My Daughter's Memories

I always knew my parents didn't get along. Some of my earliest memories were of my Dad and Mom fighting. Sad, huh? Years later, after they divorced, I still thought my Dad was one of the best people in the world (you know how kids think...)

I thought of him this way even though I had memories of him sniffing cocaine and treating my Mom like dirt. I didn't think of him differently until after my brother and I stayed with him the summer of my 12th birthday.

I guess I was like my brother - I tried to deny it.

Chapter I - The Reunion

"He's here," my Mom yelled.

"He" was my father. He had come to pick my brother and I up for the summer. Boy, was my brother and I excited!

"We're coming," I replied.

We raced up the stairs into our father's arms...


Strong to the Finish

An amazing DVD set is coming out honoring the greatest cartoon character ever (in my humble opinion) - Popeye!

I spent many afternoons glued to the TV watching old Popeye shorts in reruns on a local independent TV station with my Dad. If only Dad were here to watch these restored to all their glory...


School Bell

I recently attended a class reunion. Actually, it was much more than a class reunion; it was an all-school, all-class reunion, done at the same time as the town's centennial (which I have found out - long story - is something of a mystery since there are other dates considered to be when the town was established, incorporated, etc., but I digress...)

The photo here is of a new memorial, dedicated during the weekend celebrations. From a 1993 article on H-ST SchoolIt is on the site of the old school, which does not exist any more. Except in the memories (and my dreams...yes, I dream often of walking the hallways of my old schools...) of former students, etc.

What was really strange is coming across an old teacher who I swear looks younger than she did when we were in high school.

It was amazing to talk to old classmates, and meet 'new' even older former students. I finally met Michael Rustad, without whom this site would not exist. I also met Allen Ahles, who assisted me with some of the Ahles family history on this site. And of course, I not only met, but stayed with, Chuck Walker, whose story of his ancestor is being serialized on this site.

All and all, an amazing weekend I will never forget!

Humboldt School 1906-1956
Humboldt-St. Vincent School 1956-1991

Dedicated to all the teachers, administrators, students, custodial and transportation personnel who so faithfully served
and attended this school.

Bell monument provided by Garylle B. Stewart, Class of 1958. Construction and installation of Bell by Wayne G. Stewart, Class of 1964. Masonry work by Steve Olson and Grandson Construction, Fargo, ND. Bell saved from school and provided by long-time residents Curis W. Miller and Brad Hemmes.

Dedicated at Humboldt Centennial and All-School Reunion,
June 22-23, 2007.

Trivia: The bricks forming the base of the memorial were once part of the old-wing of the Humboldt School


A Walk in the Rain

Arrangements were made for the cremation. This morning it took place. My companion and I met Tom the undertaker, at Riverside's crematorium at 8:30am.

We met the two men who do the cremations. We watched as the box with Mom's remains was taken and placed in the furnace. I thanked the men, and Tom, and we walked away.

It was gently raining, and as we approached the car to leave, I asked my companion if he'd mind taking a walk through the cemetery. We got our umbrellas, and proceeded.

I don't often have a chance to walk through a cemetery when it's raining. No wind, so amazingly quiet, peaceful, and empty...except, of course, for the silent city around us.

The huge, old trees throughout the cemetery made me think of home, the home my mother lived in most of her life. It, too, had great old trees surrounding it. There's something amazing about trees, and seeing such trees gave me comfort as I glanced back at the crematorium and saw the waves of heat rising out of the chimney on top.

As we walked past the gravestones, we noticed white-tailed deer further on, one standing, and one beyond that was laying down under a tree. I watched them watch us.

We turned a corner, then another, heading back to the car, when we noticed a small flock of birds in the distance coming out from behind the mausoleum. Wild turkeys, a small band of males. We headed up the small hill and around the building, and caught them as they disappeared behind, shaking their feathers, looking up, and stepping ahead under the falling rain.

It was a magical morning walk, a very special walk I will never forget...


Writing our Family History

An amazing book called Battersea Girl is out. It's about a woman who lived a century, what she saw and did for those 100 years, written by her grandson. As one reviewer puts it, the writer "...doesn't do a lot of embellishing or pontificating. He lets his grandmother's story speak for itself."

Child of Television

"There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can change the focus to a soft blur, or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to... The Outer Limits." — Opening narration – The Control Voice – 1960s

As a fellow couch potato (and proud of it!), I have been feasting at the altar of TV since 1962. I cut my teeth on such entrees as the original TWILIGHT ZONE and THE OUTER LIMITS, which gave me delightful nightmares and set my imagination on fire.

I remember being chastised by my Mom for procrastinating at getting dishes done after supper because of running back and forth between the kitchen and the living room so I could catch snatches of DANIEL BOONE or TIME TUNNEL or VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA.

Yes, I have watched the bad with the good, but I like to think my 'bad' was still better than most. Speaking of which, I now bow at the altar of TiVo, which has allowed me the heretofore unimagined ability of customizing my viewing such that I pack even MORE into my viewing regimen. Between reading, writing, TV, online, etc., it's a miracle I have time to work or sleep...zzzzzzzzzz....


Pastor Ericson

The above photo is one of many from Joan [Ericson] Swanson. Her father was Pastor Ericson, who served as pastor at the church I grew up in, the St. Vincent Evangelical Free Church (now known as the Pembina EFC...) It started out as a small non-denominational group that came to be known as the Valley Community Church. At some point they affiliated with the EFCA. Anyways, back to the photos and Joan...

I was doing a search on Flickr to see if there were any images posted from my old hometown area. Lo and behold there was. It was an image of a home I didn't recognize at first, but after contacting the user found out it was the parsonage, and she was the daughter of a former pastor of my old home church. In fact, her Dad served from 1957 to 1959, and was the one that conducted the dedication ceremony for me as a baby.

Although I never knew the Ericson family, I felt I did in a way thanks to my parents talking about them. Pastor Ericson had a special place in my parents' hearts since they were led to dedicated themselves and their family more to the Lord due to his influence. Pastor Ericson lent a helping hand and showed Christian love in practical terms, when assisting my father in building a much-needed addition to our humble home. It was acts like that, that cemented in my parents' minds that their faith was more than words.

I contacted the user, who turned out to be Pastor Ericson's daughter Joan. During our brief exchanges since then, she has kindly posted more photos of their years in St. Vincent, including group shots of the St. Vincent EFC congregation, choir, and parsonage, and a few of the town itself.

What the term 'Free Church' means; also, "Forerunners of the Swedish Evangelical Mission Covenant were the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Ansgar Synod and the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Mission Synod. When members of the two synods dissolved and the Swedish Evangelical Mission Covenant was formed, some of those who did not enter the Mission Covenant formed the Swedish Evangelical Free Mission (now the Evangelical Free Church of America). The Evangelical Covenant Church maintains ties with the Swedish Mission Church (formerly known as the Svenska Missions-förbundet; see Svenska Missionskyrkan and CIPE), and the other churches in the International Federation of Free Evangelical Churches." - From Answers.com


"...I'm Popeye, the Sailor Man!" *TOOT* *TOOT*

Great news for Popeye fans! There is a fantastic Popeye website that a fan like myself has put online, and I want to share it with you, dear reader, whoever you are.

Popeye will always have a special place in my heart because of my Dad.


"Button Up Your Overcoat..."

Mrs. Isley was the wife to the agent at the depot in Noyes where my Dad worked. She was also a school teacher. She was my Kindergarten teacher.

The things I remember about Kindergarten are:

- Mrs. Isley singing Button Up Your Overcoat and encouraging us to sing along

- Learning the letter U's "short" sound - she taught us by using the example of what happened when you tried to lift a bucket full of sand - "...ugh" She had me demonstrate it in front of the class


Mom's Plum Pudding

My Mom did a spectacular plum pudding* (which is somewhat similar to fruitcake...but not really...!) She was carrying on a tradition that her mother, my Grandma Fitzpatrick, had done before her.

She always shopped for the best suet fresh from the butcher's, candied fruits, and whole nuts to grind, over in Emerson. She canned some every year, and it was like wine, getting better the older you let it sit. At Thanksgiving or Christmas, we'd pop open a jar, steam the pudding until it was warm and plump, and then pour one of the two homemade sauces she made - lemon and caramel/butterscotch over the top of each serving - it was amazing. Sometimes, she even hid a coin in one of the servings to make it more fun!

* AKA Christmas Pudding; while my mother's pudding was heavenly, not all puddings are created equal...