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Felix Gonshorowski


Felix Gonshorowski


6th Grade 1996, Tri-County School, Karlstad,Minnesota


1st place

Kittson County Historical Society GenealogyContest


Felix Gonshorowski, my grandfather, was born in PoloniaTownship on May 30, 1919. He was born at home with the help of a midwife. He is the sixth child of Adam and Katie Gonshorowski. My grandpa alsohad 3 step sisters. As a child he enjoyed some really neat games. He playedpretend hunting while walking through the woods looking for rabbits. Heand his brothers and sisters rode the steer and horses, and made whistlesout of willow branches. Once, he even boiled crow eggs in a gallon pailand ate them!

My grandfather started school when he was 6 years old indistrict #58. There were usually 22 students in grades 1-8. They had theusual classes, reading, writing, history, English, geography, and arithmetic. My grandpa liked arithmetic the best. He walked to school with his brothersand sisters. They walked about 1 mile. They went to school from 9 o'clockin the morning to 4 o'clock in the afternoon. School was in session fromSeptember to May. Grandpa's favorite lunch to take to school was friedside port sandwich with dark corn syrup on the top. They put on a Christmasprogram like they do today. One year, Grandpa's part was to beat the eggsand he beat them with a stick! On the last day of school, they had a picnic,they roasted wieners and played games. Grandpa remembers making spit ballsand shooting them at the school's ceiling. His teacher caught him and madehim stay after school. His teacher brought him a magazine and made himmake spit balls until he had no spit. Then, she let him go home. He alsostuck stickpins in the cushions of the teacher's chair and put a gartersnake in her desk drawer.

My grandpa's father taught him how to hunt when he was8 years old. They took the double barrel shot gun, the kind with the triggerson the sides, and went rabbit hunting. Great grandpa loaded the gun andput it up to grandpa's shoulder and pointed it at the rabbit and said "shoot". Grandpa shot! The rabbit fell and so did grandpa, right on his behind! Grandpa said, great grandpa had to sell the gun because they needed themoney.

His memories of home as a child were his mom always bakeda cake for their birthdays but there were no presents. Grandpa recallsgetting a mouth organ for Christmas one year. He said it cost about sixor seven cents. At Easter, they always dyed eggs, using beet juice andonion skin juice.

My grandpa left home when he was 13 to help provide forhis family. He hitch hiked to North Dakota where he thinned beets for asugar beet farmer. They grandpa hitch hiked west to Montana for the fallharvest. He slept in the wheat piles in Montana. Then my grandpa workedhis way East, back to Minnesota, where he helped his family with the harvest.

Grandpa Felix has many memories of working for farmersin North Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana. He remembers driving truck andcombine for a farmer in Beech, North Dakota. Grandpa ran a steam thresherfor a guy named John Mundry. They cut the grain with a binder. In the1930's, wheat was 25 cents a bushel, oats was 7 cents a bushel, a 12 inchBaby Ruth candy bar was 5 cents, a 30-30 rifle was $15.00, and a "bottleof beer" was 5 cents! Grandpa remembers getting his first driver'slicense for 25 cents. At that time, they went to Umpleby's Greenbush Tribune. Grandpa remembers paying 25 cents to roll your own cigarettes.

In the early 1940's, my grandpa got on a bus and beganmaking his way to the Twin Cities. There he worked at "Koppers Koke"in Minneapolis. "Kopper Koke" was a factory where they took thegas out of bituminous coal and made small briquets that were burned in homes.

My grandpa's job was to paste down the oven doors withmud so the doors would not leak fire. Grandpa's wage was fifty-seven centsan hour. Grandpa remembers this job as being an awful way to make a living. He said it was hot on his face and cold on his back.

While in a bus station, he met a good friend who was onhis way home to Boston, Massachusetts. His name was Ole. Between the twoof them, they shared a plate of beans. Grandpa went to Boston with Ole. There they found work with Lewis and Shepard -Army-Navy, making hydraulicpumps, and jacks for the Army and Navy.

While in Boston, Massachusetts, they saw dog races, horses,and baseball games at Fenway Park. All the time he was on the road, hewas keeping in touch with my grandma, Genevieve. One night, grandpa dreamedabout grandma, so he wrote a letter to propose marriage and she accepted.

Grandpa Felix went back to Greenbush, Minnesota and marriedGenevieve Chrzanowski on Tuesday, October 14, 1947 at 10:00 mass. Theyspent the rest of the week at my grandma's parent's home and then got ona bus and went to Boston, Massachusetts. They lived in Boston for abouttwo years where both of them worked in factories for the war effort.

My grandpa Felix moved his wife and daughter back to Greenbushin 1950. There he got a job drilling wells for O.K. Machine Co. in Roseau. O.K. Machine was started by two men, Oscar Hetteen and Knute Grahn. Mygrandpa says that, "Oscar Hetteen, was the best tool maker on two feet." Grandpa Felix, and his brother Pete Gonshorowski, drilled wells all overNorthern Minnesota from the Red River to as far East as Clementon, Minnesota. Grandpa and my great uncle Pete drilled a well across the river Southeastof Florian Park. While they were drilling for water, at about 90 feet down,they hit a natural gas line vein. A huge explosion caused flames to go40 feet into the air. My grandpa said, "the flames were pure blue." The boom of the well drilling rig melted and curled up. Grandpa Felixand his brother, Pete, were burned but not seriously. My mom says whenmy grandpa came home from work that day, his hair was singed, his eyebrowswere singed off, and his ears looked like hotdogs off the grill. Grandpadrilled wells for O.K.Machine for about thirty-five years when he retired.

Most of the community will remember my grandpa as the everfaithful Santa Claus each year for Santa Claus Day at the Nursing Home andvarious churches. My grandpa Felix and his wife, Genevieve, raised fivechildren. They made sure all five kids had a college education. My grandpahas worked all his life and shares memories and his knowledge of his experienceswith a smile and a proud look on his face. I know that if I work as hardas my grandpa, and do my job with pride like he did, I will be a success.

The people who I got my information from are my Aunty Judy,my Grandpa Felix, my Mom, and my Grandma Jenny.

IZE=+1>The people who I got my information from are my Aunty Judy,my Grandpa Felix, my Mom, and my Grandma Jenny.