Wednesday, September 30, 2009

FISHING Little Boy with String of Fish

As Old Trunks has said, fishing and Tom seem to being at his beginning. This charming picture is of him lifting the stringer of fish out of the water to look at them while standing in the water.

I would guess that Les, the almost-always-photographer-of-the-family may have asked him to show the fish. We can see he is lifting them almost as high as he can. But the expression on is face, he is looking at the fish, of which, the fish closest to him is a walleye. How do we know that? It has a white tip on its tail fin.

This picture, along with the one of the slimy pike in the Johnson's basement are my favorites amongst the photos of his youth.

Let's hope all of us have memories and or photographs of childhood to go to when we need happy thoughts.

Good bye September


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

FISHING Erna and the Pike

Old Trunks wishes to share what a fat pike looks like. This is Erna holding a fish her husband caught. There were no details on the back of the picture to say where, when, why. We just know it was Les' fish because the Johnson men had a way of having someone else hold the fish for a picture. Not written in granite, as you can see, Les holds his own stringer in an undated picture. Look closely at the back ground and you can see the size of the boat the family put the little pull start engine on. Again, I repeat, it was carried in the trunk of the car.

Although Erna may have been very strict about many matters, when it came to cooking the catch and fishing, she must have been heaven's answer to the fisherman husband. Her short steel pole with an open face casting reel and black ice line was silent after Les died in the mid-seventies. Most likely it had been put in the rafters of the garage the summer before. In handling it even now, it gives Old Trunks a sense of awe with its heavy line and no brake system to stop the line after casting. One had to have a great thumb to stop the line lest one has to pick out a back lash. What is a back lash? That is when the line gets all snarled up and buried on the spool and you either pick it out with a crochet hook or use a different rod/reel until you are back at camp. But only if the bite is really on does one lay down equipment in need of attention.
Now, personally, I need three combinations. It is rare I have a miserable tangle up that I can't solve. What happens is simple. I just lay it down and use something else. I can't untangle jewelry in a mess nor can I do puzzles. Eventually, Tom will pick it up and work on the snag long before we are dock side. Might be some ghostly voice coming from his father saying, "Untangle your own snags". Maybe.
One of the things that seem so odd to me in looking at the old Johnson pictures is the fish are on stringers or held in a vertical position. Maybe it is because we are catch and release and do not string the fish nor do we generally hold them vertical.
Trust you have had a bite today.

Monday, September 28, 2009

FISHING Ice Fishing

Tom holding speared pike in basement of parent's house 1960

This is probably the most famous picture of Tom with a fish. Besides being a photograph, it was turned into a illustration as a gift to him from Ryen. This is what Tom looked like when I first knew him as the next door neighbor in Thief River Falls. What's not to love?

Pictured is a freshman college student home on winter break. His dad, Les, had a fish house where one could spear fish OR angle. What is angle? That is when you put a line in the water in a small hole made with an auger. Spearfishing is a rectangle cut in the ice. Decoys are attached and hung in the water to draw the fish to the lure. The spear is used with a line attached. I am not that quick, are you?

This is a good example of a nice sized pike. We don't see many fishing bass and no one at the lodge talks about a big pike being caught.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

FISHING A Bass for Each Hand

Early morning catch on Munson Lake in September of 2009
Picture taken in the afternoon in the summer around 1950

Old Trunks loves this comparison. We all know that if you hold the fish out in front of you, it will, optically appear to be larger. Yet, in these pictures, the bass he caught as a child WERE larger. That is just how it is, most of the big fish have been harvested.
Fortunately, the DNR, (Department of Natural Resources) have done some great planning to bring the walleye population back to many lakes, including Leech Lake. They have adjusted the slot limit of what you can keep. What is slot limit? It, in the case of walleye means only one over twenty inches. In some areas of Minnesota one may not keep anything less than fourteen inches. This has helped the population explode at Leech.
His name is Paul, he trolls for walleye in his boat daily. He lives at the lake from opener in early May until sometime in October. Yes, he is married and his wife lives in Albert Lea, which is on the southern border of Minnesota and Iowa; about 300 miles. His wife and grand daughter visit throughout the summer. Paul keeps enough fish to eat, the rest he releases.
When you ask Paul how the fishing was, he will state the number he caught and the number of keepers. He is seventy-seven now and out on the water all days that are possible. We are all better for knowing him and call him the Mayor. :)
The picture of Tom as a child was taken on the porch of the house in Sabin. It appears the fish have been gutted. Most likely they were transported from one of those family fishing trips.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

FISHING With bow and arrow

The Johnson family lived by the South Branch of the Buffalo River by Sabin, MN. It was no more than two blocks from the house. Perhaps as mothers, we wouldn't want our children hunting, trapping, and fishing along a river but it seemed to be the norm for the sons of Les and Erna.

Tom is pictured above with a rough fish called a carp. Other rough fish in the Buffalo River included suckers and bull heads. There where also cat fish. It was not lawful to use a bow and arrow on game fish, which include walleye, pike, and muskies.

Yet, along the river, in the spring when the water was high, people did net game fish, which is illegal. Who did they belong to? As Tom says, "Nobody fessed up." Would you?

Although all catch and release now, everything that was caught was eaten. Erna happened to like bull heads. In 1998, she asked Tom to catch her some bull heads. Yes. Believe it or not!


Friday, September 25, 2009

FISHING Tom and the Bass

This is my Sweet Thomas standing by the old Chevy, holding a bass on a stringer in one hand and his rod/reel in another. As you see, clothes and a towel are draped or tied to the front of the vehicle.

Old Trunks is convinced he was born with the gift to fish! That happens when one comes for a true blue gill blue fishing family such as the Leslie Johnson family.

It is not known if Les, Tom's father, fished as a child. He lived, for a time at Newfolden, MN. There is no river or a lake near there. Les also lived in the Shelly or Halstad area. Both cities are close enough to ride a bike to the Red River of the North to fish. Therefore, I would say yes, and he was the kind of father to take his kids fishing with him. The love of the bite had to be internal. Out of three children who were taught, one is truly a fisher person.

Let's get back to the photograph. When the Johnson's fished using a boat, the boat was like a row boat. The five horse engine was taken out of the trunk of the black Chevy and mounted on the rented craft.

When Tom's sister was small, she and her mother, Erna, would stay on shore. Maryann would play and Erna would read. When it was time for lunch, a dish towel was waved and the "men" would come in for a picnic.

Look at the picture again. Look at the water beyond the trees at the back of the car. Those are reeds. That is bass habitat. Sixty years later, he is still fishing the reeds for bass.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

FISHING Cast that Dare Devil

Now if you ask Soozi what the best lure is, she will, no doubt say a Dare Devil. It is a big lure generally painted red and white on one side and silver like on the other. It has a treble hook at the end. It is considered one of the best lures for big pike and muskie. It was a must in all tackle boxes of that era.

I did not know why Soozi spent so much time on the river bank near their home on Eighth Street. Later I learned her mother sent her with her dad to make sure he didn't fall in!!!

I am wondering if there is a picture of Soozi holding a pike and if so, did she catch it? Did the family eat fish?

Every time I take a silver minnow out of the tackle box, which is a cousin to the Dare Devil, I cast it and say, "This one's for you!"


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

FISHING Shirley and the Hook or was it a Safety Pin?

All hail Shirley.

This lady is multi-talented. In the early summer of 1962, I took her to the power dam in Thief River Falls as she wanted to fish.

In no time at all she had two paper grocery bags full of fish, which she took home to Rosewood to share with neighbors.

What is so worth the Hail to her is she the the minimum of equipment. Her talent to feel the bite made up for it. It was incredible.

Speaking of Shirley fishing, she wrote to say that when living with her sister on Eighth Street, she fished at the confluence of the two rivers and caught a Sheephead. She went on to say she cut open the head and looked at the rocks. Had she known they were good luck charms, she stated she would have kept them for me!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

FISHING A family Affair

Our family and the Dorothy, Larry, Gene, Melinda, Natalie, and Bobbie Jo family from Paola, KS decided to go fishing on the rocks by the dam at Clinton Lake. No boat, just several people sitting on the rocks with fishing rods. Dorothy held her grand daughter, Bobbie Jo who had been born the September before.

While adults fished, Natalie and Bud played like they were eating the minnows which were used for bait. Have no fear, it was just a set up!

Did we catch fish? Don't remember.
Did we eat the fish we may have caught? Don't remember.

I remember Ryen sitting in his dad's lap holding the rod and, of course, the minnow caper.

Bobbie Jo is 26 tomorrow. She was born on 23 September of 1982. Happy Birthday, Bobbie Jo!


Monday, September 21, 2009

FISHING Bud and the Cat fish

Who can say just what goes on in a 10 year old mind. There is reason and then there is reason....where does one stop and another one start. And decades later, does the child know why they did something? Or doesn't it matter?

Bud and his dad had taken the green boat to Clinton Park to fish one fall day. Bud caught a cat fish and wanted to keep it. The picture shows him in a stocking cap and jacket holding a net with the fish in it. The picture was taken at the side yard.

In a few minutes, he wanted to turn it loose. They took it to the river bridge and let it go. The cat fish had been out of the water for at least an hour. Of course it needs water to live.

I wonder if he knew that. It sounds like a Cat in the Hat story, does it not?


Friday, September 18, 2009

FISHING Rachel and the book

Another Crappie hole at spawn time and another year.

We where up against the shore fishing in the brush. It is possible it was Christmas trees tied together and sunk by the DNR to attract Crappies to spawn in the area.

We were all there. Rachel was fishing and reading a book at the same time. Yes, she can multi-task.

It seemed as if she caught a fish every time she put her bait in the water. After eight fish, she exclaimed she wasn't able to read her book.

Now, Bud, not having the advantage of being right on top of a school of fish as Rachel did, was trying to pop his line into her spot.

What you have to realize is Rachel was fishing very still, whereas Bud was jigging his rig. Rachel also did a soft set to catch the fish and Bud possibly set so hard he pulled the hook right out of their paper thin mouth.

It reminded me of my brother, Greg, who, while fishing for walleye at Lake of the Woods, would sleep in the bottom of the boat with his line over the side and catch most of the fish because he was fishing so still. So still, in fact that someone had to wake him to tell him he had a fish on.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

FISHING Bud and Kevin and the Puppets

Bud and his friend, Kevin, went fishing with Mr. Anderson. The favorite place to fish was from the rocks by the dam at Clinton Reservoir. Although we had a boat, this trip was in the evening until past dark.

Crappies were spawning and if you ever fished for Crappies during spawn, you know the the bite is on in a crappie bed.

And so it came to be they boys kept catching fish. They had agreed to clean their share. The goal was 100 fish which as they caught them, they put them into a wash tub to carry up the hill and to the vehicle.

Bud's dad and the two boys got home late. A light was rigged outside the garage and fish cleaning began. Oh it went well at first, yet before you could say "fishy, fishy in the brook" the boys had started to make puppets out of fish.

At first they used the entire fish and had conversations with them about what species they were and how they had come to be caught. That was a riot in itself but when they started to do it with the left overs after being filleted, no that was funny.

Despite coaching from father to start cleaning, the boys seemed deaf to the plea.

Luke Skywalker and Hans Solo had struck again.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gone fishin' instead of just a wishin'

Old Trunks question today is: Did Knute fish the fresh waters of Norway for those 40 different species of fish? Did he catch perch and pike and bring it home for breakfast? It is known there are thousands of lakes in Norway, yet it does not say 10,000 like Minnesota advertises.

Where did Grandpa Benhard fish? In looking at the map of New Solum Township, Marshall County, Minnesota, we are not seeing any of those 10K lakes of Minnesota.

We know Benhard and his father, Knute as well as Andrew Opseth and his family all ate lutefisk, which is dried cod packed in salt and re hydrated in water and baked, then served with butter. Another question is where did they get it?

Brine cod would be easy to ship, there was no spoilage. We may assume it was shipped in by rail to St. Hilaire and later even into Rosewood.

Daddy had a boat, even when I was little. We lived on Oakland Park Road, the boat sat between our house and Barzen's. It was white and had a ribbed bottom; it was wooden. Memories of being in the boat are few. One time my dad, his friend, Sam Jashaw, and I were fishing and Sam caught a huge fish. He had it on the bottom of the boat and he was sitting on it as it flopped around. I remember being told to get out of the way. It most likely was a pike although it may have been a muskie.

Another time, the family went to Lake of the Woods. The men fished and the women stayed on shore. I remember a fire in a grill going and daddy cleaning the fish and cut his hand. Greg and I spent most of our time walking in the woods.

Do you know where Washkish is? On goes straight east to the Lower Red Lake, follow the lake until one gets to Kelliher, then travel north about 20 minutes to Washkish which is on the east side of Upper Red Lake. Perhaps we rented a boat and motor.

The last time I was in Washkish was about 16. Daddy had a bus for hunting. It was a 'camp' out like trip. Mother spent the night with a can of 6-12 repellent attempting to kill one mosquito which had taken up residence in the bus.

It was fashionable to cut the sleeves off sweatshirts at the elbow and where a long sleeve blouse under it. I was standing on the bank which was about six foot high fishing. I caught something heavy! I managed to get it to the sandy water line before. I was an ugly looking thing and it wasn't going to be me taking it off the hook.

I hollered and hollered at daddy to come and help. He said it was a Sheephead. He said it had rocks in its head. It is also called a Freshwater Drum. Let's talk about that.

The freshwater drum is known for the rumbling and grunting sounds the males make to attract mates. It is a large, round-profiled, silver humpbacked fish. The female lays her eggs when the water reaches a temperature suitable for survival. The eggs float, that is how they get everywhere!

What about the rocks in their heads? Freshwater drum have particularly large otoliths, stonelike objects found in the ear of many animals. The otoliths help the drum to sense when it is oriented vertically in water too cloudy to see clearly. These otoliths, which can be more than one inch in diameter, have been used by humans for currency, jewelry, and good luck charms.

Maybe I should request a otolith for Christmas so I would have yet another good luck charm on my lucky fishing hat!

WARNING: The rest of September will be about fishing!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Before Rachel started 6th grade, she was concerned about the teacher she would get because the teacher glared. We would learn the teacher did this because she didn't see well in the hall way. The woman was a great teacher and seemed to have a real feel for students who had anxiety about tests. She allowed Rachel to take math tests at home. She also was the driving force in getting this gifted child to understand the need for an outline, although Rachel had a gene which allowed her to pick up a pen and write with a mental outline. Rachel finished elementary school honorably and headed for South Junior High and a new world with new friends in the fall.

Bud did well in sixth grade. Besides playing baseball, he liked to hang out with his buddies and play video games at LaMans. This may have been the year the supervisor of the shopping mall strip put Bud and Matt's bikes away for dropping by the front door instead of using the bike rack provided. There is more to that story, let's skip that and just say he got his bike back.

We were living at Cedarwood when Ryen, also called 'The Little Professor" when he was in sixth grade. The idea of a Valentine box came up very close to the day. He had designed a beatnik looking head. We used impregnated gauze like you do on a cast. Since we had no rubber or vinyl gloves, I told him I would do it encase the solution caused a problem. It turned out great and was dry the next morning. I woke up with my fingers glued together. I would be on the road that day and as I drove, I bit and pulled the stuff off my hands with my teeth. My hands were raw and the layers of skin were damaged. They would not be normal again for several years.

So ends the chapters of School Days.


Monday, September 14, 2009


School started at Knox after Labor Day. Daddy had bought a farm in mid-August, a move would happen, just when was the question. I was honored to be one of the Knox Tiger cheerleaders and looked forward to sharing my enthusiasm at school sports.

The teacher, Mr. Friedl, was my first male teacher and we seemed to be on a good road to learning. I had great classmates and we had fun winning the kick ball game against the other class 147-0.

It would not last, half way through the second six week period, the house was sold and we moved to Noper's Motel in a kitchenette unit until the house in the country was ready. I would start at Northrop, again, on a day that followed a heavy snow fall. It would have been okay if mother hadn't of caught me and told me to put on my over shoes.

We would move to the farm and I would begin taking the bus. I asked Bruce what time the bus came and he said it came at 4:15. The bus came at 15 to 4! and I missed it. What I didn't like was art class was always the last thing in the day and I had to leave at 20 to 4 to make the bus.

Earlier in the year, I had gone to get overshoes while wearing slick soled shoes. Now, on this dreadful day, I was wearing rubber soles and an old woman would have a heart attack trying to get them off or on or both.

And so it was that Carol Cummings was hall monitor the day of the boots. I had to sit down on the floor to get them off. I wish I would have known about plastic bread bags then!

There were two teachers, a Mrs. Smith and Mr. Beadle. Mrs. Smith's room was in the old part of the school and Beadle's room butted up to it. Across the hall from his room was the library which was well lit. Northrop had under gone an addition which included a new gym with tables, an entrance, and the 6th grade classroom and library upstairs.

The cheerleaders were already picked, of course. If you look at the old pictures of the sixth graders at Northrop, you can see, that on picture day, there was a game. The girls were dressed in green skirts, white blouses, and green scarves tied like a neckerchief. In my class, there were Becki Ferber, Sandy Christianson, Patsy Heyn, and Judy Hanson. In Mrs. Smith's class it appears Clare Lietzow may have been a cheerleader as well as Norma Sorenson, and Soozi Ballingrud. Clare has something on around her neck but is standing in the back row so one can't be sure.

Mr. Beadle was a genius. He told us to look out the winter on a cold day. Ranum Construction was building a tall building to the east. You could see the hammer strike the building but you didn't hear it until the hammer was pulled back as if it where ready to strike again. Light travels faster than sound was the lesson although I do not know the ratio.

We did neat things like do plays. One was a spoof on $64,000 Question. Tom T was the Revlon Girl. Another play, and who know what it was, I was wearing mother's bathrobe.

It was this class I met Anita. I walked up to her and asked her if she wanted to be friends. She did and we were for a few years until her life went another direction.

I did all the things kids should do, like jump rope, play jacks, win all the marbles from a boy, and play soft ball without a glove. Mr. Beadle recognized my writing style and gave me an A on my report card. I had come into my own!

So much that a bottle of red ink slide down the desk and spilled on my watch plaid skirt. That was the end of filling a fountain pen on a slanted surface!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

SCHOOL DAYS Children's Grade Five

Rachel had Chris again this year and continued to make her work harder for grades because she could handle it. Yet I will still go on record to say that giving someone who is not very bright gold stars and not giving them to Rachel when she was working harder is wrong. Actually, I don't think much of the gold star program at all. May I growl?

Rachel and friends, who were well behaved, sat in the hall way and did their lessons. For those of you who were sent to the hall for being naughty, this was all together a different reason. I am wondering if this was the year I would slide her lunch bucket down the hall and declare "Lunch box express!" Perhaps it was fourth grade because I did it on days I worked play ground duty and Bud, a kindergartner, ate lunch with Mr. Mead. When you have the same teacher twice in a row, things run together, although Rachel could tell you.

As I mentioned, Chris had Rachel doing extra work. An example of this was book reports. Rachel was to write a long book report. When Chris took maternity leave and the sub started teaching, Rachel was NOT required to write the whole story over and this marvelous lady taught her how to do a brief synopsis and get to the point. It was a highlight!!!

Where the girls still spinning on the bars? Where they still playing Little House on the Prairie?

Back in those days, children brought treats for their birthdays. Rachel at 11 and Bud at 7 agreed to cinnamon rolls shaped like 7's and 11's. Bud ate all of his treats up himself before his birthday so I had to make another batch.

Bud had a fun year. He had come into his full comic stage. Now, at Schwegler, you could not go out for noon recess unless you had the right outer wear. This evaluation was based on the temperature of the day at noon. Never mind the wind speed, just the temperature.

I know the school was trying to protect the kids on the issue of outer wear. Yes, I know that. Let's think about this.....If a child goes outside and plays hard and runs and jumps and gets sweaty with all those clothes, doesn't that make a difference? I can understand it if it is a girl who sits on the step and reads a book.

So Bud called at noon frantic about not being able to go outdoors. As a stay at home mother, it was no problem to bring boots, mittens, hat, and jacket to school. As parents, we thought we had done well to get him to stop wearing short pants when the snow started to fly. Bud dressed and went out for recess.

The next day, he wore five jackets to school and carried that many hats and hand covers. He walked into his class room and announced that if anyone forgot their jacket, he had plenty to share. The teacher was furious because he had mocked her and the rules, if I remember correctly, he was sent to the Principal's office and I was called. I do remember drafting a letter to put in his file to say he could go out for recess without a coat. (Also in the file was one about if he had a bloody nose, he knew to hold his nose for ten minutes and not to make an issue out of it).

I was a room mother again that year. One of the games was to write your name holding the marker in your toes. Bud won!!!

Ryen and I had moved in the late spring and he would start school as a 5th grader from another address. It was a little closer than the house and he had free rein to go to either location to visit his father who was residing in the house where Ryen was born.

He decided he wanted to play a musical instrument and chose a flute. When not doing the band thing at school, he was busy learning other music on his own. His room was decorated just the way he wanted which included ragged clothes hanging on the wall.

He spent the summer keeping the pool clean for which he earned money. He was also allowed to swim without me being there because Pat considered him responsible. And that he was.

Think about this, some children in daddy's era where already finished with school and big enough to do a man's work on a farm. One young man, whose mother died, was handed off to a brother to raise. Otto and Loriene loved him as their own and considered him adopted although nothing legal was done. When he got old enough to work the farm, his dad wanted him back.


Saturday, September 12, 2009


Her name was Doris Peterson, she was one of the fifth grade teachers at Knox. She was a stern looking woman with metal frame glasses. She wore drab colored clothing and granny shoes. If she wore make up you wouldn't have known it. The other fifth grade teacher was dressed in the latest fashion, wore high heel shoes, and bright red lipstick. I wanted her for a teacher but got the other.

A few days of school passed when I realized this teacher was fair, explained lessons well, and admitted she could not sing~~we would learn songs by listening to records. She gave me the impression that going to school was as important was work was to adults. She had my respect.

Betty and I continued to be good friends. Scouts continued, this time at our house with mother as the leader. We went to a farm and scouted for sheep skulls, which we painted green and had our initials on it. I would go to camp at Itasca State Park for the second year. This time I wouldn't have a bossy bunk mate who drew a line down the center of the room and made me get permission to go out of the room. I would bunk with someone nicer and watch a bat tangle in her hair. I would also get in trouble for putting wood ticks in the counselors soap dish. I swam well enough to go beyond the ropes and get away from the deer flies that bit your head near the shore.

We would go on a long vacation that winter and when we got back, Mrs. Peterson allowed me to share the trip using the big state map on the wall. It was interesting to me to see where we had been on a map with mountains. The studying Greg and I were supposed to do never happened, I don't remember the consequence.

There was an 'old time' parade of some sort. It couldn't have been Minnesota State hood because that was in 1858. None of the numbers match up to a specific year, such as, Diamond Jubilee or other. Several of us dressed up in period clothing and rode in a wagon in a parade. I wore a black skirt, a white blouse, and a black bonnet with ruffles. Everyone should be in at least one parade, don't you think?

A friend who lives in a small town near Fargo was recently getting her grand children ready for a parade. I suggest, as mentioned previously, everyone should be in at least one parade. She wrote back and said but every year?

Betty and I put on her sister's skirts and made hoops out of thin wooden strips tied together with chalk line. We took the big lamp shades off the lamps and went about the neighborhood singing we are the ladies of lamp shade land to the tune of a song from The Wizard of Oz.

In late summer, Betty's cousin would steal apples and we would hide the stash in a concrete culvert. Wayne got caught at Spray's house. They told us all we could have an many apples as we wanted but we needed to come to the door and ask. Although Betty and I did not take the apples, we were still part of the club that stored them. Guilty.

Betty's mother and her friend had a lefse making business in the basement of the friend's house. They had a big wooden stove they baked it on. It was packaged 3 pieces to a parcel. Pearl always had a few pieces that couldn't be sold, it was a big treat after school.

There was a family in our neighborhood that sang and played instruments in church. The boy's name was Ben. It would be the first time I heard my voice on a recorder and did not recognize it.

Spring was wet and muddy. The influence of Ben's family, the Good Cheer Club, and Marjorie's singing family found me wanting to go to the Billy Graham "show" at the auditorium at Lincoln High School. Mother was against it. So much so that she did not allow me to put on a clean dress.

When we went to school, we had an area that was being developed into a road, it was not uncommon to get mud on your clothes, in this case, the squaw dresses which where popular at that time. I had two, one bright yellow and the other turquoise.

Despite mother's wishes, I went anyway. We sat in the balcony in the front row. It was my first experience with Bible thumping, old time religion. I left thinking that all that fire and brimstone was not God's love. I wouldn't hear that sort of sermon again until my grandmother died.

Mike Fox, his teary eyed sister, Margret, and I played school in their basement. It was all set up with a row of desks and a chalk board. We took turns being the teacher. Once in a while other kids would come. It was a great thing to do in the winter.

I liked the neighborhood. I liked to watch Iner stand on the back porch and cuss the wind and the rain. His wife, a nurse, was the first person I ever saw with pierced ears.

I was looking forward to six grade at Knox hopeful I would get another great teacher.

Happy 39th birthday, Bud!


Friday, September 11, 2009

SCHOOL DAYS Children's Fourth Grade

Rachel hit a good stride as a fourth grader, she had a great teacher who knew how to teach and get her class to respond to her methods. Rachel would also get glasses and learn grass came in blades not just a patch of green. Long parts to plays were given to Rachel because her ability to memorize was significant.

Although I did not agree with the principal on putting all these dear friends together, it all worked out and there were special friends in both classes. The other group of fourth graders had an older teacher, if you where nice you got good marks and some of the children actually got lazy, or worked on their lazy spirit.

Junior Scouts were marching in parades and going on long hikes next to the river. One time, we came upon a leader who had fallen on rocks and cut her head. The junior troop tied the hair together to pull the gap shut. I would later learn that Ellen when to the ER and the doctors there said the tied job was so good he left it along. They were a great group and got along well. For those of you involved in scouting at any level, you know girls this age come into a time when they are truly responsible as a group.

Bud as a fourth grader had that old teacher, it would be her last year. His grades were good and he and his buddies had a good time. The only problem was the music teacher and for some reason the kids made purple cookies and called them Miss S cookies and they would giggle. I still don't know why.

Another music teacher sweat a lot and always looked at his watch. What ever happened in that room still is unknown. I do know that Bud got a minus in music with all the rest of the marks at HS. I talked to the principal about this difference and the grade was changed.

In the spring of 1989, while Ryen finished the fourth grade, Rachel was to graduate from college, Bud from high school, and I was finishing up at trade school. Ryen wanted to graduate too! For Rachel's wedding he was willing to wear a button shirt and shorts but not to put that bow tie on. It was a world wind year. Ever have one like that?


Thursday, September 10, 2009


Yet another move for my family. This time all the way across town to a school named Knox. The building, like Northrop and Washington no longer stands. Knox was demolished in 1995. The building itself was interesting. It had classes on both floors with an open center so one could look down over the stage and open area. Where did we eat lunch? Was there an addition with a kitchen?

Knox was bigger than Washington, it had, what seemed like two classes per grade. Being a fourth grader my class room was upstairs, next to a dark, dreary room they called a library.

Her name may have been Mrs. Sorenson, heavy on the may have been. Most of the year I was watching the back of the head of the person who sat in front of me. She had brain surgery and when she came to school her hair on the back of her head was still very short from shaving and the hole looked like I could poke a pencil in it. That isn't what one is supposed to learn in grade four but that is really all I remember about school.

What I do remember is meeting more new people and having great softball games in Roue's front yard and their son breaking his collar bone twice one summer. I had my first, (and only) bloody nose when I got hit with a ball. Mother told me to stand over the toilet. When daddy came home he told me to hold my nose. I was glad I had a plastic-like jacket on.

Betty and I were the best of friends and spent time designing clothes for paper dolls out of typing paper. We liked to watch her older sister lay on the bed and zipper her jeans with a plyer.

Betty and I walked to school together. It wasn't far, only about six blocks. Odd, the older I got the closer school was!

My question to you is, what is fourth grade for, anyway?


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

SCHOOL DAYS Children's Third Grade

Again I will state the importance of sticking up for one's child. Rachel had a menopausal teacher in third grade. The lady had been teaching for years and the hope was she would be a good match. It only took one time of her saying Rachel had not turned in her work to make me question just how this was going to go.

How could you possibly keep her after class when she told you she turned it in? Where was it? It was found in the trash, it had slide off her desk.

Yes, I know that teachers and all professionals are not saints and not above making judgment calls that are not completely thought out. So at the conference in the fall, I took Rachel with me. I wanted the teacher to apologize to her, which she did and after that, if menopausal was struggling she wasn't after my daughter.

It was Rachel's third year as a brownie, she would fly up in the spring. She, along with the troop that met at our house, was so much fun. We had a great time together and I learned about other girls Rachel's age.

Bud's third grade year went by in a blur. Ryen was born in the fall and took up most of the time. Bud continued to play ball, ride bikes with his buddies, and generally do well in school. It seemed odd not being a room mother for the first year in many.

When Ryen was in third grade, he was spending time learning with his sister. She was in college and taught him more 'playing school' than he could learn in elementary school. They were very close then and still are. It is a remarkable relationship, much to be admired.

Did you ever vote in class?


Monday, September 7, 2009


It was an odd year. We had moved to the Northrop School district, yet, some one thought it would be best for Greg and I to stay at Washington. The house on north Arnold was in the 900 block. Washington was in the two hundred block of south Knight.

It isn't clear to me just when we moved from Oakland Park Road, only that the house wasn't finished and we were living in a converted city-type bus until one night a big storm came up and rocked the bus. Mother was so frightened, we moved into another house which was finished enough to at least set up the beds.

Maybe I stayed because I wanted the same Brownie leader. Maybe it was because I was in a skating group. I made friends easily so I don't think it was because I was shy or backwards. After all, I hadn't hide behind a piano for a long time.

It was the year Eisenhower was on the ballet for president. Our class took a vote the day of the election and I LIKE IKE won! At Christmas, we bought stamps for a penny a piece for the American Lung Association. I have zero recollection of who the teacher was, perhaps she was so good she blended into the back ground.

What I do remember is walking to the 500 block of north Duluth and going into Sandvig's to pick up Jean to walk the rest of the way. They always had a great breakfast and Mrs. Sandvig gave me oranges with powdered sugar. She called me the little weather man; she may have counted the amount of frost on the scarf wrapped around my face.

Actually, it wasn't a scarf at all. It was a pink stocking cap mother had knit for me. It was as long as I was tall and the big tassel at the end brushed the ground. The cap wrapped around my neck twice and was tucked in to keep it in place. It was cold enough to hear the crunch of the snow as one walked.

On very, very cold days, Mr. Wilson would take us to school in his Studebaker pick up. The windows would be frosted from my brother, Sandy, Mr. Wilson, and myself breathing.

We always walked home. A family along the way had a big dog that would push me down. Greg, my brother, stopped that quick and smacked the dog a few times with a hockey stick. The owners were also told to keep their dog kenneled when kids where coming home from school. Certainly I wasn't the only child that dog 'rode'.

As for lunch, rather than eat wax paper wrapped sandwiches, a few of us went out the back door over to Lincoln and ate hot lunch. The plates where white with separations and someone only wanted peaches which slid off the plate unto the floor. He didn't get more peaches but got the rest of the starch and fat for lunch.

In the summer we would string beads which we separated according to size and color and put in egg cartons. Most of it was done at Sharon's house in the back yard in the shade. Judy lived across the street, I never played there after her dad kicked her with his work boot.

The boys in the neighborhood made hockey goals out of chunks of snow in the street. Since the street was gravel, they wore their shoes or boots. When a car came by, often they would have to honk to get them to move, the boys would swear when the car ran over their goals.

One of the things I really liked about living there was all my grand parents were close. Grandpa and Grandma Ranum lived about four blocks away and Grandma Mae and Grandpa Phil were just two blocks away. In the summer I would write my bike to see them, often more than once a day.

Oh, and we still didn't have homework.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

SCHOOL DAZE Children's time

All three children had the same teacher for second grade. Some of that is good, except the two older children stated later, they really didn't like her very much. Before Ryen started second grade, the teacher walked by our house and she was told not to compare him with the other two, he was, after all an individual. Perhaps it worked. If I where a teacher, I would find it easy to see traits and patterns of households. Most of it would be good but I would be looking for some of the same habits as well.

When it came to my children, I was a she bear watching her cubs. NOTHING brought out the claws and teeth like something stupid teacher's did and blamed the kids for it.

It was typical for teachers to hand out dittos to children to color. And, like clock work, that cat appeared on the first day of October, as it did every day throughout the month. So much so that by the time conferences came around for Rachel, the last drawing was a purple colored cat and the teacher found it worrisome. But it wasn't worrisome, it was a case of giving a very bright child yet another ditto of the same cat. October 1 cat was just the way it should be; Rachel was bored and rebelled. Wouldn't you?

Bud did well also. Her comment was "he hurries to get done with his work so he can visit with his buddies". Without looking at a report, I knew he, like his sister, was going to get a minus in hand writing. Did anyone, except for one girl whose name started with T ever get anything else? As for hurrying, he checked his work, his marks where excellent, why didn't she match him up with a foreign student or someone who found class work hard, he could mentor. Why hadn't she seen that? Doesn't that seem like a simple solution?

And then, came Ryen. Another bright light in the Anderson children. He, too, did well and this time got a minus in hand writing because it was writing in Old English with a calligraphy pen when he was supposed to be learning cursive, which was called long hand.

With each of them, the brightest lights on the block, we agreed that when it came to having hand writing lessons to apply their best. The important thing was to spend some time doing it write, although the teacher still expected all to be perfect. Momma bear still growls when she thinks about it.

What the teacher never did accomplish was molding hand writing to match the girl that started with T. If you saw their hand writing now, you would be happy to see that after a few years of experimenting, each of them fell into a groove of their own.

For reasons which aren't important in this post, I am looking at a year book from my graduation year. Not everyone graduated as if they were the girl with the name starting with T. This helps all of us understand that once the lessons of how to write the letters is behind us, we all find our groove, except of course, if you are Miss T. :)


Saturday, September 5, 2009

SCHOOL DAYS Second Grade

There is no information on just what daddy was up to as a second grader but given his love for reading, he may have been at his Uncle Olaf's house often to page through books, both leather bound and dime novels. It is certain the books I inherited from my grandmother via her brother, where, at one time read by my dad.

I loved second grade! Lots of wonderful things happened. I had a wonderful teacher named Miss Norell. She was big and blond and fair skinned and loved the children she taught. It was Washington School once again.

I was old enough to be in Brownie Scouts. The uniform was a dress and was purchased at the Junior Shoppe along with a beanie and brown anklets with the brownie album on the side. Although the dress fit through the shoulders, it was a foot or more too long. My grandparents were still in charge when I got the dress and since grandma never wasted anything, she hemmed it a foot rather than cut it off. Later, it would be let down which showed the previous hemline.

My brownie leader was Mrs. Kvivstad and what a dear she was. She took us places like to the bakery for a tour. It was there I did not take off my storm coat and got jelly dough nut filling in the sleeve. We went to the soda bottling plant and had a soda. We watched them killed turkeys with electric shock. We made sewing baskets out of big ice cream containers and decorated them with cut outs of flowers from wall paper. They were finished with a lacquer, much like a sealer. I found the one I made after my grand mother died, it was filled with fine thread for crocheting.

Before mother came home, I learned to ride a bike. Grandpa told me not to use the brakes because I would wear them out. I ran into nearly every one of the 99 oak trees on the property as well as the one cherry tree. When daddy asked why I did that, he stated it was nonsense and needed to use the brakes. My first solo was on Oakland Park Road. I road toward the south and made a huge turn back to go north. My family stood by the side of the road and cheered.

And, mother came home from the SAN after 23 months. It is not known if she made the clothes I would be wearing but she did have a machine in her room. The fifty cent size hole in her lung had healed; later drugs would be available to make the TB disappear much faster.

I got a doll for Christmas that year, it was a walking doll with a matching hat, coat, and dress. I brought it to school and one of the arms fell off. I guess someone walked her too much.

At Valentine's Day, Miss Norell made a huge box which looked like a coach for Cinderella except it was red and white.

One day, we were short Weekly Readers. David didn't get one. I had a little desk and Susan had a big one. David chose me. I was in love, I had a boyfriend! :) Do you remember your first crush? Who was it?

It was a good year. I was sad that I couldn't stay in her class like Lyle. Lyle told me he liked her so well, he decided to stay. I wanted to stay too. Finally someone got through to me that he had failed and held back. Why, I wondered, was second grade so hard for him?

Hope your second grade was as great as mine.


Friday, September 4, 2009


Picture this: First grade in Minnesota around 1920. Daddy is in first grade and walks with or tags along with his brother, Harry who is three years older. Remember schools were built according to where the swamps were. No, that that they were in the swamps, rather, New Solum had several schools because of the swamps. Daddy and Harry would walk two miles to school carrying their meager lunch in a molasses bucket. It is important to note that both of them had perfect attendance that semester.

The school's name was Rosebank. It was built by the Opseth Brothers, the uncles of the two boys. Many children would pass through that school which, in the beginning offer grades one to eight. In later years, the cut off was sixth grade. My children' father and most of his siblings also attended Rosewood before starting at Lincoln High School in Thief River Falls.

Stanley went through the eighth grade; Harry graduated from Lincoln High School in 1929. Both worked in the summer for farmer's around the area. That means that daddy started working full time as a thirteen year old about the time Harry was finished with his studies in Latin and other at Lincoln. No one ever said why daddy didn't get more education, I would think it may have been money, after all, it was the depression era.

Think about one room school houses and how the little kids sat in the front in the small desks and as the children became older, they moved to the back in the bigger desks. Class lessons were conducted in the front of the room. That means eighth grader lessons where within ear shot of the little ones. It leads Old Trunks to believe the exposure gave them a great education.

First grade for me was at Washington. The first grade teacher was not very nice. She smacked my fingers with a ruler because I didn't have a hanky, rather, I had tissue. I had tissue because by now, mother was in the SAN with TB and hankies were considered a harbor of bag germs.

When did mother go to the SAN, you ask. Sometime in my kindergarten year, when it was cold, we took her to Arizona for warm sun and baths. The doctor said she was nervous and needed rest. after two weeks in the sun and she only laying in bed, daddy loaded both of us into the Buick and headed north. He dropped her off at Mayo in Rochester and took me to my great aunt's in St. Paul. By the time he returned to Rochester, she had been diagnosed with TB. Daddy took her to the SAN in Thief River Falls, then came back to St. Paul to get me.

So first grade was yet another year with the pleasure of having my grand parents as the nurturing source in my life. They were wonderful people.

After we returned from St. Paul, I rested in the sun on the floor of the living room. I had lung scars from the exposure but rested at home rather than being instituionized. Grandma made pancakes the size of silver dollars and grandpa and I had a race to see who could eat the most; his were four inches. As wellness came, I won more pancake races.

I do remember we were expected to stand in front of the class and recite numbers from 1-100, Roger and I did it to two hundred. We read from Dick and Jane books and to this day can see Spot the dog and Puff the cat. Their sister's name was Baby. I questioned why she didn't have a name and recieved no answer. Although the expression was, sound it out, the system did not teach us how to sound it out, it was sight reading.

We had milk break in the morning. The bottles had foil tops and some kids saved them which made their desks smell foul. Yes, we did eat lunch in the basement and I unwrapped my wax papered sandwich, perhaps there was a cookie. Thermos bottles were glass insides and once dropped it was gone. Although I don't remember, perhaps milk was provided at lunch too. I do know it was a penny a bottle and paid well in advance. There was no reduced program, some children didn't take milk. I just thought they didn't like it. How sad is that? No chocolate milk on Fridays. How cruel.

Rachel came home from first grade in tears. Her long legged blond teacher had not chosen her for the advanced reading group. We fixed that, she learned to read Police Small books and took off like a rocket. Yes, she was moved to the new group, although she still hated doing the work books. Mrs. Lewis caught on.

Bud was tested for reading level. They weren't sure just what to do with him as he tested to fourth grade level. Rather than being in a group, he sat at his desk and had no reading until I discovered it. He was a first grader; put him in a first grade class. He didn't like the work books either. They would not be convinced workbooks showed the teacher students understood the material. Mrs. Huggins looked like a little hippy with her bobbed hair and big round glasses.

Ryen was reading before first grade. I have a picture of him sitting on the deck reading a Bernstein Bears book. The beauty of it is, he had a sister which he admires to teach him in a very natural setting. He had tubes put in his ears that year and the teacher told the kids to not make a lot of noise. He was sent to school with ear muffs encase it was too noisy for him.

Think about your first grade, what do you remember?


Thursday, September 3, 2009

SCHOOL DAYS My children's first year

Rachel started Schwegler School as a kindergartner in the fall of 1971. She would turn six in October. She had been exposed to social graces and other pre school concepts at Small World as well as at First Presbyterian Nursery School. We took her out of First Presbyterian when she, and many others continued to be exposed to illnesses that should have been caught.

Being the first child, I was, of course, wondering just how this would go. Would she hide behind the piano? How many kids would be in her class? I knew she would make friends. Would she be morning or afternoon class?

And the letter said afternoon class because she was older and didn't need to nap. The room was full of children. FULL and that means greater than 30; the new development called Prairie Acres had a good crop of children.

And on that first day, Rachel walked into the center of the room, looked around and looked at me and said, "Bye Mom". My only concern was the number of bodies for a new teacher, Miss Machart. The principal told me she would need extra hands and eyes, I volunteered one day a week for the year. Kristen, another student, stayed with us in the morning. She was a pleasant child and the two of them enjoyed each other's company.

Bud, also was an after the first of September birthday. The principal had watched him grow and told me she would change his birthday to 9/1 if I wanted, he was bright enough to match with the older kids. Rather than send him to a mandatory school, he enrolled in The Red House Nursery School which he attended five days a week under the directorship of Mindy and Bob.

Red House was a community nursery school, which means parents help by bringing treats, working at cleaning the building, and volunteering time. Bud did well and had the social skills necessary to start at Schwegler at almost six.

Their baby books with all the notes and quotes are in their possession. A couple of things I remember about him at this age are: He came home from school one day and announced he had to have a Dr. Pepper. Mrs. Waugh had told them to be still as she read a story. Instead of sitting down, he crouched and thought his legs were going to blow off! Another was he wanted to bring Mrs. Waugh a flower. He had me make a huge dandelion out of crepe paper, because that was his favorite flower at the time.

Ryen the youngest, started school when he was also nearly six. The teacher was concerned he was not well socialized and because he had not gone to nursery school may have trouble. Two of the things that concerned her were that he wouldn't know how to line up or what it meant when the lights were turned off. A note came home saying he didn't know how to tie his shoes. How could he, he had velcor closings. That day we sat on the floor and said:

There is a tree (loop)
The bunny (the other lace)
Runs around the tree
And dives into the hole.
Pull tight!

And he passed shoe tying, lights off, and lining up. And he drew a picture of his house with lighted lamps and the lamp was plugged into a wall socket. That was the last we heard of concerns, which turned into praise for the child that seemingly could do anything.

Old Trunks believes kids learn much earlier than mine were taught. I know the could read/identify long before school. Think about your kids. If you turn them loose in the cereal aisle at the store, they are going to get the cereal they like because of the identification. Think about the lining up several brands of soda; no doubt, like Bud, they are going to pick the Dr. Pepper. Rachel knew that penny pony in front of Kroger's was Sandy long before she read books. Ryen learned logic playing school with his sister before he started public school.

Let's give kids the credit they deserve and see their talents early.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

SCHOOL DAYS The Children's Garden

What was the reasoning behind having a kindergarten anyway?

The first kindergarten opened in Blankenburg, Germany, in 1837. Friedrich Froebel (1782–1852) designed this system to offer a preschool education to young children in a less formal environment. His plan was to offer an organized setting in which children's creativity and play instincts were nurtured in a constructive and supervised manner. He believed that children could be taught to become better, more cooperative learners through the use of tools like songs, stories, games, and other group activities. The central idea of his theory was that a good education starts with learning creative expression and social cooperation. This concept had a direct influence on American school systems.

In 1856 the first American kindergarten was founded in Watertown, Wisconsin, and by the end of the nineteenth century it had become a standard part of the American educational philosophy.

In New Solum Township, there was no kindergarten, children started school as first graders in the country schools. Old Trunks wonders if the younger children in the family didn't learn from their older siblings as they studied by lamp light. Odd, isn't it, that my grand parents never talked about their formal education. Certainly they were educated in some way.

Let's fast forward to my kindergarten experiences. I am not certain just why I decided to hide behind the piano while the teacher played and the class sang the songs. Once I heard a song I knew, I ventured forth and sat with the other children on the first day at Northrop. Perhaps it was because I had been plucked from my own envoriment and sent to my grand mother's to start school while mother was in the hospital with sciatica.

How clearly is the vision of grandma walking me to school on that first day. I can still see the dew on the grass. Grandpa had already left for work. I had sat on his lap at breakfast and helped him watch the old manual toaster so the bread didn't burn.

Northrop was about six blocks from my grand parents house. They lived on Arnold Avenue in the eleven hundred block. The next block was Duluth, then Knight, followed by a big street called Main. After crossing Main, there was one more block, LaBree. The school address was 9th @ LaBree.

After a few days, Grandma would meet me at Main Aveune and 11th and help me cross the big street. A few days later, I was certain I could make it to school by myself and home again. I walked with the kids from the neighborhood, looking for buildings that would bring me back home.

But the neighbor kids didn't go the same way. They passed a white house with green shutters and huge lilac bushes. Since grandma had no phone, I was not able to contact her if I should be lost. Kindergarten was in the morning, the neighborhood kids would not be leaving school at noon.

I felt confident when I left to go home. I walked to the end of the Northrop lot where the ice rink was in the winter and turned west on Labree. When I got to Main Avenue, there was that white house with the green shutters. Where was the junk dealer from here? Before tears, a man stopped in his car and asked if I needed help.

In today's world we would shutter if our child got in a car with a stranger. Maybe even in a town of 8,000 people it was a bad move, yet, the man said he knew Phillip and would take me home, which he did. The next morning, grandma walked me to school by the white house with shutters and the lilac bushes, I had my bearings and was feeling very confident about it.

Yes, there is more. By the time I was feeling really good about it, mother was home from the hospital and I had changed schools. This time it was old Washington, which when first built, was the high school.

It was the typical two story stone building with a basement. Grades K-3 where on the first floor. The second floor was 4-6, the principal's office, and the library. The basement had the lunch room and the bathroom's.

The kindergarten room had a salmon colored tile floor. Inlaid into the tiles were tiles which had a,b,c and 1,2,3. The first day I was there, they played a game called London Bridge is Falling Down. The idea is two people are chosen as captains. They stand with their arms in an arch and the rest of the students sing and walk under the arch.

London bridge is falling down, falling down
London bridge is falling down, falling down
My fair lady.

On my fair lady, a student is trapped as the arm arch falls.

Then, each captain whispers in ones ear a prize they will get for choosing to be on their team. I chose orange soda and lined up behind others who were lined up behind the captain. After all the students were trapped, there was a tug of war and whomever won got the prize. BUT WAIT!!! The prize was a virtual prize, although I waited all morning for it.

We were bused to school in the morning with the big kids and got a ride home at noon when kindergarten got out. Mrs. Hanson drove her son Lyle and myself. They had an old brown car with a shift on the floor and Lyle thought it was funny to take the car out of gear, at which time Mrs. Hanson would scream, "LY-LEE!".

What did I wear to school? Long white stockings held up with a garter belt and dresses. In the winter, one took off snow pants, boots, and coats and hung them on pegs. Some classes had coat rooms.

The bathroom in the basement had a number of stalls made of wood with big doors that creaked. They did not lock. I had already learned to look under the door to see if it was occupied. The entire basement smelled of sour milk and wax paper although, as a kindergartener, I did not eat there.

Greater than 50 years later, I would learn from the bus driver that picked me up in the morning that I was well behaved and always wore white mittens. How did I learn this? My sweet Thomas had a picture of me at the optical shop and when she came in for glasses, she said, "Is that Elodee?"

What was your kindergarten like?