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

March 21st………“AS A FAMILY, DID YOU HELP YOUR FATHER, IN HIS WORK AS A SCHOOL CUSTODIAN, AT GLENWOOD HEIGHTS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN THE BATTLE GROUND SCHOOL DISTRICT”?

My pile of school books were still bouncing on my bed as I spun around and headed out the door with Mom and little sister, Candi. It was once again Friday afternoon and time to jump inside our brand new 1967 Dodge Coronet 500 for the drive down to our father’s new work career. We had sold our family farm in Minnesota in July of ’67 and Dad had begun working as a Head Custodian of Glenwood Heights Elementary School near Vancouver, Washington (yet part of the Battle Ground, Washington School District). Just like the popular television show of that era, ours was a “Family Affair” when it came to helping our dad get his work done. Just as in our previous vocation of farming, success was achieved by a team effort. Therefore, we four were in route each Friday afternoon to assist Dad in whatever chores we could perform there in his school that he cared for.

Elliott and sister, Candice, in their chalkboard cleaning days.

Being young teenagers, and full of energy’s spunk, little sister, Candice, and I were assigned the weekly task of cleaning an average of 60 chalkboards (20 classrooms times 3 chalkboards each) and burning the trash in the monstrous incinerator back behind the school building. Every aspect of life was new to us since moving here to the Pacific Northwest and I, for one, relished each new adventure……even cleaning chalkboards.

Schools, back in these dear days gone by, still used good old-fashioned white chalk on either traditional slate chalkboards or fiber boards painted with a “chalkboard paint”. After a week of usage, the trays, below those chalkboards, were usually filled thick with white chalk dust and itty bitty pieces of broken or used up chalk “crayons”, as one manufacturer called them. In residence, were usually six, or more, small erasers to each board that were impregnated with white dust from erasing the surface. Together, they made quite a mess to clean up. Some wise custodian, in the past, had come upon the bright idea of using a large, tough “egg carton case” to haul clean and dirty erasers. That originating custodian had also installed a wooden panel, with a carrying handle, at the center of said box and it worked very well in carting around our board cleaning supplies.

First, we’d each grab a small eraser from the tray and hard-rub all the writing from the board’s surface. Removing all the dirty small erasers from the tray, we’d throw them into the dirty side of the “egg carton case” box. Next, we’d take a rag to gently push the chalk dust from the tray and into a coffee can, leaving the tray now nice and clean. Each of us then took a long, chamois-covered eraser to deep clean the chalkboard’s surface. We’d walk along the length of the chalkboard holding the long eraser tight against the surface. At the end of each pass, the chamois eraser was rubbed clean with a rag for the next pass on the board. When the board was groomed for the upcoming week, we’d then put out the same number of small, clean erasers as we had taken off in the beginning of this procedure.

With all sixty chalkboards cleaned, now came the fun part, well, for me at least. There was this really cool electric machine, called “The Little Giant”, that was a combination of spinning brush and impellor fan that sucked the dust from erasers and deposited it into a fine cloth bag. For this former farm boy, though, I preferred to take the “Little Giant” outside the school building and clean the erasers outdoors withOUT the cloth bag. The kid in me loved to watch the massive white clouds of chalk dust fly into the air with each eraser’s pass over those spinning brushes. Upon inspection for cleanliness, each clean eraser now went neatly into the side of the “egg carton case” box for clean erasers and sat in reserve to be used the following Friday afternoon.

Tall, cardboard barrels, onboard the long custodian cart, were filled to overflowing with mostly paper trash from the 20 classrooms each evening. Since most of that garbage was burnable, we’d pull that long cart outside to the northeast corner of the school property. Out back, all by its lonesome, was a gigantic metal incinerator for burning that refuse. It was fun to fill that monster to the brim with all of our school trash for that day and set it afire with a match or two. We’d then let the big metal lid go KAHBANG as it shut and trapped everything inside. With each passing minute, we could hear the roar of the fire within the beast climb to a higher and higher decibel as that day’s undesirables were consumed and smoke bellowed from the tall stack above our heads.

By this time of the evening, the sun had set and darkness enveloped the Northwest. With Friday night chores completed for our dear daddy, it was now time to get his weekly reward of a delicious “Captain Crunch” ice cream or a “Double Delight” vanilla n fudge ice cream bar from Alda Nutter’s school kitchen. Alda was Glenwood’s beloved school kitchen manager and she was such a darling lady. Daddy paid her in advance each Friday for our ice cream, so after our teenager work was done, Dad keyed his way into the kitchen and popped open the ice cream freezer for our treat to enjoy. Until the end of our father’s work shift, we also were rewarded with a fun time in Glenwood’s gymnasium. Some Fridays, we played hoops, either just shooting baskets independently, or Candice and I would play a game of H-O-R-S-E. Other Friday nights, we’d play indoor frisbee, climb ropes to the ceiling and any number of other fun ideas contained in those big gray Physical Education cabinets.

Glenwood got its name from resting on top of one of the highest promontories in that part of Clark County, and being so situated, at night, you could see the lights of Portland, Oregon sparkling in the far distance. Depending on my mood and energy level, some Friday nights, rather than play basketball, I’d just quietly enjoy my ice cream bar and gaze southwards to the city lights of Portland, Oregon far off to the south horizon. Having come from a tiny town in the flatlands of Minnesota, I was mesmerized by the immense expanse of that large city. While I pondered on those beautiful quiet lights in the distance, a revolving search/spot light on top of tall Rocky Butte, there in east Portland, would “wink” at me each time it made its pass in the nighttime sky. This former farm boy was enthralled with the beauty of our new land that we called home for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

Elliott’s father, Russell. Now a school custodian at Glenwood Hts. Elementary.

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

March 20th……..“TELL ABOUT THE SPLIT SECOND DECISION SOMEONE HAD TO MAKE AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF THAT DECISION”.

Rather than “Raiders Of The Lost Ark”……..my working partner and I could have changed that film series to the title of “Evaders Of The FOUND ARC”. For about my first three years of employment with the Battle Ground School District, I was one of a two man team that scrubbed floors and cleaned carpets throughout the many buildings and campuses within our Clark County educational realm. In an average year, Ron Bergren, and myself would make the circuit twice (or more) to all the schools under our care. Within two weeks, or sometimes three, we’d be done with another school and have our big battery-powered “Clarke” scrubbing machine (and related equipment) hauled to the next sight.

Ron Bergren. Floor crew “straw-boss”.

Ron was the “straw-boss” (not a full supervisor, but just someone to see that the work was carried out) of the crew and was kinda like a big brother to me, since he was at least five years older than myself. Ron had served a tour of duty in the United States Navy and, during his Vietnam years, was a crew member of one of the river patrol gunboats that cruised those jungle rivers to support our Army and Marine service men. On an aside, Ron told a hilarious story of how his boat crew had been invited to eat with a local Vietnamese chieftain in his village one day. His buddy was crunching on some tasty delicacies and made the mistake of asking what these yummy orbs were. The village chief responded, “Ohhh, those our favorite! Those candied goat eyes”!!! Upon full knowledge now, the crewman held his hand over his mouth and jumped up to run for the nearby bushes to be sick!! πŸ˜‰

Our old “Clarke” brand scrubbing machine was a vintage old beast; likely purchased in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s. The creature was all metal construction, in those days, with polished metal side panels. It resembled a baby elephant, in a way…….wide, slow and stumpy looking. Within that scrubber were six “deep-cell” marine batteries that gave it its power to do our floor scrubbing. Any battery-powered machine, over time, will start to lose the use of those batteries from well over 1,000 charges over the span of a few years or more.

The time had arrived when our current machine batteries were just plain tired of old age. Six new, deep-cell marine batteries had arrived and it was Ron’s job that evening to load and hook up our new power packs. Doing this kind of work was dangerous on at least a couple levels. Number one, the battery acid inside both old and new batteries was extremely corrosive and, if spilled, could eat through clothing and skin in a wink. Number two, the new batteries were very powerful with their new charge and had to be reconnected correctly, or an explosion could happen that could seriously injure or kill us both.

This was the type of wrench Ron used that fateful day.

As a team, the two of us grunted out the six old batteries from the scrubbing machine and set them to one side on some plywood so their residual battery juice leakage wouldn’t eat through and damage the concrete sidewalk that we were standing on that evening. Once the brand new power packs were loaded into our floor scrubber, it was time for Ron to begin hooking up all the battery cables into proper succession from battery to battery.

As you may recall (if you’ve ever seen that 1981 classic film), the bad guy in the movie grabs a searing hot medallion from a fire and it melts an image into his hand as he screams out in agony. Well, what happened next to Ron was similar. My partner was using an open end/box end wrench to secure the battery post clamp nuts. I’m guessing that his hands were sweaty, because the wrench slipped out of his hand and fell down upon the batteries, accidentally “shorting out” on two wrong battery posts. Immediate and intense flashes of sparks began to fly in all directions!!! Within the next split second, Ron reached down into that maelstrom of hot fire and grabbed that wrench and heaved a pull that freed it from what surely would have been a full battery EXPLOSION within a few more seconds.

Ron was, in my humble eyes, the hero that day, but he paid a price. Just like the bad guy in the movie had the image of the medallion melted into his hand……..Ron had the image of that wrench melted into his hand. In just those couple of seconds, the metal of the wrench had become white hot from the massive power that was fighting back and forth in those bad battery connections. Ron not only saved our lives that evening, but he also saved the school district many hundreds of dollars from wrecked batteries and even possible facility damage if all those batteries had been allowed to explode. I am so grateful for the split second timing and action of the friend of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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

March 19th……“ARE THERE STILL LOTS OF FAMILY FARMS BACK IN MINNESOTA WHERE YOU GREW UP”? SADLY, I’M TOLD, THERE ARE NOT AS MANY AS THERE USED TO BE. 😦

POEM – “Alone Is Here” by N. Elliott Noorlun (written in 2017)

Alone is here, It seemed to say,

To anyone who, Would pass its way.

The barn stood alone, No farmer near,

And even evoked, A sense of fear.

Windows and doors, Became “eyes” and “mouth”,

For its way of life, That had traveled “south”.

No longer a farm, Where livestock would thrive,

No longer a family, To be near and alive.

In silence, yet loud, It could be heard,

The wailings of death, Yet not a word.

Those walls who harbored, All manner of life,

Now creak from the mournful, Winds of strife.

Just waiting for one, Last fate-filled blow,

That will send its misery, To the ground below.

That once proud edifice, Across our land,

When barns were the noble, Structures grand.

Back when farms, Were the happy norm,

Where humans and animals, Found “home” and warm.

I pray that the death knell, Of barns as these,

Will herald a day, When resurgent breeze,

Will draw us back, To the land again,

And barns with new life, Will come back to the plain!!!! πŸ˜‰

Some thoughts: When I first gazed upon the top barn photo, it seemed to “speak to me”. Its window “eyes” and wide door “mouth” was crying out that it was lonely for its former farm life that it once enjoyed. Those “eyes” and “mouth” seemed to be wailing out in mourning and seeking solace. Thus was born this poem.

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

March 18th……..“DID YOU EVER DO SOMETHING DANGEROUS AND YET FUNNY AT THE SAME TIME”?

Asbestos-covered monsters rumbled at me, with a fire in their bellies, as I stepped into the Boiler Room at Amboy School in Amboy, Washington. Flames could be seen roiling within these beasts through the small sight-glass at the front of the school’s boilers that heated that building for education in the northern realms of Clark County. I was a mere year or two (out of 31 years total) into my employment adventure with the Battle Ground School District when we had been directed by our Supervisor to begin scrubbing and waxing floors at Amboy.

Elliott in the era of dancing the loosey goosey wax dance.

Being just a whippersnapper of 18 years old, at the time, I was hired by dear old Al Bosisto in October of 1972. Even though my starting wage was only $2.66 per hour, I was happy to have a job and more than glad to work the Swing Shift. A Swing Shifter’s life went right along with my new work title of “Scrubber’s Helper”. I was to be part of a team of two, my immediate boss, Ron Bergren, and me. As a young buck and single, I loved to be able to sleep in each morning and play the day away until the early afternoons when we’d report to the next scheduled school that needed their floors scrubbed and waxed.

Giving us visitors to his school a daily razzing was tall, big-bellied Mr. Snow who was Amboy school’s Head Custodian. Dressed in the classic bib-overalls, Mr. Snow was a rough n gruff old cream puff who’s bark was worse than his bite. He lived mighty cozy in the broiling sound and heat of this Boiler Room. That heat was especially enjoyed during the long, wet winter months when downpours were regularly pelting outside of Mr. Snow’s Boiler Room door. Stacks of magazines, etc. kinda told the story of a pretty laid back style of working life for that crusty old “Head Commode Hugger” πŸ˜‰

Amboy School in Amboy, Washington.

Amboy was a sweetly designed old school. By “sweetly”, I mean that the design was classic in its old-fashioned long halls with classrooms gracing each side. Tiled floors were dominant throughout the facility, in those days, so the echoing of children’s voices and activities glanced out into those halls with the vibrancy of young life happening within. Of course, as floor scrubbers, we always had to stop by the school kitchen of each school to get in good standing with the cooks; and the hopeful goodies they’d leave for us to enjoy during the evening shift. Winnie Dobbins, bless her heart, was such a darling lady. Whenever we worked at Amboy, Winnie saw to it that we were royally treated to giant cinnamon rolls and a full meal left in the giant kitchen cooler to enjoy during our later lunch period.

When the Master Clock system, in the school office, clicked on that final minute of the school day, the big gong bells throughout the facility began clanging the happy ending to another day of education. In not more than 15 minutes, or so, the school was empty and “belonged” to Ron and I for our evening work. Usually, we’d remove the furniture from at least two classrooms; noting by a map where all the furniture needed to go back to. We’d lay down a chemical stripper onto that classroom floor with our mop buckets and let it sit for about 15 minutes. A big, battery-powered “Clarke” brand floor scrubber was then used to scrub off the old wax and the squeegee vacuum picked up dirty water back into that large machine. After rinse mopping, we’d then apply at least 2 or 3 coats of wax to the floor. Newly dry and shiny, now it was time to haul all that furniture back into the classrooms and, using our map, put it back in the basic places it came from.

Traditionally, within about two or three weeks of evening work, Ron and myself would complete a school and be ready to move on to the next school scheduled for us to clean and wax. Our last night, there at Amboy, was to have us scrub and wax their very long hallway. Wet, rainy weather conditions could sometimes hamper the drying time of the wax. That night was a prime example of no wind and high humidity from it being the rainy time of winter. The hallway had taken much longer to scrub that we had anticipated, so the first coat of wax was applied, but nowhere near dry enough to apply a second coat. With quitting time for the night fast approaching, Ron decided that we would try to be sneaky and put the needed second coat of wax over the greasy, half-dried first coat of wax. His rationale was that this way, we could be done with the building that night and move on to a new facility the next evening.

I questioned the validity of Ron’s rationale, but, heck I was game for a go of it in this dicey waxing idea. We were both “goofy”, alright, as we gingerly stepped onto that semi-dried tile floor hallway. In this stage of wax trying to dry, its consistency is greasier than the proverbial “snot on a doorknob”. Foot prints and bucket wheel marks were appearing as we made our tender way to the end of the hall and began waxing by pulling new wax from the buckets with our yarn mops and, side by side, began a figure eight swing pattern and backing up with each step as we waxed. We got the giggles as we starting “doing the dance” here and there on this super slippery floor. Reality was, that this was a very dangerous thing to do! One or both of us could have fallen at any minute and suffered broken bones, back, head, etc.. During this “floor waxer waltz”, Ron said, “I’ll bet one of us is gonna go down before we reach the end”!!!! Sure enough, Ron stepped onto a patch of “liquid loogies” and his legs made more fast moves than Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly combined. All of a sudden, KERRRSPLATT! and Ron did a full-body hug of that nasty, slimy floor. He was soaked in half-dried floor wax from head to toe. There was tons of laughter that night for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son. πŸ˜‰

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..March 17th

March 17th….“TELL ABOUT A HUMBLING EVENT THAT MADE YOUR FAMILY GIGGLE”.

POEM – “Freaky Frog Fandango” by N. Elliott Noorlun

On a dark spring night, In the wet Northwest,

The frogs were on the move,

Just beneath the window of my bedroom,

Them frogs were “in the groove”!

In trying to rate, At pursuing a mate,

In croaks so loud and strong,

But I lay, wide awake, For heaven’s loud sake,

This unbearable scene is all wrong!

With my anger wrinkling, My doofus brain’s inkling,

Said, “Hey, I’ll just squash me a few”!

So I snuck out in the dark, On a frog killing lark,

And clobbered a dozen, “KerBLEW”!!!

I settled back into bed, To rest my head,

What I heard next near gave me a stroke.

All the dead frog’s near cousins, Started croakin’ their buzzin’s,

And it all made ME wanna croak!

Well, the wife and our kids, From their beds flipped their lids,

At the antics of silly old me.

Their giggles were heard, At my being absurd,

So I just had to smile and agree!!! πŸ˜‰

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..March 16th

March 16th…….”DID YOU EVER RUN INTO AN ANIMAL WITH YOUR CAR”?

POEM – “Oh Dear, A Deer”! by N. Elliott Noorlun

On a Saturday morn, Just south of town,

And approaching Salmon Creek,

I was buzzin’ along, Whistling a song,

No trouble did I seek.

Elliott’s nerves AND the hood and fender of his 1971 Datsun 1200 were bent when that deer connected.

Just then, a deer, Flew out of the woods,

And right in front of my car!

I hit my brakes, But, goodness sakes,

I TRIED to miss her by far.

Good thing Elliott was driving a “dumb” car, instead of this Smart car!! Hehehe πŸ˜‰

KerBAMM!!!, in her butt, Then her innards put,

Deer doo doo across my windshield.

Car had sent her flying, Her deer language was crying,

Way off in thick brush near a field.

The Deputy that assisted Elliott, that day, was so kind and caring in that sad situation.

Hood and fender were bent, And so were my nerves,

I drove home to call the police,

To come and assist, That poor creature in pain,

And from her suffering, release.

The officer put the deer out of her misery from a broken back.

With a merciful shot, Law man hit the spot,

That took that poor doe out of pain.

Then he thought he saw life, And out of this strife,

He thought maybe a fawn could be gained.

The officer had hoped he could maybe rescue a fawn inside the mother, but it was just a lot of grass in her tummy! 😦

His knife opened her up, And this here young pup,

About barfed when I saw all the gore,

With no baby inside, The officer just sighed,

Said, of grass she’d been eating more.

At least our local veterans could enjoy some venison with their meals.

But, all was not lost, From this saddening scene,

When sheriff got on his car radio.

He called the V.A., Who said, “We’re on the way”!!

To old veterans this deer meat would go.

So let’s hope that the luck, Of next deer doe or buck,

Is better next time that I drive.

They’re so handsome and spry, And this here soft-hearted guy,

Would much rather see them alive!!!

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..March 15th

March 15th………“AS A LITTLE BOY IN MINNESOTA, DID YOU EVER PRETEND TO BE A FARMER, LIKE YOUR DADDY, AND MAKE A MINI-FARM WITH YOUR TOYS?

Elliott dreamed of creating his own perfect farm.

A “murder” of crows cawed and cackled from their heights of heckling in the tree tops of the windbreak that surrounded our farm there in south central Minnesota. Likely, they were teasing me that they could see our farmer father, Russell, out in the field, better than I could. The deep-throated roar of our dad’s Farmall Super “M” tractor could be heard as it filtered through the thick, treed windbreak. He was using the “M” to beautifully finish off the onyx-black soils of our farm in preparation for planting soybeans on that acreage just west of our homeplace. Of course, there was first the plowing of the land, and then disk harrowing of the field. But, in order to fine-tune the soil surface, Dad oftentimes would pull, what we called, a “drag” in a diagonal pattern across the field to smooth the soil to perfection and make contrary field markings in the dirt so it would be easier for him to see his guidelines when Dad began planting those beans.

The Irish poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde, once said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness”. And, since I thought our farmer daddy was pretty great, why not emulate my admiration for his choice of vocation, right? Right!!! I’ll build my own mini-farm!!

Elliott’s family farm located three miles NW of Kiester, Minnesota.

Since I was still just “knee high to a grasshopper” and too young to drive those massive, real tractors, I’d do the next best thing to be like Dad; I’d pull out my very modest collection of farm toys and go make my own farm down yonder in the shade of our massive Elm trees south of our farm house. I had to admit, I wasn’t rich in dollars to own the fancy farm toys of those days, but I was rich in my imagination station, between my ears, and so I began to conceive what my perfect farm would look like.

Elliott drooled over toy catalogs in hopes of having a giant toy farm collection, like this one, someday.

Gathering up every farm toy I could muster, I headed to the big airplane tire swing that hung, in its magnificence, beneath the tall, shady Elm trees that bordered our south, U-shaped driveway. The over-sized airplane tire was a gift from our Uncle Doren Noorlun and Dad had created a swing from that big tire. He cut away the upper parts of rubber to reveal “handles” for us to hang on to while we sat in that wide tire seat. It was a blast to swing on!!! Over the years, with each pendulous swing pass, our kid feet had pulverized the soil beneath the swing to an ideal powder consistency. This shady spot would be the choice location for my farm. For this kid moment to be unobstructed by that hanging tire swing, I gathered the suspending swing ropes together and threw the tire swing around the trunk of the Elm tree to hold it out of the way.

Most of Elliott’s toys were painted red, in homage to his daddy who preferred to use red Farmall/International Harvester equipment on their farm.

As I set in place my toy barn, Barn Swallow birds, in the Elm tree’s branches above me, chittered their approval. It was truly a sublime playday as a warm, Minnesota wind coursed along ground level to cool me as my little boy body was splayed beneath the shade of that handsome tree. To enhance the aura of this playtime, those same happy winds picked up the heady fragrance of the blooming and delightfully large Lilac bushes nearby and wafted those perfumes right past my “farm”. It was the kiss of little boy bliss!

It doesn’t cost anything to dream, so Elliott dreamed in the millions of what his BIG gentleman’s farm would look like! πŸ˜‰

Alright, so far so good. I had my tractor and various implements (like plow, disc, etc.) all lined up to “work my fields”. My barn was ready for the little collection I had of toy cows, pigs and sheep, etc.. Hmmmm, I needed a fence to hold my cows from running away; how will I create a fence-line? I know!!! I’ll break off short sections of little branch twigs and push them into the dirt!! Yuppers, that worked perfectly! Piece, by happy piece, my farm started coming together as I envisioned what my “perfect farm” should look like. Dad had just finished grooming the west acreage for planting and had unhooked the “drag”. From my green, serene supine spot, at my little toy farm site, I raised up on one elbow to see Dad driving the “M” into our yard and up to the house for one of our mom’s delicious noon meals, which we called “dinner” (supper was our family evening meal). I pondered upon the question, in my mini-farmer mind, if Dad maybe had played at creating his own mini-farm in his childhood days?? Of course, he wouldn’t have had a tractor toy on his mini-farm, since my grandfather, Edwin, exclusively used only the big draft horses to farm with in those days. Either way, I enjoyed each and every play day as a young and imaginative Norwegian Farmer’s Son. πŸ˜‰

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..March 14th

March 14th……..“DID YOU EVER GET HURT ON THE BARBED WIRE FENCING AROUND YOUR FARM THERE NEAR KIESTER, MINNESOTA”?

POEM – “A Barbed Bottom Boy” by N. Elliott Noorlun

T’was a barbed bottomed boy, I was back then,

When trying to navigate fence,

That barbed wire line, Could grab me just fine,

And then Rrrrippp!!, At poor blue jean’s expense!

Just a part of rural life, For farmer and wife,

To keep ornery animals in check.

But though skinny I was, With hair of peach fuzz,

That barbed wire fence gave me heck!

Elliott still has this barbed wire fence scar from 60 years ago!!!

To this very day, My digits display,

A scar that I got in the past.

The old barb on that wire, Just zinged me like fire,

As the blood spurted out rather fast.

So next time you’re near, Barbed wire, don’t fear,

Just be cautious near fence as you travel.

But be on the lookout, For those little barbs,

So that you and your clothes don’t unravel!!! πŸ˜‰

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..March 13th

March 13th……….“AS A LITTLE BOY, ON YOUR FARM THERE IN SOUTHERN MINNESOTA, DID YOU COLLECT BASEBALL CARDS? WHAT DID YOU DO WITH THOSE CARDS”?

This 1952 Mickey Mantle card is worth over $400,000.00 today!! Wowsa!

O.K., I confess, I mangled Mickey Mantle!!!! I also rumbled Roger Maris and yumped all over Yogi Berra, too!! “Alright, “Baseball Card Officer”, I’ll go peacefully, but when I get to Crumpled Card Court, I’ll plead innocent by ignoramus infarction with intent to have fun”!!!

My little farm boy life of collectible card care crime all started when I saw a fellow First Grader pull a wad of baseball cards from out of his jacket pocket while riding the school bus one day.

Yum gum!!

My classmate gingerly held out his valuable card treasures to me as I blurted out, “Heyyy, these are really neat”!!!, as I shuffled through my buddy’s pretty impressive collection of baseball’s greats. Being a tiny Minnesotan, I couldn’t help but be impressed with our very own Minnesota Twins player, Harmon Killebrew. His baseball card really caught my eye. As I flipped through my pal’s cool card collection, I said, “Yummm, these cards smell like bubble gum”!!! My Grade School friend enlightened me that that’s exactly how he got his collection; he bought packs of these cards for just a nickel at “Bloom’s Variety Store” there in Kiester. He shared that a nice, big piece of “Topps” Bubble Gum came with each pack to enjoy chewing, just like we kids would see some of our baseball heroes chomping on during the baseball games on our little black & white television set at home.

Dreamin’ of the Big League.

Given that we were allowed a whole twenty five cents to spend on Saturday nights, while shopping with family in Kiester, I eventually garnered quite an impressive collection of my own baseball barons. These impressive athletic dynamos all looked like Superman, himself, with those manly poses on the myriad of cards I had acquired. And, besides, with all that bubble gum from each pack of cards, I was one sugared-up, bubble blowing “king of swing” in my own imaginative eyes. There came a day, though, that my blissful, ignorant innocence caught up with me. I had brought my shoebox of baseball cards on our school bus to take to school for my “Show N Tell” time. Up from the back of the bus came one of those giant “High School” bullies to see what I had in my box. “Hey, kid, I’ll give you TEN baseball cards for that one Roger Maris card”. Little did I know, in those days, that I was being “hoodwinked” by this undercover hoodlum who knew good and well that he was “taking candy from a baby” in giving me ten junk cards for the one he really wanted for his collection. Partly out of fear of being roughed up and mostly just being a naΓ―ve little boy, I made the trade.

Elliott’s Uncle Doren had the coolest motorcycle!!

Paralleling my love of baseball cards, in those tender years, was a love for motorcycles. My dad’s brother, Uncle Doren Noorlun, rode “Indian” brand motorcycles in Europe during World War II and when he returned to civilian life, he made sure he bought one of those handsome motorcycles for his own enjoyment…….and mine!!! πŸ˜‰ During one of our family gatherings, Doren offered me a ride on this massive, loud, motorized wonder. I was beyond thrilled as he grabbed my little boy body and had me straddle the big “saddle bags” behind his wide seat. With a foot kick to the starter came a Varrrooom!!! and those motorcycle pipes came alive with a roar as we sped off down the gravel road and up over the railroad tracks nearby. I was mesmerized and, somehow, I just had to recreate that motorcycle sound on my little boy bicycle when I got back to our farm.

If only those spokes could speak of the thousands of dollars chewed up there.

Yes, you guessed it, out came my baseball card collection and clothespins that I snitched from Mom’s laundry bag. The more cards I bent over and pinched onto my bike frame, the more motorcycle-like sound they emitted as the bike wheel spokes made them slap with each revolution. Of course, in those days, and in that playtime, I was completely oblivious to the reality of how much those classic baseball cards, in mint condition, would be worth someday. Mickey Mantle’s 1952 card was recently valued at over $400,000.00. Little did I realize that there were likely millions of dollars buzzed into nothing on the bike wheel spokes of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..March 12th

March 12th…….”DID YOU HAVE RADIOS ON YOUR FARM IN MINNESOTA”?

POEM – “Mister Transistor Resistor” by N. Elliott Noorlun

Elliott is on the right, next to his big brother Lowell.

I was Mister Transistor Resistor,

But only really because,

My pockets were lined, With air that I’d find,

But no money, And nothing but fuzz,

These tiny radios were like magic to Elliott. No cord and plug needed. You could take them anywhere!!

It took big money to buy, What this little guy,

Saw as fun, And the latest craze,

Of radio magic, That was wild and not tragic,

That music box had caught all our gaze.

Fifty dollars, in 1954, is equivalent to $485 today. Pretty high price radio, in its day.

Just imagine a radio, Not connected to wall,

With no cord and no plug, No none, not at all.

It could go anywhere, You wanted to stray

And was easy to lug, In every fun way.

Elliott enjoyed singing along to many a song while walking around their family farm.

You could listen to sports, Play and do anything,

Tunes from tiny radio, To which you could sing!!

Born in ’54, The same year as me,

It was such a welcome design,

From those radios of old, So big and so bold,

For our parents, That may have been fine.

But for my generation, There was such an elation,

To be able to take music along,

To the beach or to mountain, There was now a fun fountain,

Of our portable radio song!