Wagon on the Windmill

windmill-584438_1280Halloween pranks must have been much easier in the thirties and forties. I haven’t heard of a good one in years. This one would be difficult to pull off now. Wagons and windmills are uncommon, and there are so many lights and so much traffic that getting caught would be more likely.



Grandpa Guy Havelick



Louie writes:

Halloween pranks were and still are somewhat common, but “back in the good old days” we did some that were outstanding, especially in our eyes.

I was in my early teens and full of vinegar and other things. I was with a bunch of a little older fellas that kept talking about pulling the “Granddaddy” of them all. …

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Flora Judge Corser and the “Seance”

Paper Mill in Millers Falls, MA

Paper Mill in Millers Falls, MA

There are some stories I’m just dying to know more about. This is one of them. I’ve never been to a seance or even known someone who has been to one. (Although I now realize that Jim was one of those who had actually taken part!) As we’ve seen, Jim was not one for religion or even spirituality. He embodied all of the teachings one typically learns in church, but he never enjoyed setting foot in one.

Many of the other letters from Jim reveal his love for being at the lake, driving around in the boat, sitting at the dock with a glass of beer or whiskey, or just relaxing on the deck with a good mystery. Since there weren’t any lake experiences in his North Dakota childhood, maybe this is where he got his love of the lake? Sadly, he’s not around to ask any more.

Jim certainly instilled a love of the lake and a love of camping in me. This letter gives me some inkling into the history of that love.

Jim writes:

Sometime in 1941 Dad married his fourth wife, Flora Judge. She became my third “mother” or stepmother. I never knew …

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First Date

5958355297_3d6d5a947f_mJamestown, ND in the fifties was something special for me. I lived close to a great city park and just a couple of blocks from school. Only two blocks east of school was the Star Theater. There are some good stories that center on that movie house.

First grade was a big deal for me. It was the start of my independence. We were living with my grandmother, and she was an experienced mother. Even when I was in first grade, she knew enough to let me do some things that other, younger parents would never allow. Later on her permissiveness allowed me to have a wonderful high school experience, and she set the stage with what I believed I could do during the first year at college. Continue reading

Henry and Melvin Drafted

Melvin in Navy uniform at the farm

Melvin in his Navy uniform

There are a lot of under currents hinted at in this letter. Grace was only ten when war was declared after Pearl Harbor. After reading Jim and Lucy’s letters about the war, this experience seems almost indifferent.

Fanny must have had an incredibly difficult time when, soon after losing her husband, her two sons were drafted and left for the military. The oldest daughter had just left for school in Fargo. Now she was alone on the farm with one young daughter. What a challenge! This gives me a clue as to why my grandmother was such a tough old gal who could handle anything. She had lived through the hard times.

This letter seems short, but the stories between the lines are harrowing.

Grandpa Guy Havelick


Grace writes:

We made the trip to Nebraska in 1941 not the summer of ’40 as I said yesterday. Esther graduated from Hi School in ’41 and turned down a job in Steele so she could go on the trip. She went to school in Fargo in the fall.

War was declared on Dec 7, 1941. I don’t know how soon but I know that Henry + Melvin both got drafted and had to go for induction physicals at the same time so Mom had to take care of all the cattle + everything alone. Luckily …

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Grandpa’s Birthday

Charlie & Alice Heath

Charlie & Alice Heath

There’s quite a difference between my family and Judy’s. Lucy’s family lived close enough to each other that visits were not unheard of. My mother’s family lived several states apart so rarely visited.

Another difference was the depth of religious influence on the families. My family went to church as required, but this was different!

Lucy writes:

Mother would gather us all together and announce “Grandpa’s coming!” Now he was 6’4″ tall, wore a black suit with a white stiff collar, and was about as handsome as a man could be. He was also “terribly” religious. We had to hide all the playing cards (a sin) and all the music that wasn’t hymns, and he called my mother “Daughter.” Now every night before going to bed we had to get down on our knees on the floor, by a chair, and he would pray and pray and pray. Well Pat, Loly and I would all be at the same chair, and could not be quiet for very long, so would giggle. Grandpa cleared his throat – we’d stop. I thought it strange his (2nd) wife called him “Reverend Heath.”

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