January 26th…..“AFTER WORLD WAR II, DID YOUR UNCLE ERWIN MARRY AND HAVE A FAMILY? WHAT WERE SOME OF HIS VOCATIONS THROUGH THE YEARS?”
“What is it you want, Mary?(played by Donna Reed)” says George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart). “What is it you want?” “You want the moon?” “Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down!” “Hey, that’s a pretty good idea!” “I’ll give you the moon, Mary!!!” Such were the twitterpated wooings of a young man in love who wanted to make an impression on his new lady friend in hopes of winning her for the the rest of his life. You can just hear the idealistic, yet tender, infatuated voice of George Bailey in the classic 1946 movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life!”.
Impressing a lovely young lady would have a different twist for our uncle. Fresh from the Army and full of telephone communications knowledge, our paternal Uncle Erwin Noorlun arrived in Lyle, Minnesota in January of 1949. As he began his new job of updating the telephone systems in that town, he had the pleasure of meeting one of the loveliest switchboard operators he’d ever laid his eyes on. Her name was Audrey Virginia Kulff. Six years his junior and pretty as a picture, they struck up a friendship that culminated in their first date in the frigid January outdoors of that borderline town with the State of Iowa just beyond its southern boundaries.
Now it kinda makes ya scratch yer head to figure that, here’s a young buck who grew up in Minnesota’s frozen north country. He must’ve learned all the proper ways to protect his body from Winter’s chilling ways, right? Yet, on this magical first date with Audrey, Erwin actually froze his feet!!! My, my!!! Was he captivated by her beauty? Staying out in the grinding cold to try to snatch that first kiss? Whatever the case may have been, that small town of 600 souls found Erwin’s predicament to be hilarious and he was the buzz of the chatter around that town for some time after the incident. Whatever Erwin’s cost, in frozen footsies, he won his maiden and they gathered at the north end of the little town of Lyle at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church to “tie the knot” on December 2nd of 1950.
Just like the 1946 movie, Erwin and Audrey could jointly say, “It’s A Wonderful Life”!!! Not only had “Erv” been spared during World War II, there were the blessings how he and Audrey had met, married and began a handsome family of three great young sons. Baseball became just one of the numerous bonding times of a young father and his sons. On the special occasions that brought Erv’s family to our farm for a visit, I can still see baseball gloves “glued” to the hands of our cousins Scott, Steve and Joey as they climbed out of their family car.
Like any youngsters, my uncle’s boys and I had tons of fun climbing in and out of farm equipment and even played some baseball catch. One day, Uncle Erwin showed us all just how much power he still had in those paratrooper arms of his. He asked us to toss him one of the baseballs we had been playing with. With a spring-coiling windup of his body, Erwin let fly at least three baseballs that flew like bullets and shattered the wooden siding on our granary building. We kids just stood there with our jaws dropped open in amazement.
In his early years, after marrying Audrey, “Erv” helped her brother, for a while, hauling new cars. Then, Erwin decided he wanted to move into law enforcement and spent 10 years as a policeman in Detroit, Michigan. The young Noorluns wanted to be closer to family, so, with the rank of Sargent, Erwin picked up and moved to Golden, Colorado in 1963 – 64. He invested 20 more years with the police force there and retired in the early 1980’s as a Lieutenant.
Our handsome uncle is gone now. He left us in September of 2019. As I mused upon the overall scope of his life, was our uncle perfect? Not at all. He endured and weathered just as many human failings as any man. Heck, even our First President, George Washington, cut down the cherry tree, right? 😉 Yet, do I believe that Erwin had a “wonderful life”? That would come as a resounding YES from this Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!