Friday, January 2, 2009

Meet My Dad

I want to introduce you to my Dad. This picture was taken in 1937 when he was 32 years old. He and Mom and been married for 5 years when this picture was taken. I don't have any idea what prompted a single portrait of him alone, but there must have been some reason.

Dad was born in 1905, and yesterday would have been his 104th birthday. Can you imagine the changes he saw in his lifetime - from the Wright Brothers and their flying machine all the way to a man walking on moon.

My Dad was quite a guy - well liked by everyone in the neighborhood. He died suddenly when he was 70 years old four months before Lovely Daughter was born in 1975. His funeral was the the biggest that our church had ever seen. There was standing room only in the church basement that day because there wasn't room to seat everybody upstairs. There were even people standing outside. They had rigged up a speaker system outside so that the folks outside could hear what was being said.

Dad was a very soft-spoken man and only once did I hear him say anything negative about anybody. He never said much as a disciplinarian either, but when he spoke you definitely listened.

Dad grew up in central North Dakota where his father homesteaded back in 1882. He was the oldest and had two younger brothers and one sister. He farmed back in the days of steam engines and horses and was quite a horseman according to the stories he used to tell.

That's my Dad standing on the black horse and his youngest brother standing on the white one. I have no pictures of it, but I was told by my uncles that Dad used to do handstands on the back of his horse when the horse was trotting down the field. Guess he should have joined the circus - it probably would have been better money than farming in North Dakota.

Dad loved all animals. I never remember being without a dog in my growing up years, and as long as he was on the farm he had horses, even though by the time he quit farming he was using tractors.

Dad had a horse that was very special to him - she was the colt of one of the horses they used on the farm and she was white. Her name was Boots. He watched her being born and raised her to adulthood. He had trained her to do various tricks and she followed him around like a puppy. She'd even follow the tractor out in the field when he was on it and nip at his shoulder if she thought he didn't pay enough attention to her. One night a fire started when all the horses were in the barn. They managed to get all the horses out, including Boots, but when he let go of her halter she ran back into the barn. By that time the barn was so far gone no one could get back in to get ahold of her and she burned to death. How very sad.

Now this sounds really gruesome, but that's the way they did things back in the "olden days." Dad had a horse blanket made out of Boot's hide. I guess it was his way of keeping her. It's a huge blanket that's lined with felt and has a flannel backing on it. It's as soft as butter. And I've still got it - packed away in a box somewhere. I remember sleeping under it when I was a kid. Believe me, you never got cold, but it weighed a ton.

Dad was a big man - six feet tall and very broad shouldered, but surprisingly light on his feet. He could dance circles around most people. He and Mom met at a barn dance when they were in their mid-twenties. He was Norwegian and she was Swedish - which apparently made a difference back in those days. Kind of the same attitude about that as trying to mix religions. Back then it was frowned upon. But they married and made it 43 years until he died.

He also LOVED to fish. I sometimes think that's why he finally settled his family here - because we're a half hour drive from some of the best fishing in the United States. He fished all year round - winter and summer. He built an ice fishing house out of an old piano crate, and used that for many years until we had an early melt one year and the thing sunk to the bottom of the lake. In the summer he went fishing every weekend, and us kids had to go along. We didn't have a choice - maybe that's why I don't like to fish now, nor do I like to eat fish of any kind no matter how you fix them. Ick. He built a pontoon boat and installed an old Model A Ford motor in the center of it, attached it to a propeller and we spun around that lake in record time. That part was fun, but the fishing part wasn't. Did I say Ick before? But we kids all went because it was time spent with my Dad, something we all loved to do.

He could also play a harmonica - self taught. One year for Christmas we got him a huge harmonica - a 12-incher that had a terrific range. It didn't take long and he was tapping his foot and blowing out some great old time music. He loved music - so he made sure that us girls had lessons and instruments to play. That's where the accordions came in that both my sister and I played. Big Brother always said he only played the radio - he didn't want to even think about playing an instrument of any kind. That was "sissy" for boys back in those days.

I still miss my Dad and he's been gone 33 years. I've always regretted the fact that Lovely Daughter never got to meet him because he was the epitome of what a grandfather should be. I only hope that someday Ole and I can be as good a grandparent as he was to the grandchildren that he had.

Love, Lena


Anonymous said...

purple chai/oldewoman:

What a wonderful entry! My father lived from 1919 - before houses had even crystal radios - to 2003, when we were all walking around with cell phones. But he never got to see the Red Sox win the World Series!

Susan said...

Lena, what lovely memories of your dad. There is a special bond between a father and his daughter. You remember such wonderful details and can share. Thanks.

harrietv said...

That's a lovely post! My dad was four years younger than yours.

Carolyn said...

What a beautiful entry. I loved reading every word of it. Thanks for sharing.

capitolady said...

What a lovely story of your dad. I suppose you were his lovely daughter! It is hard to imagine the changes in ones life time, seems everything is moving so fast. Thanks for sharing I could feel your love.