Norwegian Farmer’s Son…April 25th

April 25th...”TELL ABOUT THE FIRST TIME YOU WERE EVER ALLOWED TO “DRIVE” A CAR.”

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Elliott’s daddy could make that Chevy “fly”!!!!

There she sat…….in all her 3,500 pounds of red n white metal glory!!!  Yet, at the drop of his foot, Dad could make that 225 cubic inch engine make this glorious monster “fly”.  And, if he hit the berm of the railroad tracks south of our farm, at just the right speed, that old 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air DID fly as it cleared gravel and came back to earth with a roar of raw V8 power.

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For almost every year, cars of Elliott’s young days, had a classic design change to enjoy!

Cars, in my growing up years of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, were wonderfully designed and each had their own distinct automotive fashion “signature”.  Some, reflecting the modern jet age, sported “wings” along the back edges to imply swiftness of flowing movement; much like an aircraft or a rocket flying through space.

#79.1=Elliott & Rosemary on bike near blue '49 Ford
Tiny Me.

Being Lilliputian in size, I somehow managed to reach up and open that massive passenger door and crawl inside our red n white “chariot” of transportation.  I was struck by the vastness of our wonderful car’s bench seat and interior.  In my smallness, I could barely manage to look over the dashboard and across the monstrously large hood that covered that powerful Chevrolet 235 “Blue Flame” V8 engine.  When the rest of the family joined me in the car, I was fascinated as I’d watch our big, strong father make this metal beast obey his bidding by pressing his foot on pedals, pulling/pushing buttons and turning that glistening red steering wheel that appeared as big as a hulahoop!

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Elliott couldn’t wait to touch that massive steering wheel with his own two hands.

Our father held mastery of that humongous steering wheel as he’d spin it and we all could feel the car’s obedient response as we’d gently “sink” and tilt into the sunken corner of our driveway as we’d climb up and onto the gravel road that ran by our farm.  While out for a drive, it was a fun sensation as we’d also “bank” around graded curves in the road while we were traveling.  It was as if our car was a fighter plane and we were “banking” into a cloud in the sky while we rolled along.

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Elliott loved the “airplane” hood ornament and turn signal “jets”.

I wonder if Dad could sense my yearnings to drive his “dreamboat”?  One day, I gathered the courage to ask Dad if I could try driving?  At first, he was skeptical of his tiny son, but soon softened and said, “Sure, climb on my lap!”  We were just a mile or so from home, and on a straight section of empty gravel road, at that, so I’m sure he figured this bit of fun would be o.k. to enjoy.  Once snuggled against Dad’s chest, that steering wheel of our Chevy felt as wide as a football field to my little arms as I tried to reach from one side of it to the other.  But, I doood it!!!  I was “the boss” now, and actually in charge of this monstrous mechanical metal marvel………well, in charge of the steering wheel, at least!  In the background, Dad had firm control over ever other aspect of the vehicle’s speed and motion.  His foot was “covering” the brake pedal and gently accelerating as he saw fit.  This was just in case I got wacko and tried to whip that Chev into the wide ditch next to us.  But, overall, I was a good little man who was thoroughly THRILLED to be sitting in our father’s lap and feeling all “grown up” at that moment as I guided the red n white dream machine down the gravel road that approached our farm driveway.   Dad even allowed me the honor of turning and “banking” down into our U-shaped driveway as we rolled up the little rise and he brought the car to a safe halting at our farm house door.  That experience was truly a “Kodak Moment” of joy for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son!! 😉

#18=Elliott(with Dad, June '56)
Elliott was just a little older than this shot when he was allowed to “drive” the family car.

 

 

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…April 24th

April 24th…“BACK IN YOUR FARM DAYS AS A YOUNG BOY, WHERE WERE YOUR BEST PLACES TO HIDE, JUST FOR THE FUN OF BEING SNEAKY?

#668.2 Aerial of Kiester farm 001
The roof of the green chicken house, at the top of this photo, was one of Elliott’s favorite places to hide when he felt like being a secret agent man. 😉  At the bottom, you can see our mother at the doorway of our home.

Anyplace on our farm where a skinny body with a fat imagination could dream up, well, that’s where I’d hide.  Depending on the occasion, I sure had fun playing Side n Heek…..errr, umm … make that, Hide n Seek! 😉

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Peekaboo on you!

One of my favorite places of secrecy was shinnying up the roof of our green chicken coop there on our farm back in my young Minnesota days.  Once I had achieved the initial climb to the lower roof,  I’d belly crawl to the ridge and peer over the precipice and down upon any unsuspecting family or visitors below.  Oblivious to being spied upon, the folk below me would be carrying on conversations within my gaze without the knowledge that they were under the scrutiny of my “secret agent” surveillance.

Outhouse
When “nature called”, this was another place for Elliott to “hide”.

If the “call of nature” started pressing upon my kidneys (or more), my aerie of secrecy was handily located nearby to our farm’s outhouse.  All I need do, was to slither my stealthful self off of the roof, go and “doo my duty” and then slither back up high to my boyhood version of a mountain lair of being a little recluse once again.

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Elliott “melted” into the cornfield.

The mid-Summer cornfields on our farm brought more ideas for hiding.  If I could find a green shirt in my closet, then I became nearly invisible while slunking around in our cornfields.  Peering out to the world around me was so fun while sneaky me was hidden in complete seclusion among the innumerable rows of those green giants of cornstalks that seemed to go forever into the distance around me.  So many places held fun for me to make believe and inspired me for exploring the stations of imaginations of this little Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Elliott’s farm was a peekaboo “heaven”! 😉

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…December 17th

December 17th…“WHAT CHRISTMAS EVENT IN YOUR MINNESOTA HOMETOWN STOOD OUT TO YOU IN YOUR CHILDHOOD?”

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A hot movie during a cold Winter….for FREE!

“Tarzan”, icicles and John Deere tractors seem to be an incongruous teaming that brings Christmas memories, and yet to me, they go hand in glove to induce me to smiles and travels back into the sweetness of childhood.

In my boyhood days on our farm, my weekly bank account (alias spending allowance) grew by a mere 25 cents.  One quarter of a dollar, and that rotund (speaking “tongue in cheek”) sum was usually expended each and every Saturday evening when our family drove into Kiester for the Lucky Bucks Drawing and general family shopping.  Needless to say, I was NOT in possession of monetary means to be able to afford to see a movie on my limited income of just 25 pennies lined up in a row.

#977 Arnold Baumann
Our much loved “KEE Theater” owner, Mr. Arnold Bauman

To my Christmas financial rescue, and that of hundreds of other children in our village, came a very well-liked man, by the name of Mr. Arnold Bauman, who owned and operated the movie theater in our sweet hamlet.  Arnold teamed up with the Sime family, who ran the local John Deere tractor dealership, to bring a FREE Christmas movie and treats to local children every year in our fine rural community.

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Children line up for the FREE Christmas movie in days before Elliott enjoyed them.

The venue for this wondrous event was the one and only KEE Movie Theater located at the north end of our small town’s Main Street.  Opening in 1940, this magic arena for imagination and entertainment brought countless thousands the opportunity to step into its elegant chambers and be transported to whatever world of adventure one chose to enjoy.

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Tickets were FREE that day!

From the second you stepped into the lobby, you were greeted with the heady fragrance of scrumptious popcorn being brought to perfection as it called to your senses. Your happy eyes saw each kernel jumping for joy at your presence as it ricocheted from popper to glass wall and back into the golden-lamped bin awaiting the scoop to fill your bag.

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Elliott felt like a king with his FREE movie and a bag of popcorn.  Bring on the Christmas FUN!

Thanks to Mr. Bauman and the Sime family, this dollar-challenged farm boy is now perusing the aisles, in my “kalumping” Winter boots, as I sought the best seat to settle in to and prepare for our kids Christmas movie (with cartoons, too) to begin.  As was the norm, for Minnesota Christmas times, there was usually a snowstorm blowing outside of these cozy walls with frigid temperatures down in the 20’s or colder.

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Projectors ready to roll film.

The lights of the auditorium gently begin to fade as we kids notice the tall, elegant red velvet curtains make their swishing sound as they pleat themselves into the fully open position.  Above our heads, Mr. Bauman’s giant film projectors fire up to life and flickering images become clear on the massive movie screen as John Deere tractor commercials begin to parlay the advantages of owning this fine farming implement for your very own.

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Even though the Noorluns used Farmall tractors on their farm, Elliott LOVED the putt, putt sound of a John Deere tractor.   John Deeres were sometimes called a Johnny Popper.

The John Deere advertisement is now over and on comes the cartoons for everyone’s giggle muscles to be exercised!!   With the sound of happy popcorn munching all around me, it was now time for the main feature film to begin.  BOY OH BOY!!

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Steaming jungle movies for Christmas versus freezing blizzard outside the theater 😉

I, for one, was intrigued by the various choices of film subjects each year.  The Tarzan movies were my favorites because here we were, bundled up against the frozen temperatures that awaited us outside of the theater, and there, on the screen were actors in a hot, humid jungle getting all sweaty in the sunshine of far away Africa.

#978 Lawrence Haase
Dear Mr. Lawrence Haase

Having enjoyed every single minute of our FREE Christmas movie, it was now time to file out of the KEE Theater and out the front doors to meet the cold snap of Winter once again.  About to take place was the treasured time of “dessert” after the “meal” of the movie in the form of a FREE bag of ribbon candies and peanuts handed out by none other than Santa, himself.  Kind-hearted men of our town would volunteer, each year, to put on the Santa suit and be waiting outside the theater for us kids.  True to form, “Santa” had in front of him a big, dark red velvet bag of gifts for each boy and girl in attendance.  Inside its velvety redness, Santa’s bag contained small paper bags that had been stuffed with goodies and taped shut.  Inside those little paper bags were beautiful ribbon candy, jelly-filled candy and other assorted confections that were intermingled with loose, roasted peanuts in their shells.  Each bag was tightly taped shut and then Santa handed one to each little darling that passed him on their way to parents waiting outside the theater.  One year, the ill-fitting Santa suit easily revealed the features of dear local farmer, Mr. Lawrence Haase.  Sweet Mr. Haase, that dear soul, was a thin-framed man, so he was “swimming” in the over-sized Santa suit.  Besides, with his glasses on, and his snow white forehead above a sun-tanned face, it was easy to recognize him from the traditional “man from the North Pole”.  With grateful heart, I gladly received his greeting of, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” as he handed me my little bag of Christmas treats in the frosty air of this beloved hometown of a happy little Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Elliott will always be grateful to the Sime family for helping fund this wonderful Christmas memory of his childhood days in Minnesota.

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…December 14th

December 14th…“WERE THERE POPULAR CHRISTMAS CARTOONS YOU ENJOYED AS A CHILD?”

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A classic Christmas cartoon!

Nestled within the chambers of a child’s imagination are sparkling embers of fantasy.  When an artist like Charles Schulz comes along, those happy embers are fanned into a joyous blaze of wonder as music, gentle animation, voices and storylines combine to create a sweet moment that makes an indelible mark on the lives of every child who treasured the television premier of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” back in 1965.   Granted, I was a whole 11 years old that year, but hey, I was still a kid in the majority of ways and this delightful cartoon story made me smile and even caused me to become introspective of what Charlie Brown’s quest was all about.

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SUCH a touching moment during the story!

What a deeply poignant moment it was when little Linus called for the house lights to be dimmed and a spotlight was brought to focus on his place there on the school stage while he shared the beauty of Holy Scriptures.  He told the Christmas Story from the book of Luke in the New Testament.  I am moved, even to this very day, with that touching moment.  Cartoon? Yes, but powerful?….. a resounding YES!!

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Excellent “Grinchy” fun!! 😉

In the following year of 1966, another team of creative artists brought to life a cartoon version of the Dr. Seuss book, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”.  The cartoon genius of Mr. Chuck Jones, and fellow artists, created a delightful moving animation that made all us kids cringe and giggle at the same time.  And, who, but the “master of malice”, Boris Karloff, could create the narrative voice that was synonymous with evil as the Grinch spoke of the terrible things he’d do to the Who’s of Whoville!  The masterful singing voice of Thurl Ravenscroft rendered the deep bass and growling sound to that classic song, “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch”.   That unique Christmas time melody is happily stuck in the psyche of many a Baby Boomer Kid (those of us born between 1946 and 1964) to this present day.

The combination of these classics, and other fine Christmas entertainment, still hold a happy place in the HO HO heart of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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In 1964, when Elliott was 10 years old, this was another Holiday favorite to watch.

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…December 13th

December 13th…“HOW DID YOU DECORATE YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE AND HOME DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON BACK ON THE FARM?”

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Mr. Christmas Gator

There he was, peeking at me from his lair among the pine-needled branches of our Christmas tree.  “Mr. Gator” was nestled into his place of annual honor as one of our unique Christmas tree decorations.  Where he came from and why was he elevated from the swamp to a Christmas tree?, that, I’ll never know.  But there, in his red n yellow articulated plastic splendor rested “Mr. Gator” for another Christmas season within the heights of our family tree.

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Elliott still cherishes the gentleness of these old-fashioned Christmas lights.

To this very day, over half a century later, I still favor and desire the peaceful glow and deep colors of our old-fashioned string of Christmas lights that were foundational on the bare branches of what was soon to become a tower of treasures.  With every bauble brought forth from its tissued cardboard coach, the Christmas tree light bulbs were clipped in proper spiral elevations of our evergreen elegance.

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Each bulb was tenderly wrapped in tissue.

A sweetness of seasonal royalty surrounded each crafted and delicate bulb ornament.  Mother would always caution us as to the fragility of the holiday heirlooms that we were now directing our hands so as to hang them in their best position of display on our green mountain of merriment.  Mother instilled in us a sense of awe for these fragile glass baubles that were first created in Germany.  It’s possible that she and Dad had had these tiny colored Christmas treasures from their early days of marriage or were slowly acquired over the early years of our older brother and sister.  Either way, we obeyed her cautious supervision so that these moments could happen year after year for our entire family to enjoy.

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After awhile, Elliott lost patience with just one tinsel at a time going on the tree.

The last phase of this holiday decoration drama was the one that taxed the most patience of our little child minds.  Tinsel was to be gently placed in single strands on each inch of each branch so that it would hang in its regal mane like a flowing stream of icicles off of a frozen roof line.  After about ten minutes of this, I for one, was inclined to start tossing the aluminum man-made icicles in clumps onto the branches just to get the job over with.  Of course, I was aptly chastised by Mom and family for this horrific breach of the holiday decorating “laws”.

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Elliott loved the simplistic, yet effective beauty of these wreaths in their farm house windows.

America was, and still is, in love with plastic.  So, to help take our festive Christmas spirits to the outside of our home were red plastic wreaths that had a single, red-bulbed candle in the center.  We’d tap in a small nail to the wooden frame of our old Living Room window and hang the wreaths to the south and east windows.  Coming from the barn each evening, I could enjoy the glow of the red candle bulb AND the red halo that was illuminated by that bulb there in our window.

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Good ol’ plastic Santa.

Ol’ plastic Santa came out of his yearly hiding to be with us, too, on those fun occasions.  Although he could have been sent to the top of a tree, I seem to recall that he graced another one of our house windows and was then plugged in to glow out to the frozen farm yard that “Christmas was here!!”

Like any farmer boy, when decorating was completed, it was time to help Dad milk our herd of Holsteins.  When chores were completed and we got in from the barn, Mom had her usual delicious supper for us all to enjoy.  After supper, I asked permission to plug in our Christmas tree lights.  Being the little wiggle worm I was, I would lay on my back with head towards the tree and begin to wiggle my little boy body under the lowest branches of the Christmas tree so I could gaze up into the spectacular world of holiday color and lights.  I became entranced by the warm glow of primary colored strings of lights that lent a whole new spectrum of beauty to the glass Christmas bulbs, hanging Nativity scenes and gift boxes that had already begun to accumulate at the base of our Tannenbaum.  It was a dream world of color and wonderment for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…December 25th

December 25th…“WHAT IS A SPECIAL HIGH SCHOOL MEMORY OF CHRISTMAS?”

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This holiday carol is one of Elliott’s all-time favorites, thanks to singing it in his High School Concert Choir in Battle Ground, Washington.

Emblazoned upon the happy halls of my Christmas memories is one of my favorite yuletide carols entitled, “Carol Of The Bells”!  Even though it is nearing the half century mark, since I was in High School, when I muse upon this seasonal song, I am tenderly drawn to the honored memory of a hero of my young teenage days.

#946.1 Orrell Peru BGHS 1972 001
Our Concert Choir had great respect and love for our wonderful teacher, Mr. Orrell Peru.

Mr. Orrell Peru was one of those cherished mentors of my education that impressed me with his very existence as well as his altruistic love and passion for choral music.  Mr. Peru’s intense fervor for music poured forth to thousands of students over the many decades that he was Director of Choral Music at Battle Ground High School in Battle Ground, Washington.

Embroitique Valentine's Day Sweet Heart Raw Edge Applique
A holiday classic!

This dear Christmas melody was owned and loved, not only by MY generation of choir mates, but by thousands of other students, in years gone by, that had sung it before we did.  In his early days of teaching choir in our school district, our maestro began a tradition of beginning each annual Christmas concert with the “house lights” turned off to quiet the audience.  Then, upon the performance stage, a colorful, light-festooned Christmas tree came to life right next to our choir risers.   Our beloved Director would also sometimes hang a giant star above the stage for added effect for what was about to happen next.

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Elliott is top row, far right.  Battle Ground High School Concert Choir 1972.

Like us that night, choristers of each preceding generation would gather in the foyer of the now-darkened auditorium where parents and members of the community had come to celebrate Christ’s birth by listening to our collective voices.  Battery-powered candles were supplied to myself and my fellow minstrels of song and now, all that awaited was to hear the pitch pipe cue of Mr. Peru who stood in the auditorium entryway.   With circular pitch pipe to his mouth, our concert master blew the introductory note for us to follow.   With rapt attention, we all responded to the downbeat of his arm and the beginning melodists began singing…….”Hark how the bells, sweet silver bells, all seem to say, throw cares away”.

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On/Off/On/Off went the lights on the tree.

Our troupe of singers stepped in cadence into the darkened auditorium.  Our growing numbers brought the a cappella choral sound of our voices and the warming glow of light from our candles into that darkened chamber.   As we eventually filled the double aisles with our members, we proceeded in step to transport ourselves to the stage and risers.  All this while, during the song, our beloved Mr. Peru had a hand-operated switch controlling the Christmas tree lights on the stage.  By clicking the tree lights on and off, on and off, he aided his singing assembly to stay on tempo with the first singers that stepped inside the auditorium earlier in the song’s beginnings.  Now, thanks to Mr. Peru’s light “metronome”, the last choir members entering from the foyer could be at the same cadence as the first singers.

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The remaining portion of Elliott’s Concert Choir members in 1972.

As our choir eventually occupied those old wooden risers, we finished our carol in full voice as the last members sang, “Ding, dong, ding……dong”.  One could easily see that the crowd was thoroughly pleased by not only the Christmas song itself, but also with the re-ignited memories in the hearts of many former choir members that night in the audience who had, themselves, sang this song under Mr. Peru’s direction in their High School days.  Together, my generation, and former choir members of the past, sang this special song with that delightful soul of a man (Mr. Peru) that was greatly admired by this Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!

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This grand Christmas melody was originally created in 1914 by a composer from the Ukraine part of Russia.

 

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…December 24th

December 24th…“DID YOUR FAMILY RECEIVE CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS IN THE MAIL?”

POEM – “Many A Year Of Christmas Cheer” by N. Elliott Noorlun

#433=Muriel n family; Christmas 1956
Our sweet mother’s cousin, Muriel (Wuerflien) Wogen, sent family photo cards, like this, for many years.  It was fun to watch her sons “grow up”.

For many a year, Christmas cheer,

Would land in our farm mail box.

#317=Virgil,Patty,Linda&Diane Bidne...Christmas
Cuteness for Christmas times four 😉

With smiles galore, And memories more,

Than could fit in fire-mantled socks.

 

#458=Marlin n Lozira Wuerflein; Christmas date unknown
Another cousin of our mother’s loved his old car.  He and his wife often would dress in period costume while driving it.  To them, it was a part of the family, so it was usually included in their yearly Christmas card photo.

We were always quite taken, And by love we were shaken,

That family and friends would remember,

To send us their love, Based on His from above,

On this holiest day in December.

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Christmas on our farm was made that much sweeter by the cards we received in our mailbox by the graveled country road. ><> 😉