Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 28th


POEM – “Droopin’ From Hoopin’ ”  by N. Elliott Noorlun

#404.2 Christmas 1959
Elliott’s hero was big brother, Lowell (Left), who was 11 years older than his little brother.

Eleven years older,  And mature beyond me,

I followed big brother,  With awe and glee.

Whatever he said, Was the coolest joy,

So I was his shadow, This farmer’s boy.

#39=Lowell with cow (circa 1960)
Behind the cow and Elliott’s brother, Lowell, is the Granary Building with the basketball hoop mounted up high on its side wall.  This was Elliott’s sky high target to try to make a basket.

Up high on the side, Of our Granary House,

Where many a cat, Caught many a mouse,

There hung a basketball, Hoop up high,

To me, t’was as high, As the clouds in the sky!

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A “Benjamin Franklin” 50 cent piece was the wager for Elliott IF he made a basket at the Granary House.

And when you are, A tiny tot,

Any coinage of money, Was really a LOT!

So brother called me, One day in the barn,

And began to give me, A money-laced yarn.

“Since you are so little, And not very tall”,

“I’ll bet you can’t take, This basketball”,

“And make a basket, Through Granary hoop”,

“Cause if you do, I’ll downward stoop”,

“To give you a Franklin, Fifty cent coin”,

“When you make that basketball hoop go BOING!”

A boy playing basketball
One tiny boy + One tall basketball hoop = One zillion shots to make a basket.

The bet was on, Or so I thought,

As this mini-Munchkin, Fought and fought,

To get that basketball, Higher and higher,

Towards that 50 cent piece, I did aspire!

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The ouch of a wild basketball!

The ball hit the building, And bounced off of my head,

I was huffin’ and puffin’, Beginning to dread,

That that 50 cent coin, Would never rocket,

Out of my brother’s, Protective pocket.

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Finally, Elliott made a basket!!

Then out of the blue, My ball hit the hoop,

Round n round, It made the loop,

Then fell through the net, And touched every stitch,

“Hooray! Hooray!, Now I’d be rich!”

I ran to the barn, To get my cash,

But then my face, It turned to ash.

Jokester brother said, “No bet did we make.”,

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“Cause to seal a bet, You always must shake!”

A lesson for me, Before coinage can turn,

Shake hands on a bet, Oh that I DID learn!!!

Some may look on this story as a trick played against Elliott, but his love and admiration for big brother Lowell is ever stronger with each passing year.




Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 27th


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What to wear?  What to wear?

Fall, in her frigid personality, had flung her mantle of frost over the farmlands of southern Minnesota once again.  Not only was there a silver frost on the pumpkins in our garden, but the hoarfrost on the cornstalks out in our fields almost had a tinkling sound effect with the gentle, arctic breezes that blew by.

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One of Elliott’s favorite cartoon shows

Like many a youngster, of the early 1960’s, I was happily addicted to Saturday morning cartoons.  One of my favorite animation classics, on our black and white television set, was “The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show”.  Like another very popular animation series, (“The Flintstones”) “The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show” had great writers that incorporated cultural and current political themes of that day, coupled with great “one liners” of humor, that kept the whole family interested and smiling.  “Bullwinkle” was my favorite of the cartoon characters, in that series, because of his good-natured, yet doofus comebacks to his energetic flying squirrel compatriot, “Rocky”.

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Yum yums by the bag full!!!! 😉

The season of Fall was progressing now towards October 31st and the ubiquitous practice of Halloween and “Trick Or Treating”.    Like any sugar-loving kid, I envisioned buckets full of Halloween candy that would be so heavy, I’d need to hire a truck to get them all back home to our farm.   Hmmm, o.k., if we’re gonna go “Trick Or Treating”, that means we’d need a costume to wear.   Of COURSE, of course, I’d temporarily become my cartoon hero, “Bullwinkle” the moose!!  And, my cute little sister, Candice, would become, if I recall, a princess.  Our dearest mother, Clarice, somehow horns-waggled some precious dollars to secure those costumes for us and we were now set to try to get some treats, hopefully without having to carry out a trick against a neighbor.

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“Bullwinkle Boy!” 😉

Like magic, the day came when Mom placed a box into each of our hands that held our temporary persona for that upcoming Halloween evening.   There lay “Bullwinkle”, staring up at me from below the cellophane window of his shipping box.  Snipping away the little pieces of shipping tape, I gently lifted the cover off of the box and lifted my “Bullwinkle” up into the air.  The costume, in its simplicity, was a yellow poncho with the image of “Bullwinkle” and “Rocky” on the front of it with a moose mask at the top.  I pulled the costume up and over my body as I, simultaneously, pulled back on the elastic band that would slip over and to the back of my head to hold the mask to my face.  What a childhood thrill it was to walk over to the mirror and only recognize my eyes as they peered back at me in the mirror surrounded by this moose face.

#1082 Dixie Ballweber
Dixie Ballweber attended Elliott’s church and also owned “Dixie’s Beauty Shop”.

To wear our new costumes around the house in playtime was one thing.  But, to go out in public, on Halloween Night, AND, to actually knock on the door of an adult home owner and holler “TRICK OR TREATS, MONEY OR EATS!!”………THAT was totally foreign to me!   The farm fields of our area were now cloaked in the blackness of the chilled Halloween night as Mother loaded us two kiddos into the back of our family car and made our way towards our precious hometown of Kiester, Minnesota.  Being the amazing mother that she was, she MUST’VE sensed our trepidation and shyness taking over as we sat quietly in the back seat.  I, for one, contracted an immediate case of “Shy-Guy-Itis”!!!  To my recollection, this was to be my first (and likely LAST) time to formally do the “Trick or Treat” thing.  Sure, I wanted a ton of candy to eat, but it was against what I was taught during the rest of the calendar year as far as “yelling” at an adult to give me something……or else.  Like, what was I gonna do to THEM, ya?  Kick’em in the shins if they didn’t give me any candy?  NOT!!!!

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Dixie to the rescue!

As we arrived into our village of Kiester, the Fall leaves swirled in front of our headlights as we made our way to the north side of town.  Mom, in her godly wisdom, sensed the need to take us to at least one or two homes that she knew would treat us with kindness and understanding.  And, truly for a fact, MANY of our sweet town’s citizens fell into this gentle-hearted category!   Dixie Ballweber, in a way, was a triple blessing to our family.  #1, not only was she the organist at our Grace Evangelical United Brethren Church, but, #2, she ran a business out of her home called, “Dixie’s Beauty Shop”.  Our mother had frequented her beauty shop on a number of occasions over the years.   Being a few months younger than our own mother, Dixie was of that generation whose compassion was of a gentler nature, especially when it came time for children.  Here comes #3 blessing…..Dixie was to become our “victim” as our family car rolled up in front of their beautiful, brick ranch house.  We costumed kids climbed out of the car as Mom almost had to herd us up the driveway, on to their sidewalk and ring the doorbell of the Ballweber home.

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So sweet with her sweets for us shy kids

Dixie’s porch light popped on, over your costumed heads, revealing two very shy farm kids who then managed a forced, quiet utterance of “trick or treats, money or eats”.   Sure enough, Mom was right, Dixie began to compliment us on our costumes and how cute we both looked as she allowed us to pick from her goodies to add some sugary treats to our little paper bags.  Time’s lapsing over the years has completely erased what those sugar treats were, but I’m indelibly imprinted with the generous spirit of our fellow church member and beauty shop operator that allowed two little ones to “invade” her evening with our childish ways of Halloween traditions.  It’s very likely that Mom taxied us to other gentle family and neighbors in our classic hometown who also showed kindness to two timid, treat entreating tikes trying to tag tooth-decaying temptations.

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Dixie was just a few months younger than our Mother, Clarice.  Blessings to her memory as she now enjoys Heaven above.

I find it tenderly fascinating how a cartoon character, a plastic costume and some candy can interweave within the framework of memories that last for a lifetime in a small farm boy (and his little sister) who was touched by the deeper things like………a mother’s love to provide for her children, sacrificing dollars to meet and see their little dreams come true, and a loving lady of our small town who added to the joy of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 26th


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This farm, near Elliott’s home, was to be the first place he ever was offered an Independence Day “Sparkler”.

A blood-curdling scream of imminent death exploded from my mouth as the Ferrotitanium metal fuel, coupled with Sulfur, set off the Strontium Nitrate with searing temperatures that neared 3,000 degrees……and it was all coming right at my face!!!!   I was just sure I was about to die on that Independence Day evening at the home of our dear farming neighbors, Elmer and Margaret Simonson.   Well, o.k., truth be known…….someone had lit a little wire device called a “Sparkler” and had innocently tried to hand it to me while I was being carried around the yard by my mother.  At only two years of age, though, I had never seen such a wild fireworks device before, so it was only natural that I did some “sparking” of my own as I “lit up” and howled in terror and hugged Mom something fierce as she carried me around that evening.

#1081 Margaret Simonson
Dear Mrs. Margaret Simonson

Farming communities tend to be close-knit and supportive of each other.  That familial support of neighbor helping neighbor ran the gamut of doing the work of a fellow farmer who was sick or injured, getting together to celebrate a newborn baby, even making meals and helping a family in mourning when a loved one died.  And, yes, our community spirit even extended to inviting farm families that lived nearby to your farm to celebrate Independence Day.   There came that special Independence Day of 1956 when my family was one of many who were invited to drive down the long gravel driveway that led to a sheltered grove that encased the sweet Simonson farm.  In the waning hours of that sultry, Summer’s evening of July 4th, our collective area families were preparing to enjoy some fun, food and fireworks.

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The freedom that we all cherish in this nation was being embellished in the wholesome setting of the Simonson’s farm that evening with the happy sounds of children’s laughter, kindly farmers sharing, under the single yard light, about the latest methods of agriculture and, in the distance of the house, one could hear ladies exchanging recipes and talking of their children.

#666 Elliott 2.23.55 001
Elliott was about another year older than this photo when the “Sparkler” episode happened.

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The Minnesota sun was getting tired of shining on that long day, so it began to seek its own pillow in the thick, billowy clouds of the western horizon.  While my tiny two year old body was waddling and toddling around the Simonson’s yard that evening, I noticed it was getting harder for my young eyes to track the shenanigans of the older kids as they enjoyed playing “Hide N Seek” in the ever-increasing shadows of the approaching night.  In the spirit of Independence Day, some older person decided it was time to introduce one of the more docile forms of fireworks into the now dark surroundings below an ebony sky.   They ignited a common “Sparkler” and began waving its fire trails in a circular fashion.  To teenagers and adults, this was a very mild expression of Independence Day joys, but when someone made a “Sparkler” burst to life and brought it right AT ME, well now, THAT was a form of terror to this timid two year old.  Mom surely felt my “death grip” around her neck as I tried to escape from what my little mind envisioned as pure death!!!

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The ladies tried to quiet Elliott’s fear of Sparklers”


Trying to assuage my mortified little heart, Mrs. Simonson had empathy for me and invited my mother to carry me into the well-lit kitchen of their farm home.  While in the safe abode of mother’s arms, Mrs. Simonson proceeded to show me what an UNlit “Sparkler” looked like.  Seemed fairly tame to me in THAT form.  She then had Mom carry me over towards her gas stove as she lit a burner and then held the “Sparkler” near the flame.  In a very short while, POOF…FIZZLE…FIRE SHOW happened.  This precious soul of a lady then went on to attempt to reason with this still scared widdo kid how the wire now made “pretty sparks”.   Her kindness DID seem to help quell some of my fears, but “Me was’m till berry tared” said this mini version of a Norwegian Farmer’s Son.  🙂

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 25th


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Awww, Mom!!

“You just stop right there, young man!!!”, as Mom, in her skirt and apron leaned out of the partially open back porch door.   “There’s no way you’re coming into THIS house with all those rocks!”   Our sweet mother, Clarice, seemed to have had her “mom radar sensitivity” turned up high that day as she was obviously alerted to her waddling young boy who approached our back porch screen door.  You see, every one of my myriad of bib overall pockets had been stuffed to overflowing with my latest batch of “gems” that I had gleaned in yet another “treasure hunt” up and down the gravel road that passed by our family farm.  I must’ve looked like a midget paratrooper ready to jump into Normandy on D-Day with all the heavy bulges weighing down every step I took.

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Elliott’s eye-level view of the world, on his rock-hound knees.  This view is looking to the north towards the Heitzeg farm.  You can just see the top of their trees in the distance.
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Elliott loved rocks!

For a little boy, with no money to jingle in my bib overall pockets, the next best thing was to stuff those pockets with the only other valuable commodity that I could think of and enjoyed………ROCKS!   Big ones, small ones, colored ones and especially those magical translucent ones of an agate nature.  Up against the spot light of the Summer sun, I could see “through” them and enjoy their luster of color and marbling.

#165.1=Elliott's 4th Grade class 1963-64; Ada Leland - teacher
Mighty Midget Mineral Man….alias, Elliott 😉

Being freed from the rigors of Grade School for the Summer, you could find me, wearing my bibs and sauntering towards the long gravel road in front of our 120 acre farm.  The toughest decision for me, in those dear days, was, “Do I hunt for gems to the north towards the Charlie Heitzeg farm?  Or maybe find “gold” to the south, towards the Chet Ozmun farm?”  There I’d be, happily whiling away the hours, conferrin’ with the flowers, consulting with the breeze on my knees… I sifted through successive yards that grew into half miles of roadway rocks.   Poor Mom, it’s hard to figure how many new knee patches she had to  sew on to my bib overalls with all the crustaceous crawling I did with my rock-hounding hobby.

NFS 10.25s
Double your pleasure, Double your fun!

The musical jingle for a gum commercial used to sing, “Double your pleasure, Double your fun……”.   That’s what I did when I combined rock-hounding with playing “commando spy”.   When you consider the acute hearing of a child my age, and the placid beauty of a quiet countryside, that means I could hear a car or farm tractor from a long distance.  Sometimes I detected them before they even crested the hill north of our farm.  My imagination station would take over and I’d change from regal rock-hounder to World War II master spy.  In a blink, I’d roll myself off the road and down into the tall, soft grasses of our wide ditch alongside that rural gravel road.   The car, pickup or tractor rolling by had no idea they were under my super surveillance.  Once my “victims” had passed by, then I’d crawl back up onto the roadway and resume my search for the rock of rocks.

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The kid with the biggest “rocks” wins…..just like Richie Rich!

It doesn’t cost anything to dream, so that’s what I did with great abandon as I envisioned selling my gorgeous rock collection and becoming rich just like my comic book hero, “Richie Rich”.

Muscovite Mica
Elliott’s “GOLD” was actually called a Muscovite Mica rock.

The greatest “gem” in my rock collection, though, actually found ME, instead of me finding IT.   The shimmering, glittering “gold piece” was given to me as a gift from the son of my sweet Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Henry Wigern.

#1079 KHS 1960 Ray Wigern
This 1960 graduate of Kiester High School was the kind young man who gave Elliott his “gold” 😉

Our family visited the home of Maureen and “Hank” Wigern’s farm one evening.  Their handsome son, Ray, had recently graduated from High School and was so very kind to this little farm boy.  Ray and I were in his bedroom, upstairs, when he brought out this black box with a snap-lock lid cover to it.  I popped that snap latch open and then raised the cover to see, what for me was a dazzling sight.  As far as I was concerned, it was REAL GOLD!!!  In reality though, it was called Muscovite Mica.  I thanked Ray profusely (and did so in my heart for decades to come) for sharing the closest thing to GOLD that was ever known by this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 24th


POEM – “I’d Watch His Watch”  by N. Elliott Noorlun

#281=Mother's Day&Rosie's 5th BD; May 13, 1951
Elliott’s father, Russell (far right), usually had his pocket watch just behind where he has his hand in this family photo.

I’d watch his watch, On leather tether,

Slide up out of farmer’s bib pocket,

To be glanced upon, To see the time,

Then gently placed back in its socket.

#896.1 Edwin Noorlun circa 1953
Grandfather Edwin

Even Grandfather, too, In his coveralls blue,

Whenever he’d come to chat,

Needed to know, What pocket watch would show,

To see just when the time was to scat.

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If only a farmer could “stretch time”.

For even a farmer, Would like to stretch time,

To get more work done in a day.

Or to get work all done, Afore setting of sun,

So he and the family could play.

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I can still see my dad, While in front of this lad,

As he pulled pocket watch so sublime,

At knurled “crown”, He’d give twist, With nary a miss,

To keep those small gears right on time.

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Even the Bible talks about a farmer and his time.

Even God’s Word, Tells about time,

When and what a farmer should do.

There was peace in this boy, And even a joy,

That Dad’s time piece would carry us through,

As day in, and day out, Daddy’s watch had the clout,

To honor God’s time and be true.

I was one happy lad, To be blessed with a Dad,

Who was punctual to enjoy each life’s view.

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 23rd


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Elliott loved climbing up and eating apples, as well as other yummies from the orchard.

POEM – “Green As An Apple”  by N. Elliott Noorlun

Green as an apple, How envious you’d be,

If you had an orchard, As a kid like me.

The pioneer family, Who started our farm,

Made sure their loved ones, Would see no harm,

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Apples, pears, plums and more “on the floor” of the orchard like rhubarb, asparagus, blackberries and raspberries, too.

By planting many a fruiting tree,

That would feed them all,

Through the years with glee.

Not only did we have, Apple and pear,

Many other yummies, Were also there.

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Similar to this painting, Elliott’s barn was just around the corner from the orchard.

Rhubarb, plum, Asparagus, too,

Berries galore, To share with who,

Ever might come, A visiting by,

And taste our sweets, Saying, “My Oh My!!”,

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Elliott’s father used a two row corn picker that was kind of like this one.  Elliott enjoyed watching his dad work the fields from the high top of their apple tree.

Perched up high, In apple heights,

This farmer boy, Could enjoy the sights,

Of watching Father, Farm our land,

Our life was simple, But oh how grand.

All the time thinking, “I just may BUST!”,

“Eating my apple, Wonder-lust!” 😉

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 22nd


#1078 BGHS Keith Anderson 1969-70 001

There are gazelles who bound gracefully and effortlessly across the plains of the Serengeti in Africa.  Our local “gazelle”, at Battle Ground High School in Battle Ground, Washington, wore our “Tiger” colors of black and orange.  Unlike the relatively level plains of the Serengeti, our “gazelle”, Keith Anderson, was raised on his family’s 300 acre mountain hillsides near Yacolt, Washington.  Keith’s passion was running and that’s exactly what he did, year in and year out, up and down those steep slopes of those forested hills.

#1077 BGHS XC Anderson n Stark 1969-70 001
Silhouette in background is of Keith and his buddy, Jamie Stark.  Keith, in main photo, is running through a gate.

“Andy” Anderson was an inspiration to us all!  Not only did he possess a buoyant smile and sparkling personality in daily life at school, but he dazzled everyone at Track Meets and at Cross Country race venues.  For instance, during Track Meets, at our District Stadium, Keith would start out with “the pack”.  At the firing of the starting pistol, the mile run (four times around the school’s oval track) began.  At the end of the third lap, when the majority of “the pack” of runners were showing distinct signs of exhaustion, “Andy” would burst out of “the pack” and leave everyone else in his dust as he turned on the jets in his legs and left all the huffers and puffers behind.  There he was, breaking the ribbon and finishing First Place by sometimes as much as a half lap, or more.  His fellow “Tigers” in the Stadium Grandstand would go wild with cheering to see our hometown “gazelle” race to the front and bring home the gold once again.  You see, after running the hills of his family’s property, running on flat land was a “piece of cake” for Keith Anderson.   Keith went on to win First Place in the Washington State Cross Country competition two years in a row for our school!!!   “Andy” exemplified the Bible verse from Hebrews 12:1, that says, “…..And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

#1076 BGHS XC Team 1969-70 001
Tom (2nd from left) and Phil (5th from left) inspired Elliott to try out a cross country run with them one Fall afternoon in 1969.  Our run started at this very spot where this photo was taken.

Keith Anderson inspired me to want to try Cross Country,  but he was just one of the  great young men on the Cross Country Team at Battle Ground High School.  Phil Kooken and Tom DeVilliers were very kind to this underclassman and invited me to experience what Cross Country running was all about.

#30=Elliott (10th Grade 1969-70)
Elliott as a High School Sophomore in 1969.

As a 10th Grade Sophomore in High School that year, I unknowingly resembled the very definition of the word sophomore………”a person who is self-assured and opinionated, but crude and immature”.  That fit me to a “T”.  I was too self-confident and opinionated that I could carry out what I had seen others do in Cross Country running.  My crudeness and immaturity showed up in the fact that I was not yet conditioned for running any type of long distance… all.  Phil, Tom, Clyde Cooper and others had made running look so easy as they’d glide over long distances with smooth and steady strides.

It was a crisp, Fall afternoon after school one day when Tom, Phil and myself emerged from the west door of our school’s locker room.  As we did a number of stretching exercises, I could see our “Tiger” Grandstand and football field nearby.  It had just been completed the year we arrived in town in 1967.  “O.K., let’s go.”, said Phil Kooken, and we three musketeers began to jog to the west and off our school grounds heading for what was then known as “Wayside Market”.  The Fall sunshine was beginning to wane in the distance as we reached NE 112th Avenue (where the old Wayside Market used to stand) and turned our running appendages to the north.   For a novice, I thought I was holding out fairly well upon my “shank’s horses” (old term for your legs), but my huffin’ and puffin’ was becoming more pronounced.   Phil and Tom, conditioned veterans that they were, were still carrying on unbroken conversations and checking on this green horn at the same time.

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“Whose legs are those??”

As we approached the half point turn, I’m beginning to muse, “What the HECK am I doing here?!?”  My teenage heart is pounding like a trip hammer inside my heaving rib cage that is gasping for more oxygen to fuel this strenuous endeavor.  As the three of us padded around the natural bend in the road that took us now to the east, I was faced with the stark reality that this pimple-faced harrier wannabe was not cut out for this form of a foot race.  Too far in to quit, I plodded on the best I could as we made another right turn and headed south on what was known then as the Lewisville Highway.   With my two upperclassmen championing the lead, this lil wheezer was doin’ his darndest to just stay alive and moving them thar legs.

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Old Mr. Numb Knees!!!

Even though we were slogging our way back towards the High School campus now, I was beyond exhaustion as I looked down at my legs pounding away on the pavement below me and realized that I could no longer “feel” them.  It was like looking at someone else’s legs that had been attached to my body when I wasn’t looking!!!  Spooky!!  Finally, thank Heaven, we were veering off the Lewisville Highway and down the slope back into the High School property.

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Exhaustion to the point of being dizzy.

Our total mileage for that run was maybe about 3 miles or so.  And, for a seasoned Cross Country runner, that was just “snack” to chew on when you consider the long miles of a real competition.  For me though, who was only used to doing a run of a mile a day in Physical Education classes, the run I had just completed was exponentially gigantic…….to me, at least.

My walk home from school that evening was a challenge in and of itself.  My legs felt like wobbly rubber and I was exhausted to the point of appearing “drunk” as I tried to command this spent body of mine to walk the three blocks to our home on the north side of town.  Collapsing in bed after supper, I was “out like a light”.   Needless to say, the next morning, I could hardly move!!  Every joint and muscle in my young body ached to a crescendo of pain I hadn’t experienced before.  It was all I could do to get dressed and slowly drag myself to another day of school.

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Phil Kooken (and friends) painted this celebratory message on his father’s garage roof.  The roof faced the High School campus and was enjoyed by all as our “Tiger” harriers qualified for State Competition that year.

To this day, over half a century later, I still have great respect and inspiration from those dear souls who have the ability to run for long distances in Track or Cross Country.   The fact was cemented in my psyche that day, though, that CROSS Country made my body CROSS for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son 😉

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