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Elizabeth Aldinger Memories

Growing Up In Humboldt

As a child growing up in the tiny town of Humboldt, MN,my brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors, & I were faced with the necessityof creating our own entertainment. We were blessed with loving parents,caring neighbors, a large assortment of playmates, and a scarcity of televisionsets, bicycles, & telephones. We never felt deprived since our creativeabilities and over-active imaginations were generally in good working order.

My older sister, Mary, and I had an interesting paper dollcollection, thanks to the Sears, Wards, and Penney's catalogs. We cut modelsout of the underwear sections of these catalogs to use as "models"for the outfits that were cut from the clothing sections. The outfits werecomplete with the little tabs to keep them attached to the models. Thesedolls may have lacked realism, but they had real flannel home-made blankets.We loved playing with dolls and were seldom seen without a doll or two intow. Mary had her "Cindy" doll and I had my favorite "Jamie"doll, which were given to us on Christmas Eve by Santa Claus (Rustee). Otherdolls included Barbie, Ken, Skipper, & Betsy Wetsy. Chatty Cathy andThumblelina were popular dolls that we never had the privilege to own. Whenour little Sister, Susie, came along we even played with her dolls, eventhough we were in high school by then.

We bought real baby clothes and blankets with our babysittingmoney to clothe the doll that we liked the most. We never owned up to thefact that we played with dolls when we were "way too old" to bedoing such a thing! Whenever we heard footsteps coming down the hallway,toward our bedroom, we quickly ditched the doll to avoid revealing our secretpasttime. That poor doll went from being affectionately cuddled to tossedagainst the wall daily for years!

My classmate, DeeDee Diamond, and I played our daily gameof "Jacks" after school. Our social lives were quite limited,but boredom seldom entered into the picture. One of my favorite games was"hangman", especially when Tony Rustad and I played it duringLinguistics Class. As I think back, I'm quite surprised that our teacher,Martha Roberts, tolerated our giggling and inattention. Somehow I managedto get a "B" in the class and I think Tony did, too.

I firmly believe that my Sister, Mary, and I were the championtree climbers of Humboldt. We spent as much or more time perched in thebranches in the tree next door than we did in our own house. "Red Rover","Captain May I", "Dodge- ball", and croquet were gamesthat could include as many kids as were available, and in our little town,there was never a shortage of kids. We had a basketball court behone ourgarage that seemed to be in constant use. Many of the highschool "Stars"did their practicing at our house. Those of us that we considered amateursplayed "7-up" and "Round the World". For further entertainment,we climbed the clothesline pole onto the garage roof and shot baskets fromabove. Amazingly we never fell, much to the gratitude of our parents. Footballon hands and knees was the game my mother didn't appreciate as she had thechallenge of getting the grass stains our of our knees. Whether you wereshort, tall, heavy or light, playing on the knees gave each player equalability.

Pat Rustad visited us regularly, just to see what the Boatzkids were up to next. She was quite amazed how we could "climb thewalls, hang from the ceilings, & swing from the doors", as sheput it. Our parents tolerated our monkey-traits remarkably well. The big"challenge" was the game called "Mary's the bear." Thisgame required that we make a complete circle around our bedroom withouttouching the floor while the "bear" was chasing us. Starting onthe top bunkbed, we swung on the doorknobs of the closet door onto the otherbunkbed, then across the sewing table, over the dresser, and back to thebundbed. If you touched the floor, you were "dead"! One day whenI was a little more daring than usual, I decided to take a shortcut by jumpingacross the middle of the room. The distance wasn't too far to make the jump,but the light fixture on the ceiling met my head when it appeared out ofnowhere. Both my head and the light fixture survived, but I never took theshortcut anymore.

We loved the winter months as we generally had an abundanceof snow to play in and plenty of snow days from school. Our snow forts werereal works of art. We had split-level, double & triple decker, and evenforts with lean-tos and porches. We spent hours and hours outside and Ihonestly don't ever remember being bothered by the cold. During the winterof 1965 or 66 (not sure which) we had a 3-day blizzard that buried our houseand filled our attic with snow. We were able to climb onto the roof of ourhouse from the snowbanks. What fun that was!

Since the RedRiver Valley was totally flat, winter timewas the only time we had hills to play on. The abundant snowfalls almostalways resulted in springtime flooding that meant more days off from school.We enjoyed sandbagging instead of attending classes with free hot chocolate,pop, and sandwiches. What a treat!!

I acquired a love for jigsaw puzzles that I still havetoday. The harder they are, the better I like them. Every Christmas my parentsbought me a new puzzle that I worked many times before the next Christmascame. We owned an old phonograph and about 5 records that we played overand over again. The songs I rememaber best were "A White Sportcoatand a Pink Carnation", "Sweetie Bear" (my brother, Stevie'sfavorite), and "Mule Skinner Blues". When we played Mule SkinnerBlues on high speed, it reminded us of Diane Giffen's giggle. As teenagers,we owned a stereo that played 33 rpm records. Our favorite singing groupswere "Herman's Hermits", "Beach Boys", "Four Seasons","Peter, Paul, & Mary", "Roger Miller", "GaryLewis & the Playboys", & "Glen Campbell". I stillhave some of those records today.

I decided in 7th grade that I wanted to join 4-H and theonly category I could manage was sewing. I'd never sewn anything before,but a wonderful lady by the name of Margaret Rustad helped me get started.She and her husband, Alfred, were my substitute grandparents and truly weregood, giving people. My love for sewing is as strong today as it was backthen, thanks to the time Margaret devoted to me 40 years ago. I will alwaysbe grateful to her. I also remember that Margaret baked the best sugar cookiesand offered me one each time I visited. Our neighbors in Humboldt were andstill are family to me. Eldon and Mildred Turner next door watched overour family with such care. I spent many hours sitting on the front stepwith Eldon discussing the weather while their dog, Lucky, had his eveningouting. Recently I visited Mildred in the Hallock nursing home and, at 86,she still remembers our family well.

Mary & I earned income by babysitting for many familiesin town. Our usuals were Westmans, Borgs, Kjellbergs, Borgs, Keenas, Maiers,Burtons, Tris, Durkops, Getschels, Lofbergs, Ashes, & Johnsons. We veryseldom had a free weekend or evening. We were generally paid 25 cents perhour. I also ironed for some of these families for the same price. It wasa treat to babysit since the families had phones and televisions that reallyworked. I used to snack on Phyllis Borg's cinnamon rolls and Avalon Kjellberg'sfrozen blueberries. I highly recommend them to anyone! I wonder if theyever noticed that there were some missing from time to time. The childrenwe babysat were dear to us, especially the babies.

I have to say that the all-time fun was playing whist onthe numerous choir and band trips. Even though I was a master at cheatingwithout being detected, I seldom won. But what fun it was anyway! The soc-hopsafter each home basketball game were a highlight for all of us. We dancedto the record player and ate leftover popcorn from the concession stand.How simple and inexpensive our entertainment was back then!

These are a few of my memories of growing up in Humboldt.Our simple kind of fun left a lasting impression on me that I wouldn't tradefor all the gold in China!

ng up in Humboldt.Our simple kind of fun left a lasting impression on me that I wouldn't tradefor all the gold in China!