About Mavis (Anderson) Morgan

Mavis Anderson Morgan
Mavis Anderson Morgan

My name is Mavis Ardel Anderson Morgan. I was born May 31, 1935, in Dwight, North Dakota, the fifth child for Harry and Cleo Berndt Anderson. The four oldest ones were Don, (the editor's husband), Elwood, Elaine and DeLoris.

When I was four and a half years old, my brother Harry, Jr. was born. That was on January 4th of 1940. He was born at our Dwight home.

A true story that goes with his birth and has been quoted over and over through the years: right after he was born I ran upstairs and I had a sneak preview of him. Immediately I ran to the stairs and shouted down, "Come, see the baby, I have already seen the baby." He was cute!

When I was just over six years old we moved to the farm 1-1/2 miles north of Dwight. Dad had bought the quarter section of land from Hannah Carlson for $6,500 in the fall of 1941. Don cut letters from wood to read "Harry Anderson" and "1941" and they were nailed to the front of the barn.

Andersons have been on the farm ever since and at present my youngest brother, Dwight (born May 17, 1945), and his wife, Janie, reside there.

I attended grade school in Dwight for the eight years of elementary school. I rode the bus, which stopped at our mailbox, 1/3 mile from the house, and it was across the footbridge over the river, and across the field. After dad would plow in the fall, he would drive the tractor from the mailbox to the river to make a path with the tires so it would be easier walking over the plowing. We appreciated that.

After graduating from grade school in 1949, I started my four years of High School in Wahpeton, North Dakota, which was about a 12 mile journey on the bus.

Some of you have heard my next statement, but I will repeat it anyway. "In May of 1953 I graduated from High School third in my class of 118 students." I had a lot of competition! I was often on the top of the class with a name like ANDERSON. After graduation, I took two months off to relax and decide what to do for a job.

On August 7, 1953, I started working at Northwestern Bell telephone Company in Fargo, North Dakota, as a long distance and teletype operator. I really enjoyed this work and $39.50 a week wages was just wonderful.

I lived in three different apartments, first with DeLoris and later with some girlfriends.

After two years I bought a 1948, 4-door Chrysler for $700 from a doctor in Abercrombie. Dad always wanted us to buy heavy cars, as they were safer. I borrowed some money from him and then paid him back in time.

In June of 1956, Tom Morgan, a farmer at Hope, North Dakota, brought his niece Grace (my roommate at the time) back to Fargo from a weekend visit to her folks at Colgate, North Dakota. She seemed very happy to introduce us. I believe he thought it would save on her parents' car and gas if he did the driving back and forth.

In February 1957 we made plans to marry so I quit my telephone company job in March.

My brother Harry Jr. and I took a trip to Arizona to see Hilla Smith and Marilyn Wheeler. We used my Chrysler. When we returned I had about 2-1/2 months before our wedding on May 31st 1957. (My emotions were not as great as Cathy's in the funnies!!!) It was to be held on my 22nd birthday.

So on May 31, 1957, I became a domestic engineer (or housewife). I sold my Chrysler to my dad again as Tom had a new 1957 Fairlane Ford.

For our honeymoon we went to Bemidji, Minnesota, and to The Wisconsin Dells. We did stop at Hutchinson, Minnesota, to visit a very, very good friend of Tom's since the early 1930s. His name was Paul Henderson and he was married to Emma (Huisman) Henderson. Of course, very unbeknown at that time was the fact that their son Curt, not even born yet, would later marry our niece, Patty Anderson, the editor's daughter.

Back home to Hope to our farming and ranching. We started out by getting the remaining flax seeded. Since I have always been an outdoor person, I just loved all of it ... to work outdoors -- whatever needed to be done. Tom's mother lived with us during our first 14 years of married life, and we appreciated her help with the meals and dishes all those years up to her death.

Oh, my! Here I am with no College DEGREES -- I will get some. I was given the opportunity to get one in ABM (Agriculture Border Maintenance). So this sunny June day we set out with lunch in hand and I started learning the trade.

The first lesson was on "How to keep cattle out of growing grain fields." After stretching some wires and pounding in posts and making corner posts with braces, we sat down under a large and tall cottonwood tree to enjoy a wonderful lunch.

It was a pretty picture to see the rolling waves of grain and the satisfied cattle resting and chewing their cuds. The birds overhead provided music. They were happy and so was I. Because of my high grade achieved in ABM, I could even go out alone sometimes on maintenance calls if Tom was busy.

After 37 years of ranching and seven years of dairying, I wondered, would I recommend a ABM to others? Just if the cattle prices are good. We are thankful we made out well with our moos; of course, in doing anything, it is not always perfect! Like one spring when the first three calves of the season all died.

Really, a Domestic Engineer is qualified to hold many degrees (even without a paper of certification to hang on the wall) when she works, helps, and spends a lot of time outdoors driving and fixing machinery, painting buildings, inside and out. It is debatable if she needs more exercise or has to look for a trainer who has a college degree in a field such as exercise physiology, or is certified by an organization such as the American Council on Exercise, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the American College of Sports Medicine or Curves.

I could write about many experiences we encountered in the 42 years of our active "employment," but time, space and reader interest would likely fail. I will mention a couple, though, as it may make some people feel good to think they are not the only ones that have a setback.

About 10 o'clock one night we were hoping to finish combining a field of sunflowers. The fields were wet and we had some mucky, mushy, spots of gray clay, hidden from view, that had absorbed more moisture then a swimming pool holds. Going along nicely, I saw the header began touching the ground and soon the wheels on the combine were spinning. I stopped, tried to back up, but in doing that it dug in further.

Thank goodness for the CB radio. I called Tom and he said he would come down with the 4-wheel drive tractor when he got to the end of the field. It wasn't long before I got a call from him saying, "As I was turning, I got my combine stuck, too, and I am in bad."

We started our digging and I am sure we were half way to China to get the chain around the axle of the combine. At least the quarter moon was smiling!

Another time I was hauling wheat into the yard and had my 15 month old grandson, Ryan, for a helper. We got backed up to the auger, put a STONE by the tire, and it looked like all was going well unloading, so we sat in the truck cab having quality time together while the first part of the load went up into the bin. So we thought!

After a while I got out and checked things again and happened to walk around the back of the bin and here much of the wheat was on the GROUND. The auger was not quite right at the top of the bin. What a mess! The next morning we borrowed a big vacuum. The flour made from that particular wheat is called STONE GROUND WHEAT.

Today we are still living on the same farm we started out on. Tom and his mother bought this farm in 1946. We did build a new home in 1958. The past four winters we have spent in Estero, Florida, in our mobile unit, which we purchased three years ago.

In 1996 I was chosen FARM WOMAN of the year for Steele County, North Dakota. It was a pleasure to have all our family attend the celebration and banquet held at Grand Forks. I was given a gold watch with a FW on the front and my name and the date engraved on the back. I have worn it nearly every day since I received it and have it on my arm right now as I write this autobiography. I also received a certificate to hang on the wall -- hey, that’s another DEGREE. Isn't a degree accompanied by a certificate? There we go -- FWA (Farm Women Association). Good thing I thought of that.

It comes to my mind now what my dad used to tell about my brother when he belonged to FFA and was gone some of the time for meetings, etc. Dad said, "That just means Father Farms Alone." For you young folks, the real meaning of those letters is "Future Farmers of America."

We are thankful to have had fairly good health all these years. 1965 was probably our most memorable year for being laid up. On August 3rd we were busy stacking hay when the tractor ran out of fuel with the stacker bucket up on top of the haystack. I was up there leveling any hay that happened to need a little push or shove. Since Tom was going home for fuel, I thought I would go, too, and pick up a little lunch. So down the farm-hand arm I started to slide, but I seemed to be picking up a lot of momentum. By the time I got to the tractor tire and jumped to the ground, the force of my body weight against the ground was too severe for my bones to absorb and a cracked bone above my ankle required a cast for six weeks.

Then on September 6th, Tom was taken in for appendix surgery, so we both were laid up, and that is when the dairy herd had to go. We sold them to George Burchill. That's OK. It wasn't a real joy anyway to wash the cream separator. Of course, Grandma did it most of the time.

We have enjoyed traveling through the years. We have been to Europe and Ireland twice, the Bahamas, and various trips to the U.S. coasts. We retired from farming in 1999 and this year hope to have a garden -- the first in 30 years.

I left the best until last: our family. Our three daughters are Merna DeLaine, born in 1960. Married to Ken Hellevang and living in Fargo. Their children are Ryan, Brandon and Lindsay.

Next is Charlotte Ann, born in 1962, married to Tim Myron and living at Thompson, North Dakota. Their children are Jessica, Zachary, and Tytus.

Our youngest is Marlys Joy, born in 1969, married Troy Freesemann; they live in Burnsville, Minnesota, with two little girls, Angel and Alyssa Wright.

We are very thankful for our wonderful family. We do enjoy company, so any of you who wish to come are welcome, either in North Dakota or Florida.

Mavis and Tom Morgan Family photo
The Morgan Family At Their Annual Lake Retreat

Back row: Ken Hellevang, Troy Freesemann, Tim Myron, Jeff Gauderman. Middle row: Ashley Morgan, Merna Hellevang, Marlee Freesemann, Mavis and Tom Morgan, Char and Jessica Myron. Front row: Ryan, Brandon and Lindsay Hellevang, Angelie and Alyssa (Wright) Freesemann, Tytus and Zach Myron. (See Bulletin 115).

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