Photos: Marian Shoemaker, Sally Hamilton, Joe Merhiy (Cpl in the 4th Calvary under General Collins - WWII), Heritage Center at Twin Valley, Gerda Larson with grandchild, and old Skauge home or hospital.
Letter to Our Children - April 1931 (J. Orvedahl)
Two long weeks have passed since our Home was destroyed by fire. How lonesome and quiet it is around here without you, children. The few of us who remain are always thinking what a good and happy home we had when we were all together.
I am sitting at the desk in my library. On the wall before me is the beautiful picture which used to hang over the fire place, and which you children learned to love so dearly--"Christ Blessing Little Children." As I look at the picture, I am reminded of the many happy evenings spent in our library. There some of you were reading story books, others, the papers or magazines, still others, listening to the radio. I can see you now, crowding around the large library table or seated on the davenport before the fireplace. As I look at the picture on the will again, I see Christ extending His hands to bless you all. God's hand was indeed guiding and protecting you. It now seems a miracle that the fire was discovered so early and that you all marched out in safety. God loves you all and He saved your lives.
I am sure that you will all remember the Home as long as you live, and I know that you have already been homesick for all the surroundings. You will remember all the good times we used to have "down the hill" skating, skiing, coasting, swimming, golfing, and most of all the pleasant strolls through the woods and the picnics. How I used to enjoy looking down over the hill and watching you children stroll along or happily playing.
There are too many fond memories and it would take up too much space to write about them all, so I shall only mention a few: Our gymnasium, where we enjoyed our social gatherings, programs, and basketball; our large and spacious dormitories where you all gathered for rest after a full day of work and play, and after saying your prayers, and the lights were out, you closed your eyes until early next morning, our beautiful dining room where we assembled three times every day for our meals, where we had our family devotion, and our parties with the beautiful decorations on Christmas, Easter, Hallowe'en, and other special events. The school room where we gathered to study with our teachers, and where we gathered every Sunday morning for your Sunday school, will be fond memories. The manual training shop, where the boys spent so many happy hours making all the beautiful and useful things,shall not be forgotten. As I walked about the ruins of the building, I saw the old bell which will ring no more. This old bell has called you all many times for meals, school, and Sunday school. I have also found, in the ruins, some of your play things, such as dolls, toys, cars, trucks, small dishes, etc. Most of your possession which you loved are now in ashes.
Edgar A. Guest says "it takes a heap of living to make a house a home." It is because of all the blessings this Home has enjoyed these thirty-odd years that it had become a "Real" Home. It took us over thirty years to do all this, but the building itself was destroyed in little over two hours. It all goes to show how helpless we really are in this world, and also shows how needful it is to always have the protecting hand of our Heavenly Father guarding us. We feel sad to think that our deal Old Home is lying in ashes, never to be enjoyed again. The doors which welcomed you all when you were homeless are no more, but the fond memories will always stay with us. Even though it is all destroyed, I cannot help but thank God for protecting you. Your beds, where you all were sleeping soundly, were left empty to crumble to ashes.
This summer will be so lonesome and long here for Mrs. Orvedahl, Donna, and I without you children, but we live in the hope that in the near future, a new Home will be erected, and that you all come here together again and start anew. May God bless each and every one of you." J. R. Orvedahl, manager of the Wild Rice Lutheran Children's Home, Twin Valley, Minnsota -- (April 1931)