Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..June 2nd


The workshop of Elliott’s father, Russell, sits next to their two row corn picker. Circa 1959.

A little boy’s jewels are his daddy’s tools!! 😉 So it was, at least, for this little farmer boy clad in my cherished bib overalls that were just like those my hero wore. That hero, of course, was my handsome farmer father, Russell Conrad Noorlun. If ever there was a testosterone-tested territory for a boy, it was our dad’s workshop there on our farm just three miles northwest of Kiester, Minnesota.

In the twilight of many an evening, I could see an amber glow emanating from the little windows on the north and south sides of Dad’s modest-sized, white wooden shop building. When our father’s repair projects were too large, on those evenings when God’s spotlight of sun had gone down, Dad relied on the tungsten lamp, within a white porcelain shroud that hung over the shop’s entry door.

I suppose, that if I had been raised by a fisherman, I’d be in love with fishhooks, tackleboxes and outboard motorboats. But, for this little boy of the fecund farmlands of southern Minnesota, I was raised on all things from fragrant black soils to fragrant lilacs and even fragrant cow-pies that had to be cleaned out of the barn and hauled out to the fields in our manure spreader towed by a Farmall. 😉 Therefore, it was other fragrances that easily caught my nostrils as I’d step inside Daddy’s “man-cave”. The aromas of wood shavings, used motor oil, grease for zerk fittings by the five gallon buckets full, arc welding equipment and so much more caught me up in their aura and transported me into the realm of Dad’s world as he’d “doctor” our broken machinery.

Elliott’s talented dad sits on one of his creations. Sister, Candice, and niece, Debbie, enjoy his finished “flat rack”, too! 😉

What intrigued me by far, though, were the myriad of tools that Dad possessed and guarded dearly within the male-motivated kingdom of his workshop. Claw hammers, sledge hammers, cold chisels and wood chisels, etc. hung in profuse abundance from either his wall pegboards or tucked into heavy-duty bench drawers. I was always in awe of the seemingly limitless array of wrenches, and sockets and ratcheting jimmeebeewhobbers that my farmer daddy used with the deftness of a surgeon in a hospital to make any machine with an “oweee” feel better and perform again like new.

Tiny tool terror, Elliott, at the time of ripping apart that small engine. Circa 1960.

Dad put his tools and talents to use on a regular basis in the barter & trade agrarian rural culture we lived in. Out of respect and caring for each other, every farmer was brother to another farmer and “if you scratch my back, I’ll be sure to scratch yours” was the unspoken motto of fellow farmers all around us!!! Our father often did welding repairs for our neighboring farmer, Charlie Heitzeg and his son, Louie. They, in turn, used the massive scoop bucket on their John Deere tractor and made sure to keep our yard clear of snow after we were hit with heavy blizzards in the winter months. I was always impressed with the win/win solutions and good-hearted way the entire community got along to each other’s benefits.

There came a day when I was enjoying a hunt and peck in Dad’s shop and saw an old lawnmower engine that seemed to be abandoned. Running down to the barn, I found Dad and asked permission if I could have the engine and take it apart. Our patriarch’s answer was, “Sure, Elliott, have fun”!!! AND I DID!!! NOW I had a real project to use for all those grand tools of my dad’s collection!! Out came screwdrivers, hammers, open end/box end wrenches, pry bars, socket sets, you name it, I used it. Only problem was, when my mechanical “autopsy” was completed, I had not the slightest idea how to put it all back together again!!! Ohhh wellll, but, it SURE was a LOT of fun for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!! 😉


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