“It was in 1927 in North Dakota.
“I was 5 and my brother Milton was 6.
“We were playing outside our log house on our farm 9 miles east of Gardner, N.D., across the Red River from Perley, Minn. which is 6 miles south of Hendrum, Minn.”
So wrote Larry Aasen, Westport, Conn., for publication in a newspaper in the late 1960s when he lived near Hillsboro, N.D. Now he sends it to “Neighbors.”
“Our house was built of logs,” he wrote, “but had a kitchen attached that was made of regular boards.
“We were playing outside the kitchen and facing a dirt road that ran by our farm.
“We were playing ‘farm.’ This is a game where you pretend a lot. You pretend one piece of wood is a tractor. Another piece of wood is a threshing machine.
“It’s easy to pretend because kids have good imaginations. And you don’t really need all those plastic toys of today. And you certainly don’t need those expensive toys from FAO Schwarz.
“It was a sunny day and all was well with our world.
“We had just eaten a big peanut butter sandwich with big lumps of home-made butter on top of homemade bread, all washed down with two glasses of cool milk taken from our own cows.
“There were flies around, but we were used to them. A few bees would buzz by but they didn’t bother us.
“We wore bib overalls, also homemade. Our overalls had some green on them from the grass we were sitting on and some dust from the dirt on our make-believe farm. We had both made good farms, without any fighting, and we were happy.
“Then I noticed my brother was throwing up. He was sick.
“I yelled at him: ‘What’s wrong? What’s the matter?’
“He pointed to the dirt road running by our farm.
“I looked toward the road and saw an ELEPHANT!
“A man was riding the elephant and steering him along with a sharp hook.
“I had never seen a real elephant before. And neither had my brother.
“And that is why he was sick … from the excitement.
“It turned out that there had been a small circus in Perley (Minn.) that week. Their next stop was in Hendrum (Minn.).
“Instead of spending money to truck the elephant, the owner decided to walk the elephant to Hendrum.
“And that is why my brother got sick.”
Larry sends along a note with his story, saying that Milton went on to farm in the Gardner, N.D., area. He died in 1968 after a long bout with multiple sclerosis.
Larry is 97.
If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.