Dreams of a New House

Ted Luehr's Truck and haystack

Trucking hay from the north forty.

Last month Lucy’s letter described the new house she and Ken moved into soon after they got married. Grace describes the dream of a new house unfulfilled. Somehow serendipity plays a role in everyone’s life. My grandfather Ted came to North Dakota and saw it in glorious bloom in 1918. He and his new bride, my grandmother Fanny, came to Kidder County along with hundreds and thousands of eager dry land farmers, ready to transform the prairie into rolling fields of green.

Fate intervened after not too many years. The rains failed. The stock market crashed. The promises of 1918 didn’t happen. For example, Aunt Esther told me that the telephone came to the farm in the twenties. With the depression, copper wire became more valuable than phone conversations. The phone didn’t come back for decades.

When things stated to improve, flush with cash, Grandpa Ted decided to expand to more land north of the home place, planning to build a house. The dust bowl, the depression, and eventually illness and death intervened. The site of the new house became a hay field.

There’s one quaint similarity between my wife Judy and my grandmother Fanny. Both count subconsciously and involuntarily. Every time Judy and I walk through the park, I hear exactly how many people were enjoying the park. Fanny knew exactly how many cattle were in the pasture.

Grandpa Guy Havelick



Grace writes:

I remember Mama telling me about her dream of sometime having a new house. They bought land about 6 or 8 miles to the north east of our farm with the hope of building there someday. Papa planted trees for shelter and as a border for the yard. He had cottonwoods and some fruit trees and some smaller shrub type things. The depression came along though so not much else was ever done. Continue reading

Raising Herefords

Henry with a Hereford bull

Henry with a Hereford bull

There are limits to any method of writing a story. The format Grace and the others used to record their stories for me focused on making it easy for her to get the stories on paper. It worked marvelously. Thanks to this project we all have well over a hundred stories from that generation. I wouldn’t give that up for anything.

Can you forgive me if I ask for more? The story about Henry moving the bull from one pasture to another was one of Fanny’s favorites. When she told the story it took more than Grace’s five sentences. Far more. All I remember of the story now is that it was long, involved, and full of detail that Grace didn’t have room to share. Wouldn’t it be fun to have more of those details?

The photo of Henry and a bull gives some detail about the North Dakota prairie. There are no buildings in the picture, not a road in sight, not even a dirt cow path! The vegetation looks lush, but maybe a little dry? The bushes in the background are suspect, what are they? Berries? My mother was big on chokecherry jam, maybe those are chokecherry bushes? There are wooden fence posts. Herny’s carrying a holster belt, too. Is that a Bowie knife? He looks pretty well dressed for moving cattle. How many stories are hidden behind this picture?

This is what we have, in Grace’s handwriting and her words. Our imagination can fill in the rest.

Grandpa Guy Havelick


Grace writes:

Continue reading