Book Recalls Growing up in N.D.'s 'Dirty' 30s
Johnson, Andrea. "Book Recalls Growing up in N.D.'s 'Dirty' 30s." Minot Daily News, 16 December 2003, sec. C & 2C.
Retired Dickinson dentist Edward Keller's "My First Grade, 1932"
would be a fun book for grandparents and grandchildren to read and
|The latest self-published work by retired
dentist Dr. Edward Keller of Dickinson looks at growing up in
the North Dakota of the 1930s.
Like Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books, Keller's
recounting of a typical school day of 70 years ago should help youngsters
envision what life in a one-room schoolhouse on the prairies was
like in the olden days. Evocative illustrations by David Christy
show children in 1930s clothing and hairstyles and a typical school
house like kids of today have seen only at county museums.
In his self-published book, Keller describes how he, his siblings
and some of the neighboring farm children, rode the three miles
to school in a buggy or sleigh, pulled by horses Dave and Tootsy.
At the school, Dave and Tootsy had their own stall. The children
gathered around a coal-burning stove at the center of the school
room to get warm. Keller writes that the room smelled of coal, varnish
and "earlier barn chores."
He describes how the teacher rang the handbell to call the students
in for recess, and how he overheard other classes going over geography
and agriculture lessons while he waited to recite his lessons in
English. Like many children of immigrant families, Keller spoke
no English until he went to school. The usual language in his Germans-from-Russia
farm family was German. Keller writes that the teacher decided he
could start school early, at age 5, because he had older siblings
to look out for him.
Keller writes about playing with the other kids at recess, and
about how proud he was when he was able to write the numbers from
1 to 12 on the school blackboard in front of the school.
Keller also describes a typical school lunch, which should make
today's children more appreciative of their own hot school lunches.
In the book, Keller eats "syrup sandwiches" from an empty
syrup pail. Teacher eats "lettuce sandwiches." The Kuhn
children have "cream with sprinkled sugar sandwiches."
Keller grew up in Strasburg, N.D., the same town that Lawrence
Welk hailed from. He's written and published other books about is
childhood and early youth, including a book called "My Mother's
Apron." He is taking orders for his books.
Reprinted with permission of the Minot Daily News.
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