St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Summer Garden and Yard

 The coleus were seeded in a McDonalds salad plastic dish in March and set out in June.  Starting to grow, although windblown and a little dry today.  Have to water ever other day now. 
Found grandpa's old wagon in the barn and filled it with begonias and petunias.  Deer leave both alone.

Mess of sunflowers, pansies, petunias and weeds

My deer fence.  The deer eat the geraniums right down if you don't protect them.  Temporary fence until I get some electric fences around the yard or eat the deer. 
The deer destroyed these geraniums
Margo has been in West Bend, WI., with her father helping him recover from a stroke since the beginning of April.  She planted lots of flower seeds, but has not seen them in bloom, so I am sharing them with her  today.    Saturday, her father moves into an assisted care apartment.  He is doing well, but not really able to be on his own anymore.  He is looking forward to it--some of his friends are there and he has both independence and help --meals, pills, and some assistance when needed.   
Margo will take a break, coming back to our Pine Island place and setting up some doctor's appointments to find out why her leg and hip are so painful when she walks.  My guess it is the wrong chair, the wrong bed, and probably some hard work in hoeing in the garden will set her straight!

Got the last items delivered back to the Polk Co Museum after having them on display at the fair.  I asked the fair officials about the fair---much better than last year when the cold wet weather severely dampened attendance.  Saturday was especially busy.   We had 1600 folks drop in at the Red School House to view the historic building and exhibits.  
A volunteer beet with late planted zinnias behind

Volunteer lettuce and dill come throughout the garden when I let them go to seed each year.  Very pretty and about 4 feet tall with some dill 5 feet 

Yellow Transparent apples--very early and a Blue Ribbon at the County Fair.  Pie on the menu for Sunday!

The Tiger Lillies (in the shade) are just opening attracting humming birds

Catalpa tree -- huge green leaves shading my lawn of Creeping Charlie
I have to hide the geraniums right next to the house to keep the deer away from them.  Note the weeds around them--I call it "natural plantings."

The TV antenna is stuck in a pipe driven into the ground so I can rotate it north to get WI public TV out of the Grantsburg repeater for Menomonee and then back to the Twin Cities.  It is shedding it's branches.  When Margo comes back, I will have her turn it--sort of like a remote control!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Polk County Fair 2014

The 2014 Polk County Fair is history and today Scott and I spend cleaning out the historic red school house.  We had almost 1600 folks stop by and try their hand at coloring, painting, or chalk drawing or view the exhibits of 100 years of 4-H, Duncan Yo-Yos, Weekly Readers and Current Events, Amery, Cushing and Luck history and the display from the Polk County History Society.  

We had managed to schedule 9am - 9pm volunteers to host the school house and most of the time had two folks there.  I took the night shifts 5-9 and got in my share of visiting too.  

Imagine 200 chickens cheeping, clucking, crowing, cackling and cockadoodling--a clamorous cacophony of commotion!  

Imagine 200 chickens cheeping, clucking, crowing, cackling and cockadoodling--a clamorous cacophony of commotion!  

The flying eagle Holstein spot--a game to play is to find images in the spots. 

Antiques are what we played with when we were children

In the good old days, this young lady would have had her left arm tied down to force her to be right-handed

And now it is empty of students waiting to be cleaned out for another year.  The Farmington Center School house was built about 1860 and ran for 100 years, closed and 60 years ago moved to the Polk Co Fair Grounds as a museum of school history.   Each year a few students show up who went here.  This is the first year no teachers from this school visited with us.  Time passes, but with care, the old red school house will be here long after we are gone. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lucky Days and County Fair

Last week was helping with the Lucky Days Aeblskiver breakfast at the Luck Museum.  Had more folks through the doors for the round pancakes than ever before!  Probably helps that Wannigan Days shifted to early June and so we don't compete with them. 

Jeanne and Donna make the Danish round pancakes--aeblskivers.  The trick is separating egg whites, whipping them and then folding it gently back into the batter so they are so light you have to put a raspberry inside to keep them from floating above the stove

This customer looks like he has had plenty of aebleskivers and Danish breakfast sausage. 

The water stained poster shows a young boy surrounded by yo-yos.  The young man standing here was back in Luck from California for his 50th high school class reunion and was the lad in the photo.  His parents both worked at Duncan Yo-Yo and they had him pose for the photo in Milwaukee Magazine back some 60 years ago!  Paul W. 

Erling, standing right, explains to an old guy about the 1 cylinder, 2 cylinder and 4 cylinder cars he brought to the auto show.  He has his own museum nearby. 

Son Scott helped take the place of Margo who is helping with her father after his stroke.  Merlin needs some help, so has decided to go to an assisted care apartment in West Bend, WI, where meals and some assistance is available.  It is hard for him to give up driving and the active life he had, but the stroke made things much more difficult.  He can do much of the things of daily life, but has enough problems that he can't live on his own and does need help.  Not driving is hard too, but the left side of his vision is gone--and driving is not possible if you are not aware of traffic to the left.

He will be moving at the end of this week, and then Margo takes a couple of weeks to head back to Pine Island for some more health checks and to see why a hip is giving her so much pain.  Probably goes back to being born backwards (breech birth) where the doctor broke both her hips in getting her out and she was in a body cast her first 6 months.  

Having been on my own now since the first of April, I suppose I will have to adjust back to married life again.  It will be tough, but a guy has responsibilities!

Spent most of this week getting the 150 year old Red School House on the Polk County WI fairgrounds ready for another fair season--starts Thursday and runs through Sunday.  Yo-Yos from Luck, WI, the Yo-Yo capital of the world when Duncan Yo-Yo was there 40s through 60s, bunch of old 4-H information (100 years old this year), lots of old school stuff and much more.  

For the next 4 days, I will be there most of the time from 9am to 9pm.   Friday at 10 am we judge the dozen maple syrup entries.  A very sweet job, but also difficult as good taste is important, and Margo thinks I lack that.   We have 4 judges, so along with exactly 66.5% concentration, perfectly clear and wonderful appearing, it also has to have an excellent taste.  Stop in at 10 and you can try tasting it with us. 

Sunday at 1 pm on the big stage under the canvas, a program on 100 years of 4-H will be held.  Various folks will tell about their experiences in 4-H in the old days, and I guess they picked me because they thought I might remember 100 years ago!   Actually, my 4-H leaders who are still around included John and Millie Lundgren and Marie Olsen.  John and Marie are past 90 years old-so may have longer memories than I do!   I know John was in 4-H himself.  Another neighbor, Maurice Christenson, just made 80 years and he too was in 4-H in his youth.  

I remember fair projects in photography (under the guidance of Marie Olsen), electricity and miscellaneous others.  For electricity, I built a motor and a telegraph.  Both of those two fields stayed with me the rest of my life, so I guess 4-H can be credited with helping me with both my working life and my recreational life. 

On Sunday, I think I will tell the story of when the Cushing 4-H with me pitching beat Frederic 4-H with one of those athletic McAbee boys pitching against me.  We beat them 32 to 3 as I remember.  After a quiet 2 innings, we got up to bat and managed to get 30 runs in before retiring to the field.  Frederic had fallen apart.  Well, when they got up to bat, we fell apart and they ran the score up to 33 to our 32 with only 1 out.  It got so dark we had to quit, and the score reverted to Cushing 32, Frederic 3.  I don't remember our strategy being to let them just keep making runs until darkness fell, but that is the whole truth!  And maybe our only win that year. 

The County fair only costs $6 to get in (free parking) and is probably the most interesting and fun event in the whole county.  If you haven't gone recently, you should drop in.  If you like less crowds, Thurs and Friday morning and early afternoon are great.  If you like crowds wait for the evening.   With almost perfect weather on tap, we should have a great fair.   
  I forgot to bring my camera today, but will post photos tomorrow. These are from last year. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Don Davidson Trade Lake

A neighbor and friend passed away this week, Donald Davidson.  I first met him when he picked up cattle for my father to haul to the Twin Cities -- South St Paul stockyards.  After Stanley Selin and I started  writing about Trade Lake in the newspaper column, River Road Ramblings, in the Inter-County leader.  He sent me a letter telling about the resort his family started on Trade Lake.  I then began visiting him and learning more about the Trade Lake area.  When he was 84 (or so) he had a stroke that forced him into the nursing home at St Croix Falls, where he lived from then on.  

Donald M. Davidson, 89, passed away Monday, July 7, 2014 at the Good Samaritan Society in St. Croix Falls, WI.
Don Eckland and Don Davidson 2007
Giving Russ a local history tour

Donald is survived by his children, Debra (Wayne) Olson, Mary Jane Davidson, Sue Ann Davidson; grandchildren, Lonnie (Donna) Olson, Shawn (Carrie) Olson, Toni (Matthew) Nord, Kori Jasper; 8 great-grandchildren, Frannie Hillstrom, Brenna Olson, Bailey Olson, Britta Olson, Mariah Olson, Jonathan Olson, Savanna Nord, Kendall Nord; sisters, Rose Williams, Mary Ann (Tom) Lynch; half-brother, Franklin “Ole” (Ginger) Baker; sister-in-law, Sylvia Meyers; nieces and nephews.
  He is preceded by his wife, Shirley; father, Monroe Davidson; mother, Marie Graves; sister, Doris Ott; brothers-in-law, William Ott, Robert Williams, Roy Lundby, William Gulick, Edward Meyers; and sisters-in-law, Anne Sewell, Edna Gulick, Ferne Lundby.
  Memorial services will be held at Trade River Evangelical Free Church in Grantsburg, WI on Wednesday, July 16, 2014 – visitation will begin at 1:00 p.m. followed by the service at 2:00 p.m. Rev. Dale Van Deusen will be officiating.

A Story written by Don
     I worked at my family’s farm and resort on Little and Big Trade Lake during the 1920s and 30s.  I spent a lot of time helping our guests have a good time during their vacations.  I remember some of the families who came to visit. 
     One Jewish family came from New York who had never been out of the city.  They had a boy and girl 18 and 19 years old ready to leave home.  They wanted to have a family vacation before the family separated.  I dug worms for them and showed them how to fish.  The father thought the worms were snakes.  The girl said "Papa, they are only little worms.  They won't hurt you!"  They had a younger girl, 8 years old.  She just wanted to ride in the boat.  I caught and cleaned fish for them too.
    Robert Pennington, from Chicago, rented the cabin "Pair of Dice" (Paradise) for the whole season.  He came up twice during the summer. He fished all day every day.   His wife came along one time and didn't come again.  She hated the outhouse!
    Art Engel came each year from Milwaukee to stay at a cabin for 2 or 3 weeks.  He was an engineer on the Milwaukee Road train.  He had the first outboard motor that was made in Milwaukee by Ole Evinrude.  In 1935 he bought a larger one and gave me the old one.  When I started working hauling milk and cream to Trade Lake in 1940, I gave the motor to my cousin Dennis Erickson.
    Roy Dailey came each year for a month from Milwaukee.  He had worked for the railroad and lost an arm in an accident so was retired.  His wife came one time, but didn't like the country and never came back.  He swam every day in the lake.  His daughter was about 15 years old.  She showed us that she ate worms!  She would put them in her mouth and hide them there to make it look like she had eaten them. One day she was showing off and a worm crawled down her throat.  She lost her dinner and that was the end of her eating worms!
   Charles Frymark came each year for 1 to 2 months with his son from St Louis MO.  He only wanted to fish for northerns.  Every morning I would row them from east Big Trade way to the north end of Little Trade Lake at  early light.  One morning young Charlie had a fish on and old Charlie had the net.  His own cork went down and I saw him throw the net over his head into the lake!  Young Charlie dove down looking for the dip net, but it was never found. We went home with plenty of fish anyway.
     Young Charlie made pancakes every morning with half a pound of lard in the fry pan.  The pancakes floated on the lard like lily pads on the lake. We burped lard all day long!
     One year the Frymarks got a big snapping turtle in the lake.  They had heard that turtle soup was really good, so they decided to eat it.  They hung it on a tree and put a wire around the head to pull it out of the shell.  Dad Frymark pulled on the wire to get the head out so young Charlie could cut it  off.  The wire slipped off and Dad rolled over backwards, his head hit another tree and twisted his neck so that he went home hurting that year.
    County Road Z went past some of our cabins.  When it was being worked on by the WPA crew in the 1930s to widen it, one of the workmen put dynamite under a big maple stump to get it out of the ground.  The blast blew it across the road and through the roof of the Frymark's cabin and right into the bed!  The roots were sticking out through the roof. I carried pail after pail of dirt out of the cabin and then cut the stump into pieces with the cross cut saw.  The "Dynamite Technician" said "I guess I overestimated and put one in too many sticks."
     My Grandpa Davidson had an old 10 gauge double barrel shotgun that I could barely lift.  He brought it to the cabin and told Old Charlie it was time for him to shoot a gun once before he died.  Grandpa loaded both barrels, handed it to Charlie, and told him to point at the lake and pull both triggers.  The whole place shook.  Charlie went upside down and the rifle almost hit me.  He had his arm in a dishcloth sling the rest of his stay and left hurting that year too.  They never came back again!
     A couple staying at a cabin came in from fishing.  The wife was petrified.  She told Grandpa Manley "A fish jumped by our boat that was as big as the boat itself!" 
    Grandpa had lived there all of his life and had never seen or heard of a monster fish.  She tried hard but didn't convince him.  Grandpa told the neighbors who laughed about it.  The couple would not go out fishing again.   Later in the fall another man said a fish as big as a man jumped by his boat.  That story was joked about too and the Monster Fish in Trade Lake was laughed about as my Grandpa told the stories.
     That winter Trade Lake froze out--1934-35.  Tons of stinking rotting fish floated on the lake and lined the shores.   The CCC boys went out in boats and filled tubs of fish using forks to pick them up.  I was plowing Pickerel Point that week with the horses.  They dumped the fish on the field in the furrow for me to plow them under. One of the horses wouldn't step on the fish so it was an awful hard time plowing.  Those boys found that big fish.  They pulled it to shore.  It was a 90 lb Sturgeon.  It ended the story of the Monster fish!  The corn grew about 8 feet tall that year
     Emil and May Christensen from St Paul rented the newest cabin on the east side for the whole season one year.  Emil came out for the weekends and May stayed all summer.  She fished almost every day and caught a lot of big northerns.  One morning she came rowing into shore looking for help. She had a 22 lb northern on her cane pole and needed help to land it.  She put it in the artesian well food box and kept it there all summer.  It lived and grew some moss on its back.  Many people came to see it.
     We had built seven of the cabins before the Depression hit in 1929.  Many banks closed and people were left without their money and no jobs and no place to live or anything to eat.  At the beginning of the Depression we had about 30 people move in with us on the farm and into our cabins.  They were relatives and friends or neighbors.  Many of them helped out on the farm for room and board.  During the beginning of the Depression no one was vacationing at our resort.  Grandpa had me make the rounds early each morning and wake them up to try to get them to help with the farm work.   After a while most of them left and found other places to live.  One couple told me later that it was good that I was little when I made the wakeup rounds because the people were grouchy to be wakened so early.
     My great grandparents first came to Trade Lake about 1870.  John and his first wife are buried on the Island we owned in Little Trade Lake along with many of his early friends and neighbors.  All that is left of the Davidson gravesite are a few lilacs and lily of the valley spread under the huge trees with lots of wild flowers after nearly 70 years since our sheep pastured there. An old buried wire that outlines the family plot still is there.  Around the island are other depressions that show where early settlers were buried.   I hope to put a marker there before everyone forgets the Davidson burial site.