Sunday, July 25, 2010

Electricity and phones

The questions asked were: Did we have phone lines and poles when we were kids? Did we have electric lines and poles? Which went underground and when?

The short partial answers are yes and yes and I'm not sure!

There was a telephone coop with farmers as members who would follow the lines after a storm and fix the broken lines by themselves. Someone in the coop had a set of pole climbing spikes. One member would collect the fees and pay the bills; Henry Saxowsky Sr. was one who did that and so was our uncle Lenhart Ziegler. It could have been two different coops although one lived less the a mile east of our farm and the latter lived about two miles west and north.

Members of the coops were on party lines meaning that when a phone rang there was a unique ring for each member and everyone could hear the ring and rubber (listen) in to all conversations. Our Saxowsky grandparents were on our party line and the Ziegler grandparents were not. Phone numbers were four digits, 5074 was ours and our unique ring was a short and two longs.

REA (Rural Electric Administration) subsided the construction of poles and lines and brought electricity to the farmers in the late forties. Our farm had a gasoline generator in the basement with a bank of batteries which were charged periodically. The generator had to be started when we ironed clothes. During the transition days, when a light switch was turned on, the bulb would glow very brightly for a brief moment and the burst with the much higher voltage.

The Ziegler farm (our mother's childhood farm) had a tower with a wind charger on top. The location by the house as you entered the yard made this obvious. The Saxowsky original farm, our father's childhood home had a wind charger on a tower behind the house and was easily forgotten.

When electricity came to our farm, the wires beyond transformer were buried from the "yard pole" in the middle of the yard somewhere between the barn and house. A light fixture to light the yard set at the top of the pole. When our farm started to sell raw milk in the late 50's, a backup generator was set by the pole and run with a tractor during power outages to keep the milk refrigerated.

While electricity came relatively late to western rural North Dakota, it was in the 1980's when many of our members finally were connected to electricity around Trapper Creek, Alaska. Everything is relative.

Somewhere there are documents that would give dates for each of these events but for now it has to be what we remember.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Aunt Amy died

Most of us didn't know Aunt Amy or her niece Karen Evans.  Karen is the granddaughter of Gilbert Saxowsky by Randi.  She and her husband, Michael, live in northern Illinois.

Karen just reported: "I just wanted to let you all know that our dear friend and Aunt Amy has gone to Heaven."

I just found an email from Karen dated August 25, 2008, asking for prayers for Michael's aunt Amy.  This email reminded me that the world is full of wonderful people.

Hello everyone,
I have a favor to ask.  A very wonderful woman that is my great friend and my Mikes' aunt has cancer and is very sick.  I am asking that you would please, please pray for her and send out as many powerful thoughts for her that you can.
She is truly a beautiful soul and a wonderful mother to two great kids, Neil and Brook.  She has her husband John who has been her rock!
I know that there is no stronger power than prayer and love!  We would all need this love in times like this and I know that all of you my family and friends are the best and strongest people I know!  Thank you all for being so awesome!
I am setting up a email for her in the hopes that everyone who gets this will send her a prayer and a quick word of support.  In talking to some people who are in the know about these things,I have learned that the power of prayer, love and positive thoughts are enough to conquer these grave ills!
I know most of you don't know this beautiful woman but I can guarantee you would love her if you did!!  So that is all I am asking for, I know together we can take care of and heal each other, so please if you would pray for her to be healed and please just send her a quick word of support and please pass this on to everyone you know wether they know me or not, thank you and God Bless!!!!!
Thanks guys,
I love you all!

It is good to let wonderful people know that they are not alone, even when walking through the dark valleys.  You can use those venue for those comments.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Binders and Draft Horses

In a recent email from my sister, she wrote about the moment when our parents decided that it was time to buy a swathers.  She referenced the machine to be replaced as ????.  The ???? represented a binder, a machine pulled by a tractor, that cut the nearly ripen grain, gathered the stalks together until there were enough to bind into a bundle with a twine.  It was the mechanism the tied the twine that failed so frequently that they decided to buy the next generation machinery.

Draft horses?  Surely draft horses could be considered a common symbol of our ancestors upon their arrival on the farmland of the Dakotas.  I only remember grandpa Ziegler and Lenhart using horses in my days.  I do remember horses at the Saxowskys but never did I see them used.

When did we get our first tractor?  Was it a John Deere A or B?

The Trip to the Yellowstone

It probably was 1952 then we went to the Yellowstone.  Without digging out the photographs, I remember George running down the gravel road with the security of a beginning walker.  He was probably two and a half years old.  The other option is 1951 when George was one and a half and would have been much less secure on his newfound feet.

That would make me eight, which is fitting considering that I remember a fight with a boy we visited in Greeley, Colorado on that trip.  The family was that of the son of George Treiber.  I suspect we stopped by the Black Hills on the way south although I think there were more than one trip to the Black Hills in our youth.  The Yellowstone came after the stop in Greeley.  The stay there was probably one night in is a small cabin and the rumor was that a bear was digging through garbage cans that night.  

I suspect that a final stop was in the Roosevelt Park and badlands where the picture of George walking down the road was taken.  

A final memory is that grandma Sax painted a picture copying one of the slides Dad took on the trip.  She projected it on a paper on the refrigerator where she traced it.  Do you remember the "pasted on" face on the painting?  Who was that?  Do you remember the bears eating from the car?  And the donkeys, or was that another trip?