Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
By Elizabeth Cooper Mike
From the pen of Elizabeth Cooper Mike, Kimball Historical Society member, in her book "The Girl From Stickney Hill, Kimball Prairie, Minnesota" (Reprinted with permission of the author.)
The flames of a bonfire flickering through the trees on the other side of the Mill Pond Dam made my heart beat faster as we drove up and parked the car. We had lots of kids with us. My brother was driving. He always grabbed the wheel if he could get away with it and tonight I let him. This was going to be a really great wiener roast.
Jack had gotten his license when he was thirteen. Daddy had just taken him to town and got it for 25 cents. Then he proceeded to teach him to drive. Of course, Jack already had lots of experience driving a team of horses.
When Jack came home that day with his driver's license, Muddy shot one look at Daddy and without a word to him said, "Come on, Elizabeth." We climbed into the old Model-T Ford, drove right into town, and got a driver's license for me. When I came home that day I knew that girls were as important as boys. Muddy taught me to drive. I was fourteen. Hitting a tree was the first thing I did when learning to drive. I was chauffeuring Muddy to town one day when I was still quite inexperienced. As we passed the neighbor's driveway, Muddy said, "Oh, I wanted to stop here." We were past the driveway, too late to turn, but I turned anyway and hit the only tree along the drive. Knocked the car's wishbone out. I was sure I would never drive again.
A horse tow to home and a fix-up job by a "very silent" Daddy, who always maintained he could fix anything with bailing wire and binder twine, put the car in running order again. Muddy then ordered me behind the wheel and we drove to town. From that day on I kept driving. But I still let Jack drive a lot of the time. Sometimes it was easier not to fight about it.
Now I could see the fire and shadows of people moving back and forth among the trees across the water. It was the annual spring wiener roast of our Epworth League church group and the grove of trees beyond the Mill Pond Dam was a favorite spot for youthful groups to gather. Donald had gone early to start the fire. Now our chaperones drove up, Rev. and Mrs. Muse, and we were ready to cross the dam.
The night air was cool and damp with dew as we got out of our cars. The moon was high and cast shimmering lights on the water over which we would have to walk on a narrow 12-inch wide plank to get to the other side, to get to the wiener roast.
Rushing water pouring over the dam blended in with other night sounds. Tree frogs singing their spring songs. Whippoorwills calling far in the woods. There were loudly buzzing mosquitoes being swatted as they swarmed around our ears and swooped down for a savory bite out of any exposed skin. It was scary walking the plank with only the narrow beam of a flashlight to guide our feet. On one side was smooth still water, on the other, rushing water falling over the dam into frothy foam below. How many feet down, I did not know, did not want to know, tried not to think about.
Don't think! I told myself. Watch your feet! Concentrate! Don't look at the falling water caught in its web of sparkling moonbeams. But if I fall, let me fall the right way, I thought, into the pond and not over the dam. Finally we were across, running to the bonfire, eager for the fire's welcome warmth and hungry. The Muses got across okay, but they were ancient and slow, I thought. Especially Mrs. Muse was shaky and Rev. Muse had to keep telling her she could do it.
Lawrence was there at the bonfire. He was Bob's big brother. I had been praying all day that Bob would bring him. I grabbed a wiener stick and started working my way around the circle of fire to a position nearer him. All evening I tried. I never made it, but I could still look at him across the fire. Just like I watched him every Sunday sitting with his parents in their usual pew across the church from me. Boys my own age were so juvenile, I thought. But Lawrence was older, so grown up, maybe 18 or 19. Clean cut, wavy blond hair, serious most of the time, but when he did smile, that lop-sided smile of his, my heart melted every time. Lawrence never said two words to me, but there was always the possibility. The attraction of the unobtainable made for many months of dreaming when I was 15. The wiener roast was fun even if I never got to talk to Lawrence, Larry I called him in my dreams. I ate two wieners in buns with mustard and a lot of burnt marshmallows.
The exciting Part II of this story will be printed in the Sept. 10 edition of the Tri-County News.
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Congratulations: The Kimball Days door prize winners are:
Quilt - Tom Olson
Red doily - Alice Kantor
Other doilies - Sherry Donabauer, Marilyn Finger, Judy James, and Lois Wills
Commemorative coffee cups - Cindy Stelten
Commemorative trivet - Blanche Miller
Society membership - Joyce Burgstaler
Commemorative note cards - Tom Marks
Wrapping up "Kimball memories" ... A huge thanks to our volunteers and visitors for the Kimball Days supper and exhibit celebration. And those of you who enjoyed Saturday early morning coffee at Audrey's Coffee Nook, found a delightful visit and homemade cinnamon rolls. The early raindrops didn't keep this from being another success! Congratulations Audrey!
Up and coming: Calendar Tuesday, Sept. 22, to attend the 7 p.m. next event featuring certified genealogist Stephen Barthel, more details in this column on Sept. 10.
Welcome new members. The Kimball Area Historical Society is a community of members committed to the betterment, enhancement and preservation of the Kimball area. Plus great opportunities of learning more about one's own history and that around us.
Responses continue to come in from those of you who still want to be involved in the city hall restoration here in Kimball. If you have not responded, you can still be a part of this amazing project. Just send or call in a pledge or e-mail to Kimball Area Historical Society. Or send checks to Kimball Area Historical Society. Tax deductible through our 501C3 status. Much appreciated! And you're on donor plaque.
You're invited to new or renewed membership, or to offer your information, story, photos in this column or for the growing collection. There's a nice "sample" in Kimball's historic city hall, if you come to one of our events Sept. 22, or Oct. 27, or Nov. 17. We are reachable at Box 100, Kimball, MN 55353, or e-mail cnewman@meltel,.net, or call (320) 398-5743 or 398-5250.
This is history in the making
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