Norwegian Farmer’s Son…August 28th

August 28th…“TELL ABOUT A UNIQUE PERSON WHO LIVED IN YOUR HOMETOWN WHEN YOU WERE A LITTLE BOY GROWING UP IN SOUTHERN MINNESOTA.”

#827 Lightning (Beryl Lark) in the KHS HomeComing Parade
Beryl “Lightning” Lark liked to “dress up” for local parades to advertise his “Toy Factory”.  This photo is from our Kiester High School “Rambler” school yearbook from the early 1960’s.

He may have rolled into town inside one of the many railway freight cars that stopped at our village in southern Minnesota.  Or, he may have been a son from a local farm family.  Either way, Beryl “Lightning” Lark was a colorful character that found our small town of Kiester, Minnesota to his liking and called it home for the most part of his adult days.

Cartoon old man with one tooth. Isolated
“Lightning” had a wide-open grin with only a few teeth for chewing his food.

Somehow, over the years, Beryl was tagged with the nickname, “Lightning”.  And, from my childhood recall, it likely did NOT pertain to him being speedy on his feet by any means.   When it came to physical attributes, that literally poor man had to merely open his mouth to show that there weren’t many real teeth in attendance, per se, but only a vacant dental cave with a single stalagmite and stalactite here and there in his cavernous smile.

NFS 8.28f
“Lightning” always seemed to have plenty to eat by the looks of his tummy.

 

 

 

One thing for sure, “Lightning” never looked like he was starving.  Through his various means of garnering some sort of income, Mr. Lark became one very roley poley man.  That fact became seam-splitting obvious when he’d try to fit into a lady’s dress while riding one of his bikes through various parades in our town over the years.

NFS 4.13c
That unique character was always trying to advertise his “Toy Factory”.  Beryl managed to pay for this advertising spot in the school’s annual yearbook year after year.

Amongst the various parade entries of marching band, fancy decorated floats and sparkling cars……….there’d come old “Lightning” on a bike, pulling a child’s wagon and throwing candy to the kids in the crowd along the way.  With about a six month supply of dirt all over his body, he was quite the sight wearing a lady’s frilly hat with a matching dress on that very soiled body.  His burgeoning belly had burst out the side seam of that dress that was wayyy too small and revealed sections of his “personal landscape” as he wiggled n jiggled by.

NFS 8.28d
Mr. Lark would sometimes come to Elliott’s farm and earn money helping a business that ground up corn for the Noorlun’s cows and other animals to eat.

Our farmer parents, on occasion, would hire one of the local businesses to come out to our farm with their special machinery to grind field corn, which we then, in turn, would feed that more easily chewable food to our cows and other livestock.   Good old “Lightning” had been given the opportunity, by the business owner, to earn a few dollars as one of the crew of the grinding service that day.

#362=Clarice N's birthday@Kiester farm; March 30, 1958
Our blessed mother, Clarice, showed her Christian love to others in many ways.  When it came to showing love to “Lightning”, it was in the form of an invitation to have supper with us.

Other feed grinding workers on the crew, that late afternoon, had already gone home to their families, but not “Lightning”.    With no family to rush home to, “Lightning” meandered up to our mother’s kitchen and engaged her in conversation while she prepared our savory family supper that evening.

NFS 8.28c
A tiny shack in or near the town’s junkyard was “Lightning’s” home.

Since Mr. Lark was a bachelor with a microscopic source of income, he was limited to taking up residence in an itty bitty shack that was either near or actually IN the town’s junkyard.  So you see, as a man who had to fend for himself in the food department of life……he was in no hurry, whatsoever, to want to leave the tantalizing aroma’s of our mother’s delicious cooking and that warm, cozy kitchen of ours.  Being the generous soul she always was, it didn’t take Mom long to realize that this long-winded talker was hoping for an invitation to stay for supper with our family.

NFS 8.28e
Mr. Lark was the guest of honor that night.

From Mom’s kind heart came these words, “Lightning, would you like to stay and have supper with us?”   Spoken through his toothless mouth and with an accompanying speech impediment, his classic response to Mom’s invitation has become a staple in our family ever since his utterance of ……“Well, thince ya twithed mah arm, SURE!  I’ll thtay fer thupper!!”  

#340=Russ & Clarice N.@Pihl's Park NW of Kiester, MN; Summer 1953
Elliott’s smiling parents, Russell and Clarice, at Pihl’s Park north of our hometown.

Mom had to squelch a giggle in reacting to “Lightning’s” quick response to her invitation.  When Dad had finished milking the cows, he arrived upon the sweet aromatic scene of supper on the table and our guest of honor for that evening…….Mr. Beryl Lark.  Generous were the pleasant portions, that evening, of food, friendship and fellowship with “Lightning” that made for a pleasant moment to remember for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

#827 Lightning (Beryl Lark) in the KHS HomeComing Parade

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…August 27th

August 27th…“DID YOUR FATHER EVER DO SOMETHING THAT YOU THOUGHT WOULD GET YOU BOTH INTO TROUBLE?”

NFS 8.27a
Elliott thought “Local Alarm”, on this Pull Station, meant to the local Fire Department.

I guess if there’s a category for the “GULLIBLE GUS AWARD”, I’d be an Olympic Contender!!!  Such was the case in the late summer of 1967.  Our former farmer father had just been hired on to the staff of the Battle Ground School District and was assigned as the Head Custodian at Glenwood Heights Elementary School.

NFS 8.27b
Instead of buzzers and strobe lights (like in today’s schools), these large, and piercingly LOUD sirens seemed to rip your ears right off your head with their screaming blast!!!

As a teenager of just 13 years, I spent a lot of time with Dad as he learned his new trade of being a custodian during those August weeks before school started session again for the new class year.  One day, we were all by ourselves in the school building and walking down the long, echoing hallway.  Dad noticed one of the fire alarm pull stations on the wall.  He said, “Hmmmm, I wonder what would happen if I pull this fire alarm handle?”  In earnest, I replied, “NO, DAD!!!  It says its a local alarm and it MIGHT be hooked up to the nearby Fire Department!!  We might get arrested for turning in a false alarm!!”   With a twinkle in his mischievous Norwegian eye, that stinker of a dad pulled open that fire alarm station box anyway and set off the enormous fire siren that was right over our heads.

NFS 8.27c
Being so close……Ohhhhhh, how that screaming siren HURT Elliott’s ears!!!

The screaming decibel level of that fire siren just about peeled our ears from off of our heads!!!  “GULLIBLE GUS” (alias yours truly) is freaking out as I run down the hall to see if fire trucks are pulling into the parking lot, yet.  Ohhh my goodness, Ohhh my worry warts, Ohhh ragelsnats boogers!!!

NFS 8.27d
“Heyyy YOU!!  Whaddaya think yer doin’ there with that fire alarm??”

I could, with my overly healthy imagination, envision angry firemen yelling at us both for interrupting their day with a false alarm.  Heck, who knows, maybe the police will show up, then Dad and I’d BOTH be hauled off to jail for toying with such a serious infraction of public safety.

#1014 Russell Noorlun, Glenwood Custodian
Elliott’s “cool as a cucumber” custodian daddy, Russell.

Well, that dear old dad of ours was as “cool as a cucumber” in all of my fire alarm frenzy.   All the while that siren is screaming over our heads, he looked the over the surfaces of the alarm box and noticed that there was a set screw at the top of the red box with a “cabinet (flat) blade” screw head used to open the hinged alarm box.  Dad calmly pulled out his screwdriver and gave that set screw a twist.  Sure enough, the alarm box popped right open on its hinge and revealed a simple toggle switch inside.  Dad gave that toggle switch a snap in the opposite direction and killed that siren above our heads.  By this time, both of our ears were ringing loudly as the siren began to recede in decibels, returning the hallway to its original peaceful condition.

NFS 8.27e
Elliott thought, for sure, that he and his dad would be arrested for false alarm.

As usual, Dad had the last laugh as he teased me real good about what had just happened!!  And, we also learned that “LOCAL ALARM” was just that, it occurred ONLY inside our own LOCAL building and nowhere else.  It was an embarrassing, funny and learning moment for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

#684 Glenwood

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…August 26th

August 26th…“WHAT WERE TELEPHONES LIKE WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG?”

NFS 7.18a
The only “Smart” on this phone was the gray matter between the ears of the user 😉

POEM – “Box On The Wall, To Talk, That’s All!”  by N. Elliott Noorlun

What’s that you say?, A box on the wall?

And all you can do, Is talk, that’s all?

And what’s that wheel, With plastic holes?

As if attacked, By plastic moles.

NFS 8.26a
Talking only on this invention.

And what’s that cord, On a two speaker thing?

You say the sound, Went ring a ding ding?

How archaic!, And simply gaudy!

With this you talked, To old Aunt Maudy?

Yup, grandchildren, When I was a kid,

We thought these were modern, Our phones we did!

NFS 7.18k
Playful “party lines”.

Of course there was, A “party line”,

Where two, or more, Could talk just fine.

But if another, Wanted to talk,

You’d have to wait, Or grumble n balk.

Until the first parties, Cleared the wires,

After putting out, Their social fires.

NFS 7.18l
Speed dial spinning.

The only “Speed Dial”, Was to see how fast,

You could spin your numbers, Round that plexi-wheel glass.

Now there weren’t no thing, Like answering machine,

You just had to hope, That the king or queen,

Of the house you called, Would be at home,

To answer your call, Before they’d roam.

NFS 7.18m
Wanting to talk alone with your love.

If you called your lover, On that old phone,

And you really wanted, To be alone,

You could only go, Far as cord could reach,

To talk to your darling, Sweetie peach.

At best, you could maybe, Step outside,

As patio door, Behind you would slide,

To be able to talk, In tones of hush,

As you shared that lovey,  Dovey mush.

NFS 7.18i
Bells a ringin’!

Even so, there was something, Sweet about phones,

That inhabited all of our, Childhood zones.

Maybe they weren’t “smart”, Nor could music play,

But we thought they were fine, In the “talk only” day!!! 😉

NFS 8.26b

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…August 25th

August 25th…“HOW DID THE WORK ON YOUR FARM GET DONE IF YOUR FATHER WAS SICK OR INJURED?”

#266=Picnic at Noorlun farm; circa 1950
Our “One Man Army” farmer father, Russell, sits with his back up against a tree during one of our family picnics on our farm in south central Minnesota around the year 1950.

POEM – “Sick Or Fit, Our Dad Was It!”  by N. Elliott Noorlun

The other day, I had the flu, And really felt like junk!

With fever, pains, And jumbled brains, My energy just sunk!

So I reached for a phone, To call a Sub, To work at job in my stead,

While I stayed at home, And didn’t roam, Very far from my soft bed.

A shivering sick guy resting in bed
Elliott felt yucky!!! 😦

As I lay, And convalesced, At least three days or more,

I pondered how, Our farmer dad, Survived in days of yore.

Here in this modern culture, We have things pretty easy,

But not our father, He couldn’t bother, Even when he felt all queasy.

NFS 8.25a
Elliott’s father, Russell, had to keep working, even when injured!

Like the mean old cow, Who swung her head,  And knocked him off a ladder.

He broke three ribs, As he screamed in pain, Which made me all the sadder!

The only thing, That Mom could do, Was wrap his rib-cage tightly,

Then sent him back out, To milk those cows, Just like he did so nightly.

NFS 8.25b
Elliott considered his father a “SUPER HERO”!!!

Even though our brother, And blessed mother, Worked hard from sun to sun,

Whether sick or fit, Our dad was it, When it came to “getting it done”!

No need for Super Hero cape, Or “S” upon his chest,

When I think of strong, I can’t go wrong, When I label Dad “The Best”!

Even in his pain, With energy drain, Our father carried on,

It makes me proud, And I say it loud,  GLAD TO BE A NORWEGIAN FARMER’S SON!! 😉

#18=Elliott(with Dad, June '56)

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…August 24th

August 24th...”DID YOU HAVE TO OBEY A CURFEW (time to come home) AS A YOUTH ON YOUR FARM?”

Farm Sunset5
The beautiful serenity of a farm evening.

A Ring-necked Pheasant jumped into the golden evening sky with its chattering call as another day of life was coming to a close on our farm.  Thankfully, there was no set time on the clock for curfew at our farm home in the lush southlands of central Minnesota.  For any who may be curious, the word “curfew” comes from the French language and means “to cover the fire”…….as if to make things dark to go to sleep.  😉

#326=Russ, bro.Erwin,Candi,Steve, Scott, El...dad made frame; circa Aug.1962
When cousins came to play, on Elliott’s farm, nighttime just meant another chapter for more fun.  Elliott (at right) is standing on top of the wagon tire.

In the blissful innocence of childhood, farm life was all I knew and enjoyed.  Thanks to a very strong Christian influence, within the farming culture all around us, we could, with complete safety, enjoy life and play, without supervision, far into those summer evenings and not have to worry about being attacked by evil thugs, wicked gangs or drive-by shootings.   All this because the rural family unit was so vividly strong in those sweet times.

1H
Fun farming fantasies!

As I look back, I find that our farming culture, in those dear days of yesteryear, was absolutely ideal for the raising of a child.  For instance, whenever any of our cousins, or neighboring families, came to visit, we little ones could engage in the classic childhood games of “Hide N Seek”, “Annie-I-Over” (the roof of the house with a ball) or just make up games as we explored the farm while passing the evening hours with joyful abandon.

NFS 8.24c
The summer sun had set, but the fun went on and on 😉

Only our imaginations limited our joy-filled activities as Mr. Sun would wink his way goodnight over the horizon silhouettes of our corn and soybean fields.   To our joy, there was an inaudible peacefulness of our farm life that, unlike the big cities, was not attacked by the molesting sounds of snarled, angry traffic replete with their livid horn honking.  Also absent were incessant sirens, hideously loud stereo systems or other audible intrusions into what we knew as our tender, docile world.

NFS 8.24d
Farm life was peaceful when Elliott was young.

Since there were only the evening sounds of crickets and nighttime breezes across the landscape, we could easily hear our mother’s call when it was time for supper, bath or bedtime.  Although, I’m sure we tested her patience more than a few times when we were engaged in sleuthing the shadows in conquest of some imaginary bad guys during our latest little adventure.

NFS 7.26g
The whistle of Elliott’s father could be heard from far away!

If we were playing a bit farther outside of our farmyard (say, in the fields), then our father could “cut the air” with his shrill whistle that could be heard all the way to Planet Mars and back…….or so it seemed to me, at least.  That piercing, shrill whistle meant that it was time to leave the gentle, kind darkness of the farm fields and get our legs moving towards our farm house and waiting family.

NFS 8.24g
Magic materialized in those Mason jars when Elliott and company would catch a batch of fireflies to be “on stage” inside that glass repository.

Whether it was catching fireflies in Mason jars, or just counting stars in the black velvet Minnesota sky while laying on cool, green grass…….the word, CURFEW, seemed to take on a happy meaning for me (even though we had no curfew, other than bedtime).   That happy acronym to me was:

C…hildren   U…nderstood (that) R…ural   F…amily   E…qualed   W…onderment!!!

Such are the musings of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

NFS 8.24b

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…August 23rd

August 23rd…“DID YOUR FATHER ALLOW YOU TO RIDE WITH HIM ON A TRACTOR DURING HIS FIELD WORK ON YOUR FARM?”

NFS 8.23a
A Meadow Lark’s song is so happy!

Meadowlarks warbled a song in our ears as Dad and I stepped outside the back door of our home and heard the screen door slap shut behind us.  Those feathered chirps were coming from our young cornfield that lay to the west of our treed windbreak there on our family farm.  The fluted trill of our little ones on the wing was so sweet, it was as if those golden-breasted Meadowlarks were beckoning us to come out there to keep them company.   Mom’s excellent breakfast was still warm in our tummies and that new-day Minnesota sunshine was warming the back our respective bib overalls as we made our way to the Farmall B tractor that had our crop cultivator already mounted and ready to go to work.

NFS 4.2f
Elliott was thrilled to ride along on the tractor with a cultivator attached!!  This farmer is cultivating a crop of soybeans.

This was a very special day in my young boy life, for I had crossed a threshold of maturity where my father said that I now could ride with him on our tractors as he did his field work.  Today’s tractor chore entailed cultivating the weeds that were trying to take over in the fieldcorn.

#667 MN home farm
Looking northwest at the Noorlun family farm near Kiester, Minnesota.

In a way, farming is like a sport or athletic competition of sorts.  Our hard-working father, Russell, was always in competition with everything from time (getting crops to market), to weather (getting alfalfa baled and off the field before a rainstorm hit)…….and, in this case, Dad was competing with weeds that wanted to grow in between the rows of our fieldcorn.

NFS 8.23f
1 acre = Football field.

Our parent’s farm consisted of 120 acres of ebony-rich soil that could grow just about any type of seed you chose to plant in it.  How much is an acre? (my young readers may ask?)  Well, for those of you who watch football, one acre is the equivalent to almost 3/4 of a football field in size.  Now, as an example, let’s say that my father had 40 acres (of his 120 acres) planted in corn.  Just think how long it would take him to chop the weeds out of that much acreage by hand?  That would be a giant amount of hoe, hoe hoeing, ya?  :-O   Well, thanks to the invention called a “Cultivator”, Dad was able to attach that four row device to the frame of our Farmall tractor and we were now able to conquer those weeds at many times the speed that it would have taken one person to even try to do the same chore by hand.

#96=Elliott with cousins in wagon, August 1962
It’s 1962 and Elliott (on left) is ready to ride along with his Dad on tractors now.  Cousins Scott and Steve Noorlun are visiting from Colorado in this photo.

A gentle rain, during the night, had moistened our rich, black earth so that it gave off its own delicious fragrance.  Dad climbed aboard our Farmall tractor and plopped into that spring-loaded seat.  I also climbed about this red chariot and sat down on the axle next to Dad.  I was beyond ecstatic to have reached the age where Dad thought I was now strong enough to hang on and to now ride along with him on this “iron horse” as he worked our fields.

#46=Lowell on B Farmall (April 1954)
Big brother, Lowell, sits on the Farmall B that had the Cultivator attached to it.

With his workboot pushed to the starter button below, our Farmall B sputtered to life.  The gear shift was shoved into 1st Gear, then Dad let out the clutch pedal and the two of us bumped along the graveled farmyard as we made our way out to the corn field.  The Cultivator was mounted to the tractor frame and hung above ground.  It even jingled a little as the chevron tread of the tractor tires pulled us along the field edge.  Digging shovels or “shoes” were arranged so that, when the weight of the implement pushed them into the soil, the V-shaped shovels would pierce below the surface of the soil and uproot any weeds that were growing between the rows of corn.

NFS 8.23e
The little boy died in the accident.

As Dad pulled the Farmall into the first rows of corn to be “weeded”, he stopped the engine and had a very serious talk with me about safety.  Without fail, I was to ALWAYS hold on very tightly to the frame of the tractor at all times while riding along.  Farming was oftentimes dangerous work and to “run home” the point for safety, Dad told me the following story.  Dad had heard the very sad story of a nearby farmer who’s little boy was riding along on his tractor while his dad pulled a sharp-bladed implement called a Gang Disc.  The little boy, in this story, had NOT hung on tight, lost his grip and had fallen from the back of his daddy’s tractor.  In the blink of an eye, the Gang Disc had run over the child and killed him by its multiple sharp blades.  Needless to say, after THAT story, THIS Norwegian Farmer’s Son held on VERY tightly any time Dad allowed me to ride along upon his mechanized marvel.

NFS 8.23d
Elliott loved how clean the corn field looked when they were finished.

With that wise advice shared, Dad turned over the engine, revved up the motor speed, dropped the Cultivator into the first four rows of corn and off we went.   We spent a good share of that day hoe, hoe hoeing our way to a beautiful field of corn.  I found my gaze fixed on either the spinning lug nuts of the front tractor wheels, or the cleaning action of those many Cultivator shovels as they turned over the weeds and soil in their wake.  I thought, “What a time saver this machine is for Dad!”

Farmer boy in bibs
Elliott felt grown up…at least a little.

I felt a new belonging and closer to Dad than I had before.  In years past, I was only able to sit in the shade of the treeline along our windbreak and observe our daddy as he plied the fields of our farm back and forth with his powerful agricultural machines.  Here, now, I was old enough to be elevated to the honor of riding along with Dad, and would someday be given the task to drive our tractors all by myself.  What had transpired that day, under the glorious glow of our Minnesota sun, was a truly grand adventure in the next maturing step of agriculture for this young Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

NFS 8.23g

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…August 22nd

August 22nd…“TELL ABOUT A FAVORITE TEDDY BEAR YOU HAD AS A CHILD.”

#123=Elliott with Dad on swing at Pihl's Park, circa 1956
Elliott at his “hug a teddy bear” stage of life.

POEM – “Tender Teddy Twins”  by N. Elliott Noorlun

NFS 8.22b
This tiny teddy is very similar to the one Elliott still has safely in storage.

When this boy was little, As a bug in a rug,

I caught me a “bear”, And gave him a hug.

NFS 8.22f
Squeezes of love!

“Tiny Teddy”, Was my delight,

And he gave me joy, Through every night.

Each day I’d drag him, As I’d play,

I’d toss him and catch him, In my little boy way.

He was with me, Every place I’d go,

I felt so tall, Cause he was small, ya know?

NFS 8.22g
Teddy to the rescue!

When nights were dark,  After lights were out,

I didn’t wanna cry, Or give a shout.

I’d squeeze “Tiny Teddy”, Till his eyes nearly blew,

And if he could’ve breathed, He woulda fainted, too! 😉

NFS 8.22h
Where Elliott went, Tiny Teddy did, too!

But there t’weren’t no softer, Friend than mine,

“Tiny Teddy” and I, Got along just fine.

So strong was our bond, As we played in the gravel,

That “Tiny Teddy”, He started to unravel.

His stitches came loose, An eye fell out,

Two Hands Stitching Button To A Teddy Bear Toy, Elementary School Art Class Vector Illustration
Momma’s healing touch!

And there I’d go, To Momma and shout,

“Hey Mom, can you fix, My teddy bear friend?”

And like all moms, There was no end,

To the magic she could do, With a needle and thread,

And soon, “Tiny Teddy”, Was back in my bed.

#906 Aunt Lillian Noorlun Greenspun
Elliott’s Aunt “Beth” (a model in New York) brought him “Pouty Teddy”.

Just when “Tiny Teddy”, Was ’bout loved to death,

Along came an auntie, Who some called, “Beth”.

Her husband worked, In a business making toys,

And even made teddy bears, For girls and boys.

When they made a trip, From the city to our farm,

I was always taken, By her beauty and charm.

NFS 8.22a
Elliott still has his “Pouty Teddy” in safe storage.

On one happy visit, They brought “Pouty Teddy”,

Since my old pal was worn out, For this toy I was ready.

We all thought it magic, How our dear Uncle Gene,

Could actually get paid, For making toys so keen.

Even though they never had, Any children of their own,

They made memories for us, That have stayed until we’ve grown.

NFS 8.22j
Old Elliott dances “The Teddy Bear Jig”

And even though this grandpa now, Is old with belly big,

I still have both my teddies, That makes me dance a jig!

They’re tucked away, Into a box, With padding all around,

And protected there, From age’s harm, In a spot where there’s no sound.

NFS 8.22k
Playtime again?

But if my very old teddies, Could come back out to play,

I think they’d enjoy grandkid’s sounds, If they had anything to say.

They played a part, In my tiny life, Back in chapters sweet and warm,

In days of helping me to play, Full of joy there on our farm.

#79=Elliott & Rosemary on bike near blue '49 Ford
Big sister Rosemary, and his teddy bears, made playtime on the farm that much funner!!! 😉