Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..January 26th

January 26th…..“AFTER WORLD WAR II, DID YOUR UNCLE ERWIN MARRY AND HAVE A FAMILY? WHAT WERE SOME OF HIS VOCATIONS THROUGH THE YEARS?”

Erwin impressed his new girlfriend in another way. 😉

“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!”.

Elliott’s sister, Rosemary, was one of the flower girls at their Uncle Erwin’s wedding to his bride, Audrey, in December of 1950. Rosie is little cutie on the right and was only four years old at the time.

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.

Erwin’s feet.

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.

Edwin and Erwin hold Scott Noorlun, the first of his three sons.

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.

Elliott on left with cousins Scott and Steve.

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.

Elliott’s handsome Uncle Erwin Noorlun is the only police officer with sunglasses in this photo. Can you spot him? He’s standing third in from right.

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.

Elliott’s father, Russell (left), with his younger brother, Erwin, at the Noorlun farm near Kiester, Minnesota. Late 1940’s.

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!!

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..January 25th

January 25th….“TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR PATERNAL UNCLE ERWIN. DID HE SERVE IN WORLD WAR II?”

During World War II, Elliott’s grandmother stands next to their window banner with two service stars.

Not one lugubrious ligament languished lazily in Uncle Erwin’s lithe young body. That vibrant eighteen year old Norwegian frame, of our very handsome uncle, was resplendent with energy from head to toe and plenty of muscles in-between. Erwin was one of eight beautiful children that were brought to life, in the northern Minnesota farmlands, by our family patriarch and matriarch, namely Edwin A. and Marie L. Noorlun. Uncle Erwin was, like so many of his generation, toughened by growing up and enduring the hardships of country life as well as being partaker of those who survived the Great Depression in America that lasted between 1929 and 1939. Like so many who lived through those lean years, Erwin learned and lived by the sage saying that went……..”Used it up, Wear it out, Make it do, Or do without!”

The surprise Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7th, 1941, had thrust America into World War II. Erwin (and his brother, Doren) were among the 16 million young Americans incensed by that aggression, and, when their time came, they responded to Uncle Sam’s call to serve our great land in her time of need.

It was customary, during the War, for our government to honor families who had sons, or daughters, who served in the military. That honor was bestowed by sending each military family a window banner that had a blue star for every loved one who served their country during that tumultuous global conflict. A banner personally honoring the Noorlun boys was proudly hung in the window of the family home for all passersby to see and admire. If a son or daughter gave the ultimate sacrifice of their life in service during the War, then a “Gold Star” banner was sent to the family with condolences for the supreme sacrifice in the death of their son or daughter. We, as a family, would always thank the Lord that both Erwin and Doren came home safely from that fight for freedom.

Fort Benning, Georgia Jump School

“Meeep Meeep!!!” went the short report of a Jeep’s horn as it kicked up dust while driving past Erwin and his Army buddies during Paratrooper Jump School in Fort Benning, Georgia. It was now 1944 and our uncle had matured to the point of now qualifying to join the ranks of the 16 million warriors that served in the War. It was one thing to join the Army, but it was a noble aspiration to step up the echelons to be the best and serve with the best……..The Paratroopers. Yes, the $50.00 extra a month in bonus pay was a big incentive for many a hopeful paratrooper recruit, but there was also the badge of pride that every man would wear, deep inside his heart, if he could survive and thrive through some of the most grueling training that the Army could throw at you. To become one of the Army’s elite, you ran till your lungs felt like bursting, you climbed up and down every obstacle imaginable (with full pack and rifle), hand to hand combat was taught because you’d be dropping behind enemy lines, and, above all that, you had to be able to learn to jump and parachute out of an airplane (with full gear) five times, in order to get your jump wings. When Erwin accomplished all of those goals, he was then given the honored privilege to spit-shine his jump boots, blouse his trousers over those boots and proudly wear the parachute patch on his garrison cap with accompanying Parachute Jump Wings on his uniform coat. He was now a full-fledged paratrooper and member of the United States Army 17th Airborne Division.

Elliott’s Uncle Erwin Noorlun was aboard the USS J.W. McAndrew when his troop ship was struck by a French aircraft carrier.

In early 1945, the war in Europe was now in the Allies favor and victory seemed imminent, so the Army “big brass” (leadership) began planning for the proposed invasion of the main islands of Japan. In the meantime, on March 13th, 1945, while on the Atlantic Ocean bound for Europe, Erwin was one of hundreds of paratroopers onboard the USS J.W. McAndrew troop ship. That night, under the cloak of darkness, and thrown about by heavy seas, the French aircraft carrier, Bearn, collided with Erwin’s troop transport killing up to 130 men who were sleeping peacefully down inside the McAndrew’s hold. Our uncle’s life was thankfully spared, but he was forever impacted by the tragic loss of so many young men that would never see marriage, family and other enjoyments of life, having died so young.

Elliott’s Uncle Erwin was among these Paratroopers celebrating the end of World War II and going home!! 😉

In early August of 1945, Erwin was again onboard a troopship that had come through the Panama Canal, in Central America, and was on it’s way towards Japan. Operation Downfall was to be the actual invasion of the Japanese home islands and Erwin’s paratroopers were to make air jumps onto military targets. One day, joyous pandemonium broke out among the men onboard ship when the Captain of the troop transport got on the overhead speakers and relayed wonderful news. Due to the two atomic bombs having been dropped, Japan had finally surrendered. The War was over!!! The ship’s new course setting? Home to the good old USA and the port of Newport News, Virginia.

Erwin in post-war service.

With peace restored to the world, Erwin came home to Minnesota for a well-deserved family celebration and a ninety day leave for rest and recuperation. In welcoming Erwin (and brother Doren) home from the War, there were lots of family hugs n kisses….well, at least from his three sisters ;-). We even have a photo of Erwin’s siblings giggling with laughter. They had indulged in some “well-lubricated” and inebriated silliness while they partied with their soldier brother.

The silly celebrations of Russ (center) and Doris (right) when their brothers came home.

Then, on January 1st of 1946, our uncle then decided to re-enlist with the Army, at Minnesota’s Fort Snelling where he received initial training in various forms of telephone communications. The Army then sent Erwin to Salt Lake City, Utah for more communications training. He was finally sent to San Francisco, California to climb aboard a ship heading for the post-war Japanese Prefecture of Okinawa. For the next 30 months, Staff Sargent Erwin Maurice Noorlun faithfully helped to rebuild everything that was needed to repair telephone and telegraph systems that had been destroyed during the World War II battles that consumed that island between the Japanese and Americans. When Erwin successfully completed that tour of duty in Okinawa, he received his honorable discharge from the Army on September 29th, 1948 at the rank of Staff Sargent.

Staff Sargent Erwin Maurice Noorlun. 1945.

We were all so proud of our patriotic and talented Norwegian former farm boy who could “do it all”……..be it jumping from airplanes, to climbing telephone poles for Uncle Sam.

Thank you, Lord, for the uncle of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..January 24th

January 24th….”PLEASE TELL US ABOUT ONE OF YOUR PATERNAL UNCLES. WAS HE HANDSOME? WHAT WAS HIS EARLY LIFE LIKE IN NORTHERN MINNESOTA?”

Uncle Erwin is to the far right and in front of his mother, Marie. Photo is circa early to mid 1930’s. Elliott’s father, Russ, is center in white shirt.

A midwife, bundled against the frigid, northern Minnesota winds rushed into the farm’s warm kitchen. She arrived that night as an angel of mercy and help to the rural farm home of Edwin A. and Marie Louise Noorlun. That farm lay near the town of Mahnomen, Minnesota which resides within the White Earth Chippewa Indian Reservation. For that time in history, the town sported a healthy population of 989 stalwart souls who clung to the wildness of that wooded land.

The snowy chill and whiteness of that day on December 10th, 1925 was not about to hold back the drama and warmth of a tiny, new life that was about to be brought into the world. That new life, complete with a set of loud lungs, was my paternal Uncle Erwin Maurice Noorlun. Being born the sixth, out of eight children, this handsome little boy child was about to begin a very remarkable life. In a smiling, poetical sense……..Erwin was destined to find that he would mimic the definition of his hometown’s name; for you see, Mahnomen, in the Chippewa tongue, means “wild rice”; and Erwin was going to have some fun in life sewing his own……”wild rice” 😉

Two church equals too much! Erwin is on the far right with his brothers.

Not only was my Uncle Erwin a very handsome Norwegian boy, but he was as sharp as the proverbial tack, too. School came easy for our uncle who often excelled in his studies to the point of garnering championships in the local school’s Spelling Bee competitions. Erwin was also faithful in lending his youthful, muscular prowess in helping with the family chores there on their farm in the big woods of northern Minnesota.

The Noorlun family had been raised in the Norwegian Lutheran Church. It appears to make logical sense (at the time) that the church elders desired to preserve the cultural heritage of Norway. So, to provide for the senior saints in their midst, who still spoke mostly Norwegian, there would be one worship in English and one in Norwegian. Grandpa Ed and Marie concurred with that edict, so Erwin and his siblings were required to attend not just one, but TWO worship experiences every Sunday. One worship time was in the English language (for the younger crowd, perhaps) but then, Erwin and his antsy siblings had to stay seated in those long, hard pews for a repeat worship, only this second time around, the experience was all in Norwegian. Therefore, when the occasion arose for four of the Noorlun brothers to have their photograph taken one Sunday, before leaving for the double morning worship time, it’s no wonder that they all showed themselves sour-faced about what they were about to endure that morning at church! 😉

Erwin’s father, Edwin (on load of hay in 1948) knew how to drive a team of horses. He soon found, though, that cars were a different beast! Elliott’s Uncle Erwin is shirtless at center and Uncle Doren Noorlun, is to right.

Horses played a prominent role in the farm life of the Noorlun family. All of those good looking Norwegian siblings were adept at riding a horse. My father, Russell, even spoke of being so comfortable with the giant draft horses, that he’d climb aboard their broad backs and fall asleep on lazy summer days while those equine leviathans gently foraged in their pasture land.

In kin with his brother Russ, one of Uncle Erwin’s early employments was to deliver mail to many Mahnomen area farmers. Like a repeat of the storied “Pony Express” riders of western legend, Erwin carried out this task on horseback in that same proud tradition of faithfully getting the mail delivered.

In 1935, when Erwin was a mere 10 years old, his quiet-mannered father bartered a deal to trade away one of their handsome teams of horses in exchange for procuring the Noorlun family’s very first car. That 1928 Model A Ford sure didn’t whinny like a horse, but there were plenty of “horses” under that hood. Now, true to fact, our Grandfather Edwin had never driven a car before. From his birth in 1888, to that day in 1935, Edwin’s life was spent with horses; either riding on top of them or driving a team from behind them. Was he gonna “bronco break” this metal hombre, or would the metal hombre “break” HIM? Edwin Noorlun was a horseman through and through. Yet here he was, now the master of a metallic, mechanized marvel that happened to be pointing towards their shed that day. Erwin’s dear daddy crawled inside this new-fangled “animal”. Edwin managed to bring the beast’s engine to a coughing, sputtering life and somehow even popped it into gear. Only problem was, there were no leather reins to pull to control the “horses under the hood”. The Model A was on a roll, picking up speed and heading right for the shed. Grandpa Edwin started yelling, “WHOA!! WHOA!!!”, as if he was still talking to his team of horses. Thankfully, and in the nick of time, Ed found the brake pedal on the floor and stopped the Ford just before he crashed into that wooden structure. Erwin’s mother, Marie, began a hearty laugh at her horse-farmer husband who kept yelling, “WHOA!!” at the car!!! By this time, the whole family joined in hysterical laughter at the happy ending of what could have been a crashing experience.

The Noorlun’s new barn in process of construction.

As if right out of the pages of “Little House On The Prairie”, a few more years down the road of life passed by when our Uncle Erwin (along with his family) saw a prairie fire erupt and consume their family’s barn in horrific flames. For a farming family that relied on horses to help them till the land of their farm, thirteen-year-old Erwin could only stand by and suffer the trauma of seeing several of their precious horses burned to death in that fire. His father, Edwin, had valiantly tried to coach the animals out of the burning barn, but the confusion of the smoke and mayhem around those fine horses was too much for them to bear and they could not be led to safety. This left Edwin no choice but to save himself and get out of that conflagration before he, too, would be killed. Yet, even in such sadness, every cloud has a silver lining, and thankfully, as was the noble norm for those times, many friends, family and neighbors came together to re-build the Noorlun family a brand new barn to house their remaining livestock.

Elliott’s Uncle Erwin(left), along with a man named John Kinney, hold and comfort some survivors of the disastrous barn fire on their farm.

An old saying goes like this: “The only thing consistent in life is change” Even though the death of those fine horses touched Erwin deeply, it was time to celebrate those that survived and prepare for the inevitable change that comes with a new chapter of life. To capture that thankful moment, Erwin led out one of the survivor horses, while Mr. John Kinney carefully coached the mare’s little colt alongside. A photograph was snapped and a new beginning commenced.

Thank you, Lord, for the fine life lived by the uncle of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son………(to be continued) 😉

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..January 23rd

January 23rd….“WHAT WERE SOME SIMPLE, YET WONDERFUL PLAYTIME EXPERIENCES ON YOUR FARM NEAR KIESTER, MINNESOTA?

Homemade joy for this boy!! Yum! Yum!

As this panivorous, pug-nosed purveyor of playtime plowed through the back-porch screen door, I hollered to our mother, Clarice, “MANGE TAKK!!!” Being that both sides of our family were full-blooded Norwegians, we children had learned that in order to say “Many Thanks!”, in our ancestral language, you’d say two words that sounded like mahn‘-geh talk”. My little farmer boy’s euphoric effusing came from the happy fact that our loving mother had just finished baking another batch of heavenly-tasting homemade bread!!! I now possessed, in my hands, a thick slice of that delicious delight with an aroma that is hard to describe to the bland lifestyle of today’s children. Still warm in my hands, I grabbed a butter knife and smothered that slice of bread with some honest to goodness, sweet-cream butter that our Kiester Co-op Creamery had made for us.

Elliott and little sister, Candice, at the back-porch door of their farm in the Summer of 1959. Five years old and ready for fun!

The happy slap of the wooden screen-door behind me was my cue to now devour this golden piece of “fuel for my furnace”. After licking my fingers clean, now it was: “look out world, here comes the five year old FLASH!!” 😉 Even though I was only “knee high to a grasshopper”, my energy level was immeasurable. I loved to run, just for the joy of looking down and watching my well-worn farm shoes in a blur beneath me while I flew back and forth across our graveled farm yard. As I’d round the corner of the giant Elm trees, that held our tire swing, I’d race up our large front lawn and eventually crash in a heap of smiles on the embankment that sloped towards the gravel road that ran past our wonderful farm.

Elliott’s dreams and imagination flowed easily under those sapphire Minnesota skies

As my little Norwegian “engine” purred under the “hood” of my heaving chest, I lay in the repose of that sloping lay of our lawn and became lost in the grandiose beauty of the giant, cumulus “castle” clouds that towered over me in that richly blue Minnesota sky. Even The Bible speaks of clouds in the Old Testament Book of Job, Chapter 35 and Verse 5: “Look at the heavens and see, And behold the clouds —-they are higher than you”. Captured in the awe of it all, it seemed like hours passed by, as I’d lay there on my back, in the cool, refreshing grass, and observed those “mountains in the sky” merge and create for me so many white creatures of joy for my imagination. Elephants lumbered by, followed by horses prancing and even giant baby booties would form and then disappear as the prevailing winds gently moved these “sheep of heaven” as they’d give me pleasure from their blue “pasture” above me. Conjuring myself to being a bird, or a powerful airplane, I’d then vicariously fly up there and dive in and out of those white mountains; even having a seat upon the ledge of a cloud that I was sure could hold a five year old like me. Now rested and ready for more fun, I’d see my little sister, Candi, coming towards me from the house. She would gladly join me as we’d enter another playtime of simply rolling down that soft lawn incline towards the gravel road. Sometimes, we were a tire and would roll head over heels. Other play ideas were to lay down and bring in our arms along our sides. We resembled human hot-dogs as we rolled side over side over side down that slope and up the next steeper slope to the roadway. We’d roll and giggle till our little bodies lost all equilibrium and our tummies were about to become the “Duke of Puke”……..but still, it sure was a rich and simple joy that didn’t require batteries or a “smart phone”. 😉

“Super Elliott”…faster than a speeding hiccup!

On other playtime occasions, having just completed watching the latest black and white episode of “Superman!” on our old television set, I’d ask our mother to help me find a “cape” of some sort so I could play like my hero from the planet “Krypton”. Her large white bed sheets would’ve been my preferred flying apparatus, but I’d settle for one of her biggest bath towels. Then it was outside I’d “fly” to begin jumping off tractors or tall stacks of hay-bales in my “flight” and then to run as fast as my legs could carry me, all the while looking behind me to see my “cape” flying in the wind just like “Superman’s” did. My imagination station, located between my ears, seemed to always have more adventures just waiting for me to “save the day” and be a hero to all. 😉

Elliott’s most magical playtime literally “lit up” the night around him.

Being the minuscule midget of merriment, I found that the most magical time of creating fun was when I could disappear in the vast, wide ditches of tall grass that ran parallel to the gravel road that bordered our farm on the east. Being the pint-sized, bantam boy that I was, it was an easy crawl on my tummy and I soon became one, at ground level, with the little beings that lived in those tall grasses. As daytime morphed into placid evening shadows, those grasses came “alive” with tiny flashing lights. It was as if pixies had landed amongst us from Peter Pan’s Never-Land. In that paradisaical moment, I was now giddily surrounded by the illuminated world of Fireflies (some folks call them Lightning Bugs). Thousands of them “winked” at me, with puff lights on my face, in colors of red, yellow, green and an occasional blue. The tall grasses that surrounded me on those nights were pulsating points of little boy bliss as my luminary “lamps” lit the organic world around me that whispered a boy’s joy thanks to the nocturnal breezes that glanced off the bowing tips of tall grasses. It was truly a magical time for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

When Elliott saw an elephant fly!! 😉

Vol.2…Norwegian Farmer’s Son…January 22nd.

January 22nd…..”WHAT KIND OF TELEPHONE DID YOUR PARENTS USE IN THEIR EARLY YEARS ON THE FARM NEAR KIESTER, MINNESOTA?”

Elliott’s dad got “cranked”!

The metallic “click” of Dad’s buckle loop could be heard in their bedroom as he swung his last shoulder strap over and fastened his farmer’s “suit of armor”(also known as coveralls) for another day of life and work on the family farm northwest of Kiester, Minnesota. Both our father and mother (Russell and Clarice) adhered to the sage advice of one of America’s Founding Fathers (Benjamin Franklin) who said, “Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. I’m also of a mind to surmise that our “Planting Prince” would’ve also agreed with another of Benjamin Franklin’s sayings that went, “The early morning has gold in its mouth!”

Russ & Clarice Noorlun

In that summertime 4:30am darkness, the pleasant, invisible breezes coursing through our parent’s bedroom windows animated the curtains as they billowed and waved to our parents; it was as if that light-weight fabric was beckoning them to start in and relish this new day of life God had given us. Our humble country kitchen was just a mere hinge-swing away from our parent’s bedroom as they stepped from their slumbering abode and snapped on the kitchen’s light-switch. As automatic as waking up, the next thing our folks did was to bring out the “Drip-o-lator” drip pot to make some coffee to get their Norwegian “engines” running for another day of farm life. With a slurp or two of Mom’s hot coffee (and a cookie to tide him till breakfast), Dad gave his bride a peck of a kiss and strode out through our back pantry screen door. In the predawn shadows of the farm’s single yard light, Dad’s striped overalls were silhouetted as he crossed our graveled yard. His short commute complete, Russ disappeared through the dutch doors of our classic red barn to begin the morning milking of our fine herd of Holstein dairy cows.

Breakfast was Russell’s biggest meal of the day!

As co-regents of their agrarian world, Dad was “King Of The Cows”, but when it came to our mother, Clarice, she was the unequivocal “Queen Of The Kitchen”. After seeing that her own morning chores were completed (such as feeding chickens, gathering eggs, etc.) she began what could almost be termed as her “symphony” of breakfast for Dad and her family. Breakfast was our father’s favorite meal of the day, so Mom always sought to meet the needs of her man. Dad could “polish away” three or four sunny-side-up eggs, lots of bacon, a bowl of cereal, orange juice, a half grapefruit and still had room left to wash all that down with Mom’s delicious hot coffee. So, to satiate that hefty appetite……….and with Mom’s deftness of wrist, those fresh eggs from the Chicken House were perfectly cracked on the edge of the skillet to allow those liquid gold contents to spill onto the the hot griddle. While they began to pop n sizzle, “soldier rows” of bacon “came to life” in another pan as they began a porcine prancing caused by the heat beneath them. Those fragrant food aromas, with a heady morning wonderment, filled the kitchen. Mom’s homemade bread popped out of the toaster; black, just like our daddy enjoyed it while he slathered its hot surface with sweet creamery butter. When Dad came into the house, after milking, to wash up, the ambrosia of that atmosphere was evident upon his smiling face.

The Noorlun’s crank telephone.

That morning, while our father was savoring mother’s excellent breakfast, a ringing sound came from our family Living Room. On the east wall, above Russell’s farm business desk, hung a wooden, rectangular “coffin” crank phone (likely a Stromberg-Carlson model). The early wooden phones of that day had been dubbed with the title “coffin” phones because of the similar resemblance of the long wooden boxes that were used to bury the dead. Most of these early telephones consisted of two bells, at the top, to announce, in audio fashion, that someone was trying to reach you. There was also a hand-held ear receiver that hung to the side of the wooden phone on a hook switch. After picking up the ear receiver, you would place that device to your own ear to hear someone speaking to you. A transmitter arm, with voice cup, stuck out from the front of the telephone. A person leaned into this device and talked. Your voice was then sent by wires to the local or distant location of the person you wanted to talk to. Finally, there was a crank on the right side of the telephone’s wooden cabinet. Usually, to make a call, you’d give the crank a series of turns. That cranking action generated an electrical charge that caused bells to ring at the Telephone Operator’s office in our hometown of Kiester. Then, the Operator helped connect you with whoever you wished to speak with.

“Your number, please?” , was what an Operator would ask when you made a phone call. Tina Holstad (standing at center) was also the wife of the Noorlun’s landlord, Morten Holstad.
Lightning fried a wire in the phone.

Unlike today’s cell phones, that are basically a hand-held computer, in those early farming days, families were thrilled just to be able to simply TALK to a neighbor or family member over the phone. These were the days long before “private lines” for phone service. Everyone was on a “party line” and when you picked up the phone receiver, you’d likely hear conversations, in the hand-held receiver, going on already. You’d have to be patient for folks to finish chatting and try again later with your call. Another facet of phone life was the way a call came to our farm. For our farm family, if we heard two long bells and one short bell, from the telephone, that was our signal to pick up the receiver and talk to someone. Another farm down the road would have a different patterned ring signal. If we Noorluns heard any other ring signal, other than our own, from the phone, we ignored it.

Russell took a jolt for helping out!

Weather across those Minnesota farmlands can change in a matter of a very short period of time. What began as a docile Summer morning, evolved into a broiling thunderstorm by late afternoon. An intense lightning strike near us had sent an electrical flash charge into our wooden wall phone that fried one of the wires inside the phone cabinet. Dad, our “King of Cows”, was also the “Sultan of Shock” when it came to being able to withstand electrical shocks to his body. Our folks needed to contact the Operator in Kiester to have our phone repaired, so here’s what they did. Russ found a piece of wire similar to what had been damaged by the lightning. Opening the hinged door of the wooden telephone cabinet, he placed one end of the wire on the magneto charging unit (that made the Operator’s bells ring in Kiester) and the other end of the wire to the proper place of the wire chassis. As he physically held the wire in place, Mom was then able to crank the phone (as the electrical shock went right through Dad) and got a hold of the Operator to report the problem. I’ll bet our daddy’s eyes even “lit up” when Mom spun that crank phone handle!!! 😉 The Operator was a bit aghast as to how our mother could call her if our phone was broke down. Clarice shared how her husband had been the “live wire” who had made things happen. Such were the “shocking” attributes of the farmer father of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son. 😉

This big magneto (inside the wooden telephone cabinet), when cranked, sent a charge through a wire held by Elliott’s amazing father, Russell.

Farewell and Goodbye

This will be my last posting for my blog supported by WordPress.com. Their new updated format of creating is just too fancy and complicated for this old dog to learn new tricks. For those few of you who have visited my Norwegian Farmer’s Son stories, I thank you so much for coming by and hope you enjoyed my “gentle adventures”.

May you all have a wunnerful day and thanks again for reading the jottings of this wannabe writer. Like Porky Pig used to say, “That’s all folks!”

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..January 21st

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.”

 

2NFS 1.21b

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. 

#21.2 Russell & Clarice Noorlun Wedding Day 6.21.41
Elliott’s newlywed parents.

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.

2NFS 1.21r
An Atwater Kent radio.

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.  

2NFS 1.21n
Russell and Clarice’s “furniture”

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.

2NFS 1.21u
Tiny, the Noorlun’s stove for heat.

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.

#343=Clarice N. holding Lorraine N.; November 1942
Baby Lorraine with pregnant Clarice.  November of 1942.

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.

2NFS 1.21p
Baby Lorraine’s “crib”.

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!!!

#966 Genevieve and Wally Mutschler..our 3rd grandparents
The loving and generous owners of Green Gables Farm.  Thank you, Lord Jesus, for sending these sweet people to bless our farming family over the many years we knew them!!! ><>  😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..January 20th

January 20th…“WHAT SILLY SAYING DID YOUR FATHER CONTRIBUTE TO A CONVERSATION THAT MADE EVERYBODY LAUGH?”

POEM – “Mr. Toot To Boot”   by N. Elliott Noorlun

2NFS 1.20d
Do NOT light a match!! 😉

Some folks are tutors, Who live to teach,

Yet, I know a tooter, Who’d steal all speech.

#407.a=Russ N. at Del's home in Albert Lea, MN; Circa Dec. 1956
Elliott’s teasing daddy, Russell.

That guy was my dad, Who loved a good joke,

Be it lads or lasses, He’d gladly poke,

At traditions that called, For style and class,

Except when our Pa, Just had to pass gas!

2NFS 1.20b
One never knew when the fun began

There at supper table, With friends all around,

A “BRAPPP” of a noise, A most flappery sound!

Mom would then chastise, But Dad would just smile,

And then Dad’d say, In jokester style,

2NFS 1.18h

He’d spin in his chair, With accusing sneer,

And say, “Who let those darn dogs in here!!!”

 

We’d all bust out laughing, He knew of his guilt,

And yet we were grateful, For the joy he “spilt”!!! 😉

2NFS 1.20a

 

 

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..January 19th

January 19th…“DID YOUR FARMER FATHER EVER DO SOMETHING YOU THOUGHT WAS SCARY?”

#76=Kiester farm, looking NE from field
Elliott’s childhood farm in south central Minnesota, northwest of the village of Kiester.  The Hog House (on right) held the pulsating charger for the electric fence lines.

Glistening in the morning sunrise, like diamonds in a row, were the crystal dew drops that hung from the taut wires of our farm’s electric fence-line.  Having been invented long ago and modified for farm use in the mid 1930’s, electrically-charged fence-lines were and are ubiquitous to farmers almost world wide.  When dealing with the control of Holstein cows weighing an average of 1,300 pounds each, an electric fence is an effective means to JOLT them back into a cow lane or pasture area.  After having their nose, or rump, zapped a few times, that little skinny piece of wire has the animal trained to avoid any future experiences, at all costs, and stay within their pasture or cow lane.

#250=Noorlun kids; December 1960
Elliott n Candi

For those unaware of farming ways, you can be assured that safety factors were weighed when developing this modern electric marvel.  Any good farmer loves his animals and would never want to see them actually injured.  Not only does he care about them from a kind and godly heart, but he also knows of the investment each animal was, at the time of purchase, and can be when it comes time for marketing.  True, it is an electric shock that is administered to the bovine (or any living thing, for that matter) that touches the wire intentionally or by accident.  The magic of this safety feature is that the shock lasts for only a second or two, and then, the fence line goes dead for a second or two.  I had found this fact out personally when I was about 3 or 4 years old and my father, Russell, told me to “test” an electric fence with a blade of wet grass………….BUZZZZTTT!!!!, went the electrical shock up my little farmer boy’s arm and locked it tight for a second or two.  Daddy laughed.  I cried my eyes out!  That old stinker teaser!!!  🙂  From that intended  learning moment, on Dad’s part, I forever have had an intense respect for the power of electricity!!

2NFS 1.19c
Elliott’s farmer father grabbed that fence-line and held on!!  :oO

Factors in farm life involve the passage of time, grass growth that touches the fence-line (causing it to “ground out”), livestock movements, etc..  Those components combined, necessitate that a farmer needs to walk his fence-lines, from time to time, to check for damage and make repairs.  It was on one of those beautiful Minnesota summer days that Dad invited my little sister, Candi, and myself to accompany him on one of those check and repair journeys around our farm property.  Meadowlarks and Red-Winged Blackbirds sang a chorus to us as the three of us walked along our cow-lane while Dad inspected fence and/or made repairs as we sauntered along.

"It's hard to explain but I just feel that there's an electricity between us."
“It’s hard to explain but I just feel that there’s an electricity between us.”

Eventually, we ambled down to the large pasture land that bordered our southern farm property line.  Brush Creek was the flowing body of water that actually marked most of our property, but there was a spot or two where our farmland also existed on the other side of the creek.  In order to keep our cows in where they belonged, a series of electrical fence wires had to cross that liquid line of demarcation.

2NFS 1.19b
Elliott’s dad could take electrical shock.

Now our tough n wiry Norwegian farmer father was one of those hardy souls who could easily take the “hit” of an electric shock and keep on keeping on.  Oh sure, Dad would sometimes blurt out some colorful language when he’d get zapped, but he’d just buckle down his efforts and get the job done of repairs to a light switch, wall receptacle, or in this case, our farm’s electric fence-line.  On this particular day, though, our daddy had some fun in mind.  Wading into the middle of Brush Creek, Dad intentionally grabbed onto the “hot” electric fence wire that went across the creek to keep the cows on our side of the property.  As mentioned earlier, with each pulse of electrical charge that zapped through the fence-line, Dad’s entire body would jerk in massive contractions.  Candi and I were held in awe as we saw Dad giggle and try to talk to us through each shock wave that hit his body that was now even more grounded, than usual, by him standing in the water up to his thighs.

#38.1=Dad n Mom picnic (1948)

 

He’aayyy, kids!!! Wha’eye don’t you co’me down here and ho’ld my hand??!!!”  Little sister and I looked at each other in amazement, as we stood safely on the shore of the creek and called back, “No WAYYY, Dad, we wouldn’t touch you with a ten foot pole!!!”  Even Dad’s responsive laughter was “cut in two” by the next shock wave that pulsed through his body.   Having had his jovial time with us, our daddy simply let go of the electric fence-line during one of the system’s off moments and came walking out of the creek bed laughing a good belly laugh at the whole funny, yet scary incident.  That was one “highly charged” incident to witness for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.  😉

2NFS 1.19f

 

 

 

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..January 18th

January 18th…“DID YOU EVER RECEIVE ADVICE FROM FAMILY AND FRIENDS OVER THE YEARS?

POEM – “Sages n Seers”   by N. Elliott Noorlun

2NFS 1.18b

 

Sages n seers, Throughout my years,

Would share wisdom, Both sober n silly,

And as they portrayed it, As some even sprayed it,

It stuck with each Sally n Billy.

2NFS 1.18d

Like teacher we knew, Who was a true blue,

While we, as his students, All grinned,

“On a strong, blustery day, What’er you may play”,

“You should never spit into the wind!”.

2NFS 1.18f

Then once, at a function, This kid had the unction,

To a waitress, A tip he did show,

It sure wasn’t money, He offered the honey,

But said, “Never eat yellow snow!”

2NFS 1.18g

There’s the cutest guffaw, That I ever saw,

That was posted by some little tart.

“Whatever you do, Even if you turn blue,”

“When you’re old never trust your own fart!”

2NFS 1.18h