“Grandpa...tell me 'bout the good old days”

"Grandpa...tell me 'bout the good old days"
By Amy Haldorson
I close my eyes and imagine. My grandpa tells me a story, as he often does, of life on the farm. It was one of my favorite things. Each time he tells one, the story gets a little more dramatic. One thing stays the same, and that’s the attention to detail. He's telling it like he's living it all over again. I watch the twinkle or sometimes a tear as he relives memories. I wish I would have written them all down before he passed. His generation has endured and seen more than we can imagine. Even into his older age, grandpa loved to help on the farm. It was in his blood. One day I asked him as I saw him come back from the field, "why do you never sit when you drive the tractors?" I had seen him day after day, whether it be swathing, combining or raking hay, he always stood. He explained when he was a young boy and was learning to drive the tractors, his father always removed the seats. Number one, because he was too short to see, and two, because he spent many hours in the tractor and his dad didn't want him to fall asleep. He recalled farming his whole life with no radio, no cab most of the time and no seat. He had done these things so many years, it was a way of life for him.
Old stories like this always amaze us. We love nothing more, than when people come in our office and start reminiscing. We recently sat down with a few seniors from the area. Marilyn Seibel, of Harvey, was recently one of them. She told of raising kids "back then". Her first comment was, "Id probably be in jail today!" She told a memory of putting her two babies in the loader of the tractor she was using to pick rocks. She had to get the work done, and more often than not, the babies had to come along. She laid down a blanket and toys and tucked them in the loader as she slowly drove the field, stopping to give them milk or change a diaper. There was another time, she had to round up the cows for milking, as milking was her job in the summer. Her husband would be busy farming and she had to tend to the cows, "her babies", she recalled. She was chasing the cattle across a stream and up a huge hill on foot with a baby under each arm. Once up the hill, the cows got spooked and ran down the to the other side of the stream. After all that, all Marilyn could do, was cry. She also talked of the long days, which wouldn't end until they had supper at 11pm, when they finally got to rest. The kids were fed earlier and put to bed.
Another area senior recalls not going to school the first few weeks in the fall. That was harvest time and nothing was more important than getting the crop off. He told of harder times, when harvest would take twice as long as it does today. They would cut and set up bundles of grain and after sitting to dry, thrashing machines would come along to pick them up. Another memory he had was the "cook car". In the middle of harvest, there was not time to stop and leave the fields for lunch, so "mother" would spend the morning cooking for everyone and drive her car full of food out to the field and drive right along side the machines to feed the crew. Another gentleman we spoke to had memories of his family’s bible studies. They wouldn't start the day or end the day with readings from the bible. Their days would start at sun up and rarely did they get breaks. He spoke of his 300 head of cattle that he took care of by himself for 30 years. He was very proud of that fact. Sitting down and listening to the "good old days" is something everyone should experience and we encourage people to stop in at the local nursing homes or the senior centers or even just visit elderly family members. They hold keys to the past that no one else does.