Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

My first piano recital in Brandon, SD. 1967 at Alma Burkland's (spelling?) with her music students. Brother Steve with accordian, Sister Deb with plaid dress in back, Me with plaid dress in front. Cousins Kristy Jacobson in polka dot dress and Linda Swanson with flute.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Captain 11

Today there are many adults who grew up in the tri-state area around Sioux Falls, SD, who are traveling back with their memories, to their childhood, remembering a man we knew as Captain 11. Dave Dedrick passed away last night at 81 years young.

Captain 11 was a popular after-school children's program for 41 years on KELO- TV on channel 11, from 1955-1996.

Each show opened with these words, "One man in each century is given the power to control time. The man chosen to receive this power is carefully selected. He must be kind. He must be fair. He must be brave. You have fulfilled these requirements; and, we of the Outer Galaxies designate to you the wisdom of Solomon and the strength of Atlas. YOU are CAPTAIN 11!"

The show played cartoons and featured the Captain entertaining the children with the treasure chest, flicking switches for his "crew members" playing games while he was dressed in a blue pilot's uniform. My favorite activity was to first wave one hand, then both hands, then wave both hands and jump, etc. until he'd declare "Now FREEZE!" Then he would pick some child to raise in the air in their frozen state. It all sounds so simple now but it was simplier times and oh so special to so many "crew members" remembering especially today.

I wrote to Dave Dedrick back in 2005 after seeing him at a funeral of a relative:
...I am a child of the early Captain 11 era. Now an art teacher in NE Iowa, another teacher in my district grew up in NW Iowa where I did and we were just talking about Captain 11 at school and our good memories of watching your show. I can imagine myself jumping up and down on one foot and now two feet in my living room and "freezing" along with the kids in the studio. I was also in the hospital when I was 5 years old and you visited our ward one day and I got a red balloon from you that you were handing out and I kept that balloon until is shriveled and laid down on the floor in our toy room to fly no more. How special I felt that you visited.
I just wanted to tell you how much you and your show meant to us kids of the 60's.
"... He must be kind. He must be fair. He must be brave. You have fulfilled these requirements..."
Flicking a switch on the time convertor for you.
Thanks for the memories.

Here is what he wrote back to me with the subject of his e-mail "Captain 11 Reporting"
Dear Diane,
I am flattered that you remember. I am also amazed at how frequently I am contacted by former Crew Members. Letters, phone calls, emails....all recalling some special thing we shared.
In retirement I can honestly say the rapport that exists between Crew Members and the Captain is most gratifying. Three generations of little people in four states have found a few moments for a flicker-flashback setting of happiness and carefree times.
That is most obvious when someone sees me in a restaurant or a hardware store and I stand in awe as I observe them staring intently before they point and ask," Are you Captain 11?"
"I used to be"
Then the metamorphoses sets in and they revert to being a little child as they rattle off their recollections of childhood memories. It is a wonder to behold. I just love it.
Thank you for writing and sharing...take good care of my little friends...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I should be at school...

Another day of no school due to winter weather. A mixture of snow and freezing rain is visiting NE Iowa.
I was downloading some photos from the school cameras this week trying to clear off photos from my Graphic Design class of last semester and came across these. A student must have taken these photos for a photo montage assignment. (I montaged the photos for this view) Oh my, what a wake up call to see the multiple photos joined together to make up this scene. It needs to be organized, filed and cleaned up drastically but obviously I'm having a hard time finding the time to get it done.We've had three days of school called off this year already and one late start. Add that to ending one semester of classes and adding a new group of classes and projects to get out. I've got to file away last semester so there is room for this semesters materials. It's about priorities I guess. While trying to make the current projects and classes progress the old stuff gets buried deeper into piles. Excuses, excuses... when I get it cleaned I'll have to post a new view.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mexico 1990

20 years ago I chaperoned a group of students on a trip to Mexico with two Spanish teachers. I found this travel log in my files and thought it would be of interest to some of you. It brought back memories of the trip and things I'd forgotten.

Wednesday, August 1, 1990 - We Left school (Denver, IA) in 3 vehicles for Des Moines and the Hampton Inn. Drivers were Marge Lieb, Mr. Jacobson and Diane Johnson. After checking in the 3 boys went to Young Guns II while the girls went to the freezing pool and later watched a pay cable movie "Bird on a Wire."

Thursday, August 2 - Got up at 4 am, no problems catching United flight to Chicago. We had some first time fliers in our group and one deathly scarred flyer (Diane Jacobson). After a long walk through O'Hara airport to the Mexicana desk we prepared to board our Mexicana Flight to Mexico City. We were seated over the wing so seeing the city from the air was a little difficult. The air appeared hazy, we had heard a lot about the pollution and elevation of the city. We were met by our guide Carlos who helped us to our bus and then guided us through the city to the Hotel Prim. I shared a room (Rm #533) with Marge and Sandra Lieb. The view out of our window was that of poverty and wealth. A building was being renovated directly across the street and next to it in an abandoned lot (from the earthquake) there were a couple of shacks where families lived.

Friday, August 3 - Everyone had been prewarned about drinking the water and the Hotel Prim supplied bottled drinking water to their guests. Marge did not feel well today and spent the day resting and trying to get back on her feet. We left by bus to first stop at the Plaza of the Three Cultures, where a Spanish Cathedral, Aztec Ruins, and Modern Mexican Buildings are all located together to symbolize the past and present history of Mexico. Our next stop was to the most revered religious monument in Latin America, the Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Legend has it that Juan Diego a basket seller saw a floating lady and was persuaded by her to ask the bishop for a shrine. It took much persuasion on Juans part but after giving a gift from the lady of roses wrapped in a cloth the Bishop gave his consent to have the shrine built. The cloth that was wrapped around the roses had the image of the lady on it. It is framed and shown at the newly built temple which opened in 1979 to accommodate the people that come. Many people bring gifts to the lady and some crawl in on their knees in tribute to the lady.
Driving out of the city we saw evidence of so much poverty while driving through more industrial areas away from the center of the city. We were now on our way to Teotihuacan ("The Place of Gods") to see the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon and the Temple of Quetzalcoatl. First we went to a shop where they were forming volcanic stone into various items for sale. We also were given a presentation about the Century Plant, a large cactus plant that was used for paper, needle and thread and the juice of it when fermented becomes tequila. A strike of the workers and some venders made us reroute our approach to the pyramids. They were discovered in 1901 or 1905 and are dated back to being inhabited between 700 BC - 700 AD by farmers. Nomads came in 760 AD and killed the farmers destroying the civilization. There are still mounds of unexcavated areas leaving 80% of the area excavated. The pyramid of the Sun has 245 steps and is 65 meters high. The Pyramid of the Moon is shorter. The steps were difficult to climb in the high elevation and heat. About half of the students made it to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun. I made it up to the first large platform. We also visited the Temple of the Jaguars that had 13 steps symbolizing the 13 nations.
Lunch was served to us at the Gran Teocalli Restaurant - a Mexican fiesta with strolling mariachis and Indian dancers in full costumes. Tables were filled with fruits, salads and hot dishes. Most of the students at least tasted warm cactus. Returning to Mexico City we took a walking tour of the Zocalo; the National Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the newly unearthed Templo Mayor of the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlan. In the palace we viewed the huge Diego Rivera mural with scenes of Mexicos history. The guards were everywhere as the president was in residence. Everyone was scarred about taking pictures of the guards as they have been known to break cameras. The National Cathedral is the most important cathedral in the whole country. Part of the cathedral, which is built in the shape of a cross, is sinking and there is always the need for ongoing repairs. The top part of the cross of the cathedral floor plan was subject to a fire in 1962. Inside there are two grand pipe organs the Mexican Organ built in 1760 was built at a cost of only 20,000 pesos! The whole cathedral was built for 20 million pesos! (we received aproximately 2,850 per dollar while we were there!)
Carlos is full of information and we were told Mexico has 80 million people of which 18-20 million live in Mexico City the most populated city in the world. Mexico City, D.F. has a ratio of 4:1 women to men. Mexico covers 2 million square kilometers.

Saturday, August 4 - (Marge is moving today!) Riding the Metro, Mexico Cities subway system was an experience for many of us. Our destination was the 1000 - acre Chapultepec Park. Our first visit was to the Castle of Maximilian and Carlota. Positioned on top of a hill we prepared for the walk to the top. Building up our calf muscles must of been our first priority as the incline along with the high elevation was almost enough to do us in. What kept us going were the people exercising on the hill running up and down and when we reached the top we saw a large group doing aerobics. The castle used to be a military academy and 6 cadets once stayed there to defend the Mexican flag from the Spaniards. One cadet wrapped his body in the flag and jumped down the cliff to save it being taken by the Spanish in victory from it's pole. The six young cadets are national heros and even have their pictures on a 5 or 10 thousand peso bill.
We crossed Reforma Boulevard to explore the Museum of Anthropology. The park had boats on the water and birds to entertain the many people out on a Saturday morning. We were surprised to see 5 men on top of a pole suspended by ropes around their waist fall off the pole backwards and spin down to the ground. The museum featured the calendar stone, stone gods and artifacts of early Mexico, a modern environment for pieces used long ago.
The evening found us trying to organize transportation to the Latin American Tower for a view of the city from the tallest building in Latin America. A beautiful view at night.

Sunday, August 5 - Our last morning in Mexico City found us trying to get to the Ballet Folklorico. The President of Mexico was speaking in the Zocalo resulting in streets being closed all over the place. We ended up walked within 2 blocks of the President. The Ballet Folklorico was a beautiful display of native costumes and dances showcasing native stories, music and color. After the program we again boarded the bus for the floating gardens of Xochimilco. Carlos and Arturo (our bus driver) had gone and bought us Kentucky Fried Chicken box lunches and we took them aboard our floating gondola. All the girls were presented with bouquets of flowers upon boarding the boat. The canal was packed with musicians, families, peddlers, and groups of all kinds. When we got off the gondola we gave our scraps to some dogs and almost started some dog fights. Leaving Xochimilco we headed for Taxco on a new road that had been opened only 2 months. A surprise for some and we were all glad to be avoiding the winding curving roads into the mountains. (We got in on a few of them closer to Taxco.) On the way we saw fields of sugar cane and acres and acres of roses.
Our first stop in Taxco was at a shop where complimentary beverages were given (pop for the kids, Tequila for the teachers) and information about silver was explained. Pure silver is impossible to work, it needs to have an alloy. Most of the pieces in Taxco are between 94% - 98% silver. To earn the government stamp jewelry must contain 92.5% silver. All the silver mining is controlled by the government and artisans then buy the silver from them. The government stamp contains 2 initials of the designer/artisan and 2 numbers the federal # register of the workshop and the quality of silver. For cleaning silver ammonia is not good, the artisans claimed it would eventually eat away at the surface. Clean gold with ammonia and water. The amethyst stone, which stands for good luck, is also mined in Taxco along with many other stones. High above the city is located the Hotel Monte Taxco. We reached the Hotel by riding in a sky lift that accommodates 4 passengers and received a fantastic view of the city. The motel was a beautiful group of buildings and facilities that included a pool, disco, lounge, restaurant, game room, gym, tennis and basketball courts, horse rides, a golf course and shops. Arriving on a Sunday night most of the facilities were closing or being renovated. The disco had a special that night to anyone wearing black and white and after trading clothes around. The teachers went to the lounge to listen to Carl a singer/piano player from the Bahamas that came highly recommended. We enjoyed ourselves greatly.

Monday, August 6 - We traveled down the mountain via the sky lifts to tour Taxco, the world capitol of silver with a population of 200,000. The main highway going through Taxco is called John F. Kennedy Avenue. We went to silver shops and toured a mine no longer in production where we saw examples of the stones found in the region and old equipment used in the mines. There are currently 6 mines being worked around the clock in Taxco. We walked through the narrow stoned covered streets to the Cathedral of Santo Prisca, one of the world's most beautiful churches. It was built with money donated by one of the early silver pioneers whose only son and heir became a priest. Artisans were working on it's restoration and we viewed some of the clean up process and gold leaf painting. Some venders upon hearing we were headed for Acapulco that day told us the temperature there was 110 degrees! We decided to get some pizzas for the ride instead of stopping for lunch and were surprised to get cut up hot dogs posing as sausage on a couple of pizzas. Carlos and Arturo presented us with a contest for us all to guess what time we would arrive at a certain spot in Acapulco. Two surprise gifts were wrapped tempting everyone to guess the correct hour, minute and second of our arrival. The trip out of Taxco was very winding and many people tried to sleep to avoid the queezy feeling the road was giving us. We traveled over the Sierra Madres formed from the Appalachian and the Rocky Mountain ranges where they meet in Mexico. Our guide told us of many movies made in the area and we enjoyed the country side. Chandelier cactus were common is an area the guide compared to our Grand Canyon.
Our first sights of Acapulco were of a more industrial side of the city with some road construction going on. Everyone was looking for their first glimpse of the ocean it finally came at the top of a hill looking through some residential homes. Acapulco has one main street running parallel to the beach that has most of the points of interests. We traveled to the Tortuga (Turtle) Hotel located in the center of Acapulco Bay. Everyone went off to either enjoy the pool, explore the area or eat. The three teachers went to Sanborns and ate while looking out over the Bay. Window shopping filled the rest of the evening.

Tuesday, August 7 - Today a free day we planned to meet down for our breakfast buffet early, a feast of food, most took advantage of a chef who made omelets to order in the dining area. We traveled across the street to the beach area walking along the waters edge. While examining the sand and looking for crabs a wave surprised the three teachers giving us our first douse of water. We came upon Disco Beach where parasailing, Banana boats and Jet skis were for rent and figured the kids would find their way there and decided to settle. We had huge blue and white umbrellas and lounge chairs and tables in both shaded areas and the sun. The boys came later and the parasailing started first with John, Jason, Sam, and Jed. The excitement and enthusiasm the boys showed tempted the rest of us and Niki, Sandra, Ann, and Diane (yep me, I went parasailing!) followed. Marge tried to follow but the boat broke down for the day. (tomorrow) After a day of fun at the beach we shopped and then got ready for a trip to the Hard Rock Cafe, newly opened in Acapulco.
The Hard Rock Cafe was a treasure of music and movie memorabilia. A person could look at the items on the walls forever. T- shirts and Hard Rock items were purchased by most and we ventured nearer to the hotel by bus. I remember Brian saying "Do we have to pay extra for the sauna?" The bus was extremely hot and crowded, many of us would of walked if only we could get off! We then went to a disco near the hotel where many danced away their excess energy.

Wednesday, August 8 - Again to the beach, the coolest place around. We were told the heat reached 48 degrees C. today (That would be nearing 120 degrees F.!!!) There was less wind but first on our agenda was watching Marge parasail! She did it, a woman who can't float or swim out over the ocean! Quick shopping was in order before leaving for a cruise on the Bonanza to see the beautiful Acapulco Bay from the ocean side. The rock of the water didn't agree with many students but the views were great as we saw Frank Sinatra's, The Shah of Iran, and many other homes. Music and dancing accompanied us around the bay as we viewed "our" beach from the water. Our next stop by bus was to the famous Cliffs of La Quebrada to see the daredevil cliff-divers. The distance they dove was up to 138 feet while having to watch the roll of the waves against the rocks to complete a safe dive. It was interesting to learn the practice of diving from the cliff started as recently as back when a Tarzan movie was shot and Johnny Weismillers double had to dive from the cliff. After the movie was shot the double kept on diving for the crowd that would gather and a tradition was started. This was also the sight of Elvis Presley's movie "Fun in Acapulco". Many of us went to Pizza Hut that evening and while the teachers packed. Carlos took the students to Eve's a popular disco about a block away where they danced their last night away.

Thursday, August 9 - Our last morning in Mexico found us having an early breakfast, gathering of luggage and final group pictures before leaving in a bus for the airport. On our way to the airport we were able to see Sylvester Stalones impressive home and the Black Lagoon where part of the African Queen was shot and many other movies. The Acapulco Airport was not very large at all and we were all surprised at how such a famous location could have such a small airport. Everyone was exhausted and it showed (we saw people we traveled down to Mexico on and they commented we looked beat).
We arrived in Des Moines near midnight and were met by the Dunlaps. The three vehicles then headed home in a rain storm. I was Very low on gas and when we finally reached a gas station in Waverly that was open it wasn't until there that we heard about the US sending troops to Kuwait, the prices for gas was 1.25.
The trip was a success.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Elmer's Hill

On Section 20, of Sioux township, in Lyon County, IA, many children and adults of the area went sledding on the hill that seemed to be made for many groups to enjoy when it became snow covered. In my lifetime it was known as “Elmer’s (Swanson) Hill". Elmer Swanson was my Great Uncle, a brother to my Grandma Phoebe. The hill, next to a little valley where Blood Run Creek traveled on it's way to the Sioux River, wasn't far from the house where they grew up and about a mile from my childhood home (as the bird flies).
Families, churches, schools, neighbors and groups of friends found themselves sledding there, enjoying the thrill of the speed down the hill and the warmth from many bonfires built at the top. There was an area near the gravel road that you had to stay away from because of rocks and rough terrain but a few yards to the west, the hill was a treasure to coast down. In later years I remember Dad and neighbor Eddie Hildring bringing their snowmobiles there, to give rides back to the top of the hill. Not far away were ruts in the land where the old stagecoach trail once was. A place of history in more ways that one.
Eventually a fence was put at the bottom, after the land was sold, and the hill became silent after decades of laughter and screams of excitement. If you listen closely you may still hear the sounds of laughter from memories of your own sledding days.
My Grandmother wrote this poem in January 1966, about the hill and adventures down it, remembering the hill when her father owned the land.

Hilarious Adventure
by Phoebe (Swanson) Johnson
Yes, we had fun and many a thrill, As bravely we would interlock, When coasting down steep Pasture Hill.
Though sometimes we would take a spill, We dared again for one more shock... Yes, we had fun and many a thrill.
We never suffered any ill - Perhaps a tear in pant or frock... When speeding down that perilous hill.
To steer the sled took grit and skill, As steel flashed fire on hidden rock... Yes it was fun - How we did thrill!
A long pull up for Jack and Jill, Then swiftly down to scare the cock, While coasting on the Pasture Hill.
When nighttime came and all was still, Said Little Nod to Blinkum Block, “Yes, we had fun and many a thrill, When coasting down steep Pasture Hill.”

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snow Days... Cold Days...

“Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories.”
Wishing you some warm memories today and everyday.

Left: The frosted window view out my back door this morning.

We've had school canceled two days this week due to weather. The calls came to me around 5:30 am on the phone tree the last two days. I'm an early riser so there's no problem there, but I've been unable to go back to sleep each morning, so I begin my day with the promise of a nap in the afternoon if I'm productive in the morning. (Yesterday I got a nap AND watched the movie "Munich")
Yesterday morning I actually went up to school (I only live 5 blocks from school) and put my grades on the computer around 7:45 am, meeting the predetermined deadline that the office was determined that everyone meet. My neighbor had blown my driveway out early and the plows had gone on the streets. The school parking lot was still snow covered and it continued to snow and blow. I was resenting the fact that they pressured me to go up to school and post my grades when school was canceled, afterall these snow days are actually my "summer vacation" days! I was glad it was done after the fact and it only took about 10 minutes to complete. Done, onto the next task.
I will be teaching a digital imaging / tech workshop next weekend on the 16th. It's part of our teacher quality money and Denver teachers will be paid a stipend to attend. This is one of two workshops I'll run. The free time that the canceled school days bring, is allowing me to prepare for the workshop. I'm making a handout with tips and links, to e-mail out to those involved. It has always been a frustration of mine when someone reads a link out loud and expects you to type each link in, while you're trying to explore these sites. It makes you have to keep to their pace and limits true exploration. It has taken me much longer than I thought it would, to compile this handout, but I seem to find new things to add to it and am enjoying visiting and revisiting the wealth of information and programs out there. We'll be focusing on digital images and using iPhoto, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I also promised I would show them how easy it is to create a blog.
There is much to do and now I have the time to attack some of it. It's a No procrastination Zone at my house today.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Our Loghouse Heritage

Our Loghouse Heritage
by Phoebe (Swanson) Johnson

The loghouse was a humble, friendly dwelling... a product of necessity and toil.
Our people came to Freedom’s Land with great zeal... made livelihood from scratch. They broke the soil!
They found new values in their work and home-life; and lent to stricken neighbors heart and hand.
True character is molded in a loghouse; For honesty and thrift they took their stand!
When winter’s biting cold would grip their cabin and snow drift high upon their loghouse door;
When in the nighttime hungry coyotes howling would horrify; or all food was low in store.
More faith and courage now, was theirs to muster to fight disease and hardship and their fear,
But God was Teacher, making strong their spirit and He was in this lowly home to cheer.
The springtime thaws brought joy and eager planning, and hope illumined their homestead fireside then;
And when, to worship, Christian friends would gather, their stronghold rang with, “Praise the Lord! Amen!”
Soon little feet would venture down the pathway, and Mother followed, keeping watchful eye.
They picked wild flowers to grace their cabin table as Sioux River sang a nap-time lullaby.
The friendly Sioux was bountiful in giving of waters, fish, sound logs for cabins new;
Vines laden with wild grapes hung low from tree tops and juicy plums and berries near by grew.
We prize our heritage of each quaint loghouse where noble dreams were born that must survive;
Let us in consecrated love go forward and, “Under God,” for peace and justice... strive!

Carl and Carolina Swanson arrived in Lincoln Co. Dakota Territory in 1870. Carl held a pre-emption claim to lands situated along the Big Sioux River approximately 8 miles north and one mile east of Canton, in what is now Dayton Twp. A sod house was built for their first winter. Over the next years, Carl planted many cottonwood trees and in 1872 constructed a log cabin on a hill. It's been added onto but all in all it's amazing it is still standing!Photo taken by Russ Swanson November, 2009.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Grandpa Joe Johnson

I haven't posted anything lately about my ancestors and their lives so here is a little about my Grandpa Joe who died six years before I was born.
Joseph Edward Johnson was born on the "May Place", approximately eight miles north of Canton, Lincoln County, SD, then Dakota Territory, on October 28, 1882 to Andew and Albertina (Gustafsdotter) Johnson. He was the youngest of five children born to these new emigrants from Ljung, Östergötland, Sweden.
His parents left Göteborg Sweden on the ship Orlando for Hull, England, on June 3, 1881, with a ticket for New York. They arrived in Canton on June 22, 1881. Joe's mother gave birth to his sister Lena on July 5, 1881. What a trip she must have had, being pregnant and traveling with a 6, 4, and 2 year old to a new country. Their chosen destination met them with relatives, as Albertina's sister (Carolina Swanson) and brother were already established pioneers in the area, raising their families on the Dakota Prairie along the Sioux River north of Canton.
Peter (Albertina's brother) and Anna (Olson) Newberg were Godparents at Joe's baptism at the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Mission Church of Swedona (Corson, SD) on January 1, 1883 and he was baptized by Pastor John F. Wretlof.
Material and personal financial resources were all but nonexistent. Together with many early settlers of that era, they had to start at the very beginning. Earning a livelihood in those pioneer days was a cooperative family endeavor. Father, mother and children all worked at the common and immediate task of acquiring necessary food, shelter and clothing. As soon as possible they rented a farm. The settlers were periodically subjected to the rigors of drought, grasshoppers, hot burning winds of summer and cold story blasts of winter. The children worked with their parents doing daily chores and fieldwork, it was a way of life and survival for them.
When I asked my Dad for some stories about his Dad's youth he shared; When Joe was confirmed he had "orders" not to wear his shoes until he was close to the church as to not wear them out. Once he snuck into the back of the buggy when his sister Emma and Charley Long were courting, once discovered, about two miles from home, he was made to walk back home.
Joe saw a kaliopee pulled by horses when he was young and always thought it'd be great if he could pull into the yard with one of them.
He liked to sing and when a youth we went to rural school for a short time but they wouldn’t let him sing along as he spoke Swedish and he would sit on the bench mad as he loved to sing and say “feda” repeatedly. (we were told this meant Shit in Swedish but I am unsure of the spelling and can't find this in translation programs.) No one knew what he was saying. In later years Joe and his wife, Phoebe Johnson, would often enjoy singing together in church for special music.
In 1903, Joe and his brother Carl and sister Lena moved with their parents to their own farm near Tea, SD.
Joe's Papa, Anders Peter Johnson, was known as quite a gardener. Joe would take some of the produce into Sioux Falls, coming in from the Tea farm by buggy to sell when he was a young man. My Dad said when he was a kid he went with his Dad (Joe) into Sioux Falls and stopped at the Lyon home down by now Lyon Park (and the statue of David) near the post office and he remembers looking at the old cars in the garage there (Calvin always had a fascination with old cars) and the maid came out and telling him it's time for lunch and Mrs. Lyons told Calvin she remembered his Dad coming in and selling vegetables to her when he was a young man.
Son Calvin told of when the family had a table downstairs where they would take the milk to after milking the cow. Dad also remembers his Dad and Uncle Carl going downstairs with a bowl and spooning the sour cream off the top of the milk and eating that as a treat with a little sugar on it.
Some of the cars & trucks he owned: 1918 Luverne Truck, 1919 Franklin - drove this on his honeymoon to Chicago. 1928-9 NASH, hit coming home from Rock Rapids in a dust storm and the car got wrecked. His family was with him. Calvin remembers crying when he got home because he thought they wouldn't have a car now and Uncle Carl told him to BE QUIET!, that they were lucky to all be alive and unhurt! 1935 Dodge Truck, 1936 Studebaker, 1939 Diamond T Truck, 1939 Buick, 1940 Diamond T Truck, 1941 Chrysler, and 1948 Dodge. This shows my own Dad's love of vehicles to remember the cars his Dad had.

I wrote the following in 1989 about our farm, while taking an Iowa Writers Workshop class: In 1923 my newlywed grandparents Joe and Phoebe lived with great-grandpa and grandma (Charlie & Anna) for a couple months until their temporary structure a quarter of a mile away was built. A farm was being built in Sioux Township #16 in Lyon County, IA starting with the barn, the most important structure, by two men, Sievert Thompson and Otto Lund. They mixed the cement by hand and painted the wood red twice, once on the ground and the second time while the barn was all erected. The 60 ft. long by 40 ft. wide structure complete with bunks and a full length haymound was built at a cost of $500. for labor charges, plus the cost of supplies. To celebrate the completion of the rounded roof barn, they hoisted a piano up into the hayloft and a barn dance was held for those friends and relatives from both near and far. The church ladies aid group also held a meeting in the hayloft to commemorate it's completion. To this day the crowd that attended that meeting was the largest crowd to assemble of the Grandview Covenant Ladies Aid. Imagine the hymns floating through the windows after ladies young and old climbed the stairs, especially built for that occasion, or take the ladder to the loft and sat on fresh bales of hay to share God's word. Other buildings appeared soon as my grandparents attempted to build this farmstead. The "little garage", a white two car garage, was built before the large house to provide shelter for my grandfather's 1919 Franklin car and 1916 Luverne truck.
My father, Calvin, was born in what has now become known as the chicken house on our farm. It was a home at that time with ruffled curtains hanging in windows that welcomed south breezes in the summer and fought against the cold winter winds. Grandma Phoebe fixed her two room home up with little touches like flowers, pictures on the walls and clean linens and cloths covering furniture arranged carefully in the close living quarters. Dad's bed was a bassinet seated upon the piano bench, a simple start to a life spent calling the same address home. Moving into the big house came about three weeks after Calvin was born. Imagine a young wife and mother of two children, Joyce at 1 1/2 years and Calvin only 3 weeks old, overseeing such a transformation of environments and lifestyles. It was December of 1925, and the young family was in the new house by Christmas. The house was a large two story yellow stucco structure with white wooden trim. It was positioned on top of a hill overlooking Blood Run Creek and family farmland. Paths were still in nearby fields where the stagecoach trails of not so long ago transported passengers to their destinations. Trees had been planted to accompany the driveway up the hill. They also provided windbreaks and shelter for wildlife and for the house and family within. Many of the groves surrounding the buildings were planted by Grandpa Joe and his young son Calvin. Grandma Phoebe was a magician with flowers and transformed the yard into a showcase of colorful flowers on all sides of the house. There was a hedge around the front yard with a white picket fence standing next to it. Rows and rows of flowers added backdrop for many family pictures taken outside the home over the years. Lilac bushes now ran the length of the little two room home that had by now been turned into a chicken house, dividing it from the large house and yard. Uncle Carl, Grandpa Joe's older brother, joined the family of five in 1931.
At one time Grandpa Joe fed cattle with farmers on 13 different farms, splitting profits on up to 1200 head, the bookkeeping tabulations he must of performed at his desk without the benefit of modern aides. I'm sure Grandma Phoebe helped. The time came to add cement to the barn floor and troughs.
The youngest Johnson at that time, Carol Ann, lent her feet for footprints into the yielding wet cement. In 1936 the first Johnson owned tractor came on the farm; before then Grandpa Joe had rented the land to others because he also farmed by Tea and Flandreau, SD. In 1938 the "big garage" came after the purchase of two Diamond T trucks on the farm. The farm was growing out of necessity and progress. Grain needed to be weighed and stored, so a scale house and corn crib appeared as did feeders for the feedlots and buildings to house hogs. The set of buildings started to surround the family as if to provide for and protect them. When dad went to the army, Grandpa rented the land out again selling off some equipment; any changes awaited the return of the only son. Upon dad's return home, he and Uncle Carl lived together in the big house. They bached it from 1948-1950 while Grandma and Grandpa moved to Sioux Falls, to 2020 S. 1st. in 1949, leaving their home in the hands of future generations.

Below are some newspaper articles I've found that help elaborate on events in Grandpa's life:

Wedding - Unique Old Fashioned Wedding is Feature of June Day at Granite, Miss Phoe (Phoebe) Swanson, of Larchwood, Married to Joseph E. Johnson, of Tea, With Country Ceremony and Group of Girls from Sioux Falls
What the bounty and hospitality of the old fashioned
wedding used to mean to a whole countryside was recalled last evening in the unique ceremony held at Granite, Iowa, when Miss Phoebe C. Swanson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C. T. Swanson of Larchwood, Iowa, and Joseph Edward Johnson of Tea were united in marriage. (June 20, 1923)
Tent Reception
The crowds of friends and relatives from Iowa and South Dakota who were present were almost unlimited because of the size of the great tent where the wedding reception and program were held. As soon as the ceremony was finished in the Mission Church of Granite, the automobile loads of guests including many who could not get into the church arrived at the farmhouse, sixteen miles southeast of Sioux Falls. There, for
days preparations had been made for the feast. Great pots of coffee were boiling on the stove and an abundance of meats, sandwiches, cakes and ice cream in many varieties were waiting to be served.
Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Johnson received their relatives and friends as they entered the tent, and soon the long tables were filled with guests. Following the blessing asked by Rev. R. A. Larson of Granite, Iowa, who had performed the ceremony, congratulatory speeches were made to the bride and groom, and those present expressed the hope that their table might always be filled with good things and that they might find happiness in their future home.
“I Love You Truly,” was sung by Miss Mabel Swanson, sister of the bride, and Miss Edna Hegland (Haglund) of Menominee, Michigan, played two piano solos. Rev. Larson and Rev. E. Begland (Bergland) living north of Brandon made short addresses. Mrs. Larson sang “Perfect Day”.
Friends from Sioux Falls
The flow of refreshments was not stopped by the program, however. Over twenty girls who had motored from Sioux Falls for the purpose served the crowds. Assisting were Elloa McLellan, Maude McLellan, Frances Howlin, Esther Thompson, Gladys Brandt, Alpha Hoyne, Athetha Meyers, Eleanor Martin, Thelma Carlberg, Martha Bradly, Rowena Bliss, Lois Allen, Florence McGilvray, Hazel Lundquist, Lucille Helfert, Helen Helfert, Hilda Carlson, Effie Straight, Vera Hodgins, Ruth Krumm, Mrs. L.A. Johnson, Alma Johnson.
Many went to the room filled with wedding presents for the young people. A piano was included among the gifts. Electric lights and candles illuminated the scene. The tables were arranged around the bridal table as a center and were decorated with peonies, roses of brilliant hues and pink candy baskets.
With little thought of the long distance many of those present would have to drive before they would have to reach their homes, the guests feasted and celebrated for hours. The little flower girls Josephine Larson and Myrtle Carlson and the small ring bearer Robert Larson were gay and sleepy at the same time as the evening advanced.
Church Ceremony
In the church ceremony the bride walked slowly down the isle on the arm of her father as the wedding
march from ‘Lohengrin’ was played. She was gowned in white satin, softly draped and trimmed with pearl medallions. Her long veil of tulle was held in place with a band of orange blossoms. She carried a bouquet of lillys of the valley and pink roses. Miss Mabel Swanson, the brides sister, was maid of honor. She wore a gown of pale yellow canton crepe and carried a bouquet of roses. Bridesmaids were Miss Betty Long of Larchwood and Miss Hegland (Haglund).
After an extended trip through the east and south for their honeymoon, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson will make their home on the bridegrooms farm four miles northeast of Tea. (THE ARGUS LEADER, Thurs., 6/21/1923)

Joe Johnsons Celebrate 25th Wedding Anniversary
About 150 relatives attended the silver wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Johnson, living southeast of Sioux Falls Sunday, at which time the latter wore her wedding dress. Practically all members of the bridal party of 25 years ago attended. A program appropriate for the occasion was given.
Messages and good wishes were read. They had been sent by absent relatives and friends, among one being a message from Sweden; while those attending presented the Johnsons silver gifts.
Amidst decorations of many flowers, a social afternoon was enjoyed and lunch was served. The Rev. Franc Ericson, pastor of Grandview church, presided as toastmaster and introduced those taking part.

Obituary: ARGUS LEADER, Tue. April 8, 1952 "Services will be held at the Grandview Covenant Church of Larchwood, IA at 2 p.m. Thursday for Joseph Edward Johnson, 69, of 2020 S. 1st Ave. who died at a local hospital Monday. Officiating will be the Revs. David Kline, France Ericson and Axel Long. Dr. Maynard Berk will be organist. Music will be furnished by the Rev. and Mrs. Kline and Carol Beth Swanson. Burial will be in the Grandview Covenant Church Cemetery. The Miller Funeral Home is in charge."

Ex-Cattle Feeder, J. Johnson, Dies (April 7, 1952)
A retired cattle feeder, Joseph Edward Johnson, 69, of 2020 S. 1st Ave., died at a local hospital this morning after a two-year illness. (Prostrate cancer) Mr. Johnson had resided on a farm in the Larchwood, Ia., vicinity from 1923 until he came to Sioux Falls in the fall of 1949.
Born in Canton, Oct. 28, 1882, Mr. Johnson went into the cattle business with his brother, Carl, from 1903 until 1923.
Joseph Johnson married Phoebe Swanson in Larchwood, June 20, 1923. He was a member of the Grandview Covenant Church of Larchwood and the Sioux Falls Lions Club.
He is survived by his widow; two daughters, Mrs. Joyce Whitcher, Sioux Falls, and Mrs. Carol Ball, Larchwood; a son Calvin T., Larchwood; two sisters, Mrs. Emma Long, Larchwood, and Mrs. Frank Carlson, Hartford; a brother, Carl J., Larchwood, and four grandchildren.
Services will be held at the Grandview Church. Burial will be in the church cemetery. The body is at the Miller Funeral Home.

After compiling this information I see there is more I need to do and find to complete it. I need to find some younger photos to scan and complete more stories on his life. I did find numerous letters he wrote to his bride to be, my Grandpa Phoebe when they were courting. They are a touching reminder of their love to each other. Maybe more for another post sometime...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Burrrrrr or Brrrrrr

Either way you write it, it's cold here tonight! We have a Wind Chill Warning through tomorrow morning and it's currently -25 F. wind chill out (air temp -6 F.), with the possibility of hitting -40 F. tonight!
A cold weekend ahead of us and here I put off going up to school to work until this weekend! It will really be cold up there! Gotta do what a persons gotta do...


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