Norwegian Farmer’s Son…December 8th

December 8th…“AS A FARMER BOY IN YOUR FARMING TOWN OF KIESTER, MINNESOTA, WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE FARMER STORE TO BROWSE IN?”

#58=Elliott on Ozmun's picnic table, July 7, 1954
Elliott is a babe and center of attention on the Ozmun family picnic table (good farm neighbors). And, in a sense, he’s in the shadow of their barn just to the right in this photo from Summer of 1954.

Wrapped in the arms of agriculture since I was a babe in the shadow of a barn, I have always been in awe of the tractors our father used to cultivate and glean abundant harvests from the onyx-black soils of our fertile part of the world.

#108=Elliott on tractor, circa 1957
Elliott was “hooked”.

In an anti-climactic vein, our mother even tells about how a tractor was almost the cause of my near death as a toddler. Being the tiny tike I was, I was blithely oblivious to the danger at hand as I saw my daddy coming back from the fields to our yard on his tractor. I loved Daddy and I loved tractors, so I put my little legs a runnin’ and headed straight for my dad. When Mom looked up from her work, there I was, running towards my father who was rolling into our farmyard pulling a load of hay with his tractor. With arms flailing the air above her head, my mother streaked after her toddler in jeopardy. Unable to see me, in his blind spot out in front of the tractor, Dad could have easily crushed me to death. Guardian angels must’ve given our mother, Clarice, extra loud screams that scared Dad and got his attention to stop just in time and,……. here I am, still alive to share these stories with you 😉

All it took was for Dad or Mom to lift my tiny being up and place me in the seat of a tractor and I was “hooked”. Like a happy addict, I just couldn’t get enough of tractors and was a fan of the highest degree.

I was magically entranced by these massive metal monsters so gigantic in size, yet able to be tamed by the prowess and know-how of my farmer father or big brother who possessed the knowledge to push on foot pedals, pull levers and yank gear shifts accordingly to call this mechanized marvel to do their bidding.

#46=Lowell on B Farmall (April 1954)
Brother Lowell on the Farmall B. May of 1954. Lowell was 11 years old.

International Harvester Company made a small utility tractor called the Farmall B. Big brother, Lowell, became so adept at operating that tractor that it was amazing for this little brother to watch what my elder brother could accomplish. One day, in the very muddy Springtime, Lowell had managed to get the “B” into the cowyard and hooked it up to a very full, and heavy, manure spreader implement near our barn. When he let out the clutch to start pulling the manure spreader, those chevron-treaded tractor tires began to spin in the slime and were getting buried in the mud. Keeping his cool head, big brother made use of the independent left and right brakes on the tractor. By alternating left brake, then right brake, Lowell was able to let each tractor tire grind down to solid ground beneath and he, in essence, “walked” that manure spreader right out of the mud and it followed him out to the field so he could spread the load of “moo goo” for fertilizer on our fields.

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The Noorluns owned only one John Deere tractor. A Model 70.

There were, and I’m sure still are, tractor loyalties from farm place to farm place back home in our Minnesota days. For the most part, our father, Russell, was loyal towards and preferred to farm with International Harvester brand tractors. During that era of agricultural history, the “IH” Company had a model of tractors called the Farmall. For our family, we owned a small Farmall B, a bit larger tractor called the Farmall H and our muscle tractor was the big Farmall Super M. Dad owned an older Farmall F-20 that he kept inside his two row corn-picker and we also owned a Massey Harris Model 44 tractor. Teasingly, it may sound almost sacrilegious to other Farmall owners, but Dad, at one time, even owned a John Deere Model 70 tractor, too. So, with the ownership of a “green machine”, this is where the story today takes on the sharing of my enjoyment of where I enjoyed shopping in town during that era.

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That long picture window was Elliott’s favorite place to shop, play and dream 😉
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A ton of cool toys to play with!

During the tenure of time when Dad owned that John Deere 70, he’d occasionally need parts or supplies. Those were the days when I’d literally beg our father to allow me to go with him into our grand little village of Kiester on one of his buying trips. “Sure, Son, come on along!”, Dad would respond to me. Excitedly, I’d run over to our old ’50 Ford pickup and jump in. Windows rolled down, pickup engine purring; Dad let out the truck’s clutch pedal and away we rolled towards Kiester and the well-known business called “Sime Equipment Company”. Along the way, Dad would light up a “Camels” cigarette and had it captured between his first and middle fingers that draped over the top of that black steering wheel. There was a manly “coolness” to observe Dad’s cigarette smoke being trifled with by the wind in the cab as we drove along. Other farmers, approaching us on the road, would meet us heading to the west (as we headed east), my dad rendered the traditional country courtesy of a two or three finger wave to fellow farmers as we drove along with the Summer wind flowing through the truck cab to cool us.

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Every John Deere toy imaginable!

In a short while, we arrived and parked in front of the stately building where John Deere green was KING!!! As we climbed out of the Ford, I could feel a magnetism pulling me towards my farmer boy utopia, my “kid heaven”. The entry bell over the door jangled as we stepped inside “Simes”. I asked permission to split company with Dad as he was heading for the parts counter. MY “counter” was made up of a wide shelf that ran the entirety of the length of the store’s giant picture window. On that shelf, just waiting for my boy toy imagination was just about every conceivable John Deere toy tractor and accessory toy you can dream of. I was on a veritable “Cloud 9” of childhood ecstasy and began making “putt, putt, putt” sounds as I touched as many of those fun-time toys as time would permit me. I hoped that Dad’s business lasted hours so that I could “overdose” on fun here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
They were even for SALE!

Nearby the toy window, at least one or two full aisles were stocked with John Deere toys that were for SALE, too!! In my little boy heart, I imagined how magnificent it would be for my dad to purchase all of these amazing toys for me to take home and play with! But, alas, money was not easy to come by for folks who tilled the land for a living. Dad and Mom had taught us about the priorities of life in feeding our family, caring for our farm and other essentials. Even though Dad could see the whimsical wishes on my yearning face to own every John Deere toy ever made, he also had taught me the value of obedience. And true, I was grateful that I had so much fun playing along that broad expanse of toyland along that picture window. Yet, when our father said, “It’s time to go, Son.” I knew that obedience superseded toys any day for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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This toy John Deere 720 tractor was the “spitting image” of the real one owned by Elliott’s farm neighbor, Mr. Louie Heitzeg! 😉

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…December 7th

December 7th…“HOW DID YOUR FATHER SELL THE MILK FROM YOUR HOLSTEIN DAIRY COWS THERE ON YOUR FARM NEAR KIESTER, MINNESOTA?”

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A “Surge” brand milking machine.

The Meadowlark set her warbling tune to that of a new morning as another Minnesota sun rose through the tasseled corn fields in the east.  I rejoiced that that golden orb had begun to warm us for another day of life there on our farm in south central Minnesota.

The staccato putter of the Milk Parlor compressor, in our cow barn, could be heard exhausting its spent efforts into the early morning air as our hard-working farmer father, Russell, was finishing the morning milking of our 15 head of Holstein dairy cows.  Milk, that delicious, white elixir of life was gently extracted from each cow’s udder (milk bag) by our vacuum-powered “Surge” milker machines, of which we had two.  The stainless steel milker “can”, that hung from a wide strap under the cow, could hold about 4 or 5 gallons of milk as its four suction cups alternated sucking from one cow’s teat to the others.

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Our milk cans looked like the one on the right.

As each bovine’s udder was emptied, Dad would unhook the milker from the support strap (over the cow’s back) and then carry the “Surge” milker to a 10 gallon, galvanized tin milk can.  Having been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, he’d pour that milk into the waiting tin vault and then go back to milk the next cow.  As each of the 10 gallon cans became full of “moo juice”, Dad set a lid on the can and tamped it down so as not to let a drop of this “cash crop” leave that milk can en-route to the Creamery.  Each of our family’s tin milk repositories were either numbered and/or had our family name painted on the can.  This was the identifying factor that was employed by the local Co-op Creamery, in our hometown of Kiester.  This way, workers at the plant could identify and credit the Noorlun family with the proper amount of money that they gave to us for our milk.  With each morning and evening milking process, our father (or big brother Lowell) gleaned about 135 gallons of milk from our 15 Holstein dairy cows.   For us, that particular morning, that came out to between 6 to 10 (or more) full milk cans that had to be expediently delivered to our town creamery which resided on the southern boundaries of our hometown and right next to the railroad tracks of our village of Kiester.

#66=Elliott, Lyle N.&Rosie in '50 Ford pickup,April '60
Little Elliott, sister Rosemary, and Cousin Lyle were the “morning milk moving messengers”!! 😉

With one of Mom’s hearty breakfasts in our tummies, and school books under our arms, big sister Rosie, Cousin Lyle Noorlun and little bitty me zipped out into the brisk morning and headed for our black, 1950 Ford F-100 pickup truck.  Cousin Lyle, who lived with us on our farm for about a year and a half, was to be, not only our own private “bus driver” to school that day, but he was also the “morning milk moving messenger” (my term) for our daddy.   Lyle’s finger gave a shove on the push-button starter and brought that old Ford black beauty to life.  He drove us down next to the corner dutch-door of our barn and parked the rig while he stepped inside and grabbed between 6 and 10 (or more) of the milk cans full of “white gold” to be sold to our local Creamery.   With each muscled toss of a milk can into the cargo bed of the Ford, the tin cans sang a clanking symphony of a “milk minuet” in the Key of M! 😉

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Our family pickup would reverse to the lower base of that conveyor belt.  Then the milk cans were carried up and up, by that conveyor, and into the small door you see to the left.

With milk cans loaded, Lyle (and we school-bound riders) pulled out of our south driveway and headed for town, which was about 3 miles to our east.  Driving into the morning sun, we approached our village of Kiester, Minnesota.  The Ford, like a horse memorizing its way home, made a natural turn to the right (o.k., with Lyle’s help) at the intersection just past our town’s bowling alley.  We were now on the street that led us right into the expansive property of The Kiester Co-op Creamery Association.  Shifting into a lower gear, Lyle made a 360 degree turn around, on those large grounds, and then began reversing the truck to the receiving conveyor of the Creamery building.

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Each milk can weighed about 86 pounds when full.

One by one, Cousin Lyle pulled the heavy milk cans, full of our “product”, from the truck bed and heaved them onto a moving conveyor.  Can, after can, with our family name/number on it, began ascending the conveyor until it spun around a little corner and disappeared mysteriously into the Creamery building itself.

Like any business man, our farmer father looked forward to the money he received from the milk sales to help pay our family’s bills and enjoy another day within our fine farming community.

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Empty and rollin’ our way!

With the last full 10 gallon can of our family’s milk inside the Creamery, Lyle jumped back into the pickup and we chugged our way around the property to the east side of this large dairy processing plant.  This time, Lyle backed the Ford up to a long, straight, descending roller track.  While we waited, our milk cans inside the plant had been weighed, recorded, emptied of their milk and then thoroughly rinsed and sanitized.  The Creamery’s workers would then give each empty 10 gallon milk can a shove out the east-facing side door and the cans began a rolling ride down the descending rollers.  Gravity helped them speed up as they chimed against each other and, like cymbals in an orchestra, the cans clashed and ka-banged at the bottom ready for us to toss them back inside the pickup and run over to the school for our day of classes.

Kiester Butter
One of many products created by our milk and other farmers in the area.

 

This trip to town and the Creamery was a daily process for our farm family until later years when our father installed a “bulk” milk tank in our Milk Parlor.  Our cows faithfully produced their milk for us and we, in turn, faithfully cared for them …….day in and day out.   It was truly a win-win situation of farm life.

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In those later years, before we sold the farm in 1967, a very dear man, named Llewellyn (we all called him Louie) Hintz drove what to me was a giant tanker truck to our farm each day and backed that sparkling stainless steel rig up to our Milk Parlor wall.  He’d get out of his truck all full of smiles.  For you see, this little farmer boy loved to chat with Louie as he’d take a large hose from the truck, hook it up to a port coming from the bulk milk tank and begin the sucking process to transfer our gallons of milk on-board his tanker with the milk he’d already collected from other area farmers.   There was a type of gallon counting device for Louie to see how many gallons he was collecting from each farmer on his route.

I guess between the days of milk cans up to the time we had a bulk tank, you could say we had a “candy bar” farm………..It was sure a MILKY WAY for this Norwegian farmer’s Son 😉

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…December 6th

December 6th…“WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT IMPRESSED YOU ABOUT YOUR FARMER FATHER AND THAT YOU WANTED TO EMULATE?”

#397=Russ&Erwin Noorlun, Kiester milk room; circa late 1940's
Elliott’s father, Russell, (on left) wearing his classic bib overalls.  Uncle Erwin Noorlun is on the right.

From the first moments, in 1954, when he gazed over the railings of my baby crib, my father, Russell Conrad Noorlun, has always been my hero.  And, as anyone who adulates a hero, you wanna act like your hero and even dress like your hero.  I fawned over the handsome way Dad combed his hair.  I even gushed in praise over the “Old Spice” cologne our patriarch would splash on whenever we went on a family outing or to church.  But, one of the things that caught my eye, on a daily basis, were the handsome bib overalls that our daddy wore to protect his other clothing while engaged in the arduous career of farming.  Anyone in agriculture is acutely aware of how rugged that lifestyle can be.  Therefore, bib overalls performed exactly as they were named.  They were “over all” your other regular clothes.  These clothing items were made of an extra heavy type of material that consisted of over-sized pants that could be pulled on over a regular pair of jeans or work trousers.  There was a flap (also known as the “bib”) that was attached to the front of the lower pants.  A double-strapped pair of suspenders were attached to the lower pants in the back.  The “bib” was brought up to the front of the shirt you were wearing, then the suspenders were brought up over the shoulders, from the back, to click onto and secure the bib to your chest.  I share all these descriptions because very few of my young readers have been exposed to farm life and this essential piece of a farmer’s protective clothing.

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Pockets and more pockets!

What mesmerized this little farm boy, was the almost uncountable number of pockets in Dad’s bibs!  Big pockets, small pockets, snap pockets, even looped pockets.  Since our farmer father enjoyed smoking both cigarettes and pipe, he even had pockets for his flat can of “Prince Albert” pipe tobacco and a pocket for the “onion skin” thin cigarette papers that he’d use to roll his own cigarettes.  And, in order to light up those tobacco goodies, Dad had a pocket for matches, or fluid lighter, as well.  Of course there was a pocket for his smoking pipe to ride along with him, too.  Dad carried a writing implement called a “bullet pencil”.  It consisted of a metal tip on each end to protect the pencil from being broken during hard labor.  There was a skinny pocket for that, too.

Here’s my poem to kinda sum up this special clothing item.

POEM – “My Dad’s Bibs”  by N. Elliott Noorlun

#281=Mother's Day&Rosie's 5th BD; May 15, 1951
Russell, at right, in his “bibs”.

My Dad’s bibs, Were a lot like jewels,

They must’ve held, A hundred tools.

A pocket or loop, For every task,

Just how many?, I’m glad you’d ask.

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A pocket in the bib, Up near his shirt,

Held a flat can, Of “Prince Albert”,

So he could pack, And fill his pipe,

To smoke tobacco, When the time was ripe.

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And next to that, Where he could pull it,

There was a pocket, For a pencil bullet.

#38.1=Dad n Mom picnic (1948)
A happy moment for Elliott’s daddy, Russell, wearing his bib overalls.

Down on his leg, Above his knee,

Were a slot n loop, For pliers, ya see.

Now the fabric for, These bib overalls,

Had to be tough, For cleaning cow stalls,

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Or kneeling down, To fix our tractors,

While swattin’ flies, Them lil’ distractors.

This little farmer, Done put in my dibs,

For the happy day, When I’d wear bibs!!! 😉

#150a=Elliott in innertube in front yard, circa 1957
Little Elliott in a baby version of bib overalls.

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…December 5th

December 5th…“IN YOUR YOUNG FARM DAYS, DID YOU EVER BARRAGE YOUR PARENTS WITH A MILLION QUESTIONS ABOUT LIFE?”

#97=Elliott in underwear & Candi, 1959 maybe
Elliott is 5 years old and full of questions in 1959.

Welling up within the confines of a 5 year old little boy brain are about a bazillion questions about life.  I was no exception to that rule.  With my motor mouth in high gear, I would besiege Mom and Dad with so many inquiries that I’m sure they often sought refuge somewhere quiet so that their ears could cool down from the hot wind coming from the orifice below my nose.  As I reflect back to those dear days of yore, I smilingly remember my dear parent’s various facial responses to those innocent little boy questions.  Sometimes, I’d see a look of normality in their visage, and yet, sometimes, I could sense that they were stifling an outright laugh as to the ludicrous nature of a blushing subject that I had blindly inquired about.

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How come Grandma doesn’t have more babies?

Any question, when spoken from the logic of a boy only tall enough to gaze into an adult’s bellybutton, might have seemed strange and even hilarious to an adult.  But, to me, I felt each search for an answer was truly viable, from a little kid’s world point of view, that is.

“Mom, why doesn’t Grandma Amanda have more babies?”, I asked one day.  Without a doubt, my Grandma Amanda “Rogness” Sletten was a real sweetheart!  And so, since she had done such a fine job of giving birth to MY mother, in my childish mind, I figured she should just keep on making more babies, right?   Mom’s eyes opened wide with a mild shock on THAT question.  Mother, in her best and proper way, tried to clue my little empty-headed brain in as to why the answer to that question was a “no”.   Even though Mom tried to answer that delicate question the best she could, I still scratched my head as to why not?

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Grandpa ran THAT time!! 😉

To my father, Russell, one day in the barn, I approached with another life question inquiry.  “Hey Dad?  Why don’t Grandma and Grandpa run?”  For me, with life energy bursting out of every corpuscle of this young boy’s body, I ran everywhere.  Heck, I even ran across our Living Room when it was time to change the television channel (no remotes in those days).  Dear Dad responded that it was something called “getting old”, and that my grandparent’s bodies didn’t work as well as they used to.  Again, that logical adult response went right over the top of this little pygmy brain as far as comprehending what “old” was.  I lived inside a brand new body that could bend, bounce and beat anybody in a foot race at the drop of a hat.  O.k., anybody my size, at least 😉

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This made Grandpa Clarence RUN!!!

Later, in my teenage years, I actually did see my Grandpa Clarence Sletten really RUN!!!  It was Independence Day and our clan was gathered at one of our extended family’s homes to celebrate our nation’s birthday.  When the waning shadows of evening warranted, out came the fireworks for all to enjoy.  Someone lit a spinning firework called a “Ground Bloomer”.  In theory, when the fuse ignited the charges, it was supposed to spin and rise straight up into the air.  But NOT on this occasion.  That devilish whizbang thingy lifted off the ground and made a beeline right for Grandpa Clarence.  In less than a blink, that tall, lanky, way over 70 year old body of his took off like a streak to get out of harm’s way.   We all howled with laughter that gramps still had it in him to move fast when survival necessitated it.  Clarence still had some ZIP in him, after all!!!

To this day, there are still a bazillion questions being asked by this ever-inquiring Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…December 4th

December 4th…“WHAT WAS A UNIQUE SNOW-RELATED FUN EXPERIENCE ON YOUR FAMILY FARM NEAR KIESTER, MINNESOTA?”

#77=Kiester farm, February 1959, looking NW
Elliott’s farm became a veritable Winter wonderland of snow.  Cold, yes, but lots of fun, too.

Each year, after the harvest, our rich farm soil “bedded down” with Old Man Winter’s thick quilt of snow and enjoyed the opportunity for having a regenerative rest during the long, cold months ahead.  Even though the land rested, we kids enjoyed an opportunity, as well, only it was the opportunity to be active with fun that came to us in any chilly way, shape or form.

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The old wooden snow skis, at first, had no see-able way to be tied to Elliott’s rubber boots.

One very frosty afternoon, being fully bundled up against the frigid weather, I was exploring inside the wrap-around machine shed, there on our farm.  This machine shed wrapped around on the north and west sides of our granary building that housed the majority of food for our many farm animals.  As vapors of my hot breath launched against the cold air around me, I relished the chance to explore what treasures just might be lurking in Dad’s stash of old parts and whatnots.  Low and behold, as I scrummaged around inside there, I was thrilled to discover some very old wooden snow skis!!   Up to this point, in life, I had only seen snow skis being worn by world-class skiers on the television show called, “ABC’s Wide World Of Sports”.   Those consummate mountain daredevils came soaring down those steep slopes on their sleek skis at breakneck speeds.   Many of those fine downhill racers were from my ancestral country of Norway, too!  Maybe I could become just like my “cousins” in learning to ski someday.  Now, here in my mitten-clad hands were a pair of these sliding devices for my very own!  Only one little problem I could see…..there were no clamping devices to get these magic marvels to connect to my rubber Winter boots.

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Elliott’s connection idea….baling twine.

I had heard that “necessity is the mother of invention”.   This childhood dilemma was a real “necessity” before me and I think I had the “invention” that would work, as far as connecting these wood rockets to my boots.  Baling twine.  Dad had a bunch of twine leftover from last Summer’s hay baling (twine was used to tie the hay into a rectangular cube), so I grabbed a supply from nearby our “New Holland” hay-baler machine and cut off a couple of long lengths.  Upon closer inspection, I then noticed that there actually were some openings in the skis under where my boots would stand, so, with exhilarated new hopes, I threaded the twine through those openings and proceeded to lock-down these new boy’s toys to my rubber boots.  Heyyy, this seemed to work; for the most part, at least.  After shuffling, shushing and sliding around the flat snow surfaces of our farmyard, I just had to have a faster experience and more fun.  On television, I had seen the skiers “wax” their skis for more speed.  Since I had no such fancy ski wax, I figured I’d use one of my mother’s bars of soap, instead.   Rub, rub, rub went that bar of soap, up and down the bottoms of those ancient wooden skis.

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How do you turn these things???

Now that my skis were prepared for speed, I needed a “mountain”.  Well, the only place near us that had any kind of slope was the hillside to our east that belonged to our neighbor farmer, Charlie Heitzeg.  I hoped that Charlie wouldn’t mind if I crossed his property and played for a little while on his “hill”.  To preserve my newly applied “wax”, I tossed my skis over my shoulder and began the hike across the county gravel road, down the ditch and over the Heitzeg’s family fence-line.   An old adage says, “If it looks too good to be true, it usually isn’t”……true, that is.   I was gonna experience that axiom out for myself, shortly.  Our wintry season had layered Heitzeg’s field with a thick, “smooth-looking” layer of snow.  I trudged across the level field and then began my ascent to the top of “Heitzeg’s Hill”….be it as high as it may.  As far as my eyes could see the lovely countryside from up there, the thick, white-phosphorous snow contrasted beautifully against our sapphire-blue Minnesota sky.

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Here goes!!!!!!!!!

As I crested the top of that hill, I was pumped with delusional and phantasmagorical apparitions that I was about to become the immediate world champion downhill skier.  Yah, right!!! 😉

Down came those ancient slivers of wood from my shoulders and I climbed aboard.  Oooooo, I can feel that the earlier soap rub was making these hopeful fliers even slipperier.  Out came the baling twine from my pockets as I yanked off my mittens to be able to use my bare hands to tie my rubber boots as securely as possible to these “wood rockets”.  O.k., all tied on.  As you recall, I had found skis, but NOT ski poles.  It was up to my young balance to keep me in the upright position.

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Time for a face-plant in the snow.

“All right, ladies and gentlemen,” says the imaginary sportscaster in my egocentric brain.  “Noodles Norski is at the top of his mountain, and has aimed his skis straight down the slope!”  “He pushes off and gravity is now under control!”  The imaginary announcer steps up the adrenaline to the audience….. “Yes, yes, he’s going faster and faster, sports fans!!”  “But, what’s this?  A plowed field is hidden in the snow at the bottom of the hill?  WATCH OUT!!!”  CRASH!!!!  I face-planted right into a mass of frozen, rock-hard, plowed dirt at the base of the hill!!!  It had been hidden under the seemingly “smooth blanket” of snow.   Oh well…..besides, I would’ve had no way of knowing how to stop those greasy sticks of wood anyways.  Wow!  what an abrupt ending to the career of skiing for “Noodles Norski”!!!

But, heyyyy, it was STILL a lot of fun for this snow crash victim of a Norwegian Farmer’s Son!! 😉

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…November 30th

November 30th…“DID YOU EVER EXPERIENCE GYMNASTICS IN YOUR BATTLE GROUND HIGH SCHOOL DAYS?”

Gymnastics with man at parallel bars

“Noorlun, you pull a stunt like that again and you’re dead meat!  You understand?”  So said my Physical Education teacher, Mr. Butch Hill.

The circumstances leading up to this statement being shared to me were both fun and sneaky at the same time.  It was 1970-71 and my Junior year there at Battle Ground High School in Battle Ground, Washington.

#31=Elliott (11th Grade 1970-71)
Elliott in 1970-71

Having come from an independent lifestyle of farming, back in our Minnesota days, I tended to be more prone to individualistic sports that pitted me either against a time clock, one opponent, or against my own desire to see what I could do to better myself.   I know that some farm families, back home in the Midwest, were full on in their support of following the team-based venues of baseball, football, basketball etc..  For me, though, my father had come through the Great Depression of the 1930’s and his world was pretty much one thing……..work.   Oh, sure, he’d play some horseshoes during family picnics and the like.  But, when it came to any kind of team sports, Dad had no interest, whatsoever.  Matter of fact, I can clearly still hear him saying to me, “I just can’t understand why grown men can chase a little ball around a field all day!!”.   To Dad, team sports were just the silliest thing.  That patriarchal lack of enthusiasm, gleaned from my dad, for team sports, rubbed off on me, as well.

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We called it P.E. (Physical Education) class.  Our teacher was a relatively new member to the “Tiger” faculty and his name was Mr. Butch Hill.  Mr. Hill was a strapping, fine example of “walking the talk” when it came to exemplifying the epitome of being in excellent physical condition to “preach n teach” the various disciplines of building our bodies through various sports.

As in almost all high school programs, when it was our time for P.E., we’d head for the High School Locker Rooms to remove our street clothes and “suit up” in P.E. shorts, T-shirt and gym shoes.  It was a daily prerequisite in preparation for whatever new muscle-building sport we were going to learn at that time of the school year.  It was late Winter of 1971 and Spring was just around the corner.  It was at this time of the curriculum schedule year that a unit was to be taught in the overall sport of gymnastics.

parallel bars men gymnastics clipart
Elliott took a real liking to parallel bars!

At that time, in the sport history of Battle Ground High, we did not have an actual gymnastics sports team.  So, I thoroughly enjoyed this chapter in P.E. and its various components really intrigued me.  Coach Hill took us through the gamut of learning various tumbling moves and then began to teach us about the multiple gymnastic equipment devices that could be used to perform on.  The list included Parallel Bars, High Bar, Still Rings, Vault, Pommel Horse, etc..  Each facet of learning challenges were taught to us as we’d meet each day for this P.E. unit of training.  A spark lit up within me when it came to the apparatus called Parallel Bars.  The more I practiced, the more confident I became in traversing on this equipment from one strength move to another.  Sadly though, like any P.E. teaching unit, our gymnastics training times had come to an end and, since the warmer days of our 1971 Spring had arrived, Coach Hill let us know that the following day, we’d be heading outside the Locker Rooms to begin the next unit of teaching which was to be Baseball.

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Inside, Elliott rebelled.

Baseball???  Awww, heck!  That’s one of those team sports, and those didn’t appeal to me, at all!   I wanted to continue to “play” on the parallel bars and learn more strength moves there.  Being that our school mascot was the “Tiger”, I sensed a quiet tiger beginning to stir and growl within me.  Yet, being the mild-mannered guy I was, I just decided that I’d find a way to do what I wanted, when I wanted.   So, here is what I conspired, within my own little sneaky teenage heart, to do.  Each day, I’d saunter into the P.E. Locker Rooms, like usual.  I’d pull off street clothes and suit up in my P.E. shorts, T-shirt and gym shoes.  I’d even sit on the bench with the guys while Coach Hill would call off “roll call” for attendance.  But, then, I’d linger a bit while the class began to filter out of the Locker Room and head for the nearby baseball diamond.  Me?  I’d head the opposite direction as I’d sneak my way out of the Locker Room and climb the wooden stairwell that led upstairs to the top deck of our giant West Gym.  Up there, behind the expanding bleachers, is where our school kept the wrestling mats AND “my” parallel bars.   So as not to go beyond my class period time and arouse attention, I’d watch the clock go by as I’d work on my various bar routines and got to be pretty good at the “bars”.

parallel bars male gymnast
Till one dayyyyy……..

Seeing that the clock on the wall was getting close to the end of that class period.  I’d then boogie back downstairs to the Locker Rooms as my other classmates were beginning to filter back in from the baseball class unit outdoors.  I’d nonchalantly take my shower, get my street clothes back on and then, when the clanging of the next class bell rang, would head for my next class.   I thought I was pretty sneaky and it appeared that I was “getting away with it, too”.   Till one dayyyyyyy……..I was doing my workout on the parallel bars upstairs when I heard some adult-sized footsteps coming up the squeaky wooden stairwell of the Old West Gymnasium.   I dodged out of sight around the corner of those folding bleachers as I heard the glass-paneled door crrrreak open on its hinges.  I just held my breath and waited.  Pretty soon, the old door creaked back shut and I heard those same footsteps descending those same squeaky wooden steps.   I figured I had fooled them; whoever “them” may have been.   I performed some more moves on the “bars” and then slipped back downstairs, like usual, for my shower and re-dressing for my next class.   Riiiiing, went the hallway bells to signal the end of P.E.class.   Exiting the Locker Rooms, I made a beeline for the start of my next class which would begin within about 5 minutes.  I passed the school cafeteria, on my left, and was heading up the nearby ramp to my next class.

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“Sneaky Pete” Elliott got caught!

“Heyyy Noorlun!”  called out Mr. Hill from behind me.  I see he’s been walking at a quick step and is now up along side of me as we walk up the ramp to the hallway intersection.  “Yes Sir?”, I responded with as much feigned teenage innocence as I could muster.  “O.K. buddy.” said my teacher, “I KNOW you were up there!” (even though he didn’t SEE me working out on the parallel bars)……“You KNOW you’re supposed to be with us outside learning baseball!”  “So get this, Noorlun, you pull a stunt like that again and you’re gonna be dead meat!!  You understand?”   The “jig was up”, my sneaky bubble had burst!!  What else could I say, but, “Yes, Sir, I understand”.

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Bored Elliott on the baseball bench the following day.

Having been brought to “justice”, there I was, the following day, sitting on the baseball bench outside with the rest of my P.E. classmates.   I was bored, uninterested and wondering if I had been betrayed by one of these “goody two shoes” sitting on either side of me?   Or, it was likely that Coach Hill just put the puzzle together in not seeing me outside on the baseball diamond for X number of days.

In retrospect, I can fully understand the legalities, liabilities and ethical necessity that had to be brought into force, by Coach Hill, to make my behaviors change for my own good.  What if I had taken a fall up there on the parallel bars without proper supervision for safety, etc..   It’s very possible that I could have literally broken my neck or back and would’ve been killed or paralyzed for life. Regarding this life incident,  I have mused over the Scripture verse from Hebrews Chapter 12 and Verse 11, which says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (New International Version)    Even though I loved the Parallel Bars, it was definitely a time of correction needed for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…November 29th

November 29th...”PLEASE SHARE WITH US SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE THINGS YOU’VE ENJOYED IN LIFE.”

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Elliott feels a song coming on!!!! 😉

“Oh, oh, ohhhhh, I can’t help it……I feel a song urge coming over me!!!!  Ahhhhhh!  Hehehehe!” 😉    It’s too boring just to list my favorites of this n that during my life, so I’m gonna have some fun with a silly song that uses the tune “A Few Of My Favorite Things” from the awesome musical “Sound Of Music” starring Julie Andrews.   Instead of  the character of Maria Von Trapp, we’ll call me Elliott’s Big Trap……since I already AM a “character”…..snarf, snarf, chuckle, choke!

SONG – “A Few Of My Favorite Things”  by N. Elliott Noorlun

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VERSE: Meat loaf n tators, Will last me till laters,

Corn by the truckload, When brought by the waiters,

If it doesn’t bite back, I’ll eat till I sings,

“These are a few of my favorite things”.

When it comes to readin’, And good thoughts I’m seedin’,

The Bible is first, Holy Spirit is leadin’,

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But then “Farmer Boy”, Is the book that you’ll see,

Me readin’ of days, That brought me so much gleeeeeeee!

CHORUS:  When my heart sank, As the bills tanked,

And I felt so low,

I’d simply return to my favorite things,

And set my cheeks allll aglow!!

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VERSE:  Blue is my favorite, Color for this guy,

Likely because of my farmland and big sky,

And when it came to, Melodious song,

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With pipes like John Denver, You’d never go wrong.

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On TV, “The Waltons”, Were number one to see,

I felt just like John Boy, A writer I would be.

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In movies, “It’s A Wonderful Life” was the best,

In heart and in spirit, It passed every good test.

CHORUS:  Though I’m now old, Armpits with mold,

And my ears now ring,

I simply will board, The old memory bus,

And return to my favorite things!!!!

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