Sunday, August 27, 2006

WILD RICE NEWS - April 2006 - Florence, Arlene, Gladys, Dorothy & Mary Mortensen

Photos include: children on steps of classroom (1927) Florence and Arlene Mortensen (1928) at Wild Rice Children's Home, and Dorothy, Mary Marcine, Gladys, Florence and Arlene at Wild Rice (1927)

Children in classroom photo: Mabel Gullingsrad, Selma Shegstad, Amanda Shegstad, Violet Olson, Louise Whaley, Florence Mortenson, Bessie Lethcoe, Evelyn Lindberg, Adeline Peterson, Sophie Hilstad, Gerda Larson, Grace Korness, Mabel Liebeler, Clara Rickhus, Evelyn Rourdon, Mrs. C.A. Wood (teacher) Irene Kortness, Dorothy Hammersmith, Lavonne Halverson, Alma Maudal, Emma Maudal, Lilly Benson, Pearl Langseth, Alice Rickhus, Pearl Rardon, Kathryn Ness, Evelyn Larson, Margaret Brazzel, Caroline Ness, Winnifred Hammersmith, Lillian Benson, Marian Merhiy, Dorothy Skauge, Cora Gullingsrad, Arlene Mortensen, Pearl Kortness, Tommy Ramstad, Curtis Halvorsen, Dorothy Kortness, Marcine Mortensen, Esther Brazzel, Bernice Ramstad, Marcus Hilstad and Johnny Brazzel.

Happy 96th Birthday to Joe Merhiy! Joe celebrated his birthday on Sunday, March 12th, at the "beer joint" in Twin Valley. There were about 14 friends and relatives on hand to help celebrate. His birthday wish is to celebrate his 100th birthday in 2010! I hope we will all be there to celebrate with him.

Happy 90th birthday to Florence Mortensen Glover! Her children have spent many hours planning a "special celebration" for the April 13th birthday, which will be held Sunday, April 9th, at the St. Olaf Church in Austin, Minnesota.

Judy Hilstad Tragethon said she "doesn't have much news" but wants to say "hello" to everyone. She really has good and happy memories of the home. For her, Christmas was "wonderful" and the food was "good," and she was treated well.

Florence sent copies to two short prayers, to share:

God, who probes our deepest thoughts during segments of Solitude, opens our eyes to things that need attention. It is here He makes us aware of those things we try to hide from Others.


O Lord, you have searched me, And you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. -- Psalm 139:1-2

Arlene Mortensen Smeby sent the picture of Arlene and Florence taken about 1928 at the Wild Rice Home. Also, the picture of all five Mortensen sisters, taken about 1927 or 1928 at Twin Valley.

Arlene keeps busy with volunteer work and sews comfort pillows for Gillett Children's Clinic in Minneapolis. She moved back to Owatonna from Arizona after her husband Harold became ill, he died in 1996.

Here are Arlene's memories of Wild Rice, which she wrote for Reminiscence Magazine, and gave us permission to print:

Ten Little Orphans of Otto and Kristine Mortensen, Warren, MN:

Our mother passed away on November 23, 1925, and Dad died on July 16, 1927, less than two years later. For one year our older sister, then about 17, did her best to keep us all together. Our uncles and aunts with families of their own decided it would be best for the 5 of us girls (ages 3, 5, 7, 9, 11) to be placed in Wild Rice Lutheran Children's Home at Twin Valley in northern Minnesota. A 2 year old brother was adopted by my mother's sister in Marengo, Illionis after the death of my mother.

At the home, our days were busy, school and discipline were strict, but as we got acquainted with children and matrons we each seemed to find a place in which to keep busy. I worked in the nursery to help the littler ones, I was 9 years old at that time.

I rememer some good meals, but there never seemed to be enough food. At recess we were often instructed to go to the dining room for a bite to eat, which usually was crusts of bread -- dry and ends curled - with karo syrup poured over them. We were hungry so we didn't complain and ate them quickly. We all slept in a huge dormitory which was always clean and usually quiet and fun. We did a lot of whispering together and sharing of wishes at those times.

I don't remember a lot about Christmases, but the kind people from churches and organizations around the area made sure we got some little gift and hard candies for which we were happy. Summers were lots of fun and we spent them playing on the playground equipment and rolling down the grassy slopes to a little creek below.

One summer. we who needed it, had our tonsils removed. This started early in the morning at Orvedahl's home on the grounds (he was the home manager). The surgery was performed by Dr. Brattrud, who I believe from from Warren, Mn. I remember that we were all sitting in the sun porch of his home waiting for our turn and we were scared stiff! My sister Gladys and I would keep pushing each other forward when the nurse came in to see who was next, and then began hiding behind big chairs, Finally around suppertime, after a really l-o-n-g day, I was the only one left and they got me. I was herded into the big kitchen area where the operating table, and the doctor and nurse were. I didn't have time to get scared after entering that area, so I must have been given the anesthetic immediately after arriving in my white gown. I woke up in an upstairs room feeling like nothing had been done. What I do remember later was being carried a short ways to my bed at the orphanage and being given ICE CREAM. What a treat! We should have beentold about the ice cream right away because I think we all would have gone through without so much fear.

On December 11, 1929, I was taken from the orphanage by a couple from Maple Bay, MN. They had a 2 month old daughter. I guess Martin and Nora Christianson thought I might make a suitable baby sitter and worker for them as I was their foster child for 7 years. They had two daughters, Doris and Arlys.. I still keep in touch with them and they are like sisters to me. (The End)

Several people who lived at the home got together to put up a monument for the children who died at the home. I am printing the information we have about these children, along with a "thank you" for the thoughtfulness of Joe Merhiy, Rugh Haugo Stromstad, Margaret Mortensen Glover, Margaret Haugo Peterson, and Malcom C. Gorham in remembering them!

Lot A, Wild Rice Children's Home, Young Soul's Laid to Rest in a Special Section: Bennie Ruud, March 24, 1913; Harry Heilberg, June 1, 1913; Hazel Jackebson, August 17, 1913, Inger Raiten, September 9, 1918; Carl Narveson, March 22, 1920; Alma Watne, August 27, 1920; Ida Larsen, March 22, 1920; John Markus, April 22, 1920; Maurice Curler, August 7, 1923; Clinton Tollund, September 8, 1923; Martha Larson, January 15, 1929.

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