Moving to Denver

Eric writes:

My mother was a pretty woman and I remember a few men dating her.

The man that she wound up with was Norris Torkelson. I remember going out on his boat with Mom and my brother to pick chokecherries and go on picnics.

Eric, Norris, Chris, Grace, Linn on their wedding day 1966

Eric, Norris, Chris, Grace, Linn on their wedding day 1966

In December of the fourth grade, we moved to Denver, Colorado. Mom and Norrie were married the evening of December 30 so they could get the income tax deduction for the year with us kids.

My oldest brother, Guy, elected to finish out his last year of High School in Jamestown living with Grandma. Linn, Chris and I started a new life in Denver.

We moved into a three-bedroom apartment at 5104 West Kentucky Avenue in Denver. My Mom found a job working at the dry cleaners at the end of the alley. Chris and I started school at Belmont Elementary School. The neighborhood we lived in was pretty bad. Linn was going to Kepner Junior High and kept getting beat-up by Mexican gang kids. Eventually, he couldn’t take it any more and ran away from home. He wouldn’t come back unless he could go to a different school.

So we moved to 1699 South Winona Court in Denver. It was a nice four-bedroom house in a better neighborhood. I went to Force Elementary School at the other end of the block.

As we were moving into the house on S. Winona Ct, Bruce Scott came over. He lived in the house next door and was the some age as me. We were fast friends for many years. One year, he even went with us on a fishing trip to Canada. Bruce caught one of the biggest fish of the trip. Bruce’s Dad would take us fishing in the mountains for rainbow trout almost every weekend all summer long. This was when I became friends with Bruce’s younger brother Tom. I would stick up for him when Bruce and his friend, Jack, would pick on Tom. We don’t see each other often, but we still keep in touch to this day. In fact, as I am sitting here writing this I just got off the phone with Tom. He is a great friend.

— Eric H

Police Action in Korea

Louie (r) and friend in Korea

Louie (r) and friend in Korea

For twenty-some years, and even beyond, one of my favorite television shows was M*A*S*H. I still enjoy watching reruns. Some episodes moved me to tears, others have me giggling still. My favorite line is Col. Potter saying “Not enough O’s in ‘smooth’ to describe this” as he describes some Scotch whisky in episode Z-419. The series takes place in the Police Action in Korea that Louie describes in this letter.

One truth of war and the television series is the mixture of pathos and humor. Louie’s story reads like a M*A*S*H script. I laughed at the conclusion, until I realized what had really happened.

Louie writes:

Back in 1952 I had the honor of being with, or should I say, a member of the United Nations who were engaged in a “Police Action” against the Communist of North Korea. Continue reading

Willie Handy and His Model T

Ford Model T controls

Ford Model T controls – click to enlarge

For years Judy and I were members of the local chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America. Our car, the 1953 Cadillac, was one of the newer vehicles in the club. Several members owned Model T Fords, including Peter A. On one tour, while we were having lunch at the county historical center he allowed volunteer club members to drive his Model T.

What a hoot! Those of us unfamiliar with the vagaries of such an ancient vehicle had trouble believing that anyone could learn how to drive such a beast. Everything Jim mentions below is absolute truth. Steering was difficult at best. Perhaps Jim was too young to notice, but to me the foot pedals were the most confusing part of driving the car. They were nothing like a modern vehicle. Today’s cars have an accelerator and a brake pedal. Not the T.

From the left, pedals include the high/low clutch (push in to start, then let it out when you get to speed), the reverse pedal (press to go backwards), and the brake (note that it’s on the right, unlike the car you drive). Then there’s the emergency brake / clutch release lever. The whole thing reminds me of the class we took on how to Rumba. My feet are still dizzy.

Jim writes:

All the farm work was done with horses; plowing, planting, tilling, cutting hay, raking, stacking and hauling. The year before we sold the farm (1930) we had a hired hand. He went by the improbable name of Willie Handy. I can still see him now …

Continue reading

Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters, live and in person at the Minnesota State Fair, 1972.

Muddy Waters, live and in person at the Minnesota State Fair, 1972.

Muddy Waters! Live, in person, at the Minnesota State Fair. What an opportunity. My friend Mark had invited us to stay with him for the weekend, take in some sights around Minneapolis and spend an evening at the fair listening to Muddy Waters. Let’s go.

1972 had been a great summer. I completed my bachelor’s degree in engineering. The engineering department awarded me a full ride scholarship for graduate school. The summer job working with George taught me a lot. We even traded our old car for one a little more fitting for a young married couple. Maybe it was a better fit for a twenty-one year old male with raging hormones? A 1964 Mustang, complete with the big engine, a Hurst four speed shifter, cherry bomb mufflers, and a rag top. We loved that car, with some reservations. (More on that in another story.)

The Interstate highway system construction was almost done. From Fargo to Minneapolis was mostly easy four lane freeway, with just a couple of jaunts on the old two-lane highways. As we got closer to Minneapolis, we ran out of freeway, just west of where the 494/694/94 flyover bridges are today. We got dumped onto a two lane road that had more traffic than I liked. The Mustang didn’t like driving slowly, in a straight line, driving nose to butt in heavy traffic, so we took a little detour south, away from the traffic. We wanted to get to the city faster.

How quickly can I get lost? It only takes one wrong turn, and we were driving around somewhere near Lake Minnetonka. It’s beautiful country, but it was getting late, we were tired and had no idea how to get back to the main roads. Fortunately we had stopped at a rest area to pick up a free map of Minnesota. The state updated maps every year, and with the road construction on Interstates moving along so quickly it was important to keep up to date with the maps. They were still out of date.

There was a long straight stretch, so Judy showed me the map, and we tried to figure out where we were. It’s not that easy to find yourself in strange territory. There are so many roads, and they all have straight sections and sharp curves. Both of us were now reading the map trying to find out where we really were. Continue reading

Two punches in the “bucket list”

Eric writes:

My third taste of flying came when I was 14 years old in Junior High School. I listened to the radio a lot, as most early teens do, and would call in to the radio station trying to win prizes. Once when I called in, I was the lucky tenth caller and won a Rolling Stones album.

The DJ’s name was Lee “Windy’ Winslow. He asked my name and then asked where I was from. I told him that I was from Jamestown, North Dakota. He said that he was also from Jamestown and had started his career as a DJ there. He recognized my last name because he had dated my cousin Gail while living there. Lee and I slowly became friends.

The radio station he worked for contracted with Don Martin, a local pilot, to do the rush hour traffic reporting. Don was the first pilot in the Denver area to do this and his call sign was Sky Watch One. I kept asking Lee if he could get me a ride on the Sky Watch airplane. Eventually, my persistence paid off. Lee called me up and set the date.

Stapleton International Airport in 1966

Stapleton International Airport in 1966

He picked me up after school and we drove out to Stapleton Airport to meet my hero, Don Martin and go for a ride. We took off about 4:00 PM and flew around Denver for about two hours. I took lots of pictures. I wonder if I still have them or if they got lost? Anyway, it was a wonderful experience. I was literally floating on clouds. Continue reading

Learning to Sew

Linn with Grace's sewing machine.

Linn with Grace’s sewing machine at the Pink House.

Sewing machines were a staple in our house when I was young. Our mother was always sewing something. She became quite the seamstress, eventually hanging out a shingle and doing dress making full-time for people in Jamestown. There aren’t many tailors who will take on the task of sewing a man’s shirt or suit jacket from scratch, but Grace could do it. I remember several shirts that she sewed for me.

When she remarried in 1966 the man she chose, Norris, had a hobby of servicing and restoring sewing machines. There’s an ancient Singer machine in the closet of my office to show for it. The shop in Grace’s house on Lamar St. had dozens of machines that Norris was working on.

This letter is my favorite of all those Grace wrote to me. In it she mentions her passion, sewing, my favorite aunt’s passion, reading, and she describes the process of making a dress. She sewed a dress by herself, in the farm house … well, maybe you should read the letter and look at the photo below.

In the photo, my grand daughter Audrey, who just turned eight a couple of weeks before the picture was taken, is wearing the dress sewn by her great grandmother Grace when she was about the same age.

Grandpa Guy Havelick



Grace writes:

Hi Everybody,

I started learning to sew when I was around six years old. The old treadle machine was perfect for a little kid to sew on as it went quite slow.

I remember sewing things like hemming dishtowels and simple straight seams on things mama would be making.

By the time I made my first dress I was pretty well acquainted with the machine and what the pieces of a garment looked like before being sewed. Continue reading