July 8th………“WHAT WAS YOUR MAIN SOURCE OF HEAT FOR YOUR FARM HOME NEAR KIESTER, MINNESOTA”?
Wild, withering, winter winds did their best to keep Dick Samples from skillfully guiding his Conoco-brand furnace oil fuel truck into our farm’s north, U-shaped driveway. As if a knight in chain-link armor, Dick’s version of waging this “battle” were chain-linked tire chains that surrounded those heavy-duty dualie tires on the backend of his impressive “International” tanker truck. With the lumbering weight of all that oil in his holding tank, Dick won the white battle as those chained tires churned through snowbanks at the driveway’s entrance and he made his way to our family’s oil holding tank.
Old Man Winter was not about to dim the spirits of this well-loved man of our Kiester community when it came to seeing that our farm family home had its rightful delivery of furnace-grade fuel oil for our in-house heater.
Dick was a seasoned Minnesotan and wisely dressed for the white tempest that blew around him while he carried out his business duties. A maleficent blast of ill wind had little effect on our friendly fuel oil man as he gallantly pulled a length of fuel dispensing hose from his truck to our furnace oil holding tank and filled it to the brim. Mom then invited Dick into the warm repose of our family Kitchen for a hot cup of coffee and a handful of cookies before allowing this good friend back out into the cold weather and his drive back to Kiester.
Throughout the 1940’s, 50’s and into the early 1960’s our home’s main source of heating was a free-standing oil furnace that sat in our Living Room like a monument to the goal of keeping our farm family cozy and warm while Jack Frost, and his icy cohorts, raged in frigid frenzies just outside our frost-coated windows.
Big brother, Lowell, recalled many a frozen morning when he’d jump out from under his warm, cozy quilts and into the below freezing temperatures of his upstairs bedroom. If there were an Olympic Record for pulling on winter clothes over his winter longjohns, Lowell would’ve gotten the gold medal, for sure. After getting dressed, our big brother made a beeline for his sister Rosie’s bedroom, next door, because that’s where the vertical vent/stove pipe came through the upstairs floor (on its way out the roof) from the family furnace below in the Living Room. Both Lowell and Rosie would give happy hugs to the almost too hot stove pipe to get themselves warm before they heard Mom call……..“Time for Breakfast”!!! down in our Kitchen.
As in any farm family, Lowell & Rosie (along with myself and Candi later on) had daily chores to carry out that taught responsibility and actively playing your part in the weave of the family unit of life.
One of those chores had to do with keeping the Living Room furnace reservoir full of oil, so, bundled up against the whiteness of winter that surrounded our abode, Lowell grabbed up his furnace oil refilling can and held his breath against the howling blast of arctic attack air that awaited him outside. With a young boy’s determination, Lowell dove out into the maelstrom and, plodding through snowdrifts, made it to the outdoor furnace fuel tank and filled his oil can. Once back inside our home, it was then time for brother to use the can’s narrow spout to very carefully fill the furnace reservoir for that day’s heat needs.
Our village of Kiester was so blessed, back in those fine days of yesteryear. When it came to fuel, whether it was home heating needs or gasoline and even diesel fuel for tractors or trucks, our community was proud to have at least three dealerships to meet our needs. Ervin Trytten supplied the Standard Oil company products, while Manville Meyer’s business was associated with the Deep Rock Oil Company.
Our town’s glory days had to do with the pleasant harmony of win/win equations that existed between a plethora of nearby family farms that, in turn, needed supplies that then kept a multiplicity of businesses thriving to meet those needs. The more family farms there were, the better the health of the overall community and its commercial well-being. There were so many “quilt blocks” of businesses that kept everyone warm under the blanket of local fellowship of like minds who worked together to make the magic of what made small town America so grand for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!! 😉