The Pudding Pack
A Short Story
By Doug and Dorothy
Editor's Note: The following is a story with two narrators. When the writing is in normal prose style, it is the Mother speaking. When it is written in journal entry form, it is the Son who is speaking.
Yuma -- Next, the Mountains
The Hall of the Mountain King
6/19/76: We are now deep into the desert domain. Evaporation rises off the road in great waves. We stopped the car and got out. Marlene and Patty both tried it without shoes and changed their minds quickly! The asphalt is white as salt and hot as a frying pan! One hundred and fourteen whopping degrees near Yuma, Arizona. I could have SWORN I heard a rattlesnake when we checked out some rocks a little ways off the road! Marlene is complaining about her foot. Dad told her to wear shoes. First she cut it, now she burns it! I almost feel bad for her, a little.
2nd Entry: The mountains rise majestically like Titans in the sky. I am at a loss for words! I guess I was too young to really appreciate this last time. Wow, I could go for a vanilla pudding right now.
3rd Entry: The mountains are growing ever more looming, and it's almost scary! I try to sketch them, but can't seem to capture them. Might have something to do with the fact that I feel like my stomach is where my brain should be. You can tell we are very high, my head feels like it will explode! Feel a bit queasy. More later.
4th Entry: I'm almost scared to breathe because I'm afraid the car will go over the edge and we will plunge to our inevitable deaths! The roads are so small, man, you think they could make them wider! We are almost somewhere, I can sense it. Rest stop?!
6/20/76: A little show-down between the Women at breakfast! Patty and Mom brought Equal sweetener along because of their diets. Marlene won't have anything to do with it! Strange, the female of the species. So much time worrying about what they eat! Just shovel it in, I say. I have to go, Patty is trying to read this.
Our first Sunday away from home is at an end. The others are out making use of the "great" pool, but I will see that tomorrow. I must write down my impressions of the day while I have the room to myself and the memories unclouded. We are again staying at the Ramada Inn. (They have such a nice family package.) I really wasn't sure I liked traveling on Sunday. We decided to dress up a bit for the day and sang a little this morning as we drove, but we certainly had a wonderful day to observe the greatness of our God.
The girls were waiting to see the first real mountains. (The foothills in the distance at Deming didn't count.) A couple times Dad fooled them into believing (or anyway half way believing) that the cloud banks ahead were the Rockies. Then came the "cloud banks, all purple and misty," which began to become the real thing.
We came into Yuma, still on the desert, but with a mountain backdrop. We decided we would all get out of the air-conditioned car and look for souvenirs in the shop attached to the gas station. I wasn't quite ready, what with policing my area. The back door swung open and I heard a yelp as one of the barefoot pioneers in the back hopped back into the car to add shoes to her attire. It was 107 degrees -- so the people in the station informed us. Surely glad our car has been dependably taking us this whole way!
And how to describe such austere, impressive awe inspiring power as that we saw displayed today as we crossed the eastern bareness of the desert mountains. The winds that sweep across here, often making dangerous blizzard-like conditions, are so dried out from their trip over the heights that they have not a bit of moisture left as they sweep down to pile dunes of sand along -- and sometimes onto the roads.
The kids could hardly believe we were still climbing until their dad told them to look out the back and the trick their eyes were playing on them was exposed -- and they could see the downward slope of the road behind.
We knew when we were reaching the pass because they told us on the sign by the road; but even more evidence of that was when we left the boulders, scary rocks looking like they might come loose at any time, and the dry look behind and began to see vegetation on some of the sides of the peaked mountains, showing just where the water-bearing winds were able to penetrate.
And then we hit the downward drive that many times requires a little braking and a good deal of care in driving. I have helped with some of the driving on the trip but I am glad that Don has done all the mountain driving -- twice over; once it meant I could feast my eyes -- and the second I didn't have the responsibility of the careful driving needed. We are now in California and I begin to understand why the early pioneers who, arriving here, felt such a wonderful feeling of relief and wonder!
UPDATE -- Dan Henderson's Graduation Reception
by His Great Aunt Mavis
We left Marlee and Troy's at 1 p.m. and went to Dan Henderson's graduation reception, which was very nice. Patty had such a beautiful lunch with shredded hot beef on buns, salads of fruits and salads of veggies, and all the other trimmings for a party.
We saw Marlene's family, Donna, Weston, Becky and children, Donnie and Patty, Berrys, (Coacha Smith's sister) Edwards, and we met Dan's girlfriend, Gina Edwards.
We visited with Ruth Warner; and a coach and wife; and a lady who was Patty's boss at one time. Both the latter spoke so highly of Patty and Curt's children. It was nice to hear.
Their yard is just beautiful. Stone plantings, flowers etc. Dan stood out in the yard greeting the folks as they came. Both Curt and Patty came to sit down with us (at different times) to visit us. We did surprise them in coming. We were so sorry to miss Dan's grandmother, Emma. She was to be coming later and we could not wait longer.
It was very nice to have a visit with Blanche Motley. I met her in about 1955 in Hutchinson when I visited Esther Henderson Forsland many times. It was so nice to visit with Sharon (Miller) Larson. I was really taken by how much she looks like Blanche.
We really had a wonderful time, even if it was short. Ben was the first to meet us and gave us a real hearty welcome. Told us Dan had stepped inside, otherwise he was outside to greet the folks as they arrived. The weather was perfect .
Donnie gave us a little lowdown on their motorcycles which was interesting.
Patty displayed Dan's pictures and achievements through the years of his growing up. The display that really made me chuckle was the bike hanging on the wall with a sign "Dan's first bike." Looking at it, one could not tell if it had made 5 million miles or 10 million miles. The gray tape around the rear rims was evidence of maybe an air leak or possibly ten air leaks. Save that one, Patty.
UPDATE -- Graduation
by Patty Dee
My family survived me and my graduation jitters. I think Heidi, Kim, and Whitney, along with my kids, were sent for comic relief. I was a bit "up tight" upon the Johnsons' arrival, so they set about making life more bearable for us all....
Heidi asked a very simple question... "Have you taken your Valium yet? If not, maybe you should; if you have, maybe you should take one more!" This, of course, was AFTER my third trip around the center island of the kitchen, WITHOUT finishing the task that I had set out to do on each previous trip around. Actually, it wasn't all THAT bad, but was a relief when the party actually started.
There were many from a great distance. I think Shari gets the award for the furthest traveled, Donna (with Donna R., and Shari) for the most "sisters in tow" and Mavis and Tom for the biggest surprise!!! Oh, Ginny is definitely a close second in that category. Weston and Eric for the earliest and Don and Patty for the most impressive entrance. (They arrived on two very beautiful motorcycles ... just ask my boys ... and husband!) But Marlene and crew get top honors for the most tolerant!!! Curt was glad when all was said and done that he had his "wife back."
Two now graduated and one lone birdie left in the nest. The boys are looking forward to living together in Fargo next fall. They will be looking for housing opportunities soon. Dan has his orientation June 24/25 and then registers for his first semester, as well. He is ready, that's for sure. He is hoping to get on at HTI in Hutchinson to work, as he did get a scholarship from them and that makes him eligible to get a job. He had been planning to work at Green Giant (Seneca), but if HTI takes him on it would be more hours, therefore more in the college account!
Just wanted to send a bit of an account from the viewpoint of the Mom in this graduation experience!
I am pleased to report that Dan Henderson, our grandson, graduated from the Glencoe Silver Lake High School with honors on Sunday, May 25th. It was very interesting to hear that he received the Joseph Kostelac Award for outstanding leadership, character, and scholarship. He was given a plaque to commemorate this honor. Now his name will be added to the list of recipients posted in the school who have won this in other years. It is interesting to note that his father (Curt) also won this award when he graduated 26 years ago.
Dan graduated in the top three percent of his class. One of the good rewards for hard work was the HTI scholarship (a renewable 4 year, $1500 scholarship). This is given to a deserving student by a Hutchinson business. (*Information gathered from several news sources.)
Sorry that I've neglected writing to you for so long. I have been meaning to send an e-mail forever it seems but kept putting it off. Well finally today I'll follow through!
My recent news includes passing my latest reinsurance exam. I'm glad to be done with it and will try to forget about studying until the next one (probably next fall). I took it right before Memorial weekend so it was an even nicer holiday weekend because of my reduced stress level.
Mom already wrote about our weekend at the farm but I thought I'd add that I really look forward to going up there every year. I've had a different perspective regarding Memorial Day ever since going up to Ashby for their Memorial service and also after reading a paper that Beaver wrote on it one time. (He should really have sent that in for the Bulletin... or still should. It's excellent.) The community spirit and feeling cannot be overlooked on Memorial weekend.
I'm playing sand volleyball again this summer. Chris and Weston play on my team too. Our first game is this week (unless we get rained out) and I'm looking forward to it! I've also been involved in a book club -- we are reading Little Women right now -- so that has been a lot of fun. It's basically a group of friends who like to read so we decided to form a little club ... which also acts as a nice excuse to get together more often!
I'm excited to have some warmer weather now and am looking forward to some camping and outdoor activities. Aaron and I might even go camping this coming weekend. We are hoping to do some canoeing and hiking. We'd also like to take Caity camping again this year, as last year's outing was a blast.
I hope all is well for you and Grandpa! I think the Bulletin is the best thing ever and have bragged about it to many of my friends! Thanks providing such a great service for us all.... It's tremendously appreciated.
P.S. I love the short story written by you and Doug. It's great!
by Donna J.
I've had such a lovely weekend! Caity and I met Shari and Sami, Sami's sister, Rylee, and their friend, Summer and Sami's, mom, Schahara, Friday evening at the Mall of America. We had a lovely meal at the Rainforest Cafe, with the girls enjoying the thunder and rain effects, pretty fun surroundings for children. But, they were excited to get on to their main goal..the rides. Shari and I had gotten them armbands and they rode to their little hearts delights! It was so much fun watching them, they did most rides twice, lucking out with hardly any lines to stand in. Fun evening!
Saturday we picked up my friend/"sister," Donna R. and she rode along with Shari, Caity and I out to check out Dan's graduation party. He is such a handsome young man and so politely waiting to greet all of his guests. We got to visit with so many people, made for a nice stop. As usual the food was DELICIOUS and the hosts and hostesses exceptional.
Then on we went to spend the night with Duane and his wife, Ingrid, and daughters, Ashley and Rosana. What another nice evening! Shari's school friend, (so MANY years :-) Nancy, came to visit with us. Many laughs and lots of fond memories. Ingrid has two Macaw birds and a HUGE cage, so I enjoyed seeing her work with them. She and Duane tried to convince me that I needed a mother rabbit and her eight or nine bunnies. Right! (Duane teased that we'd find them in the car when we got home.)
I want to thank Duane for making me the "keeper" of a book Grandma Dake had filled in the answers for him, years ago. I will start excerpts from it, with you all in the future. He was also very kind and gave me a fern that he'd started from the one Blanche had, which had come from Grandma Dake's original fern. Both are nice treasures to me. Thanks, Duane!
Caity and I attended Sami's dance recital with her mommy and Shari. That was so cute. We all went out to eat afterwards, much to the little girls' and the big girls' enjoyment!
Shari came to the farm on Monday night and spent the night. Today, after Becky got home from her class, we got to go to Alex for some antiquing and Shari treated me to yet another meal out! Wow, it's going to be hard getting back into the cooking routine :-) Thanks, Shari!
Our Farming after 1950
I have told this part of our farming after I got out of the army in 1951, but I don't think our grandkids have heard it so I will tell it one more time. We always had to do other work to support our "habit." During our farming years I drove taxi -- while Dorothy dispatched -- that was in the winter of 1952.
Another year I drove a dump truck for Bradbury of South Dakota during the time they were doing a rebuild on 81.
One time I worked for the Haarstad Brothers of Abercrombie -- in their garage there. Then I worked for Kuch Motors in Breckenridge one fall. And of course Dorothy taught school several of the years while we were farming.
Now here are the reasons we had to work out to keep farming. In March of 1952 we moved to Ibsen township -- that was in March, right before Donna was born. Our crop was planted in good time, even got the corn planted before heavy rains flooded our farm.
Never saw the crop, as it was completely destroyed. Was able to get it plowed for the next year. 1953 was the same, very wet and our land was again flooded. We were forced to buy feed for our cattle and hay, too.
I worked the winter of 53-54 in Abercrombie. This afforded grocery money, along with Dorothy's teaching job. After the 1954 crop was seeded, all was better but lost my flax crop by frost that came late that year.
The rains came and totally destroyed the prospect of a crop. I had taken out Federal Crop Insurance that paid our seed and fuel. That fall, I was notified my herd was reactors and was infected with Bangs. We had to sell them on the market for practically nothing. The shipping took most of what we ended up with.
We bought about 10 nice Hampshire boars and fed them until they were ready to sell. The hog prices had gone down to $8 per hundred. I took them to the registered sale in Breckenridge and could not get a buyer. I sold them on the market.
The following winter I worked at Kuch Motors in Breckenridge. We had hopes of a good crop in 1955. Who would believe it, same thing, too much water; I got a little corn and oats harvested..
In August 1955 we drove into Minnesota looking for a farm. After much looking, we decided on a farm at Parkers Prairie, Minnesota. We could buy this for $16,000. It was modern, had a very nice set of dairy buildings and an almost new 2 bedroom home. The owner, Roy Hansen, said he would rent it to us on sharecrop terms.
The fall of 55 found us moving to Minnesota. I moved our goods there with my newly purchased 1946 Ford two ton truck. Dorothy taught in Nansen township until Christmas and then found employment at Hakes Variety in Alexandria. I might add I got a FHA loan in 1955 and bought nine nice Guernsey cows from a farmer in Wadena, Minnesota. Joe Score trucked them over to Minnesota for us. I trucked the oats and corn during the winter from North Dakota to our new home.
I traded my 1950 JD "A" for a WDAllisChalmers (you heard about that in a story Grandma wrote for the Bulletin) as it had a mounted plow and our new farm had rocks.
We had a good crop in 1956, (even got a new son, Donnie. in Sept.) I got discouraged and we sold out in Sept of 1956. I had my licking with farming. I enjoyed working with dairy but had too much against me with previous years. You will not believe this, our complete sale brought a little over $13,000. We had a nice line of equipment, and a very nice herd of Guernseys. Today a tractor alone could bring that much or more. We were glad to hang it up and look for new pastures.
My 11th Birthday
When I was to celebrate my 11th birthday my mother sewed me two new dresses as my gift. These were made from new fabric from the store and not from the print flour sacks, which worked out OK too. One of these dresses was red and white dotted Swiss. The background was red and the dots were white. (You older people would recall the softness of the dots.) I really like this outfit with the peter pan collar and the sash in the back.
All my dresses that mom sewed were pretty much the same pattern till I outgrew it. You know patterns can be altered very easily by the hemline.
On a Sunday afternoon I was very proudly wearing my new dotted Swiss. My activities seemed to call for a crossing of the fence there behind the white handmade garage that dad built with no electricity. All the boards were sawed by hand. Right, Don??? I am talking about on the farm where Dwight and Janie live now as that is where I grew up after moving from Dwight, North Dakota, when I was 6-1/2 years old.
That was my first year to go to school. I had no preschool or kindergarten but even at that I graduated 3rd in my class of 114 seniors in my senior year at Wahpeton in 1953.
Now back to the carpentry. It is different today. It takes 2 carpenters 1 hour to unload all their fancy equipment and get cords here and there -- then they can do mitered corners. Some have over $20,000 invested in tools, but then they can handle nearly any carpenter job.
Back to the story now, some of you will remember the gate, yes, wire gate with two or three strands of barb wire with sheep fencing on the bottom. Tomboys should wear their 6th day outfit on the Sabbath day to play to reduce the risk of unexpected tragedy.
You guessed it -- as I went through the fence, my pretty dotted Swiss got caught and tore a three- cornered rip and I remember how bad I felt as I watched mom try to mend it up again later. This was truly a very favorite of mine and that is probably why I can't even recall what the other one was for color. I do know it had the peter pan collar and sash in back, as that is a given!!!
Next time I get to THE FARM at Dwight, I am going to trace my footsteps. That fence used to separate the brooder house, chicken house, corncrib and storage shed from the main yard. If one went south of the corncrib and to the east over that fence there was a deep gully going down towards the river and that is where all the antiques went when electricity came our way.
Somebody cleaned out the wash shed, which set directly behind the old house. I have enough antiques anyway to last until I get to Missouri, as then my brother Don takes me to all the antique stores. He is so kind.
Mavis (Anderson) Morgan
LET'S GET BETTER ACQUAINTED
Thought sharing some answers to various questions would help us ALL get to know one another better. This is the one I'm sending out first:
Describe the most wonderful vacation you've ever taken. Why was it so great?
Question to be considered next:
What single accomplishment in your life have you been proudest of?
May I please hear from you?:-) Donna J
Answer to the second question
I have a whole bunch that are right at the top of my list and are all so obviously important that I'm not going to use them-getting married to a wonderful wife, having a beautiful baby, graduating from college, getting a job. These are easily my top accomplishments of my life so far, and will always be.
Instead, I'm going to go with a materialistic accomplishment to talk about. Building my deck and finishing my basement. We bought our house in May of 2000. It is a bi-level, and at the time we bought it, only the upper level was finished, with a kitchen, dining area, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a living room. It also had a patio door that looked out over the golf course, but just went out into space about 6 feet off the ground.
That first summer, I built my deck. It is a two level cedar deck, that I had to customize to fit our house. The plans we bought were for a deck right on the ground. That was an easy modification, I just had to buy longer legs! I knew the stairs would have to be longer, too, but left that for the end. The main part of the deck is a 12 foot by 16 foot rectangle. The upper part of the deck goes up two steps, and is an octagon.
The toughest part of the entire project was digging the holes for the posts. According to local building code, I had to have cement footings at the bottom of a 5 foot deep hole for each post. Since there are 17 posts, that didn't sound like much fun. I rented a post hole digger, which was an auger mounted on a trailer, with a big steering wheel to make the auger go up and down. I don't really know how to describe how tough it was to dig through the hard, wet clay that started about 6 inches down, other than this: have you ever bought ice cream that was so solidly frozen, you couldn't even get the scoop in? Finally, after about 10 minutes of scooping, you get a bowlful of shavings.
The rest was a breeze after that. I spent most of my weekends that summer building the deck. I ran out of time for the steps, so they had to wait until the next spring. The steps were supposed to run right along the house, between the octagon and the house. Unfortunately, the steps had to be just long enough that they would run into a bump-out on the house!
I made up a plan for steps that went down about half the distance, which corresponded to the edge of the octagon. There, I built a little triangle platform, and ran the second leg of the steps out away from the house at an angle, following the angle of one of the edges of the octagon. Here's a pretty crude drawing; I'm not known for being able to describe things using words, so here it is-
| || |
| || |
| \\ / \
| \\ _______/ \ \ ___________
| ______ | | | | | |\ \ | |
|_____/ \__________| | | | | | \____| |
The little pairs of bars are the steps; you can see how they almost run into the bump out of the house. I think the little angled stairway adds a lot to the deck. I really loved building it, glad I had those skills from my summers of carpentry while in school!
This has already gotten pretty long, and Rylie's getting sick of me writing e-mail, so maybe I'll talk about finishing my basement in another installment!
Editor's Comment: We will be waiting for that second installment--I am glad I didn't have to help with those post holes!
Hi there everybody feel free to contribute your favorite smile maker!
"Dear Loving Older Sister:
Thanks for bringing that one up. They will laugh even harder when they find out it happened last year.
Your Embarrassed Younger Brother."
( If you wish to know what this rebuttal is about reread Chuckles in Bulletin#45)
In answer to the fencing question from, I believe it was Isanti? The only things that would be required from trainees, are good sturdy work boots and also appropriate jean wear. We will be supplying the gloves and fencing tools. No head gear will be necessary in the preliminary classes. Thank you for your interest, will look forward to you attending a class or two. (We will also supply medical attention to inattentive fencers, that may end up with scratches.)
Oof - dah, now I'm embraced, I mean embarrassed! Here I always thought you considered me sort of a more-or-less hopeless flattail in training, one you had some hopes of making into a useful animal someday. You have done a wonderful job of all the things at which I am completely hopeless, you have melded our kids into a wonderful family, and you have given me the joy of feeling secure, knowing that you will stick with me through thick and thin. I am fat and happy. What more could I want? I could go on and on, but I'm getting embarrassed all over again.
Happy Anniversary Wyatt and Jolene!
We send you our best wishes for the coming year. Ma & Pa Johnson.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY: Butter, butter, always butter! --Fernand Point