Sunday, August 27, 2006

WILD RICE NEWS - July/August 2006 - SweetHeart Memories

We note the death of Capt. Arlo Ray Liebeler on June 27, 2006 in Florida. Arlo was 94, a former pilot. His sister, Mabel, lives in Portland, Oregon.

Florence Mortensen Glover wrote her story about marrying a boy from Wild Rice Home:

"How We Met" -- I graduated from Central High School in St. Paul in 1934. I then went to Austin and Blooming Prairie to look for work. I took a house work job on a farm near Blooming Prairie. One day in November, the newspaper ran a story about a local man's brother being killed by a falling tree in Blue Earth. His name was Clarence Glover, and his brother, Russell, worked at Nelson's Grocery Store. I had known Clarence Glover at Twin Valley, but I didn't know he had a brother, Russell. My boss, Mary's brother owned Nelson's, and she said she would introduce me to Russell. One day, we took some baked goodies to her brother Martin's apartment above the store. Mary called the store and asked Russell to come upstairs to meet someone. He did! That was in November of 1934, and by December 1935 we were engaged. We married July 15, 1936. I was working at Hormel's.

Other children from Wild Rice who grew up and married each other, including Ethel Watne and Hans Helseth, also Florence Guldbransen.

Arlene Mortensen Smeby's story -- covering the years 1927 - 1936:

"After being scrutinized for about two months in 1929, I was placed with a family at Maple Bay, Minnesota around December 7. I was not adopted, but was to be taken into a home as a baby-sitter for a two-month child. I was not happy to leave Wild Rice Children's Home and my four sisters, Florence, Gladys, Dorothy, and Marcine. This also meant leaving many little friends I had learned to love during the two years I lived there after our parents passed away. I was the first of my family to be placed in a foster home, and I think the reason I was chosen to live with Nora and Martin was because of my work in the nursery with very young children. I was eleven years old at this time.

En route to my new home, I had to sit in the back seat of a Model T Ford with the wind blowing on me and I caught a terrific cold. I'll never forget my first night - after being told where my bedroom was and that I should go to bed, I found myself in a huge almost empty room and was very frightened. I was used to a big dormitory with lots of beds and friendly--fun girls. About 3 a.m., after I had coughed and coughed for hours, Nora came up with what seemed to me a huge glass of home-made wine made from choke cherries. I thought I'd die - but after I got it all down, I slept like a rock for the rest of that night.

As hours and days passed, it was getting near Christmas. I adored and took good care of little Doris, also cooked, cleaned and did various other chores as carefully as I could. I was told Santa was going to bring me a barrel of candy. I was thrilled! A whole barrel of candy! I'd finally get lots of it -- almost too good to be true! Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a quart jar in the shape of a barrel. I also received a pair of cloth-top overshoes with buckles which I badly needed as I had to trudge nearly a mile through the snow to school. After Christmas, but near that time, I remember that one day, a huge box was left at the mail box. My sisters and others from Wild Rice Children's Home had prepared a box of toys and clothes for me. In the box was a doll with hair -- I loved it so -- but was never really able to enjoy it as I had "chores and more important things to do than play with dolls," so that ended my little girl days. Christmas was over and chores, school and tending to baby Doris, and getting meals, etc., kept me very busy.

One evening while the weather was still very cold, I was told to prepare supper, set the table and so on while the adults were out doing the barn and milking chores. Nora had placed then three-month-old Doris in a huge over-stuffed chair about 10 feet from the pot-bellied stove in the living room. I remember all this so vividly. The living room was painted at light green, with wood wall and low ceiling in this part of this house. Nora had washed goosedown feathers and placed them in three cardboard egg crates on three chairs by the stove to dry. I had just tended to the baby, and went into the kitchen to check on supper. Suddenly, something told me to turn around. As I did so, I saw the whole mess of feathers burst into flames that nearly touched the ceiling!

Before they had gone out to do chores, Martin had brought in a large milkcan of fresh water. I knocked the lid off and picked up the entire milkcan and doused the burning feathers. Needless to say, that put out the fire! The smoke was so intense that I put Doris into the downstairs bedroom. I then proceeded to mop up, still shaking and scared. I couldn't even carry the huge can with a little bit of water in it back to the kitchen. By this time, before I finished the mopping up, Nora and Martin came in from the barn. (I couldn't take time or leave the baby along to run for their help during the fire). I never will forget the terrible look and tongue-lashing I got that evening! I ruined Nora's feathers! I couldn't figure out how the wet feathers were more important than saving the baby, and possibly the house from burning down. She couldn't accept that, but Martin seemed grateful though.

Finally, Spring arrived, baby Doris was seven or eight months old and things seemed a little brighter. My birthday on June 10th had come and gone with no particular notice. Summer was busy with picking berries, planting the garden, and canning everything we could get. Preparations were underway for another winter ahead.

During my years with Nora and Martin, we moved a few times from farm to farm -- Maple Bay to Mentor to Fosston. They then commenced building a new home on a parcel of land they had purchased some years before near Fosston. It would be so nice to live in a new home. Most of the others had been rundown older places that we worked so hard to make livable.

I had lived though a lot of turmoil and heartaches. Nora had one miscarriage, but another daughter was born about four years later so I had another little charge to care for -- cute little Aryls. She was only about 1-1/2 years old when I left the family to help out my sister Agnes at Warren. I had been with Nora and Martin about seven years, and I missed the little girls so much, but I was never to spend any time in their new home.

I stayed in Warren with my sister and her family for about a year and they was called to Austin where my brother, Allen, and sister, Florence, were living. I immediately got work at George A. Hormel Company there and soon received my first paycheck for "real work."

Guess we can all count our blessings over the years. We have all had good times, bad times, and very trying times, but we all survived and are the stronger for it. At the time we were left all alone, we were ages two months to sixteen years - A story of the ten little Mortensens and how we each survived. I'm especially grateful our family has not lost contact over these years.

My husband Harold Smeby and I continued to live and work in the Austin area for the next 36 years, where we raised our three daughters (Jean, Lois and Kimberly). For the past 20 years, we have been enjoying our retirement in Arizona. (Arlene is now widowed and lives in Owatonna, Minnesota).

No comments: