Neighbors: Postcards tell the stories of four Iowa boys who worked in ND, Minnesota in 1919
The four Larew boys had to travel quite a bit to find work, but they did, hitching train rides all the way from Iowa to Minnesota and North Dakota. And it paid off. They found work, and thus were able to support their parents and the family back ...
The four Larew boys had to travel quite a bit to find work, but they did, hitching train rides all the way from Iowa to Minnesota and North Dakota. And it paid off. They found work, and thus were able to support their parents and the family back in Iowa City.
It was the summer of 1919.
The brothers kept in touch with their parents and each other by sending postcards. A couple of them are shown here, thanks to Donald Larew, Moorhead, who passed them on to Neighbors.
Don is the son of one of those boys.
"My father was 16 at the time," Don says. "He spent part of his time in Wolverton, Minn., hand-digging a basement for a wealthy banker there, while the other three were working the fields of North Dakota and Minnesota."
$5 a day
The parents of these boys were Cyrus and Eva Larew. The boys who came this way were Robert, born in 1898, twins Telford and White, born in 1901, and Andrew, who went by Jack, born in 1903. Jack was Don's father.
They had four siblings who didn't make the trip north.
Here's some of what the four boys who wrote on those cards:
Jack, writing from Wolverton to his father: "We are OK. I am working on digging a basement. I get $5 and board for 10 hours."
Again, Jack in Wolverton to his dad: "Telford is thrashing. He gets the same I do, $5 a day. He is working close to town and comes to town nearly every night. They are getting about seven and eight bushels per acre, I hear. The man I am working for has lots of money. He owns the bank here in town, about one thousand acres of land and several houses and lots. His name is Knutson. Nearly everybody here is Swedish."
Jack, from Wolverton, this time to his mother; "There is one church in town. We have not been to services yet as we just got here. The man I work for has plenty of money. He has three autos - two Fords and an Elcar. P.S. You and dad must not work too hard."
Then Telford wrote from Grand Forks to his brother Jack: "I have had good luck making money. Have got me a Sunday outfit of clothes. Would send you $2 today but in case something would happen, guess I had better keep some money with me and will send you that some time this week as far as I know. Have got a job picking up potatoes for this week, 2 cents per bushel."
Don says that his Uncle Telford often talked about having worked the barley fields of North Dakota near Grand Forks. He says the men slept in the owner's barn or in the open field, depending on the weather.
When the boys were on their way home to Iowa riding in a box car with their accumulated savings, they somehow learned vagrants on the train were going to roll them for their money, so they escaped by leaping out of the car.
And that's the way it was for the Iowa boys in Minnesota and North Dakota in 1919.
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