Harry Palmer Aslagson

by

Tony Wollin

 

6th Grade 1994, Tri-County School, Karlstad,MN

 

Harry Palmer Aslagson was born November 2, 1917 to Genaand Henry Aslagson on the home farm 4 miles west of Starbuck, MN. Dr. Orheimcame by horse and sleigh because there was too much snow for him to comeby car. He has one sister, Vivian (Aslagson) Olson, who lives in Starbuck. He had one brother, Sidney Aslagson, who died in 1980. His mother wasa teacher in a one room schoolhouse. His father was a farmer. Harry, Vivian,and Sidney all attended 8 grades of school in a one room schoolhouse. Theyhad to walk about 2 miles to school. In the winter when it was really cold,their dad would take them by horse and sleigh. There were times when asnow storm would come up during the day and the fathers of the studentswould come by horse and sleigh to get them. Sometimes, they would haveto walk along the fence lines to help find their way home. They would puthay and heated rocks or sad irons in the sleigh and blankets to keep themwarm. If some of the children who lived too far from school could not gethome, they would stay with a family that lived close to school. There weren'tany bathrooms or running water in the school. The teacher stayed with hisfamily. She would have to get up early and get to school to start a fireand have it warm by the time the children came. The bathroom was a twohole outhouse, out behind the school. Some schools were lucky to have awell by the school. Otherwise, water had to be brought from the nearestfarm. Each child would bring their own lunch for noon dinner.

When he was small, he had put his sister Vivian in thesewing machine cabinet. His parents looked all over for her. He didn'tsay a word about where she was was and she didn't cry or make any noise. He also crawled up into his mother's china cupboard and started to throwglasses on the floor, breaking them. When he was about 10 years old. Hisparents went to town. While they were gone, he decided his brother neededa haircut, so he cut off all of his hair. His mother made him cut Sidney'shair until it all came back. He learned how to cut hair this way. He cuthair in his spare time while he was in the Air Force. He had cut many littleboys hair who wouldn't go to a barber shop. He has given all his grandsonstheir first haircuts. His old barber chair is now in the Pope County Museumin Glenwood, MN. When he was about 10 or 11, he had a pet raccoon namedTony. He would go with him to help herd the cattle home. After a year,his mother made him get rid of him. He sold it to the neighbor boy for$4.50. When he was about 12 or 13, he became very sick with double pneumonia.

His brother and sister were sent to stay with their grandparents,Kleven. His school teacher and classmates walked to his house. His motherwasn't going to let them visit him. But the teacher said they will be veryquiet. So, they all went in and stood around his bed, bowed their heads,held hands, and said a prayer for him. At that moment his mother said hisfever broke. In her heart until she passed away, she still said it wasa miracle.

After 8th grade, he stayed home one year. He helped hisfather on the farm. He then went to Starbuck High School for 9th to 12thgrade. There wasn't any school buses so he walked 4 miles to school andhome each day. He played football and basketball, so many nights he hadto walk home after ball games. If they came home really late after an outof town game, he would stay with a second cousin. Sometimes, he would geta ride from the Highway Patrol. So they got to know him.

During his high school years, he would work for neighboringfarmers during haying, harvesting, and threshing. After graduation, heworked at the Starbuck Cement Products that made several concrete products,like silo blocks, pipe, and tile. He married Margaret Hanse, June 7, 1941,at St. Petri Church, Cyrus, MN. They went together for 4 years before theymarried. There wasn't much money in those days so most of their dates wereto go to show in Morris and they would each have a bag of popcorn. March16, 1941, they went to a show. While they were in the show, a storm cameup. They told them at the theater not to try to get home. But being youngand foolish, they tried. They got about 2 miles out of Morris and couldn'tsee a thing. There was another couple from Cyrus in front of them. Theboy from the car in front of them came over to their car and Harry wentover to their car. Neither one knew they had passed each other in the storm. They got back to Morris and stayed in the lobby of the hotel with manyothers that couldn't make it home. They got home to Cyrus about 5 a.m.the next morning. That was the night he gave Margaret her engagement ring. He was almost late for his own wedding. He hadn't told his boss that hewas getting married that Saturday. He helped his boss fix some machinerythat had broke down. His parents were waiting to go to the wedding whenhe got home from work. He did make it on time. Their honeymoon was a oneday trip to Itasca State Park, Park Rapids, MN.

They have 4 children. Kayo, an industrial arts teacher,not married. Jody (Aslagson) Thompson of Karlstad, MN., Nadine (Aslagson)Moeller of Duluth, MN, and Camille (Aslagson) Wollin of Karlstad, MN.

He worked for the Nodland Construction Co. for 43 yearswhich consisted of driving trucks, laying sewer pipes, putting in waterlines. The later years, he was superintendent of the job, cleaning up aftera job was finished. He had to make sure things looked like they were beforethey started the job. He also worked on putting in some treatment plants. In the early 1940's, his wife and him went to Bastrop, Texas with the companyand at that job put water and sewer lines in the town of Bastrop and outat the Army base. They spent about a year there. There was a flood inthe south just like the floods around here this year. They drove one ofthe company trucks with stuff on home. When they got up into Arkansas,they drove through water up to the running boards of the truck and one placeup in the mountains the road was washed out so they had to drive on a narrowledge left or they would have had to wait until they blasted out a widerroad. His wife and children would go with him on jobs whenever possibleduring the summer. Some of the places they stayed were Walker, MN, Wadena,MN, Wahpeton, ND, Minnewakan, ND, Lacrosse, WI, and Bossevaian, Canada. After coming home from Bastrop, Texas, he was drafted into the serviceon September 2, 1943 at Fort Snelling, MN. After about a week, he leftfor Amarillo, Texas for basic training. Margaret came down to join himin Amarillo to spend Christmas with him. But he was shipped our to KingmanArmy Air Field, Arizona a few days before Christmas. He was promoted toPFC in Kingman. From Kingman, he went home on furlough. Margaret and hewent to Tampa, FL where he was stationed at MacDill Field outside of Tampa. He got another furlough home from Tampa. So, they went back to Starbuck,MN. He went back to Tampa and from there to Savannah, GA where the crewgot their B17 bomber and flew to Grinier Field at Manchester, New Hampshire. From there they flew to Iceland and then over to England. He spent 9 monthsoverseas at an Air Force Base near Horham, England. He was a waist gunneron a B17 Heavy Bomber. He flew 35 combat missions over Germany. Therewere 9 members in the crew. Pilot, Co-Pilot, Bombardier Navigator, RadioOperator, Waist Gunner, Top Turret, Tail and Ball Turret Gunners. Theyhad a crew member hurt and unable to finish his missions. He had shrapnelhit him on both sides of his neck and ripped off his collar, leaving a markon each side of his neck. Their plane had 300 holes in it when they cameback from one mission and 500 holes in another mission. These planes neverwent up again. He came back to the U.S.A. April 25, 1945, to Camp PatrickHenry, Newport, Virginia. He went home on furlough for about a month. Most of the men that put in their 35 missions got a week at a resort eitherin CA or FL. His wife and he went to Miami Beach, FL for a week. Fromthere they went to Laredo, Texas on a coal burning train without air conditioning. So, they had to have the windows open. After riding overnight, they hadsoot all over them. He was trained to be a gunnery instructor on a B-29Bomber Plane. When he was done with training at Laredo, Texas, they wenthome on furlough. He was sent to Las Vegas, Nevada where he was gunneryinstructor on a B-29 Bomber Plane. He received the rank of Staff Sergeantjust after he arrived in England. While he was in Las Vegas, the war ended. He received his Honorable Discharge on October 13, 1945 at Lincoln, Nebraska.

He has been retired for 1 year. Five years previous tothat, he worked as an inspector for an engineering company from St. Paul

I got my information from Harry P. Aslagson as an inspector for an engineering company from St. Paul

I got my information from Harry P. Aslagson