Norwegian Farmer’s Son…November 1st

 

November 1st…“WHAT KIND OF BIRDS LIVED AROUND YOUR FARM WHEN YOU WERE A LITTLE BOY IN MINNESOTA?”

POEM – “Did You Ever See A Symphony Fly?”  by N. Elliott Noorlun

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Elliott had lovely music every day as a farm boy!!

Did you ever see, A “symphony” fly?

Upon a cloud-laced, Summer sky?

A feathered fanfare, Sent from God,

To sooth we folk, Who worked the sod.

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Meadowlark in the middle of making music! 😉

A Meadowlark, As I walked the field,

To me his warbled, Song he’d yield.

Glissando trill, From high to low,

As about my daily, Path I’d go.

His yellow “vest”, With black “bow-tie”,

Led me to admire, This handsome guy.

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Red-winged Blackbird

Then came this sparkling, Ebony sir,

To show me when, His wings would stir,

His gold n crimson epaulets,

Upon his shouldered, Wings of jets.

Red-winged Blackbird, Was his name,

And bold his song, Colored full the same.

His tunes were sparklers, They appealed to me,

As he sang a tune, Sounding “Conga Lee!”.

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American Robin

Next musical member, Of symphony’s fling,

Had been with us, Since snows of Spring.

American Robin, Saw our hopes rise,

When each Spring he returned, From southern skies.

Even his music, Those sweet warbled notes,

Sounded to me, Like these words in quotes.

“Wake up, it’s Spring, The snow melts away!”

“Wake up, it’s Spring, Come out to play!!”.

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Robin eggs and new members of the “symphony”.

If you were lucky, And able to find,

The robin’s nest, You had to be kind,

For secure in their casings, Tiny eggs of blue,

Were future members, Of the “Symphony”, too.

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Mourning Dove

Often in, The morning’s hush,

Before the school bus, And busy rush,

A “symphony” member, In our woods you’d find,

With song both sad, And plaintively-lined.

As if her lover, Had left her scorned,

And so, In her song, She sadly mourned.

The heart-rending song, That spoke of no love,

The song of our local, Mourning Dove.

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Ring-necked Pheasant

Just then, From our cornfield, Excitement did vent,

As a kitty-cat scared up, A Ring-necked Pheasant.

Brilliant colors displayed, In rainbows of hue,

As he landed to corn patch, And hidden from view.

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Color and song……all year long!!

Needless to say, No dime was spent,

God’s music was mine, Where’er I went.

No need of radio, Or stereo speaker,

Besides, man’s music, Is usually weaker.

For I’ve many times seen, A “symphony” fly,

Above our farm, In His musical sky!!!

NFS 11.1i

 

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 31st

October 31st…“DID YOU EVER QUESTION THE ORIGIN OF HALLOWEEN?”

POEM – “Halloween’s Quirk”  by N. Elliott Noorlun

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BOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Back in the day, As a wee little squirt,

It didn’t seem to matter, It didn’t seem to hurt,

To scare the bahjeebers, Out of fat or lean,

Each day, Once a year, On the night, Halloween.

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“Now I lay me down to sleep…..”

For the rest of the year, I was taught to be good,

To do all the things, That I knew I should.

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“Peek a boo, I GOT you!!!”

But here, On this night, T’was o.k. to blast,

With screams n goblins, And ghosts from the past.

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Just broomin’ by in the sky!

I never had really, Given much thought,

Of this holiday’s genesis, Till I sought,

To know more about, Why each gal and guy,

Would look for witches, On brooms in the sky.

NFS 10.31b
To celebrate all saints (true believers) of the Christian faith.

I found that some churches, On November one,

Would celebrate saints, Who believed in God’s Son.

The night before, All Hallow’s Day,

Was All Hallow’s Eve, Set aside to pray.

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It was not what All Holy Evening was intended for.

All Hallow’s Eve, Became Halloween,

But a dark side came out, For all to be seen.

God’s children on earth, Were called a saint,

But what happened in darkness, Seemed to taint,

The first intent, Church Fathers had hoped,

But centuries later, Society’s still doped,

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Into thinking if we, Dress up the kids,

In costumes so cute, Folks’ll flip their lids.

And hand out candy, Then wave goodbye,

It seems to gloss over, The reason why,

To make ghosts n goblins, Of each little squirt,

Just confuses life’s issues, Within Halloween’s quirk.

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 30th

October 30th…“DID YOUR FATHER, RUSSELL, EVER TAKE PART IN ANY HALLOWEEN PRANKS WHEN HE WAS YOUNG?”

#1096 Russ, Doren, Doris Noorlun
Elliott’s prankster father, Russell, is to the right, in dark cap with snow on brim.  Russell’s brother, Doren, is bottom center with dark cap.  Russell’s sister, Doris, is far left, smiling with eyes closed.

A glint of pixie dust sparkled from the corner of young Russell’s eye as he and his fellow scalawags reconnoitered their plans for some upcoming Halloween night shenanigans.

#744 Russ n Marie
Russell with his mother, Marie.

Russ was a mischievous boy in nature and never hesitated to employ those playful powers.  He likely inherited those jokester genes from his Grandfather Ingebrit Tollefson who passed them on to Russell’s mother, Marie, and then on to our father, in 1918, when he was born.

Not only was frost on the pumpkins in northern Minnesota that Fall, but it also gave an icy glaze to the toilet seats of many a farmer’s outhouses, too.  Back in those days, indoor plumbing was mainly a luxury of the rich.  The greatest majority of farm families “answered nature’s call” by going out to a tiny building usually located in their perimeter wooded grove of trees that encircled those farms in what was known as a “windbreak”.  Now, whether the genesis of this silliness was handed down from our dad’s parent’s generation, or, they may have conjured up this idea on their own………either way, that night, Russell and his “Crap Cottage Commandos” were about to engage their stealth in hunting, as a pack, for their victim neighbor farmer and his outhouse in the windbreak woods.  Time for the classic PUSH OVER THE OUTHOUSE AND RUN prank!!!

NFS 10.30a
Outhouse target spotted.

 

 

For those too young to remember or know what constituted an outhouse, it was basically a deep pit that was dug into the ground.  A small house was built over the pit with either one toilet seat inside, or two.  With only “chamber pots” inside the common farm house, many families used this outdoor structure to rid themselves of human waste that each of us produce.   Yes, it was very odoriferous and the antithesis of clean, but like old sailors used to say……”Any port in a storm is GOOD”, especially if that storm was brewing inside your lower bowels 😉

NFS 10.30g
PUSH! PUSH!!

Distant timber wolves howled under a black onyx sky as the boys and our young Russell neared an unsuspecting farm yard.  The only illumination to be seen was dimly lit window light as it shown from the farm house that they quietly approached for the “kill”.  Sure enough, target in sight, there was the family outhouse nestled in the speckled shadows of the October moon above them.  With their young adolescent muscles this “bulldozing over” of that outhouse should be a cinch.  Getting a foothold in the darkness on one side of that “crap castle”, the boys began to push against the side wall.  There was some movement of the “poop parlor”, but not quite enough as the “potty perch” rocked back onto its foundation.  With another frenzied mass of muscles from Russ and the boys, the outhouse gave way and “TIMBERRRRR!!”, over it went with a crash.

http://csaimages.com/images/istockprofile/csa_vector_dsp.jpg
“WHO, IN TARNATION, IS OUT THERE?”

 

All of a sudden, sheer pandemonium erupted as the farmer who owned that property came storming out of his house with a double barrel shotgun loaded with rock salt shells (those wouldn’t likely kill ya, but they’d hurt like the dickens if they connected with your behind)!!!!  KABOOOM!!!  That fiery farmer fired off a massive explosion of a shot into the air as fire belched from the muzzle into that frigid night sky.  Russell and his gang went wild and in all directions as they tripped over each other in their pell-mell attempts to escape or be caught by one VERY mad farmer.

Illustration of a man falling into a pit. Vector illustration. L
“HELP GUYS, HELPS!!!”

In the absolute bedlam of that crazy moment, one of those poor hooligans became completely disoriented in the darkness and, rather than running away from the scene, he actually ran right INTO the “poop pit” that used to be covered by that outhouse!!!  That lil culprit was stuck in human “goo” clear up to his “whatevers” and was screaming at the top of his lungs to be rescued.  Young Russell, and his buddies, however, thought the plight of their fellow “stinker” fit him quite well as they laughed hysterically while they fled from that farmer’s wrath and back into the cloak of darkness.  Something tells me that the poor schmuck in that fecal fallow likely now had a new nickname……..”Brownie Boy”!!!  So surmises this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 29th

October 29th…“DO YOU HAVE A GHOST OR HAUNTED HOUSE STORY TO SHARE?”

POEM – “My Friend With The Most”   by N. Elliott Noorlun

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What is it, With this time of year?

When most folk actually, CHOOSE to fear?

Rather than turn, To the Friend with the most,

Our Triune Third, His Holy Ghost.

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Another way, To say His name,

Is Holy Spirit, He’s just the same.

Given to, Each Christian with love,

From our caring Father, In Heaven above.

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As Christ was baptized, In Jordan’s brook,

The Spirit descended, In sweet Dove’s look,

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And each day hence, While on this sod,

Each believer in Christ, Has this gift from God.

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To guide us in, Each step we take,

To live for Him, And for God’s sake.

#577.1 EUB Church, Kiester, MN
Elliott’s boyhood church in Kiester, Minnesota

Now as for “house”, Where saints did meet,

T’was located on, A tree-shaded street,

There in my boyhood, Town of “gold”,

From birth until, 13 years old.

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And the only place, That I would “haunt”,

Is when I’d take, A happy jaunt,

To read God’s Word, And learn even more,

Of what God’s Spirit, Had in store,

For this young lad, Who need not fear,

Cause my “Friend With The Most”, Is always near!! ><>

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 28th

October 28th…“DID SOMEONE EVER BET YOU MONEY TO DO SOMETHING?”

POEM – “Droopin’ From Hoopin’ ”  by N. Elliott Noorlun

#404.2 Christmas 1959
Elliott’s hero was big brother, Lowell (Left), who was 11 years older than his little brother.

Eleven years older,  And mature beyond me,

I followed big brother,  With awe and glee.

Whatever he said, Was the coolest joy,

So I was his shadow, This farmer’s boy.

#39=Lowell with cow (circa 1960)
Behind the cow and Elliott’s brother, Lowell, is the Granary Building with the basketball hoop mounted up high on its side wall.  This was Elliott’s sky high target to try to make a basket.

Up high on the side, Of our Granary House,

Where many a cat, Caught many a mouse,

There hung a basketball, Hoop up high,

To me, t’was as high, As the clouds in the sky!

NFS 10.28b
A “Benjamin Franklin” 50 cent piece was the wager for Elliott IF he made a basket at the Granary House.

And when you are, A tiny tot,

Any coinage of money, Was really a LOT!

So brother called me, One day in the barn,

And began to give me, A money-laced yarn.

“Since you are so little, And not very tall”,

“I’ll bet you can’t take, This basketball”,

“And make a basket, Through Granary hoop”,

“Cause if you do, I’ll downward stoop”,

“To give you a Franklin, Fifty cent coin”,

“When you make that basketball hoop go BOING!”

A boy playing basketball
One tiny boy + One tall basketball hoop = One zillion shots to make a basket.

The bet was on, Or so I thought,

As this mini-Munchkin, Fought and fought,

To get that basketball, Higher and higher,

Towards that 50 cent piece, I did aspire!

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The ouch of a wild basketball!

The ball hit the building, And bounced off of my head,

I was huffin’ and puffin’, Beginning to dread,

That that 50 cent coin, Would never rocket,

Out of my brother’s, Protective pocket.

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Finally, Elliott made a basket!!

Then out of the blue, My ball hit the hoop,

Round n round, It made the loop,

Then fell through the net, And touched every stitch,

“Hooray! Hooray!, Now I’d be rich!”

I ran to the barn, To get my cash,

But then my face, It turned to ash.

Jokester brother said, “No bet did we make.”,

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“Cause to seal a bet, You always must shake!”

A lesson for me, Before coinage can turn,

Shake hands on a bet, Oh that I DID learn!!!

#809.1
Some may look on this story as a trick played against Elliott, but his love and admiration for big brother Lowell is ever stronger with each passing year.

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 26th

October 26th…“SHARE A MEMORY, FROM YOUR YOUNG MINNESOTA DAYS, WHEN YOU WERE VERY SCARED.”

NFS 10.26a
This farm, near Elliott’s home, was to be the first place he ever was offered an Independence Day “Sparkler”.

A blood-curdling scream of imminent death exploded from my mouth as the Ferrotitanium metal fuel, coupled with Sulfur, set off the Strontium Nitrate with searing temperatures that neared 3,000 degrees……and it was all coming right at my face!!!!   I was just sure I was about to die on that Independence Day evening at the home of our dear farming neighbors, Elmer and Margaret Simonson.   Well, o.k., truth be known…….someone had lit a little wire device called a “Sparkler” and had innocently tried to hand it to me while I was being carried around the yard by my mother.  At only two years of age, though, I had never seen such a wild fireworks device before, so it was only natural that I did some “sparking” of my own as I “lit up” and howled in terror and hugged Mom something fierce as she carried me around that evening.

#1081 Margaret Simonson
Dear Mrs. Margaret Simonson

Farming communities tend to be close-knit and supportive of each other.  That familial support of neighbor helping neighbor ran the gamut of doing the work of a fellow farmer who was sick or injured, getting together to celebrate a newborn baby, even making meals and helping a family in mourning when a loved one died.  And, yes, our community spirit even extended to inviting farm families that lived nearby to your farm to celebrate Independence Day.   There came that special Independence Day of 1956 when my family was one of many who were invited to drive down the long gravel driveway that led to a sheltered grove that encased the sweet Simonson farm.  In the waning hours of that sultry, Summer’s evening of July 4th, our collective area families were preparing to enjoy some fun, food and fireworks.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!!! 😉

The freedom that we all cherish in this nation was being embellished in the wholesome setting of the Simonson’s farm that evening with the happy sounds of children’s laughter, kindly farmers sharing, under the single yard light, about the latest methods of agriculture and, in the distance of the house, one could hear ladies exchanging recipes and talking of their children.

#666 Elliott 2.23.55 001
Elliott was about another year older than this photo when the “Sparkler” episode happened.

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The Minnesota sun was getting tired of shining on that long day, so it began to seek its own pillow in the thick, billowy clouds of the western horizon.  While my tiny two year old body was waddling and toddling around the Simonson’s yard that evening, I noticed it was getting harder for my young eyes to track the shenanigans of the older kids as they enjoyed playing “Hide N Seek” in the ever-increasing shadows of the approaching night.  In the spirit of Independence Day, some older person decided it was time to introduce one of the more docile forms of fireworks into the now dark surroundings below an ebony sky.   They ignited a common “Sparkler” and began waving its fire trails in a circular fashion.  To teenagers and adults, this was a very mild expression of Independence Day joys, but when someone made a “Sparkler” burst to life and brought it right AT ME, well now, THAT was a form of terror to this timid two year old.  Mom surely felt my “death grip” around her neck as I tried to escape from what my little mind envisioned as pure death!!!

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The ladies tried to quiet Elliott’s fear of Sparklers”

 

Trying to assuage my mortified little heart, Mrs. Simonson had empathy for me and invited my mother to carry me into the well-lit kitchen of their farm home.  While in the safe abode of mother’s arms, Mrs. Simonson proceeded to show me what an UNlit “Sparkler” looked like.  Seemed fairly tame to me in THAT form.  She then had Mom carry me over towards her gas stove as she lit a burner and then held the “Sparkler” near the flame.  In a very short while, POOF…FIZZLE…FIRE SHOW happened.  This precious soul of a lady then went on to attempt to reason with this still scared widdo kid how the wire now made “pretty sparks”.   Her kindness DID seem to help quell some of my fears, but “Me was’m till berry tared” said this mini version of a Norwegian Farmer’s Son.  🙂

NFS 10.26b

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 25th

October 25th…“AS A FARMER BOY, WHAT WAS ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE HOBBIES THAT YOU HAD THERE ON YOUR FARM NEAR KIESTER, MINNESOTA?”

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Awww, Mom!!

“You just stop right there, young man!!!”, as Mom, in her skirt and apron leaned out of the partially open back porch door.   “There’s no way you’re coming into THIS house with all those rocks!”   Our sweet mother, Clarice, seemed to have had her “mom radar sensitivity” turned up high that day as she was obviously alerted to her waddling young boy who approached our back porch screen door.  You see, every one of my myriad of bib overall pockets had been stuffed to overflowing with my latest batch of “gems” that I had gleaned in yet another “treasure hunt” up and down the gravel road that passed by our family farm.  I must’ve looked like a midget paratrooper ready to jump into Normandy on D-Day with all the heavy bulges weighing down every step I took.

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Elliott’s eye-level view of the world, on his rock-hound knees.  This view is looking to the north towards the Heitzeg farm.  You can just see the top of their trees in the distance.
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Elliott loved rocks!

For a little boy, with no money to jingle in my bib overall pockets, the next best thing was to stuff those pockets with the only other valuable commodity that I could think of and enjoyed………ROCKS!   Big ones, small ones, colored ones and especially those magical translucent ones of an agate nature.  Up against the spot light of the Summer sun, I could see “through” them and enjoy their luster of color and marbling.

#165.1=Elliott's 4th Grade class 1963-64; Ada Leland - teacher
Mighty Midget Mineral Man….alias, Elliott 😉

Being freed from the rigors of Grade School for the Summer, you could find me, wearing my bibs and sauntering towards the long gravel road in front of our 120 acre farm.  The toughest decision for me, in those dear days, was, “Do I hunt for gems to the north towards the Charlie Heitzeg farm?  Or maybe find “gold” to the south, towards the Chet Ozmun farm?”  There I’d be, happily whiling away the hours, conferrin’ with the flowers, consulting with the breeze on my knees…..as I sifted through successive yards that grew into half miles of roadway rocks.   Poor Mom, it’s hard to figure how many new knee patches she had to  sew on to my bib overalls with all the crustaceous crawling I did with my rock-hounding hobby.

NFS 10.25s
Double your pleasure, Double your fun!

The musical jingle for a gum commercial used to sing, “Double your pleasure, Double your fun……”.   That’s what I did when I combined rock-hounding with playing “commando spy”.   When you consider the acute hearing of a child my age, and the placid beauty of a quiet countryside, that means I could hear a car or farm tractor from a long distance.  Sometimes I detected them before they even crested the hill north of our farm.  My imagination station would take over and I’d change from regal rock-hounder to World War II master spy.  In a blink, I’d roll myself off the road and down into the tall, soft grasses of our wide ditch alongside that rural gravel road.   The car, pickup or tractor rolling by had no idea they were under my super surveillance.  Once my “victims” had passed by, then I’d crawl back up onto the roadway and resume my search for the rock of rocks.

NFS 10.25t
The kid with the biggest “rocks” wins…..just like Richie Rich!

It doesn’t cost anything to dream, so that’s what I did with great abandon as I envisioned selling my gorgeous rock collection and becoming rich just like my comic book hero, “Richie Rich”.

Muscovite Mica
Elliott’s “GOLD” was actually called a Muscovite Mica rock.

The greatest “gem” in my rock collection, though, actually found ME, instead of me finding IT.   The shimmering, glittering “gold piece” was given to me as a gift from the son of my sweet Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Henry Wigern.

#1079 KHS 1960 Ray Wigern
This 1960 graduate of Kiester High School was the kind young man who gave Elliott his “gold” 😉

Our family visited the home of Maureen and “Hank” Wigern’s farm one evening.  Their handsome son, Ray, had recently graduated from High School and was so very kind to this little farm boy.  Ray and I were in his bedroom, upstairs, when he brought out this black box with a snap-lock lid cover to it.  I popped that snap latch open and then raised the cover to see, what for me was a dazzling sight.  As far as I was concerned, it was REAL GOLD!!!  In reality though, it was called Muscovite Mica.  I thanked Ray profusely (and did so in my heart for decades to come) for sharing the closest thing to GOLD that was ever known by this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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