My Life As I Remember It
By Nora Dafoe
Chapter 1 – Childhood
My mother tells me this story about my birth. My dad was running a grain elevator at Pleasant Lake near Rugby, North Dakota. My mother cooked for the men that worked there. We lived in a house with a dirt floor. The rooms were divided by curtains. I was the fourth child. (Ed was 8, Mary was 6, and Katherine was 3.) Mom knew I was about to be born; she called to my father to come home and put up the heater. It was a cold and stormy day, November 12, 1915. The doctorâ€™s name was Fisher. My mother was a midwife and delivered all the babies in every community, but when she had a baby she called a doctor. We were all born at home.
My first memory is when we lived on a place called Jerusalem. It was located on the Fort Totten Indian Reservation. It was a beautiful house on a hill; there were trees to the west and south. We picked June berries, choke cherries, goose berries, and wild plums. Devils Lake was west of the house; we used to swim there. It was a salty lake so it was easy to stay afloat on it.
My cousin, Alfred Hultgrin, came to stay with us because he was having trouble in school. Mom worked with him every night. He had to do his work before he could go out to play. The school was only one half mile away, a little east and north. The folks left this place because the land was so poor that they couldnâ€™t make a living. They moved from there to the Swank farm near Hamar. This is where Ann was born.
I remember one time all the relatives were gathered together on a Sunday afternoon. This was an occasion many times a year. Walter, Momâ€™s brother, and Mabel, his wife, had five kids. Uncle Emil and Aunt Annie, momâ€™s sister, had eight kids. We had seven. We had been playing and Alfred had been teasing me. I always hated to be teased. Someone came out with a camera to take our picture. I didnâ€™t want to be in it, but I had no choice. We were told to stand on the running board of the car. I was crying and put my arm over my face. We have that picture. I was very stubborn and had refused to be in it. Yet, in spite of my stubbornness, I guess I wanted to be in the picture, so I covered my face to conceal the tears.
I remember one time my mother had fixed the dinner buckets for the kids going to school. She used to make large white sour cream cookies. I sat watching her and asked for a cookie. She said there was only enough for the kidsâ€™ dinner buckets. Later in the evening I got into one of the pails and took a cookie. I crawled under a cot we had in the living room to eat it. It was discovered what I had done. I was pulled out by the leg and received a whopping good spanking. But, I remember the taste of that cookie; as a kid, I would say it was worth it.
I had looked forward to starting school. I loved watching the others do their homework. We loaded ourselves into the buggy and drove to the school two miles away. This school was west of our place on a very bad road. We drove on this road last year when Katherine was here and it is still a poor country road. The name of the school was Minco # 1. As we arrived at the school, someone came out and asked me if Ed was my brother or my cousin. I said, â€œMy cousin.â€ Everyone laughed. I was so embarrassed that I refused to go into the school. I sat all day under the buggy. Miss Boyle was the teacher. My mom gave me a good talking to that night. From then on I loved school.
I was nine years old. We had all had the mumps. Ed had them so bad he almost died. My mother was pregnant and also had the mumps. The baby, Margaret, was born. Everything was fine until she was nine days old. She was born December 14 and died December 23. My mother was so sick. We had returned to school and came home this day to find the doctor there. My dad was holding the baby and crying. We all took turns holding Margaret and crying. She died that day. The funeral was Christmas Eve. There was no embalming in those days. The priest was angry because he had to come to Tolna on a stormy day. He lived in Lakota. He took it out on my dad. We were all heartsick. They decided we would not go to church in Tolna until that priest was removed. We joined the parish in Warwick. That is the reason Ann and I made our First Communion at the Mission in Fort Totten. We stayed there and studied for a week.
We had another baby two years later. He was born November 19. We were all looking forward to this baby because Margaret had died. We all came rushing downstairs in the morning to see baby Robert. They said the doctor had trouble in the process and the babyâ€™s neck had been broken. How we cried. He was laid out in a box in the north bedroom. I can still remember how cute he looked.
My mother had a girl helping us by the name of Rose Wilhelm. Every night she stole my pillow. I disliked her as long as I can remember.
I attended country school for eight years. We walked spring and fall. We usually went barefoot and so did everyone else. Later, when the field work was done, we could use horses and go in the buggy until freeze up and later went in a covered-in sleigh. When the grass in the pasture was gone, I rode horseback to school and took the cattle with me. I would watch from a school window and go out and turn them around. After school I would take them home with me. We took our lunch and all ate out in the woods at noon. There was a large grove of trees east and south of the school. As we walked, we would run our legs off to get away from neighborhood bulls.
Another thing that frightened us was the gypsies. They came through, spring and fall, in their big white wagons. When we saw them coming, we would run home as fast as we could. They would take chickens, ducks, and anything else they could find. We were also told to never ride with strangers. Because of these things, we were fast runners at County Play Day. I won first prize for many years in the 100 yard dash and later won the races in the Eddy County Play Day.
Everyone took part in declamation and spelling contest. Two years in a row in seventh and eighth grades I attended the county spelling contest. I won first in the county and took part in the state contest. That was a thrill, my first big trip. The county superintendent took me; we attended the State Fair. I won sixth in the state. I went down on the word â€œdyingâ€. I spelled the wrong one. I forgot to ask the pronouncer to give the definition. This was in Grand Forks in 1930.
There were always eight grades in school. The teacher combined 3 & 4, 5 & 6, and 7 & 8. There were usually from 30 to 40 kids in the school.
I played the pump organ for the students to march in, in the morning, and out, in the evening. I can still play the march that I played then. My brother, Bud, was very good on the guitar and won first place in a music contest.
We had one teacher, Roberta Hoffman, who taught us many folk dances. Some of them were Sailorâ€™s Horn Pipe, Irish Jig, and the Minuet. We had costumes for each of these. I have a picture of myself in a minuet costume.
One time we had a run away with the covered-in sleigh. Ann sat in the doorway and wouldnâ€™t jump. I ran behind screaming at her. In time the sleigh hit a telephone pole and the horses had to stop. She cried and cried.
We always had a Christmas program. The teacher used sheets for curtains. We also had a last day of school picnic. We had a big program. Then we always did the May Pole Dance. We had costumes and colored ribbons. There was always free ice cream bought by the School Board. At this program, I played the Hawaiian or steel guitar. If it rained on that last day there were many sad kids.
We graduated with the whole county at Minnewaukan. That was a big day. All of the eighth graders attended this.
When I was in the fifth grade, the teacher said that if I did the work of the sixth grade, she would pass me to the seventh. I passed all the tests, but she didnâ€™t pass me to the seventh. I asked her why and she said, â€œI didnâ€™t think you could do it.â€ I had trouble trusting the teachers after that. Later, when I attended high school, I took six subjects every year. At the end of three years, I was all done. They couldnâ€™t stop me from graduation. I never told anyone what I was planning. I attended college one year and then started teaching. Actually, I should have just graduated from high school.
All of the Carroll children worked in the field and milked cows. Katherine and I used to shock grain and try to yodel. We got so we were pretty good. We would laugh so hard at each other. One time Mary and I were stacking sweet clover. We got so tired and would pull and cry. Sweet clover gets all tangled up.
One time, as I was herding cattle, they got away from me. I returned home and my dad said, â€œDonâ€™t come home until you bring them with you.â€ I looked and looked; it became dark. I didnâ€™t dare to go home. I rode my horse, Dan, up into the Blue Mountain area. I remembered reading in a book about a way to find animals. It said, â€œGet off the horse and look toward the horizon. There is usually some faint light coming through.â€ Sure enough, I saw the feet of the cattle, but when I tried to get on the horse, I couldnâ€™t. The wolves and the coyotes were roaming and crying. Suddenly I remembered something else I had read. â€œGet the horses head down and get on over the neck, then jerk the bridle and up you go.â€ Sure enough, it worked. I gathered the cattle and hit for home. My parents were very frightened; my dad never made that ultimatum again.
Our Christmases were very good. My mother was a wonderful cook. We always had plenty to eat. My dad would make wooden toys for us, such as tops, boxes, and spinners. We would each receive one thing. We opened our gift Christmas Day. Sometimes we had our relatives over and sometimes our neighbors (Dell Willis).
The next important holiday was the Fourth of July. We would all go to one of the parksâ€¦Wood Lake, Stump Lake, or Red Willow. We would bring a big picnic lunch of fried chicken, potato salad, lots of pickles, and nectar. We would have to go home about five to milk the cows. Then the young folks would go back to the dance. Each family had only one car, so we would go with our brother, Ed, and meet the guys there. The date would be to be taken to supper. Supper (lunch) was always served at midnight.
When we were younger, we would get together at the farm. My grandfather and grandmother Anderson would come in their buggy. He would have a bunch of fireworks in the back.
One of the things I hated to do was baby-sit the younger ones. When you walk around a dark house out in the country carrying a lamp, it is pretty frightening. My parents were both very musical. My dad played the violin behind his back and under his leg and did a very good job. He also would entertain by doing a soft shoe dance. My mother would chord on the organ. They played for all of the dances in the community and also in the Hamar Hall. As I got older, I went along. Many times I played the accordion with them. My brother, Ed, played the guitar. Those were good memories.
One fall I had to stay home from school and plow. I was only nine years old and not very big. I would jump on the foot lever to get it out of the ground. You had to do this at the end of every furrow.
Feeding threshers was a big event. The big crew would move in. Sometimes they would stay for a couple of weeks, if it rained. My mom, with our help, did all the cooking. We usually served roast beef, mashed potatoes, vegetables, pickles and pie for dinner. In the afternoon we took sandwiches and cake and a big pot of coffee out to the field. For supper we had fried salt pork, fried potatoes, vegetables, pickles, fresh bread and cake. Usually there were around a dozen men. It was exciting, but there were lots of dirty dishes to be done. We would have to carry the water in from the well, heat it on the cook stove, and use P&G soap. The water would get very greasy before we were done. We always kept the reservoir on the end of the stove full of water. As the cooking took place the water was heated.
Our Sundays were quite eventful. We would go to Mass in Tolna, nine miles away, and later Warwick, ten miles away. The dinner would be put in the oven before we left for church. What a good smell to come home to! In the afternoon my parents always took a nap. That meant we had to stay out of the house. We could read, but we couldnâ€™t do any type of sewing on Sunday. (That was a sin.) Our farm was a gathering place for kids. We loved to skate. When we were little we made our skates out of gallon pail covers. We would play baseball, kick the can, pump pump pull away, or hide and go seek. About four oâ€™clock my mom would have lunch ready for everyone. It was always fresh bread made on Saturday, cold meat sandwiches with large bologna, potato salad, jello made with bananas and whipped cream, and nectar. Then everyone would go home. It was then time for chores.
Every Christmas we sold Christmas Seals to help tuberculosis patients. The one who sold the most got a prize. I would always ride to Charley Harthropâ€™s farm and he would always turn me down. I knew he had money, so I never gave up. I never liked these people.
Chapter 2 â€“ High School Days
The summer before I started high school in 1930, I was fourteen years old. My two sisters, Mary and Katherine, had made a batch of candy and took it upstairs to our bedroom and locked the door. (All five girls slept in one room, three in one bed and two in the other.) I wanted to get in and they wouldnâ€™t let me. I started kicking, but it did no good. Finally, my foot went right through the door. My mom spanked me until she was played out and then called my dad. He brought the strap and also spanked until he had to quit. They tried to make me say that I was sorry. I refused because I thought my sisters were in the wrong. I remember saying, â€œYou can spank me until you kill me, but I will never say Iâ€™m sorry.â€ Needless to say, that was my last spanking.
That fall I started high school in Hamar. I stayed with my grandparents who lived in Hamar. I had a small kerosene stove and cooked for myself. I brought food from home. Mom or Ed would take me in on Monday morning. I would walk home Friday after school.
Each fall Mom made us two new cotton dresses. She made our winter clothes from clothes my Aunt Kate sent from Canada. Kate was a maid for a very rich family. We had the most beautiful wool skirts and sweaters of anyone in the school. Audrey and Blair were the names of the kids Aunt Kate took care of.
There were only twenty-seven kids in high school. My class was the first to graduate from Hamar, 1933. Our main events in high school were basketball and singing. We won the county basketball championship when I was a senior and went to the regional where we got beat by one basket. I played both forward and guard. Every year we were in the County Music Contest. When I was a senior I won first place with a piano solo and first place playing a duet, and our quartet won first. Mrs. Cowie was our music teacher. She wasnâ€™t a part of the school, but she helped us in her home. I took piano lessons from her when I was in the grades. Later, I took from Mrs. Dutee in Warwick. Mrs. Cowie told my mom that I learned faster than any other student she ever had.
All during high school I belonged to 4-H. Mrs. Rupert Odegaard was our leader. She was a dressmaker and so was mom, so I became a good sewer. My senior year I won the free week long trip to the State 4-H Conference in Fargo. We stayed at the Powers Hotel. I was so happy. That is where I got my first hair permanent. My teacher the next Monday in school said â€œLook at that fuzz.â€ I was mad at her for days. I was feeling pretty special until then.
We always did a lot of ice skating and dancing. Every Friday night there was a dance someplace. We would go to Hamar, Tolna, Pekin, or McVille. Usually one of our brothers would take a load of girls. We would always have dances promised ahead. During summer vacation we would attend either dances at Red Willow, Wood Lake, or Stump Lake, or barn dances at Kavanaughâ€™s barn near Devilâ€™s Lake. That is where Katherine met Larry. We always met our dates at the dance. There was always a lot of drinking and fighting outside, so we had orders to never leave the hall or barn unless in a group to go to the outside biffy. We were forbidden to drink and none of us ever did. Only bad girls did that.
I made high school in three years. I was anxious to get making money. I took six subjects each year and challenged one, a half year of grammar. We wrote State Examinations and I passed.
We had our senior banquet in New Rockford. Mom had made me a long grey crepe de chine dress, trimmed with pink. (Later, that was my formal for college.) We didnâ€™t have a prom because none of our boys danced, but I attended the prom in Tolna with a Schindele.
During my senior year in high school, my brother, Ed, took Ann and me to Hamar on Monday morning, April 10, 1933. My grandfather was lying dead on the floor. Grandma had been staying out on the farm because she was sick. I truly loved my grandfather. He came from Sweden. He would talk to me for hours about coming over on the boat and being a butcher in Minneapolis. Grandma also came over all alone when she was nine. She came to an aunt in Minneapolis. She worked in a laundry where she used the fluting iron on starched shirts. There they met and married.
The summer after I graduated, I wanted to earn money to go to college. I worked on Dr. Drewâ€™s farm for Mrs. Warren. We cooked and washed for eighteen men. She washed by hand. She did the washing; I hung up the clothes and ironed the menâ€™s shirts. We got up at five in the morning and worked until ten at night. The only time I got off was Sunday afternoon. Usually on Sunday, a bunch of us would go roller skating at Wood Lake. There I met some boys from New Rockford who told me about the college at Valley City. (My sisters had gone to Mayville College and didnâ€™t get jobs. Mary did teach her second year, but Katherine never did teach.) I earned three dollars a week at Warrens.
Before I go any furtherâ€¦what and why did I herd the cattle? I started doing this about the age of 9. Mary, Katherine, and Ed worked in the fields. It was beginning to be the dry years. The pasture would dry up and there wouldnâ€™t be any grass for the cattle. I would graze them along the roads to a tree claim near the school (Minco) or go up to Blue Mountain about three miles away. I rode a horse and took a sack lunch, a pail of water, a good book, and a piece of twine to snare gophers. (To snare a gopher, we made a slip knot, put the circle over the hole and, when the gopher put his head up, pulled fast, caught him and hit him with a stick to kill him.) We could sell gopher tails for a half cent a piece. In those days an ice cream cone cost a nickel. I would be gone all day. I always loved to read. Some of the books that I read many times were Little Women, Black Beauty, Call of the Wild, Rover Boys, and many Zane Grey books.
Times kept getting harder; the dry years and sadness hit. In the fall of 1929, the banks were closed. I remember Ed had been taking in wheat each day and bringing home coal for the winter. He hadnâ€™t paid the coal bill and planned to do it the next day. We lost the money we had in the bank and, besides, the bills werenâ€™t paid. Everyone lost except the banks and bank directors.
I remember being in the front room when the collector for the bank in Crary came. The folks had borrowed money there. The debt was six hundred dollars. My folks had only two hundred that they could pay. I heard the banker say, â€œOf course, that will only pay the interest.â€ I was good in math and knew different, but in those days kids were taught to not butt in, as it was called. I thought at the time, â€œIâ€™m going to get an education. Nobody will ever do that to me!â€
I used to haul grain from the threshing rig to town. We used wagons and a team of horses. I would make three trips a day to Hamar. I got so that I knew how much dockage there would be in a load of wheat. One time the elevator man said it was 18%. Again I was angry and knew I would handle my life in a better way.
All of these things led to our losing the farm. We had 320 acres. The bad years hit and we lost the farm for three years taxes.
The folks moved to Hamar in the fall of 1935. My grandparents owned a little place across from the school. My mom took care of my grandmother, so she got the house. She took in roomers and boarders to make a living. There was a small barn there, so she had a couple of cows and sold milk and cream. She also had chickens to eat and also sold eggs. Those days, my dad was sick with very bad arthritis and was in bed most of the time.
Many farm kids had to learn to milk cows. That was a job I hated. The cow would switch her tail and it would hit you in the face as your hands were busy milking. In busy seasons we girls would have to do the chores. My hands would be so tired after milking five or six cows and then carrying two big pails of milk into the back shed and separating it in the separator. The skim milk would come out one spout and the cream the other. We used what cream we needed (lots of whipped cream on everything) and the rest was sold to buy groceries and pay the bills. We usually took our cream to Fairmont Creamery in Devils Lake and would bring home five gallons of ice cream in a big freezer to be eaten over the weekend. Three or four of us went with the folks each time. We would have hot beef sandwiches at Grandmaâ€™s Eat Shop. Those things were our reward for working so hard.
The folks usually took us to the County Fair and to the Ringling Brothers Circus. There were many things we couldnâ€™t do, but we were luckier than a lot of kids. We always had a lot of music in our lives. My dad played violin and my mother the pump organ. They played for all of the country dances. Later, Ed, Katherine and I played with themâ€¦Ed, guitar, Katherine, violin, and me, accordion.
Many years later I found this book and found the time I quit writing. I am now 86, soon to be 87.
The day the banks closed was like a hit in the head. My brother, Ed, had been to town to get the last load of coal for the winter. He was supposed to write a check and pay the bills. He had decided to do it the next day. That day the banks closed! Coal not paid for, a fire had burned our hay stacks, no feed for the cattle. My parents were crushed. My brother had stayed at home to help through the depression. He left soon after; he was in his twenties. The President of the United States started the Conservation Corps. One member of a family could work and send the money home to help the family.
I started high school in Hamar. My grandparents lived there. I was determined to graduate in three years. I didnâ€™t tell anyone what I was doing. My third year I had taken all the subjects and passed the County Tests. They couldnâ€™t stop me.
I worked for three months on Dr. Drewâ€™s farm, helping cook and wash for 18 men. I made $3.00 a week. I entered college at Valley City State. I went one year and then got a school to teach at Rocky Mountain, near Sheyenne, North Dakota, where I met Art. Now I could help the folks.
Just before my second year of teaching, my parents and Grandma Anderson moved into Grandpaâ€™s house, a little house across from the school. Grandma slept in their bedroom. Mom roomed Ted Nelson and Jimmy Flaagan. She made ten dollars a month. It helped them keep alive. They had a cow and chickens. We all helped what we could, but everyone was broke.
I taught a country school near New Rockford for two and a half years. Art and I saved money so we could go back to school. We walked three miles to school for $80 a month. We went to see the folks whenever we could. I had no transportation; Art came up weekends and we went to see his folks at Sheyenne and mom and dad in Hamar. My dad wasnâ€™t well. Grandma died the year we went back to school in Valley City. It was a rough life for the folks. â€œWork hard all your life and end up this way.â€
During the next year, we moved to Forman with Avis, 2 years old, and Peggy, one year old. A so, so life. We lived in a small place. Art was Principal of the school and made $110. Try to feed four on this.
We then moved to Sutton. Art taught for five years and I taught for two. At that time, married women didnâ€™t teach unless you kept it quiet or the school needed you. They needed me so they asked me to teach.
When Grandma got sick she moved in with the folks on the farm. Ann and I stayed with Grandpa in town and went to school. One Monday morning we walked into the house and found Grandpa lying on the floor by his bed, dead from a heart attack. Then one year later, the folks moved to town.
The next year, I attended Valley City State Normal College. I loved every minute of it. I roomed with Betty Paulson first and then Agnes Kjelland. Agnes and I are still friends. She lives in Leisure World and we live in Fountain of the Sun in Mesa, Arizona. We have come a long ways for two poor little country girls.
I loved college life and would have loved to go four years, but I needed to get to work. I lived at Fosterâ€™s rooming house with eighteen other girls. We cooked for ourselves. Mom sent me canned meat, butter, and large sour cream cookies. My allowance was $1 a week to buy bread at 5 cents a loaf, and, once in awhile, a 25 cent hamburger.
I dated lots of boys and had a very good time. My teacher, Mrs. Benson, told my mom I was a very smart student, so I just had to go to college. Here I am many years later with a Masterâ€™s Degree.
I did my student teaching at a school named Norma. It was hard work. I built the fires in the morning, taught several classes, and cleaned the school after school. My supervisor, Sebby, had it pretty easy. Later in my life I had several student teachers. I gave them guidance and tips for their own classrooms.
At the end of that year, my first year of college, the folks and Katherine picked me up at Valley City and we drove to Hankinson and she was married to Larry Fay. She had one year of college, but she never taught. Mary had gone back to college to get her Standard at Mayville. For some reason, I preferred Valley City. My whole life would have been different (if I hadnâ€™t gone to V.C.) There I met many friends and on Hobo Day, on a blind date with Mel Hill, I was introduced to Art. The next fall I went to teach his home school. I danced with him and he bought my basket at my school basket social. Sixty-five years later I am writing this story. The choices we make in life determine who we are and what we become.
The summer after Katherineâ€™s marriage, Ann, Bud and I took care of the crop. I had been to summer school in Valley City and came home and went into the harvest field. Bud cut the wheat and Ann and I shocked it. Then my uncle came with a threshing machine. When my folks paid the bill, there was nothing left. My mom had delivered all their children at no cost to them. I wondered how they could take the whole crop, but they did. I guess a midwifeâ€™s labor was free. Mom delivered all the babies in our community. Then she had to have a doctor when she needed help.
That fall, I changed jobs and went to Superior Township for $80 a month. I stayed at Settelmeyers. I ran into their baby, Kent, here at Fountain of the Sun many years later. I stayed there for 2 Â½ years, then later, a half year. I was very lonely in this school. My first school everyone was friendly and entertained the teacher.
By the end of the second half year, we had Avis and Peggy and moved to Forman. We had some good friends thereâ€¦ Crandalls and Bettings and Tillyahs. We played bridge. No money, so you make do. They needed a teacher, so even though I was married, they asked me, but I didnâ€™t teach there.
Art was the principal in Forman. We stayed two years. There was a little conflict between Art and the superintendent. Rosscup was a little jealous of Art, so we left and moved to Sutton. We rented a little old house and later found a larger one. We fixed it up and then she raised the rent.
We had many friends in Sutton, especially Bob Paintners and Manvel Andersons, and later, Kolpins. Art was superintendent for five year, then we needed more money so he took the elevator job. Thatâ€™s when I went back to teaching. Only one in a family could teach; the community thought that was too much money for one family. I made $110 a month; there was no raise the second year. We paid $40 a month for a baby sitter, but we saved $1000 between the two of us, Art in the elevator and me teaching. This money was used to buy our first house we ever owned when we moved to Valley City.
My violin teacher, Knute Froysa, sold us their house for $10,000. We loved the house. I took in roomers. We rented out three of the five bedrooms and gradually became home owners. This house had our first bathroom and running water. By this time we had four kids, Avis, Peggy, Denny and Carroll. I went back to college, got my degree, and taught in Valley City for thirty years.
Births of Our Four Kids
We were spending the summer at High Stantons. Avis was an easy baby. I started having cramps about four in the morning. Art and I drove into New Rockford. I was in the hospital for ten days, a nice long rest. Stantons worshipped Avis and spoiled her.
In the fall we moved to North Valley and lived in a little house on a farm. Art taught the Getchell school. At Christmas time my old Settelmeyer school fired their teacher and called to see if I would come back. We wanted to go back to school, so I took the job. Stantons took Avis for the next five months. They called her Molly. Along in March I discovered I was pregnant. I didnâ€™t tell anyone for fear Iâ€™d lose my job. After school closed for the year Avis and I moved back to our little house. Mary stayed with us and drove into Valley City and she and Art went to school.
On August 27, Peggy was born, fourteen months after Avis. My mom had come down to stay with us. Art was out working on a threshing rig. Mom called the doctor and he came out from Valley City because there was staff infection in the hospital. Peggy was quite an easy birth and she was a good baby.
Then we found two rooms in Valley City, Sunde Apartments, and both of us went to school. We had no furniture, just an old bedstead from the attic and a mattress we bought for $3. We had a crib for Avis and a bassinet for Peggy. We also had an old table and some orange crates for shelves. We made it. I got my Standard Degree and Art got his Bachelors Degree. He worked every night from 4 until 12 at the dry cleaners. He made enough to pay our $15 rent. Art got a scholarship and I drew out my teacherâ€™s retirement to pay our tuition. Everyone was so good to us.
On to Forman. That story is in another section of this memoir. Then on to Sutton for seven years. Denny was born when we were there. There was so much snow that I went up to New Rockford on the train and stayed at Mabel Marins. Art came up on Good Friday with Avis and Peggy. Denny was a big baby at 10 Â½ pounds, so he was a forced birth. Art about split his ribs to have a son. Then the war was on. My brother, Bud, was in the 7th Army as a gunner and fought his way through Europe.
Before we left Sutton, Carroll was born, another cute little baby. She was a good baby, except right at first. She wanted to be with me wherever I went. When I went back to teaching in Sutton, she didnâ€™t like her babysitter, so we took her up to Hamar and she stayed with my folks.
Art has written stories about each of the children and sent it to them. In these stories, he covered most of the events they took part in.
While Carroll was a baby, Art was drafted. He went to Fort Snelling and passed. They gave him a card that said if he ever needed to go they wanted him to work in science. The rules changed, so married men over thirty with four children were not needed.
We moved to Valley City. I returned to school and took Carroll with me. She and I were voted the â€œOutstanding Studentâ€ that year.
The folks were coming down to see our home. Art was going to get them. My dadâ€™s birthday was near, May 7. We got a call that he had fallen over dead. Carroll was staying there and ran for help. This happened May 5. It was a sad time for us. Mom tried to stay in Hamar, but she couldnâ€™t stand the loneliness, so she moved in with us.
Four years later, mom met Frank Braulick and married him. They had fifteen years together. Every Sunday they got in their little gray car and came to our house for Sunday dinner. Then they would go home and rest. She was 64 and he was 69. We had a nice little wedding for them followed by breakfast at our house. Then, Leonard and Cedonia Braulick, Art and I, took them to the â€œTreetop Roomâ€ in Moorhead. Whenever I hear â€œMelody of Loveâ€ I think about them.
Four years later, Ann, Ricky and Jerry Sletten came to visit us. Ann had Post Partum Blues. She was with us for six week. One day at Braulickâ€™s house, she was cleaning a spot on her dress with gasoline in the basement and she caught on fire. She inhaled the gas fumes as she put her hands over her face to protect it. She died the next day, a terrible death. The school closed, out of respect for me, for the funeral. Ann was my friend; we were confirmed together. We kept Ricky for two years, then Harold married again and came and took him. Haroldâ€™s sister took Jerry, the baby.
Now, several years later, Ricky has killed himself. He left two beautiful daughters and a grandchild. He and his wife were separating and he couldnâ€™t handle it. Peggy and Dale, Art and I went to the funeral in California. Poor Ricky. I wish heâ€™d stayed with us.
Back to Work
Mom was living with us in Valley City, so I decided to look for a job. I called the school to do substitute teaching. I taught sixth grade for a few days. They liked me, so when an opening appeared in the fourth grade, I finished the year and then was hired full time. What a break! At that time married women werenâ€™t hired. I taught fourth grade for fourteen years. I loved that age, but I was anxious to explore other ideas. I took a course from a man who wrote on my paper, â€œWhy donâ€™t you go into counseling?â€ That was my answer. I attended evening classes and finally three summers at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and received my Masters in Counseling.
I started the idea of elementary counseling in North Dakota. I visited Norma Randolph in California and then had a workshop for the teachers in Valley City so I could involve them. I worked in this area for sixteen years and ended up receiving the Glen Dolan award as Outstanding Guidance Counselor.
My granddaughter, Gayle Klinkhammer Nelson, is carrying on the tradition as she is an elementary counselor in Jamestown.
Graduation of our Kids
Avis and Peggy graduated from St. Catherineâ€™s High School the same year, 1955. Peggy made two grades in third and fourth grade. They were in the same room. They have always been good friends. Avis went into a nursing program right in Valley City; she became May Queen. Peggy went to Valley City State and became a Homecoming Queen attendant and received many other honors. Both of them were good students. It was nice to have both of them in Valley City.
Denny graduated from St. Catherineâ€™s in 1959. He was voted Outstanding Boy. Carroll graduated from St. Catherineâ€™s in 1962. Her top honor was Homecoming Queen. I missed it as we were at the Teachers Convention.
We started the band at St. Catherineâ€™s. We didnâ€™t want to send our kids there when there wasnâ€™t a band. Denny had gotten a start on the cornet at the College School. Father Dawson said, â€œOkay, start one.â€ So we did. It gave all the kids a start in music. They all took band in college. Denny and Peggy became music majors. Carroll was also in the band, but she majored in English, library and speech.
Our Many Trips
We took our four kids on many trips. Seeing the country is part of education. My whole family left North Dakota as they married. They all moved to California. The Depression had forced our family to leave the farm. There was no hay for the cattle, no rain for the crops, so they left. I was lucky and had a cute school to teach. So Art and I stayed with our folks.
As we made a little money teaching, we would go to California to see my four sisters and two brothers. We stayed in motels and cooked our own meals and made the trip in three or four days. We visited Bud, My World War II brother; my sister, Gertrude and her two kids; Ann and her two boys; Kate and her two girls; Mary and her two boys and a girl; and Ed and his boy and girl. Now, in 2002, they are all dead except Gertrude.
We made many trips to California and saw many beautiful things along the wayâ€¦Glacier Park, Yellowstone Park, Old Faithful, and the Black Hills, besides many memories with each family. Now I still visit with some of the nieces and nephews and this is 2002. Diane and Gertrude came to the lake. Eleanor and her husband came to Arizona. Donald and his wife spent some time here last winter and life goes on.
I donâ€™t know why we didnâ€™t take a trip to eastern Canada sooner. My dad, John Thomas Carroll, was born in Tarrelton, near Oshawa, Canada. He had one brother, Dan, and three sisters, Kate, Nellie, and Mary. Nellie died young. After my dadâ€™s parents died, the oldest son inherited the farm, so the rest had to get out. The girls went to work for different people, but my dad took his violin and migrated to the United States. He stopped on the Iron Range in Minnesota, worked in the mines, and, later became a logger and rode the logs down the river. He finally ended up in North Dakota. He stayed at Boyles, friends of his cousins, the Beauclairs. He met my mom, Selma Anderson, and they married. Thus we began.
Pa died in 1949. I was so sorry we didnâ€™t make the trip sooner. We took mom and our family of six and went to eastern Canada. We spent most of our time with Aunt Kate. She had married a widow with older kids. We went to see Aunt Mary Halliday. They had a convenience store in Oshawa. They loved our kids and later came to see us in North Dakota. They had a son, Cleve. Uncle Dan was dead, but we met and liked the Carroll relatives.
Art and I took a trip to California with Kenny, Carroll, Mark, Peggy and David Berntson. Along the way we stayed in motels and cooked some of our meals. One place we really wanted to see was the Grand Canyon. We arrived as the sun went down so we couldnâ€™t see the canyon. All the lodgings were full, so we all stayed in the station wagon and slept as well as we could. We got up at 4:00 A.M., walked down to the rim of the canyon and watched the sun rise. It was beautiful and, needless to say, we were thrilled.
Our destination was the Disneyland Theme Park in Anaheim, California. We loved Small World and the other attractions and were happy to be there for the 75th Birthday celebration. It was so crowed, but we had a wonderful time.
On our way home, we visited our California relatives. Art and I stayed first with Maryâ€™s family and then with Kate. Carroll and her family spent most of their time at Maryâ€™s in Los Gatos.
Worldâ€™s Fair in Knoxville
Another trip we took with Berntsons was to the Worldâ€™s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. We all stayed in a campground in a foldout camper (Ken and David slept in the station wagon.) Again we were crowded, but we enjoyed the many international exhibits at the Fair. We even had a police escort one night when we got lost.
On the way home we visited Opreyland in Nashville. We saw many good shows, but the one that the kids really enjoyed seeing was Loni Anderson. Carroll said that when Loni walked on stage, it was like turning on the light; she was just glamorous. Such is fame.
Our camping place wasnâ€™t very nice, but you canâ€™t let one incident spoil your whole vacation. â€œThis too shall pass.â€ The kids were very good.
Peggy and Dale Koppelman and Art and I drove to Alaska. Daleâ€™s parents and Avis took care of the three kids. Kurt was a baby. Peggy had some female trouble, so some rest was recommended.
We drove to Prince Rupert and took a ferry. The sights were beautiful. We slept on the ferry, car and all. Then we had the car to drive to Donâ€™s in Anchorage.
We had many trips while in Alaska. Don and Lois Dafoe and we four went fishing for salmon. We stayed in their cabin in the woods for three or four days. I was so cold I never wanted to go to Alaska again.
While we were in Alaska, we were in an earthquake. The dishes moved in Loisâ€™s china cabinet. The ceiling lamp also swayed. I counted it almost six figures. Before we arrived in Anchorage, they had had a bad quake. One area had slid right into the ocean.
We also rode on the Moose Goose, a small trip that took us to see some of the sights. We went out on an ice flow or glacier. You can almost see it move across the land. After about three weeks, we drove home on the Alaska Highway. We drove straight through.
Eastern United States
We had been saving money for this trip. Three weeks was quite a while. We drove and stayed in motels, made coffee and sandwiches, and did some cooking.
We stopped at Niagra Falls. What a thrill. Denny and Carroll were a little scared when we rode on the Maid of the Mist below the falls. We drove on to New York City. We stayed on the outskirts in a motel and came into Manhattan each day.
Some friends of ours, Myrtle and Don Lawrence and family, lived in Brooklyn. We spent one day with them and went to Coney Island. This was the first time I had eaten scones. So good. Two soldiers tried to pick up Avis and Peggy at the Statue of Liberty, but we said not this time. We spent a lot of time checking the emigrantsâ€™ part wondering how my grandparents made it when they were so young. Grandma Cecelia Anderson came alone at the age of nine. Grandpa Pete Anderson had come earlier. Later they met in Minneapolis and married. Later they move to North Dakota.
Carroll, Peggy and I went to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes while Avis, Dennis and Art took the subway to see a ball game.
On the way home, we stopped at G.T.A. and had a feast. You donâ€™t order big meals with six people. We finally returned home and got company from Canada the same day, one day early. Ouch!
Trips with the Grandchildren
We took all of our grandchildren on special trips when they were ten to twelve years old. Our deal with the kids was that we would pay for everything except their spending money. They needed to have some responsibility.
Our first trip was with Gayle Klinkhammer and Lori Koppelman. We went east and to Disneyworld in Florida. They could ride as much as they could get on. They would ride, run back and get in line and ride again. We went to see the Kennedy Center where they shot off the missiles. We planned to go to New Orleans, but the girls decided they had seen enough.
The next trip was with Dennis Klinkhammer and Michael Koppelman. Art and I were sent by the Lions Club to the Black Hills. We took our pop-up camper and took the two boys. We saw all the sights, the Presidents, the â€œStory of Christmasâ€, the Passion Play, and many other things. I fell out of the camper and cut my lip with a knife. Needless to say, we were all frightened.
The next trip was arranged for Kurt Koppelman, Connie Dafoe, and Mark Berntson. At first the two boys thought it would be better to just take them. Grandma stepped in and said, â€œConnie goes.â€ They all three had a good time. We went to Six Flags, Chicago, and the Arch at St. Louis. Art and I enjoyed these trips, too, because we chose new areas for us too.
Peggy Berntson and Rob Dafoe took the next trip. They had always been good friends. We went to see the beginning of the Ringling Brothers Circus. There were too many smells, but they enjoyed all the circus machinery. We also stopped at the Wisconsin Dells. This is a beautiful place. I think we saw everything. One special thing they liked was the bumper cars. Just before we left, Rob said, â€œIâ€™m supposed to treat you.â€ I said, â€œYou donâ€™t have to.â€ He quickly said, â€œWait a minute.â€ And he ran back and spent the money.
The next trip was with Nancy Klinkhammer and David Berntson. We went to Valley Fair. They were game for everything and did all the rides. They were a little younger than the others had been. I went with them on the Log Flume water slide. Going down near the bottom, we hit a bump. I thought I was going to die it hurt so much. I tied my ribs with the strap off my purse, so that ended the rides for me.
The last trip was for Kim Dafoe. We bought her ticket to Alaska to visit with her sister, Connie, and family. She has become very close to Connie. We thought the trip would be too hard on us. By that time I had a bad back and Art had had heart surgery. But Kim got her trip.
After Art and I retired, he and I and Peggy and Dale went on a trip to Europe. Art and I had been there before on a tour (1972). The first place we landed was London. We hurried and bought tickets to see â€œMiss Saigon.â€ It was wonderful. In Paris we went to see a show that cost us a hundred dollars. Once you arrive at a place, you will never be there again, so spend it.
We went to Monte Carlo; it had changed. The gambling casinos were different. The landscape was beautiful. Princess Grace lived here. What a life. We attended an Italian dinner in Rome. One person on our tour got up and danced. Everything was Italian. We saw the fountain where â€œThree Coins in a Fountainâ€ was filmed. Even though it was dry, we tossed coins in it. We laughed and laughed and Dale took a picture.
When we were getting ready to leave at a sort of airport, Peggy and I thought we wanted to pick up a few things. Dale and Art went down the steps at the air port. We didnâ€™t know they had gone. We asked the men at the gate. We couldnâ€™t understand them. I was scared. Finally we went down the stairs and found them.
It was a wonderful trip.
Our Childrenâ€™s Weddings
Avis had met Tom Klinkhammer. Yes, I introduced them. I taught at Ritchie Elementary and Tom was teaching vocational education at the high school. I happened to sit at the same table eating lunch one day at school. I said, â€œAvis has a nursesâ€™ formal coming up. Would you like to meet her and be her date?â€ They went to that dance, then the high school prom, and were married the day after Christmas.
The day of the wedding, December 26, 1959, was a bad day because there had been a storm and all the roads were icy. None of the relatives from New Rockford and other out of town places could make it.
The wedding turned out very nice. Avis had bought a beautiful dress. The bridesmaids had red iridescent dresses. Peggy and Carroll were attendants and Denny was an usher. Pat Ludwig was also a bridesmaid.
I also had a red dress. Mom and Frank were there. The reception was at the church. The meal was at our house. Mabel Hill and Charlotte Gessner helped me make the food and serve it.
Avis and Tom left on their honeymoon, but didnâ€™t get very far because of the slippery roads. They both had to be back to work. Avis was nursing and Tom was teaching. So were all the rest of us. Tomâ€™s folks finally made it in spite of the storm.
Peggy and Dale Koppelmanâ€™s wedding took place on a rainy day. She and Dale went to college together in Valley City. Peggy went to teach in Hazen, ND. While there she became â€œMiss Hazenâ€ and entered the Miss North Dakota contest. She did a wonderful job with her tap dancing, but only one person can be the winner.
The wedding took place on a very rainy, cool day. We had tables set up in our back yard, flowers, river and all, but had to eat in the house. I had forgotten to plug in the chicken hot dish, so I had to go back, plug it in, and be late for the wedding.
Peggy wore the same dress that Avis had. Her bridesmaids were Barbara Kelly, Avis, and Carroll. Laverne and I almost had matching dresses, dark tan with white flowers. Many relatives attended, including mom and Frank.
They went on a honeymoon trip to the Black Hills of SD and stayed at a place they had seen before, Sylvan Lake.
They went to Ashley to teach. Peg was an English teacher and Dale was music. (This is written in November, 2002, so I have forgotten some of the happenings. Peggy got her Masters and became a librarian.)
Denny met Paula Oltman when he was teaching in Hecla, South Dakota. The wedding was in August, 1966, in Valley City. The reception was at the Country Club. The dinner was at our house. Mrs. Oltman brought food. Paula was a beautiful young girl. In their second year of marriage she was riding a horse, was bucked off, and had many severe injuries. Life was one operation after another. Finally, they were divorced. They had two children, Connie and Rob.
About two years later, Denny met Denise Forness, another very beautiful girl, and they were married. They had a cute house in Aberdeen and, eventually, Kim was born. Denny had Connie and Rob also. For some reason this marriage dissolved and he ended up in Arizona. Connie was married and Rob had joined the Navy. A little girl needs her mother, so Kim stayed with Denise.
Denny taught for two years at Queen Creek, Arizona, and met Darlene. They were married in Las Vegas. They have rented here in Fountain of the Sun, but just recently have bought into the park. It is nice for us to have them here. Now, the question is, â€œHow long will we be here?â€ Art has macular degeneration and we are doctoring about this and thinking every day, â€œWhat next?â€
Carroll did not wear the same wedding dress. She was teaching at this time and wanted her own. Mom said, â€œI guess she can have it if she wants to.â€ Mom died two days before Carrollâ€™s oldest son, Mark, was born.
Carroll and Ken Berntson had their wedding on April 1, 1967. The EBC Hit Parade was on and all their friends were back for it. Kenny played in the Hit Parade band the week, and even the night, of their wedding. For a change, we had a nice day. We had made flower decorations and pastel cloths for all the card tables at the Elks where the reception was held. Everything turned out fine. Mom and Frank and many relatives attended the wedding.
Because it was Hit Parade time, Carroll and Ken didnâ€™t have a honeymoon at that time. She went back to teaching at Agassiz Junior High in Fargo and he went back to teaching in Buffalo. Carroll had just been Miss Valley City and attended the Miss North Dakota event in Bismarck.
(Nov. 14, 2002. They have both retired from teaching and are living in Fargo. Kenny works for Schmitt Music and Carroll baby-sits for her daughter, Peggyâ€™s, children, Ty and Jada, in an emergency.)
In grade school we attended school at Minco Valley, a rural school near Hamar, North Dakota. We walked two miles to school. There were seven kids, first Ed, Mary, Katherine and I, then the older ones graduated and it was I, Nora, Ann, Bud, and Gertrude. Ann always stuck close to me.
My friends were Berna Jarme and Helen Halstead. My teacher in the First Grade was Miss Boyle. I sat under the buggy all day and cried because someone had made fun of me for saying Ed was my cousin. I ended up skipping a grade, but really didnâ€™t, so I did high school in three years. I was anxious to start making money. I did spell in the State Spelling Contest at the fair in Grand Forks.
I attended high school in Hamar. I played basketball and played in the regional. We won second. I also attended the country music contests in New Rockford. I won first playing a duet, â€œRobinâ€™s Return,â€ with Alvira Quam. We always won first in a quartet.
My best friends were Ila Christofferson and Iris Brudeseth. I stayed with my grandparents, Cecelia and Peter Anderson. They had migrated from Stockholm, Sweden.
Then I attended Valley City College for one year. I loved it, but finished going to summer school and later if life two years. We had moved to Valley City. My Freshman year my friends were Myrtle Cartwright, Madeline Oâ€™Keefe, and Agnes Kjelland. I hooked up with Agnes again in Arizona.
Later, as we returned to Valley City and I returned to college, my friends were all music students because I was majoring in music. They were Jim Ployar, Lloyd Nelson, and Star. I see Starr here at the alumni gatherings.
When I went to graduate school, Leone Osmon and I ate together every noon and I had coffee every night with Juanita Leason.
In my first teaching job, I really didnâ€™t have a friend. I spent most weekends at Stantons. In Superior Township for 2 Â½ years, it was Mary Settelmeyer and Mrs. ?. In Forman, where Art taught and I stayed home with Avis and Peggy, my friends were Lois Crandall, and Betting. We had a bridge club. In Sutton my best friends were Elayne Kolpin, Lillian Paintner, and some neighbors. In Valley City, I had many friends. I taught there for thirty years. Church friends were Marie Ukstead, Evelyn Sherman, and Ann Loh. Other friends, usually parents of children I taught were Mabel Hill, the best (I taught her both her daughters), Norma Ludvigson (I taught two of her daughters), Charlotte Gessner (taught her two daughters), Lorraine Ludwig (taught her son and daughter), McCrea, Noles and others.
After retirement my best friends are my daughters, Avis in Valley City, Peggy at the lake, and Carroll in Lisbon and Fargo, and now weâ€™re in Mesa and Denny has developed into one of my best friends.
All the years we lived in Valley City I spent a great deal of time with Avis. It was good having a daughter in town. We always respected each otherâ€™s privacy. We made dinner dates etc., but didnâ€™t just drop in to eat. We were both working, me teaching and Avis was a nurse.
In Valley City my father had died and mom was living with us. She said she just cound not stay alone in Hamar. We had a big house, so we welcomed her. Later she met Frank Braulick, they married and had fifteen happy years together. She also was my friend.
My mom helped me get my education, even taking me to town in the hay rack. I stayed with my grandparents from Sweden in Hamar. Later my teacher, Mrs. Benson, told my mother that I must go to college. I cooked for myself. She sent me canned beef, butter, and homemade cookies as often as I needed food. Bread was 5 cents a loaf, oranges 1 cent a piece. The whole year cost me only ? Tuition was 12 dollars a quarter. My dad wasnâ€™t well, but he helped on the farm. These were the depression years.
From an early age, I loved to be half sick. Then I could sleep at the foot of the folksâ€™ bed. My mom would move her feet, weâ€™d take our pillow, and cuddle in.
We walked two miles to Ninco? School. I became a good runner because we had to run to get away from the neighborâ€™s bull. In winter we drove ourselves in a covered-in sleigh. In fall and spring, we rode horseback and herded the cattle on the way. When we arrived home to a cozy fire, there was always a treat, either left over pancakes or mom had baked. She baked seventeen loaves of bread twice a week. Yummy to eat with syrup or honey. We raised bees and had three new hives a year. We stored them in their hives in the dirt basement. We also stored 100 bushels of potatoes, carrots in sand, and eggs in egg crates.
Who did all this work? My mom! She also made all of the clothes for her seven children. She was a dress maker. She also sewed for others. Then she was also a mid-wife and delivered all the babies in our area. Most families had five to as high as nine children, but when mom had a baby, the doctor was called and sheâ€™d have to hire a woman to help for a few days. For the neighbors, her services were free.
Grade school in a rural school was cook as the kids say now. I spelled in a state spelling contest in Grand Forks. I made a dumb mistake, so I only won fifth. Mom took me to Minnewaukan to compete in a music contest. I won in piano.
Later, when I attended high school in Hamar, staying with my grandparents, mom often took me into town in the ray rack. We lived five miles away. Then on the way home, she would stop at the tree claim and load a load of hay to take home for the cattle. My dad was home to do the chores and to take care of my grandmother. Ann, my sister, and I stayed with grandpa. He owned the pool hall and spent every night playing poker.
I finished high school in three years. The depression had arrived and I was anxious to make money. The folks had been swindled out of the farm. No one was going to do that to me. Later, as I became a counselor, I told my classes how and when and why I decided to get a good education.
Mom was my person to admire and help. After my dad died, she tried it alone. After a year she came to live with us in Valley City. My thanks from her was, â€œI never thought Iâ€™d have it so nice.â€