I just sat down at the computer and was going to do something, then forgot what it was.
I remember once, I said, "We are out of paper towels, so I'm going to run over to the store and get some."
We used to get food and supplies from the store, when we needed something. There were telephones in both the big house and the just renovated Pearson's store, with new shelves and an expanded shopping area!
About a minute later, I called back over and said, "Why did you send me here?"
Everybody got a good laugh out of me that time too. Guess I am a little absent minded at times. Occasionally I am a thousand miles away when a friend like Johnathan will say, "What are you thinking about right now?"
Brings me back to the present. It's okay to remember the past fondly, but don't live there. Enjoy the now and plan for the future, because soon both will be the past.
I finally remembered what I was going to do that day, after a few minutes. It is now a week or two later and I think I can tell a few more tales in this story. All in all I have good memories of growing up at the store. There were hard times, but there were good times also. Let's see what else I can remember about that place we called the store and home for so long.
My Last Army Photo
I remember cousin Tommy living in the store after we closed it. He was Aunt Frances' son. She was Grandma Elliot's sister. They grew up in North Dakota and lived in one of those sod houses. It was a "Little House on the Prairie" kind of situation. Grandma used to tell me stories about the old place. Her mother worked the fields all day to grow crops for the family. I think Grandma was the oldest child and she told me that when Aunt Mayfield was born, her mother had worked the fields that day also. Grandma helped her have the baby in their small one bedroom house. After a few hours of recovery time, Grandma told me that her mother went back out into the fields to work another hour or two. I never doubted her story, but find it hard to fathom that any woman could do so much by herself. Grandma also told me that her uncles and cousins were stone masons, by trade. She also said that they all helped do most of the stone work at the International Peace Gardens in North Dakota.
Cousin Tommy came to live with us after the big house had been moved in and the store had failed. He was in Vietnam during the war, but never really talked about it much. I liked him though. For a year or more before he lived with us, began I listening to the radio every night. I would turn on WLS-AM 1000 out of Chicago and fall asleep with it playing. I memorized every song and artist they played. He was impressed by the fact that I knew every song, artist and bit of music trivia I could learn. The first song I memorized all the words to was, "The Cat's in the Cradle", by Harry Chapin. I also remember that I spent a week trying to figure out what the Bay City Rollers were saying when they spelled out, "S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y N-I-G-H-T". I felt cheated when I finally realized they were spelling a word. I never liked them after they fooled me so bad with that little trick!
Me at age 2 or 3.
|Tommy lived in the store and worked at Marvin Windows with Dad for one summer. I remember that he was very dark skinned. Mom said once that when he went to Vietnam, his skin color changed, permanently. I remember seeing one photograph of him standing in front of a bar between two Army buddies, both black guys. He was darker than both of them. He eventually went on to drive a helicopter for the Jolly Green Giant down in southern Minnesota. Last time I saw him was out in Denver at Jerry's house. Jerry was his brother. That was while I was attending school in the Army before going to Korea. Jerry was working construction at that time.|
I never really figured out why Tommy stayed with us, but I suspect it was because of a woman. He lived alone in the old store house and exercised a lot. He was in great physical shape. He slept with a weight belt around his waist every night. He was the one who found Puppy out in the middle of the road that day. He was still living there when Mom died shortly after that. He left quickly after that. He must have been hurting at that point too.
Before that, Mom and Dad had a pool table put in the old well house between the outhouse and the garage. Mom and Dad used to complain that they could not sell beer in the store, but that was under the control of the township. Dad asked them to let us have a license to sell beer, but they voted it down. He was very angry when the store down the road got approved to sell beer a couple of years later. We had already closed our store by then though. I remember that lots of guys used to come by and play pool and drink beer with Dad for hours on end. Sometimes I got to stay up late and sit around listening to everybody make jokes and tell tall tales. Being the oldest had its advantages at times.
One of guys was named Bryan and that's where Robert gets his middle name from. He was good friends to both Dad and Mom. I wonder sometimes if Mom was attracted to him. I do remember that she liked him a lot. Aunt Pat lived close to us back then, so maybe she knows the whole story. As far as I know, he was the only one of us to be named, even in part, after one of Mom and Dad's friends, so I know he meant a lot to them. Mom named all of us children, except for me. Dad picked my name. It was the last time he helped Mom decide a name for one of us. Doesn't seem quite right for some reason, but it's the truth.
I also remember the flood. It happened shortly after we moved to Pencer, so I was probably about seven or eight at the time. The little creek that ran next to the house turned out to be drainage for a very old, but dried up river that started about 20 or 30 miles from the house. We did not get a lot of rain, but the melting snow and heavy rains near the start of the old river all ran through the little creek. At that time, the culverts under the road were very small, probably only 12 inches in diameter. It could not handle the vast amount of water and debris that filled the creek, so the water backed up into the fields on the south and into our yard on the north.
It took about two or three days for the water to become a real problem. Grandpa Pearson used to take his old row boat out on the rising water. He tried to keep the wood, sticks and other garbage from blocking the culvert, so the water could drain away. It did not do much good though. After a couple of days the water was so high, it reached the store. I remember stepping out of the front door, into water that came up to my knees. Grandpa and Dad and several neighbors piled up sand bags to protect the store itself, but the cellar was hopelessly flooded with six feet of water.
Finally, Grandpa or Dad called the county officals for help. They came out and used dynamite to blow up the road and culvert. Nobody could drive on the road for about a week, but it did the trick. The water level dropped in just a couple of hours. A couple of years later, the county paved the road, expanded the ditches and put in very large culverts all along the road. Dad worked on the culverts doing construction for an entire summer. I remember waking up one morning, after camping out in the yard with Mike, to what I thought was an earthquake. It turned out to be one of those vibrating packing machines, driving up and down the freshly rebuilt road.
Part 8 - Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It's Off To School We Go
For information about Minnesota in general visit here or here.
Visit the home page of International Falls where I was born.
Also see the home page of Roseau, where I was raised.
Thunderbird Lodge is where my brother, Michael, works.
See Hayes Lake State Park, a few miles from where we lived.
Lake of the Woods where we often went fishing.
Find out more about Minnesota's natural resources.
The Virtual Sweden Site can tell you about where my grandparents came from.
Seattle, Washington is where I visited my Aunt Joyce and Uncle Maynard and saw the Space Needle.
Visit the International Peace Gardens. Many of my great-uncles and cousins helped build this beautiful place.
Dad worked at the Polaris plant for several years.
Both Mom and Dad worked at Marvin Windows at one time or another.