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Bob Lind, Published September 22 2012

Lind: Woman recorded life on farm near Hillsboro, ND, in 1928-29

Sept. 10 – Today we had some trouble with our windmill that brings up the water for our cows and horses.

Sept. 21 – I baked bread, churned 12 pounds of butter and mended stockings.

So it was for Clara Aasen, who recorded in her diaries what life was like in 1928 living on a farm near Hillsboro, N.D., as a widow with three young sons. Her husband, Theodore, had been killed in a car accident that year.

Clara and her children lived in a log house without electricity, running water or central heat. But they made it.

One of those three children, Lawrence Aasen, now of Westport, Conn., sent Neighbors a section of his mother’s diaries from 1928 and 1929. Her terse sentences give a taste of life in the area back then.

1928

Jan. 18 – Took in a tub of snow for water.

March 12 – Ten inches of snow fell today.

May 3 – Theodore went to Fargo to buy a new Whippet car.

June 16 – Inez Johnson drank a bottle of gasoline but it came out OK.

June 23 – Theodore was in a car accident west of Fargo and died June 25. A bootlegger from Fargo crashed into his parked car. Theodore was campaigning to be elected a representative in the North Dakota Legislature.

Aug. 13 – Cashier Edwin Jacobson, who worked in a bank at Climax, Minn., was shot and killed by his assistant cashier.

Aug. 14 – The Buxton bank was robbed today.

Sept. 5 – Today it is six years since my brother Oliver Brenden died from mustard gas used by the Germans in World War I.

Oct. 25 – I have now done all our chores for four full days. I milked five cows, fed four calves and six horses, carried water for 30 pigs and took care of the chickens.

Dec. 8 – Somebody broke into our granary and stole 13 skunk skins.

Dec. 25 – Lutefisk today to celebrate Christmas.

1929

Jan. 22 – Oh dear, oh dear, what a terrible blizzard! The whole neighborhood is reading “Pretty Polly,” a Fargo Forum story.

Jan. 31 – Lawrence is a proud little man. Now he has a book in school that he is allowed to bring home to read.

Feb. 18 – A big funeral was held for former Gov. E.Y. Sarles in the Hillsboro Armory. Governor of North Dakota 1905 to 1906. He grew up in Hillsboro.

Feb. 24 – Today the church service was in English, not in Norwegian.

March 3 – I gave Theodore’s Sunday shoes to his brother Charles. Theodore has now been dead for nearly a year.

March 18 – The hens started to lay eggs again. They don’t do much in winter.

March 22 – The bridge is out to Perley. Now we have to row across the river.

March 27 – Our auction sale was held on our farm today. Sad. I hate to see our things sold and carried away.

March 29 – Hired man John Dukka quit today. He is from Armenia.

March 31 – Easter Sunday service. Big dispute. Should it be in English or Norwegian?

June 17 – Oh, such hot weather. We have been without rain for some time and there are cracks in the ground.

June 27 – The Fargo Forum says this is the driest June in 48 years.

Aug. 5 – The First State Bank was closed today by the directors. What a stir!

Aug. 10 – Our Ladies Aid had over $300 in the First State Bank that closed.

Aug. 18 – Rev. Aase preached in Norwegian and he was splendid!

Sept. 20 – Washed clothes today, the same as my mother, my grandmother and I suppose like my great-great-great grandmother. I scrubbed mine on a wash board, probably like they did.

Nov. 15 – Big day in Hillsboro today. First National Bank and Hillsboro National Bank had a formal opening. Also, the J.C. Penney store opened in Hillsboro today.

Dec. 18 – I bought a suit for Lawrence at J.C. Penney for $8, with vest and two pairs of trousers.

Dec. 30 – Soon I will be moving to another farm house. Sorry to say it will be just like this log house – no electricity, no running water, no bathrooms.

Those are excerpts from two of Clara’s 30 diaries, in which she wrote right up to the day in 1953 when she, like her husband 25 years earlier, was killed in a car accident.


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