I sat down and figured it out the other day. If you took all the hours I spent on a school bus when I was young and added it all up, I spent a total of six months riding a bus. No wonder I don't much care for bus rides now. Mike and I used to get on the bus at 7:00 am and ride an hour to school each morning, then another hour back home at night. Then when I graduated from elementary school, it was an hour and a half morning and night. During the winter, we would leave while it was dark and get home in the dark also. I have some good memories of school, and a few bad ones too.
I was around 12 here.
|Since we were almost the first stop on the bus, Mike and I used to race to the back of the bus and claim the very
last seats. The only people who got on before us were the Ericksons, who lived about two miles south of us. Julie was
a year older than I was and Dixie was the same age as me and they had an older brother also. When I finally reached
adolescence, I discovered that they were pretty. Julie was the more outgoing of the two, but I had a crush on Dixie for
a short while. After picking us up, the bus would head west and at the next stop, the Skoien boys would get on. They
were a mile west and a mile north of us.
Then the bus would backtrack and circle around to get Lorna and Lawrence. They lived a mile west and a mile south of us. She was the first girl I ever really had a crush on. I emulated the way she held her pencil in school, so I could be more like her. To this day, I still write my 'A's the same way she did. She was a couple of years older than I was, so nothing ever came of that. She was the first girl I ever told that I was in love with her. She smiled and rejected me, sweetly, but firmly. Youth makes us do funny things at times. I remember that she was a little taller than I was and had long, blond hair and blue eyes. She was very kind and would talk to me, even after I told her that.
The bus would then head west again and pick up our buddies, the Bratengs. They were two miles west of our house. By this time, it would be about 7:30 am and we only made two or three stops. The reason for the long trip was all the side trips and back tracking the bus had to do. Enor Johnson, the same man who I was riding with when I got hurt on the snowmobile, was our bus driver for a long time. He had a turkey farm two miles south of us, and also was a part-time brick layer. He built the two foot foundation for the big house, when it was moved in. The older boys gave him a lot of grief on that bus. They would scream and shout and tease the girls for the whole trip. I remember that the bus had an eight track stereo in it and sometimes one of the older kids would bring on some music. I heard Steppenwolf's "Magic Carpet Ride" on the bus for the first time.
Later, Enor decided to retire and we got a new bus driver. He had a hard time handling all the kids and would get frustrated very easily. One time, I remember one of the kids threw half an orange toward the front of the bus, and hit him in the back of the head. The other half hit the front windshield. He stopped the bus and scolded all of us kids for about 20 minutes that day. The boy who threw the orange, never did admit to it though.
We liked the new bus driver, most of the time though. He was not a very good driver and whenever it would snow, our bus was late getting to school. He had a knack for turning the bus, nose first, directly into the thickest snowdrifts and getting stuck. Then we would have to wait while he dug us out with a shovel, or got a neighbor to come pull us out with a tractor. I recall, that one winter, we where late for school fifteen times. Of course, like all youngsters, we did not mind being late for school, especially when it was not our fault.
For the first six years, I attended school at the brand new Malung-Falun elementary school. The school house had been replaced with a new one the year before I started first grade. I can still remember Mom taking me there a day or two before the school year actually began. The old school house was a big white one room building that was converted into a cafeteria to serve school lunches. The cafeteria was to the east of the new brick schoolhouse. The new building had about eight or nine rooms. Each grade had a room and a teacher for that level of students. One of the rooms served as the teacher's lounge and another was for the custodian to store his brooms, mops and other cleaning supplies. That was also where the furnace was installed.
Just to the north of the schoolhouse, there was a large hill. We boys would haul bucket after bucket of water and pour them down the hill, to make a very icy sled run. The water would freeze up and create a terrific little ramp. One time, I remember Mike took a turn at the slide and ended up running into a tree near the bottom, head first. Luckily he did not bite his tongue off or anything. The slide was a lot of fun, when done correctly. At the bottom, there was a small opening between a couple of trees, and if you missed the trees, it would send you over a small hill and out onto the surface of a mostly dried up riverbank. We kids took turns sliding down the hill during lunch break or recess.
To the west of the school was a large open field, with two baseball diamonds on it. The boys would play softball for exercise period, when the weather was warm enough. One time I remember Kevin accidentally hit his brother Darryl with a metal bat. Darryl was the catcher and Kevin knocked him out cold. Luckily, after about five minutes, Darryl woke up, apparently with no long lasting damage. Kevin sure was scared though.
|I also remember another time when I got into a fight with another boy. I was probably in the second or third grade at this time. We were pushing and shoving each other around. Mike and I were still very close at this point, so he rushed in to try and help me. In the process, he hit the other boy and made his nose bleed. I was scared and angry. I did not want Mike to fight my battles for me. I was so scared of the trouble Mike was going to get into, that I ran away. I did not get very far. It was a twelve mile walk to home, so instead of trying to walk all the way, I ran off into a plowed field near the school and hid down between the furrows left by the tractor. When the principal, and sixth grade teacher, came to get me, it took him about 20 minutes to talk me out of hiding. I still have a tendency to want to run away if things go wrong for me.||
Look Ma! No teeth!
To the south of the schoolhouse, there was a large outdoor rink and a small shack. In the winter, the older boys would flood the inside of the rink with water and create a place for skating and hockey. The girls would get out there with figure skates, but us boys would put on our pads and grab our sticks to play hockey. That's where we did all of our practice sessions later on. Mom would bring us there every Saturday morning, unless we had a game. On game days, we had to go into Roseau and play in the arena. It was covered and even had heater that blew warm air from the corners of the building. Mom recorded Mike and I on the old 8 mm camera a couple of times. I hope Mike has that transferred on video tape too.
I liked going to school. I was pretty good at it and got good grades, usually. I remember one time when I was in the fifth grade, I did badly on a test. The night before, I had the first nightmare I could ever remember having. Until recently, that was the only dream I could ever remember having at all.
It starts with me laying naked on a vast all white plain. There is nothing for as far as the eye can see, except a flat white surface. I can't move at all, but I can shift my eyes to look around a little. I feel trapped in place and have a sense of falling, yet I am not moving. Then suddenly, garbage begins to appear from out of the white sky. All kinds of junk begins streaking toward me. There are empty cans, old tires, crumpled newspapers, discarded toys, broken bottles, just about anything you can think of as garbage. The garbage begins piling up all around me, quickly covering my body. Soon I am totally covered by old cars, rusted out tractors, boxes, steel beams, whatever. Even though I am completely covered, I can still see more and more garbage flying toward me, suffocating me. At this point, I usually wake up.
The Hedstrom Family
|That first time I had that dream, I ran downstairs scared out of my mind. I was scared of everything, including Mom. She tried to comfort me, but I refused it. Instead, I ran to her best friend, Diane Hedstrom. I don't know why I was scared of Mom, but I was. She was upset over the issue. The next day we had a test in school, and I got my first C grade ever. Mom talked to my teacher about the dream I had the night before, and he threw the score out. I heard Mom say later that she suspected that I had been slipped some drugs, possibly LSD, from one of the kids who had older brothers and sisters that liked to get into trouble. I guess I will ever know the truth about that.|
I was good enough at school that in my sixth grade year, I won second place in the county for my knowledge of Minnesota state history. I just beat out Susan, my biggest competitor in school. I remember earlier that year, I lost to her in the chess tournament. I had a crush on her for a while too. I remember thinking, here is a girl who was pretty and smart! Since I was number two in the county, it meant that I won a free trip to go to the state fair and compete against all the other kids around the state.
|My teachers told me to study hard over the summer, and Mom even helped me to go to the library in town and get some history books. It was summer and I was a typical boy, so instead of studying, I spent most of my time either playing with Mike, Gene and Terry, or reading adventure novels about Indians, David Crockett and Daniel Boone. Those were the first books I really enjoyed reading. Finally, fall arrived and it was time for the trip down to St. Paul. It was my first time away from the family, other than overnight camping trips in the woods, or spending a week at Grandma and Grandpa's in the summer. I sat in the back of one of the teacher's station wagon with the boy from town that beat me out for the first place spot. I remember thinking he was a nerd, since he studied all summer for the test. His studying paid off though, since he won first place in the contest. I think I got about 22nd out of 50 or so. Of course, I had fun all summer.||
(I was in Korea at that time)
I remember a few things from that trip. First I remember sleeping on a very hot, uncomfortable cot up in the third floor of this big, old house. They did not have air conditioning, but there were fans. The weather was extremely hot and muggy and I could not sleep very well. I also remember seeing my first elevated cable car. They had one that could be used to get from one side of the fair grounds to another. I never did find the entrance so I could ride it, even though I looked and looked for it. That trip was also the first time I ever tasted a corn dog and I loved them! I loved them too much I guess. After eating four, I got sick. Never did like them much after that day. I also remember paying 50 cents to go see the freak show. They had a headless woman. As soon as I saw her, I could tell it was just a woman with her head sticking up through a small table. The table had mirrors between the legs, so you could not see her body. It was a scam and I felt gypped.
During those years, I got to take a couple of other trips too. One summer, I got to go to summer camp out in the woods. I don't remember if Mike was along that time or not. I do remember there were two large cabins, boys in one, girls in the other. We would hike in the woods, swim in the nearby river, build campfires and eat in an old cafeteria every day. At night we boys would take turns teasing or scaring the girls, or telling bad jokes to each other. We all slept on bunk beds that were lined up against the walls of the big old open area inside the cabins. I remember one of the boys bragged about how he planned to get one of the girls to kiss him. Susan was there and I remember hoping she would kiss me, but she never did. I really don't remember too much about the week, but I had fun.
When I was about twelve, I got to go on a trip with Mom and Dad, alone. It was one of the first times I can remember having them to myself, without all my brothers and sisters around for a change. We went to Grand Forks for some reason. I think Dad was on an interview for a job, but I don't remember for sure. I do remember that we rented a motel with two rooms and I had a television with more than one channel and a bed all to myself. We went to a drive-in burger joint for dinner and Mom and Dad treated me more like an adult than they ever did before. They asked me to go to bed and watch TV while they went out dancing. It was one of the few times I can remember Mom ever drinking. Once in a while, she enjoyed a glass of wine, but it was few and far between times when that happened. When they came back, they woke me up with their laughing and joking around. It was a great trip for me.
Part 9 - A Little Rain Begins To Fall
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.