Sunday, May 31, 2009


Daddy walked to town from Rosewood when he wanted to go. It is not known why this was his choice, why didn't he take the train? By foot, it was about a 2 1/2 hour walk. Different, isn't it as we crawl into our cars and drive at 75mph on the Interstate and be border to border in a state like North Dakota in the same amount of time.

Two and a half hours to me as a child was forever. Driving 300 miles from Minneapolis to Thief River Falls was a great time to sleep. But as soon as we got to Plummer, that last stretch of 17 miles dragged by.

I was one of those kids who stood on the hump on the floor in the back seat and jabbered away in my dad's ear. "Daddy, Daddy, how far is it now?" "Daddy, Daddy, I have to go to the bathroom!" Or "Daddy, what kind of car is that?"

It was mostly two lane highway most of the way home. The cars were new or nearly new and he did drive hard passing everything that got in his way. He was, I thought a good driver, although mother seemed to make movements that said otherwise.

There was a gas station/cafe in Detroit Lakes back in the fifties. We always stopped there on the way home. It meant gas, bathroom, and if you were hungry--get something to eat, (never in the car in those days). That is eat and have a car moving.

I was thinking about my parents today when we were out on the lake and how, on Sunday afternoons, on a day like today, sunny and warm, mother would pack a little lunch and fill the insulated container with coffee and we would take a drive out by Rosewood somewhere.

We didn't stop to visit, rather, they would stop somewhere and the two of them would drink coffee from red plastic cups which were unscrewed from the insulated bottles which were, of course, glass lined. After they were done, mother would pack everything up in the plaid plastic zipper top tote.

On the way home, we would stop at the Rosewood Store and daddy would put on a few dollars worth of gas from an old fashion pump with ball on the top. Nothing so special as that was seen in Thief River Falls!

As a child, I thought Rosewood was ahead of the town where I lived. It had a sleepy sort of Sunday noon atmosphere not found in the city. I knew that daddy had grown up there and I have yet to understand the strong pull that brought him to the area so often on warm, sunny Sundays.

In my travels to cemeteries in the New Solum area, I have tried to 'feel' my way along all the county roads and wonder if I have ever been on them before. Most of the area remains foreign to me.

When daddy and I went on those drives by ourselves, we always went visiting. Where was the Myrom farm? Where was Olaf Hall's house where Babe the pony was farmed out and we went to see her colt, born in late summer with a full curly like coat. Where was Jashaw's? Where were all the red barns my grandfather built?

I seem to always know where my grandparent's lived in Rosewood. I can always find where Gust Opseth's house was, later to be Anderson's. I can find the school's and the Rindal Church.

Personally, I have never walked ten miles at one time in my life. Cycle, yes. I asked my sweet Thomas about it, he walked a lot as a young man and didn't think any thing of walking several miles because that is what was done. Maybe daddy felt the same way.

Remember your knapsack!


Saturday, May 30, 2009


Although Old Trunks is on the hunt for pictures of swans and eagles, one can not over look the precocious Killdeers that build their nest in the rocks in the lake neighbors garden.

On out way to fish at Little Sand earlier, we saw the mother and three babies running amok in a parking lot and into the grass on either side.

Not many birds are born with their eyes open and as soon as their downy feathers dry and off and running, although a bit wobbly. Killdeer do this. I wonder if baby chickens do that.
They are 'cute' little birds with banded chests and the markings of the chicks are the same as the adults, which is something else one doesn't see often.
Killdeer are from the shorebird sort of family; although they might live on the shore, they appear to mix well with man and may live on roads, and in parks in busy areas.
Ever seen one? If you have, I am sure you remember how they run in short bursts one way and then another.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Five identical girls were born near Corbeil, Ontario, today to French-Canadian couple Oliva and Elzire Dionne. At the time, the odds of giving birth to quintuplets was 57-million-to-1 and medical experts were not aware of a case in which all quintuplets previously survived more than 50 minutes. Remember, this was 1934. This was NOT fertility drugs nor neo natal units.

They are identical and were created from one single egg cell. Dr. Allan Roy Dafoe is credited with the birth of the quintuplets. However, originally, his diagnosis of Elzire was only a "fetal abnormality". He delivered the babies with the help of two midwives, Aunt Donalda and Madam Benoit Lebel, who were retrieved by Oliva Dionne in the middle of the night. The births were registered in nearby Corbeil. The order that they were born is not known. All that is known is that the three bigger ones were born first. The babies were not weighed or measured. The quintuplets were immediately wrapped in cotton sheets and old napkins and laid in the corner of the bed. Dr. Dafoes didn't think that the babies would survive. At the time of the birth, the father could not be found and shortly after, Elzire went into shock. Dr. Dafoe thought that Elzire was also going to die, but she was better within two hours. The babies were kept in an ordinary wicker basket borrowed from the neighbors with heated blankets. They were soon brought into the kitchen and set by the open door of the stove to keep warm. One by one, they were taken out of the basket and massaged with olive oil. Every two hours, for the first twenty-four, they were only given sweetened water. By the second day they were moved to a laundry basket, which was slightly larger, and heated with hot-water bottles. They were watched constantly and often had to be roused when it seemed that they were losing life. They were then fed with seven-twenty formula. It consisted of cow's milk, boiled water, two spoonfuls of corn syrup, and one or two drops of rum for stimulant. News spread quickly and the family benefited from much assistance during the first several months. At four months, they were taken from their parents.

"Mrs. Dionne, 24 years old, and the mother of six other children, one of whom died, was stated by the physician to be in good condition," an article in the Winnipeg Free Press read on May 29, 1934. "Birth of the quintuplets, announced by Dr. Dafoe, created no great fuss on the Dionne farm, two miles from this northern Ontario settlement, which is nine miles southeast of North Bay. When reporters arrived Monday afternoon everything was quiet at the home, and the 31-year-old father was busy about his usual tasks."

The births, which came at the height of the Depression, certainly worried the Dionne family since money was already tight. However, shortly after the quintuplets were born, the parents lost control of the babies when the Ontario government appointed a board of guardians to manage their welfare. The five identical girls were put on public display and didn't even live with the rest of their family until 1943. Movies were made about them, companies used them as a hook in their advertisements, and books have been written about them. The three survivors sued the government for taking them from their parents for nine years. For a fee, one could watch them play in a fenced yard or from behind a glass. Although their parents did not have direct physical contact with them, they were close by; father sold souvenirs while mother sold 'magic rocks' from the farm for 50 cents each.

Each girl had a color and a symbol to mark what was hers. Annette's color was red with a maple leaf. Cecile's color was green and her design a turkey. Emilie had white and a tulip, while Marie had blue and a teddy bear, and Yvonne had pink and a bluebird.

Emilie, died in 1954 at age 20 of an epileptic seizure. It is said she was in the convent and was left by a sister who was to be watching her. She had a seizure, rolled over and smothered in her pillow.

Marie died at home at age 36 of a blood clot in the brain. Marie was living alone in an apartment and her sisters were worried because they hadn't heard from her in several days. One of the other sisters' husbands broke down the window and found Marie who had been dead for days. The coroner determined it was a blood clot in the brain.

Yvonne died of cancer in Montreal on June 23, 2001

Cecile is 75

Annette is 75

For videos of the girls, go to U TUBE and keyboard Dionee Quintuplets.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


As those of you who follow Old Trunks, you know most of what I have written about comes from the New Solum Township, Marshall County area. My great grandparents lived in the area, as did the children's ancestors on their father's side.

Recently I received the following note:

I am a descendant from Torinus (Welgaard) Mellem and Pauline Mellem both were born in Trysil Norway. Torinus 10/10/1854 and Pauline 9/5/1856. They came to Strip (Rosewood) Minnesota in 1884.Torinus parents were Mr. and Mrs. Thore Mellem. and Pauline's parents were Mr. and Mrs. Peder Mellem. Out of their children they had a 5th child named Peter who was my grandfathers father. He married Caroline Lappegaard 10/18/1907. She was born 2/2/1890 and he was born 3/21/1887 and died in ND 9/22/1966.Out of Caroline and Peter Mellem's children their 4th son Clarence Rudolph Mellem was my grandfather.However in looking for information of the brothers and sisters and parents of both Torinus Welgaard Mellem and Pauline Mellem I have hit a brick wall, if you have any information I would greatly appreciate it I have been searching endlessly to find more ancestry further back.

What I adore about this is Peter talked about in the above paragraph was a wonderful fellow who was married to a great gal. To Shirley and I, they were Pete and Lena. After Peter died in 1966, Lena became Mrs. Pete.

Thank you Kendra!


Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Mardella Myra Myrom was born March 7, 1923 on the family farm in Norden Township, Pennington County, the daughter of Harry and Minnie Myrom. She was baptized and confirmed into the Lutheran faith in Thief River Falls. She attended country school, then Lincoln High School in Thief River Falls. Her funeral happened on 26 May of this year.

I did not know Mardella but I knew her grandfather, Harry Myrom. What a wonderful, soft spoken man he was. The first time I saw him work his gentle personality was in the winter of 55-56. We had ponies and needed additional hay as the winter was longer than usual.

Daddy had known Harry for years, and according the the Rosewood News, worked the farm for him at one time, (perhaps during planting or harvesting).

My dad, uncle, and I went to Myrom's to pick up wild hay that had been cut and bundled by Harry. The hay was stacked away from the house and my uncle, who was driving the flat bed construction truck, would back up and go forward with the chained tires to make a path to the stacked hay.

Harry had adopted a yellow lab from some people in town. The dog had gotten ugly and since it was a menace to the neighborhood, it needed to be out of town. Harry took the dog in and changed her diet taking away all meat and the dog became a wonderful dog as all labs are. The dog was helping and got in the rut the wheels had made. Uncle did not know she was there and by the time he stopped, the dog's leg was broken.

Harry gathered her up in his arms and took her to the basement of the house where he talked to her gently and set her leg and splinted it. Afterwards we had lunch in the kitchen where Harry drank his coffee off the saucer which had been poured from the cup.

Harry had a heavy brogue, as many people in the New Solum area had. Once he came to our house on the farm to clean the fish daddy had caught. Harry knew how to fillet fish and asked mother for a thin knife, but he said, "Tin knife". Not able to give him a tin knife, mother invited him to look through the cutlery drawer to find a good knife for filleting fish. He did find one and after that, is was forever called the 'tin knife'.

Old Trunks takes this moments to salute the family of Myrom and Sabo.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The purse shopping is completed. By the time we reached Akeley, I had everything out of the white, short handled purse into the Ameribag which is rose. Everything fit and more space for other stuff, like the address book I carry with all the names, numbers, addresses, email addies, and birth/anniversary dates. And for you, Soozi, lipstick!

While many of you are using a cell phone or a PDA to store information, I am still of the thought that simple address books work the best for me. I had a personal data unit once and thought it was clumsy. At that time, one needed a stylus pen to operate it. Perhaps President Obama could teach me how to really use one!

Address books are history-like. If you have old ones on the shelf somewhere, they are filled with old names and old places. My friend, Ella, had a book that had been used for decades. When you wanted to know something in later years, all you had to do is ask the daughter, Judy, who had become the keeper of the book when Ella was in the nursing home.

Ella's brother, Oliver, had a sort of address book at well. Over the years he kept it up, he added the new address under the old one. While a member of that family, Oliver kept up on our address too. If I would have forgotten where I lived, Oliver's notes would have kept me up to date:

520 N Duluth
1959 Barton
2002 Clare Road
2519 W Ninth
1015 Kentucky
1620 W 21 St

In the beginning, I wrote in permanent ink, as if to say, whomever will always live at the same address, and live forever. I have since learned pencil works best, although I have come to re sticker it with address labels printed on the computer as well as a document which envelopes ready to print.

As for a PDA, well, it was suggested over this long weekend that I could count fish and document time and location on a PDA and transfer the information directly to the computer for journaling purposes rather than hand writing them in a notebook with pen and transferring the information to the calendar later.

There is some good points about Tom's suggestion about a PDA. But the fish count where and when are just for this spring. I have done counts during vacation time and into the fall.

Meanwhile, time to flip through the address book and find some of the addresses for the cards I made while at the lake.



Grandma Ranum carried something she called a pocket book. Oh it wasn't anything so special. It was plastic like with a clasp and a double handle. It was a summer purse which she wore with her white sandals. In the winter, she had a black purse and wore it guessed it, her black shoes.

Now, even if you do watch What Not to Wear where they teach you your shoes and hand bag don't have to match, it was certainly the vogue thing to do in the 1940's and 50's according to the rules of my grandmother and my mother.

Let me ask you this: How many times in a year do you change out one purse to another for the sake of harmony? The bucket purses of the late fifties came in a variety of colors and I was not pleased I bought a turquoise one, after all what did it go with? Bucket purses are not the same as they were in 1958 when I actually started carrying a purse. That means I have had something to carry my stuff for over 50 years. Oh, now that hurts!

I had the same double handled shoulder bag for years. The leather had gotten so soft it sort of laid in a puddle when you set it down. I had bought it at a thrift store, already broken in. When it was retired I had a terrible time finding another to replace it. I hated those really thin shoulder strapped ones. For awhile, I carried a tote with all my stuff in a zip bag but I really did need to go hunting.

One day on a shop til you drop day, I found a great red bag with a wide shoulder band. I carried on my shoulder around the store and it stayed put. I carried in a few years and then started on something called a hobo bag. Now, the words hobo bag is a very broad term which comes in a variety of sizes, maybe it is for different size hobos, do you think?

Anyway, I found a brand called Ameribag. They hang close to the body, have one enormous compartment and lots of little ones. The first one I bought was leather. For summer I bought a canvas one which got really soiled in the boat and when I washed it, I ruined it. So I bought a light green microfiber, which was way too big and now I use it as a boat bag for those things you can't put somewhere else, including camera with the long lens. I went back to leather and bought a brown one that was smaller. It was a case of big is not better.
But spring had come in the north country last spring and I had no summer purse. So I bought one of those white nylon jobs like my mother had except hers had a draw string and this one has a snap. Every time I look at this substandard pocket book, I think of when mother set hers down on a melted grape ice cone at the baseball play offs in Minneapolis. Hers had no lining and washed up white as a snowy owl.
So for now, at least until we get back to Reed's in Walker for an Ameribag in some summer like color, I will carry this short handled purse in a society that has shoulder bags.
My question is not, "What's in your wallet?", my question is, how comfy is your pocketbook?
Hope yours feels like it is part of you.

Monday, May 25, 2009


This is Ole E Olson, Tom's great great grandfather who fought in the Civil War. The picture was taken in 1861.

Memorial Day was set aside during the Civil war to decorate the graves of the soldiers. It is celebrated on the last Monday in May.

The difference between Memorial Day and Veteran's Day in November is simple. Memorial Day honors the fallen; Veteran's Day is for the living. We can agree, both are for the sacrifice, can we not?

Each year around Memorial Day, Veterans of Foreign Wars members and American Legion Auxiliary volunteers distribute millions of bright red poppies in exchange for contributions to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans. The program provides multiple benefits to the veterans and to the community. The hospitalized veterans who make the flowers are able to earn a small wage, which helps to supplement their incomes and makes them feel more self-sufficient. The physical and mental activity provides many therapeutic benefits as well. Donations are used exclusively to assist and support veterans and their families. The poppy also reminds the community of the past sacrifices and continuing needs of our veterans. The poppy has become a nationally known and recognized symbol of sacrifice and is worn to honor the men and women who served and died for their country in all wars. Sad to say, I have found no one selling poppies this year.

Speaking of poppies, I remember when they were made of crepe paper and if they got wet, the red coloring would run. Daddy always put him on his shirt's button hole. By such a simple gesture, he honored the men and women who had defended our America.

My Grandmother always went to the cemetery on Declaration Day. Not that she had family that died in battles, rather to honor her family who had deceased. At that time, live flowers were planted as the dirt on the grave was kept grass less. That as changed, hasn't it? Now the flowers are silk or plastic and will be removed completely for mowing.

If one goes to rural cemeteries this time of year, you will see artificial flowers in a wreath style as well as little flags on the graves of all members of any branch of the service. Imagine how breath taking a national cemetery is this time of the year.

Day is done

Gone the sun

From the lakes

From the hills

From the sky.

All is well,

Safely rest

God in nigh.


Sunday, May 24, 2009



Ah, Bald eagle!

It is said Ben Franklin wanted the turkey as the national bird. During that era of time, Eagles nested about every 100 miles along the eastern coast and numbers were plentiful. Perhaps turkeys were too, but turkey's do not soar high in circles high above the lake looking for food, then diving to pick up not live fish, but those floating on the top of the water.

I have yet to get a really great eagle picture but Tom knows I am trying. I want to be close enough to see their yellow eyes, just like my wish had been to get close enough to loons to get the red eye. Perhaps this is the summer of the eagle, perhaps.

I had seen eagles in a zoo, the first was at Como Park in St. Paul. When the kids were little we took them to the same zoo. I am wondering if they were the same eagles. Let's think about it. If eagles live in captivity to the age of forty, yes, it is possible. If I was 10 in 1954 and Rachel was 10 in 1976, the eagle would have been about 22.

Someone emailed me a slide show about eagles going to some high mountain and breaking their beak off and eating little during the while it to grow back. According to, "Eagles extend their lifespans by removing their beaks, talons, and feathers in order to grow new ones. ... Eagles would not typically "lose" their beak or talons, unless it was the result of a traumatic injury." The article goes on to say that only the tip of it grows back, not the bone itself. In zoos the tip of the beak may be trimmed to keep it from over growth.

The big thing to do in Lawrence, KS after the Mall on the River was built, was to the Mall and watch the eagles through the glass. It was a marvelous sight, still gives me chills to be so close.

At Leech Lake there are several nests. One is by a place everyone calls the glass house. In the spring before everything is leafed out, you can see the nest of sticks high in the yoke of a tree and the parents on the branches or in the nest. I am hopeful we will be able to get on the big lake this weekend and check it out on the way to the bass beds!

In the 20+ lakes we have fished over the last few years, everyone of them has had an eagle soaring. We have seen little birds chasing the eagle. We have seen them dip into the water to pick up fish. There is one place where a broken stump is the eagle's resting place, it was there every morning we were out last summer. It is skittish, when we try to get close, it turns away from us and flies and Old Trunks uses sailor words.

May you soar


Saturday, May 23, 2009


Old Trunks is looking for a picture of Tom holding a crow by its wings spread. While most parents insist that once dressed for church, one does not go crow hunting. Yet, this youth, he donned his zippered overshoes and took his 20/20 out to find it.

Crows were more skittish then. They flew quickly if someone was around. Now, driving on the highway at 60 mph, they may not even leave the side of the road. Instead of migrating south, they have learned to eat off fast food wrappers in dumpsters city wide.

When I think about crows, I think about the one Sharon LaCoe had as a pet. I don't know how they acquired it just that it sat on shoulders and the clothes line! According to a study, the crow can be trained to do simple tasks. Crows are like Minor birds, they will repeat what has been said. This can be a fun activity. Use a word like “hello” and repeat it several times. Eventually the bird will imitate it. After the bird successfully repeats the word, choose another one.

Now, crows and ravens are related, I have been told. You can note their particular color. Both are black, but a crow's feathers are a plain, flinty black, and can even have lighter markings. A raven's feathers shine with a blue or purple tint when the sun hits them. Crows can fluff their feathers into a mane to show off, while a raven's individual feathers are larger and pointier. Finally, if you see the bird with its tail spread, a crow's tail curves evenly like a seashell while the tail of a raven meets at a triangular point.One of their most interesting differences is in their vocalizations. If you have dissuaded birds from hanging around by propping up clothing stuffed with straw, you know how annoying and repetitive the caws of a crow sound. However, a raven's voice varies, able to imitate other birds and animals. You might call a raven's call hoarser and less refined than a crow's, but it isn't as irritating.

Does that help? I hope so.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Owl is in center bottom of photo
Great Snowy Owl

As long as we are talking about raptors, let's take a few minutes and think about owls and of course, crows.

Living in Fargo with a person who loves nature, I have been mentored.

I mean, how many of you hear crows cawing and think, "Oh, there must be an owl somewhere". The first summer here, I heard all these annoying crows and made some remark about I wish they would quit. Tom told me they had an owl surrounded somewhere. Owls eat crow eggs and so they were 'telling it off'.

Last winter late in February, I was sitting here at the desk with the blinds open and about a block away, I saw an owl fly into a tree followed by a murder of crows, which surrounded the owl and flew in close as if to say, this is what you get. As you can see by the pictures, a 200mm lens wasn't quite enough and only because I tell you it was crows and an owl would you know. (It reminds me of a great friend named Jim who snail mailed me a picture of a whale--on the back it said, "Well, I thought it was closer."

Where do owls live, anyway? Just about anywhere from barns to forests. They eat, as we said, eggs as well as mice and bats. I did not know they could live as long as 27 years. They are at the top of their food chain, humans are there only predator.

The owl I am most enamoured by is the Great Snowy, which I have only seen at the zoo in South Dakota. The ghostlike snowy owl has unmistakable white plumage that echoes its Arctic origins. These large owls breed on the Arctic tundra, where females lay a clutch of 3 to 11 eggs. Clutch size depends upon the availability of food, and in particularly lean times a usually monogamous pair of owls may not breed at all.

Parents are territorial and will defend their nests against all comers—even wolves.Young owls, especially males, get whiter as they get older. Females are darker than males, with dusky spotting, and never become totally white. Some elderly males do become completely white, though many retain small flecks of dusky plumage. The snowy owl is a patient hunter that perches and waits to identify its prey before soaring off in pursuit. Snowy owls have keen eyesight and great hearing, which can help them find prey that is invisible under thick vegetation or snow cover. The owls deftly snatch their quarry with their sharp talons.

A snowy owl's preferred meal is lemmings—many lemmings. An adult may eat more than 1,600 lemmings a year, or three to five every day. The birds supplement their diet with rabbits, rodents, birds, and fish.

Listen! Hear anything?

Me neither!


Thursday, May 21, 2009


Funny thing about birds, especially raptors. Old Trunks does not remember seeing Peregrines or eagles in her childhood. How about you? Wasn't the eagles just a picture or something to see in a zoo? What do you remember about raptors? Hawks, maybe?

This morning, on live stream video, I watched the banding of four chicks at the Columbus, Ohio site. The chicks are about three weeks old and extremely noisy as each of them was taken from the box/nest on the ledge of the Rhodes Tower and brought to the banding room.

The beauty of this phase of the project is, the children who submitted names which were voted on by the mass public who watch the site on a regular basis, were there to be part of the 'ceremony'. The names chosen this year are:





The little girl who tagged the last bird was so cute. What the DNR representative asked the birds name, she blurted out for all the world to hear ECLIPSE. Pictures were taken with each bird and each child as well as a group photo.

Wouldn't that have been a lifetime experience? Although I have seen many eagles in flight and the lake as well as one sitting by the side of the road feasting on road kill, I have never held one. As for falcons, as a child, I only saw them in those movies from Robin Hood times when someone was using one for hunting. Doesn't everyone have an image of Robert Taylor in Sherwood Forest?

Rivaled only by the Osprey, the Peregrine Falcon has one of the most global distributions of any bird of prey. This falcon is found on every continent except Antarctica, and lives in a wide variety of habitats from tropics, deserts, and maritime to the tundra, and from sea level to 12,000 feet.

Peregrines are highly migratory in the northern part of their range. The local newspaper recently printed an article about a Peregrine which winters in South America and migrates back to the tundra each year. It is said it flies 300 miles a day. Bird lovers spotted it in Fargo.

Why are they plentiful now, you ask. Peregrine populations were once endangered due to pesticides like DDT. DDT caused the female to lay thin-shelled eggs that were easily broken, killing the developing embryo inside. After the banning of DDT, in the United States, The Peregrine Fund released more than 4000 captive-reared birds in 28 states over a 25 year period.
We have a pair of falcons nesting in a man made box on one of the banks. The site does not have a working camera, although it did in years past. It isn't unusual for Tom to see falcons capturing food in mid air. Although the diet is midsized birds, including pigeons, they will eat bats, as well.
When the parents are finished feeding the young, they pick up the uneaten portion of their kill with their beak and drop in off, sometimes landing in the flower bed of the building where Tom works!
What birds do you remember besides robins and Sharon LaCoe's pet crow?
Barn Swallows?
Let's hope you are more well versed than I am. Perhaps someone reading this has actually gone on a bird hunt. That might be interesting, don't you think?

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Old Trunks wonders if the rest of you hold the memories of laughter the closest to your heart. Although the goal for the day is to talk about mothers, I have to look to my Grandpa Benhard for a baseline of what a good belly laugh is. He was, after all and probably always will be, the standard. I like to think my son, Ryen, inherited that gay rejoicing.

As for mother, smile, a little laugh but the one that broke the bank happened one summer at the farm. I try to go to that place when she laughed so hard tears ran down her cheeks. It did on that day and every time she told the story.

A pond had been dug in the south pasture and the land contoured to make the excess water on our oh -so -flat farm land west of town drain. Nothing fancy mind you. Just a pond.

It was a hot summer day and I decided I could cool off by going swimming. The pond was wide enough, although not as deep as I had hoped. I had left the house in my old blue bathing suit and a sleeveless green blouse which tied at the hip with a bow. No towel was needed, I would be dry by the time I got back to the house.

Once at the pond, I took off my blouse. Once in the pond, I took off the suit. What I learned very quickly was the bottom was nothing but mud and there was no open- your -eyes- under- water and find the suit; it had floated away and mucked down somewhere. It seemed as if I walked it inch by inch, yet no suit was felt under my feet. No matter, I thought, after all there was no one around.

Bored with swimming and disgusted with the mud which had swished up between my toes, I cut across the pasture, wearing only the green blouse, through the gate and just as I reached the concrete forms stored behind the granary for the construction company, a red pick up truck turned the corner.

What part of a thirteen year old do you cover up? I streaked to the granary, opened and door and wondered if I could get to the house before the guys finished loading.

We had chickens at the time. The ate something called mash, which was ground oats. It came in containers called gunny sacks, which were made of jute. The mash stuck to the fabric.

I grabbed a gunny sack wrapped it around my exposed body, opened the other granary door and took off across the yard in full gallop.

I did not know mother was standing in the kitchen watching me run and the mash pounding out of the sack at every step. I dropped the sack by the back door and went into the bathroom next to the mud room. I could hear mother laughing,(rotflmao) even above the water in the shower running.

Once the mud was out from between my toes, the stinking water out of my hair and the mash off the rest of me, I proceeded, wrapped in a towel, to my bedroom and mother, of course was still laughing.

And....of course, the family listened to her side of the story of the mash flying at supper time. It was not a case of laughing with me. It wasn't even a case of laughing AT me. It was purely a case of the most bizarre circumstances which caught even this stoic and poised lady to roar.

It is Mother's Day, let us hear laughter and great rejoicing.


Friday, May 8, 2009


Odd, don't you think that we don't think of our mothers as a 'stone cold fox' or a babe. And if you want to talk about grandmothers, well, don't even go there! Maybe it is one of those.....when you get older.

Oddly, (there is that word again) I did meet women at the nursing home that still had the 'look' even well into their nineties. Two of them come to mind, they were sisters and they dressed to the max every day.

Yet when we think about our mother's baking with flour on their aprons, we don't see 'fox'. My question is why don't we see it?

I look back at pictures of my own mother. One is at about 25 and another around 30. She was really quite pretty and I remember seeing her dressed to the nines and how beautiful she looked.

We need only to look back far enough to remember most housewives wore house dresses. When marketing, mother dressed up. Yes, dressed up, including nylons with seams up the back of the leg.

Somewhere in the late fifties, it was vogue to go to the beauty shop and have one's hair done each week. Before that, pin curls in hair that was washed twice a week. No matter what others were doing after dinner on Thursdays, mother was in a shop. The first I remember was LeMoines, then JoAnne's, many followed as operators moved on to bigger cities. Hair cuts were never done at home. The shampoo and set lasted a week. Mother did not look foxy in her hair net as she slept on her satin pillow case, both for the sake of holding the style.

As for Fridays, time to change the sheets and after lined dried, mother would mangle them. After cleaning house, which in the country, meant a ten room house, she would clean up, do her nails and prompt daddy to put on a suit to go to dinner at the Rex.

We knew her as functional. We knew her as the person who ran the house. She stated she had a good life. We gave her credit as a mother but we never knew her as a friend.

Adult to child
adult to adult
Let's hope all of you can cross the bridge.


Thursday, May 7, 2009


Mother was a stay at home mom. It was the era. She did try to work once. She bought the clothing she needed to work at the chicken place. Chicken place? No, not Kentucky Fried. This was the place they slaughtered chickens. It was called Peterson-Biddick. What her job was will never be known; it lasted three days.

If mother would have worked out, a jewelry store would have loved having her as an employee. She may or may not have been great with people but she knew her china, stemware, and diamonds. Another job for her would have been someone who booked travels and cruises. Although it is a service she would have been "in the know" and that is what she seemed to do best. She could have had a housekeeping business but working for her would have been the toughest job anyone would ever have because her standards were very high. Later, when she started volunteering it helped her understand the mix of people and how they all learn and think differently.

Although it is hard for us to understand stay at home moms of the 40's and fifties, that is just the way it was. Although it seems rigid, certain house jobs where done each day.

Monday: Wash
Tuesday: Iron
Wednesday: Mend
Thursday: Groceries
Friday: Clean house

Along with specific jobs, she also cooked three meals a day. Key word: COOKED.




In our modern world of house chores, we use automatic washers. Many people wash daily. Although I do not choose Monday as wash day I still see a need to have some sort of organization concept on the jobs a house needs and deserves weekly. Our household has no need to wash more that once a week. BUT we each was once a week. Tom washes his work clothes and I do the rest. In another life, it seemed the machine ran 24/7 and I should have counted the times Bud stripped off his baseball uniform standing by the machine.

Mother washed Mondays and Fridays. Monday was clothes which she dipped in starch after they were washed and Friday was bedding and towels. Although she had a dryer, the only thing that she used it for was towels, everything else was hung on the line to dry or freeze dry or hung in the basement to dry. There were always clothes lines near the back door. Once dried, they were sprinkled and rolled up to dampen the clothes for ironing.

I do iron on Tuesday. Tom's dress shirts are pressed, pillies are removed, strings are snipped, and buttons checked. The best I can do is seven long sleeved shirts in an hour. Starch front, collar, and cuffs.

On Tuesday mother ironed. The board was up when I left for school and she was just finishing up when I came home. Everything was ironed, starting with the handkerchiefs and moving up to bras and boxer shorts. The last item ironed was daddy's work pants. There was no steam iron, spray starch, or permanent press. Daddy's dress shirts were sent to the laundry for full starching and folded. Starched so heavily that one had to puuuuuuuuuuuushhhhh your hand through the arm.

While mother may have mended, I use Wednesday to clean the upstairs and change the bed. I do not iron the sheets. The bathroom gets cleaned and the extra rooms upstairs with little traffic get dusted. Since we have radiator heat, I dust our bedroom every day.

As for mending, this may have meant mother darning socks which she never did. If there were buttons loose or a seam needed doing, she would actually do it before the item was washed. But grandma mended. She had a funny looking wooden utensil she would put the sock over to keep it taunt while she weaved and repaired.

There is much to be said about the duties of a grandmother or mother. Along with the household duties, grandmother, for example, had chickens to feed, a garden to tend, and canning to do in the fall. Consider that grandmothers did all of it without the appliances we have today. Farm families had livestock to feed and cows to milk. Day started before sun up. Everything was cooked from scratch, and for grandmother's the only 'free' meal was something she had canned, including meat. Without refrigeration and preservatives to keep foods fresh in the summer, it had to be made daily. How many of us have even considered baking bread on a daily basis?

I was raised in a house with the highest quality of cleanliness. It was never messy and everything had its place. Because the house was mother's responsibility, she took pride in caring for it. I was amazed as she grew older and it was just the two of them there was more stuff sitting around. More, but not a lot. Yet, she followed her pattern of washing and ironing as long as she was able. And yes, she took pride in her position as a stay at home wife and mother. And when you think about it, isn't that the goal we all want to achieve? Don't all of us want to hear our selves say we have a sense of worth and a sense of pleasure?

It is a hard comparison, isn't it? How do you compare a working mom with a stay at home? You don't. A working mom can only hope the jelly on the kitchen floor doesn't stick to her shoes on the way out the door; a stay at home mom cleans it up right away.

The best solution we might hope for is a good timer to beat the clock, a co-op attitude toward the house, a fresh sense of organization to set up what needs to be done and the energy to do it. But it still doesn't change the fact that a child is worth more swinging on a swing than mopping up the jelly.

The best story Old Trunks ever read was about a lady who was pregnant with her second child. She and her son had gone to the market on a snowy day. The mother was fussy about her house. When they came home, the door was locked and she couldn't get in, (never mind the fact that she should have had a key, it really has nothing to do with the impact). She helped her son through a window, (never mind the window was open in the winter, it has nothing to do with the impact). It took way too long for him to get to the door to let her in. WHY? Because he scooted on his belly all the way to the door because he knew he would be in trouble if he got the freshly waxed floor wet.

The child will remember the time spent; the floor won't.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009


This is too funny and too cute not to share. Old Trunks wonders how many of these phases your mother used on you! Thanks, Dick for the list!

1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE .
"If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning."

2. My mother taught me RELIGION.
"You better pray that will come out of the carpet."

3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL .
"If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"

4. My mother taught me LOGIC.
" Because I said so, that's why."

5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC.
"If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."

6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT.
"Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."

7. My mother taught me IRONY
" If you keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."

8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS. "Shut your mouth and eat your supper."

9. My mother taught me about CONTORTION ISM.
"Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!" Or to my dad, "Can't you see the dirt in your ears?"

10. My mother taught me about STAMINA.
"You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone."

11. My mother taught me about WEATHER. \
"This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it."

12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.
"If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!"

13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.
"I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."

14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.
"Stop acting like your father!"

15. My mother taught me about ENVY.
"There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do."

16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
"Just wait until we get home."

17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING .
"You are going to get it when you get home!"

18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.
"If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way."

19. My mother taught me ESP.
"Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?"

20. My mother taught me HUMOR.
"When your bare feet get caught in the bicycle spokes, don't come running to me."

21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT .
"If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up."

22. My mother taught me GENETICS.
"You're just like your father."

23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.
"Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?"

24. My mother taught me WISDOM.
"When you get to be my age, you'll understand."

25. And my favorite: My mother taught me about JUSTICE
"One day you'll have kids, and you will understand what I am talking about."

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Old Trunks admits she never heard of this holiday until working in the nursing home. A magazine, written for activities in care centers had information on it each year. With the back issues, one could learn a little about the celebration, the food, fun, and frivolity.

Annie knew the songs and sang along with the guitarist. No matter what the nationality, the residents swung the bat at the pinata. And no one turned down the idea of eating dip off chips and of course, Mexican Wedding Cookies.

When I first saw Mexican Wedding Cookies, I remembered these little balls of baked goods rolled in powdered sugar called something else in the north country. Did not Aunt Lillian make these using the same ingredients but rolling them out to look like fingers?

Although Cinco de Mayo festivities are celebrated throughout the United States in early May, the holiday itself—not to be confused with Mexican Independence Day on September 16th—is not a recognized American holiday. Cinco de Mayo celebrates ideals that are intrinsically important to both Mexicans and Americans, as both countries have courageously fought for their independence and triumphed. This particular battle in Puebla, so valiantly fought by ordinary citizens and Mexican soldiers in the face of overwhelming opposition, portrays a high level of patriotism and courage.

The fifth of May is a day for Mexicans, people of Mexican decent and other party goers to celebrate Mexican heritage and culture.

So this year, shake that maraca and twirl like a dancer! Want to sing, too?

From the Sierra Morena mountains,

Pretty sky, coming down, a pair of black eyes,

Pretty sky, which are contraband.

Ay, ay, ay, ay,sing and don't cry,

because singing gladdens,

pretty sky, one's heart.

"Cielito Lindo" is a popular traditional song of Mexico, written in 1882

Monday, May 4, 2009


as old as Nature herself, and with wisdom to match. We live in the deep mystical region between your Imagination and Reality.

Our magic powers have never been equaled.

Nature is our life and concern: We collect food for the birds in the winter, make cozy beds for the bears and snowflakes for your hair.

We store acorns and nuts for the squirrels, provide dewdrops for the spider webs and cool summer breezes.
We water wildflowers in the spring, color the leaves yellow and red in the autumn, and turn our forests into a fairyland of magnificent majesty.

Because this is the Home of the Trolls!

Very few have ever seen us-- We move with lightning speed. We do our work with loving care and expect you to do the same--

Only then will we also take care of you!
Remember--for your own sake-- every time one of you says:

"I don't believe in trolls!"

somewhere a little Troll leaves this world forever!

Sunday, May 3, 2009


There are references in the Rosewood News about playing kitten ball. Which is, of course, another name for softball so named because women could play it, too.

Softball really started as in indoor sport on Thanksgiving of 1888. The ball was a rolled up boxing glove and a broom served as the bat.

While living as a third and fourth grader, we had enough kids in the neighborhood to play sand lot ball in Julie's front yard.

Home: the driveway,
First base: the sidewalk
Second base: Eddy's property line
Third base: The porch

One would think with the houses so close together we would have broken a few windows but the only think that broke was David's collarbone!

As sixth graders at Northrup Elementary School in Thief River Falls, we had a team. Only the catcher and the pitcher had gloves, the rest of the baseman caught the balls bare handed. I will tell you as a second base man, that ball hurt coming into your hands if you didn't catch it right.

If memory serves me right, the grade schools played against each other. It would be the first organized sport for girls. There was no baseball, hockey, basketball, track, or tennis played by females by 1962, at the time of all of us 44's would graduate.

Our team was most likely made up of mostly town kids or girls whose parents worked in town and lived in the country so they would pick their kids up. I was a farm kid with a parent who would pick me up.

At Lincoln High School, we had a six week grading system. In the spring, we had six weeks of softball. I think what we liked about it beyond being outdoors and playing ball itself was we got to wear something besides those nasty red gym suits. The most common look was jeans, a sweatshirt turned inside out, and a sailor cap with the brim pulled down. Others wore shorts and big sweatshirts and hide under a piece of cardboard they found because they were cold.

What I never did understand is, why was there never a plan? If it was a class, why weren't we ever given the fundamentals? Come to think of it, other than learned how to do the cha, cha, cha and other Latin dances, I don't remember direction in gym class.

And so, when the Girl Scout troop I was fortunate to have played ball and I got to coach, I had an opportunity to sit with them on the pavement and talk about it. Whether they remembered it or not, I felt it was part of what we were doing and important information.

Whether playing or coaching it was a grand time for me. I have a ball signed by the team as a gift; a true treasure.
How about you, did you play?

Saturday, May 2, 2009


A great place to play jacks on a warm summer afternoon was on Grandma Mae's front porch which was on the east side of the house away from the blazing sun. Most porches were rough, hers was smooth. Another favorite place was on Julie's front porch, it was painted and made it smooth.

Julie had a big family including two older sisters who were great jack players and even better trainers. If the four of us played, the older girls generally won. We played after supper and after the dishes were done and the Lone Ranger was over on the radio. After the sisters finished, Julie and I would finish.

Our jack sets were 12 in with a little red rubber ball. Although the most common game was tossing the jacks in the air and picking them up first by ones, then two at a time, until the person who was it, picked up all of the jacks at one time. That was hard to do, as you still had to toss the jacks in the air rather than lay them down in a clump. A miss was called when the player was not successful at picking up the confirmed number of jacks. When it was your turn again, you started at the number you missed on.

Other variations remembered were pigs in a pen and double bounce. In pigs in a pen, the player made a little cove using their hand with the pinkie next to the concrete. One would push the number of jacks into the pen. The other, double bounce was hard to do with a little rubber ball but watch out if you were using a golf ball that would really bounce--if you could control it is something else.

The game is hundreds of years old, I will need a hundred years to figure out what children used for a rubber ball. I have no trouble with the impression of ancestors using rocks or bones for the jacks but what about the ball?

The picture of the jacks shows them as plastic. Ours were shaped the same way but made of metal. When they were purchased, they were bright and shining and generally red or blue but after a few rounds, the paint fell off. Used jacks were grey with specks of color.

I must be a jack! I am grey with specks of color

Happy rubber ball bouncing!