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When The Circus Came To Le Center–and Then Elysian!

by Old Uncle Crow

[this is a revised version of the account originally composed by OUC on 21 March 2006 — ed]

(THIS Is a story that Sheriff Pat Smith told me one night in the summer of 1964, when I got busted with some other kids who shall remain nameless, for lifting a case of beer off the top of a beer-truck in front of “Ralph’s Corner Bar” in Elysian, Minnesota.  It was an impulsive sort of decision–we were all piled up in the back of C’s old pick-up and pulled right alongside the beer-truck, and–Bingo!

(Only Sheriff Pat was waiting for us when we pulled in the public-access at Gorman Lake!  “That’s alright, boys–I knew right where you’d be ’cause I used to pull all this old shit myself when I was a punk.  Which is why I’m such a good law-man–AND, you little bastards are all busted!”

(Basically, only one of us had even gotten a bottle open, and Sheriff Pat shook us down the $3.95 to Continue Reading »

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My Great-Uncle Magly & the Schuck Murders Revisited

by Old Uncle Crow

[this is a revised version of the account originally composed by OUC on 8 March 2006 — ed]

I Have been hearing, reading and thinking about history, now, for going on sixty years.  It all began for me in my childhood at the time of the Korean war, when my father would show to me on a globe of the world with a shoelace how far it had been from France to London, and England to Berlin, during the World War II air-raids–and, now, how far the Russian bombers would have to fly from Moscow to our house in south Minneapolis.

Then, all unknown to myself, I began an historian’s actual work during the long hot summers of the 1950’s, while staying on my maternal grandfather’s farm, on the high and, today, utterly agchem exhausted and ruined, ground between Eagle Lake and Madison Lake, Minnesota, just East of old Mankato, in its a brooding Indian hanging-cursed valley at the southernmost bend of the Minnesota River.  There I lived in those long-ago days, and in a much different world than ours of today, with my Grandpa, his unmarried son, my Uncle Emmett, and my Great-Aunty Leona Magly.  She was Continue Reading »

In Defense of the Common Tongue

by B Wook

The pictures shows some common American errors, both spoken & written.

Some Common American Errors -- 082413

Locally, in the area running from rural Eagle Lake, Mn., to Oshawa Twp in Nicollet Cty, the farmers fifty-six years ago spoke a better Continue Reading »

by OUC

*****

“[O]ur English father…was going to beat Hell, or in his own words, ‘Balls out at full chat after third change up’…screwed up the downshift…and flew ‘arse over tip’ into the snowfilled ditch on the Northeast side of the curve.”  (Former Farmer Smith)

*****

[Last year, the writer of the letter below was involved in a game of Let’s Pretend about building a 17th century colonial post & beam house.  In fact, he says, he suspects he sort of stirred it all up in the first place with a flock of emails, then there was a meeting…and cooler heads prevailed.  Like so many good ideas when it gets to the hand-in-the-buzzsaw part, it all proved to be “a crock of shit,” and so Another Bright Idea Has Died The Death!  But, the following letter has its moments…. ed]

*****

1 September 2010

Dear B–

Say, for what it is worth, the Plymouth Plantation Pilgrims lived in Indian-style longhouse-looking huts for that first few years, gradually built more recognizably hovelly Renaisscence Fair-looking Jack McGowan-style History Fair dwellings.

Meanwhile, already in the first year, they sent back to England a first load of sawn lengths of house-siding; they had bills to pay and an urgent need for many sorts of goods and, so, their own serious post-and-beam house-building also waited things like the first imports of glass (expensive) and such.  One way or the other writers such as Morrison suggest that they were  1) beavering away to beat Hell, laying down trees left & right, pissing off the Indians and blaming it all on Sin & Jesus, and  2) finishing material for  a) export and  b) their needs, in that order.

Now the questions…if they shipped siding (thin tapered strips radiating from the centers of smaller trunks) so soon as 1621, did they? let the wood cure or did they wet-saw and let the stacks in reversed laps air-dry?

That’s a tough one because I don’t know enough about hard wood to know how much it “moves” in billets.  Wet or dry.  All I know is that Piss Elm in wet board-stacks wiggles around to beat Hell, the whole pile bends this way & then that!

I’m out of Eagle Lake, Mn., anyway on our Mom’s side, and we might get our chins in the soup up at the eating restaurant in public, and all that Old Shit, but Christ on a clap ward, we God damn it KNOW about Piss Elm….

*****

Anyway, in these parts the sawmill operator would gladly “buzz up” all the wet wood you could bring in and not turn a hair.  In fact, he’d wear “a grin on his face like a cat eating shit!”  But, my Uncle Emmett also said, it was because “…the cock knockers then could all whine around and piss and moan like a poison pup, and the sonsofbitches would all bellyache and cry to beat Hell about it and want MORE money!”

Particularly, wet trunks are (many times!) “heavier than Hell” to handle and so “they beat the piss out of the equipment”.  I don’t remember anything about making the rotary blades get dull any faster — one fella South of Eagle Lake had a big oldfashioned VERTICAL array of 2-3 blades (he could put on and take off to fit the job) that he’d gotten from off of Charlie Hartung (“Harding”), the oldtime sawmiller who lived North of our grandfather and had grown up with Joe Jacobson.  This younger operator would only cut Piss Elm with this heavier slower setup and so the time cost more.

Also, for what it is worth, our English father got his ass in a sling outside of Blue Earth County LeRay Township Charlie Hartung’s place in a blizzard one Winter before I was born….

*****

He was tearing along East from off of Old MN 22 (in those days still US 169, then on the East side of the Minnesota River) to where the road bends downhill and then up around from County 2 South onto 27; none of those roads were paved yet sixty-three years or so ago.  He was going to beat Hell, or in his own words, ‘Balls out at full chat after third change up’.  Then Old Man screwed up the downshift (it was some old Chevy with a bad throwout bearing you had to double-clutch I think he said) as he made the descend, was going too fast for the either-on-or-else-off-take-it-or-leave-it mechanical brakes and flew into the snowfilled ditch on the Northeast side of the curve.

He nearly crashed down on to the heads of a couple other, younger, brain halfwits who’d just pulled the same gag.

It was snowing to beat Hell, getting dark and the old man led the charge back up the hill to Hartung’s, on the South side of the curve.  No one was to home but there was a nice new Allis plainly to be seen gleaming orangely in the dusk in a new-painted red shed.  Our dad was press-on type (‘Wayfarers in distress!’ and all that) and so he got one of the farm kids to run the tractor, and they hauled each others’ cars out with Mr. Hartung’s nicely made-up welded logchains from off of a fresh shiny assortment hanging right there by the tractor on the shed wall.  Even so, they managed to bust a link for themselves, and so the old man left a note and five or ten dollars.  “Some God-damn spendthrift gladhand free giveaway wad like that!” in the money of those days, as as our Eagle Lake, Mn., Mom said disgustedly later.

*****

In short order came a letter from a Mankato lawyer:

It seems that Mr. Hartung was a prudent and careful farmer who had put his tractor up for the Winter, had not yet removed the tires before an untimely Fall snowstorm, but in any case HAD ALREADY DRAINED THE OIL as well as filling the tank with gas to prevent humidity and corrosion.  Now, Mr. Hartung wanted money and etc and was willing not to press criminal charges as the culprit had “left a note properly identifying himself”, and so forth.  Here’s the kicker….

Mom said the Old Man would have been in a whole lot of trouble, normal auto insurance of those days wouldn’t have covered it, but — Pop had AAA.  And Triple A in those long ago days actually did pay Charlie Hartung to fix up his tractor!  “Not only that,” said Uncle Emmett, “The God-damn old bastard hollered so God-damn much they gave the dirty sonofabitch even MORE money and he went to work and got himself a brand new bigger one with a heavy-duty rear end and PTO!  And any way the old tractor wasn’t hurt a God-damn bit and he kept IT to bucket shit with!”

*****

Finally, for what it is worth, twenty-eight years later I bought AAA myself on the strength of this…and, then, got my ass kicked off, O-F-F, for calling them all the time during that very first year, 1973-4.  That was just to jumpstart a bunch of times the froze-up Augsburg College handicap vans I was running for the CHR program in those pre-Reagen Miracle disco daze.  The Minneapolis AAA chapter said that using my “private” membership  for work was “against the rules.”  Be that as it may, I rejoined albeit feebly, at any rate I hadn’t actually wrecked anybody else’s property….

But plainly AAA had long since give up on the eleemosynary work of buying new tractors for everybody and their brother to be victimized by an AAA member casually passing by!

Well, B–, that’s all for now,

Former Farmer Smith

*****

[Old Uncle Crow

[copyrighted by tio cuervo

[November 21st, 2010]

[Here’s another letter from Grampa about the insane terror & crazed, hopeless heartbreak of farm mechanical repairs — OUC]

5 March 2011

Dear G– Smackelphartz,

Here’s another one for your God-damn collection!

Naturally, there was — long time later! — another fiasco with sealed bearings, way after all of that hay conditioner old shit that I wrote all up before:

https://oldunclecrow.wordpress.com/2006/07/09/in-the-summer-of-58/

First of all, I see that I did not make clear in that writeup five years ago that overgreasing & popping open the rubber-gusseted sealed bearings would then let grit and dust and dirt to get picked up and be spun or wound back in by the extrudedgrease, into the race and balls, or rollers, to actually chew up the assembly.

What the Hell….

*****

Well, any way, twenty-three years later I was to forget my high school farm shop completely, and go to work and flame with propane a stainless bearing race on a cast ground-metal Continue Reading »

Quagmire…Stagmire?

by Old Uncle Crow

[This is a letter I wrote to somebody last month that shows about my life back home “down on the farm,” and what a pain in the ass it could be, especially the vehicles!  OUC]

23 February 2011

Dear John Klanck, it was either you or old Patrick Herd who said my Blog About Swearing In Rural Eagle Lake, Mn., In The 1950s is a “quagmire.”

Quagmire…Stagmire?

That takes me back….

Joe Stagmire was a young dog after WW II who bought a old Plymouth car from off of my Grandfather, Joe Outhousespidersson’s.  Our Mother said that the car from new, in 1937 or so, had a habit Continue Reading »

by Old Uncle Crow

My buddy, “Shuck” B is a Norwegian bachelor farmer up there under neath Madelia, MN., or some other God-damn Hell hole like that, and who is also “shacked up” up there with some gal now, oh, Hell, for damn near twenty years it must be, well, anyway he sent me this one:

“Chew on this you paranoid fearmongers!  Big brother AND that weird neighbor down the street are watching, listening and recording.  This is truly freaky! No black helicopters, cigar shaped lights or alien probings either…..

“Shuck B

“PS, btw, why don’t one of YOU brain cock knockers get a hold of this software and share.  The least we could do to fight back is spread a little fear of our own!

“…muffled voice in the background…: ‘Yassuh, Governor Walker!'”

*****

(“Shuck” also added on a video that showed a lady being spied on and her daughter getting talked dirty to and molested around by some party line rubberneck, “hacker” they call them nowadays.  Since the last one from “Shuck” about Nina Hartley, well, that one WAS pretty good, so I tuned in.  It seems like we’re all supposed to be scared as Hell and fiddley-fuck around ALL OF THE GOD-DAMN TIME NOW with our cell phone security.)

(To make “secure” just WHAT, I ask you?

(Thing of it is, in real time with my kind of luck I’d have to listen in on every single sonofabitch in the county to get in on anything even remotely interesting…and then it would be just some guy had to take his teenage kid in to the Blue Earth ER for letting one of the bobby calfs suck his, the kid’s…well, you get the idea.  Jesus, for boring!  People here been hauling their boys in to the doctor for THAT one since even before the Indian Uprising!  Why would a feller even pay OUT for one of these damn cell phone thingies?

(Like they all said when Fritz Mondale was running for President from out of Elmore, MN., down there, “Where’s the beef?”  So just what IS so God-damn hot shit NEW about listening in on some OTHER asshole’s phone conversation?)

*****

It all just takes me back….

My own bachelor Uncle Emmett Jacobson (b 1920) even got the rubbernecking habit back then from Continue Reading »