St Croix River Road Ramblings

Welcome to River Road Ramblings.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

 Just read an article in the NY Times from the Frugal Traveler who spent 5 weeks wandering through the midsection of the US and commenting on what he saw.  It is worth reading-- 
Traveling the Heartland

  I enjoyed this article -- agree with most of it. The author especially enjoyed going to local fairs.    We exhibit at the county fair too and volunteer to make it fun for the kids, just as much as it was 150 years ago when it started in our neighborhood.  Rural fairs, big or small are quite wonderful!
The 1951 Deluxe Powerglide Chevy from Harold Jensen's Garage in Cushing was the first vacation car we had (bought new too!).  With a car top carrier, canvas water bag in front and the trunk loaded full we headed west to the Black Hills, Yellowstone and Uncle Glen's in Casper Wyoming.  $100 in cash, tent and enough food for 4 kids and 2 adults for a week.  Stayed at rural school houses along the way. 

We drive to Seattle most every year starting in NW Wisconsin and taking a different back road each year spending a week or more traveling each way.  This year it appears to be off the list, but who knows, we might still make it.  

 Crossing the great plains off of the interstate highways is a heck of a good deal.   You pull into a small town and look for a cafe where most of the pickups are parked, go in and pick a table and when there is a lull in the conversation where the big group of farmers are gathered for late breakfast, you ask about the corn (wheat, beans, sunflowers or in Canada the canola or flax) and compare notes with what you have seen along the way.  You get peanut butter and jelly along with your black or white toast. 

   The hardest part is finding a place to stay for the night--not many motels, so we pull a popup camper or bring the tent and cots and park off the road if we can't find a campground.  Back when I was a kid, the folks camped at rural schools--playground swings, pump and outhouses all free.  

   Although many of the folks are quite conservative, as the NY Times author found, they are not so conservative as their representatives seem to be.  Most are pretty much middle of the road; watch out for your neighbor types, and friendly if they think you understand rural life (being 100 miles from medical care; having your kids ride 2 hours on a school bus; and being dependent on just the right weather to make the crop). 
    Reading the article as we are underway on our own mini-trip in the midlands headed to Elkhorn Iowa to the Danish Immigrant Museum out there in the corn and bean fields to return the Danish Pioneer Newspaper exhibit loaned to the Luck Museum for the past 2 months, makes me think about rural travel.  On the way down we are hitting the freeway to get there quickly, but on the way back we will wander through the back roads.  

Britt IA, home of the hobo festival, is on the itinerary to look up a 93 year old cousin Mom has not heard from in 2 years.  Maybe a stop in the hobo capital of the US will get us back on the road  again after 2 years off for health problems.  Think this year we will head to North Carolina to see a niece and then on south to rassle alligators. The Hobo Convention was earlier in August, so maybe one of the hobos will be needing a ride north!  

Hobo Festival Link 


Monday, August 19, 2013

It will be a quiet week in NW Wisconsin

Time to start cutting wood for the winter?

After a few months of being very active, we hope to relax and catch up on some of the chores here at the cabin in the next few weeks.  With the big events of the summer mostly done, the gardens mostly under control but needing rain, we normally would hitch up the camper and head West for a few weeks to visit our cousins in Seattle.  

However, since both of us are coming out of a year of being under-the-weather, we have decided to just stay home and take it easy the rest of August.  Margo thinks we should do some cabin updating--work on the north porch (which has become an unfinished storage area for lumber, maple syruping supplies and other unfinished projects).  With 90 degrees in the forecast, that might be an early morning effort only. 

We need to catch up on visiting some of our friends too as well as put in some time at the Luck and Cushing Museums.   My own personal history project is to do some research and interviews to get a newsletter together on the 50th anniversary of the Cushing Rural Fire Department.  

Of course, the Farmall Super C has a flat tire; the 1947 Cletrac Crawler still has the gas tank off; the Farmall 350 has a clogged carburetor; Mom's sink drain needs adjusting to run better; some of the apples are ripe and should be picked, cut and frozen for winter apple pies; the winter firewood needs to be gathered, the remodel of the Maple Sap shed layout needs attention; our well ( a sand point driven 10 feet into the ground) needs to be pulled up and the screens cleaned so we can get more than 3 gallons of water at a time; and, of course, the Pine Island house still needs painting and I should clean and organize the garage and finally toss all of those projects that are really never going to get done....

So, with nothing much to do for a few weeks we hope to rest up. 

Margo was in cancer treatment when her mother passed away in April and our trip to West Bend WI was the first time she was able to see her mother's grave.  

The cemetery in Newburg WI is a German Lutheran Church cemetery where the orderly Germans line up the gravestones very neatly.  When you buy a lot, you get the next one in line whether you like your neighbor or not.  The rows are very straight and almost everyone in the cemetery are related to the same bunch of Germans who came to the area in the early 1850s.  Margo's great great grandfather was one of the founders of St John's Lutheran Church of the Wisconsin Synod--the Pious Lutherans that haven't accepted women ministers and has closed communion (members only).  You can read a little about it at Wisconsin Synod vs Missouri Synod Lutherans 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Cushing Fun Days

Margo and I started Cushing Fun Days with the Cushing Fire Department's pancake breakfast at the Community Center.  It was, as usual, good, and fun to visit with the neighbors. 

The Cushing Fire Department had 50th anniversary T-Shirts for sale for $10 each, so I bought four (my Dad was one of those who helped to get it started back 50 years ago)
Sterling Township got the Cushing Fire Department started in 1963 after realizing that almost any local fire fighting would be better than waiting for 15 minutes or more to get trucks out from Luck, St. Croix, Milltown or Grantsburg.  

A list of all the folks who ever went on a fire run with the Cushing Fire Department.   Steve W. says that the phone used to ring in the Cushing bar, and often the fire crew included those who were tending bar from either side!
After having breakfast we took over from Marcie M. as museum guides.   We had somewhere between 50 and 100 folks through and lots of folks enjoying our local history exhibits. 

The Donation Jar

Russ snuck out to visit the Fire Department showing off their great assortment of trucks, equipment and the 1st Responder Truck

My neighbor, Steve W, told me about the first 50 years of the Cushing Rural Fire Department. 

Steve Warndahl gave me the tour and told me a little about the department.   When it was started in 1963, all of the volunteers then were trained and became the very first fully certified fire department in the State of Wisconsin!   The 1st Responders started in the 1980s and were the very first group in Polk County that were certified too.  At first, the County Sheriff was not favorable to 1st Responders--thought they would get in the way of police, but very quickly they were welcomed and now are an important addition to county response to accidents.  

A rural fire department has to have a lot of capacity to haul water.  The department has a 10,000 gallon underground tank near the firehall and a well to pump it full.

Back to the museum, I visited with the Wilson's (Karen and Meridee and families) as they toured the museum.  They were having a garage sale on the Wilson house in Cushing and had donated some items to the museum including a bat from the Tigers, a mail delivery leather satchel carried by three generations of Wilsons delivering Cushing mail, a desk and some books from the old Cushing School, and agreed to donate the 1960s console black and white TV with phono and 8-track player for the core of our brand new 1960's Den exhibit (which we just decided to start on seeing the TV console!).  

They mentioned the Cushing Lutheran garage sale, so I zipped down there to see what museum items might be on sale.  

I found some cloth table settings, towels, table cloths and fancywork and spent $5 for them.  We use them to put under some of our items we put on some of our old tables.  Enlisted several of the ladies to help us think about what would be suitable for a 1960's den in the museum.   Plastic table radio, lamp made out of a ladies leg, and a big star burst type of wall clock were ideas.  

While traveling back and forth, watched the folks block off mainstreet for the adult soap box derby by putting out rows and rows of big and little car tires on each side of mainstreet.  

A raft of kids swept through in the early afternoon searching for the medallion--clues were school teacher names, kitchen, and other items that seemed to point to the school.  During one of the sweeps, our Jif Peanut Butter donation jar was emptied of a $30 check for two books and about $17 in cash for books.  Guess we learned not to leave it unattended (we were both in one of the rooms for a while).  Sad, but I guess it won't break the history society, and the check we can get replaced, and Margo and I learned not to be so trustworthy.  

We missed all the children's events going on in the park including the pedal tractor pull as we closed the museum at 1:30 after no one came in for a while and went home for a break, returning for an hour to watch some of the adult soap box derby.  

 The right side of mainstreet Cushing is Sterling Township and has two taverns and off sale beer. The east side is Laketown and has the cemetery and church and for most of it's history was a completely "dry" township where you had to cross the street to have a beer.    


Monday, August 12, 2013

Kirmse Family Reunion

Spent the weekend visiting the in-laws in West Bend, WI and attending the Kirmse family reunion--Margo's mom's family.  
Margo's mother, Myrtle, was one of 11 children.  She passed away this spring, but 5 of the 11 children are still alive and made it to the reunion along with about 100 of Margo's cousins.   I know at least a dozen!

I took a lot of photos and shared them through my Google cloud drive   Click on the link and you should be able to see 136 photos!!!

Kirmse Reunion

Monday, August 5, 2013

Local History Newsletters online

Two local history newsletters and the Polk County Genealogical newsletters are online for your edification!

Luck Area Historical Society newsletter -- "You Can Go Home Again"  a story of folks re-discovering their Balsam Lake Cabin after 60 years.

LAHS Newsletter

Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical Society newsletter -- "The Evergreen Community"  the forgotten settlers who lived along the St Croix River midway between St Croix Falls and Grantsburg, WI. SELHS Newsletter 

The Polk County Genealogical Society newsletter

Genealogy Newsletter

The old log house from the Noyes Homestead in West Sterling was moved by Bert Brenizer to a farm near Bass Lake.  It was falling down when we were kids--a shelter for his beef cattle on the "Erickson Place--bordering Wolf Creek and just west of Bass Lake north of the Raymond Noyes Farm.  

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Automatic Swedish to English

Bought a Swedish book at the Siren Methodist Book sale over the weekend.  Ljung och Liljor (Heather and Lilies) by S. Bergstedt 1900, Chicago.   

A little research on the Internet showed me Solomon Bergsted was a minister at the Trade Lake Baptist church in the mid 1890s.  The poetry book looks interesting, but I don't read Swedish.  

So using modern technology, I first scanned a poem that looked interesting, then ran optical character recognition (in Swedish with ABBYY finereader screen capture program) and then Google's Swedish to English Translator. 

Here are the steps. 

Optical Character recognition--turn a photo of a page into text that is editable. 


Nu snön är här! —
se fling-orna flygfä så lätta för vinden
och kyssa i farten på vindbitna kin-
Ha de mig- kär? [den. —
De skära små!
hur lustigt de dansa i tätaste ringar
vid vindarnes toner på skimrande vingar —
se på! se på!
Likt sommarns bi
i svärmande flockar de omkring oss komma,
en liknar en stjärna, en annan en blomma —
välkomna I!
Jag är er vän, —
blott stannen och höljen då väntande jorden,-
tills vårsol er bjuder med smältande orden:
Till Gud igen...

Google Translate gives

Now snow is here! -
see flake hands WINGED INSECT so light the wind
and kiss the fly on the wind-beaten cheeks
Having the me-love? [it. -
They cut small!
how funny they dance in the densest rings
the wind arnes tones on shimmering wings -
look at! look at!
Like the summer 'b
in swarming flocks those around us come,
one resembles a star, another a flower -
Welcome In!
I am your friend, -
only abide and casings when the waiting earth, -
until the spring sun melting your invites with the words:
For God again ...

And now the human cleanup (not so good either!)

Now snow is here! -
see the flakes, like flies, so light on the wind
A fly kissing me on wind-beaten cheeks
Does it love me? 
The cuts are small!
How funny they dance in dense rings
the wind chimes on shimmering wings -
look at them! look at them!
Like the summer bees
in swarms they surround us,
one resembles a star, another a flower -
Welcome In!
I am your friend, -
only stay and cover the waiting earth, -
until the spring sun melts you, speaking
to God again ...

$300 selection of bumper jacks on Ebay--probably enough to "do me out" as Dad used to day in his later years. 

Found 6 different kinds of lifting jacks in the barn at Mom's place.  Problem is all of them are broken, bent, rusted or otherwise missing parts.  The good ones, says brother Ev, have been already scavenged for the sawmill or for other use.  I guess taking them with a load of scrap metal  to Friebergs at Frederic and maybe they might have a usable one to trade.   Or maybe a wrecking yard.  Or I could use the handyman jack (a very heavy duty version of the bumper jack that I do have already--just hate to lug it around).    

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Pumpkins and Squash and a bumper jack

The pumpkin and squash garden is starting to spread out finally

The driveway to the cabin -- lilies have just about stopped blooming

Stopped at the Burnett Co Fair--Webster version Friday.  Very small fair, but nice. 

Been trying to find a bumper jack at a flea market, garage sale or anywhere--but they seem to have disappeared.  Guess I will have to check out the salvage yards.