Homer Short

by

Trisha Short

Senior High Division

 

"Character is by-product; it is produced in the greatmanufacture of daily duty" (1)

My grandfather, Homer Short, fits into Wilson's idea ofhow character is developed. Over the years his daily duties have made himwhat he is today; a man who is sympathetic and understanding.

Homer was born in Mason City, Illinois, on November 13,1892, to his parents, James and Caroline Short of English descent. Whilehe lived in Illinois, his mother and he would come to Minnesota in the summerand work on his brother's farm. She would cook and he would do farm labor.In the winter months, he would go back to Illinois and work in bakeriesand wholesale groceries.

It wasn't until 1912 that his family moved to Minnesota.They settled on a farm between Angus and Tabor, Minnesota. The house helived in had a problem with bedbugs which they partially cured by "...covering holes in the wall with rags pasted on with a homemade glue of flourand water." (2)

He had to take his nephews and nieces to school every dayin a springboard wagon pulled by a team of very slow mules! After the mulesgot used to the routine, he could slap them on the rump and they would godirectly to the schoolhouse where the children would get on and drive themhome. It was because of these trips that he met his future wife.

Her name was Bertha Sannes and she was the school marmat that school, Cornel 385 School District, which was a country school teachingonly grades one through eight.

It was one day when Homer made the usual trip to schoolthat he first asked her to an upcoming party - she accepted.

That night it seemed that every boy wanted to take herhome, but she flatly refused all of them saying that she had come with Homerand that she would go home with him, too.

Once, they were going to a dance in a town that was fifteenmiles away. Homer was driving a most unusual team, a blind pony and a mule!Since each worked to help the other, it took quite a while to get there.The most bewildering thing is that when they finally got there, they foundout there wasn't any dance. They had come all that distance for nothing!

After courting Bertha for two years, Homer proposed marriageto her. The ceremony, which took place in the Lutheran parson's home, wasconducted by Rev. Willard in Crookston, Minnesota.

They started housekeeping on a farm near Angus, Minnesota,in the latter part of April that year. He worked as a farm hand on his brother'sfarm for two years as he had done before his marriage, while Bertha continuedto teach at the Linquist School near East Grand Forks.

For four years, he farmed for himself and then became aforeman for a farm owned by a wealthy farmer named Henchen. For an unknownreason he quit working for him in the fall of 1922 and went to work forthe Northern State Power Company in Grand Forks over the winter.

He left in the spring with Grundy and Knute Sannes, hisbrothers-in-law, and Bill Sherack, a friend, to go West seeking work. Theywent in a Baby Overland, a make of car not in existence anymore. They stoppedin Portland, Oregon, but since hard times were coming on, strikes for higherwages were everywhere and no work could be found. They went on to Seattle,Washington with better luck, where work was finally found. Homer got a jobwith the Puget Sound Dredging Company. When he rented a home, he sent forhis family by train. They lived there for one year, from 1923 into 1924.

Heading eastward in 1924, they left in two Model T Fords.It took them eleven days and nights to come from Seattle to Louistown, Montana,where they stopped for the Fourth-of-July celebration.

They went to McIntosh, Minnesota, for the winter of 1924and 1925 and then went to Grand Forks. There Homer talked to a man who laterrented him a farm on Section I. He started to farm in the spring of 1925.

When a county ditch was being made through the farm onSection I, a horse loose in the pasture got bogged down in the mud in theditch. The ditch was being made through the main pasture, and as the horsewas walking on the ridge of dirt formed by digging the ditch, he slippedand fell in. This horse was one of the work horses on the farm, so Homerand his sons went out to see what had happened to the horse. When they finallyfound the horse, it was so bogged down that they had to pull it out. Ithad been struggling to get out itself and so it was weak - they finallyhad to shoot it.

Homer was handy at making things. He once built a closedcutter with the help of his eldest sons. He took fresh wood and built anenclosure around the boughten frame and runners. Setting it outside of thebarn in the corral, they planned to paint it later. They let some cattleout of the barn and a bull in the herd noticed the cutter. He consideredit a threat, so he lowered his head and rammed the side, smashing it intosplinters!

One year, during the Great Depression of the 1930's, helost over half of his crop. It wasn't that the weather was bad, but becausehe had put a substantial sum of money in savings in a local bank which closed.To pay off his debts, he was forced to sell his crop for cash and all atonce and pay his bills. He took what price there was available at that time,as he could not wait. He used this money to pay his bills. This made theirbudget very lean that year.

The fall of 1938 took them to a smaller farm near McIntosh.There he farmed most of the quarter-section; the rest was in pasture forhis cattle and horses. He kept some livestock consisting of hogs and chickens.

The cattle he kept were purely the beef type, since dairycattle proposed too much of an investment.

All horses were used for work, never for pleasure riding.Homer did use tractors, but in certain instances, he found that work horseswere more practical.

Six years later, Homer left to rent and farm land nearEast Grand Forks.

Not long after, in 1948, he bought a quarter-section ofland three miles south of Sherack, Minnesota, and farmed there until 1957.The last years of farming, Homer cash-rented his land.

The reason he cash-rented his land those last few yearswas because of an accident in 1946. The door of a car he was riding in cameopen and he fell out into the ditch and broke his leg. Because it wasn'ttreated properly right away, it soon became infected and he had to haveit amputated in 1947.

In 1948, he started using an artificial leg and crutches.He soon go so he could walk somewhat normally without crutches for shortperiods of time; in fact, he mowed his own lawn, drove his car and tractor,and many other things that normal people do. But in spite of all of this,Homer was forced to retire from farming in the latter 1950's, and to settlehis farm altogether.

Homer and Bertha bought a home in East Grand Forks in 1957,immediately after selling the farm.

Parents of eight children, they celebrated their GoldenWedding Anniversary in 1964 with most of the family attending.

Homer lived at that home until his wife, Bertha, died in1966.

He left to go live with his daughter, Edna, in Fort Atkinson,Wisconsin, in 1967 while renting his house in East Grand Forks until Decemberof 1973.

During the summer months that he lived with his daughter,he would travel with a nephew, Bill Short, to the West Coast and the southernstates.

Homer now lives in the Good Samaritan Rest Home in EastGrand Forks. To spend the time away, Homer enjoys a good game of checkersin a brightly lit sun-room off the hallway of the rest home, claiming thathe can beat anyone that challenges him!

Homer's strategy is to "... let the challenger takeone game and to take the other two games!" (3) That's the kind of witthat you can expect from Homer Short.

(1) Woodrow Wilson, Educator's Handbook of Stories, Quotesand Humor, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood, New Jersey, 1963, p. 35

(2) Homer Short, Interview, 1974

(3) Homer Short, Interview, 1974

Bibliography

"Going to School in Minnesota," Roots, Fall,1973. p. 8

Short, Gordon, Interview, January, 1975

Short, Homer, Interview, December 30, 1974

 l,1973. p. 8

Short, Gordon, Interview, January, 1975

Short, Homer, Interview, December 30, 1974