Both Lucy and my mother Grace grew up on North Dakota farms. Roads were dirt. Electricity and telephone were rare. By the time I started grade school there televisions were showing up in our neighbor’s house. The similarity of Lucy and Grace’s experiences show the circumstances of time and place. In this letter the item that leaps off the page for me is the reference to Native Americans looking in the windows of the sod shanty that Lucy’s family called home.
My mother, Grace, had the same experience. I don’t remember anyone peeking in our windows. I’ve read stories about “bums” riding the rails and stopping for a meal or short-term job before they moved on. If someone like that happened by our house these days, we’d probably just call 911.
My mother was such an inspiration to our family. She was left with five children to raise – Alice, Llewellyn (Lew), Pat, Loly, and me of course.
She was always helping young people who couldn’t go to school during the depression. I know of three men just off hand. My father would hire men from Norway to work on the farm and I know of three of them that became farmers on their own with his help.
Mother played the organ for her father, Rev. Charles Henry Heath and her mother sang for services, when he was pastor at Valley City. There was no one to marry or bury or preach at that time. Mother and Uncle Merrit spent many a day alone. Wild horses would come up to their sod shanty and look in the window. Indians roamed the prairie and she was always afraid of them.
From the family Bible: Charles and Alice Heath wedding in Lake City MN.
Originally published 2014-10-27