The Home

The house I was raised in is still standing, having been remodeled a few times which wouldn't be unusual for a 95 year old house. It was probably one of the first homes outside the city of Minot to have running water. This was done with a closed pumping system which when the valve to the horse tank was closed water was forced to a large tank in the attic and water flowed by gravity to the faucets. Originally the water was pumped to the tank by hand, however I only knew of an electric motor which was belted to the pump jack and would fill the tank in about 20 minutes. There was an overflow pipe in the kitchen and when water was heard flowing in this pipe everyone knew that little Jimmy had forgotten to turn off the pump. Behind the wood burning range in the kitchen there was a galvanized hot water tank. A water jacket in the range heated the water by convection, but the tank was not insulated so you had hot water only so long as there was fire in the range. On the other side of the chimney was the wood storage box, and when this was empty everyone knew that little Jimmy had neglected to fill the wood box. The wood was cut in the winter time with axes and hand saws, and logs small enough to handle were loaded on a bobsled brought to the farmyard and cut into blocks with a circle saw. The blocks were piled near the house ready to be split by anyone with time on their hands. Occasionally "hobos" would come to the farm and ask for food and the price they paid would be to split some wood. Wood was also used along with coal to fire the hot water boiler which heated the house by means of large radiators. Since the farm straddled the NSP line into Burlington we also had electricity before most of the area farm homes. The telephone was a crank model party line connection with a system of long and short rings which told you the call was for you. To make a call you had to first listen to be sure no one was on the line, and of course some people listened much longer than others.

Even during the hard years we always ate well as we had large gardens, chickens, cattle for meat and milk and hogs. Sometime in this period we went from an icebox to the first refrigerator, but mostly my mother canned the supplies for winter. She canned garden vegetables and fruit which she bought by the case and also beef and chicken. One room in the basement was lined with shelves of mason jars representing a lot of hard work. Then there was the "potato room" in the basement which also held squash and other garden produce. In winter the cream separator was moved to the basement to prevent freezing. The separator had to be washed after each use, and the cream which we didn't use for the table was taken to Burlington to the store. Mother had a large butter churn driven by an electric motor and she regularily made several tubs of butter, which was put on the homemade bread All this to feed my father, sister, a hired man and myself on a regular basis. We also had teachers boarding with us during the school months. My sister and the teachers too would help in the kitchen of course, and at harvest or during holidays Grandma Swanson helped. Special occasions brought forth some of grandma"s swedish pastries and lefsa cooked on the kitchen range. Of course it also meant lutefisk which my father and grandfather insisted on, a tradition which I have neglected to carry on. One Christmas we all gathered at the Irving Wallace home in Mason City Iowa--my family, the Kluvers and Lyle Johnsons family from Texas. My father insisted on cooking lutefisk and it was decided to do it in the room where I was sleeping. If you ever smelled lutefisk cooking you know why this is memorable.

We had an upright piano and a victrola and of course the radio. My father had one of the first radios in the area at a time when there was nothing to pick up but short wave from Chicago and elsewhere. The first radio station in Minot was KLPM, and we regularily listened to Bismarck. Tuesday night was comedy night with Fibber Magee and Molly, Bob Hope and Red Skelton. After school were the adventure stories with offers of secret code rings etc which we had to have, and evening adventure shows included "The Shadow", "The Green Hornet" and others.

My sister Carol learned to play the piano and my mother played also but Irene Miller finally gave up on teaching me which I regret to this day. I was especially fond of board and card games and most winter evenings got a game going with some dice or cards. We had cats and dogs for pets, and once even a duck named "Herman" who was allowed in the house. Herman was the strangest of pets and used to follow my mother around the house quacking whenever he thought it was too quiet. He hated water and when I would throw him in the slough behind the barn he would swim out as fast as he could and come to find where I was hiding. The dogs were allowed in the kitchen only and were usually found with just their nose sticking into the dining room watching the family.

Although there was originally a bunkhouse on the farm by this time the hired men were rooming in the house. The first hired man I remember I know only as "The Cowboy" a name he was quite proud of. He was a man of widely known strength, but I was mostly in awe of his eating ability. It seemed he would eat as much as the rest of us put together. He had a horse which he had broken on the farm and one 4th of July insisted on riding in the parade in Minot over my fathers advice. The horse spooked and jumped through a car windshield and had to be put down and The Cowboy broke a leg and limped around in a cast for some time. During the war we had Carl Lembke who was married while he worked for us and he and his wife lived for a time on the Muir farm which we were renting. At that time we also hired many local people part time. I remember Art Duhamel and I would run tractors after school until near midnight and my father and the hired man would run them in the daytime when we were renting the Swanson farm. The last live in hired man was Eldon Ingolfsland and by this time I was old enough so that he and I got involved in projects together much like brothers. One such project involved a 1903 Maxwell car which belonged to Irving Wallace and which had been stored on the farm for many years. All the nice brass including the radiator had been stolen when "Speed" parked it in front of his Speedway Cafe, and the original ignition was also missing. We rigged up an ignition using Model T coils, got it running and I drove it to the RR tracks and back on the rims, the tires having rotted off. Faced with the cost of new tires we put it back in the shed and it was later restored by a group in Velva and run in some parades. Eldon was a good mechanic and he and I spent many hours working on my Model A. When it got to where we were shimming bearings weekly I finally had to have a new motor. We even adapted an electric musical horn to flash small colored lights under the dash in an attempt to impress any female passengers. Eldon also took on a job as fireman on the GNRR and when that job was eliminated moved to the state of Washington.

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