Search billions of records on

Grandma Skjold


Shirley Nordstrom

My grandmother, Hazel Skjold, won't be recorded in historyfor any outstanding accomplishments, but she will always be very specialto me and my family.

Grandma was born to Thomas and Mary Gradwell on February6, 1906, at Wales, North Dakota. She was the fifth child in a family offour girls and seven boys. The Gradwell family moved to Hannah when Grandmawas just a baby.

Grandma attended grade school in Hannah. Her earliestrecollection of school is when the first grade put on a play, "TenLittle Indians," and she had to have her hair cut for the first timein her life. She didn't have it cut again till the year 1968.

As a child, Grandma played very much like children do today. One of her prized possessions was a doll that was jointed at the wrists. On Sundays, no one could do any work or go very far, so Grandma, her sister,and friends would walk on the railroad tracks and count ties and see whocould walk the farthest without falling off.

In the summertime, gypsies would camp across the streetfrom Grandma's house. The Gradwell children would visit the old gypsy Grandmotherwho smoked a pipe and told them stories of her travels. The gypsies keptShetland ponies, and the visiting children would feed them sugar lumps.

As a young girl, Grandma had the usual responsibilitiesof the children in large families. She helped with the housework, cooking,and caring of the younger brothers and sisters.

In school they sat in double desks. Sometimes Grandmaand her friends would hide behind their geography books and tell storiesand giggle. Geography was one of her favorite subjects. In seventh gradeshe got nine-nine in deportment all year. All the other students had "Self-Control"signs on their desks except Grandma. Grandma was slight of stature andhad long dark hair which she wore braided. She was very agile.

At that time people didn't feel it was important to educategirls, so Grandma dropped out of school in ninth grade to seek employment. Her first job was working for an older married woman who had a cook car. It was similar to a boxcar. She traveled from farm to farm to help providefood for the threshers. Cooks had to get up at 4:00 a.m. and pack lunches,cook meals, and do dishes. They worked until dark. Later, she worked asa cook for a bachelor, cooking for the threshing crew. It was a difficultjob for a young girl and the hours were long.

When Grandma was a young woman, she traveled to Montanaand Saskatchewan to visit her sister and brother.

Grandma became Mrs. John P. Skjold in 1925. As a youngbride, she lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where her first child was born. Grandma spent most of her married life in St. Vincent, Minnesota. Whenshe first lived there, the Indians would come begging for food. Grandmawas afraid of them. She would keep the door locked. The bulldogs wouldgrowl viciously when the Indians approached, but she was still frightenedand had nightmares of them.

Grandma had a hard life with no conveniences that we havetoday. She cooked on a wood cook stove and had kerosene lamps for lights. They have to have water for cooking, bathing and cleaning. When her husbandworked the night shift and their children were small, she had outdoor choresas well as her household duties to keep up. She had to milk cows and feedall the farm animals. One time a cow calfed in the pasture, and it wastoo cold to leave it out. Grandma and her friend, Simonne, couldn't carrythe calf so they put in in the children's coaster wagon and pulled it tothe barn. Then she milked the cow in spite of her protests.

During the depression, Grandma and her husband fared betterthan most people as they raised their own meat, poultry, vegetables, andhad their own eggs and dairy products. This ambitious woman canned, churnedbutter, and sewed for her large family on an old treadle sewing machine. She even made denim overalls for her sons and put rivets on them so theirfriends wouldn't tease them about homemade overalls.

Grandma raised four girls and five boys without ever raisingher voice. She sacrificed a lot for her children and the self-control shedisplayed as a child was even stronger in her adult life.

Grandma traveled by plane and car to several states, visitingher children and grandchildren. She especially enjoys plane travel. Hermost recent journey was to California where she used up a lot of film recordingthe sights.

Grandma is very busy and active with her many hobbies. She loves sewing and does some for profit. She always has many ordersfor rag dolls and stuffed animals, especially at Christmas time. She embroidersand does crewel work and fills her children's home with handiwork.

In spite of extensive illness and a life of hard work,my grandma stays young because of her enthusiasm for life and her enjoymentof her many hobbies and most of all, her grandchildren.


Skjold, Mrs. Hazel, Grand Forks, North Dakota, Interview,February 16, 1974

Nordstrom, Mrs. Sigrid, Noyes, Minnesota, Interview, February17, 1974

Nordstrom, Mrs. Sigrid, Noyes, Minnesota, Interview, February17, 1974