Norwegian Farmer’s Son…May 16th

May 16th…“SHARE A MEMORY INVOLVING A WAR DURING YOUR CHILDHOOD OR YOUTH.”

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Cain killing his brother, Abel.

 

 

Since the days of the Biblical account of when Cain killed his brother Abel in the Book of Genesis, it seems that for every generation, there has been some sort of conflict or war.  Whether localized or global, man’s struggle with his fellow man has darkened the pages of history.

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The country of Vietnam in Southeast Asia.

The year was 1965 and I had just turned 11 years of age.  With a bit more maturity setting in , I was beginning to be more cognizant of life out there in the wide world beyond the farm lands of Minnesota.  I began hearing bits and pieces about some distant land called Vietnam.  At the time, while helping Dad down in the barn, I’d increasingly hear news reports, over our old plastic barn radio, about more frequent fighting that was happening in this jungle-infested land.  Up till that time, in my young life, I couldn’t have even shown you the location of this place called Vietnam on a map, without adult assistance.

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Elliott’s father watched this NEWS program often.

For many Americans of that era, including my father, they turned to the trusted journalist named Walter Cronkite, who was the lead commentator on the television program called “The CBS Evening News”.   Almost every evening, it seemed, Mr. Cronkite revealed to us what was being called a “police action” in that distant land called Vietnam.  Not a war, mind you, only a “police action”.

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Elliott started High School in 7th Grade.  There were no Middle Schools in those days.

In order to provide a bit of a setting for this story, I’ll share that in our hometown of Kiester, Minnesota, there was no concept of Middle Schools.  If a young person passed the tests at the end of his 6th Grade year, then the next Fall, he started High School in 7th Grade.  As such, my first year of High School was like setting foot in a “new world” of those long, hallowed halls of where the upperclassmen lived.  There was little runt, me, walking around in the company not only of the 8th Graders, but towering Freshman, Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors.  I’ll gladly admit, I did really feel grown up to the point where now I could associate with these (mostly) mature young adults.  Heck, we even rode the same bus to school and partnered in social and athletic activities.

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Selective Service System was also known as “The Draft”.

The issues of the war (police action) in Vietnam began to take on a “closer to home” feeling for me, as a preteen, while I’d listen to conversations among those older upperclassmen who were now mature enough to be registered for what was known as the military’s Selective Service System (also known as The Draft).   Those young men, of those High School halls, were now, or soon would be, at the crossroads of being 18 years old and deciding to voluntarily join the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines or Navy.  Or, if they did not choose a branch of military service (including the Army), all 18 year old males would then have their birthday dates put in a jar and, as a date was pulled, all the boys with that specific birth date would be called or drafted into the Army.  As the United States committed more and more troops to that war (police action), locally, we began to see a growing number of our young men being sent to that far away land to assist the government of South Vietnam, and through military might, work to thwart the advances of the North Vietnamese Communists that were pushing down from the north half of that torn land.

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Daryl Garvick

One of those towering upperclassmen, I had described earlier, was a fine young man by the name of Daryl Garvick.   The Garvick family were farmers, like we were, and their two sons were brimming over with ebullience and vitality for life.  Whether Daryl was drafted into the Army, or volunteered for that military service to our nation, I’m not sure, but, I DO know that the Vietnam War (police action) would now have a local face for me to identify with.  Young Mr. Garvick was a tall, strapping man with blonde hair and a mischievous twist to his grin as he boarded my school bus each morning.   This young buck was just overall fun to be around and many of us guys gravitated to his gregarious nature.  Daryl and this farmer boy were team members of the Bulldog Wrestling Squad together.   I often observed his strength in his ability to make his wrestling opponent “suffer” on the matted arena as he’d drive his muscled mass into that poor guy, from the opposing team, and “bury him” into the mat for a pin and a win.

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Daryl Garvick is far left (stripes on short sleeves) in this marvelous mass of mayhem in one of our Kiester High School Bulldog training sessions with Mr. Parker, our coach.

I counted it a privilege to get to know this fine frame of a farm boy as we’d joke and jostle each other during wrestling practices each day during that time of year when the wrestling season came around.  I found the bus rides to and from Wrestling Meets were actually more fun than the competitions themselves, thanks to garrulous Garvick keeping teammates laughing as we’d go bouncing down those graveled Minnesota roads.  Daryl had the adulation of many an underclassman runt, such as I, and we looked up to him in our daily life there at Kiester High School.

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Specialist 4 Daryl Ray Garvick, United States Army

My lanky farmerboy friend took on a new aura of respect in my eyes when I started to hear of his soon departure into the United States Army.  That tall, muscular, blonde young man left our pastured Minnesota farm lands for Basic Training and then deployment, in June of 1967, to the rice paddies and towns of South Vietnam.  That mystical sounding land that resided on the other side of the world from all that he knew as home and family there with us in Minnesota.

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Elliott was in complete shock when this Kiester Courier newspaper article reached his family.

A little over a month, from the time young Mr. Garvick left for the Army, our family had sold our farm and moved to Washington State.  We all were busy settling in to our new life in that new State from August of 1967 until late February of 1968 when our hometown newspaper, The Kiester Courier, arrived in the mailbox at our new home in Battle Ground.   We had kept up our subscription to the paper to maintain connection with our dear friends “Back Home” in southern Minnesota.  A page or two into the “Courier” and the shock set in as we saw Daryl’s photograph and the article that shared how he had recently died in Vietnam from wounds sustained in street fighting within the city of Saigon.   I was stunned to the point of tears!!!   How could this be?  My wrestling buddy……..GONE???  He was just 18 years old.  His 19th birthday was just days away, yet he’d not see it come to fruition.  It seemed so unreal, yet there it was, in black and white.  The war in Vietnam became instantaneously personal and had “come home” to me.  Someone I had known personally had his life taken in that bloody engagement that would eventually consume the precious lives of 58,000 of our young men and women in uniform.  I was now keenly aware of that conflagration that was never officially declared as a war.  It was a tumultuous time in our nation’s history and Daryl Garvick’s death caused a true mourning in the heart of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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In the happy days of 1966-67 on the Kiester High School Wrestling Team.  Elliott is top row, fourth from left and Daryl Garvick is second row, far right.

 

 

 

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…May 15th

May 15th…“WERE ONE OF YOUR SIBLINGS IN THE MILITARY?  SHARE WHAT YOU FELT AND WHAT YOU KNEW ABOUT THEIR SERVING OUR NATION.”

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Elliott’s big brother, Lowell, was more like a young father to him.  Big brother is shown here holding Elliott when he was 1 month hold on February 14th, 1954.

Adulation for my big brother, Lowell, came easily for me.  Being eleven years my senior, he was my automatic hero and I shadowed him adoringly as I watched big brother’s every move in my growing up years.

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It was Air Force for big brother.

After his 1961 Kiester High School graduation, The United States Air Force captured Lowell’s attention and my hero left our family and farm and aimed his sights at Basic Training Camp to learn the ways of that “sky high” branch of military service.  I had been so used to having brother near me in those little boy days.  All I had to do was step outside the house and listen to where work was happening and BINGO, there he’d be.  Now, as the days lengthened into weeks and months, I missed my young father figure very deeply.  At that time, in my young life of about 7 years of age, I’ll admit that I was more focused on the cool, kid-impressing amenities that came along with Lowell’s life in The Air Force.  His daily duties and life, under the tutelage of Uncle Sam, were a complete mystery to me.

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Brother could visit our Aunt nearby, when he wasn’t on duty at this base.

For a time, during his military service, our handsome sibling was stationed in Alaska at Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks.  Down in the “Lower 48”, we were happy for his assignment at that base, because it put him just a day’s journey from our father’s sister and family that lived in Palmer.  Having extended family like that, relatively nearby, made brother’s stay in the frozen north more bearable, I’m sure.

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Instead of letters, Elliott’s big brother would send home tapes and his recorded messages.

Lowell has always held that he’s not much of a letter writer.  In the wake of that statement, though, brother found another way to keep in touch with our family back in Minnesota.  One day, our country mailman had rolled down our gravel road and delivered a pretty good sized box for us.  The return address was from all the way up north in Alaska.  It was from our wonderful brother, Lowell!!!  Inside we found, what was known in those days as, a reel to reel tape recorder.   There were two round reels inside.  An empty plastic reel and another plastic reel that had what’s known as “magnetic tape” on it.  The reel full of tape was threaded through the recorder “heads” of the machine itself, and onto the empty take-up reel.  When we pushed the PLAY button, we could hear big brother’s voice that had come all the way down from Alaska for us to enjoy!!   After we’d enjoy hearing his stories a few times, then we, in turn, would talk into and record our voices to be sent back to Alaska for him to enjoy hearing from us “back home”.

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Elliott just could NOT believe that HIS voice sounded like THAT!!!

That magic contraption was the very first tape recorder that I had ever laid my little boy eyes on.  To me, it was amazing how my dear brother’s voice was “captured” inside that magnetic tape all the way from Alaska and played so I could hear him as if he were in the same room with us!!!  The occasion, around the Dining Room table, of our family recording messages to Lowell was the first time I had ever heard my own voice from outside my body, so to speak.  When our parents played back the tape of what we had just recorded, I asked, “WHO’S THAT???”  With simultaneous giggle n smile, Mom and Dad responded, “That’s YOU!”  I was absolutely incredulous as I protested, “Unh Uhhhh, no way, THAT’s not me!!”  Mom and Dad confirmed that that was how my voice sounded to them and that what I had heard truly WAS my voice.   I remember vividly being appalled at the nasally drivel that came out of my mouth that was called my voice!!!

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Elliott still has the “Dog Tag” gift, from big brother, to this very day.

Another blessing to us, from our brother’s time in The Air Force, was when he sent me and my sister our very own “Dog Tags” on a chain.  You see, “Dog Tags”, in those days were worn by ever serviceman to easily identify him to his superior officers or medical staff.  When I opened that gift, I felt like I was “king of the hill” and, in my childish ways, now considered myself a tiny military man, of sorts.  Lowell had the custom-made metal tags stamped with our name, address (Kiester, Minn), phone number (Axtel 4-3415), our relationship to him (Brother) and his title for me at the bottom (The Big Man)!!!  Now, over a half century later, I still have that gift in my collection and treasure it dearly.

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Sparkling!!

Whenever our handsome brother was granted leave, he’d come home for a well-deserved rest and recuperation with family.   We were all so deeply impressed with that sharp-looking blue Air Force uniform that he wore so proudly.  I was especially impressed by the gleaming, sparkling dress shoes Lowell would wear with that uniform!!  Brother talked about spending hours and hours doing what was called a “spit polish” on those shoes to make them resemble black mirrors on his feet that caught reflections of the people passing by as they admired them.   I was “hooked” and began to try to emulate Lowell’s shine on all my shoes.  To this day, although it’s kinda cheating, I enjoy wearing patent leather dress shoes when I can.   They always remind me of those youthful days and my adoration, coupled with emulation, for my big brother’s life experience back then.

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Elliott’s brother loved his time in the Air Force.

To this day, our wonderful brother sings the praises of his time in Uncle Sam’s United States Air Force.   On numerous occasions, Lowell has shared with me the following, “Heyyy, I enjoyed the whole experience of the Air Force!  They gave me food, clothes, a roof over my head and money in my pocket, AND, I enjoyed being able to travel as I was assigned from base to base.  Heck!, what more could a guy ask for??!!”  Yet, as the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”  Our father had sustained some farm-related injuries that necessitated asking the military for a family hardship discharge for big brother so that he could come home to assist Dad with running our farm until he could heal up from his injuries.  After returning home from the service, Lowell met a young lady and married, thus starting a new chapter of a civilian life for him.  I know, from our many conversations, that big brother, had life dealt differently with him, would have enjoyed staying in the Air Force for his 20 year career choice.  Thank you Lord, for the Air Force hero of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…May 14th

May 14th...”TELL ABOUT YOUR HIGH SCHOOL PROM AND FORMAL DANCE NIGHT.”

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A first love is usually deeply intense for young teenagers.  It surely was for Elliott.

A delicious effervescence exudes from the aura of one’s first love in our High School days.  And even though life may take each of us down our own separate and destined paths, those romantic memories are delectably imprinted within our hearts.  Cherished are those times that I enjoyed with a lovely young lady as we experienced those magical moments at the Battle Ground High School Junior/Senior Prom.

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Elliott at 17 years in 1971.

 

As is tenderly common among you couples “in love”, I, and my girlfriend, Derra Abernathy, had gifted each other with loving nicknames.  Derra bequeathed me with the cognomen of “Dimples” from the fleshly divots in my cheeks as I smiled.  I, in turn, gleefully tagged Derra with the sobriquet of “Pinky” because one Summer, while we were picking strawberries at Tsugawa Farms, I teasingly had smashed a juicy strawberry all over her chin, which stained it PINK for the rest of that day. 😉

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Derra at 16 years in 1971.

Since 8th Grade, the two of us had dated and gotten to know each other deeply.  So, by the time of our Junior year and 1971 rolled around, I had become totally twitterpated by this lovely young soul known as Derra.

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It’s 1971 here at Elliott’s High School alma mater in Battle Ground, Washington.

We were both in our Junior year, as the Spring of 1971 came waltzing by, and it was time for the annual Junior/Senior Prom.   For the benefit of young readers here, the word “Prom” comes from the full word of “Promenade”, which is from the French language and has the meaning “to lead out, or take for a walk”.   You see, it was tradition at these dances, to show the finery that you were wearing for that special evening.  Couples would present themselves to the chaperones of the dance and queue up two by two.  At the beginning of a song, columns of handsome couples would then walk around the perimeter of the dance floor so all in attendance could gaze upon and applaud the lovely clothing that these fine young people were adorned with.  Some schools would then enhance the moment by having the promenading couples link elbows in a side by side arrangement for now a four abreast promenade.  When all in attendance had enjoyed a stroll or two around the dance floor, the promenade was completed and individual couples would then enjoy dancing and fellowship with other students around them.

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Unlike the generation of today, who somehow manage to afford limousines and tuxedos for a Prom, we two lovebirds were determined to dress as elegantly as we could within the reality of our cash on hand.  Derra’s mother either made her gown for the evening, or saw to it that it was modestly priced when purchased locally (but I think it was home sewn).

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Purchased new by the Noorluns, in 1967, Elliott drove a Dodge Coronet 500, like this one, on the night of the Prom.

Rather than spend an exorbitant amount of precious dollars on a limousine, my parents had a better idea.  Knowing their love-struck buck was in need of a car for this gala evening, they allowed me to use our family “chariot” (a Dodge Coronet 500) which was bought brand new by Dad n Mom in 1967.  For this illustrious occasion, I scrubbed, sparkled and waxed that princely coach to a royal sheen for my queen to ride in.

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In the left background, you can see Derra with back to camera.  Elliott is partially visible to her left as he greets guests to his left.

Prince ZITalot….alias me…..after donning my suit and tie, slipped inside that turbine-bronze Dodge coach and turned the ignition key to rev up those 318 “horses” under the hood.  With the “reins” of the steering wheel in my hands, I was off like a flash to the “castle” of my “princess”.  Having arrived at the “castle” of my teenage “princess”, I dismounted my metal steed and ventured inside to greet my lady and her family.  My breath was stolen from me, as if a tempest had just blown by, when I saw how lovely Derra was in her Prom gown!!  Her hair being done to perfection, coupled with that floor length gown made her a delight to the eyes.  Such a gentle feminine frame she possessed and with her bare-backed gown, her beauty was sweetly accentuated.

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The Royal Court of the Junior/Senior Prom for 1971 at Battle Ground HIgh School.

As the Coronet “coach” pulled up to the High School bearing “Prince” Elliott and “Princess” Derra, our ears could already hear the music of our era throbbing from inside the school cafeteria where the dance was held.  Once inside, we enjoyed the live band on stage that was playing a nice mixture of happy dance tunes, as well as slow, romantic songs so that couples could cuddle close on the dance floor when the lighting dropped to suit the mood of the music.

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Cuddling, of course, was limited to what our teacher chaperones would allow.  To be safe, we decided we’d enjoy mingling with the other couples there that night and enjoyed the overall ambiance of the wonderful evening.

 

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The Queen and her King were crowned to everyone’s delight.

Even though I’m no dancer, I devoted as many wiggles and moves as I could to make the evening as fun as possible for my lovely lady.  It was one of those warm moments of joy for a boy and a girl caught up in making sweet memories that are still there to this day for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Many events, such as Prom, required showing the student identification cards to gain access to that evening of elegance at the Junior/Senior Prom.  Poor Elliott, they spelled his last name wrong and used a photo from his Sophomore year in 10th Grade. 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…May 13th

May 13th…“TELL ABOUT THE FIRST DANCE YOU EVER ATTENDED AND HOW DID IT GO?”

(Editor’s Note:  Even though I keep a database of my stories and topics now, in the beginning, I just wrote as the thoughts came upon me.  Thus, some stories have been repeated, albeit unintentionally.  Hope you don’t mind that I revisit my February 15th story from some different angles, perspectives and graphics…….Mange Takk!….meaning Many Thanks)

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The season of Fall and HomeComing went hand in hand.

The crispness of Fall had descended upon our southern Minnesota farmlands like a frost encrusted blanket.  Farmers, with all the zeal of conquering heroes, were busy in the harvesting of their fields in the hope of getting their crops safely into storage or sale barn before the first snows enveloped the earth once again.

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HomeComing was a major event for our whole village of Kiester, Minnesota.

School life for this farm boy, at the age of 12 in 1966, was about to entail an exciting event that would soon transpire in our village.  That event was known as “HomeComing”.  Many Kiester High School Bulldog Alumni would once again come home to their “alma mater” (which comes from Latin for: dear mother…..referring to their school as a mother figure when it came to education).  Once again, as in their own school days, these honored guests could traverse the school hallways and enjoy memories of their youth in this quaint farming community of ours.

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Farm wagons became “floats” in a parade sponsored by everyone from Grade School to High School.

As was typical of HomeComings across the nation, the traditions of this fun-filled week were a faceted festival of frolic.  Activities usually included big cheerleading sessions at school, wearing of extra blue and white school colors, the “mile high” bonfire with rally led by our cheerleaders, a big all-out marching band parading through town and, of course, the traditional football game against our archrival football team from Frost, Minnesota.

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Our “Bulldogs” usually “chewed up” the Frost, Minnesota team each year at HomeComing.

For a small farming community, our town had a great spirit for taking part in these fun festivities.  It was a joy for this boy to witness the gamut of ages that took part in the annual HomeComing Parade; from us little ones in Grade School all the way through the High School classes.  Each Grade echelon made, or at least sponsored, a parade “float” that was usually comprised and created upon some farmer’s “flat rack” wagon and decorated with a theme of how we were going to be the victors over the rival town’s football team on the Big Game Day.

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Some parade floats were pulled by tractors and others by cars or pickups.

The “Royal Court” of HomeComing usually would ride through the town’s parade route in regal style.  Some generous community member would loan their new convertible and have the top down, so “King & Queen” could be best shown in their handsome royal crowns and robes spread across the trunk of that luxurious car.  Parade “floats”, themselves, were customarily towed through the parade route by sparkling tractors, a handsome car or pickup and even a team of horses, now and then.

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Blurry Elliott is to the left of the girl in a red scarf as we marched in the HomeComing Parade.

I fondly recall, way back in 1966, that our 6th Grade Class chose the idea of creating BIG pencils that we would carry as props as we joined all the other Grade Levels in marching through the parade route.  The theme behind those giant tube pencils, with imitation erasers and points, was that our football team was going to “Rub ‘Em Out” on the gridiron that night.  Classmates John Steven and Vicky Estebo (if I remember her name right) even carried a banner in front of our marching class saying, “RUB ‘EM OUT!!!!”.

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Whether it was Prom or HomeComing, the Kiester High School gymnasium always looked sharp!

Once the football game had been won by our Bulldogs, it was now time to culminate the wonderful week by attending the annual HomeComing Dance.  One can only begin to imagine the hours that went into transforming the Bulldog gymnasium from a sweat-soaked athletic arena to an auditorium fit for the HomeComing royal court with their King & Queen.  Blue and white twisted crepe streamers were attached to the basketball backstops, those backstops were then cranked up high and towards the center of the gym ceiling creating a tent effect that was magnificent in its dimension, color and overall theme enhancement.

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Elliott was the WORST when it came to trying to dance.

The gymnasium’s wooden floor  was to become a dancing haven for “tripping the light fantastic”.  In order to enhance the dancer’s movements, a concoction of sawdust with either oil or wax was applied over the wooden floor to allow for easier shoe movement as the Bulldog ladies and gentlemen danced the evening away.  For this prepubescent boy, though, that “powder” just increased the comedy factor in making it nearly impossible for me to stay standing; say nothing of trying to at least PRETEND to dance ……..which I could not do anyway.

 

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Elliott’s sign….that he SHOULD have worn! 😉

There I was, an impressionable young man, trying to “make points” in dancing with my young lady who accompanied me that evening (who happened to be the local banker’s daughter).   Instead of being another Fred Astaire (famous dancer of long ago), you’d think I had contracted a neuromuscular disease that forced my wannabe dancing body into strange, irregular convulsions as the music pulsated around us from the live band on stage that night.  It’s a good thing that, in 1966, the in-fashion dances were so weird then, that I figured if my girlfriend asked, “What the heck are you trying to do?”, I’d just respond that I had just invented a new Norwegian Noogie Ooogie Woogie Dance!! 😉  Gloria Carlson, my date that evening, seemed to shrug off my antics and took this clumsy-footed oaf in stride as we wiggled and giggled that HomeComing Dance night away.

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Her poor toes!

Donald O’Connor, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly would never have to worry about ME taking their jobs from them, but, overall, that HomeComing event was a memorable day and culminated in the first ever attempt at dancing for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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When it comes to dancing, Elliott is all tied in knots.

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…May 12th

May 12th…“WHAT WAS A SPECIAL NICKNAME YOUR MOTHER CALLED YOU AS A LITTLE BOY ON YOUR FARM?”

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Elliott’s mother “canned” many tasty foods for their family.

POEM – “Puny, Puckered, Pickle Ole Pete” by N. Elliott Noorlun

With cucumbers fresh, From garden near,

Mom’s kitchen resounded, With things I’d hear.

Pots n pans, Clinking Mason Jar tongs,

As steam from hot water, Would sing its songs.

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Equipment for preserving food in jars.

I’d watch with baited, Culinary thrill,

As fragrance flowed, From sprigs of dill.

A touch of color, Added seasonings right,

Guaranteed the flavor’d, Be out of sight.

Mom knew her best customer, Of pickles to eat,

Was none other than, Puny, Puckered Pickle Ole Pete.

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Pickle Ole Pete….alias Elliott

Be they “Bread n Butter” chips, Or sour dills,

My tummy never grumbled, Or showed any ills.

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Watermelon Rind Pickles were among Elliott’s favorites.

Pickled Watermelon Rinds, Were a treat from Heaven,

For this farmer boy, Turning six or seven.

And Mom’s Pickled Beets, Were a tangy delight,

That sent my taste buds, Clear outta sight.

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Rows n rows of cucumber creations.

From boiler pan to jar, Our tastes were never fickle,

This Pickle Ole Pete, Could eat every last pickle.

Lord, bless our mother, In Heaven up above,

For feeding her dear family, with pickles made with love.

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Elliott’s mother put many tasty foods “under glass” for the Noorlun family to eat during the long cold Winters.

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…May 11th

May 11th…“TELL OF A FAVORITE SINGER AND THE SONG THAT HE, OR SHE, MADE FAMOUS WHEN YOU LIVED ON YOUR FARM.”

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“Angel”, our Holstein cow.

“Angel” was in love with the singer, Andy Williams.  Well, o.k., she didn’t exactly tell me that in her bovine tongue, but it was too obvious when one of his songs played on our barn radio.  You see, “Angel” was my favorite Holstein dairy cuddly cow cutie and resided at Stanchion #15 in our barn there on our farm in southern Minnesota.  Her stanchion may have been at the “end of the line” in our herd lineup, but she was #1 in my book for gentleness.  There were horizontal pipe railings that bordered her last stall and “Angel” didn’t mind at all when I’d climb up those railings and up onto her back while Dad milked her and the rest of our herd of bovine beauties.

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Just inside that corner door was the home of “Angel” the happy-hearted Holstein.

One would naturally think that a barn and music would be the antithesis of each other; polar opposites that would be repellent of each other, right?  Yet, as any working person can tell you, we all spend a lion’s share of each day “at the office”.  Well, our farmer father’s “office” was the barn where he milked and cared for fifteen Holstein dairy cows (and other young livestock) twice a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.  So, in city life, as many offices have music playing to sooth the stress of business transactions, our farmer father had music playing to sooth the cows.

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Similar to the Noorlun’s barn radio.

As I’ve shared in earlier stories, centered in the barn and resting on a dust covered shelf, above the cow’s heads, sat our old yellowed plastic barn radio.  Dad believed that, not only was the radio entertainment for him as he passed the long hours working in that bovine domicile; he also held that the music also tended to relax the cows and therefore they’d “let down” their milk for a higher yield of gallons to be sold at the local creamery.

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The “seeds” of that Andy Williams song floated past “Angel” with Elliott on her back.

As the winds blew across our farmlands, they blew dandelion seeds past our barn.  At the same time, within those wooden barn walls, that dear old plastic radio blew the “seeds of music” past our ears and minds.  I have found that, secreted in the mundane blandness of everyday life are moments of elevated wonder just waiting to happen.  For me, that wonder was in the wistful song that came across the barn radio one evening while I was laying forward and resting on the bony back of my favorite cow, “Angel”.

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Elliott was taken by Andy William’s sumptuous, syncopated song.

The famous singer, Andy Williams, debuted a new song in March of 1963 called, “Can’t Get Used To Losing You”.   There I was that evening, laying forward upon the back of “Angel”, as that magical melody filled the barn.  I was transfixed by the unique syncopated prelude of the song.  Then, that unmistakable voice of Andy Williams wove the words together in that signature sound that was all his own.  With my ear resting against “Angel’s” back , I thought I heard a gentle lowing (soft moo) from her, as if she’d heard the tune also and appreciated that human voice coming into her bovine ears, just like I enjoyed it in my human ears.  I suppose a realist would say, “Well, heck, she’s just enjoying her meal in front of her!”……be that as it may, the romanticist in me says she liked what she heard across that human radio 😉

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Barn stanchions where cows stood while being milked.

Even after “Angel”, and the rest of our farm animals, left us in the farm sale of 1967, I found that, from that magic moment, I enjoyed “Can’t Get Used To Losing You” more and more each time it played on a radio over the years.  In 1963, when it first hit the airwaves, that great song climbed to the Number 2 position on the national popular music charts both here in America AND in England, as well.  Ahhhhhh, yes, the mesmerizing magic of music for a young nine year old boy known as the Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Thank you, “Angel”, my bovine beauty buddy of MOOOving musical memories!! 😉

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…May 10th

May 10th…“WHO WAS YOUR FAVORITE SINGING GROUP OR BAND WHEN YOU WERE A YOUNGSTER ON THE FARM?

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Ten year old Elliott is second row, far left in this 4th Grade photo from 1964.

I could only speak “Minnesotan” at the tender age of 10 years old in 1964.  And even THAT was a challenge sometimes when I got twitterpated in front of a girl classmate that I had a crush on.  Living there on our farm, surrounded by other Norwegian, German and similar Nordic families, we pretty much rendered language in the everyday American way.   Then came……….. “The Beatles”!!

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“The Beatles” on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.

Now we all know that music can make magic happen, and at the impressionable age of 10, I was “captured” by the mystique of the “British Invasion” of these strange speaking Liverpudlians who were the Rock n Roll band called, “The Beatles”.    I’m sure part of the intrigue came from their British accents that flavored their English words in a way I’d never heard before.  Then, another magnetic pull, was their fast, funny and quick-witted ways of speaking to their audience and especially the way they “handled” reporters who were always prying into their lives with cameras and questions.

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1950’s and early 1960’s music was totally different from “The Beatles” type of musical creations.

The American music scene was in a major paradigm shift from the “doowop” of the 1950’s that morphed into the folk singer times of the early 1960’s.   And, although
“The Beatles” had their influences from American music of the times mentioned, they brought an entire new sound into the ears and hearts of teenagers world wide…….almost overnight.

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“The Ed Sullivan Show” (center in this photo) was THEE place to be seen on American Television for decades.  “The Beatles” first sang to American audiences on that TV show in 1964.

All the radio stations in southern Minnesota were heralding the exciting news that this new and sensational rock band was going to perform for the first time on American soil on the very popular television variety show called, “The Ed Sullivan Show”.   (I’ve alluded to this story earlier in my blog, but share it here again.)  I just HAD to see The Fab Four with my own two eyes, as well as hear more of their tremendous new songs that permeated the airwaves of the nation.

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Elliott’s parents, like the family pictured here, were pretty much set in their ways when it came to what to watch on television.

Our dear Mom and Dad were from the generation of Swing and Big Band music, so there was no way they were going to have any intention of watching some shaggy-headed gaggle of guys jumping around a stage in front of thousands of screaming fans.  With that stark fact in mind, how in the world would I make my dream come true to see these new famous musicians??? That night was to be their performance and I had only minutes to make something happen.   “Ahaaaaa!”, thought I!!  “I’ll just sneak upstairs into big sister Rosemary’s bedroom and watch those British Boy Wonders on that new little black & white portable television her fiance had bought for her.”

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I slithered up those stairs like a spy in a movie and, with a gentle turn of the knob on the front of Rosie’s TV, I heard it click “on” and the picture tube came crackling to life in front of my eyes.  YES!, there was old Ed Sullivan himself just ending his introduction as he threw his arms in their direction and proclaimed……..“Here they are, THE BEATLES!!”  Of course, the entire audience of mainly young ladies erupted in screams of unbridled delight as their British “boyfriends” launched into “She Loves You!”   Little did I realize, that my rock n roll joy was to only last for a couple minutes, at best.

 

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A floor/ceiling vent grating.

My Beatles bliss was shattered by something called a vent grate in the floor of sister’s bedroom that basically covered an opening in the floor and down to the Living Room below us.  Old homes, in those days, made use of heat rising and had venting grates that would allow that heat to rise to the upstairs bedrooms and heat those areas, as well.   In MY case, the sound of the loud, “SHE LOVES YOU, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH!!!!” filtered right downstairs to Rosemary’s horrified ears.  How DARE her little brother even TOUCH her precious television set; say nothing about using it without her permission!!  Next thing I heard was the stairway door being ripped off its hinges as my furious sister launched herself up those stairs, like a storm trooper to blow me out of my Beatles Bunker!!   I received one SERIOUS tongue lashing for having invaded HER domain and HER television.  With a vicious twist of her wrist on the power knob………OFF went the TV and “The Beatles”.  I was one vanquished little fan……..and in trouble, too!

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1964 saw “The Beatles” first movie come out….”A Hard Day’s Night”.

Later that same year, “The Beatles” made their first movie called, “A Hard Day’s Night”.  I saw that, and their other movies, too, and enjoyed them all.  Even after “The Beatles” disbanded, I still found myself returning to and enjoying the musical genius of those great young artists.  Makes ya wonder if they wrote “Norwegian Wood” for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son. 😉