Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Remembering the Farm - Remembering 1961

1961 was the driest year on record, drier than the Dirty ‘30’s. Every bit of crop the grasshoppers didn’t eat, we cut to feed the cattle. Fortunately we had a stack of straw in reserve and by spring we were looking for feed where ever we could get it. The grasshopper pesticide, Dieldrin, had a big residual effect that meant you couldn’t feed animals with straw from fields that had been sprayed. It was cheap and effective but killed a few careless farmers too and was banned after that.

Chicago Black Hawks won the Stanley Cup, beating Detroit Redwings. The playoffs were in early April in those days, not in June. I had chicken-pox in October and got to listen to the World Series (we didn’t have a TV yet). New York Yankees beat the Cincinnati Reds. Yankee pitcher Whitey Ford was the hero along with first basemen Bill "Moose" Skowron. Roger Marris and Mickey Mantle had been in a tight race all season to beat Babe Ruth’s home run record. Marris won, hitting 61 homers. Because it was in more games than the Babe, the “record” was disputed ever since.

Mostly I remember my Grandma Johnson died on December 30th. I was 14 and had all four grandparents to that date, which I was told was pretty special. Grandma had not been well all summer though exactly why never was diagnosed that I know of. Grandma’s family got together that summer. Mom’s two sisters Aunts Betty and Leone and most of Mom's cousins on Grandma’s side all lived within easy driving so family get-togethers were not uncommon. (Grandpa’s relatives were all in Iowa so we hardly ever saw them). Uncle Vince was a grain buyer and Uncle Frank was a farmer like my dad. The three sisters all had teacher training but as was usual in those days they were stay-at-home mothers. All we cousins were pretty close and I loved to visit with them. Family pictures were the order of the day.

Our big after-Christmas treat was to go and see Ben Hur at the Roxy Theatre in Wilkie. It was the third movie I had ever seen; Old Yeller and The Ten Commandments being the other two. Being good Christians we didn’t go to picture shows. When we got home, we got word Grandma was gone. First time I realized that people I loved could die.


  1. Those are good pictures, daddy-o. They made me sad, for some reason. Miss you.

  2. Ditto. Maybe it's how sad you look or how Auntie Joyce seems to be so much like an adult but a child.

    Miss you, Old Man.

  3. Being 13 going on 14 wasn't any easier in 1961 than it is 40 OR 50 years later

  4. I miss you too, Daddy-o. Thanks for putting up another family story.

  5. I have to say that was strange. Let me explain. It was reading my own past only all of those things happened to me a few years earlier. Where were you living at the time?

  6. Our farm was west of Saskatoon, between two towns called Landis and Wilkie

  7. I read every word and wished there was more.....my back, like yours, is finally better, but it keeps "pinging" when I don't move right, so I'm being very careful and stepping like I'm 80.

    I can tell right off which of those kids was you, as for your sisters.....cat eye glasses.....they look like MY sisters!!!


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