March 27th, 1919, was a cold stormy day I am told. Whether the storm brought me or I brought the storm I am not sure but that's the day I picked to enter this world and join eight brothers and sisters.
Although I wasn't born there, the Jarman farm east of Lake Preston I remember very well. Those were happy days, even picking up wood for mom's cook stove and cleaning the barn on Saturdays was fun. I remember the grove of trees where we spent many hours making playhouses and the boys built roads and fields completely fenced with twigs for posts and twine for wire. Everything was neat as a pin. There were many mud pies made and baked in the sun. However I do not remember we ever went to the henhouse and got eggs to use in our mud pies like my two children used to do. I do not remember but mom told me that I had long dark curls when I was a little girl and one day when she was out hanging clothes on the line, brother Don took me behind the kitchen door and cut one of them off close to my head so they had to cut it off.
Those were the days of the gypsies and they often stopped by in the summer time and asked for a chicken and milk for a sick baby. They usually drove horses pulling something like a covered wagon and sometimes in cars. I can remember being threatened that if we weren't good the gypsies would take us. I remember the few times when mom and dad would go some place for overnight. Am not sure where but perhaps to Sioux Falls to see their two oldest daughters a lady from town, Mrs. Jordet, would come and stay with us. She was a dear lady and sometimes when she was at our house she and mom would make flatbrod by the stack. I make that now once a year so if you come to our house at Christmas time you are sure to find flatbrod on the table and it's made from mom's recipe so you know it's got to be good. Oh yes, it was while we were living there that I pulled a nasty trick on Orp and Ruth one day and that was when they told me I wasn't really their sister - that I hadn't been born into the family but that I was adopted. Of course I didn't believe it.
I remember especially the weekends when on Saturdays friends from town would come out for the day. How they would love that and so did we. We had a gentle horse named "Lady" and seven of us would be on her at one time. The last one on would slide off more often than not. When Lady died there were many tears shed and one of the girls, Elaine Larson, asked dad if she could have a piece of her hide for her cedar chest. It was also to her that dad had to explain that a farmer does not sow grain with a needle and thread. Most sunday afternoons were spent in the hay loft, jumping off the platform into the hay, swing from one end of the huge barn to the other. We moved to a farm north of De Smet and later moved to the farm where Phil and Emmy lived. I remember another big "Thrill" and that was on Saturday nights when mom and dad were going to town, dad would let us drive the car around the yard until they were ready to leave.
Then it was time for dances and parties and boyfriends. Some I liked some I didn't and some I don't even remember. One of my first would ride his bicycle out from town and take me for a ride. And who could ever forget Hetland!? A tiny town of less than a hundred people but the population really increased on Saturday nights as there was a weekly dance there and of course there was the barn dances in the summer before the haylofts were filled with hay. But back to Hetland because there is where I met a fellow, Arthur Swenson, from the neighboring town of Arlington. After a couple of years I gave in and married him in 1937.
We lived the first three years in California. In the fall of 1939, Art's father came for a visit and asked us to come back to his farm in South Dakota and farm with him since he was alone and had a half section of land to farm at that time. We decided to give it a try and so in the spring of 1940 we moved to the farm and we are still there today. Art's dad lived with us for 28 years and he died in the summer of 1968. We had been on the farm two years when on January 5, 1942, Kathleen was born. One year and one month later on February 6, 1943, David joined the family. They did not present too many problems when they were little but there are a couple of incidents. One evening when I had dressed them both in white, all of Kathy's dark curls were in place and David's white hair was creamed and combed, I told them to play in the front yard while I dressed. When I went out to check on them David was sitting in a flower bed close to the house and Kathy was scooping fine dirt on top of his head and having the time of their life. Another time was during threshing time, they were 3 and 4 years old, and I had to make a quick run to town. The gas gauge on the car wasn't working so I was going to measure the amount of gas with a long stick. I found I couldn't get the stick in as it was packed with gravel. Otherwise, they were pretty good little kids. Things were not as convenient then as now. No automatic washers, dryers and freezers. Water for washing had to be heated on the stove, carried to the machine and carried out after washing the back porch. There was the large garden and each summer over 400 quarts of vegetables, fruits, pickles and jellies were made and of course there were chickens. Some were sold for eating and others were kept as laying hens. Dozens and dozens of eggs to gather, wash and sell each week.
Kathleen and David attended 12 years of school at Arlington. Kathy graduated in 1960 and went to college and later taught school. Dave graduated in 1961 and went into the navy for 4 years. In 1963 Kathy married a young man named Don Harmel. Three years later they presented Us with our first grandchild, Nicol. There have been three other grandchildren from that marriage, Chad, Christopher and Matthew. David had come home from the Navy for Kathy's wedding and at the same time renewed acquaintance with a young lady, Jeanette Oldenkamp, who had been a classmate in the lower grades. Two years later in 1965 they were married and from that marriage came two more grandchildren, Shane and Sheila, making six grandchildren for us. For twelve years they all lived quite a distance from us, California and Wyoming. But now they are in South Dakota. Since 1969 the month of June belongs to the grandchildren as that is the month for them to visit Grandma and Grandpa on the farm.
But there is another I must tell about. In the spring of 1955, a niece, two-year old Nancy Swenson came to live with us for five years and is very much a part of our family and to this day is more like a daughter than a niece. When she was seven years old she went back to her own family, but she spent most all of her summers and every weekend she could with us while growing up. She was spending the summer of 1967 with us and that same summer dad was also with us for three months. It was his last summer. Nancy was 14 at the time and I remember how she spent many hours visiting him up in his room and helped to pass the time for him and he enjoyed it so much. She wanted to learn some norwegian and he tried to teach her and told her of many things during his younger years. They became very attached to each other and she called him Grandpa Pete. At the end of the summer she went back home and school. I remember how she cried when I had to call her and tell her that Grandpa Pete had passed away. Nancy moved to Rapid City and went to high school for two years there and then she came back and lived with us during her senior year and finished school in 1971. In 1974 Nancy was married to Fred Monson who is also at the top of our list. They live in Rapid City and come and visit us when they can, much to our enjoyment.
So now after the two of us - Artie and I, started our life together 40 years ago, there is an even dozen of us but we think of it as 12 plus 2 as we include Nancy and Fred.
Florence Rodvold Swenson