Norwegian Farmer’s Son…March 7th

March 7th…“WHAT WAS THE NAUGHTIEST THING YOU RECALL DOING IN GRADE SCHOOL AND WHAT WERE THE CONSEQUENCES?”

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Do you think it was Norwegian Viking blood running through Elliott’s veins that made him such a little stinker??  😉

If I believed in reincarnation (which I don’t), I’d have fun theorizing that I was a midget Viking from another time; full of spit n spunk in a short little trunk of a kid.  Orrr, maybe it was because I was an ornery third born child, or just being a boy.  Well, all of the above made me a little, but happy, schemer who enjoyed having fun on the playground at Kiester Elementary School in Kiester, Minnesota.

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Linda Wigern (upper left in white blouse) and Judy Christenson (billowed sleeve dress lower right) were the chasEEES……..Elliott was the chasER!  😉

As far as answering the “naughty” part of the question….. I did tend to get in trouble for FUN reasons.  Even back in Grade School, I loved to chase “the older women” while out on the playground at recess time.  Linda and Judy were three years older than I was and, boy, were they ever full of zip and giggles when they saw me make my grand entrance onto that expansive playground we enjoyed.  All it took was some good-natured taunts and teases from those “mature” ladies and ZOOOM, the chase was on!!!

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Elliott, “The Runt Runner”, is center stage in this photo from his 3rd Grade Class Photo at Kiester Elementary School in Kiester, Minnesota.

The three of us had the greatest times!!  This itty bitty 3rd Grader, pumping those tiny Norwegian legs, was in hot pursuit of those two lovely ladies of 6th Grade maturity.   As I look back, from the wisdom of adulthood, it was only too evident in the smiles of Judy and Linda that they had reached the time in their young womanhood life that made them fully aware of the popular song at that time called, “The Birds And The Bees, And Flowers And The Trees, And The Moon Up Above……And a Thing Called Love!!”.   In between the laughs and squeals, I’d “capture” them with my speedy speeds.  Now, as my “prisoners”, they would look down at me smiling with almost a womanly wink and ask, “Well, Elliott, what are ya gonna do with us now?”.  Of course, being the thimble-brained 3rd Grader that I was (and fully ignorant of what the girls meant), I would respond, “Duhhhh, I dunno…….chase ya again, I guess??!!”  Such was my prepubescent ignorance of the “facts of life”.

#193=Elliott & girls at Kiester School; June 1998
It’s 1998 and Elliott is showing two of his daughters where our chases took place.  The red Future Farmers Of America building (in the background) was where Elliott was “quarantined” for chasing those “older women” at recess.

The big, red Future Farmers Of America (FFA) Building sat smack dab in the middle of our playground world and during the Winter, the snow would pile up deep and thick along its walls from drifting winds.  Someone had “ratted” on me (either teacher or fellow kid) and “Justice” (in the form of my teacher) reached out its long arm of the law and I was officially in trouble for chasing the gals.  The punishment meted out to me, for this “heinous crime” (tongue in cheek tease) came in the form of needing to have one of my hands touching that FFA Building at all times while at recess.  Now to THIS little kid, who had a zeal to burn energy and enjoy my freedom, this form of “confinement” was like a prison sentence……to be literally “stuck” to that big red building instead of running anywhere I wanted.  Later while at recess, on that frigid Winter’s day, here came “my gals”, Judy and Linda, for our usual dose of glee.  I relayed to them my “prisoner status” and my fate for being a “chaser of older women”.   They quickly chimed their response with an idea ……..”Heyyyy, why don’t you just chase us around the building itself then?”  BINGO, and the fun pursuit was back on!!!   Round and round the FFA Building we went, creating a trench in the almost 3 feet of snow along those red metal walls.  All the while, in my conniving little boy logic, I justified that I WAS being obedient (in a way) by having my one hand on that building at all times, ya??? 😉   The three of us would keep our eyes peeled for Big Bad Bossy Barton (a very tall/large teacher who was Playground Boss).  When we’d spot her, we’d grind to a halt to allow her to pass by while we’d stand there “just talking”.   But once ol’ Barton went around the corner of that building…..ZOOOOOM!……the chase was once again on for “older women” for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

#965 Linda Wigern Memorial..KHS..Kiester, MN 001
Linda Wigern, later in her young life, was killed in an auto accident at the tender age of just 16 years.

A heart-rending epilogue to this story was the passing of Miss Linda Wigern in May of 1967.  Our family was preparing to move to Washington State within a couple months and I can STILL remember how stunned I was to see her photo and obituary in our Kiester Courier newspaper one day.  Hometown folk can correct me if I’m wrong, but I had heard that she was riding in a pickup truck that lost control on one of the country roads near our town of Kiester, Minnesota.  I heard that, as the truck careened out of control and was heading for the wide expansive ditch, she was thrown from the cab of the vehicle and was crushed as it rolled.   Over half a century has passed since her death, and yet to this day, my heart sighs in sadness to think of this beautiful young woman that would never know High School Graduation, marriage, children and life in general.  My heart mourns for what her family must’ve endured in suffering her loss.  Her beauty rivaled that of one of the famous Lennon Sisters………Peggy Lennon (they look almost like twins).   I count myself to have been blessed to have known Linda and the childhood joys we shared.  So says, with a tear in my eye, The Norwegian Farmer’s Son. 😦

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…March 6th

March 6th…“TELL ABOUT HOW YOU SPENT YOUR SUNDAYS.”

#963 Grace Evangelical United Brethren...Kiester, MN 001
“Grace Evangelical United Brethren Church” in Kiester, Minnesota.  This dear house of worship is where Elliott’s family gathered with the local saints every Sunday to fellowship and learn from God’s Word. 

In the peaceful morning hours, that giant yellow orb rising against the silhouettes of neighboring farms, welcomed me to another Sunday.  For our family, as Christians, I often felt that the name of this day could be reconstructed as SONday, for we would attend Sunday School and sing God’s worship with the saints of our village at Grace Evangelical United Brethren Church.  Our family farm lay a full three miles to the northwest of town, but yet I could stand in our front yard and hear those distinct chimes coming from our church’s bell tower.  With each melodic peal, the bell would beckon us to heed Hebrews Chapter 10 Verse 25 that says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together….but exhorting one another….”.  That large bell’s peals were a musical invitation to this young boy’s ears.

#119=Elliott on Buick, Sunday morning of Spring 1960
Elliott is scrubbed up and ready for Sunday School as he sits on the fender of the family Buick.

Still squeaky clean from my Saturday night bath, I was told to dress up in my Sunday best and be read to head for Sunday School.  Our beloved mother was always the faithful one who got us to church each Lord’s Day, and if she wasn’t able to, for some reason, she had a “second mother” who lived on the next farm to the north of us.

#966 Genevieve and Wally Mutschler..our 3rd grandparents
These were our beloved “3rd Grandparents” in the form of Genevieve and Wally Mutschler who lived on the farm just to the north of ours there in southern Minnesota.

Gentle and with an elegance all her own, Genevieve Mutschler would hear the phone ring in her lovely home, pick it up, and then graciously agree to Mom’s need for our transportation to church on some Sunday mornings.  When it came to going to church in style, Genevieve really came through.  She, and her jovial husband Wally, had recently purchased a brand spanking new 1960 Ford Galaxie 500 Town Victoria.  That handsome lavender set of wheels would come rolling over the gravel road and drew to a stop at the foot of our driveway.   Every bit a lady, Genevieve leaned over, and with her going to church gloves, popped opened the passenger door for little sister Candice and I to slide into and onto the plastic embossed seat covers that were stretched over the handsome seat fabric.  These clear covers were necessary to protect the upholstery fabric from the rough life of a farmer and his family’s daily ways.

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The Mutschler’s 1960 Ford Galaxie 500 Town Victoria was an elegant way for Elliott and his little sister to get to church on some Sundays.

Now settled in to that dream boat of a car, Genevieve allowed that powerful Ford engine to begin the trip to church as she ferried us across the gravel roads towards town.

#967 Mike and Jessie Iverson..EUB Church..Kiester, MN
Mike Iverson had a toothy grin that revealed crooked teeth, but he had the straightest heart this side of Heaven itself.

Whether by Genevieve, or by our parents, I always enjoyed arriving at the front of our church.   Not only were there giant shade trees comforting us by their coolness, but I knew I would be greeted heartily each week by one of our church ushers at the front door.  Mike Iverson made me feel special and loved with his teasing and giant smile each Sunday.  His crooked, toothy grin was unique to me, but even more deeply, I saw God’s love in his eyes as he sent me happily on my way downstairs to Sunday School in our church’s basement.

#968 Pastor Utzinger..EUB Church..Kiester, MN
This was the pastor at Elliott’s boyhood church in Kiester, Minnesota.

The shepherd of our E.U.B. congregation was the Reverend E. J. Utzinger (pronounced YOOT-ZINGER).  To my little boy eyes, he kinda resembled the old time comedian, Jack Benny, only this man was NOT funny and he was dressed in black clerical robes with a very sober countenance.  I’m confident Pastor Utzinger had every intention of serving God in our small community in the best of manners, it’s just that smiling seemed rather strained and unnatural for him.

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Elliott would imagine the cracks in the church floor were roads that were platted in squares like the open farm country of Minnesota.    

Like most children, the adult oriented sermons were wayyyyy over my head as far as understanding their high and lofty King James English.  Instead of TRYING to pay attention to the sermon, I found myself daydreaming to pass the time as I sat next to our mother in our pew.  I would imagine that the cracks in the square tiled floor below me were intersecting country roads, just like those of our farming region that were laid out in “quarter section” squares.  While sitting quietly in the pew, in my mind I would pretend that I was riding my imaginary Harley Davidson motorcycle (or other vehicles) up and down my “roads” until our mother would nudge me to let me know it was time to stand up and sing another hymn.

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To this very day, Elliott LOVES the classic hymns of the Christian faith!

Even as a little boy, there in our church worship time, I loved to sing the traditional classic hymns of our Christian faith.  Most of all, I enjoyed listening to our mother’s fine singing voice as we stood together and sang praises to our Lord Jesus Christ.  The timeless nature of those hymns, with their regal melodies and majestic lyrics, tell the beautiful story of our Savior, His love for us and the ultimate sacrifice He made for us at Calvary.

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Elliott and his sister may not have been singing, like these children, but Sunday dishes were part of our routine.

The benediction was given and we often left the church worship center singing “Blessed Be The Tie That Binds”.  Now, it was time to head back home to the farm and enjoy the mid-day meal, which us Minnesota folk called, “Dinner”.  After Mom’s delicious Sunday meal, sister Candi and I would wash and dry the family dishes while Mom and Dad often enjoyed a nice Sunday afternoon nap.

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On some Sunday drives, a BIG highlight was to have a frosty mug of A&W Root Beer.

When our parents woke up from their relaxing nap time, it was fairly common to enjoy this “day of rest” by taking a drive to visit family or friends in a neighboring town, or, just let the car take us on a leisurely drive through the rich farmlands of southern Minnesota or northern Iowa.  I, for one, was tickled with delight when our Sunday drives would end up on the Minnesota/Iowa border at an A&W Drive In Restaurant.  In those days, a waitress (better known as a “car hop”) would trot out to our car and take down our food and drink order.  While the food was being prepared inside, our family would chit chat as we watched other cars roll by on the highway.  Soon, our waitress was walking back towards our car with a tray laden with delicious food.  The tray was made to hook onto the top of Dad’s roll-down window and he’d then begin handing food, ice cream, etc. to the rest of the family.  The biggest treat on that tray, as far as I was concerned, were those big, frost-covered glass mugs of A&W Root Beer.  YUMMM!

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We called them “Lightning Bugs” (also known as Fire Flies).   In the night, they would “wink” their lights at us as we drove through the countryside.

There were some Sundays when Dad and Mom would wait till chores and the milking of our dairy herd were completed before doing something special as a family.  On those balmy Summer Sunday evenings, our red and white 1956 Chevrolet would amble through the miles of our local countryside’s gravel roads.  Our family relished the cooling breezes that floated through the rolled down car windows.  As the sun would be setting in its splendor, that one single light was replaced by what seemed to be millions of lights blinking in the tall grasses of the wide ditches and into the expansive crop fields around us.  Lightning Bugs (also known as Fire Flies) were like “glitter from God” as they would blink and wink at us driving by their grassy domains.   We would be in awe, taking in the twinkling presence of these tiny creatures that made the culmination of a Sunday most memorable for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

 

 

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…March 5th

March 5th…“TELL ABOUT HOW YOU SPENT YOUR SATURDAYS ON THE FARM.”

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The warm warbling of a Meadowlark was some of the sweetest music to Elliott’s ears.

Miss Meadowlark christened another Minnesota Saturday morning with her singular symphony of song.  She truly set my tone of joy as the hinge pins creaked on our back screen door and I stepped outside to drink in the fragrance of our nearby Lilac Bush.  The aroma of those Lilacs were like a dessert after having just given our mother thanks for the great breakfast she prepared for us daily.

#76=Kiester farm, looking NE from field
From whitewashing the barn interior, to cleaning the muck out of calf pens, there was always LOTS to do to help our parents make our farm life a success.

With a mixture of morning dew and gravel among my toes, my bare feet were quickly toughening to a thick, calloused layer that was almost as hard as shoe leather.  This attribute allowed me to run barefoot and play, even in the stubble-covered alfalfa field.   Well, let’s get into today’s gentle adventure…..Saturdays were a mixture of standard chores (that we did seven days a week) and upon completion of those tasks, our father, Russell, would hail us to his side and let us know what special event might be happening on our farm that day.

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When Elliott was old enough, he drove the small Farmall Model B tractor as the “puller” of the heavy long rope…..similar to the man in this photo, who is driving an Allis Chalmers tractor.  Notice how the set of 8 hay bales are lifting from the “flat rack”.

On our farm, Dad grew the rich forage legume known as Alfalfa.  It was replete in nutrients for our livestock to eat and thrive by, rather than feeding them a simple grass hay.   Among our family, and others in our farming community, we knew the proper name for this crop, but everyone still called the alfalfa “hay”.   And for that Saturday, in particular, haying season was upon us.

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Elliott’s father used a Sickle Mower to cut their alfalfa crop.

A few days prior to this busy haying event, Dad had used his Sickle Mower to cut our alfalfa crop down.  It now lay drying in the sunshine.  Another day or so, and Dad would then rake the crop into windrows to make it easier to bale.

Thankfully, for our folks, there were usually young, local high school students who were always eager to make a few extra dollars, so Dad would hire on those he needed to get this operation completed.  This agricultural operation was sometimes complicated by  “Mother Nature” who pressed Dad and crew to bale hay as fast as they could, even into the nighttime, if need be, so they could get the dry hay into the barn’s haymow before rains came down from the sky.  Moisture in the hay could hurt its food value by a strong rain “hammering” at the fragile alfalfa leaves out in the field.  Worse yet, if the hay was baled wet, those tight bales, with moisture inside, could burst into flames in the barn’s upstairs haymow by a process known as spontaneous combustion/ignition.  Then, our entire barn could burn to the ground.

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Our father’s generation of Midwest farmers baled their hay and stacked it on flat rack wagons at the same time.

From my young eye’s viewpoint, I was always in awe of the clockwork of a farming family and team of helpers making as fast a work as possible in bringing in tons of hay bales from our field.  Hot exhaust poured from the tall tractor muffler as Dad’s Farmall  Model Super M began pulling the baler and a flat rack.  Our brother, Lowell, or a hired hand, standing on that flat rack, would slam a long hay hook into the bale as it slowly was pushed out of the baler.  A downside of this procedure was the brisk prairie winds that often blew the hay chaff all over the stacker.  That chaff also tended to stick to your sweaty skin and go down to itch at you under your Tshirt.  Be that as it may, that bale was then stacked on the wagon and they kept this up till the flat rack wagon was full.

#28=Hay Wagon(Dad, Debbie E. & Candi)Spring '67
Our talented father, Russell, built this “flat rack” that was used for bringing bales of hay in from our alfalfa fields.  Sister, Candi, and our two year old niece, Debbie, are enjoying the moment in the Spring of 1967.

Now, it was another family or team member that would drive up alongside our father with an empty flat rack wagon.  Dad brought the baler to a standstill while a full wagon was unhitched and an empty wagon hooked onboard.   The tractor engine was revved up and the baling commenced once again.

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Hay claws could pick up 8 bales at a time.  The load of bales then clicked into the track at the top and ran inside the haymow.  At the desired spot, the trip rope was pulled and the 8 bales fell to the haymow floor.

This frenzied flurry of farming continued well into the evening hours as the sun began to wink its way into the horizon.   Our bevy of Mourning Doves nestled in the treed windbreak then began to sing us their own song of quietness as another Saturday came to rest for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…March 4th

March 4th…“DO YOU HAVE A GOOD STORY ABOUT YOURSELF SWEARING OR CUSSING?”

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Make sure brain is engaged, before putting mouth in gear!!!

Do you mean those adverse, antisocial adjectives arranged aggregately in acrid aim at anyone and anything?  Ohhhhh…….THOSE….hehehe 😉  Well, my dear ones, I’m of the opinion that there can never be a “good” story about swearing or cussing.  Yet, alas, like many a youngster growing up, I DID indulge in that lesser character trait from time to time.  Guilty was I for burdening the air around me with, let’s say, an UNwise choice of words.  On such occasions, our dear mother employed Proverbs 22:6 (“Train up a child in the way he should go……) by her stern chastisement to me in the form of three terse words, “SHAME ON YA!!!”.  The chilled reverberations of her words in my ears would make me feel like less that 2 cents really quick.

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It can be either way….GODLY IN, GODLY OUT……or…..garbage in, garbage out.

Have you ever filled a bucket with sloppy mud?  If you tipped that bucket upside down, did sparkling spring water come out……….noooo, I didn’t think so….you got out of that bucket exactly what you put INTO it.  To this very day, I’m STILL learning the correlation that what I pour into the “bucket of my mind and heart” is equal to what I pour out of my mouth and into the world around me.  By drinking in the crystal clear spring water of God’s Word, that equates to pouring out the same clean flow to be a blessing to those around me.  On the contrary, if I ingest the “mud” of anger, selfishness, envy and worse, then I’ll sadly pour out the sludge of negative language that will then infect those around me.

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If I have to yell out, it’s better to say something silly to protect little ears around me.

During my years as a Grade School Custodian, I made it my focus to control my tongue around the little darlings that attended that school each day.  I wanted to “teach”, in my own way, a positive role model in how I acted and reacted to my life around the students.  Sometimes I would be out on the playground working on a piece of equipment and would injure myself.  In response to my pain, rather than turn the air “blue” with foul language, I’d purposefully say something silly like, “Ohhh busted baby booger bubbles!!”  orrrr   “Oooooo, that tickled!!”  The little sweethearts around me would giggle and laugh at what I just said while in pain.  I figured it was much better to create laughter in the children than have them covering their ears in shock and being wounded by ugly words and my lack of sensitivity.   Not perfect by a long shot, but such is one of the good goals of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…March 3rd

March 3rd…“DID YOU EVER PRETEND TO BE SICK AS AN EXCUSE TO STAY HOME FROM SCHOOL?”

POEM – “The Fractured Fleasel” by N. Elliott Noorlun

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Elliott turned on all the sad faces and excuses he could to escape going to school.

“Ohhhh Mommy, Ohhhh Mommy!!!

I’ve bent my barnsnoogle, And fractured my fleasel,

Were the sly whining words, From this lil weasel.

I’d pull out ideas, From deep in my noodle,

To avoid those school halls, With their kit n kaboodle.

I’d hug at my belly, With dramatized groan,

To sell this dear lady, My skills I would hone.

But e’en when I claimed, Belly button was leaking,

And the smells from the oozings, Would really be reeking,

That wise and wonderful, Mother of mine,

Knew my drama techniques, Were a bit outta line.

So I picked up my books, And ran for the bus,

To school was the goal, For this little cus. 😉

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This poem is just a fun way of saying that our mother’s wisdom always knew what was silly and what was true! ><>  Like it or not, education was in the works for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…March 2nd

March 2nd…“TELL ABOUT A HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL THAT YOU REMEMBER.”

#949 Mr. Pat Pettichord, Principal BGHS
Mr. Pat Pettichord.  Principal at Battle Ground High School, Battle Ground, Washington.

Our “ambush” of Tigers at Battle Ground High School were proud of our black and orange school colors.  Those colors linked us together under the good-natured and dominant leadership of the “Chief Tiger” who ruled over the hundreds of teenagers that mingled and merged in those halls of education.  That regal “Chief Tiger” was none other than Mr. Pat Pettichord.  He was a handsome man and used to walk with a type of swagger that exuded the confidence he held within himself.  Mr. Pettichord presented an aura, almost a glow surrounding him with that ramrod straight back and an almost military gait as he strode by groups of students each day.

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Had Mr. Pettichord made it, as an athlete, it to the Olympics in 1936, he may have worn a pin similar to this one.

In my adult life, I found out that, in his young years, our dear Principal was considered one of the best in many Track & Field events and was considered strongly as a Track & Field competitor in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany.  Sadly, from the stories I heard, he became quite ill just before the tryouts commenced and hence, he lost his opportunity to compete in the legendary Olympics that year that occurred right under the nose of Hitler, himself.

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It was difficult to see this once virile man now stooped at almost 90 degrees from degenerative spinal issues.

After completing my 31 years with the Battle Ground Schools as a Custodian, I supplemented my income by working at our local Safeway store.  Mr. Pettichord lived just across the road from the store, so I had the pleasure to see him often when he came into the store for groceries and visit with old friends.  The ravages of the years had caught up with this great man and he was now with cane and stooped over at almost 90 degrees from degenerative bone issues in his back.  It quietly broke my heart to see this manly man, who portrayed all that was good and masculine, from my youth, now barely able to shuffle through the store to secure his daily needs.

Our proud Principal has now passed into eternity.  About six months after his death, Mr. Pettichord’s lovely wife, Eva, succumbed to Alzheimer’s Disease.  If even still standing (at this writing), their quaint little green house, at our town’s very busy intersection, is empty and derelict now with a FOR SALE sign languishing out in their front yard where once lived an exemplary man and his handsome family.  Our world loses its seasoning and becomes a bit more bland when we lose these sweet folks who contributed so much to the flavor of our lives by their love and contributions while with us.

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Mr. Pettichord squelched a smile when I called his bluff in trying to embarrass my High School girlfriend and I for being “too close”.   By the way, her nickname was “Pinky” and my was “Dimples” 😉

To end this chapter on a happy note, there’s the story of how Mr. Pettichord interacted with my girlfriend and I one day.  Being the little lovebirds we were, back then, my lady and I were leaning with our shoulders against a brick wall of the school’s Music Building.  Yes, we were very close as we nuzzled with each other against the chill of a frosty Fall day.  By today’s lax standards, our coziness was considered VERY MILD!!!   Yet, up to us walks Mr. Pettichord and directs each of us to separate until there was at least a foot or two of distance between us.  I surmise he was trying to shame us by what he said next.  “What would your parents say if I took a photo of you two right now?”  Being a little too witty for my own good, I smiled and replied, “They’d probably ask for enlargements!!”.   Good-hearted Mr. Pettichord had to squelch a smile that almost popped onto his face when he could tell that I had just “called his bluff”.   Sobering up, he said, “That wasn’t the answer I was looking for!”  He warned us young lovers to “keep our distance” and then walked on his way.  Such was one of the fun memories of our Principal in the High School times of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…March 1st

March 1st…“IN HIGH SCHOOL DAYS, WERE YOU EVER A CAST MEMBER IN A MUSICAL PRODUCTION?”

Camelot Clipart
The magic of this musical has followed Elliott for over 40 years.

The passing of forty seven years have not diminished one iota of the fantasaical magic in the music of “Camelot” that still graces my heart and memory.    Early, in our Junior year of 1971, our beloved Concert Choir teacher, the honorable Mr. Orrell Peru, opened up to us the world of Broadway musicals in the form of the story of the mythical kingdom of Camelot.

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Auditions for parts in the musical were performed in front of our Choir Director (Orrell Peru) and the Drama Director (Virginia Newton). 

Having fallen in love with the songs and storyline of this “Lerner & Lowe” creation, I aspired to, and auditioned for, the part of “Prince Lancelot”.   Alas, though, since my school grades were low, the selection committee decided that I already had enough on my plate, educationally, as it was; therefore, I did NOT get the part of “Lancelot”.  Instead, I was awarded the supporting role of Lancelot’s servant, “Squire Dap”.  Now boys will be boys, so in the derogatory humorous nature of High School males, my fellow choir buddies used to have fun by renaming me “Squire DIP“! 😉

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These were our talented main cast members for the Battle Ground High School musical “Camelot” in April of 1971.

Overall, this was going to be a great life experience of embarking on a trip into how a stage musical is put together from start to finish.  Days, weeks and eventually months went by as we teamed up to learn our singing parts, have parents create costuming, stage sets were being built in the West Gym of our High School, etc., etc..

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Becky Kelley portrayed the enchantress, “Morgan Le Fay”, who lures “Merlyn The Magician” away from King Arthur’s side.  Here “Morgan” is surrounded by her woodland nymphs.

Another aspect of this fantasy musical was dancing.  Our choreography instructor was Mrs. Donna Stone.  For a small statured woman, she held us to a rigid discipline as we learned the craft of creating the dance sequences that would occur in this performance.   Our young male egos were bolstered by the appearance of muscles as we seemed to lift our feminine dance partners into the air, when, in actuality, Mrs. Stone had taught the young ladies to jump just before we assisted them with our hands at their waists.  Sure looked impressive, at least! 😉

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Cast members couldn’t help but have some fun during some of the rehearsals.  Here “King Arthur” is rehearsing his lines while Clyde Cooper, John McKnight and Shane Hawkins portray the three monkeys of “Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil, See No Evil” on the “Camelot” staging.

Dress rehearsals finally arrived.  All choir members were to arrive at the school stage that evening for a first full run-through of the musical with all of us in FULL costume.   Seeing that the musical historically was set in 12th Century England, the fashion of that time held that men wore leotard tights on their lower extremities.  Time machine, if you will, to the year 1971 and that’s the LAST thing a young male would EVER want to wear…….girl’s tights or leotards.   Yet, wanting to be obedient to Mr. Peru’s directives, I faithfully came that night in full costume INCLUDING my blue girl leotards.  I walked around the corner and onto the stage to be mortified that only ONE other guy had worn his leotards that evening.  He and I were immediately launched upon by all the cat calls and whistles that the other male cast members could muster.  Embarrassed is a huge understatement for how we felt!

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Elliott, in his leotard costume, is just above the dog in this scene with the old “King Pellinore”.

With justice and righteous indignation, Mr. Peru came to our rescue as he began to strongly chastise all of the prideful male choir members for THEIR failure to not appear in FULL costume for that very important rehearsal.  You could have heard a pin drop in that large auditorium after he was finished lambasting the cast.  He finished with, “If EVERYONE is not in FULL costume for the next rehearsal…..the entire musical will be called OFF!!!”  We knew he meant it, too!  On the next rehearsal, every leotard was on every boy.  The two of us who endured the taunting that night felt happily vindicated for having endured that rancorous teasing.

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There would never have BEEN a musical without the talented young Battle Ground High School band members under the excellent direction of Mr. Jim Detchman.

Without a doubt, our musical would’ve never been “born”, if it weren’t for the talented leadership of Mr. Jim Detchman and our great young members of Battle Ground School District’s Symphonic Band.  These were the days before fancy pre-recorded soundtracks existed, so if you wanted music, it had to be LIVE.

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Mr. Peru checks out one of the many advertising posters that were distributed around our community and local area.

Now it was time to promote our musical extravaganza.  Mr. Bob Peck, and his great school Art Department, created large posters to go up all over our town and local area venues.  The school newspaper did articles with photos of the upcoming “Camelot” musical.  Even the Columbian newspaper and Reflector newspapers created stories to put out the word to the public that it would only cost $1.50 for Adults and just $1.00 for students to attend this gala event.

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The richness of seventeen musical numbers still lingers in Elliott’s musical memory to this day.

The opening song of “Camelot” states my heart feelings so well……..”In short there’s simply not, A more congenial spot, For happy-ever-aftering, Than here in Camelot”…….for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.