January 9th…“WHAT WAS A HOBBY OF YOUR FATHER’S THAT YOU ADMIRED?”
My father’s propensity of reading books was likely fueled by tales he’d heard as a child of the romanticism of The Old West. That, and seeing the lifestyle of Cowboys and Indians lived out right before his eyes on a daily basis. For you see, Dad learned many “ways of The West” by growing up under the auspices of his own Norwegian Farmer Father who carried out his entire tenure of farming days in northern Minnesota with handsome teams of horses. Grandfather Edwin Noorlun, I’m told, never drove a tractor. Seems that would’ve made him a kind of a farmer cowboy, in a way.
Plus, another factor of influence was that my father’s family lived either on or near the Chippewa Indian Reservation near the northern Minnesota town called, Mahnomen.
Many Chippewa Indian children attended our father’s country school. His daily play times with these friends could only help to grow his appreciation for the Indian culture that surrounded him, and with that, kindled a flame of love for all that composed the American story of The Wild West.
It wouldn’t surprise me a bit that, as a boy, this dear patriarch of our family, who only completed the 8th Grade in the public school system, would have loved to own a complete set of Zane Grey Western novels……..that is, if he could’ve afforded them in those youthful days. Mr. Zane Grey was world famous for being an illustrious writer of Western Adventure stories.
On many an evening, both in our farm days of Minnesota and after we moved to Washington State, one could walk by our parent’s bedroom and view this hardworking man supine in his bed with a reading lamp attached to the headboard and an open “Zane Grey” book resting upright on his chest. In these cherished moments of relaxation, Dad devoured page after page of adventures with sagas of thundering herds of buffalo or the lonely call of a wolf in a quiet forest while a full moon emanated an eerie light from the star-lit skies above.
Father’s love for reading was contagious to me and I found, like he did in his younger years, that no matter how poor you were, one could board a magic carpet of imagination and riches by just opening the cover of a book and venturing into the worlds that awaited you there. When our father’s voracious appetite for Zane Grey had been satisfied by consuming every volume that author had published, our daddy turned to another, even more prolific Western author and the novels of the notable, Louis L’Amour.
Russell Conrad Noorlun lived out an honorable farmer’s life and yet, in a sense, he knew every trail and every ornery hombre that had ever swung up onto a saddle to ride to adventure and conquest. Just as easily as he unwrapped a Christmas present, our wonderful dad unwrapped countless adventures each evening with a good Western novel in his hands. And the fun thing is, he didn’t need a cell phone or some other high-tech digital device….his medium was the classic printed page and the joys of imagination that dwelt within them. His hobby made me glad to be his Norwegian Farmer’s Son.