First the Tractors…..

When experts read the story last week, the result was a copy of the picture mentioned which actually shows five (not two) people and the first combine purchased by Wenzel family members (not a steam engine and bundle wagon). The date of September 1937 was correct since that was the last time Great-uncle Dan Kaercher visited from his home in Berkley, CA. Better eyes than mine spotted steel wheels still on the pictured tractor pulling the combine (not yet self-propelled). I stand corrected. I have not yet found the date that the rubber tires arrived, but the steel rim which formed our sand box was brought to town on May 28, 1938. What is interesting about that is the fact that a wagon with wheels was not purchased until 2 or 3 years later, and the first load it appears to have carried was a bag of sand for the sand box.

In the process several old harvesting pictures surfaced, and when there is room, some may be available for printing in the paper. In the meantime, the Case tractor I remember as yellow has been identified by people with better memories as blue and a 1929 model “L”. That model had four hp (horsepower) and was very popular with local farmers until 1940. A blurb from the collector series of miniature tractors says more than 31,000 were sold in the 1929-1940 period of time. Local collectors may have a miniature version on their shelves or possibly in their collection of “tractor calendars” given out by dealerships.

The one my uncle purchased came from the Farmers Union at Langdon which sold equipment at that time. The manager was Alex Haaven, and the employee who delivered the tractor was Arnold Lundeby, who spent much of his life living and farming at Osnabrock. The cost would purchase very little on today’s implement market.

Now the Scrapbooks….

My aunt, Pearl, was one of many local people who kept or compiled scrapbooks. The first ones held valentines, Christmas or birthday cards, and bright colored pictures from magazine covers or calendars. In the late 1930s she made some of these for my brother and me to look at and would “read” them to us in place of the small books children now have. However, her main scrapbook had newspaper clippings and pictures of people in the White House during her lifetime as well as birth announcements, some wedding invitations, and other memorabilia. If we wanted to know about specific happenings, her scrap book plus her sister’s diaries had all the pertinent facts.

Pearl died in October of 1970, and her sister, Adeline, took over making her own flour and water paste and putting magazines and old catalogs clippings she wanted to save: recipes from Marilyn Haggarty, Frantacisms columns, births, deaths, reports of local people who had received traffic citations (relatives found this an invasion of privacy), wrestling scores (several nephews were on the wrestling team), and news of people or places she had known. So, when one of her Langdon friends mentioned saving Langdon Long Ago columns that mentioned people she had known, I was not too surprised. Neighbors Evelyn Overby and Esther Gendreau had already loaned me some of their scrapbooks for background on various events.

Then two of the long-time members of the Langdon Masonic group mentioned some scrapbooks Duane Field had done as an officer in that group. Being the Masons were a fraternal organization, I never saw these books, but it made sense that their history should be preserved. Then one day a year or so after Duane died, I got a call from Donald Pankratz who lived west of me asking me to come over and see what he had picked up at a garage sale held at the quonset on Highway 1. What he had were scrapbooks of Langdon Long Ago stories along with Remember When pictures beautifully organized and compiled by Duane Field. Don wanted me to take the volumes he had which might have been three in number and urged me to “go right now and see if there are more left”. At least one or two more were there, and I picked them up but was told there had been more. The person in charge did not know who had picked them up. There is a vague memory of writing about this at the time, and later I began an index based on the scrapbooks which turned out to have things with slightly different dates than bound volumes of the newspapers. Both sources had missing issues, but since stories filed on computer had failed repeatedly, I was glad to find copies of missing information. Combining those sources has become a never-ending job with many stories missing.

Fast forward to Friday evening- I got a phone call from a neighbor that another volume of stories saved in scrapbook format was at her house and would I come and pick it up. Even before it was opened, I knew the book was one of Duane’s original scrapbooks, all done neatly in heavy padded volumes. I had help getting it to the car and did not have help getting it into the house. The books are very heavy! To date I have been reading the stories from 2006 to 2008 in the car. Eventually all the volumes will be stored at the library.

The person who has had this volume was Judy LaPorte, who lives with her sister Marlene. She remembered getting it from a quonset owned by the Field family. Another sister in Osnabrock happened to know my neighbor, Marilyn Fetsch, so the book came to Langdon through that connection. There may be other volumes that were obtained from that long ago sale that readers would like to donate to the library as well. In the meantime, I continue to work on making an index so we at least have a listing to try to find a story people may remember.

One of the problems with locating an individual story in decades of writing is that only the ones with clever titles stick out! Requests come for “The Boys in Blue” (Civil War Veterans), “Riding the Goat” (long ago lodge initiations), “Belle Smart” (who dated all the eligible and some of the not so eligible men in very early Langdon and raised the reading public by leaps and bounds). Belle was written by a young male reporter of that day. “The Ring of the Blacksmith’s Hammer” was another favorite by families of blacksmiths, but some of those were too early for Duane’s scrapbooks. A favorite of my own from the early 1990s were the jokes the CCC boys put in their camp newsletters as sent in by recruits from this area.

Special thanks to Judy for adding her book to the collection and to all the readers who have enjoyed reading the stories down through the years.


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