I was corresponding with Charlie Zirbel (1963) and the idea came about to make a section in 'Clear Lake Remembered' about growing up on a farm in Clear Lake during the 40s and 50s and 60s.
I think we could start a great page on the memories of being raised on a farm. I don't know what percentage, but maybe one fourth to one third of all the classmates lived on farms?
I had a horse from when I was 8 years old until I was 16. So would that semi qualify me as an 'almost' farm kid? haha I had to pitch the hay and pour the oats and you know what with the straw. But I know the farm kids had a different life than the town kids and I think it would be really interesting to hear some memories!! I'll be waiting to hear back from all of you who grew up on a farm and went to school in Clear Lake or to one of the country schools.
Julie Hayden Traub (1960)
Growing up on a farm during the 40s, 50s and 60s.
Stories from classmates who
grew up on a farm
and had chores to do
before school, after school and on weekends.
I recently read "Little Heathens" which is about growing up on an IA farm during the depression. It is such a popular book that there were waiting lists when I checked the university library, Boulder library, and Longmont library...so I bought it. I was slightly disappointed in that I prefer reading about personalities/interactions and this was a lot like a "how to" book and talked about doing things that I'd already experienced on the
farm. However, for city folks, it might be very enjoyable. In fact, to get such high ratings from the NY Times and to be so popular as to be unavailable at local libraries, I'm guessing city folks would REALLY enjoy it.
The book describes butchering a hog and making head cheese. That's something my Aunt Luella dearly loved (sounds disgusting to me and I never ate any of it). I collect cookbooks and found a recipe in a southern cookbook for head cheese...which surprised me. Have no idea where the idea of cooking a pig's head came from, but it must not be regional if I found it in a southern cookbook as well.
Anyway, I thought you might enjoy hearing about the book if you like to read.
Cheers! Cheryl Schaer Glenn (1963)
We also have an interesting section on Country Schools
Click here to send in your memories and pictures to be posted immediately!
As you (might) know, I also grew up on a farm. We moved to Clear Lake when I was in 8th grade, I remember the high school guys, one in particular, GARY LOWMAN, teasing me on Saturdays saying "did you come in for your weekly groceries!" Boy, that use to make me mad. :-) But growing up on a farm was great. I use to help Dad in the field. I would disk and help with putting up hay. One time Bill McGowan came out to help and he thought my Dad was trying to kill him. :-)
When I was younger (like 10 - 13years) I trained Shetland ponies. And then would enter the competitions at the Garner Horse Shows. I even beat the Stromer boys once in awhile.
The only thing I DID NOT like about living on the farm was riding the school bus. Especially if we were some of the last ones OFF or the first ones ON!!
Barb Potts Matson (CLHS 1960)
I remember that my brother Ron had a very wild calf for his 4-H project. He had to train it to lead. I remember him hanging onto the strap while the calf pulled him through our cattle pen. Needless to say he got a face full, but eventually he got it trained to lead. He took the calf to the county fair at the end of the year and lead it out to be judged. He got the calf all set for the judge and he came and was looking him over and got to the back of the calf and began to feel his rump. Well, the calf raised up both back feet and kicked that judged right in the stomach and took off running out of the pen, over a fence and down the mid-way. A wild chase ensued, but we finally got him cornered and back to his stall.
Dick Wood (CLHS 1960)
Farm Life. We farmed 300 acres and the Wood boys got to drive tractors all day except for the time in school. Very hectic job- cultivating corn all day on a worn out Massie Harris tractor that only plowed 4 rows at a time. The planter was also 4 rows at a time back then. If you ever ever got on the wrong row cultivating, some of the corn did not match up just right and it would be plowed out. You do not notice it as you're busy keeping you eye on your row. You guessed it, I got on the wrong row one time and stayed there for around 8-10 rounds. Dad came to see how it was going only to discover all the corn plowed under. We all had to take the rest of the day and re-plant all that corn. What a job and quite a lesson. I never did that again, and always counted 4 rows before going the next round. These days, it's 16-20 rows at a time in the plush air conditioned rigs. I often wonder if I had stayed on the farm, how well off or broke we would be now.
Russ Wood (CLHS 1956)
8 May, 2008
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Living on Grandma and Grandad Eastman's farm 1 1/2 miles South of State Park was so cool. We moved there the summer after 7th Grade ~ I think! I'm not sure exactly when Dave and Julie came back to Clear Lake for a visit and brought their German Shepherd dog with them. Dad (Don Eastman) couldn't resist and adopted "Baby" ~ Dad renamed her "Julie" after they left town! She was a great dog and friend for me. She would walk me to the end of the drive in the morning and wait until I got on the bus for school. She'd keep Mom company outside during the day and about half an hour before the bus would bring me home she'd go to the end of the drive and wait for me! We had a small pasture between the house and the road. Dad had some sheep there. When I'd get off the bus the sheep would come running to greet me too! What a warm welcome after a "hard" day at school. If Mom would pick me up from school to do shopping, Julie would still be at the end of the drive waiting for us to get home!
When we moved to the farm we acquired a cat that had been living with the previous occupants. She had a litter of kittens and Julie would "kitten-sit" while Momma would go off hunting or "whatever"! If I can ever find my photo albums, we have pictures of the kittens crawling all over Julie while she "slept" or pretended to.
I also learned to drive in the cornfield. Dad took me in his Ford Falcon Pickup and said, "There's a car here and another one there. Parallel park between them. Oooops, you just ran into both of them!"
One spring we had a ewe give birth to twins and reject one of them. We raised her in the basement and fed her by bottle until she was old enough to return to the rest of the sheep. She still got a bottle every day. I'd go to the fence and call, "Queenie" and she'd come running for her meal.
Dad owned Eastman Grain Company in addition to farming and raising some livestock. We had sheep which I hated feeding. Invariably I'd make a little noise putting feed in the bunk and they'd come running and trap me against the bunk. Their wool would stick together so I couldn't get out ~ I'd have to climb into the bunk and walk out over the feed. Dad also sold Purina Feed at the elevator and I remember two times we had picnics at the farm for Dad's customers and business associates.
Miriam Eastman Eden (CLHS 1967)
What I remember about farm life as a kid growing up.
On the farm we were able to do things that "town" kids didn't get do, like run a tractor and scoop manure. "Town" kids were always excited to get out of school for the day, but "us country" kids had to go home and help with chores.
Most farmers back when I was living on the farm had livestock, so they had to be fed twice a day. Now my father didn't make us help in the morning with chores, but at night we got to get out and help. We could say "Dad we have homework to do", and his response was "you can do that after supper and and when the chores are done". There were hogs to feed, cattle to feed and chickens that needed attention too.
The summer I turned 5, July 28Th is the date of my birth, I got my first experience driving a tractor without the help of Dad. It was a B John Deere with a pull clutch. I could push the clutch in with my foot, but couldn't pull it out without help. I was driving the tractor in front of a hay loader and hay rack putting up loose hay, so the speed was very slow. You had to make just the right turn or the hay would get caught up in the wrong places on the hay loader. I caught hell more than once for not turning right. How many times do you have to be shown on how to do it right?
On the farm we got to see new born chickens, pigs and calves be born. Not too many town kids ever experienced that.
Oh yes and not let us forget summers. Town kids got to do fun stuff like go to the beach and hang out at the Corner Drug. Not the country kids, we got to cut and combine oats, cultivate corn, put up hay for the livestock, work the pigs, haul manure away from the livestock, fix fences and then we got to have FUN. Now don't get me wrong- in a lot of these chores we did it with help from other farmers, so a good time was had there that town kids didn't experience because it was not all work and no play.
I remember when daylight savings time started and I thought, Oh boy now I will get to town when it's still light, but my father soon explained to me that we worked by the sun and not the clock. Now I got to town to see all my buddies and the town kids another hour later.
Oh and not left us forget fall time. Then we got to fill silos for us and several farmers because it took several people to accomplish this task. Oh and now it's time to pick corn. Not like today with shelled corn. We picked in the ear with a one row picker like you see in one of my pictures. If we got 800 bushel a day picked we were lucky. Now they get more than that harvested in an hour. See the pictures also of the machinery we used and what they use today. If we had four row equipment we were big stuff, today they harvest corn with 16 row equipment and plant with 36 row equipment.
In my day 320 acres was a BIG farmer and today I know of one farmer that takes care of over 7000 acres.
I will say though that growing up on the farm we did, I think, do more with other families. It was not uncommon to have a picnic breakfast at the park in Fertile on Sunday morning. I never saw any "town" families doing that. We use to got swimming and fishing in the river. I never saw any "town" kids there.
So I guess living up on the farm was not all bad, we thought so at the time, but we just had more things to keep us out of trouble and responsibilities on the farm. How many "town" kids ever taught a 4-H calf to lead, probably none. We did that for many years and "got to go to fair with them", never saw any town kids doing that either. Now all you "town" kids know what you missed.
Charlie Zirbel CLHS 1963
2 January, 2009
We lived 4 miles North of Nichols Turkey farm off of Hwy 18. Our farm was diversified from cattle and hogs to lots of hay, oats, corn and sugar beets. Like many of the other posts mostly I remember the long hours of work... feeding cattle and hogs to hours and hours of plowing, disking and yes, harvesting. Working in the field from after school and all day weekends often made you angry because you could not participate in so many of the school activities. I remember one time staying after school (JUST ONE TIME) for some sports program and no more of that, you have to come home to help chore.
I probably resented that more then than I do now. I would have liked to be involved more with school activities, but it wasn't a part of the program of being on our farm. Horses and riding were a big part of my life and what I learned then has stood well with me for some of my present activity in raising horses here in Wyoming.
Oh yes, the school bus! It arrived shortly after seven and you rode it for an hour. Then, when YOU thought it was fair for those who got on first to get off first, oh, no! They reversed the route in the evening and you got off last! Talk about unfair, but we lived through it. Carl Ashland was our bus driver and kept me out of a lot of trouble. I still remember his counseling and encouragement to help me.
The plane that Buddy Holly and the rest of those who were in that plane accident crashed just over the fence from a field we farmed directly North of Clear Lake. I still remember going out there and seeing the location and wreckage.
Did I like the farm...yes. Would I want to be a farmer? The hard work and long hours of those days will be long remembered. Picking up rock, hauling feed and the many other things helped to mold me, but no, I would not want to do that kind of farming. With the progress of better equipment and easier methods, farming as I knew it has changed. But the farm life was good! And our phone # was 5 8 9 J 1
I was double blessed growing up in the 50's. My dad's work took our family to live in places like Chicago, Omaha and Columbus. But, in the summer, I would come back to Clear Lake and spend the time on my Grandpa Klemensen's 40 acre farm. Our neighbors were, the Woods, Russ, Ron, and Dick, the Dankbars, Donna ,Ruth, and Jim, the Simpkins, George(my Uncle), Pearl (my Aunt), Sue Ann, Karen,Ellen, and Tami. Many of us were at the K to 8, Lake school #4.
Later on, when in high school in other states, I would return to my Grandad's farm for the summer. Because of my love for baseball I played on the American Legion team for two years. My teamates were: Bill Stoyles, Jim Friest, Dale Sargent, Dick Atkins from CLHS, and Dean Monson, Larry Coe and Pat Stepleton (my cousin) from Ventura. I'll never forget how these guys took me in (an outsider) and made me part of the team.
But on the farm, it was work. Cultivating the fields, harvesting corn and oats, mowing and bailing hay,feeding the stock and chickens.
One of the regrets of my life, is that none of my 5 children ever experienced that life-style. I think there were so many life lessons involved with growing up on the farm that are difficult to duplicate in other settings.
When I think of growing up in the 50's in Iowa, the term "Heartland " comes to mind. The picture of the God fearing, hardworking farmers and small town people brings to light everything that makes America great.
Larry Lepley- CLHS '57
I grew up around Clear Lake and would have graduated in 62 had I not moved to California in the 7th grade. I just wanted to add to the farm experience if its all right.
I grew up on a farm half way between Clear Lake and Fertile owned by my grandparents Fred and Lillie Petersen. We had a huge white barn with his name painted on the front of the barn for all to see from the road. I had no brothers and sister to share time with so the farm and the outdoors in general was my life. Some of the best memories come from living and growing up on a farm. I remember the harsh winters out there with a coal furnace for the only heat. I remember the hot sticky summers and running through the corn field getting slapped and cut by the leaves. It's true you can hear the corn grow. I will always remember the farm.
I didn't graduated from CLHS due to moving away when I was in the 7th grade. I would have been in CLHS class of 62. Bill Moore
When I was about 8 I use to like to go to my Aunt Dorothy's farm. I hated the outhouse but at night the kids could go potty in a bucket and I liked that. I remember racing with my cousins with an older boy who had a peg leg. Lo & behold he became a choir director and sang at my Aunt's funeral. Then I found out he was my bosses husband in Mason City. SMALL WORLD! I also remember the hayloft at Melvin Ashland's farm.
Penny Schober Vollrath (1963)
I lived on a farm 7 1/2 miles south & east of Clear Lake until I was a freshman in high school. My father wasn't a farmer, but my Uncle Hank had a 160 acre farm and a big white house with five bedrooms. He was a bachelor, so we moved in with him when I was one and stayed there for thirteen years! So - I used to go down to the barn every summer morning, saddle Pesky up, take off for the day's adventures, and put him to bed at night. My brother and I sometimes rode to school on him - together! Eleanor Froiland Andrews (1958)
This space reservered for your memories of growing up on a farm.
We can't wait to hear from you!
This is of me feeding the cow in 1944. We lived at the edge of town on an acreage. Today it would be called a hobby farm but in 1944 is was a necessity. As I remember, this picture was taken by my mother when she saw me feeding the calf. The calf got it's head caught in the bucket and my mother ran into the house to get the camera. By the time she got back and stopped laughing, I had the calf's head out of the bucket and was feeding the cow.
Ron Gerdes (1956) →
This picture was taken looking north toward the end of 13th St. The railroad track sign in the distance is now where Snyder Construction Company is located. On the other side of the tracks is where the current US Highway 18 is located. Ron Gerdes