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Guest Opinion

Highlights From Elm Crest Manor

The New Salem Journal of New Salem, North Dakota

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Then there was light!! How happy I was when the electricity came back on last Saturday night. Thanks to all the guys who go out in all kinds of weather to repair the lines so that we can have power.

Our power was off for about six hours, which was long enough for me to remember the times we had no electricity. We were fortunate enough to have a kerosene lamp and some oil that was in a box we bought at an auction sale. We also had a lot of candles. We kept warm because of a wood burning stove downstairs. It was so quiet in the house and I really didn't realize how noisy a house can be until the power was back on, then you could hear the fridge, the blower on the furnace, the dishwasher started up, all the clocks on the stove and microwave started blinking red letters P.F., the air filter and the humidifier also started up and of course the most noisy of all was the TV. In all this quietness I just didn't know what to do with myself so I tried to play the piano by candlelight, cut could hardly see the notes; tried to read a book with a small flashlight, that didn't go very well, so the next best thing was to go to bed and wait for those linemen to do their job, which they did.

As the memories of the kerosene lamp took me back to the 1930's, so also did memories of those years come back to the residents of ECM, when I asked them if they could remember a happening to them in the "dirty 30s." Of course they did and following are some of their memories.

Nelvin Henke, a new resident, remembers on a very hot day his father sent him out to cut corn stalks with his team of horses. By noon it got so very hot that his father came to the field to stop the work because the sweat was just running off the horses and there was danger that the horses could die, so Nelvin droVe the horses home and what he saw he remembered to this day—the. chickens, turkeys and birds were all huddled in the shade of all the buildings with their wings all spread out in order for them to be cooler.

Elsie Lennie remembers all the snow that accumulated in the winter of 1935. She enjoyed riding rose and wanted her horse to jump over the snow bank. The horse stopped short before the snow bank, but Elsie kept going, over the horse's head and into the snow bank. She also remembers the huge icicles on the trees and the very hot winds in April 1934, the month her son was born.

Gladys Toepke immediately remembered her graduation day in 1932. Of course the day was hot and naturally she wore her good clothes and a gown with a high collar. Gladys demonstrated how hot it was by how their tongues hung out. Gladys, you do make me laugh! But she went on to tell about the speaker, who couldn't quit talking and she says, "He didn't even say a word about graduation or kids."

Charlotte Johnson says that her mother tried to keep all the dirt out of the windows. Finally her father put some storm windows on and that helped. She says they shoveled a lot of dirt. They also had to sell some cows because there wasn't much hay.

Dolly Keller has vivid memories of living on $44 a month, this income her husband earned working on the WPA. She said, "After we paid $10 rent, plus lights, there was not much left to live on. The WPA was a government program established by F.D. Roosevelt for persons without jobs. She said one month the check was late and all she had in the house was 1/2-cup navy beans and one onion— she made soup out of these bvo items.

Dolly remembers that her dad took old cars apart and sold the parts. He would bring the money home and put in her mother's aproned lap. When she would find a shiny new penny, nickel or dime, she would give it to Dolly for spending money.

Elsa Barry really got "caught up" in memories from the 30s—I couldn't keep up with her. They lived on a farm, so hay was short but they found some 5 or 10 miles from home, She says they very seldom had an orange to eat, but ate a lot of bean and chicken soup. She told in detail the wagon which had a complete cover on it and which was pulled by the horses named Maude and Charles. Her father had two benches built in the wagon and they put a kerosene lantern in the middle of the benches and they kept nice and warm on the way to school.

Elsa smiled when she explained how her father took an inner tube and cut a round circle and fastened it to the cold, card toilet seat so it would be softer to sit on.

When I told her thank you for sharing she said, "Oh, this was so much fun!"

Most of us have things we do to occupy our free time, but maybe we are not quite so talented as resident Art Lang is. During the dinner hour he uses the backside of his menu and draws caricatures. Deb Norton, of the kitchen crew, shared a couple of them with me and now I would like to share one with you readers. I really think he does a great job.

My apologies to Mary Albaugh, the lady who traveled by covered wagon. I wrote that she had two step children and that was incorrect. I also wrote that Ted and Verna Giese boarded teachers at their home, that was also incorrect, it was Ted's parents who boarded teachers.

Moving day for the residents in the west wing has come and gone and all are pretty well settled in the new addition. What a busy two days it was. Many family members came to help with the moving. It was a good time to get rid of some accumulated "stuff'. It was amazing to see how much a person could get into half of a room. Some of these residents will move back to their original rooms as soon as they are remodeled.

There are three couples living in the big double rooms. On one side are the beds and on the other side are the recliners and TVs. It seems just like a small apartment. How nice it is for them.

Devotions were held in the new great room where round tables and chairs are placed, and, of course, the piano was also moved into the room. It was a great room to sing in because the acoustics are so good.

This room will be a great place for the annual Valentine's Day party, which will be held on February 12 at 2:00.

Hopefully the weather and road conditions are favorable so that I can get this to the New Salem Journal on time.

Have a good week filled with God's blessings.

P.S. As you may know by now, I was not able to get to the Journal, but all is well now!

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Original Publication Date: February 3, 2010

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