August Theodore Muller
- Geboren: 13. Mai 1891, Springfield, Sangamon, Illinois
- Ehe: Maria Elizabeth Hubertina Noterman am 3. Feb. 1920 in Hillsboro, Traill, North Dakota
- Gestorben: 22. Dez. 1948, Hillsboro, Traill, North Dakota im Alter von 57 Jahren
- Bestattet: Hillsboro, Traill, North Dakota
Ein Alternativ- oder Ehename von August war August Muller.
The following profile was written by Margaret Mary (Mueller) Vettel.
Remark: On this website published only partial.
August Theodore Muller was born on May 13, 1891 near Springfield, Illinois, the ninth child of thirteen born to Alexander and Bertha Muller. Alexander owned the Walnut Grove Dairy and the children shared in the work of the dairy business. Some milked the cows, others delivered milk from the horse drawn wagons. The dairy herd numbered between 70 and 100 cowsw, all of which were milked twice a day by hand. Milking machines had not yet been invented.
August attended St Peter & Paul school in Springfield from 1898 to 1906. Most of the children in the family were taken out of school before the sixth grade to help at home. August was fortunate in that he finished the seventh grade.
As the children grew up and began to marry, help became short and Alexander sold the dairy herd.
At the urging of a land company, Alexander came to North Dakota wherehe found the climate and soil to be to his liking. Consequently, he bought the Cooper farm, 160 acres of land at $65 an acre. This farm was located in Bloomfield Township about two miles southwest of Hillsboro, North Dakota. In the spring of 1910, Alexander shipped his livestock and machinery from Springfield to Hillsboro. To save train fare, August and his brother, Matt, were delegated to ride in the box car with the horse and cattle and care for them. Can you imagine what a long, smelly ride that must have been? Thus, Alexander began farming in North Dakota with sons, Matt and August. Daughter Mary also came to keep house for them. Alexander's wife, Bertha, remained in Springfield, as did the other children. As time went on, some of them also cameto live in North Dakota. Alexander continued to farm with his boys until the death of his wife in 1918. He then returned to Springfield.August and his brother, Alvin, continued the farming operation until August later purchased the farm for $120 an acre.
The move to North Dakota gave August the opportunity to meet his future bride, Elizabeth Mary Noterman. They were married on February 2, 1920 in St. Rose of Lima Church in Hillsboro, and became my parents thefollowing year.
August was a quiet man, tall and thin, with cool black hair which remained that way during his entire life. He had a deep faith. His morals and principles were of the highest. I remember him best in his patched denim-bib overalls and long sleeved blue chambray work shirts ready to tackle the business of farming.
August raised wheat, oats, barley, speltz (used to feed chickens), corn, potatoes, and occasionally, flax. With only 160 acres the fields were small, compared to today's acreages. The field work was done entirely with horses until years later when my brother, Earl, (August's son) convinced August that a tractor could do the job more efficiently. How Earl loved that red Farmall "H"!
Mother Nature was not always too cooperative. There were days of blowing dust during the "Dirty 30's", when the grain that didn't blow outof the soil shriveled in the parched sand because of prolonged droughts. Another year, hordes of grasshoppers invaded the fields and greeily devoured everything in sight. Stem rust which weakened and eventually broke off the stems of the wheat, was another culprit. Some of the land contained many rocks, which made it unsuitable for farming. In addition, the low prices for farm products was very discouraging.
In spite of adversities and crop failures, life went on. We learned to "do with what he had or do without".
August was handy with a hammer and saw and enjoyed working with them. One of his accomplishments was building an archway and long trellis which bounded the entire east side of our huge garden.
August was a perfectionist. He used to say "Anything worth doing at all is worth doing well".
Elizabeth Mary Notermans was born near Shakopee, Minnesota on May 20,1891, exactly one week after my father (August). She was the sixth of seven children born to Thomas and Maria Helena Notermans and was the first to be born in the United States. After Elizabeth Mary was born, her grandmother, Hubertina, became very upset because none of her granddaughters had been named after her. To pacify the grandmother, Elizabeth Mary was called Tina, a name she continued to use throughout her life.
Shortly after Tina's fourth birthday, her mother died of blood poisoning. Tina acquired a stepmother when her father remarried just five months later.
Tina attended Guardian Angel school in Chaska, Minnesota. I don't believe she got further than the third or fourth grade, when she was taken out of school to help with the work at home.
In May of 1907, Tina moved with her father, Thomas, stepmother Augusta and brother Hubert, to Plummer, Minnesota, where her father had purchased a farm.
She later kept house for a priest, possibly in the Plummer area. Shealso worked in a hotel in Westhope, North Dakota. Tina was encouraged to move to the Hillsboro area by a friend, Ida Enger, who was a nurse at the local hospital at that time. Tina then began working as a hired girl doing housework for the George Gerk and Louis Smith families. I believe she spent the winters in Spring Valley, Wisconsin, working in her brother Theodore's hardware store. It was while working in the Hillsboro area that she met August Muller, whom she later married.
For her wedding, Tina wore a brown suit, a beige hat trimmed in brownand high, laced brown shoes with pointed toes. She carried a prayerbook, which I used at my wedding 28 years later. Gus and Tina took a wedding trip to Springfield. They lived their entire married life on the Muller farm in Bloomfield Township.
Tina was of average height. I can never remember her not wearing glasses. She wore long, gray hair combed back and twirled into a bun at the back of her head.
During the growing season, Tina suffered with asthma and hay fever. Her asthma attacks usually became very severe just prior to a heavy thunderstorm, probably because of changes in atmospheric pressure. Thenshe would get out her can of Asthmador, pour some in a saucer, light it with a match and inhale the fumes. Sometimes I feared she would suffocate before she obtained relief.
Her allergies prevented Tina from completely enjoying her huge gardenand various flower beds, which she dearly loved. She planted onions in the garden every spring "because they look so nice growing in theirrows". She never ate them!
The house was filled with beautiful plants, including several large ferns. Sometimes it was difficult to see out of the windows because ofthe greenery.
Tina enjoyed needlework of all kinds. She tatted and crocheted and made beautiful crewel embroidery pillows. She also made warm, cozy quilts for our beds and in later years, beautiful decorative quilts. I recall her finishing quilts using a quilting frame which occupied a large portion of our huge kitchen. Tina would tie the quilts with brightpieces of yarn or meticulously quilt them by hand, while my brothers and I played under the "tent".
Tina was an excellent cook! There were no "mixes" in those days, so everything was made from "scratch". Tina's never-to-be-forgotten bunsand rolls, Angel Food and Devils Food cakes were "out of this world". All of the bread that we used was homemade. A wood and coal burning stove was used for baking and cooking. The oven temperature was controlled by opening or closing the draft and damper and by adding justthe right amount of fuel at the proper time. Water was kept in the reservoir of the stove. It was heated by the stove and was our source of hot water.
The calendar proclaimed the date as being Wednesday, January 5, 1921 and the tall kitchen wall clock chimed 630 in the dark, chilly morningwhen I entered this world. I was the first child of August Theodore and Elizabeth Mary Muller, tipping the scales at a whopping eleven pounds.
August had previously taken the horses and the sleigh to summon the assistance of a neighbor lady, Mrs. Louis Smith, who lived about two miles to the southeast. Tina had worked for the Smith's as a hired girlprior to her marriage. Dr. Syver Vinje, the local physician and Mrs.John Kritzberger, a neighbor who lived a mile to the west were also on hand to welcome me.
I was baptised on the following Sunday, January 9 by Fr. Koelman. MyGodparents were one of August's sisters and her husband, Aunt Mary and Uncle John Vettel.
A baby brother, Maurice Matthew, arrived on Thursday, October 18, 1923 at 1030 p.m. He too, was born at home and he weighted 10 1/2 pounds. Though I was too young at the time to actually remember any details, I have been told that he almost died at birth.
As Maurice got older, I recall Tina treating the eczema on his scalp with warm, wet compresses. In typical motherly fashion, I also proceeded to use the same treatment on my big "Mama dolls" head. However, Dolly's treatment didn't prove to be very effective. Her poor, composition head cracked into many pieces and the treatment was promptly discontinued upon Tina's orders.
I had not quite reached my fifth birthday when a second baby brother,Earl Jacob, arrived on New Years Day of 1926 at 1105 p.m. weighing 9 3/4 pounds. I recall hearing what I perceived to be the mewing of a kitten. Searching the huge kitchen for a kitty, I was interrupted by anurse who opened the dining room door which led to a bedroom. I was told that the sounds I had heard were the cries of my new little brother.
Shortly before Christmas of 1925, with the help and encouragement of Tina and August, I "write" a note to Santa Claus requesting (at their suggestion) a baby brother or sister. (Weren't they "foxy"?) Always true to his word, Santa actually did bring me a little brother, even though it was a week after Christmas. There was no doubt in my young mind then or for many years that there really and truly is a Santa Claus!
Earl was a sickly child. In addition to the childhood diseases of mumps, chicken pox, whooping cough, pink eye and measles which victimized all of us children at one time or another, Earl was plagued with bouts of pneumonia when he was nearly 2 1/2 years old and again when he was nearly six. Without modern day antibiotics and treatments, pneumonia was considered a very serious and dangerous disease at that time.I recall August bending over Earl in his little crib and saying to Tina, "If he doesn't make it, he'll be a little angel in Heaven". This was my first realization of death and I became very alarmed. Fortunately, the crisis passed and all turned out well.
One day, out of curiosity as to what a baby can or cannot eat, I broke a leaf off Tina's long trailing Wandering Jew plant and fed it to Earl. He swallowed it. Later when Tina discovered an unknown foreign green substance in his diaper, she nearly had conniptions. What couldbe wrong with this child now? Noting her extreme anxiety and worry,I believe that I confessed to my crime.
On Wednesday, June 12, 1929, August came home from Hillsboro and beamingly announced to Maurice, Earl and me that we had another baby brother, who was born at 1115 that morning, weighing 10 pounds. After checking on the color of his eyes and hair, my brothers and I joined handsand danced for joy around our huge oval shaped flower bed. I never had any idea that an increase in our family was imminent, though I do recall wondering what was going on when Lena Elton, a young neighbor girl, came with her suitcase and alarm clock to spend some time with us.
I soon began preparing a list of names for our new baby brother, who was eventually named Ralph Alvin. All of us children's middle names where those of our Godparents.
Ralph was the only one of us four children to enter this world via a hospital - such as it was. The hospital was located above the drug store overlooking the Main Street of Hillsboro. A long, seemingly endless stairway, led to the small collection of rooms which comprised the hospital. Included were a waiting room for patients, the doctor's tiny office which was equipped with a high leather padded examining chair; the doctor's desk which housed a hug physician's reference book to help diagnosis problems, and numerous bottles of assorted pills and remedies adjorning the wall behind a small table of supplies. There wasalso a large adjoining room which was used for X-rays, eye exams, etc. In addition, there were living quarters for the nurse and a bedroom for new mommies, who were hospitalized for ten days after their babies were born. This is not exactly similar to the hospitals of today,is it? The hospital staff was staffed by one doctor (who also made house calls) and one nurse. Dr. Syver Vinjie sported both a mustache and a goatee. His voice was high pitched and squeaky and he spoke witha very slow, deliberate tone. His faithful nurse, Anna Johnson, wasa pleasant middle aged lady, always ready to be of help.
Ralph was born B.G. (before Gerbers cereals and baby foods), so Tina used to strain his oatmeal. His three "big kids" really resented the fact that Ralph got to eat strained oatmeal, while we had to eat the lumpy stuff. Yuck!
READIN, WRITIN, AND RITHMETIC
My formal education began in Bloomfield #IV, a tiny one room rural school located just 1 1/2 miles west of the farm where I grew up. I entered first grade in 1926 when i was just five years old.
The only recollection that I have of my first day of school is that of being appalled by the older students sparring at each other with their rulers.
My first teacher was Irene Koch of Hillsboro, who later became Mrs. Herman Holzkamp. She stayed at our home during the winter months when driving conditions became uncertain. She became a good friend of our family.
The total enrollment of the school was 15 pupils in various grades.I had no classmates. Among the older students were the Kritzbergers, - Walt, Leonard and Leona; the Eltons, - Valborg and Conrand, - Donald Hausmann and Glenn Peterson, who I thought was especially nice. Some of the upper classmates said, "If you like him so much, why don't you kiss him?" I very innocently complied. Poor Glenn! He endured alot of teasing because of me.
One of the activities I enjoyed most in first grade was adding letters to assorted syllables to make words. The "at" family was one of myfavorites. Some of the members of the "at" family were cat, bat, fat, hat, etc. Actually I was being taugh phonics, but to me it was a fun game.
Workbooks, ditto machines and copiers were unheard of in those days.All swatwork, as it was then called was handwritten by the teacher.
My second grade teacher was Mrs. Walter Hutchinson. She, her husbandand their two daughters lived in Hillsboro.
Several programs, to which the parents were invited, were presented during the school year. I recall reciting the long poem of "Hiawatha" and at Christmas time, "Why Do Bells for Christmas Ring?" On one occasion, Tina said that I kept looking out the window during the entire recitation to avoid facing the audience.
Nance LeMasters was the county nurse at this time. She made periodicvisits to the schools to check on the health and well-being of the students. I dreaded Mss LeMaster's visits, especially after she sent a note home to my parents, advising them that I was undernourished and should be drinking milk. I hated milk! Wouldn't Miss LeMasters be pleased to see that I am no longer suffering from malnutrition!
The small school was hard to heat and as a result was very cold during the winter. We used to sit around the stove with our overshoes on to keep our feet warm. Consequently, the school was closed in 1928. It was later moved into Hillsboro and converted into a home by neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Kelleher who operated a turkey farm. It presently is the home of Leonard and Edna Kritzberger.
After the school closed, I entered third grade in the Hillsboro Public School, with 27 classmates. What a change that was from being the only one in my class!
The childhood diseases of mumps, chicken-pox, whooping cough and measles caused me to miss many days of school.
Tina spent an entire day each year visiting school. I had mixed emotions about that. Only very rarely did any of my classmates' mothers ever visit school, so I was a bit embarrassed with my mother's annual visits. Yet, the fact that she cared enough about my brothers and me to share an interest in our school day pleased me very much.
August took us to school with a horse and buggy when the roads were muddy. In the winter, a "jumper" pulled by a team of horses was our means of transportation. A "jumper" was an enclosed box-like creation on sleigh runners. Of course there was no heat in it. The first thing that Tina did every morning, after she started a fire in the kitchen stove, was to put bricks in the oven to heat. When it was time to leave for school, the hot bricks were placed in a potato sack and put on the floor in the jumper. We rested our feet on them to keep warm.
The long rides to and from school were a time of closeness as we talked and laughed with August. On occasion he would sing to us. We wererequired to memorize a lot of poetry when I was in grade school. Thelong rides gave me lots of time to memorize "The Village Blacksmith","The First Snowfall", "Paul Rever's Ride" and many many others.
As I grew older, the advantages of our transportation diminished andI became very embarrassed as none of my classmates rode to school in horse drawn vehicles. Most of them lived in town. The "town kids" used to eagerly watch for our jumper. They loved to catch rides to and from school by standing on the runners and clinging to the sides of the jumper. Sometimes it was barely visible, being completely surrounded by kids. I recall August asking them to move so he could see out of the small driver's window to check for trains as we crossed the railroad tracks.
Since it was a long, chilly ride to school in the winter, Tina alwaysmade sure that we were all bundled up in warm coats, caps, mittens, scarves and overshoes. We always wore long underwear. One of the first signs of Spring was the shedding of long underwear in exchange for the short sleeved variety. When I was in sixth grade, Tina made me a pretty, pink print, spring dress with puffed sleeves. I was getting so anxious to wear my new dress with its short, puffy sleeves. However, spring was slow in arriving, so I stuffed the long underwear sleeves into the puffed sleeves of the dress. My the sleeves were really pretty and puffy now. Alas! As the day wore on, the underwear gradually pushed its way down one arm and out the puffed sleeve. I was mortified! None of the "town kids" wore long underwear and I didn't want them to Know that I did!
My elementary school days ended with graduation from the eight grade on June 7, 1934. For graduation, I wore a pretty pink orundy dress with ruffles. I felt so beautiful! Our graduation exercises were held in the Assembly room of the high school in Hillsboro. I was "Perseverance" in a short skit which was a part of our graduation program. Theday has bittersweet memories. I had reached a milestone in my life and graduated with top grades. However, it was also a time of sadness because Tina's brother, my Uncle Johnny Noterman, had died from burns he sustained when a gas stove exploded. He was attempting to light the stove for his wife, my Aunt Ploney, so that she could prepare a Sunday company dinner. Tina wanted to go to his funeral, but she also wanted to be present for my graduation. She chose to see my graduate, which made me very happy; but I think she regretted not going to her brother's funeral.
Some of my happiest childhood memories are those of the Christmas season. Money and toys were both scarce, but that didn't prevent us fromenjoying the spirit of the holidays.
When the Christmas catalogs started to arrive in the mail, my brothers and I began thinking about that very special season. One day, as Iwas leafing through one of the "Wish Books", my eyes and my "sweet tooth" caught sight of a colored page picturing assorted varieties of mouth watering candies. They looked so real! How I yearned for a sweettreat! My cravings persisted! I tore off a corner of the page, put it in my mouth and began to chew. Yuck! I quickly discovered that appearances can be very, very deceiving!
My brothers and I tried to be especially good in those busy weeks before Christmas, for we knew that Santa and his elves were watching us.We were constantly checking fresh tracks in the snow, convinced that what appeared to be the footprints of dogs, were really those of Santa's reindeer. Smaller tracks certainly must belong to Santa's elves. To confirm our beliefs, Santa made a couple of surprise appearances every year. After supper, there would be a sharp knock at a kitchen window, especially if we'd been naughty. Summoning every ounce of courage, we would slowly approach the window, until we saw the outline of Santa in the darkness. He always asked if we were good kids and showed that he meant business by frequently hitting his stick on the house. (I suspect that Santa was used as a disciplinary measure). Needless to say, we sprouted wings and halos after a pre-Christmas visit from Santa.
While we children were trying to be good, Mama was busy as a bee in the kitchen, baking all sorts of delicious Christmas goodies. I especially remember the rolled Christmas cookies, frosted and decorated with color sugar, as well as the rolled molasses cookies with raisin filling, topped with caramel frosting and a walnut half. They looked so festive and tasted even better. I always looked forward to Mama's Christmas bread, chock full of prunes, raisins, nuts and fruit mix. Mamawas a champion candy-maker. She always made perfect fudge and divinity without the help of a candy thermometer or an electric mixer. The candy was poured into bread pans and cut into squares, topped with a walnut half. Sometimes she made peanut butter fudge and a marshmallow candy using gelatins and rolled in toasted coconut. Umm! Good! Occasionally she made fondant, a thick sugary concoction which was kneadedand then left to "ripen" before forming into various flavored and colored candies or sued to stuff pitted dates. Popcorn balls, - some redand some green, were always a part of our Christmas. All of the goodies were stored on the front stairway which served as a walk-in refrigerator. (I don't think calories had been invented yet in those days!)
Santa must have spent most of Christmas Eve every year at our house, because the house was completely transformed when we awoke on Christmas morning. The crib had been set up on the buffet; the Christmas tree was beautifully decorated; red roping criss-crossed the dining and living room ceilings and was tied with a red honeycomb bell in the center. Magazine pictures of Santa, peppered with pin holes after years of usage, were attached to the kitchen curtains. Our Christmas stockings, which had been hung from hooks on the kitchen windows, usually held an orange, peanuts, and hard candy.
Compared with today's lush, artificial trees, ours was small and scrawny, but we thought it was absolutely beautiful, even though its branches were few and far between. The tree was always placed on a plant stand in front of the huge dining room window. At the tip of each branch was a metal clip which held a tiny colored candle. The candles were faded from the bright winter sunlight and some were bend out of shape from storage in the summer heat. (I thought it was cold at the North Pole). The tree was resplendent in tarnished silver roping, ornaments made of tinfoil and wispy angels. I loved the angels! A foldout Nativity scene was always placed in front of the tree. It had been Daddy's last Christmas gift to his mother who died in April of 1918.
We each received one Christmas gift. I recall one year, receiving a paint book of animal pictures, along with a small set of basic watercolors and a paintbrush. I was overjoyed! How many children would be satisfied with such a gift today? We learned to appreciate and care for what we received.
Eventually my classmates began to tease me about my belief in Santa Claus. He had been an important part of my life and I wanted to continue to be a believer, - but common sense told me that it was not possible. It was one of the saddest days of my young life when the truth was made known to me. However, I kept playing the game for the benefitof my brothers.
As we grew older, the Christmas season became an opportune time for an annual gathering of relatives at our house. Daddy's brothers and sisters and their families who lived in the Hillsboro area, were invited to our spacious home for an afternoon of fun. Daddy delighted in playing Santa Claus for the group. He donned a tattered mask and his long sheepskin coat. With a pillow or two tucked around his middle, helooked quite authentic. He carried a pillow case full of paper bags,stuffed with popcorn balls, candy and peanuts. Each person present was called by Santa to receive his candy bag, but not before Santa directed a clever (sometimes almost embarrassing) comment or question to them. His "sneeze act" always brought down the house. While distributing the candy sacks, he would suddenly stop and sneeze with frightening, deafening gusts. He would pull a small bottle of water from his pocket, and concealing it with his handkerchief, proceeded to spray the floor as he sneezed. Mama would dutifully get the mop from the basement landing, to dry the floor.
After all the entertainment and fun, Mama would serve a bountiful lunch of Christmas goodies, including a luscious, layered date cake. This cake was my favorite and was made only at Christmastime.
I always dreaded the end of the holiday season, when the house was dismantled and all of the Christmas decorations packed away and stored for the next year. The house was so bare and lonesome. However, with school resuming after two weeks of vacation, we soon became engrossed in our studies, as memories of another happy Christmas lingered.
RECREATION, FUN AND GAMES
Since money and toys were both in short supply when we were children,my brothers and I improvised to make our own fun.
An expired Sears Roebuck or Montgomery Ward catalog and a pair of scissors provided us with hours of entertainment. We cut people out of the catalogs to be used as paper dolls. We call them "Skinnies" because they were thin compared to the chubby store-bought ones. We made homes for our "Skinnies" by drawing floor plans with colored crayons onnewspapers. The homes were furnished with furniture and appliances cut from the catalogs and sold in the local furniture store. A hospital became an absolute necessity. It was here that emergency as well as major surgery was performed, such as re-uniting a severed head withits body. Sometimes an entire person was made, using the head from one person, the body of another, and the legs from yet another. Our little village also boasted of a bank. We paid our bills with paper money that we had made. What a wonderful learning experience! We each had several large families, usually consisting of a dozen members. We just couldn't resist adding another pretty, little girl or a handsome boy to our families! My families' names included Andersons, Olsons and Sorums. (Can you guess that we grew up in a Norwegian community?)However, I also had several Woodring families named after the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury at that time. Naturally the town banker was aMr. Woodring. Our village was first platted on the kitchen floor, but as it grew and flourished, Mama's domain was diminished and she letus lay claim to an entire, large room above the kitchen. We loved that! Now we had lots of space and were spared the monumental task of picking up when we were through playing. I think Mama liked the idea too.
As time went on, my brothers grew bored with playing "sissy" games like "Skinnies" and they began collecting pictures of tractors, trucks, and cars. They laid out shops in which to display them and learned the names and models of each one. Meanwhile I played "Skinnies" alone.
We spent time during the summer playing in some leftover gravel alongside of the house. My brothers would build roads by diligently pushing the gravel into ridges and then leveling them off. This didn't particularly appeal to me, so being the oldest, I appointed myself as theRoad Inspector. If there roads didn't meet my specifications (and usually they didn't) I would demolish the whole thing. My brothers would try again and again to build better roads. Fortunately for me, they hadn't heard of impeachment!
Daddy was handy with a saw and hammer. He built a model farm for my brothers, complete with a house, two barns, a silo, farm animals and even machinery. Perhaps his proudest accomplishment was a manure spreader that actually spun out bits of paper. The farm was set up every spring in the garden, where my brothers enjoyed many happy hours of farming.
One year, Daddy made a four room doll house for me. The kitchen and bedroom were furnished with wooden furniture that he'd also made. Theliving room and bathroom contained furnishings that had been cut froma catalog and mounted on cardboard. Mama sewed dainty little curtains for the windows (made of real glass) and braided a rug for the living room floor. She also sewed tiny sheets and a bedspread, along witha pillow and mattress for the bed. Mama and Daddy both put a lot of work into that doll house. Perhaps I did not enjoy it as much as I could have, because of guilt feelings. I admit to being a snoopy person, --- I kept sneaking down the basement steps when Daddy was working down there on the doll house. It was supposed to be a surprise Christmas present from Santa. I think Daddy got disgusted with me for spying on him.
A radio was quite a novelty in those days, -- I recall the first timethat I encountered one. We were visiting our neighbors, the Ole Elton's, who lived just a quarter mile west of us. They were the proud owners of a new radio. I was amazed to hear voices coming from it. I didn't dare utter a word because I was afraid that the radio would pickup my voice and everyone in Radio Land would hear me. (At least that was one way to keep me quiet!) Soon afterwards, Daddy bought a beautiful console-type radio. It was given a place of honor in a corner of our dining room. There being no electricity at that time, our radio was powered by three batteries, -- an A battery, a B battery and a C battery. It seemed one or the other always needed to be replaced. In an effort to save the "juice", the radio was turned off during advertisements and we listened only to certain selected programs. Among themwere comedians Jack Benny, sponsored by Jello; Fibber McGee and Molly, sponsored by Johnson's Wax; ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. There were also children's programs such as the Lone Ranger. On Sunday afternoons, the entire family gathered to listen to Msgr. Shun on the Catholic Hour. During World War II, Mama and Daddy listened intently to H. V. Kaltenborn with the evening news. Television was unheard of at this time.
As we grew older, the Fargo fair became an annual attraction that we looked forward to all year. I would sew special outfits for some of my favorite dolls and they would accompany us on our expedition to Fargo. My brothers and I were each given money to use for shopping at the dime store before we made our way to the fair. As the economy improved, our spending money was increased to a whole quarter for each of us. One year Mama encouraged me to spend my money on a "blah" lookingvase, which I never did like. Another year, I bought what I really wanted, my very first lipstick. My high school friends used real lipstick, but up until now, I had used orange colored crayons. Actually they were a fairly good substitute for lipstick, but being able to use the real thing gave me a wonderful sense of well being!
THE WASHDAY WORKOUT
Preparation for washday began the night before when Mama would open the kitchen closet door under the stairway and haul out the clothes basket, filled to overflowing with dirty laundry. She then proceeded to sort and organize the clothes into appropriate piles arranged on the floor of our huge kitchen.
The first job in the morning, after starting a fire in the coal stovein the kitchen, was to fill the boiler. This was accomplished eitherby pumping the water into a pail in our kitchen sink or by carrying it up from the basement, where by means of gravity, one lone faucet provided our only source of running water. Eave troughs carried water to the cistern when it rained. Daddy had said that the cistern had never run dry.
While the water was heating in the boiler, Mama would share a big barof her good homemade lye soap into bits and add it to the warm water.
The signal to start the washing machine came when the water began to boil. But, alas! The washing machine was very temperamental and usually it was not ready to go to work when the water was! Daddy would struggle to start its gas engine. He would step down on the starter pedal, make some adjustments, utter a few words under his breath (occasionally audible), repeat the entire procedure several times, when suddenly our ears were filled with the most wonderful sound in the whole wide world, --- the monotonous, deafening "putt putt" of our Maytag engine.
No time was lost now in filling the washing machine with the hot, soapy water, which, by now had been pushed to the back of the stove to keep it from boiling over. While the first load of white clothes was washing, two large, round, galvanized tubs were filled with cold water for rinsing the clothes. A small amount of bluing was added to the final rinse water to keep the clothes snowy-white.
There was an unwritten law at our house that nothing or no one disturb Mama while she washed clothes. Once that machine was started, it kept going steadily till the washing was finished. After all, can you imagine the ordeal of starting that engine more than once in a single day?
My contribution towards helping with the family wash consisted in rubbing all the handkerchiefs and socks on the scrub board after they were washed in the machine. There were sufficient quantities of both togive me sore and blistered knuckles.
During the winter months, the clothes were carried up to the attic todry. This involved climbing up two flights of steps, (three flights in later years when the washing machine was moved from the vestibule to the basement). The clothes were quickly hung on ropes which stretched from the north to the south sides of the attic. A bit of delay and the arctic cold up there would freeze the clothes before they were hung, also the fingers!
During the warmer seasons, the clothes were hung outside on a wire clothesline attached in a circle to the trees in the north lawn. When the wind was from the north, the clothes were brought in the house the minute they were dry to prevent the dust, from moving vehicles on our dirt road, from blowing into them.
When the washing was all finished, the dirty water was carried out inpails and emptied into the front driveway. My brothers and I were delighted in watching the miniature water falls and coaxing the rivuletsalong with the aid of sticks. The rinse water was used to wash the vestibule floor and to water flower beds during the summer months. Nothing was ever wasted at our house, including the used laundry water!
A SUMMER SUNDAY TREAT
Delicious, old-fashioned homemade ice cream! How I wish I had Mama'srecipe!
Desserts were few and far between when I grew up during the Great Depression! However, three of the necessary ingredients of ice cream, - milk, cream, and eggs were provided by our obliging cows and chickens.
Another necessary ingredient in the preparation of ice cream was ice. Since refrigerators and freezers were non-existent in those days, Daddy would drive on summer Sundays after church to Fred Otto's place at the northeast edge of Hillsboro where a bountiful supply of huge ice chunks were stored in the hayloft of his barn. The ice had been cut the previous winter from the frozen river and coated with sawdust.A large block of ice, more than sufficient to meet our needs, was purchased for 25 cents. Daddy would stuff the ice into a potato sack which he had brought along and throw it in the trunk of the car.
As soon as we reached home, a fire was built in our kitchen stove andMama would begin preparing the ice cream mixture. She cooked and stirred the custard-like concoction of sugar, eggs and milk, later addingcream and flavoring (occasionally maple, which was my favorite). Themixture was then poured into the freezing container and placed in theice cream freezer.
Meanwhile, Daddy had been busy with a hatchet, chopping the large block of ice into small pieces on the sidewalk by the back steps. My brothers took turns cranking the freezer while Daddy kept adding exactly the correct proportions of chopped ice and salt. When the mixture became hard to crank, it was time to remove the dasher and pack the freezer with additional ice and salt. The freezer was then wrapped in old coats and blankets for insulation and carried down into the south rootcellar for the "ripening" process. This consisted in letting the icecream set for an hour or until we finished dinner, - whichever happened first.
Our first servings of ice cream were indescribably delicious. A generous piece of Mama's "made-from-scratch" never-to-be-forgotten Angel Food or Devil's Food cake accompanied our treat. The entire batch had to be eaten the same day it was made, since without adequate refrigeration, it was impossible to keep frozen for a longer period of time. As the day wore on, our appetites for ice cream began to lag. On occasion, the neighbors were invited over to help us finish our homemade ice cream!
THE GREAT DEPRESSION
Hoover blew the whistle,
Mellon rang the bell,
Wall Street gave the signal
And the country went to Hell.
Thus went the verse that Kritzbergers printed on the side of their truck during the Great Depression. It was a good description of the condition of our country during that time.
The Great Depression began in the fall of 1929 during Herbert Hoover's presidency. Widespread poverty prevailed after the stock market crashed and many banks became insolvent. Some people committed suicide after losing all of their hard-earned money. It was a time of gloom and despair.
Even though money was extremely limited, our family never lacked the necessities of life, -- partly because we were quite self-sufficient and also because of the ingenuity of our parents.
We never went hungry since most of our food was a product of the farm. The holstein cows provided us with milk, cream and butter. The Duroc Jersey hogs gave us pork and lard. The chickens supplied us with meat and eggs. A huge garden yielded a bountiful supply of all kinds of vegetables. Only staples such as cereal, sugar, flour, salt and coffee were purchased.
Eggs were traded for groceries and dressed chickens were sold to the local restaurants. Five gallon cans of cream were sold at one of the two cream stations in Hillsboro. The cream check was used to buy groceries and other necessities. How we waited for that cream can to get full!
To supplement the meager farm income, Mama sold green onions and asparagus from our garden to the grocery stores every spring. It was my job to clean the onions. I recall shedding many tears while preparing them. The vegetables were bunched, weighed and tied with string, ready to be sold.
Every year on Washington's birthday (which was observed on February 22 in those days), Mama would begin her indoor gardening by planting tomato and cabbage seeds. Daddy always brought in dirt the previous fall and stored it in the basement, knowing it would be impossible to dig the frozen, snow-covered ground in February. Mama filled old pans with the dirt and planted the seeds in rows, carefully labeling as to the variety. The plants were lovingly nurtured and when they grew large enough, were transplanted. As the weather became warmer, the containers of plants were set outside every morning and moved back into thehouse in the evening. This became a time consuming job, so, eventually some of the plants were placed in our little wagon. Then the entire wagon, with its contents was carried in and out. There was the added advantage of mobility on wheels if the wind should increase or change directions, threatening to blow the plants away. When it was time to start gardening, the plants were sold to the grocery stores, who inturn, sold them to their customers.
Once, in an effort to save money, Daddy loaded a trailer with sacks of wheat to be taken to the mill in Grand Forks to be exchanged for flour and cereal. How we looked forward to an outing to the big city, -- all of us, that is, except for Daddy. He very much disliked driving in Grand Forks because, as he said, "The streets all run crooked".However, the need to save money took precedence over driving on streets that were not straight. So the trailer was hooked onto the car andoff we went! However, before we were even half way to our destination, a tire on the trailer blew out. This necessitated driving back to Buxton to replace the ruptured tire. Any savings that had been anticipated from our venture quickly disappeared with the purchase of a new tire. What had started out to be a "fun day" became a disappointing and depressing one. Needless to say, that was the first and last time that we exchanged wheat for flour and cereal.
Flour and sugar were purchased by the hundred pounds in cloth sacks and salt in five pound sacks. After the contents were used, the sacks were soaked in a solution of lye and water to remove the printing. After several washings, they were ready to be made into dish towels, pillowcases, handkerchiefs and yes! even underwear. When there were enough sacks, Mama sewed them together to make sheets. I'm not sure whichwas put to better use, -- the products or the sacks!
I recall the fall of 1931. It was almost time for school to resume.I was going to be a sixth grader. There was no money for pretty, newschool clothes, so Mama did the next best thing. She cut up one of her good dresses and made it over into a dress for me. The dress was of crepe material and was old rose in color with silver trim. ThoughI truly appreciated Mama's unselfishness and generosity, I must confess that I never really liked my new old rose dress!
The Dust Bowl years coincided with the time of the Great Depression.Russian thistles, or tumbleweeds, thrived in the parched soil. In the fall of the year, the wind blew the dry thistles across the open fields, piling them high along fence lines and any other barriers that got in their way. It was a desolate sight. One of my memories is thatof Ole Arnegard, a local banker, whose bank failed during the depression. He owned the farm directly north of us. Since most of our windswere from the north, the thistles from his fields choked our farmyard. I recall the former banker coming to our hose in work clothes to help my parents burn the thistles.
In spite of the hardships, I really feel that the Great Depression was a good experience for us. It taught us the values of thrift, good management and hard work. Most of all, we learned how to make the best of a bad situation.
Butchering time was an annual winter event. This season was an opportune time for several reasons. It was the slack time of the year for farming, and also, the meat could be frozen in the cold temperatures.This was important, since no refrigeration was available. The entirebutchering process took several days.
The first step on butchering day was to fill the wash boiler with water and bring it to a boil. The chosen hogs, which would be our sourceof protein during the coming months, were killed by shooting them. Except for killing gophers, this was the only time that Daddy ever useda gun. Meanwhile, the hot water was poured into a huge wooden barreland used for scalding the hogs. This made it easier to remove the hair from the skin, which was scraped with knives. The carcasses were then transported to the basement, where the meat was later cut into appropriate pieces.
Fresh pork liver was always on the menu on butchering day. A specialtreat that we all enjoyed was blood sausage. The blood was caught right after the hog had been killed. It had to be stirred constantly until it was cool, to prevent it from clotting. Later it was cooked along with small pieces of fatty meat from the head, flour and spices. When it thickened, it was poured into pans for future use. It was thensliced, fired and served for cold winter breakfasts with Mama's good homemade bread and jelly. This, indeed was a breakfast fit for a king!
Another delicacy that we looked forward to during butchering time wasfried brains. The brains were removed from the head and soaked in salt water. They were then drained, rolled in cracker crumbs and fried. Now, doesn't that sound appetizing? Our only regret was that our servings were so small, -- we wished that hogs had larger brains!
Mama always prepared head cheese during butchering time. The head was cut into pieces to fit in our largest kettle. It was boiled till the meat was tender. After it had cooled, the meat was removed from the bones, cut into small pieces and mixed with vinegar and seasonings. The gelatins in the meat congealed the mixture. The head cheese was sliced and served cold. It never appealed to my taste buds. Having seen the jaw bones with the teeth in them, cooking merrily on our stove, completely took away my appetite.
The intestines were soaked in salt water, drained and scraped with a knife, to be used later as casings for sausage. Nothing on the hog was wasted except for the squeal and the tail!
The fat was trimmed from the meat and cut into small pieces. As I got older, I enjoyed helping with this task. Later, Daddy would builda bonfire outside. He put the fat in a huge kettle over the fire, tobe rendered into lard. He stirred the fat with a long wooden paddle as it slowly melted and finally began to bubble. After it had sufficiently cooked and cooled, it was put through a lard press which separated the liquid lard from the cracklings. The finished product was poured into five gallon cracks and placed in the basement for storage. Imagine all of the cholesterol in that lard!
Meanwhile, Mama continued to work with the huge task of preserving the meat. Some of the meat, such as the ribs and backbones were placedon planks in the brooder house to freeze in the cold temperatures. This was, by far, the simplest method of preservation. However, a spellof warm weather could wreak havoc with the frozen meat in no time at all.
Some of the meat was roasted, cut in small pieces, put in canning jars and processed in the oven. Today's home economists would definitely frown on this method of canning.
Hams and bacons were usually preserved by "curing". The meat was rubbed with salt, let set for 24 hours and then soaked in a brine made ofsalt, sugar, saltpeter and water. After six to eight weeks of curingin the brine, the meat was removed and soaked in water before smoking. Daddy hung the meat with pieces of twine, in a separate part of the tool shed that was reserved for the smoking process. How I loved that aroma!
Sometimes the hams were "sugar-cured". They were rubbed with brown sugar and seasonings, then covered with brown paper and wrapped tightlyin cloths.
Scraps of meat were ground, seasoned with spices and made into sausage. Ground liver was added to some to make liver sausage. Using the lard press again, the sausage was stuffed into the casings, which had been prepared earlier. The rings of sausage were then boiled and put in the brooder house to freeze.
For longer storage, Mama formed the fresh pork sausage into patties and fried them. She filled small crocks with the ready-to-eat sausages, covering them with the hot grease. Sometimes, bacon was prepared for storage by this method also. Meat prepared in this way was tasty and simple to heat for a quick meal. Though it was loaded with cholesterol, we were totally unaware of the word.
The smell of grease permeated the house during butchering time. The kitchen became a greasy mess. It was given a thorough cleaning after the meat had all been cared for. Everything was finally back to normal until the next butchering season!
IN AND ABOUT THE KITCHEN
Mama was the best of cooks, even without the help of appliances that we consider to be necessities today. There was no electric toasters, roasters or can openers; no blenders, mixers or food processors; no microwaves, refrigerators or freezers, and no electric stoves with all of their automatic features.
Mama's most used kitchen tools were some butcher knives, a serrated bread knife, a pancake turner, a potato masher, a butter paddle, and anegg beater, which was also used to whip cream.
Can you imagine what it would be like to live without refrigeration?There never was a problem at our house keeping food cold during the winter, -- our unheated pantry was like a walk-in refrigerator. In thesummer, perishable foods were covered and set on the cool basement floor. Each meal involved numerous trips up and down the basement steps. Occasionally, foods were lowered into the well to keep them reallycold.
How would you like to live without running water? Our hose never hadrunning water during the entire 27 years that I lived there. A hand-operated pump in the kitchen supplied us with soft rain water that wasused for washing dishes, laundry and cleaning. Water for drinking and cooking was carried from the well, which was located in the barnyard (a real "no-no" by today's health standards). Cattle, horses and hogs roamed the barnyard. Holstein bulls have a reputation for bad tempers, so I would watch and wait for my chance to fetch water when the bull was at the other end of the lot. Then I would quickly sneak out to fill the water pail.
Our meals were simple but substantial, always making use of home-grown produce. Potatoes were served twice a day, usually boiled or mashed for dinner and always fried for supper. They were stored in our root cellars. The only light in the cellars came from a very small amount of daylight that filtered through the doors and the ventilation pipes. One day, as I was groping in the damp darkness of the cellars to get potatoes for peeling, something suddenly moved. Eek!! A lizard!It scared the living daylights out of me!
Cabbage, carrots and beets were also stored in the root cellar, wherethey kept perfectly over winter. Other vegetables such as asparagus,peas, beans, tomatoes and corn were canned. Rows and rows of sparkling jars filled large, curtained shelves in the basement. Many jars ofpickles, jellies and jams were also included in the collection.
A good portion of our garden was allotted to currant bushes, -- I believe there were 90 of them. Picking all of those currants was an everlasting job for my brothers and me. The summer heat made the job disagreeable; even worse were the green, creepy, crawly worms on the bushes. I tried to ignore them till they arched their backs or tumbled into our pans of picked berries. That always sent a shiver down my spine! Mama worked hard to make all of those currants into jelly. After she cooked them with water and squeezed out the juice, she spent many hours over the hot stove, cooking the juice with sugar. There was no commercial pectin in those days, so it took a lot of time and patienceto make jelly. When the mixture finally began to show signs of jelling, it was ready to be poured into jars. Mama took great pride in making "clear" jelly. She would hold the rosy, red jars up to the light,to see how translucent they were. Many batches of currant jelly weremade each summer.
Butter was churned from cream. It was poured into a butter churn which was a large, square glass container, mounted with a lid and equipped with paddles that extended deep into the jar. A crank attached to the lid was turned, causing the paddles to beat the cream until particles of butter finally appeared. Sometimes it took forever! Then Mamawould drain off the buttermilk and "work" the butter with her wooden butter paddle to remove and remaining buttermilk. Salt was added and there was fresh butter for us to enjoy. I loved to read and while I turned the crank on the butter churn, I read many pages in my library books.
Mama always baked all of our bread, buns and rolls. Sometimes she started the batter the previous evening. She would wrap the big bowl ofdough in coats or blankets to keep it warm over night. The baking process was completed the following day. Boughten bread was never, everused at our house. How I yearned for a slice of boughten bread and some boughten pork and beans! (Baked beans were always home-made also). How times change! Now a slice of fresh, home-made bread with home-made baked beans would be a welcome treat!
Toast was not served very often, probably because of the inconvenience of preparing it. Slices of bread were inserted into a two-sided rack. A lid was removed from the stove and the toaster rack held directly over the open fire. Long handles on the rack helped prevent burnt fingers and aided in turning it over to toast the other side of the bread. It was quite easy to make burnt toast! Mama usually made toast for us when we were sick in bed. Sometimes she served it to us with asoft-boiled egg. Other times we had milk toast. This was made by pouring hot, salted milk over a slice of buttered toast in a bowl. Withspecial treats like these, it wasn't so bad to be sick.
It was always fun to watch Mama make noodles. She would make a doughfrom eggs, flour, and milk and then use her rolling pin to form it into a large circle. The circle of dough was transferred to a dishtowelwhich had been draped over the back of a kitchen chair. When the dough had sufficiently dried, Mama moved it to her breadboard, where she cut it into long strips. Then she stacked the strips in piles and cutlots and lots of narrow slices from the short ends of the piles. Thenoodles were now ready to be cooked. They were served with bread cubes that had been browned in melted butter. Umm, Good!
Plain bread cubes added to scrambled eggs before cooking, also made atasty dish.
Meat was not served on Fridays, -- I liked the substitutes much better. We sometimes had salmon, either escalloped or fried patties. I much preferred the escalloped salmon. Mama often made feather-light dumplings and drowned them in browned butter. Yummy! If by chance, any were left over, they were sliced and fried with potatoes for another meal. Occasionally, I would coax Mama to make escalloped potatoes, which were my favorite. Her home-canned tomatoes often appeared on Friday's menus. They were stewed with sugar butter and crushed crackers. Delicious! I always looked forward to Friday's meals.
Saturday's meals were a different story. The dinner menu remained the same for weeks after butchering time. It consisted of boiled potatoes, home-made sauerkraut and boiled pork backbones. Ugh! Seeing theserved spinal cord in those back-bones completely erased my appetite!
Special treats on wintry Sundays were desserts of red jello or home-made chocolate pudding, topped with dollops of whipped cream. Jello was never served in the summer because the temperatures were too warm for it to set.
Blizzards were severe and frequent during the winter months. However, the cold, stormy evenings were a cozy time. When the frigid northwest winds chilled our big kitchen, the entire family moved into the dining room. The kitchen door was closed behind us to keep out the cold. Mama served hot cocoa to warm us while we did our homework or listened to the radio. Sometimes Mama and I buried ourselves with needlework or enjoyed some lively games of Checkers. It was a time of togetherness that brings back warm and pleasant memories.
The Acadamy and the Piano
After my graduation from eigth grade, two options were open to me: (1) I could continue my education at the Hillsboro High School, or (2)I could attend a parochial boarding school, Notre Dame Academy at Willow City, North Dakota. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and that was to begin my high school education in Hillsboro with my classmates and friends. However, I was outnumbered. Mama and Daddy really wantedme to attend the academy. The sisters there were anxious to have another student and some of my cousins had already been going to school at the academy. It was a frightening thought for a 13 year old, who had never been away from home to even think about being gone for an entire term of school. The summer was an unhappy one for me, not knowingwhat the future held.
One day, my parents decided to bargain with me. If I would go to theacademy, they would buy me any musical instrument that my heart desired. Music lessons would be included. Perhaps they hoped that I wouldcoose a harmonica or some small instrument. Instead I chose a piano! I knew there was no money to buy a piano and consequently I wouldn't have to leave home and attend the accademy. However, Daddy, beinga man of his word, promised to buy me a piano after school ended the following spring. That settled it! I couldn't go back on my word either!
On September 1, 1934, our whole family plus Anne Cote (our priest's housekeeper, who had relatives at Willow City) set out early in the morning in our 1929 Pontiac for what seemed to be a trip to the end of the world. Actually it was 244 miles. We finally reached our destination about 5:00 in the afternoon. I don't recall my first impressions of the academy, but I will never forget the following day when it became time for my parents to return home. Spending the next nine months away from my family terrified me and I panicked. I cried and cried, begging to return home, but to no avail. I still have problems with "good-byes".
However, as the days passed, I became accustomed to my new surroundings and kept busy with school work and piano lessons, while making new friends. My ten classmates and I studied Algebra, English, French, History, and Religion.
Two weeks after school had begun, Mama and Ralph came up on the trainto spend the weekend with me. I think by now, my parents missed me more than I missed them. The only time I got home during the entire nine months of school was at Christmas time, when I experienced my firsttrain ride.
During the holiday vacation, Mama told me that I wouldn't be returning to the academy the following year because money was in short supply. By now, I had adjusted quite well to my new life and took it for granted that I would continue my education at the academy. I cried again! What a fickle child!
When school ended in the spring, Daddy ever true to his word, sold the last kernel of grain in the bin to buy me a beautiful Gulbransen piano. It received excellent care in our home; I wouldn't allow my brothers to even touch the keys unless they washed their hands! My musical talent is limited and I have feelings of guilt about the piano.
In September of this year (1994), Fr. Maurice (Mueller) and I stoppedbriefly in Willow City on our way to visit the Peace Gardens. It hadbeen exactly 60 years to the day since I first entered the academy. Needless to say, many changes had taken place during that time. Due to a shortage of funds and decreased enrollments, the academy was forced to close in 1962. Not a particle of the building remains. As I walked along the thick, untrimmed hedge, which formed one boundary of the grounds, I was surrounded with memories.
High School Memories
In the fall of 1935, I enrolled as a sophomore in the Hillsboro High School. It was a year of adjustment. The transition from elementary school to high school normally took place during the freshman year, soI was unfamiliar with the new rules and regulations! As well as the students from the rural schools, who had joined our class the previousyear. Coming from a class of ten, I was overwhelmed to have 41 classmates. I was so timid and shy.
Some memories of my high school days are humorous, others are humiliating.
I dreaded Physical Education classes. My athletic ability was confined to jumping rope. Even in grade school, I was always the first one chosen for a spelldown, but the very last one for a ball team. In thewinter time Phy Ed was held in the old Armory (which is now home to the Red Carpet apartments). It was a long, cold walk across town from the school to the Armory, but I didn't mind, as that shortened the length of our class. Sometimes we were divided into teams for relay races. We had one chance to make a free throw. If we didn't succeed, we simply got back in line. However, one day our instructor came up withthe bright idea that we had to keep trying until we made a basket. Itried and failed and tried and failed again. This went on for what seemed to be forever! I simply could not coax that ball into the net.My teammates were lamenting and waiting. They were more than a little disguested with me. I was completely humiliated!
However, better days were in store. In the spring of my junior year,the commercial teacher chose me to represent Hillsboro at the Shorthand contest in Fargo. What an honor that was! I loved shorthand and Ispent extra hours practicing and timing myself, preparing for the contest. When the big day finally arrived, Daddy drove me to Central High School in Fargo, where the contest took place. I was glad that I had polished up my shorthand skills; I had no problems with the dictation exercises. However, I was totally unprepared when the supervisor instructed us to type out the notes we'd taken in shorthand. I knew absolutely nothing about typing. I had wanted to take typing in school,but at that time, there was no meny to rent a typewriter, so instead,I took chemistry (which I hated!).
My thoughts go back to a class in my senior year in "Present Day Problems". Our instructor was Mr. Newgard, a man who was highly respectedby everyone. No one made a false move when he walked into the room.He must have sensed that I had not prepared my lesson that day. Whenhe asked me what I thought of "piece work", I quickly replied, "Oh, Ithink peace work is wonderful. I think everyone show work for peace." Though that was a good answer, it was obviously not the one he wanted. From that time on, I made sure that my P.D.P. lesson was always properly prepared.
Prom was the social highlight of the school year. The proms were observed much differently than they are now. Mama made me a long dress of dotted Swiss material with black bows marching down the center front. Daddy drove me into the prom which was held on the second floor ofthe Opera House. The Paddlewheel is now located there. Our supper partners were determined from a previously prepared listed. When it came time to eat, the names of each couple were read. I was delighted to find that my supper partner was a very special boy, Vernon Waslien. After supper, there were board games and dancing. I played games till Daddy came to take me home. It was a wonderful evening.
Our graduation exercises were held on May 26, 1938 in the old Armory. Just before the ceremony, the class was lining up according to height (Orlin Thompson and I, being the tallest, led our classmates up the aisle to the improvised stage. The boys wore suits and the girls formals. Mine was a long rose-color satin dress, with a row of coveredbuttons down the front. I graduated with honors, tieing for third place scholastically in a class of 43. Graduation was a time of happiness and sadness. There was joy in having achieved a goal, but there was also sadness. This was the last time that I would see some of my classmates.
The harvest season was always a busy, exciting time. When the grain began to "turn" (or ripen), we knew that Daddy would soon be getting our rickety, old binder ready to go to work. The binder, pulled by four horses, was used to cut the grain and tie it into bundles with twine. I was always fascinated with the big balls of twine. Daddy siad they were made by prison inmates. The bundles were dropped in rows to make it easier to be "shocked". Shocking was all done by hand labor.Ten bundles were placed upright at a slightly slanted angle with the heads of grain to the top. This allowed the shocks to shed the rain and thus, dry out faster. Daddy cut grain during the day and shocked in the evenings, when it was cooler. Sometimes men were hired to helpwith the shocking. It was hard work and involved lots of walking. Our binder was very old and was constantly breaking down, which meant the harvesting had to stop till repairs were made. It was a stressful time. The whole family rejoiced when there was finally enough money to buy a new one.
We'd been hearing rumors about a new-fangled machine which could cut the standing grain and separate the seeds from the stems all in one operation. It was called a "combine". One day, a combine was being demonstrated at a neighbor's field; so, after dinner, we all piled into the car to watch this new invention perform. Daddy was not impressed."It'll never work!" he predicted. This proved to be one of the few times in his life that Daddy was wrong!
Only a few farmers owned threshing machines. They threshed for otherfarmers for a fee. We depended on them to thresh our crop. There were "ups and downs" to this arrangement. One advantage was that there was no machinery upkeep. The downside was that we usually ended up being the last one on the "threshing-run."
What a welcome sight it was to see the long-awaited tractor and threshing machine turn into our driveway! Soon other neighbors on the threshing run appeared with hay racks, pulled by teams of horses. They headed out ot the first field to be threshed, armed with pitchforks to load their racks with the shocked bundles of grain. MEanwhile the owner of the threshing machine busied himself with lining up the machine. It had to be set according to the direction of the wind, so that the straw would blow with the wind away from the machine. A wind shiftduring the day meant a delay in the harvest, while the machine was reset. A long, heavy belt was attached to pulleys on both the tractor and the threshing machine. The tractor provided power for the threshing machine to separate the grain from the straw and chaff. I liked towatch the pile of straw get bigger and bigger as the day progressed.
Daddy hauled all of the grain in wagons, pulled by a team of horses.He scooped all of the grain by hand into the bins, with a scoop shovel. No wonder that he ended up with a "bad back". There were no elevators or augers at that time.
Threshermen's meals and lunches were indeed feasts for a king. The table was weighted down with a huge platter of meat, big bowls of mashed potatoes, gravy and vegetables fresh from the garden. There was also homemade bread or buns and for dessert, wedges of Mama's delicious pie.
Morning and afternoon lunches were always served. Our two, big rounddishpans were each lined with a clean dishtowel. Coffee cups were placed in one, while the other held sandwiches, thick, round sugar or molasses cookies or doughnuts. A pot of steaming, hot coffee completed the lunch. We carried the lunch to the threshing machine area and theminute there, as they came in with their loads of bundles.
The cook's schedule was later increased to include breakfast and supper. It's a good thing that Mama liked to cook! How she managed to accomplish all of that work with no modern conveniences is beyond me!
It was my job before meals to set up an outdoor washstand for the men. I gathered up a mirror, a wash basin, a bar of soap, a pail of water and a neatly ironed towel, which were placed in an outside bench near the house. It was cooler for the men to wash up outside. Can you imagine how hot it got in the house with all of that cooking and baking and no air conditioning!
During the summer months, "sleeping sickness" was a threat to the horses and occasionally to humans as well. We lost several horses to thedreaded disease over the years. It was thought that the disease was carried by mosquitoes. We sprayed around the stricken animals to helpmake them more comfortable. The barn reeked with the odor of bug spray! It was a double blow to lose a horse during the harvest season. Replacements were hard to come by. Very few horses were available to be purchased at this time.
As my brothers and I became old enough to help with the harvest, it was decided to do our own threshing. Daddy bougt a small threshing machine from a Mr. Nelson who lived west of Cummings. He powered it witha very old International tractor, a Mogul 8-16, which until now, had only been used for grinding feed. Our whole family pitched in and worked together. Daddy was the machine operator and grain hauler. My brothers hauled bundles, and fed them, one bundled at a time into the hungry jaws of the threshing machine. I helped my brothers by placing the bundles in position on the hayracks. I took great pride in placingthe bundles properly and building straight sides on the rack to prevent sliding bundles. Mama contributed delicious threshermen's meals and lunches. A special treat during the threshing season was enjoyinga cold glass bottle of pop with our lunches. It was a big decision to choose our favorite flavor. Mine was Nesbitt's orange. The name "Newbitts" was the Cadillac of the soft drink industry.
Working together as a family to bring the harvest in was a rewarding and enjoyable experience.
August heiratete Maria Elizabeth Hubertina Noterman am 3. Feb. 1920 in Hillsboro, Traill, North Dakota. (Maria Elizabeth Hubertina Noterman wurde geboren am 20. Mai 1891 in Jackson Twshp, Scott, Minnesota, starb am 2. Feb. 1946 in Fargo, Cass, North Dakota und wurde bestattet in Hillsboro, Traill, North Dakota.)