Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..June 4th

June 4th……..”HOW DID YOUR PARENTS CORRECT YOU AND YOUR SIBLINGS ON YOUR FARM THERE IN SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA”??

Mom’s perfectly pulchritudinous peanut butter cookies pleasantly pervaded the premises of our humble farm home that day. And, like any ravenous young farmer boy, my nostrils locked on to the “beam” from the steam that was still emanating from those savory homemade cookies as our sweet mother pulled them fresh from our combination wood-burning and gas driven oven. Ohhhh the ambrosia of those delectable, delicious delights that sat there in their splendor with Mom’s classic meat tenderizer mallet pattern that she pressed into each cookie.

With a herd of fifteen Holstein cows, down in our barn, I knew I had a never-ending supply of ice-cold milk waiting for me in the refrigerator to make a heavenly match of “white gold” to wash down the stack of warm cookies I was about to consume in voracious abandon while I went into our cozy Living Room to watch cartoons.

It was the Summer of 1963, and like many a little 9 year old boy on a Saturday morning, I grabbed a handful of Mom’s scrumptious peanut butter cookies and a tall glass of that cold, marvelous milk and settled myself down into Dad’s overstuffed easy chair in preparation to enjoy one of my cartoon heroes, “The Mighty Mouse Show”. Trotting across the linoleum floor of our little Living Room, I gave the ON/OFF knob a twist on our old black n white television set and heard the internal crackling of life as the picture tube came alive and began to glow with one of my favorite cartoons of those days.

Our big sister, Rosemary, in 1963, had just finished her Junior Year of High School, there in our hometown of Kiester, Minnesota and, like many a young adult through countless generations, was beginning to “push the envelope” of challenging our parents God-given authority to “train us up in the way we should go” (Proverbs 22:6).

Pretty soon, above the antics of my cartoons on the TV, I began to hear a clashing of wills out in our Kitchen between Rosie and our mother, Clarice. Voice volumes, intensities and challenges to Mom’s authority, as “Queen Of The House”, reached a crescendo that our mother could no longer abide. Mom grabbed a nearby yardstick and was about to “correct” our big sister in a distinct fashion. Rosie, realizing she had “met her match”, took off on a run for escape from that wooden version of discipline. At that precise moment in time, I had just walked over to the TV to change a channel when, spinning around, I saw big sister burst from the kitchen saying, “Don’t you dare spank me with that………..”!!! when KER-SWACK!!!! Mom swatted her teenage daughter with that yardstick that was so on target that it literally snapped in half on big sister’s “posterior motives” as she squealed and ran upstairs to re-think what she had done to raise Mom’s ire!!! 😉 Myself? I laughed heartily!!! 😉

On the other side of that corrective “coin”, discipline had taught me a lesson a couple years earlier. I had been a Proverbs 22:15 kid cause I was being downright “foolish” one day in our Kitchen. Having watched and absorbed so many family situation comedy shows on television, in those formative years of my life, it seemed that the children on some of those programs “got away with murder” by just having an anger tantrum and storming off to their bedrooms to pout until mommy and daddy gave in to their whims and wishes. Well, little doofus Elliott figured, if those kids can get away with an anger tantrum, so can I!!!

Mom was over by the sink washing dishes, that afternoon, and Dad was sitting in his spot at the Kitchen table have his afternoon “Lunch” (as we Midwesterners called it) of coffee and cookies or a sandwich before going out to milk our cows. I opened the refrigerator door and was scrounging for something to eat when Mom said, “Now Elliott, close that refrigerator door and wait till Supper or you’ll spoil your appetite”!! Well, with my vacuum cleaner type of tummy yearnings, that’s the last thing I wanted to hear! “Ahaaa”!! I thought to selfish self, “I’ll just throw a tantrum like that TV kid did on the show last night”!! So, I hauled off and slammed that refrigerator door so hard, you could hear food containers rattling against each other inside. In a micro-second, Dad launched from his chair by the table and had one muscular hand on the back of my neck with his other powerful hand picking me up off the floor by my gluteus maximus (butt) cheeks!!!!

I am now, literally FLYING aboard “angry daddy airlines” as Dad flies me to the corner downstairs bedroom and throws me over his knee. That massive, iron Norwegian hand of his began to make my backsides wiggle like a bowl full of jello with every intense indicator that what I had just pulled back in the Kitchen NOT acceptable behavior for his son!!! And, ohhhhhhh did he EVER get his point across to my “base” understandings “down there”!!! Heheheh 😉

As I was getting that intense correction to my attitude and behavior, I was saying to myself, “Heyyyy, that sure didn’t turn out like it did on TV last night”!!!??

Even as a child, I knew without a doubt that our parents didn’t hate us. As a matter of fact, they spent their entire lives doing their best to show us God’s love and care for us. It’s just that they, with their Christian convictions of living life according to God’s Word, they knew that we, at times, needed to be corrected so that we would learn to travel in life’s best pathways that would come back to bless us later in life. So, for those loving parents, I will always be one very grateful Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!! 😉 ><>

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..June 3rd

June 3rd……..POEM – “Upon An Electric Fence” written by N. Elliott Noorlun in 2013. Before you enjoy this poem, realize that our farmer daddy deeply loved all of his children, including me. And, with his decades of farming experience, he fully knew that the jolt I’d receive from touching our cow-lane’s electric fence that day would last about a second or two, at the most!! And, as he defended himself to our mother later that day, he said, “Awww, I was just trying to teach him something about farming life”!!! Well, he DID!! Sixty plus years later, I can still feel that SHOCK as if it were yesterday and it DID teach me, VERY well, to have a high respect for electricity!!! 😉

This tiny lad, Walked with his dad,

In days back on our farm.

I had a peace, On life’s new lease,

That I would see no harm.

Except the time, Dad did the “crime”,

Of teaching me, Post hence,

To lay that blade, Of wet grass laid,

Upon our electric fence!!

My eyes did “LIGHT”, And I filled with fright,

As farmer tot of 3 or 4,

That this lesson hard, In our cowyard,

I’d ne’er repeat NO MORE!!

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..June 2nd

June 2nd………“AS A LITTLE BOY ON YOUR FARM, DID OUR GREAT GRANDPA RUSSELL EVER LET YOU BE IN HIS WORKSHOP AND PLAY/WORK WITH HIS TOOLS”?

The workshop of Elliott’s father, Russell, sits next to their two row corn picker. Circa 1959.

A little boy’s jewels are his daddy’s tools!! 😉 So it was, at least, for this little farmer boy clad in my cherished bib overalls that were just like those my hero wore. That hero, of course, was my handsome farmer father, Russell Conrad Noorlun. If ever there was a testosterone-tested territory for a boy, it was our dad’s workshop there on our farm just three miles northwest of Kiester, Minnesota.

In the twilight of many an evening, I could see an amber glow emanating from the little windows on the north and south sides of Dad’s modest-sized, white wooden shop building. When our father’s repair projects were too large, on those evenings when God’s spotlight of sun had gone down, Dad relied on the tungsten lamp, within a white porcelain shroud that hung over the shop’s entry door.

I suppose, that if I had been raised by a fisherman, I’d be in love with fishhooks, tackleboxes and outboard motorboats. But, for this little boy of the fecund farmlands of southern Minnesota, I was raised on all things from fragrant black soils to fragrant lilacs and even fragrant cow-pies that had to be cleaned out of the barn and hauled out to the fields in our manure spreader towed by a Farmall. 😉 Therefore, it was other fragrances that easily caught my nostrils as I’d step inside Daddy’s “man-cave”. The aromas of wood shavings, used motor oil, grease for zerk fittings by the five gallon buckets full, arc welding equipment and so much more caught me up in their aura and transported me into the realm of Dad’s world as he’d “doctor” our broken machinery.

Elliott’s talented dad sits on one of his creations. Sister, Candice, and niece, Debbie, enjoy his finished “flat rack”, too! 😉

What intrigued me by far, though, were the myriad of tools that Dad possessed and guarded dearly within the male-motivated kingdom of his workshop. Claw hammers, sledge hammers, cold chisels and wood chisels, etc. hung in profuse abundance from either his wall pegboards or tucked into heavy-duty bench drawers. I was always in awe of the seemingly limitless array of wrenches, and sockets and ratcheting jimmeebeewhobbers that my farmer daddy used with the deftness of a surgeon in a hospital to make any machine with an “oweee” feel better and perform again like new.

Tiny tool terror, Elliott, at the time of ripping apart that small engine. Circa 1960.

Dad put his tools and talents to use on a regular basis in the barter & trade agrarian rural culture we lived in. Out of respect and caring for each other, every farmer was brother to another farmer and “if you scratch my back, I’ll be sure to scratch yours” was the unspoken motto of fellow farmers all around us!!! Our father often did welding repairs for our neighboring farmer, Charlie Heitzeg and his son, Louie. They, in turn, used the massive scoop bucket on their John Deere tractor and made sure to keep our yard clear of snow after we were hit with heavy blizzards in the winter months. I was always impressed with the win/win solutions and good-hearted way the entire community got along to each other’s benefits.

There came a day when I was enjoying a hunt and peck in Dad’s shop and saw an old lawnmower engine that seemed to be abandoned. Running down to the barn, I found Dad and asked permission if I could have the engine and take it apart. Our patriarch’s answer was, “Sure, Elliott, have fun”!!! AND I DID!!! NOW I had a real project to use for all those grand tools of my dad’s collection!! Out came screwdrivers, hammers, open end/box end wrenches, pry bars, socket sets, you name it, I used it. Only problem was, when my mechanical “autopsy” was completed, I had not the slightest idea how to put it all back together again!!! Ohhh wellll, but, it SURE was a LOT of fun for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!! 😉

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..June 1st

June 1st………POEM – “Have A Grateful Memorial Day” by N. Elliott Noorlun written in 2013. Did you know that the word “holiday” is actually constructed of two words? “Holy” (to be separate) and “Day”. Even though May 31st was our official Memorial Day, I wanted to share this poem I created back in 2013 to at least suggest that a better greeting for this “Holy” “Day” would be better characterized by the words …….”Have a GRATEFUL Memorial Day”!!! ><>

I hesitate to say “HAPPY”, In describing Memorial Day,

“GRATEFUL” is a better choice, Of greeting that we should say.

For these dear souls, Faced pain of death,

In freedom’s noble cause,

And coupled with, Their family’s pain,

Gives sober thought and pause.

We, today, can sing within, A song of honored praise,

For giving of their last, Earthly will,

In courage they did raise,

To sacrifice in blood, For friends and freedom’s call,

Against the foe, Did forward go,

And thus in battle did fall.

As a nation, I pray, That we can say,

We’ll return to this day’s true meaning,

It’s not about sales, Or picnic’s tales,

But should take on a holy leaning.

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..May 31st

May 31st……...”ON THIS MEMORIAL DAY, DID YOU KNOW OF SOMEONE, FROM YOUR HOMETOWN OF KIESTER, MINNESOTA THAT DIED WHILE FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM’S CAUSE”?

Daryl Garvick is second from far left in this happy, chaotic shot of us all getting the whistle to RASSLE!

Bulldogs exploded in every sweaty direction possible!!!

But before you say, “Who let the dogs out”? I’m talking about Kiester High School Wrestling Team “Bulldogs”, that is!!! 😉 All our coach had to do was put us with a fellow teammate on the mats below us, blow his whistle and the male mayhem erupted into a chaotic clenching of collegiate clobbering as we’d try to pin our buddy’s shoulders to the mat for points and the approval of our adult mentors.

The school year of 1966 – 1967 was chock-full of fun for all of us under the great coaching of Mr. Parker and Mr. Koenck. We were all young bucks and full of spunk for learning the skills of wrestling and burning off youthful energy at the same time.

Daryl’s Junior Class photo at Kiester High School.

There, in that subterranean wrestling chamber, I got to know a fine upper classman that you just couldn’t help but like. On February 22nd of 1949, a fellow, local Norwegian farm family saw the birth of a son, Daryl Ray Garvick enter their world. Full of the zest for life and all the joys within it, Daryl possessed a personality that I easily gravitated to. He, and his younger brother, Dale, rode our school bus each day and I can still see long-legged Daryl make a leap for the school bus steps and launch up inside that metal, “yellow banana” looking for his buddies at the back of the bus. His searching eyes spied his pals in the back seats, but he always found time to greet this underclassman as he flew past my bus seat each day.

As that 1966-67 school year moved farther into Fall, I made sure to sign up for being on our school’s wrestling team. Reflecting back on those days, I ponder now on who, what or why I was inspired to seek a place on the “Bulldog” Matmen’s team. But, there I was, and glad to be a part of the testosterone-laced atmosphere as we all poured out sweat like a faucet while writhing in tense, tangled training on the spongy mats in what appeared to have been a former Boy Scout/Cub Scout meeting room there at Kiester High School.

A statue depicting soldiers during the Vietnam War in Southeast Asia.

We ate up the adventures of being a team and striving for the same goal of scoring the highest points and winning against any and all school rivals from our southcentral Minnesota area.

Snack Attack for Elliott and Daryl 😉

Daryl, being the gracious upper classman he was, would make the quick hike with me, up to Kiester Food Market on those out of town wrestling meets, so that I could stock up on a box of “Chicken In A Biscuit” crackers and a big bottle of Mountain Dew to wash those snacks down as we’d race back to the bus in time to enjoy traveling to a nearby farming community to gain another victory in wrestling by our “Bulldogs”!! 😉

Being that I was only 12 years old in 1966, I was still not quite with the times as far as closely following the media about the growing conflict in a part of the world known as Vietnam. Oh sure, our father, Russell, watched the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite nightly, but, for myself, what I knew of that escalating military engagement had not yet really gained a foothold on my young mind’s focus or understanding.

With the wrestling season now past, Daryl went his way in our school days at Kiester, and I went mine. Oh sure, we’d still jostle each other and joke in the hallways when we’d meet. Our quick antics made me to feel that I was still a viable part of his more grown up world of what would be the Class of 1968. Little did I know, at the time, that he would not live to see graduation with his fellow “Bulldogs”.

Daryl’s classmates honored him in the 1968 yearbook for Kiester High School called, “The Rambler”.

That summer of 1967, my family was busy in getting our farm ready for sale, which happened in late July of that year. Turns out Daryl was busy too, that summer, but for my tall, strapping wrestling teammate, he was making himself ready to serve our nation in the United States Army as an infantryman in the country of Vietnam. So, as our family bade goodbye to Minnesota and traveled to the far west, Daryl bade goodbye to his family and Kiester and traveled to the far east.

Elliott’s scrapbook article is yellowed after 50 plus years, but Daryl is always remembered.

There’s an old saying that goes…..”You can take the boy outta the farm, but you can’t take the farm outta the boy”!!! That served my family well, in that we missed our family and friends, back home in Minnesota, and wanted to stay in touch by having our hometown “Kiester Courier” newspaper delivered to us at our new home in Battle Ground, Washington.

One day, as I was reading news from “back home”, my eyes locked onto an article with a photo of Daryl Garvick that left me absolutely dumbfounded!!! My mouth dropped open in disbelief!! Could it possibly be? My upperclassman wrestling pal was GONE!!!??? Tears welled up within my now 14 year old eyes as the Vietnam War had suddenly come painfully home and personal as I learned that Daryl had died from wounds sustained in combat in the Phong Dien Province.

Although never officially declared a “war” by our government, that whole war now had a different aura and solemnness to it in that a fine young friend of mine had paid the ultimate price in hopes of gaining freedom for the South Vietnamese people and their forces that he fought alongside in that war.

Very carefully, I took my scissors and cut out the article about Daryl. As was customary, in the days before technology gave us its digital wizardry’s of saving information, I taped the sobering and sad article about my friend into my scrapbook. Over the decades since Daryl’s death, I have thought of my “Bulldog” buddy countless times; either in passing past this old article or seeing a documentary about that harrowing time in our nation’s history. Needless to say, on every Memorial Day since that time, I have given a prayer of thanks and honor for the memory of Daryl Ray Garvick who was so kind to this farmer boy and served our nation so valiantly in behalf of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..May 30th

May 30th……….”TELL US, GRANDPA, ABOUT A PIECE OF FURNITURE IN YOUR FARM HOME THAT WAS VERY SPECIAL TO OUR GREAT GRANDMA CLARICE”.

POEM – “For His Best, In Her Hope Chest” by N. Elliott Noorlun

Even Shirley Temple,

In the long, long ago,

Encouraged other maidens,

In love’s way they should go,

In preparing for their journey,

Young love’s most happy quest,

Meant they should place life items,

In a cedar-lined Hope Chest.

Clarice Sletten and Russell Noorlun in their courting days of the late 1930’s.

Clarice and Russ, Had met upon,

Proverbial blind date,

Yet as time played on, Their love was drawn,

To deep love, Each other’s mate.

The lovely cedar Hope Chest of Elliott’s mother, Clarice, is now lovingly cared for by his sister, Candice.

So a Hope Chest was given to store inside,

The gifts that would make their home,

For this cedar-lined chest, Would preserve their treasures,

No matter where they might roam.

With love in full bloom, Mom’s Norwegian groom,

“Popped the question” she yearned to hear,

That she’d be his own, Throughout life’s journey,

And forever she’d be his dear!!!

The gift of a quilt, made by Elliott’s mother before her death in 2017, is still held in loving care within this fragrant, cedar-lined Hope Chest of hers now in the tender care of his sister Candice’s home.

Soon blankets and sheets,

Pillow cases and more,

Were protected by cedar,

Where our mother would store,

Anything and everything,

That a home would hold dear,

At the open of lid,

They were there fresh and near.

Russell and Clarice’s Silver (25th) Wedding Anniversary celebrated in their farm home northwest of Kiester, MInnesota. Clarice’s cedar Hope Chest was still holding her treasures a quarter of a century later since June of 1941.

As their years flew by,

In love’s marriage strong,

We children were born,

As part of love’s song,

And we all reflected,

God had given His best,

In provisions even beyond,

Mom’s Cedar Hope Chest!!! ><>

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..May 29th

May 29th………..“PLEASE SHARE WITH US, GRANDPA, ABOUT SOMETHING YOU DID ON YOUR MINNESOTA FARM THAT BOTH SCARED YOU AND WAS EXCITING AT THE SAME TIME”.

“STOP THE TRACTOR!!!! RUSS, STOP!!! YOU’RE GONNA CRUSH ELLIOTT”!!!! Mom’s dress and apron were like Superman’s cape as she was on a full run towards the shallow ravine near our barn. She was screaming at the top of her lungs while flailing her arms up and down in hopes of catching Dad’s attention on the tractor before he would be fatally too late and crush my toddler body to death!!!!

Elliott wasn’t much bigger than this photo when he toddled towards his possible death.

Being tinier than a bellybutton’s burp, I had such a love for my daddy and for the tractors that he drove. As a blissfully ignorant toddler, I had no qualms of running towards the sound of Dad coming in from the field pulling a full load of haybales on the flat rack behind him. Like any toddler, I was completely oblivious to the life-threatening dangers that could have spelled my early death. All I knew was that that sound of a tractor was like a magnet to me and it meant I could see and be with my daddy. The roar from the muffler of the Farmall “H” engine added to the wildness of the moment, for, like any focused farmer, Dad was busy glancing back and forth to the load of hay behind him and was unaware that down below the narrow front end of his engine, his itty bitty son could have been killed, unawares!!! Thankfully, the good Lord, in His mercy, had other plans for my life, so Mom’s wild, protective antics paid off and our dad hit the brakes JUST in time to have her scoop me up into the air and into her arms away from imminent death.

Elliott was in love with tractors from a very early age.

I completely and joyfully idolized my farmer father and all that he represented in our days there on our family farm northwest of Kiester, Minnesota. From the way my Dad walked and talked, to the way he wore his striped, bib overalls like a knight of old wore his shining metal armor. As a little sun-bleached blonde boy I especially was entranced by Dad’s command of those metal steeds (tractors) that obeyed his every working whim. Those red, Farmall marvels were so gigantic in comparison to my minuscule, mini-manhood that I fell in love with all that they represented. Power unlimited, power in their mufflered roar, to the wonders of gears and hydraulics that lifted and lowered heavy equipment with the touch of a lever……….the list of amazements were unending for this boy who yearned to someday sit on one of Dad’s red metal machines and drive it for my very own. I was barely 3 years old when Mom tenderly placed me on the driver’s seat of our little Farmall “B” tractor one day and took my photograph. I was in kid heaven, for sure!!! 😉

I tenderly recall, on more than one occasion, hearing Dad’s Farmall engine “call to me” from out west of our farm yard. I’d saunter out towards the field and walk up along the evergreen trees that helped populate our treed windbreak there. In between the trees were loads and loads of blackberry and raspberry bushes laden with tasty orbs of delectable delight. I’d pick handfuls of those ruby morsels and sit there in the cooling tall grass to just sit for the longest time as I’d gaze out across the field to see our father and his Farmall silhouetted against the late afternoon’s golden sun while he’d make diagonal passes back and forth across the field to prepare it for planting that year’s crops.

If you look to the far right, in this Main Street photo, you’ll see the IH “Farmall” Dealership sign where Elliott’s dad took their Super “M” to be repaired in their hometown of Kiester, MInnesota.

As my wonderful years farm life came and went, I eventually was given the training and resultant responsibility of driving all of the tractors on our farm in various tasks of daily life there. At the age of 11 years young, which was 1965, Dad had taken our Farmall Super “M” to the International Harvester dealership in Kiester for some repair work to be done to the tractor. The Super “M” was the most powerful tractor in Dad’s lineup of mechanized mounts and so what happened next deeply impressed this growing farmer boy. It would have been just as easy for Dad to have taken our mother, Clarice, with him to the dealership that day and had her drive the pickup truck home and he could have driven the three miles back to our farm, himself. But no, the responsibility of handling that massive tractor on the highway that day would be given to ME!!! To say the least, I was both honored and scared to death!!! 😉

In those formative farm years, Dad had taught me well regarding the rudimental runnings of all our farm tractors, including the Super “M”. With paperwork signed and the bill paid by Dad inside the dealership, I climbed aboard the handsome frame of the “M” and felt my body weight cause the spring-loaded seat to give me a welcoming bounce or two. Once I had brought that powerful tractor’s engine to life, I pushed in the clutch as far as my young legs could reach and settled the gear shift into 1st gear. A slow lift of my foot from the clutch gently set the tractor in motion as I steered out of the IH (International Harvester) holding yard. So far, so good as I rolled down the street towards the bowling alley and West State Street that led out of town towards our farm. Our Super “M” was a model that had a wide front end tire setup. All our other tractors at home were the traditional tricycle-type narrow front wheels set together under the engine frame. Turning the “M” around the bowling alley’s corner, I began going through the gears from 1st, to 2nd to 3rd and now 4th gear. As I emerged from the “city limits”, I realized it was now time to shift into 5th gear (or what we termed as “road gear”). After only experiencing slow gear travel around our farm yard, this “road gear” feeling was both exhilarating and frightening at the same time. The throttle was wide open now as the engine roared and the large, chevron-treaded tires to each side of me began to sing their song as they whined and slapped the paved highway below. The wind in my face was at a velocity this farm boy had never experienced and I learned quickly to keep my mouth shut to keep out the bugs that now began to pelt my face in the 25 miles per hour speed that I was flying at.

I felt mighty grown up that day as Dad shadowed me from behind inside of our 1950 Ford F-150 pickup truck. I couldn’t help but ponder, even then, that this tractor trek that he allowed me to experience was quite possibly his way of slowly introducing me to young manhood and going through the rites, so to speak, of showing that I could shoulder more and more responsibility there on our farm.

Our father and son tractor/truck caravan had just passed the Clarence Johnson farm when it was time for me to shift down and gently apply the brakes as we both made the northward banking turn onto the gravel road that would take us north past the Chet Ozmun farm and our own farm that was now seen in the distance. Upon reaching our home place, I throttled down the engine speed and shifted down to a safe gearing as Dad and I made the banking left turn into the south driveway and the beloved farm home of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!! 😉

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..May 28th

May 28th……..“TELL US, GRANDPA, HOW MANY TELEVISIONS DID YOU HAVE ON YOUR FARM IN MINNESOTA DAYS? WERE THEY THE GIANT FLAT SCREENS? HOW MANY HUNDRED CHANNELS”?

Elliott’s dad, Russell, loved to watch “Gunsmoke” every week on their PHILCO TV.

Every one of the wooden, old-fashioned, vertical sliding windows our farm home possessed were slid up in their tracks to the open position. A brisk, prairie wind was blowing that evening and we hoped to catch the cooling effects of a crosswind through the window screens as our family sat down to enjoy some television together.

“Hey Daddy!!?, said I in my little boy curiosity, “Marshall Dillon on “Gunsmoke” looks like he’s in a snowstorm. But I can kinda see cactus behind him and the desert sun is shining in the background. How come”? “Well, son,” said our father, Russell, “Looks like it’s time for you run outside around the house to “fix it” for us”!!

What Dad meant by that remark was that, back in those simpler days of the long ago, television sets were in need of something called an antenna to bring in the image, from off of the invisible airwaves, and onto the TV’s “picture tube”. I was about to be the human instrument to make that happen in a fine-tuning sort of way. 😉

It’s Winter 1959, and if you look close, you can see the tall, snow-covered TV antenna above the roof of Elliott’s farm home near Kiester, MN. Any outdoor antenna adjustments were done very quickly because of the frozen cold temperatures outside their cozy home.

Being obedient to Dad’s directive, I stepped out the front door of our farm home and into the twilight of another handsome Minnesota evening. Mourning Doves in our nearby wooded windbreak sang a soothing melody to my ears as I rounded the corner of the house and arrived at, what seemed to be, a MILE HIGH metal pole that, at its crown, rested an aluminum wonder called a television antenna. This foldable metal marvel (which to me looked like something right out of a science fiction movie) somehow magically captured electrical impulses from television stations many miles away from us and transformed them into moving images on our TV inside our house. The invention up on our roof had a central “spine” or trunk with cross-beams of aluminum that went from wide at one end and graduated to little cross-beams at the other. I suppose you could say it resembled a horizontal “Christmas tree” of sorts.

Electronic TV engineering, still being in its infancy in the late 1950’s and early 60’s, was rather primitive in being able to send a strong “signal”, consistently, to local family television sets. A poor signal, that we called “snow”, often manifested its presence on the TV screen as a mass of black n white “confetti” rampaging across the screen that either hampered the TV show you were trying to see, or totally obliterated it in a “blizzard” of hissing sounds and a zillion black n white dots dancing all over the picture tube. Most times you could hear the actors voices in the background, but good luck on SEEING them on that TV screen!!

The tall metal pole, crowned by the antenna, had the ability to be turned by a type of handle system that would, simultaneously, turn the antenna far above the roofline of our humble home. Through the open screened window, either little sister Candice, or myself would hear our parent’s command to “Turn it (the antenna) farther to the right……..or left”!!! Eventually, our youthful endeavors would find the “sweet spot” in catching the broadcast waves over the air and we’d hear our parents through the window saying, “There ya go!!! That’s great!!! O.K., you can come inside now”!!!

It’s Summer 1955. Behind Elliott, with his mother and grandparents, you’ll see there is no antenna pole next to the house walls. In those days, the antenna was upstairs INSIDE big sister Rosemary’s bedroom. 😉

With mission accomplished, my barefoot toes happily dug into the clover-mingled lawn below me and I zipped back around that corner and into the family Living Room once again to see a much more clear image of “Matt Dillion” (the sheriff on the Western TV show, “Gunsmoke”) capturing the bad guys and saving the day for all the good folks of Dodge City, Kansas.

To have even just the one television in our farm family’s life was a very big deal in those days. For one thing, even having a TV, at all, was considered a super fun luxury for any family of that era.

Some time in the early 1950’s is when our parents took a deep breath and made the plunge in buying a single television set for our farm family. Up until then, entertainment was gotten from various story-time radios shows to listen to, or the real old-fashioned entertainment of sitting down and reading a book.

Television industry advertisements of the early 1950’s sold some TV sets for about $300. In 2021 dollars, that would be over $3,000.00………so, you see, having even ONE television in your home was a BIG investment.

It’s likely that our farm parents bought our very first television from “Ralph’s Radio Shop” in Kiester, Minnesota. Ralph Courier was well-respected in our community for selling and servicing all types of radios, televisions, appliances, etc.. Besides buying the PHILCO television itself, Dad & Mom purchased a long cardboard box which housed our fold-out, aluminum antenna for “capturing” the pictures off of those invisible waves in the sky. What was kinda funny was, at first, rather than put the antenna up on the roof, our folks assembled the very large antenna in our sister Rosemary’s bedroom upstairs. Good thing our big sister was a bendable and wiry little girl in those days, cause she had to live life while dodging in, out and under that antenna. Eventually, Dad moved the antenna up onto the roof for a better TV picture reception.

An old TV kinda like the one the Noorlun family had.

Rather than hundreds of channels that are available in today’s high-tech electronic culture, there were only maybe four basic TV channels that I can recall. Channel 3 (KGLO) in Mason City, Iowa and there was also KTTC (NBC affiliate) out of Rochester, Minnesota. Then there was KAAL (ABC affiliate) out of Austin, Minnesota, and, I think, KEYC (CBS affiliate) out of Mankato, Minnesota.

And, ohhhhh, my young readers…….. I can attest that television gave your grandpa his first love for poetry. You know how? For one thing, back in our day, TV stations were not a 24 hour a day enterprise. Depending on the part of the USA you lived in, most broadcast companies shut down operations at either 11pm or 12am (Midnight). Some channels said “Goodnight” to their watching audience by playing our great nation’s National Anthem of “The Star Spangled Banner”. Some TV stations had a pastor read a prayer and still some other stations would broadcast an inspirational film footage of an airplane flying in and out of giant white clouds while the following poem was read to the audience.

“High Flight” written by Royal Canadian Air Force Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee Jr. (1922 – 1941). At the tender age of just 19 years old, Officer Magee was killed in a mid-air collision over England during World War II. He was born in China to parents who were Christian missionaries to the Chinese people.

“OH!!! I HAVE SLIPPED THE SURLY BONDS OF EARTH, AND DANCED THE SKIES ON LAUGHTER-SILVERED WINGS; SUNWARD I’VE CLIMBED, AND JOINED THE TUMBLING MIRTH, OF SUN-SPLIT CLOUDS, __ AND DONE A HUNDRED THINGS YOU HAVE NOT DREAMED OF__WHEELED AND SOARED AND SWUNG HIGH IN THE SUNLIT SILENCE. HOVERING THERE, I’VE CHASED THE SHOUTING WIND ALONG, AND FLUNG MY EAGLE CRAFT THROUGH FOOTLESS HALLS OF AIR……..UP, UP THE LONG DELIRIOUS, BURNING BLUE I’VE TOPPED THE WINDSWEPT HEIGHTS WITH EASY GRACE. WHERE NEVER LARK, OR EVEN EAGLE FLEW___AND WHILE WITH SILENT, LIFTING MIND I’VE TROD THE HIGH UNTRESPASSED SANCTITY OF SPACE, ___PUT OUT MY HAND, AND TOUCHED THE FACE OF GOD. ><>

What a gifted young man Officer Magee was to have the maturity to write such elegant prose that was used in so many ways after his young death. In my young boy days, that grand poem was used to sign on and sign off the the business day for many a television station over the years. To have grown up in this era of television and family farm life, I give God thanks every day for being raised in the time of our nation when even television stations cared about families including ours says this grateful Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee. 1922 – 1941.

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..May 27th

May 27th………..“GRANDPA, DID ANYONE IN YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY OF RELATIVES EVER BECOME A NURSE? HOW DID IT AFFECT THEM AND THEIR SPOUSE BASED ON THEIR EXPERIENCES”?

A woman’s piercing screams ricocheted off the sterile, tiled walls of that 1918 hospital ward. In reaction to the cacophony of noise, there came the fast sounds of solid, low-heeled uniform shoes of many nurses. Their uniformed convergence added to the chaotic clatter of the excitement as they rushed towards and burst through the door that was the source of those screams. Before them lay a sweat-drenched, pregnant woman with her hands clenching feverishly to the linen sheets around her. This young girl was in the throes of an intense childbirth labor and reacting blindly to the immense, painful pressure that hardened her uterus with every rolling contraction.

Being her first child, the poor sweetheart, like many young women of that era, had not been properly educated and prepared for the natural process of becoming a new mother. Writhing in pain, the young woman thrashed from side to side as her resultant fear only made each contraction worse. The sweet girl upon that bed was experiencing what countless millions of women had endured since the beginning of time…and that was….LABOR was a very hard labor, indeed.

Elliott’s Great Aunt Olga Josephine Rogness from a family portrait around the year 1910. She was about 13 years old here.

Among those 1918 “angels of mercy” was Miss Olga Josephine Rogness. Although born in Thor, Iowa, as a young adult, Olga had temporarily taken up residence in the desert southwest and was one of those dedicated young nurses that invested their lives in trying to assuage the suffering of all patients in her care at that hospital within the hot State of Arizona.

Being the tender soul and kind-spirited young woman that she was, Olga did what she could to attend to this young woman’s needs as best as she was trained for in her nursing school days. Sadly, though, the medical profession, like any other human endeavor, had to go through their own paradigm shift when it came to finding better ways to approach and assist in bringing new life into this world. Many doctors of that era held an elitist attitude that childbirth was beneath them and that “any female of prudence could manage” to assist a woman in labor on her own.

Nursing truly was, and still IS, a “work of heart”!!! For young Olga, though, viewing the many recurring scenes of women in anguish during childbirth was doubly exacerbated when a young girl, on occasion, died during childbirth. Statistics for 1918 reveal that 22 or more maternal puerperal deaths occurred in every 100,000 patients. For some, that’s a low statistic, but to Olga, it had driven a searing, eyewitness image into her very psyche that would come back to haunt her later in life.

Elliott’s quiet, yet prankster Great Uncle Andrew Davidson is in back row wearing lady’s sun bonnet and sunglasses. His wife, Olga, is immediately in front of him and slightly to the left. This was one of many happy family “rebellions” (reunions) between the Rogness and Sletten families over the years.

With her nursing years now behind her, a new chapter blossomed in the young life of Olga Rogness. A quiet, yet fun-filled young man named Andrew Davidson came a-courting and won the heart of this mild-mannered Norwegian maiden. The Davidson and Rogness families came together for a grand celebration on October 15th of 1925 when these two fine Norwegians stood hand in hand at the altar and exchanged wedding rings.

True, Andrew was of a quiet nature, yet he knew how to have fun, too. He sure kept family “on their toes” in anticipation of what smile or prank he’d come up with next. For instance, there is a photo from one of the family “rebellions” (reunions…Hehehe) where there is this strange looking “woman” in the back row of the photo with an over-sized bonnet on and sunglasses. No other male of the families would’ve pulled a prank like that, but, Uncle Andrew sure would, and DID!!! 😉

Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Davidson. Circa late 1940’s.

Andrew sure kept Olga smiling, during their many years of marriage. On another prank, Andrew would team up with Olga’s brother-in-law (Oscar Bidne) to take a pipe and chink it into place underneath an old Ford Model A car so that the owner could get the car to start, but couldn’t figure out why the gas-pedal wouldn’t work when he’d push down for acceleration. Sure enough, Andrew and Oscar would be standing nearby choking with laughter.

The zenith of Andrew’s pranks, though, came when he would hook up a wire from his old car’s battery and run it to the metal door frame of that era’s type of cars. A flip-switch was then connected along the wiring line to actuate this silly system of “getting a jolt” from Andrew. It was just a matter of time before some unsuspecting “victim” would be leaning with his head inside the car window of Andrew’s vehicle and fully engaged in a conversation with this quiet Norwegian. The poor man in question was oblivious and unaware that the “spider was about to trap the fly”. During the chat, Andrew would flip his hidden switch and send a JOLT of DC electrical shock that would ignite that door frame AND the “victim” who usually went straight up in shock and slammed his head to the car frame as he was catapulted out and to the ground with the instigator, Andrew, howling with laughter.

Yes, Andrew and Olga were quite the team through life, yet, Olga’s nursing years came back to haunt her in that she was too filled with her own fears (from those nursing years) to give birth to any children of their own. Those years of witnessing many anguished childbirths had put a mark on Olga’s heart that kept her from ever being able to become a mother due to her intense fright from observing so much pain in those nursing years of her youth.

Andrew, in my humble opinion, garnered a place of sainthood, that few husbands attain, as he compassionately chose to accept the fact that the pitter patter of little feet were just not to be for he and his Olga. Instead, they lived a very peaceful existence on their pleasant farm near Lake Mills, Iowa and Andrew sought all kinds of ways to show love to nieces and nephews over their many decades of married life. For instance, Olga’s niece, Beverly, had come over to their farm one day to pick bushels of apples from the Davidson’s orchard to take back to their home in Austin, Minnesota. Poor Beverly was so engaged in pleasant conversation with Olga and Andrew that she had forgotten her car keys INSIDE the trunk when the lid came down KERCLICK!!! No car keys!!!

Elliott’s Great Uncle Andrew and his wife, Olga, are to the left in this photo. Their niece, Beverly (who had the key problems in this story) is in yellow on right. Olga’s sister and brother are in red dress and blue shirt. May of 1970.

How was Beverly to get home now!!?? It was loving Andrew that got on the old-fashioned farmhouse phone and called a tow truck to come out to their farm. With Bev and her children in his car, they followed that lovely, towed new Chevrolet all the way to the dealership to have that trunk opened up for his niece and her children.

So, even though children never came, biologically, to Andrew and Olga Davidson, they saw to it that their love FOR children and each other was a hallmark of their long marriage of 53 years. When his beloved Olga went home to Heaven, in September of 1978, Andrew must’ve missed her so much that he joined her in Glory the following year in August of 1979. These two dear ones were so special that, if we would have had another son, I was going to name him “Andrew” in tribute of the fun-loving Great Uncle of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

Vol.2..Norwegian Farmer’s Son..May 26th

May 26th………….“SHARE THE STORY OF HOW YOUR MATERNAL AUNT MET HER HUSBAND”.

This is an actual photo of Fountain Lake in Albert Lea, Minnesota.

There was a mellow, musical magic as the sun was setting across the waters of Fountain Lake in Albert Lea, Minnesota. Spent droplets of water, having arched towards the sky in the lake’s fountain burst, now came cascading down as amber diamonds into the waters below, being assimilated into the rippling water’s entrancement that was about to lead to romance.

It was early Fall of 1946 and the late Indian Summer was still giving out its warmth in the shadows of this Midwest town’s dance hall located just off of Broadway Avenue in those days next to the lake. Strains of The Tommy Dorsey Band could be heard on the air as the tenor of his gentle trombone lent to the aura of all things quaint, reflective and celebratory for a nation now relaxing in the first full year of peace since the end of World War II.

Elliott’s very beautiful maternal Aunt Beverly Sletten whose heart was smitten by her handsome suitor, Gene Smith.

Seventeen year old Beverly June Sletten was bubbling with excitement of attending this dance with her girlfriends and, as they arrived on the pleasant scene that evening, these lovely young ladies drank in the crowd of young couples enjoying the Big Band music that surrounded them on the dance hall floor that wonderful night.

Bev and her young lady friends had decided that they’d saunter out to the veranda by the lake shore where they could relax on one of the benches there and enjoy the magnificent Minnesota sunset and yet hear the sweet, lilting music that fed the nation’s airwaves in those dear days when a gentler aura of life held sway among that Greatest Generation.

Beverly’s brown, Norwegian eyes began to twinkle with heart-pattering anticipation as her gaze locked onto the manly frame of a classic, tall, dark and handsome young man across the veranda from her.

Mr. Gene Smith had been blessed with a thick mane of dark hair that was naturally curly and wavy in its male splendor. Little did Beverly know at the time, but Gene’s life before this gentle evening’s encounter had been the totally opposite of peaceful.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by the Japanese (December 7th of 1941), Gene was among the 16 million other young Americans who stepped up to the needs of that current and global World War. Gene had valiantly volunteered for the war effort in the United States Navy and served aboard one of Uncle Sam’s thousands of sailing vessels. This virile young patriot garnered the rank of “Water Tender 2nd Class” as he performed boiler maintenance duties in the heart of his ship from the year 1943 till peace returned to the world on September 2nd, 1945. Gene then maintained his naval obligations till being honorably discharged from military service in the late Summer of 1946. In parental celebration of his son’s survival and homecoming from the war, Gene’s father saw to it that his fine young son was gifted with a handsome new suit, from the Meyer & Wolfe store in Austin, Minnesota. Once again a man of civilian life, Gene was now fitly prepared to look his very best in sporting this new suit to wear to the dance that evening. Little did they all know that that handsome young man in a handsome new suit of clothing was to be the ignition-point of romance between two young people attracted to one another.

Beverly’s inner voice whispered, “Ohhh be still my fluttering heart”!!! as she realized this dreamboat of a man that she had been admiring from across the veranda was now carried by the same magnetic pull as he walked towards her and, in his admiring tone of voice, introduced himself and asked if she would like to dance.

With her feminine smile receiving his greeting, she had a bit a quiver in her voice as she accepted his gentle invitation to the dance floor that awaited them. As if on cue, the crooning voice of Frank Sinatra began the ballad, “All The Things You Are”. With each swaying step of their dance, the words of this song became their own……..“You are the angel glow, That lights the star, The dearest things that I know, Are what you are. Someday, my happy arms will hold you, And, someday, I’ll know that moment divine, When all the things you are, are mine”. Such a serene moment this dance had been for both Beverly and Gene. This young man was worth getting to know better and better, as far as our young Norwegian maiden was concerned.

A similar old, worn out car like Gene’s “Green Hornet” was on that first date and dance. 😉

“May I have the honor of taking you home this evening“?, asked Gene to his new lady acquaintance. “Well, thank you so much, that’d be a pleasure”!! , responded the twitter-pated young woman to her gentleman admirer. Accepting the masculine outreach of his hand to hers, they began, hand in hand, a slow stroll towards the line of cars parked near the dance hall. Beverly assumed that a very handsomely dressed young man, like Gene, would likely be driving the newest car in the parking lot………at least his clothing was indicative of that theory. “Is this one yours”?, Bev would ask as they walked along the line of metal chariots. “No”, came the gentle Gene’s response. “How about this one”?, she’d ask, pointing to a flashy new car. “Nope, not that one either”, Gene would reply. Finally, at the very end of the line of automobiles, there was this old, old car that had been hand-painted green and was NOT what Beverly had expected. “Here we are……this is “The Green Hornet”, said Gene with a wink and a giggle in his eyes! 😉

The “power of the thumb” often got Gene to and from his lovely lady in Albert Lea, Minnesota. 😉

Gene lived in the city of Austin, Minnesota which was over 20 miles from Albert Lea where Beverly and the dance hall were located. On the days when his old “Green Hornet” was broken down, Gene was determined to be with his sweetheart anyway. So, out to the highway on a trot he went and he’d hitchhike the distance for the joy of being with his new darling. There along the thoroughfare heading west, up came his short digit as he swung that thumb and forearm in the direction towards his honey and Albert Lea. Luckily, many drivers, in those kinder days of American life, were inclined to trust a young person hitchhiking, so Gene was blessed with many a lift to Albert Lea and back to Austin.

Elliott’s Aunt Beverly and her wunnerful husband, Gene Smith. Beverly’s father, Clarence Sletten, is behind the couple.

A most loving inauguration of romance was nurtured and relished by Beverly and Gene, along with the blessings of their respective families, from that Fall of 1946 until their blessed nuptials on July 1st of 1947. From this blessed union of marriage came a lovely family of three daughters and one son. Gene, following in his father’s footsteps, in the coming decades, met his family’s daily needs by working as a shipping administrator with the Milwaukie Railroad system that funneled through their hometown of Austin, Minnesota. Gene’s faithfulness to that employer, over the next 43 years, garnered them the resources in purchasing two new homes, over time, that were fully paid for as they worked together being the great team they were of husband and wife.

The amber diamonds of Fountain Lake, combined with the mellow music and dances in the era of that Greatest Generation, resulted in a most beautiful union of two lives and two hearts that, to this very day, are still a blessing to this Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!! 😉