Norwegian Farmer’s Son…February 10th


#28=Hay Wagon(Dad, Debbie E. & Candi)Spring '67
A double delight here.  Our Norwegian father, Russell, sits on a wagon he just finished building from “scratch”.  And, behind him sits the handsome garage and shop he built from salvaged lumber of an old house in our village of Kiester, Minnesota.  Sister, Candice, and our little niece are with Dad in this photo.

The nails screamed out in agony, or so it seemed, by the sounds they were making as Dad’s sinewy muscles maneuvered the claw bar to remove them from the wall he was tearing out.  In this now decrepit old house, it was as if the nails were pleading to stay in the walls of what had once housed a family and its life.  Yet, as a kernel of corn “dies” in the soil to bring a new crop, so also was it a manifest destiny for this old house to give up its lumber to live again in the form of a new garage on our farm just 3 miles to the northwest from our village of Kiester, Minnesota.

NFS 2.10e
From our parents, who weathered The Great Depression and World War II, came this popular saying of that era.

Our beloved, hardworking parents came from what is often called “The Greatest Generation”.  They were hardened by “The Great Depression” lean times of the 1930’s with it’s economic severity and then, as the global conflict of war came upon the scene, had to sacrifice for our soldiers, sailors and Marines during World War II.  That mind set of “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” was a staple of how they lived out the rest of their lives; especially when it came to “stretching the dollar” to make our farm as successful as they could.

#46=Lowell on B Farmall (April 1954)
Spring of 1954 shows our brother, Lowell, on our Farmall B tractor.  The empty space, to the left of our chicken house, would become the site of our new double car garage and shop a decade later in 1964 or 65.

Being just a youngster, in those days of the mid 1960’s, I wasn’t keenly aware and questioned why Dad would even want to take on the task of building a new, two car garage and shop structure.  I can only assume that a likely Reason #1 was, that he may have wanted to escape the rigors of scraping ice and snow from our car and truck each Winter whenever he’d want to go someplace.  Reason #2, in my personal opinion, could have been that Dad wanted a shop with extra space to be able to pull in large welding and/or repair projects there on the farm.  His original shop building was pretty small, with just enough room to house his large array of tools, welders, acetylene torches, etc..  As a resort, Dad had to do most of his repair work on large items while exposed to the outdoor elements.

NFS 2.10f
Lumber from that old abandoned house in our town would soon be transformed into our new double car garage and shop.

Whatever the composite reasons were, as a whole, our father’s decision was to create a new building to grace our farmyard that would incorporate at least some used lumber.  The dollar savings of building with used, FREE lumber would greatly reduce the cost factor in getting the garage/shop completed within budget for our parents and family.

NFS 2.10b
Russell, Elliott’s father, had a giant assortment of “boys toys” to begin DISassembling the old, abandoned house.

It was roughly the Summer of 1965 when our dad heard about an old, abandoned home in our village of Kiester, Minnesota that was available for local folks to glean any usable lumber for their own use.   Sometimes, Dad and I would load up our 1950 Ford F-100 pickup with tools and head into town to take apart and bring home various components of wall framing or other wood that he could use in his own building adventure.

#98.1=Closeup of Russ on tractor, 1962
Elliott’s dad, Russell, would sometimes pull a flat wagon into town with this Farmall H tractor.

Sometimes, after the cows were milked for the evening, we’d hook up a flat rack wagon to our Farmall H or Super M tractor and go “harvest” some long lumber from the old house to add to the progress of our new structure.

NFS 2.10g
Elliott’s little boy brain would muse upon the whole concept of the old house and who may have lived there once upon a time.

I was always raised to respect other people’s homes.  It inculcated within my psyche that any private family dwelling was to be viewed as if someone’s home was sacred ground and you showed respect by not entering it until you were invited by the family to actually enter into their home, which was their personal domain.  Well, even though there was no longer a family in that dilapidated old house, I felt uneasy stepping inside the front door the first few times.  The late afternoon sun would often flood through the rippled glass windows and illuminate golden rays of light through the floating dust in the air from our hammering and sawing.  Being the little adventurer that I was, I’d slowly climb up the creaking stairs to the second story and explore what used to be the family bedrooms.  From that vantage point, I’d see the view around town from those cracked and lonely looking upper windows.  To the best of my knowledge, I would assess this old house could have been as much as a century old at the time we began making it yield up its wood to us for our new project.  Even as a young boy of 11 or 12, at the time, I couldn’t help but wonder how many families had called this place home with all their laughter and holidays together, etc..

NFS 2.10h
Soon, the Noorlun family would have a new garage and shop to enjoy.

After the investment of our sweat, splinters, blood and blisters, our family watched Dad work day after day on the shop/garage until we eventually saw a brand new domicile for our car and truck to stay dry in Winter and a shop (with a stove for warmth) for Dad to fix, fashion and create within his new shop surroundings.  T’was a feeling of pride to have been a small part of our family success for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.


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