Page 3 - Lincoln 55 Plus - Winter2020
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From the Diary of Jennie Burgeson Klinger by her niece Bonnie Burgeson

             About the writer Bonnie          waste words. Her diary writing is    them “Co
          Burgeson  - by Nancy Hicks          not flowery. Her emotions are        Boss” - we
             Bonnie comes from a family       rarely expressed except in the       summon
          that kept letters and diaries of    choices of what she wrote about.     them in
          their older siblings. Several years   Like buying flashlight batteries.   towards
          ago Bonnie discovered several       Canning meat. Having Baby            evening.
          diaries that her Aunt Jennie had    Ruths at a picnic. Stella going for   Little brother
          written in 1930-31, recording       a car ride. Bill stumping in the     Vernon
          pieces of her life on a farm west   woods. 20 degrees below zero.        named a few
          of Bemidji, Minnesota. Aunt         The car breaking down and the        - Ferdie and
          Jennie, a wife, midwife, friend     horses pulling it home. Babies       Fawn and
          and writer, also wrote stories that   that Jennie is called on as a mid-  Flicka and
          appeared in farm journals, church   wife and sick babies that don’t      Fairy. The
          periodicals and even the New        always get well.                     Guernseys
          Yorker and New York Times.             They name their animals and       are pretty
             Bonnie  created a one-year       then, sometimes, they eat them.      with soft
          account from those diary entries,   “Will butchered Washington.”         gentle eyes
          entitled “Lots of Snow Fell — I     There are swarms of bees that        and smooth
          wrote Stories,” which she passed    sting her brother Lawrence twice.    tawny hides.
          on to relatives and friends. She    “The bees are at war” she writes.       Our hors-
          has also written stories based on   In few words, a vivid description    es are Jim
          Aunt Jennie’s diary, using her      of their lives.                      and Jerry - a
          imagination to fill in the life        I have taken several years of     team of                             Admission was 25 cents. There
          around the sparse details of the    entries and created a one-year       brothers that we got from Ellefson   was a rodeo and the grandstand
          diaries.                            account from Aunt Jennie’s           over at Bagley. They are not as     entrance was 35 cents. It was
             Lincoln 55+ will reprint         diaries. I have entitled this “Lots   tall as some but sturdy and sure   worth it though. The rodeo was
          excerpts from Bonnie’s stories,     of Snow Fell -- I Wrote Stories” —   footed. The wagon in the summer     good.
          based on her aunt’s journals, in    which is an entry in her diary.      and the sleigh in winter get us to     My last trip to Bemidji I got pie
          future editions.                       Recently I have started writing   pretty much wherever we need to     plate, wash cloths, measuring
             Retired from a career as a       stories based on Aunt Jennie's       go.                                 spoons, butter dish for $3.25,
          word processing specialist and      diary. Chapters have names like         We name the chickens, espe-      underware $2.00, dress 98 cents
          medical transcriber. Bonnie is a    Will in the Woods and Me as a        cially the roosters that survive the   (size 44), and gloves 75 cents.
          poet, (“The North Knows My          Nurse; My Pal Sally; Me as a         culling that happens to male           We spent $18 this year to get
          Name”), with many poems reflect-    Neighbor and the Good Folks We       chickens. Too many roosters and     a tractor to plow the field.
          ing her experience and love for     Know.                                you get fights.                        Will paid $9.90 for machinery. I
          the north woods, where her             Writing this has made me con-        We named our current roost-      paid $1.49 for underware. Cod
          ancestors lived. She is also active   sider how a farmer’s wife dealt    ers Champion and Prize Winner       liver oil was 95 cents. I got a jug
          with the F Street Recreation        with her sometimes harsh, difficult   and Major. Lately Will butchered   15 cents and 10 pounds of onions
          Center, Writers on the Edge,        life with grace and dignity. I       Washington and we had chicken       were 25 cents. I splurged and got
          which meets twice monthly.          learned that ordinary life can be    and dumplings.                      one pound of chocolate for 22
           ——————————————                     fascinating 90 years later. That        It’s kind of sad to take the bull   cents. Soap 5 cents, pancake
             An introduction by Bonnie        there is meaning to everybody’s      calves away from their mothers      flour 23 cents. We eat pancakes
             I come from a family that kept   life.                                but Will ends their life and we can   a lot for breakfast. Will likes
          letters and diaries of their older     We make an impact on others       the meat in jars to use ourselves   maple syrup on them but no but-
          siblings. My dad was the            without realizing it and sometimes   or to sell. So while the animals    ter. Ginger cookies 15 cents. I try
          youngest of 7 and I am the          after we are gone the memories       are our friends for awhile - they   to be frugal with the money but
          youngest of my generation. I had    will live on.                        often end up getting eaten by us.   we do need sweet treats some-
          an Uncle Bill and Aunt Jennie          My friend Barbara Salvatore,      But we enjoy the animals and        times even though I do bake a lot
          who lived in Bemidji, Minnesota.    who wrote “Big Horse Woman,”         they are well taken care of.        of pies and cakes and donuts!
             I knew Uncle Bill to be an       summed it up after reading the          A weasel or a skunk will get        Will gets kerosene and goat
          interesting storyteller, harmonica   diary. “So simple but so much.”     into the chicken coop and kill      cheese at Pinewood. We ordered
          player and whittler. Aunt Jennie    ——————————————                       chickens. Will puts out traps for   horse collars (open face style)
          was a writer. They lived in a two-               Story 1                 them but getting a skunk out of a   from Wards. The Watts man
          room house with a porch and              - Naming the Animals -          trap is not a picnic. Or sometimes   came by and I bought from him
          attic. They had their own well and     Will and I take turns naming      a porcupine will get in the trap    louse powder 50 cents and toilet
          a kitchen hand pump. They had       the animals. After all we live       and that’s a mess to deal with      soap 25 cents. Now I can wash
          an outhouse. I never knew them      together on this farm in             because of the quills.              my head again.
          to have a car.                      Minnesota near Shevlin. Our par-        We take care of our animals         On a recent trip to the store I
             I discovered in my parent’s      ents helped carve out this farm-     and they take care of us by pro-    got two sacks of corn. Vicks
          belongings several diaries that     stead from timbered land. Not like   viding us with meat, milk, eggs,    drops 45 cents, Listerine 49
          Aunt Jennie had written in 1930-    North Dakota to our west or to       butter which I churn. We give to    cents. I bought high rubbers for
          31. I had not known anything        Canada wheat fields to our north     them and they give to us. That’s    Will and batteries for the flash
          about their life on a farm west of   - they began to log the woods       how it goes on the farm. We don’t   light.
          Bemidji, near Shevlin. I was fasci-  and make some clearings. They       have grocery stores to go to near-     Then there were my poor
          nated by the rich details Aunt      had to haul away rocks from the      by. But we buy from neighbors       teeth. I had eight teeth pulled in
          Jennie wrote about - her writing,   field so as not to ruin the mower    and sell to neighbors and it works   Bagley.
          trips to town and what she bought   or impede the rake in haying         out quite well overall.                I spent 25 cents for Christmas
          and what she paid for items.        time.                                 ——————————————                     stamps. Will collected $3.00 for
             She wrote in just a few sen-        So Will and I and the animals                  Story 2                flowers for Aunt Millie’s funeral.
          tences every day. She didn’t        are all intruders into the virgin for-  Expenditures on the Farm         $5.00 for coal and freight to
                                                       est - the great White          Of course we have expenses       Shevlin. We buy oranges and I
                                                       pine and Norway pine        on the farm. Will lets me be in     bought one gallon of cod liver oil
                                                       cathedrals that are being   charge of keeping track of our      from town. That day it was 22
                                                       logged off. We have         money so I keep pretty close        below in a.m.
                                                       come to “civilize” this     record. We have to be selling          Feed cost us $2.40 for one
                                                       land although there were    meat, berries, potatoes. Nobody     ton. We paid $3.25 for 500
                                                       peoples living here         has a lot of money around here.     pounds of coal. 100 pounds of
                                                       before we came from         We don’t feel poor because we’re    sugar cost $5.10. Our car license
                                                       Europe - from Denmark,      all in the same boat.               was $5.25. We paid $2.00 to
                                                       from Sweden, from              Here are some of the expens-     Anderson for hauling and $3.00
                                                       France and Norway. So       es throughout the year. We’ve got   to Dr. Given the veterinarian to
                                                       we must have names for      to feed our animals and ourselves   help with the colt.
                                                       the animals - it’s part of   of course. I sell stories to maga-    I spent 4 cents for poultry
                                                       taming the terrain.         zines so I feel I can afford to pay   books, 3 cents for a picture of
                                                          Will likes names for     Fanchion for typing. I lately paid   fawns, 65 cents to Jones for help-
                                                       the cows like Rose or       Fanchion 75 cents. The I can        ing can meat. We canned 92
                                                       Sunshine. I like names      write more and count words.         quarts after the yearling calf was
                                                       like Betty and Bossy.          We are out in the country so     butchered.
                                                       When they run through       we don’t have stores to pop into. I    On our last trip to Bemidji I
                                                       the woods we know           order Wards catalogue. Monkey       paid 98 cents for a dress; 69
                                                       where they are by the       Wards the children call it. My last   cents for bloomers and 98 cents
                                                       sound of their cow bells.   order was: shoes $3.39, stock-      for a wool shirt for Will.
                                                          Each one is different.   ings 75 cents and corset $1.79.        So the task is to have as much
                                                       They know enough to         And the old catalogues come in      income as we have expenditures.
                                                       not go too far from home    handy in the outhouse.              We are doing pretty good at that.
                                                       and they know to come          Will took a break from his
                                                       in for milking when their   working hard in the woods and
               Writer Bonnie Burgeson                  udders are full. We call    went to the County Fair.

                    Lincoln 55+ Seniors Paper      Time and Temp - 402-476-9211          Winter 2020-21 - Page - 3
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