Howard Lake Herald, September 21, 1998

Regardless of what happens, life goes on

The following is the last of a four-part series based on Milla Klammer's journal written while growing up and living in the Howard Lake-Waverly area.

By Milla Klammer

In 1936, we built the chicken house and we would get 300 baby chicks in the spring. We had two brooder houses with stoves to keep the little chicks warm. In the fall, we put the pullets in the hen house. The egg price was still 15 cents a dozen.

We built a big machine shed, but I can't remember what year. No change in 1937. In 1938, we planted apple trees east of the house and raised seen corn, which was a cash crop.

In 1939, my husband Erwin's father George had a heart attack driving home from town. He got as far as the Barth house and ran off the street and died.

Dad rented some land to help make a little more money. We raised sugar cane and made our own sorghum. Sugar cane grows like corn. In the fall, you stripped the leaves off, cut off the stock and tied it in bundles, took them to a sorghum press which squeezed the juice out of the stock and cooked the juice until you got sorghum (very good). We had gallons of it.

We detasseled seed corn by the acre ­ don't remember how many acres we detasseled or what they paid. We'd go out early in the morning, rain or shine, and detassel for two weeks or more. I have a receipt from 1943 when we detasseled 16 acres and got $12 an acre ­ $192 for 16 to 18 days' work.

In 1939, R.E.A. came by and we got electricity in the house and barn. We put an electric pressure water pump in the basement and had running water in the house. And we got a refrigerator named Wayne.

On June 1, 1940, our daughter, Arlene was born at home. Then our bedroom got too small for five people, so my dad and I made two rooms out of the bedroom upstairs, so Marcella and Ken each had a room. We also made a larger cupboard in the kitchen because we needed more room there, too.

We always had a hired man. We had 20 different men in the 25 years we were married. Erwin served on the town boards for 12 years ­ creamery, school board, elder in thechurch and others, which took his time, so we needed a hired man to help. One faithful fellow, Leslie Dermo (Shortie), worked for us many summers. He would come in the spring shortly after Easter, work all summer, and then when the first snowflake fell, he'd go home to McGregor.

We didn't pay wages then like now. He got cigarettes and clothes. In 1932, the hired man we had was paid $120 for six months. We had other men and some only stayed a couple months and some not even that long.

We can't forget the Nov. 11, 1940, Armistice Day snow storm. In themorning of that day, the weather was mild, cloudy, and a little rainy. Erwin, Marcella, Kenneth and Milton Westphal, our hired man, went to town with the car and a trailer to get some corn cobs from the Northrup King seed corn plant in town.

As they were loading the trailer, it started to snow and the wind began to blow. Erwin started for home with the load, but when he got around the corner west of town by the old red barn, he ran off the road with the load of cobs. It was snowing so hard they couldn't see. So they walked to the first place west of the crossroad where Hugh Montgomery lived. The kids stayed there. Erwin and Milton put feed sacks over their heads and walked home. I was pretty worried about them. I couldn't see the barn, as it was snowing and blowing that hard. We got a lot of snow and the roads were blocked for a couple days. The storm was all over the state. There were a lot of people stranded in their cars and on lakes ­ duck hunters had it rough. There is a book about it. The name of the book is "All Hell Broke Loose" and Marcella and Ken each have one.

In 1941, we bought the 80 acres east of us where the school house was. We didn't have any money to buy it, but wanted more land and went into debt again. Marcella and Kenneth went to the country school from 1935 to 1943. After that, the country school closed.

1942 was the war and we had food stamps and gas rationing. We had books with red, brown, blue, and green stamps. You needed stamps to buy gasoline, tires, shoes, clothing and some groceries like sugar and coffee. The farmers could get more gas with stamps for tractors and trucks for farm use. You could only get so many gallons of gas for your car with so many stamps, which wasn't enough gas to make any trips.

A couple times, Erwin took the truck with some grain up north to Pine River and came back with fence posts. Then you could get extra gas with stamps. You always had to haul something with the truck. The car was different, that was for pleasure, so you couldn't get extra gas.

On Dec. 26, 1944, Wayne was born at home. Prices were picking up and we needed a bigger house. In the fall of 1945, we built a 14 foot addition on the house, which gave us a living room, bathroom, a cloak room and full basement. We detasseled more corn and a few other jobs to help with the expenses. Then there were 75 acres of land for sale up the road west of the farm, and now with a larger family, Erwin bought it. From 1946-48 we were working hard to keep going.

The farm we bought had a house, barn, granary, hog house and a few other buildings on it. We moved the hog house and a smaller building to the home place for more cattle barns. (I still live in that same house which is now 11th Avenue in Howard Lake.)

Marcella and Ken went to high school and Marcella graduated in 1947. After that, she worked in the bank in town. Ken graduated in 1949 and stayed home to farm, until 1953, when Uncle Sam called him to go into the service. In the fall of 1949, my Dad came to live with us.

He helped a lot, as he was a carpenter, and he made little flower stands and helped Wayne make a wooden wheel barrow. But again the house was too small, so we made a small room off of the store room for Ken's bedroom.

In 1949, Erwin bought a lot on the Gruenhagen addition in Howard Lake and moved the house onto it. We had Reuben Wandersee (brother-in-law) and my dad do the work of remodeling it. We rented the house to school teachers for six years.

On June 6, 1950, Marcella got married to Harlan Yager. There was much work and things to get ready. She had her wedding reception at home in the big machine shed. She and Harlan bought a farm, and the house needed a lot of work done inside, like painting, papering, rooms fixed upstairs, cupboards, etc. My dad and I helped them get things ready to live in. I also helped her in later years. Then in 1951, we became grandparents. Marcella and Harlan had a baby girl, Gail.

Things were going better, prices were a little higher. We had another grandchild, Jane, on June 17, 1953. Then the Korean war started and Kenneth entered the Army Nov. 23, 1953. With the help of hired men, Erwin and I kept farming. My dad helped a lot, too.

In the fall, Nov. 10, 1954, we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with an open house at home. Soon after, Erwin wasn't feeling well. He never complained and kept things going until Jan. 31, 1955, when he had a stroke. On Feb. 2, he passed away and the funeral was on Feb. 5. Ken was in the Army, and I tried to get him home for the funeral through the Red Cross, but no luck ­ he didn't get home. Then on Feb. 14, 1955, I was a grandma again. Marcella and Harlan had a baby boy, David.

I kept on farming with the help of the hired man, Louis Marketon, until April when faithful Shortie came to help again. All this while I tried to get Ken discharged from the Army. Finally I talked to Paul Eddy, our state representative, and with his help, Ken was discharged in June 1955.

In the spring of 1956, Kenneth and I decided to build a new barn. The old one was too small and Ken wanted more cattle. In the fall, Nov. 9, 1956, Ken and Shirley Stock got married.

Wayne was 11 years old and a lot of help, so I stayed on the farm for a while. On Nov, 13, 1956, after school, Wayne went plowing at the other farm about half mile up the road. He came home after dark and met a car. He ran off the road, hit the ditch, and tipped over and drowned. The funeral was Nov. 16. That fall we didn't have our plowing done, so a few days after the funeral, the neighbors and friends (28 of them) came with their tractors and plowed all 60 acres in one afternoon. Strohschien Oil donated all the fuel for the tractors and eight ladies served the food. Thanks for friends at a time like that.

I stayed on the farm. My dad was with me, Arlene was still in high school. I rented the farm to Ken. My dad was getting a little senile and I had to keep watching him; there were no care centers then. I took care of him until he passed away July 22, 1957.

Arlene graduated in 1958 and decided to go to beauty school. So on Feb. 19,1959, I moved to town and Ken moved to the farm. Arlene went to beauty school for a year and did beauty work in Hopkins for a year. Then she met Dale Lemmerman, and on Sept. 15, 1962, they got married.

When I moved to the house in town, I was lonely, so I got a Spitz dog, Tinkerbell, for company, and soon I got to know Martha Roehm. She was a great friend. We did many things together and she was a great help, like a mother.

The next year, I started to do house cleaning for people. I had six to eight different homes to clean. Then later, I helped cook in the high school, when they needed help. I started teaching Sunday school soon after I moved to town in 1959. I had also taught from 1925-29 when they started to have Sunday school at the school. Before that, they had it during the church service.

I also taught some years after I got married and the kids were big enough to go. I was still teaching kindergarten children in January 1996, so it must be 50 years or more that I have taught. I like it ­ good Bible review.

For Easter, I have been putting a wooden cross in church with Easter lilies on the steps at the foot of the cross. I have done this for 30 some years. The lilies are given by the church people. In the 1960s and '70s I became a Lutheran Women's Missionary League (LWML) member and have been in many guilds doing things for the church, like cookbooks, beads from church bulletins, picture books, and quilts for World Relief.

In 1961, I started catering businessmen's meetings, school banquets, weddings and anniversaries. I think I have catered somewhere between 70 and 80 weddings, anniversaries and other things in the 30 years I catered from 1961-1991. In 1995, I helped at Eliza Uecker's 100th birthday.

After that I started making quilts from 1980-1996 and doing more sewing for others. I made 66 quilts, 31 of them log cabin, 44 I sewed pieces together and quilted, 22 quilts were for other people. I made many quilts before 1980, which I don't have a record of.

I was in a guild which made and quilted quite a number of quilts. I also started making table runners by sewing small squares together and quilting them and other craft things. My sewing is mostly putting in new zippers, taking in garments too large, sometimes trying to make things larger, shortening things, patching jeans - you take apart and put together again.

In 1980, we added an office onto the church and I helped paint it and also helped clean three houses for three pastors and one teacher.

I have had a garden every year and have a lot of raspberries and all the other garden vegetables. I also helped my neighbors with their gardens, and they helped me shovel snow from my driveway. I have been mowing my lawn until last year, 1995, when I had someone mow it.

Mary, my neighbor, comes over several times a week. We have coffee and sometimes supper. Arlene and Marcella stop in often and Ken does too. (Jan. 28, 1996) I have been feeling pretty good.

On June 14, 1996, I had to put my dog Lucy to sleep, and I sort of miss her. I had herfrom 1984-1996.

I am 89 years old and I do most of the things I used to do years ago, like bake bread and cookies, and make soup. I clean my house, garden, and grow flowers, etc. I still drive my car and teach Sunday school, and go and do many other things, too. Until two years ago, I kept busy making Christmas table runners to sell.

Back to Part 3


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