I don't remember too much about my early years, but I have been told that we moved to Minneapolis for a few years. Apparently, that was were I had my first close brush with death. Seems I was playing with some friends in the bedroom of our apartment and somehow managed to fall against the old screen in the window. I fell through the window and landed two stories below on the only piece of grass around the entire building. In addition, I somehow managed not to get skewered on some large hooks attached to the outside walls. I did manage to break my leg though. I have been told that when I landed I did not cry or anything, guess it was shock, but instead I tried to stand up. That's not easy with a broken leg, so then I immediately sat down and started to wail. I was about 2 or 3 at the time. I was told that by standing up, I had set my own leg, so at the emergency room, all the doctor had to do was put a cast on the leg. I don't remember anything about this, except a vague memory of some people signing the cast in colorful pens and the doctor coming at me with a big looking saw, when it was time to be removed. I must have really been scared, for me to remember that at all.
My next memory is when I fell through a plate glass window. We had moved back to International Falls, so Dad could work a construction job at the local paper mill and Grandma and Grandpa Elliot were baby sitting us boys. I wanted to go outside and play with their dog. I was about 5 years old at the time. As I was running across the kitchen toward the door, I stepped onto a throw rug and my feet went out from under me. I crashed head first into the glass storm door, slicing my cheek wide open. All I clearly recall is seeing the dog wagging its tail outside, through the glass. I seem to remember that the dog was fairly small, mostly black with white spots. I heard it took six or seven stitches to fix my cheek. Grandma told me she was scared that I was going to die. I still have a scar from that episode, but teenage acne has mostly hidden it.
About a year after that Dad fell from a scaffold and hurt his back. Since he was no longer able to work on the construction job, we moved from International Falls to Pencer, near Roseau. Grandma and Grandpa Pearson had a house near the back of the property, which we all lived in for a while. Dad was a pretty good mechanic, so he and his father started doing repair jobs out of a garage on the property. We must have lived in an apartment before that, because I remember myself, Mike and Scott went wild running and playing in our brand new, huge yard. It was almost 2 acres, with a total of 12 different sheds, garages, stores and houses on it. A great place for us boys to run around, jump off things and get into trouble. There was a 1/2 acre garden behind the house, which we shared with the neighbors. They had the best plums I ever tasted on a large number of trees between the garden and their house. We grew potatoes, corn, peas, beets, squash, beans, and naturally, Mom always insisted on at least one row of flowers. She loved pansies, violets and posies most, but planted them around our house. The garden had taller flowers, every year something different.
We had a creek that ran next to the property and plenty of tall grass between the mowed yard and it. In the summer, us boys would catch snakes and frogs and crickets. In the winter, we skated on the ice and played hockey almost every day. Across the road, the Syverson's had a big old farm with cows, chickens and pigs. We played with Clifford, the boy my age, and eventually I became close friends with him. He ended up becoming a police officer somewhere down in southern Minnesota. That's another story, however.
One of my first memories of the new place is the time Mike was trying to use grandpa's old sheet metal cutting machine. It was one of those heavy duty machines that you could put a four foot piece of sheet metal into and cut it by pressing down a long handled lever. Mike wanted to cut up something using the big machine. Unfortunately, our little brother, Scott, had one of his hands in the machine! I remember pulling up as hard as I could, while Mike was pushing down as hard as he could. Luckily, I was just a little stronger than he was. Scott's fingers were pinched and bruised a little, but there was no permanent damage. Mike thinks he was the one pulling up and I was the one pushing down. It happened and either one of us would have saved Scott given the chance. I don't think it really matters anymore who did what.
Shortly after that I had my next close brush with death. Mike and I were upstairs in the house, playing around. I was probably six, which would have made him five. There were three single beds in the bedroom, one for each of us boys. Mike and I had slid them around so we could jump from one to the next, then to the next one. We did that quite a few times without any problem. Then Mike jumped again and the middle bed slid a few feet away from the center of the room. I was young and invincible, so I thought I could jump the extra distance anyway. I couldn't. Instead, I landed on the floor a couple of feet short of the last bed. When I did that, I tumbled forward and crashed my forehead into the steel angle iron that held the springs of the bed.
I have two very clear images from that day. The first is me crying, holding my hand to my head, staggering down the stairs toward my parents. I had cut a fairly large vein in my forehead and the blood was flowing freely. I can still see the blood dripping between my fingers, making large red spots on the wooden steps as I ran down them. Those stains were visible for at least ten years after that, even after the stairs were painted. The paint would hide them for a while, but eventually, footsteps would wear away the paint and the stains would reappear. Every time I saw them, it brought back the memory, as if it had just happened.
Mom grabbed me, a couple of washcloths and large towels and threw me in the blue Oldsmobile we had at the time. Dad came running from the garage and jumped into the driver's seat, taking off as fast as he could for the hospital, 17 miles away. He claimed he was doing almost 120 miles per hour all the way. Near town, a police officer spotted us. Dad flashed his lights at him several times, and the cop must have figured out that it was an emergency, because he gave us an escort for the last mile or two. I don't remember that, but I heard the story many times. By the time we got there, it was almost too late. All of the washcloths and towels that were being used as a pressure bandages were completely soaked through and Mom's dress was ruined. The doctor said later that if it had taken two or three minutes more, I would have lost too much blood to survive. The other image that I still have is of Dad squeezing my hand, as the doctor stitched me up. It took another thirteen stitches for that one. Talk about your close calls!
Part 3 - Life at the Store
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.