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

May 19th……..“TELL US ABOUT ONE OF THE MANY SERVICE STATIONS WHERE GREAT GRANDPA RUSSELL PURCHASED GAS FOR HIS VEHICLES IN YOUR KIESTER DAYS”.

POEM – “That Dear Man Stu, He Flew” by N. Elliott Noorlun

At the intersection, Of “State” and “22”,

Across from the old Creamery,

There worked a man, In uniform green,

By the nickname of “Stu”, ya see?

As Dad drove up, And across the hose,

Activating Texaco service bell,

Out would trot, Proprietor Stu,

And made us all happy n well.

This is a customer “Thank You” postcard from 1954, the year Elliott was born. Cool, ya? 😉

With service cap, And uniform green,

As a little boy I thought,

That Stu was still in the Army,

Carrying out what he was taught!!

Kiester High School graduate, Rodney Fure, stands next to Stu Soma as part of his service crew in this 1959 -1960 photo from the Kiester High School “Rambler” yearbook.

In snow or sun, There was still lots of fun,

By the twinkle in Stu’s happy eye,

That made our Dad laugh, At each fun gaff,

He shared with that Texaco guy!

The famous Ed Wynn brought laughter to millions on his radio show in the 1930’s and beyond while he also promoted Texaco gas and products. 😉

For over the years, The Texaco brand,

Had earned a happy brand name,

Among America’s motorists,

By Hollywood funny man’s fame.

Ever charismatic, Our business man host,

Was savvy to try something new,

So “Phillips 66” arose from the ground,

And was birthed by our good friend named, Stu.

The adventures of life, Called Stu and his wife,

To Colorado, The mountains and beyond,

But I’ll always remember, His glowing smile ember,

That made memories of him be so fond!!! 😉

A nostalgic Texaco advertisement before the days when Alaska and Hawaii were added to America’s “family” of new States.

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

May 18th………..“WHAT WAS THE NAME OF GREAT GRANDMA CLARICE’S CHILDHOOD CHURCH IN SOUTHERN MINNESOTA“?

POEM – “Steeple To The Blue” by N. Elliott Noorlun

Lime Creek Lutheran Church

This is my mother’s childhood church,

With steeple to the blue.

Beneath, its doors did open wide,

With colorful memory’s hue.

Built in 1874, the Lime Creek Lutheran Church, in this turn of the century photo, was observing a funeral. Notice the beautiful Norwegian stenciled painting on the steeple!!

Of mother’s grandfather, Who’d start the stove,

On frigid Sunday morn,

And then start congregation sings,

From lovely hymnals worn.

Lime Creek Lutheran’s pulpit and altar served many congregations over the years.

She shares of wonderful Christmas times,

As in horse sleigh they would huddle,

Beneath those heavy buffalo robes,

For warmth, they’d have to cuddle.

In 2003, Lime Creek Lutheran was moved from its original foundation to the grounds of Farming Of Yesteryear Threshing Festival just east of Kiester, Minnesota.

I’m happy that this church still stands,

For modern saints and sinners,

To come hear preaching from His Word,

That makes eternal winners!!! ><>

Not only the light of God’s Word, but the light from these elegant light fixtures illuminated Sunday worshippers in the childhood church of Elliott’s mother, Clarice.

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

May 17th…………“IN YOUR MINNESOTA HOMETOWN, GRANDPA, WERE THERE ANY FARMING CLUBS OR ORGANIZATIONS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE TO BELONG TO”?

Honey Jumble Cookies.

“Psssst!! Psssssssssssst!!!” with her hushed mouth alert, a farm wife leaned into the ear of the lady neighbor sitting next to her as she whispered, “Poor Clarice, she sure had some tough luck with her donuts”!!! With an acquiescing nod of empathy, these two unknowing ladies went about sipping their coffee and relishing the taste of these “failed donuts”. There’s an old saying that, “what goes around, comes around”, and when their remarks “came around” to our mother, Clarice, well…..she had a hearty laugh over the birthed misconception of her farmer lady friends!!! 😉 What those ladies thought were a bad batch of donuts were, in reality, one of mother’s many successful cookie recipes called, “Honey Jumble Cookies”.

These “donut” ladies, and other rural families, were enjoying the fellowship and meeting time of the local KEE 4-H CLUB that was being hosted at our family farm that day which lay three miles northwest of Kiester, Minnesota.

Earlier that day, numerous trucks and pickups began arriving at our farm and rolled to a stop in various shady places to park in our expansive farm yard. Down came gangplanks for unloading the clubber’s specific animal that were to take part in the KEE 4-H Club meeting that would be guided by the honorable Mr. Dale Wolfe along with other respected 4-H leadership from our close-knit community.

Founded in 1902 and nationally incorporated in 1914, the 4-H Clubs of America were created to instruct rural youth in improved farming and farm-homemaking practices. Other goals of this fine organization were to promote citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills for youth by experiential, “hands on” learning. Where elder generations of farmers were somewhat reticent to try new discoveries and techniques in agriculture, their young and teenaged children were more open to trying those new ideas and parents, seeing their obvious viability, were now more willing to come along and incorporate those new methods of animal husbandry or soil management (among many 4-H topics) to make family farms even better as sound, money-making businesses.

A gentleman by the name of Mr. A. B. Graham, from Ohio, in 1902 was one of the founders who actually started these young people groups by calling them “The Tomato Club” or “The Corn Growing Club”. As a symbol for this new youth movement, Mr. Jessie Shambaugh, created a four leafed clover pin, around 1910, with the letter H on each leaf of the pin. Each “H” on the pin represented his concept for H..ead, H..eart, H..ands and H..ealth; therefore this pin represented the centering on giving the agricultural youth a “four-squared education”.

To focus the mindset of these fine, young agrarians, the club motto is often recited as a team during the meetings……..“As a loyal 4-H member, I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living for my family, my club, my community, my country and my world”.

Being only knee-high to a burp, in those early childhood days of our farm life, I could only stand and gawk in awe of the fun, farm fellowship my older brother, Lowell, and big sister, Rosemary, were experiencing in the KEE 4-H Club!!!

There they stood, with halters on their young Holsteins and a lead rope for keeping those bovine beauties under control. As we hosted that meeting on our farm that day, Dale Wolfe and other 4-H leaders were educating these young folk on how to make their animals behave in preparation for the summer’s biggest party……..The Faribault County Fair in Blue Earth, Minnesota.

Elliott’s 4-H Club big brother, Lowell, trains his young Holstein heifer to obey him in preparation for garnering a judge’s Blue Ribbon at The Faribault County Fair in Blue Earth, Minnesota. Circa 1959 or 1960.

Sister Rosemary was not about to be undone by her diminutive, teenaged size as she used every ounce of her strength to keep her Holstein heifer in control; even if it meant pigeon-toeing her feet in the dirt to show that bovine that she was the BOSS of the moment for the benefit of watching judges.

From 4-H T-shirts, to 4-H flags, to 4-H garrison caps and pins…….there was great pride in belonging to such a fine youth organization that promoted family, farming and all that was right in being countryfolk and supporting all that was good in the world around us.

Eventually, after much hard work and learning, the grand celebration of the summer had arrived in the form of the Faribault County Fair. This thrilling event took place each year in the city of my birth, Blue Earth, Minnesota!!

I was agog at the great adventure that big brother and sister were about to embark upon with their respective animals. Just think, to live with and camp out by their animals in the town of Blue Earth for the duration of the Fair. And, just think of the times of youthful adventures each day after their animals were properly taken care of.

From cultivating our farm crops to now cultivating glorious times with friends and family, Lowell and Rosie loved every fun minute of joy that they invested upon the grounds of that summertime festival. Cotton candy melted in your mouth as many a stroll was taken in the evenings down the kaleidoscope-colored Midway of games and rides. Hamburgers, hotdogs and a plethora of other goodies knew no limit as many fellow 4-H friends spent their dollars at The Kiester Civic & Commerce Food Stand.

The Kiester Civic & Commerce Food Stand was always a tasty place to get a meal at The Faribault County Fair each summer.

There’s a warm feeling that’s held in a little boy’s heart, even when he’s now a gray-haired old man like I am today. That warm feeling has to do with a piece of 4-H equipment that was used by our older brother and sister in those sweet days of yesteryear. It was a handsome wooden box of about five feet long, by 2 feet high and about two feet deep. The wainscoting lumber construction had been painted in a shiny white enamel paint that made it look regal. And, on top of that “tack” (equipment) box was a magnificent decal that was a green four-leaf clover design with the famous 4-H letters within it. That wooden creation had thick, rope handles built into each end for carrying about. That box became “home-base” for our elder siblings as they lived with their animals and prepared to compete for ribbons and trophies. Even when our family moved to Washington State in 1967, that “magic box” came with us and provided a million marvelous memories of the very happy, golden days of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son. 😉

4-H Clubs cover so many aspects of life, both on a farm and even in modern suburbia of today. In this case, our Kiester, Minnesota family friend, Phil Osheim, was showing one of his hogs at the Faribault County Fair this particular year.

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

May 16th………“WHEN IT CAME TIME FOR HARVESTING THE FIELDS ON YOUR FARM, WHERE AND HOW DID OUR GREAT GRANDPA RUSSELL GET HIS GRAIN CROPS TO MARKET”?

THERE IT WAS!!! In the distance!! A galvanized “Emerald City” right out of the 1939 “Wizard Of Oz” movie!!! 😉 Wellll, O.K., so it wasn’t green, still, it was a farmer boy’s version of the classic children’s tale!

You will have to admit, though, what I saw, from the highway far outside the city limits of our hometown of Kiester, Minnesota, was amazing!!! That clanking, caliginous, conglomerate collection of buildings was taller than all the trees, houses and commercial buildings combined that made up our grand little village just a mile or so from the Iowa State Border there in south central Minnesota. The name of this gray, galvanized grotto for grain? The Kiester Co-operative Elevator Company.

Elliott (standing on tire) and sister, Candi, (top left) enjoy their Colorado cousins while Russell airs up the wagon tires as his brother, Erwin, watches.

Harvest time had once again descended upon the now golden fields of our family farm which lay three miles northwest of Kiester. Oats, soybeans and soon even the corn would all be calling for Dad’s tractor-drawn combine or cornpicker to begin cutting, shelling and making our grain crop ready to be hauled to the local market in our nearby town.

Dad’s tall, handsome brother, Erwin, and family had just rolled into our farm yard from Colorado. Giddy with our visiting playmates, my cousins, along with little sister, Candi, and myself were consumed in jubilant playtime as we climbed up, and over, and into and out of that grain wagon.

While his ubiquitous sweat rolled down his neck from beneath his engineer’s cap, our dear farmer father was hustling and bustling in the process of airing up tires and man-handling our farm’s grease gun to lubricate every Zerk fitting (named after Oscar Zerk) so that this wagon and our other machinery was at peak condition for the harvesting at hand.

With the harvest now in full swing, Dad had rolled his tractor and one of the many full grain wagons of soybeans into the yard near our farm house. He was famished and happy to come inside for the noon meal (which we called Dinner). In more relaxed times of the year, Dad would usually enjoy taking a nap after Dinner, but during harvest there was too much important work to do, so I knew my father was going to pull that grain wagon into town and to the elevator after his meal. “Dad! Can I please come along and ride on the tractor with you to the elevator”?, asked this little Norwegian Farmer’s Son. “Well, o.k., Son, but only if you promise to hang on very tightly all the way to and from town”!!! Deal!!!

The Indian Summer sunshine was warming us both as we climbed aboard our Farmall H tractor for this mini-adventure of grain hauling.

In today’s modern agriculture everything from the tractors to grain wagons to diesel semi-trucks are exponentially gigantic compared to what we were using. But, being that ours was a small farm, our parents lived by the perspective they had gained from coming through the Great Depression and World War II. My folks lived by the rule: “Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, Or do without”!!! The family grain wagon and our older model Farmall tractors were all we had to work with, so that was the modus operandi (usual way of doing things) and the “make it do” on our farm.

As Dad pushed his foot to the starter button, the tractor’s engine came to life. With all pistons popping, the hinged muffler cap shot immediately upright, like a soldier to attention, and stayed there in salute as the throttle was moved to a higher engine speed in preparation to pull out of the yard. As Dad let out the clutch, that faithful old Farmall H grimaced a bit in her engine sound as the load of soybeans, in our wagon behind us, challenged her power. Yet, with the tenacity that made these tractors famous, she overpowered the weight of her trailing soybean load and we rolled gently down the knoll of our driveway and onto the graveled road heading for Kiester. It was seldom that I was able to witness the high speed of “road gear” in our tractors, but today, the winds of late Summer and early Fall raced past my ears in a buffeting buffet of sound that was only superseded by the constant engine and muffler of our red chariot of choice.

Behind our town’s train depot, you can see the grain elevator buildings. From their storage bins, the train you see in the background will be filled with grain to be taken to mills in cities to the east, maybe even down the Mississippi River to other countries.

Our duo of tractor and grain wagon came to a stop at the paved highway atop Ozmun’s hill (that belonged to our beloved neighbors Chet & Violet Ozmun). Pulling out from the stop sign and onto the paved highway, my father put the H through her gear pattern to eventually achieve “road gear” once again. This time, I now heard a different chorus in my ears. It was the thrum, thrum, thrum of the large, chevron-treaded tires slapping the paved highway beneath us. I was in kid heaven experiencing this fun time with our family patriarch!

Kiester Co-operative Elevator Company was now almost waving at us as we approached town. To be obedient to the speed limit signs, we slow down as we come rolling into our city limits and through the neighborhood towards our destination. Dad shifts down the tractor from our speed on the highway so that he can safely navigate into the granary complex of scales and unloading area. Our full grain wagon is weighed with the soybeans onboard and then we’re directed up the incline and into the cavernous opening of the elevator. Dad carefully pulls the wagon across the metal grating that will “swallow” all of our soybeans. We come to a stop and the tractor brakes are set as we dismount our red metal steed. We walk behind the wagon and our farmer father pulls up on a sliding door at the back of the grain wagon. Prairie winds, zipping through the giant doorway, whips up chaff dust as soybeans burst forth from the wagon opening by the bazillion and start to stream out and down into that pit below us.

Our town’s grain elevator did just that; it elevated that grain of ours from the pit below us and then, by various immense, screw-type augering systems, moved the soybeans (or oats, or corn) up, up, up and into the super tall storage structure.

When the first rush of soybeans had escaped into the abyss below us, the rest of the load of grain needed some lifting assist to empty the rest of the load. Our daddy then would walk up to the Farmall H (whose engine is still running at a slow idle speed) and pulls a lever to actuate a hydraulic lift under the wagon. It slowly begins to raise the wagon box up and up until the last soybean races to its new home underground below the grating.

With a push to the other direction of that lever, our grain cart comes back to a flat plane once again and we drive out the other end of this amazing grain storage facility. Once again, Dad has the wagon weighed to show its empty weight. The difference in the loaded and empty weight measurements are what our family will eventually get paid for from the elevator when the harvest is completed.

The Central & Northwest Railroad, that ran west to east through our village, was a high contributing factor in the very birth of our small town in 1900. In those early days, the railroad was a connection for not only passengers to our area, but for the commerce, grain trade and all points of connecting to the world out yonder. So it was in the sweet days of our farm family, as well. From those gray, galvanized grottos of grain, the elevator company was able to load that grain onto the train for its further travel to the big markets in the east and even down the Mississippi River to international trade. It was truly a grand time to be a happy partaker in this agricultural adventure for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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

May 15th………“TELL US ABOUT YOUR BIG SISTER, ROSEMARY, AND ONE OF HER BIRTHDAY PARTIES. ALSO SHARE ABOUT WHAT MADE HER SPECIAL TO YOU”!

POEM – “Our Regally Royal Radiant Rosie” by N. Elliott Noorlun. Today’s entry date is May 15th, which was also the birth date of our big sister, Rosemary Arlone Noorlun (eventually Ehrich). This poem is a tribute to her life and a fun party she once devised without telling our mother. 😉

On May 15th of ’46,

An angel floated down,

And placed upon, A newborn’s head,

A sparkling little pink crown.

Rosemary Arlone, Had come to us,

Full of VIM n ZIP n ZOOM!

So watch out world, Here comes some fun,

Life’s dance will need some room!

Momma’s helper, Was Rosie for sure,

And when it came time for lunch,

To the field Sis would scurry, With bag in a hurry,

While Dad loved his meal with a crunch.

And then there was when, A party Sis planned,

But left Momma out of the loop.

Birthday guests tagged along, With a whistle and song,

But Rosie was then in hot soup!

Turns out Rosie’s guests, And she had decided,

After school that they’d walk the train tracks.

But without telling parents, Those little declarants,

Were hoping for cake and some snacks.

Mom quickly called parents, To settle their nerves,

For daughters who’d not yet come home.

Then quickly made cake, With some JELLO to shake,

For that party under farm home’s dome.

The years flew by, As this little farm guy,

Saw his sister grow into a queen.

With a beauty so rare, It caused all to stare,

Her bright spirit imbued every scene!

Marriage and family, Graced Rosie’s life,

As she took on duties, Of mother and wife.

Each child a reflection, Of their mother and dad,

Our Sis was so proud, They all made her so glad!

But then in July of ’89, Our sister was called Home to Glory.

Though just 43, It was quite plain to see,

On earth t’was the end of her story.

Yet eternal we are, And her story, by far,

Lives on in each life she created.

Each child born in love, Is watched from above,

By our Rosie with angels elated!!!

So I thank you, dear Sis, As I blow you a kiss,

Till in Heaven we meet once again.

Then the best party ever, Will ring through the clouds,

With blissful joy on that Heavenly plain!! ><>

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

May 14th………“DID YOU ENJOY GOING BAREFOOT DURING THE SUMMER AND FALL ON YOUR FARM IN SOUTHERN MINNESOTA”?

POEM – “Bare Feet So Bold” by N. Elliott Noorlun

When young on the farm, And oh so bold,

Our joyous Spring, began to unfold.

Off came the layers, Every boot and socks,

To try my bare toes, Outside on the rocks.

At first came the oooches n ouches of pain,

But I knew by each day, I’d eventually gain,

The callouses to make, My feet really tough,

And be able to run, And play in the rough.

Now sand, then rocks, Now even gravel,

Never hampered my play, Or need of travel.

So tough that I came, To have no trouble,

Even stomping the fields, Of alfalfa stubble.

At first, in the Spring, I felt every zing,

Of objects so tiny and small,

But by end of Fall, T’was no bother at all,

My skin leather soles were on call.

But, with age now it shows, My former farm toes,

Have been inside my shoes way too long.

They’re tender again, Remembering way back when,

They were tough as I sang young life’s song.

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

May 13th……….“IN THE SUMMERTIME ON YOUR FARM, GRANDPA, WAS THERE A SPECIAL PLACE IN THE EVENINGS THAT YOU WOULD GO TO FOR A FAMILY TREAT”?

Mr. Summer’s sun, sitting on horizon’s edge of that magical Minnesota sunset, shot one last, intense beam of golden sunlight straight down Roberts Street in our town of Kiester. As if rehearsed, a handsome 1958 Oldsmobile Super 88, with Tri-Bar Fiesta hubcaps spinning, intersected with that amber spotlight of God and the merge lit up his sparkling hubcaps. A little boy, like me, couldn’t help but notice the spectacle as we saw yet another local, teenage farmer’s son roll off of Highway 22 and right into the expansive, graveled yard of “Moen’s Dairy Belle” Drive-In.

With our cows milked, and chores done for the evening, we, along with families and teens from miles around our farming community, looked forward to this fun opportunity, on summer nights, to cool off. We had completed another day of driving tractors, milking cows and loving the farming life. One had to love this agrarian lifestyle in order to carry on through agriculture’s daily challenges; for very few farmers ever got rich from tilling and tending that rich, black earth that surrounded our place we called home. Yet, we were so grateful for the daily provisions the good Lord gave us, especially when we could afford this treat time at the Drive-In.

It was easy to discern the difference between the teenager’s cars and the family cars at the “Dairy Belle” on those evenings. The cars of tired moms and dads, with a passel of kids in the back seat, were usually crusted over with layers of Midwest dust or mud, depending on the latest rainfall. To the other end of the vehicle spectrum, teenage young bucks, full of spit n shine, would have their automobile polished to the highest degree of luminous luster and often sported a set of foam dice hanging from the rearview mirror for that ultimate hormonal sense of panache.

In 1963, the only typical air-conditioning for cars, in those days, was 4/60 air…………four windows rolled down at 60 miles per hour!! 😉 It was a given, then, that all car windows were cranked down to the open position. This was not only for grasping any cooling evening breeze that might blow by, but to also open up the fellowship and chit chat time between all the other cars of buddies that parked in that tasty spot of town, as well.

Ohhhh and the music!!! If cars alongside you would sync to the same AM radio station as your rig, you could all enjoy Nat King Cole as he’d sing, “Roll out those lazy, hazy crazy days of summer”!!! Or, Little Peggy March proclaiming in her ballad…..“I will follow him. Follow him wherever he may go” One of my favorite songs, though, on those nights we frequented the Drive-In, seemed so appropriate to the happy Scandinavian hunt for sweetness. That song was the delightful Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs song called, “Sugar Shack”!!! 😉

On those few and special occasions, not only did we get a rise out of the joy of coming to this tasty place, but even the elevation of the parking lot had an incline that, as evening morphed into night, pointed your car’s headlights upwards towards the “Dairy Belle” building itself. Gals who “hopped” (walked quickly) out to your car for your food order were naturally called, “Carhops”. This upward angle of cars served the purpose of flashing your headlights to the carhops to let them know when you were finished with your meal and it was time for them to come pick up that window tray from your car. During daylight business hours, headlight flashing was replaced with a “beep, beep” of your horn for service.

Sweet Gloria Osheim was just one of those carhop cuties that would make happy steps towards our old Chevrolet and bend down to greet our family and ask what we’d like to enjoy for our super sweet supper servings that night. Our darling big sister, Rosemary, and Gloria were great buddies there at Kiester High School, so if big sis was along that night, those two pals would have a chat fest as we gave our food order to Gloria.

With Hamburgers at 25 cents and hotdogs at 20 cents, life was good to feed the family. To wash that good grub down, you’d add an ice-cold glass mug of Coke, Root Beer or even Lem-O-Lime or Grape-O to your culinary bliss and you had it made in the shade. And to conclude the evening, it would be almost sacrilegious to the dairy industry if you didn’t top off your meal without either a root beer float, vanilla ice cream cones or a chocolate ice cream sundae with nuts!!! 😉

While waiting for our food to come, Dad and Mom would enjoy visiting with the farm family parked next to us and we little Norskis, in the back seat, well, we just absorbed the fun evening around us of happy hi-jinks, some good-natured mayhem and even see a couple or two of lovebirds parked off by themselves for a bit more privacy. 😉

On that particular evening, Dad had actually drove our family to the “Dairy Belle” in town. But, our Norwegian daddy had a silly streak a mile long and on one summer’s evening, he pulled a fast one on all of us, including Mom. Little sister, Candi, had been begging and begging, “Daddy, PLEASE take us to the Drive-In tonight, please”? With a wink, Dad responds, “O.K., kids, you and Mom get in the car”! Ohhhh boy, we thought, we’re gonna go get some yummies, ya? NOT!!! That prankster father of ours pulled out of the south driveway entrance of our farm, turned and then he would DRIVE IN the north entrance of our U-shaped driveway. Again, he’d go out the south entrance of our farm’s exit lane, turn and DRIVE IN the north driveway. Well, it didn’t take too long to know we’d been HAD by this trickster and his incessant giggles!!! His response to our groanings was, “Look!, we’re doing a DRIVE IN”!!! No “Dairy Belle” THAT night. 😉

Now back to the story. In due time, out would come the carhop with our food tray loaded to the gills with every yummy food and drink that brought this farm boy to the point of salivating illusions of bellybutton bliss!! Dad rolled his driver’s window up about four inches, or so, for our carhop to lower the special tray hooks to engage and hold our grub while he began passing around the “vittles” to us hungry kiddos.

In my eyes, these were truly golden days in the life of our Noorlun family and also within the cherished village that made up the “family” of our hometown. The close-knit farm and town family spirit was very strong in those days. The ultra high technology of today has actually been the bane of all that made us “one” in those happy days. Days that so many of us took for granted at the time.

Sadly, groups of young folk and adults, in today’s culture are physically together, but in all essence they are miles apart as each person is lost in the glow of their individual cell phones and/or earbuds. I, for one, am SO happy I grew up when I did and, to this very day, relish the Kiester joys of being a Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!! 😉

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

May 12th……….“WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO BE A 9TH GRADE FRESHMAN AT YOUR HIGH SCHOOL IN BATTLE GROUND, WASHINGTON”?

There was a metallic CRASH and accompanying THUD against the hallway side of my Freshman Science classroom at Battle Ground High School!!! With skin burns still hurting on my neck, my face grinned with a smile of welcomed vindication; for I knew exactly who caused that ruckus and he became my hero in many ways.

Various rites of passage have been a part of numerous cultures around the world for a myriad of centuries. Even sailors are initiated with types of embarrassing hazing when they cross the Equator for the first time. On the other side of those good-natured ribbings, they’re inducted into and were then members of the “King Neptune Society”.

In the Fall of 1968, such blushing ordeals were in store for myself and all my new fellow Freshmen “Tigers” at Battle Ground High School in Battle Ground, Washington.

Elliott’s Freshmen classmates, Bart Gish and John Hall, put a shine to the “holy ground” of the Tiger BG in the Fall of 1968-69.

Freshmen Initiation Week at Battle Ground High School was a combination of fun, lots of blushing moments, and even some pain. For starters, we “Frosh” boys had to wear a white T-shirt with a long tie. That antithesis of fashion was to be our “uniform” for the week. We “newbies”, before being allowed to be counted as family with the upper classmen, first had to learn to be obedient to the orders given to us by the 12th Grade Seniors (and ONLY the Seniors…..as I recall), we had to learn to sing our school anthem song, as loudly as possible, for any Senior. If so ordered, we had to carry a Senior’s books to his next class, call him “SIR”, roll a peanut down the long halls with our nose, etc., etc..

Roger Sargent and Randy Brown show their allegiance to the code of the Tigers in keeping the BG in excellent condition during Initiation Week.

It wasn’t something out of the Old Testament of the Bible, but to all “Tigers” at Battle Ground High, it was still considered “holy ground”. We all learned there was something that you “never touch”, “always show respect for” and “NEVER walk on it” …..that object of adoration was the hallowed floor tiles inside the High School entry that spelled a giant, orange & black “BG” (for Battle Ground, of course). During Initiation Week, many a Freshman was enlisted by Seniors to polish the BG.

Teachers cautioned us “new kids on the block” to be sure to stay on campus during Initiation Week. That was because the Faculty could better observe and regulate what Seniors could and could NOT do to us for “temporary torture”.

In my previous year of 8th Grade in the old Junior High Building, we were down in the basement cafeteria eating one day during the Initiation Week of the kids who were now Sophomores in 1968-69. A fellow 8th Grader hollered, “Heyyyy everybody!!! Come see this”!!! Looking out that window, we saw some not so smart Freshman had the audacity to wander off campus and across the street to Clark Holcomb’s 76 Union gas station during their lunch time. Sure enough, they’d been caught by Seniors and were getting a water hose put down their pants and turned on full blast!!! 😉

Battle Ground High School Freshmen are humbled by Seniors during Initiation Week at Battle Ground High School in the Fall of 1968.

It’s a good thing I didn’t frequent the High School Cafeteria very often, because during that “hell week” a number of Freshmen were herded up on the Stage and made to loudly sing the school anthem (which few of us knew in those early days) and to roll up their pants legs for further embarrassment among the giggling Seniors in attendance.

But one day, I almost got hung……..literally!!!

Elliott’s bad guy was named Gary, but his full name is cast to the winds of infamy!!!

As I mentioned earlier, only Seniors were granted the power to initiate us underclassmen into the ranks of the alma mater (Latin for “dear mother”) family. Yet, a pimple-faced turd of a Sophomore decided he was gonna initiate me to death right in front of my next class, which was Freshman Science Class with Mr. Richard “Dick” Lawrence as our teacher. Even some of the nomenclatures for the word Sophomore fit this kid…..”Conceited, pretentious, over confident, immature”…..these adjectives fit that little jerk to a T. As he shoves me up against the lockers, he’s castigating me…..“Hey Kid!! Whaddya think your puny Freshmen body is doing around our Sophomore lockers? Huh? Huh”? I didn’t want any trouble, so I was just trying to be laid back and smile it off. Nope, that didn’t work. “Well, ya little twerp, I’m gonna hoist you by your ugly necktie and hang you over the top of my locker”!!!! And, by golly, he started to strangle me as he began lifting my carcass up by my necktie!!!! Just then, in the nick of time, my tall, blonde and very muscular Science teacher, Mr. Lawrence plows, full-steam, from our classroom and breaks up this literal necktie party. “Heyyyy, Heyyyy!!! What’s goin’ on here”???? Rotten mr. pimple face lets go of me and I can start to breath again. “Elliott, you o.k.?? Go ahead and take your seat at your table”!! “Yes sir”!!!, as I gladly obeyed!! Upon reaching and sitting at my table, I heard that pimple-faced Sophomore body get slammed up against those lockers in the hallway and my hero, Mr. Lawrence read the riot act to that sorry excuse for a “Tiger” who had no business, as a Sophomore, trying to initiate me………especially with the lethal tactics he was using.

That handsome, muscular mountain of a man earned my respect and trust for him that day as a virile man’s man. Mr. Lawrence was excellent also as a fine Science teacher and, later that year, an inspiration to me as my Wrestling Coach. Like any good leader, he led by example and earned the allegiance of many young men who were glad to follow his educator’s role in the classroom setting as well as on the grappler’s mat for our Wrestling Team. Bless the memory of Mr. Richard “Dick” Lawrence who was an inspiration for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

First row, third from left, is Elliott as a Junior Varsity team member of the Honorable Mr. Lawrence’s Wrestling Team.

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..May 11th

May 11th…………“SINCE YOU SHARED, GRANDPA, THAT YOU HAD A TELEVISION IN YOUR FARM HOME NEAR KIESTER, MINNESOTA, WHAT WAS AN EXCITING SHOW (OR SHOWS) THAT YOU ENJOYED WATCHING”?

Actor Clayton Moore (L), famous for his good guy role as The Lone Ranger, actually plays the part of one of the villains in the twelve chapter series called, “Radar Men From The Moon”.

“NOOOOO!!! LONE RANGER!!! NOT YOU!!! YOU JUST CAN’T BE A BAD GUY”!!!! Such were the pleading words flowing out of my emotional little boy mouth as I mourned over even the thought of my great childhood hero of the “Silver Screen” and television having given himself over to the “dark side” and was now a villainous bad guy!!!! Even though the actor, Clayton Moore, was not wearing his famous Lone Ranger mask, my youngster ears could hear and discern that voice of his easily.

There I was, perched precariously on the very edge of our family sofa in our snug little Living Room, fully captured and enraptured by what I saw happening on the screen of our old black n white Zenith television that sat in the corner of the room. Drying off my sweaty palms on the knees of my blue jeans, I watched as Commando Cody donned his amazing leather coat flying suit and stepped outside of his laboratory office building. He carefully mounted his silver bullet-looking flying helmet on and then began turning some buttons on the chest of this rocket jacket he wore. Electronic whirring noises were building to a crescendo as he ran towards me and leaped into the air with the sound of rockets propelling him skyward.

Little did this prepubescent farm boy know of anything when it came to the reality, logic and chronological timing of this Hollywood make-believe. To my young mindset, I, like many literal-minded children of that age span, perceived that Commando Cody really did fly in his rocket suit and that that large, pointed sausage of a space ship really did fly to the moon and back, etc., etc.. If it was on the screen of our Zenith, it must be real, right? 😉

Elliott’s mother, Clarice (holding tray), and family sit near the little television set in the corner that “Radar Men Of The Moon” was broadcast on. Circa 1960.

The first chapter, entitled “Moon Rocket” ended with high suspense as “Retik”, the evil Ruler Of The Moon fired his atom ray-gun that exploded a large piece of Moon Man equipment that Commando Cody was hiding behind. Was he killed? I wouldn’t know until the next week when Chapter Two would continue this hair-raising adventure.

In the meantime, I decided to go outside to imitate my own version of Commando Cody and his flying suit which rocketed him through the skies and down to rescue anyone in need. A small piece of cardboard, with crayon drawings of dials and switches would have to do for my little boy “flying suit”. The section of cardboard seemed to fit pretty good between my bib overall suspenders that came over my shoulders and clipped onto the breast-piece of those striped bib overalls.

Now, all I needed was a launch point from which I would jump into the air and pretend I was {{{{COMMANDO CODY!!!}}}} 😉

A stack of straw bales, near our barn, seemed to do nicely for their height; they would be my launching pad into “space”. With a hope-filled leap I came down off the heights of the bales and hit the deck running. With head down and arms outstretched in front of me, I ran like the wind around the yard looking down, just like my space hero did, looking for the nasty, evil henchmen below. As I’d locate those scoundrels, I’d make a jump in the air and land (as if I had come down out of the sky, of course……….Hehehe! )

I’m so glad that I grew up in an era when the imagination station between my ears was much more advanced than staring into any video game that the youngsters zombie on today. And, on top of that, I exercised my entire body in my playtimes and not just my thumbs, such as today’s generation of children do. It was sure fun, in those days, to enjoy being a Norwegian Farmer’s Son. 😉

Vol. 2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..May 10th

May 10th………..“WHEN OUR GREAT GRANDPA RUSSELL NEEDED APPLIANCES FOR YOUR HOME AND EVEN TOOLS TO FIX THINGS ON YOUR FARM, WHAT STORES DID HE USUALLY GO TO IN KIESTER TO GET THOSE SUPPLIES”?

I had just cleared the glass entrance door as I stepped inside of “Gambles” Hardware store in my hometown of Kiester, Minnesota. When Pete Bruckhoff caught sight of my young self, I knew I was in for some humorous moments ahead. Pete, that fun man, possessed a smile at least a mile wide and it got even larger when he could add a wink and a pun aimed at this farmer’s son.

“Well, welllllll!!! Hey Jim, look at this!! Davey Crockett just walked in! Kilt ya a barrr lately with that BB gun”?? he said with a wink and a one-sided grin. Pete knew eggzackatakally what I was shopping for. Under his gaze, I could feel the warmth building all over the skin of my face which was a sure give-away that I was blushing, and at the same moment, flashing a reciprocal smile reflecting in Pete’s direction. Approaching from the paint section of the hardware store came Jim Hanson who was the store’s proprietor; he was a happy-hearted barrel of monkeys too. For those readers too young to remember this era, not only was Davey Crockett a real-life person from American history, but, during the mid 1950’s and farther, the Crockett character was enhanced and promoted by the famous Walt Disney Studios via movies and massive marketing campaigns that sold everything having to do with Davey Crockett from coonskin caps to rifles and buckskin costumes. Pete Bruckhoff’s earlier comments had to do with the very popular song of the movie theme that sung out the phrasing, “He kilt him a barrr when he was only three! Davey, Davey Crockett, King of the wild frontier”!!! 😉

In the not too distant past, my big brother hero, Lowell, had bought us a Daisy Model 102 Cub BB air rifle which I “loved” to shoot as often as I could. But, like most rough n tough frontiersmen, I dun did rund outta ammo!!! To refill my rifle, there was a twist-open hole at the front of the barrel where you’d pour in your next load of BB shot, then twist the load point “door” closed and you’d be on your way to huntin’ more bad guys or anything else a wild child, imaginative boy could contrive for fun!!

On this crisp, Indian Summer day, my goal was to resupply my need for Daisy Brand Golden Bullseye BB shot. They usually came in 350 shot or 500 shot cylindrical hardboard tubes with black slide caps on the end. This joy-filled scene from my boyhood was enhanced by the fact that Mr. Bruckhoff and Mr. Hanson were like a dynamic duo in that store and made shopping fun for anyone, but especially fun for this happy-go-lucky farm boy who enjoyed his Daisy BB air rifle immensely.

Since I had the millions, o.k. so it was quarters, in my pockets that day, I’d gladly enjoy the teasing by the guys and then buy as many tubes of BBs as I could. Then, it was time to head home to the farm to go target shooting out in our windbreak woods that surrounded our main farm yard of home and buildings. Another kid adventure was when brother and myself would attach a magnetic flashlight onboard the barrel of the BB rifle and go hunting pigeons at night in neighbor farmer’s barns. The strong point of light from the flashlight blinded the birds and PLINK, PLINK…….one or a dozen less birds were eliminated who broke barn windows or messed on that farmer’s hay.

From my humble perspective, our small town’s success, during those family-dominated days of small farms, came right out of the independent, self-sufficient culture of our American ancestors. There was no need to shop in the big city when all of our basic needs were gladly supplied right there in our beloved Main Street stores. From groceries, to clothing and from tools to horse tack, it was all there in this village that was more like family……..and it was called, Kiester!!

At the north end of Main Street was another place of tooling around business called Kiester Hardware Company. Mr. Leon Ellis, and his fine staff, could supply everything from Maytag washing machines, Monarch stoves and even Admiral refrigerators. AND, you never had to worry about repair, because Kiester Hardware Company always proclaimed, “We service all we sell”. If beautifying your home or farm was on a “to-do list”, you could sparkle up your home or barn with “Gilt Edge” paints. By golly gee, you could even build a home with the plethora of tools and gadgets upon the walls and in the bins of that store that could meet any repair or construction need. Kiester Hardware Company even promoted that their “hardware was always ready for some HARD WEAR”!!! 😉 Those attributes suited our father fine, for like any farmer, “time was money” and he didn’t have to worry about long drives to Albert Lea or Blue Earth for tools and materials when he could get his farm’s needs met right there in good old Kiester.

Of course, I would be remiss in this story if I allowed you to think that this Daisy Model 102 Cub BB air rifle was toted about by this little farmer angel boy. Cause, if you think that, you’ve got another thing coming.

All of us, especially when young, get a little “too big for our britches”; also known as “cruisin’ for a bruisin’ “. That happened to me and my BB air rifle one day when my little sister, Candi, and I got into an argument out in the middle of the farm yard between our house and the barn. At the end of the growling between us, she went walking off in a huff and I thought, “I’ll show you who’s boss”!!! She was about 30 yards or so away from me when I cocked and hip-shot fired a BB at her; hitting her in her little gluteus maximus (posterior motives). Little sister was more horrified by indignation than actually hurt by the little projectile that was about spent in speed at that distance. Nonetheless, she marched right on down to the barn and told our dad, Russell. I was now a quivering pile of melting butter as Dad stormed straight at me and yanked that BB rifle out of my hands and drug me along to his shop building. He tossed the rifle way up in the rafters and gave me a, well-deserved, “tongue lashing” for such a lacking of respect for my little sister and her safety. With a volcanic admonishment he then laid down the law to NEVER, EVER point that rifle at anyone, EVER!!! “That BB gun is going to STAY up in those rafters for a LONG, LONG time while you THINK about what you did“!!! “If you EVER take it down before I say so, you’ll get a spanking like you’ve NEVER had before”!!!! “Yes SIR, yes SIR”!!! said this, now much wiser, Norwegian Farmer’s Son!! 😉