Norwegian Farmer’s Son…February 15th


We all can take ownership in the saga of skinned knees.  Our first walking….skinned knees.  Trying to run…skinned knees.  Our first attempt at bike riding…major skinned knees!  Thus, in the Fall of 1966, I came to my first ever “date” with a girl….symbolic skinned knees were sure to happen.

NFS 2.15b
A brilliance of Fall color was the setting for Elliott’s first date with Miss Gloria Carlson.

An unparalleled palette of Fall colors showed themselves in the leaves that carpeted the lawns in our handsome village of Kiester, Minnesota.  It was October of 1966 and time, once again, for our school’s annual Homecoming celebrations.

#87=Elliott in HomeComing parade, October 1965
Elliott is on the far side in the Kiester High School “Homecoming Parade”(between girl in red jacket and girl with red head scarf.  Our parents were known to keep every single photo….clear OR blurry 😉

Not only were the scents of Fall in the air around us, but there was also the “fragrance” of welcoming home former students to our school campus and community.  A coming home, so to speak, also known across the nation as “Homecoming”.  A flurry of activities and parades were planned each year for entertaining the returning alumni, current students, parents and town folk in general.

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Kiester High School Royal Homecoming Court of 1966

Tradition dictated that, each year, a Royal Homecoming King and Queen would “rule” (at least symbolically) over the week long affairs of the yearly celebration.   Band concerts, Pep Assemblies, Bonfire, All School Homecoming Parade and other events would gradually culminate in the yearly football match with our rival school from the town of Frost, Minnesota.

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Our rugged Bulldog football team usually trounced the “enemy” squad from Frost, Minnesota each year 😉

Within this gala of celebrations around our village, there was also an internal celebration, of sorts, within myself.  Over the past year or so, I had mystically morphed from a little boy that thought all girls had germs n worms, to a young man now noticing that girls were not so bad, after all.  Matter of fact, after observing romantic movies and older siblings, I had decided I’d like to try this thing called “dating”, too.   For whatever reason,  I mustered the courage ask Miss Gloria Carlson (the local banker’s daughter) if she would “go out” with me for the evening of the Homecoming Football Game and Dance.  Amazingly, she said yes, so the wheels were now in motion for my first excursion into the world of boy/girl dating.  What do I wear?  What do I say?  How do I act?  HOW DO YOU DANCE????  Ohhh my!!  I could feel the “skinned knees” already, cause I felt like I was going to “fall on my face” with social foul ups!

#167=Elliott's 6th Grade class 1965-66; Mrs. Scofield-teacher
Miss Gloria Carlson standing next to Mr. “Skinned Knees” in our 1966-67 Seventh Grade Class photo.

Gloria’s home was just south of our school’s football field, so it was convenient for my parents to drop me off there.  The fancy doorbell on their fancy house brought her parents to the door and initial social greetings ensued.  Talk about the “blind leading the blind”.  The two of us then bid farewell to her parents as we made our way to the football field and the giant bonfire that was about to take place as the Minnesota sun settled into the farmlands that surrounded the football field.  Like any youngsters, we whooped and hollered for our Bulldogs as they “chewed up” the competition from Frost, MN that night.  As the roar of the local crowd began to subside, we pulled our jackets on a little snugger as we meandered the four or so blocks back to our school and the celebration Homecoming Dance.  Old “Mr. Skinned Knees” here had a tongue as big as a football as I tried to make small talk with Gloria while we listened to the crisp crackling of Fall leaves underfoot as we meandered towards the school gymnasium.

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Elliott should have worn this sign to warn Gloria and save her toes from being stepped on so much 😉

The Kiester High School gymnasium had been regally transformed into a luxurious world of twisted crepe ribbons that hung from the basketball goals that were now raised clear up to the ceiling in the center of the gym.  The resulting effect of this great idea, was a multicolored “tent” look that draped all the way down to the four sides of this place to now “dance the night away”.   A local band provided music for us to enjoy and you could see young couples begin to swing and sway to the pulsations of this grand finale of Homecoming Week.

'Your feet are killing me!'
Said Gloria to Elliott 😉

Not only could I NOT dance, but the school custodians (or dance committee) had sprinkled the gymnasium floor with “dancing dust” (resembled sawdust).  Heck, I could barely stand up on that stuff, say nothing about dancing.   For Gloria and myself, our time on the dance floor was a comedy act from the very beginning.  I tried to impress my date with my wiggles n jiggles to the music played, but I’m sure her smiles were likely suppressed howls at the sight of the banker’s daughter and a very clumsy Norwegian Farmer’s Son.








Norwegian Farmer’s Son…February 14th


Valentines 1
Simple and fun, that’s how it’s begun 😉

ACROSTIC POEM – “Love Is Shown” by N. Elliott Noorlun

V  ery far, in the long ago,

A  little guy, namely me,

L  ined up with my bag of Valentine cards,

E  xcited for to see.

N  o wonder I liked this holiday,

T  o let my friends all know,

I  liked them all, just as much,

N  ow they all would know.

E  verybody passed my little desk,

S  lipped loving notes in my bag,

elighted was I, with pleasant sigh,

s that bag began to sag.

Y  up, even Valentines love is shown, to this tiny scalawag. 😉


Norwegian Farmer’s Son…February 13th


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There was no buckle on the leather belt blank that Mr. Parker used to correct Elliott’s infraction of the Industrial Arts Shop Rules.

My 13 year old butt cheeks quivered like a wild bowl of jello in an earthquake as Mr. Parker’s leather belt blank met my gluteus maximus with a sharp sounding “WHACK”!!!  The sting was not half as bad as the deep embarrassment of what brought me to that public correction.

#937 Daryl Parker, teacher at Kiester H.S.
Mr. Parker was admired and respected, not only as an excellent teacher of Industrial Arts, but also as a fine wrestling coach for our Kiester High School “Bulldogs”.

Ours was a six year High School in my beloved hometown.  So, as the 1966-67 school year commenced, I was in 7th Grade and considered in High School.   One of my favorite classes, that year, was Industrial Arts class with a great teacher by the name of Mr. Daryl Parker.  I loved every minute of learning how to use hand tools properly and then applying that knowledge to a plethora of various building projects that ranged from plastic laminate and dye coloring, to wood work, copper relief art with framing, making leather belts, etc..  We all enjoyed Mr. Parker.  He was usually quite jovial with a barrel chest of muscles, to boot.  Mr. Parker was fair, communicated well and also meant exactly what he said.  He was even a great teaser.

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We all laughed when Mr. Parker explained the holes in the paddle.

While giving instructions to the class, Mr. Parker sometimes picked up a swat paddle from his desk that had numerous large holes drilled through it.  We asked him, “What are the holes in the paddle for, sir?”  His response?  “That’s so when I swat ya, I can watch the “meat” come through!!!”  The entire class joined our teacher in a roar of laughter!

NFS 2.13b
“NEVER lay a wood plane flat on your work bench table!!”, said Mr. Parker.

Mr. Parker’s disciplined ways came into reality one day as we were learning about wood work and the tools needed to see it done properly.  Our wise teacher invested quality time in explaining to us the parts and workings of a wood plane.  We were enlightened about the amount of time he spent sharpening all of those wood planes and how that his students should NEVER lay a wood plane FLAT on the work bench table!  Reason is, the trueness of that clean blade might be damaged or nicked.  Then, when you would push the plane across your wood, that nick in the blade will spoil every pass with a scar into the wood.  Clearly, he warned us, “Boys, NEVER allow a wood plane to set flat on your work bench with the blade down!”  “ALWAYS lay the plane on its SIDE when you’re not using it!” “It’s an automatic swat for anyone breaking this rule.”

#938 7th Grade Kiester H.S. 1966-67 001
Elliott is third row, far right in his 7th Grade Class photo from 1966-67.

Like all my classmates, I had every good-hearted intention to obey and please Mr. Parker.  Yet, as I became “lost” in my concentration to my wood project, that day, I did exactly what I was NOT supposed to do.  Without thinking, I laid the wood plane FLAT upon my work bench.

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All Mr. Parker quietly said was, “Elliott” and then crooked his finger to follow him to the front of the class.

Now, as a consequence of NOT obeying Mr. Parker’s directives, he had clearly explained that the price to pay for laying a wood plane flat on a bench would be an automatic swat.  So, there I am working away, when I get a tap on the shoulder and it’s my respected teacher pointing down at the poor wood plane laying there flat with blade down.  I had broken the rules, no matter how innocently….I was guilty.  My eyes popped open like saucers!! “I’m so sorry, Mr. Parker, I didn’t mean to lay the plane flat, HONEST!!”  All to no avail as he crooked his pointer finger as if to say, “Follow me”.  Up to the front of the Shop Class we walked.  All of the other boys ceased their noisy work as their eyes were following me to my doom.  Mr. Parker stops me right next to a tall work stool and has me bend over it to tighten my pants for what was coming next.  He stepped into his office and comes back out to the classroom area with a brand new leather belt blank that someone would use later on in the year to handcraft a belt.  Mr. Parker folds the belt in half, creating an even more impressive imprint on my “rear echelon” in a few moments.  Having the entire class in rapt attention, Mr. Parker then reminded them all of his earlier teaching on caring for hand tools and why I was about to suffer the consequences for NOT taking care of my wood plane.  I’m now facing away from the class, and bent over that stool, as our teacher winds up and CRRRACK goes the belt across my “hind thoughts”!   What hurt me, even more than the swat, was the public embarrassment that I had been the subject of what correction was all about.

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Glad to have grown up in an era of common sense and respect for what’s good and right.

Now in today’s hyper-sensitive, politically correct world, corporal discipline (notice I did NOT use the word “punishment”) is seen as a bad thing.  But, you know what?  I am STILL an admirer of Mr. Parker!  Oh sure, for a day or two, my feelings were wounded, but to this very day I respect the tools I use as I gladly honor Mr. Parker’s memory for being a fine educator, wrestling coach and, overall, great man!   Yep, that was a “plane” good lesson for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son. 😉

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…February 12th


Meat Butcher Shop Granny Old Woman Seller Retro Vintage Cartoon Character Icon on Stylish Background Design Vector Illustration
The local butcher business in our village was owned and operated by the Challgrens.  They were a very well loved and respected family in our community and served the local meat needs with dignity and honorable business ethics.

When they want meat to eat, the grand majority of Americans today will go to a grocery store and pay the man behind the counter for fancily wrapped meats to take home and feed their families.  It seems all rather stylish and fancy, in a way, yet it is a rather sterile experience to just have that pork chop magically appear and not realize the whole story of how it got there in the first place.    Not so for those of us blessed to live in the country on farms.  On our 120 acre farm, we raised our own meat, on the hoof (so to speak), and when it came time to fill our freezer with tasty steaks, hamburger, etc., we called our local butcher to bring his boom crane truck to “put down” either a hog or cow to feed our family.

#39=Lowell with cow (circa 1960)
Big brother, Lowell, with one of our Holstein cows.

One thing that I will always be thankful for, growing up on our farm in southern Minnesota, is that I was granted the privilege to see the full spectrum and cycle of the life of our animals, both big and small.   I was able to witness the birth of little kitties as well as pigs and calves, and then, to see them grow to maturity and live among us there on that rich land.  And yes, I was even there to witness the ending of our animal’s lives…..whether it was the sad incident of a dog run over by a neighbor’s tractor, or sickness/old age, or, in this case of the animal becoming food for our family table.

#936 Axel Challgren Family-Butcher Trade
Mr. Axel Challgren (on the left) had such a quiet demeanor and was always sensitive to any little children being around when he had to perform his business duty of butchering.

Our beloved mother, Clarice, always spoke so respectfully of the kindness and gentle nature of Axel Challgren and his family who ran “Challgren’s Lockers” in our hometown of Kiester, MN.   I remember Mr. Challgren as a quiet man with a shy smile as he would arrive with his boom crane truck on our farmyard.  Mom talked of Axel having a very tender heart towards children and how he wanted to spare little ones from the stark reality of what his job entailed.  In light of that mindset, Mr. Challgren always asked that children be sent away from the immediate area, so as not to have to witness the death of the animal and the necessary cutting procedures of the butchering process.

#68=Barn in Kiester, MN...looking SW
Elliott’s father, Russell, led a cow outside from the corner door of the family’s large red barn.  The slaughter and butchering of the cow took place where the wagon and straw bales are in this photo.

I vividly recall, that day, how Dad put a halter over the head of the cow selected for butchering and led her out of the NE corner door of our big red barn.  About 10 yards from the barn, Dad and the cow stopped while Axel pulled his 22 caliber rifle from the front seat of his truck.  Axel then inserted a bullet into the chamber of the rifle and “closed the action”; he was now ready to do what had to be done.  Dad, wanting to honor Mr. Challgren’s wishes (regarding children being nearby during butchering), bade me to “go in to the house”.  Reluctantly, I obeyed, but there was a wrestling inside of me because I had really wanted to stay and see what butchering was all about.

NFS 2.12b
Well, at least Elliott was “in the house” like his dad had said to do 😉

Being the sly little guy that I was, I reasoned, in my scheming mini mind that Dad had said to “go in to the house”, he did NOT say that I couldn’t look through the kitchen windows OF the house to see what was going on down there near the barn.  So, as I watched from our kitchen window, that dear and quiet Mr. Challgren gently walked up to the front of the cow and placed the muzzle of that rifle right between her eyes and pulled the trigger……POW!!!!  The cow’s end was quick as a merciful blink as all four legs simultaneously buckled and down she went to the ground.  Now that the animal was dead, Axel went to the work of what a butcher does in creating various meats for our family, and extended family, to enjoy for months to come.

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God’s Word often took on a deeper meaning from Elliott’s experiences with animals in those early days on the farm.  Proverbs 12.10 is another “farmer” verse about taking care of God’s animals.

Having spent my first thirteen years of life on that farm, I came away with a deep respect for life, in general, and a gratefulness for God’s provision for us there on the farm.  We all knew the monetary price in feeding, raising, cleaning, nurturing and enjoying the life of all of our animals.  And, yes, we then had a solemn understanding of the “life” price of needing to take an animal’s life when it came to our family’s need for food.  As Ecclesiastes 3:2 says…..”There’s a time to be born, and a time to die”.   Thank you, Lord, for the farm life lessons learned by this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…February 11th


#935 Kiester Grade School.
The double doors on the left led me down the hall to my First Grade classroom and my First Girlfriend.

POEM – “Through These Doors” by N. Elliott Noorlun

Through these doors, And down the hall, I found my First Grade class,

I also found a feminine buddy, A friendly little lass.

#161.2=Elliott and First Grade class; circa 1961
Marietta Lacher (pronounced LOCKER) is top right in this First Grade photo, with Elliott at the lower left.  Year was 1961.

Marietta Lacher was her name, I still remember well,

True, girls had germs, And maybe worms, But I still liked her, Can’t ya tell?

Though when I rode home on our old bus, It was no easy task,

The High School boys, Made lots of noise, In the questions they would ask!

“Are you in love?”, “Is she your gal?”, They’d tease me without ending,

But worst of all, They’d recite all, Of verse that had me bending.

NFS 2.11a
Elliott’s first case of “puppy love”!

“Marietta n Elliott, Sittin’ in a tree, K I S S I N G!”,

“First comes love, Then comes marriage, Then comes babies in a baby carriage!”

T’weren’t no fun bein’ friendly, When little in First Grade,

Especially when, Those mean young men, Towards me their tortures laid! :o(


Norwegian Farmer’s Son…February 10th


#28=Hay Wagon(Dad, Debbie E. & Candi)Spring '67
A double delight here.  Our Norwegian father, Russell, sits on a wagon he just finished building from “scratch”.  And, behind him sits the handsome garage and shop he built from salvaged lumber of an old house in our village of Kiester, Minnesota.  Sister, Candice, and our little niece are with Dad in this photo.

The nails screamed out in agony, or so it seemed by the sounds they were making, as Dad’s sinewy muscles maneuvered the claw bar to remove them from the wall he was tearing out.  In this now decrepit old house, in our hometown, it was as if the nails were pleading to stay in the walls of what had once housed a family and its life.  Yet, as a kernel of corn “dies” in the soil to bring a new crop, so also was it destiny for this old house to give up its lumber to live again in the form of a new garage on our farm just 3 miles from our village of Kiester, Minnesota.


NFS 2.10e
From our parents, who weathered The Great Depression and World War II, came this popular saying of that era.

Our beloved, hardworking parents came from what is often called “The Greatest Generation”.  They were hardened by the lean times of the 1930’s with it’s economic depression and then had to sacrifice for our soldiers, sailors and Marines during World War II.  That mind set of “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” was a staple of how they lived out the rest of their lives; especially when it came to “stretching the dollar” to make our farm as successful as they could.

#46=Lowell on B Farmall (April 1954)
Spring of 1954 shows our brother, Lowell, on our Farmall B tractor.  The empty space, next to our chicken house, would become the site of our new double car garage and shop a decade later in 1964 or 65.

Being just a youngster, in those days of the mid 1960’s, I wasn’t keenly aware of why Dad would even want to take on the task of building a new two car garage and shop structure.  I can only assume that reason #1 may have been to escape the rigors of scraping ice and snow from our car and truck each Winter whenever he’d want to go someplace.  Reason #2, in my personal opinion, could have been that Dad wanted a shop with extra space to be able to pull in large welding and/or repair projects there on the farm.  His original shop building was pretty small, with just enough room to house his large array of tools, welders, acetylene torches, etc..  As a resort, Dad had to do most of his repair work on large items while exposed to the outdoor elements.

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Lumber from that old abandoned house in our town would soon be transformed into our new double car garage and shop.

Whatever the composite reasons were, as a whole, our father’s decision was to create a new building to grace our farmyard that would incorporate used lumber.  That item alone would greatly reduce the cost factor in getting the project completed within budget for our parents and family.

NFS 2.10b
Russell, Elliott’s father, had a giant assortment of “boys toys” to begin DISassembling the old, abandoned house.

It was roughly the Summer of 1965 when our dad heard about an old, abandoned home in our village of Kiester, Minnesota that was available for local folks to glean any usable lumber for their own use.   Sometimes, Dad and I would load up our 1950 Ford F-100 pickup with tools and head into town to take apart and bring home various components of wall framing or other wood that he could use in his own building adventure.

#98.1=Closeup of Russ on tractor, 1962
Elliott’s dad, Russell, would sometimes pull a flat wagon into town with this Farmall H tractor so they could bring home long sections of lumber for the new garage and shop.

Sometimes, after the cows were milked for the evening, we’d hook up a flat rack wagon to our Farmall H or Super M tractor and go “harvest” some long lumber from the old house to add to the progress of our new structure.

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Elliott’s little boy brain would muse upon the whole concept of the old house and who may have lived there once upon a time.

I was always raised to respect other people’s homes.  It was as if someone’s home was sacred ground and you showed respect by not entering it until you were invited by the family to actually enter into their home, their personal domain of family.  Well, even though there was no longer a family in that dilapidated old house, I felt uneasy stepping inside the front door the first few times.  The late afternoon sun would often flood through the rippled glass windows and illuminate the floating dust in the air from our hammering and sawing.  Being the little adventurer that I was, I’d slowly climb the creaking stairs to explore what used to be the bedrooms and see the view around town from those cracked and lonely looking windows.  To the best of my knowledge, I would assess this old house could have been as much as a century old at the time we began making it yield up its wood to us for our new project.  Even as a young boy of 11 or 12, at the time, I couldn’t help but wonder how many families had called this place home with all their laughter and holidays together, etc..

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Soon, the Noorlun family would have a new garage and shop to enjoy.

After sweat, splinters, blood and blisters, our family saw a brand new domicile for our vehicles to stay dry in Winter and a shop (with a stove for warmth) for Dad to fix, fashion and create within his new surroundings.  T’was a feeling of pride to have been a small part of family success for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.



Norwegian Farmer’s Son…February 9th


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Our family purchased a brand new 1967 Dodge Coronet 500 when we moved to Washington State.  This was the “COW COW” chariot that foggy night.

Friday afternoon’s last bell rang at Battle Ground Junior High School and freedom was ours for another weekend.  Freedom from school, that is, but it was the night our family (Mom, sister Candi, and myself) rallied to the aide of our father at Glenwood Heights Elementary School where he was the new Head Custodian.  When us kids arrived at the house from school, we changed into our work clothes and jumped into our new 1967 Dodge Coronet 500, with Mom at the wheel.

#684 Glenwood
Family tradition was to help our father with his Friday night chores at the school where he was Head Custodian.

Life, here in the Pacific Northwest, was still new to us after having left our farming culture back in Minnesota.  Therefore, not only was it a way of showing family unity in helping our Dad, but it was also just plain fun to be part of his new career as a school custodian.  Like all schools of the late 1960’s, Glenwood Heights Elementary School had the classic chalkboards on the classroom walls.  And, yes, they used actual chalk to write on those boards as the teachers educated the youngsters about readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic.  As a result, at the end of each week, those chalkboards, erasers and chalkboard trays were messy from white chalk residue.

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Our job was to clean the boards and the erasers.

Someone had created a large cardboard box, out of an empty egg case, that was divided in two by a wooden centerpiece that also had a carrying handle built in.  One side of the box held clean erasers and the other side was empty, waiting for dirty ones.  Sister Candi and I went through all 20 classrooms and cleaned all those chalkboards, wiped out the chalk trays and replaced clean erasers for the upcoming school week on Monday.

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The fun part of the job was cleaning the erasers with this type of vacuum/brush combination.

After the 20 classrooms had clean chalkboards for the coming week, it was now time to have some “fun”……well, at least I thought it was fun, in cleaning all those dirty erasers.  We’d plug in and turn on a special machine that had a spinning brush and powerful vacuum motor.  As you slid the eraser across the blur of the brush, the vacuum would suck off the chalk dust and shoot it into a heavy cloth bag that inflated to a balloon from the power of that vacuum motor.   When finished, there’d be a clean batch of erasers for the next week’s chalkboard job.

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Yummy payment awaited us each week.

As a “payment” for working each Friday night, Dad would treat Candi and I to a delicious ice cream bar called a “Double Delight” that had a fudge center surrounded by vanilla ice cream and the customary hard shell chocolate coating;  all of which was on the handy wooden stick.  Our job completed, we’d cherish some teen fun in the school gymnasium while Dad and Mom finished up the last of the custodial chores at that wonderful school.

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There she stood, right in the middle of the highway!

Now the Pacific Northwest is well known for its very wet Fall and Winters.  Along with that wetness is the tendency for heavy fog to accumulate, especially in the evening hours.  Matter of fact, it is SO WET in the Northwest, that there’s even bumper stickers that say, “We Don’t Suntan, We Rust!”.   On this particular Friday night, as we climbed into our handsome Dodge for the ride home, the fog was so thick “you could cut it with a knife”.   Dad took the driver’s seat while the rest of us climbed in for the ride home.   The going was slow, in the darkness and thick fog, as we wound our way northward towards our new hometown of Battle Ground, Washington.   We had just come up out of the Salmon Creek valley from the village of Brush Prairie and were engaged in small talk/chit chat when all of a sudden………..

NFS 2.9a
Loud and fast came those words from Mom’s mouth!

………Mom hollers out, “COW, COW, COW, COW!!!!”   Dad slams on those new car brakes without a second to lose as the car screeches to a halt within just a few feet of that bovine who acts completely oblivious the fact that she was almost made into hamburger there on the spot.  The cow was completely hidden in the deep thickness of that nights’ fog until we were “right on top of her”.   Dad laid on the horn to get the lazy beast off that highway.  She just looked at us as if WE were bothering her as she slowly lumbered off the highway and into the ditch.

NFS 2.9e
What a razzin’ Mom got from us!

After our hearts settled back into our chests from that high adrenaline rush, we all began laughing out loud at Mom’s explosive burst to warn Dad!!  For years, as a family, we would get in a silly mood and someone would bring up this funny incident and remind Mom about “COW, COW, COW, COW!!!”  

We could sure “chalk” one up for fun that night for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.