Norwegian Farmer’s Son…November 10th

November 10th…“DID ANY OF YOUR MOTHER’S SIBLINGS SERVE IN THE ARMY DURING WORLD WAR II?”

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Manly shades of khaki, blue and olive-green military uniforms created a moving mosaic on the loading platform of the train station near Fort Snelling, Minnesota.  Farm boys by the thousands were either coming or going on the constant stream of troop-carrying trains that belched out their engine steam from the hot metal sides of those powerful locomotives.  For those soldiers and sailors saying goodbye, there were long, passionate kisses to wives and girlfriends whose tears mingled with those of their beloved as their man was about to embark for parts of the world he’d never seen before in military service to his country.

#261=Clarice Noorlun & siblings; circa 1943
The Sletten siblings, Left to Right, Bob Sletten, Elliott’s mother Clarice (Sletten) Noorlun, Beverly Sletten and Del Sletten.   Fall of 1944 near Fort Snelling, Minnesota.

Out of thousands who were called by their nation to serve in this dire time of need, two of those young men were Norwegian farm boys from the tiny berg of Scarville, Iowa.   To be exact, one of those soldiers was my Uncle Robert Shirley Sletten and the other was my Uncle Marcus Delmaine (better known as, “Del”) Sletten.

#942 Del Sletten H.S. Grad 1942
Uncle Del is top left.

It is without a doubt that Uncle Bob and Del, along with the rest of our concerned nation, were glued to the frenetic sounds of the radio in their farm home, just north of Scarville, Iowa on that fateful Sunday of December 7th, 1941.   The sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by the Empire of Japan, was about to propel both of our uncles from being a child of the black, Iowa farmlands, to being a part of the 16 million men and women who valiantly served when “Uncle Sam” called.   The way that our President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, called them was via what was known as the “Draft” (Selective Training and Service Act of 1940).  It must’ve been unfathomable for Del and Bob to realize that, eventually, they’d both be leaving the peacefulness of farm life, then be compelled to climb on to and leave on a journey of train, steamship and truck that would propel them across the globe to the lands of Italy, for Del, and to France, for Bob.

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Uncle Bob had a wife and baby boy to say farewell to.

 

Iowa farm boy that he was, Uncle Bob Sletten also had the added burden of saying goodbye to his farm wife, Doris.   She and he had been blessed with their little son, Lyle, during those early war years.  I can only imagine what would have traveled through their hearts and minds as Bob, in his Army uniform, gave his family a last kiss before leaving.  Would this be the last time he would see them in this life?  Would he be killed in a tank battle among the blasted out farmhouses of France?  Or, would he be spared, by God’s amazing umbrella of protection and mercy, to not be one of those 420,000 names of our men and women killed in action during that global conflagration?

#292=G&G Sletten with boys. Del just finished boot camp; circa 1943
Elliott’s maternal grandparents, Amanda & Clarence Sletten proudly stand with their gallant sons in Fall of 1944.

Our handsome Uncle Del Sletten not only stood tall in height, but also stood tall in his aspirations of life, both in his Scarville High School days, but also in his hopes of one day being an architect.  Being the tallest of the two Sletten boys, Del was a natural who played on the school basketball team and was even Secretary Treasurer of his Senior Class back the Spring of 1942.  In his love for our American ideals, and in obedience to her needs, Del responded to his draft notice, when called to serve, and enlisted into the Army at Fort Dodge, Iowa on April 20th, 1944.  Trains had rolled through his boyhood village of Scarville many times, over his young years, but now, Del was to be a military passenger as he climbed aboard the troop transport train.  The long line of coaches was yanked by a powerful steam locomotive engine as each troop car felt the jerk and clanking sounds while iron wheels rolled and they headed for Camp Roberts along the central California coast-lands.

#944 Del Sletten H.S. Grad 1942
Elliott’s Uncle Del Sletten, with all of his Scarville, Iowa High School friends (Freshman through Seniors) in 1942.  Del can be spotted easily in the long-sleeved white shirt in the very center.

Theoretically putting myself in Del’s shoes, I would be listening to the clackety, clack, clack of the railroad tracks below me as I gazed outside the miles and miles of scenery that lay between Fort Dodge, Iowa and my Boot Camp destination in California.  Only the good Lord above knew Del’s thoughts as farmlands morphed to prairies to the Rocky Mountains and down to the desert-like flats of the 44,000 acres of Camp Roberts.  There must’ve been a collage of emotions from trepidation, wonderment and even a bit of boyhood adventure mixed in as Del rolled onto the parade grounds of Camp Roberts.  Boot Camp now behind him, Del was assigned to the “Blue Devils” of the United States Army’s 88th Infantry Division.  This Division, created “from scratch” in 1940, was mainly comprised of young men from North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa.

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Heroes, all!!!

Under the command of Major General Paul W. Kendall, our beloved Uncle Del Sletten fought valiantly alongside his fellow Americans in the mountains of Italy.  Their warrior zeal even earned them the Presidential Unit Citation for valor in combat.

Our mother’s other brother, Bob Sletten, after completing Boot Camp, was assigned to be part of a tank crew that fought in France.  Like so many of the young men who served in those metal marvels, Uncle Bob’s hearing was never quite the same after suffering the high decibels of innumerable artillery shells crew fired by that tank cannon against enemy emplacements.  But, thankfully, most of his hearing was intact because I can still hear Uncle Bob playing a little accordion that he had found inside a bombed-out and abandoned French farm house during a lull in the fighting.

#291=Clarence&Amanda Sletten with children; circa 1946
Safe and home from the war!!!  Left to right…Del Sletten, Bob Sletten, Clarence Sletten, Amanda Sletten, Beverly Sletten and Elliott’s mother, Clarice (Sletten) Noorlun.

God, in His loving mercy, brought both of our uncles safely home again after World War II had ended.  What a celebration there must’ve been for all the family as these dear maternal uncles could now continue their lives in this free nation that they had helped to secure for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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This great painting depicts so many aspects of the story of Elliott’s uncles.  From the farm, to trains that transported them, to the tank and infantry portrayed in the scene in the sky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…November 9th

November 9th…“WHAT WAS THE VERY FIRST CAR YOU EVER OWNED?  SHARE A FUN MEMORY, OR TWO, ABOUT IT.”

#542=My first car, 1971 Datsun Coupe
Elliott’s yellow “Wimp-mobile” 😉

“Are you kids ready back there?”  “Yup, we’re hangin’ on tight, Unk, give ‘er the gas n let’s go slidin’!!”   Snow didn’t come often to the Pacific Northwest, and specifically, to our town of Battle Ground, Washington located in the southwest corner of the State.   But, on this occasion, the good Lord plopped a thick, white blanket of fun over our area and it was time for some amusement with “Unk” (which was an endearing name for me as their uncle).  My cohorts in craziness, that chilly day, were three of the four children belonging to our eldest sister, Rosemary.   “Stooba”(Debbie) was the eldest, then came “Dougie” and then little “Beezer”(Denise).  The girls had gotten their nicknames from their Grandpa Russell Noorlun.  “Stooba” means short or stubby, in Norwegian, so that’s how Debbie got tagged with her nickname.  I think he gave the nickname, “Beezer”, to Denise because of her cute little nose glowing like a “Beezer”.    Being this was the first car I had ever owned, I discovered that the back seat of my little, yellow 1971 Datsun Coupe could fold down flat for cargo.  And that’s just what I used it for when I offered my two nieces and eldest nephew to be my “cargo” and come along for some snow fun.

#101=Dougie, Denise & Debbie, circa 1973
Left to right are Dougie, Denise “Beezer” and Debbie “Stooba” Ehrich at the time of the snow donuts fun!!

 

I surmise that whoever was the previous owner of my little “four-banger” Datsun must have had a grand sense of humor to have the gall to install racing slick tires on the back of that tiny, timid teapot on wheels.  But, hey, in our case, on that day, those pseudo racing slicks made for even more fun in the snow.   The schools in our area were closed, due to the snowstorm that had just passed, and I knew that the giant, Battle Ground High School parking lot would be empty of cars and possess a thick, untouched layer of snow for “spinning donuts”.  That massive expanse of smooth pavement just beckoned us to “come play”.

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Let the spin-outs begin!!!

For all you super safety sleuths out there, I’ll have you just close your eyes and turn away from this story for awhile.  Because, when we “fun-a-holics” got down to that wide open expanse of parking lot, I put the “pedal to the metal” as Unk spun “donuts” in all that pristine parking lot snow while I heard tons of giggles from the back cargo area.  Glancing back, occasionally, and checking the rear-view mirror, I could see three smiling little ones as they’d happily roll from one side of that Datsun to the other!!  It was a blast of fun for three little cuties and this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…November 8th

November 8th…“WHAT WAS AN ACT OF LOVE, FROM LOCAL FARMERS TO YOUR FAMILY, THAT TOUCHED YOUR YOUNG HEART?”

POEM – “Plowman Poets”  by N. Elliott Noorlun

#173=Plowmen who helped Dad; circa 1963
From left to right are the “Plowman Poets”… Darryl Mutschler, Gib Cleven, Chet Ozmun, Helmer Wipplinger and Louie Heitzeg.  The sixth “Plowmen Poet” was Merril Baumann who took this photo.  Circa 1959 on the Allan Parks farm northwest of Kiester, Minnesota.

Six “Plowman Poets”,  A sonnet wrote,

With every furrow of soil,

As tractors pulled plows, Across the land,

That our father would usually toil.

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The Plowman Poets lived out God’s will shared in the New Testament Book of Matthew Chapter 22 Verse 36

An injury had happened, In our father’s life,

Now unable to rise to work’s task.

When word got around, Of our patriarch’s plight,

T’was nary the need to ask.

#25=Plowing Bee(to help my hurt Dad) early 1960's
Merril Baumann (on front John Deere) now joins his fellow “Plowman Poets” in the harmony and cadence of seeing a field plowed for our injured father, Russell Noorlun.

Each “Plowman Poet”, Had chores of his own,

Fighting chill in his warm coveralls.

His own farm was waiting, For attention from him,

Hungry livestock did roam in their stalls.

#397=Russ&Erwin Noorlun, Kiester milk room; circa late 1940's
Elliott’s father, Russell (on left), with brother Erwin, was grateful for the “Plowman Poets”.

What was it that drew, These men from their farms,

To invest in the life of another?

Not only were they, Fellow farmers in trade,

But also a good Christian brother!

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The “Plowman Poets” gave love that day

The sparkling moldboard, Of each plow share,

Sliced deep into that sod,

As the “Plowman Poets”, Transformed that field,

Into a gift from God.

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Such love was well received.

Some cynics may say, These men wasted their gas,

And lost precious hours of time,

“It’s the other guy’s problem, Let him work it out”,

Yet we know, That would be a true crime.

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Later, in Christian brotherhood, Elliott’s father became a “Plowman Poet”, of sorts, as he reciprocated kindness to other farmers in need whenever he knew of an opportunity to assist in any way he possibly could.

Lord, please bless the memories, And families who,

Shared their “Plowman Poets” that day,

It was more than a field, It was love they did yield,

In a farm neighbor friendliest way!!! ><>

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…November 7th

November 7th…“IF THERE IS SUCH A THING, SHARE WITH US A WARM AND COZY MEMORY DURING THE WINTER ON YOUR FARM THERE IN SOUTHERN MINNESOTA.”

#78=Kiester farm, February 1959, W towards shop &amp; barn
The snow-coated Noorlun barn looms high above the smaller farm work shop.  A Farmall F20 tractor is at rest inside a two row corn picker, almost buried in snow, in this photo from the late 1950’s northwest of Kiester, Minnesota.

It was a black evening as a steel-cold, Polar Express wind screamed up over the top of Charlie Heitzeg’s hill, to our east, and came barreling down with its frozen intent of slamming into our farmstead.  I was standing inside of our barn, near the dutch entry door when that gust assaulted the bulwark of our “Noah’s Ark” that kept our livestock (and us) safe and relatively comfortable from the killing chill just outside.

#28.1=Dad on TV commercial for Purina Hog Feed, early 1960's
Elliott’s father, Russell, with some of the “teenager” pigs in their hog house.

True, Winter’s icy fingers had clutched upon our Norwegian family’s farmstead once again.  Each year, this grip of white starkness slowed down every phase of life, both for our animals, and we as their caretakers.  As I shared earlier, while a young boy, I often found refuge from the frigid fangs of the assailing Winter’s cold by first bracing myself against the leeward side of our granary building.  Then, I’d draw a deep breath and hold it to prevent the screeching snow winds from sucking the air right out of my lungs, causing me to gasp it back in.   Leaning into that power-punch of Winter’s blast, I’d then push forward, with trudging steps, to make my way to the dutch door (split door that could open at top/bottom or both) and yank it open to jump inside the “jungle” atmosphere of our barn.  “Jungle”, because with 15 fully grown Holstein cows and up to 24 or more younger animals; their combined body heat and moisture content made our barn a cozy place to get away from the wicked cold outside.

NFS 11.7c
Elliott’s next favorite place of warm refuge was playing with the baby pigs under the heat lamps in the hog house.

When my evening chores in the barn were completed to Dad’s satisfaction,  I remember pulling on and zipping up my thick, winter’s jacket to the highest hilt.  This would cause the fur collar to regally pop up and become a shield as it wrapped its fur around my neck.  Lastly, I would pull on my thick mittens and set out from the warmth of our dairy barn; plotting a course for the hog house on the east side of our farmyard property.

NFS 11.7a
“Howdy Mr. Elliott”, the piggy seemed to say! 😉

 

 

 

As my rubber, buckled boots crunched their way along the snowbanks and icy path, I could see a faint glow of the heat lamps through the windows of our hog house as I approached.  Once inside, I could hear playful grunts and pig giggles of numerous litters (group or family of baby pigs).  They were not only enjoying a meal from their mother sow, but also the warmth of the big heat lamps that Dad had set up for their comfort and survival against another brutal Minnesota winter.

NFS 11.7f
Supper time!!!!

 

Like any mother, a sow will valiantly protect her young piglets if anyone would try to get near them. But, in our case, my dad was now using a fairly new invention called a “farrowing crate”.  This V-shaped, metal, tubular device restricted the sow’s movements so that she wouldn’t inadvertently lay down and crush her little ones.  Soooo, being that momma sow was now “under control” inside the farrowing crate, I could quietly climb over the wooden railings of the pig pen and sit down in the straw where the piglets played.

NFS 11.7i
Such farm boy joy with the piggies!

As the blizzard winds howled outside these walls, you could happily find me cozily sitting beneath those hog house heat lamps.  My playful, puny, porker pals slowly became accustomed to this giant playmate that had just arrived and, eventually, came to count me as one of their own.  In a gleeful, rambunctious joy, they included me in their romping, stomping and playful chases.  All the while, I just sat there, in one soft straw spot, so as not to scare them by any quick movements on my part.  Those tiny four-legged friskies, with pointy hooves, played “leap frog” over my legs as we all basked in the glow of our happy hog heaven under Daddy’s heat lamps in the hog house of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…November 6th

November 6th…“WHAT WAS A CHORE LESSON YOU HAD TO LEARN THE HARD WAY ON THE FARM?”

POEM – “The Peeyoo Flew!”  by N. Elliott Noorlun

#108=Elliott on tractor, circa 1957
Tiny Elliott loved tractors…A LOT!

Since toddler perched, On Farmall seat,

A tractor’s lure, Just couldn’t be beat.

From days when playing, With tractor toys,

I grew to a time, When bigger boys,

Were expected by parents, To do farm work,

And from their chores, They did not shirk,

NFS 11.6f
This “Heat Houser” shroud would capture the engine heat and send it back to warm Elliott while he pulled the manure spreader on that windy and stinky night.

Until one frozen, Winter’s night,

I faced a stinky, Type of plight.

NFS 11.6h
A conveyor chain pulled the cow manure (poop/doodoo) back to the spinning beater bars that threw it evenly out on the field.

For Dad had told me, To be sure,

To take the “H”, And spread manure.

NFS 11.6i
Elliott was SUPPOSED to drive the tractor INTO the wind.

He said to check, The wind’s direction,

And then to make, The right election,

To take the “poo”, To the end of the field,

“Drive INTO the wind”, But did I yield?

NFS 11.6j
The wild, Winter night wind blew from BEHIND Elliott!

“Heck no!”, I figured, Why waste time,

So with spreader in gear, I think that I’m,

The smart one here, So off I flew,

Friendly Poop Character
The chunks of cow doodoo was being blown onto Elliott’s back and head!!!

It wasn’t long, Before I FELT “peeeyooo”!!

In the headlights of, The fast Farmall,

I saw some things, That started to fall,

And soon mysterious, Chunks went WHACK!,

As lumps of cow turds, Hit my back!,

Then I realized, Dad’s wisdom plain,

I deserved what I got, With my untrained brain!!! 😉

When it hits the fan.

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…November 5th

November 5th…“WHAT HIGH SCHOOL EVENT, THAT YOUR BIG SISTER WAS INVOLVED IN, MADE THE BIGGEST IMPRESSION ON YOU AS A YOUNG BOY IN YOUR MINNESOTA DAYS?”

#211=Rosemary Arlone Noorlun, 1st Grade; 1952-53
Elliott’s sister, Rosie, is top right…. in 1st Grade.

 

Effervescence bubbled in happy abandon behind the sparkling smile of our sister, Rosemary Arlone Noorlun. On her way down from Heaven, in May of 1946, she must’ve bounced off the North Pole and collected some of its magnetism, for she had the gift of drawing others to her and was a catalyst for fun in so many ways. Even later in life, it was our Rosie who would bring family gatherings alive by the entourage of treasures she’d bring along to any family get-together. There’d be recipes for the ladies to try together in the kitchen, crafts for everyone to enjoy, board games, etc..  Of course, there were always the happy times around the Dining Room table with our family shoe box full of photos which was brought out from the hall closet.  This entertainment was long before the digital age took over, so, our Norwegian queen of the scene would hand out packets of photos, wrapped in a rubber band, to everyone around the table. We’d pop off the rubber band and all of us would joyfully start jabbering about a certain memory a photo would spark or some other fun time of the past as we’d gaily shuffle those old photos from the top of the deck to the bottom and then pass that bundle of black n white memories to the next person at the dinner table. It was easy to see that that magnetic spirit, that she captured from the North Pole at birth, followed her throughout her 43 years of life she enjoyed on this earth.

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As Choir Officer, Rosie is top center with her leadership members.

Our elder sibling of the gentle gender was 8 years my senior when 1964 rolled around. So, as far as this little farmer boy brother was concerned, next to Mom and Dad, Rosemary was top notch, all grown up (in my eyes) and the queen of cool!  Still consuming her, like a sparkling of pixie dust, was that magnetism that ignited a yearning to be involved in a plethora of High School activities. Why was that so? In my heart, I feel that it was likely because of her natural love for people and wanting to be part and parcel to all that school life had to offer.  As a sampling list, sister Rosemary enjoyed being a part of Kiester High School Band, Chorus, Library Club, Girl’s Athletic Association (G.A.A.), Member of Student Council, Cheerleader, Future Farmer’s Of America Chapter Sweetheart and HomeComing Queen…….just to name a few of her extra-curricular activities.

#136=Rosemary as KHS Band Officer; 1964
Rosie is kneeling at bottom right.

A marvelous, musically magical mentor had his own form of magnetism that drew our sister and untold hundreds of other students to his classes of band and choir there at Kiester High School in Kiester, Minnesota.  This master educator was the much revered and respected Mr. Milton Leland Glende who hailed from Otter Tail County, Minnesota when he entered this world in 1926.   Mr. Glende exuded not only his zeal and passion for perfection in music, but he also interjected his high standards for professionalism and discipline into each young student that crossed the hallowed portals of the “Bulldog’s” Music Department’s hallway doors.   Like any great educator, Mr. Glende earned his student’s respect through the discipline that followed him via his own personal upbringing, but also that which was garnered from his time in the military serving our country during World War II.  If you marched for Mr. Glende, every row, both forward and across was straight as an arrow.  The marching band’s classic Hussar Military Parade jackets would have every button polished, with slacks pressed and white parade shoes looking their whitest.  Simply the best, they were!

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To this day, Elliott loves to hear his sister, Rosemary, singing and playing drums on this wonderful recording!!!

I would’ve loved to have been the proverbial “mouse in the corner”.   Then I would’ve been able to hear of the reasoning for this honored music educator to have picked my sister’s 1964 Senior year of high school to decide to make an actual professional recording of one of their Band & Choir concerts.   Plans were in the works to create a 33 1/2 rpm (Revolutions Per Minute) vinyl record of the event.  Big sister, Rosie, and her Music Department comrades must’ve been buzzing with excitement as they entered Mr. Glende’s music room each day.  I can imagine the fragrance of brass polish and trumpet valve lubricant on the air as they pulled their instruments from their cases and found their seats in the semi-circle practice area.  Rosie played drums in the band and sang in the choir, as well.   There must’ve been an extra edge of excitement as this young assembly of musicians knew that every note needed to as close to perfection as possible to bring honor to the “blue and white” traditions of our dear alma mater and to make their cherished Music Master to be proud of their performances.

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Elliott was agog by the magic of a blue, see-through record album!!! 😉

History is a bit foggy for me on this point, but I’d venture to hypothesize that this very special recording session would be made even more special by the event occurring in the evening hours.  This way, local farmers (like our father) could finish the milking of dairy herds, and other chores, before getting himself and his family into their “Sunday Best” to drive into town for this gala event.  You can just imagine our good town and country folk parking in front of the High School as the setting sun yielded its brightness to another evening as they make their way through the school’s entry foyer and to our gymnasium.  As family after family filed past our school’s trophy case, they could see numerous awards that, with Mr. Glende’s leadership, had been won over the years by fine young musicians like they were about to enjoy that evening.   Recording technicians were at the ready to capture this musical evening as Mr. Glende, with his dear wife Gertrude at the piano, commanded rapt attention from his band and choir.   As he gave the down-stroke, the most wonderful music filled that gymnasium to the very rafters for all to enjoy.

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Music in the air that night was captured for years to come on that clear, blue vinyl record album.

The eight years, that separated big sister and myself, would not be considered a full generational spectrum.  Yet, I sensed then, and still do today, that those young people involved on that evening, in 1964, were far more mature than their chronological teenage years.  I surmise that it was because they were the direct offspring of the “Greatest Generation” that had sacrificed and won World War II.   They were held to a higher degree of discipline as they grew up in the shadow of godly parents who helped form these young adults a into team of not only playing music that night that went onto a record album, but would go forth into their world of tomorrow to make a positive imprint with their own lives and the lives of the children they would bear.   Yes, when Rosemary brought home the actual record album of that concert night, I was allowed to hold it and gently slide the vinyl record out from its protective paper sheathing.  “Wow!!!!”, I exclaimed, it was CLEAR, SEE-THROUGH BLUE!!!  I was entranced!   Up to that point, I had only seen records made out of black vinyl.  What a grand way of celebrating the music that was not only IN the record, but also celebrating the “Blue & White” of our Kiester High School “Bulldogs”.

#79=Elliott &amp; Rosemary on bike near blue '49 Ford
Elliott and his cherished big sister, Rosemary, in younger days on their farm.

At the tender age of only 43 years, the good Lord called our beloved sister Home to Heaven’s Shores.  Sad as that time was, I celebrate her precious life while among us here on earth.  It is as if her very life was a symphony as she orchestrated four beautiful children into this world that carry on the music of her life to this very day.  And, what is more than gold to me, is when I listen to this 1964 recording of Rosemary and her classmates over and over.   Each rat a tat tat of a snare drum, each drum a drum drum of a kettle drum………..I’m hearing our Rosie who was one of those musicians.   When I hear “All Ye Who Music Love”, I hear the high, feminine voices and I ponder…….”One of those sweet voices is my Rosie!”……….the sweet sister of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

#1022 MIlton Glende KHS Band Director
Mange Takk (Many Thanks) Mr. Glende!!!

 

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…November 4th

November 4th…“TELL ABOUT THE BUSY HARVEST TIMES ON YOUR FARM IN SOUTHERN MINNESOTA?”

#98=Russell helping harvest corn at Bauman's, 1962
Elliott’s father, Russell, is operating the second tractor from the left in this photo of neighbor farmers who gathered to help bring in the corn harvest of a nearby farmer friend in need.

Ubiquitous to every farmer who’s ever planted a seed is the hope and grand finale of desiring a good harvest.  All of the invested sweat, hours, sore muscles, etc. would, we prayed, culminate in a bounteous yield at the end of each growing year from those black, enriched soils of southern Minnesota.   Our Norwegian farmer’s magnum opus (great work) would, in all hopes, bring in food for our Noorlun farm animals and even have enough crop left over to sell at the local grain market.  That accomplishment would provide a monetary income to help Dad take care of our mother, Clarice, and his beloved family over the coming Winter.

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Grease gun

The morning milking of our Holstein dairy herd was completed at about sunrise on that fine Fall day.  Mom had a big breakfast waiting for Dad when he came up to the house from the barn.  Breakfast was Dad’s favorite meal of the whole day, he could easily gulp down a couple bowls of cereal, black toast, lots of coffee and at least three eggs with bacon and maybe a chaser of half a grapefruit.  The creaking screen door of our back porch signaled Dad’s exit into what was to be another busy harvest day.  Due to the brisk weather, the flap of my cap came down over my ears and thick gloves came on as I strapped on my bib overalls and came out that same door.  I could see our farmer father vigorously pumping away with his grease gun as he lubricated and then oiled our “Gleaner/Baldwin” brand grain combine.  “Sha-glick, sha-glick, sha-glick” was the sound that that grease gun made with each muscular compression of those sinewy arms; for with every repetition of that handle, Dad was making sure each “Zerk” fitting was being filled to capacity with lubricating grease so that our farming harvest machines could run for that day in the smoothest way.

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Harvesting soybeans….similar to the method Elliott’s father used.

Just like a cowboy of old would’ve dropped onto his horse’s saddle, so also did our father climb up and drop into the spring-loaded seat of our handsome International Farmall Super M tractor.  His farmer’s work-boot reached down and depressed the engine starter lever as that faithful, 264 cubic inch, four cylinder engine happily popped to life.  With a pull back of the throttle lever for a bit more speed, the vertical engine muffler spewed a carbon cough cloud to the sky.   Russell slowly let out the clutch as he and his red-metaled steed rolled forward towards the woods of our windbreak where we kept our combine machine.  Throttling down the engine speed, our hardworking dad put the tractor into the gear called reverse as he slowly backed up to and hooked up the “tongue” of the combine to our tractor.  Russ climbed down from the Farmall M, grabbed and then pulled up and inserted a heavy tube from the combine towards the back of the tractor that had a cylindrical sleeve gear that faced the tractor.  The long device, now hooked up to the Super M, was a means for receiving power from the tractor that would operate that grain combine.  The point of connection to the tractor was known as the PTO.  That acronym stood for a “Power Take Off”.    Once in the field of soybeans, Russ would activate that PTO and the spinning tractor gear would spin the tube to the combine and that magnificent machine would harvest our soybeans.

NFS 11.4h
A 1961 version of a corn harvest.  Look to the distance and you can see the cornpicker far out in the field harvesting more corn.

With the harvesting of our soybeans completed, our father then climbed aboard the very old International Harvester F20 tractor that was intercoursed within our two row cornpicker machine that literally wrapped around that old tractor.  That F20 engine came to life with a growl, seeing that it hardly had any muffler left on the engine.  Previous greasing and lubrication took a while to smooth out the clanking, squeaking and kahchunking sounds that the old beast made as it lurched towards the golden cornfields that awaited its voracious appetite for harvesting corn.

#168=Elliott&amp;Candi in corn wagon; Oct. 1961
Elliott and sister, Candice, atop a wagon load of field corn waiting to be put into the wire storage crib.

As wagon, upon wagon of golden field corn came rolling into our yard, it was off-loaded into a device called an elevator that slowly pulled the chain-linked sections of corn up, up and then into the top of a wire mesh corn crib.  As the fields yielded their acres of corn, that wire mesh corn crib became like a giant yellow, vertical tube there on our farm.  Full to the very tip top with uncountable ears of corn the harvest would now be dried by the howling winds of Fall and Winter.  For, unlike our Minnesota summers (which were extremely humid), the Fall and Winter months, in that part of the United States are super dry, though also super cold.

#70=Corncrib &amp; Hog House in Kiester, MN...looking SE.
The 1965 corn harvest, on Elliott’s farm northwest of Kiester, Minnesota.  The farm’s hog house is to the left, a corn wagon out in the hog yard and the International Farmall Super M to the right.

Thanks to our family friend, Harry Bauman, my big brother, Lowell Noorlun, and of course the long hours worked by both our father and mother; another year’s harvest was safely in storage just in time for Old Man Winter to move in and cool things down for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

NFS 11.4b