ElkFarm Stories

A Daily Dose of Writing

Month: March 2017

Bud Harris Tribute

In the column that just came out in the Amery Free Press, I included the following tribute to a man who owned one of the two main clothing stores in Amery. The men’s store on main street, B and B Clothing, was in the area of the block above.

The recent death of Bud Harris surprised me, but I was lucky enough to talk with him a couple times at the Cabin Coffee Shop on Highway 8 last fall. The story came out about how he, owner of B and B Clothing Store, was in touch with D.K. Lien or someone from the Amery Schools and would learn about a family or two that needed help. He’d arrange to get them pants and shirts for school, at no cost to them. Little known story that stayed untold at the time, and for me a great Amery act of compassion.

Tobacco Farmer


The first time I remember waking up
in the night was in the winter time
when I was about six. Papa had sent
the tobacco crop to Louisville
to be sold, and we sat by the fire
that night, talking and wondering
what it would bring. It was a bad time.
A year of a man’s work might be worth
nothing. And papa got up at two o’clock.
And I woke up and heard him leaving.
He saddled his horse and rode over
to the railroad, four miles, and took
the train to Louisville, and came back
in the dark that night, without a dime.

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Wendell Berry

Mother Read to Me

(the poet refers to boys, but girls work here just as well)

I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
“Blackbirds” stowed in the hold beneath.
I had a Mother who read me plays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.
I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.
I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings–
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be–
I had a Mother who read to me.

by Strickland Gillilan

The Mouse

In amongst these piles of sacks
There lives a tiny mouse
And hidden far from human’s view
He has an unseen house.

To him it is a palace
No bricks nor mortar there
But just the softest remnants
He chewed and placed with care.

He has a little family
Cuddled deep amongst the down
And when they get enough to eat
He’s the happiest mouse in town.

His wants are very simple
His needs are being met
By the God all powerful
Who never does forget.

May I, in all my splendor
Living in a human’s house
Remember that God cares for me
Just as He does that mouse.

Lucy M. Peterson of Amery
July 18, 1977

Written while sitting in a pickup at the feed mill in Amery, waiting for her husband to buy feed.

A Poem of Subtle Joy

The Orange

By Wendy Cope

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange-
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave-
They got quarters and I had a half.

And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time left over

I love you, I’m glad I exist.

 

The Saddest Kid Ever

The kid looked like a poster child for depression, a hang-dog look and a stooped manner that silently cried out,
–“I’m miserable.”
While in Cumberland one summer day, having biked there from our Bone Lake cabin, I stopped in a Kwik Trip gas station to refuel with munchies and a soft drink.
–Here he was, probably 11 years old, the kid looking like someone just told him his puppy died. Not knowing whether or not to talk to him, I watched as he wandered aimlessly in the aisles.

Continue reading

Jimmy and the Wedding Gift

Dear Iola and Jubal,
What a lovely wedding, what a beautiful day, what a wonderful meal we all got to enjoy on your wedding day. The Port of Call looked wonderful that evening.
Charmaine and I had a great time, and we hope all is well with you both. But, I have a simple request. I hope you and Iola don’t mind.

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The Hog Slaughter

The screaming and squealing was like nothing I’d heard before. The frightened sounds of terror on B-grade horror movies couldn’t match the noise from that hog. The reluctant pig had to be moved across the barnyard to its final destiny, several men pulling a rope tied to its front leg. For an 8-year-old, it became a once in a lifetime experience.
We lived 3 miles west of Amery at this time. Our Holz neighbor to the north, basic farmers, invited Dad to this Saturday afternoon ritual, and he brought me along. Lots of men, a few kids, and lots of commotion.
The scalding barrel ready, all it needed was a dead pig. At first the scene was confusing, but the screaming, reluctant pig focused me in the direction of the men pulling the rope. I asked Dad what was going on.

Continue reading

Laura Ingalls Wilder Thoughts

With the coming of another new year we are all… a year older. Just what does it mean to us–this growing older? Are we coming to a cheerful, beautiful old age, or are we being beaten and cowed by the years as they pass? Bruised we must be now and then, but beaten, never, unless we lack courage.

-Laura Ingalls Wilder 1923

Grandpa Ole Visits Daytons

In the 1930s, my grandfather visited downtown Minneapolis, helped along by Uncle Leonard and Aunt Ann. Uncle Lawrence from the farm came along. Resting on a bench across from the elevator doors, Grandpa Ole noticed an older lady shuffle along, press a button and enter the room that was the elevator. Fascinated, he watched for a minute or so, then the door opened. Out came a beautiful blonde bombshell, strutting in high heels.

Grandpa thought for a moment, looked around, then said to Lawrence: Lawrence, go get your mom.

Sleep by Silvestri

The evening hangs beneath the moon,
A silver thread on darkened dune.
With closing eyes and resting head
I know that sleep is coming soon.
Upon my pillow, safe in bed,
A thousand pictures fill my head.
I cannot sleep, my mind’s a-flight;
And yet my limbs seem made of lead.
If there are noises in the night,
A frightening shadow, flickering light,
Then I surrender unto sleep,
Where clouds of dream give second sight,
What dreams may come, both dark and deep,
Of flying wings and soaring leap
As I surrender unto sleep,
As I surrender unto sleep.

=======
Charles Anthony Silvestri

Ole Deals with Lena Tragedy

For this first blog, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite jokes about Ole and Lena, the Scandinavian couple who had their ups and downs and were often at odds but always in love.

Ole called 911 and told the operator that his wife Lena had died within the last hour. Through sobs he asked for an ambulance or some means of transportation to get her to the right location. The operator asked him for his address. He thought for awhile and then said, 920 Eucalyptus.  As she wrote her notes, she asked him to please spell that street name. He thought for awhile, and began “Eukelip . . .”, then “Ukeilp . . .” He tried several times, then gave up. “Tell you what. I’ll drag her through the back yard to 920 Oak Street, you can pick her up there.”

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