Norwegian Farmer’s Son…November 14th

November 14th…“WHAT KIND OF GAMES DID YOU PLAY INSIDE YOUR FAMILY’S DAIRY BARN, OR UP ABOVE IN THE HAYMOW?”

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Muffled girl screams, followed by laughter, emanated from the dark tunnel maze.  The “trap”, in that dark tunnel, had been sprung by our mischievous big brother, Lowell.   The “victims”????….our girl cousins visiting from Austin, Minnesota.  We Noorlun kids were sovereigns over a marvelous labyrinth of tunnels that were created from fragrant, oat straw-bales.  The location of that happy pandemonium was upstairs in the haymow of our handsome, red barn there on our farm just three miles northwest of Kiester, Minnesota.  The architect of that happy goldmine of fun times was our beloved brother, Lowell Ross Noorlun.

#250b=Noorlun kids; December 1960
L to R: Lowell, Elliott, Candice and Rosemary Noorlun

Long before the days of digital dependency for playtime, we youngin’s had real fun on our farm.  Our manly, muscular and mature big brother came up with the awesome idea of using straw-bales (and a few long boards) to create golden tunnels for us to explore and enjoy.  Rich we were, but not in money.  Instead, we were rich in the gold of loving memories with our elder sibling.  For those who are a bit foreign to farming ways, our father, Russell, like all good farmers, was wanting to provide a soft bed for his animals to sleep on throughout the Winter and rest of the year, as well.   Here is how he procured that bedding.   After his oat fields were harvested, there were the remnant, yellow stalks, laying over those many acres, that the oat seeds used to grow on.

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Straw bales for soft animal bedding.

That yellow “straw” was very soft, in comparison to the green alfalfa that was fed to our livestock, so Dad would pull a rake behind our tractor to create windrows of the straw and then bale it into rectangular bales that we put up in the haymow of our big barn.  The straw bales were kept to themselves in the front 1/4th of the haymow, near the giant roll-down door.  As needed, we would toss some straw-bales to the lower barn floor.  Picking them up by their two twine ropes, we’d carry them to the pens and other areas where fresh bedding was needed.  We’d break them open, spread them around evenly and then our Holsteins (and other animals) could have a clean, warm place to sleep each night.

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Brother Lowell would pull out some straw-bales and set them cross-ways on top to create our “golden tunnels”.

Our “Captain Of Creativity”, brother Lowell, began pulling certain straw-bales out of a straight line length of bales, then twisting the bales, he’d set them across the opening he just created.  This created a tunnel for us to crawl through.  To create a “room”, big brother would pull out a bunch of bales to create an open square area.  To make the “roof/ceiling”, brother would lay some boards across the large “reach” and then re-stack bales on top of the boards, thus creating a room of our very own to crawl around inside.

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Like this little boy, one needed a flashlight to explore the dark tunnels.

Here’s where the shenanigans and fun times ramped up.  It was easier to explore the straw tunnels with a flashlight, but it was also challenging to see if we could remember the turns and rooms, in the tunnels, by heart and “go the distance” in the dark.  If anything, we figured our head would just bump into a “darker than night” corner and we’d just have to turn a new direction, ya?   One day, though, we heard that our sweet girl cousins were coming to visit us on the farm from their city home about 50 miles away.  Whether the genesis of this next idea came from Lowell, or from my little sister and I, that I don’t recall.  What DID happen though, was big brother dived into our tunnel and took residence in the “room” along the path of the tunnel.  He had his flashlight with him, but when he got into his “spider’s den”, he shut off the flashlight and waited for his victims to come crawling blindly along the tunnel darkness.

#104=Elliott with Gene Smith family at our farm; 1962 maybe
Elliott stands in front of the “victims” of big brother’s tunnel scare.

Brother took Candice and I into his confidence about the trick that was about to transpire.  “Have Brenda and Val come up and go through the tunnels without a flashlight!  I’ll be waiting in the room for them to come crawling by!”   Sure enough, my maternal Aunt Beverly and family rolled into our farm yard in their handsome, blue 1957 Chevrolet and visiting commenced as we (except Lowell) greeted them all.  Like a spider waiting patiently for a fly, Lowell hunkered down in the “room”.   As us kids arrived inside the barn, Brenda and Val Smith climbed the haymow ladder, with little sister and I, and we all entered the haymow to show them this cool tunnel we created.  Trepidatiously, our darling cousins fell for the bait and started to crawl through the dark straw tunnel, in total blackness………all of a sudden, “BLAHHHH!!!”, bellowed brother Lowell!!!  As he heard the girls crawl past his room, he reached out in the blackness to grab the girls as he simultaneously flicked ON his flashlight!!!  Scream good, they DID, and laugh good we all did in this happy remembrance of a Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Straw for a nice warm bed for all of the animals on Elliott’s farm.

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…November 13th

November 13th…“DID YOU HAVE ANY TELEVISION COWBOY HEROES WHEN YOU WERE A LITTLE BOY IN THE LATE 1950’S AND 1960’S?”  

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Elliott loved his Saturday cowboy television shows!!

 

 

Puffs of couch dust could be seen floating in the rays of Saturday morning sunlight that came streaming through our farm’s Living Room windows.  Being the armchair cowboy that I was, I was earnestly bouncing on the edge of the couch cushions as I rode my imaginary stallion next to Roy Rogers as we made earnest chase after those dastardly villains attempting to evade justice.  Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, The Lone Ranger, Sky King and other valiant heroes of mine could always count on this lil’ hombre to be their faithful sidekick in the quest to bring peace and justice to the endless horizons of the “Wild West.

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TV cowboy kid!

Something kinda perplexed me though, in those tiny wannabe cowboy days.  For one thing, life must’ve been pretty boring back in the old days of history.  Ya wanna know why?  Everything was only black and white….what a monotonous world that must’ve been.  I mean, in the reasoning of my kid brain, the whole world must’ve been that way, cause all the old photos were black and white.  Even our Zenith television in the corner of our farm house Living Room was only emitting black and white images.  I mean, doesn’t that fit kid logic?  In the here and now, I could see my immediate world around me in color.  So, to my infant-sized mind, something must’ve been missing in the old days, cause everything seemed to be only two colors…….black and white.   And, being that us little people, during that time frame of existence, take life quite literally,  I posed another question to my mini-brain………How in the world did Roy Rogers (and his friends) get INSIDE that little television box??   I remember, toddling around to the back side of the TV to see how they got inside that thing and all I could see were glowing television tubes, wires and a lot of hot air coming from that electrical contraption.   If my cowboy heroes WERE inside that glowing globe……..how in the world were they gonna get OUT??? 😉

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Elliott’s version of a cowboy hero horse!

Now, like any respectable puny, pugnacious purveyor of law and order will tell ya, “Ya gotta have a horse to chase the bad guys!!”  So, for this farm boy, I had two choices  of equine excellence.  One, was my Shetland pony, “Little Lady”.   But during those long Minnesota winters, “Little Lady” spent most of her time in our barn staying warm and cozy, rather than me saddling her up and making her lunge through massive snowbanks in our farmyard.  So, in her place, my dad had an awesome horse swing, hung by ropes from rafters, in our barn.  After my cowboy shows were done for the day, I’d trudge my way through the snowdrifts, mount my wooden swinging steed, and continued “riding into the sunset” with all my cowboy heroes.

#109a=Elliott on front step of Kiester farm; Spring 1958
Elliott was a bent-toe cowboy wannabe.

Not only was I impressed with all my cowboy heroes, I was also intrigued by the powerful majesty of the handsome horses they rode in all those glorious western adventures.  In a type of split personality, I would, in my outdoor playtimes, become both horse AND cowboy in fantasy westerns of my own making.   Like many children, I preferred, during the Summer months on our farm, to run barefoot in my playtime.  My tender, Springtime feet eventually morphed into “tough as leather” feet as Summer and Fall came along.  What I didn’t know then, was that, even though the the skin of my feet was now tough, my young bones inside were still “green” and very bendable.  I would play cowboy (and horse) each day, for hours, as I’d be up on my tiptoes and chinking my young toes into the dirt to replicate a horse’s hooves making dust in all those cowboy adventure shows I had just seen on television.  Over time, my young “green” toe bones bent to one side and, as a result, I have bent toes to this very day.  Such was the price to pay to play cowboy for this rootin’ tootin’ rip roarin’ Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…November 12th

November 12th…“WHAT WERE SOME OF THE FUN WINTER GAMES AND ACTIVITIES YOU ENJOYED ON YOUR FARM THERE IN SOUTHERN MINNESOTA?”

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“Diamonds” in the snow glinted brightly from the rays of Winter sun.

I owned my own jewelry store, because “diamonds” sparkled in the snow all around us as sub-zero Minnesota temperatures turned our farm world into a crystalline play palace of Winter pleasures.  With our precious mother, Clarice, ensuring our many layers of warming clothing were in place, we’d explode out into the wonderment of our farm outdoors and a myriad of kid delights.  All it took was our imagination station to be turned up to full throttle and giggles in profusion erupted from our cherry cherub cheeks.

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The game of “Fox and Geese”.

“Jack Frost” had sent his “wind brooms” along with the snow fall that previous evening.   The “wind brooms” swept the snow so smoothly that there was a perfect table of new, level snow between our farm house and the large chicken coop (house) that sat up against the windbreak treeline.  The black blizzard clouds had been shooed away and replaced by brilliant blue skies that reigned supremely over us…..perfect playtime weather!   By shuffling our winter boots in the snow, like a choochoo train, we created a giant round circle.  Again in the snow with our boots, we then shuffled as we split the circle in half, then made pie size intersections after that.  One person was chosen as the “fox” to chase and try to catch the “geese”, but, during all the wild chasing melee, all players had to stay within those lines previously created.  From there, various families played the game in their own way……..but it was sure FUN!!!

#159=Lowell on sled with bale; circa Winter 1947
Elliott’s big brother, Lowell (then 4 years old), enjoys a sled ride on top of a bale of straw with their father, Russell, in 1947.  The little building behind Russell’s right arm is the family “outhouse” 😉

Even a busy farmer father, like ours, liked to mingle work with pleasure.  In roughly 1953, Dad had an idea that my, then 10 year old, brother was all in favor of.   The work, in this instance, was that our Dad had to take out a load of cow manure to spread on the fields with our manure spreader machine pulled behind our tractor.  The FUN, was to tie a looooong rope to the back of the manure spreader for my brother, Lowell, to get a wild ride on his sled in the snow.   Now, before my readers jump to a wrong conclusion……….the manure spreader gears were NOT engaged to fling the stinky cow doodoo back towards our brother 😉   Brother DID say, though, that the bovine bowel blasts, wafting from that manure spreader, WERE quite fragrant as he hung on super tight while Dad’s tractor yanked him and his sled over rough terrain out in the field.  It was at the END of the field when our daddy stopped the tractor, rolled up the rope, put Lowell on board the tractor, stashed the sled somewhere and THEN turned on the rotors of the manure spreader as they “worked” their way back towards the farmyard emptying out that ooooey, goooey cow stuffins peeeyoooey.

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When winter weather conditions were just right, we’d either borrow Mom’s metal dustpans or Dad’s square point shovels, or both.  Our goal?  Build a snow fort…..or two.  We’d cut a snow block, haul it to the fort, tamp it down in place and trim it off square…..then it was repeat and repeat until our white castle walls were big enough to hide behind when snowballs started to fly like white bullets.  I remember trying to build an igloo once, but had no idea how the Eskimos made the roof of their igloo; our attempts just resulted in the blocks of snow falling down on us.  So, we’d just get creative and use some old boards on top, covered in more snow.

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Snow Angels in the making.

Even though we were often anything BUT angels, it was still a chilly childish challenge to drop backwards into a soft-landing snowbank and begin to flap our arms and legs as we made a butt-wrinkled, “angel” self-portrait in the snow beneath us.  Before we knew it, you could almost hear fluttering of wings as “angels” appeared all over our fluffy white farm yard.  Being youngsters with plenty of energy to burn, back then, flailing our arms and legs, in that happy snow time, was easy to do as we brought those little “heavenly harp heralds” to life with our joy.

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Mange Takk (many thanks), Louie Heitzeg!!!  This is Louie’s 1951 Senior Class photo from Kiester High School.

The handsome sound, coming down towards us from the north, on a frosty frozen morning, also brought a handsome young man into our snow-bound yard as neighbor Louie Heitzeg came rolling onto our farm property with his green n yellow John Deere 730 tractor.   The classic PUTT PUTT PUTT of that great John Deere engine was going to provide the power to raise and lower the front loader bucket that was attached to Louie’s tractor.  With scoop after scoop of heavy snow, our dear farmer neighbor cleared out our yard of excessive snow and created “mountains” of white marvel for us kids to enjoy!  As soon as those heavily chained tractor tires scrunched their way out of our yard and Louie headed back to his farm just north of us, we kids “attacked” our new mountain in raucous squeals of delight.

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Fun, fantastic FUN!  😉

Now the real thrill of us midget mountaineers began as we’d climb and explore our very own white “Mount Noorlun” of joy!!  “King of the Hill” games, sledding down the slope, sitting on Dad’s grain shovel and flying down the “mountain”……these were just a few of the ecstatic fun times we enjoyed.  AND, when the snow in our “mountain” had settled, after a few weeks, we then could use shovels to dig out and enjoy our very own snow cave.  Pure delight was ours!!

#280=Rosie in 1936 Chevy stuck in snow; March 1951
The Noorlun’s 1937 Chevrolet “Master Deluxe” 2-door sedan is stuck tight in their snow-bound yard.  Elliott’s father, Russell, refused to “chain up” the tires and got stuck.  Look closely, and you can barely make out our sister inside the car while her mommy took this photo.

Why pay Disneyland, or other amusement parks a fee to experience a wild ride when all you had to do was climb aboard our family car or pickup truck in the wintertime.  Frozen ruts in the farmyard and on the gravel roadways made for a bucking bronco, amusement ride experience for all passengers being jostled around inside our vehicles.   Before I was born, our mother, Clarice, told of a hilarious time of “just desserts” for our father, Russell.  This incident occurred in March of 1951, with plenty of snow still in command of our farm yard.  Dad was going to drive into town, along with our sister, Rosie (who was 5 years old, at the time).  Mom had cautioned her husband, “Russ, you’d better chain up the Chevy if you’re gonna navigate all the snow to town and back!”   “Nahhhh, not necessary I can do it without chaining the tires!!”   Next thing Mom hears are the whirring, rubber sounds of car tires that were STUCK in the snow.  Dad was not only stuck, but had “high-centered” the bottom frame of the car onto the heavy snow that was under the vehicle.  Our dear mother still spoke of how she laughed Dad to scorn, in her “GOTCHA moment”, for his misjudgment, and ran outside with her old Kodak camera to capture the moment of “poetical justice”! 😉

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The “singing” fence-line spoke to Elliott in it’s own language.

Even during a blizzard, there were fun times.  Peaceful fun times, I’ll say, for even though howling winds were loud, in decibels, inside of me was a peaceful solitude of enjoying the raw power of the Winter that encompassed about me on all sides.  Bundled to the utmost, in winter clothing, I’d oftentimes  would go for a solo walk during a winter’s gale along the barbed-wire fence-line that paralleled the north/south gravel road of our farm property.  With each boot-step crunching knee-deep into the snow’s crusty top layers, I could hear a “song” to my left, as high velocity winds actually made the barb-wire fence “sing” to me in sounds that rose and dropped in tones, depending on the the wind speed.   This loud, yet quiet, repose within me was only shortened by necessity as I began to lose the feelings in my feet from those sub-zero temperatures and figured I’d better get my near-frozen appendages back to our farm house to thaw them on our free-standing furnace in the family Living Room.

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Yummm!!! Homemade bread!

Trudging back towards the amber glow of our farm house lights, I pulled open the back-porch door and stepped inside to pull off the many layers of jackets, sweaters, gloves, mittens, etc..  Brooming the snow off of my snow boots, I removed them and then opened the door to our quaint family kitchen.   An aroma of utter ambrosia delighted my senses as my lungs drew in the delectable delight of another of Mom’s delicious batch of homemade breads just coming out of our oven.  With rich, creamery butter slathered over those warm slices of “love”, I couldn’t imagine a more delightful way to end a day of winter joy for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!!!

#77=Kiester farm, February 1959, looking NW
Thanks to Elliott’s mother, Clarice, many farm scenes, like this winter shot of their home, are preserved for generations to come and the millions of happy memories they evoke!! 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…November 11th

November 11th…“WHO IS YOUR VETERAN’S DAY HERO?”

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Big brother, Lowell, holds newborn Elliott in January of 1954.

Incognizant, as newborns are, I was unable to appreciate the warmth and security of being held in the strong arms of my 10 year old brother, Lowell Ross Noorlun.   While his tender, quiet eyes looked down into my infantile face, it is very likely he was beaming over God’s gift of a new, one and only, little brother.  Even as the January blizzard, that I was born into, threatened outside our Living Room windows, it just couldn’t dampen the coziness and joy that my immediate and extended family enjoyed with this second little Norwegian Noorlun boy arriving on the scene.  From January 14th, of 1954, till the 26th of February, big brother and I were a mere 10 years apart.  But then, he matured into a mighty 11 year old boy and the stage was set for growing in love with my very own Veteran’s Day Hero…….11 years my senior.

#45=Elliott, Lowell & Rosie on hay wagon(March 1955)
Spring of 1955 and Elliott was ready for fun with big brother, Lowell, and loving big sister, Rosemary.

Between our father, Russell, giving us hayrides, to dear brother Lowell blowing bubbles to make me laugh; I just knew that my elder sibling (and precious elder sister) would always look after my best interests as I explored what this new adventure called life had in store.

#46=Lowell on B Farmall (April 1954)
11 year old Lowell driving the Farmall B tractor in Spring of 1954.

Being the first-born of our family, big brother Lowell did his very best to meet the standards that our parents placed upon him in godly traits, work ethics and practical knowledge of how to help our parents take care of our family farm.  Big brother became so adept at working our little Farmall B tractor, that, one time, when it appeared he was stuck in the mud of our cowyard, I saw him maneuver that tractor (and a full load in the manure spreader) OUT of that bog by using the left brake and then the right brake to actually “walk” that little red Farmall right out of the mud and onto dry ground.  I stood there in awe of his prowess.

#258.1=Singing Christmas songs, Uncle Del's; Christmas 1954
Lowell, Rosie and cousins sing Christmas carols.

Not only did I literally look up to my big brother, but I also looked up to the fine example he was of a role model for me to emulate in my young life.  Even when it came to holidays, back in the sweet days gone by, big brother shined forth as my exemplary role model.   Our Uncle Del Sletten’s home, in Albert Lea, Minnesota, was like a castle (to me, at least) and oftentimes our entire clan was gathered there for Christmas parties.  Aunt Ilena would play piano and there would be big brother, big sister and our cute cousins, the Smith girls singing while Uncle Del blinded us all with his super bright movie camera lights.   Rosemary held a beautiful candle in a brass candle holder while Lowell, and his foursome, sang the classic Christmas carols for the Yuletide joy of parents and grandparents alike.

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Lowell’s Kiester High School Graduation photo from 1961.

As I gained year upon year, while a growing boy, so also did brother Lowell grow more and more handsome as he entered his High School years.  I counted it a pure joy to be in his shadow wherever he went if he allowed me to go with him.  When he worked for Field’s Super Market, there in Kiester, he had to drive a large box truck to a far city to get a load of fruit, vegetables and canned goods for the store.   He woke me up, at the crack of dawn, so that I could have the pleasure of riding along with him.   AND, at the end of that day together, he gave me my very own caramel apple to enjoy.  I was in kid heaven!!!   On another adventure, my “young father” invited me to a Minnesota Twins baseball game that was being played wayyyyy up in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.   My obedient behavior that day garnered me my very own reward from brother of a baseball glove AND an official “Twins” batting helmet.  Needless to say, I adored the ground my Veteran’s Day hero walked on.

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It was to be the U.S. Air Force for Elliott’s hero brother.

The only thing consistent in life is change.   That change happened not long after our beloved brother graduated from Kiester High School in 1961.  Lowell enlisted in the United States Air Force and, the next thing you know, our farm home, farm yard and farm life seemed oh so empty with him no longer among us.  My daily hero, who had been an integral part of my daily life since 1954, was now gone from my life.  What a void I felt……at least for a while.  But then, I heard all the excitement brewing when news came that my hero was coming home for a visit after completing his Boot Camp/Basic Training.   MY, MY how handsome he was in that dashing blue Air Force uniform!!   And those service shoes he wore, well, they sparkled like diamonds, they did!!  His time at home was joyous!!!  Soon, though, it was time for his obedience to orders as he boarded bus, train and plane as he made his way north to his new destination which was to be Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks Alaska.

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Elliott’s very own “dog tag”

As our patriotic brother settled into life there at his base home in Alaska, Lowell began to send my little sister, Candice, and I gifts from time to time.  The gift that I still have from all those years ago is my very own “dog tag” that said I was a “The Big Man”.   The metal tag even had our farm home phone number stamped on it…..Axtel 4-3415.  I proudly wore that “dog tag” for the longest time!   Brother Lowell was never much of one to write letters, so, what he did was……..he bought and sent our family a small, reel to reel tape recorder.

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Brother’s voice.

Lowell had his own tape-recorder there on base in Alaska.   He’d record a “letter”, so to speak, and then send the tape home to us in Minnesota.   We’d enjoy his voice and then record our own message to send it back to him in Alaska.

Overall, our big brother very much enjoyed his time serving our nation in the Air Force.  On more than one occasion, I recall him saying, “I had the best!  Uncle Sam puts food in my tummy, gives me a place to sleep, clothes to wear, money in my pocket and I even get to travel, too!!  Just can’t beat a deal like that!!!” 

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Over the many years, this Veteran’s Day hero of mine has truly been like a young father.   He’s encouraged me, played with me, protected me, confided in me, and sometimes he even chastised me, too.  Yet, I wouldn’t trade my Veteran’s Day hero, Lowell Ross Noorlun, for anyone else in the world.  That brother of mine will always have the deepest love and respect of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

#404.2 Christmas 1959

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…November 10th

November 10th…“DID ANY OF YOUR MOTHER’S SIBLINGS SERVE IN THE ARMY DURING WORLD WAR II?”

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Manly shades of khaki, blue and olive-green military uniforms created a moving mosaic on the loading platform of the train station near Fort Snelling, Minnesota.  Farm boys by the thousands were either coming or going on the constant stream of troop-carrying trains that belched out their engine steam from the hot metal sides of those powerful locomotives.  For those soldiers and sailors saying goodbye, there were long, passionate kisses to wives and girlfriends whose tears mingled with those of their beloved as their man was about to embark for parts of the world he’d never seen before in military service to his country.

#261=Clarice Noorlun & siblings; circa 1943
The Sletten siblings, Left to Right, Bob Sletten, Elliott’s mother Clarice (Sletten) Noorlun, Beverly Sletten and Del Sletten.   Fall of 1944 near Fort Snelling, Minnesota.

Out of thousands who were called by their nation to serve in this dire time of need, two of those young men were Norwegian farm boys from the tiny berg of Scarville, Iowa.   To be exact, one of those soldiers was my Uncle Robert Shirley Sletten and the other was my Uncle Marcus Delmaine (better known as, “Del”) Sletten.

#942 Del Sletten H.S. Grad 1942
Uncle Del is top left.

It is without a doubt that Uncle Bob and Del, along with the rest of our concerned nation, were glued to the frenetic sounds of the radio in their farm home, just north of Scarville, Iowa on that fateful Sunday of December 7th, 1941.   The sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by the Empire of Japan, was about to propel both of our uncles from being a child of the black, Iowa farmlands, to being a part of the 16 million men and women who valiantly served when “Uncle Sam” called.   The way that our President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, called them was via what was known as the “Draft” (Selective Training and Service Act of 1940).  It must’ve been unfathomable for Del and Bob to realize that, eventually, they’d both be leaving the peacefulness of farm life, then be compelled to climb on to and leave on a journey of train, steamship and truck that would propel them across the globe to the lands of Italy, for Del, and to France, for Bob.

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Uncle Bob had a wife and baby boy to say farewell to.

 

Iowa farm boy that he was, Uncle Bob Sletten also had the added burden of saying goodbye to his farm wife, Doris.   She and he had been blessed with their little son, Lyle, during those early war years.  I can only imagine what would have traveled through their hearts and minds as Bob, in his Army uniform, gave his family a last kiss before leaving.  Would this be the last time he would see them in this life?  Would he be killed in a tank battle among the blasted out farmhouses of France?  Or, would he be spared, by God’s amazing umbrella of protection and mercy, to not be one of those 420,000 names of our men and women killed in action during that global conflagration?

#292=G&G Sletten with boys. Del just finished boot camp; circa 1943
Elliott’s maternal grandparents, Amanda & Clarence Sletten proudly stand with their gallant sons in Fall of 1944.

Our handsome Uncle Del Sletten not only stood tall in height, but also stood tall in his aspirations of life, both in his Scarville High School days, but also in his hopes of one day being an architect.  Being the tallest of the two Sletten boys, Del was a natural who played on the school basketball team and was even Secretary Treasurer of his Senior Class back the Spring of 1942.  In his love for our American ideals, and in obedience to her needs, Del responded to his draft notice, when called to serve, and enlisted into the Army at Fort Dodge, Iowa on April 20th, 1944.  Trains had rolled through his boyhood village of Scarville many times, over his young years, but now, Del was to be a military passenger as he climbed aboard the troop transport train.  The long line of coaches was yanked by a powerful steam locomotive engine as each troop car felt the jerk and clanking sounds while iron wheels rolled and they headed for Camp Roberts along the central California coast-lands.

#944 Del Sletten H.S. Grad 1942
Elliott’s Uncle Del Sletten, with all of his Scarville, Iowa High School friends (Freshman through Seniors) in 1942.  Del can be spotted easily in the long-sleeved white shirt in the very center.

Theoretically putting myself in Del’s shoes, I would be listening to the clackety, clack, clack of the railroad tracks below me as I gazed outside the miles and miles of scenery that lay between Fort Dodge, Iowa and my Boot Camp destination in California.  Only the good Lord above knew Del’s thoughts as farmlands morphed to prairies to the Rocky Mountains and down to the desert-like flats of the 44,000 acres of Camp Roberts.  There must’ve been a collage of emotions from trepidation, wonderment and even a bit of boyhood adventure mixed in as Del rolled onto the parade grounds of Camp Roberts.  Boot Camp now behind him, Del was assigned to the “Blue Devils” of the United States Army’s 88th Infantry Division.  This Division, created “from scratch” in 1940, was mainly comprised of young men from North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa.

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Heroes, all!!!

Under the command of Major General Paul W. Kendall, our beloved Uncle Del Sletten fought valiantly alongside his fellow Americans in the mountains of Italy.  Their warrior zeal even earned them the Presidential Unit Citation for valor in combat.

Our mother’s other brother, Bob Sletten, after completing Boot Camp, was assigned to be part of a tank crew that fought in France.  Like so many of the young men who served in those metal marvels, Uncle Bob’s hearing was never quite the same after suffering the high decibels of  noise from the innumerable artillery shells his crew fired from their tank cannon against enemy emplacements.  But, thankfully, enough of his hearing was intact because he needed that hearing to learn something new.   Yes, I can still hear Uncle Bob playing a little accordion that he had found inside a bombed-out and abandoned French farm house during a lull in the fighting.  He had grabbed it as a souvenir and brought it home to America where he taught himself to play it for family picnics and the like.

#291=Clarence&Amanda Sletten with children; circa 1946
Safe and home from the war!!!  Left to right…Del Sletten, Bob Sletten, Clarence Sletten, Amanda Sletten, Beverly Sletten and Elliott’s mother, Clarice (Sletten) Noorlun.

God, in His loving mercy, brought both of our uncles safely home again after World War II had ended.  What a celebration there must’ve been for all the family as these dear maternal uncles could now continue their lives in this free nation that they had helped to secure for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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This great painting depicts so many aspects of the story of Elliott’s uncles.  From the farm, to trains that transported them, to the tank and infantry portrayed in the scene in the sky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…November 9th

November 9th…“WHAT WAS THE VERY FIRST CAR YOU EVER OWNED?  SHARE A FUN MEMORY, OR TWO, ABOUT IT.”

#542=My first car, 1971 Datsun Coupe
Elliott’s yellow “Wimp-mobile” 😉

“Are you kids ready back there?”  “Yup, we’re hangin’ on tight, Unk, give ‘er the gas n let’s go slidin’!!”   Snow didn’t come often to the Pacific Northwest, and specifically, to our town of Battle Ground, Washington located in the southwest corner of the State.   But, on this occasion, the good Lord plopped a thick, white blanket of fun over our area and it was time for some amusement with “Unk” (which was an endearing name for me as their uncle).  My cohorts in craziness, that chilly day, were three of the four children belonging to our eldest sister, Rosemary.   “Stooba”(Debbie) was the eldest, then came “Dougie” and then little “Beezer”(Denise).  The girls had gotten their nicknames from their Grandpa Russell Noorlun.  “Stooba” means short or stubby, in Norwegian, so that’s how Debbie got tagged with her nickname.  I think he gave the nickname, “Beezer”, to Denise because of her cute little nose glowing like a “Beezer”.    Being this was the first car I had ever owned, I discovered that the back seat of my little, yellow 1971 Datsun Coupe could fold down flat for cargo.  And that’s just what I used it for when I offered my two nieces and eldest nephew to be my “cargo” and come along for some snow fun.

#101=Dougie, Denise & Debbie, circa 1973
Left to right are Dougie, Denise “Beezer” and Debbie “Stooba” Ehrich at the time of the snow donuts fun!!

 

I surmise that whoever was the previous owner of my little “four-banger” Datsun must have had a grand sense of humor to have the gall to install racing slick tires on the back of that tiny, timid teapot on wheels.  But, hey, in our case, on that day, those pseudo racing slicks made for even more fun in the snow.   The schools in our area were closed, due to the snowstorm that had just passed, and I knew that the giant, Battle Ground High School parking lot would be empty of cars and possess a thick, untouched layer of snow for “spinning donuts”.  That massive expanse of smooth pavement just beckoned us to “come play”.

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Let the spin-outs begin!!!

For all you super safety sleuths out there, I’ll have you just close your eyes and turn away from this story for awhile.  Because, when we “fun-a-holics” got down to that wide open expanse of parking lot, I put the “pedal to the metal” as Unk spun “donuts” in all that pristine parking lot snow while I heard tons of giggles from the back cargo area.  Glancing back, occasionally, and checking the rear-view mirror, I could see three smiling little ones as they’d happily roll from one side of that Datsun to the other!!  It was a blast of fun for three little cuties and this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…November 8th

November 8th…“WHAT WAS AN ACT OF LOVE, FROM LOCAL FARMERS TO YOUR FAMILY, THAT TOUCHED YOUR YOUNG HEART?”

POEM – “Plowman Poets”  by N. Elliott Noorlun

#173=Plowmen who helped Dad; circa 1963
From left to right are the “Plowman Poets”… Darryl Mutschler, Gib Cleven, Chet Ozmun, Helmer Wipplinger and Louie Heitzeg.  The sixth “Plowmen Poet” was Merril Baumann who took this photo.  Circa 1959 on the Allan Parks farm northwest of Kiester, Minnesota.

Six “Plowman Poets”,  A sonnet wrote,

With every furrow of soil,

As tractors pulled plows, Across the land,

That our father would usually toil.

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The Plowman Poets lived out God’s will shared in the New Testament Book of Matthew Chapter 22 Verse 36

An injury had happened, In our father’s life,

Now unable to rise to work’s task.

When word got around, Of our patriarch’s plight,

T’was nary the need to ask.

#25=Plowing Bee(to help my hurt Dad) early 1960's
Merril Baumann (on front John Deere) now joins his fellow “Plowman Poets” in the harmony and cadence of seeing a field plowed for our injured father, Russell Noorlun.

Each “Plowman Poet”, Had chores of his own,

Fighting chill in his warm coveralls.

His own farm was waiting, For attention from him,

Hungry livestock did roam in their stalls.

#397=Russ&Erwin Noorlun, Kiester milk room; circa late 1940's
Elliott’s father, Russell (on left), with brother Erwin, was grateful for the “Plowman Poets”.

What was it that drew, These men from their farms,

To invest in the life of another?

Not only were they, Fellow farmers in trade,

But also a good Christian brother!

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The “Plowman Poets” gave love that day

The sparkling moldboard, Of each plow share,

Sliced deep into that sod,

As the “Plowman Poets”, Transformed that field,

Into a gift from God.

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Such love was well received.

Some cynics may say, These men wasted their gas,

And lost precious hours of time,

“It’s the other guy’s problem, Let him work it out”,

Yet we know, That would be a true crime.

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Later, in Christian brotherhood, Elliott’s father became a “Plowman Poet”, of sorts, as he reciprocated kindness to other farmers in need whenever he knew of an opportunity to assist in any way he possibly could.

Lord, please bless the memories, And families who,

Shared their “Plowman Poets” that day,

It was more than a field, It was love they did yield,

In a farm neighbor friendliest way!!! ><>

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