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Donald Clarence Giffen: Jack Of All Trades


Bette Giffen


Donald is a Jack of all trades and a master of some.

He's broken horses baked bread, and whenever his motherhid fresh baked cookies he was always the first to find them. At the ageof 57 he still remembers many of his other trades such as picking corn inEcho, Minnesota, milking cows, and driving a horse drawn school bus. Heis also noted for his ability as a cook and lumber jack in northern Minnesota.In 1941, Donald worked with Consolidated Aircraft at San Diego, California.After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Donald joined the service. In the armyduring World War II, he was heavy equipment instructor at Fort Louis, Washington,and Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He received the rank of Master Sergeant. Inthe army in l943, he worked for Del Monte Peach canning factory for onemonth besides his regular army duties. Although not a master, he enjoysplaying guitar and violin in his spare time.

The second of nine children, Donald was born on January8, 1914, at his parents home in Echo, Minnesota. He has 2 sisters and 5brothers living at the present time.

When Donald was two years old, he and his folks moved toa 300 acre farm in St. Vincent, Minnesota. Land was purchased from JohnSkjold, Percy Edkins, and 80 acres from Edith Clow increasing the 300 acrefarm to 600 acres. They also rented 320 acres west of Northcote, Minnesota.Donald and his brothers would stay out east in the summer time and livein a small building, and take turns running the tractor day and night. Thefarm work was done by horses before there were any tractors in existence.At 4:30 Donald and his brothers got up and milked seventeen cows.

After the war, he took flying lessons and obtained a PrivatePilots License.

In 1941 the old family house was split. Part of it wasbrought to St.Vincent and sold, and a new house was erected in a higherplace in the yard. Although the house is about two blocks from the Red Riverbank, the flood waters have never reached the floor.

A little white schoolhouse was located one mile from Donald'shome. Children walked to school every day. The three well remembered teacherswere Miss Dresser, Mrs. Flankey, and Mrs. Dick Lapp. Donald went to schoolonly a few months a year because farm work kept him from attending. Geography,spelling, arithmetic, reading and writing were taught at this school. Hisclassmates included Charles Reese, Jean Fleming, Freda Reese, Fritz Reese,Lawrence Turner, Ulalia Seed, Warren Clow, Kelvin Britch, and Lawrence McGovern.Some of the boys used to have mice in their gloves and turned them loosein the schoolhouse. One day school was called off because one child pouta can of red pepper on the hot stove. Another incident was when Donald,his brother Andrew and Jean and George Fleming found 24 quarts of clearmoonshine hidden in a grass covered slough close to the school.

In 1953, Donald was married to Miss Dorothy Meyer. Theytook over the farm in 1957 and Donald has made a living by carpenter workand driving a school bus. They have brought up three children of their ownand have enjoyed helping to raise three foster children.

Donald is an avid sportsman and enjoys the outdoors. Helikes camping, hunting, fishing, and watching wild game. He is a snowmobiledealer and has been a snowmobile safety instructor the past two winters.

I think my father has led a most interesting life and hasdeserved the title of "Jack of All Trades."


Giffen, Dorothy (Mrs.) Interview January 29, 1971

Giffen, Donald (Mr.) Interview January 30, 1971

NT SIZE=+1>Giffen, Donald (Mr.) Interview January 30, 1971