Another Tornado

Grace on the farm

Grace on the farm

When a storm rolls through the North Dakota prairie, a couple of things happen. Buildings are destroyed. Memories are made. Although I’ve never seen a building flattened, storms certainly hold a special place in my memory.

There wasn’t much that scared my Grandma. The storm Grace describes must have come very close for her to hightail it to the house. Neither Grace nor I were ever afraid of storms. Perhaps I learned from those old farm gals?

Grandpa Guy Havelick



Grace writes:

My dear ones,

When I was about three or four years old there was a tornado that nearly blew us away. Continue reading

High School Graduation



Don’t be misled by the title and first sentence of this letter from Lucy. There’s almost nothing in there about graduation. This is a love story.

After reading this story I better understand why Lucy let me call or come over to see Judy every night after we met. She and Ken were as smitten with each other as Judy and I were.

My favorite part of this letter is the fudge. Does every couple have a story about a dessert going bad that first summer of marriage? For Lucy, it’s fudge. For Judy it was chocolate cake. Our lives are full of stories. This one brings back a smile.

Lucy writes:

Graduating from High School was nice but what to do next was the question.

One evening the next winter I went to a basketball game with Evy my friend. I saw a man across the hall sitting by my brother. I said “That is the most handsome man I have ever seen. If he isn’t married he’s mine.” He said to Pat “Who’s that pretty girl in the white sweater set?”

Continue reading

What did I do in Junior High School?

What did I do in Junior High School?

Photo 114

This spring there were several letters from Lucy and Grace about high school. That and an upcoming visit with a good friend from high school got me thinking about my experiences. Once my mind starts off in that direction, it’s tough to rein it in.

A couple of months ago I found my scrap books from Junior High and Senior High school. There are some interesting tidbits in there, not the least of which is a letter from Sandy. She sent a birthday card to me in 1964, complete with a four page letter. She covers a lot of ground in the letter, clearly letting me know my second-fiddle status.

Sandy and I spent a lot of time together, wrote letters, and talked on the phone for hours. We enjoyed the days talking and deciding what to do with our lives. We were in confirmation class together, a class that played a prominent role in my teen-aged life. She planned to see me in class soon. We had a good class, at least twenty or so kids?

Here’s the interesting part. I don’t remember Sandy. And who is this Dave she writes so longingly about? Peggy plays a significant role in this letter, too. Who was she? Finally, Sandy mentions Linda. I really should remember her based on Sandy’s reaction to the card I sent to Linda. Continue reading

Frozen Road Apples

Louie in the New Mexico Mountains - 1961.

Louie in the New Mexico Mountains – 1961.

I should have published this letter last winter when memories of snowball fights were more timely.

Winters in Jamestown were incredibly cold and the snow drifted pretty high. When I was a kid it seemed like every winter had snow drifts higher than my shoulders. Does that happen any more?

During snowball fights we tended to stick with snowballs, the other option being ice balls. My friends didn’t want to get hit by one of those. Some of them would throw them anyway, not caring what happened to me.

Have you read that list making the email rounds on the Internet, the one about all the stuff we did as kids but we somehow survived? They mentioned the lack of seat belts and helmets, but getting hit by a road apple was not on the list. Perhaps it should have been. Maybe Louie would have added it.

Grandpa Guy Havelick



Louie writes:

North Dakota had some very cold winters, so cold that it seemed that everything froze. including cow and horse droppings.

Continue reading


Einar, , Jim in 1953

Einar, Eleanor, Jim in 1953

Trepidation. That’s the only word that comes to mind when I read this story. In 1949 as a young man, Jim drove halfway across the country to meet a mother he didn’t know, gather with a family he may have known the names of, and maybe even start life anew in a strange part of the country. Maybe I’m projecting my emotions his way, but I get really nervous just reading this letter. There are too many unknowns here. Is it the image of pulling into a farm driveway only to be greeted by a herd of barking dogs? Or is it the strange feeling of seeing someone part the kitchen curtains, furtively glance out, and then send out the man of the house?

As a young man barely twenty-one years old, he had already spent years at war in the South Pacific. Could that have prepared him for meeting his mother, aunts and uncles, and who knows how many cousins? How raw could his emotions have been, so soon after losing his step father?

Jim never was one for much drama, but this comes across as high drama. Maybe you can feel the emotions between the lines as he tells the story.

Jim writes:

Westhope (ND) was the closet town to my mother’s and Einars farm so I went there to ask directions. I mispronounced “Einars” first name and that branded me as a stranger in their midst! But I was given directions to drive west out of town (gravel) 8 miles then two miles south and I would discover the farm. All sorts of thoughts were whirling thru my head along with the exciting prospects of meeting my mother and her husband for the first time!
Continue reading

Klaus Park

The entrance to Klaus Park

The entrance to Klaus Park

Now that spring has really arrived, city parks call out to me. They called Jamestown the “City of Parks,” and for good reason. The original city fathers reserved space for several large parks along the river through town. The one closest to our house was Klaus Park. The other larger parks were Nickeus and McElroy parks. Every one of them felt quite large compared to the city parks we have in Rochester. Maybe my ten-year old mind saw things differently?

Walking south from the Pink House through the alley for just one long block took me to Klaus Park. Nowhere in the world felt better than that park in that town in the mid fifties. Adult supervision was unnecessary, and the neighborhood kids made the most of it. After breakfast I would hop on my bike, or just walk to the park, staying until I got hungry or it got dark. There was much to do, and so many kids to play with. Today, large parks seem to focus on events, such as the “Take Steps” walk for IBD. In those days it was family picnics and kids playing. Wasn’t it just a couple of months ago the police arrested some parents for sending their kids to the park without supervision? Horrors! Continue reading