Raising A Family

When Jerri was about 7, she had sent in two Wheaties box tops and 55 cents and gotten her first camera. It warped a little and wouldn't stay shut after a while, but two rubber bands took care of that. She still has it, as well as the imitation leather case she got for another Wheaties boxtop and 25 cents. [And I had to eat ALL the Wheaties before I got the box tops -- off the BIG, family size, boxes -- first. --JL] [283-9]

We were Indian conscious from all our trips to Indian performances at Brainerd and the Wisconsin Dells and various Indian reservations, so one year when Ashby had a kid parade for the Harvest Festival, we decided to make an Indian out of Kathy, that same morning. Twila grabbed whatever she had that looked appropriate and turned out an Indian dress on the sewing machine in nothing flat. That, along with a lot of cocoa face paint, made Kathy look more like an Indian than the ones we saw at Mille Lacs Lake. She got first prize in the parade with it. [287-1]

Bobby got a small jigsaw for Christmas and we sent for a bunch of lawn ornament patterns. Jerri and Bobby and Kathy went into the lawn ornament business. Bobby sawed and Jerri painted and Kathy "helped." They had quite a yardful of skunks and various things sawed out of masonite. They had visions of selling lots of them but never got the selling part off the ground. [We didn't care -- we were having too much fun! --JL] [278-1]

When she was about that age, Jerri saw a picture in a kid magazine of a camp stove made from a 3-pound coffee can that burned pieces of paper milk cartons for fuel. She got someone to cut the necessary openings with a tin snip. She and Bobby and Kathy went down to the Knutson place to cook their breakfast on the cement slab by the milk house. (Nobody lived there then.) Their main dish was to be fried eggs, fried directly on the top of the coffee can. [278-3]

Twila thought she ought to check on them. When she got there, they had fried the eggs but the cement slab wasn't quite level and there wasn't any rim on the coffee can so they had slid off, onto the cement. They were so dirty that they fed them to the dog. The dog was happy and they had a cold breakfast with the other things. [Eventually, we did get this to work very well, by using little frying pans that sat on the camp stove and kept the eggs from sliding off. -- JL] [278-4]

When Jerri was just a schoolkid, we went somewhere one night and left Jerri "in charge." The rope in our wire stretcher was worn out and the end of the new rope had to be threaded into the metal loop in the stretcher and spliced -- braided back into the rope. Pa had always done this and I hadn't the slightest idea how to do it. [287-6]

I gave Jerri the wire stretcher and a new rope before we left and told her to unravel the old braiding and watch how it was put together and then weave the new rope in like the worn out one. When we came home, the new rope was braided in, just like the old one had been. I still haven't learned that stunt; it takes more patience than I've got. [287-7]

David (Beaver) was born December 24, 1950. The older three kids were staying in town with Ma. They had been looking forward to Christmas eve and a fire in the new fireplace that night. Instead of that, I took them out to the cold basement and they opened their Christmas presents and went back to town. They were a pretty forlorn bunch that night. [280-1]

David (Beaver) was the last baby Doc Randall delivered. When he was a few days old, still in the hospital, the Randalls were leaving town for a few days. Doc decided to make one last, special, trip to see Twila and Beaver before they left. He was driving to Fergus in a hurry on a Sunday morning and collided with a car that was turning into Dalton by the cemetery. He got hurt pretty bad. [Dr. Randall died in June of 1953, perhaps after a second car accident, long before Richard was born.] [280-2]

In 1951 the older kids pooled their resources and bought me a Kodak Pony 135 camera for Christmas and the taking of hundreds of slides began. [283-8]

A year or two later, I went around and took pictures of everyone in town one winter. [285-2]

When David (Beaver) was about a year old [1951], we had company one day that included a kid a little older that was a little "loose" and Beaver got dysentery from him. He got so thin and dehydrated there was almost nothing left of him. I carried him and walked the floor almost steady, day and night, for four days.

Finally, Dr. Randall came out and gave him castor oil and when that came through it was almost the end of him, but he started to perk up after that. He came out of it, but he looked like a little ghost. [283-7]

When David (Beaver) was little, he was always busy with something, so we said, "He is as busy as a little Beaver." Everyone started calling him "Little Beaver," except Dr. Emil Larson, the vet. He called him "Eager Beaver." [288-5]

In the spring of 1953, when Beaver was 2, Iver Hanson and I were working in the gravel pit and about 5:30 p.m. we heard the fire siren in Ashby. We didn't give it any thought. When we drove up to the farm, the yard was full of people and cars. Beaver had disappeared. Twila had been raking the yard and the three older kids were out in the field trapping gophers. Beaver had wanted to go with them, but Twila wouldn't let him. Twila was raking leaves on one side of the house and thought he was on the other side. When she went around to check, he was gone. [284-1]

Twila got excited because there was so much water in every hollow that spring and it would soon be dark. She called the Volunteer Fire Department, and that was the whistle we heard. Every loose man in town came out, as everyone had quit work for supper. [284-2]

Fred Johnson rounded up the Boy Scouts and took them over by Ask Lake and the Indian Mounds, as he knew we took the kids over there a lot and thought Beaver might go there to look for them. Everybody was running over the fields and through the woods and around the sloughs. [284-3]

Lind Olson decided there were enough people there already and took a carful up Highway #78 to walk back and meet the others. Pretty soon the horns started blowing, to signal that he was found. Lind's car had overtaken him, walking along the road shoulder, pulling a little red wagon, almost to the north end of the Lee farm. [284-4]

The garden club had their flower show in late summer and [in 1953, I think] Bobby had raised a sunflower, about eight or nine feet tall, with a huge blossom. Bobby took it in to enter in the flower show. He had it in a big pail and it was too tall to take inside. There wasn't any sunflower category, but the ladies hurried up and made one and set the sunflower outside by the door to advertise the show. Naturally, he got first prize, as he was the only one in the sunflower category. [278-2]

One year, the first kids made clay marbles. I found the perfect clay when I hauled a couple of loads out of the bank on Tollef Hoff's place, right across from the farm driveway. They would roll the marbles by hand and bake them in the sun and you could hardly break them. One time, they made big soft clay balls and threw them at the gas man (Carl Evavold). He threatened to tell their parents (and he did). They got the worst licking they ever had from their mother, with their grandfather's old razor strap. [304-2]

Jerri later hid the razor strap way back in a closet and it didn't turn up for many years, but that didn't save them. Their mother got a good, limber, red willow switch and they weren't spared the rod and spoiled, anyway. [I don't recall being in on the marbles at all and I didn't get the licking, either. I hid the razor strap after the younger kids got an awful licking that I thought had little to do with actual discipline and everything to do with a parent "losing it." I don't recall what the licking was for. They didn't find the razor strap until they cleaned out some ancient suitcases in an upstairs closet to take the junk to the Treasure Cove, long after I left home. --JL] [304-3]

When Beaver was about 5-1/2 years old, he rode a tricycle in the kid parade, pulling three red wagons behind it. In one, he had deodorized pet skunks, in the middle one a big snapping turtle, and in the last one, white rabbits. Becky Aarestad rode on the back of the tricycle and got off and pushed when the going was heavy. [287-2]

Mrs. O.C. Christensen was one of the judges. The rest of the judges wanted to give them first prize, but Mrs. O.C. said she didn't like skunks and wouldn't give it to them, so they had to take a lesser prize, although it was the best entry that had ever been in an Ashby parade. [287-3]

Afterward, we dressed the big turtle, to make turtle soup that we had heard was so good. Twila didn't know anything about cooking turtles, so it was a lost cause. It tasted more like the water the turtle had been swimming in than anything else. [287-4]

When Beaver was about 5 or 6, he won first prize in the school Hallowe'en costume party as a toreador, or bullfighter. He wore a black hat and his leather fringe jacket and made just the right swagger with his cape as he crossed the gym floor -- walking backwards -- to bring down the house. [287-5]

When Beaver was in the first or second grade, he was getting Valentines ready for the school Valentine party. Twila noticed he was putting a stick of gum in only some of them, although he had enough gum for all. On further investigation, she found that he was only putting gum in the cutest girls' Valentines. [288-6]

One year, when we had kids in school, the school sent out a letter explaining some changes or something at school. They were mimeographed copies and the original had evidently been typed by one of the high school pupils. It was the worst mess I had ever seen, as far as spelling and punctuation were concerned. I took it to Thelma Skaar and had her mark the errors with a red pencil, like she would in correcting school papers. Then I mailed it to Superintendent Bertram. [246-4]

It always had seemed to be the "in" thing to have a Fergus Falls doctor deliver babies, so Twila went to Dr. Mouritsen, an obstetrician, before she had Jerri. It seemed the policy in the clinic then was to give everyone one o'clock or two o'clock appointments and then let them sit and wait, sometimes until five o'clock. After that, she went to Dr. Randall in Ashby and everything came out OK.

Shortly after Dr. Randall died [June 20, 1953], I was out behind the barn and a piece of board lay there with a sharp, rusty nail sticking straight up. I thought I would bend it over by kicking it with my foot. Instead of bending, the nail went up through my crepe-rubber boot sole and almost through my foot.

I figured I had better get a tetanus shot but we didn't know any doctors then. Twila called Alice Ferguson and asked her if she knew of a doctor that would give me a shot that night. She called back in a short while and said we could go to Dr. Roy Nelson's house. He gave me the shot and told me to watch it for blood poisoning.

Sure enough, I did get blood poisoning and went back for more shots. I got orders to stay off it until it cleared up and I had to lie around during some of the busiest days of the summer!

We went to Dr. Nelson for many years, I think mostly because we didn't have to spend hours sitting in a clinic. Dr. Nelson didn't make appointments and you could usually get in pretty fast. [He also liked Dad's fat spring lambs and bought several to butcher as a time. --JL]

When it was time to find a new dentist, [after Ashby's Dr. Thorson] we went to Dr. Eastman. He was the popular "family dentist" in Fergus then and he also didn't have appointments. The waiting room was usually full and he had a method of getting the pressure off when he got nervous. When people brought kids in, if their tooth wasn't actually driving them crazy by aching, he would "treat" the tooth with what dentists, among themselves, called "stalling paste" -- just some harmless white stuff -- and then tell them to come back another day.

He got more and more nervous and Dr. Nelson suggested we go to Dr. Veden. That was a different story. He made appointments and there was no more cooling your heels in the waiting room. he was especially clean and if a kid came in with his overshoes on, he went back out in the hall with them in nothing flat!

I used to take a pickup full of old ewes to Fergus and sell them in the fall. One morning in early December of 1953, when Twila was helping load the sheep, she stepped out of the shed door crooked and thought she had sprained her ankle. It hurt so much that she decided to go along to Fergus and have Dr. Nelson look at it while I went out and unloaded the sheep. [282-1]

His office was at the top of a high stairway, which she managed to go up on Ma's crutches, which were too short for her. He decided to send her over to the hospital to have it X-rayed, so she walked down the stairs again and rode over to the hospital. There they found her ankle bone was broken really bad, into the joint, and put her to sleep to set it. When she woke up, she had a cast all the way from her toes to her hip. She was pregnant, too, and Richard was born the next April 9, 1954. [282-2]

When she got home, we borrowed an old, wooden, wheelchair from Gamey Peterson, and with a wooden apple box on the step of that to put her cast on, she got around the house and did most of her housework. [282-3]

We didn't have a bathroom downstairs then, but Sherman and Alice found a high, heavy, milker pail, like a shot gun milk can, for her to use and that worked pretty good. By the time Richard was born in April, she was going pretty good again and eventually couldn't tell which ankle was broken. [282-4]

Dr. Roy Nelson delivered Richard on April 9, 1954. [280-3]

That spring, we had a tame sheep buck out behind the barn and Bobby would put Beaver on the buck's back and let him ride around the yard. [282-5]

One of the last things Bobby did was to make a little sailboat. One night he didn't come home until 11 o'clock. He had launched his boat from the hunting point down by the gravel pit. There was a cold southeast wind and he waited until it landed on the shore up near our point. [286-7]

Richard never knew what it was to have his two front teeth. The first time he lost them, he and Beaver were both standing on a kitchen chair, watching Twila cook. She was afraid some grease would spatter on them and told them to get down. Beaver tried to set Richard on the floor, but they both fell off the chair. [288-7]

Richard hooked his teeth on the bead of another one of the upholstered chairs. Twila only found one tooth and assumed he had swallowed the other one. He was sucking his thumb only a few minutes later, but he kept complaining about the hurting. On the second trip to the dentist he X-rayed and found the other tooth -- driven up, out of sight, into his gum. After the dentist fished that one out, the hurting quit and he could suck his thumb better than ever. [289-1]

After his second teeth came in, he opened a steel gate so Beaver could drive a tractor through one night. He slipped on the ice and knocked the permanent ones so hard that he took a corner out of each of them. He never did know what it was to bite like other people when he was a kid. [289-2]

[Richard has a little different take on this story. --JL]

When Richard was real small, the girls, for some reason, said, "he's a chip off the old block," and everyone started to call him "Chip." Later on, when he was a little older, he was feeling smart alecky and started calling the girls dummies, but with his two front teeth missing, he couldn't say "dummy" and it came out "dubby," so they started to call him "Dubby" or "Dub" and that is the only name a lot of people know he has, especially, those he grew up with. [289-3]

When Richard was 5, Ashby had its first kindergarten class. Monty Melby was the teacher. She was cut out for the job. Twila went to the first kindergarten graduation and watched the first graduates walk up proudly and receive their diplomas. [287-7]

One summer in their early teens, Jerri and Kathy and the three Mark girls from Breckenridge wanted to camp out one night in the chokecherry hollow, down towards the gravel pit on the Knutson place. Sleeping bags weren't "in" yet, but they took all kinds of blankets and food for camping out. [288-1]

It was a nice summer night, but after they roasted potatoes in their campfire and burned them, Beverly Mark got sick and had to come home about dark. The rest stayed, despite a cool night with heavy dew -- until a hard rain shower came up about 5 o'clock in the morning. Twila got up and went to get them. She met them just coming through the pasture gate, soaking wet and carrying all of their wet blankets and campfire cooking equipment and food. They were the most bedraggled bunch imaginable. [288-2]

After we got Beaver and Richard, one day Twila said, "It would be fun to have a little girl to raise after these boys." [288-5]

Dr. Roy Nelson and Dr. Hunt delivered Mitzi (Cesarean) on December 29, 1958, and Twila had her little girl to raise after the two rough boys. [293-3]

Beaver and Mitzi got gypped. They have never had a birthday party like the other kids. Too much competition from the holidays! [280-3]

When Mitzi was real small, Richard tied an old, rotten rope to a bucket. He climbed up and put the rope over a limb on the big oak tree by the southeast corner of the house and had Mitzi hoisted several feet off the ground when we found them. [304-4]

When Beaver and Richard and Mitzi all got old enough to ride bicycles, we found them doing tricks in the barn one day. They had an old grain door about 2'x8' across a hay bale or piece of railroad tie, like a teeter totter. One would ride up the door and when it tilted down on the other side would ride off; one of the others would be waiting and ride it up and down the other way, where the third one would be timed to go up it again. They all kept circling and timing themselves so there was always one ready to go up just as the other one was coming down and off. They were real young yet, but they never missed a beat. [304-5]

After Jerri's sophomore year of high school she wanted to go to a different school because Ashby didn't teach enough math and science then. She planned to go to college and knew she would need it. When Superintendent Bertram heard that he said he would teach classes in algebra and physics himself, which undercut her campaign to transfer to another school or apply for early enrollment in college. [293-4]

He mostly just gave out assignments but you can't really teach school and spend a good share of the day downtown having coffee with Howard Western. When Jerri graduated she was salutatorian, but when she got to Augsberg College in Minneapolis, she promptly had trouble in algebra. Her counselor eventually figured out that she was smart enough but just hadn't had the teaching. After that embarrassment, she was pretty sour on Ashby. She felt the school had let her down. [293-5]

I always was allergic to weddings and such and kept telling the girls if they would elope I would furnish them a ladder. [I took him up on his offer and he later sent me a check for $100 with the memo "for the ladder." --JL] [313-1]

I didn't go through the torture of giving any of our daughters away. After all, I wasn't giving any of them away; nobody had asked for them. They just came and took them. [313-3]

Mic and Jerri got married quietly in The Cities on September 2, 1961, and I was spared all of the commotion of going clear down there just for that. Arg and Kathy got married in a bigger splurge in Madison, November 16, 1963. I couldn't duck that one, and survived it. [313-2]

I might as well finish the weddings while I'm on the subject. Beaver and Donna got married in Dalton and had a very bearable wedding, December 15, 1973. Also, it was close to home and in the evening, so I didn't have to waste a day on it! [313-4]

Mitzi and Sheldon got married August 5, 1977, by the "pool and fountain" on the University of North Dakota campus at Grand Forks. It was a nice, balmy evening and it was simple, but nice. It wasted a whole day, though, being so far from home and having supper in a Chinese restaurant before the hitching and then a reception in the Ramada Inn afterwards. [313-5]

Soon after they were married, Jerri and Mic came home for a visit when Ashby High School had their "Homecoming." Twila had been invited to showers over the years and some of her friends thought that now it was her turn and wanted to have a shower for Jerri. Jerri emphatically said she didn't want one. She didn't like showers and was living in a trailer and had everything she needed. She would be moving around and also didn't want to be bogged down with stuff she didn't need. [293-5]

They had Kyra nine months and two days after they got married, June 4, 1962. The next summer, when they came back for another visit after Kyra was born, Jerri still felt the same way about showers but they decided to have a combined wedding and baby shower and surprise her anyway.

Twila warned them again that Jerri didn't want any showers but reluctantly agreed. They arranged to have it at our place on a certain afternoon. Joanne Ellingson let the cat out of the bag by calling Jerri and apologizing for not being able to come that afternoon because she had to work but was sending her gift along anyway. [293-6]

Before the first guest drove into the yard, Jerri and Mic slipped out the back door and disappeared into the woods. Such things tickled me immensely. They didn't know Jerri was a chip off the old block, too! [294-1]

Jerri wanted to pursue photography at Rochester Institute of Technology, so Mic hitchhiked out there and found a job as a computer programmer and a place to live. Jerri went to school there for four years, the first year in night school. [299-3]