Wagons

Dear Readers:

My story, Patsy and Virgie, is based on events related to me by my mother-in-law. Because there were numerous gaps in her accounts, I’ve had frequent opportunities to embellish, even fictionalize, her story. Many of my characters are figments of my imagination: Rubin, Raymond, Spats, Daisy, Nehemiah, Max, Sister Bertha, Lew, Dortha, etc. And that only takes you through chapter eight. The list goes on and on. I pulled memories from my own youth to develop these characters. One incidental character, Ingmar Olson, or “Uncle Ole” as Rubin referred to him, was a farmer patterned after the father of one of my dear friends in Minnesota. This friend often regaled my husband and me with tales of Elmer, his citified father turned country farmer. To survive in agriculture, one must be practical, handy at fixing equipment yourself with whatever you can find in the shed out back, and willing to work about twenty hours a day seven days a week. Elmer had the energy but not the natural know-how to be a successful farmer. His first mistake was buying a farm in northern Minnesota where the land is rocky clay rather than Red River Valley loam. Hardscrabble would be a suitable description. Elmer tried to expand his crop yield by renting additional acreage. He hoped larger harvests would mean fuller grain bins and more sales to the commodities markets. However, the rental property was miles from his own land and required travelling over public roads driving a tractor or team of horses and pulling a wagon, or threshing machine, or combine or plow or harrow – whatever was needed. The going was slow and often the major part of his work day was travelling rather than tilling the rented soil. I recall numerous times riding with my father in our 38 Chevy Coupe and coming upon a farmer plodding along at about five miles per hour. The rolling hills and narrow highways meant we too would plod along behind the wagon for what seemed like hours waiting for clear sailing to pass in the left lane. You will encounter just this situation in Chapter 29. The plot thickens.


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