To Know Me Is To Know My Family: Dad’s Early Days (#7)

Dad’s early days

In honor of Father’s Day, I will be sharing some stories for the next few weeks about my Dad. Albert was born to Lydia and George in a sod house on August 23th 1915. He was delivered with the help of a midwife, Justina who was his mother’s sister. Justine was said to have “healing hands.” It was a difficult birth as he was born breech. His mother almost died giving birth. He was her 5 child out of 9 in total born to the family.

As mentioned, my dad grew up in a sod house on the North Dakota Prairie, during the dirty 30’s (dust bowl). It was a one room house with 11 people in it. They had a table, pot belly stove for warmth, and an iron stove. His favorite meal that his Mom would make on the iron stove was pancakes stacked so ever so high. He loved to put clear Karo Syrup on them which came in a large can. Sleeping arrangements were 2 beds, whose mattresses was stuffed with corn husks that where changed out every year. There were about 4 kids to each bed. Winters were very harsh in North Dakota. Dad would say that if it rained outside, in 3 days it would be raining on the inside.

Bath time for the family was an event in itself. Because winters were so cold and rainy bathing was during summer only. Every Saturday, whether they needed it or not, the round galvanized tub, was put in the house and the children would bath. They would bring buckets of water in the house from the well. Some of the water was put straight away into the tub and some was warmed up on the stove. When the warm water was added to the tub, this would make the it more comfortable for bathing. All of the kids wanted to go first, but usually the oldest was the one to get that privilege. You never wanted to be the last one in for a bath as the water was not changed between brothers and sisters. So, you can imagine what it would be like to be the last one in a tub full of 8 people’s dirt.

My Dad remembers with fondness of the day his family moved to the “Wood House.” They packed up 2 wagons of their furniture and belongings and were on their way. The “new house made of wood” was located in Oliver County. It was considerably larger than the Sodie. There were 4 rooms; one room was partitioned off. This was where Great-Grandfather Bausch stayed. Dad’s parents were in another bedroom. The 2 other small bedrooms were where the children slept. The kitchen was in the center of the house.

It had a cellar where they kept food. One day his Mom sent my Dad to the cellar to get some potatoes. Dad didn’t like to go down the ladder into the cellar, it was a little scary for him. But being a good son, he obeyed his Mother’s wishes. Dad went down the ladder, and rushed to where the potatoes were, occasionally looking over his shoulder in anticipation. Dad’s fear was realized, someone or something was down there with him. He heard noises and and knew he was not alone. Pssst, Pssst, there came the noise again. Dad grabbed the potatoes and made a beeline to the ladder. As he was moving up the ladder as fast as his little legs could carry him, he heard his brother Bob laughing. Bob had tricked him again.

They had a barn for the animals that was dug out of the ground on their land. After they had lived there for a while, his Dad bought a small building (where pigs had been once housed) from their neighbors, the Millers. Using horses to move the building, they pulled it from the neighbors. After pulling for a while, they let it set, feeling it safe, they continued to pull it onto their property, Greenleaf Farm, where they cleaned it up. The boys would stay in the building as it became a bunkhouse for them to have a place to sleep.

My Dad’s neighbors, the Miller’s, had no children, and were very nice people. My Dad remember the kindness of Mrs. Miller. She would set out food on a board for his family. Attaching a rope to the board, Dad and his brothers would drag the goodies home to share with the family.

Next week I will tell of Dad’s school days.

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