When I was three years old the family moved to Graceville, Minnesota in a Railroad Boxcar with all our belongings, including one Holstein cow, two white horses (Nellie and Margie) and of course all six members of the family. We first lived on a farm southeast of Graceville near the Heideckers. We then moved to Parnell Township, northwest of town near the Deleens. The next move was into Graceville - just across the street to the west of the old white school house. We then moved to the northeast part of town, across the street from the Coxes. Mr. Cox ran a lumberyard in the main part of town. The Coxes had a large Saint Bernard that Jimmy Cox and I used to ride. We next moved to the northwest part of town, across the street from the Lanes and alongside the Kettmans. I remember being in the first grade and Miss Larkin sat with me at my small desk to teach me how to write. Her hands seemed so very white with long fingers and finger nails --- I was somewhat embarrassed by having her sit so close to me and then to hold my hand!We next moved a block west, next to the Paulsons and Hamiltons. We were the second to the last house in the northwest part of town --- the winter winds piled the snow very high, in fact I recall that one winter I could ski off our roof, down a big snowdrift. Dad got a job as a rural letter carrier (rural route #3) out of Graceville, and the folks built their first hatchery building for a Jamesway 20,000 egg incubator. A brooder house was built, to which was added another 20,000 egg incubator. The farmers would bring in their chicken or turkey eggs for hatching, or buy baby chicks from the hatchery. In order to get quality eggs for hatching, Dad would contract with certain farmers for their eggs. The flocks were culled and inoculated against coccidioses: a ratio of one rooster to fifteen hens was maintained. By providing quality eggs, the farmer was paid a premium price for the eggs he sold to the hatchery. Some of the kinds of chicken eggs for which the hatchery contracted were: Rhode Island Red, Leghorn, Minorca, Plymouth Rock, and Buff Orphington.
I attended Public Elementary and three years of high school in Graceville, Minnesota. When I was a freshman in high school Dad hired me out to the Heidecker family. He said that he didn't want me laying around town and become a pool hall bum. The Heideckers were a hard working family, breakfast was before dawn, so that we could start the day's work as the sun came up. The big meal was at noon and then we worked until dark. My tasks were not very difficult but I was busy all day long; clean out the chicken coop, the barn and feed the animals, hoe weeds from the garden and on week days ride a small horse a mile and a quarter to get the mail, they called him a pony, but to me he was a horse.
That was a fun job --- I saddled the horse and the rode him to the mail box. From the barn to the cross road where I had to turn was about fifty yards; I noticed that the "pony" kept getting closer to the corner post every day. One day he passed the corner post so close that he wiped my right leg out of the stirrup and over his back. The next day he tried the same trick, but this time, at the last moment, I turned him right into the post which he rammed with his chest and staggered back. From that moment on, he never again went close to that post.
Once a week, on Saturday night, we all went into Graceville so they could sell their eggs and vegetables to Crows store. I was given fifty cents to blow on a milkshake and a movie. Knutson's Pool Hall made the best shakes in town. I guess that I won as many pool games as I lost, at least enough to keep up my interest. When the summer was over and I returned home, Dad asked me what chores I had done. When I mentioned that I cultivated corn with a Farmall tractor, his response was "If you can run a cultivator, you can drive a car". From that day forward I had limited access to the family car! Two years later I sent two dollars to DMV and got a Minnesota drivers license.