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Everybody's Friend: Laurence Turner


Kim Ash

Junior High Division

And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, "Hehas done all things well; he even makes the deaf hear and ---,"(1)

"Laurence! Be still!"

It was Laurence who was now sliding down in his chair,because he got caught whispering during his mother's oral Bible reading.It was hard for Laurence, him being the oldest and all, not to whisper thenewest riddle to one of his brothers. Laurence knew Sunday was a day ofrest and he knew even more that he was supposed to pay attention and listenduring the Bible reading.

Laurence Aubrey Turner was born December 15, 1914, in St.Vincent Township. His parents were Ernest and Della Turner. He was partof a very large family, six sisters: Ruby, now Mrs. Kothe; Mildred, nowMrs. Wang; Jeanette, now Mrs. Papenfuss; Reta, now Mrs. Reese; Gertrude,now Mrs. Hoglen; and Virginia, now Mrs. Getchel. Laurence also had fivebrothers: Maurice, Burton, Max, Douglas, and Ralph.

Laurence lived in the St. Vincent Township as a boy. Forone year, he went to the Joe River School and then went to the Number TwoSchool, which was west of the Roy Clow's farm. Laurence attended schoolup to the eighth grade. The school house was a mile and a half away. Inthe summer, they walked and in the winter they drove horses with a sleigh.They took cold lunches to school which consisted of meat or jelly sandwiches.They carried their lunches in one-half gallon syrup pails. Since this iswhat they carried their lunches in, sometimes their lunches would freeze.In the school house, there was only one room for grades one through eight.There was only one teacher, who also acted as the janitor. Thee was a bigstove in the school. On winter mornings, children stood around it for warmth.

After school, the children always had lunch, and then therewere chores to do. Laurence's dad was a farmer, and he had a lot of workto do. They had to seed and plow with a horse. The boys in the family hadto start work in the fields between the ages of ten and twelve. Laurencewas the oldest in the family and he started working in the fields at theage of ten. For chores, they had to haul hay long distances for their cattle,and had to haul water from the Red River. Working for the neighbors wasanother thing they did. For a full day's work, they got a dollar. This surelyis a lot different from today's wages. Some of the simpler chores they boysdid were to milk the cows, and take care of the cattle, pigs, sheep, horses,and chickens. Also, there was wood to haul and ice to melt.

Although their house was nothing too fancy, it was allright for them. It was a four room house with two rooms downstairs and tworooms upstairs. Their stoves burned wood or coal.

Laurence was always a healthy person, never having anymajor sicknesses. Although his brothers and sisters had their share of scarletfever, measles, chicken pox, mumps, etc., it is rather remarkable that Laurencewas never sick. When a child of the family was sick, the whole house hadto be quarantined. This was done by putting up a red sign on the outsideof the house. For entertainment, the children mostly had to entertain themselves.In the summer, playing ball was usually what they did. Also, they wouldtrap weasles. In the winter, they would skate and also ski. They could eitherski on the Red River or else put ropes on the horses and hold on to theother end of the rope. Then they would ski behind the horse. If there wasa wind blowing, the children would put a sail on the buggy and let the windpush them. There wasn't much else to do without a television or radio, butthey had fun. Sometimes their family visited the neighbors.

At the age of fourteen, Laurence had a slight accident.He was cutting grain with a binder by himself. Somehow he cut his fingerat the top and broke the bone. He wrapped it up in some rages and then hehad to drive the horses home four or five miles. When he arrived home, hisdad took him to Doctor Harris; Laurence received stitches. Doctor Harriswas the doctor that delivered all twelve of the Turner children.

Saturday night was bath night. On a typical Saturday night,a big tub of water was put on the stove to heat. Next, the younger childrenwould get ready for their bath. Their mother would bathe the younger ones.After they were all done, the older children got to bathe themselves. Sincethey had no one watching them, they tended to dawdle and take their time.The soap they used was homemade, since they couldn't afford commercial soap.After baths, the boys got off easy with just having their hair combed. Butthe girls had to have the snarls combed out and their hair set with a curlingiron. On very few occasions, their family went into town for a Saturdaynight. On these rare occasions, the children were lucky to get fifteen centsor even a dime to spend. Usually, the family stayed home.

Since money was scarce, Christmas was not popular for presents.Instead, the family found other things to celebrate about. There were somepresents, which were almost all homemade. Just as today, Laurence and hisbrothers and sisters hung up their stockings on Christmas Eve. On Christmasmorning, the children got up early to look in their stockings where theyfound apples, oranges, and some candy. Their Christmas dinner consistedof turkey or goose, plum pudding, and vegetables from their garden. Nothingtoo special. On Christmas Day Laurence and his family usually went to theirrelatives. Sometimes they went to the home of his Grandpa Turner, who livedby the Joe River. Also, they sometimes went to his Grandpa Lang's home.

Traveling by horse and sleigh in the winter was alwayscold. Whenever Laurence smells oats burning or some other kind of grainburning, it reminds him of traveling in the winter by horses and sleigh.For warmth, they heated a pan of oats in the oven, put the heated oats ina sack, and held onto the sack for warmth. They also had blankets. Once,while Laurence and his family were traveling, it started to storm very bad.It was very hard to see in front of them, so Laurence's dad stopped leadingthe horses and let the horses pull the sleigh where they wanted. Somehow,the horses led the family back to their house.

For communication, Laurence's family did have a phone,although it was very old and they were on a party line. If they wanted totalk to someone, it was usually just as easy to get on a horse and rideto the neighbors. The Turner family did get their first car in the 1920's,which was a Model T Ford. This wasn't too dependable, so horses were sometimesused instead.

In the 1930's, the Turner family purchased a radio. Itwas not anything fancy, but it was very special to Laurence and his family.The radio was just a little one and to listen to it he had to use head phones.This meant that only one person could listen to the radio at a time; therefore,the whole family had to take turns listening to the radio.

For food, they grew vegetables in the garden and they raisedtheir meat. Laurence's mother was usually very busy with all the work shehad to do. She canned vegetables from the garden and made jellies from thewild fruit Laurence and his brothers and sisters picked. His mother alsohad homemade bread on hand at any time. Della Turner also churned butterand cream, and sold the butter in return for groceries. Their soap was alsohomemade because of the cost. Homemade ice cream was something very good.It was made quite often because all of the children loved it. Clothes weresomething that Della Turner also made. She had an old sewing machine, butshe also did hand sewing. Neighbors also gave Laurence's family hand-me-downs.His mother had to fix these to size, but the children did have some differentclothes to wear.

In October of 1942, Laurence went into the service. Fora year and a half he took training in Oregon. Then he went to the east coast.After that, Laurence went to Africa and took some more training. He alsowent to Italy. Laurence did get to see many different places during theservice. He was discharged from the service in 1945.

In 1946, Laurence started farming on his own. In 1947,obtained a pilot's license. Laurence enjoys flying and does it for a hobby.He also enjoys curling and he likes music. Laurence also licks chocolate.When he was a boy he would have his little sister, Jeanette, sneak chocolatesfor him from a candy box full of chocolates they had. While she was doingthis, Laurence hid upstairs.

At the present time, Laurence is living in Humboldt, Minnesota.Laurence has many friends, is a hard worker and he takes each new day asit comes.

(1) Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version by Thomas Nelsonand Sons. Mark 7:37


Turner, Laurence, Humboldt, MN, Interview, January 20,1975

Kothe, Ruby, Humboldt, MN, Interview, January 22, 1975


urence, Humboldt, MN, Interview, January 20,1975

Kothe, Ruby, Humboldt, MN, Interview, January 22, 1975