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.