Saturday, August 13, 2016

"It's your turn."   "Okay ... OW!!!!  Let's play checkers instead!"

And so went our games of Carroms at our grandparents' house.  Most of the time when Grandpa would play a game with us, it involved the Carrom board, either playing our own version of the game on one side of the board, or flipping it over and using the other side for a game of checkers.  We never did know the real rules for Carroms but instead would play it like billiards, only on a board.   The little pool cues that came with the set disappeared long before we started playing with it (or did Grandma decide the last thing she needed was three wild children running around with little sticks?) so we'd "snip" the carroms with our fingers into the little net pockets.  The first game usually wasn't bad, but after that our fingernails really, really hurt.

I never thought about where the carrom board came from, only that it was always there, and still is (somewhere).   Last week, while cleaning out a closet full of games, I found a rusted coffee can filled with the old wooden carroms, and I started wondering how this relic made its way into our family.  A few days later, I was going through family photos and there it was, in the background of several photos from Christmas of 1958!   It was perched under the Christmas tree, all pretty and new, just waiting for someone to try it out.  And later, apparently someone did - my aunt June and her boyfriend (and future husband), Everett, were playing a game of checkers on it in one photo (I wonder if Grandma took the sticks away from them, too...)

Christmas, 1958.  If you peek behind Everett, under the Christmas tree, you can see the Carrom board in all its sparkly newness.

June and Everett checking out the new game.

I will have to remember to drag out the Carrom board when my granddaughters are visiting, just to see how long they put up with "snipping" those hard little carroms around the board.  I'm guessing just once.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pheasants Raised on Miller Farm Are Displayed at Washington Zoo

Huron Daily Plainsman (Huron, SD)
Sunday, May 26, 1968
Page 15

[Caption 1]: The Raising of Pheasants is a project of the Seeman Pheasant Farm, which is located at the northwest edge of Miller.  The farm is operated by Mrs. Mary Yost and owned by her two sons, Jerry Yost, of rural Miller, and Jack Seeman, of Willmar, Minnesota.  The majority of the pheasants are sold for “the dinner table,” although last year 500 were purchased by Pheasants Unlimited, Inc., of Sioux Falls, to stock Hand County.

[Caption 2]: Pheasants raised on the Seeman farm at Miller are a cross between a ringneck and a monogolian.  The eggs (shown at top) are not nested, but instead lay in the open, requiring 24 ½ days to hatch.  Once the egg is hatched, it takes another 16 weeks before the chicks (shown at bottom) are full grown.


                Miller – A Miller woman who has been raising pheasants for the past six years says when she first started “I didn’t know anything about this business.”
                Mrs. Mary Yost, who manages the Seeman Pheasant Farm located at the northwest edge of the city, said she’s in the pheasant business “for profit” and last summer sold 500 ringnecks to Pheasants Unlimited, Inc., of Sioux Falls.
                “The birds which were purchased by Pheasants Unlimited were used to bolster the pheasant population in Hand County,” she said, “and we anticipate they will do the same again this year.”
                The farm is owned by Mrs. Yost’s two sons, Jerry Yost, of rural Miller, and Jack Seeman, of Willmar, Minn.
                “When we first started this business I didn’t know anything about raising pheasants,” Mrs. Yost said, “but have learned from experience.”
                But, this business has gained in popularity and in 1965 received national recognition when the State Game, Fish and Parks Department acquired six of Mrs. Yost’s pheasants and gave them to Sen. Karl E. Mundt, R-S.D., for display at the Washington zoo.
                The request for the birds came after Sen. Mundt had visited the zoo and found only one ring-necked pheasant displayed – and that one looked like a “scrawny rooster.”
                The South Dakota senator immediately contacted the State Game Department and requested “six healthy species” of the state’s official bird to be placed in the zoo.
                Upon receipt of the birds, it was first announced that they had been “trapped in the wild,” but this was quickly straightened out and proper credit given to the Seeman farm.
                Mrs. Yost said she is faced with numerous problems – topped by the fact that pheasants are cannibalistic.
                “Only about 50 per cent of the hatched eggs live and we can’t put two hatches together – otherwise the older birds will eat the young ones,” she said.
                The eggs lay out in the open since the pheasants don’t nest and it’s necessary to check the pens frequently and collect the eggs before they are eaten by the birds, she added.
                “The wild pheasant hen usually does nest – finding a good hiding place for her eggs,” Mrs. Yost said.  There are approximately 400 eggs in each hatch, with a total of five hatches counted last year. 
                Other problems are cats and horned owls “who are constantly a threat to the young pheasants, although Mrs. Yost said she has had little trouble with hawks or skunks.
                “It takes about 24 ½ days for an egg to hatch and 16 weeks before the bird is full grown,” she said, adding: “We clip one of the chick’s wings at birth to keep them from flying away.  If we didn’t we’d have to put a roof on the pens.”
                The pheasants raised on the Seeman farm are a cross between the ringneck and mongolian pheasant, she said.
                When asked if the drop in the state’s pheasant population has bolstered her business, Mrs. Yost replied: “We sold more pheasants last year than we did a year ago, but I don’t think this had anything to do with it.”
                “Pheasants which are raised on a farm such as this are much tastier eating than the wild ones,” she said – a fact which has probably played a major role in the recent success of the farm.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Miller Woman Keeps Watchful Eye On Domestic Pheasant Flock

Huron Daily Plainsman (Huron, South Dakota)
Sunday, December 11, 1966

Caption [photo very poor]:  Pheasant caretaker Mrs. Mary Yost, of Miller, feeding her flock of pheasants which are raised in captivity.  A bird from the flock was presented by Sen. Karl Mundt to the Washington Zoo and is thriving there as a center of attraction in his new captivity.


                Miller – Raising pheasants is the professional concern of the game biologists, but just a hobby “to keep busy with” for Mrs. Mary Yost, of Miller.
                While the biologists seek ways to increase the pheasant population in the native habitat, Mrs. Yost is concerned with the bird population on the Pheasant Farm, started eight years ago as a hobby by her sons Jack Seeman, now of Willmar, Minn., and Jerry Yost, a plumber here in Miller.
                “The boys started raising birds to see if it could be done,” Mrs. Yost related last week while babysitting with her grandchildren.  “Because Jack has moved away and Jerry is busy during the day, I keep watch over the flock for something to do.”
                And raising pheasants in captivity requires a heap of watching at times, too, she added, pulling a grandchild away from a “no-no” in the kitchen.
                The task starts in the fall with the selection of the breeding hens and cocks.  This year the Yosts decided to keep 65 hens for next year’s production.  Then in the spring, the birds are penned (one cock with six or nine hens) and the watch starts.
                “Pheasants are cannibalistic.”  Mrs. Yost explained.  “In pens, the hens don’t nest, so you have to pick up the eggs right away or the hens will eat them.”
                Each hen will lay between 50 and 60 eggs, Mrs. Yost said, compared with game birds which hatches 12 to 15 eggs in her nest.  About half the eggs hatch, she continued.  The eggs are hatched in an incubator, purchased from Claude (Bud) Ebert, who raised pheasants as a hobby when he lived in Huron.  The eggs hatch in about 23 days and then the chicks are placed in brooders for six weeks.
                When they are ready to be moved into the 75-by-125-foot pens, the right wings are clipped (“So they can’t fly away on me,” Mrs. Yost said) and the commercial feed ration is changed to a growing mash with wheat screenings added.
                “You can’t mix the broods in the pens,” she commented, “or they will kill each other.”  Thus the chicks raised in the brooder batch are penned together as young birds.
                The feed ration is varied during the summer to bring the birds to the proper weight (a dressed weight of three to four pounds) and then just before the start of the pheasant hunting season, Mrs. Yost puts a finishing feed in the trought [sic] to “top off” the tender birds.  Then she starts dressing and freezing the birds for her son’s fall trade.
                “For some reason, the business comes during the season, mostly hunters,” she said.  “Few hunters this year, little business.  It varies with the game population.”
                The hunters are not buying birds to claim they bagged one, she explained.  Often the buyers have their limit which will be given to friends to dress and cook while the hunter takes home a domestic pheasant, more tender, cleaned, frozen and without broken bones or shot for his wife to serve, Mrs. Yost said.
                “Oh, sometimes a hunter will ask me to kill one for him to take home as a hunter’s bag,” she said, “but frozen pheasants aren’t part of the limit.”
                In the years of raising pheasants, the family has found nature to be a hazard and that even domestic pheasants can be victims of predators.  One year a windstorm about wiped out the flock and cats prey on the young chicks while dogs are a threat to the bigger birds, Mrs. Yost related.

                “And I have one bird whose wings weren’t clipped, she said.  “She flies from the pen whenever I come out, then returns to eat.  I think my birds finishing feed in the through to [sic] their wings weren’t clipped, but this one likes the security of the pen.”

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Jack Seeman - Spearfish Basketball

From the Queen City Mail, Spearfish, SD issue of April 6, 1939.

They may have been on the bad side of a trouncing, but knowing Jack Seeman, he played his heart out.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Robert Seeman named to United Cerebral Palsy of South Dakota board

Aberdeen American News (Aberdeen, SD)
Friday, Sept. 10, 1965, Pg. 3

It's no surprise that Robert Seeman was named to the board of this organization; no doubt this was something close to his heart.  But putting this in perspective, he took on this role while he was fighting for his own life.  He died from cancer just 13 months later.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Jule Kake and other Recipes of Lisa Hammer

I remember fattigmann and riskrem, and will try making both of these again, for sure!  I was glad to see these recipes reprinted in an old newspaper article written on Grandma Lisa and her Norwegian delicacies!

The Daily Plainsman (Huron, South Dakota)
Sunday, Dec. 25, 1966
Page 16

Jule Kake is Christmas Tradition
By Gertrude Lampe
Plainsman’s Women’s Editor

                It is not Christmas without Jule Kake (Christmas Cake), fattigmann (poor men), lefse, krumkaker and sandbakkels to Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Hammer Sr., 942 Dakota Ave. S.  Some 30 members of their family were together Christmas Eve to enjoy these traditional Norwegian foods.
                Mrs. Hammer had tins and bread boxes full of the goodies in preparation for the annual supper.  Her recipe for Jule Kake is for one loaf, but she made four times that much as she knows how well the family likes it.  Lefse, too, she makes by the dozen.  This she freezes and sells during the fall and winter.
                Even though Mrs. Hammer is busy every day as chief housekeeper at the Hickory House Motor Inn, she finds time to do plenty of baking, gardening and canning.
                A native of Trondelag, Norway, Mrs. Hammer taught grade school in Norway 39 years before coming to Huron 14 years ago when she married Mr. Hammer.  She has done some interesting Christmas embroidery, particularly a red wool flannel cloth embroidered in white.
                Mrs. Hammer’s recipes for Jule Kake and fattigmann are as follows:

JULE KAKE (Christmas Cake)

1 C. lukewarm milk
1/2 C. sugar
1/3 t. salt
1/2  t. cardamom (ground)
1 cake yeast
1 egg
2 T. soft butter
3 1/4 C. flour
3 1/3 C. chopped citron
1/2 C. raisins
                Mix together milk, sugar, salt and cardamom.  Mix in yeast and stir until dissolved.  Then add egg and shortening, and finally flour and fruit.  Knead well and let rise twice.  Make a round loaf and place in a greased layer cake pan or loaf bread pan.  Cover and let rise until double.  Bake in a 350 degree oven until brown, about 30 minutes.  If you wish you can glaze before baking with a slightly beaten egg yolk, it adds to the appearance.  If you make it in a loaf pan it will have to bake longer.


6 egg yolks
6 T. sugar
6 T. whipping cream
3 T. melted butter
1 1/2 T. brandy or cognac
1 1/2 t. cardamom (ground)
3 egg whites

                Flour enough to make a light dough suitable for rolling out.  (This varies because of the size of eggs and will require experimentation.)  Beat egg yolks and sugar until white.  Beat cream stiff, fold into egg yolks and sugar, add cardamom, melted butter, brandy and stiffly beaten egg whites, then add flour.  Cool in refrigerator overnight, then roll as thinly as possible and cut with pastry wheel in diamond shaped pieces about 5 inches from point to point.
                Cut one inch slit directly in the middle of each diamond to pull the “tail” through.  Fry in deep fat until a very delicate-tinged brown.  Be sure the fat is warm enough so it will take only a few minutes on each side.

                Mrs. Hammer’s favorite dessert is Riskrem or rice cream, served for weddings and parties in Norway.  Although the recipe calls for a raspberry sauce, she says cranberry juice thickened is the best topping by far.

(Rice Cream)

3 cups rich milk
1/3 cup rice

                Cook until rice is very well cooked and pudding-like.  Add 1/2 cup sugar and 1 t. vanilla, then let stand until cool.
                Beat 1 pt. whipping cream, then soak 1 pkg. plain gelatin in a little cold water.  Then add 1/4 cup boiling water, then fold in cream and lastly boiled rice.  Finely ground almonds may also be added.  A whole almond meat may be put in the middle of the pudding and whoever gets it is supposed to have good luck, according to the Norwegian custom.

                Stir occasionally while cooling, so rice won’t settle, then let stand until set and serve with cranberry sauce.  (-?--) cranberry juice thickened slightly with cornstarch and sweetened to taste makes a good sauce.  It should be runny not too thick.

Jerry Yost, Football Article

Bob Seeman's Lovely Complexion

Bob must have had a lovely complexion!  Below is a poem written by a Spearfish High School student, and printed in the Queen City Mail (Spearfish, SD) on May 26, 1938.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Snapshot of the Casper Kluthe Family in 1940

This photo appears to have been from ~1938 or so.

From the 1940 census, Miller (2nd ward), Hand co., South Dakota

Home rented for $13 monthly

Head of Household: Kluthe, Casper J. (informant), 51, married, education: finished 8th grade, b. Nebraska, employed for pay (but does not list an occupation), worked 8 hours the previous week, worked all 52 weeks in 1939, earning $216.  He has income from other sources.

Jennie, wife, 47, education: finished 7th grade, b. South Dakota, not employed for pay, has income from other sources

Louise, daughter, 21, single, education: completed 4th year in high school, b. SD, employed for pay, worked 48 hours the previous week, occupation is stenographer for the Co. Highway office, worked all 52 weeks in 1939, earning $600.  

Edwin, son, 16, single, attended school, completed 1st year of high school, b. SD, not employed for pay, but is employed at public emergency work, occupation is janitor for NVA school aid, did not work or earn money in 1939.

Magdalen, daughter, 12, single, attended school, completed 6th grade, b. SD, 

Lechtenberg, Claire, lodger, 20, single, education: completed 4th year in high school, b. SD, employed for pay, worked 48 hours the prior week, occupation is Clerk for AAA office, worked 49 weeks in 1939, earning $775.  

[click image below to enlarge]

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

New Documents Paint More Detailed Picture

The year was 1939.  Mary Yost had just become a widow - for the second time.  This time, she had six minor children to care for, ranging in age from 2 to 17.

While searching for other documents, I ran across two pertaining to Mary's first year after the death of her husband James Yost - a Social Security claim and the 1940 census.  Together, these documents paint a picture of the difficult financial circumstances of the family.

James Yost died in June of 1939, and Mary, who listed her occupation as "seamstress" was out of work after about October of that year.   What the family did for income was unknown, but her son Robert, 17,  had worked 6 weeks as a farm laborer.

In January of 1940, the Social Security Administration began making regularly monthly payments.*   Mary filed a claim the following month, so at least they had some money coming in.  How long she was unemployed is unknown, but she was still looking for work when the census was enumerated in April.

I always assumed that their situation was difficult, but seeing the information from these two documents combined drives home in more detail just how challenging her situation was.



Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Wig

Aunt June Hammer loved wigs - I remember visiting her in Phoenix and she and my mom would try on the different ones she had.  It got to the point where a strange looking woman would walk into the room and I'd have no idea at first who it was!  When Aunt June and her family came back to South Dakota for a visit, she brought her blond wig, and we all had fun with it ~

Three Generations of Blonds
Lillian - Betty - Karen

Ironically, the only one who doesn't have her picture in the wig is Aunt June!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Bill Knutz and His Orchestra

      Bill Knutz and his bands supplied the Beadle County, South Dakota area with dance music for more than 20 years.  The first band, “Bill Knutz and His Harmonians,” was documented as early as the summer of 1934[1], and consisted of Bill playing saxophone, his brothers Howard on bass fiddle and Richard on drums, Raymond Christensen on fiddle and trumpet, and Ray’s beautiful sister Lillian, on piano.  Lillian would eventually become Bill’s wife.  Ray and Lillian’s brother Clarence, who played clarinet, joined them as well sometimes as well.  Bill’s mother, Elvirta Knutz, would handle their calendar for them.

     Howard and Richard Knutz both eventually left for the west coast, and Raymond went off to college, so Bill reformed the band around himself and Lillian, with various other local musicians.  The new band was called “Bill Knutz and His Orchestra,” and they continued to play at barn dances as well as regular venues.[2]
     His daughter, Betty, described the dances:  “Most barn dances were usually quite crowded!  Depending on the popularity of the bands, but most of them took turns at different places each week.  The crowds were ordinarily quite sizable since most everyone did bring their kids, baby sitters and grandparents.  Everybody came!  Teenagers came with their parents to learn to dance.  Other kids depending on their ages brought their toys, pillows, etc., whatever they wanted to play with.  And then they found a corner to fall asleep in!  Some of those little guys were pretty good dancers, too!”[3]  During the years of the Great Depression, barn dances were affordable ways to have some fun.
     Occasionally, younger members of the family would get a chance to showcase their own musical talents.  Bill’s younger sister Dorothy, and his daughters Betty and June would sometimes join the band to sing.[4]
     Nearly 120 tunes are among the several set lists played by the band.  When, exactly, Bill Knutz and His Orchestra stopped playing isn’t clear, but one of the songs on that list was from 1953, making their run at least 20 years.

[1] See newspaper ad at top left, from the ad for the dance at Honrath’s barn, from the Daily Plainsman (Huron, South Dakota) 16 August 1934, pg. 5
[2] The newspaper ad for Albert Baum’s barn dance was from the Daily Plainsman of 17 June 1937.  The ad for the VFW Club was from the Daily Plainsman of 31 Dec 1948, pg. 5.
[3] Interview with Bill and Lillian’s daughter Betty, about 2002.
[4] Betty also noted that her sister June played Hawaiian guitar and sang second soprano, while Betty had a Spanish guitar and sang Alto.  Bill’s sister Dorothy sang soprano.  The three girls would get together and practice songs.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Raymond - Project Comlete

     For some time (~ 10 years), I have been trying to learn more about my maternal grandmother's brother, Raymond Christensen, who dropped everything after the Pearl Harbor attacks and enlisted in the Army.  He went from a non-traditional agriculture college student to a radar observer in a night fighter crew - one of the most dangerous jobs a soldier could have.  Thanks to a number of people who have helped a long the way, I felt my research was complete enough to begin writing his story.  And I recently completed that mission.

     If you are interested in Ray's story, let me know and I'll send you a copy.  It's a short book (~62 pages) with photos.  Again, thanks to all who helped in any way during the last 10 years.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bill's New Tractor

Bill Knutz's new tractor, 1937.  No heated/air-conditioned cab, no CD player, etc.  Just Bill and the elements.  I remember watching the news back in the 1970s with Bill, and hearing any story about farmers going broke would elicit a tirade on all their fancy equipment, no wonder they were going broke, and back in *his* day, etc.  It took a special breed of man to be a farmer in South Dakota in that era.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Old People Used to Party Too

     For those of us growing up in or around Huron, South Dakota, partying at Stony Run is nothing new.  We all went out there on a summer Saturday night for some fun from time to time.

     And, those of us who knew dear old Aunt Lulu Graves, remember her as  a quiet old lady who had a Christmas party every year and gave unusual gifts.

     Now, put those two concepts together, and watch your head spin.

     Yes, that's Aunt Lulu running around in her underwear early one Sunday morning having a swim in Pearl Creek.  I won't ask what those articles of clothing were on the ground, or exactly what transpired the night before.

     But I do know that Aunt Lulu could have told some stories...