Part 2 of 2
My first job was the janitor at the country school for the last three years I was a student there. You remember Ann Meyer, who I thought was a great teacher. When the weather got cold, it got to be a hard job. I had to get there before 8 a.m. to fire up the stove. It was a big, round-belly unit with a big door. I would clean out the ashes, stack some kindling and blocks of wood in there, pour some kerosene on the wood, toss a lit match in, and – with a bang – we had a fire. Then I would take a couple of buckets over to the Frank Karas farm (about a block away), hand-pump some water into the cans and then fill the water fountain at school. I got $5 a month for that job, which wasn’t bad. The teacher only got $45 a month for teaching eight grades.
In high school, Hoberg, our ag teacher, got me interested in the chicken business. I borrowed $120 from the bank and bought 300 chicks from Robinson’s Hatchery. After the chicks got too big for the brooder house, we let them run around the farm. Leo was home at the time, and we remodeled the old chicken house; couldn’t have gotten it done without him. When the chickens started to lay, we’d go ‘round at night, catch them and put them in the chicken house. I bought wheat from the government,bins, for 50 cents a bushel. And egg mash was cheap. At that time, eggs were 40 cents a dozen. In about a month, I had my debt paid off. The chickens laid over 20 dozen a day.
Around 1936 or 7, the REA took over the electric lines and in 1939 Pop hired Sonny Lloyd to wire the buildings. I was his helper. When we turned the lights on, it seemed like the best thing that ever happened. No more kerosene lamps or lanterns. The barn had running water for the cows. But the house didn’t. There was a large wooden tank in the hay mow. The windmill or gas engine pumped water into this tank. So I dug a six foot deep trench from the barn to the house, and laid the pipe from the water tank to the house, and we had water in the house.
When I was 16, we had finished grain harvest at home, I decided to go up to the Red River Valley and work in the harvest fields. I hitchhiked and rode the box cars, finally got to the Kramer farms at Crookston. The seasonal help lived in an out building; they gave me a room in the family house, they treated me like one of the family. I drove the tractor and Mr. Kramer rode the grain binder. When we got done at the home farm, we went up by Warren, Minnesota, where he had a section of land. We stayed up there and cut grain for a couple of weeks. He had his own threshing machine and hired help to run the bundle teams. When the harvest was finished, they talked me into staying and help with the plowing. I got home three weeks late for my last year of school, had to do some homework and take some tests to get back in.
Vic Ovick, his wife and four sons, Alfred, Ervin, Robert and Raymond, lived on our separate 40-acre farm. Vic was a Jack of all trades, a mechanic and carpenter. There was a small garage on the place. He repaired cars there. We kept young livestock at that farm, and for rent, they would see that the cattle had hay and water. He helped us build the two car garage and the addition on the chicken house on our home farm. In the late 30s, Pop helped Vic buy a lot on the south end of Pine City, on the east side of Highway 61. They moved the house that the Lubriets lived in onto that lot. Vic fixed it up. I believe they lived there the rest of their lives. Pop wanted to redo the building where we stored grain. The building had an attached garage that Pop wanted to get rid of, so they moved it to town on an empty lot, along Highway 61, and it became Vic’s Auto Repair. And Vic’s wife set up a lunch counter in a beer joint and did well there.
In the fall, we used to butcher three hogs. I would shoot the hog in the head, and Pop would cut its throat. I would catch the blood in the pan and stir it, so it wouldn’t coagulate. Later, we would slide the hog carcass in and out of a barrel of hot water so we could scrape the hair off the hide. Next, we would hang it up and dress it out [remove the intestines]. After that, we would leave it to cool [the carcasses were hung from a pole]. The intestines were cut into three-to-four-foot lengths. We’d squeeze the waste out, run water through them to wash them out, turn them inside out, and scrub them good. Then Mom would boil them, if there were some germs hanging around. We used them to make sausage. After the carcasses cooled off, Pop would cut them into quarters, bring them in and lay them on the kitchen table to be processed. Mrs. Ovick also helped. She got some of the meat for helping. They cut some of the meat in small pieces, then ran it through a hand grinder. Then they put the ground pieces with spices into a hand-operated press to make the sausage. Mom also made blood sausage. When fried, it was good. She also made a gravy with chopped liver, which was very good. The fat was fried out for lard. The sausage, hams, and bacon slabs were hung in the smokehouse, and we smoked them for days, using hickory wood.
We grew up on potatoes, pork, and the hundreds of quarts of fruits and vegetables that Mom put up.
Things had picked up in the late ‘30s. There were a lot of wedding dances. The folks used to go and take the girls with them (Mary and Margaret). My lovely wife is a ‘30s girl. She was born in 1930.
Many thanks to Erna Pangerl for sharing these memories of her brother, Lawrence.