Norwegian Farmer’s Son…July 20th

July 20th...”SHARE A BIRTHDAY PARTY MEMORY OR PHILOSOPHY.”

#61=Elliott's first B.D.,Jan. 1955
With his baby crib and high chair in the background, tiny Elliott is excited to gobble up some birthday cake after finishing his first year on planet earth.

POEM – “They All Came And Went”  by N. Elliott Noorlun

When I ponder my birthdays, They all came and went,

Faster than bucks, In my pocket are spent.

I often muse on when I was young,

How parties n presents, My direction were flung.

#133=Rosemary&Elliott laughing with BD cake; Jan. 14th, 1955
Another 1st birthday shot, on January 14th, 1955, with big sister Rosie.

There’d be cake n candles, Gram n Gramps would be there,

Celebrating with me, In my fine blondish hair.

NFS 7.20g
Scary movie on party night.

Later, games with friends, Sometimes overnighters,

We’d watch scary movies, Those real nail biters.

It was all great fun, Come each January,

When I’d get sister hugs, From our dear Rosemary.

NFS 7.20b
Like little Woodstock here, later in life, blowing out all those birthday candles COULD get windy! 

Over time, those years of life would fly,

As candles on top of cake’d multiply.

And soon it would take, One heck of a blow,

To “poof” candles out, And start the show.

NFS 7.20c
Elliott is now an OLD birthday boy 😉

Yet another observance, Did come to my mind,

That with passing of years, I was soon to find,

Fewer and fewer, Family and friends,

They’d gotten too busy, To make the bends,

Of coming or phoning, Or sharing a card,

Life just gets so busy, It’s really quite hard.

“Besides, he’s so grown up”, “He doesn’t need us”,

“To buy him a present”,  “Or show a big fuss”.

NFS 7.20a
On Elliott’s first day of life on earth, he just laid around, and slept, and ate.  

T’was then my philosophy, Of birthdays was born,

No matter how old, No matter how worn.

My first day of life, Only thing that I did,

Was lay around, eat, And sleep under lid,

Of blanket so cozy, By my momma’s care,

I felt so good, And comforted there.

NFS 7.20h
Old man Elliott lays around, sleeps and eats on his birthday…..Just like he did as a baby! 😉

So now when my “day”, Comes around each year,

I buy all the goodies, I love and hold dear.

I lay around, sleep, And eat till I bust,

At least this boy, Remembers the gust,

Of being happy, And thankful for,

Every year of life, This side of Heaven’s Shore.

NFS 7.20f
Even old people can have a silly and good birthday time!!!

 

 

 

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…July 19th

July 19th…“DURING YOUR CHILDHOOD IN MINNESOTA, WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY AND WHY?”

NFS 7.19a
Each snowflake was dream-wrapped.

Wrapped in the gentle folds of dream-kissed snowflakes, Christmas, by far, was my most beloved Holiday of the entire year as I grew up on our farm near Kiester, Minnesota.  Even the very word “holiday” is special!  And you know why?  It is formed from two words, “HOLY” and “DAY”.  To be holy is to be separate from sin, to be special before God.  Without a doubt, Christmas was so very special to this little farm boy during our wonderful holiday season.

NFS 7.19e
Every 1960 catalog page was magically full of wishes.

Even before the Sears Christmas catalog went “kerplop” on our farm kitchen table, I was already entranced with all the elements that made this grand season begin to percolate happiness in my little boy heart and soul.

#250a=Noorlun kids; December 1960
Big brother, Lowell (left), Candice (front), Elliott (behind) and big sister, Rosemary (right).  A 1960 Christmas card sent out that year to family and friends.

My “Cheshire Cat” grin was only too evident on our family photo Christmas card that year.   Likely, I was musing on how I could be the first one to grab that Sears catalog when our family got back home from the photographer’s studio.  That way, I could soak in more joy of the season and the toys that I dreamed about having for my very own.   That dear “wish book” had been drooled over so many times that the pages were “dog-eared” (folded over) and worn from hours of happy hoping that we’d get something new to play with when Christmas Eve finally arrived.

NFS 7.19c
“Ohhh brother!!! Socks for Christmas!” 😦

Be it the innate immaturity that accompanies childhood, or the virile imagination station that permeates each child’s mind; either way, it was hard for me to feign happiness when our family elders (with good heart, of course) would tantalize me with a Christmas package of splashy paper and bows.  My momentary thrill to receive that present was chilled when I’d rip open that fancy wrapped gift only to find a practical gift of socks, handkerchief…..or worse yet……UNDERWEAR for Christmas.  Goodness gracious, how my little boy shock would set in!!  😉

NFS 7.19h
Grandparent’s Christmas love.

I guess the good Lord used these practical gift moments as a form of spiritual calisthenics to strengthen my childish heart in maturing towards adulthood and learning the lesson that it’s not WHAT one receives for Christmas, but appreciating the love inside someone’s heart that caused them to WANT to give you a loving (and practical) gift in the first place.

NFS 12.13b
To Elliott, each fragile ornament was a work of art!

The rich pine fragrance of our family Christmas tree each year saturated our humble farm house with the perfume of a seasonal evergreen cologne.   Out came boxes of sparkling, colored Christmas ornaments that soon bedazzled us as they hung from those scented evergreen branches.  Each lovely ornament was nestled among the “silver rain” of dainty strands of aluminum tinsel hanging from each evergreen bough.  Lighter than air, it was a pleasure to see that tinsel as it floated with the slightest breeze when someone walked by the tree.

NFS 7.19i
Elliott loved the peacefulness of these old-fashioned Christmas light bulbs on the family tree.

Unlike the frenetic and staccato-crazed Christmas lights of today’s world, my childhood Christmas tree was bedecked with the most gently placid colored orbs in a spectra of peaceful hues.  These tapered glass cones of primary colors not only set off the beauty of the hanging decorations, but also spoke to my little boy heart, as if saying, “Be at peace little one.  Enjoy the tenderness and tranquility of this holy season”.

#77=Kiester farm, February 1959, looking NWWith our dairy herd of Holstein cows milked for the evening, our father, brother Lowell and yours truly would douse the barn lights and head towards the house for supper.  Along the way, we’d glance down to watch our winter rubber boots “plow” their way through new, fluffy snow.   With each step we made, the amber glow coming across the snow from the windows of our home bid us a “welcome in” feeling.  After peeling off layers of winter jackets and boots, we’d wash hands and gather around our warm kitchen table for supper.  With Mom’s tasty meal warmly in our tummies, our family would disperse into evening activities of television, listening to radio, reading or schoolwork.  With Christmas nearing, day by day,  I would often saunter into our nighttime Living Room and enjoy this Christmas season and our wondrous Christmas tree from a “new angle”.

NFS 7.19j
Elliott became an upside down elf under the tree.

Seeing myself as an elf, I decided to pass away the evening by laying down on my back, with my head near the periphery of the Christmas tree’s branches.  Then, with my body barely fitting under the bottom branches, I used my feet to push my little boy body under the tree while my shoulder blades “walked” me till I was fully under the Juletre (pronounced “yoolehtreh”….the Norwegian word for Christmas Tree).   The Living Room lights had been turned off so that only the Christmas tree’s luminaire were setting the room aglow in all their quiet glory.   Now, from my lowboy perspective, I looked upward into the heart of that Christmas tree and became lost in my new world of primary colors shining through the frosted glass of these string lights.  Each item, that was hung on that tree, possessed a placid, mystical wonderment all its own as I gazed on the loveliness that paralleled the loveliness of what Christmas was all about in the first place………..our world was heralding the yearly anniversary of our Lord and Savior’s birth.

#395=G&G Sletten home, Albert Lea, MN; August 1963
The quaint cottage of Elliott’s maternal grandparents in Albert Lea, Minnesota.  The window to the right is where the tiny, electric Christmas church ornament would sit each year.

For those of us blessed to grow up on the farmlands of Minnesota, Christmas joys were accentuated each year by a pristine blanket of snow across our part of the world.  Bundled against the chill of that snow, we climbed into our family car and would drive across the frozen roads to our maternal grandparent’s home in Albert Lea, Minnesota.  The cottage of our Norwegian elders was tiny in construction, but within resided a giant warmth that exuded from our “parents who were grand”.  With layers of winter jackets and boots removed, our Scandinavian family exchanged hugs and greetings and would then settle into Grandpa and Grandma Sletten’s Living Room to watch the evening snowfall outside their large multi-paned window.   Our beloved Grandma Amanda always saw that we were amply fed with a tasty meal and her delightful delicacies of Lefse and Kringla.  Lefse is a soft flatbread made from potatoes that is most often buttered, sugared, then rolled up and eaten with delight.   Kringla is a type of sweet cookie with a flat bottom that was also often slathered with sweet creamery butter and/or jam n jelly.

NFS 7.19b
This is just like the little church on the windowsill.

Evening shadows soon became darkness as the pleasant drone of adult conversations emanated from our grandparent’s cozy Living Room.  I would quietly step into the darkened entry of that happy abode and step up on a chair to gaze into the glow of a tiny, plastic, illuminated church that resided upon my grandparent’s windowsill.  Tiny as those stained-glass church windows were, I could imagine an even tinier congregation of saints inside singing Christmas carols and praising God for the greatest gift of His Son to us here at this holy season of the year.  Yes, no matter what we received from gifts that were wrapped with brightly colored paper and bows, the greatest gift each Christmas was the gift of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ to this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

NFS 7.19k

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…July 18th

July 18th…“WHAT DO YOU THINK OF TODAY’S MODERN TECHNOLOGY SUCH AS CELL PHONES, KINDLE NOTEBOOKS, E-BOOKS, ETC.?”

NFS 7.18b
In Elliott’s young days, telephones were connected to a wall or sat on a desk with a cord that went to a “handset”. 

POEM – “I Think I’ll Return” by N. Elliott Noorlun

I think I’ll return, To the days of my youth, When telephones hung from the wall,

When talk was the key, To teenager’s glee, Be you short-n-stubby or tall.

NFS 7.18m
That romantic phone call.

If a call was from “her”, You started to purr, And wanted to be all alone,

So long cord you’d fetch, And would make it stretch, Outside you’d go with phone.

NFS 7.18j
Elliott’s sweetie on the other end of that phone call was special!

At the length of that cord, Choice moments you’d horde, As you talked with darling fair,

Though miles away, You’d take time to say, How you’d love to be close cause you care.

NFS 7.18d
A good old-fashioned library with real books.

I’ll also return, To a time when I’d yearn, To feel in my hand a real book,

And settle to nook, As I’d delve in that book, For adventures of Old Captain Hook.

There’s magic in books, That cannot compare, To beeps, bells n whistles on phone,

In library’s quiet, There’s no cell phone riot, Just the joys of reading alone.

NFS 7.18c
Ahhh, the quiet joys of holding a real book as you read.

There’s solitude there, Living under your hair, As you turn each old-fashioned page,

And whatever you glean, Be it boring or keen, Will stay with you and “pay” a good wage.

NFS 7.18f
Elliott would be mr. muscle if he spent more time away from his cell phone and did something positive like more physical exercise.

Even at my age, This ancient old sage, Would benefit from much greater powers,

Instead of the wasting, With skin color pasting, As I zombie on cell phone for hours.

If I took that same time, Kept muscles in line, I know that this tummy’d be flatter,

So I’ll huff n I’ll puff, Till my heart yells “Enough!”, Good health is a serious matter.

NFS 7.18n
Remember to share His love in all you do.

All this to say, That someday we’ll pay, Much more than a cell phone bill,

If we fail to be human, We will not illumine, To love others and share His good will.

NFS 7.18h

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…July 17th

July 17th…“WHAT WAS THE WEATHER LIKE WHEN YOUR FAMILY ARRIVED IN YOUR NEW HOME OF WASHINGTON STATE?”

NFS 7.17i
Looking from Oregon into Vancouver, Washington.  The Noorlun caravan crossed the Columbia River on the Interstate 5 Bridge on a hot August afternoon in 1967.

“Hey! Hey! Elliott! Wake up!!  Ya don’t wanna miss this!!” said my mother to this 13 year old kid as she shook me awake from napping as we neared the I-5 Interstate Bridge that spanned the mighty Columbia River from Portland, Oregon.  We were rolling over that span and into our new Home State of Washington and the county known as Clark County.  It was August of 1967.  The late afternoon sun caused shadows from the multiple steel bridge transoms above us to flicker through the truck windshield as if they were railroad ties in the sky.  After a number of days on the road, my family was approaching our new life and home in the southwest corner of Washington State.

NFS 7.17a
After selling their farm in Minnesota, Elliott’s parents bought a new 1967 3/4 ton Chevrolet pickup.

We had traveled over 1,700 miles in our new, ebony black 1967 Chevrolet 3/4 ton pickup truck.  Mom and Dad had bought it with some of the proceeds from selling our beloved farm back in our grand Home State of Minnesota.  The hard-shell metal canopy over the truck’s cargo area was jam-packed with everything that we felt were basic necessities to set up housekeeping in our new home.  Seemingly, a million other items, back home in Minnesota, were either sold, given away or burned.

NFS 6.7c
Elliott felt just like the old explorers of the Northwest called, Lewis and Clark.

Even as a young teenager of just 13 years, I was already a big fan of American History and especially The Lewis and Clark Expedition who explored a similar journey as ours back in 1803 to 1806.  As their modern counterpart, I too felt like a pioneer (of sorts) as our family ventured into country that we had never seen before.  Thankfully, in our modern time of discovery, there were now paved freeways, maps and road signs to guide our family along.

NFS 7.17f
Elliott’s new town in Washington.

Our mother’s brother had inspired us to come live in Washington State.  For the past three years, he and his family had been living south of a little berg known as Brush Prairie and had purchased a blueberry farm there.  Since 1964,  my uncle and his wife would come visit us in Minnesota and he’d bring slide shows of the lovely Pacific Northwest.  As his slide projector shot those richly colored images on his large, free-standing movie screen, he’d entice us with scenes of gorgeous country, mild weather and majestic mountains.  There was even the prospect that we could even drive out to see the mighty Pacific Ocean along the Washington or Oregon Coast.  None of us “flatlanders” had ever seen the ocean before.

NFS 7.17j
Tiny two day vacation.

Our parents just HAD to see this magic land that our uncle spoke of!  Our big brother, Lowell, was able to make that dream become a reality.   Since brother worked for the airlines, at that time, our parents could fly for free (only had to play the airfare tax).   With a farm to take care of, Dad could only afford to have someone milk the cows for two days, but with that arranged, away they flew to Washington State.  Within those two days, and by God’s amazing provision, our parents were able to enjoy the spectacular scenery and Dad was able to secure a new job with the Battle Ground School District as a custodian.  AND, if Dad were able to sell the farm and move the family between May and September 1st of 1967, the District would hold the job open for our father.  The decision was made.  Sell the farm and move our family to a new life out West.

NFS 7.17k
Washington heat wave!

Little did we know that we were arriving to our new country in the middle of one of the worst droughts and heat waves that locals had seen in many, many years.  Scorching daily temperatures of over 100 degrees were persistent for the first three weeks, or more, after our arrival to this new Home State.  As former Midwesterners, we were fascinated, though, by how COOL it would get in the evenings and nighttime!  Back home in Minnesota, if it were 95 degrees (with 95% humidity) during the day, it would also be the same at night.  Soybeans and corn loved that kind of weather for growing, but not us poor human beings who would swelter in that nighttime muggy heat up in our bedrooms with no fans or air conditioning to cool us.  When bedtime came, you could hardly bear to even have a thin bed sheet over you, due to the fabric sticking to your sweaty body.

#371=New home in BG, Wa.; October 1967
The newly constructed Noorlun castle was completed just a short while before our arrival.

Happily, our parents were able to pay cash for this new home there on (what was then known as) Hawthorne Street in Battle Ground, Washington.  Dad’s signature on the bottom of that check (for roughly $16,900) was written in the name of our contractor who had just completed constructing this home shortly before we arrived in town.  That contractor’s name was Mr. Richard Dunning.  Richard and his family lived right next to us and they became quick friends to us all.

NFS 7.17m
Fishing for adventure that day.

 

With a smile and a wink, one day our new neighbor knocked on our door and invited me to come along with he and his sons to go fishing at Lacamas Lake near the town of Camas, Washington.  With my parent’s permission, I happily accepted their kind offer and away we went for a day outing of fun.  Late that afternoon, after a grand day of exploring the lake shoreline and fishing, my host took us all on a scenic, back-country route that would eventually get us back to my new hometown of Battle Ground.

NFS 7.17c
Helping a brother in need!!

As Richard was driving past the farm of his brother, Elmer, he noticed a dark pall of smoke rising up from the woodlands at the back of their property.  Into the driveway we rolled and came to a stop in the farm yard as Richard announced to us guys, “Well, boys, looks like we’re gonna do some firefightin’ today”!!!  So, as we all piled out of his car, we grabbed shovels nearby and soaked some burlap bags to be used for slapping down the flames of that fire.  Other local neighbors were also arriving on site and, eventually, a local fire truck responded as well.  Putting out that fire, that day, was truly a team effort.

NFS 7.17g
Young Elliott was a firefighter for a day!!! 😉

What a life!!!   Only a few days into our new era, there in the Pacific Northwest, and I was already into adventures I had never experienced before.  This teenager’s life couldn’t wait for the next new chapter of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

NFS 7.17d
That was one HOT adventure for a young teenager!!! 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…July 16th

July 16th…“WHAT ARE SOME PERSONALITY TRAITS YOU ADMIRED ABOUT YOUR NORWEGIAN FARMER FATHER?”

#918 Russ in 1919
Russell in the bath, 1919.

POEM – “Our Delightful Dynamo Daddy”  by N. Elliott Noorlun.

 

 

When Daddy entered into this life,

At the end of World War I,

His wavy hair, With style and flair,

Showed his folks this boy would be fun!

Russell Noorlun and siblings
Russell is on the left with his siblings in northern Minnesota days.

In the Northern State, Minnesota was great, Though times and goings were tough,

On Chippewa land, He grew strong and grand, Cause his Indian friends played rough.

#902 Russell Noorlun and family. Early 1930's
Russell, with family and friends, is front n center in a white shirt.  Mid 1930’s.

For whatever reason, There came a season,  Eighth Grade to be exact,

Though he was no fool, It was time to leave school, Life called and he had to act.

For “room and board”, He trusted the Lord, As he worked from farm to farm.

Fifty cents a day, Is what they would pay, Picking “tators” with strong young arm.

Our dad was a charmer, Just like the farmer, Who had loved and brought him life,

Grandfather was stern, And helped our dad learn, How to deal with struggles n strife.

#679 Villas Nyre,Russell Noorlun, Harold Dahl. Late 1930s
Handsome young buck, Russ, is center in this photo with his buddies from the late 1930’s.

The years rolled by, And our handsome guy, Worked hard and played hard, too.

To a dance they would go, To wiggle the toe, Dressed fancy with well-combed “doo”.

#364=Russ N.& 1929 Chevy@Tilman Thompson's farm, Lake Mills,IA; circa 1939
A 1929 Chevrolet and Russell Conrad Noorlun made for a great combination.

Dad’s car back then, Was a Chevrolet, Made in 1929.

What a pair they made, In his corduroy suede, Bell-bottomed slacks so fine.

#172=Folks with Lowell&Rosemary; circa 1949
Russell and his young family in 1949.

When love ensued, Our father then viewed, Young family of daughter and son.

As a man of the land, By the work of his hand, The blessings of God had been won.

Though never rich, In those things of which, The world acclaims success,

Our father possessed, The gold that is best, That of honesty and nothing less.

#397=Russ&Erwin Noorlun, Kiester milk room; circa late 1940's
Up to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week….Russell was one hard working farmer!!   Here he is separating cream in the milk parlor of their barn with his younger brother, Erwin.

Up before dawn, With a cough and a yawn, Our daddy began his farm work.

Whether well, or ill, Our father’s strong will, Finished tasks he would not shirk.

There were times when his confident, self-willed ways,

Could fluster our mother for worrisome days.

As into town he’d go, Muddy boots still in tow,

Cared he not to be fancy, Tis hard work that pays.

#625=Russell Noorlun's last photo in life; Feb. 14, 1980
Russell’s last photo on earth and surrounded by family celebrating Valentine’s Day.  Five days later, on February 19th of 1980, he died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 61.

Our father loved truth, And hated a liar,

And with traits like that, You can’t get much higher.

Sure, he had his human failings,

But when cancer struck with all its ailings,

Our dad persevered, And fought the good fight,

Hoping to see, Another day’s light.

As the cancer progressed, Our hearts they did wail,

As we saw his strong body, Become very frail.

Only a few more days, When his end had begun,

As Heaven then welcomed, A Norwegian Son.

#106=Elliott, Dad, Aunt Bev & Brenda at Phil's Park
Russell Conrad Noorlun (in fedora hat) with little Elliott, Cousin Brenda and Auntie Beverly Sletten Smith.  Photo from around the year 1956.

 

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…July 15th

July 15th…“IN YOUR MINNESOTA DAYS, TELL ABOUT A SCHOOL PICNIC THAT WAS SPECIAL”

NFS 7.15c
A bus ride for the last day of 6th Grade Picnic at Rice Lake.

 

Sunlight winked at us through the shaded canopy of Elm and Cottonwood trees as we bounded out of our school bus and drank in the fragrant breezes that floated off of Rice Lake.  A rite of passage was about to be celebrated by myself and the entire 6th Grade of our school there in our beloved hometown of Kiester, Minnesota.  June of 1966 welcomed in a perfect Midwest day and brought to an end the era of my Grade School experience, encompassing Kindergarten through 6th Grade.  In the Fall, my classmates and I were to begin our first year of a six year High School.  Seventh through Twelfth Grades, in our local educational school system, were considered High School.  There were no “middle or intermediate” schools in those days in our area.

 

#167 Elliott 6th Grade. 1965-66. Mrs. Scofield
Elliott (center in plaid shirt) is one of the 6th Grade prognosticating playful picnic practitioners.

Once our teachers (Mrs. Barton & Mrs. Scofield) had given us 6th Graders the expected parameters of proper behavior, we were released to explore the joyful wonders of Pihl’s (sounds like “peels”) Park.  That lovely rural park setting was named after Mr. Joseph Pihl who donated his personal retreat to the community for all to enjoy……and THAT we did!!

NFS 7.15a
This picnic had all the ingredients for being a joyful 6th Grade Graduation party!  Eat until ya bust was gonna be our motto for that day! 😉

While a gluttonous gala of picnic foods were being prepared, a number of us guys explored the shores of lovely Rice Lake.  The shimmering waters were inviting as they reflected the sapphire blue of that Minnesota sky above.   I wish I had brought along our family’s bamboo fishing pole that day.  From past experience, I knew there were plenty of Bullheads (a Midwest name for Catfish) just awaitin’ off shore for me to toss in a tasty worm on a hook 😉

NFS 7.15e
With pre-teen energy to burn, Elliott and his classmates had tons of fun with picnic competitions.

Knowing well our proclivity to having tons of energy at that age, our teachers provided an array of activities and races to help us make this celebration day festive.  Foot races, potato sack races, tug of war and a myriad of other events exercised not only our bodies, but also our smile muscles to the very limits.  Of course, in addition to the racing games, there were swing sets and other equipment to pass this glorious day away in activities to make for tired bodies and marvelous memories.

NFS 7.15h
Elliott’s first pangs of twitterpation.

A gentle phenomenon also permeated the sweet joy of that special picnic day.  It was the genesis and palpitating pangs of what the world knows as “Puppy Love”.  The magical wonders of our young lives were entering a maturing phase that was both fun and fearful as we guys began to notice our classmates of the opposite gender in a more personal and “new chapter” way.  I recall a couple young ladies of my class whom I had twitterpations for as we sat side by side on the swings that day and chatted.  One young lady even came and snuggled onto my lap on the same swing……..ohhh myyy goodness……be still my pounding heart!!! 😉   Warm summer breezes off of the lake caused the long hair of this feminine fair maid to float, as if in a dream, as we shyly talked of how very special this whole day had been.

NFS 7.15f
Elliott had been smitten with a crush by the love bug 😉

This picnic was not only the culmination of an educational chapter of life, but, by the returning feminine smiles I received that afternoon, I saw the ushering in of a new and even more exciting life adventure for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

Picnic5
What a joyous celebration it was to say “goodbye school” and “hello summer”!!!

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…July 14th

July 14th…“AS A YOUNG BOY ON THE FARM IN MINNESOTA, DID YOU EVER WANT TO BUILD UP YOUR MUSCLES?  WHO INSPIRED YOU TO TRY AND HOW DID YOU DO IT?”

NFS 7.14n
Elliott was Mr. Mini-muscles.

“Well boy, at least ya SMELL strong!!!”.….That was the ribbing I’d get from my dad as he squatted next to the cow and the milking machine that was removing her milk to sell at our local creamery in Kiester, Minnesota.  Dad was referring to how I’d climb a ways up the wall ladder in our barn and then leap over to the ceiling-level, metal railing of the manure removal system.  From that hanging position, I’d then grunt and try to complete at least ONE “chin-up” repetition, but was usually too weak to pull my chin up and over the railing bar.  Only being able to hang for so long, I’d drop back down to the barn floor in defeat.  On another day’s attempt to make a chin-up, Dad would also tease me by saying, “Yup, it’s pretty bad when ya can’t even pick YOURSELF up!!!”  His counter-inspiration spurred me to prove him wrong someday…..and I did!

608-03470251
Elliott’s muscles were so tiny, he couldn’t tell them from the goose bumps on his arm.  😉

Ohhhh to have big , bursting, bruiser biceps that would be rippling in veined glory and rampaging power!  Well, at least that’s what I always dreamed about after watching enough movies of my strong action heroes that thought nothing of lifting a giant boulder off of their darling maiden fair.  Or, if she were in the clutches of a dastardly villain, our bounteous bicep boy wonder would crush that filthy creature into submission by heroic unbounded energy.  😉

#1023 Lyle J. Noorlun
Cousin Lyle J. Noorlun

Just then, muscle-building inspiration came to live with us on our farm in the form of my Cousin, Lyle J. Noorlun.   He became family with us, there for a time, in the early 1960’s.  Lyle, like all of us, had his weaknesses in life, but my Cousin had a strength that fired up my little boy attention and admiration.  Since big brother Lowell had moved downstairs to his own bedroom, Lyle and I bunked together in a comical-looking swaybacked bed upstairs.  Silly as our sleeping accommodations were, when it came time to get out of that sorry excuse for a bed each morning, Lyle was faithful (almost in a religious way) to “hit the floor” every single morning and begin to do, what seemed to be, a zillion push-ups.  From my supine position under the quilts, little pimple-armed me was in awe of Lyle’s strenuous regimen of exercises that garnered him powerful, puffed out pectoral muscles and a set of behemoth bulging biceps.   Eventually, Lyle left our southern clan to return to his home and family in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area.  With handsome Cousin now gone, I began to wonder to myself, “How can I begin to achieve more muscles on this frail frame of a boy?”

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Elliott found inspiration in the upstairs closet.

Even though curiosity “killed the cat”, my curiosity one day netted a muscled treasure in the form of some body-building lessons.  At the top of the stairs, and behind a curtained entry, resided a storage closet that, with it’s sloped ceiling, held everything from our dad’s old love letters for our mother, to something that was right up my alley.  Stooping low, so as not to hit my head on the slanted ceiling above me, I snooped until I came across twelve, blue, triple-folded “Health & Strength” lessons by a man named “Charles Atlas”.

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Charles Atlas.

 

 

 

When I questioned our mother about these lessons, she shared that our daddy had purchased them many years earlier, when he was a young man, and searching for an overall way to build up his muscles.  I was fascinated, so after receiving permission from her, I began reading through these thick pamphlets (with photos) to see why and how Charles Atlas became known as “The World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man”.

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From “skinny” to “Superman”….Charles Atlas.

Mr. Atlas ( his birth name was, Angelo Siciliano) was a skinny and rather sickly young man and didn’t like how he was treated by mean-spirited, bigger and stronger men.  Although he had tried some weightlifting and gymnasium workouts, it wasn’t until he was visiting a zoo, one day, that he realized that the lions, and other powerful beasts, didn’t lift heavy weights and such; they gained their strength by working one muscle against another muscle in their body.  From that discovery, Charles Atlas then devised a system of exercises that did the same thing to build his own body up to tremendous levels of power.

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Little by little, Elliott saw some improvements.

 

 

The animals, in that zoo that Charles Atlas saw, had something in common with this farm boy……I didn’t have any fancy weight set either.  What I DID have, though, was the will to try out this system called, “Dynamic Tension”…….pushing/pulling one muscle group against another.   Charles Atlas, via one of his twelve photographed lesson plans, showed me how to take two chairs and set them at a width that would allow my torso to go between them.  I would perform deep-reaching push-ups so that my chest muscles were stretched and I’d have to work them harder to bring my body back up to the starting position once again.  Over time, I did see some muscle gains, but I never achieved the rippling body that is seen in the muscle magazines.  I was still grateful, though, because I DID begin to feel stronger and overall healthier.

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Over the years, Elliott has gone from a “Thin Flynn” to a “Chunkee Monkee”!!!  😉

Of course, nowadays, the only exercise this old grandpa gets is “jumping to conclusions” and “running amok”……hehehe 😉   But, be that as it may, such were the dreams and aspirations of a wannabe body builder known as the Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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