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Jon Halvorson
Age 15, 1955

I Remember Minnesota


The farm with its towering windmill, the massive gray barn, and the old faded red grainery, where Jim and I had played, climbing up on the cob-webbed rafters, then diving down into the oats. The dust would rise, it would be hot and we'd choke and gasp. Then we'd wipe our eyes and do it all over again.
In the barn were the cows, great shaggy, warm smelling beasts. It would be thrashing time, for it was August, and the monstrous rigs would get set up out in the fields, belching great clouds of chaff into the air. There would be gangs of bronzed, leather-skinned farm hands now to help with the harvesting and they would have gnarled, calloused hands and their veins would bulge on their brawny arms. They'd laugh as they sloshed water on themselves at the wash basin Grandma had set out in the yard. The food was plentiful and each ate heartily from thick, heavy plates.
I remember, too, the pantry from whence came the only gooseberry sauce I've ever eaten. Round and pale green, they puckered your mouth with their tartness, yet I rolled each one over my tongue to savor its pungent, biting goodness.
In the upper hall of the large, old farm house was a stern-faced clock. When I was smaller I used to be scared to sleep upstairs because of its loud ominous tick, tock, tick, tock. And then just as my eyelids would begin to droop very, very low, I would jerk upright as the night's stillness was shattered by the booming chimes of the old clock. Each morning as I would pass by its inexorable eye on my way downstairs I shuddered involuntarily. The clock continued to tick haughtily and then, though as in a taunt, it would burst into peals of clangorous chiming-- that old majestically, mysterious clock sat so proudly with a sphinx-like smile on its leering face, I hated it, if I hated anything!! The inner workings of the clock would grumble and whine as the black hands moved slowly over the ancient Roman numerals. As I would timorously tiptoe by, it would look down on me and its mechanism would growl belligerently, as if saying, "Oh, if you only knew, if you only knew--tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock----
I remember the woods by the house and picking berries there. I remember groping my way to the old outdoor toilet in the black of night, in fact, I remember lots of things about that outhouse--but I don't think I'll tell them.
The nights in Minnesota were different, they were quiet. Yet with a diferent sort of silence--a silence not found in the city. A peaceful, serene silence, one that envelopes, covers with a warm, dark blanket of contentment.
But most of all I remember the folks!! Uncle Gordon, short, stocky, powerful!! He was fifty, looked thirty-five, ate wheatgerm, sunflower seeds and drank sassafras tea. His room was a conglomerration of discarded schemes and gadgets.
Aunt Gina had a cute way of talking, out of the side of her mouth and a nicer human being has yet to be made. A good deal of her time was spent stocking the shelves of the pantry. She made preserves of all kinds, jams, jellies, sauces, including lots of gooseberry.
And, of course, Grandma, adding her special touch and spry as ever. Her sparkly gray eyes would twinkle as she would look down at me over her glasses which were always sliding down on her nose and she would say, "My, but you've grown, Jon!"


 

Even as a young child Jon Halvorson enjoyed the flow of words and loved being read to. Then came First Grade! Jon voiced a real complaint about the Dick and Jane series with, 'They don't make sense; where's the story?" Jon died at the age of 16 of nephritis. A section of his school yearbook was dedicated to Jon with these words, "As a friend once put it, he wouldn't let life be dull, there was always something to laugh at, to fear, to defeat."

 

Thoughts

Minnesota, you would be 66 now had you lived. How incredibly wasteful it was of providence to snatch you from the multitude one year after that picture was taken. I have a hard time forgiving providence for that. Once here. individuals should be able to live out their span.

But I guess that WAS your span Minnesota then wasn't it? God gives and takes away.(blah-blah-blah) Well, who's to say that you had to live to collect Social Security. Still, it would have benefited the world to enjoy the ripening of your propensities; the things of which you were made- unique to you and you alone.Imagine how those things would have danced with chance and choice leading you on into manhood.

Imagine.

Perhaps you would have gone on to be a writer for surely you were as a youth. Your keen awareness of nature and people shines through. No Minnesota , I can't forgive such a whisking away and to this day,although I never met you, I think on it and ponder.

To quote you,(sort of) "It doesn't make sense; where's the story?"

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