I remember whenever there was celebration like for somebody’s wedding, they had parties and they’d wind up at the dances in Elmdale. They had dances there like every weekend. I remember that I was about 15 years old when I was starting to hang out at the dance places. I was standing around watching them dance and I didn’t know how to dance. One girl that was in my sixth grade class came by and said, “Oh, you’re not dancing!” and I said, “I don’t know how to dance.” “Oh,” she said, “I’ll show you. There’s nothing to it!” So she grabbed me and away we danced. So that’s how I started dancing and with a little practice, I kept it up, and continue to dance today.
Things have sure changed. When I was 15 years old you could buy a beer for a nickel. If you had five cents or a nickel and you put it down, you got a glass of beer. There was no such thing about worrying if you were old enough. If you had the nickel I guess you were old enough to buy the beer the way they figured it. Nobody made a big deal about it then.
What classes did I like best? I liked Chemistry and Biology and those kinds of things. History and English were not among my favorites. Was I a good student? Well I was usually above “C” level. I didn’t get to play any sports because I had to come home and work always. How did I earn money? Well there wasn’t very much money. Some of the neighbors used to hire us during harvest. We’d get maybe a dollar a day for helping with the harvest, the threshing and stuff.
After high school I went into the Navy, I went to basic engineering school at Great Lakes Naval Academy in the Milwaukee or Chicago area. I had refrigeration schooling in Norfolk, Virginia. After I got out of the Navy, there were no jobs available so I wanted to take some more schooling so I went to a private school and had some more refrigeration training. As a result, I got a little dinky job with some guy in Minneapolis there servicing refrigerators and working in the shop.
When I got married and moved out to Crystal, I had an idea that I wanted to get some bees and be a beekeeper. I thought I’d find out what it was about. I went to a vocational school and took a beekeeping course. After I found out what the pros and cons were and how expensive it was plus how complicated it was, I decided that I didn’t want to invest in any bees and beehives. We had the idea that we would put the hives on the farm by Upsala, but when you figure all of the things that can happen to bees it’s not a good thing to get invested in unless you’re really, really equipped to do it in a big, big way.
I went to vocational school to learn how to rewind motors – rebuilding electric motors. I got the motors from where I worked; a lot of motors were replaced on washing machines. I would take the motors home and take them apart over the weekend. I would tear out the copper and rewind them a new copper. I had a regular little oven with an element in it to bake the varnish that you dipped them when they were all through and assemble them. I got a few dollars for each of them – I don’t remember just what it was, but it was something extra to keep us going because the jobs that I had weren’t paying an awful lot. Then of course, I always had an extra job. In Crystal I worked for this outboard motor place – Harold F. Aarons was his name. He had the Evinrude motors and bottled gas. I used to do that Saturdays and in evenings. I’d work on outboard engines like in the summertime, get them tuned up. On Saturdays, I’d deliver bottled gas to the people in the area, which were quite a few yet at the time. I was always working extra time with part-time work trying to make an extra dollar.