Saturday, November 18, 2006

WILD RICE NEWS - November/December 2006 - Sgt. Melvin Moudahl

Remembering my uncle, Melvin Maudal (Moudahl) he was the second oldest of the six Maudal children, born in February 28, 1914. As a Marine, he would receive the purple heart and other medals. He enlisted in the Marines and was stationed at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack. Melvin fought the war on various islands in the South Pacific, including Guam where he died trying to rescue drowning sailors.

Mevlin died before I was born, but his niece remembers him bouncing her and her sister on his knee. On the cover, Melvin is with his brother-in-law, Elmer Westmark, and his sister, Emma Maudal.

Melvin was confirmed with his brother, Thomas, in 1930 by B.L.Opdahl at the Wild Rice Children's Home. Emma Maudal, born on March 13, 1913, was confirmed in 1929. Once they were confirmed, the children left the Home.

Lloyd Aronson sent this picture of him with his brothers, Milton and Reuben, on the steps of the Wild Rice Children's Home in March of 1925. His mother was a cook at the home. Lloyd writes "My family is spread out all over, I have a son and two daughters in Michigan, a daughter and son in Arizona, and a son in Wyoming. I have 18 grand children, 27 great grand children, and 9 great great grandchildren. We had a family reunion last summer with other 150 people, and some couldn't make it. It sure was nice to see everyone,a some I had never see before or for many years.

"I am now 90 years old, so I am thankful for what I can do, and I am always puttering with something. That keeps me going."

Florence Mortensen is doing very well, after her successful surgery at the Mayo Clinic. She sent the following picture from the Wild Rice Children's Home News, November 1931. (She is sitting on the right side of the couch).

This issue also contains a letter written to one and a half-year-old Donna Orvedahl, (the daughter of Superintendent Orvedahl) by Caroline Ness and Alma Maudal (Margie Westmark) both who were at the home at the time of the fire:

"Dear Donna,

We haven't written to you for a long time so thought we would drop you a few lines.

How are you getting along Donna? I hope you will never forget Caroline and I. We miss you so much. We hope we can come down and play with you again some time. When you get big we hope you will help your mama and daddy with every little thing, and be a good little girl as we know you will.

You will have to try and come down this fall. It is so long since we have seen you. I bet you have gotten big, and we supposed you can say quite a few words now.

Donna, what do you do all the time when you haven't anyone to play with? I presume you play with your daddy.

Many times Caroline and I sit and talk about all the good times we used to have down there at the Home. We sure hope they build up the Home again. We miss it so much. When you go down to South Dakota you must be sure to come and see us. I suppose you have been away most of this summer, haven't you?

We have received letters from the girls at Lake Park. It seems that they are having lots of fun. Well we too are having lots of fun. We are getting along fine in school and in Sunday School, too. Why didn't you come down for the Fall Festival? I presume you went to Lake Park. The Ladies' Aid from Fairview served dinner. It sure was a big feast, that is what all us kids call it.

Last year do you remember how after school Caroline and I would come running down and ask if we could play with you, and we would have lots of fun, wouldn't we, Donna? We hope we can get to play with you again even if they don't build up the Home again.

May God bless you little Donna and your mama and daddy and all the rest.

Lots of love, your everlasting friends,

Caroline (Ness) and Alma (Maudal)

Thursday, November 9, 2006

WILD RICE NEWS - September/October 2006 - Fall Festival

Honoring VETERAN'S DAY - November 10th - I've been journaling my uncle, Rudy Maudal's World War II diary, he writes: 1/21/42 - Wednesday, "God and my Country are fighting within me. I don't wish to kill, for the Bible teaches it's wrong. On the other hand, I love America and it needs me."

Gerda Larson Haglund's daugther, Yvonne Lowe, called to let me know that Gerda passed away on Saturday, October 28th. Gerda was 94. She had made a lot of friends at the nursing home where she lived. Yvonne said her mother enjoyed sharing the "Wild Rice News" with the ladies and workers where she lived. I thought about the treasured photgraphs and stories she shared with us, and I know she is at peace and in heaven with the other children from Wild Rice Lutheran Children's Home.

I've been busy working on a new web site: Wild Rice It features the newsletters, and will make your memories, and photographs available to more people. The web site is not completely finished, but it's a start.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY wishes to Sophie (Judy) Hilstad Tragethon, October 13.

Pictures on the Cover: Thomas Maudal (Moudahl) 1915-1998, Rudy (Moudahl), Alma (Margie Westmark) and Emma Maudal, Thanksgiving 1987. Selma Maudal. Marian Merhiy Shoemaker and Selma Maudal Hamilton, Carlsbad, California (2004).

Fall Festival - Wild Rice Lutheran Children's Home - Twin Valley, MN. Usually held the last Sunday in August, this annual festival was also marked as a thanksgiving day, for the bountiful crops harvested and the blessings enjoyed during the year. The 1930 festival records about 800 cars, and 4,000 people attending. After the March 18, 1931 fire, it was moved to September. In September 1931, J.R. Orvedahl writes" "The annual Fall Festival of the Wild Rie Chidlren's Home was held Sunday, September 13th. The weather was threatening in the morning but it soon cleared and we had a beautiful day. During the noon hour every one enjoyed their picnic dinners on the campus. Hot coffee and cream were served by the Home. The Twin Valley Concert Band supplied the crowd with splendid music during the noon hour. The male chorus of Fertile furnished the assembly very liberally with their splendid music thruout the afternoon meeting. A harvest offering was taken. Two hundren fourteendollars and eighty cvents were collected."

He also paints a poignant picture of autumn at Twin Valley:

"Fall is here with all its splendor. The wood are clad in scarlet and gold. Because of the late rains the grass seems greener than usual. This is indeed a time for artists to glorify nature. All the colors of the spectrum can be seen among the wild trees in the woods. The valvet green carpet of grass, the winding stream with the late fall flowers blooming on its banks, the hillside covered with the majestic oak, the hardy ash, the royal birch, the scarlet maple and the stately elm, with here and there a twining of bittersweet showing forth its rare fruit and above, the azure autumn sky with the lazy floating cumulus clouds makes a most beautiful picture. It reminds one of the handiwork of the the Almighty One, and one cannot help but feel that he is walking with God when one roams about in the out of doors at this time of year.

"As I was walking over the hills and thru the woods where the children loved to roam so well, I could not help but feel the loneliness of it all. Where once could be heard the merry voices of children in their play now only the audile sounds are the singing of the birds and shuffle of feet and pulling of grass as the cows go grassing by. It seems that the woods never looked more beautiful than they do this year. There has been more wild fruit on the trees than there has been for years. It seems too that the trees have been lonesome for the companionship of the children and have used all their efforts in making themselves beautiful and producing a bountiful crop for the children to gather. One cannot help but feel the loneliness as here and there one sees the remains of a log house, a fort, or camps. As a rule these were never completed, but in the minds of the children they were equal to any heard on in history. The rustic bridges built by the boys are going to ruin. The lookout for the Jacobs ladders in Adolph's camp is also going to ruin.

"The thing that impressed me the most in going over the favorite spots of the children in the woods was the discovery of carvings on the tree trunks. The significant date in the hearts of every little child in a children's home is not his birthday nor the day on which he came to the Home, but the day on which he leaves. Every child has that day in his mind every day. Not that he is dissatified at the Home but he knows that sooner or later he will go, and he hopes that he will be permitted to live in a home with a good father and a mother like other fortunate children. I have just recently discovered that when that significant day arrives some of the boys had made a last trip down the hill in the woods to a well selected spot and there with their knife they had carved their initials and these simple words "left the Home" and the date. That was their important date. It was the turning point in their lives."


I had hoped to get home to see all of you, and up to Twin Valley to visit Joe Merhiy, who reports that after about an inch of snow, which melted, they've been enjoying a little of "Indian summer." Marian Merhiy Shoemaker said she remembers one thing about Thanksgiving, sometimes the Indians would go hunting, and they would give some of the deer meat to the Home. She said "wild venison" is one memory she has of Thanksgiving.

I had hoped to walk over the grounds, see the swimmign hole and creek, and take photographs before the "snow flies." I'd also like to see and photograph some of the trees, where the boys carved their names--which was a way of saying "goodbye" too, I suppose.


It's hard to believe that "Thanksgiving" is only three weeks away. Selma and I wish you all a VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING!