Norwegian Farmer’s Son…March 16th

March 16th…“IF YOU HAD ATTENDED COLLEGE, WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR MAJOR?”

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The wonderful beauty of birth drew Elliott to consider being an Obstetrician.

Life held so many fascinations for me in my growing up years.  Being a farmer, like my father, was one of my earliest desires.  Later, driving a giant semi tractor/trailer rig across America was my next yearning.   Those 18 wheels, loaded with supplies for stores, impressed me by the power that was exerted from those monster-sized engines and the luxury cab features that made a home on the road quite appealing for a young boy.    With each successive year of growing up on our farm, though, I found myself absolutely in awe of the birth of new life around us by the many animals under our care.  Whether it was the first mews of tiny little kittens, all the way up to our cows giving birth to a beautiful calf; birth and its magic enthralled me.   When a new chapter of life started for our family in Battle Ground, Washington, I met a very kind obstetrical nurse who shared all her textbooks with me from her college days.  I poured over them and was captured with how God brought a woman, and the tiny life within her, to the culmination of birth.

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Elliott’s classmate, Artie Nauman, actually DID achieve his goal of becoming an Obstetrician.

One of my Battle Ground High School classmates, Artie Nauman, actually followed his heart and achieved the high honor of becoming an Obstetrician/Gynecologist in the Washington, D.C. area.  At one of our High School reunions, I was talking with him about his medical profession.  He said, “In comparison to General Medicine, delivering babies is a blast!!!  Most of the time, about 95% of families go home healthy and happy with a darling baby in their arms!!”  Alas, though, for me, school and grades (especially those of math and the sciences) were never good enough to even think of even getting into college, say nothing about surviving for up to the 10 years that it took Artie to achieve his doctor’s degrees.

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Music of all kinds made a deep impression on Elliott’s heart over the years.

Since all indicators were leading me away from the medical field, I knew that if I HAD gone to college, my other joy of life would have been to major in MUSIC!   The dynamics of music have transported me through realms of joy throughout my life.  From foot tappin’ happy time songs to laments that bring tears to my eyes and heart as the conveyance of my soul becomes wrapped around the lilting melodies of a song that expressed my feelings at a particular moment.  To this very day, the intensity of some songs will well up within my being and bring a lump of emotion to my throat as notes upon a musical staff transform themselves into powerful salvos of communicating dynamite.

#209=Elliott singin' outside with kids; Spring 1983
It didn’t require a college degree in music for Elliott to share the joys of music with his Glenwood Hts. Elementary School buddies!!!  😉

 

Thankfully, in my 31 years with the Battle Ground School District, it didn’t take a college degree to incorporate music into my daily life there.  Armed with my guitar, banjo, nose whistles, etc., I created my own “Curriculum Of Clean” as I taught the children with cleaning and safety related songs where I had rewritten the lyrics of tunes they maybe already knew.  In a fun way, one COULD say that my diploma was entitled “WHOEVER HAS THE MOST FUN, WINS!”  So smiles and sings this Norwegian Farmer’s Son. 😉

 

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…March 15th

March 15th…“IF YOU WENT TO COLLEGE, TELL WHICH COLLEGE YOU CHOSE AND WHY?”

POEM – “The College Of Stinky U” by N. Elliott Noorlun

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Enter a caption

I’m sure you’ve heard of Harvard, Maybe Clemson and Purdue,

USC is another you see, But I attended “Stinky U”.

For during all my schooling years, I wandered without aim,

The fault is mine, I shouldn’t whine, I fully bear the blame.

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Elliott’s beloved Concert Choir teacher thought he’d make a good music teacher.

I should have followed counsel, Of our beloved Mr. Peru,

Who said, “You really should consider Central Washington U.”

“Dr. Hertz is there and none compare, An awesome man of song”,

To be a choir teacher, That’s the school where you belong.”

But, whether fear or lack of dollars, I never made that choice,

And so there’d be no diploma, To teach the joy of voice.

So little ones, this grandpa asks, To seek your joy while young,

Then choose a goal, while little foal, And prepare your song to be sung.

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Who knows, Elliott may have been a Music Teacher somewhere.

And whether you make music, Or paint or build a car,

Set your goal out there, As the studies you bear,

And rejoice, for you’ll go far!! 😉

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…September 19th

September 19th…“WERE YOU EVER IN A FIGHT DURING YOUR GRADE SCHOOL YEARS?”

POEM – “The Fight In White Went Outta Sight” by N. Elliott Noorlun

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Elliott (on left) and his co-fighter, Randy Simonson.

The fight in white went clear outta sight, That chilly Winter’s day,

It happened during a big snowstorm, As they let us out to play.

Now to this day, I’m not so sure, What ignited us little runts,

But oh my goodness, “the fur did fly”,  As you heard our puffs n grunts.

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Whatever was the “trigger”, our fight was off with a BANG!

Snowdrifts were high, As this little guy, Connected with classmate,

We two usually got along, Was it something that we ate?

Do you suppose, It was a girl, That got us two to tussle?

Though zero below, We said, “LET’S GO!”, And our fight began to hussle.

I’m a thinkin’ that a snowball, Landed with KERSPLAT,

And may have hurt this little squirt, As it shot off my warm hat.

But then again, Giant hills of snow, Gave us guys a thrill,

We’d push n shove, From up above, As we played “King Of The Hill”.

It could be that I pushed too hard, To launch him offa that peak,

And Randy sought, To right a wrong,  So vengeance he did seek.

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Huffin’ n puffin’, we knocked out our stuffin’!!!

Push became shove, Then a yank with a spank, Upside my widdo head,

This t’weren’t no fun, But we’d begun, Now’s to fill my foe with dread.

A crowd of kids, Really flipped their lids, To watch us midgets fight,

But then, by golly, Our little boy folly, Clean disappeared from sight.

For as we fought, We rolled into, These fluffy new snowbanks,

And for awhile, All we saw was white, As we’d punch n bite with yanks.

Classmates dug down, Into the snow, Then we saw the “light of day”,

They pulled us punks, Apart so we, Could hear the teacher say,

“Now THAT’S enough, You two relax, Shake hands and get along!”

We did, And once again were friends, To sing a sweeter song!” 😉

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…March 14th

March 14th…“DID YOU EVER MEET A GERMAN SOLDIER FROM WORLD WAR II?”

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Herman was always washing windows.

Herman The German once told me, “In Germany, dah veendows are dah meeror of yer house!! Ifn’s yer veendows are dirty, so likely yer house izz dirty inside, too!!”  Such were the words of wisdom that came from a very short and gentle man that was loved by hundreds, if not thousands of children over the years in the Battle Ground School District of Battle Ground, Washington.  Like cowboys of the Old West, Herman Grocholl had his own type of “gun holster”, only for Herman, his holster was a quart spray bottle cut down (with slits for his belt) so that a pint spray bottle of glass cleaner could fit into the plastic holster and be with him at all times.  With his rags and Windex, that tiny German carried on window warfare and made those school panes of glass just sparkle.  He had the mindset that he never wanted anyone on the outside of his schools to think the INSIDE was dirty.  Clean windows, therefore, were his “seal” that everything was ship shape inside, too.

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In all my years around the District, I can never recall seeing Herman without his yachtsman’s cap on.

It may have carried over from his days as a German Naval shipman during World War II, but I can never recall a time that I didn’t see Herman wearing his yachtsman’s cap.   Ya know, I wonder if it may have stemmed from when Herman was in the German Navy?   I’ll muse that he wanted a connection to that time of his young life, but, it also may have originated from the fact that when that small custodian wasn’t cleaning his school, he and his dear wife were on the water with their kayak.

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Herman Grocholl was first in the German Navy and then in the Army infantry.

One day, as this gentle soul of a man and I were cleaning his school, I asked him, “Herman, I just can’t imagine that you were part of Hitler’s Army during the war!”  His response was immediate and made a LOT of sense, “Vell, yew vus eeder in dee Army, or yew vas SHOT DEAD………For me???…I vas in dee Army!!”  

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Herman’s first assignment was in the German Navy.

In the beginning of his military career, Herman was assigned to the German Navy.  The ship he was on was sank near Norway, so rather than wait to be assigned to a new warship, my short friend was transferred into the German Army Infantry and sent to the coast of France.  These were the days just before the Normandy Invasion in the late Spring of 1944.

Russland, Soldaten an leichter Haubitze
German artillery unit in World War II.

My dear little custodian friend relayed how, in France, “Dah Allies vood come over und bomb us daily.  Vee’d retreat und set up our artillery again, und day vood bomb us sohm more.  Finally, I yust kept on retreatin’!!!!” (he ran Away With Out Leave….also known as AWOL)  He deserted his regiment and tried to get to the Allied Lines to surrender, but he and some other soldiers were captured by their fellow countrymen and imprisoned in a “Deserter’s Camp”.   He shared how that it was customary for deserters to be executed within a day or so of capture, so he and some buddy prisoners managed to escape that night and finally WERE able to reach the American Lines and offered themselves up for surrender.  His war years were finally over.

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After surrendering, Herman was an American Prisoner Of War, just like these former German soldiers.   After the War ended, he was able to find a sponsor and move his family to America.
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The Grocholl family lived in an apartment above the Home Ec Building on the Battle Ground High School campus.  Their apartment was right where the claw is tearing the building down.

In the 1950’s, I heard that Herman’s family were able find sponsors in the Battle Ground, Washington area that allowed them to come to America.  He was able to secure a custodian job with the local school district and part of his pay was to live in an apartment above the High School Home Economics Department.  After his retirement from the school district, this sweet-natured couple were able to find a small cottage on the east side of town to call home for their remaining years here on earth.

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Almost any veteran of a war will jump when he hears a loud noise.  It’s a survival instinct to dodge a potential bullet.

It had been almost 30 years since Herman’s wartime experiences, yet they still lingered within him as I was about to find out one day.  There were three of us standing in a very acoustically loud hallway.  Herman had his back to me while talking to my working buddy.  Without any real reason, I made a loud CLAP of my hands right behind that little German man.  Within half a blink, Herman spun around and had his fists up, ready to fight me.  I’m shocked, of course!  Here’s what he said, “Don’t chew DO DAT!!!!  I’m schtill shell shocked from dah Var!!”  And he meant it to!

Both he, and his plump wife are gone now, but I counted it a joy to know him and the pleasures he gave to this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…March 13th

March 13th…”TELL ABOUT THE FIRST TIME YOU SMOKED A CIGARETTE.”

#29=Elliott (8th Grade 1967-68)
Summer of 1968 saw a 14 year old Elliott try his first cigarette.

There was a clank, then a yank as Jim Gross popped the clutch of that old Ford pickup truck as it careened around the corner by Al & Ernies Foodliner.   His little teenage brother, Robby Gross, sat in the middle and I sat far right as the evening breezes blew through the cab while we rolled south of Battle Ground, Washington on Grace Avenue.  Jim pulled a pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket and offered one to his little brother and myself.

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From a tiny boy, Elliott pretended to smoke (with candy) like his daddy did for real.

The evolution of tobacco usage, to that moment, came naturally for me, for our dear father smoked from my earliest childhood.  I thought his smoking was cool, stylish, manly, etc. and just couldn’t tolerate the wait till the day when I could “follow in daddy’s footsteps” in regards to the “wicked weed of tobakkee”.  There was hardly a moment out of any day when I wouldn’t see our father without a cigarette in his mouth, between his fingers or be in the process of rolling his own cigarettes with pouch tobacco and thin cigarette paper.

NFS 3.13e
Society, in the generation of Elliott’s parents, considered smoking as normal as eating a hot dog or flying a kite.

From what I’ve read and observed, society in my parent’s generation actually saw a non-smoker as the person who was NOT normal.  Everyone who was suave and sophisticated smoked, even movie stars advertised cigarettes.  Besides celebrities, even politicians were seen constantly smoking, etc., so when it came to my opportunity to smoke, I figured…….“O.K., let’s do this!”

As the pickup bumped along, Jim extended his arm with the pack of cigarettes in my direction.  “Well, (I thought to myself) I can’t let them think I’m UNcool!” so I pulled out my very first “stick of tobacco”.  This was gonna be a whole lot different than that cigarette-sized tree branch I pretended with back on the farm.  This was gonna be the real deal.  I placed that “cancer stick” between my virgin lips and, when the lighter was handed to me, I lit that tip on fire.  Smoke began to curl up from the glowing end of that protuberance and invaded my eyes, causing them to squint in self-protection.  I drew a puff of smoke into my mouth and blew that same smoke right back out again into the crosswind that flew through the truck cab.  Young Mr. Ignorant here thought I was now a “smoking titan”……WRONG!   Jim sarcastically looked over from the steering wheel and said, “HEYYY, YOU’RE NOT SMOKING!!”  Embarrassed, and a bit perturbed, I retorted, “I’m NOT????”  Jim scolded, “Heck NO, kid, you’ve gotta suck that smoke down into your lungs!!”

NFS 3.13a
“YOU SUCK THIS STUFF INTO YOUR LUNGS?????”

My smoking mentor then proceeded to divulge his huffing n puffing wisdom by saying, “Yeah, I could tell you weren’t REALLY smokin’ because the smoke came out of your mouth the same color as it went in!”  He further elaborated, “When ya suck the smoke down into your lungs, they filter out the tar and nicotine, and it comes back out whiter.”  Aghast and incredulous, I quizzically asked, “YOU ACTUALLY SUCK THIS STUFF DOWN INTO YOUR LUNGS???”  After Jim’s laughter died down, he responded, “Yup!!”.   Appalled at the reality of what smoking truly entailed, I said, “In that case, NO THANKS!” and crushed the life out of that “cancer stick” into the ashtray of the pickup.  That was to be my first AND LAST cigarette!

NFS 3.13b
Elliott’s daddy suffered with a wickedly horrible smoker’s cough!

The episode in the pickup that day transported me back to my very young days on our farm there in southern Minnesota.  As I came downstairs for breakfast one morning, I saw our father sitting at the dinner table coughing profusely.  His cough was so violent, that it brought up large volumes of phlegm from his lungs.  Poor Dad would cough so hard, that at times he almost gagged.   As a child, the only reference I had with coughing was when I suffered from a cold or the flu, so I asked my daddy, “Do you have a cold, Dad?”  As he recomposed himself and caught his wind again, he answered, “No, Son, this is what smoking does to me!  Please, don’t EVER smoke!”

Returning my thoughts to the present, and what I had just encountered with tobacco in that pickup truck, I took Dad’s advice and have never smoked.  I cherish these healthy lungs each day of my life and relish the joys of drawing in a full capacity of fresh clean air as I go about enjoying the life God has given me!   Our parents, living out their lives before our eyes, teach us by their sayings, but also convey teaching by both positive AND negative examples from their own lives.  Thank you, Dad, for indirectly blessing me with lungs of clean air for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…March 12th

March 12th…“TELL OF A DIFFICULT ESSAY OR TERM PAPER ASSIGNMENT”

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School was always tough for Elliott over the years.

One of the definitions for the word essay is: “An attempt or effort to perform or accomplish something”.  That pretty much sums up my Kindergarten through High School experiences.  I ATTEMPTED school!  And yes, that attempt was “difficult” for me.  The only subjects I excelled in at school were ….RECESS…..LUNCH TIME….. and ohh yes….NOSE PICKING 101!! 😉

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Elliott “flew low on the radar” when it came to school subjects.

Combat jet pilots can tell you about a technique called, “Flying low under the radar”.  It means if they fly their jet close enough to the ground, they can be almost invisible to the “seeing eye” of radar.  That’s kinda how I went through my school years.  I stayed in the back of classes and was quiet.  No news was good news for this student who tried not to draw attention, if at all, for fear of failing to have the right answer for a teacher.  The only time I raised MY hand in class was to ask to use the restroom.  Now I’m not proud of that negative attribute (actually, it shames me now), but in the days of school life, I really had no set passion or goal in life to want to aim for after my early educational years.  Therefore, I rather drifted through school, like an old log in the river……..just bumping against the banks and floating unnoticed with other scrap wood.

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If Elliott were able to re-do school,  he would have used his school years to hit a bulls-eye.

If I could’ve gone back to approach life and schooling again, I would have aimed at a lifework target in my early teen years.  Then, I would have sought counsel to choose subjects that would have sharpened me to be better at hitting the target of achieving a specific college diploma.  That document could have landed me in a profession that not only would have paid well, but would have given me a fulfilled heart by contributing to those I touch in the world around me.

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Elliott has his degree as a Trash Technician 😉

My counsel to children and grandchildren is this….discover your passion in life!  Then, set your sight and goal on achieving the wisdom and knowledge to do all the essay’s and term papers necessary to allow you then to enfold yourself around that passion of yours to enjoy for the rest of your working life!!!   A wise lady once told me, “If you do what you LOVE, you’ll never have to WORK a day in your life!!!”  So agrees this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…March 11th

March 11th…“DID KIDS EVER TEASE YOU?  ABOUT WHAT?”

Since time immemorial, children (especially boys) have usually taken any opportunity available to “one up” someone else via teasings or put downs.  Sometimes, between very good friends, it’s an acceptable norm to show that they actually like you and are simply using the tease as another form of “play wrestling”, only with words.

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Teasing, between friends, is kinda like wrestling with words.

Throughout my young years, I was mainly teased about my name.  A Grade School buddy of mine borrowed an idea from a television show that was popular in our day.

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Another kind of Elliot was used to tease Elliott.

There was a police action show about a real lawman that lived in the early part of the last century.  His name was Elliot Ness.  His group of fellow lawmen were known as “The Untouchables”.  My classmate incessantly would chide me with, “Hey Elliot Ness, who ya gonna capture and put in jail today, huh?”

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The Grade School pal inserted Elliott’s name instead of the brand name, Nestle’s, in the jingle he’d sing to Elliott on the playground.

At the time of our Grade School days, a television commercial used a song to sell the chocolate flavored drink called, “Nestle’s Quik”.  That same little buddy of mine would sing the jingle to me on the playground, but instead of “Nestle’s”, he’d finish the little song by singing, “Elliott makes the very best CHOCOLATE!” 😉  Yep, I know, it didn’t make much sense then and it still doesn’t, but it was cute just the same.

#187=Elliott by refinished sign in front of GHP; circa 1982
Mid 1980’s and Elliott had just completed refinishing a sign to honor a former secretary at Glenwood Hts. Elementary.

Through the tenure of my 31 years as custodian with the Battle Ground School District (Battle Ground, Washington), I was sweetly teased by the students of Glenwood Heights Elementary School.  With each passing decade, there was sure to be an “Elliott” in the cartoon or movie cultures of the time.

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The most popular of teasings, as the school custodian, was when children would say, “Hey there, it’s Elliott The Invisible Dragon!” 😉

The most popular of teasings, regarding my name, was when the little ones at Glenwood Hts. Elementary School would call me “Elliott The Invisible Dragon” to go along with the widely enjoyed cartoon of that time.  When “E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial” came into theaters, I then became the little boy “Elliott” in that movie.  Can’t even begin to number the times little kids would crook their finger and say, “E.T. phone home!!”  The tease of those times were all done in love from the kids to me.  I was just tickled to be part of that chapter of their lives and the joys they expressed from what they’d just been entertained by.   It was fun to be a part of whatever was making magic in their world in those golden days.

NFS 3.11f
Never call Elliott “Late For Dinner”

Of course, when it comes to teasing, you can call me anything you want……..as long as you don’t call me…….LATE FOR DINNER!! 😉  So says this silly Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

Nickname 4
The little boy, “Elliott” from the movie, “E.T.” was often assigned to Elliott the custodian.