After the Death of our Daughter

Ken Thurlow

Ken Thurlow

Most of Lucy’s letters are positive, relating the good things in life. In this letter, Lucy lets the hard times show through the happy veneer. Every sentence she writes is the seed of another story. Lucy did share some of the stories with us while she was living in Rochester, but somehow we never found the time to listen to them or try to remember them. It’s only now that she’s gone I realize that there is something more important than deciding what to have for dinner tonight, or that there is too much dust on the furniture. We should have been listening to Grandma Lucy tell the stories about how she drove downtown to get her driver’s license.

This letter relates a lot of sadness, hard work, and the potential for great joy. I hope everyone who reads it has a chance to share their own stories and take the time to listen to other people’s stories. That’s so much more important than getting that dust off the furniture.

Lucy writes:

After the death of our daughter Ken was still not able to work. He would sit in his chair with a flat iron with a belt thru the handle – and would lift it up many times a day. It was hard for him to be so inactive but for me – guess I really needed him to be with me. I hadn’t slept for such a long time and I felt so depressed. Ken had built a room on the side of our house for my mom. She had decided to retire and it was his suggestion. He was always helping people. Audrey lived with us weekends and summers for seven years. He helped Loly and Paul build a house which they lived in while her 3 children were born.

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Montreal Olympics

76_Olympics_JRay_188We enjoyed every minute of the summer of 1973. The sun shone every weekend we went camping, and we camped a lot with our college crew. I was in the last couple of months of graduate school, finishing up on my master’s degree. Several companies had offered me jobs, and I had accepted the one at IBM in Rochester. Life was looking good.

The camping group wanted to make the feeling repeatable. How about a trip to the Olympics in Montreal in just three years, 1976? We could make this happen.

Making it happen was a major piece of work. I ended up with the job of buying tickets and finding housing for a group of ten people. If you remember my post from a couple of months ago, telephone calls weren’t cheap, the Internet didn’t exist. I did just about every piece of preparation through the mail, paper mail. Continue reading

First Taste of Flying

Eric writes:

When I was in about the third grade I got my first taste of flying.

Pat and Grant Knowlen at Fanny's, 1980.

Pat and Grant Knowlen at Fanny’s, 1980.

It was over the Fourth of July week when Jamestown had the Stutsman County Fair. Out at the airport, the Fixed Base Operator gave airplane rides for a penny per pound. Since I weighed about 40 to 50 pounds, my fare was under fifty cents.

I remember taking off and flying around the city and over the fair grounds. It was beautiful. All I can remember was that I wanted to fly again.

My second taste of flying came when my Cousin Grant Knowlen came to town. He flew in with his very own Cessna 1132. He took us for a ride in his plane and once again it hooked me. I knew that some day I would have to learn to fly.

— Eric H

I Volunteered for the Infantry!

This was the army job Louie really wanted.

This was the army job Louie really wanted.

Louie was proud of his military service, he was in the Army for several stints, including two in Korea, one in Europe, and a couple more state side.

Louie writes:

I remember the day my big brother Bob came home from the war in late 1944. We met him at the train depot in Jamestown. He hugged everyone he seen except me. I finally walked up to him and asked him if he remembered me. He said that he didn’t seem to know me. When he left I was a 97 lb. weakling and on this day I stood about two inches taller than him and outweighed him about 40 pounds. Kind of surprised him who I was. While in the South Pacific fighting the Japs …  Continue reading

Country School

Jim (r) and his step-father Einar in about 1953.

Jim (r) and his step-father Einar in about 1953.

If you’ve read this blog for very long you’ve seen stories similar to this one before. It seems that just about everyone in Jim’s generation told stories about one room schools. Most of my generation missed the opportunity, and there can’t be many left. Some think that home schooling can replicate the one room school learning environment, but there isn’t much that can bring back the daily grind of a horse-drawn sleigh in the winter.

How many blankets and burlap sacks would it take to keep warm for that long ride through the snow? I’ve heard stories about heating rocks on the cook stove and wrapping them in burlap to use as foot warmers. That’s more believable than the one about using rabbits or cats to keep warm.

My four block walk to Franklin School seems pretty tame by comparison.

Jim writes:

Many of the people I visit with in my age bracket state that they attended a small one room school in the country. I, too, am one of those in that group. The year was 1930 and the school had about twelve students from the first thru the eigth grades. It was heated by a coal stove and the further you sat from it  Continue reading

Starting College

High School Graduation - Cathy and Guy

High School Graduation – Cathy and Guy

Several events in the last couple of months brought the summer of 1968 to mind. This summer we’ve been to high school graduation parties and friends told us about their kids trips to various colleges. There are stories on the radio about what’s happening with tuition rates. For some time there’s been a story in the news about for profit colleges and student loans. I remember 1968 being a lot simpler time. Or maybe quite complicated, the more I think about it.

I had already decided to become an electrical engineer. Not that I had any idea what that meant. I had never met anyone with an engineering degree, for all I know there may not have been any engineers in Jamestown, except maybe one or two mechanical engineers at the plant that manufactured some sort of agricultural implements. My decision was the right one, but based on serendipity, not knowledge.

Three colleges fit the bill for my engineering education, at least that’s how many I applied to. In 1968 the automobile industry was still on a high. General Motors was the epitome of corporate perfection. They were so big they sponsored their own university to train engineers to design cars. Attending General Motors Institute would meet a couple of goals, engineering and cars. I sent an application. No answer. Continue reading

Lincoln School Neighborhood

Eric, Guy, Chris and Linn at the 319 house

Eric, Guy, Chris and Linn at the 319 house

Eric writes:

My first friends were Lori and Shelly Sucy, who lived just across the street from our house on 4th Avenue. Next door to them was Bonnie Schmidt. These were my playmates until I started the first grade. I still remember getting my first kiss from Bonnie while we were sitting on Grandma’s front porch. I was only in the first or second grade.

I started first grade at Lincoln Elementary just a block away from our house. The first day at school I met Mike Koushkouski. We have been fast friends ever since. Some of the other kids I remember are Mike’s younger brother and sister, David and Jeannie, and his older sister Peggy. There was Donna Rehak who lived behind and across the alley from Mike’s house. Continue reading