Plate 34
(This plate is still under construction.)


The Neighborhood
(Ashby, Minnesota, circa 1920)

Top: Donald on horseback at livery barn, circa 1920. He got his first horse, Bird, when he was 9 years old, so this may be Donald on Bird.

Bottom: Neighbor ladies; front, left to right: Amelia, Cassie Dean, Mrs. Marden; back: Mrs. Germanson, Mrs. Martin Huggett, Mrs. Martin Paulson. The only surviving photo inside Bennie and Amelia's house (their wedding picture is on the piano). Mrs. Marden lived across the street from the Johnsons in Ashby and Donald was her "pet." A staunch member of Christian Endeavor and the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), she often cautioned him against drinking and smoking. Still, she once made him a toy pipe, which he pretended to smoke as he rode through town behind his unsuspecting father in the livery wagon.

Excerpt from Donald B. Johnson manuscript:

"When I first remember the barn, which was up on the northeast corner of the block between the Laundry and the Legion Hall, it was on its way out and not being used much for 'livery' anymore. The barn was 28 by 50 feet with an upstairs haymow.... There were open chutes down to each horse stall or pen, to put [the hay] down through when they fed the horses. When I was 3 or 4 years old, I fell down through one of them. I landed in a horse manger but only got a bump on the head." [3.5-5]

"One day I was down at the Livery Barn shortly before the 4th of July and I was trying to work Pa for a cap pistol I had seen down in the store. He never gave me anything when I asked for it. I think he thought I would appreciate it more if I wanted it awhile first. I begged and begged, but he pretended he didn't hear me." [3.22-2]

"After I had worked on Pa for a while, Carl [Hanson, Iver's father] gave me the money for a metal cap pistol, and I ran all the way to the store. They cost 10 cents then, with a box of caps. There were only single shots then, and the caps were round and came packed in sawdust in a round box like a snuff box." [3.22-3]

"One fall, when I was about 6, somebody came traveling through, driving a team and sleigh and leading a beautiful black pony that was medium sized and real gentle and awfully hungry. Pa bought the pony and a beautiful saddle so I could ride him. I remember riding all one afternoon behind the wagon in the cornfield down toward the cemetery while Pa husked corn into the wagon.

"The pony was as tame as could be, but later, one nice day probably toward spring, after the pony had been eating oats awhile, Pa put me on him and I rode up to the house to show off to Ma and the neighbors. Just as I turned into the yard, I got dumped off and the shiny black pony ran back to the barn. Pa sold him to the next horse buyer that came along, and that was the end of my first pony. I didn't have another one until we lived on the farm." [6.32-3]

"One day Ma looked out the front window. Pa had put up a new five-foot fence and steel gate to keep the kids (me) in and there was Mrs. Marden saying, 'Put this foot in here, and then put this foot up here,' etc. She was teaching me how to climb over the fence so I could come over and visit her! [5.19-2]

"Nobody ever held anything against Mrs. Marden; she was honest and upright in every way, just bored with living alone." [5.19-3]