ElkFarm Stories

A Daily Dose of Writing

Tag: amery

Strap Down Those Piles of Dirt

My Cousin Jimmy from Amery dabbles in a variety of odd jobs–hauling dirt, fixing doors, mowing lawns, clearing out varmints of any kind.

A week ago  State Trooper Julie Jackson stopped Jimmy west of Amery near Deronda. Jimmy had a load of grass and leaves in the back of his truck, but nothing was strapped down or covered. She wrote out a warning to keep materials covered or strapped so they don’t fly around.

SO, this week he was hauling fill dirt for a business out by the Forrest Inn, moving it down Highway 46 to Stalheim corner. He made sure before he left with the load to strap it down. Jimmy is not always the classiest fellow, but he follows the law.


Margie and Me

She surprised me, alone on her bike by the Amery Beach. Told me she felt like a swim but the water safety class had the beach that July day.
“Hi, Loren.”
“Margie. Strange to see you here.”
She smiled and said little except to ask if I wanted to ride bike together. She straightened my collar. I pretended to punch her in the stomach.

“Think you can keep up with me,” followed by her famous chuckle.
We rode to the culvert area where North Twin runs into South Twin. Usually there’s  a lot of fishing going on at this spot but not today.
We sat down facing South Twin, and at the same time asked each other how summer was going.
For me it was going great with lots of reading and an upcoming family trip to the Wisconsin Dells.
For her, a family reunion, plenty of reading, and sleeping in.
Throwing rocks, skipping rocks, a few words.
“Mrs. Wilson was nice, wasn’t she.” We just finished 3rd grade.
Me, I never thought about teachers and nice. Just grumpy ones and regular ones, but I told her she was fine.
Both back on our bikes, I asked her if she knew about the church tent by the football field.
“Yeah, I came by it to get to the beach.”
The tent site was deserted. We rode up to it quietly before dropping our bikes on the grass. Still no signs of life.
The sign advertised the “Amery Revival” Three nights, and the question: “Have you accepted Christ as your personal savior?”
Nothing but chairs under the middle section, and a platform on the north end.

“What’s that tank for? Dunk tank?”
We laughed. Too small for a dunk tank.
We both saw the name BAPTISM on it at the same time. Catholic Margie and Lutheran Loren: clueless about tanks like this.
We stared at each other, gazing around for adults. Then we looked down at our clothes and decided quickly that they were swim-worthy.
She walked up the steps at one end, and I came up the other. Touching our toes in the water, we felt it pleasantly warm. Laughing, we couldn’t believe we’d soon be swimming.

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Country Roads, Take Me Home

Country sideroad off of Hwy 46, north of Amery, Wisconsin.

Country Roads song made famous by John Denver

Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains
Shenandoah River,
Life is old there
Older than the trees
Younger than the mountains
Blowin’ like the breeze

Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads
All my memories gathered ’round her
Miner’s lady, stranger to blue water
Dark and dusty, painted on the sky
Misty taste of moonshine
Teardrops in my eye

I hear her voice
In the mornin’ hour she calls me
The radio reminds me of my home far away
And drivin’ down the road I get a feelin’
That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday

Take me home, now country roads

Little Carl Goes to Sunday School


Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Amery, Wisconsin. The Sunday school teachers arrive early and figure out which classes they’ll take.
“I want to make an announcement,” Donette stated, serious as ever. “Carl’s coming today. His mom called.”
Scrambling, they made sure the 4th grade classroom had two teachers.
During class, Robyn wanted to get through to these 9 year olds that heaven wasn’t something they’d earn. They’d get there by God’s grace. A complicated concept for that age, but Beth and Robyn had a strategy.
Beth spoke up, asking them a question. “If I sold my car and all I have in my home, and I gave it to the church, would I get into heaven?”
“No,” they answered as a chorus, Carl the loudest and most serious.
“If I cleaned the church every day and mowed the lawn outside, would that get me into heaven?”
“No,” again. The kids weren’t sure where this was going but they knew the right answer was NO.
She asked a final question, wondering aloud if she loved her husband and kids a lot and was kind to animals, would that get her a chance at heaven.
“No,” they shouted louder than ever.
“Well,” Robyn asked. “How can I get into heaven?”
Some kids were confused about the correct answer, but not Carl. With a sneer on his face and a glare for both teachers: “You have to die first!!!”
Throwing his pencil down, he stomped out of the room, saying he’s got to find a cup of coffee somewhere.

A Bit of News from Amery

Mother Montese and her little girl Virginia  play in the waters of South Twin Lake near Mystery Island. Underwater game camera caught them interacting.

Drove to Amery Sunday. On the way through Augusta I stopped to attend a Mennonite service, their church located between Augusta and Cadott. What an eye opener, not exactly  what I expected. Quite friendly people (men), and the sexes are separated with men on the left, women on the right. Full house, and it was one of two days a year when they practice communion plus washing of feet (the men’s side). Anyway, a new experience, will blog in more detail later. A couple photos were taken, accidently, from the back of the church. Not sure how they feel about photos.

Attended another Sunday evening session at Apple River Community Church music night. The list of people to read something, as opposed to singing, was full when I got there. No room on the list for my reading.  I have something I wrote about a lady living east of Amery, now dead, who got through her final year with the help and inspiration of music. Some of you might know this fictional lady, Inez Dahlberg. Will blog this as well in the next week.

Also, someone snapped an underwater photo of 2 of the 3 hippos in Amery’s South Twin. You know, the animals planted there to keep kids, or anyone, from swimming before Memorial Day. Mom and daughter out by the island. (check earlier post/ blog)

Email me or contact me through this page. Please check this site regularly. If you have my business card, attach it onto the edge of the computer screen (if it’s a desktop computer), check out what’s new, and keep in touch. My email is   elkfarm@wctc.net

Currently at the Amery Library, looking out of the window where huge snowflakes were descending a couple hours ago. Just finished paying for the vase, below. Happy May 1st.

Here I am looking at the new art room at the Amery Library. (wink, wink) Always a careful fellow, occasionally I cause minor disasters.

The Pilfered Ring

Why the word pilfered? Because it’s a gentler word than stolen. But I did steal it.
At a home in Amery where my parents and friends had coffee and conversation one Sunday afternoon, we kids hung out in the bedroom. In this room there was very little to play with, but there was a jewelry box. Lovely jewelry, piles, and maybe a little gold and silver.
Ten years old, I could have written a brochure on immaturity. Then the theft. Sneaking the lovely, shiny ring out of the jewelry box and into my pocket, I had no idea what I’d do with it. Of the three kids playing that day, I was the only thief.
Mom and Polly Linden had been friends in teacher training in Polk County Normal, and they were bosom buddies, sister-like.
Two days later, at suppertime, Mom answered the phone. She was talking to Polly, and as she spoke she looked over at me. When she hung up, she asked point blank if I had stolen anything. Polly had discovered a ring missing, and Mom grilled me about it. At first I denied it, but that didn’t last long. Admitting to the act, she told me to get it. Up to my room I went, and soon brought it down. That, I thought, might be the end of it. But no.

(this was written as a recent column in The Amery Free Press)

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Hippos in South Twin Lake, Amery

Rare photo of the hippo family wallowing in the area of Mystery Island toward the middle of South Twin. Not sure who snapped the photo.

The Amery Beach had to be THE place for any Amery kid from age 5 to 17, a busy social area that made summer great and cooled us on 95 degree days. Swimming lessons on June mornings, but after that it was wide open. No lifeguards until after 1:00 on all days, but that was okay. We didn’t go there a lot in the off hours, and if we did we thought nothing of it.

BUT, a big BUT, Amery kids could not, never, ever, swim in South Twin after Labor Day.  For one thing the temps were dropping and school had begun. Less time to be at the beach, and the swimming days were only a memory of a good summer at that point.

And there was another danger.  It often made the rounds as a rumor but one with several almost stories of sightings? The story going around was that after Labor Day, the Amery department in charge of the beach and animals would release hippos into the lake, hippos that had been stored somewhere in the country, somewhere, for the summer months. We never did spot them, but again there were always stories. And what, we asked, would hippos do in the depths of winter? They were like turtles, it was explained, and they’d hibernate, burrowing down in the mud somewhere out toward the center of the lake. In spring they’d come out when it got warmer and the ice disappeared. Then the week before Memorial Day, in the darkest of dark nights, the city animal crew would call them, special calls, and they’d be hauled out in the country somewhere.

It was a fun part of local culture, and it worked. I NEVER saw a kid swim in South Twin after the first of September, nor before the end of May.

If you don’t believe this, look it up.



Kindergarten Kids–Amery

The Amery Elementary KG class of 1954. All tossed to the wind now–a retired sewer pumper, a lady of leisure in Arkansas, a retired neurologist, a retired teacher, and others. Several have died including death by cancer, alcoholism, heart problems, suicide. If this information is faulty, it’ll be corrected.

This is the early version of the Amery Band. Not being very musical, the teacher only gave me one stick and warned me not to hit anyone. Or did she give me two sponges? Others played tambourines, two sticks, and cowbells.

Our wonderful teacher, described by one classmate as HOT,  was Miss Pehacek.  First name Arlene, just found that out. She may have stayed only one year; maybe dealing with us tuckered her out. She married and moved to the River Falls, WI, area.  One of my current projects is to search for her and see what happened to her after leaving Amery.

And the kid at the lower right was voted least likely to ever become a writer. Looking dazed and confused on this photo, but he was gifted with ears that would rival those of a bat. Now I’m having fun trying to make sense of those early years.


Making Money in Early Amery

Amery Depot in 1908, viewing west. Soo Line Railroad.

Logs coming down the Apple River passed through Amery, but later it was the two sawmills on the west bank of the river that built the city. These sawmills were roughly in the area of the current dam and northward through to Birch Street.
A disjointed but somewhat complete history of the Amery area came from Smoky Sylvester, who wrote a thorough history in 1977. He penned it on notebook paper, single spaced, 127 pages long. My efforts so far have been to sort out the economics of the Amery region.
Of course farming dominated the economy of the Polk County and Amery area, but the following money-making ventures stood apart from farm work.
The two sawmills above expanded around the time the railroad came to Amery and the population grew. Before this, the settlement west of Amery called Lincoln Center near Bear Trap thrived. This was an economic spot with a hotel, stores, and if you can believe it, a house made just for cats (wink wink).

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