Norwegian Farmer’s Son…November 25th


#144=Elliott in Mom's arms; circa September 1954
Elliott with his mother, Clarice, at 9 months of age in 1954.

There must be a wisdom warehouse located in the clouds of Heaven’s “MommaLand”.  Before starting their life, here on earth, future mothers must go to the pink, upholstered warehouse shelves and pull off wise sayings that they’ll take with them in their earth-bound luggage to instruct their own tiny ones with to grow by someday.  That sure was the case with our precious mother, Clarice Arlone “Sletten” Noorlun.  No matter what the topic was that life dished out to us, Mom would pull a saying out of her repertoire just as fast as Marshall Matt Dillon’s greased-lightning six-shooter flew out of his leather holster on the old Western cowboy television show called “Gunsmoke”.    Being the slow learner that I was, though, sometimes her sayings were “over my head” as far as understanding their application to my specific life happenings.

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And she DID, too!! 😉

One of Mom’s wisdom quotes came into play during the summer after my 5th Grade school year.   Here is how her wise saying went….”TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING IS NOT GOOD!”   Now, just how could that be?  If something smelled good, tasted good, sounded good, or felt good, it must be ALL good, right?   That motherly wisdom really baffled me!  How could something good, be NOT good?  I was soon to find that missing link of understanding in just a short while.

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Elliott trapped Pocket Gophers for extra spending money.

As I have alluded to, in earlier stories, I only received 25 cents every Saturday night for spending money when our family went to Kiester to shop and take part in the “Lucky Bucks” drawing in town.   Any extra dollars that were hoped for, I had to earn on my own.  Trapping Pocket Gophers was one of those means of garnering extra money by taking the claws of my kills to our neighbor farmer, Charlie Heitzeg.  He was the County Agent for Faribault County (where we lived) and paid me bounty money for those gophers.   Now, I had my own cash to enjoy.  It wasn’t much, mind ya, but it was my money to splurge on as I chose to.

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Elliott ate the WHOLE bag!

My time of reckoning and Mom’s wisdom came to fruition one fine day that summer.  After weeks and weeks of trapping those gophers, I had dollars jingling in my pockets and it was just a burnin’ and a yearnin’ to be spent.  With our family loaded into our car, we headed to Albert Lea, Minnesota to visit my mother’s parents.   Bouncing along in the back seat, I’m feeling like a rich man with “bucks” in my pockets.  After our time of visiting Grandma and Grandpa Sletten, we all headed to uptown Albert Lea for our folks to do some shopping before heading back to the farm for evening milking and chores.  At our house, orange marshmallow peanuts were a sometimes candy in our farm home, but Mom was frugal with us as to how many we could eat.  In the local Woolworth’s Store that day, I found me a big bag of those tasty confections.  This scrumptious kid delicacy also sometimes sported the name of “Circus Peanuts”.   Since I was now the “John D. Rockefeller” of gopher millions, I decided to buy my very own large bag of that orange ambrosia all for my selfish self.   After using my own money for the purchase, I asked permission to go back to the family car while the rest of the clan continued shopping.  Permission was granted and I headed back to the Noorlun chariot with my tasty treasure in the bag.

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Duke of Puke

Climbing into the back seat, I rolled down the rear passenger windows to enjoy the afternoon breezes as I hastily ripped open my very own bag of magical, orange, sugared delight.  I began to scarf down that entire bag of orange marshmallow peanuts into a waiting stomach that anticipated an illustrious sensation of euphoria.  My initial gluttonous giddiness soon turned into a “green around the gills” sensation because all that orange opulence, now churning in my gut, was making me sick to the point of changing my name to “The Duke Of Puke”!!!!

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Eventually, my folks and little sister came strolling back to our car from their shopping.  Mom peeked in through the rolled down back window of the car and saw her son laying there, holding for my stomach and about ready to get sick all over the car (which, thankfully, I didn’t).   There I was, with an empty bag of what used to be candy, and a belly full of hurt.  With her all-knowing wisdom she repeated her saying to me. “Now you KNOW what I meant when I said, TOO much of a good thing is NOT good!”.    I replied, “Yes, Mom, I understand NOW!”   Her loving teaching impressed me then and has always stayed with this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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