Sunday, October 10, 2010

Life with Dee - 1940 to 1944

1940 to 1944

    I want to tell you about a few more experience that I had on the Johnson place.  I met and still have my life long friend Myrtle Olson.  We were school mates for 4 years and when I finished high school we went to Minneapolis for about 3 months.  I went to study at radio school and Myrtle went to work for a manufacturing  company running some kind of machine.  Myrtle and her two sisters Violet and Helen rode with our family to the Methodist Church in Ellendale for a while.  I think violet and Helen rode in our Model A ford to high School in Ellendale along with Barbara and Virginia Webb and Robert  Bedney.

    The other chore that I worked at was making school lunches.  Daisy was taking a business course after graduating from High School and Larry and Don were in High School in Ellendale.  I prepared lunches for the 4 of us.  The good thing about that was I got the best food for myself.  We had a kerosene stove at school and we brought left overs from home to be heated in a pan of water on the stove.  I remember we brought food in little glass jars.  Some of the students had thermos bottle and brought soup or hot coco in them.

    I learned to ice skate while living on the Johnson place.  Daisy gave me a pair of riding boots and some where I latched onto a pair of clamp on skates.  I fell and fell but finally learned how to skate.  I also learned how to ride Don’s bike and one time I tumbled over the handlebars and had the wind knocked out of me.  Boy did that hurt.  I also learned how to milk cows and think I milked two or three.  I milked the easy cows as some are really hard to milk.  I think that is why I have always had so much strength in my hands.

    We moved in March of 1940 to a farm 6 miles north of Hope and 5 miles south of Owatonna.  This farm had 360 acres.  My father was getting back on his feet money wise and we had a nice herd of dairy cows.

    I spent the last 3 months of 1940 in a new school which was 2 ½ miles from our house.  We car pooled with our neighbors and think there were 7 children in the car.  Each family drove one day a week.  There were about 25 children in the school and the teacher was overwhelmed.  I helped teach the first graders how to read and this was a different experience.  I passed my state exams and graduated from 8th grade.  This was all the education that a lot of the children obtained.  My family wanted all of us to obtain a High School education and this was quite a problem during the great depression.

    The house we moved into was a huge house.  There were 5 bedrooms upstairs and downstairs consisted of a kitchen, dining room, living room and a bedroom.  We used the bedroom for the piano and some chairs.  This house also had a basement with a wood and coal burning furnace.  My Mother stayed down in the kitchen most of the time.  Our bathroom was an outhouse and was it ever cold in the winter time.

    The first year we lived in this house my Mother bought an ice box.  The ice man would deliver ice to the house at least once a week.  I think it was 100 pounds of ice.  This made it  easy to keep milk and cream  and other food cold.  The water well was at the bottom of a small hill and had to be carried by hand to the house.  We had a cast iron stove with a reservoir which we kept filled with water.

    In the summer time we had a shower on the back porch.  It was a pail filled with water and a small rubber hose with a brush on the end of the hose.  You turned the spigot and out came the water.  I believe it was a fuller brush invention.  This was such a joy to use.  About the same time my Mother acquired a washing machine with a little four cycle gasoline motor.  Mother really liked that as it made washing clothes so much easier.  At about the same time we bought a milking machine ran by a small gasoline motor.  I remember one time during harvest that I milked all the cattle by myself and turned the cattle back to pasture.

    I started high school in Ellendale in the fall of 1940.  I stayed with my sister Dorothy and went to school one year in Ellendale.  Don was a senior and he worked for Dr McIntire who had bought the old Johnson place.  Dr McIntires father in law was running the place and he needed help with the chores.  Don played football, basketball and baseball. I was 13 at that time and a year or two younger than my classmates.  I still liked school and especially the library but I did feel out of place which is probably typical for that age group.

    In the fall of 1941 I entered high school  at Owatonna and car pooled with two neighbors.  Elaine Beattie was a senior and she introduced me to her friends and then I made a couple of more good friends,  Marie Dusek and Vera Linn.  Owatonna was a more challenging school and offered more subjects.  I enrolled in latin and Geometry in tenth grade.  I thought at this point in my life that I would enter nurses training and so studied academic courses.

    High school in Owatonna went well and I enjoyed what I was studying.  World War 2 broke out on Dec 7 1941.  My brother Don enlisted in the navy.  Lawrence stayed home on the farm as a good number of farm boys were needed on the home front to produce food.

    My junior and Senior years at High School were spent living with the superintedent of our High School.  They had 2 little boys, Jimmy was 2 and Billy was 4 years old.  I helped take care of the children, did the dishes, did some ironing and watched the boys when they played outside.  I walked to school in the morning, home for lunch and back to school and home in the evening.  I walked a total of 4 miles a day.  I weighed about 140 pounds when I started to work in Sept and 3 months later I weighed 115 pounds.  I ate different food than at home and the exercise helped me lose weight.

    I went home every other week and I sold Mrs Burt 3 dozen eggs every time I came back.  This was my spending money.  Movies were 15 cents, a hamburger 10 or 15 cents.  We didn’t have French fries at this time.  Vera and I would play the slot machines in a service station back room.  Slot machines were all over down town.  I think Don Laughlin had the machines and he would later develop Laughlin Nevada.

    Vera and I also went to wedding dances out at the Monterey ballroom.  The dances were free and it was usually someone we knew.  The bands were polka bands and I still like Polka music.

    Sometimes I would go home on week ends and make myself a blouse.  I had to take care of my own clothing and mend my socks when I was 15 years old.  Didn’t go out with boys very often but had some that I visited with in school.

    I graduated from high school in June of 1944 and immediately got a job with a Hide, Fur and tallow Company.  They had raw hides stacked in the warehouse and did they every smell.  I worked for them a couple of months and saved my money.  I stayed with Annette Denker’s family and paid two dollars a week for my room and breakfast.  I bought a meal ticket for five dollars and that would last about 2  weeks.  A good plate lunch cost 40 cents.  My wages were 25 cents a hour and I think I made 14 dollars a week.  I saved some money and with my savings and 150 dollars that I borrowed from my folks I was able to go to radio School in Minneapolis in Sept of 1944...More next time

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