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Reminiscences of June, a Traveling Grandmother

1933 - 1946 - June's School Days

June completed the first 6 grades of elementary school in a small 2 room rural schoolhouse (Plainview) near Ridgeland, WI.

I am sure that everyone remembers his or her first day of school. June recalled that Gwen and Ardith Anderson, two of the older nearby neighbor girls, escorted her to school that first day. Ardith took her by one hand and Gwen the other as they marched off to school.

(Photo below right is one of the annual Plainview School Luncheon Reunions at the Pokegama Inn - Chetek Lake Narrows - 1995 - June, age 67 is in front row, third from the right. June's sister Betty is sitting next to June on the left.)

June Berg  Reunion 1995

During the 1990's the former "Plainview" grade School class members (and spouses) would meet each year for a Saturday lunch reunion and get together at the Pokegama Inn, on Chetek Lake narrows, WI. immediately to the west across the narrows was a restaurant called "The Spot". " The Spot" was a delightful little restaurant where Grandma June and I had our first date in the spring (May) of 1951. June attended several of the Plainview luncheon reunions at the Pokegama Inn.

Legend has it that the name of the school "Plainview" came as a result of the predecessor school named "Lost School". The name "Lost  School" was said to be the result of that school being located in an "out of the way" location not easily seen. When the new school was built to replace it, the location was in "Plain view" and the school was named accordingly.

June later completed grades 7 and 8 in the very small 1 room rural Trout Creek school near Colfax, WI. 

The Colfax Messenger for 17 August 1961, displayed a headline that read; "Trout Creek School Reunion Held Aug.6." It talks of a unique reunion held on Sunday August 6, 1961 at the farm home of Mr. and Mrs. Olaf Bjerkness. The reunion was said to be unusual in that the school had not been operating for 13 years.

"Following the joining of the district with Colfax school system in 1948 the school building was sold to Olaf Bjerkness who moved it to his farm where it is currently being used as a stable for young stock in the wintertime and in the summertime as a chicken house.. Outside of the fact that the entry way and bell have been removed, appearance of the building is practically the same as it was when built some 70 years ago Blackboards are missing but the old wainscoting covering the wall is still intact."

1871 was the year that the Trout Creek School was built...originally built of popular poles on the Branville farm...rebuilt a second time further west on the same farm. The third time Trout Creek school was built, it was on a location across the road from the first sites, on land donated by Peter Kongsgaard. This time it was constructed of logs. .sometime between 1881 and 1886 the school house was sided and an entrance way added...work done by Hans Ness...a hardwood floor was later added to replace the soft pine boards. A metal air vent was placed on the roof (still remains) for better ventilation. A larger chimney was built, walls plastered and ceiling raised. 1905 saw a belfry added and a bell purchased...new blackboards were purchased and a door built in the southwest corner...In 1948 the school was closed for ever.

 Note: The reunion of this little old country one room log cabin school built in the 1870's was a huge success with 213 people attending. Some came from as far away as Los Angeles. "Mr. Bjerkness was of the opinion that he should have cleaned and painted the building prior to reunion date but somehow it seems that  would have taken away from the effect of the unusual gathering."

June recalled that during her later grade school years, every morning each of the children had to take an iodine tablet. She recalls that the tablets were tan colored tablets about the size of a "Tums" tablet. The purpose was to avoid a rather common and rather grotesque "Goiter" bulge on the frontal neck from a Thyroid disease. This disease was in later years almost eliminated by the introduction of iodized salt. The utiliization and the dispensation of the iodine tablets in the schools was apparently the results of local decisions by the Dunn County Education Board.. During the same time period, I was attending a rural school near Rice Lake,  Wi in nearby Barron County. I did not recieve iodine tablets at any time in school. Apparently the Dunn County School Board or system was a more advanced or foreward thinking school system.  

     Goiter: The Goiter refers to a disease of the Thyroid. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck just below the Adam's apple. When the thyroid gland grows larger than normal — a condition known as goiter results. Although goiters when small are usually painless, a large goiter can cause a cough, tight feeling in the throat, hoarseness and may make it difficult to swallow or breathe. It may grow in size to the point that it becomes an unsightly large bulge on the front or side of the throat.

The most common cause of goiter worldwide is a lack of iodine in the diet. The introduction of iodized salt in the diet has gone a long way to make the goiter an unusual condition. In the United States, where most people use iodized salt, goiter is now most often due to the over or underproduction of thyroid hormones or to nodules that develop in the gland itself. A type of goiter called hyperthyroidism (toxic Goiter) is better known as Graves disease.

 Women are more prone to have goiters  than men. Age 50 and over have a higher risk. Most are likely to appear after pregnancy and menopause.

Treatment depends on the size of the goiter, the symptoms and the underlying cause. Small goiters that aren't noticeable and don't cause problems usually don't need treatment. For the large goiters, medications may be prescribed or surgery may become necessary.

Mayo says: "Surgery. Removing all or part of your thyroid gland (total or partial thyroidectomy) is an option if you have a large goiter that is uncomfortable or causes difficulty breathing or swallowing. Surgery is also the treatment for thyroid cancer. You may need to take levothyroxine after surgery, depending on the amount of thyroid removed."

As a child I frequently recalled seeing middle aged or older women with an unsightly goiter protrusion on their neck. This disease and condition was later to become a life threatening condition for June's mother Grandma Haldis. See the below discussion of June's leave of absence  from high school for one year in order to care for her Mom and the children while her mom received surgery for a serious goiter condition.

 (Photo below right is June's Confirmation Class of 1942 - Holden Lutheran Church - Colfax. - June age 14, is 2nd from the left in the front row.)

June's confirmation class 1942When June was approx. age 12, her parents somehow managed to come up with the money to send her to a weeklong summer bible camp near Chetek, WI. The bible camp was called "Luther Park" and was located on Prairie Lake.

June felt very privileged to be able to go to the camp in view of the very limited family funds at that time.

While the bible camp day was structured around a Lutheran Church bible school schedule, there was much time for fun and other activities. Boating and swimming were some of the available activities.

The buildings were log buildings. Running water and modern plumbing were not available at that time.

 Everyone would be awakened in the morning by a bugle call. The boys and girls were housed in separate buildings but they would have services, study periods and meals together. The noon meal was signaled by a dinner bell. Evening services were around a big bonfire.

Bible camp was a fun time for June. "Luther Park" is still functioning today with improved and modern facilities. It currently hosts both the traditional children’s bible camp as well as adult church sponsored "retreats."

June later attended Lutheran Church Confirmation classes at Holden Lutheran Church in Colfax, WI. The Holden Lutheran Church was located on highway M just north of Colfax. June was confirmed with the confirmation class of 1942. This Class of 34 young people was conducted by Pastor Moe. 



 (Photo below right is June's Colfax High School Class picture - 1946 - age 18.) June Rolstad 1946

June's High School years were divided between two high schools because of school bus route changes, June was switched between Prairie Farm, WI High School and Colfax High School. Her freshman year (1941-42) was at Colfax High School. The following two school years (Sophomore and Junior) ending in 1943 and 1944 were completed at Prairie Farm High School. She eventually completed High School at Colfax, in 1946.

June would have graduated a year earlier in 1945 at Prairie Farm, however, her mother’s health problems - Goiter surgery - required her to drop out of school for one year to help care for her mother and the younger children in the family.

June's youngest sister Lyndell recalled this time very vividly: "We lived south of Ridgeland. How long mother was in the hospital I don't know but I do know she almost died. I was around ten years old at the time. We doctored with Dr. Fellend  from Colfax."

June sang in the school Chorus and participated in both the Class Play and the "Victory Corps" ** in her Junior year. In her Senior year she participated in the "Carnival" play. Her Colfax High School graduating class of 1946 consisted of 53 students.

** Victory Corps: The purpose of this student organization was to prepare high school students to aid in the war effort on the homefront.  In order to be a member, a student needed to participate in a physical fitness program, enroll in a war-effort class, and volunteer for at least one extra curricular wartime activity. For more information on the Victory Corps click on this link: 

 "Grandma June - The Years of World War II".



This direct involvement by June in the war effort is so typical of her entire life. I was content to simply live through it all during World War II times.

June's High School yearbook for 1946 had a page in memoriam for the 8 prior graduates of Colfax High School who had died during the course of World War II. (A very large number for a relatively small school.)

The 1946 Colfax Senior High School Class "Prophecy" predicted what the graduating students would be doing at the end of ten years. The prediction was that June would be in Phoenix where she could be found "training horses at a riding academy." Obviously this is a prophecy that missed the mark.

When June graduated from high school in 1946, the U.S. President was Harry Truman, World War II had just ended and the country was entering the "Atomic Age". The "Space Age" was still over a decade away. The population of the U.S. was 141,388,566. The population has since more than doubled. 

In 1946 a first class stamp cost $.03; a half-gallon of milk was $.35 as was 5 lbs. of flour. A dozen eggs were $.59.

The popular songs of that time were "Choo Choo Choo’Boogie", "Route 66", "Prisoner of Love", "Seems Like Old Times" and "Tenderly". The top movie was "The Best Years of Our Lives". (Fredric March and Olivia De Havilland)

The heavyweight champion was Joe Louis. The very first Bikini bathing suit was shown at a Paris fashion show. Miss America was Marilyn Buferd. The NFL Champs were the Chicago Bears.

The average U.S. family yearly non-farm income was approx. $3,000. No television sets, home computers, hand held calculators, stereos, video players, cell phones, iPod's or CDs were on the market. FM radio had been available for only a few years. Those were also the days before organ transplants, angioplasty, heart pacemakers and open-heart surgery.

Following her high school graduation, June left home and worked at various jobs before becoming a full time mother, homemaker, wife, grandmother and finally great grandmother. Her first job was at the Gillette Tire and Rubber Co. in Eau Claire, WI. She also worked for a time at the Presto Pressure Cooker factory in Eau Claire. June later worked at various times as a waitress in Cameron and Barron, restaurants. Her final out of the home job was factory work at Doughboy (plastics) Industries in New Richmond, WI.

In her youth, June was shy, however by the time she had reached middle age, she had discarded her mantle of shyness and replaced it with an air of quiet friendliness.

Following high school graduation, June attended most of the high school class reunions. Because June had attended her Sophmore and Junior years of high school at Prairie Farm (42-43, 43-44), the graduating class of 1945 always included her in their Reunion invitations.  During June's "Junior" year at Prairie Farm High School she participated in the Junior Class Play "Pecks' Bad Boy". June was also a member of the "Girls Chorus".at Prairie Farm High School.  June had taken a 1 year leave of absence during the 1944-1945 shcool year in order to help care for her mother and younger children during her Mom's Goitor sickness and surgery. June then graduated one year later at Colfax with the Class of 1946. June did later attend the 1945 Prairie Farm Class's 40th reunion in 1985. June also attended one other Prairie Farm Class reunion.

 (Photo on lower right is the 1946 Colfax Class's, 35th Reunion at Eau Claire, WI in 1981.  June age 53 is the one on the right in first row.)
June's 35th Class Reunion
Most of June's Class Reunions were with the Colfax Class of 1946. This was the class and  the school that June graduated from. June's first Colfax Class of 1946 Reunion was the 35th Class Reunion held in 1981 at the Holiday Inn, Eau Claire, WI. The subsequent Colfax Class Reunions attended by June were all held at Colfax. June attended the reunions of the Class of 1946  held in 1986 and 1991. (The 40th and 45th class reunions.)

The subsequent reunions by the Colfax Class of 1946 were smaller and less formal affairs. All were luncheons held at the White Tail Country Club just south of Colfax. These luncheon reunions were normally on a Saturday in late September or early October. They were also held on a yearly  or annual basis.

June attended most of the annual Reunion Luncheons until such a time that her Alzheimer's disease had progressed to the point that her attendance was no longer possible. June attended her last Colfax Class of 1946 luncheon in the fall of 2004. June's Alzheimer's was rapidly advancing in the year 2004. It was the subsequent March 16th of 2005, that June required the care of an Alzheimer's facility. June had lived an active life for the previous almost 7 years of her life following her diagnosis in January of 1998. It was during this time that she lost her short term memory followed by most of her long term memory. Personality changes were beginning to enter her life. While June's loss of short and long term memory produced handicaps and inconveniences, life was still good for us. As Alzheimer's began to change June's personality it brought with it the saddest of times and a signal that the end times were close at hand.

I always attended June's Class Renunion's with June and much enjoyed them. I was of course needed to assit June during the Alzheimer's years. I think I enjoyed June's reunions more than any of my own. They were clearly more relaxing. At June's class reunions I was not expected to know the names of the class members or remember faces. After atteneding several of June's class reunions, I established some f riendships among her class mates

June and I would make a long relaxing weekend out of the shorter Colfax Class reunions that were held as a lunch at the White Tail Country Club. .Because they were always held on a Saturday, we would leave Fridley to drive down to the Colfax area early on Friday. This would give us an arrival time at our Motel in early afternoon. We usually had lunch in Hudson enroute. We always stayed at the Bloomer Inn located at the junction of Highways 53 and 40 just on the south edge of Bloomer. Bloomer is a few miles north of Colfax. We liked the motel and the management was accomodating and friendly. There was a next door restaurant called the "Oaside Supper Club" with an attached "Ruby's Roadhouse". We  would spend our evenings (Friday and Saturday nights) at this motel and had most of our meals (except the Reunion luncheon) at the nearby Oaside. 

The Oaside was a popular eating and dining place in that locality. June would fequently meet up with old friends or former acquantances that June had known during the times that she lived in this area. The luncheon reunions were always a pleasant and relaxing weekend time for us. On Sunday we would take a more northerly route back to our home. This would permit us to briefly touch bases with family in the Rice Lake or Barron area..

 

Reader's Notes: Readers are encouraged to read/review other chapter's (30 chapters) in this story of June K. Berg's life. (Reminiscences of a Traveling Grandmother) Each chapter is intended to be a capsule view of a small segment of June's life and travels'. It is also intended to be a small segment of history from a time period of World War II and the periods both pre and post World War II. You will find the history is accurate and continues to be updated as new records and photographs become available. June, a very humble person would never consider her life worthy of a story. To me June has been a lady for "All Seasons". A very unique, bright and highly principled Christian lady. While June like everyone, has likes and dislikes, I have never found her to be uninterested or bored with any thing that life has presented her. June was well traveled. She traveled to Europe eleven (11) times and made at least 100 trips in and around the United States. June would be included in Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation." 

It has taken the horror of Alzheimer's to awaken me to finally plumb the depths, the breadth and scope of June's Character, Spirit and Being. After battling Alzheimer's for almost 11 years, an exhausted June was finally called home by God on October 23rd, 2008.

Her funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website under the "In Memoriam" label -   Click on:

"June K. (Rolstad) Berg - In Memoriam".