The Johnson place
In March of 1936 we moved to a rent farm called the Johnson place 2 miles south of hope MN. I was in 3rd grade and Don was in 8th grade..This was a smaller school than dist 64, one room with a coat and lunch pail room at the entrance, a pump for water and a sink. A coal furnace and a coal shed outside, also 2 out houses, one for boys and one for girls.
Our teacher was Elaine Eggers and my brother Don was up to his usual teasing and gave her fits. This is the winter we had so much snow and when the spring melt arrived there was water every where..One day Don and I started our usual route home and our Father was coming up the road to meet us. The creek was running over the road under the melting snow pack. He told us to go back and walk the railroad tracks so we could get over the water. Then we had to come home over a muddy field. At one point we had to grab the upper wire of a barbed wire fence and walk on the lower wire to get over some water.
I remember that we were able to go bare footed on the 5th day of May. Our favorite activity at school was playing work up soft ball. We played before school, at recess , during the noon hour and afternoon recess. Think school started at 9 a m and we were out at 4 p m. We also played anti I over and run sheep run.
The boys brought in the coal and carried out the ashes. We also had to go to a neighbor’s house with a pail to get water when the well ran dry. The house was about a quarter mile from school and two children carried the pail. We were assigned jobs like sweeping the floor and cleaning the erasers and blackboards. In the spring we raked the leaves, built a bonfire and had a weiner roast.
The next year I was in 4th grade and had a new teacher Bernice Thompson. She was 19 years old and this was her first school. There were 2 students in 5th grade and I was in 4th grade. The teacher talked my Mother into letting me skip 4th grade. Boy did I ever have trouble with long division. Up until this time I had brought home straight A’s but that changed. I always felt a little uneasy with my social skills the rest of the way through school.
In the summer we went to the free movies at Hope on Tuesday night. Popcorn was five cents and a single dip ice cream cone was also five cents. Money was a little bit easier to come by and I always had a nickel for an ice cream cone. The movies were all cowboy movies and then there were all those old cartoons and a serial. The owner of the movie projector was the industrial arts teacher at . We sat on telephone poles that were put on top of other telephone poles. The poles would roll with a little encouragement but the adults kept the kids from getting into to much mischief.
At Christmas time we always had a school program and songs. We worked hard memorizing one act plays and I also learned to clog for one program.
We had 3 or 4 rent families move to Dist 76 the same year 1936. At that time it was an 8 month school and all the families wanted a 9 month school. So they all went to the school board meeting and got that changed. So surprised the board members that so many people turned up at that meeting.
There were several families about the same age in the school dist. They all liked to play pinchole and so on Wednesday night in the winter they would meet at someones house and play cards. The kids all came and ran around inside and that about 10 p m refreshments were served. When you were about 12 you could play cards with the adults. We learned to play pinchole at a young age.
In the summer we raised gardens and I helped take care of my little brother Dick. We had a red wagon with a box on it and I would haul him around a box elder tree in the front yard until he went to sleep.
I raised ducks one year and they used to go down to the creek and bring back bullheads alive. They were to big for the ducks to swallow. I put the fish in the and guess they surprised the cows when they came to take a drink. Ducks could not sit on their eggs and raise their babies so you put the eggs under a sitting hen. One day a hen with 8 little ducks was in the back yard. It had rained so there was a mud puddle close to the house. The little ducks rushed to the water and the sitting hen went after them. She walked into the water carefully lifting one leg and then the other trying to get her babies out. That was so funny.
I had my own bedroom in this house in the summer and then in the winter I slept with my sister Daisy. She was dating Don at this time and she would come in late at night and put her cold feet one me. My brothers would get my little brother Dick and take him to bed with them. My Mother was 46 when Dick was born and she needed all the help she could get. Dorothy was married and my nephew Warren was born Oct 31, 1936. Dick and Warren were good playmates all through childhood.
Don and I went to our neighbors, the Zak’s and played on Sunday afternoon. Hubert was about Don’s age and Margaret was my age. The boys rode their bikes and Margaret and I played dolls and games. They had a pump organ in their living room and we fiddled with that and Hubert had a concertina and could play a little.
When someone was married in the Bohemian community they celebrated by having a wedding dance. All the families came with their children including my parents who didn’t dance. The girls taught me to dance when I was about 9 years old. The bands were the polka bands and I love that music to this day.
The highlight of the summer was out county fair with all the midway rides. My Father would take us every day. The Fair was held after the harvest and before school started in the fall. We would eat hot dogs and ride on those wild rides and sometimes get sick. Was a good chance for the adults to visit with their neighbors.
One day I was down at the creek that ran through our farm and I saw 2 huge fish in a shallow pool. I ran to the house and told my Dad and he went and caught the fish. I remember my Mother cutting them up and frying them. They were so good to eat.
We always raised about 100 roosters and we would eat them in the summer and then put the rest in the frozen food locker . My Mother would cut off their heads with an axe and I would pluck the feather off by dipping the chicken into almost boiling water. Mother then soaked the chicken in salt water, cut it up and fried it for dinner. I did not taste white meat until I was out on my own and working. If you want chicken to taste real good soak in salt water overnight or at least 2 hours.
We also picked strawberries on the halves and took them to the locker for winter time use. Mother canned our garden produce and she also canned meat for winter use. I helped her from the time I was 10 or 11 years old. I had small hands and my job was to inspect and wash fruit jars. I also helped can tomatoes and peaches. My sisters were away from home by then so I was a big help to my Mother.
School went well for the next few years. On Friday afternoon we would work all afternoon on projects. I learned to embroidery and we made door stops out of wood using a small coping saw to cut out our designs. Also did a small purse by doing some basic weaving. I could also darn stockings at this time
I joined a 4 H club when I was about 11 and made my first dress when I was 12. After that I could take any pattern and make my blouses and dresses. I learned to sew on a treadle machine and I still use my old treadle once in a while.
My brother Don at this time was in and he liked oatmeal cookies. Mother didn’t have time to mix them up every day and so Don would come home from school and mix up a batch of cookies. He liked about 10 oatmeal cookies and a orange for lunch.
When I was 12 we moved to another rent farm 6 miles north of Hope. I finished my last 3 months of 8th grade in a different school. Had to make new friends again but that didn’t bother me. Weill talk about that in my next story.