Thursday, November 3, 2016

Games we played in my childhood. In the 1930s and 1940s.

Games we played in my childhood

When I first attended school in 1933 in first grade we had several different games that we played at school.  One of the favorites was run sheep run and as I  remember it one child was it and stood at the corner of the school house and would shout at the other children  run sheep run.  The children had a goal they were supposed to get to  before it could catch you.  If they caught you then you were it for the next time and you had to shout run sheep run and you would try to catch someone so that you would not be it any more..

Another game we played was anti I over..This involved throwing a ball over the school house or wood shed and there were children on both sides of the house or shed.  If someone on the other side caught the ball they would come around the house and tag someone.  If they missed catching the ball they shouted pigs tail.

We had swings and a slide at the school and we used to pump the swings and see how high we could go.  Sometimes we would get 3 children on either side of the teter totter and that got interesting as sometimes one of us would fall off.  Never did get any broken arms or legs but I do not know why.

In the winter time we would ski to school and also bring our sleds.  We had a hill in back of the school at dist 64 and we would ski down that small hill and also use our sleds.  Of course when we got to the bottom we had to walk up to the top pulling our sleds or carrying our skies.  Our skies were fastened to our rubber boots with a strap and some of use skied to school in the winter of 36 as the snow was so deep and the roads were not plowed out.  We walked ½ mile to school come hell or high water as that was just part of our lives.  We went to school even if it got 20 below but we were dressed for it and I do not remember being cold.  We had snow suits and good rubber boots over our shoes.

In the spring and fall the children that were big enough played work up soft ball.  We played it at first recess and noon hour and second recess.  Got half way good at hitting the ball and also pitching as you had to take your turn at every position.  Sometimes we just had 7 players so you got to do everything.  When the batter was out then he went to the bottom of the pack and everyone moved up one position.  Think we had 3 batters and then a pitcher, catcher and first baseman.  The rest were out in the field trying to get the ball and throw it to get the batter out.

The other thing we did in school was on Friday we worked on crafts  all afternoon.  We  used a coping saw to cut out wood. I remember learning to embroidery in school and one time we wove a small piece out of wool and I still have the purse I made so many years ago.  Just could not throw it away and have kept it with me all these 89 years.

Most of us were helping with the chores by the time we were 8 or 9 years old.  My brother Richard was born when I was 8 and I helped take care of him when I was 9 years old.  We just did that and I was also  milking cows when I was 9 years old.  When I was 10 I was making lunch for the 4 of us that were in school.  My brother Donald liked oatmeal cookies and my Mom was so busy that she did not have time to bake every day.  So when Don was in high school he would come home and mix up a batch of oatmeal cookies and Mother would bake them.  He liked about 10 cookies and an orange for his school lunch.  He may have exchanged some of the cookies for something else when he got to school.

I learned to ice skate when I was about 11 years old and skated on the ice in a ditch close to our house.  First I skated by pushing with one foot but then I taught myself to skate using both feet. When I went to Owatonna and worked for the Supt of the High School  I bought Mrs Burt’s skates  for two dollars  and the city provided an outdoor rink for us to skate on. They also had a bon fire there so we could warm up.  This rink was on the straight river.  We really did a lot of physical activity  when I was a child growing up.

The other thing I did as a child was to ride a horse.  My Dad bought a small horse when I was about 12 years old and she did not do any farm work.  She stayed out in the pasture and when I wanted to ride her I had to first catch her.  Depending on how she felt I would spend quite a bit of time catching her.  Then I had to get her up to the barn and put a bridle on her and then I could go riding.  I did not have a saddle so rode her bare back and I just let her walk and sometimes she would trot a little.  Was not all that much fun but there was not much to do on a hot summer day and so would ride her a couple of times a week.  Still am not that crazy about horses and never did ride one with a saddle on it.

My brother Richard and I used to play Chinese checkers and he was good at it when he was 5 years old.  Another game we played was jacks.  You had a ball and about five jacks and you had to bounce the small ball and pick up the jacks.  Lawrence, Don and I used to play it on a rug in front of the coal burning heater in the living room.  We had to be sure to pick them up as the jacks were metal and you could get hurt if you stepped on one with bare feet.

That is about all the games I can think of besides card that I played when I was young.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

My friends and family from our school house in Minnesota - 1936 - School District 64 near Geneva Minnesota

District 64 in Minnesota - One room schoolhouse
District 64

My nephew Dale Wilker sent me a picture of school house 65 which was located 3 miles west of Geneva Minnesota.  The article that went with it was written in 1936 when my brother Don and I attended school there.

I am going to write about the school which I first attended in Sept of 1933  and the students that were in the school at that time.  First grade Deloris Cress .Milton Paulson and Woodrow Jensen.  Third grade Eleanor Christen, Margret Peterson and Alan Mangskow.  Fourth grade Elaine Hanson, Fifth grade  Russell Paulson, Russell Ditlevson. Sixth grade  Maurice Paulson, Donald Cress and Marvin Christenson. Seventh grade Lucille Christenson and Eighth grade Lawrence Cress, Vernon Paulson and Thelma Jensen.

This was a typical  country school that taught all eight grades during the great depression.  Our school teacher was Agnes Vaughn and I suppose she finished high school and then went to what was called Normal school for about a year and then got her teaching certificate to teach in the rural school.  All the counties had a Supt of the county schools and suppose they supplied the schools with a few books and such.  We brought to school a tablet and a pencil and if we were lucky we had a box of  crayons.

Here is how they taught us and it was most interesting.  Most of the children had been pretty much sheltered on the farms and I do not remember playing with any little girls until I started school.  So that was an exciting  and new experience for me.   The teacher started off the morning working with the first graders on their reading and then if the weather was fine outside we went until first recess which was about ten o'clock and lasted for 15 mins.  Then back in to the school room and a few more mins of instruction for the wee ones and then outside again to play until noon hour.  We had an hour off at noon and all the kids played outdoors.  In good weather the older kids played work up soft ball and we did "Run Sheep Run" and "Anti- I - Over" and other games.  In winter we made a circle in the snow and cut it into pieces and played "Fox and Goose".  The Fox tried to catch the goose and the center of the circle was the safe spot.  Lots of fun.  Also in winter we brought our skies and sleds to school and went down the hill that was in back of the school. 

When the weather was bad we had a basement and we went down there to play and sometimes we played games in the school room during lunch .  As first graders we did not leave the room every day after working on our reading.  We sat and listened to the other classes recite and we worked on our Palmer penmanship.  That is we did ups and downs and circles and  worked on our cursive writing.  There was a lot to be learned just listening to the other students and was an interesting place for a wee one.

Most of us had about 3 changes of clothing and lots of it was hand me downs and  dresses made from flour sacks and we wore long underwear in the winter time.  We changed our underwear on Saturday night when we took a bath in a round tub.  We wore long stocking and a damn garter belt. 
What a contraption that was and  I was always using safety pins to keep it all together.  The worst thing was going outside to the two holer in that cold weather.  My folks were able to get me a pair of boots and I was so proud of them.  We wore 4 buckle rubber boots to school in the winter when we had to walk through snow.  Our house was half a mile from school and we walked it even when it was 10 to 20 below.  

My brother Don was in sixth grade when I started school and I would turn around and look back at him and he would make a goofy face and I would laugh and get in trouble.  Think Lawrence looked after me well and the other kids did not bother me.   I learned to read in about 6 weeks and the first story was about Mother rabbit went into the woods hop hop hop.  Then Father rabbit and baby rabbit did the same thing.  Math was easy for me and when I was in first grade I could do the 3rd grade math and I was angry that they were not teaching me that.

In March of 1934 new children came to the school.  Two different families.  The Vogt family came and the Mother had died.  Mae and Vera Vogt were in 8th and 7th grade and they were doing the house work for the family.  Arnie and Eugene were a bit younger, I think in 4th and 5th grade.  Then Delores Jensen came and she was in first grade.  The rent farmer moved in March so they could start getting the ground ready for spring planting.   They share cropped with the land owners and times were really tough.

Our school started at 9 am and we finished at 4 pm.  The children started milking cows when they were about 8 or 9 years old and the boys would be doing field work and driving the horses by the time they were 11 and some younger.  There was lots of stuff to learn on the farm.  My brother Richard was born when I was 8 and I looked after him in the day time in the summer so that my Mother could get the never ending work done.  I some times played by myself when he took a nap.

We had a well in this school so the kids did not have to walk to a neighbors to get water.  One time a hive of bees got into the basement of the school and my Dad came to school with a straw hat on his head and a old curtain over his body and he had some kind of smoke device.  He robbed the honey and every child went home with a lard bucket  full of honey.  Lard came in a nice metal bucket and that was used as a lunch pail.  We did not have money to buy a lunch pail.

  The picture I have was taken in 1936 and there was a different bunch of children in school then.  That was the year we lost the farm and had to move to a rent farm 2 miles south of Hope Minn.  1936 was a bad winter and don had to break the snow ahead of me when we walked to school.  My sister Daisy had pnemonia and I and my brother Dick was sent to my married sister Dorothy while my Mother nursed Daisy.  This was before the day of antibotics and the Doctor came out every day and cupped Daisy on the back.  He had to use a horse and sleigh and he could fall asleep and the horse would take him home to Ellendale.

We moved in March of that year and the neighbors came with their horses and wagons and moved us to the new farm.  They had to dig out a road for ¼ mile as it was snow packed.  We were able to get through with our Model T Ford and my mother carried the mantle in her hand that went with the Alladin lamp.  We did not have electricity or running water on the rent farm and did not have it on the farm that we owned at one time.  Life was tough in those days but we lived through it.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Wiscasset Quilt - From Dee at The Farm, Railroad, Sewing Machines and Beyond

The Wiscasset Quilt

I was visiting with my long time friend Myrtle Bentley in Owatonna Minn in the early 1980’s and she had a book on quilts called  Patchwork Quilts by the editors of Consumer  Guide.  I looked at the book and saw some quilts that I thought I would be interested in making.

    There were two beautiful applique quilts that had been made in Wiscasset Maine in the early 1930’s and they were listed as being made by an expert and probably made by Marion Mckissick.  They said it would almost be impossible to get the right color cottons to make the quilts but I decided that I was going to make one.

    I like to do hand applique so the pattern was in the book and I searched among my stash of materials and found material that I thought would work.  The center had a 8 pointed star that was appliqu├ęd and I made a test block using that technique.  I did not like that so I drafted an 8 pointed star and the pieces that went around it and that worked much better.

    I started the quilt in 1985 and there  were 12 big blocks and so I started to work on them.  I took a couple to Peru when I went down there in the 80’s and then I worked on and off for 3 or 4 more years.  It probably took me 40 hours to make one block.  I finished the blocks sometime in the 90’s and just let them sit for a while.

    Dale was ill and I took care of him and put my intricate stuff on hold.  One day about 2002 I decided to put the quilt together and start hand quilting it.  I quilted it in a hoop and it took me a couple of years of on and off quilting.  

I took it to the county fair in Blackwell about 2007 and I won a blue ribbon on the quilt.  It is now in my daughter’s possession and the quilt goes to my grand daughter Grace.  It was a fun quilt to make  but I do not think I will try another one that intricate.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Dresden Plate Quilt

 The Dresden Plate Quilt

    About a month and half ago I started looking through some of my old boxes that were filled with old quilt blocks.  I came upon two sets of blocks that were made in the 1940’s and I had 13 blocks of one kind.

    I decided to make a quilt out of these blocks as they were huge and I used an 18 inch piece of material for the blocks.  I could not figure out why they had not been made into a quilt until I started checking closer.

    Well the blocks would not lay flat and the seam allowances in the blocks were several different sizes.  So here I go.  I corrected the seam allowances and they I had to applique the blocks to the back ground.  I decided to use a  blue color for the center and that worked out fine.

    I then tried several different machine stitches for the applique, so all the blocks are not appliqued with the same stitch.  I went back to my old reliable blanket stitch and  that turned out fine.  My friend Jack had given me some blue print material and I used that along with a bright yellow to do the sashing.  I had the 9 patch between the sashing pieces and that turned out all right.

    I found when putting the sashing together that it is better to  tie baste the joins and then they do not slip on you.  I used the same process when putting the long pieces of sashing together along with pinning ever couple of inches.  I had to do a little easing in a couple of places but that is better than not having things match.  It took me the better part of a month to finish it and it is now at the quilt shop being machine quilted.  Was fun to do and it is a bright and happy quilt and so glad to get to use the material from the depression era.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Granddaughter Grace's questions about farm life in the 1930's.

    My grand daughter Grace wanted to know about what life was like on the farm when I was a small child. "Did we have electricity?" Yes we had it on the farm located 3 miles west of Geneva Minnesota but during the Great depression it was cut off because we could not pay the bill.  So we went back to the old fashioned way of lighting.  

Kerosene Lamp
We had kerosene lamps with a glass top.  We had to fill the lamps with kerosene about once a week and my job when I was about 8 years old was to wash the glass tops and to fill the lamps with kerosene every week.  The glass tops got soot on them and were washed and dried carefully every week.  We also had an Aladdin lamp with a mantle and I didn’t touch that one as the mantle was delicate so my mother took care of that one.
Cabbage on the farm
    Then she wanted to know if we grew pumpkins.  Yes we grew pumpkins and every other kind of vegetable.  We had radishes and lettuce and peas and beans and corn and cabbage and lots of onions and potatoes and tomatoes.  We had a rhubarb patch and it grew very well in Minnesota.  My Mother made rhubarb sauce and rhubarb pie.  We also had raspberries and strawberries.  We also had aspargrass and that was the first green veggie that we ate in the spring.  We also went out and picked a wash tub full of dandelions in the early spring. We cooked the dandelions and ate them.  They were good to eat.  One year my father planted hubbard squash in with the corn and in the fall he picked a wagon load of squash..We ate a lot of squash that winter.  We also had apple trees on the farm and mother canned and made pies with them and applesauce.

    Grace wanted to know about the farm animals.  We had cows and also horses that did the farm work.  That is the horses pulled the plows, disks wagons, manure spreader, wagons  and other farm implements.  We had 4 horses and we milked about 20 cows.  We also raised pigs and sold them to Hormel packing Co located in Austin Minnesota.  We always had an assortment of barn cats and they would stand down in the barn and catch milk when were milking the cows.  

Chickens that Cindy would watch over
We had a farm dog named Cindy when I was a child and they were good watch dogs.  We also raised chickens and we would buy 2 or 3 hundred every spring and raise them in a brooder house.  You had to take the baby chicks and teach them to drink water and then they would go to the small feeders and start eating.  We raised roosters to eat and my Mother would cut off their heads and my job was to pick the feathers off.  Mother would gut them and cut them up and place in salt water for a couple of hours and then would fry them..I never tasted white meat until I was 17 years old as my brother Lawrence said he couldn’t eat dark meat..Hmm

    My father would go in the fall and shoot pheasants.  He would get all of us kids and we would walk down the corn rows and scare the pheasant up and then he would shoot them.  They were real good eating.

Out House
  You asked about the outhouse..Yes we had one and it was a two holer.  We used a chamber pot inside in the winter and it was cold upstairs in those old farm houses.  We heated the house with the cook stove and then had a coal heater in the dining room to heat that.  We dressed in the cold upstairs and we always wore long underwear in the winter time.  We took our baths in a wash tub on Saturday night and that was it until the next week.  We had school clothes and everyday clothes and you took your school clothes off when you got home from school and changed into your everyday clothing.

    This is just a little bit about farm life.  I will write another story about going to school.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What I remember about my brother in law - Iver Larson and driving a team of horses!

 Iver Larson
    I will try and write down what I remember about my brother in law Iver Larson..He was married to my oldest sister Dorothy Cress on Dec 28 1935.

    Iver’s family came to the United states from Norway in the early 1900’s and settle near Sherwood and Mohall North Dakota.  I think he was under 5 years old at that time.  There must have been a settlement of people from Norway in that area as I knew some people from Ponca City that lived there.  I supposed Norway was crowded and the families though life in the United States would be better.

    North Dakota was an iffy farming country and they did raise wheat in that area.  Iver told me that his father strapped him to  some farm machine with a team of horses when he was 5 or 6 years old and he had to guide the horses and do the farm work.  The other story he told was that they went to school and had only lard to put on their sandwiches.  Life was tough in the Dakotas and I remember one of his sisters telling that they ran out of wood or coal one winter and had to burn their furniture to keep warm.

    Besides Iver there was a big family, His brothers were Melvin, Conrad, Lyle and Ednar…His sisters were Minnie Cora Margaret  and one other sister and I can not remember her name.  Iver was the oldest in the family.
    Another branch of the family settled near Hollandale and that was the Chris and Annie Jensen family.  They kept in close contact and when work ran out in North Dakota some of the brothers came to Hollandale and found work as hired hands on the farms around Hollandale and Geneva and Clarks Grove.

    I do not know how Iver and Dorothy met as I was only 8 years old when they were married.  I think the first place they lived was on the Doc Erytle farm about 5 miles from my folks near Geneva.  In the winter of 1936 my sister Daisy has pneumonia and my little brother Richard and I went to Iver and Dorothy’s so that my Mother could take care of Daisy.  I remember that house as being very cold and I stayed out of school for about 6 weeks.

   At that time people hired couples to farm their places and I suppose they got paid for it.  There was a herd of cattle there and the farm machinery.  The year I was 10  I went over and stayed with Dorothy and Iver and helped take care of Warren as they had a crew building a silo and Dorothy had to cook for a whole bunch of men.  I remember that I had to drive the team of horses on the hay wagon as Iver pitched the hay as it came off the hay loader.  Mabey that’s why I am not to fond of horses.  Scared me to death.

    Then Iver’s sister Minnie her husband and two boys came from Dakota with just the clothes on their back and an old car.  I then went home and Minnie and family stayed the rest of the summer and I don’t know if they went back to Dakota or found a job or what.  The boys were about my age and scared the whey out of me with their stories of ghosts and bad stuff.  

    Iver begin to acquire some farm machinery and the next place they lived was on Highway 30 just east of the Junction with 65 about 5 miles east of Ellendale.  They rented that farm and they had cattle and pigs and chickens and some farm land.  I went to stay with them my freshman year of High school as my Mother though I wasn’t ready to go to Owatonna High school as it was a larger school.  Warren was about 4 years old at that time.

    Iver’s brothers Conrad and Lyle and Ednar and sister Margret came from Dakota to visit while I was there.  They probably went on down to see Aunt Annie and Uncle Chris..this would have been in 1940.

    The next farm they lived on was over west of Beaver Lake and it had a small lake on it.  I went down and helped Dorothy during  harvest that year as she was expecting Mary.  We had to cook for a crew of men and Mary showed up about 2 weeks after harvest was over.  My Mother went down to help and I was at home  and was milking and doing the cooking for the family and I also canned tomatoes.  I was just 15 and I knew how to do lots of stuff.

    The next place I remember was the old Johnson place close to Hope Minn and they were farming there when Dale and I were married in 1948.  They them moved back to the farm west of Beaver Lake and that was where Iver died.  That was in 1952 I believe.  Warren was 17 and Mary was about 11 and Roger was 5.  Dorothy then sold the farm equipment and went to work for Mrs Wilker as a housekeeper.  Warren joined the navy and later went to college.

    Dorothy left the Wilker place and went to work for Henry Nelson as a housekeeper and later married Hank in 1959.

    Iver never had good health and I think he had either diabetes and he had heart trouble.  Most of his family died with diabetes except his youngest brother Ednar who lived a long life.

    Iver and Dorothy had 3 children..Warren, Mary and Roger.  Warren had three children Brad ,Eric and Sarah..Mary had three children Daryn, Kevin and Leslie and Roger had two children Mark and Matthew.

    Iver was almost 6 feet tall and had coal black hair, some of the others were blond headed.  He was a hard worker and liked to go to farm auctions and was always bringing home things Dorothy could use.  It was hard hard times when they started farming and they both were hard worker with not much time for foolishness..that’s about what I remember..

Great aunt  Dodie…

Monday, September 1, 2014

Tall Grass Prairie near Bartlesville, Oklahoma and my telegraph operator promotion.

Recently I made a trip to the tall grass prairie which starts about 40 miles from Ponca City Okla. A friend and I ate at the senior center in Kaw city Okla and then we drove east to Shidler Okla and north to just south of Foraker Okla.  We went in the back way as usually you go through Pawhuska Okla to get to the reserve.  This reserve was started in about 1989 when the Barnard Ranch was sold for the reserve.  It was made so that the native grasses of the southern part of the flint Hills would be preserved.  Buffalo were also brought in to the reserve about this time.

     This year the rain has been plentiful and the grass is green all over Osage County.  The reserve starts about 7 miles east of Highway 18 just south of Foraker..In other words you go 7 miles before the reserve starts. There were numerous cattle in the pastures and also a lot of horses.  I think the ranchers are taking care of those horses for the government.  We saw a herd of buffalo going into the headquarters but they were not close to the road.

    We went to the headquarters and two docents were there and they did not have any other people looking that day.  We started talking and the man was related to the people that sold the ranch to the tall grass preserve in 1989. He said that they also had all or part of the Kings Ranch close to Corpus Christi Texas .  Then I started to tell him about how the cattle used to be shipped from many places in Texas to Osage county to be fattened for market.

     The first job I worked after being promoted to telegraph operator was the third trick operators job at Ralston Okla.  The trains came into Ralston from Texas via South Shawnee Okla which was a watering stop for the cattle as they had to be unloaded and watered every 36 hours.  The docent said the ranch in Osage county had a siding where they unloaded the cattle. The railroad had a branch line coming off the Santa Fe old second dist which connected with the main line that went into Tulsa.  This branch also went through Pawhuska and Bowring.  The railroad kept the stock trains off the main line which went from Arkansas City to Ft worth.  They cut off on the second dist from Pauls Valley Okla and then hit the main line again at Newkirk Okla.

   A little more about the stock rush.  In 1946 I was second trick operator at south Shawnee Okla during the stock rush and were we ever busy.  The Fort Worth realay office would send me consists of the trains and where the cattle were going and if they needed to be watered.  The section foreman would be called out and they would unload the cattle to be watered and then load them up again in the same stock car.  After the cattle were taken care of we would call the train crews get the orders ready and send them on the way through Cushing and up the second dist to Ralston or Arkansas City.  We had cattle on the  trains going into the flint hills in Kansas and some of the towns were Burden, Cassoday, Matfield Green, Cottonwood Falls and other stops in Kansas.

    Everything had to be organized so that there would be a crew ready to take these cattle to their destination, so it had to be coordinated by telegraph or message phone.

     Enough about that.  We toured the Ranch headquarters which had been nicely restored and then came on back and visited some more with the docents.

     We then left to go back home and the buffalo were close to the road and there were several calves.  they were close to a pond and some were in the pond.  I have lived in this part of the country for almost 70 years and it is more beautiful this august 2014 than at any time that I can remember.

     Osage County is at the southern end of the flint Hills and I understand that there is no other place like it on earth.  The Flint Hills cover a large amount of ground in south central Kansas and I would encourage you to take a good look at them if you are ever in this part of the United States.