January 21st…..“SHARE ABOUT YOUR PARENT’S EARLY YEARS OF MARRIAGE AS HIRED HANDS ON THE FARM OF WALLY AND GENEVIEVE MUTSCHLER NEAR KIESTER, MINNESOTA.”
A golden sheen, from the tungsten lamps within, sparkled across the predawn snow banks. That electric emanation came from the barn window glow of Green Gables Farm northwest of Kiester, Minnesota. Being a newlywed of just over a year, a handsome young hired hand, named Russell Noorlun, picked up the tempo of his morning chores inside that barn. It was now early Winter of 1942. Russ, and his “with child” wife, Clarice, had recently been made “part of the family” of Wally and Genevieve Mutschler, who were the owners of this majestic farming operation. Green Gables received its elegant title from the fact that the barn and family home were painted with a brilliant white coat of paint. As a harmonious striking contrast, the peak of the gables (and associated trusses with gingerbread) were painted a handsome green…..thus, Green Gables Farm. Even the windows of the home’s storm shutters were trimmed out in green paint. The regal beauty of these farm structures reflected the grand quality of the dear family that called that farm place a home.
As you will see, God was about to show His loving provision to our young parents. In their first year of marriage, Dad and Mom had been hired hands (a vintage term for a farm worker) for an old couple of bachelor brothers in northern Iowa. That employment had proven the opposite of enjoyable. Seems the two crotchety old farmer brothers were always arguing amongst themselves or seemed to be never satisfied with the hard work our father was trying to perform for them. In hopes of finding a better work situation, Russell had driven north across the state line and up to the village of Kiester, Minnesota. There, he “ran into” Wally Mutschler. In retrospect, we now know that God had that meeting all planned out and His best blessing was waiting for our parents. Turns out, Wally offered our folks employment on his Green Gables Farm, and, as they say, the rest is history. Not only were Wally and Genevieve great employers, but they became like a second set of loving parents for Dad and Mom and the kindest extra “grandparents” for us kids, later on.
The reason, as stated earlier, that Russ was hustling with morning chores, was so that he could quickly make the walk along the snowy paths to the little white cottage that he and Clarice called home there at Green Gables Farm. One of our dad’s favorite radio shows was “on the air” each morning, around breakfast time, and he didn’t want to miss an episode. As our mom prepared Dad’s usually large farmer’s breakfast, Russell tuned in their Atwater Kent radio to listen to a show called, “Snow Village Sketches”. The program was a comedy-drama about a little town(actually called “Snow Village”) in the State of New Hampshire.
Our parents had grown up in the late 1920’s and into the very lean years of “The Great Depression” of the 1930’s. And, even now, in the present World War II years of the early 1940’s, our folks had to daily employ an old saying that was common at that time; “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”. In this moment of their young married lives, and just setting up housekeeping, they had to “make do” with the only furniture they could afford in their little cottage kitchen. Wooden orange crates. Set on their ends, two orange crates were their “table” and two orange crates were their kitchen chairs.
The mean-spirited Minnesota Winter, outside their cottage walls, did its best to steal any heat from their kitchen. To fight back those chills, Clarice kept their little wood stove roaring with a good fire in its metal belly. As Russell relished, with laughter, his radio comedy show, he also gladly consumed his eggs, bacon, cereal, coffee and morning grapefruit….oh, and don’t leave out his scorched black toast with creamery butter 😉 In those early days of starting out life together in that cottage, Russell and Clarice, tried to stay warm the best they could. When sitting near that kitchen stove, they would roast on one side of their bodies, but freeze on the other side. Then, like human flapjacks (pancakes), they’d flip themselves around so the other side of their bodies could enjoy some warmth, as well.
Though their cottage had a only a tiny stove, when it came to a warmth of heart, our mother Clarice had a roaring fire of care and love within her. She, and her loving husband, Russ, were quite a team when it came to caring and sharing of what they had with others. In early 1942, our paternal uncle was serving as a sergeant in the United States Army during World War II. When his first wife left him with a newborn daughter to care for, he was in dire need for someone to help care for his infant daughter so that he could return to his military base for duty. Family members, that had been visiting our grandparent’s farm farther north, near Foston, MN agreed to transport this tiny life. They arrived one day, at the Mutschler farm, with a pink bundle in their arms. They had brought baby Lorraine Noorlun to our parents to temporarily care for her in the little white cottage of Green Gables Farm. Clarice, pregnant at the time, was expecting the birth of our eldest brother Lowell in February of ’43; but she lovingly accepted the challenge of loving this precious little life as an addition to their lives and love.
Being “instant parents” with the arrival of this tiny little lady, Russell and Clarice made do the best they could to see that this little soul was taken care of to the best of their abilities. When it came to going nitey-nite, all our mother could do was to pull out one of the dresser drawers in their bedroom, put in a pillow and blankets, and lay baby Lorraine in her makeshift “crib”. In the latter part of December, that year, one of our father’s sisters came to receive lovely little Lorraine into her care as she then took her to Colorado for Lorraine’s next chapter of life. Acts of love, like what our parents did for that precious little life, makes me proud to be a Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!!