Stories in the Rear View Mirror

Delta Daggett

I have been writing about Frazee and my experiences in growing up and what we did in those days.  A few have contacted me that sharing my youth with the Forum subscribers has jogged their memories of what they did in their youth. Some of us have reached the age where we have time to recollect good and bad times and the mistakes and successes we have learned from.  I have been encouraged many times to record my life for children and grandchildren, so in a way this is doing so. Maybe other readers in the same senior citizen bracket will do so for their families.

How long has it been since you have been to a Basket Social?  A girl would make a lunch and put it in a picnic basket. She would tie a ribbon on the handle and then have a girlfriend tell the boy she wanted to have lunch with just which ribbon he should bid on when the baskets were auctioned off. Rumor has it that the way to a boy’s heart is through his stomach.

Many younger adults probably get most of their daily information from the Internet and various websites. But if they do read my Forum articles, they can see how it was before TV, internet and all the electronic gadgets they use now.   

Be careful of what you read or hear as national and state-wide reporters slant their story towards their own beliefs or the editor’s instructions. Wish they would be more truthful and accurate and just report the facts as local papers do.

I have always admired small farmers because they often have to solve problems on their own as they are usually working by themselves. I claim that when a farmer needs a third arm or hand, he just grows one with his elbows, knees or teeth. I know if I had grown up on a farm. I would be more resourceful in attacking and solving problems. 

I do feel very much at home when I drive in the Evergreen area. This is where my mother, Helen Evelyn Palmer and 10 siblings grew up as the Charles and Bertha Palmer family. George’s daughter Joyce still lives on Charles Palmer’s original farm which he and his father, Sargent homesteaded in October 1886. Sargent helped plat Evergreen Township. Charles worked in lumber camps in the winter and farmed with his father until Sargent retired in 1899.

Charlie added to the farm until it grew to 200 acres. He and Bertha received the Becker County Master Farmer Award in 1942 for his efficient farming practices including his four-year crop rotation system. He was one of the first in Evergreen to use horses, first to buy an automobile, first to use a tractor. He was also active in the community, serving as Postmaster for the Woodland Post Office in their home from 1901-1917, helped organize Evergreen School Board and also the Township Board, where he held many offices.  

He was President of the Evergreen State Bank, managed the Shipping Association and was a member of the Frazee Coop Creamery. The three sons all followed their father’s community activities.

Bertha Palmer attended a church meeting at the Evergreen Lutheran Church where the Church Treasurer was thought to be dipping into the Church’s funds. Grandma stood up and spoke of the honesty of this man and was immediately rebuked by the minister. He told her that women should not speak at church meetings. Upon hearing this, Charlie drove to the minister’s house and told him to never speak down to his wife again.   

Charlie was set in his ways. 

When daughter Nell was born, he wanted to name her after his mother, Sarah Jane. Grandma insisted on Nell. He put down Sarah Jane when he registered her with the county. Nell discovered this when she needed her birth certificate for her passport application. 

He bought his first car and was anxious to give his family their first ride, but he forgot just how to stop the car, so with a full load of family headed for the woodpile which he knew would stop it. 

Charles and Bertha had four sons. Teddy died at the age of two; three began farming with some acres of Charles’ land. Fred a half mile south, Howard a mile north and George on the original farm.

Fred was the oldest and Mother cleaned his house and often carried the evening meal to his farm. She recalled that when she heard the wolves howling in the distance, she would run on the way home.

After young people’s night time excursions by sleigh to dances or parties, oldest brother Fred would sometimes have to get off the sleigh and chase the wolves away on the way home.

Rodger Palmer sold his father’s (Fred) farm a few years ago. His brother Kermit had farmed this land for decades. Morris Palmer farmed with his father, Howard. Morris’ daughter Kathy married Bill Lindow and they live on Howard’s farm. George’s son Dennis, farmed his Dad’s farm until he died a few years ago. His sister, Joyce Palmer still lives there. Charles’ son-in-law, Will Ahrens, farmed up the same road but on the northside of State Highway 87.   

During the 30’s and 40’s, school bus routes all had a name. One of the routes was called the Palmer-Ulschmid Bus. Many big families. 

My gene pool has lots of farming in it.  

Grandpa Daggett had four farms when he died and the Palmers were all farmers. But the trucking bug had a stronger pull on me. I always enjoy driving through rural areas and observing the type of farming that is going on in the area. Whether grain, corn or beans, livestock or birds, fruits or vegetables, these are the productive areas of our country, not the cities.

Arlene Palmer Simpson was Howard’s daughter and the same age as my sister Lois. They were good friends and in their 90’s, still are. Lois would spend harvest week in Evergreen with Arlene on the farm. I am ten years younger than Lois and would go along.

Every morning, I would be up waiting for Arlene’s brother Morris to get up and we would bring the cows in for milking and bring them in again at night. Threshing day was always a big day. I would stand and watch the threshing machine pulled by a tractor, come down the road and turn in the driveway followed by several wagons pulled by tractors or horses and driven by the neighbors with their sons riding along.

The thresher would park the machine where Morris directed him to, unhook and then turn the tractor around to face the thresher. Then he would hook up the large belt he carried to the Power Take Off on the tractor and then to the drive wheel of the thresher, test it, have coffee and then the work would begin.

The PTO would engage, the engine would snort and puff some black smoke; belts and wheels would turn and the grain was soon separated from the straw. Wagons would be off to the fields to bring in more shocks. This was in the mid to late 40’s. The grain was moved to bins in the granary.

Morris’ Mother Rose, Arlene and Lois would be busy bringing out the prepared food for morning lunch, noon meal and afternoon lunch so no one went hungry. Many chickens lost their heads to keep the men fed.

I would stay around the thresher in the mornings, but in the afternoon would ride out in a wagon to help pick up shocks. Handling the shocks would set off my hay fever and soon I would be done for the day, except for the lunches.