St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Monday, December 31, 2012

Uncle Archie

Uncle Archie Lyste

Uncle Archie stayed with us the winter of 1954-55, taking a break after 9 years in the Army, in what became a career in the military .   He was testing what it would be like as a civilian and getting reacquainted with his sister, the two having been separated as children adopted out to different families.
Archie was eligible for GI education benefits.  He decided he would like to study radio repair and made arrangements to order one of those home courses of study through the advertisements in Popular Mechanics.  As I remember, it came in regular weekly lessons through the mail.   Archie had a room upstairs and a table to use for his training sessions.   I got a chance to watch him a few times as he tried the exciting and lucrative career of Radio and TV repair.

One of the first things he did was pick up some radios in need of repair that were in the junk for parts at the local radio repair shop.  They were free—and a chance to try out some of his lessons.

I remember his main tool was a flat blade screwdriver.   He took the cover off of an old table model radio and had the metal chassis on the table.  He plugged it in watching for tubes to light.  The, with the wood handled screwdriver (and one hand in his pocket—the advice given in the lessons to keep from getting a shock from hand-to-hand that might stop the heart—he started poking around the radio.  A few sparks flew and the smell of burning wires with a puff of smoke came out.
  “Are you sure you know what you are doing?” asked Dad, who was watching too.  
1951 Chevrolet Powerglide Delux wth sun visor and
rear wheel skirts from Jensen's Garage in Cushing
  “Yes, it’s supposed to do that—shows it’s working,” replied Archie, although I noticed he was quit poking the screwdriver in.   After a few weeks, he gave it up—“just doesn’t seem to make sense to me.”  Dad helped him return the lessons and get a partial refund, as I remember.

   Archie had a little money saved up from his Army days, and although Dad let him borrow the 1951 Chev Powerglide Deluxe, he wanted a new car of his own.  After shopping around, he bought a used 194?  Chev.   We took a photo of him standing beside the car with one foot on the running board, looking proud of his wheels. 

   The car gave him chance to get out and visit.  I think he took a trip or two from the farm off to his friends and relatives near Barron, WI, where he lived until he joined the army.  He looked for a job here and there, but didn’t find anything that suited him, or maybe an employer who had an opening.  

    He and Dad worked together on the farm on some projects during the winter along with the ongoing farm work.   Archie, during this time, decided he didn’t want to be a farmer either. 
  Mom asked him to build her a wooden storage box.  We always had lumber piled around from logs sawed at the mill.  Archie built her a box, about the size of a small coffin, roughly made, but durable.  A couple years ago we came across the box.   “I want to keep it,” Mom said, “my brother Archie made it for me and it is just about the only thing I have to remember his winter stay with us.”  The cover had disappeared into some other project, but the box, 2x4 feet, was still sound.
Hanson Farm from the East 1950s

When spring came, Archie had still not figured out what he wanted to do for a living.   He hadn’t found a job he like.   

“Well, I guess going in the army so young—right of the farm where Uncle and Auntie told me everything to do and then the army doing the same thing, I don’t have any idea of how to get things done without being told.  The army wasn’t too bad, so I think I will enlist again.”   

He made a career of the army, rising to sergeant, and along the way getting married, having a family and eventually moving to Madison WI where he worked and retired and still lives, his wife passing away in 2010.