Christmas 1993

RD #1, Box #20

HATTAN, N.D. 58240





Another year is almost over and Christmas is soon here again. It is time to write to friends and family again.


December 1992 was about average for snow and winter weather till Christmas Eve came along. A warm front came through in the morning, dumping and blowing snow. It plugged my brother, Wallace's driveway.  When we went out to my niece, Karen Howson’s farmstead for supper and exchange of gifts, his studded snow tires got us out of his driveway. We arrived at the Howson's "farm" in time for supper at 8:00 P.M.  The weather was clear and sunny.


After Supper, the Howsons wanted to go to evening services in town, so Wallace and I went home to his place till about 6:30 P.M. On the way home we saw a dark heavy cloud coming from the West. We got stuck in his driveway at the turn near the house. We managed to get the car cleared and turned around for the next trip to the Howson farm. It wasn't long before the second and fiercer storm - snow, blowing snow and 60 MPH winds - hit. About 6:30 P.M., my brother learned that the Howsons had made it home from church. He said that we would go out there for a few minutes to get our gifts. It was dark and the wind was howling. We got stuck in the turn again plus at the entrance to the driveway from the road. We finally got onto the road, drove to town, turned around and went back home. We got stuck in the road (snow drift) and just inside the entrance of the driveway, and finally in the turn again. Wallace decided to leave the car there till the next day. I was all "pushed” out by that time, and glad to call it a day.


The storm was dying down about noon the next day.


Between 10:00 A.M. and 2:30 P.M., we got the car out of the snow and into the garage. We ran an electric power cord from the house to charge the car's battery, and warm the engine to get the car started. Shoveling and one last push got the car back on the driveway, My brother called Charles Petersen, to blow out both our driveways.


James Howson, came over and took us to his farmstead for Christmas Day sup-per and our gifts. Karen is a good cook and both suppers were a joy to eat. Afterwards, we gathered up our gifts, and were driven home. Wallace's driveway was blown out before the day was done. It was a different Christmas anyway.


Between Christmas and New Years, a cold spell set in with snow, and cold wind chills - Minus 50 to Minus 70° F. I walked to town. We got a thaw on January 30/3l. Wallace slipped on the ice outside his house, landing on his back and slapping his right arm hard on the ground. No bones were broken but the arm was tender for some time.


In February, Marvin Halvorson and his friend visited. Marvin was a school chum from my UND graduate year 1950/51. I hadn't seen him in about four yrs.


In March, I got a letter from Stanley Chodkowski, Cheektowaga, N.Y., telling of the death of Joseph Gymrek, a friend of mine from the days I worked out of Buffalo, N.Y. Joe died of complications of diabetes.


On March 9, we got a heavy snow, much of it after Wallace had driven out of his driveway. When he tried to drive back in, he lost the track and this car started to go off the driveway, on the right, near the woods. He made the turn, where he was stuck Christmas Eve. The ground was soft, and he mired down. We called the service station for a tow by the oil delivery truck. The oil truck got the car out of the soft ground but not back on the driveway. The oil truck got crosswise on the driveway on a slick spot and couldn’t move. It took the Hattan City plow to pull the oil truck to the road and Wallace's car back on the driveway. Needless to say, Wallace had his driveway blown out again by Mr. Petersen.


On the 15th of March, I worked at the church helping to serve a turkey supper. When I walked home, it was snowing very lightly. At the edge of town, I slipped - both feet went out from under me - and I landed on my back. It was the worst fall of the seven that I had had during the winter. I wasn't hurt, so I waddled the test of the way home.


By mid April, all of our snow was gone. I started to to clean the area behind Wallace's garage, of brush, scrap metal, etc. I got most of it cleaned up, before cold rainy weather and a cold, interrupted the work. This project went in fits and spurts till the first of September, due to weather, grass trimming in the two lawns, plus cleaning up an old pile of agrigate stones left over from some long past cement work. The job consisted of first cleaning away brush and a part of a tree that had split in a storm about three years ago, moving/digging out parts & pieces of old machinery, much of which was buried underground at the end. Supposedly the area had been a scrap pile for maybe a hundred years.


On the first of May, I got a souvenir coffee cup from the Buffalo FDA office. It had a picture of a Bison on one side and the FDA designation on the other. It sits on the top of a bookcase under my mounted FDA Badge.


In May, I went for an eye examination to get new glasses.  The optomatrist confirmed that I had cataracts in addition to my glaucoma in addition to giving me a prescription for new lenses. He specified plastic lenses, because of my retinal scar in my right eye. In all, the exam, new frames, and three plastic lenses (one for an extra pair of old frames) cost almost $400.00. I read better with my old glass lenses. The plastic lenses are much lighter and comfortable to wear, but don't improve my vision. I think my vision has deteriorated to a point where glasses can't make any improvement. I will eventually need a cataract operation on both eyes, to really make any improvement in my vision. Hopefully, the operation will correct/ relieve both the glaucoma and the cataract.


My brother traded in his 1985 Ford LTD Crown Victoria car, which had 218,000 miles on it for a used 1992 Mercury Cougar Victoria car with 9,000 miles on it. It had been a car used by Ford Executives. He enjoys the up-graded features in the new car, especially the digital radio. The radio in the old car never was really good.


In May, I helped a local carpenter, Leroy Beck, raise & take the pump out of the well in the pasture, prior to his covering the well, to prevent any local children from falling into it. The well hasn't been used for about 20 years. The pump, pipe and piston were brought out by block & tackle plus manpower. A few days later, I carried the pump & piston, dragging the pipe to the edge of the pasture where some old machinery was being stored. It was a struggle, as it was like carrying about 125 lbs and dragging another 100 lbs too, for about 200-250 feet. After a rest, I loaded up the electric motor and pump jack in a wheelbarrow and stored them in an unused brooder house. I figured that was enough exercise for the day.


The summer weather this year has been somewhat similar to that in 1992 in that it was generally cool, wet, cloudy, and with daily fog. During a thunderstorm in June, a lightning striked in Hatton, blew out a family's ham radio, 2 TV sets and their refrigerator. July 23 & 24 heavy rain on both days gave us a total of 7 inches of rain. Finley in Steele County, got 10 inches of rain in the morning plus more that on the 24th.


Steele County closed most of their roads due to water covered roads, bridges/culverts washed out, or roads that were cut to release largo volumes of water backed up. Our area, Trail County, was eventually included in the 37 counties in North Dakota, declared disaster areas due to flooded farm land, cities, damaged infrastructure, etc. due to the excessive rain. Many local pinto and Navy bean fields are completely dead, as were large spots in many grain fields, where the crop was drownded out. Besides that, what crop that is left, is late due to the cool weather. Grain harvest is about 6-8 weeks late. The farmers are having a tough year.


I gave my brother a framed sign, that I had made up at the Plexilite Co. in Hatton. It contains his favorite saying: "I’M SO GLAD THAT I’M NOT FARMING.” He has been saying that for years, ever since he retired. I believe he is especially glad he is not farming this year.


The night of July 16/17, we had two large willow trees fall down in a rain storm. Because of weather, it took me about 10 days to strip the branches, cut up the limbs and trunks and stack everything back into the trees. Because I needed the exercise, I used only hand tools to do the work. The stacking was done also by hand.


We were having some mosquitoes in the area, from the earlier rains, but after the July 23/24 rains, they came in a swarm. I got bit a number of times on my right arm when working on the willow trees, but later I was bit numerous times across the butt and on the legs while trimming grass or work behind the garage. They said, on Fargo T.V. news, that they were only nuisance mosquitoes and not the kind that carried encephalitis. It was so comforting to know that I wasn't going to get sick, while donating my blood.


I wonder if mosquitoes can carry AIDS.


In June, Wallace and I went to Aneta, N.J. for their annual Turkey supper. Aneta is a small town, from which one of Buffalo District of FDA got one of its' Chief Inspectors, before I got there. The Turkey supper draws a lot of people from many surrounding towns. They had a live band playing “old time" music while you ate your turkey supper, picnic style. In July, we drove to Fort Ransom, N.D. in the Southeastern part of the state, where they had been getting a lot of heavy rains for quite a while. Water was standing in pools in the ditches and fields all along the route. We went to Ft. Ransom for the Sod Buster Days, which was an exhibition of old horse drawn farm equipment and ways things were done in the days of horse farming. In one of the buildings was a table top model farm and a church all made out of wood. The farmstead contained a house, barn, silo, and assorted out buildings. Before going home, we drove to Marion, N.D., to visit a little with DuWayne Bott, but he wasn't home. He used to be the coach at the Adams High School, when I taught there, in the early 1960's.


In July, the refrigerator, that my brother, Wallace, had bought in the 1950's died of compressor failure. I was told that that brand was not made any more. The refrigerator was junked and a new one was purchased locally at the hardware store. I hope it lasts as long as the old one did.


In July, my car was one of a number of cars in Hatton that had the glass part taken out of the driver's side outside rear view mirror. The glass was attached to plastic holderseats which were broken when the glass was extracted. I had to have the entire mirror sub assembly replaced - $196.00. About 15 cars in the area were so damaged. All cars had the remote adjust, outside mirrors.


The mosquito plague that started in July, was at its' peak all of August and September. Grand Forks and Fargo tried spraying for them, but gave up as new swarms moved in after each rain, which just washed away the spray and the dead insects. I gave a one acre bug zapper to my niece for her birthday in August. It, and the one my brother had in his yard, filled up each night. I had to work outside on warn days all covered up.  It helped, but I sweat a lot. Even so, I got bit a lot across my butt, legs and face.


My sister June, fell the first part of August and broke her wrist.  It took two months to heal. She has osteoporoses, so she has to be careful. She had to quit her job at the local nursing home, when she cracked a vertabra in her spine about two years ago.


On the l9th of August, I had a special eye exam, by my ophthalmologist, because of all the vision problems I was having. He checked the pressure, field of vision, and the extent of the cataract. He said that my troubles were caused more by the glaucoma than the cataract. I was no better off and poorer, as the BD/BS had me pay most of the bill. I still have difficulty with focusing, reading, blending of similar colors, seeing things that are not there and not seeing things that are, dimly lit places are dark, and most everything has a white overtone to it. Seeing in our daily fog, is bad enough on cloudy dark days but worse on bright foggy days, as the sun seems to shine through a large frosted "glass". I drive only to town and back, which can be hard enough, as I can't see many cars till they get right up to me because they don't use their headlights. Even when I am walking, I hear cars coming before I see them, mainly because of the fog.


On the 28th of September, I went to the local Social Security Office and applied for Medicare coverage. I had 33 qtrs and had paid into Medicare for five plus years after 1-1-83. The FDA Office In Buffalo verified that I was a Federal employee for the period. I received my Medicare card, effective 12-1-93. My 65th birthday was on 12-9-93.


I was still doing work outside, even though the weather was starting to cool down in September. I finished the cleanup of the area behind my brother's garage, and a fallen tree in the pasture. It turned a little warn again in October, so I cut down seven trees that were hanging out over the field just west of my yard. I could have cut three more but it turned cold and I was working out in the wind. They will have to wait till spring.


"Winter" started on November 4th with the first significant snow fall of 6". I had outlined my brother's driveway with reflective markers from the road to past the turn, in the area of his house where it is easier to follow. We both had our driveways blown out by Mr. Petersen. Later we had an inch of snow and I shoveled both driveways as all of the previous snow had melted. Over Thanksgiving we got about 10 - 12 inches of snowfall in about three days. I had Mr. Petersen clean both driveways. I shoveled my stoop, my brother's back steps and his sidewalk.


My brother had gone to Oregon to spend Thanksgiving with his daughter Nancy and her family. I was tending the "farm" and taking care of his mail. I had Thanksgiving with his daughter Karen, who lives here in the Hatton area.


Happy Holidays,

Walter Larson