March 8th…“WHEN YOUR FAMILY WENT ON VACATION CAR TRIPS, WHAT KIND OF GAMES OR TOYS DID YOU BRING TO PLAY WITH?”
In a farmer’s life, the agricultural science of animal husbandry should actually have the title changed to animal MOMMA-ry, because our hard working daddy was like a mother to all of his animals on that farm. Like any good farmer (and Christian), our father cared deeply for the animals God allowed to be under his care. Farming (like motherhood) was a 7 day a week, 24 hours a day lifestyle. Those dear creatures depended on our father (and the rest of our family) to feed them, milk the cows twice a day and care for them all year round. A veritable part of the family, they were.
The majority of workers today get an earned paid vacation each year. Not so for farmers. If our poppa wanted a vacation, he not only had to pay for all the regular expenses while on the trip, but he ALSO had to PAY someone to come out to our farm and take care of the animals…..twice a day. As a result, our vacations away from the farm were few and far between.
Some of those wonderful road trip vacations were to visit my mother’s brother, Bob and family, who lived in northern Minnesota near the town of Mahnomen. That journey took the most part of a full day for us to travel from our farm (just north of the Iowa border) all the way up into the northern reaches of our State. To prepare for this adventure, sister and I would gather together our various preferred plethora of play things. For me, there was my cache of toy soldiers, small tractors and cars, Richie Rich comic books, etc.. Sister Candice would bring her dolls and other girlie fun things to occupy her time. With our coloring books and goodies stashed in the back seat of the Chevy, we’d bid our parents “Sova Godt” (sleep well…in Norwegian) and then drift off to dreamland excited for the next day.
I can still smell Dad’s “Old Spice” cologne as he gently scooped me out of my bed, covers and all, and carried me down the stairwell and out to our purring Chevrolet. He carefully deposited me into the back seat and allowed me to resettle into slumber as he went for my little sister upstairs in her room. With a last check on the checklist, our parents climbed into that powerful vehicle and we were on our way. Even as us little ones slid back into sleep, we could hear the gravel from our country roads grinding under our tires as that Chevy carried us northward to see our northern cousins and extended family.
Eventually, sister and I came awake and peeked over the side windows to view the lovely Minnesota landscape flying by us. Our family vacations were in the days before seat belts were installed in most cars. Therefore, it was common practice for us kiddos to hunker down on the floor of the backseat and use the flat surface of the seat for a myriad of imagination play time. I would play soldiers, as I lined up my army to attack the bad guys and “win the war”. Later, I’d have my tractors hooked up to plows and other implements to “work the fields” of my side of the car’s backseat.
Of course, my very favorite comic books to read were “Richie Rich”! I remember when they were just 10 cents…..then 12 cents. A BIG, thick Richie Rich comic was a whole 25 cents. Part of my road trip playtime was to dream and read about this little boy who had EVERYTHING he could ever think of because he had all the money in the world. It was a fun way to pass the time as we traveled mile after mile towards our goal of family in the northern part of our great State of Minnesota.
Like any child, by the time we neared our uncle’s farm outside of Mahnomen, Minnesota, both of us youngin’s were bored of our toys n books and ready for fun. On one outing, we stopped at Itasca State Park where the Mississippi River has its birth. This little 7 year old adventurer was able to actually walk across that mighty river as it trickled out of a tiny spring at its headwaters. I guess you could say that I was “toying” with the Mississippi that day. 😉 Fun memories they were for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.