Norwegian Farmer’s Son…August 10th

August 10th…“IN YOUR YOUNG MINNESOTA DAYS, DID YOU EVER GET SEPARATED FROM YOUR PARENTS AT A PUBLIC EVENT?”

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“Heyyyy, where’s Mom?!!”

 

 

There I stood, lost in a forest of adult kneecaps…and no Momma anywhere to be seen!!  It was 1959 and time for the Annual Kiester School Carnival that was held in the “Old Gymnasium” there at our cherished school in southern Minnesota.  In November each year, the hectic times of harvest were, for the most part, completed, so farmers and their families readily looked forward to this elaborate festivity in our dear educational alma mater each Fall.  Even as a tiny “whippersnapper”, I was quick to absorb the grand class and style with which our hometown could put on a pageant.

#105=Elliott's first day at Sunday School; 1959 maybe
Elliott was all fancied up to go to church or out to the School Carnival.

The late 1950’s were still a time in our nation when people cared about looking good and doing good.  It was a time when core values of decency and good clean fun still reigned supreme.  On this occasion, even though it’s true that I had become separated from my mother and father, I wasn’t concerned for my safety and just flowed with this forest of adults around me and drank in the wonder of this fun moment in my tiny life.

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Our big sister’s very good friend, Gloria Oshiem (on the left) was the Junior High Queen for this joyous carnival occasion.

A very dear friend of our big sister, Rosemary, had been honored that year with being elected “Junior High Queen Of The Carnival”.   This young lady’s name was Gloria Oshiem (now Fallgatter).  Even being the tiny toad of a boy I was in those days, I was deeply impressed with Gloria’s stunning beauty!  And, from the glowing memories shared to me by our big sister, Gloria’s beauty was both inside AND out, for she was a true queen in many ways.

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Boys in suit and tie, girls in gorgeous gowns and queens in glorious robes, crowns and flowers.  Our school, in Kiester, Minnesota, amid the formal fashions of the 1950’s really shined in all the best of ways!!!

Even an itty bitty widdo kid like myself could still appreciate class and style in the way our school put on the best of the best for all to enjoy!!  There was the Royal Court that honored its selected queens, an elegant coronation ceremony and all things worthy of eloquent regalness became part of the fanfare that made this occasion special for all involved.

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Elliott was thrilled with all the games that he could play!!!

Now, you have to realize, that when you’re only “knee-high to a hiccup”, anything and EVERYthing is a really big deal!!  That was happily the case as this “lost boy” was able to play games from booth to booth there in our Old Gymnasium.  I thought it to be magical how I could take my play fishing pole, toss the “hook” through the window of the Fish Pond Game and then feel a tug on my “fishing line”.  I would carefully pull back on my play fishing pole and PRESTO!…..low and behold there’d be a prize of some sort hanging from the “hook”…..I was ELATED!!! 😉

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“Boys n Girls…..Shoot the target and win a prize!!!”  

The carnival games, with all their colored decorations, had been so much fun, yet I figured it was about time for me to get UNlost.  As I reflect back on those days of long ago, I’m deeply grateful to the Lord and also to my parents for living in a small town where everyone knew everyone and we all took care of each other.  So, in a sense, even though my dear mother was not near me at that moment, I still had the “family” of townfolk who knew my parents and lovingly looked after their tiny boy.

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“Spots on her dress!”

When you’re barely old enough to know what is your right and left hand, you’re also unable to discern the difference between a polka dot and a spot.  I began looking up into the “treetops” of adult heads who could actually see around that Old Gymnasium.  I figured I’d pick out a friendly-faced lady and have her tell “shorty me” if she could see my mother from “up there”.  After tugging judiciously on the lady’s dress to get her attention, here’s what I said, “Have you seen my Mommy?  She’s the lady with SPOTS all over her dress!!”  (that evening our mother had worn a dark blue/purple dress with a polka dot print in the fabric).  That kind-hearted woman howled with lady laughter as she interpreted my five year old language and, at the same time, could see my mother in the distance.  Holding my hand, she gently drew me along with her as we weaved our way through the crowd until she reunited me once again with my loving mother as we, together, relished the rest of this fun evening of classy carnival conviviality for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Bingo Bango Bongo!!!…….The Fall Kiester School Carnival was fun for the whole family!!! 
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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…August 9th

August 9th…“WERE YOU EXCITED OR NERVOUS WHEN YOU WENT TO TEST FOR YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE AT 16 YEARS OF AGE?”

#66=Elliott, Lyle N.&Rosie in '50 Ford pickup,April '60
It was just another year or two from this photo that Elliott learned to drive this truck all by himself.  A challenge, yes, but it sure was FUN!!!! 😉

When we’re young we want to be old, and when we’re old we want to be young.  Although that may not make much sense to a person at the young end of life’s spectrum right now, it sure came into play with THIS kid, in that being older sooner was especially true when it came to the desire for me to be old enough to drive anything with wheels and a motor.  Ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I wanted to be placed on the seat of a farm tractor and hear it’s powerful engine roar.  I was hooked….when can I drive one??!!  Since it took a truck or tractor to do many of the chores on our farm, I was one blessed boy to be able to learn to drive them long before my “city slicker” friends and family did .  The day of “old enough” finally came, and, if I had been a mouse in the corner of that pickup truck cab, I would have howled with little mouse laughter as our father had me climb onto the bench seat of our 1950 Ford pickup to begin learning how to drive it.

#108=Elliott on tractor, circa 1957
Elliott was so in love with tractors that he was almost run over one time by being too close!

Even though I sat on the very edge of that truck’s bench seat, my little legs could barely reach the clutch, brake and gas pedals.  But, with practice, I done “dooood” it!

#748 B Farmall
A Farmall “B” was the first tractor Elliott learned to drive; very much like this one at the Farming Of Yesteryear Threshing Festival near Elliott’s hometown of Kiester, Minnesota.

Like any little wannabe farmer, the adventure of tractor driving was a fun thrill for me! Our International Farmall Model “B” was the smallest tractor our Daddy owned, but with our father’s teaching, I was able to master that little red workhorse.  In time, I was able to spin 360 degree “cookies” in the muddy manure of our cowyard and explore our beautiful 120 acres of land with that mini farmer’s friend.

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Mr. Newton (in glasses) was Elliott’s “Driver’s Education” teacher in 1970 at Battle Ground High School in Battle Ground, Washington.

My many driving adventures during our farm years had to be put on hold when our family moved to Battle Ground, Washington in 1967.   We no longer had 120 acres of land of our own for me to drive on, so I had to relinquish those joys and relegate myself to being a ride along person and let our licensed parents do the driving.  When I reached the age of 15 1/2 years, I signed up for a Driver’s Permit and enrolled in the “Driver’s Education Course” at Battle Ground High School.   Mr. Newton, our instructor, chose me, one day, to be the driver in our training car.  Three fellow classmates sat in the back seat, with Mr. Newton up front with me as he sat in the passenger seat.  As I got the car up to speed on the highway, heading west, I was being “tail-gated” (driver behind you and too close to you) by an impatient driver.  I checked my speedometer and saw that I was doing 48 miles per hour.  Two miles below the posted speed of 50 miles per hour.  Just then, the cantankerous driver behind us blasted his horn and passed our training car in burst of speed and shot on down the highway.  I was flabbergasted when Mr. Newton chided me by saying, “If you had been doing 50 miles per hour, he wouldn’t have passed you!”   To myself I thought, “Ya RIGHT, Mr. Newton, another two measly little miles per hour would have kept that crazy driver behind me!!!  GEEESH!!”

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Elliott was a nervous wreck that day!

“Driver’s Education Class” was finally behind me and I was now ready for the real deal of taking my official driver’s test to achieve my full driver’s license.  I was a nervous wreck that day.  A real “Nervous Ned!”.  Our father, Russell, rode along with me as I drove us into Vancouver, Washington to the Licensing Bureau.  I was SO stressed out that day, that when we’d come to an intersection, I’d make the car come to a stop, but everything in my scope of vision continued to move away from me.  Hallucinations from the stress, I guess.  Kinda like a vehicle vertigo 😉

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Elliott’s dad and the man at the counter had a great laugh together.

First came the written driver’s test and, BOY, did I ever bungle that one.  One of the questions stated, “If you come to a sign that says SPEED ZONE AHEAD, what do you do?”  Well, I figured speed is speed, right?  So my answer was ….SPEED UP.  When I turned in my test to the Motor Vehicles Officer at the counter, he began grading it in front of Dad and I.  All of a sudden, the Officer busts out laughing!  Dad asked him what was the matter?  When the Officer told Dad about my SPEED UP answer, then they both started to howl with laughter.   Heck, how did I know you were supposed SLOW DOWN in a SPEED ZONE????!!!! 😉

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Elliott was sweating like a faucet from the stress of the drive test.

Now came the real nailbiter!!!  A very serious-looking Department of Motor Vehicles Examiner meets me at our family car and climbs into the passenger seat while Dad waits for us on the sidewalk.  It’s time for the DRIVE  TEST!  As the first few minutes of the test roll by, I’m not doing tooo bad…..until…..the examiner commands me to complete a parallel parking exercise along a rather busy city street there in downtown Vancouver.  Even now, after a half century has gone by, I still HATE to parallel park.  I thought to myself, that day, “Well, here goes!”   Upon my completion of an ATTEMPT at a parallel park, my fears of colliding with the other parked cars had me so far out from the curb, that the Examiner actually got OUT of my car and walked over to the curb, bent down and said, “I THINK you’re a little too far away from the curb!!”  Like duhhhhhhh!!!!   I was slain by utter embarrassment!!!

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Yippeee!!!  Official driver!

That Motor Vehicles Department Examiner showered pure mercy upon me that day, because even with that horrible excuse for parallel parking, he still passed me and I received my official Washington State Driver’s License!!!  Overall, even with the stress, it was a super happy moment for this 16 year old Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!

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These are the clutch, brake and gas pedal that Elliott’s little legs could barely reach when learning to drive the family’s 1950 Ford pickup truck.

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…August 8th

August 8th…“DID YOU EVER NEGLECT YOUR FARM CHORES AND SUFFER DISCIPLINE FOR NOT OBEYING YOUR FATHER’S ORDERS?”

#97=Elliott in underwear & Candi, 1959 maybe
Elliott, and little sister, Candice, stand in the doorway of the screen door that was nearly ripped off its hinges by their very upset daddy.

I could hear my enraged farmer father nearly rip the back screen door off of its squeaky hinges as he roared into the house looking for me.  My immediate thoughts were…..”I’m gonna be one chunk of 10 year old dead meat!”…..”My funeral will be on Tuesday!”…..and other parallels of “suffer the wrath” type of apprehensions of imminent DOOM!!!  You may wonder how I got to this point in my kid life that day?  Well, here’s how things came to a boiling point.

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Elliott gave in to the temptation to watch cartoons, instead of doing his farm chores.

There’s a cute saying that I’ve heard through the years and it goes something like this….”I can resist anything, EXCEPT temptation!” 😉  That kinda sums up what happened to me on that warm, late Spring afternoon when I got home from school.  I jumped off of that yellow bus and waved goodbye to our friendly bus driver, Marie Meyer, and then proceeded to run into our farm home.  Upstairs I flew, for I knew that part of my childhood family farm duties were to change out of school clothes and into my work bib overalls and buzz out to the barn to help Dad with the evening chores.  My main task, each evening, was to feed our 15 head of Holstein dairy cows (plus other assorted livestock) and then be available to do whatever other chores Dad had that needed to be done.

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Elliott got “hooked” on afternoon cartoons.

As I bounced down the wooden stairs to the first floor of our farm home, some mysterious power drew me over to the black and white television set that sat in the corner of our Living Room.  It was as if a wee small voice in my little boy head said, “Go ahead.  Twist that knob and turn on the television.  Just take a little peek at what cartoons are being shown on “Bart’s Clubhouse Cartoon Show”.  “  Rather than being obedient to what I knew was expected of me by my father, I was DISobedient and turned on that television set.

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One of Elliott’s favorite cartoon shows in those days.

Sure enough, a glance became a gleefully long line of watching cartoons like “Popeye The Sailor”, “Bugs Bunny”, Tom & Jerry” and my very favorite……”The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show”.

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Our cows were hungry and NOISY!

 

I lost all track of time while our cows in the barn were getting hungry and NOISY with loud, continuous “moooooing”!  Their tummies were on a time clock and it was past their feeding time.  Poor Daddy, he had had enough of their bellowing and came “a huntin'” for the son who was supposed to be feeding those bovine beauties.  Well, when that back screen door of the house was ripped open, I was jolted from my cartoon trance and felt immediate terror for having been disobedient to what I was supposed to have done for Dad.

NFS 1.22e
“Those cows are out there bellowing their heads off!!”

In his booming voice, Dad hollered out, “Whaddaya doin’ in here watching cartoons!?!?  Those cows are out there bellowing their heads off cause they’re hungry!!!  Now get down to that barn RIGHT NOW!!!”  Since there were no battery-operated remotes in those days, I raced over to the TV and spun the power knob to the OFF position.

NFS 8.8j
Elliott was airborne!!!

Red-faced with anger, Dad was standing in the kitchen as I cowered past him on my way to the barn.  Just as my little boy butt cheeks passed him, his big old farm boot connected with my backside and the force of his kick actually lifted me off of the kitchen floor.  My lil whippersnapper feet were already spinning in mid-air as I touched ground and I shot out that screen door like a bolt of lightning and kept that pace all the way down to our barn as I hurriedly got our cows fed and any other chores that had been waiting for me.  For all the rest of that evening, while I did my chores there in the barn, whenever Dad would come anywhere near me, I would spin to face him so that my bruised backside could not be in range of his angry work boot again.

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Elliott knew his father loved him.

Now if I had been obedient in the FIRST place, my necessary discipline from Dad would not have occurred.   And notice, I did NOT use the word punishment.  The very word “discipline” comes from the word “disciple”.   To paraphrase, “discipline” is a form of training someone to do a special work.  Jesus had His twelve disciples and he trained them diligently to carry on His work here on earth.  To the other end of the spectrum, “punishment” is a negative term and the outcome is for someone to suffer and feel shame.  We children all knew our farmer father, Russell, loved us and wanted us to grow up to be responsible adults some day.  This had been one of Dad’s ways to turn me in the right direction of learning obedience.  With a caring heart, my daddy had the overall picture of eventual maturity in mind for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…August 7th

August 7th...”IN YOUR FARM DAYS (AND BEYOND) DID YOUR DOCTOR MOM HAVE A FAVORITE REMEDY TO FIX A SICK TUMMY OR INJURY?”

#142=Clarice&Elliott at Heitzegs; circa March 1955
Tiny Elliott, being loved on by his mother Clarice, lost his balance and face-slid along the backing of the couch at the neighboring farm of Charlie and Mabel Heitzeg near Kiester, Minnesota.

POEM – “God Bless Our Doctor Mom!” by N. Elliott Noorlun

God bless our Doctor Mom, For always being there,

To aid our may owees, From our toes up to our hair.

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Always tender and lovingly applied with care.

From trips and falls, Upon our knees,  To bruises on our bum,

To injuries that happened, That we didn’t know what from.

Sometimes she’d kiss and blow, Our owee pain away,

Then shoo us from her presence, To go back out to play.

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Yikes! It’s BLOOD!!!

But sometimes blood was ooozing, We’d run to her in fright,

Then out would come the Bandaids, To hide the OUCH from sight.

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All better now!

Tis amazing how a Bandaid, Applied with gentle love,

Can brush away the tears that flowed, Like kiss from little dove.

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The magic pill.

Of course, there were occasions, When the pain was placed within,

So out would come the bottle, Of ol’ Bayer Aspirin.

“Now drink this down”, “And give it time”,  Our Doctor Mom would say,

“And soon your headache’ll POOF be gone”, “You’ll be ready for more fun play!”,

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Elliott had his feet skewered with nails, blood poisoning and broken bones.  He sure kept Doctor Mom busy 😉

She had no college medical degree, But we trusted her completely,

As she approached our every need, Administering love so sweetly.

There were, on two occasions, When barefoot I did run,

Nails poked inside my little boy feet, Such an ouch that weren’t no fun.

Blood poisoning, Was what I had, And poultice was applied,

To draw out all the poisons, Or else I may have died.

#526=Elliott's broken hand; Feb. 1974
Elliott suffered broken bones in his hand around 1974.

Throughout her life, She’s been a wife, And yet, she’s been much more,

When life got terse, She became our nurse, With a mother’s love galore!!!!

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A mother’s kiss, is healing bliss

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…August 6th

August 6th…“TELL ABOUT BOARD GAMES OR CARD GAMES YOU PLAYED THROUGH THE YEARS.”

POEM – “Bored On The Board” by N. Elliott Noorlun

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Elliott was not interested, at all, in board games.

When it comes to board games, You can count me out,  I tend to get bored on the board.

There’s not a competitive bone in my “bod”,   And I couldn’t care less who scored.

Cartoon illustration of a boy running with a football.
Silly old ball.

I guess I take after, My dear old Dad,  Who saw all games as a waste.

“For grown men to chase, A silly old ball”,  Was his usual stinging lambaste. 😉

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Elliott enjoyed reading a book much more than playing a game.

When games were brought forth, I usually went out, To find something else to do.

Strategy wasn’t my thing, And it held no zing,  As it did for the rest of the crew.

I’d pick up a book, And find a good nook, To get lost in the tales of a story.

I’d read of adventures, Way back before dentures,  With all of their riches and glory.

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An old movie for Elliott.

While the rest of the clan were arguing,  Over who got the highest point,

I’d plug in a movie, From Silver Screen days, And have the best fun in the joint.

And if push came to shove, I would go outside,  To gaze at the flowers by hours.

Rather than listen to the gamers a hissin’,  And hear how their gaming went sours.

NFS 8.6f
Elliott enjoyed playing USA Trivia or Bible Trivia games.

A few table top, Exceptions there were,  To get this dad to play game.

To relay information, ‘Bout Bible or Nation,  Was a target at which I could aim.

Those games I did win, Most handily,  I was sponge when it came to a fact.

If it has to be heard, I’m just a fact nerd,  In the way that I sleep, play and act.  😉

NFS 8.6b

 

 

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…August 5th

August 5th…“TELL OF A MEMORY OF HAVING SPECIAL FRIENDS COME VISIT YOUR HOME.”

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Precious to Elliott’s family was the most wonderful Mr. & Mrs. Evert and Oda Meyer family.

There is a warmth that exudes from the chambers of one’s heart when special friends come to call.  Even when life’s requirements keep those dear ones thousands of miles away from us; all one has to do is hear of or even think their name and the doors of golden memories swing wide to welcome them once again, in proxy, for the gold that their very life enriched you with.

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Elliott’s brother, Lowell (center right) considered the Meyers to be his second parents.  Here, Lowell is happily honored to be Best Man at James Meyer’s wedding.
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Evert & Oda Meyer with daughter Joyce.

Our family’s beloved farming neighbors, Evert & Oda Meyer, wore the title “Special Friends” with elegance for many decades.  Even though they both now rest upon Heaven’s Shores, their memory in our hearts glows on with much love!!  Our brother, Lowell, from his earliest days of Grade School, has always been kindred spirits with the Meyer’s eldest son, James.  As time passed, and since the majority of Minnesota families were of the farming culture, it was only natural that our two families were brought even closer through an agricultural fraternity known as 4-H Club.

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Both the Noorlun and Meyer families were members of 4-H.

Brother Lowell relates how the Meyer family, and numerous other 4-H families would gather, with their cows, at our farm to learn how to best train, prepare and show animals at our local Faribault County Fair each year in Blue Earth, Minnesota.   Our local 4-H Chapter was known as “The Kee Club”.  Adult leadership would instill proper etiquette into their young teen charges and demonstrate showmanship and animal care, in hopes that some of the club members may garner the coveted honor of winning a Blue Ribbon or maybe even a Grand Champion rating for their animal.  Once club formalities were completed, for that night, animals were loaded back into respective pickup trucks and/or trailers.  Then, it was time for club families to enjoy a fun time of visiting, food and family fun for the rest of that evening.

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Evert & Oda Meyer’s new job was delivering Winnebago Motor Homes.

In 1967, our parents, Russell & Clarice, sold our farm and moved our family out to Washington State.  We were so lonely and sincerely missed our deeply loved family and friends back home in Minnesota.  To help alleviate that loneliness came the grand news that Evert & Oda Meyer had started a new job and lifestyle.  The Meyers had secured employment with the famed “Winnebago Industries” that headquartered in Forest City, Iowa.  Their new job?   Deliver brand new recreational vehicle motorhomes all across America.

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Each motorhome they delivered was more beautiful than the last one!!

Just think, your JOB is to climb into a sparkling new motorhome and drive that beauty to almost every one of the States in our wide open country of America.  AMAZING, ya?  The company paid them a wage AND, if I recall, paid for their airfare back home again, too, after they dropped the rig off at a local dealership, that is.  Oh true, as in any job, there’s the fatigue of long hours on the freeways, fighting rush hour traffic in the big cities, and I’m sure they likely had to deal with inclement weather along the way.  Yet, for us lonely, former Minnesotans, it was pure joy to hear of these precious friends that were on their way again to visit us for an evening when dropping off a new motorhome in the Portland, Oregon area.

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Elliott couldn’t wait to tour the next fancy model of Winnebago that the Meyers would be driving next time.

We were all giddy with excitement whenever Mom would get a call from Oda letting us know they were on the way west again to deliver yet another luxurious new motorhome to one of the dealerships south of us in Portland, Oregon.  It was like a classic family reunion as they’d pull into our driveway, there in Battle Ground, Washington, with their big rig of vacationing possibilities.  Joyous handshakes and hugs were followed by the customary tour of the latest and greatest model of the Winnebago motorhome for that particular year.

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The Meyers were the BEST of friends.

The Meyer’s loving occasions with us were usually just for overnight.  In the morning, they’d have to deliver their RV to the dealership in Portland and then get themselves over to Portland International Airport to fly back home to the Midwest and pickup the next Winnebago and be off to a new State.  For those single evenings, though, our family made the most  out of each happy hour.  Seemingly,  gallons of coffee flowed into cups with saucers while giant amounts of love and food were dispensed across our dining room table.

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Clarice and Oda were closer than sisters

Mom and Oda Meyer were closer than sisters.  So, when visiting our home, those two kindred spirits would spend the evening hours talking about quilting, gardening, hometown news and any other happy topic that would endear the one to the other.   On the male side of the visiting spectrum, our father, Russell, and Evert (who were still farmers at heart) would chew the fat about all that was recently happening back home around the Kiester, Minnesota area.   There was a kind-hearted camaraderie between these two men for the homeland of southern Minnesota that they had known so well as they both had farmed the rich, fertile croplands of that region for the largest share of their respective lives.

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Clarice Noorlun and Oda Meyer were true kindred spirits for all their days!

So gentle was the love between our mother, Clarice, and Oda Meyer.  Such a deep respect and admiration they had for each other.  I find it a sweet parallel that each of their maiden names began with an “S” (Clarice’s maiden name was Sletten and Oda’s maiden name was Scherb).  In a winsome way, it was like they were sisters separated, in the eons of the past, and then brought together, in their farming years.  They were two sweet souls that manifested and relished such love that, to this day, I can still count the innumerable sweet moments that they bestowed upon each other.  Such a pure friendship casts a warm glow in the heart of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…August 4th

August 4th…”TELL OF AN EXPERIENCE WHEN YOU ENJOYED A HIKE UP A DORMANT VOLCANO.”

S51 1974.10.1
Elliott shot this photo of Mount St. Helens from Yale Reservoir in August 1974.  Exactly one year before he and Shirley Cass would hike up the north slope of the, then, dormant volcano.

Little did we realize that we were going to be sitting on one of the biggest “time bombs” that the United States had ever known.   In August of 1975, Mount Saint Helens, in southwest Washington State, was a pristine, conical, dormant volcano that loomed majestically over the landscape with its 9,677 foot summit pointing regally to the sky.  This sentinel of stone and ice lay 50 linear miles to the northeast of Vancouver, Washington.   For well over 100 years, the monolithic master of this region had been sleeping and we hoped our footsteps upon his northern side wouldn’t cause this giant to awaken.

#517=Elliott, Spirit Lake Wa., Aug. 1975
Elliott sits at Spirit Lake Campground in August of 1975.  Five years later, this spot was buried under hundreds of feet of mud, rock and ash when the mountain exploded.

1975 came rambling along to find me a young 21 year old buck and full of energy.  In my quest for fun, I called a new friend of mine and asked if she’d like to have an adventure with me.  Her name was Shirley Cass.  We had known each other, in the past, through attending a local church and had now been dating for about 2 months.   The plan was to enjoy the crystal blue waters of Spirit Lake and then attempt a short climb up the magnificent Mt. St. Helens.    She smilingly “bit the bait” and the date was a GO!  Like most Augusts in the Pacific Northwest, the weather was classically hot with lots of sunshine.  For us, the song lyrics played in our heads………”On A Clear Day, Rise And Look Around You”……for this was a see forever kind of day.

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Spirit Lake, looking south.

For this journey, my father graciously allowed us to use his little Ford pickup with a canopy over the cargo bed.  Everything except the “kitchen sink” went into that little canopy to feed us and help us have a thrill a minute……..well, at least we hoped for that 😉  Traveling north, on the Interstate 5 Freeway System, we eventually reached an area known as Castle Rock.  Off the freeway ramp we sailed and headed that little Ford eastward until we came upon the Spirit Lake Campgrounds.  Neither Shirley, nor myself had ever seen St. Helens from its north face.  The combination of that giant above us and the sparkling blue Spirit Lake before us was a sight to behold!!!

#514=Elliott camping at Spirit Lake with Shirley Cass, Aug. 1975
Time for grub, Bub!

At the end of our first day, the sun played peekaboo amongst the evergreen branches as it then winked goodbye and goodnight.  To fulfill societal propriety, in that we were two single folk not married to each other, I offered my lady friend the repose of the pickup truck’s canopy for her evening slumber and yours truly scrunched into the front seat of that Ford and drifted off to snoreland.

Scarlet Indian Paintbrush and Lupine
Russell Lupine and Indian Paintbrush flowers.

The next morning was almost frosty as Shirley and I climbed out of our respective sleeping quarters and, after breakfast, made the drive from Spirit Lake Campground up to the base of this immense, pumice-covered majestic mountain.  Thankfully, in beginning our vertical hike, the ascent was a gradual one from the base and we enjoyed the brisk breezes at Windy Ridge viewpoint that sent our hairstyles blowing in every direction one could imagine.  Rivulets of ice cold, pure water came trickling down that awe-inspiring mountainside as we meandered up the trail.  These refreshing waters were from the ever-present glacial snow and ice that still clung to the upper mountain side, even here in the heat of August.   Many alpine flowers, like the purple Russell Lupine and red Indian Paintbrush, were spread across the pumiced landscape with their striking beauty.   As we ascended above the “tree line”, we were refreshed with eating tiny, delicious wild strawberries that clung to the thin-aired heights of this amazing volcano.  It wasn’t too much longer and we felt that we were on top of the world.

#52=Elliott on Mt. St. Helen's (August 1975)
Silly Elliott is teasing Shirley to turn around to see Mt. St. Helens blowing up behind her.   Five years later, it really did BLOW!!!  The mountain seen to the north is Mount Rainier, near Seattle.

Other “sister volcanoes” seemed to wave at us from their own lofty perches there in Washington State.  To the north, was Mount Rainier, to our east/northeast was the broad majesty of Mount Adams and to the southeast was the regal pinnacle of Mount Hood down in the State of Oregon.

We both realized that we didn’t have enough daylight or proper climbing gear to make it all the way to the top of this volcanic monolith, so we stopped at the 6,000 foot level and began our descent to the teeny weeny pickup truck that we could see wayyyyy down below us.

S23 Mt. St. Helens 1980.4.1
Elliott took this photo of Mount Saint Helens in late March or early April of 1980.  The volcano, at this point, had just popped its cork, so to speak, and was in the early phases of venting before the cataclysmic eruption of May 18th, 1980.

It’s a good thing we left the mountain when we did, because by the time we reached the truck and made that long journey back to Battle Ground, Washington, it was late that night by the time I was able to get my lovely young date back to her family home.

NFS 8.4b
The north side of Mt. St. Helens explodes on the morning of May 18th, 1980.  Elliott and Shirley were climbing on the north side of the volcano back in August of 1975.   They sat on the exact spot that exploded five years later.

If Shirley and I had been eating mountain strawberries on that same spot five years later, we would have been blown into the sky and landed somewhere north of Seattle, Washington (tongue in cheek, of course…..we would’ve died instantly).  What a memorable time it was to stand upon the giant and not have him waken to repel this Norwegian Farmer’s Son. 😉

NFS 8.4d
This amazing photo was taken at Yale Reservoir on May 18th, 1980.   Elliott took his peaceful 1974 photo of the volcano from this same basic spot.