Lila Jane Werner Oral History

– My name is Lila Jane Werner, and we’re presently
sitting at the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in
Hazeleton, North Dakota. – [Interviewer] Do
you live in Hazelton? – I live on a farm three
miles east of Hazelton on Highway 34. I’m not on a working
farm, I have a nephew who does my farm work. – [Interviewer] How
did you get the farm, was it in your family? – Yes, I inherited it
from my father and mother. – [Interviewer] Did you
grow up on that farm? – No, I did not grow
up on that farm, actually it’s the fourth place that I can remember living on. During the Depression
we moved from one farm to another farm to another
farm to another farm until we finally
ended up on this farm. I was born on a farm that
was called McDonald’s farm. – [Interviewer] And
that farm was where? – About six miles
north of Hazelton, straight north of Hazelton. And my brother was born there,
my sister was born there, and I was born there,
all on October 24th, different years, we
were not triplets. – [Interviewer] Is
that all your siblings? – That was all our siblings. – [Interviewer] So did all
of you work on the farm, have chores on the farm? – Yes, from the time
that I can remember, there was always
something for us to do. When we were younger
it was gathering eggs, feeding the chickens,
feeding the bottle lambs. When I was in second
grade, they taught me how to milk cows. And you couldn’t
find me underneath a
cow, I was so small, and I couldn’t hold the pail
because it was too heavy, and I did not want
anyone else to beat me, so I milked vigorously and
had the pail on the floor, and by the time I was through,
it was all full of foam, and so they had to
let it sit for a while so they could get the
milk into the separator. And well we had to pick the
potato bugs off the potatoes, we had to clean the garden,
and that meant knowing the difference between a
carrot plant or a weed. And we hoed, we raked, and then we also had to
dig out the potatoes, we helped our folks do that. As we grew older, it was
carrying five gallon pails to the pigs. We shocked grain,
we pitched bales. We sat on the roof
and shingled the roof, and that’s a mighty steep roof. We painted. I can’t think of
anything we didn’t do. We also butchered chickens,
canned all the vegetables. Anything I guess another
farm girl do, we did. – [Interviewer] How about,
you said you had a brother as well as sisters, did
you have different chores because you were a girl? – Well, my brother mostly
did the more difficult things like driving the
little 4-H tractor, we weren’t allowed to do that, at least we weren’t supposed to. But he would, and he
would go out and plow, he would disk, he
would cultivate. He helped mow the grass. That is something, when I say
grass, I mean the hay fields. Now, my sister and I did
rake with the old dump rake. One time I was
driving the tractor and she was hooked
up to the rake and pretty soon I
got to thinking, gee, this feels different,
and I turned around and looked and the hitch, the
bolt had come out of the hitch and she was sitting
back there on the rake just going nowhere,
and I was still going with the tractor, so
she was not happy. But we got over it. (laughs) – [Interviewer] So in your
pecking of the siblings, where were you? – I was the baby of the family. – [Interviewer] So were
you the spoiled one? – I never considered
myself spoiled. We all had work to do
and I could never say that when my folks did
anything for us children, it was, to me, equal. I never felt like my
brother got more than we did or that I got more than
they did, it was just shared basically and so was
the work on the farm. And we all felt this is what
we did to be able to survive. And we never had a lot of money, we never had a lot
of material things. I always said we
never had many M&M’s, but we sure had a lot of love
and support from our family. – [Interviewer] Did you know
the Depression was going on, did you feel the effects of it? – I can’t really say
that, that the Depression was something that
I noticed I think because everybody else
around us lived the same way. Nobody had a lot
of this or that, and the one thing I do
remember about the Depression was that when our family would
drive to different families we would see fences
that the sand had just covered over the top. So knew that part
of the Depression, the Dust Bowl part, but as
far as being considered poor, I never considered myself poor. – [Interviewer] So the
Dust Bowl was really in effect up here? – Yes, it was just
toward the end when that I can remember it. It probably was more the
results of the Dust Bowl more than the Dust Bowl itself. I can’t remember any
time that there was a lot of, well, I can remember
some of the grasshopper days when the people would go out
and spray their fence rows and things like that, but
as far as the wind blowing, the dust blowing,
that I can’t remember, just more or less the results. – [Interviewer] Do you
remember your parents talking about conditions at all? – My folks did talk
about the Depression but they never harbored on it. It was like this is life
and this is the way it is. And it was not like
they wanted to put a, I want to say like
a burden on us, that’s why I say we
never knew we were poor. We never knew how hard
it was for my folks because they felt, I think
they were a people of faith so they just accepted
life as it was, and so they never
brought it on us. – [Interviewer] But
you said you moved to a lot of different
farms, was that because of economic conditions? – I would say, because
they didn’t own anything. When my folks got
married, my father came from Northeastern North Dakota
and my mother was from here. All my father got from his
family was a few hundred dollars so he could buy a team
of horses and a plow. My mother from her
family, she got six cows, a kitchen table and
a stove and a bed, and that’s how they
began their life. So they didn’t really
have any money, and then they got
married in ’27. Well, then things started
getting poorer and poorer and so there wasn’t
hardly any money there. So then they moved from,
my folks would move from one farm to the other
because just at the time they probably were getting
settled in that one farm, cleaned up the house
and everything, somebody bought the farm. So then they had to
move to another farm, and finally they did
get to the farm that, where I live today,
and that was, I think, through the government
federal program where they could buy land or
something quite reasonable, and so that’s how
we got to that. And by that time, the war came, so that brought good prices
and the Depression was over, so they were able
to buy the farm and made many, many
improvements on it. – [Interviewer] What do you
remember about World War II and how farm life
might have changed because of World War II? – Well, my father
did not have to, my father, during World
War II, did not have to go, was not drafted because
he was a farmer. We did not have much gas, only the farmers, they
got gas for farming, but you didn’t get a lot
of gas for anything else. Same thing with tires. We did not get to go to
many, anything extra, ’cause you had to watch it. And I remember the
stamps (laughs) that you would only buy
so many pounds of sugar, and sometimes they
had the, what was it, saccharine, I believe it was,
as a substitute for sugar and so you had to do canning
with different things. And I can remember one time that it was said over the
radio that you were to pull your shades
down that night, and we had to buy the shades
that were darkened on one side. And then we had to pull the
shades down at a certain time because it was
sort of like a test to make sure there
were no lights showing anywhere in the area. So basically that’s what I do
remember about World War II. – [Interviewer] Did you
know any people who served in World War II? – Yes, I had some cousins
that served in World War II, and my brother wasn’t
old enough, of course, so he did not have to serve, but he did serve
later, post-war. And I don’t recall that
we had any relatives that we lost during
World War II, but just more or less served during World War II in Germany. My sister did a lot of writing to people that she knew
that were in the service. – [Interviewer] You
would’ve been a little young for the writing? – I’m sorry. – [Interviewer] You
would’ve been a little young to write to soldiers? – I remember I
was in third grade when we were
listening to the radio when the news came over that
Pearl Harbor had been bombed. You would just
listen to the radio and listen to the news,
or if you went to a movie, you got to see the
eyes of the world showing you all the, what
was going on overseas, and so that would
be our, you know, we never got a newspaper,
’cause we couldn’t afford that, so we just would always
see it on the radio, hear it on the radio,
what was going on. – [Interviewer] What all
language was spoken at home? – My folks spoke
English at home. But when they didn’t want
us to know something, they spoke German. Now, they did that for a while, but then pretty soon
my brother caught on and so then they had to
stop speaking German. My folks felt that when
my mother went to school, she could not speak English. She had a hard time in school. And my dad could speak
both English and German, and they decided that if there
were ever any children born that they would
only speak English because they did not
want us to go through what they went through during
when they went to school, and my mother
couldn’t talk English, there’s was a lot of ridicule. And they were almost like
accused of being conspirators or something because
they were German, because of their
German ancestry. So they did not want
us to go through that, and so they spoke English. – [Interviewer] Didn’t want
the kids to get picked on. – I’m sorry? – [Interviewer] They did not
want the kids to get picked on. – No, my family did
not want us children to go to school
and get picked on. My mother told of stories of
how they would be picked on at school, and sometimes
they, should I say, they bullied back by,
when some of these kids come out at recess time and
they’d have their coats on and they’d have really
nice clothes and stuff, and they didn’t, well,
they would take ’em down and sort of pull their buttons
off their coat or something just to get even, ’cause
were not happy, you know? But I have to say that we
didn’t have to go through that. – [Interviewer] What were
your parents’ thoughts about education and
education for a girl? – My father got to go through
the third grade in education. My mother never got to
finish the eighth grade, and she went to
a country school, because her oldest brother
died when he was nine years old so that meant she was the
oldest one in the family. So, during her eighth
grade, she had to stay home and help plow, so she never got to graduate from eighth grade. My, like I said, my father
went through the third grade, but they thought that
education was very important and there was difference
as far as my brother getting more education
than us girls, it was, meant the same
for all three of us kids. And my brother
finished high school and then he went
into the Air Force. My sister and I both
finished high school here in Hazelton, North Dakota. And then I went on to Valley
City State teachers’ college to become a teacher. And I was the first
one on my father’s side and my mothers’ side to
graduate from college. But after that there
were many cousins that followed in line. And so then I started
teaching school when I was 17 years old
out at the country school. Anytime we had
anything in school, in our high school age
or even grade school, if something that
we participated in, my family always was
there to support us. I mean they, that was
very much encouraged. They felt they were denied it, so they wanted us
to have the best. – [Interviewer] Why don’t
you tell me a little bit about getting
started in teaching, 17 seems awfully young
to be in the classroom. – When I was 17, of
course there wasn’t money to go to school, to
college, but you could go for eight weeks of summer
school and, at the college, then you could get a permit
to teach out in the country, which I never understood,
you might have eight grades, but 17 years of
age, that was okay, but in the city or town, you
had to have at least two years to teach one grade. So they must’ve figured
we were pretty smart if we could handle
all eight grades. But I went for eight
weeks to summer school, and then because there was
a shortage of teachers, the country school boards
were allowed by the state to hire someone like
me that had only gone to eight weeks of summer
school but was not old enough to be certified, to
give me a permit. And so that’s what
I did, I went out and I went to a country school that had seven kids
and six grades. I had a first grader,
a third grader, a fourth grader, a fifth
grader, a sixth grader, and two seventh graders. And I always said
that I learned more in that one year of
teaching than I did probably going to summer school, because the kids were,
they were anxious to learn. I had complete support
from the parents. The kids gave me no grief. I mean it was, I couldn’t have
asked for anything better. I mean I don’t know if I
would have ever continued on to be a teacher if I did not
have that particular school and those particular kids,
I always give them credit because they were the
best, I always thought. – [Interviewer] So
what school was it? – I taught my first year about
seven miles east of Hazelton, it was called the Lincoln
School or the Baesler School, and I had four, these were kids, and there was two
Ohlhauser kids and one, Sybil, those were my students. And, well, sometimes
in the wintertime when it got cold, we
pushed our desks aside and we had permission
from the school board, we were able to roller skate
inside the schoolhouse. The kids tried to teach
me how to ride a bike. They gave up, they said
I was a hopeless case. We played over the barn,
and we played softball. And they would not let the
first grader do rollers, they were teaching him
how to strike that ball across the plate. And they really
helped each other out, and I always said it was like, you had the kids that
maybe needed help, but they could listen
to the other class and learn something. And my first grader
never got into trouble because when he was
done with his work, he was listening to
what was going on in the grades up above him. And by the Christmastime
he was beating his third grade sister
on doing flash cards. So I mean it was just,
it was a good experience and I taught there two years. Then I went to Dr. Martin
Luther College in Minnesota for one year, but I came back
and taught two more years at that school. And from there, let’s
see, where did I go? I think I went to Wishek
and taught at Wishek. I had fifth grader and third
grade there, I loved that too, that was a good
German community, but I couldn’t speak
German to those people. (laughs) And I can remember I’m
walking down the streets of Wishek going to
the store or something and they’d be talking
German, you know, and I wasn’t used to
that because Hazelton that was not necessarily,
you might once in a while, Linton that was more frequently that you heard people talk
in German on the street. Then when I left
Wishek I went to Iowa, taught there one year. Then back up to Northern
Minnesota to the range, iron ore range, Great
Lakes Minnesota. Then after that, I
liked move around, I didn’t like
staying in one place. Neither did I like teaching
the same grade all the time, ’cause that was boring, I
wanted more of a challenge. Then I went down to
Owatonna, Minnesota, where the industry is. Then from there I went to
the Department of Defense and taught in Libya, Africa,
and I came with Gaddafi. I was there one week and
then there was the coup, but after that everything,
I mean it was okay. My friends and I
would go off base, although they really
did not encourage that, we never had any problem. After that we had
to leave by May, so then I went to Germany and
taught in Southern Germany and I was there for
about 3 1/2, four years, came back and I said,
oh, I need some R and R, so I went west of
Hazelton on 1804 to a school called Telfer. It was a two-room
country school, and I had the upper grades. Again, a wonderful experience
because these farm kids are something else, you
know, and their parents are supportive, so I
really enjoyed that too. And it was R and R. From there I went
down to New Mexico and taught with the
Bureau of Indian Affairs, and I taught on two
different Pueblos. Loved the kids,
I loved the kids. And after 43 years of teaching, I decided this is time to quit. And there was a change in
how they wanted you to teach, how much they
wanted you to teach. Every time you turned
around there was another new philosophy
or something like that, I like the old
school philosophy out in the old country school
where I could just plain teach and I wasn’t interrupted
with something. And I wasn’t always
in favor of new ideas, so they called me the dinosaur. (laughs) – [Interviewer] Where was
the last place you taught? – I’m sorry? – [Interviewer] The
last place you taught? – The last place I taught
was at San Felipe Pueblo, north of Albuquerque,
about 15 miles. And San Felipe, of course,
means Saint Philip. I had, oh, one year
I taught third grade, another year I
taught second grade, another year I
taught fourth grade, and the last year I
taught just second grade. ‘Cause I always said
I can’t stand teaching the same reading story over
and over and over again without, I needed challenge
to get really excited about the story, but how could I if I was teaching it for 10
years in a row or whatever? So about every
third year I’d say, may I go to another level? Because I just didn’t enjoy
teaching the same thing over and over again. – [Interviewer] Is there a
reason why you moved back then to Hazelton? – When I retired, I decided
that I would come back to Hazelton because
I was thinking that both of my parents
would still be here, but toward the end of
my teaching career, I lost both my parents, and
I was gonna move back out to the farm, at that time
my brother lived there, had a mobile with his
wife who was disabled, and so I decided to move
back to North Dakota where my family was,
where I had no family in the New Mexico
area, although I had many, many good friends. But I thought I’d
be more helpful back
here in North Dakota. – [Interviewer] And
that was how long ago? – Well, let’s see,
how long ago was that? I don’t know if I want to. – [Interviewer] Do you
remember what year that was? – Yes, I retired in 1995,
so that’s 23 years ago that I retired back
here to North Dakota, and at first it was good
because I was still young, I could do things, I started out with having a garden and
doing all kinds of things, but in the meantime I
had two heart attacks and had stints put in and all
kinds of good health problems, but now I don’t have
a garden anymore but. – [Interviewer] You’re still
active in the community. – Yeah, I try to do
things in the community, like I belong to the
senior citizens group and to the Hazelton
Historical Society. And the Hazelton
Historical Society purchased the first
post office in Hazelton, it was a woman’s house. And, of course, at that
time a business or a house or something, that’s
where the post office was. It’s not a very big
house and it was in ruin, but if you saw it today,
you’d have to admit that there was a lot
of work done on that. And we try to have
people bring in things that have historic value
that go back a long time. We have four great
granddaughters of the first
postmaster in Hazelton. When I say first postmaster,
she was a woman, in 1903. And so every summer
for the last 20 years these girls have been
coming back to Hazelton to share memories about
their great grandmother. And one is from Colorado and
three are from Minnesota. And so we try, we
have to do many things in order to collect
money in order to keep the building up, and we also purchased
another building because we have so many things
that people have donated to us that we don’t
want to lose it. And I just hope we can
get the younger people to remember that we need
to keep this history, otherwise it’s going to be gone. – [Interviewer] What do
you think the importance of heritage is to
communities like this? – Well, let’s see. I guess those of us
who started thinking we needed to preserve our
history here in Hazelton is that if you don’t
know your past, you don’t have much chance
even with your future, because you don’t have no commitment to the values
of that community, the values of the people, the
values of whatever they have. I know we’ve gone to school
once and talked to the kids. Now, some of the children
were really interested, and the other ones cared less. And we had some that came
and helped us in the museum to curate things,
to put things away, take things out of
storage and so forth, and some of them were,
they were so interested in what they were
carrying that they forgot that that’s what they
were supposed to be doing. And we’d have to
remind them, well, we’ve got to keep going,
and they were interested. Again, there were
those that cared less. Like I said, if you
don’t know your past, there’s no future
to us, or to them, that’s my thinking. – [Interviewer] When
you were growing up as a kid on the farm, did
you learn how to cook, did your mom take you in
and you learned how to cook? Were you more involved
in field work? – When we were growing up my
mother did teach us how to cook but our German cooking was
so much different than, the Germans from Russia,
although my mother was German from Russia. I always said my
mother’s knoephla soup wasn’t like anything
anybody else had. And I think maybe
because we were, lived around a lot of
people that were not German and so that a lot of
the, there was a lot of, what should I say,
criticism and ridicule about the German food. You had all those krauts,
you know, those kraut people and so forth, so
I think my mother was a little careful on
she didn’t really teach us a lot of the German cooking. dampfnudel yes, fried bread,
yes, and we all loved it. And, like I said, our
knoephla soup was different than anybody else’s. But hardly anybody
around here made knoephla soup in our area. kuchen, yes, and that we
loved, we loved the kuchen. My dad was as good
a cook as my mother, ’cause when he grew up
he worked in lumber camps in Northern Minnesota, so he, when my mother had to
be gone at any time, we didn’t worry because
we’d be well fed. My mother, I can remember
she did teach us, you know, we had to learn
how to kill the chicken, how to butcher it,
how to clean it, and I can remember
one time we, (laughs) they were out making hay and
the Sears Roebuck Company had come to put a
furnace in our house. Well, my sister and
I, I was second grade, she was third grade,
so we went out and we killed a chicken
and we gutted it and got it all ready
and we floured it and sort of fried it
and put it in the oven ’cause we thought, well, we
need to feed these men, right? And we put potatoes
on and so forth, but the thing we forgot, we
didn’t cook it long enough, and so it was still
sorta doughy chicken, but those Sears Roebuck men,
they were just so nice to us because we had tried
to make them a meal. But after that my mother
taught us how to really do it so that we would have it. So after that we
were always cooking when they would be
going out in the field. We even took, we didn’t
have a refrigerator, so we made jello and
we put in a quart jar and we tied a string around it. And we went outside,
opened up the well hole, and put that string
and that quart jar right down beside that pipe,
’cause our water was ice cold, and by noon we could
pull up the jello. We also would put
down a quart of cream so that we could
make whipped cream and put it on the jello. And that helped
us out, you know, and that was something else we
did, we did a lot of canning. When you went into the
basement in the fall of year, there was canned
sausage, canned beef, canned chicken, and probably
100 quarts of green beans and 100 quarts of carrots,
and all kinds of vegetables, so when the young people
today talk about instant food, we said, well we had
that back in our day, because all we did,
you got company, you went downstairs and
got all this instant food and you had it, it
didn’t take you as long as it did maybe putting
into the microwave, and it was good food. – [Interviewer] Your mother
had a very different background and upbringing than you,
but do you see your mother, was she a role model for you
when you were growing up? – I believe that my mother was somebody that I had
great respect for, because she tried to
provide for us girls. She would sacrifice for herself, just so that we
could have something. Even if it was like
maybe a new dress for a school play or
something like that. She would sacrifice
something that maybe she was hoping she
was going to have. So I had great
respect for my mother. And she also would take
newspapers or brown bags and cut patterns out of
’em and make patterns and sew on the old
treadle machine just so we could have something. It maybe wasn’t always new,
maybe was some old material that somebody had
given my mother and she turned it
into something for, so that we could have something. I have made this
statement many times, I felt that there was, I
regretted many things I did in my life, but one
thing I really regretted is that I never took the effort to see to it that my folks
could have taken a GED and have gotten their
high school diploma. Because to me, they were wise, and you would’ve thought
they went to college, ’cause their experiences were, that’s where they
got their education. And I always felt they were
so much better educated than I was, and so
I did regret that, and I had great respect for
both my dad and my mother, because they both
would go their, you know, anything they could do to make sure that we were okay and that we could
survive in this world, and that included, of course,
bringing us to church, that was important too. – [Interviewer] Talk about
that, the church being important in the life of people, your
family, and people at that time. – I believe that back in, when
my parents were growing up that having a
faith was something that brought them
through everything, the good and the bad,
the sad, the wonderful, and they would help out their
neighbors because of that. If their neighbor had a tragedy, they tried to go and help them. If a neighbor had, has gotten sick over the winter and could not put in
his grain or something, I’ll call it the modern
day farm rescue program, ’cause they would
probably have four or five tractors going
up and down the field. Where were the women? They were making the meals
to feed these people, but they would, I don’t know
if they would’ve done that if they wouldn’t
have had that faith that that was part of
what their faith was. And, of course, they
took us to church and they taught us to
provide for the church. And that when we
went someplace else that we found the church. And, of course, we knew too
that if there was nothing there, that didn’t mean that
there wasn’t a place, you still had your faith. And so my mother was raised and confirmed in the Lutheran
church in Southwestern, Emmons, not Emmons
County, west of Linton. And my dad, of course,
came from Cavalier, and then that’s where he
was confirmed and baptized. He was only six weeks
old when he came across, so he doesn’t remember
anything about Poland, ’cause he had four
older brothers and then later on there
were others in the family. My mother came from nine,
and then she lost a brother. But both families, it
was very important. Well, the whole
neighborhood was that way. They may not have all been, there were Lutherans,
there were Catholics, there were Baptists,
there were Methodists, but they, you know,
the churches were full because they just, that
faith was very important. But today we have a
lot of our families, they don’t have big
families anymore. Families have, their fathers
and mothers have died, others have moved to
Bismarck to retire and live in a retirement home. So the churches are
getting smaller and smaller and it becomes very
difficult to support the smaller congregations,
can no longer, it’s harder and harder
to support those churches and the pastor and
keep up the church because it’s not
cheap, you know? Or even just keeping the
furnace going in the wintertime, the fuel and things like that. Now, this past two years, we
put a steel roof on our church, because we had a lot
of leakage going on and there was a
lot of destruction, but it was amazing
how people dug deep to put that roof on the church. Because we certainly
don’t want to lose it, but who knows, some day, we
do have three little ones in church and we’re all happy and we like it when
they cry because we know that there is still life here. – [Interviewer] Where
do you think you got your wanderlust from? – Why did I like to
move around a lot? I’m not really sure,
I guess, I’m gonna– – [Technician] Can I have
you take your hand out? It was on the
microphone, I’m sorry. – When I was in third
grade, we had a reading book that was called,
If I Were Going, and in there there
was story after story about Mr. Sanders going from
here to there and so forth, and the one place, or two
places that he went to that intrigued me was
he went to North Africa and he rode a camel. Well, that was very
interesting to me. And then another
book, story he had, was that he went to Switzerland, and he went up high
into the mountains and he watched this boy
taking care of the cows. And he ran, and I’ll
never forget the word, pell-mell after those cows. Well that just, those two
things really fascinated me in his story. Also in our third
grade room was an old National Geographic magazine. And I loved looking
at the pictures. So I was going through the pages and here I saw the picture
of Petra in the Near East, and I thought, oh, now
that’s an interesting place. Well, I never got to see Petra, but I did get to
go to North Africa. I did not ride a camel though, and I did get to Germany
and I got to see the cows come down the mountain and
them putting the flowers and the bells on to see
who, and they would give an award to the cow
who gave the most milk. And so I got to see that. And my friends would tease
me because they said, only Lilia would go to see the
cows come down the mountain. Well, it’s part
of their culture. My dad, when I said I
was going to North Africa and had been accepted from
the Department of Defense, he said, he thought
that was okay. My mother was not so sure. And yet I was amazed because
it would’ve been my father that I thought would have
said no, don’t do that, and my mother would’ve said,
yes, you go while you can. And so when my father sorta,
you know, said go and do it, I was really shocked. But Ben Barrett was the
county agent at the time and he had a daughter who
had been working in Liberia at the time and she came
home and showed some slides and things were not good
in Liberia at the time. My folks went down there
to watch these slides and then they called
and said, I don’t know if you should be going or noT, and I said, well,
I already said yes and I wasn’t going to
go back on my word. But they went, they helped
me get everything lined up so I could go and then
the last year I was there before I returned I was able
to bring them over to Germany. And my mother always
said, she thought that the farthest, if
she would ever get out of the state of North Dakota,
that would’ve been something, but for her to have
that trip to Germany, while we went into
Switzerland and so forth, she didn’t think that would
ever happen in her lifetime. In fact, she wasn’t going to go, and the people around
here said, you have to go, you need to go, you know? Well, okay, they
talked her into it, and after she came back
she said, you know what, dad and I talked about
that we would like to have gone back again. And she just, they
completely loved it. So, no, I don’t, I’m not
sure where my really, like I said, I think
those two stories and the National
Geographic, I just, I wanted to see what
was on the other side. – [Interviewer] Getting
back to this side, when you were teaching
in the country schools, what type of experience was that and, once again, being
at such a young age? Well, the first day
I went out to teach in the country school, they
really don’t prepare you for that at that college. And I went in and I told
and I said to my sister, she taught school too, but
she wasn’t starting yet, her school wasn’t
ready to start. So I said, why don’t
you come with me so that you can sorta
give me some ideas if I’m. so I was explaining a lot
of things to the kids, passing out books and
getting pretty close to the half day was over with
and the kids could go home, and my sister whispered to me, why don’t you tell the
kids what your name is? I had even forgotten
how to do that. I had students that had a
difficult time in reading, well, I only had eight
weeks of summer school and I don’t think
there was anything about really how to
teach this child. So I’d think about
what could I do, and I remember I took a,
one of those little cards and I cut a hole in there,
and I would make him just read one word at a time
so that he wouldn’t worry about the next word. And so slowly, slowly he
improved in his reading. Well, when I went to summer
school the next summer they brought that up about
how you could do that. Well, you learn how to do
it, you have to figure, you have to think, you
know, what can I do? With discipline, I really
didn’t have to worry, because there wasn’t any. We did whatever we had to do. I remember one time the, I had given a test to the kids and one of the kids
in the sixth grade and he had written
down on there, I asked him about
what caused rain, and he said on there,
because God opened the zipper on the clouds. Well, I didn’t want to
get too much on his case, but he just, well, I didn’t
do anything else about it but. And happened that this same
boy who had difficulty read, I had him do a diagram
or a diorama or something that he would bring
dirt and trees and stuff and make little things to
see if he could improve his wanting to learn more. He was a farm kid and,
boy, he loved farming, but he wasn’t interested
in doing anything with the reading or math
or anything like that, and so I was trying really hard to get him to be interested
in that type of thing. We had our Christmas
programs and the kids would put curtains up,
they would do the work, they would help do all
this work and so forth. And they were interested
in what they were learning, where I would say today
it’s a little different because it’s a different
type of learning. Everything there was hands-on
or using concrete things where today there’s
too much technology, and I’m glad to hear
that the Silicon Valley, that the parents down there
are removing cell phones from their children, they
don’t want their kids working with technology,
no calculator until after they’re out
of the eighth grade, no cell phones until
they’re teenagers. And I think kids need to do
hands-on and using your head. And so that when
somebody asks you, what’s five times nine,
they know it immediately, not that they get out their
calculator and have to do that. By that time, I mean
you’ve wasted some time as far as I’m concerned. I know a gal, she
can’t do anything unless she has her calculator. And that’s, I think
that’s too bad. And same thing with
respect, I don’t think that children have as
much respect for adults, I’m not gonna say
that’s true of all kids, but in schools or maybe in
a store or any place else, and I think it’s
because in the ’50s, you didn’t get to
go a lot of places, you had to stay home. Where kids today from the time
they’re born are in Walmart or some place, parents
are taking their kids, we have working parents, and so the kids are
either with a daycare or with a babysitter. So there’s so many things that
have changed that I can see, and then when the parents
come home at night, well, they don’t want to
start disciplining their kids. I’m sure they do, but
I mean it’s difficult. And then it’s money,
there’s a lot more money than there was, so they
have all kinds of things. They have everything they want. I mean kids today get
snowmobiles for Christmas, you got a sled or one doll. So it’s a whole different
time in our culture. – [Interviewer] Especially
when you were growing up, did you have
electricity on the farm? – When we grew up we
didn’t have electricity until about the late ’40s. In our neighborhood we were,
there were about three farms that hooked up to MDU,
Montana-Dakota Utilities. And we only had one light
bulb, that type of thing, we didn’t have any fancy
lights or anything. And we just had more
or less the light bulb, very few outlets, because
you didn’t have egg beaters or anything electric, no
refrigerator, no electric stove, so there were very few outlets, and that’s the way the
house is still today, very few outlets, although
I do have appliances. – [Interviewer] Do you remember
what the first appliance you bought was? – My folks bought
their first appliance I think right after the war,
and that was a refrigerator, and a deep freeze. And I think that was
probably it for years. And then they got rid
of their bottle gas and coal stove, it
was a combination, and then they got
their electric stove. And my mother did not
like her electric stove compared to her bottle
gas and her coal stove, she thought they,
those made better bread than the electric one,
she said the electric one dried it out, and the
angel food cake too. – [Interviewer] You talked
about listening to the radio, was that all battery powered? – We had a battery radio. In fact, we did not have
a radio, I don’t think, until we probably moved to
the farm that we are now, because I remember on the farm that before we came
to, where we are now, that we wanted to hear
the Joe Louis fight and that was gonna be on radio. And we had to walk
to the neighbors to, across the prairie,
to get to their house and so we could listen
to this boxing match. Well, by the time we got
there, he had already knocked out the guy, so then
we turned around and went back home again, but
so we didn’t have a radio then so it had to be
where we live now that we finally got a radio. And we could only
listen to that at night after all our homework was done. You did not turn on the radio
to listen to Lone Ranger or whoever was on,
nope, all the work, and that didn’t mean
just my homework, all three of us had to have
it done, that was important. And they never complained about
you have too much homework to do, it was like,
do you have it done? And then we did, at
night, for entertainment, since we didn’t have television, we would play checkers,
cards, marbles, and then in the summertime
if we had company we’d go out and play softball. No matter if they were adults, I mean everybody
played softball. We’d walk to the neighbors
and play softball. – [Interviewer] Did you
have relatives close by? Did you visit relatives,
like on Sunday after church? – On Sunday afternoons
after church we either would
rest for the week or we would go to uncles,
we had two uncles, one uncle lived northwest of
Hazelton out on the buttes, the other one lived southwest
of here, west of Linton, and they lived near the river. And when we would go out there, my dad and my uncle, they
would probably just visit and talk about the grain or
even walk around into the grain, us kids would walk out into
the buttes with my cousin, never once thought that there
were rattlesnakes out there, never did see one. My dad’s relatives, of
course, lived up by Cavalier so they only came
once in a great while, we didn’t get to see them, but when they came they
would stay for three days. We kids would have
to give up our beds and sleep on the floor,
and we loved that. We didn’t probably do
much things with them as we did with my
relatives that lived on my mother’s side
that lived around here. We would always find something
to do when they came, even if it was climbing
up on the hay stack, which we weren’t supposed to do, because that was probably
destroying the hay, you know, getting
it all out of shape, but that’s what you did. We even, on our own,
we would find old tires and climb in the
inside of the tire and then one would roll
that tire down the road. But now when I think of
that, that was crazy, but we thought it
was fun, you know? (laughs) – [Interviewer]
Did you have horses on your farm when
you were growing up? – We had horses on our
farm, they were work horses, and my mother never wanted the
girls to learn to ride horse, because when she was growing
up that’s what she had to do, and I think she felt
that she didn’t want us to become, like she had
to do it, all the stuff. So we never got to
ride the horses, but we did have work horses. And my brother learned
how to harness them and how to hook ’em up
and do all those things, but my sister and I never
did get to learn to do that, and I had always wished
that I would’ve been able to ride a horse, but I
guess she had her reasons. – [Interviewer] When you
look back over the years, what do you think
or how do you think the role of women has
changed in agriculture from when you were a young kid to now when you see people
around you in the community? – Well, there are
some women, I believe, that are still a great
part of the agriculture and helping with the farming. My niece lives on the farm, and they have cattle
as well as doing crops. So I mean she will
be out there helping taking care of the cattle. This last two, three years
they’ve been building fence. She’s out there help
building a fence. They have one
daughter and one son, the daughter is
married and gone, the son is out of school
and works for Green Iron, so that means, at one
time she couldn’t wait ’til that son grew up
because he was a big help, but he went to school,
now he’s out working, so she’s back to where she was, back helping with the
cattle and being the gopher and so forth. There are other women who
have gone on to college and have jobs, and so they’re
not necessarily helping. They probably help
economically maybe to, they maybe have the
insurance they can cover for their family,
which the family probably could not
afford to do otherwise if they had to do it out
of their own bank account. And then a lot of their
children are in daycare, which they weren’t
before, the mother and sometimes the parent
took the kid with you out into the hay field and
you sat underneath the wagon or something, you know,
’cause you had to do work and still take care of
the kids at the same time. Where today that doesn’t happen, although I shouldn’t
say that because I know of a family that the
mother works during the day and after work when
it’s harvest time she probably goes out and
she takes over the combine and that she might
have to put a kid into the combine with her. But that’s not general. But I know there are
farmers where the wife is still out there helping. – [Interviewer] Or important. – Yeah, but there’s
also the other side, but I don’t know what
the percentage is. I have no clue,
but it’s different. – [Interviewer] Do
you ever experience, see for yourself
that there might be some pushback from
maybe even the older but males in the community about what the woman’s role
might be in farming? – The men, you said? – [Interviewer] The men, yeah. – I think today the men,
they wouldn’t probably push women out of the
tractor I don’t think. Although years ago
I think the men, depending how many
children were in the family and if there were
men in the family, and if the men were
older, they were the ones that did the heavy,
hard work on the, the plowing and
that type of thing. But today, with some
of the equipment maybe women could handle,
but I’m not so sure they could handle a lot of
the equipment today ’cause it, it is so complicated
and big that even some of the older farmers
don’t even know if they want to get
on that equipment, because it’s just outlandish. But as far as saying that men
wouldn’t want women out there, I don’t think there is
that attitude anymore. Maybe I’m wrong, I don’t know.

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