By the way, all of you Raoul and Juan fans...the next chapter is to be published very very soon.
Things That I Remember
My parents purchased an old Victorian farmhouse either just before the Great Depression or during the Great Depression. I remember them telling me that their payments on that house were $12 per month! At the time of the Great Depression my father was working for St. Croix County and was very fortunate in that he kept his job. The house was and is still located at 1232 Fifth Street in Hudson, Wisconsin...which is a beautiful little river city on the St. Croix River right at the point where the river widens to over one mile in width...
I remember a wonderful park along the riverfront. During the summer when temps were hot and it was humid, Mom and Dave would frequently have picnic dinner at this park...while I would be playing on the slides at the park, playing in the sand boxes, or happily splashing in the warm river waters.
Their house on Fifth Street was two stories tall. There were three bedrooms and one full bath on the second story. "Downstairs" on the main level there were what my parents called "the front room", a living room, a formal dining room, and a large eat-in kitchen. Both the front room and the dining room had huge, almost floor to ceiling, bay windows. The ceilings were with 10' or 12' in height.
I was born shortly before the house was to be remodeled so I best remember it post-remodel stage. Mom and Dad had added a large first floor master bedroom on to the back of the house. The kitchen had been completely remodeled into a perfect U working kitchen. My mother truly loved that kitchen and was never as happy in the Bruce, WI kitchen as she was with the one in Hudson. After the modeling the house had gray shingles with white trim. My room was the room on the second floor, facing Fifth Street, above the dining room. When they were getting the room ready for me to move into it, I wanted a room painted red. The compromise was that they painted the rough oak floor a bright red and then put a floral linoleum over the floor leaving the bright red as a border. My bed was an antique 3/4 sleigh-type bed with carved castles and forts (or that was what I thought they were) on both the head-board and foot-board. One of my fond memories is of warm summer morning, early, watching from my one window one of my best friends (Doug Stohlberg) riding his bike. I was too lazy to be up that early...yet I remember the softness of the early morning sun, the shadows that dappled him as he rode, and how his shiny bike glinted in the sun.
My brother, Ken, had a room above the front room...I do not remember much of that room. The master bedroom, downstairs, had a large window overlooking the garden and it was a sun-filled room in the morning because it faced east.
By the way...on July 27 of the year I was born...I was over-due and what started my mother to go into labor was her falling down the last three steps of that house's basement stairs!
There are many things that I remember them either telling me or me overhearing them from this period of time in their life. For instance, and I mention this again...the house payment of $12 per month. Eggs were just pennies a dozen and the same thing with milk. Things were tough for everyone during the Great Depression and my parents were no exception except for the good fortune of Dad keeping his job.
During those early years in the house there were three natural disasters that I remember Mom and Dad talking about. First there were the dust storm years where the dust storms were so bad that day would turn to night and the street lights would come on because of the darkness. Mom said that even with the windows tightly closed, the dust would bill up on the inside sills because of the winds and fineness of the dust. These were years of intense heat and drought. I cannot even begin to imagine what it was like living in those grim times.
Another great disaster they talked about was the Armistice Day Blizzard...I believe this would have been in 1940. The immediate thing that comes to mind is Mom talking about was the warm and sunny morning and that there was no forecast of snow except for a slight possibility of flurries during the night. People were out and about in shirtsleeves enjoying the mild weather unsuspecting the the snowstorm that was swarming over the Plains and heading right toward them.
By mid-afternoon it was snowing heavily with gail force winds. My mother said she paced the floors anxiously waiting for my Dad to come home from work...there was no visibility whatsoever.
Here is a brief quote from MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) regarding the Armistice Day Blizzard: "On November 11, 1940, one of the deadliest blizzards this region has ever seen struck. The Armistice Day storm killed 49 people in Minnesota, 150 nationwide. One of the most tragic chapters of the storm occurred on the rivers, lakes and wetlands of the Midwest. Hundreds of duck hunters, trapped by the storm, found themselves in a life-and-death struggle. There was practically no warning the blizzard was on its way.
"There is something majestic about a winter storm, the way it transforms familiar landscapes while the wind howls. The Armistice Day Blizzard changed not only landscapes, but lives. It was an even which endures, a moment frozen forever in memory.
"The fall of 1940 was a warm one. The war in Europe was front-page news. In Minnesota, the Gophers football team was number one in the nation again. With gardens still yielding vegetables well into October, winter seemed far away. By midday November 11, some areas of southeast Minnesota topped 60 degrees, but a huge storm was just to the west.
"It had hit the Pacific northwest with near hurricane-force gusts. usually storms weaken somewhat as they cross the Rockies, but this storm did not weaken. In fact, as it tapped moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and cold air lurking just north over Canada, the two combined into an explosive pattern and the storm system really became what meteorologists call a 'bomb.'
"Winds reach 70 mph during the storm, there were 20' drifts, and over 20" of snow fell."
What an event to have experienced. No wonder my parents talked about it over and over again...so much so that I remember it as if I'd been there...but I was not there and would not arrive for several more years.
Next chapter tomorrow...