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Beatrice Sylvia (Larson) Boyum


Alexis Stechmann


6th Grade 1995, Tri-County School, Karlstad, MN


My grandma, Beatrice Sylvia (Larson) Boyum, was born to Ludovic and Gunda (Moe) Larson on March 10, 1920 in Stephen, Minnesota. She has a twin sister like I have and like my mom, so there are three generations of twin girls.

Farm houses in which my grandma lived had no modern conveniences. There was no running water. There was no electricity. To wash themselves or to wash clothes, the water had to be heated on the stove. Baths were taken with a wash tub. There were kerosene lamps and lanterns. It was my grandma's daily chore to clean those lamp chimneys.

On most farms, there were cows to milk and they were milked by hand. My grandma said they sat on a stool by the cow, put the pail between their legs and milked each cow. The milk was poured into a separator which separated the milk from the cream. Then the cream would be sold. They churned their own butter with a home made churn.

My grandma said they had to walk to school and home again every day. She told me it was 2 1/2 miles each way but that she and other neighbor children and her brothers and sisters had a lot of fun walking to school. At recess they used to play running games and all sorts of other fun games. They had no swings, monkey bars, or any other playground equipment. While they were in school, the older children had to go to a neighbor's house to get water. There were double desks that had "ink wells" and everyone had a pen to use. Sometimes the naughty boys would get hold of the girl's (who sat in front of them) long braids and dip them in the ink well. "What a riot that would cause!" grandma said.

My grandma's school house during her elementary years was really a fun place, she said. There were eight grades with only a few in each grade. The older ones helped at recess time. Games like pump, pump pull away, stealing sticks, and various kinds of tag were popular. When she finished eighth grade, she went to a town school and graduated from Thief River Falls Lincoln High School and teacher's training besides going to Bemidji State College. So, this was a big change for my grandma's rural life and farm life.

Grandma said they never had a chance to go to a supermarket to buy food, but always had plenty to eat. They were big on berry picking. There were a lot of cranberries, juneberries, chokecherries, and blueberries, and grandma told me they would can hundreds of quarts besides canning food raised in a big garden. They always baked their own bread and churned their butter from their cream.

Clothes were sometimes ordered from catalogs like Montgomery Ward and Sears and Roebuck. Many of the clothes were sewn on an old Singer sewing machine, and socks and mittens were knitted by hand.

Grandma said everyone had jobs to do and with no complaining! The "kids" had to take turns carrying in the water from the well and carrying out the waster water. Besides that, they had to see that the wood box was full every evening as wood was used both for cooking and heating the house.

Clothes washing was a real chore! On wash days, Grandma said they had to heat water in a big copper boiler on the stove, use home-made soap, and scrub the clothes clean on a scrub board and then rinse them in clean rinse water in big tubs. On ironing day, they had three sad irons that were heated on the stove and she said they took the irons and used them, put them back on the stove and then used the next one. Boy, I bet that was a hot job in the summer!

It's fun going to grandma's house and when I hear how it was back then, I appreciate the conveniences we have today. I guess I should be glad we don't have to wash lamp chimneys, carry wood, milk cows and all those other chores!


The information in this report was received from my grandma, Beatrice Sylvia (Larson) Boyum.