Painting a picture of the past
Neighbors sat down one day to visit with Herman Schroeder in his Bethany Towers room in Fargo. Herman, 101 (he'll be 102 in June), farmed most of his life. Tell us about it, Herman. OK. But first, he announces, "Lunch is in an hour. I don't want ...
Neighbors sat down one day to visit with Herman Schroeder in his Bethany Towers room in Fargo.
Herman, 101 (he'll be 102 in June), farmed most of his life. Tell us about it, Herman.
OK. But first, he announces, "Lunch is in an hour. I don't want to miss that."
That covered, he reminisces about growing up on a farm at Bordulac, near Carrington, N.D.
Herman was the second youngest of six kids: five boys, one girl. He's the only one still living.
He thinks back to his early years, when most farms had windmills to pump water; a cistern; a cooking stove reservoir to make warm water; and when his parents' phone signal was "four shorts," meaning four short rings.
More memories: "Most farmers had silos for silage," he says. "Today they put silage on the ground and cover it with hay or straw.
"Women had to haul hot water for the washing machine; today you push buttons and the washing machine goes.
"Our neighbor had a team of two horses. One would pull but the other one bucked. It took a while to get them to work together. It gave a little excitement for a little while.
"No electricity and no refrigerators then; we cut ice from the river, put it in a dugout in the ground, covered it with straw. We had an icebox to keep food cool."
When winter came, neighbors got together for a party. They often rolled up the rugs and danced, with someone who knew how to play a musical instrument providing the music. "I could chord on the piano," Herman says.
Herman attended a one-room school for a short time. "The teacher had to do the janitor work, too," he says. "We had to use the outhouse. No running water. We had to go to a neighbor's farm for drinking water."
After the second grade, Herman was transferred to the school in Bordulac, where he went through eighth grade.
His father had died when he was 6, so it fell to the oldest boy to help his mother run the farm. When that boy married and left, the next oldest boy took over. Eventually it was Herman's turn.
He also worked for a neighbor. He put in long hours of hard work and was paid $500 for a year.
One day a girl named Pearl Krueger, from Sheldon, N.D., came to the Bordulac area to work for farmers' wives. She and Herman met and they married in 1934.
Herman rented his mother-in-law's farm at Sheldon for two years, then bought it. "Some guys had a nest egg, but I didn't," he says. "I had to borrow to pay for the farm, the cattle and some machinery."
Herman and Pearl had three sons: Leslie, still on the farm at Sheldon; Donald, Fergus Falls, Minn.; and Richard, Bellingham, Wash.
Herman retired in 1974 but stayed on the farm for a while to help Les.
Pearl died in 2004. Herman has lived at Bethany for four years.
He doesn't miss farming at all: "Too much work," he says.
He spends his days reading the paper and watching TV, primarily news programs and Minnesota Twins baseball games, a team that worries him when it doesn't do well.
In 2006, Herman was grand marshal of the parade during Sheldon's 125th anniversary bash. He told the Enderlin (N.D.) Independent newspaper then that he'd lived so long because he never smoked, that he loved fishing, and that he guessed for the upcoming parade they would expect him to "show off a bit and wave a lot."
Meeting the deadline
On the wall of Herman's room is a plaque reading "Grandpa is another name for love." Grandpa Herman divides his love among six grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. Sure, he's proud of them, he says.
Then the interview ends. Just in time for lunch.
If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, N.D. 58107; fax it to 241-5487; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org