Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
'Along the Way' by William E. Leppa, written in 1975
Now we come to 1929 and the beginning of the Great Depression. We were going to have many years of rough going and the bad times were going to start people thinking about politics.
In 1931, the boys started to build a glider and by 1932 they were flying it. There were six of them, brothers Oscar and Ed Leppa, Heino Leppa, Ernest Matsen, Edsel Mikkola, and Elmer Ruopsa. They were able to take it up 500 feet. They pulled it with a car. In 1932, the boys were invited to demonstrate the glider at a fair in Brainerd, Minn.
In the summer of 1933, my brother Oscar hitchhiked to California and stayed there until 1934.
In 1933, we organized a Farmer-Labor club in Kingston. I was on the first board, and I still have the original charter in my album. In 1934, we organized a county-wide club in Litchfield, and I was on the first board there, so I was getting busy in politics. Arvid Ruotsinoja of Kingston was elected state senator as a Farmer-Laborite in the fall of 1934.
Arvid Ruotsinoja (District 26 State Senator 1935-1938) took me to meet Governor Floyd Olson, and the governor appointed me to the State Board of Education. The members of the State Board of Education at that time were as follows: Howard Anderson from Grand Rapids, chairman; L.E. Harris of Floodwood; Mrs. Calvin of St. Paul; Mercedes Nelson of Minneapolis; and myself as the only farm representative. I served on the board until 1938, when I went to work for the State Department of Agriculture. In 1939, Governor Stassen fired me, and I came home to the farm.
In 1935, we organized an REA cooperative electric power company in Litchfield, and I was on the first board of directors. My brother Oscar went to Dunwoody to study power line building and maintenance, so in 1935, when we started to build power lines, he got a job with the contractor. That is how he got started in the electric business.
In 1935, Emma and I were selected as delegates to the American Legion convention in Brainerd. There we met Mr. Anderson, who was our school superintendent at Kimball. He was a native of Brainerd, and he took us on a trip around Gull Lake for our first time. He showed us all the famous resorts and took us by Governor Olson's cabin. The governor by that time was very sick, and had just been taken to Rochester to the Mayo Clinic where he died Aug. 22, 1936.
In the summer of 1937, lightning struck our barn and burned it down. We lost the barn, two silos, the milking machines and everything in the barn, including Mary Anne's 4-H calf. We built a new barn and silos.
Elmer Benson was elected governor in the fall of 1936, and ran for re-election in 1938. I was busy helping all I could, but he was defeated and that was when I lost my state job. I was Cooperative Assistant in the Department of Agriculture. I helped people organize electrical cooperatives.
In 1939, I was back farming again full time. Farm income was way down, and it had been since the beginning of the 1930s. Of course, in 1931, and 1932, it had been very dry so we never got a good crop. I can remember hauling potatoes to Minneapolis and St. Paul and selling them for 25 cents a bushel. Eggs were 15 cents a dozen and broilers 20 cents a pound. Hogs were 4 cents a pound and butter fat at the creamery was 30 to 35 cents a pound.
to be continued
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Threatening weather forecasts led to the cancellation of our
Feb. 28 event featuring Dean Urdahl's fascinating story telling about "Pursuit" 150 years ago. But it is just postponed, so watch this column in two weeks and beyond for the new date and plan to attend a bit later on.
So many of you have enjoyed the Leppa family history for several weeks (10 parts, so far) that we again take this opportunity to thank them for sharing it, and it's very possible that some of you readers have something to share also. Would you let us know? Beginning soon, watch for a new series and keep in mind that you may have one, too.
Of all the things you might forget in March, don't let our Historical Society booth at the March 24 Expo be one of them! Many prizes and souvenirs, featuring Kimball's All-School Reunion information and display. No admission charge, dozens of exhibits, samples, entertainment and more. We look forward to sharing another page in history with you from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Kimball Area High School, south entrance, plenty of parking. Don't miss it.
Your support and commitment to the Kimball Area Historical Society adds immensely to the spirit of those who work to collect and preserve the history of this extraordinary place. Your gifts and memberships to the society enable us to continue to present the Kimball area's special history.
For advance information on the Aug. 11, All School Reunion, membership, donations, general information, volunteering opportunities, please contact the Kimball Area Historical Society at
Box 100, Kimball MN 55353, or phone (320) 398-5250, or e-mail
, and visit us on Facebook.
Looking Toward the Future:
Challenges and Opportunities