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Reminiscences of June, a Traveling Grandmother

June's Homes During Her Lifetime

June's childhood years were spent on various Wisconsin farms in the Wheeler, Ridgeland and Colfax areas. June's adult years were almost all in the state of Minnesota ranging from Chisholm and Duluth on the north to Fridley/Minneapolis in south central Minnesota.

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 June’s Childhood homes 

June's parent's (Haldis and Henry Rolstad) made a home for their family in three different farm locations in Rural Dunn County, Wisconsin during June's childhood. All of June's homes were located on small dairy farms.


(Photo below right is June's father Henry with team of horses, holding June who is only 1 year old. Picture was taken in 1928. The building in the background is Henry's old school building ("Lost School") that he converted into a barn with a small addition made on the right or back end of the school.)
Grandpa Henry and June 1928
All three of June's homes were located in a very beautiful portion of northwestern Wiscosin. The homes were all nestled among small hills, valleys, ravines and woodlands. One of the roads in this immediate area has a shading canopy of tree branches and leaves for almost a mile. The roads for the most part are winding and  hilly.

This area of the state presents a picture of beauty to the eye and to the artist. However, to a farmer, this landscape would be a continuing challenge for the proper cultivatation and harvest of the necessary crops needed to operate a dairy farm. One needs to raise corn, grain and hay for the cattle in the winter months. In addition, adequate and nourishing grazing areas are needed for the cattle during the summer months in order to produce the milk that is the main product of a dairy farm.

While tractors were available to provide the power needed for cultivation and harvesting of crops, not many farmers could afford a tractor. This time period was during the heart of the "Great Depression." June's father, Henry used horse power as did most of his neighbors. It was a very difficult time for the nation's farmers. In the early 1930's farmers in the predominate dairy states engaged in "Milk Strikes" in a desperate attempt to secure a better price for their milk production. They were getting as little as 1 cent a quart for milk and from this amount they had to pay their costs of milk production. The below article outlines the history of this sad period in Wisconsin farming. One of the leaders of the "Milk Strike" was from Dunn County, Wisconsin. Henry who was not a violent man, was one of the "most farmers" who simply "hunkered down" and made the best of the situation. Henry was a very devout Lutheran. I have never heard him issue as much as a single simple swear word during his lifetime.

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(Photo below right is Henry's old school ("Lost School") that he moved to their farm and converted it into the barn as shown above.)

Lost School "The Wisconsin Milk Strikes of 1932-1933" article by  Herbert Jacobs in the Wisconsin Magazine of History

 Arnold Gilberts from Dunn County launched the Wisconsin Farm Holiday Association. He was called a “sincere and honest man” who claimed 130,000 members of his association here in Wisconsin. stirred up the impoverished Wisconsin farmers to dump all milk before it could reach the market. 

There was much unrest in the Midwest at this time: It was in the midst of the Great Depression, especially felt here in the dairy state of Wisconsin Dairy farmers were paid as little as a dollar for 100 pounds of milk, about a penny per quart. Most farmers hunkered down and tried to “make do” with as little as $100 per month to feed and clothe the family, pay milk hauling costs and pay mortgage interest and real estate taxes. Who could afford insurance?

Other farmers protested. It was a time of ferment and turmoil,” "Clashes between striking farmers and law officers were “the order of the day.” Log chains and barricades were put across roads to stop milk trucks from getting to market. If a truck didn’t turn back, the strikers (farmers) dumped the milk in the ditches.

The last big strike petered out in November of 1933,” “In county after county, farmers voted to open the milk plants.” What they wanted was cost of production, but what was that in dollars and cents? When production returned, the farmers’ lot improved. Was it because of the strikes or because of the economy’s improvement? Eventually, World War II started and farm products were vital. The young farm workers went off to defend our country."

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(Photo below right - Henry with the children posing in front of an early 30's family car. (L-R) June holding brother Jerry, Lenore, Betty, Father Henry, Denis and Lyndell. Chickens in foreground. Cattle in pasture behind building. Ca. 1940-1941 - Nelson Farm.)
Nelson Farm Circa 1940-1941
The first Rolstad family farm home was on Rural Route, Wheeler, Wisconsin. This  first home followed Haldis and Henry’s marriage on 14 June 1924 at Prairie Farm, Wisconsin.  Haldis was only 19 years old at the time of their marriage. Henry was 32 years of age. This location is in Otter Creek Township. Rural Route, Wheeler was their home during the subsequent year’s ca. 1924-1936.

Rural Route, Wheeler was the Rolstad home at the time of the birth of their first born, Richard Herald on 20 November 1925. Richard died only 7 months later in June 1926.

Rural Route Wheeler was also the Rolstad home when June was born on Tuesday 8 November 1927. June was their 2nd born and the oldest of the surviving Children. This home was also the birthplace of June's three sisters. Betty in 1931, Lenore in 1933 and Lyndell in 1936.

The Rural Route Wheeler location is just south of old Highway 64. It is located Northeast of Wheeler and Southeast of Ridgeland. This is also the location of the Emerson Hill sometimes referred to by June in reminiscences of her childhood. The Emerson’s lived just off of the road near the top of the hill. The Emerson hill is the hill that June remembered that her Dad had to back their family car up the hill in order for the car to reach the top of the hill. (This first car was the family Model T Ford.) The road up the hill curves to the right as one nears the crest of the hill.

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(Photo below right is of the entire family at the Nelson Farm Ca 1944. (L-R) Jerry, Father Henry, Lyndell, Mother Haldis, Denis, June, Lenore and Betty. The family dog is in foreground on the left.)


Nelson farm Ca. 1944This is also the Rolstad farm in which Henry used his old school house building as a barn. His old school was not longer being used as a school and was just setting empty.. Henry could not afford to build the barn that he needed. Henry bought the old school building and moved it to his farm and renovated it into a barn. He also expanded it by added an small editon to the back end of the school building. 

Henry’s old school had been called “The Lost School” because of the out of the way location of the school. It was replaced by another new building at a different location.

Because the new location was in “Plain View” it was named the “Plain View” school. June went to Plain View School during some of her school years. June recalled that her Dad took the bell tower (Belfry) off of the school building and made it into a playhouse for the girls.

The second Rolstad family home was located on County Road “M” just north of Colfax. This was a family home for the Rolstad's for only a few short years. Ca. 1937-1940. This location was almost due north of Colfax about 5-6 miles in Grant Township. It was while living her that June's brothers, Jerry (1937) and Denis (1938) were born. This home and this time period was also a sad time for the Rolstad family. The twin girls born here on March 3rd, 1940 survived only a short time. Joyce Elaline died 1 day later on 4 March 1940. Elaine Joyce died 4 moths later on 5 July 1940. What was to be a joyful event, turned into a tragedy.

The third Rolstad family home during June’s childhood was just north and west of their first home.  This home was also located directly south of Ridgeland about 3-4 miles. The location of this home was a ¼ miles west of and in sight of highway 25. This location is in Wilson Township

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(Photo lower right - Circa 1946 - the Nelson Farm south of Ridgeland -  June age about 19, is standing on the front lawn.)
Nelson Farm with June 1946
This farm home was also referred to as the “Nelson” farm, named after the former owner. This location was the Rolstad home for the year’s ca. 1941-1948. This time period spanned the World War II years.

June left home shortly after graduating from Colfax High School in 1946 to work in Eau Claire. 

June’s Dad and Mom subsequently moved to a small farm North of Poskin, Wisconsin ca. 1949.

Haldis and Henry moved yet again in the early 1950’s to a small farm on the south side of  U.S. Highway 8 just east of Cameron.

It was here on the little farm east of Cameron that  Henry died from a second heart attack on 7 October 1969.

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June's Adult lifetime homes 

After June finished high school in 1946 and left home, she lived for a time in Eau Claire while working there. She worked both for and at the Gillette Tire and the Presto Cooker factories. Later she worked at the Doughboy Industries in New Richmond.  June did not have the means and her parents could not afford to send June to college. Only a few high school children during that time period had the economic means to go on to a college or university. 

(Photo below right is June with children at 1010 East 2nd Street in Duluth. Late 1953 or early 1954. (L-R) Dan, Susan, June and David.)
June and  Children in Duluth 1010 E. 2nd Street
June then lived for a few years on a farm near the Arland-Prairie Farm, WI. It was during the time that June was living here that both David (1947) and Daniel (1949) were born. David and Daniel were both born at the nearby Rice Lake Hospital.

In 1952, June and Stan moved to the State of Minnesota where June lived for the rest of her life. On first coming to Minnesota In the fall of 1952, June and her family lived in Chisholm, MN on the iron range. While in Chisholm, the family lived in a small new apartment over a commercial garage (Merco Nosan's Garage 10-1/2 East 2nd Street.). It was here that David, the oldest of the children, first started Kindergarten in the Chisholm school system.

David's first winter coat for school was a long gray coat created by June on her sewing machine. June was an accomplished artist with her sewing machine. She created matching suits for Dan and David in their early years. She also created beautiful dresses for Susan and Julie. Sewing was both a joy to June as well as an economic help to the family.

While the Iron Range country was beautiful, it seemed to June that one could never be out of sight of a towering iron ore dump.

In the spring of 1953, June and her family moved to the "air conditioned" city of Duluth, MN. June thought Duluth was one of the most beautiful places she had lived in. However, on foggy days, the constant mournful sounds of the harbor foghorns did little to lift ones spirits. While in Duluth, June also learned that she could not always navigate some of the steep hilly city streets following a new winter snowfall. June and the family lived in Duluth until early in 1957.

(Photo lower right is June standing at the rear or lakeside of 1010 East 2nd Street. Circa 2000. Previous rear balcony porch under the windows had been removed. Probably done to prevent further "window peeper" incidents. ) June at 1010 East 2nd Street Duluth, Rear

June first lived near St. Luke's hospital in a downstairs duplex style apartment at 1010 East 2d Street. The home was at ground level in the front but because of the steeply sloping hillside, the rear of the home or the lakeside frontage was at a second story level. This was a parking area adjoining an alley.

It was at the nearby St. Luke's hospital that Susan was born. (2 September 1953) June had only a half a block to go to the hospital. June's gynecologist was a warm hearted Finnish doctor. (Dr. Leppo.) The heart shaped vaccination mark that he gave Susan evidenced the doctor's love for children. It was also during this time that June's family acquired their first black and white TV set. (Motorola) The 17-inch screen was thought to be very large at the time.

It was while living on 2d Street that June encountered a dark side to the otherwise beauty and serenity of Duluth. It was June's first encounter with a "window peeper". June had gone to bed early one evening and was reading in bed alone. The bedroom was located at the rear of the home. A small balcony type deck or porch and stairs were located just outside the bedroom windows. While reading, June heard someone outside the bedroom window. She tried to calmly and quietly inform me of what was taking place. I quickly slipped out a nearby door that exited onto the balcony and stairs. The "Peeper" had apparently heard June and was already beating a fast retreat to a car that he had left in the alley with the motor running. Fortunately, that was the last such experience for June and the family.

(Photo below right - June's first new home at 4316 Oneida Street, Duluth.  June 15th 1954.) Home Duluth June 1954

In June 1954, the family moved to the "Lakeside" area of Duluth and into a newly constructed small single level home (no garage) at 4316 Oneida Street. 

June and I had considerable difficulty in coming up with the required down payment necessary to purchase the home. Those were the days in which banks were very strict on making their loans. (The influence of the Great Depression Days was still very much a part of the economic environment.) Even though I would have a Government GI guarenteed loan becasue of my military service during the Korean War, the Bank still required a 20% down payment.

The home financing was finally accomplished by utilizing a small family savings account and two other personal loans.

Our next door neighbors and friends at 1010 East 2nd Street, Charlotte and Ben London offered us a loan which we gratefully accepted.

The second loan came from my old friend, George Ott in Rice Lake, WI. George Ott operated a Radio and TV repair shop in  Rice Lake.  I had stayed at his home during my senior year at the Rice Lake High School. My parents had moved from  the farm near Rice Lake to start and operate a small Gorcery Store and Gas Station near Arland, Wisconsin.  I had wantred to complete my final year at the Rice Lake High School and graduatre from that school. The George Ott family agreed to allow me to live in their home and complete my final year at Rice Lake. We became life long friends as a result of that year in their home. George Ott, in later years, became another victim of  Alzheimer's and died in a nursing home as a result of that disease.

(Photo below right is the first home at 4316 Oneida Street 21 years later on 27 August 1978 - June is standing in front of home.) 

June in front of Duluth Home in 1978

We were very touched and pleased as both loans were unsolicited and unexpected. June and I had assumed that we just could not afford a new home at that time - the loan offers when received,  came as a total surprise.

In addition, the new home was not Homesteaded for tax purposes because of the purchase date. This resulted in our first years taxes being much inflated.

For the next 2 years, the family was in effect making 3 monthly house payments until the two smaller loans were paid off. The family gross income at that time was a moderate $4,775.00 per year. June was a good manager and that tax year and the subsequent loan periods quickly passed. This first new home gave the family the equity base needed for the later for all subsequent new home purchases.

It was while the family resided in Lakeside, that Dan became old enough to start school at the Lakeside Elementary School.

It was also during June's years in Duluth that she learned to shoot a semi-automatic .22 pistol. While shooting cans at a local gravel pit, it became obvious that she could more than hold her own.

During this time June also learned to cut hair. She cut the children's hair during their grade and high school years. When the butch/crew cut was popular, June obtained an attachment for her electric clipper to permit her to make such cuts with ease. She was accomplished enough as an amateur barber that she was soon requested to cut the hair of a number of the neighborhood children. Weekend entertainment for the family frequently consisted of picnics in Lester River Park or trips along the North Shore to Gooseberry Falls.

(Photo below right - June and Children at Lester River Park, Duluth - 1954-1955.) June and children Lester River Park

In the spring of 1957, June and the family moved to Fridley, MN where they made their home at 6361 Washington Street. This was a new home that had just been constructed. It was in a newly developed area among the Fridley sand dunes. Every time there were heavy winds, the sand had to be swept off of the lawn. This nuisance was finally eliminated when the area construction was eventually completed. In the late afternoons, pheasants could frequently be seen feeding in the nearby open field. It was the family's first home with an attached garage. Julie was born 3 September 1958 at Swedish hospital in Minneapolis. Susan and Julie first started school at Hayes Elementary while living in this neighborhood. During these years June and the rest of the family would go Agate hunting in the local area gravel pits. It was in 1961 that David (then age 13) made his gigantic agate find. David came running, holding the agate aloft and shouting, "Jackpot". The agate was later awarded "The Best Find of 1961" by the Minnesota Mineral Club.

 

For a continuation of the story of June's home at 6361 Washington Street and the Fridley Tornadoes of 1965 that severely damaged this home, go to story of  "The Fridley Tornadoes" found in this story series on this website. For a direct link to that story,

 click on this link: "The Fridley Tornadoes." 

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(Below is a photo of June's Home at 6361 Washington Street NE, Fridley, MN 55432 in August 1957 shortly after moving in.) 

                               Home at 6361 Washington St.

June's final home was her home at 6025 Gardena lane, Fridley, MN. June moved to that home in July of 1966. This home was the first home that June was able to help select the site, participated in the design of the home and watched it being built. This home was by far her favorite home. She would frequently comment as we backed the car out of the garage and away from the house and as she looked back - "We have such a nice home!" June lived in this home for almost 40 years. June hosted the entire family for the holidays every year until the year 1999-2000 when Alzheimer's started impacting her life. On March 16th, 2005, as Alzheimer's took over her life completely, June moved to an assisted living Alzheimer's facility. At that point, 6025 Gardena lane became simply a house. A home becomes a house when the heart of the home is no longer there. I have written a poem about 6025 Gardena Lane that includes pictures. Please click the following/below link to see the poem and the pictures:   

6025 Gardena Lane.

 

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Reader's Notes: 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".

 

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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.

 

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June's Passing

June 1994

After an almost 12 year journey into the shadows of Alzheimer's, early one morning in late October 2008, an exhausted June felt God's gentle touch on her shoulder and heard the words: "Come Home June!" As June lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield, it was God's Angels that ushered June into a Heavenly Kingdom to the sound of a chorus of Angels...and into June's new home, a "Mansion on the Hilltop", where there is no pain, nor illness nor tears...June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website in the drop down menu under the "In Memoriam" label - just Click on:

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