paul's family relationships

notes from a conversation about mom's father - spring 1999

among his sisters, agnes would come to see dad (paul). anna didn't. mom (mabel) and i went to see anna dad did not. the age difference between agnes and paul was 11 years and agnes took on a caretaker role with paul. she would come to visit more than any of the others. the courtesy / routine / custom was that younger siblings, paul for example, would go visit the older ones. paul's brother, uncle bob visited us too. paul liked his sister amanda, there was a kinship there. they both had 6 children. she died young from an injury that they mistakenly thought turned into a cancer.

in the afternoons when there was not much work paul would go driving and i would go with him. we'd go visit warner (larson). they differed politically. unless it was family you didn't just drop in on a neighbor without a specific piece of news or business. paul didn't have much to talk about with a lot of his neighbors beyond the electric coop project he was working on in the legislature. i can remember he would cus reuben nelson about farming techniques now and then. dad was very particular about the upkeep of his own farm - the fence, weeds, repairing, manure, mowing, thistles. he would seldom spray and only right at the base of a thistle root after he'd chop out the plant. he didn't believe in using harsh chemicals, party because if you got a hog disease you could loose your hogs.

after paul's parents gave him the farm and moved into gowrie they lived in the old house next the lutheran church in town. i don't know what his daily relationship was like with them. they died in 1930, the year before i was born. did they have a car in town? they were late 70's early 80's, maybe they drove. paul had a car in the teens. i don't know how much he would have done for them in those days.

paul and his oldest son charlie did quite a lot of work together on the farm. later charlie had a hard time seeing paul's decline due to alcoholism. charlie had worked with paul more than anybody and saw him as a strong and vibrant man, active in politics. charlie hadn't been involved in a lot of school activities, he mostly did farming chores which he enjoyed. but it was always understood between paul and his children that "you will go to college". paul's attitude was that his kids "get out of here" and "don't come back and farm after college." paul's life choices hadn't included life off the farm. he went to junior college and then began farming. the first generation couldn't make the break. of course it was a tough choice, having a farm handed to you. getting married and starting a family.