Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
You can take the boy from the farm, but you can't take the farm from the boy was true of my dad, Lynn, born in 1918 in the Kimball area.
Lafe and Pearl Stanley's farm, where Lynn and brother Dean grew up, was across from where the Kuseske's farm is today. As was the case in all farm families in a day of largely pre-mechanized farming, the boys learned responsibilities early, but more so because of Pearl's deteriorating health. Lynn took most of a year off to help on the farm, and Pearl died before his fifteenth birthday. At age 16, he graduated from high school and a year later he and Clayton Linn completed their teaching certificate training through courses offered by St. Cloud Normal School at Annandale.
Lynn's love for farming, gained from his farming father, was matched with the love for teaching, imparted from his teacher mother. Those loves would soon compete with a third: Christian ministry. After four years of teaching in one-room schools around Kimball and Fair Haven, Lynn entered Bible College in the fall of 1940. Soon he made a commitment that would set the path for a long life of missionary service in South Africa. Although that commitment was made before he graduated, it would be another decade of schooling and ministry before he arrived on the "dark continent," beginning thirty-five years of service during which he meshed his faith commitment with his love of teaching, by equipping Africans for church leadership.
But what about that other love from his roots in Kimball, the love of farming? We had hardly started to adjust to South African life (when I was seven) before Dad sold the bungalow in the city and we were living "on the farm." Okay, the farm, "Three Oaks," consisted of a three-acres island of green on the arid African veld, thanks to pumps and windmills that reached deep to feed two reservoirs from which we watered strawberries, potatoes, quince, figs, oranges, and even a pomegranate hedge. And of course, some alfalfa for cows and space for a hundred chickens.
For the next three decades, no matter where we lived, there too, would be a cow, or two, and chickens. Always unenthusiastic about getting up early in the morning, I was happy for my brother Michael to head out at sunrise to do the milking. (I did envy the forearms of steel he developed by milking by hand, but even that was not enough to get me out of bed early.) My own farming ventures began with the chickens. On my way to earning enough to purchase my first motorcycle, I recall having to rescue a hundred three-week-old chicks from a sudden downpour while my non-supportive siblings watched from the porch.
Dad's love for farming gave us a sense of being a farm family, if only by proxy. He was happy to tell stories of life on the farm back home in Minnesota, even as his hobby-farming leaned to a crop little seen on Maine Prairie for 100 years - sugar cane - and a crop never seen on the prairie: pineapples.
But Dad yearned to farm corn. In a country where fresh corn on the table meant "green mielies" (immature field corn), Dad dreamed of large fields of sweet corn. He even pondered an entrepreneurial project of growing popcorn. And whether spurred by the calendar or by rows of corn along the roadway, we would regularly hear the rule of thumb: "Knee high by the 4th of July." Of course, that rule was born before fine-tuned hybrids, high-octane fertilizers, and irrigation systems. Nonetheless, it was burned into my memory, and even today my adult offspring still hear me quote Dad as we head through corn country on our way to camping over the 4th of July.
The year before Dad died in South Africa, after a particularly ideal early summer with plenty of rain and hot sun, we stopped along a country road outside Rochester to capture this evidence. We knew Dad would get a kick out of the fact that back home all was as it should be: the proof was, the corn was on track, above Nathan's knees on the 4th of July.
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Bill Morgan's "Earth, Wood, Stone" program was another special, attended by many June 23, as he shared in his master-story-telling style. Lives and Landmarks in Central Minnesota even included the Kimball area and Kimball's magnificent City Hall restoration in progress. Thanks for being there. Sorry if you missed him. Fresh flowers and fresh refreshments by our members topped off the evening's further enjoyment, and there was no end to the approval and compliments on the "state-of-city-hall" thus far.
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Which brings to mind, a direct quote from Britta Blomberg, Deputy State Preservation Officer, "Historic preservation has a proven track record in stimulating the economy and revitalizing communities." Kimball's historic City Hall is being restored and preserved as a result of matching grants from Minnesota Historical Society, doubling the generous donations from area residents and businesses, as well as from our society's members located all over the country. Since we have only been assured more matching funds are available for the next Phase 5, much of the interior completion could be our last opportunity for quite awhile. You're invited to still make donations that will be matched or pledges-not-payable-until-2010, if desired. If you are considering helping further on Phase 5 (work to be completed in 2010), pledges and donations received by July 10, 2009, could help us meet the grant application deadlines. The Kimball Area Historical Society past and future support to preserve this National Landmark on Main Street. Be assured that you are supporting major Kimball history for generations to come.
We've been invited to share these accomplishments with other communities and some even come to see how and what we've done. The State Historical Society has written to us, "The progress on the building is impressive. The building has made quite a transformation since work first started, the project has been completed in accordance with the standards and requirements of the grant program. Thank you for your fine work on this project."
Kimball Days - Aug. 7, 8, and 9, 2009, will be an opportunity to see the Kimball City Hall, as it will house our Grand History Exhibit, surrounded with "Supper in the Park," and "Audrey's Sidewalk Coffee Nook." Watch this column every two weeks for more details.
Kimball Area Historical Society, Box 100, Kimball MN 55353, (320) 398-5743 or 398-5250.
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Celebrating Kimball Memories