A Dog is a Dog

Louie grew up in Jamestown, North Dakota. In the 1940 census there were 8,790 residents, what I’d call a small town. Small towns have advantages over cities like Rochester, Minnesota, where I now live. Well over 100,000 people call Rochester home.

Louie's little sister Dorothy

Louie’s little sister Dorothy

Two points in Louie’s story jump out at me. First is his plan to explore the “outside the neighborhood.” Even in the fifties and sixties when I was growing up, exploring large swathes of town wasn’t out of the ordinary. My friends and I would ride bikes ten miles to go swimming. We’ roam around downtown for hours, waiting for the North-Coast-Limited high-speed passenger train to come in to the depot. Ten-year-old kids don’t do that anymore.

Nor do they tie sisters to a telephone pole and leave. I can imagine the television coverage that sort of event would get today. There’s be peace officers, fire trucks, and a dozen emergency vehicles in the ‘hood tracking down the perpetrators. Louie got off with another paddling.

The differences in life style for town boys, fifty and a hundred years ago, when compared to today … How would I compare them? We’re lucky to have some of Louie’s stories around to remind us of life in the 1930’s. What was life like for his father and grandfather? I don’t have anything from my grandfather, and just a few stories. Even Louie’s letters barely mention his father, Louis.

The curtain of obscurity comes down quickly.

Grandpa Guy Havelick



Louie writes:

When I was at the age of around 6 my folks had obtained a dog, what kind it was is unknown to me. At that age, a dog is a dog, not some fancy breed name.

It has been so long ago that I don’t remember what the dog’s name was.

Anyway, the dog was true blue, when it comes to obeying me. Continue reading

Visiting Relatives in Wisconsin

Louie’s first story reminds me that our lives are similar, but unique. We both grew up in Jamestown, North Dakota, with our childhoods spent near the steam-powered railroad. In this story, Louie talks about trying to take the train to visit his relatives.

Goose at station

Gas electric locomotive – “Goose”

My parallel story involves the same train, the Galloping Goose. These little gasoline powered motor coaches carried mail, passengers, freight, and milk to the small towns near Jamestown. My uncle and aunt lived in one of those little towns, Pettibone. When I was ten or eleven I’d take the Goose to Pettibone to spend a week with my cousins in the country.

The uniqueness of my story, compared to Louie’s, is that I got to visit the relatives. He didn’t. The other unique feature stands out compared to my children’s and grandchildren’s lives. Louie got his butt whipped.
I may have paddled my kids once? Maybe twice, or maybe never. It just didn’t happen. Did the difference in discipline make a difference in how he and I turned out?

Grandpa Guy Havelick



Louie writes:

When I was the ripe old age of around 6, I had a good idea that it would be nice to visit some of relatives in Wisconsin.

I went to the railroad depot and got on board what was called the “Gallopin’ Goose.” It was actually a gasoline driven locomotive that they used on one of the branch lines going just north of Jamestown only traveling about 75 miles.

The conductor wanted to know where I was going and asked for my ticket. Not having a ticket started the trouble. The conductor tried to take me off the train. I started to rant and rave, it did cause quite a commotion. Continue reading