Edith Swenson Hojem's
The following was written by Edith Swenson Hojem - River Falls - Class of '52. Edith is the wife of Minnard Hojem - SVHS Class of '53.
You will find the historical information following her story very interesting.
Harold Aamodt wrote: A very interesting story from my own neighbor growing up on the farm and Shirley's (Oebser Aamodt - '53) classmate in Spring Valley. His wife's growing up story:
The Year my Dad was Born
Yikes! By 1910 my dad was 13 years old! My mom was 11! Both had been born at home. Dad served in World War I before he knew my mom and later learned one of her brothers was in the same unit!
When he first bought the farm he hauled out sheep manure to get into the barn! The former landowner raised sheep and they had a small hole at the top of the barn door where they crawled in and out. I guess the 'farmer' could get into the barn to feed them but never hauled anything away! That's how his dad had bought the farm so cheaply. He raised high producing Holsteins, pigs, chickens and once a year bought a sheep to butcher - he loved his mutton and leg of lamb! Dad was considered a very successful farmer.
The house was a mere two-story shack! A large room downstairs and a tiny bedroom. Then a pull down stairs took one to the upstairs and another huge room where all the kids slept! My Mom had three kids birthed at home and the next three were in the River Falls tiny hospital.
Dad had saved some money while still paying off the farm. During the depression he could get good carpenters for 25 cents an hour, room and board. I think they slept in the barn and Mom cooked so they could eat at the picnic table. It was her dream home so had the 'conveniences' she thought she wanted the year before I was born! With four bedrooms upstairs and a room for bath. They even put in all the piping for sink, tub and toilet!.
In 1934 I was born in the downstairs bedroom! They had a large dining room - living room divided with an arch on one side of the house. On the other half was the kitchen and bedroom. Even a back entrance on the grade level where stinky clothes could be hung and boots could thaw. If too wet or snow covered they were taken directly to the basement - steps right ahead so no curves to carry heavy sacks of potatoes down in the fall.
The coal furnace was down there with a chute to drop wood for starting a fire and the coal to be dumped for winter. A very dirty way to heat for sure so walls had to be washed down every spring!
Mom had a huge cellar storage with a potato bin, carrot bin and cabbage, squash and onions were stored there. Big, sturdy shelves held all the canning she did with over a hundred 2qt. bottles of tomatoes for sure each year. Plus of course the pickles, peaches, pears, meat, beans, peas, corn, jams and jellies that she had canned! In later years she took some canning and bread baking to the fair and won prizes but thought that was just a bit too much fluff! Her husband thought her the best cook in the county and never failed to thank her for the meal and comment on what a good meal it was. We did learn appreciation and courtesy from him!
She washed her clothes down there with cold water from the well piped in. She would heat water in a huge boiler on the cook stove in the kitchen. She had insisted that a clothes chute was installed from the upstairs with tiny doors. Then changing sheets or clothes one could toss the dirty ones down the chute to land in a huge basket for laundry day! The second door was by the stove in the kitchen so dirty clothes could be tossed down from there. She would snake a long hose down that chute and someone would run to the basement to suck on the other end! Be sure to get off it in time as the water was boiling as it came down and into the washing machine! A drain in the floor removed everything when done. Of course the heavy wet basket had to be carried upstairs to the wagon for the trip to the clothes line! Aah, such luxury! In the winter Dad hung the clothes on the line until the girls got old enough to do it! Then bring in the stiff boards and drape them over the clothes rack to dry. Ooh! the fresh smell and moisture that filled the house! Later they enclosed the front porch and put up lines so items stopped there until the rack dried and another rack full was pulled into the house. This effort took most of the week as the family grew!
Seven kids in eleven years! We did not have a telephone until I was in school in 1940! We walked up to the cheese factory to use the one there as did the whole neighborhood! In 1944 our little brother was born so a very exciting time. My mom didn't think she would live to see him grow up and would pray the Lord would keep her until he graduated! He too became a sailor during the Vietnam war. He was killled in a car accident in 1969! My oldest sister was an Army Nurse in Denver and my oldest brother was a sailor. He was in the water near Iwo Jima but years later we learned another sister's hubby was also and said it was very foggy so they could see nothing on the island!.
My brother liked to embellish stories so wrote in a book that they watched the flag go up and gave a cheer, then it came down and all were sad. Then they saw it go up again! He used the story my brother-in-law wrote as a POW in the Death March on Bataan and three years in Japanese prisons so sold quite a few copies but he embellished his story too. My sister was not very happy about it!
We got electricity in 1945 and my Mom and Aunt went and bought tiny GE refrigerators! Up until a few years ago it was in the milk house and held any medicines for the cattle or other animals. My dad kept his beer down there as I had broken some of those in the basement in our house! I never got paddled for it! Dad just moved them! He liked a beer after work on a hot summer day! I still can't believe I got away with it! - Neither could my mom!
In 1947 the bathroom was finally completed so I was blessed during my last year in a country school! My middle brother served in the navy during the Vietnam war but was kept safe with a lot of prayer! My mom was 84 years, 9+ months when she died in 1983. My dad was 89 years, 3 months when he died in 1986! Ironically they both died in the other ones birth month!