Norwegian Farmer’s Son…February 10th

February 10th...”WHEN IT CAME TO BIG PROJECTS ON YOUR FARM, HOW DID YOUR FATHER MAKE THE BEST USE OF DOLLARS OR RESOURCES?”

#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, in our hometown, 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 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 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 lean times of the 1930’s with it’s economic depression and then 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, next to 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 of 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 reason #1 may have been 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 used lumber.  That item alone would greatly reduce the cost factor in getting the project 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 so they could bring home long sections of lumber for the new garage and shop.

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 was 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, their personal domain of family.  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 the floating dust in the air from our hammering and sawing.  Being the little adventurer that I was, I’d slowly climb the creaking stairs to explore what used to be the bedrooms and see the view around town from those cracked and lonely looking 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 sweat, splinters, blood and blisters, our family saw a brand new domicile for our vehicles to stay dry in Winter and a shop (with a stove for warmth) for Dad to fix, fashion and create within his new surroundings.  T’was a feeling of pride to have been a small part of family success for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

 

 

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