, I suppose on the long-ago narrow
roads, he sideswiped a truck. He
didn't realize it until he tried to bring his arm in to turn a corner that his
arm was sheared off! I happened to be in the hallway when someone came and
knocked on her classroom door, and when she came out he told her of the
accident. I knew the news was bad
when I saw her break into tears. Later
I heard what happened and even though he survived, I felt so badly for that
lovely person. Dorothy also was back with Albert for the Lowry Centennial and
looked as well as her husband.
my last two years under Mr. Almlie, Miss Margit Anderson of Farwell,
Minnesota, taught first and second grade and in addition also taught music to
the whole school. She was a true
musician and a great pianist. Later
she married Clarence Peterson from Farwell and they operated a grocery store
for some time. She also was
Farwell Lutheran Church's organist. She
is now widowed and lives in Alexandria, Minnesota.
My brother George sees her occasionally.
She, too, was in Lowry for our Centennial in 1986.
as the tale goes on, I will remember more incidents of my elementary school
years in Lowry and if they seem noteworthy, I will include them later.
I must mention that as we went through our high school years in Glenwood,
Lowry had more than its share of outstanding students.
My class from Lowry consisted of ten boys and girls with John Hagstrom
as Valedictorian, Bruce Jarvis as salutatorian, with Chester Bennett very
close behind. Speaking for
myself, I could have done a lot better if I hadn't missed so much school for
farm work, but I have no regrets. Gordy's
class had Llewellyn Hagen as salutatorian and if Gordy had not transferred to
Morris, he would have undoubtedly been on top.
The class ahead of me had Doris Peterson as valedictorian, with
Hartford Holden very high in the class. These
were the sixth, seventh and eighth graders when I was in Lowry, so Lowry had
an abundance of intelligence. The
combination of exceptional teachers and small intensive classes surely must
speak volumes for our education there. I'll
always be grateful that I was part of it.
that it was always easy. As I
mentioned before, the weather was cold in winter, hot in summer, with
desperate economic conditions. We
had to zealously preserve our school clothes and as early as possible in the
spring, and as late as possible in the fall, we would go barefoot.
Our feet got so toughened that even the thistles didn't bother them and
there were plenty of thistles growing in those days.
Often the hay loads felt as though they were all thistles!
enjoyed when Elmer Torgerson and his dad would come up to visit as he always
brought gum for us--a treat that we could never afford.
His uncle, who was also Ma's uncle Peter, who had always lived with
Elmer, Tilman and Tosten, was staying with us in his last days. I don't know how we could all nine sleep in that small old
log house. However, it wasn't for
long. One morning we couldn't
find him and Ma was calling out, "Uncle Peter!!" Gert found him
lying behind our outhouse, as Aggie remembers it.
That was in 1931 and I remember the Hoplin Funeral Service carrying him
to their hearse...a sad day for my mother.
Aggie also said that Mrs. McIver came and helped wash dishes, etc. at
the time. Mrs. McIver was the
dear mother of John, George, Bert, Mary, Margaret, Eleanor and Mrs. William
1933, on a Sunday afternoon, there was an ice cream social at Jorgen Bjoknes.
Ma and Pa and Georgie and myself were there and possibly Wally and
Gordy, too, but the girls were visiting over at Teigens.
Our phone, of course, was on a party line and when it rang our two
shorts and a long, Gert answered and it was the sad news that my mother's
mother had passed away in Pasadena, California.
So Gert called over to Bjoknes and that is how Mama got the news so, of
course, we had to leave the social and go home.
Ma started to get ready while Pa went to town and located either Iver
or Herman Engebretson to open the bank and get some money for Ma to catch the
train and leave for California, a sad trip for her.
By this time, my sisters were old enough to manage the housework, for
surely we boys were no help. The
girls also had to do much of the milking and other chores.
the drought was getting worse and the depression was at its worst.
Banks had been closed by the government but a few started to be open
again, at least those that were solvent.
But it is pretty grim when your banker does not dare walk down the
street. Vern Weaver also had a
bank in Lowry but it never opened again, and I don't know what loss his
we were young, I can't remember that we had any toys, and that certainly was
true of most children, so we had to improvise by using old kitchen utensils
and small pieces of farm machinery that through our imaginations served as
toys for us.
walking home from Sunday school one Sunday, Gordy and I were looking for
discarded tobacco cans which used to be so popular with pipe smokers and those
that rolled their own cigarettes. The
state highway #55 at that time went by our place, so this was before 1935 when
the new highway was built, and so all traffic through Lowry had to go our way.
So walking home, Gordy and I were always looking for lost or discarded
items and good uncrushed empty tobacco cans were handy to play with or store
our little treasures in. (I'm rather slow in getting to why I am mentioning all of
this). As Gordy walked in the
ditch on one side and I on the other, I found a large set of keys with a round
metal disc and the name on it of C. C. Middents, the Lowry druggist.
So when we got home and showed it to our folks, Pa and I drove to town
and after a call to him, Mr. Middents met us at the drug store and we found
out that he had been robbed on Saturday night.
Mr. Middents gave me a dollar as a reward and I gladly accepted it.
I would never now take such a reward, especially since a dollar was a
considerable amount in those days, and I'll always remember his generosity. It was strange that the thieves threw away the keys as they
no doubt were for his house, car, store and perhaps other things of value as
well. They could have returned
for more thievery, but no doubt it was someone just passing through the
the mid-1930's a law was enacted creating the Civilian Conservation Corps, or
the CCC as everyone called it. It
was created to give young men a job, usually in a forested region. Uniforms and I think maybe a wage of perhaps $21 per month,
of which they had to send some home, was provided. A few local boys were in that, all single as I recall.
was also the Works Progress Administration, or WPA, for family men at home to
build roads, sidewalks, plant trees and many other jobs, and I don't recall
what they earned. They became
somewhat of a joke, but it really wasn't funny as they did a lot of good work.
The skating rink and warming house at Lowry comes to mind.
The cedar trees behind the school were moved to the west property line
by them, without losing a single tree, and I've seen so many sidewalks with a
stamp in the fresh walk, WPA-1935.
Wally and Pa worked on roads in a deal similar to the WPA, but instead of
wages the farmers were paid in feed for livestock.
I remember some hay bales which were little better than nothing!
One of the roads, I recall, was the road south of our place past George
Femrite's place. The farmers furnished the horses on these jobs and usually
didn't receive a fair trade for their hard work.
non-governmental way to do things was to help on the telephone lines and work
off the bill that way. I remember Gordy and Pa doing that. Sometime during those years when people had to move cattle,
it was always done by having enough men to herd or drive the cattle as there
were no trucks available to move any great number of cattle.
I was along moving a herd of Femrite's cattle between us and Teigen's,
and along a road north of Teigen's farm into the north side of Lowry to the
railroad shipping corral. It was
a big day when the cattle were sorted, weighed, and loaded into cattle cars
for shipment to South St. Paul. Next
to the caboose car was a passenger car in which some of the cattle owners
would accompany the association manager (which in my day was C. R. Anderson)
to St. Paul. This was before new
Highway 55 was built, so I was 9 years old or younger.
(Highway 55 was built in 1935.)
similar day is one in which a gentleman from the Montevideo area, by the name
of Mr. Thompson, had rented pasture for a rather large herd of cattle
somewhere to the north and it seems like it was quite a ways north of
Alexandria. He had previously scouted the trail that he would bring the
cattle on and it was Highway 114 between Teigen's and our place.
He was leading the herd and sitting on the front fender of a new red
truck. In those days, most roads
had fences on both sides so there wasn't too much trouble keeping on the road,
especially after the cattle got used to the routine, and the small amount of
auto traffic was careful to not create havoc.
the spring of 1935 I recall, Johnny Hanson, a third cousin, had pleurisy and
pneumonia and died. He never had
enough warm clothes and always worked so very hard as a hired hand for other
farmers. Then in 1937, on my
birthday, his brother Herbert died the same way.
Herbert was Wally's buddy and they alternated visits each week. He always carried a harmonica and with coaxing he would play
for us. But I remember most his
humor as he would keep us in stitches.
The Hansons had lost four boys, two in infancy, two in their twenties,
also one daughter in infancy. Only
Mabel survived from that family.
family always enjoyed going back to Olaf's, especially the boys, as that was
our birthplace and it had that big orchard.
we started school in Lowry, it didn't take long to make some friends. One especially was Clayton Person, who lived on the farm
where Ma's uncle Tosten lived when Tosten's wife died. On Sunday Gordy and I would walk over there and the next
Sunday he would walk to our place. This
went on until Clayton joined the navy in 1942.
I was attendant at Clayton's wedding in 1946.
think it was the 4th of July of 1935 and the folks had gone to California for
a short visit. Cousin Gert Gryte
was going to stay overnight with us. After
the evening chores, it started to rain heavily and it rained all night for a
total of nine inches. Three days
later there came another three inches and they said that Lake Minnewaska rose
14 inches. I can picture yet all
the baby chicks floating down the ditches.
think it was 1934 that John Weaver hired Gordy and myself to replant the
missing corn plants that the pheasants, gophers, and drought had thinned out
of his cornfield. He lived one
mile north of our place. We used
those small planters that we called clappers, as that was the principle of how
they worked, and even what they sounded like as you operated them.
I was quite a small lad and the planter was so long that unless I
slipped it on my shoulder it would drag on the ground, especially if the box
was full of corn. The added
weight of the corn did make a difference.
(I remember John's coffee as being too sweet and the sugar cookies left
too rich a taste in one's mouth and throat.)
We worked three days on this job and at the end he paid us 50 cents
must include an event of our last afternoon planting corn when the next-door
neighbor boy, Hilmer Halverson, came by and mentioned that across the fence
was a peat fire and it was over your head if you were to step on it.
Of course I could hardly believe that as the ashes were level with the
ground, and peat makes no smoke either, so I crossed over and like an
invisible hole I fell in over my knees. As
I've mentioned before, we were barefoot and one foot got burned pretty badly.
I poured water on it from our drinking water and then we went home.
The foot blistered quite a bit and it was quite uncomfortable, but as a
kid we were resilient to such things. Paul
Peterson, who lived just west of Lowry's west street, had a large garden and
my sister Gert and I were to cultivate it one day; she to steer the
cultivator, and I to lead the horse up and down the garden rows. It was going fine until at the end of one row as I turned the
horse around, it stepped right on the foot that I had burned in the peat
to this area and the people there, brings to mind one rather grim day.
I believe this was probably the last year that John Weaver was farming
before he moved to town. He then rented his place to Iver Holen and family.
any rate, one lovely spring day, Clayton, Gordy and I were walking through the
pasture along a creek with steep hills on each side.
Hilmer Halverson and Gerhard Holen came by hunting gophers with 22
calibre rifles. We talked awhile
and then they left, heading up over the hills. Just
then a couple of rifle shots rang out and we could hear the bullets whizzing
between us. We yelled at the boys
and we could hear them laughing. When
we got back to Persons, Mr. Person drove over to Halversons, but they insisted
their boy wouldn't shoot at anybody.
No more came of it, but the next day in school the news was all over
and I'm sure those boys were pretty scared.
the 1930's, Gordy, Georgie or I were often asked to help the Anton Teigens
with haying, which was sort of looked forward to for the few cents that we
earned. It was kind of a ritual
in that it never changed from year to year.
We always started very early in the morning, going to the field with
Anton on one side and his colorful hired man, Ole Boe, on the other side of
the wagon and rack. We pitched
hay with one of us boys stacking it, (always wild prairie hay and difficult to
handle). Then we would drive the
load to the barn and unload. I
remember pulling the unloading fork out of the barn (we unloaded the loads
from outside the barn up and through large doors into the barn and dumped, or
tripped, as we said).
day as I pulled that fork out by the trip rope with Anton standing in the
load. He reached up to grab the fork, through years of repetitious habit, and
this time it went through the back of his hand and came out the front. He wouldn't even stop haying long enough for his daughter
Mabel to cleanse it with Iodine. I'm
sure that he didn't sleep very well that night!
pay for the day was a dime and often if he didn't have it, it would be eight
or nine cents. Not much, but we
loved the man and he lived to be 99 years old.
He was my mother's cousin and occasionally he would take us fishing or
to a circus or fair as we often didn't get out very much.
Teigens always subscribed to the Minneapolis Journal with its large comic
section. Our Sunday afternoon or
evening would be spent over there playing Rook or Dominoes, always with a cup
of cocoa and large piece of cake. I
recall sometimes Georgie and Anton liked to try to cheat at games. My partner usually was Irene, their daughter.
This poor girl had epilepsy and I remember her attacks.
In those days they didn't have the medication necessary, and at 25
years of age she passed away. The
Teigens had three daughters, Clara, the oldest; Mabel who taught school in
Villard before her marriage to Warren Nelson; and Irene, the youngest.
Clara had a speech impediment and stuttered severely. However, she was a good soul and she often helped Ma at
threshing time and many other times. Later
on I understand that she got to be a problem and too much for the family to
handle, so they had her placed in the State Hospital at Fergus Falls.
Quite sad, we thought, although she could come and go as she wished if
transportation was available. She,
too, has passed away and the last time I saw her was at my Uncle Henry's
funeral in 1972.
were at the Teigen's for a supper during the holidays one year and chicken was
served. I remember how dark the
meat was and Anna Teigen stated that she "wasn't going to freeze her
chicken any more". But, she
couldn't fool Ma as she knew that the chicken was one that had frozen to death
outside. Ish dah!
(But we lived through it.)
I was 18 or 19 years old, or through those years, I used to help Anton stack
corn bundles. He had no silo so
this was what he fed his cows. He
said that I could throw the bundles up on the stack so he could stack them
easily without moving the bundles unnecessarily.
I don't think Anton could milk cows as his wife, Anna or Annie, as we
called her, did what little milking they had.
During the severe Armistice Day Storm, which I will write about later,
the Teigens lost 12 cows as they were caught in the pasture and couldn't get
must tell of an event which happened in 1935, the last year that we threshed
with a steam rig. It comes to
mind now as I am remembering events at Teigen's because that is where it
happened. Always, we had the necessary 10 bundle teams to serve the big
machine and someone to haul the grain away, and a man to haul water for the
steam engine, so with six or more farmers in this threshing ring everything
went quite smoothly.
day, one of the farmers in our ring was Walter Peterson whose load of bundles
was waiting to be unloaded, when something scared his team of horses and they
started running through the yard. Walter
caught on but couldn't climb to the top of his load to get the horses' reins,
so he fell and the load ran over him and crushed his chest.
Some others of the crew stopped his runaway. A crew member, Clifford Hagen, was the perpetual water hauler
and most of his day was spent sitting, until Anton Teigen (bless his soul)
made a beeline for Clifford and told him in the strongest words he could
muster that from then on he, Clifford, would be a bundle hauler. I'm sure that these feelings had been seething in Anton for a
long time. Walter Peterson fully
recovered from that accident and he has always been a friend to our family.
It was not too long ago that he passed away.
He had a daughter, Marjorie, who lives very near our place in Rogers
and I see her occasionally.
Teigen had a 1928 Oldsmobile, a car we always thought of as quite swank.
In 1936, I recall that he had several pieces of new-car literature and
was trying to decide on which to buy, although I often wondered how he could
afford a new car in those years. Ma
had another cousin by the name of Gilbert Jacobson (Mitmoen) who lived in
Farwell and operated a garage there. He
also had an Oldsmobile, about the same vintage as Anton's, and equally as nice
a car. Being all related, we
visited each other regularly and I recall the day at Teigen's when Anton asked
Gilbert which car he should buy. Gilbert
replied, "You couldn't go wrong on another Oldsmobile," so that is
what Anton bought. (But Gilbert later must have changed his thoughts, because
in 1938 he bought a new Ford.) I
remember that big beautiful blue 4-door Olds sitting in Teigen's garage each
and every winter. It was hard to
start and Anton's yard was full of snow anyway.
That was Anton's last car and sold, I think, on his auction sale in
young lads, we always looked forward to the novelty of the arrival of the
steam threshing rig....Ole Afdem, with his Nichols and Shepherd steam engine,
and Ted Bentrud who operated the Red River Special 36" threshing machine. The last year with that rig it rained so much that it took us
three weeks to finish threshing. We
would tip over the shocks to dry, load up the next day, thresh a few loads and
then it would rain again. We had
to then go out and shock up what we had tipped and go through the whole cycle
again. Wearying, too, for others
in the ring. Ole Afdem would be
there at 4:00 a.m. to clean out the flues and ashes, and start a fire to build
up steam by 8:00 a.m.
filling was another big adventure, although it was only usually a one-day job.
It was a good thing, too, as we children had to be in the silo to
spread and tamp the silage.
years passed, we had Femrites thresh for us, Lidas, too, and then we also had
our own machine for awhile. Help
for harvest was the main concern and it hastened the day of the combine when
each farmer could do his own harvesting, although the labor was as difficult
as ever to get.
am not sure if it was 1935 or 1936, but oh it was hot!
We were haying and Pa was hooking up the slings on the load for Wally
to drive the team to pull it up and over into the hay mow. As the sling full of hay was being pulled up, Pa was standing
on the feed bin platform holding the trip rope.
The pulley on the far end of the barn broke and came swinging 50 feet,
directly hitting him in the chest. He
fell down and we lifted him out in the shade as he could hardly breathe.
I guess Wally drove him to the Starbuck Hospital where he fully
recovered. The doctor said that
through the stethoscope his heart sounded like sloshing your hand around in a
pail of water!
the year 1937 we stacked our grain as it was easier to get a threshing machine
later in the season, since we no longer had the steam rig.
As I recall, the drought was abating somewhat so the crop looked
better. George Femrite threshed
for us and I remember Gurvin, George Femrite's youngest, was born on one of
was the year that we bought the Dalen place.
The bank foreclosed on Otto Dalen like so many other farms that were
lost. The representative of the
loan holder was Harold Butcher from Morris.
The night we bought it Pa turned over sixteen $50 bills to Mr. Butcher
as part payment, and I had never seen so many big bills in my life.
(I still don't see that many!) Ma had made a nice lunch of coffee, cake
and peach sauce, but Harold wouldn't stay for it. I suppose he wanted to get that money in a safe place.
I'm sure the Dalen family was sore at us for a while about losing that
farm, but they didn't hold a grudge. It
probably turned out rather well as the family was pretty successful later on,
just like many others. The
depression equalized a lot of things. My
brother George now lives on this farm.
sisters Gert and Aggie graduated from high school at Glenwood in 1936 which
was about the worst of times to look for work.
Aggie had won a scholarship to the Minneapolis Business
College by winning the district typing and shorthand first-place award
at Melrose, Minnesota. She had
that to look forward to.
worked for so many people that I can't recall all of them, but the John
Loftingsmos come to mind. They
only spoke Norwegian (even their adopted daughter Lois).
Gert also worked for George Teigen after Ella passed away, also for the
Dr. McIver family and for Rev. and Mrs. Sheldahl.
The Sheldahls thought so much of her that they invited her along on
their east coast vacation. There
were others like Mrs. Warburton of Glenwood.
I also remember Gert working as an aide in the nursery at Northwestern
Hospital in Minneapolis and as a dental technician in Pasadena, California.
It makes me tired just listing all the work she has done for so many
people, and Gert remembers what wages used to be!
After she and Ed were married and Wes was old enough for a motorcycle,
he struck loose sand on a desert road and broke his neck.
That took a long, long time to heal and he still has only partial use
of one arm. So with her own, Dolores and Tim, and with the step-children,
she has had a busy life.
with the times, Aggie, too, had some housework jobs.
I'm sure she remembers Elizabeth, Clara and Pearl McIver.
Later, and especially during the war, her secretarial skills helped her
get work in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, California, and eventually led to
her going to Alaska. Her latest
and longest lasting job was for the State of Alaska House of Representatives
in Juneau. (Our family has surely been around and done some interesting work!)
think it must have been the summer of 1936 that the girls were going to a
movie and I had a chance to go with them.
Movies were kind of a no-no in our house.
But when my dad learned of our plans he wanted to go with us, so we
piled into the Model-T and drove to Glenwood.
The movie was "Curly Top" starring Shirley Temple and I can
still sing those songs, although I haven't heard most of them since that
we still had that 1926 touring Model-T with the side curtains.
One beautiful summer evening Pa wanted to drive out to the cemetery,
one mile west of our place, because he said the car was working so well.
Wouldn't you know, the last half mile home we had to push that thing.
The Model-T was the first car I learned to drive.
Wally and I had been shocking oats and we had the Model-T out there.
I drove while Wally put some oat bundles on the fenders and running
boards to take home for the chickens and then he drove the rest of the way
home. Understand that I couldn't
very well hit anything way out in an oat field!
The Model-T was traded for a 1928 Dodge in 1938, which again was traded
in 1939 for a 1935 Ford.
mid-summer of 1937, Ma sent me out with a small can to get some kerosene to
start the fire in the kitchen range. I
brought it in and she poured some into the stove and set the can on top of the
stove. However, sometimes there
are some live coals still in the stove and fire jumped up and into the can.
She grabbed the can and put it in the dishpan that I grabbed and
carried out the door, but the little bit of draft blew the flames onto my
clothes and they caught fire. Young as I was, I grabbed a braided rug from the clothesline
that I wrapped around myself and rolled on the ground. When the fire caused Ma to scream, Gertrude who was in the
living room, came into the kitchen and pulled down the burning curtains and
stamped out the fire in them. Ma
got some blisters on her fingers but she didn't go with us when Gert took me
to the clinic in Lowry. In those
days, people came from miles around to see our two doctors and dentist so, as
usual, the waiting room was full. Dr.
Bert McIver's sister Eleanor worked there as an aide and she covered my
shoulders and chest with some thick salve that I can still smell sometimes,
and then I had to sit on the cold steps leading to the basement until the
doctor could see and dress me. With
no shirt on, sitting on those cold marble steps, I was shivering but I soon
recovered and only have a bit of scar tissue left now on my chest.
I don't know how I knew enough to cover and smother the flames.
the fall of 1937, Wally started school at the Lutheran Bible School at Fergus
Falls, Minnesota. That school is
as active as ever but is now called Hillcrest Academy.
Wally never cared for school at Glenwood when he was younger, but
enjoyed L.B.S. and he completed his seminary diploma there.
He got his G.E.D. when he started at Augsburg. Georgie, too, finished his junior and senior high school
years at L.B.S., graduating in 1945. Wally
bought a 1927 Chevrolet when he was there and we had many delightful trips
with that car. I think we all really got to be experts driving that very car.
Lutheran Bible School had a wealth of talented musical students and teachers
and I, for one, am so fond of listening to male quartets.
Wally was able to entice several quartets to come to Lowry.
Wally was able to keep in touch with many of his school friends, even
to finding some of
them overseas and visiting briefly with them during the Second World War.
Now and then something good does happen, even under the worst of
the summers were so hot during the 1930's, we boys would sleep outside on some
old mattresses. Once in a while
we would put them in an open shed in case it looked like a rare, rare
rain. Please understand that it
did look like rain. It would
cloud over and then pass on by. Sleeping
outdoors was enjoyable, we thought, and because of the drought there were no
mosquitoes. We always put the
horses in the yard at night to eat the grass, such as it was.
We didn't have to bother mowing the lawn in those days.
And another thing, we never worried about horses stepping on us since
it is an in-born trait of a horse not to step on you.
February of 1937, the Lowry Roller Mill burned down which was a severe blow to
the employees and the whole community. Pa
walked to town to see it but the rest of us watched through the upstairs
window. We could see the burning
embers high in the night sky and blowing south as far as the Hedlin farm.
It could easily have burned many other structures in town, but Lowry
had the Glenwood and Starbuck fire departments to help control it.
The grain burned for days.
in the '30s and again I can't say which year, Ma was standing on a chair
cleaning the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet when she fell.
She broke her arm and the doctor dressed that but didn't check further
and her hip was apparently broken at the same time. She often complained of the pain in her legs, attributing it
to rheumatism, but I think that all the time it really was that broken hip.
She went to different doctors with no satisfaction until finally a
doctor in Fargo said that the hip socket was so eroded that it couldn't be
repaired. Why couldn't an x-ray
show that? I'll always be
mystified! In this day, I know,
it could be repaired. She needed
a cane after the late '50s and a wheelchair after the mid '60s for the last
ten years of her life.
mid-summer of 1938, my mother's sister and her family came for a visit from
Pasadena, California. They were
the Swapp family: Aunt Marie, her husband Jim, Helen, Warren and Steve. Jim had built a homemade trailer house to pull behind a
seven-passenger Buick, I think, a 1934 model monstrosity.
Before their trip, Jim had bought four extra tires as spares from a
dealer where movie people had traded them in after only driving a few miles on
the tires. So for $2.00 apiece, they were like new.
Most roads were gravel around home and Jim was so careful that he would
drive only on the bare part of the road and not on the loose gravel because he
feared that the car was so heavy it would be hard on the tires.
However, I guess they made the whole trip on the tires that they
started with. We had a grand time
that summer and Cousin Helen still talks of that year.
I don't know how they managed, but Gert and Aggie returned with them to
California, and I suppose worked a while out there.
those days growing up before the Second World War, there was always an
abundance of men that could be hired to work on the farm.
One reason for that was the depression and also nearly all work was
done by horses, milking done by hand, etc., that there was much menial and
hand labor. As I remember, $30 a
month was top wage for a good man and that same good worker could only expect
$15 per month in the wintertime. I've
known more than one very good worker who would work free in the winter just to
get room, board and laundry. And
they were happy for that opportunity, relying on wages in the summer to tide
them over. Most farmers at
harvest time could always use an extra man or more.
Most of the time our family could get along with our own help although
I remember a Clausy Brown did some plowing with an old Fordson for us. Oberlin
Dyrstad also plowed for us with his own equipment.
I suppose there were others, too, but I don't remember. However, for farmers with no children at home, as in the case
of Grand-dad, they relied entirely and constantly on hired help.
I think Eddie Vee worked for Grand-dad the longest.
Also my brother Gordy worked for him, Melvin Anderson, Elmer Ortendahl,
Cousin Ervin Hovey and some part-time drifters that came through.
But they were all eager, steady and good and they had to be as the
farmer had to trust them with his horses, livestock, and equipment.
me add one person in particular to this list of hired help. It probably was
during the summer of 1935 that the county sheriff contacted Grandpa on behalf
of the law enforcement agency of the St. Cloud Reformatory, inquiring if my
grandpa would be willing to have a parolee stay and work for him at that time
and my grandpa agreed. His name
was Leslie Paulson and he had served time for forgery.
He was only allowed to go along to church or to the barber but never
anyplace alone. He was a delight
to us children to visit with on Sundays.
I guess he had been in the navy as he had 14 assorted tatoos on his
body, thankfully small and inconspicuous.
He had lots of stories to tell and we never asked him about his legal
problems. But here again, Eddie
Vee was Grandpa's regular hired man, and Leslie's popularity with us grated
him so much that somehow he convinced Grandpa to contact the sheriff and they
relocated Leslie to a farm by Montevideo, I understand.
I wonder what it was that possessed Eddie as he was always bossy and
jealous like that. I also wonder
what became of Leslie in his future life.
the end of the 1930 decade was nearing, I finished grade school at Lowry at
the end of May and started high school in Glenwood in September.
That fall was a long beautiful season after a summer equally as lovely.
We had an early spring, so were in the fields early, and by April 1st
we had already seeded 60 acres of wheat.
I think we had a total of 90 acres of wheat that year
and the granary was filled full. Also,
the wheat had a high protein content which brought an extra premium in price
that fall. Everything looked a
bit rosier as even the depression seemed to be easing, at least as it affected
us on the farm.
the first of December of 1939, Gordy wanted to quit high school and I remember
Mr. Arnold Evenson, the principal, coming out to try to change Gordy's mind.
However, he did quit and was out of school for two years.
But then he enrolled at the Minnesota Experiment Station at Morris and
completed his high school education, so he and I both graduated in the spring
of 1943. Until Gordy went back to
school, he worked for Grandpa a short while.
lad was a son of Sigurd Dalen, who was a first cousin of Pa on his father's
side of the family. His
grandmother was Guri of the Erlandson (or Myrlokken family), an older sister
of Olaf. I am not too sure of
these dates although I know that they were in the later '30s.
Some of the Dalen family, at least I think three of the boys, moved to
Canada and settled there, one of whom was Walter's father.
Maybe it was about 1937 that Walter came down to Minnesota and, as I
recall, was staying at Grandpa's on the farm.
Tinus Dalen was Grandpa's hired man at the time.
He persuaded Grandpa to contact the sheriff and send Walter back to
Canada on the train.
it was a couple of years later that Walter returned to our place and stayed a
short while until Pa convinced him to return to Canada.
It was not proper to harbor an "alien" so that was the last
time we saw or heard from him. I'm
sure that this was about 1939, and I believe that Canada had started
conscripting for their armed forces so perhaps that is one reason that Walter
came to the States at that time, although he never mentioned anything to that
effect. I do recall that he was
not too ambitious as far as work was concerned.
I often wonder what became of Walter.
In 1939 he was about 21 years old and probably ended up in the service.
Now I don't know who to ask that would remember Walter.
little Norwegian children, we naturally grew up as Lutherans.
As I look back, the Lutheran people practiced their religion with
vigor. Sunday was strictly a day
of worship and rest and I had to have a very good reason to miss Sunday school
and Sunday services. In our
church there were three pastors who at one time taught Norwegian parochial
school at the "St. Olaf" before they became ordained. They were before my time but I remember Mama speaking fondly
of Lindseth, Eidness, and Gornitzka. Following
Gornitzka as pastor was Rev. Vaage and since he was newly ordained, I was the
first baby that he baptized. Of course I don't recall that.
He was our pastor for ten years and I do remember that he had a
magnificent voice. Pa used to
enjoy singing with the choir and even directed it for awhile in those days.
Mama was the organist for a time, but she always complained how
difficult it was to play on that old pump organ.
Pa felt that the church wasn't as it once had been and that it was losing some
of its former zeal for truth and evangelism.
He finally joined the Plymouth Brethren who also had a rather large
following in Lowry. Wally, too,
followed into the Brethren as did Gordy and Georgie.
my younger days growing up, there were always people that would stand out in
my mind above all others. And I
noticed that they not only affected me that way because whenever certain
people would come by or enter a room, everyone seemed to become more alert and
treat those certain people as something special.
Somehow those feelings seem to stay with one over the years.
of those people was Iver Femrite, whom I will call a farmer because he was a
near neighbor of ours on a farm. He
and his brother George had as much as 1,000 acres at a time, nearly all
adjacent from George's homesite to Iver's place.
They truly were the bonanza farmers of Pope County in our eyes. But that wasn't all, as Iver owned the Lowry Telephone
Company, too, and ran it efficiently besides serving on different boards and
being successful in all. This was a wonder to us as we grew up.
But what makes him seem so special now, is the helpfulness and constant
friendship of his family. I look
back with fondness on the Femrite families.
person that stands out from my younger days was Ed R. Benson, or as we used to
call him, E. R. He served Lowry
as mayor for many years.
writing about my elementary school years in Lowry, I regret that I left out a
good teacher that we had. She was
Evelyn Benson, a daughter of Ed and Mrs. Benson.
She followed Cora Bennett as 1st and 2nd grade teacher until Margit
Anderson came. Perhaps one reason
that I forgot to mention her was that we had her only for music classes. But I have to say that she, too, was a very good teacher and
music instructor. This may be
unkind to say, but we always thought that it must have taken her quite some
time to prepare for the day as she always wore such heavy makeup, and it
wasn't necessary because she was an attractive person. I know that she was married later and lived in Edina,
back to her father. He had a very
nice barn with the silo on the inside, so the silage never froze. I appreciated that when I worked there a short time, but the
barn itself was not handy at all otherwise.
This is the farm that Dr. Bert McIver bought and I believe Paul McIver
lives there now.
Benson also was Lowry's dairy owner and he delivered milk products daily to
Lowry. Those were the days before
pasteurization and I believe Dr. Maynard Nelson, for one, became sick with
undulant fever. That brought an
end to Ed's dairy business. I must add a bit of clarification to Lowry's
source of dairy products. Because
of the danger of unpasteurized milk, everything seemed to change. There were other Lowry residents who had the facilities to
keep a cow or two that I recall, the Holtbergs, the Hoplins, the Robiesons and
perhaps more. But these people
kept the milk strictly for themselves whereas Ed Benson had to stop selling to
later the Robiesons had goats rather than cows until one time a goat jumped on
a flat car on the tracks and went west out of town..I don't know how far it
went without a ticket!)
also was an auctioneer. I recall
at some auctions where he would sell slowly, and most buyers were farmers and
had to leave to get home to their chores.
This was a complaint that people had that he spent so much time on the
trivial material that when it came time for livestock, he and a crony or two
could bid cheap and get the livestock. I
couldn't say that for sure but I have seen that happen in several of his
sales. Too bad, as the man didn't need that kind of reputation.
But in spite of that, Ed still kept his popularity all of his life.
the 1930's, as you bought merchandise or food in Lowry during the week, you
would receive tickets for the cost along with your receipt.
Every Saturday evening when people would come to Lowry and shop, at
9:00 p.m., a drawing was held in the town hall.
Lowry was filled with cars and the hall would be filled with people.
Then Ed Benson would come strutting in like Santa Claus and usually
some child would turn the barrel of tickets, pull out one, and Ed would read
off the number of the lucky recipient. One
night I won $5.00 and each night there always were several winners.
Then the people would stream out and the exodus home would begin.
A big time in a small town! Ed
held some mystic spell over the Lowry residents and over me as well.
I guess every town needs someone like Ed.
I wish that I hadn't started this part of my story on the Lowry residents of
my youth. It may offend some
people and I'll perhaps wish that I could include others who were certainly
deserving of mention and there are many such as Howard Lysen, Dave Nelson, the
Robiesons, the Bennetts, our bankers, the Engebretsons, Claude Middents, Leo
Dahl, our doctors, the McIvers, and Martin Boyer.
Now I'll stop as all of these and more have meant so much to Lowry, as
I remember it, in my youth.
Nights in Lowry
Saturday nights in town often were a struggle especially in the summer at
haying or harvest time on the farm. It
was an all-out trial to finish the chores, get cleaned up, and get to town..at
least that was the standard procedure for farm boys.
We knew that the town boys would wait for us no matter how long it
took. Nothing much seemed to
change from the time we were mischievous little imps until we got older and
grew interested in girls. As
little tykes we were satisfied just to go along and have some pop or an ice
cream cone, but later we were on our own.
Farm wives and mothers were usually too exhausted from the week's work
and cleaning up the younger children, so quite often they wouldn't go to town. The fathers would take the "slip" and buy the
groceries, get haircuts, and go from store to store loafing and bragging.
we had a favorite sport for Saturday nights.
There were always some widows or spinsters that we called the
"sages." To be sure
that they found their usual and best parking spot on main street, they would
leave their always shiny, always nearly new car on that spot early on Saturday
evening. As the town filled up,
at least three or four of these dowagers, dressed in all their finery, would
sit in one car all evening passing judgment on all, but particularly on us
naughty children. We would try to
think up some special bit of mischief to spring on them or perhaps hint of a
traffic accident on the edge of town, but we could never get them to move that
car. Part of our enjoyment came from the stares and glares that we
got the next day in church. It
was often more fun than Halloween. We
made plans to put our cars in their favorite spots, but it never came to that.
I think that would have spoiled our sport.
They always seemed to park by the meat market so they could keep their
eyes on that, the hardware, the grocery and drug store, but especially on the
cafe and pool hall. Of those that
didn't go to our church, it was the only time that we ever saw most of them.
year, this was the procedure in all small towns from April until the following
Christmas season. That was to
accommodate the people as they prepared for the holidays.
The rest of the year the shopping and drawing of prizes was held on
Saturday afternoons because of weather conditions.
Hobos and others down on their luck
the 1930s it was such a common sight to see a veritable army of transient
people moving back and forth across the country.
The freight trains were always a picturesque sight with people in empty
boxcars, on flat cars and riding on the top of cars.
It was illegal, of course, but there were just too many to police and
whether going east or west the trains always had a good share of transients.
I cannot call all of them bums or hoboes, really, as a great number of
them were going from town to town just trying to find work or something to
eat. And it was not only on the trains. In
those days, the state and other main highways, unlike today, used to pass by
all the farms, and the roads always had these people on them.
They used to stop in at the well for a drink of water and some would
come to the door and ask for a sandwich while others would ask for work, if
only to pay for a few meals, and then move on again.
I have worked along side some of them and I didn't find any that didn't
give their best efforts even if the job was unfamiliar to them.
Those that I got to know were always friendly, honest, and usually had
interesting stories to tell. I am
grateful for those experiences, too.
course there were instances of families of gypsies that would come through
with their horses, wagons, families and all of their possessions with
them,..always in colorful clothes. They
would camp outside of town and make the rounds through the stores.
They wouldn't beg but they believed that they were entitled to any and
everything that they could carry away. Unlike
rode the rails, the gypsies were not too honest.
They originated from the Turkish, Armenian and Bulgarian areas of
Europe. Quite an experience to
have known these people. Here
again, much unlike gypsies, I have never seen a lady or girl hobo. Now, I understand, there is an annual reunion of hobos
someplace in Iowa, and there are some lady hobos, but be assured that they are
an entirely different sort than what I remember, as I knew it to be a
necessity rather than a hobby!
the earliest that I can remember, there were always barn dances.
We as youngsters were never permitted to go to anything like that and
as we got older we never had the desire to go.
Years ago, many barns naturally had huge haylofts and many people after
building a new barn, and before filling it with hay, would have one barn dance
in it. I have mentioned before
that we used to operate a portable feed mill and would go from farm to farm
and grind oats and corn for the farmers.
This was certainly handy for farmers in that they needn't load up the
grain and haul it often many miles to town to have it ground.
One customer was Louie Kalina and he was one who had just built a large
new barn and he asked me if I wanted to paint it for him.
That was too big a job for me at that time so I declined.
Anyway, he was the last person that I recall who intended to have a
dance there when it was finished.
will mention later that I attended the North Dakota State School of Science at
Wahpeton, North Dakota. West of
town toward Barney and that area were large potato farms.
Somehow we students heard that those farmers always needed evening help
in hauling in the sacks of potatoes that were picked during the day.
A few of us used to drive out and help with that chore.
Always afterward we were treated to a big supper and then we would
drive back to school and shower off our dirty bodies.
This one particular farmer we even helped grade and sack the potatoes
after the harvest was done.
can so easily get off the track, but this same farmer was telling us that when
he had built his barn he wanted to have a dance there. So he wrote to Lawrence
Welk and promised him $1,000 if he would play for his dance.
At least Lawrence Welk had the courtesy of replying, but he wrote that
he would send one player for $1,000! Lawrence
Welk was from La Moure, North Dakota and the people of the Dakotas felt like
he was an old neighbor boy. Lawrence
Welk was just getting into the big-time, so his reply was understandable.
the barn dance was not anything local, but a nation-wide event and quite
possibly is the forerunner of country western music.
I must get back to home and the barns around there.
Not counting the one-time events, there was Jim's barn near Pocket Lake
north of Lowry, Chan's barn northeast of Lowry, and (as advertized) Gene's Big
Barn over near Forada. This was,
like all the barns, kept neat and clean.
The only difference was that Gene's barn never had any hay or livestock
in it. The Jamesway Company had
installed the hay track and carrier and also all the pens and stanchions in
the barn with the guarantee that it would never be used.
It was only for advertising. All
of these barns are still standing and are now used for what they were
intended, as I haven't heard of a barn dance for over 40 years.
young as we were and never being at a barn dance, what I remember is the talk
associated with it usually by the numerous hired men in the community. After each weekend there was always a lot of bravado talk and
often a black eye on someone who got too exuberant at the dance.
All of this is a part of the passing scenes of my youth.
my siblings, I always enjoyed good music and we must have inherited that love
from our parents. My mother had
such a wonderful touch on the piano and I understand that she was a church
organist when only 11 years old. My
dad played the clarinet and at times played in the Lowry town band.
Gert and Aggie learned to play the piano but the boys...well, perhaps
if it hadn't been for the depression and war, we could have learned to play
some instrument in school. I
remember going to the park in Glenwood on Wednesday nights to hear the
Glenwood Concert Band in the band shell.
How I enjoyed a good classical overture or a march from Sousa's
repertoire. Those concerts are
rare indeed now. As I mentioned,
Pa occasionally played in the Lowry band, according to a photo in the Lowry
Centennial Souvenir Book of 1986.
had the opportunity to have an all-string orchestra when the William Leslies
lived in town. Mr. Leslie was
part owner with Mr. Misensol of the Lowry Roller Mill.
When the mill burned down in February of 1937, Mr. Leslie and other
workers were out of work. Mr.
Misensol moved to Farwell and owned and operated that elevator until
retirement. But Mr. and Mrs.
Leslie with their children, Alexander and Margaret, moved to Michigan.
They also had an older adopted boy named Robert, who after service time
lived the rest of his life in California.
The Leslie home is where Mrs. Lillian Femrite lives and where Mr. and
Mrs. Donny Dingwall lived after Leslies moved.
Now I hope that is all clear so I can get on with the subject of music.
Leslie, prior to her marriage, went overseas to Germany for three years and
studied at the Leipzig Conservatory of Music.
It surely was a major move from Leipzig to Lowry, but if she ever had
any regrets I have never heard of any. She
began to give lessons in Lowry--piano, violin, cello, etc.--and I remember
walking past their house in the summertime with the open windows and marveling
at the music. The students I
remember were the Middents', Norma Johnson, John Hagstrom, Archie Brandt, and
others who started and quit, besides her children Alexander and Margaret.
Anyway, there were many other pupils, as I recall, but I can't remember
a very personal interest to me is that one of Mrs. Leslie's pupils was my
sister Aggie. She played the
violin and she recalls a concert at the town hall, after which the Leslies had
to give her a ride home since our parents were not there.
Mama, of course, couldn't drive and we often didn't get much
encouragement from Pa. I beg
Aggie's forgiveness if this causes her embarrassment, but Mrs. Leslie said
that "the beauty in her playing brings tears to the eyes."
That must have been a thrill to hear from a true professional like Mrs.
Leslie, but it must have been a joy to know that she could inspire that in a
young pupil. These really were professionally trained musicians and maybe some
could have gone on to success if the times were different.
there also were many self-taught people that became quite good even though
they couldn't even read a note of music.
I have in mind especially those that played at the barn dances. Most all were local talent and their instruments usually were
violins, guitars, concertinas, harmonicas, accordions, and some
brass--trumpets or bass horns.
don't know of any local talent that went on with a musical career, but there
was a lot of enjoyment from the efforts of those who tried to be musicians,
not only for themselves but for those they entertained as well.
perhaps was true of us, too. Gordy
said that when we sang it was for our own amusement, or was it amazement! But we boys liked to gather around the piano and sing.
For a time we also sang as a quartet at different places and we did get
compliments on that. It was a joy!
1949-50, I sang with several Lowry men in the Runic Male Chorus of Alexandria.
It was an 80-member group from Alex, Glenwood, Lowry, Osakis, Brandon,
and other rural and small towns. We
would rehearse in the Alex city hall and sing in four-part harmony, then we
would put on concerts in various cities.
Our main conductor was a Mr. Oyloe from Fergus Falls, who owned a paint
shop there. He could, and would,
walk the whole length in front of our chorus singing second bass, baritone,
melody, and first tenor in perfect pitch as he walked.
Another of our directors for part of the program was Mayo Savold, the
band and choir director from Glenwood High School at the time.
He went on from Glenwood to be the music director at Augsburg College
in Minneapolis. The quality of
those directors and singers was quite superb, and it was a joy just to be a
part of that group.
each year was special in that we could listen to and sing Christmas carols.
We were fortunate in Lowry that we had a skating rink and warming house
in the middle of town, and that was a pleasure in itself.
A memory that I cherish is when, at Christmas and often after skating,
we would look for houses that were hosting a holiday party, and we would go to
those homes and sing carols. The
closer it was to Christmas, the more homes there were entertaining guests.
After singing, they would invite us in for candy, cookies, and all the
treats. After a few homes like
that, our stomachs were too full of sweets to sing anymore, so we would call
it off until the next night. Many
times we would sing at homes which had no guests.
We thought our singing was better in the cool, crisp winter air and we
enjoyed it. I think the people we
sang for enjoyed the nostalgia of it, too!
We don't hear of caroling much anymore.
few people were aware of the changes that the '40s would bring to our lives
especially after coming through the trauma of the '30s, and to us on the farm
we hoped for more pleasant times. We
heard of war rumors in other parts of the world but never thought that our
lives could be changed so much.
was nearing the end of his schooling at Fergus Falls and Gert and Aggie would
work where they could--California, Minneapolis, around home and even
Washington, D.C.--for a while. Gordy
was at Grandpa's and it pretty much was a normal season.
In the fall we began building a new house.
By November, the field work was done and the house was enclosed.
However, on November 10, it started to rain and then turned to snow.
Huge flakes were blanketing the ground but it didn't start to blow
until evening. Armistice Day,
November 11 of that year, 1940, we had a blizzard.
Our new house was just finished with newly plastered walls inside, and
we kept the furnace going to dry the walls.
I remember the wet plaster was a dark gray except above the heat
registers from floor to ceiling where it was chalk white.
had for a couple of years tried to raise turkeys and in 1940 we had a nice
flock that was nearly ready for Thanksgiving and the coming holiday season. They were naturally outside and were caught in the storm.
We could catch some of them and put them into a shed, but as the snow
storm increased it got easier to catch them.
However, soon they would become covered with snow, with only their tail
feathers sticking up through the snow, and finally they were completely
covered and we could not find them at all, so we lost quite a few.
In all, the storm lasted three days and of course no school, but it was
still an exhausting experience!
that winter we had a neighbor helping us with chores and helping with the new
house. His name was Lester
Anderson, older than us but had ended school after the eighth grade.
We were fortunate that winter in that we didn't have any more blizzards
until St. Patrick's Day on March 17. It
was a most beautiful Saturday evening and Georgie and I talked Lester into
staying home that evening which was novel because Saturday night was the night
to go out shopping, visiting, movies and just get out.
So Lester did stay home with us. Now
he was one of those hired men that I had mentioned that was happy to have a
winter job although because of the chores, working on the house, and George
and I both in school, we paid him $15 a month.
(He was such a strong person.)
Person picked up Gordy at Grandpa's and they went to Glenwood.
Returning to Lowry about 11:00 p.m., the storm hit and they followed
the road on the left side and slowly made it to Lowry and a mile beyond where
they got stuck and had to walk three-quarters of a mile to Clayton's house
where Gordy stayed over night. The
boys weren't dressed for bad weather and as they left the car, Gordy's hat
blew off and the wind carried it over a mile where it stuck in a fence line.
This storm was short-lived and the next morning Gordy walked to
Grandpa's, a distance of four miles. A
neighbor of ours, Roy Quitney, was driving to town by sled and he saw Gordy's
hat with his name on it and he brought it home.
Ma became panic-stricken with fear, but we called over to Grandpa's and
Gordy had just gotten there, so that came out all right.
Don't mess with blizzards!
Anderson stayed with us through spring work and until we boys were done with
school. Lester was drafted later
during the war. He had about two
months of basic training and then was sent to Europe.
I still have a V-mail letter that he sent to Georgie and me while
aboard the ship. He arrived in
Europe just prior to the Battle of the Bulge and he died in that battle...what
a waste! Lester's cousin Roy also
lost his life in the Bataan Death March.
road by our place was not at all passable in bad weather or the mud of spring.
One late afternoon Leslie Howland, who lived three or four miles west
of our place, got stuck by our house and we tried to get him to wait out the
storm but I recall him saying, "I gotta get home!" so Ma gave him a
large shawl to put over his head and he started out into the teeth of the
storm. Some time later Pa called
Bill Knutson, as Leslie had no phone, and Bill rode a horse over to the
Howland place, which was only about a quarter of a mile, and when he returned
he called us and said that Leslie had just made it home. (I don't remember if
Ma ever got that shawl back.) Again I say, don't mess with blizzards!
on this subject, it must have been around 1944--I was just getting ready to
milk--and another neighbor to our west got stuck in the mud by our place.
Georgie was going to school in Fergus Falls, so I was alone with the
chores, and I remember being in a rush as I wanted to go to a basketball
tournament in Glenwood that night. It was late March of an early spring and I think that it was
perhaps a regional tournament or whatever, but anyway this fellow got stuck
and wanted me to pull him out. I
never cared too much for him but I knew I had to help him out so I harnessed
the team, found a chain and double trees, and pulled him out.
He asked me how much he owed me and I told him 35 cents.
He paid me but I heard later from several people how I had charged him
"so much" for pulling him out!
To top it off, Pa didn't like it that I pulled people out of the mud,
as it was hard on the horses, and of course he was right about that.
Some days it doesn't pay to get out of bed!
believe it was in 1942 when we got electricity to the farm.
When we had the house built, we also had it wired and I remember Gordy
wired the barn. Where he learned
electrical engineering, I have no idea, but Gordy seemed to be able to do
everything. I know that
everything was set to energize long before they actually hooked us up, but I
guess they had to be sure all the other farmers were ready, too.
It was frustrating to wait for--but the day finally came--on about the
coldest day of the year.
was during these years when we never made any unnecessary trips and our world
centered around our little old Lowry. The
winters especially were the only time we had to visit and I used to walk to
town in the evenings and go skating at the rink.
The boys were a bit younger than I and not old enough for the military.
After skating, we would go to the cafe and have some lunch.
Our streets were not paved then, only gravel, and the snow on them
would be packed like ice so sometimes we could skate all the way downtown.
Often we would go down to the depot and sit around the big pot-bellied
stove with the telegraph chattering away in the background.
Roy Robieson, whose dad was the depot agent, would take care of the
mail after the fliers came through at night.
Occasionally, a heavy mail sack wasn't thrown off far enough and it
would get under the wheels and spread mail a quarter mile up the tracks.
of the cafes was owned by a Mr. Mollers, who I think was working somewhere on
a defense job. At any rate, he
was seldom around and his wife and daughters took care of the cafe. I remember Gwen, the oldest daughter, started to make trouble
for Roy as he was only about 16 and she thought too young to handle postal
duties. Roy reminded her that her
younger sister Joan had no business dispensing beer either (their cafe also
had a beer license at that time), as she was perhaps only 12 or 13 years old.
So the disagreement ended in a draw, and no more was said either way.
In those days, if you could do the job, that was the only requirement!
reminded here of another related incident.
The girls that skated, etc., were as talented as the boys. One girl, Lois Holden, helped us shock grain one year and
that is about the hardest job for anyone to do.
This same girl also went to the Wahpeton School of Science and she
wanted to play football, which after a tryout was okay with the coach.
She even had her uniform when the school put a stop to that.
After finishing the two-year course at Wahpeton, she enrolled at
another school to get her degree--some type of geology degree.
After graduating, she applied for a job in her field somewhere in
Colorado. But on her resume and
application, she used the name L. Holden, rather than Lois.
Needless to say, after bringing her in for an interview, they were
surprised, but her grades were so high that she got the job nevertheless.
This was all many years back, and I understand she has since passed
away. All of her siblings were as
bright as she. (Her father was
the carpenter who built our house in 1940.)
or about that time we leased a 1941 Ford truck, with a feed mill mounted on
it, powered by a Mercury motor. We
would drive around grinding feed from halfway to Alexandria to southwest of
Starbuck. We could charge either
by the bushel, by the load, or even by the miles-per-hour on the Mercury
speedometer. There was in those
days a 35 mile speed limit on all highways so this truck had a governor on it
limiting its speed. It was all
right except when you got stuck, then you wished that you could really open it
up. Some farms were so unhandy
and I think that I was too young to work that hard.
Rarely would a farmer offer to help, especially shoveling corn, as it
was most difficult to shovel fast enough to keep it at the prescribed 50 miles
occasionally had to do work for other farmers.
I remember Gordy plowing for Anton with his new Farmall "H".
Gordy also plowed for Femrites--23 acres in one day for them---by
starting with the lights on in the morning and returning with lights on in the
evening. That, I suppose doesn't
seem like too big a job in these days, but these were smaller plows that
unhooked whenever you hit a rock so a lot of time was spent in backing up and
rehooking to the plow. Gordy
worked two years for Clarence Lida, I think, and Clarence bought the Hoppestad
farm at that time. They plowed it
up with a cat, even using a cat to tear down the old log house.
The whole Hoppestad farm was then seeded into flax and I recall
Clarence, Gordy, Georgie, and I shocking that flax.
That was one of the years Lidas threshed for us.
Larsons and Overgaards were in our ring, too.
Overgaards had rented Bill Knutson's farm that year and we were
reluctant to bring our horses over there as all of Knutson's horses had died
of anthrax, but it turned out all right.
little incident of that harvest season was that while threshing, the first day
we threshed at Lidas and after eating too much for dinner and going right back
to pitching bundles, I got sick that afternoon and vomited. Naturally, we had to keep working. The next day we were at home and thinking that I had eaten
something the day before that I shouldn't have, I again gorged myself and
promptly was sick again. I
remember that tomato taste and I couldn't stand tomatoes again for years!
So, after that, I would eat very sparingly and take a few minutes of
rest before returning to work. When
we were at Overgaards, Mrs. Overgaard asked my dad if I wasn't well since I
didn't eat much. When Pa asked me
about it, I told him the reason.
did housework at George Teigen's, after Ella had passed away, and I know
Georgie was there helping pick strawberries.
George Teigen had a most colorful hired man by the name of Joe Foss.
worked briefly for Rudy Lee who lived a couple of miles north of Starbuck,
during haying season. I did some
chores and work for others, too--Carnie Anderson, Floyd Anderson, Clarence
Lida--while these families would take vacation.
It was often not easy to take over the chores and place without notice.
Fortunately, they were not the types to worry about their farms or, at
any rate, I guess they felt that I could manage it.
I had to take a load of feed to the elevator in Lowry to grind for the
pigs while at the Floyd Anderson place. The
oats were ground and put in sacks and as I loaded them in the trailer I fell,
striking my chest on the trailer box. I
didn't feel it then but two days later I couldn't breathe, so I had Dr. McIver
tape my chest up as I had broken two ribs.
I lost some zip for a while but I still had to stay on that job.
Grand-dad's farm auction sale, when he moved back into Lowry in 1941, he sold
his beautiful Model-T Ford sedan and it surprised me that Pa agreed to buy it
for me. I was only 15 and had no
driver's license, of course, but that didn't matter in those days. So my dad bought it for $16 and it gave us boys a lot of
thrills. I don't remember what
winter it was but I drove it up into the barn hay mow to keep it out of the
weather as it wasn't exactly a winter vehicle anyway.
Then I lost the key for it and I didn't know what to do about that
until Spring and Summer came, with haying season, and I had to get it out of
the barn. So, we boys crossed the
wires and started it up and down the driveway and around the granary and then
a front wheel collapsed. The
wheels, of course, were wooden spokes and I still can't figure out why they
should have dried out so much in that short time as it had been stored that
long before. Anyway, that was it
for that car. We pretty much
junked it out for parts as it was all salvageable.
when he was a student at L.B.S. in Fergus Falls, bought a 1927 Chevrolet sedan
for $30. It was a fine looking
sedan with a top speed of 40 m.p.h. One
Sunday I drove my mother to Alexandria with it.
I probably was 13 or 14 years old.
We went to the Lutheran Church in Alexandria as she was so fond of
music. Mr. Tangen was the
organist and she wanted to hear him. As
I keep repeating, we always just loved to go over to see Grandpa, Jennie and
Toots. On this particular day,
Wally's car began rolling down the hill and side swiped a tree, tearing off
one of the rear doors. The frames
for those cars were all made of wood and there was no way to repair it so we
drove it like that. Soon we took
the door off on the other side and then again the front doors went...really
air-conditioned! I remember
Georgie driving it one evening in town and I know he wasn't over 12 years old.
As I have mentioned, Clayton Person was over this Sunday and we had a
fresh straw stack in the field that we would back it up full speed and put in
the clutch just as we hit the stack. It
was a nice soft cushiony stop. Later,
like kids, we would lay down on the seats and raise our legs to the roof and
push. The roof was fabric and it
was soon easy to have a convertible. If
that car were animated, it would have shed many tears!
only tell you of one more of our vehicles.
Gordy was working for Clarence Lida, perhaps around 1943, and he bought
a 1933 two-door Chevrolet--all parts operable.
It had a maroon paint job and that tended to fade out rather fast, so
one day Gordy and Clarence grabbed a couple of old paint brushes and painted
it black. It looked quite good in
flat black with brush marks on it! There
was one problem with all of those old cars and that is that they had
mechanical brakes, which was before the time of hydraulic brakes and way
before the days of power brakes; so, often as not, you probably had to shift
down into intermediate, then into low, and occasionally into reverse to herd
it to a stop. It's amazing how
adroit people became at handling those cars, even the ladies.
Anyway, it was a beater and not too comfortable for winter driving as
it and every other car only had manifold heaters.
You could tolerate the cold but the windshield and all windows would
ice up so badly it was difficult to see.
Usually you had to roll down a window or else get those little glass
glue-ons that would help somewhat. But
for summer driving, they were a joy. Whenever
we would go anyplace, it was always to pick up a carload of guys in town and
perhaps cruise to Glenwood or Alex. I recall one night someone in the back seat had a cigar.
He thought he had thrown it out, but the wind carried it back in and
soon the cushion was burning. We
stopped, threw out the cushion, got back in and went on our merry way.
time we were going to Alex and about halfway there we met a car with such
bright lights that we side-swiped it and ended up in the ditch.
The other car stopped, and as it was deer hunting season, there were
five men in the car and five deer in the trunk and on top which all caused the
lights to shine up on oncoming traffic. I
know that Gordy had to pay some hard-earned money for that accident and it
really wasn't our fault. (Anyway,
the most tragic part of this tale is that a few years later, while deer
hunting again, that same driver accidently shot and killed a man in his own
we got the car back on the road, we found that we could only steer it one way
so we had to go as far as possible, then back up in line again, and then
proceed forward. However, we only
went for about a mile and then the car overheated or something and it stopped. We started walking home but stopped in at Malyons and they
took us back to Lowry. I think
that Warren Nelson towed the car home with his wrecker.
don't know how long it sat in the trees at home, but one day Pa had the
steering fixed and cut the back end off to make it into a pickup.
One day Pa took it somewhere to buy some seed flax.
I don't know where, but I was milking in the evening when I heard this
crash. It was a beautiful spring
evening and with the milk machine motor and compressor running I didn't pay
any attention to anything except milking, when Pa walked into the barn and
said that he had tipped the truck over. It
had no lights and he evidently went into the steep ditch and turned it over.
After chores, we got it upright and pulled it home with the tractor.
The flax was in sacks and none of them broke open, but again the old
truck was back in the trees once more. I
don't recall how long it was there this time, although I do know that we had a
grand 1942 Chevrolet and the carburetor went out on it so I took the one out
of that tired old 1933 pickup and put it in the car.
Those old six-cylinder motors all had interchangeable parts and were a
very dependable motor. They
didn't even have oil filters and I do believe that they were the best motor
ever made. I would like to have
one of those cars now with the six-cylinder in it.
is amazing how small children survive the hazards of farm life and equally
astonishing that adult people aren't hurt, maimed, or worse from dealing with
all types of livestock and dangerous machinery.
That applied equally to either sex as I mention throughout this story.
Often the children of farm families were placed on jobs that they were
not physically mature enough to handle. I've
seen that often enough in our family and I know that it also was so in other
of my earliest recollections of a situation like this was a time that we were
in the granary, at least Pa, Gordy, and I were.
Gordy was standing beneath a cut-out hole in the ceiling when Pa
dropped a scoop shovel through the hole striking Gordy directly on the head.
I remember how it bled and today he still bears that scar.
cows, as they were milked, was a common dilemma, to say nothing of a kicking
horse. Here again, Gordy was
kicked by a horse when he was very young.
Wally must have had the horses charmed, as my family has told me.
As a youngster barely able to reach around the leg, he would go up to a
horse and hug the leg. That was a
life-long love that Wally had--the draft horse and the bigger, the better.
very young ages we were expected to deal with all livestock.
When it was time to get the cows from the pasture for milking, that was
a daily chore for us even though there often was a bull in the pasture.
During the early '30s, we lost three or four horses from what the
veterinarian called forage poisoning. Maybe
that contributed to it, but I think that the dust storm blew the corn leaves
full of sand and grit which led to bowel obstruction.
To replace those horses we bought three broncos that were broke, at
least for some machinery. But we
had to tie the tug chain on to the eveners with twine so they wouldn't drop
off against the horses' legs with a certain runaway.
At least, we children could never hold them--maybe with a rifle!
Wally tried to ride one of the big dapple grays one day and got
promptly thrown off. Another
hazard was when a horse would step over a tug and then you had better have
nearby help to handle that situation.
was cutting corn with a corn binder one day during hunting season and some
hunters nearby scared his horses with their shooting. The horses ran home
breaking parts of the harness and the corn binder.
At least the hunters did give Pa $25.00 for that, but we always knew
that each runaway spoils the horse a little bit more.
the war we had the tractor for cultivating and such work, but we still cut and
raked hay with horses. We had
four horses at the time and one team suddenly became spooky of pulling a hay
rack so we didn't use that team all summer.
However, when threshing time came, we needed all the horses, so I
hooked this team carefully to a wagon and rack and we were off.
I let them go out in the field at a full gallop and made as much noise
on the rack as I could until I could see they were tiring. Then I started talking to them and pulling on the reins until
they stopped. We never had any
more problems with them and I could even drive right up to the threshing
machine and from then on they stood quietly and placidly.
too, you've heard of animals that answer to only one master.
When my family homesteaded in Montana, Pa had a stallion named Boyd.
He sold this horse to a neighbor but the neighbor couldn't control the
horse. A proper story teller
should find the result of that transaction as to whether Pa had to take the
horse back, or what happened. I
can't recall ever asking Pa what did happen with that horse, or perhaps I've
sister Gert had a ruptured appendix in 1932, I believe, and she nearly didn't
survive that. Years later she had
to have major surgery again and they found that the appendix was never
removed. Another bit of information about Gert's appendectomy is what my
sister Aggie has told me. Dr.
Gieson operated at the Starbuck Hospital and he had prescribed some medicine
for her before the operation. However,
our druggist Claude Middents would not sell it, believing that the
prescription should not be taken for the symptoms of her illness.
He alone must be commended for possibly averting a tragedy.
I wonder how often that might happen, even in this day.
Between the operations she evidently was well enough to do more than
her share of the farm work. Later,
we had an old bicycle that she rode down the driveway, across the road and
into the ditch, and tumbled over the handlebars.
She still has a 5 inch scar on her shin.
niece Karen Hagerup, with her family, came back to Lowry during our parents'
Golden Wedding Anniversary. She,
her brother and sister and I suppose Georgie's children were playing up in the
barn hay loft when she fell through the open hay hole to the concrete floor
below. That was in 1964. I guess she wasn't hurt, but I'm going to ask her if she
were threshing a field of buckwheat at the Dalen place where Georgie now
lives. We threshed with Femrites
that year and Gordy was driving a bundle team of Femrite's horses. They were broke but hadn't been driven for years so they were
actually only green broke. Gordy
had quite a time with them but at least no one got hurt. I can recall more interesting harvest experiences but they
are better left unsaid.
loved draft horses so much, as I said before, and until his passing he and I
would go to the huge horse auction sale at Waverly, Iowa, which was held
spring and fall each year. It was
sometime in the '30s that Cornell and Harold Erickson had a stallion that
Wally used to take around to all the farms east all the way to Villard.
He would stay at different farms at nightfall. Once when he returned (maybe he was gone a couple of weeks),
I saw him coming and ran to meet him. He
had a light harness on the horse pulling a light-weight, two-wheel cart.
I climbed up on the seat with him and turned into our driveway.
The horse turned his head and something frightened him--maybe he saw me
on the cart or whatever--but he was in full gallop.
The light cart flipped Wally and me off, the horse running up and along
a fence which tore his harness off. Then
the horse just stopped and looked at us.
we repaired the harness and Cornell came over to try it again.
Wally held the horse and Cornell hooked up the tugs, got on the cart
and said "let him go." Maybe
the horse didn't know that Cornell was on the cart, but when Wally released
him the horse made a 180 degree turn, Cornell fell off, and horse and cart ran
behind the barn, broke off a fence post, broke off his harness, and the cart
was hanging on an open barn door, one wheel still spinning.
The horse just turned and looked at us.
I'm sure that was the end of any idea of doing something like that
again with that horse as horses never forget things like that.
Cornell jumped on the horse bareback and said he would take him home,
put him on the drag, and work the nonsense out of him.
Again, no one was hurt but we could have been!
Wally and I laughed about that often.
1935, when I was ten, we did a lot of reshingling the buildings at home, using
wood cedar shingles and naturally doing the work ourselves.
We would soak the shingle bundles in the stock water tank to keep the
shingles from splitting. I didn't
shingle the south side of the barn but I remember the scaffold giving way on
the north side and I slid down to the scaffold at the eaves with lots of
slivers in my hands. I shivered for awhile but Pa made me go right back up.
used to crawl up the ladder on the windmill and sit on the platform up there.
If the wind had risen and the wheel would have swung around, it would
have swept us off the platform. A
couple of times Ma saw us and down we came. She was very nervous about those
things and rightly so, because she had plenty to do and care for besides the
once was plowing for Anton Teigen with our 17-28 Twin City tractor and
two-bottom plow. Behind that he
hooked up a two-bottom horse gang plow that he wanted me to ride on, put
it in the ground and take it out at the end of the round.
I firmly refused as I had seen people thrown off the plow when hitting
a rock. Too dangerous, I thought.
it in the ground and take it out at the end of the round.
I firmly refused as I had seen people thrown off the plow when hitting
a rock. Too dangerous, I thought.
now Wally was in the army and I graduated from high school in 1943.
Boys were leaving for service as fast as they became old enough, and
the war and drudgery of farm work was escalating.
Equipment was wearing out and labor was impossible to get so that it
seemed like everything was getting a little run down. Uncle Einer and Margarite visited us the summer of 1944 and
Wally was home on furlough. In
September he married Eleanor in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
Pa, Ma, Aunt Marie, Gert, Gordy and I drove to Sheboygan for the
wedding. John McIver also arrived
by train. Shortly thereafter,
Wally was sent to Europe.
Tosten Torgerson passed away (I believe in 1939), Elmer and Tilman had an
auction sale and then were drafted into the army.
Tilman was a musician and played in the Starbuck City Band and I
remember the beautiful set of drums that he had.
But as for farming, I don't think that he ever did a day's work on the
farm, nor around the house either. When
he was in the army, he played in an army band so he must have been a pretty
fair musician. One day for
recreation they were playing softball and he broke his ankle sliding into
second base. The army could never
heal that up properly for him so he was discharged and returned to Starbuck
and did small menial jobs all the rest of his life. He was never married, and
passed away four or five years ago and was buried in the Inherred Cemetery
north of Starbuck.
brother Elmer served out his stateside duty and after he was discharged, he
stayed in California and worked for the Los Angeles Fire Department the rest
of his life. His wife Inez still
lives in East Los Angeles. Elmer's
family and my mother were cousins and always close to one another.
That also included their mother's side, the Moens, who were delightful
think that it was in 1942 that cousin Warren Swapp enlisted in the navy. He was assigned to a seaplane tender in the South Pacific,
the U.S.S. McFarland. They were
unloading barrels of aircraft fuel onto a landing raft near an island one
evening, and Warren was cleaning up for supper, when nine Japanese torpedo
bombers attacked their ship. They
couldn't cut themselves loose from the landing barge in time so that last
bomber hit their ship and Warren had compound fractures of the leg.
With no medical aid and with the climate of the South Pacific, gangrene
set in and it took his life. I
remember the good times we had with Warren when their family visited us in
1938. What sadness for Aunt Marie
and her family. And as the war
progressed and more boys and girls were lost, the heartache would return again
had a copy of the Colliers Magazine published sometime in the second half of
the 1940's, and the cover page was a full-length photo of the skipper and
chief executive officer of the U.S.S. McFarland.
Also in that edition was the story of the Japanese attack on the ship
that took Warren's life. After
the attack, the ship made its way up an uncharted river and after the daily
job of camouflaging the ship, the crew tried to make the vessel sea worthy
again. The main damage was to the
stern section and especially the ship's rudder.
The article stated that the crew located telephone poles that the
Japanese had at one time installed. With the poles, the crew jury-rigged a new
rudder. That is the word used in
the article, I remember. After
repairing the vessel as much as they could, they sailed it all the way to
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii---thousands of miles of open sea.
I believe the story ended there and I wish that I still had that
magazine which somehow got lost or discarded when I was in the army.
One more note I must add is that the telephone poles that the Japanese
had used were stamped "No. Dak." on them.
graduated from high school at the Lutheran Bible School at Fergus Falls.
That spring he and their choir, with William Windahl conducting, made a
concert trip out east and we heard their last concert at Elim Church near
Osakis when they returned. Georgie
was then inducted into the army on July 9, 1945 after V-E day and a month or
so before V-J day.
I have to backtrack for a clarification.
My aunt Jennie was married to Ted Gryte and they had a daughter
Gertrude, or more properly, Ellen Gertrude.
Ted passed away during the flu epidemic of 1919, when Gert was about a
year old, so Jennie and Gert moved back with her mother and Olaf in Lowry,
then back to the farm and finally back to Lowry again.
My dad's father was named Matt and he died when Pa was small, so Olaf,
who in reality was Pa's uncle, married Matt's widow as I guess families tended
to take care of one another in the old days.
At any rate, we children always called Olaf "Grandpa."
Pa had two brothers, Einer and Henry
and one sister, Jennie, plus a step brother (Olaf's son) who died at about 10
years of age, also named Matt. Now I suppose you are really confused!
Jennie and Gert made their home with Olaf.
Olaf passed away on January 2, 1945, Jennie in 1967, Gert in 1986, and
Gert's husband Milton Glende in 1995. Milt
and Gert were both school teachers and they had no children.
February of 1946, Gordy had a chance to ride to California with our friend,
Archie Brandt, who was returning to the Marine base there.
As Gordy was working on Dr. Bert McIver's farm at the time, I offered
to stay there and cover his job while he was gone. Gert and Aggie at the time were working in California and he
was to visit them and our other relatives who all lived out there.
He was to meet Archie in Minneapolis so he rode to the cities with
Wesley Dahl and a load of livestock. The
night they were to leave was a blizzard so they drove the semi with the cattle
into the large lumber yard shed in Lowry and waited until morning to start for
Minneapolis. Driving through the snow in Paynesville, an axle broke on the
semi so, in the middle of the street, they had to replace that axle.
From then on the trip went well and after a stay in California, Gordy
took a train north to Seattle and on into Canada and then east to Winnipeg
where he caught the Soo Line "Winnipeg Flyer" down to Glenwood.
I left McIver's to meet him for his 4:30 a.m. arrival but got stuck in
a new storm, had to turn around, and got through after daylight.
I stayed on a few days at McIver's for Gordy to catch his breath.
had at that time coaxed me into working there and I was working there when in
mid-summer Gordy came down with polio. Starting
with a severe headache and backache, Dr. McIver gave him a hypo in the
evening, again towards morning, and then took him along to the Glenwood
hospital in the morning where a spinal tap revealed polio.
I believe he was probably the first local patient to get the disease,
but soon there was an epidemic. Gordy
was taken to the Sister Kenny Institute in Minneapolis, and soon that was
filled up, so he was moved to the Naval Hospital wards at Ft. Snelling where
he stayed until the spring of 1947. That
fall, Gordy and I drove to California for a few months, staying with Gert and
Aggie in Pasadena.
recall the feeling of helplessness at the time of Gordy's sickness and yet the
feeling that he would heal completely again.
Gordy was always so strong and willing to do anything to help others. I tend to agree with the feeling of many people that the
disease would strike the go-getter type of person and later that same trait
would help them overcome their affliction.
I wonder how I would have coped with it! Gordy certainly has reached
the pinnacle with the love and steadfast care of his wife Isabel.
corrected me when I assumed that he possibly was the first local person to
contact polio. Both Bernard and
his wife Hazel had it earlier, although not nearly as severe because they
continued to farm. At the time, a
neighbor contacted my dad asking if I would help plow the fields on Bernard's
farm. I went to his place at Noon
the next day and there were 13 of us neighbors with tractors and plows and we
finished in about four hours. I
enjoyed that experience. There
still are instances of that sort when neighbors get together to help someone
in need. If it is a large project
the wives go along and furnish the meals.
It is a marvelous gesture of friendship and neighborliness.
December of 1948, I enlisted in the National Guard at Alexandria, Co. K, 136th
Inf. Reg., 47th Division. This was the old 34th Division of Colonel Miller
fame. After a year, I requested
and received a discharge which was fortunate for me because when the Korean
War began in July 1950, I was drafted into the army.
But I was to go to Europe, while my old guard unit was called into
active duty and most of them went to Korea.
am including Aggie's marriage under the 1950 dates even though she married
Carl Hagerup on August 14, 1949 in Juneau, Alaska.
They have lived in Juneau ever since.
Carl's father immigrated to Juneau from Norway and all of his family
were born there.
year of 1950 started with a very late spring.
No one was able to do any farm work until late in May.
Then very early in the fall there was a hard frost that spoiled the
corn harvest, both for silage and corn picking in the late fall.
The coming winter of 1950-51 was cold with an extra heavy snowfall.
I missed that winter as I was in the army.
in May of 1950, Gordy and I drove Pa's Buick to Windsor, Ontario, where Gordy
and Isabel (Barron) were married on May 19, Mama's birthday. After the wedding, I left the car with the newlyweds and flew
home from Detroit.
the fall, Georgie and Kathleen (Jenkins) Reaume were also married in Windsor
on October 20. Kathleen was a
widow. Her husband was shot down
over the English Channel during World War II.
They had one child, Robert. (Both
Isabel and Kathleen were from Windsor and were employed there.) I also would have gone to their wedding, but the date was too
close to the day of my induction in the army of October 25, 1950.
was married June 14, 1952 to Ed Swift, a widower with two children, Kathleen
and Wesley. They were married in
California and have lived there since. Ed
passed away on May 31, 1987.
was the right age for service in World War II, but I guess because I was the
only one home, the farm is where I was needed, so my draft classification for
that war's duration was IIC. At
the age of 25, I felt that I was over the hill for army life, but as it turned
out, I probably was one of the more fortunate men in the service.
of us Pope County boys left the Glenwood Court House on October 25, 1950 and
traveled to the Federal Building in Minneapolis.
I suppose we had a very preliminary physical exam there and at 11:00
p.m. we left Union Station for Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
We didn't stop or sidetrack at all and it seemed like they switched us
all the way through and we arrived there at 12:00 p.m. the next night.
They had a mess hall open for us with cold boiled potatoes and liver.
We felt like they wanted to make fighting men of us right away or else
send us home again as unfit! Anyway,
at that point we all had plenty of fighting spirit!
The next day we went to quartermaster to get our uniforms and then
marched a mile back to our barracks. One
boy offered to carry another one's duffel bag for a dollar and the deal went
through. There is always a sucker
looking to take advantage of another sucker.
Anyway, they were both satisfied with the deal.
Leonard Wood was not to be our permanent place of training, it was more of a
classification post. I do
remember they tried to find out if any one of us could transcribe or send
Morse Code, but I knew that wasn't my line of work.
Daily we had to line up for orders to send us to a permanent post and
at that time it would be Camp Pickett, Virginia, Ft. Carson, Colorado, or Camp
Polk, and sure enough, we were sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana--another of my
lucky breaks since nearly all of my company would be Minnesota boys.
Our cadre or officer and sergeants, etc., were from a National Guard
unit from Denver, Colorado.
Polk, or rather North Camp Polk (and I don't know why they were separate camps
when I was there) but now they call it Fort Polk.
The area and the barracks were so run down when we arrived as it had
been vacant since the end of World War II.
It was all grown up with scrub trees and weeds with windows and screens
broken out of the buildings, to say nothing of the dirt and even birds flying
in and out of the buildings.
uniforms that were issued at Fort Leonard Wood were ill fitting and we only
received one pair of boots instead of two, no winter clothes such as
underwear, extra socks, gloves, sweaters, and the like.
I clearly remember one cold day in February, when we had almost a
blizzard the night before, and everything was blanketed with snow and ice.
I have pictures of stray horses huddled up against the buildings.
Yes, Louisiana gets cold, too. That
day I was drilling our 1st platoon out on the company street and a jeep came
down the street and stopped beside my platoon.
A Lieutenant-Colonel or light colonel, as we called them, stepped out
of the jeep and after staring awhile at the men, he asked me why nearly
everyone had on a different uniform. You
see, some had scarves, some sweaters, some fatigue uniforms, some had gloves,
others had wool socks on their hands to keep warm, and others had low-quarters
or oxfords on as their boots were worn out.
I didn't know if I should laugh thinking the colonel was making a joke,
but I saw he was pretty grim-faced. I
didn't dare tell him what I thought of his army, either!
Really, on that day, we looked like we were in Valley Forge under
General Washington. So I told the
officer that was all we had left of our issued clothes, and he told me to
march the platoon back to the barracks and stay there. Eagerly, that is what I did, and I watched as the colonel
drove over to our orderly room. Evidently,
he straightened out our Captain Lee on a few military procedures.
In about two hours, the big deuce and a half trucks rolled up and the
entire company was taken down to quartermaster and everyone was outfitted
properly. I saw this colonel a
few days later and thanked him. Although
he wasn't from our unit, he must have been from headquarters.
He did tell me that if our training should waver, in my judgment, I
should let him know. I got his
meaning, but we had no repercussions from our Captain Lee even though that
seemed to be his temperament.
had a tactical field exercise one week where we marched out 12 miles, set up
our camp and had a mock raid on another unit (we burned up one of their squad
tents) took some prisoners and then bedded down for the night.
About 11:00 p.m., my platoon sergeant woke me up and I had to go with
him to reconnoiter an escape route for our company. Sfc. Brassfield, 1st Lt. Dougherty, Cpl. Danielson (jeep
driver) and myself laid out a plan and route.
On this particular road, the "enemy" had piled a bunch of
branches on the road and I remember the Lieutenant saying to our driver
"put it on the floor, Danny." If
there had been anything bigger than branches on that road, we would still be
there in pieces.
any rate, when we got back to our area, we reported to the captain and decided
on that route thinking it would not be blocked again.
So the troops were all awakened--remember this is about 2:00 a.m.--and
all the tents were struck, kitchen stoves and mess equipment loaded.
All trucks were loaded in total darkness and silence.
I was to lead this convoy and we had agreed on 30 minutes to load and
prepare to move, so at 25 minutes I moved all the camouflaged and scattered
vehicles into line to move out. It
was pretty difficult to see the road with only black-out lights on and when we
approached the spot where the road block had been, we opened it up to about 40
miles per hour. All the time I hoped it was clear and that the drivers would
not plow into each other. But a
mile up the road, they signalled for lights and it was over. I don't think I would want to be responsible for that kind of
trip again. Then we drove into
camp and the field exercise was over.
that time it was getting light again so we started to clean up all the
equipment. That afternoon we had what is called a "critique" in
which the umpires who were old World War II combat veterans would go over and
grade the company for its efforts. We
scored pretty high. They said we
made too much noise with mess kits and they said I assembled all the vehicles
too close together. I said if I
were to be in charge again, I would do it exactly the same way.
They said one shell could have wiped out all our vehicles and troops
and I agreed, but said that any other method and those trucks and troops would
go in all directions and we would still lose them. If they didn't agree with
me, at least no one argued the point.
were weekend days when a few of us used to hitch a ride to the Sabine River
which forms the boundary between Texas and Louisiana.
The sand was intolerably hot, you couldn't stand on it, and the river
was tepid nearly like a hot spring and it was also very swift.
We noticed that from week to week the sand river bottom would shift and
we had to be careful of that. One
day a quiet boy, by the name of Fritz, was sucked under and it was only
fortunate Bill Heikkila, a Finn and former Merchant Marine, spotted him and
being a good swimmer saved Fritz and got him to the river bank.
As I recall, no one went swimming there again.
we went out to the rifle range, I remember all the trees beyond and around the
target area were not the same as the southern pine and other trees native to
the Deep South. A few months
later when we again had to go to the range, all the trees were clipped off as
though by a lawn mower. It must
have taken a few million rounds of ammunition to do that and we all couldn't
believe that we were on the same range.
company commander was Captain Lloyd Lee, who fancied himself a physical
fitness freak but by the end of basic training, he found that a Minnesota lad
could do anything that he could ever dream of.
He loved forced marches and field training.
Our unit, or company, was the 869th Medical Collecting Company assigned
to the 95th Medical Group, which consisted of our company, plus an ambulance
company and a clearing company, which is a field hospital.
We were trained as litter bearers but also had full medical aid
training so it was medical plus infantry training.
If we were in a combat situation, our company would be split up into
four-man squads and assigned to infantry or other combat divisions.
Some of our instructors were very good and some very hopeless.
seemed like our basic training went on and on and much more than for most
units. I recall towards spring,
our company had to go to Natchitoches to search along the Red River for a
missing person, a civilian, but they found him down-river quite soon after we
got there. Also, that spring of
1951, I and another fellow had orders to go to the Ellington Air Force Base
near Houston, Texas to pick up two AWOL's that the Air Police were holding
there. Those two were from our
company--one was of Mexican heritage and the other was a boy named Ward from
Alexandria. We put the two in the
Houston city jail overnight while we rented a hotel room.
The next day we picked them up again and took the train back to Camp
Polk. All they got was company
punishment which is little more than being restricted to the company area for
two weeks. Before the two weeks
were up, they had skipped out again and they were picked up by the Military
Police and held at Ft. Riley, Kansas. I
guess Captain Lee told Ft. Riley to keep them as we never saw them again.
around April, we began getting furloughs--about 7% at a time and as we never
had any new orders, we started basic training all over again. That was fine with me as the 45th Division from South Camp
Polk was just leaving for Korea. So
I had a week's furlough and then back to basic training boredom again.
We had been forewarned, while at Ft. Leonard Wood, about training
conditions at Polk and we found out how true it was.
That winter we had ice and snow and springtime brought the heat and
humidity and lots of insects, scorpions, and such, and snakes of all
kinds--adders, coral snakes, water moccasin, rattlers, etc.
We only had one boy bitten by a scorpion.
I had what I called my snake stick that I always carried in the
field--very light and very strong. I
had a spot under our barracks that I kept it until someone else must have
found it just before we shipped out. I
hope that whoever found it was as fortunate as I while carrying it.
I always would stir around in the ground and in the grass before
picking anything up or pitching my pup tent.
Our second time around at basic was easier in that they were more
lenient with us.
guess it was in March of 1951 that I was promoted to private first class and I
remember that on my birthday, April 5, I made corporal.
Sometime early in May we got orders to go overseas.
We were only told that we would embark from New York so I was glad to
know that we probably were going to Europe rather than Korea.
Those were dark days in Korea that summer of 1951. We were spending our
time cleaning and packing and crating equipment and, with too much time on our
hands, some got into trouble. All
around our area was an armored tank outfit and all the personnel were black. They used to walk by our barracks in the evening on their way
to the swimming pool and one evening one of our boys called out, "there
goes the African National Guard." They
yelled back that they were coming back and they did, too.
It looked like a battalion of men out in the street and they started
throwing stones, breaking our windows out.
Our first sergeant had his room in our barracks and he told everyone to
go to the second floor and use cots and mattresses to block the stairway.
By that time our area was teeming with military police. The tank battalion, although all black, had a white
lieutenant colonel as commander and he came into our barracks so mad
and he, without taking a breath for five minutes, really chewed out our first
sergeant. "What are you
trying to do?" he asked, "start your own war?" Then he went out and tried to calm down his troops, but it
must have been nearly a half hour before they all left--a few at a time.
This was about three weeks before we were to ship out, but we were
restricted to our area and the military police patrolled our area until then.
train we left "Cajun" country late one evening the latter part of
July. I don't know what kind of a
train we were on. We, of course,
were in Pullman cars but next to our car was a flat car and a few of us went
out and sat on that until someone came and chased us in--probably bed-check as
it was nighttime. We probably
were going through Mississippi as it was such a gorgeous and balmy evening.
The next night we were nearing Washington, D.C. and our porters said
they would wake us up to see the city, but the next morning they said that the
train didn't go through that way. I
just think that they didn't want a bunch of G.I.s disturbing everyone so they
decided not to take any chances.
that day we arrived at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, which is a staging area for
embarking and debarking from New York. The
camp was named for Sgt. Joyce Kilmer who was killed in World War I. He was the poet who wrote the poem, "Trees."
We were there a few days, but we weren't allowed any passes, and I
don't recall doing anything there except wait and wait.
on August 4th we embarked on the troop ship, the "General Maurice
Rose," named for a general killed in action.
We left New York that very day and we were glad for that as an
overloaded troop ship gets very crowded fast.
I recall that we backed out of the pier slip at the same time as the
magnificent "Queen Mary" and before the tugs had left our ship, the
Queen Mary was out of sight. They
make the trip to Britain in three days and it took us ten days to get to
Bremerhaven, Germany. However, we
did stop at Southhampton, England to let off some air force
personnel...uneventful trip. I
didn't get seasick although many did. It
gets rough sometimes and there was one day that they wouldn't let us go
topside. If at all possible, I
would prefer topside as it is miserable below with nothing to do and many
sick. The food going over was
fair but not enough of it.
I mentioned once before, our captain was a physical training freak and one
time aboard ship, I was supposed to lead our company in calisthenics. Crowded as it is on the deck, I climbed on to one of the
holds which was covered with tarp. I
had just started when the booming voice on the P.A. system from the bridge
said, "Corporal, get off the hold cover!"
So I dismissed the company and we never heard any more about physical
training aboard that ship.
leaving Southhampton and going through the always rough North Sea, on the bow
of the ship were two navy men with M-1 Garand rifles.
They were to fire on and hopefully blow up floating mines.
I still can't figure out what they would do when it got dark---maybe
just hope for the best.
stop was Bremerhaven and there we left the ship and got right on a train and
left immediately traveling south nearly the length of Germany to Degendorf
Military Sub-post. Degendorf was hardly a town, but where we were was a German
ski-trooper training camp situated about 30 miles south of Munich on the edge
of the Alps. They still had all
the ski equipment there that could be used in the winter time.
When we came into camp, we marched in our best cadence and our company
could be quite impressive at times. Evidently,
our grand entrance, counting cadence and all, must have irritated someone as
we had no sooner entered our billets than a colonel and his entourage came
through and we had to have an inspection.
He tore into every one without exception complaining about dirty
towels, socks, underclothes and unkempt uniforms.
It was difficult to keep from laughing in his face, he seemed so
pathetic. Finally, when he was
going through his tirade, one private, (I won't mention his name other than to
say he was a big man, very articulate and evidently knew exactly what he was
saying with these words while standing coldly at attention) said:
"Colonel, sir, this is our best after a month on the road.
If we don't' measure up, we can march back out the gate because I know
our unit can survive in the field."
There was a moment of silence and then the colonel and his aides turned
and walked out. He couldn't very
well court martial anybody because he got an answer to his question.
Do you know, we were only in this camp a month or so and we never saw
or heard from him again. As a company, we didn't do much at this camp except drilling,
a few more repetitious classes, and wonder why we were in Germany.
day we climbed a mountain and I was in the first platoon so I was one of the
first to reach the top. Because
of dislodged stones, the men had to stay fifty feet apart so the last man
didn't reach the top until an hour after I did.
We had packed lunches with us so we ate up there and then started down. It was a clear day and we could see four countries from the
top--Germany, Austria, Italy and either France or Switzerland, I can't recall.
I do remember that going down a mountain with a pack on your back is
harder than going up that mountain as it keeps pushing you and you have to
hold back so you don't break into a run.
A couple of other fellows and I went into Munich or "Munchen",
as it is spelled and pronounced in Germany, one weekend to hear Robert Merrill
of the Metropolitan Opera at the Munich Opera House.
He still has the same great baritone voice today, 45 years later.
pulled CQ duty one weekend...that is charge of quarters where you are on duty
in the office orderly room to take calls, issue passes, and be sure the men
are checked in on time. Nearly
always everything goes smoothly but it is boring duty as you even have to
sleep there on a cot. A normal
day except that one of the men, John Froemming had signed out to return by
midnight and he had gone to Munich that Saturday and fallen asleep on the way
back. The conductor woke him up at the station in Salsburg,
Austria. In 1951, Austria was
part of the Russian Zone so the conductor told him to stay on the train and
pretend he was sleeping, so luckily he got back all right.
He didn't check in until 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning but I told him that I
would sign him in at 11:30 p.m. Saturday.
It all worked out for him, but a person certainly can get in trouble
unless you are careful. John
passed away in 1980 but I used to see him quite often, as he was from
Alexandria. He would always say
how grateful he was that I helped him out that time.
I never felt that it was any more than I would do for any of the boys,
as we always got along so well. John
was the sort of fellow that often would get into trouble whether it was his
fault or not.
didn't eat in the camp's mess hall but had our mess kitchen set up outside
under a big tent and we ate with our mess kits.
I've heard of so many soldiers getting upset stomachs from unclean mess
kits but none of us ever got sick. (The
best thing to clean a greasy mess kit is old coffee grounds, if one could find
Degendorf we were sent out on maneuvers at Mannheim.
We spent the first night on an abandoned airfield near Stuttgart.
The field and runways had never been used since the Second World War
and the field was all cratered from bombs and shelling.
We had one fellow who had some relatives in Stuttgart and he and a few
others sneaked into town after dark. They
told me the next morning that it was hard getting off the field since they
kept falling into the shell and bomb holes because it was so dark.
following day we went to Mannheim which is only a short trip from Stuttgart.
We set up our tents there and loaned our medical support to the 4th
infantry division playing our war games.
This was late November and there was snow on the ground.
I have neglected one point. That
last September, I was promoted from corporal to staff sergeant as assistant
platoon sergeant. The one we had
was rotated back to the States because he was a reservist that was recalled
into active duty and now eligible for discharge.
So with that comes more work and responsibilities.
I always thought that the corporal rank was the best because you get
out of the menial jobs and yet have no great responsibility.
maneuvers at Mannheim, we convoyed into Frankfurt and to the 97th General
Hospital. This was supposed to be
temporary duty, but it ended up with us staying there until after I was
rotated. Of course that is
typical army policy. Being a
General Hospital, this was the largest in the European Command, receiving
patients from all over--Norway to North Africa.
The hospital was usually quite full, too, with an average of about
1,100 patients. My duties to
begin with besides assistant platoon sergeant were working on the medical
contagious ward with all suspect patients with polio, TB, hepatitis, etc.
Outside of each ward was a wash bowl where we had to wash entering and
leaving and don clean gowns and masks. If
we could, we would try to stay on one ward to eliminate the re-washing and
re-dressing. I remember how hot
it always was, too.
about mid-January, I was again promoted to sergeant first class and now in
charge of the 3rd platoon. They
also then transferred me from medical service to surgical service with the
title of "Administrative Assistant to the Chief of Surgical
Service." That's quite a mouthful.
In our office were four men--a warrant officer, another sergeant first
class, a staff sergeant and myself. The
hospital was divided into different departments such as Medical, Surgical,
Dental, EENC (Eye, Ears, Nose and Throat) and Psychiatry.
My department was Surgical which also included Obstetrics, and I was
only responsible for the enlisted men on the wards.
Nurses and doctors were someone else's responsibility.
We had to cover 14 wards with enough men for three shifts per day and
that included people on leave, ill people and also rotate all the men so that
they all had equal duty. Our
office also had to supply and account for all material on each ward so it did
become an endless chore. Yet I
cannot imagine anyone having had better duty than I had--- like a big overseas
vacation---and the boys were so diligent and faithful, along with the many
doctors and nurses who always gave me the utmost respect.
least once each week and often twice, we would send to the States a plane load
of patients, either terminal, or for discharge or for better medical treatment
than we could give them. We
called it Air-Evac on big C-154 military air transport service planes. On
those days we had some buses with racks along the sides and several ambulances
to transport the patients out to the huge Rhein-Main Air Base outside of
Frankfurt. To get enough help for these trips, I had to check the
barracks, the snack bar and every place I could think of, to assure that we
had enough help with the litters. Even
the ambulatory patients had to be strapped on litters and carried aboard.
I recall the ramp to the plane being so narrow that it was easier and
more room for two men to carry the litter than four.
But sooner or later, someone would yell and then we had to go back to
four per litter. There was
another part of this job that I had to be careful of and that was if someone
had to go on duty at the hospital on the next shift, then I couldn't use him
for this reason. We had to wait,
often for the patients to depart, and then we had to wait until the planes
were beyond Paris, so that we could assume all was clear for the
trans-Atlantic flight. I was
along once when a plane had gotten to the Azores Islands and then had to
return, I don't remember why, and then we had to go back to the airport, pick
up the patients and put them back in the hospital until the next day.
Such things can really foul up your day!
was one day per week that we had to go to the field on bivouac, just to keep
us in shape I guess, and everyone had some novel idea as to how to get out of
that. It never was so difficult,
but everything would get dirty and needed to be cleaned again.
food was so good and plentiful, and there was always someone to go someplace
with or just to visit with. Again,
I say, we had it pretty good.
of our boys, Sgt. Neal Nickerson, was transferred to AFN--Armed Forces
Network, and the radio station at Frankfurt was located in an old castle. We went to visit him and the boys there.
The castle was reinforced here and there and some rooms that were used
as the studios were draped to bring proper acoustics to the broadcasts.
I'm not too sure but I think that there were only nine men in the unit
so they were pretty tied to their work and it was quite crowded.
Each man had his own jeep and the castle was wired with explosives in
the event that the need would arise. Sgt.
Nickerson has since retired from the University of Minnesota as a professor.
He is a brilliant man!
Palmer Aaberg, Louie Freeman and I took a leave and went to Denmark, Sweden,
and Norway. Louie had relatives
in Sweden, while Neal and I had relatives in Oslo whom we visited.
Palmer and Neal then went back to Copenhagen and met Louis, while I
took a quick trip up to Lesje in Gulbrandsdalen, Norway. (I didn't get to really make that the stop that I wanted to
and I anticipated going there again, but the time ran out and I was due for
rotation back to the States.) So
I went back to Copenhagen, met the other boys and we returned to Frankfurt.
Later on, Palmer and I took three days and spent a day in Amsterdam, a
day in Brussels and a day in Paris.
trip that Palmer and I took was to a base somewhere south of Frankfurt that I
can't remember the name. Chester
Bennett was stationed there, as was Palmer's cousin, so we spent a weekend
have to properly introduce you to Palmer Aaberg.
He was from Starbuck and we were inducted together and stayed together
the whole time until discharge. We
roomed together overseas and he also was my jeep driver for the third
platoon--a grand Norwegian and a great help in Oslo because he could speak the
language so well.
enjoyed seeing those countries and each one is so different than the others.
No problems as you can usually find someone who speaks English.
We got into Brussels quite late in the evening, at least it was dark,
and after getting our hotel room, I wanted to find a cafe or grocery open
because I was hungry; even an apple would have helped.
Palmer wanted to go to bed so I took off down a street towards a neon
sign that I thought was open. Not
a soul on the street until I noticed someone following me.
I crossed the street under a street light and then quickened my steps
until I came to this shop. The
sign was a coca cola sign and it was somewhat like a cafe but I couldn't see
any food, pastry, or even candy. So,
facing the door, I ordered a coke and then I saw the character slowly walk
past looking into the shop but I was standing behind a post and he couldn't
see me. I didn't know what I was
going to do, I was just getting angrier by the moment.
I didn't even taste the coke but I went outside and started back and
sure enough he was about 100 feet behind me.
As I walked with a determined and purposeful pace, I remembered
something Georgie had told me--"When you are alone in any town, walk near
the curb rather than the building," so that was what I was doing until we
came to my hotel, a nice hotel with a well-lit front and people coming and
going. So I slipped around the
corner and waited for him but he never came.
I can picture him yet---not large with dark sweater or sweatshirt and a
dark stocking cap. I was a better
man in those days, and I knew a few tricks, so I think that I could have
handled him. Far better that I
didn't have to try!
this brings to mind another incident. We
had two Indians in our company, second platoon, endearing friends when they
were sober, but mortal enemies when they had been drinking.
The one was from northern Minnesota and the other from Oklahoma.
This Saturday evening, perhaps because they had run out of money, they
returned to our billets and very soon someone came down from the second floor
to get me to settle them down. I
got into a scrap with the one, he wanted to kill the other, and broke my watch
in the process, but I got him to bed and assumed that all would be okay.
I went back to my room downstairs and instantly someone came down and
said that they were at it again, so I told the boys to keep them apart and I
called the Officer of the Day. He came with an M.P. and said, "Okay fella,
let's go" and perhaps it was the officer or the M.P. that convinced the
little warrior to give up. The
next day I met the officer in the hospital hallway and I asked about how they
made out. He said, "Fine.
By the time the lad had scrubbed out the guardhouse, he was
had a boy in our company from Illinois who had been with us from the
beginning. My room, or should I
say our room, was at the entrance just before the stairs and it was sometimes
too convenient for the boys to stop in as they came and went.
This particular Saturday, Donald Smith stopped in on his way to the
downtown swimming pool. On Sunday
morning they found him drowned in the pool.
He was more than a little different, not retarded, but he liked to spin
tall tales. His mother was
living, I know, but not his dad, and I don't know if he had any brothers or
sisters. He was in the second
platoon so I didn't have close contact with him.
I remember once in basic training when we had to cross a small stream
on a log and his sense of balance caused him to freeze up when he was half-way
across. The captain stood their
ridiculing him until one of the other officers ran out and helped him to the
river bank. (Our officers, except
for the captain, were tops and they all had seen combat before so they didn't
hesitate now and then to set the captain straight although never in front of
the troops. I was near enough to
hear it occasionally.) Donald got
along well with the boys but you would call him a loner.
His stories were unbelievable. He
said that he would uncouple a locomotive from his train and take it to
Oklahoma to check on his oil wells. Otherwise,
he was busy at home with his supermarkets.
Everyone got along fine with him and tolerated his tall tales. We had a memorial service for him at the chapel and the
entire company attended.
a new man or two would be assigned to the hospital and if they were assigned
to surgical service it would be up to our officer to place them. I remember three WACs came into our office one morning and,
after looking over their files, I took them to where I thought they were best
qualified. The one I took to
Physical Therapy and turned her over to the major in charge. Later on this major said that if I had any more like that
one, I should promise to keep her in mind.
Now, I am going to fast forward. After
my army and farming days, I started school at the North Dakota State School of
Science at Wahpeton, North Dakota. A friend of mine from Lowry, Charles Christenson, also was
going to that school and in a short while I found out that he was dating this
very girl that I had assigned to Physical Therapy in the hospital overseas.
Her name was Teresa Tehle and she was from Breckenridge, Minnesota.
Now her name is Mrs. Charles Christenson and they live in Grand
Forks, North Dakota. How about that! Now she goes by the nickname, "Sarge."
stationed at the hospital, I also bowled that winter in a league. One of the fellows on our team was Master Sergeant Robert
Southward from Glenwood, Minnesota. He
was a career army man and was in administration in the hospital.
I think he graduated from Glenwood in 1934 or 1935.
I remember reading my sister's yearbooks and his picture was there as a
star football player. When we had
time, we used to talk about Glenwood, although he had been away so long.
main entrance of the hospital was a huge foyer with doorways off to different
halls and a large glassed-in radio room although we used it for a telephone
system. The ceiling was stone or
marble with a huge swastika carved in. All
the other exterior doors had helmeted heads on them but the U.S. had removed
the swastika on them. I guess the
one in the foyer was too big a job. This
hospital was a Luftwaffe hospital in Adolph Hitler days.
From the hospital to downtown, about 2-3 miles, was a tunnel.
But when the U. S. Army took it over, so many men were using it to go
downtown that finally they sealed up both ends and flooded it.
of the four men in our office was Sergeant Kaluza, an Indiana boy who handled
most of the supply problems and was also a career man.
He was one of the men who received the keys to the hospital from the
Frankfurt burgermeister. Sgt.
Kaluza was Yugoslavian by ancestry but could speak Italian, German and perfect
English, so it was comforting to be with him whenever we had any dealings to
accomplish. There were many
German and displaced persons working at the hospital with many varied duties.
We had a secretary, Maria Wolters, in our office and she used to tell
us that when the air raids used to come, air raid shelters would be flooded
from broken water pipes, asphalt streets would be on fire, and such tales.
had a cleaner who wanted to show where his sympathies lay.
When you spoke to him, he would click his heels and stand at attention.
But then we had another German employee that was a prisoner of war of
the United States during the Second World War.
I would think that somehow he was captured quite early in the fighting
because he was sent to the U.S. and held
a P.O.W. camp in Tennessee. He
said that when the United States goes to war against Russia (and he was sure
it would happen), he was going to join the Russian Army and promptly surrender
to the Americans so that he could go back to America.
He had tried to stay in the U.S. after the war but they wouldn't permit
it. He was a friendly and jolly
fellow and extremely different than some of the others.
is another story of contrast in our enemies.
My brother Wally, after cessation of hostilities, became acquainted
with a German prisoner. This man
carved a jeep out of wood and also drew a map of the route that Wally had
fought over on a map of Europe. I
think Wally said that he was a baker, now retired, and they used to write each
other. Finally Wally and Eleanor
made the trip overseas to visit his family.
(I really should pay more attention and heed what others tell me about
someone or something.) Wally and
I were both in Germany and he, unlike me, thought only of the beauty of the
country, and it was good that he could go back and see it.
don't know what the Germans used parts of the hospital for, but near the main
entrance towards one end was our chapel and Red Cross rooms.
I never saw anyone use the Red Cross facilities, nor the horseshoe
pits, nor the tennis courts. We
asked once to get some softball equipment but they said that it was for
patient use only. Well, I've
never seen too many hospital patients play softball!
My good buddy and roommate Palmer lost his brother in an automobile
accident and he tried to get the Red Cross to help him get home but they said
it couldn't be done. I know that
it can be done as I'll relate later. So,
there are people who have no qualms about refusing when the Red Cross begs for
money. That fact I'm sure of
after similar incidents in later years.
and coffee were the two items of black market that were so prevalent when we
were there. One carton of
cigarettes and two pounds of coffee per week were allotted and nearly all were
sold to German civilians. The men
could walk out the gate or trade anywhere.
The M.P.s, if they did check the bags, would only look for something
forbidden. In fact, the top
sergeant of the military police company bought himself a new car with
"coffee and cigarettes." The
first floor of our billets housed the military police.
We always got along well with them.
Their company commander was Captain Brenner and he used to stop in and
chat. (He had such severe migraine headaches, I recall.)
was an incoming flight of a KLM airliner to the Frankfurt Rhein-Main airport
the summer of 1952 that crashed in a heavily wooded area. There were 47 that
died on impact and two women who survived the crash and taken to a hospital,
but I don't believe that lived. Our
army equipment of bulldozers and ambulances were used to help cut through the
trees and evacuate the bodies. There
are always rumors that follow such a tragedy--some true and others false.
We heard that there were drugs aboard, whether that affected the crew
or not, I wouldn't know. Another
story was that KLM never cancelled a flight weather-wise or mechanical.
I got to the accident scene shortly after all of those aboard had been
removed and I have pictures of the path that the plane cut through the trees
and a few people milling about. You
would think that the area would be cordoned off but we could walk through
anywhere. The plane did not burn, I suppose for lack of fuel.
Very few large pieces were intact, luggage and clothes caught in the
trees, a wheel here, a motor there, but all else broken up.
Curiosity caused us to be there but now I think I would rather not have
one lazy Sunday early afternoon, someone called our orderly room and said
there was to be a 7th army corps inspection.
That was the first of its kind that I knew of and initially I tended to
pass it off as a stupid rumor. But
I knew no one would do that to me, as we were a very close unit, so I had to
alert the billets, get someone to check the gymnasium, bowling alley, snack
bar, theater and day room. I
checked the hospital duty roster for that Sunday and checked for anyone ill in
the hospital or those on pass or leave. Then
we all marched over to the hospital entrance in our Class A uniforms and I
still didn't know if it was for real. But
exactly at 2:00 p.m., two staff cars drove in with a major general, a colonel
and two lieutenants, got out and stood at a distance just looking at us. I told our guys to look sharp and brought them to attention.
I reported all present or accounted for (luckily) and they only
reviewed the front ranks and then they left.
What a relief as I had no idea what they had in mind.
Later after nosing around, corps headquarters wanted to know what our
company strength would be at that moment on short notice.
Fortunate for me!
had a boy in my 3rd platoon by the name of Robert N. Berge and whenever he
answered to his name, he always gave the full "Robert N. Berge," as
if there could be any other. He
was a short, no very short, boy from southern Minnesota, and always had
a mouth full of snuff. He also
was a favorite of our lieutenants but not the captain.
Late in the summer of 1952, he was going to take a trip to Norway which
I didn't think too wise as soon our company or most of us would be leaving for
the States. Furthermore, he was
going alone which never is too wise especially since he was the type that
people could take advantage of. But
I couldn't discourage him so I asked him how much money he had and he said
$40. I didn't have much at the time but I gave him another $40 and
off he went. Typical of the kid,
he came back after a week and promptly gave me back the $40. I wish that I
could be that frugal!
we had another boy from Texas, I think, whose name was Cipriano Leal. I recall that his dad was terminally ill with cancer so the
Red Cross gave him the opportunity to go back to the States, quite unlike what
they would do for Palmer Aaberg. Here
again, this boy was in my platoon and I loaned $40 to him, also.
This was late in August and I was sure that he would not be back but,
as it was, his dad passed away shortly after he got home.
Why the army shipped him back overseas is hard to comprehend because he
was to be discharged at the end of October.
He did come back and he did pay me back the $40.
I felt good that I could help those boys.
now, all or most of our company were to be discharged at the end of October
and the impatience was noticeable. When
we were inducted, it was to be for 18 months but soon after we got overseas it
was changed to 24 months. So it
was in late September that about 30 men got their orders to go home.
We don't know how they selected them but we felt better that something
was happening and soon it would be our turn.
Shortly, another group of about 30 were picked and I was in that group,
except that I had to escort four undesirables or what we called Section 8's to
Bremerhaven. These boys didn't
get honorable discharges but it didn't seem to bother them as all they wanted
was to go home and get out of the army. (It
is the likes of them that causes trouble today, I believe.)
I turned over the orders of those men in Bremerhaven, I was told that I was to
escort them to New York. I told
them nothing doing which didn't seem to matter to them as they said, "oh
well, we'll get someone else." What
a mistake I made as those undesirables got cabins to go home in and they
certainly couldn't escape anywhere aboard a ship even if they wanted to, which
they didn't. Worse yet, they cut
orders for me to escort 225 men way down in the ship's bottom.
We were staying in a hangar on an airfield for about three days before
embarkation and I had the authority to scratch the name of any man for missing
any formation or such. There was
only one scratch and that was a payroll foul-up.
I'm glad I had nothing to do with it.
we were aboard the "General Stewart," not as big as the Maurice
Rose, but we were anxious to go even if we were five decks down.
This business of being five decks down in a stinking ship with 224 men,
some of whom out-rank you, certainly wasn't my idea of a relaxing trip home.
The food was worse than going over and the men were not too
cooperative. It was hardest to
keep it clean until I changed my tactics.
As I said, there were about 30 men of my company in this group of 224
and each morning I would choose five men from our company and chase all the
others topside. Then in ten
minutes we would have the place shipshape and ready for inspection.
One day, as I was waiting for some officer to come and inspect the
compartment, a lieutenant-colonel came down and I asked him if he was the
inspecting officer and he said no, he was just looking over the entire ship.
As we sat talking, he told me that he was an army chaplain that had
been in Turkey and Germany. He
also had graduated from Luther Theological Seminary and was in the same class
as Rev. David Quill, who was the pastor of Glenwood Lutheran Church in
Glenwood, Minnesota. When I got
home I had to stop in and give him greetings from his old classmate.
I can remember lots of names and events, but that chaplain's I have
that is how we came home...constant inspections and it was necessary to keep
things clean, a life jacket on every bunk, no smoking below plus never cover a
fire alarm or fire extinguisher with a blanket, coat or article of
clothing--all very important.
day or so out they slowed the ship to two knots per hour.
They didn't want to stop and drop the anchor and they didn't want to
land on Saturday as then the stevedores and longshoremen would have to be paid
by the Statue of Liberty, we finally docked during the night and I awoke at
3:00 a.m. and could feel no vibration of the propeller screws.
Our wake-up call was 3:00 a.m. and then to dress into Class A uniforms
and try to clean up the compartment with 224 men in it.
I sent them all to 4:30 a.m. breakfast, except for some of my boys who
didn't want to eat, and so we got the place cleaned up. It did take some doing
and threatening to keep the place orderly before we left. I thought that we
could debark early since we had to get up so early, but it was 9:00 a.m before
we got our call. I suppose with a shipload of men we had to wait our turn.
At least I was the first to get off the boat and read off the last name
of each man to which they would respond with their first name.
Only then could I salute and hand over the roster list to a major at
the foot of the gangplank.
there we loaded on a ferry to cross the Hudson River to the New Jersey side.
The ferry was full, about ten men ahead of me, so I had to wait for the
next ferry. Getting on that one
and crossing the river, we boarded a train for Camp Kilmer and wouldn't you
know, they cut that line off right in front of that sergeant first class which
was me. About that time, I felt
like hitchhiking home. But the next train was right there, so I got to Kilmer about
3:00 p.m. Most of my buddies had
gotten passes and had gone to New York City.
I washed out some socks, towels and underclothes and laid them on a
hedge outside to dry while I laid down to rest in the barracks. Later when I went out to get them, they were all gone.
About that time someone came around looking for help in going to the
Brooklyn Navy Yard to pick up our duffel bags.
I hadn't eaten all day, but the few of us left had to pile in the
trucks and go. All I remember
when we got there was this mountain of duffel bags so I told the fellows to
look for their own, or for the unit they were in, so it didn't take long to
load the truck. I never did find
mine and it came home to Lowry about a month later.
next day three of us went into New York City.
There were few cars downtown, mostly taxies.
We went to Coney Island, up the Empire State Building and just looked
around and then returned to Camp Kilmer.
I guess it was only a couple of days until we again were on a train
bound for Fort Custer, Michigan. Some of the boys went to other camps nearer
their homes for discharge. It was
at Custer where we really were processed for discharge by checking payroll,
having another physical examination, and waiting for our names to be posted
for separation. One day, doing nothing, they wanted K.P.s for the kitchen and
rank such as mine wouldn't excuse me from that duty.
I told them that whoever was hungry could do their own K.P. but then I
asked them where the mess hall was and we all went the opposite direction! Finally, a group of us were listed for discharge the next
morning so we called for a taxi for three of us to take us to the train
the morning our last stop was at the finance office and then our taxi was
waiting for us and we were civilians. Actually,
as long as we were in uniform, we were under martial law but that was a
trivial matter to us. We took the
train to Chicago, then transferred to a Minneapolis train to the Cities, and
from there Palmer and I took a bus to Glenwood.
Gordy and Isabel picked us up at Glenwood, took Palmer to Starbuck and
finally home to Lowry. We still
were in the inactive reserves but that was immaterial to us.
I think somehow we would have been able to stay out of any more
seemed to always be discrepancies in military policy from base to base or unit
to unit. We were cautioned to
never keep a diary while in service and that is what I adhered to. All the facts that I have related are from memory.
And yet, nearly all stories or books of military history are taken from
diaries and nearly always from officers of the highest rank.
The purpose of not keeping a diary was that if captured, it would be so
valuable to the enemy. It seems
to me the highest ranking officers would be aware of and hold the most top
knew a unit commander of military police whose instructions to his men were if
they drew their weapon it had to be fired, either in the air or towards the
ground, or at a suspect. Other
units never heard of such a directive but that is what this officer stated in
a meeting that I had to attend. I
think what he strived for was that his men should be very sure of themselves.
another fact, at least in my recollection, was that sunburn was a
court-martial offense because of your hospitalization or lost time to military
service. So we were very careful
to not roll our sleeves up. Now
you see troops in shorts and sleeveless shirts...bewildering!
If any one has an opinion of these facts, stifle it!
fortunate part of serving in the armed forces was the bill enacted to provide
aid for those wanting to further their education.
George, Wally, and I all were able to take advantage of that. Georgie took one year at Augsburg College and then Veteran's
agriculture classes while farming. Wally
took four years at Augsburg and received his bachelors degree and worked for
the Hennepin County Welfare Department until retirement. I went to Wahpeton,
as I've mentioned earlier.
all were fortunate in doing the work that we enjoyed.
Gordy, too, because of his polio affliction, became eligible for
schooling aid through the state rehabilitation programs.
Through his diligence for success and Isabel's constant support, he
became a successful Professor of Agricultural Economics at North Dakota State
always was a regret that my sisters, too, couldn't have benefited from similar
programs although, as I've mentioned before, Aggie did have some schooling at
Minneapolis Business College after high school.
was something special about baseball that made it my favorite and most
fascinating sport. Lowry had no
junior legion club so I played briefly with Starbuck.
I also played a couple of games with the Glenwood city team plus one
year pitching for the Garfield city team and also one year pitching for the
Brandon city team, all before Lowry started our own club.
than the years of playing for Lowry, I especially enjoyed playing for Garfield
as we played with the tempo and gusto of the old gas house gang of St. Louis
Cardinal fame. Win or lose, I
always enjoyed it! After a half
century, I still remember the names of many of the characters of those teams.
1953 into the early 1960s, Lowry had a city-sponsored baseball team. Earlier than that around 1945, a few of us used to play a
sort of sandlot ball against Carlos, Glenwood, etc.
We had no field so all games were away.
I recall during the war going to Carlos in Dahl's cattle truck as
transportation. Wesley Dahl
played ball with us. In 1953, the
Lowry businessmen bought a few acres of Anton Teigen's pasture and built a
diamond, bought uniforms and promoted the teams that survived until television
and other interests spelled the doom of small-town baseball. The field in Lowry is now used for softball.
I used to enjoy the games and was even the manager for two years.
For the size of our town, we were quite good.
given the impression that Lowry never had a baseball team until the 1950's
which is incorrect. Pa used to
say that he was a catcher although I don't know for which team.
I have to believe that because an uncle of Dave and Ben Troen's, (who
played with us) was visiting from North Dakota and told me of playing with my
dad. There also is a picture in
Lowry's centennial book of a Lowry baseball team.
And then there were players like Alfred and Bill Anderson, plus Ben
Rice and others of their age, who played a lot of ball. Also, there was Warren Nelson, Clarence Lida and boys of that
age who have showed me the prettiest curve ball that I would hate to bat
against! I have a uniform of an
early era--a gray wool flannel with a large "L" on the front and
with green stitching. It had been
in careful storage quite a long time and I don't know where it came from.
But, yes, Lowry has had many teams and I regret not asking more
questions of where they played and all the history of it.
and Isabel were on Olaf's farm those years until the fall of 1955. It seemed as though there was inclement weather, too, until
the 1955 year which was beautiful with good crops.
After the army I was staying with them, too. In the fall of 1954, while picking corn, I got my hand in the
chain of a corn sheller and cut off a portion of two fingers.
They were cold that first winter, but a person can overcome small
troubles like that.
the struggle of farming seemed to be too much, so Gordy and Isabel sold the
farm and moved to St. Paul where Gordy enrolled at the University of Minnesota
in the Agriculture Department. After
getting his bachelors, masters and Ph.D, Gordy accepted a position in
Agricultural Economics at North Dakota State University in Fargo, North
Dakota. He retired from there and
he and Isabel now live in Charlotte, North Carolina.
stories I delight in relating, especially this one.
On my birthday in 1984, Wally and I drove to Fargo and the campus of
North Dakota State University. Each
year that school gives the "Robert Odney Award" for excellence in
teaching, and that year it was awarded to Gordon W. Erlandson, Professor of
Agricultural Economics. As I sat
listening to the lauds and plaudits, I thought, "that-a-boy buddy, it's
been a long time a-coming!"
we left the farm, I enrolled at the North Dakota State School of Science at
Wahpeton, North Dakota, taking a course in Drafting and Estimating.
After school, I worked six months for the Minnesota Highway Department
and then went to work for Northern States Power Company as a mapper for eight
years, and then a surveyor for 22 years until I retired in 1985.
October of 1963, I took a flight to Juneau, Alaska to visit my sister, Agnes,
her husband Carl and family, Ron, Marge and Karen, and see a totally different
world! I was there again in 1968
and once more in 1972.
1964, my parents had their 50th wedding anniversary at Lowry Gospel Hall, with
many friends gathered for the celebration.
Aggie and her family made the long drive from Juneau, Alaska, and
Gertrude and her family from Sherman Oaks, California, as well as all of the
boys and families were there.
May of 1965, a tornado went through the metropolitan area of Minneapolis doing
the most damage in Fridley, with several losing their lives.
I could write a considerable chapter on that storm.
Wally and Eleanor's house was destroyed but fortunately none of the
family was injured except for the traumatic shock of it all.
Rebuilding isn't as bad as cleaning up and salvaging what you can after
the storm. But we all pitched in
and now it is a lovely home.
was probably in 1966 that Georgie sold out his cattle and machinery and began
selling milk bulk tanks and milking machines, and later barn cleaners, feeder
systems and also hog feeding equipment. Georgie
and I had taken a sales training course and he has made good use of it.
dad had prostate surgery in 1970 at the St. Cloud Hospital.
The day that I took him there for admittance was so warm.
When we got inside, the air conditioning system was so cold and we had
a long wait in the waiting room. Pa
subsequently got pneumonia and they couldn't operate until that had cleared
up. In late summer and fall of
1971, he was admitted to the Glenwood Hospital and passed away November 30,
1971 from cancer. He was born
March 12, 1889---one of the first babies born in Lowry.
was about the time I was building my house here where I live now south of
Rogers, Minnesota. The next year, 1973, I helped Georgie build a new house on
the Dalen farm at Lowry where Georgie and Kathleen now live.
April 24, 1975, Ma passed away at the Lakeview Retirement Home.
Born May 19, 1885 in Starbuck, Minnesota, she was nearly 90 years of
age. Both Ma and Pa are buried at
the Oak Hill Cemetery at Lowry.
June 8, 1973, I was married to Elizabeth Edna Rohling.
She was a nurse--one of the best there ever was--and the kindest friend
to all. On September 23, 1993,
she passed away from a massive heart attack and is buried in Gethsemane
Cemetery at New Hope, Minnesota. Betty
and I had no children and I miss her very much.
started farming the north 80 acres of the Holen farm in 1977 and farmed it
again in 1978 and also 1979, but that year was the last.
In August 1979, I had surgery for a brain tumor, or specifically, a
meningioma, that really put an end to farming and most of my other little
projects. I was fortunate in that Georgie's son, Mark, was willing to rent my
80 acres and then later he wanted to buy it, so it is still in the family.
(This was all mentioned before in the Holen farm history.)
decade began with so many passing away that first year.
Of special sadness to all of us was when Wally and Eleanor's youngest
boy, Gaius, was killed in a truck accident.
We loved him so much and miss him dearly.
my surgery of 1979, my work at NSP seemed to get more difficult with assorted
complications including severe headaches.
After the company suggested I take a disability retirement, I did
retire on December 31, 1985.
then I still keep busy caring for Betty's grand-nephews, Jacob and Jared.
Betty cared for their mother Lynelle so much while she was growing up
and so the boys are like grandchildren--and grand they are!
also have a farm toy collection that I exhibit at various steam and threshing
shows throughout the state.
has come to my mind now, as I have been writing, that I have related hardly
anything of interest that happened in the thirty years that I was employed by
the Minnesota Highway Department, or as they call it now, the Minnesota
Department of Transportation, and also the many years that I worked for
Northern States Power.
I finished school at Wahpeton, I applied for work at N.S.P. and also at the
Highway Department, and it was for the State that I started immediately in the
Plans and Survey Section in St. Paul. That
was a pleasant job, but soon there became a shortage of plans to work on and
it became rather repetitious.
about that time, Roy Robinson of Lowry asked me to come and work for him as he
was an engineer with the North Dakota Highway Department, and I would have
gone to Grand Forks. But I got a
call from N.S.P. and with a considerably higher raise in pay, that was the job
I took in their Mapping Section in Minneapolis.
That was in 1957. The
first couple of years were spent in re-drawing and field checking all the maps
to bring them up to date, and from then on we always did keep them current. After several years of that kind of work it, too, became
quite repetitious and boring and nearly all the other mappers were promoted
into some other job. I turned in
my resignation but it didn't get beyond my immediate supervisor. He managed to get me the job that I had been trained for and
always wanted, so that became my job until I retired. I always had the most ideal supervisors and superintendents
and I still keep in touch with those who live close by. There were times when the weather was pretty extreme, both
hot and cold, and an occasional storm or tornado always brought a lot of
overtime with difficult working conditions.
in this story I want to insert this bit but where, is the question. So many parts of my story are interconnected or relevant to
another part of my life.
of the many assorted tasks associated with my job as a surveyor for Northern
States Power was to secure easements for the company and equally to release
easements that were no longer needed. I don't recall now if there was an
easement connected with this particular job, but we had to locate and check
out a power line serving several farms in Carver County. These farms were
bought up by the County to be a county park.
One of these farms was once owned by a Mr. Grimm and whether that
family still owned it, I don't know. All
of these farms were already vacated but the buildings were still there.
In this farmyard of the Grimm place was a concrete post with a brass
plaque on the top honoring Mr. Grimm as the developer of Grimm alfalfa seed.
Before that time there was no alfalfa that I recall, and the only sacks
of seed were Grimm alfalfa. Now
nearly every seed company sells their own brand of alfalfa.
makes all of this so important is that alfalfa hay with its protein content
was top quality forage for cattle, but often farmers would also plant it for
summer pasturing. This is where
it became so critical when raising cattle.
On empty stomachs and especially with dew on the grass, or after eating
and then drinking water, alfalfa created a gas in the stomach of the animal
and very rapidly caused it to bloat. This
would happen in only a few minutes and it had tragic results.
I sadly remember many good milk cows that died, and I never heard of
any surviving despite many so-called heroic attempts at a remedy.
The only prevention was to be sure the animal had some hay and feed
before putting them on the pasture but that, too, was not always a guarantee
of safety. This also would happen with sweet clover, but that wasn't
used as extensively. This is just
another example of the good and bad that occurs when farming, all coming to
mind as I read that plaque on the Grimm farm.
of these years, in addition to my job, I was always doing other work as well,
evenings, week-ends, or vacations. I
used to farm a bit at Lowry and for neighboring farmers near Rogers.
Also, there were always garages to build, basements to finish, decks
and house additions, trees to cut, painting, shingling, repairing, etc.,
besides helping on Wally's, Georgie's, Jim and Lynelle Nordquist's (Betty's
niece) and my own house building. Now
I have tried to give most of that up. There
was one great advantage in that if I needed to do anything for myself, I
always felt capable of doing it.
have mentioned earlier of the Lowry Centennial and All-School Reunion in July
1986. Those who planned it all
did a magnificent job and the amazing part of it all was that so many of the
committee were either people who were not born in Lowry or were too young to
remember much of Lowry history. But,
with a few older folks and the overall plan of having all the families supply
photos and written memories, it all came together in a lovely weekend and a
great centennial history book for our future enjoyment.
The town was all spruced up with new paint, flowers planted, lawns
mowed, all trash removed. Although
Lowry always looks like an ideal little town, it had a special look for this
weekend and everyone had a glorious time.
So many came from long distances, including my aunt Edna, her husband
Joe, and some of her family from California, and it was great to be with them
again. My only problem was that
the time went so fast that I didn't get to visit with all that I would have
liked to. But again, I am
grateful that I could be there and enjoy it.
1989, Gordy, Georgie, and I went out to California for Uncle Ole's 100th
birthday party. It was a huge
success and a beautiful day in the park.
There were perhaps a hundred family members gathered together.
I dare not mention the names of all those that planned and did the work
involved for fear of leaving someone out.
Edna's boy Mick and his wife did a great job in reserving the park,
acquiring the Mariachi Band (Ole's favorite music) and even crowning Ole with
a big sombrero. Everyone had a
grand time and what made it special to me is that now, only a few years later,
so many of our dear ones have passed away. But we have the memory of the joy
of being together for that big event. Ole
was born April 20, 1889 and passed away in November of 1993.
This gathering was my last opportunity to be together with Ole, Mabel's Walter, Edna's Joe, Helen's Joe and earlier with Uncle Tom and Gert's husband Ed. So many gone (including my Betty) in such a short time.
want to insert in this story the beginnings and the popularity of an
old-fashioned threshing show. Even
before I retired, I went to a show at Starbuck, Minnesota.
It was their first show and not very large, understandably, and they
never did have another show...and I have never found out why.
But in my own home city now of Rogers, they had a threshing show which
I started going to. I had a threshing machine and a grain binder that I first
took to the show, a J. I. Case machine, and the best one in the show.
About then, I began taking and exhibiting my toy farm, too, to the show
and rather than getting over-involved, I sold the binder and threshing
I only occasionally exhibit my toy farm at the different shows.
Each year there are nearly 30 shows in Minnesota alone, and they all
are in July through September, so each weekend can be busy through those
months. I have been to 12
different shows but only have displayed at eight, as it is a big job to set up
and take down my exhibit. From
now on I hope to see different shows and not exhibit so much any more. I have been fortunate in that Ellen is a willing participant,
as Betty was before. Rollag,
Minnesota, has the largest and perhaps the longest consecutive running show in
Minnesota, and nationally rates nearly as big and popular as the Mt. Pleasant,
Iowa show which is the number one in the United States.
All of the shows are unique and interesting to visit.
all of those I've talked to that started these shows owned the land and
started out by threshing with only one machine and a gasoline tractor just for
old-times sake. But often with
the hundreds that would eventually come to see it, a meeting was held to
promote the show and to hold it annually.
So much interest was shown, that people from nearby and far would bring
old equipment, restore it, paint it up and soon the show went from one day to
two, three and sometimes four days over the Labor Day weekend. The ladies
became equally enthusiastic as the men in showing their crafts, quilting, meal
preparation, wool spinning, etc. Now
the shows are truly family outings with animal petting and playground
equipment for the children. But
it is the old sawmills and threshing machines with steam power that brings the
people--men, women, and children--to marvel at the sights.
every year something is added to each show--a blacksmith shop, country church,
country schoolhouse--along with the old, old gas engines and tractors.
To me, especially, it is all so marvelous because I have worked with
those machines in the past, and I appreciate the love and labor the people put
into preserving them.
I have said, it is a chore to set up the display, but then the joy comes in
meeting people from all over the United States.
I think it was in 1987 at the Rollag show that I met a man from
Concordia, Kansas, who was combining his way north and when he got rained out
in North Dakota, he drove over to Rollag.
Since that day we call each other occasionally and have developed a
close friendship. Also a lady
from Perham with her young boy was at Rollag and I guess that I gave the
little boy a miniature cow and calf. I
had forgotten about that until I got a Christmas card from her with a note
telling of the joy of the child when he brought them to 1st Grade show and
tell. A man and wife from Pennsylvania were at the Albany show and
ran out of film, so I sent them some pictures.
I sent another boy from LeSueur some miniature hay bales.
I met a friend of my cousin in South Dakota.
A lady from Sibley, Iowa would like me to build a house just like the
one on my display. Many people
have questions as to where they can
buy horses and leather harnesses. I
just replied to a letter from a man near Wichita, Kansas inquiring as to how
to build a barn like mine. It is
scratch built from no plans and I'll have to coach him through the project. This is but a sample of the fun of meeting so many nice
1990s have brought many changes into my life, most tragically the loss of my
wife Betty and also my uncles and relatives in California, and then again when
my brother Wally passed away in November of 1994.
and I used to reminisce about our army days, his so difficult and mine so
easy. We were both trained as
Medics but there the similarity ended because of the ultimate grimness of his
duties as compared to mine. As a
Medical Aid man, he was assigned to the 70th Infantry (Trailblazer) division
and he went overseas with that unit landing in Marseilles, France.
It was with that division that he was awarded the Good Conduct Ribbon,
the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Combat Medic's Badge, the Presidential
Unit Citation, and most significantly, the Bronze Star for valor, with two
oak-leaf clusters. Being awarded
the Bronze Star for meritorious service or being awarded it for valor
is self-explanatory in its significance. I was about to say that he was
rewarded rather than awarded those commendations but that certainly couldn't
be a reward for what he had to endure.
Wally would never claim to be anyone special, I must tell you of the esteem
one of many people feel about Wally. This
soldier, Dick Forsline, was drafted from Cook, Minnesota, and first knew Wally
while they were stationed at Camp Adair, Oregon.
They used to meet in the nearby city of Corvallis for meetings in a
Baptist church there. They were
in different companies but perhaps the same battalion, so they were separated
while going overseas and yet in the confusion of battle they became reunited
a small French village and preparatory to the big push against Saarsbruken,
Dick, as a Browning automatic rifleman of Company I, was hit by a German
mortar shell. Wally responded to
the call for a medic and found his old buddy bleeding arterially, so he
quickly had to tend to his wounds and get him to an aid station.
Dick's wounds ultimately brought his discharge from the army and he is
sure that day Wally saved his life.
didn't know if Wally had survived the war, but he remembered that Lowry was
Wally's hometown so many years later, he stopped in Lowry to find out and was
directed to Georgie's home and from him got Wally's address and telephone
number in Fridley. Dick and Lois
and family were then living in Bloomington and from there he called Wally and
since then until Wally's death, they had many enjoyable visits.
has kept quite active and knowledgeable of the history and reunions of the
70th Division and is aware of other GI's that knew Wally and were medically
attended by him. So remarkable to
me that Wally could be so humbly noble and courageous in situations that were
so opposite of his temperament and upbringing.
have been fortunate in meeting and knowing Dick and Lois and occasionally we
get together for lunch and a visit. To
them I am grateful for their comradeship with Wally and their efforts in
locating him after the war's end and showing their gratefulness to him in his
the summer of 1994, and before my brother Wally's death, he and Georgie
introduced me to a friend of theirs, Myrtle Ellen Liljeberg (named for her two
grandmothers, but she definitely prefers to be called Ellen).
I couldn't imagine a better person to come into my lonely life when she
did. So on June 29, 1995, we were
married. We are having a grand
time and know we will have a wonderful life together!
Her mother lives in Kirkland, Washington, as does her only sister.
She has three grown children, Joni (and Jim) and two grandchildren,
Jimmy and Janelle in Enumclaw, Washington; Jim (and Robin) in Plymouth,
Minnesota; and John in Bloomington, Minnesota, and they are all adorable!
people are asked if they recall where they were and what they were doing at
the time of some notable point in history.
I recall a host of those but I will name two.
of them was Pearl Harbor Day. It
was a gorgeous December 7, 1941, with no snow yet on the ground.
Being a Sunday, Clayton Person was over and Gordy was going to the
Morris Ag school. Gordy used to
hitchhike home on weekends and this Sunday Georgie, Clayton, and I drove him
back to school in the early afternoon. After
leaving Gordy at school, we stopped in Starbuck on the way home at the diner
for a snack. That was an old
railroad dining car that used to be so popular in many towns but are long gone
now. As we sat there talking kid
talk, some older people were talking about the attack on Hawaii but it just
didn't register too much with us until we got home and then Pa told us what
had happened. I recall standing
in the yard and all of us agreeing that it wouldn't take too long to beat the
Japanese. How wrong we were!
Clayton enlisted in the navy in 1942 and stayed in for seven years, I
believe. The following Monday,
December 8, everyone at school met in the auditorium and listened on the radio
as the President asked Congress for a declaration of war.
traumatic event was the death of President Roosevelt.
Those spring days were balmy and beautiful and we farmers used to work
late and often all night to get the field work done. That day I came home about midnight and Mama was in bed, of
course, but she always would awaken when I came in. She told me that the President had died.
Now we see so many pictures of how he had aged, but in those days we
never saw a picture unless in the paper.
I think everyone thought he was indestructible.
are but two instances of numerous events that I recall so vividly.
Do you remember where you were when President Kennedy was shot, or when
the space shuttle blew up?!
often I overlook subjects that I must not forget.
I believe that it was 1929 when the last high school classes were held
in Lowry. All of the children in
the 9th through 12th grades were then bussed to Glenwood, District #612.
Some pupils who lived away from and too far to walk to the busses
either dropped out of school or rented rooms in Glenwood.
Some may have stayed with friends or relatives.
Busses also picked up students from the Grove Lake, Sedan, Terrace, and
Long Beach areas. So Glenwood is
where we went. Gert, Aggie and I
graduated from Glenwood, while Gordy and Georgie each went two years, then to
Morris and Fergus Falls, respectively. We
all still say that we weren't charmed by the Glenwood schools but we suffered
1983, the Lowry District #30 closed and all the elementary children were
bussed to what was then called the Lowry-Glenwood District #612.
Perhaps they don't realize it, but those children missed the greatest
schooling experience of their lifetime.
the coming of consolidation, a new school was built along Highway #28 between
Glenwood and Starbuck and north of Lake Minnewaska.
The name of it is "Minnewaska Area School" and it is in
District #2149. Now all the
students from Villard, Starbuck and Lowry-Glenwood belong to that district,
except Villard and Starbuck still have elementary classes.
I believe the first graduating class was 1995.
I wish them well!
has been spelled all ways. So
many people, especially boys, some time in their lives acquire a nickname.
But my nickname, unlike a Bill, a Bob, or a Mac, is to me quite novel,
and I'm sure I've had it longer than almost anyone else.
And when I hear it, there is something about it that makes for a more
warm and personal relationship. Perhaps
it was the day I was born, or at least very young, that Wally had gone
upstairs to bed and then called down---We'll call him Solie!"
In my life I've spelled it different ways but Wally nearly always
spelled it Solie, so that is what I should really use, I guess. No one ever had any trouble with the pronunciation and it has
followed me all of my days, school, on the farm, in the army, at NSP, playing
sports, and there are people that know me by no other name.
I've even received mail using only "Solie" with my address.
And now that Wally is no longer with us, I take a special pride in the
name and hope that it will follow me all of my days.
is the story of most of my remembrances of my 70 plus years.
Many more will come to mind later just as they have while writing this.
the two plus years since we have met and married, Ellen has met all of my
brothers and sisters and most of their children, and I hers. We have had two
wonderful trips...one to Washington, then down to California via Amtrak, and
this past summer to Washington and then up to Alaska.
We both appreciate and enjoy our families both near and far so very
much, and each others as well!
this story, the reader may form an impression of today compared with the
earlier days of my life. I will
leave that judgment up to each reader. Perhaps
many of our inventions and conveniences of today could have been commonplace
years ago if it hadn't been for the great depression of the thirties and the
great war of the forties, each effect lasting ten years, and each contributing
to the necessity of what we have available today.
Yet those twenty years caused the world to pretty much stand still.
For example, it wasn't until 1950 or later that you could pick out a
car of your choice without being on a long waiting list.
And television was first invented in 1927 but it, too, wasn't
available nor dependable until the 1950's.
this the reader can recite endless things of today that were not even a dream
of my youth. And certainly no one
would want to give up what we have today and live without these conveniences.
My only thought is that we are now getting into the phase of plastics,
synthetics and throw-aways. (Even
an automobile can't be serviced anymore without costly electronic equipment)
We live in such a complicated day and age that one sometimes misses a
what this writer misses the most are the people...the true, honest, and
hard-working people---who made all of what we have today possible, and were
such a delight in my youth and life.
love and gratitude, Solie
Just for Today
Lord for tomorrow and its needs
I do not pray;
Keep me, my God, from stain of sin,
Just for today.
Now, set a seal upon my lips,
For this I pray;
Keep me from wrong, or idle words,
Just for today.
Let me be slow to do my will
Prompt to obey,
And keep me, guide me, use me, Lord,
Just for today.
"The Lord shall guide thee continually"--Isa. 58:11
The Pope County Tribune, Glenwood, Minnesota, March 13, 1941
of E. O. Holen
is a biography of E. O. Holen who passed away in Pasadena, California January
17, 1941. The narrative also
takes in the biographies of his family.
O. Holen was born in Lesje, Gudbrandsdalen, Norway September 19, 1856. His mothers name was Marith L. Thordhol, also born in Lesje.
His father's name was Ole Thorson Holen, born in Norsteboe, Telemarken
(or maybe it was Tyn Telemarken) as early as 1796 and that is way back to Hans
Nelson Hauge's days. E. O. Holen had five brothers and three sisters: John, Lars,
Tobias, Math, Ole, Marit, Kari and Juda (or Jennie). Lars was the first one to come to America and he came here in
1866. Most likely he was with
Knut Haugen and Ole Bjokne and took up a homestead a half a mile west of
Lowry. Tobias and Marit were
together for some time in a distant part of Norway and came here together 3
years later in 1869. Ole and Juda
together with their parents came in 1873.
John had a store (ordrelykken) and E. O. remained to help here in the
store for a while. But the next
year, 1874, at the age of 18 years, he too came with two of his neighbors, who
were also his cousins, named Swenson. One
of these had been in this country before and it was he that paid for E. O.'s
ticket, which took two years to pay back, although he never saw him again
after leaving him in Wisconsin.
came about 1891 and settled on a farm south of Glenwood, a little to the
northwest of the Barsness Church. One
day as he was doing his chores, he suddenly fell dead from a heart attack.
This was in 1899. Kari
must have come with Lars or soon after. She
was married to Iver Teigen in Minneapolis in 1870, and they immediately came
and took up a homestead which later became a part of the village of Lowry.
stated before, Tobias came here in 1869.
He became Postmaster at Nelson, Minnesota which position he held for 52
years. He was honorably
discharged from the service by the Post Office Department, Washington, D.C. in
1932 and died a few years later at Nelson, Minnesota.
I believe it was Senator Knute Nelson who helped him get the post
got married to Louis Jacobson and lived in Alexandria for a while where he was
a section foreman. They moved
quite early to Roy, Washington where they remained the rest of their lives.
married Ole Mitmoen and settled on a farm 4 miles west of Lowry.
stayed with Lars for a long time on the farm west of Lowry.
He later went to Bottineau county, N. D. and took a homestead, where he
remained until his death in 1939. It
is an interesting fact that the old log cabin house on Lars' homestead which
has, at some time or other, served as the home for this whole family is still
standing and is in fairly good condition.
As near as I can figure out, this house was built in 1871.
It was considered to be the nicest and lightest house in the
neighborhood at that time. The writer has also in his possession a document, the old
homestead certificate that Lars had secured and is signed by the United States
President U. S. Grant, in the year 1875.
E. O., after leaving his cousins in Wisconsin, proceeded up to Benson, which was as far as the Great Northern was finished when the ticket was bought, but when he got here the road had reached Morris. Paul Norderhus and brother, who lived near Benson, took two teams to bring him and his family from the same neighborhood in Norway, who were with E. O., into Lowry. His capital on reaching Lowry was 25 cents. Norderhus wanted him to go back and work on their place but Iver Teigen wanted him too, so he stayed here with Iver for 2 years. The third year he joined Lewis Jacobson who had recently married his sister, Juda at Litchfield where they both worked on the section.
horrible Sioux Indian massacre of 1862 during which some were killed in S. E.
Pope County, drove the survivors who had taken up land in the western end of
Kandiyohi County, that being the edge of the Indian country, back first to St.
Cloud and from there to Minneapolis.
They did not dare to go back to their homesteads for 4 or 5 years (1866
and '67). Lars taking his
homestead during this period. It's funny to know that Indians have knocked at the door of
our old house. During Lars' first
years, there were two different Indian scares.
Both proved to be false alarms, however. They were directed to drive their stock to and make their
defense at a Wollan place. I believe it was at Nils Wollan's place.
They had scythes, forks and axes with which to defend themselves.
On the third day, some of the bravest of them would take a ride out and
when they came back with a report that there was no danger in sight, they all
went back to their respective homes again.
The Indians must have been a big worry in those days.
E. O. used to mention the store down by Wollans and that he used to go
there to get groceries for the old farm.
was a great snowstorm in the winter of '72 or '73.
Iver Teigen went to attend a church, presumably at New Prairie; anyway,
he was in company with the Wollans. Peter
Wollan was the one who drove. During
this time the Wollans tried to get the bunch around Lowry to join their
church. In this they failed.
Maybe because it would have been so far for our people to go to church.
But the storm came and he could not get home for three days. In the meantime, Lars was doing chores up there.
One day, while coming home from Teigens, Lars could not see where he
was going. it just so happened
that he went by a bare spot made by throwing out slop and that was all that
saved him from going by and maybe freezing to death like to many did during
the year 1881 we find E. O. again working on the railroad.
This time it is the N. P. and he is helping them build it into Starbuck
when he was approached by Peter Ingebretson and O. Ronning to join their
partnership in business there. This
he did and remained for some time and made many friends here.
One Sunday afternoon he and Gotfred Nordstrom decided to take a little
walk. It happened that when
Nordstrom came from Sweden he had met a certain girl in Minneapolis that he
had a talk with and she had also sent a lunch along with him to have on the
way. When these gentlemen came up
to Ingbret Moen's place right outside of Starbuck that Sunday afternoon, this
young lady was there. Neither one
of them thought the other knew her. Anyway
this got to be E. O.'s life partner. They
were married in Alexandria in August 1884 and lived in a house not far from
the hospital or a little north of the church basement in Starbuck.
Here Minnie and Tina were born.
incident which took place while he was working in the store for Engebretson
and Ronning was when a distinguished gentlemen came into the store in full
dress suit and stove pipe hat and all. E.
O. recognized him as a certain fellow citizen but did not let on, so when he
saw this man take a pair of shoes as he went out, E. O. told the others
"that man took a pair of shoes," instantly the chase was on with
soon practically the whole town chasing the thief.
Out into the country they followed., the leading pursuer catching up to
him as he was going through a fence; whereupon he administered a violent kick. Instantly, the thief turned on this captor and announced
"the drinks are on you." The
joker was a Mr. Fuhr. Incidentally,
Mr. Fuhr has a son who is a minister in Silverton, Oregon now.
O. upon leaving Starbuck, took his belongings and drove to Cooperstown, N.D.
and sold out to some farmers. When
he got to the Red River Valley of the North, he asked an Indian the way.
Later on he asked another Indian and his squaw and they showed him he
was on the wrong way. She waved her hands in the direction he was going saying
"Wahpeton, Wahpeton" and then pointing the right way to him.
Then she had her husband go with E. O. for a mile or two.
While with the Indian E. O. pulled out a big long plug of tobacco, took
a chew and offered the Indian some. The
Indian took a chew and proceeded to put the plug in his own pocket.
this E. O. returned to Lowry. The
Soo Line was just then coming through and he built himself a house here. John Benson, who had a store out in the country, moved in and
started a store here and E. O. worked for him.
later he worked for William McIver in the store a long time.
In about January 1902 he went to take charge of the H. A. Leroy
Hardware which was in the Fairfield Block in Osakis, Minn.
He was there until July or August 1905 when he came back to Lowry and
worked for the Farmers Elevator for a number of years.
In 1913 he began more active farming, his boys then being grown up.
They farmed until 1919 when they sold out during the boom and left for
old book of his is dated in January 1881 at Smith Lake, Minnesota, which was a
small place near Litchfield on the Great Northern.
He would work on the section summer and winter to be able to save and
get ahead, while most of those he worked with in the summer, laid off in the
winter, spending what they earned in the summer.
His sister, Juda, who married Louis Jacobson, lived in Smith Lake and
E. O. must have stayed some with them. It
was here that Juda became acquainted with a woman who had both legs taken off
by the Sioux in the Sioux massacres of 1862.
O.'s father died on Lars' farm on a Sunday afternoon, June 10, 1877, at the
age of 81 years. He came to Lesje
a peddler and settled there and had a small store.
his mother, born May 17, 1817, died October 3, 1907, at the age of 90
years. E. O. was good at figures
and was well liked by all who knew him. Especially
was he highly esteemed by his own family.
As stated before he was married to Mary Torguson who was born April 22,
1862 and died in June 1933. E. O.
felt a great loss by the passing of his life partner, but he bore it patiently
for 8 years.
O. passed away at his home in Pasadena, Calif. January 17, 1941 at the age of
85 years. He is survived by six
children, Mrs. George Erlandson, Lowry, Minn.; Ole, Tom, Walter, Mrs. J. Swapp
and Mrs. Brown, all of Pasadena. Two
children preceded him in death, Emma in 1905 and Tina in 1912.
the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, Psalm 25-10.
Wonder then if this pioneer family found the path of the Lord.
Surely they had the knowledge of it.
The Lord was good to them, always provided them with the necessary
things to sustain this life and was more so willing to give them eternal life,
if they would accept it. We sincerely hope that they did so. Hebrews 2-3. How
shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation.---Contributed by my father.