Project Editor: Jim Metzger

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Metzger Memories

Horses on front cover.
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Metzger Memories

This story is dedicated to the Lady that has influenced my life since I first met her in 1925.


She has traveled the route with me, thru the difficult years of depression and to many lands. She gave up a profession of her own, to raise a family of four. She has kept diaries and other records that have made this story possible. She has always said, "You can do it."

Jim Metzger sitting at computer.
September 1, 1994
Sonoma, California.
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This is a record of events in my life, that were written over a period of 6 years, 1988 to 1994. It began with a writing class sponsored by the Santa Rosa Junior College. When the college dropped the course, the class persuaded Rebacca Latimer, a published author, to be our instructor. Her suggestions, and interest in Turkey have been major contributions to this story.

An attempt has been made to keep events in sequence, but some events and places that were part of my early life, have also been apart of later years. The early dates have been taken from school records from 1914 to 1924.

Records that Verna kept, and those from the period while on the ranch, covers 1928 thru 1932. Project reports and travel orders while with the CCC camp and Soil Conservation Service are for the period from 1934 to 1944.

Farm Management and Insurance records, while living in Gering Nebraska and Longmont Colorado, are from 1945 to 1955.

Our assignment overseas from 1955 to 1967 was with the Agency For International Development, (USAID). Verna's letters to the family, the scrap books she kept and our passports, supply the dates for this period.

The years from 1967 to 1976, spent at Scottsbluff, Nebraska, were semi-retirement. I renewed my Insurance and real estate licenses and worked part time.

In 1976 we moved to Sonoma, California. I passed California examinations for licenses I had in Nebraska and Colorado, but spent most of my time as a volunteer with the Chamber of Commerce and community projects. An assignment in Cali, Colombia, with the International Executive Service Corp. (I E S C) was among the volunteer activities.

Our return trip to Turkey in 1982, gave us an opportunity to renew friendships with my two "Counterparts", Naki Uner and Atif Atilla, and Verna met two of her former students, who were teaching at the school where she taught.

Included also, among the writings, are glimpses of my thoughts on life in general, and the philosophy by which I have lived.

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My Parents1Government To Private48
My Brothers3Safflower49
Country School4Howard Finch50
One Room School6Turkey 195551
Prairie Fire7Orientation52
Odessa9First Day In Izmir53
Food10Ishan Candas54
Eggs11What Is An Advisor55
Red Shirt12Small Equipment56
No Cash12English To Turkish59
Trans. To School13Hotels in Turkey60
Pest Control14Elmali61
High School15Izmir Hotel62
Deep Snow16Turkey To Jordan63
Pumps & Windmills17Amerikan Kiz Koleji63
Early Winter18East Ghor Canal64
Filling Ice House19The Volkswagon Bug65
Drinking Water20Tadmore66
Harvest time22Jordan To Nebraska69
Husking Corn24Shoes71
Fort Robinson25I E S C72
Trains26Man On White Horse73
Model T Ford29Nebr. to Cal74
Leaving Home30Music75
Ray Magnuson31Rotary76
Wedding Day33Turkey 198278
Depression35Turkey Revisited79
Barbed Wire36Changed Odors80
Dry Pants37Communications80
Where Does It Come38Reunion81
Putting Up Hay40Know What You Want83
Hay Sweep41It Works84
Saddle Horses42It Works Again85
Livestock Sales43Flood Control86
Leaving The Ranch44Vintage House87
University 193244Alcalde87
CCC Camp Days45Finale88
Superintendent CCC47

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On November 19, 1872, Gottlob & Louise Metzger of Herrenberg, Germany, announced the birth of a son. They named him Gustav Friedrich Metzger. This son was the third child in the family of 7 girls and 3 boys. In 1880 the family emigrated to the United States. The third son went by the name of Fritz for much of his life. Fritz was also known by his neighbors and friends as Fred G. Metzger, Fred Metzger became my father, and was to set an example of honesty, thrift and integrity that I have tried to live up to.

The Metzger family settled in Eastern Nebraska at Tecumseh. They were farmers, and Fred, being the oldest son, was given responsibility at a very early age. He worked more than he went to school when he was young, and did not go beyond the fourth grade, but he was a good student and read a great deal, seldom a day would pass that he didn't read from the Bible. He took several magazines dealing with agriculture, animal breeding, and horse training. He was usually up to date on events in his community and the United States.

I never really felt close to my father. He was a sensitive person, but showed very little emotion. I saw him cry only once, and that was when he received the news of his father's death on July 20, 1913. We all went to the funeral, which meant a train ride across Nebraska. Lawrence, my brother, was four years old and I was six. I remember the house where my grandparents lived, and I can still see the two sleek black horses hitched to the black hearse that took the body to the cemetery.

I remember Dad as being very strict. I suppose that he spanked me at some time, but I do not remember receiving a spanking. I do remember, that he would slap my hand at the dinner table, if I reached for something, he would just say, "Someone will pass it to you." I never heard him speak an unkind word to my mother. I have heard him say that his wife would not have to work in the field, and then have to do her house work. That meant nothing to me at the time, but I now realize that he came from a society where field work was expected of women.

Dad was an impressive person, standing 6 feet tall, and weighing 225 lbs; in recent years he led with his belt buckle when he walked down the street. He remained on the ranch until he was past 70, and missed very few days of work.

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I do not remember Dad going to a doctor, his health seemed always to be good. He died at the age of 88, from prostate complications.

Fred Metzger was a conservative person when it came to finances. He kept a perfect set of books, and was treasurer for the school. I suppose he could be called a workaholic, it was not uncommon for him to say on Monday morning at the breakfast table, "This is Monday, tomorrow is Tuesday, the next day is Wednesday, the week is half gone and nothing done yet." I grew up with the feeling that I always must be doing something productive, and I suppose that this is why I am also a workaholic.

Fred's father was an officer in the German Army, under the Kaiser. He came to America because he didn't want his own sons to have to serve in the army. He was an alcoholic, and Dad would have to go to the bar, late at night, and bring him home drunk. It made such an impression on him that he swore never to take a drink, and as far as I know, he never did, nor did he smoke.

When I was very young, he promised me a gold watch when I reached the age of 21, if I did not drink or smoke. I received the gold watch, as did my two brothers. In later years we all slipped a little, I like a glass of wine or beer once in a while, and both my brothers smoked at one time.


Bessie Grace Platt was born March 15, 1986 [sic], on a farm north east of Crab Orchard, Nebraska. She was the middle daughter in a family of five girls. James and Sarah Platt, her parents, lived on the farm until the family was grown, and then moved into Crab Orchard, where Jim Platt ran a a grocery store. My early memory of my grandparents, were visits to Crab Orchard at Christmas time when I was not more than 5 or 6 years old.

My mother was a quiet, patient lady. Life must have been difficult for her, she came from a family that was very close. She married at the age of 19 and two years later moved to a homestead in Western Nebraska, a wind swept, flat plains country, very unlike the area in Eastern Nebraska where she grew up. The closest neighbor was more than a mile away, and not even in sight, and since I was born only a month after they arrived, it would have been difficult for her to visit anyone.

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She told stories of helping the dog kill a rattle- snake, and of chasing a coyote from the yard with a broom. I once heard her say that homesickness was a real sickness for her. I always felt closer to my Mother than I did to my Father. I could always talk to her when I had problems. I like to think that I inherited her ability as a peacemaker and a sympathetic listener. I will always remember a statement she made to me, when I was critical of some one. "Just remember that the faults you see in others, may be your own."


Fred and Bessie were married in Johnson, County, Nebraska, Aug. 12, 1905. They came to Crawford in March of 1907. Fred had his homestead permit, but found a place to buy, that was about 5 miles north west of Crawford. A family by the name of Wolff had taken this property as a homestead, but relinquished his rights to the Metzgers.

The 640 acres had a log barn, a frame house, and three small sheds. There are pictures in the family, showing this property without a single tree. As a boy I remember that snow could sift thru the cracks, and windows, and cover my bed when ever there was a blizzard. There was no indoor plumbing; an outdoor toilet, 50 yards from the house served in all kinds of weather. Water had to be carried from the well which was close to the house, and the windmill kept the tanks filled with water for the livestock.

As a small boy I never felt that we were poor, or that there was anything unusual about our existence, but as I look back, I can see that this was a very difficult time for Fred and Bessie. Dad did not become a naturalized citizen until several years after World War I. He came to the United States with his family when he was 8 years old. He delayed in becoming a U.S.citizen [sic], and it caused him embarrassment with his neighbors, who considered him a "German".

He always did his work on the farm extremely well, it was his life. When he planted corn, it had to be in straight rows. He was an economist the world will never hear of; he never bought anything he could not pay for with cash. When his neighbors lost their farms during the depression, he would say, "They are trying to get big too fast."

My mother went by the name of "Mumsie" for years. We called her Mama, and I disliked that so much that I was the first to call her "Mumsie", and Dad went along with it, and from that time she was no longer "Mama".

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Living conditions were difficult for Mumsie, she had to pump and carry all the water that was needed for cooking and washing. Food could be kept cool only in a cave, but it was hard to keep things from spoiling. She was afraid to let Lawrence and me get very far from the house when we were small, for fear of snakes.

Dad raised horses, and sold many matched teams for farm work. I have a series of books that are dated in the early 1900's that give instructions for training horses. I learned to read these books at a very early age, and by the time I was 8, Dad would let me drive a team in the field if he was close by. I drove my first 4 horse team when I was 12 years old.

When Dad bought the second car, which was another Model T Ford, the folks made a trip to Crab Orchard. I was 14 years old, and they left me to take care of the ranch. They were gone three weeks, which seemed endless to me. Dad had converted the old car to a pickup, by cutting the back seat off and building a truck bed. I used the pickup to haul feed and supplies on the ranch, and to Crawford, to pickup groceries and mail.

Bessie and Fred Metzger.

Born 1886
Died 1973

Born 1872
Died 1960

Married August 12, 1905

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I was born April 1, 1907, and on October 25, 1908 Lawrence came into this world, and we were close enough in age for us to have many common experiences. Ernest was born November 27, 1912, more than five years later, and although he went to the same one room grade school and the same high school, our activities and interests seldom were the same.

We lived a mile and three quarters from school, and occasionally Dad would take us if it were too cold or stormy to walk, but most of the time we walked. It was common for a child, when six years of age to begin school, but our parents delayed my start until Lawrence and I could go together. Our first day of school was in September 1914, and I was then past seven but Lawrence hadn't yet reached his sixth birthday.

School seemed to be difficult for Lawrence, I remember his being exhausted when we reached home at night. After our chores were done, and supper over, we had an hour of home work to do, but he had a difficult time staying awake long enough to finish his work. Lawrence graduated from High School, and graduated from Colorado University at Fort Collins, as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, (DVM). It was not until he became a Veterinarian, that his illness was diagnosed, and he did it himself. He had suffered with Undulant Fever from early childhood. Lawrence had a very successful practice in Northern Colorado, for over 40 years, he was active on the Colorado Sate Board of Examiners, for many years. Lawrence and Eileen were married in 1938 and lived in Boulder. We saw them often when we lived in Longmont from 1945 to 1955.

I feel some times as if I must be a member of another generation from that of Ernie. He was five and one-half years younger than I, but other than having the same parents, our interests and activities were seldom the same. I graduated from high school in 1924, Lawrence in 1927 and Ernie in 1931. In 1927 I entered the University of Nebraska, and Verna and I were married in 1928. With the exceptions of short visits, I never returned to Crawford. Ernie later graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan, attended seminary, and became a Navy Chaplain. He served 30 years and retired with the rank of Captain. He and Melva were married in 1940. Verna and I visited them when his assignments were in the United States, and we keep in touch regularly thru the Metzger Robin letter and by telephone, but the closest we were to them overseas was when we flew over Germany in 1955 on our way to Turkey.

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The transportation that Lawrence and I used when we went to High School was much the same, but not until after Dad bought his second car, and made a pickup out of the first one, was an automobile used for transportation to school. Ernie rode horseback also, but by that time milk was being delivered regularly to the ice cream factory, and delivery had to be made early in the morning when Ernie went to School.

The three Metzger boys, 1914.

The three Metzger boys, taken in 1914. This was Lawrence's and my first store made suit. Mumsie made most of our clothes before this time. Ernie eventually inherited them. I never ask him how he felt about this.

Young Ernie standing behind two horses.

This team of matched grays was typical of the horses Dad raised. It was the first team I ever drove. The lad in the picture is Ernie. Dad started his sons at an early age. We were driving teams in the field as young as eight, and he always worked along beside us with another team.

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My introduction to formal education was in a one room country school. It was 1.75 miles from home and there were very few days that my brother and I didn't walk this distance. Occasionally on stormy days Dad would hitch old Charley to the buggy, and take us.

I remember one day in September when the temperature was above 90 degrees F, and one winter day when it was 40 below zero. I was 7 years old and my brother 6, so this was in 1914. The only early record I have is a souvenir from my first teacher, Cora Sowers, dated 1914.

The 1.75 miles to the school was the longest mile and three quarters I ever saw. Lawrence and I tried every device, and every method possible to break the monotony of this walk. We would take the shortest route as often as possible by crawling over fences and walking thru fields. This method was frowned upon by the neighbors, because we broke down their fences and sometimes damaged young crops. Mumsie did not like it, because it meant torn clothes that she had to mend.

We devised methods of travel that helped time pass. If we could ride a stick horse, it seemed to us to shorten the distance. The most useful to us was a machine that we make ourselves. This machine consisted of a small wheel about 12 inches in diameter, we would put a small 3 inch board on each side of the wheel, put a half inch bolt thru the boards and the wheel. The bolt would serve as an axle. The boards were fastened together at the top, about six feet from the wheel, so this served as a wheelbarrow.

The use of the wheel kept our minds occupied, and time seemed to pass more rapidly. To make it useful we would put a nail in the board about half way from the handle to the wheel. This was a machine to carry our lunch pails. When the ground was smooth it worked fine, but when the ground was frozen, where the cattle had walked in the mud, it was a disaster. Mumsie made sandwiches, some with jam or jelly, or perhaps we would have a small jar of stewed fruit, and when we arrived at school it was hard to tell just what we had for lunch. It wasn't soup, but it looked like it.

It was some time before Mumsie found out what happened. There was dried jelly and fruit stuck to the pail, and when she packed our lunch the next day she would have to give the pail a good cleaning.

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As far as I know, the one room school house is a thing of the past. Our one room school, was Valley Star School, District No. 28. Dawes County, Nebraska. The one room was about 30 feet wide and 60 feet long, and contained the material that the teacher needed to teach the first eight grades.

We were a motley bunch of youngsters, we ranged in ages from 6 to 14 years. The 14 year old girl, Maude Dahlheimer, considered herself a mature lady. The little 6 years old lad that didn't make it to the privy in time, and went all day with wet pants, considered him self an outcast. I often wonder how we appeared to the County Superintendent, who visited us twice a year to inspect our work. I am sure that the teacher knew when she was to coming, because we would get instructions to put on our best manners. We often worked very hard on some project in order to have it completed in time for inspection.

I can still see the two rows of seats, that extended from the platform where the teacher sat, to the back of the room. There was the potbelly stove that was located in the center of the room, the pail of water with the one dipper that every one used. There was a line of clothes hook that stretched across the back of the room, with a name above every one of them, and there was the blackboard in the front of the room with a crack down the middle.

The teacher rang the bell at 9:00 o'clock, and we would be considered tardy if we were not in our seat within five minutes. If I was late getting in my seat, I could miss the first recess, and be required to clean the black board, and empty the waste paper baskets.

I remember being tardy only once, and it was very embarrassing, I was the laughing stock of all my friends, Mumsie had sewed some buttons on my pants and I couldn't keep them buttoned. I thought if I got there a little late that no one would notice.

My memories of country school have always been good. My problems with grammar and spelling have followed me all my life, but I don't think it was the teachers fault. The girl I married was an English teacher, and I am still going to her for help in spelling or grammar.

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Lawrence and Jim Metzger at a young age.
Cora Sowers, the first teacher of Lawrence and Jim.

Cora Sowers was Lawrence's and my first teacher. I remember her as a very soft spoken person, who taught me the multiplication tables.

Valley Star School

District No. 28

Dawes County, Nebraska




  • Bert Lewis

  • James Metzger

  • Lawrence Metzger

  • Jennings Raben

  • Frank Dahlheimer

  • Julia Hunter

  • Florence Leonard

  • Catherine Raben

  • Eeva Dahlheimer

  • Maude Dahlheimer


  • P. L. Raben, Dir.

  • T. J. Hunter, Mod.

  • F. Metzger, Treasurer

Cora Sowers and the Metzger boys, 1967.
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Valley Star School: District No. 28, Dawes County, Nebraska.

VALLEY STAR SCHOOL: District No. 28, Dawes County Nebraska. The addition of the cloak room on the front, was made in later years. The overshoes and winter coats as well as the coal scuttle could be kept out of the school room. The water pail and drinking cup, (used by all) was kept her until it became so cold that the the [sic] water would freeze.

The inside of Valley Star School.

The school room where two pupils could sit at a desk. I never had to share a desk, but some of the smaller students did. In the winter time it was too hot to sit by the stove and too cold to sit at the back of the room.

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There were two of us in my class for the years that I was in country school, Catherine Raben and myself. When we were called on to recite our lessons, the teacher would call us to the front of the room, and we would sit on chairs facing her as she sat at her desk. If I was poorly prepared, or had forgotten some of that day's assignment, I felt as if I were being called before a judge for some traffic violation.

Normally, the teacher's questions began with our assignment that day, but it could be on something we should have remembered from the day before. Some times she would ask for illustrations on the black board. Arithmetic, English and geography were often assignments that called for black- board work. I liked mathematics and geography but English and grammar gave me a headache, and it remains one of my problems as I write the story of my life.

The early grades were not hard for me, but I found the eighth grade more difficult. I have decided that the students in the lower grades had the advantage of hearing the higher grades recite their lessons. It was a help for those who followed, but by the time I got to the eighth grade, I was on my own.

One of the highlights of my time in the country school were the two recess periods, we had 15 minutes in morning about 10 o'clock and another in the afternoon at 2:30. We usually played outside if the weather permitted, snow on the ground meant we could play fox and geese, or snow ball. The snowball fights often ended in some of the small children getting hit hard enough to call for intervention from the teacher. We played baseball in the spring when it was warm, and this included both girls and boys.

The school house was a cold place in the winter. We were always dressed well, long johns and heavy undershirts. The stove in the middle of the room was usually fired with wood or coal that we would carry in from a shed close by. The most difficult time to stay in school was when spring came. It was hard to stay inside and study when the birds were singing and flowers blooming.

To get to school during the winter could be a problem if the snow was deep, and to get caught at school in a blizzard was a worry for parents. There was little warning if there was a blizzard on the way. The weather could be nice when left home in the morning and be a raging storm by the time school was out.

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We had good roads and fences to follow when it was stormy, there were many stories in homesteading days when children got lost in blizzards. There was only one time that the storm came so quickly that we were picked up at the school. The only warning we had, that a blizzard was on the way, came over the wires from the Burlington R.R. A call would be sent out over the country lines that we could expect a storm to reach us soon.

The nine months of school were over on the last day of May. We would often have a picnic, and the parents would celebrate with us. This last day could be a big affair, parents and relatives would arrive at the school at about ten o'clock. They would arrive by wagon, buggy, or horseback and some would walk. We had only a small hitch rack for horses, but there would be teams tied to wagons and fence posts that were close by.

When it came time to start the activities, everyone would go into the school house. The teacher would speak for a few minutes, she would proudly tell of the accomplishments of her students during the past year. There would be high praise for the students who had excelled in their grades for the year. I don't remember receiving any awards, except in mathematics.

If it were nice weather we would then gather outside and share our lunches. If it were bad weather we would push the desks back against the wall and set up some plank tables where we spread our lunches. If it was warm weather there was always someone who brought a freezer of home made ice cream, and there was always lots of cakes and cookies.

The last day of school that I remember best, was on the 31st day of May 1917. It was the only time I remember seeing snow in May. It had snowed enough, that Dad took the sleigh, saying "I never have gone sleigh riding in May, this will be the time." When we came home most of the snow was gone and we rode at the side to keep the sleigh runners on grass, we called our sleigh a grass schooner.

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It hasn't rained for a month. The temperature ranges from 65 degrees in the morning to 105 in the afternoon. It seems that every day about 2:00 O'clock the wind blows from the south, and it feels as if it were blowing over a hot stove.

Everything is dry, and the grain fields that are not yet harvested are so ripe that a heavy wind shatters some of the grain on the ground. The only time it can be cut is in the early morning, or we lose half the crop.

Dad is cutting grain on the east eighty, and starts cutting early in the morning about sunup. I will take a fresh four-horse team to him about 9:00 O'clock so that he does not have to rest the team. I feel that I am grown up at age 10, because I can go to the barn, get the collar that fits each horse and lead them to the field. Dad will then remove the harness from the team he is working and put it on the fresh team that I bring. The harness will fit the team I have brought, but each horse has to have a collar that is specially fit, in order not to damage the animal.

It is the middle of August, 1917, at 10.00 O'clock in the morning, I have returned with the team that Dad used earlier. I take them to the water tank, then to the barn and feed them. It seems to me that the day is hotter than usual. By 11:00 O'clock the wind begins to blow and Dad comes home early, he says he is losing too much grain because it is so dry.

When I was a boy, dinner came at noon, and then a nap. We had just finished dinner and the telephone began to ring. It wasn't the regular long and short combination that calls some one to the phone, it was a series of short quick rings that lasted for only a few seconds. This was an emergency call and every one would get to the phone as fast possible.

Dad went to the phone, without saying a word to any one on the line, he quickly banged the receiver down, turned and said. " A fire on Dawes Forbes' place. The fire has jumped the fire guard." That means only one thing, the fire is heading for our place.

Dad grabbed his hat and gloves, and turned to me and motioned for me to come with him. We went to the barn, took the four horses he had been using, hitched one team to the wagon. I took the other team, rode one and led the other horse.

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We loaded two barrels on the wagon, drove to the water tank, and filled the barrels with water. We then took a walking plow, a roll of sacks and started for the fire. When we left the house, we could see a little smoke in the south west, it didn't look to be much of a fire, but when we came to the top of the hill we could see that we were in trouble. The fire was definitely headed for our house.

It had been fully an hour since the heavily loaded freight train, headed for Sheridan, Wyoming, had passed by. I could only imagine what had happened. The Fireman was stoking a big fire to keep up a head of steam. The huffing and puffing locomotive had belched hot cinders with the smoke. It had started five fires within the mile. The fire guards had stopped all but one of them. That one had jumped the guards and was headed for our buildings.

We were not the first to get to the fire, two neighbors had been there ahead of us. Harold Shipman and John Dodd were plowing another fire guard several hundred yards ahead of the fire. They had successfully shut off the part that was headed for our house. We were probably safe, but Harold's wheat field had not fared so well, thirty acres of shocked grain were already lost.

The grass and stubble was short, this meant that we could get close enough to the fire without getting caught with the team and wagon. I drove as closely as I could to the fire line and neighbors,who [sic] had come by horse back and buggy, were able to take the gunny sacks, soak them in water from the barrels and hit the fire with the wet sacks. It is amazing how well this could control a fire.

I was under orders from Dad to stay on the wagon, and keep a good distance from the fire. He hitched his team to a plow and joined the others in plowing more fire guards.

I drove as close to the fire as I dared, while the men flung the soaked sacks to snuff our the fire. In order not to get caught with the flames, they worked in from the side and directed the fire to an area where the men and teams were plowing the guards, turning the prairie land into brown strips of freshly turned soil.

With grass that is no more than four to six inches tall, the fire line looked like a red fringe to a large, black rug that was being unrolled. The fire is swept along by the wind as fast as a horse could walk. It was only four or five miles per hour, but if you owned hay stacks, grain fields or farm buildings in its path, that seemed much too fast. One neighbor lost a wheat field that had the grain in the shock. Another lost a stack of hay. We escaped with only burned grazing land.

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Several miles from this fire there was another. Little damage was done because one of the neighbors, Walter Heath, was able to stop it from spreading by plowing a guard around the burned area. Walter didn't come home when the fire was out. They found him sitting up against the wagon wheel. The team came home and were standing by the barn, still hitched to the plow. Walter had died of a heart attack.

It would appear that once a prairie fire was put out that it would be safe for the fighters to go home, but this was not the case. Some one had to stay on the job, perhaps for several days. Hot weather in Western Nebraska would breed small twisters or whirl winds. Some times dust and ash would get caught in one of these twisters, and be lifted a 100 feet in the air. At the same time unburned weeds or cow chips would get caught in the up draft and be rolled along the ground and start another fire. Cow chips could hold fire for several days.

I was fascinated by the burned areas, I would walk over the area to see what took place. Only a few birds ever lost their lives. Most of the meadow lark nests would be empty. Snakes often didn't find a place to hide, and would die. Some times a turtle would be found dead, but most often they escaped the heat. Baby rabbits could be found with singed bodies killed by fire or smoke.

The wooden fence posts would often be burned off at ground level and would need to be replaced. If rain fell in the fall the area would green pasture again. If there was no rain it remained a black carpet all winter, if not covered by snow.

I never hear of fires being started by trains any more. Lightening will sometimes start one, but the prairie fire in the ranch country of Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado is still to be feared.

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William M. Forbes, teacher of Jim Metzger in 1917-18.

William M. Forbes, our teacher in 1917-1918, was our authority on Russia. The seed corn project created a lot of interest in the community. It was my first introduction to the world that existed outside the boundaries of Dawes, County, Nebraska.

Valley Star School


Crawford, Nebraska

December 25, 1917

William M. Forbes,

School Officers

  • P. L. Raben Director

  • F. G. Metzger Treasurer

  • T. G. Hunter Moderator


  • Edwin Ostermeyer

  • Alma Ostermeyer

  • Alfred Ostermeyer

  • William Ostermeyer

  • Ralph Ostermeyer

  • Martha Ostermeyer

  • Maude Dahlheimer

  • Catherine Raben

  • Jennings Raben

  • Elmer Raben

  • James Metzger

  • Lawrence Metzger

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ARA FOR JDC ODESSA, I will always remember ARA FOR JDC, (AMERICAN RELIEF ASSOCIATION FOR JEWISH DISTRIBUTION COMMITTEE). For 75 years this has been in my mind. The Russian Revolution of the 1990's brings memories of the Russian Revolution of 1917. The one in 1917 was important to me because I played a part in a project that was designed to help the food shortage. The total deaths from starvation was never known, some estimates placed it at a hundred thousand.

Alan Moorehead's book; THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION describes in detail the plight of the Russian people during 1916 and 1917. "The winter of 1916-1917 was particularly severe--at one stage no less than 1200 locomotives burst their frozen pipes--making it impossible for adequate food distribution. In Odessa, people had to wait two days in line to get a little cooking oil. In Petrograd and Moscow bread lines formed through out the freezing night."

By the time the fighting had ended, all the seed grains had been eaten, and there was no seed available for planting the 1918 crop.

In 1917 my father received a request for seed corn, from the American Relief Association for Jewish Distribution Committee. Russia needed seed corn that came from a land with climate similar to that of the Ukraine. Western Nebraska: Elevation 4000 feet above sea level: annual rainfall of 20-24 inches, and lying between the 40th. and 50th. parallel, with a 90 to 100-day growing season, met these requirements.

As Dad picked the corn, ear by ear, and threw them in the wagon, he carefully selected the best ears and threw them in the front of the load. When he unloaded, he put the selected ears in a separate bin. He gathered his own seed corn in this manner, but this year it would include 200 bushels of ear corn that would be shipped to Odessa [sic] Russia.

By December all the corn was harvested, and special instructions were given for shipment. The American Relief Association would pay for the corn, the price would be double that received for livestock feed. I think the price paid was $.50 per bushel.

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Each ear of corn was to be carefully wrapped in paper to protect if from salty air while in shipment. We used many Montgomery Ward catalogues and newspapers. It was then packed in burlap bags, each bag was sewed shut and marked ARA FOR JDC ODESSA. I was given the task of lettering each bag, I stretched the bags out on the floor, and placed a stencil over each bag, and carefully filled in each letter with black paint. There were 100 bags, each holding two bushels of ear corn.

We prepared the corn for shipment in December. It was very cold so we did the work in the house. Mumsie cleared the kitchen table and we set up sawhorses with planks as work benches. This became a family project for my parents, my younger brother and myself. I was 10 year old, I felt VERY IMPORTANT and I made sure the bags were lettered properly.(ARA FOR JDC, ODESSA),

The project was the talk of the neighborhood. Our teacher, William Forbes, lost no time in getting a world map on the wall of our one room school house. He showed us where Russia was located on the globe, he read from the encyclopedia and told us about the people, the country and the Czar.

The Russian Revolution of the 1990's is different but there are many similarities. Will there be food shortages? Will people starve as they did in 1917? Will there be a civil war? What will the new government be?

As events unfold in the 1990s we will see them happen, they will come to us in the living rooms. We will have many opinions from people who know a great deal about the country and its people.

In 1917 we had no radio, no television, our information came to us from the local paper that we received weekly. We always had the Nebraska Farmer, an agricultural paper that was concerned with local agricultural matters in the state and nation but little was ever said about the world.

The little one room school house, in 1917 boasted of fourteen students, grades one thru eight. The 21 year old year old teacher with his maps, the globe and the monthly Current Events paper was our source of information. HE was our expert.

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The task of obtaining adequate food for each day is not a problem for most of us, we go to the super market and everything we need for a balanced diet is on the shelf. Today refrigeration, transportation and well organized distribution has made it possible, not only to get the necessary food for survival, but to have special foods at all seasons of the year.

How different it was 80 years ago. There was no refrigeration, many perishable crops could be moved only a short distance from where they were raised. The majority of people had to provide all their own food and a little extra for those who lived close enough to get it before it spoiled.

To grow the food and process it, required much time, and many skills. I learned many of these skills from my parents. On the ranch, we raised our own meat, vegetables, eggs and milk. We slaughtered and processed the meat. We grew the crops that could be dried, canned, or stored in caves. We bought only a few necessities, such as salt, sugar, kerosene for lights, and wood or coal for cooking. We raised wheat and had it ground into flour at the river mill, only a few miles from home.

My father was an expert at butchering hogs and in preserving the meat. He not only did it for his family, but he often supervised the project for the neighbors. The killing of a hog was a painless process for the animal, it would be stunned with a heavy hammer, and with great skill, a knife would sever an artery at a point where it forked, between the jaw and the front legs. The blood was saved as food for the chickens.

To clean and dress a hog required several operations. Water was heated in a 55 gallon barrel; when it reached the proper temperature, it would be lowered into the barrel and held long enough in the hot water until the hair could be scraped off. This was done with a scraper or large knife. The carcass is then hung with head down and offal removed. The liver and heart were quickly cooled, this would be the meat we would have for supper. The carcass is allowed to cool over night. It will then be cut into hams, sides for bacon, and other cuts.

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With no refrigeration the next operations must be completed in a hurry. The hams are rubbed with saltpeter (Potassium Nitrate), put in a smoke chamber, (smoke house), for several days or even weeks. A wood fire, or ear corn, would create enough smoke to produce a delicious cut of ham or bacon.

When the remainder of the meat was cut, there would be tenderloin, the back loin which is now served as pork chops Often because of lack of refrigeration, much of the meat was roasted and put in glass jars and sealed. Wonderful roast pork could be preserved for the rest of the year.

The feet were well cleaned and pickled. The head became head cheese. The remainder was ground, and made into link sausage by cleaning the offal and stuffing it with ground meat, and smoked with the hams and shoulders.

When Verna and I were living on the ranch in the 1930s we butchered a beef more often than hogs. Verna would preserve much of the beef by roasting and canning in glass jars, which made the best roast beef I have ever eaten.

Verna Metzger standing with a flock of hens in the 1930s.

The farm flock of laying hens supplied the family with meat and eggs. Eggs were traded at the local grocery store for many items used in the kitchen. Mumsie was able to buy materials for making clothes for us.

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"HELP! HELP! I can't get out!" I tried to go forward, I tried to go backward, nothing seemed to work. I was caught between the floor joists under the barn, and the hard ground. My 5 year old brother Lawrence, was the only person who knew where I was. I yelled at the top of my voice but got no answer. I was scared. How was I ever going to get out of this mess.

I suppose it was no longer than 10 minutes, but it seemed like 10 days. I tried to crawl out of my clothes, but I couldn't unhook my suspenders. I was crying and yelling, and I finally got an answer from Lawrence. I didn't know where he was, but he was soon pulling on my pant leg. He unhooked my pants from a nail in the floor joist and gave me enough freedom to wriggle backward and free myself.

Spring on the ranch brings calves, pigs, lambs, kittens, colts and chickens. As for the chickens, the eggs came first. My brother and I were hunting eggs. Mumsie was the proud owner of a flock of prize Buff Orpingtons that furnished her with eggs enough for the family table and a surplus with which she purchased most of the groceries that we needed.

The selection of the breeding stock was an important process in maintaining a productive laying flock. Eggs were collected for several weeks and then placed in an incubator. In three weeks another laying flock was on the way.

The chickens were allowed to run free at the ranch, and 1 eggs were not always laic in the proper nests in the chicken house. In the spring, a brooding hen had her own idea as to what was needed to raise young chicks, she would hide her eggs under the feed bunks in the barn or even under buildings. Lawrence and I could earn a little money if we found eggs in hidden nests. We would be paid a penny an egg for all we could collect.

Trying to find eggs is what got me in trouble. I was under the barn and spotted a nest in the far corner. I tried to crawl thru the same opening that the hen had been using, but I didn't make it. Lawrence was a little smaller than I and did get thru and found six eggs. We divided the six cents.

Years later I looked under that old barn. That hole as [sic] still there, but I didn't see any eggs.

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I have heard that there is a lot of business conducted in the United States by using the barter system. You can trade commodities with out showing any record of a cash transaction. I am told that millions of dollars are lost in taxes, and that the IRS frowns on this type of business. Business transactions, where no cash was used, were common when I was a boy. It was not the intent to avoid taxes, it was because there was no cash. Business conducted by the barter system, could be for services or commodities.

My mother always planned to raise chickens for meat and eggs, enough to supply our own food, and we always seemed to have eggs to take to the grocery store and trade for other produce. Eggs from the flock of laying hens, and cream and butter from the cows we milked, were bartered for groceries at Frank Lewis' grocery store. The list of things needed was prepared by Mumsie, there was usually, salt, sugar, pepper, baking powder and other items needed in cooking.

The eggs and butter were carried in a large basket, which would then be used for groceries. The process of obtaining the groceries always interested me. I would watch Dad count the eggs, then watch Frank get each item from the shelves as Dad read the list Mumsie had prepared. Some times a shipment of oranges had been received and Dad would select one for Mumsie, Lawrence, himself and me. Some times Frank would give me a piece of chocolate candy. I was just tall enough to stand on my toes and look over the counter, and reach the candy.

When the groceries were in the basket, Dad would take a small pencil from his pocket, scribble on a piece of paper, Frank would do the same, Dad would say, "I owe you $1.50," Frank would then say, "I will put it on the books until next time." I never did see any money change hands.

I think that my brother Lawrence is the only person who will remember this next story. Dad, on one of his trips to town, had a nice team of well matched grays, he was alone, and carrying a large basket of eggs on his arm. As he crossed the R.R. tracks a switch engine hit him. The engine ran over his team and made kindling wood of his wagon. The team had to be destroyed, they were so badly mangled. Dad came out without a scratch. His clothes were completely covered with egg yolks. He called Mumsie as quickly as he could get to a phone so that she would know that he was not hurt. He wanted to get the news to her before it got to the party line.

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It was not always easy to communicate with our neighbors before 1914, we had a telephone before that date, but some of the neighbors did not. One of them was a bachelor who lived in a sod house that was only a little more than a mile from where we lived. I never heard him called anything but "Squeaky Johnson." Squeaky got his name from his high pitched voice. He always made me feel as if he were yelling at me. He was a good neighbor, and could always be depended upon to help us when we needed him.

One of my mother's complaints, was, when some one wanted to get in touch with Squeaky, they would call her. It was not uncommon for her to stop her work, and walk more than a mile to get the message to him. When I became old enough, I must have been 5 or 6, she would write out the message on a piece of paper and I would deliver it.

The little sod house where Squeaky lived was not one of my favorite spots. During the summer he kept a large bull snake around to keep the mice and rats from invading the sod house. The bull snake was a welcome visitor; it also kept the rattlesnakes away. I hated to go near when the snake was around.

One July morning, Mumsie received a message to deliver. She was making shirts for my brother Lawrence and me. She had completed a bright red one for Lawrence, and I was to get the next one. She didn't want to stop her work, so she asked me to deliver the message, and to take Lawrence with me. I was busy pounding nails in a box, trying to make a house for our dog. I was unhappy and didn't want to take Lawrence with me, he was not able to go as fast as I wanted to go, so I went off and left him. As soon as I had delivered the message I hurried home to get back to my work.

We had taken a short cut thru a wheat field, the wheat was as high as my head, and it wasn't long before I lost sight of Lawrence. I was mad, and didn't care that I had lost him.

As soon as I returned, I got back to my task of building the dog house. Noon arrived, Dad came from the field, and Mumsie called us to dinner. The first comment from Dad was, "Where is Lawrence?" I said I didn't know. The next question was directed to me. "James, didn't he go with you to deliver the message to Squeaky?" It had been three hours since I got back home. I didn't know where he was.

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I would have been better off had I known. I was scared, if Lawrence is lost I am in real trouble. Dad leaped from the dining room table, went to the barn, saddle his horse, mounted and pulled me up behind the saddle, and told me to show the way we had gone. For an hour we crossed and recrossed that wheat field. Suddenly, Dad stopped his horse, right in front of us was a sobbing little 4 year boy wearing a bright red shirt. Dad reached down and pulled him up into the saddle with him. Not a word was spoken until we reached the house. As we sat down to dinner, Lawrence, between sobs, said, "Didn't you see my RED SHIRT"?

I never was punished for running off and leaving my brother. I think my parents knew that I was badly scared. Dad just said, "Don't run off and leave any one again." It is painful to this day, for me to leave someone if I think they may be lost, or have no way to get home.

Lawrence and Jim Metzger on farm at an early age, wearing red shirts.

If this picture were in color the shirts would be red. I am sure that when Lawrence outgrew his he would get mine, so he would wear a red shirt for a long time. The same would be true of the overalls. These overalls were special, they had two buttons for each suspender. When I got caught under the barn I couldn't get one of the buttons unhooked.

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In May of 1920 I passed the county examinations that permitted me to enter high school. In September I enrolled in the high school in Crawford, Nebraska. It was about 4.5 miles from the ranch to the school. I rode a horse for the 4 years, and only on rare occasions would I be permitted to use the car.

My father raised horses, and much of his income came from selling teams of horses for farm work. He occasionally would sell one that would be used on a single buggy or as a saddle horse. Some times the horse would be partly trained, and it was my task to do some of that early training.

I remember the name of every horse I rode. Many of these horses were only half broke, and did not want to be ridden. This meant some rough rides for me. The first horse was Bob, a flea bitten sorrel, Bob always wanted to turn and go home when he got to the bridge, As a small boy I used to go as far as the bridge and then turn around.

There was Lucy, Betty, Smokey, Baldy, Dick. I remember three of these horses better that the others, because they occasionally left me sitting on the ground and I would have to walk home.

Lucy hated automobiles and trains. In 1920 there were only a few automobiles on the road, and when one of these contraptions came along with flapping side curtains, she would have a fit. She would turn in spite of anything I did, and start for home. Usually the driver would stop, turn off the engine, and let me pass. I would still have to get as far from the car as possible.

There were two railroads in Crawford, and the tracks crossed at the point I entered the city limits. The engineers would take delight in blowing the whistle. Lucy would jump and start to run. One time she just stuck her head between her front legs and bucked me off, and I had to walk all the way home.

Baldy hated dogs, and in the fall during fair time, the Indians from the Rose Bud reservation, would camp along the road where I crossed the river. The dogs around the camp seemed to take delight in snapping at Baldy's heels. She would kick at them, and occasionally hit one and send him head over heels into the borrow pit at the side of the road. The fair usually lasted 8 or 10 days, as time passed, the number of dogs that bark at my horse, became fewer, and the lines of dried meat got longer.

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Smokey was a small, ugly horse, a dirty smokey [sic] color, with a dark stripe down his back. My father would never have had it on the ranch under normal conditions, but he had hired an Indian from the reservation to help him harvest the fall crops, and he had loaned him some money, that he couldn't repay, and so gave Dad the horse. Smokey had a bad habit of running away. I broke chin straps and bridle reins trying to hold him, he would run for home and go right into the barn if the door was open. Eventually I found a way to stop him, I took a long shank curb bit, with a wire jaw strap, and put an end to his running.

I rode to school in all kinds of weather, hot, cold, snow or rain, but with proper clothes I could keep warm and dry, Handling a horse in very cold weather could be difficult, if it were below zero, 40 below is the coldest I remember, great care had to be taken to get the frost out of the bit. A bit with frost in it can take the skin off a horse's tongue. The frost can be removed by putting the bit in water or blowing on it, the moisture from the breath was enough to take the frost out.

It was several years before I was permitted to drive the car, and then it had to be for special occasions in my senior year. The saddle horse was my transportation.

Jim Metzger standing next to a saddle horse.

This was the first horse I owned. Dad gave me the gift when I was 8 years old, I named her "GERTIE". I looked forward to the day when I could train her. One day an evangelist came to the door and was explaining to Mumsie that the world was sure to come to an end in about ten years. My first thought was that I would have time to train my horse.

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Are you being eaten by bugs, lice, fleas, mice or rats? Call the pest exterminator. He will bring his chemicals and electrically powered machines and clean things up for you. As late as 1932 we had no electrical equipment and very few chemicals that could be of help. We had to invent our own method of getting rid of the pests. If we couldn't get rid of them, we just lived with them.

It seemed to me, when I was a boy, that my folks were always fighting some kind of pest. Flies, bedbugs, fleas, mice, mites, these were always a concern in the house. Lice ticks, fleas, worms, were year around problems with cattle, horses, hogs, chickens, cats and dogs. Grasshoppers, potato bugs, and worms were eating up our garden and other crops the minute we turned our backs.

The ordinary house fly, on the ranch where there were cattle and horses, was the most common pest. We built fly traps that caught them by the thousands. The traps were made of ordinary window screen rolled into a cylinder with cone shaped entrance at the bottom. Fly bait of food would attract the flies, when they flew away, they would hit the cone shaped part of the trap and crawl into a hole that the could never find to get out of. Then there was sticky fly paper of various kinds. The ribbon of sticky paper that hung from the ceiling, or the large flat piece of paper wit glue that was an attraction for flies and bugs.

Bedbugs, ticks or fleas were not common if care was taken to keep things clean. The problem could arise at harvest time when extra help was hired. Mumsie made sure that some of the clothing would be left outside, but that didn't always work. When there was evidence that some of these pests might be present, she would close up the house and put a pan of sulphur [sic] on the floor and light a match to it. The fumes would kill every living thing in the house. When the sulphur [sic] burned out, she would open up the house, and air it out. When winter came, mice could always find a way into the house.

The worms and bugs always seemed to get to the garden before we did. The tobacco worms on the tomato vines, or the potato bug on the potatoes. The chemical that we used was called PARIS GREEN, a bright green powder, made by mixing sodium arsenic with copper sulfate and acetic acid. We would put a small amount of the mixture with water in a pail, and walk down the potato row and sprinkle the mixture on the vines. If we did not use the poison, we took a small can with some kerosene in it and picked the bugs and worms off the vine and threw them into the kerosene.

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The farm animals were always needing care. Lice were common in winter, when there were long winter coats of hair on the horses and cattle. To keep the lice under control we would wrap a post in the corral with rags soaked in kerosene or motor oil. The cattle, horses and hogs took care of them selves by rubbing against the oily rags. Occasionally we would mix kerosene and oil and rub it on the animal. Lice and mites on chickens were treated by painting roosts and nests with a creosote mixture and put wood ashes in the dusting pans.

Mice in grain bins was always a problem. We had cats around that helped control the mice. One of our neighbor kept a bull snake during the summer months. Cats that had kittens in winter could keep them alive. In summer I suspected the bull snake was getting them.

We kept a few cats around the barns, if we fed them a little milk when we milked the cows, they never seemed to need any other food, so we were seldom bothered with mice in our feed bins.

Sod house on Metzger farm.

The sod house was hard to keep free of pests. Bugs and flies always found their way thru the windows and doors. Mice were always a problem. "Squeaky Johnson's" sod house looked much like this one. He kept a cat during the winter that would take care of the mice, and in the summer time his pet bull snake was very effective.

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My high school years were not the happiest years of my life. From a one room country school, where we seldom had more than 10 or 12 students, to a high school that had 140 students with four or five teachers was to be a difficult adjustment for a 13 year old country kid. Most of my high school class mates had been together thru the first eight grades, and had many friends. There were only two of us from my school. It appeared to me that all were dressed better than I, and my self esteem was about as low as it could get. I thought I was the country hick. It was to be many years before I could rid myself of that feeling.

Every morning before I left home I had to care for the horses and cattle. As soon as I was finished with my chores I would grab my books, hurry to the barn, saddle my horse and ride the four and one half miles to the barn where I kept my horse. I would make a run for school before the bell rang at 9:00 o'clock, At 3:30 p.m. I would reverse the process, and hope to get home before it became dark.

My mother would have supper ready as soon as we were thru with our chores. The regular diet would be meat, potatoes and gravy, with homemade bread, which we washed down with lots of cold milk. The family always ate together and Dad usually wanted to know what we had learned that day.

Home work would take an hour or two. I studied at the dining room table, by the light of a kerosene light. It was a great help when we were able to get a gasoline light that hung from the wall and lighted the entire room.

Bed time came at 8:00 o'clock, and we were up the next morning at 5:30. I expected to do this five days a week, and Saturday meant extra work to haul enough feed to last for the following week.

I looked thru my records and found the transcript of grades that were sent to the University of Nebraska when I matriculated in the fall of 1927. The 32 credits required to graduate included English, Latin, chemistry, physics and mathematics. The electives included manual training, and typing. English and Latin were difficult for me. I took Latin the second time, and then just got passing grades. I liked manual training, Dad had taught me to use wood working tools, and I could make the other students look like amateurs. This was the only time that I really felt equal to my peers. I graduated with an average grade of 80.

I liked manual training the best, but the typing class was to prove the most valuable course in High School.

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I can only imagine what my college work would have been with out a typewriter, I established several USDA flood control projects while with the CCC camp and Soil Conservation Service. I often made preliminary surveys with out clerical help. There were reports while on assignment in foreign countries, where clerical help was not available. A shortage of technical staff and language problems made it necessary to write my own reports.

I have to confess, that even I had a hard time reading my hand writing when it got cold. My typewriter made it possible for others to read what I wrote. My spelling has improved, when I wrote by hand I might be able to make A look like an E or an F, and if it were type written it had better be correct.

I worked all summer in 1924 to save $60.00, and bought a Remington portable typewriter. In 1928 I married an English and typing teacher, who taught the same typing class that I had taken 4 years earlier. You can understand why I was especially careful when I wrote love letters to her.

Verna is still of special help when I do this writing. How can I look up a word in the dictionary, or even get my computer to spell, if I can't even get the first two letters right? I have just ask her how to spell curriculum, I can't find it under CA or CO. she says, "look under CU."

Participation in extra curricular activities while in High School was difficult for me. It was necessary for me to work mornings and evenings at home. I did get my parents to let me play foot ball my senior year, but this was not very successful, the Crawford team won the western Nebraska championship in 1923, the year that I played, but I was not experienced and played on the second team most of the time. I took the hard hits from the backfield of the first team.

I had one experience that I will probably never forget. Working in the manual training class was a friend that liked caramel candy, one day he gave me a piece, I liked it so well that I gave him a nickel to get me some, he would give it to me at the next manual training class. He never did come back to class, and I lost a nickel. I don't know whether it was because I lost the nickel, or that I didn't get the caramel candy that made me remember it all these years.

I gradated in June 1924, I did have an opportunity to show some of my skills, the seniors put on a play the week of graduation. A request was made for members of the class to provide some entertainment between acts. I volunteered to play my banjo and harmonica. This was a novelty act that was new to the audience, and I got a good hand. This act brought me a lot of attention. I guess I needed this to satisfy my ego.

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It was April 1922, and the day dawned bright and clear. It was like many other April mornings in Western Nebraska. It had been warmer than usual for April and much of the ground preparation for planting, was finished. This year Dad is seeding alfalfa with the oat crop. The oats will be harvested in August and the alfalfa would continue to grow and be a crop for several years to come.

The planting was done with an 8 foot grain drill pulled by four horses. The alfalfa seed was placed in a small hopper, along side the big hopper that held the oats. and will be seeded at the same time. All went well the first day in the field. The second day began with another bright morning, but by noon the sky was gray and cloudy. By the middle of the after noon it began to snow. With in an hour there was so much snow on the ground that I had to quit. I unhitched the team and went home. By nightfall there was six inches of snow. There was no wind and everything was covered with a white blanket.

The next morning it was still snowing. The grain drill that I had been using was so well covered that all I could see above the snow, was the seat, and the top of the hopper. There was still no wind, this was not like Western Nebraska. There was nothing we could do in the field, but now we had a new problem. Dad was a horse breeder and foals were arriving. We had to spend all day getting them into dry quarters. It was necessary to scoop enough snow to get the herd to feed and water. There was now 3 feet of soft white snow on the ground, and still snowing.

Monday morning arrived, the third day of the snow. An emergency telephone call, a series of rings, announced that there would be no school today. I was feeling good about everything, because this would be a vacation. It wasn't long before the phone rang again, this time it was two longs and two shorts, that was our ring. Dad got up from the breakfast table to answer. He talked for some time, and from the tone of his voice I knew that something was not good. I heard him say, "I can send him over, but I am not sure that he can get there." HIM meant me, and I didn't want to go anywhere.

Dad came back to the table and sat down. I was afraid to start the conversation, so I said nothing. Finally, what seemed ages to me, he said, "Dawes Forbes is sick and in bed. He can't get his cattle to feed or water and he wants you to help him for a few days." I didn't want to go any where, above all things, I didn't want to go to work for Dawes Forbes. I got along with him, but he always called me KID, and I didn't like to be called KID.

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It was now the third day of the storm. The sun was beginning to show thru the clouds. There had been no wind, and the snow was now 4 feet deep, it was beautiful to see, a white sea of snow, but almost impossible to go any place. Dad said, "You had better try to go." I grudgingly went to the barn to get my saddle horse, Baldy, the horse that I had been riding to school, and headed for the Dawes Forbes' ranch. It was only three miles, but I think the longest three miles I have ever traveled.

Dad suggested that I not go around by the road, and take a pair of wire cutters with me and cut the fence. Baldy wasn't pleased with what I was doing, but with some urging she waded out into the snow. I would follow the fence line as far as I could. There was no other guide line, and even then it was hard to see. There had been no wind, only the tops of the posts appeared above the snow. The white caps made them look like a line of little soldiers standing quietly at attention.

It took me nearly two hours to reach my destination. Baldy couldn't carry me and wade thru the snow. I put the lariat over the saddle horn, and drove her ahead of me.

What I saw when I got there was very discouraging. There were both cattle and horses to feed and water. Some of the cows were calving, and two of them were having trouble, which was a problem that took a lot of time.

Two days of hard work; The wind did not blow, and the sun melted the snow, so in a short time we could move around. When it became time to go home, Dawes Forbes thanked me, gave me two dollars, and said, "KID, you did a good job."

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The homesteader with a good well on his place, had another problem to solve, the water had to be raised from the bottom of the well to ground level. It was always possible for a person to attach a 3 or 4 gallon pail to a rope, and let it down in the well, and when the pail hit the water, give the rope a quick jerk and the pail would flip over and fill with water, then pull the rope hand over hand until the pail reached the surface. One person would have to work all day to water 100 head of cattle.

I have seen many types of inventions that made it easier to get the water out, than just dropping a bucket in the water and then hand over hand draw it to the surface. The first improvement was a single pulley mounted above the well. This made it possible to get the water to the surface with out leaning over the well.

The next improvement was a windlass. An A type frame was set over the well, a long rod placed thru the A frame. This rod was placed thru a small drum around which the rope could be wound. A crank on the rod was turned by hand and would lift the bucket of water. This was a great improvement over the pulley, but required a lot of time and labor.

The next improvement was the long-handled pump. The design of the pump was much like those in use today. It was a cylinder, a piece of pipe, 2 or 3 inches in diameter, 18 inches long, with a plunger in side the cylinder. A rod then connected it to the pump handle, as you lifted and lowered the handle you would lift and lower the plunger inside the cylinder. Three flutter valves were used in the cylinder, one on each end of the cylinder and one on the plunger. The valve in the bottom of the cylinder held the water while it was being forced out thru the top valve. When the stroke was completed, a cylinder full of water would be pushed up thru the pipe and out of the pump. A small (weep) hole was drilled in the pipe, just far enough from the top of the ground to permit water to drain back after pumping. This would prevent the pump from freezing in very cold weather.

The pump could always be worked by hand, but some one figured that the wind wheel could do the work for them. The windmill was not new, it had been used for a long time. Man were home made on the order of a wind-vane, the best ones were made commercially. We had a SAMPSON on the homestead in western Nebraska, but there were several other makes. [sic] the Fairbury, the Aero and others.

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The windmill required a lot of attention. The gears needed to be lubricated, and this would be done by climbing the tower on which the wheel was mounted, 30 or 50 feet high. It seemed to me that the wind was always blowing when I climbed the tower, so I tied the wheel to prevent being knocked off by a sudden gust of wind. I would cover all the moving parts with oil and grease, then release the wheel and hope that I could get out of the way before a gust of wind would catch the wheel and knock me off the tower.

I have heard of men getting their hands caught in the gears if there was a sudden burst of wind. We had a friend, when we were on the ranch in Nebraska, who had fallen from a 20 foot tower, Johnnie Nicholas from Mason City. He fell from the tower when the wheel turned suddenly, knocking him off, and he was hospitalized for a long time with a broken pelvis, arms and ribs.

In recent years many of the windmills in the western plains were replaced with electric motors. There is often more cost, but the electricity made it worth while. If the wind doesn't blow, you can still pump water. A float switch can be used that will turn the motor off when the tanks are full. A savings in worn out pumps that were always in motion if the wind was blowing, made the expense worth while.

Windmills on the Watson ranch north of Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

These windmills were on the Watson ranch north of Scottsbluff, Nebraska. This type of windmill was used on ranches in Nebraska. Usually there would be only one windmill and a stock tank in a location. They would be placed in a number of positions throughout the range land so that livestock did not have to go far to water.

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Winter on the Western Plains, for the homesteaders, was a dreaded time. If snow and cold came in September, it could be especially hard. The growing season, in Western Nebraska, could be as short at 90 days. Hay for the horses and cattle would have been harvested, but grain crops could still be in the field. Garden crops, such as carrots potatoes and cabbage, could be caught in an early freeze and be a catastrophe. These crops meant basic food for the family. The meat that was most often available was beef or pork, butchered on the farm. Farm families lived very well if crops matured early enough to be harvested.

I remember only one year when we got caught with an early freeze. I think that I was 12 years old, the year would have been 1919. The family was at the breakfast table, when the telephone rang with a series of short rings. This was a call from central that there was an announcement for all on the line. Dad went to the phone, he listened for a couple of minutes, then he hung up the receiver and came back to the table. "There is a snow and heavy wind coming our way, it is as far east as Sheridan, Wyoming, and will be here by night." His words meant only one thing, we had better get ready for a blizzard.

How could this be? This is only September, the sun was shining and not a cloud in the sky, it gave signs of being a warm day. Lawrence and I were just ready to go to school, the storm was a long way from us, and we should have plenty of time to get home before it got as far as Crawford, Nebraska.

It didn't take long for plans to be changed, I was not to go to school. Dad consulted Mumsie for a few minutes, then turned to me and said, "Do you think you could take Blossom and Dick and go to town and get some coal? Frank Lewis will help you load, you should get along very well if you take the river road into town." My first reaction was that of elation; sure I could do it, on second thought it didn't seem to be so good. I remembered that Dad had a problem getting Dick to cross the bridge, the wagon was almost upset one time on a trip to town, when Dick refused to step on the loose planks. When he did step on the planks, he gave a leap that nearly threw us from the wagon.

Dad helped me hitch the team to the wagon and gave final instructions for crossing the bridge and the railroad tracks. His last words were, "You may let the team trot going into town, but walk them when you come home, or you will lose some of the coal."

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The trip into town was uneventful, Dick didn't jump when the train went by, and he crossed the bridge with out as much as a second look. Frank Lewis was on hand to help me fill the wagon. We didn't even weigh the load, Frank said that if the lower box was filled it would be a half ton. He was anxious for me to get started home, before the storm reached us. Frank asked me to go to the store with him, he gave me a sandwich and sent me on my way.

It was one o'clock when I started home. The sky looked gray, the sun was disappearing, and in the sky looked very dark in the north. I imagined a lot of problems. What if the wagon broke down under the 1000 lbs of weight? What if the team got scared and ran away? What if? What if?

Getting the team to go home was no problem, they always wanted to go home. My problem was to hold them down so they wouldn't go too fast. The first mile went very well, then I felt a snow flake hit my face. I was getting anxious, but there was nothing to do but keep going. It was only four more miles, and another hour, but it seemed an eternity to me.

I got off the wagon and walked beside the team when I got cold. The driving snow melted on my face, the lines became very wet, that made little difference, because the team followed the road. I was very glad to head the team into the drive way and get the coal under cover.

While I was gone, things were happening at home. Dad and Mumsie finished digging the potatoes and had them in the cellar. They had pulled all the cabbage and had it stored in the barn. The temperature never got below zero, and the storm was over in a couple of days, but It did give the homesteaders a scare.

There was no radio, no TV weather man, just a little country line with its short rings and the voice of the operator to tell us that we could get a change in weather.

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To have an ice cold drink or a dish of ice cream was a real luxury when I was a boy. Refrigerators were available in the early 1930's, but at that time we had no electricity. Units that used gas or oil were available but expensive so we used an ice box with ice we cut from the pond.

To live on a ranch in Nebraska, required an adjustable thermostat. The weather was your partner and often not a silent one. Hot, cold, wet, dry and many combinations of these governed your life. In order to have the luxury of a cold drink or a dish of ice cream on a hot summer day, required some very cold days during the winter. It must be 10 to 20 degrees below zero for a 15 or 20 day period to freeze the ice on the lake to a depth that would support teams and equipment. We usually waited until the ice was 7 or 8 inches thick before we would even attempt to put up ice.

Christmas vacation was often the most favorable time to put up ice, and I had to spend my vacation working. At 6:00 o'clock in the morning, Dad would pound on the bedroom door and say, "It's time to get up, we are going to put up ice today." I would throw the covers back and step out of bed, and when my feet touched that cold floor, I felt as if I had stepped on a cake of ice. The thermometer had been hovering very close to the zero mark for several days. Dad says that it should warm up. There is ice on the water pail in the kitchen. Mumsie will have breakfast for us when the chores are finished.

By 7 O'clock it is beginning to get light, and Dad gets the equipment needed to cut the ice: There will be saws, ice tongs, stakes and string for marking out the squares to cut. We will get a wooden plank, to use as a slide for loading the wagon. I will get the team and hitch them to the wagon. It is so cold that I have to take the bridles into the house when I go to breakfast, in order to have the bits warm enough so that they will not freeze to the horses' tongues. The horses are cold and don't like to stand for long, so I hurry as much as possible to get them hitched to the wagon.

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There is a lot of snow on the ground. The wind and cold have made the snow very hard, and the horses hoofs squeak as they walk on the snow, as I lead them to the wagon. I try to start, but the wheels are frozen to the ground, and it is necessary to turn the team from left to right and work the front wheels loose. We start off at a fast walk, with the wheels squealing when the iron tires turn in the cold snow.

The lake where we cut the ice is only three miles from the ice house, and we are soon unloading. Dad and our neighbor, Clint Jones , mark out the blocks that are to be cut. Then with the saws, we cut out blocks of ice that are about 30 inches by 20 inches. The blocks will be from 6 to 8 inches thick, depending on how cold it has been, and will weigh from 75 to 85 lbs.

The wagon will hold a ton or about 24 blocks of ice. The team can easily pull that much if they don't slip. We haul the load to the ice house and pack the cut blocks into one large block that nearly fills the house. We then fill in around the large block with sawdust, and put lots of straw or hay on top. This will not be opened until warm weather comes. When we open the ice we take from one corner, and then re-cover. We can expect the ice that was packed in January to last until late July or August.

Usually filling the ice house was not an exciting job. There was a lot of hard work in cold weather, but we could always keep warm while working. This wasn't always true for the horses we used, they had to stand while we filled the wagon. We normally unhitched the team, but one day there was a lot of ice close to the wagon and I didn't think it would take long to load, so I left them hitched. This was mistake, a dog chased a rabbit in front of the team, and frightened them, they started to run with the wagon half full of ice, and they didn't stop until the reached home. There were blocks of ice strewn along the way. I had to walk home, but there was no damage to the wagon.

All the cold weather and hard work was forgotten by the 4th of July. Home made ice cream has a way of making you forget your troubles.

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For much of my life, if I wanted water I went to the faucet, and turned on the right one for cold and the left for hot. Some one went to a lot of work and expense to make this possible, but it hasn't always been that way.

When a homesteader filed for a 640 acre tract of land under the homestead act of 1862, the first thing to be developed was a water supply. If there was a stream or spring on the homestead, the problem was solved, but if a well had to be dug, there were many questions to be answered. Where do you dig? Was water close to the surface? What type of soil would be encountered in digging? Would it be good water and enough of it? All of these questions had to be answered or your homestead was of little value.

There was a well on the homestead that my father settled on. He bought a 640 acres farm from a family that relinquished their rights, so the problem of a water supply was well known before he took possession of the property.

Digging wells was an art. It was not uncommon before digging was started, to call in a person who was called a water witch or divinor [sic]. This person with a forked willow stick, held in both hands in front of him, walk along a site where he hoped to find water, when the stick turned down, in his hand, he would just say, "Dig here", and often he right.

When a site was located, the next step was to dig a hole, four feet square, just large enough for a man to work with a short-handled spade. It was usually easy digging for the first 5 or 6 feet, because the dirt could be thrown out of the hole, but when the hole became deeper, it was necessary to fill a bucket and a helper could pull it out by tieing [sic] a rope to the bucket, attached to a windlass. When the hole was deep enough to be a danger from earth caving in on the digger, a solid wooden frame, four feet square would be made and lowered in the hole. The frame would go down as the digger went deeper.

I have seen dug wells that were as deep as 80 feet. It was dark down in the hole, and the deeper you dug, the darker it becomes. The deepest well I was in was only 40 fee deep. If the digger was lucky he would hit water at 30 feet, but he would dig in the mud and water until the water came in fast enough to fill the bucket. There is no greater disappointment than to dig for days and find no water.

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There have been many sad experiences with dug wells. Diggers have been buried alive because not enough care was taken to prevent earth from caving in on the digger. Children and animals have fallen in wells that were not covered or fenced.

Mari Sandoz, the daughter of a prominent homesteader in Western Nebraska, tells a story of her father, known as OLD JULES, who dug a well on his homestead near Hay Springs. Nebraska, he hired two young neighbors to help him. The young fellows would operate the windlass and take the dirt out of the well. Water was found at 60 feet, and when OLD JULES was finished they pulled him out in the bucket. The boys thought they would have some fun with the old man s they would lift him almost to the surface and let him drop. The rope broke and let him fall to the bottom of the well. His foot was badly broken, and the frightened boys were so scared they pulled him out of the well and went off and left him to find his way home. It was three weeks later that soldiers from Fort Robinson found him in his home with a badly infected foot, and took him to the hospital. The doctor who treated him, was the now famous Dr. Walter Reed.

We had two dug wells on our homestead. There was one that was not used and it was covered with planks and then fenced. Dad had a fine Shire stallion that weighed about 2000 lbs. The horse was reaching thru the fence to get the green grass in side the enclosure, the fence broke, and he stepped on the planks and fell in the 40 foot well. He was no doubt killed at once when he hit bottom. We filled in the well, but Dad lost a registered Shire stallion worth at least $1000.00.

There are many stories told of homesteaders who tried for a year or more to get water and finally gave up, and left their homestead.

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The rattlesnake has been the topic of much conversation by homesteaders in Western Nebraska. I have never been bitten by one, only because I was out of reach when it made the strike. I have thought that all living creatures on this earth had a purpose, but I have never figured out what the purpose of the rattlesnake was. Snakes are useful in keeping rodents under control, but why does it have to carry a load of poison?

I have been told that the rattlesnake lives only in the western hemisphere. It is very well known in the western states of the United States. My father told me when I was very young, that if I heard a rattlesnake, just stand still, don't move until you locate it. There were several times as a small boy that I took the advice, but it is difficult to do. It is also often hard to locate the snake. The gray diamond back rattler is well camouflaged, and can be hidden in the grass and weeds, especially on stony ground.

The horses and cattle on the ranch are also afraid of the rattler. I have had a saddle horse nearly jump out from under me when he heard the dreaded rattle.

One hot day in August, I was loading bundles of grain in the rack to take to the threshing machine. The team was well trained, and as I loaded the shocked grain on the wagon, they would move up to the next shock, without driving them. I thrust my pitchfork into the shock of grain and a sudden buzz stopped me. It reached the ears of the team at the same time, and in a matter of seconds I had a run away team that left me standing with my pitchfork in the shock of grain. Every time I moved my fork there came another rattle. I finally located the snake, it was in a depression in the ground where a horse had stepped. It was 5 feet long, and coiled like a gray rope. I got rid of the snake in a hurry, took my knife and cut off the rattles. My team was stopped by a friend that was working close by.

Prairie dog holes were a good hiding place, and if a horse or cow got too close, the snake would strike. This happened to one of our best work horses. For a month that poor animal walked around with a head so badly swollen that its eyes were closed and it nearly starved before it could eat. We were able to stick a hose down its throat and give it water. The animal did live, but it took it a long time to recover.

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Rattlesnakes congregate in the fall of the year in river banks or rocky outcrops. It was an annual affair for ranchers in Western Nebraska, to go to the rocky banks of the Niobrara river and kill as many as two or three hundred at a time. The snakes could be found sunning themselves on the rocks. Some times they could be dug out in bunches of rolled up snakes.

We had a neighbor who lived in a sod house, and kept a bull snake around the house during the summer. He said he could be sure that the rattlers would not come near, the bull snake would chase them off. He never had any trouble with mice and rats while the bull snake was around. He had a cat, but during the summer there were never small kittens I guess the snake liked them also.

I know of only one animal on the plains that liked rattlesnakes. A badger will dig them out of the ground, and eat them, thick fur on the badger would keep the poison fangs from doing any damage. The only domesticated animal that seemed to survive the rattlers bite was a hog. I have seen a hog kill a snake and eat it.

We had a dog on the ranch that hated snakes, and would occasionally kill one by grabbing it and shaking it until it was dead. Dogs have been bitten by rattlesnakes and have been killed by them.

I have known of two homesteaders who were bitten. They both recovered, but the cure for a snake bite can be a bit drastic. If a rattler bit you, take a pocket knife and make a deep cut over the bite, if possible place a tourniquet above the wound, then suck the blood and poison out as fast as you can.

The most drastic attempt to get rid of the poison, that I have ever heard of, is told by Marie Sandoz of her father. In her book, OLD JULES, chapter XVII, SNAKE BITE. Jules reached under a building to pull out a hammer, and a snake bit him on the back of his hand. He called for Marie to get his knife, she couldn't find it fast enough to suit him, so he reached for his shot gun and shot off the back o his hand. It took more than 6 hours to get to the Doctor, who told him it was all that saved his life.

At one time I had a pint jar filled with rattles that the family had collected. Now I have only two small ones left.

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In the early 1900s practically all grain was harvested with horse-drawn equipment. A lot of physical labor was required to handle the cut grain. It was cut with a binder, shocked in the field and when the threshing machine was available it would be hauled to the machine. The grain was then put in grain wagons and scooped from the wagon to a bin.

The weather was a very important factor. Usually in late July and August there was little or no rain and the operation would not be interrupted. If there was rain, threshing could be delayed for weeks. When weather conditions were favorable it would mean 12 to 14 hour days and sometimes in 100-degree temperature.

By the time I was 10 years old we were using a McCormick grain blinder that would cut the grain and bind it into bundles tied with twine. The grain binder was pulled by a four horse team. If the threshing were done in the field, the bound bundles would be hauled to the machine in hay wagons. The threshing machine was powered by a steam engine.

It was common practice for 6 or 8 neighbors living in the community to cooperate in the threshing operation, and follow the machine from one farm to another, until all the grain was threshed.

The men were fed at noon by the women of the house where the threshing was being done. Great mounds of mashed potatoes, big kettles of vegetables and 10 to 20 pounds of meat, would be consumed at one meal. Every house wife dreaded to see the threshing crew come to their farm. Verna needs to tell the story, she has helped with it many times. The cooking was done on a wood or coal range. Refrigeration, if there was any, was an old ice box. All the water for cooking and washing had to be hauled from the well that was often some distance from the house.

My Father was skilled in all the tasks needed to do this work and was a hard man for me to follow. He was tireless and no one could ever accuse him of being lazy. He always did his share of the work.

I began following the threshing crew when I was 15 years old. I would work so hard, and be so tired and hungry that I would make myself sick eating too much. It was always a relief to get back to school in September. I swore that when I got thru school that I would never get involved with farming and ranching again.

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In 1927 I entered the University of Nebraska; of all colleges, it would be the College of Agriculture. After graduation from college I spent 10 years with the Soil Conservation Service, and all of that time was on farms and ranches in the plains area. I spent another 12 years operating a Farm and Ranch Management Service.

Modern equipment has made great changes in farming and ranching in the United States. The harvesting of grain is done with machines that replaced much of the physical labor that was once required. When electricity came to the rural areas, it revolutionized life on the farm and ranch.

Large combines that traveled from one farm to another, made the handling of grain much easier, and electric elevator and augers have made it possible to get the grain into storage, with out touching it with hand equipment.

Photo of large combines taken from The Furrow, a magazine published by John Deere, Co.

The photos are taken from the magazine, THE FURROW. A published by the JOHN DEERE CO. a magazine that Dad received for years. They show the equipment we used to cut and thresh wheat, oats, barley, and rye. The grain binder was a great invention, it cut and bound the grain so it could be handled with little loss. It was pulled by four horses. The wooden reel pushed the standing grain back over a cutting bar, and onto a moving canvas platform. Two elevator canvas belts took it to packers that pressed it into a bundle, and a circular needle, threaded with binder twine circled the bundle and threaded a device that tied a knot. The bundle was then dropped into a basket that would carry several bundles, and dumped in a windrow where they would be set up in shocks. Dad hired extra help, sometimes Indians from the reservation, until his sons were big enough to help.

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Four loads of bundles that will go to the threshing machine as soon as it has been set.

Four loads of bundles that will go to the threshing machine as soon as it has been set.

Combines did not widely replace tractor-drawn binders until the 1940s. Tractors replaced steam engines, but threshing still took many men and horses.

Photo of a crew threshing with tractors

In 1910, there were perhaps fewer than 1,000 tractors on U.S. farms. Five years later the count was 25,000, and by 1919 U.S. farmers owned 158,000 tractors.

Still, the impact of tractors on the agriculture of 1920 was minor. A survey that year counted tractors on only 6 percent of farms in six Corn Belt states.

The tractor age did not truly begin until the 1920s, when manufacturers started introducing 2- and 3-plow general-purpose tractors. Only then did tractor power become practical for the typical farmer with a quarter section of land.

My early experience was with a steam engine for power. The John Deere tractor being used here to power the thresher is the same one used to work in the field the rest of the season.

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Jim's threshing crew in 1927.  Jim is seen standing on the wagon seat.

Our threshing crew in 1927. I am standing, on the wagon seat. This is the team and wagon that is shown in the picture below.

Hauling grain from the threshing machine.

Hauling grain from the threshing machine. This is the first team of horses I owned. When I settled the partnership with Dad, in Sept. 1927, and went to College, he gave me $150.00 for team and harness.

A typical team and wagon used to husk corn in the 1920s and 1930s.

This is a typical team and wagon used to husk corn in the 1920s and 1930s. One ear at a time, thrown against the BANG BOARDS. A good day's accomplishment would be one wagon filled in the morning and another in the afternoon.

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For more than a month, Dad has gone to the corn field early in the morning. When it got light enough to see where he had worked the day before, he turns the team into the ripe corn field so the wagon straddles the last row that he had husked. He gets out of the wagon, the teams walks slowly down the field, and he will husk the two rows next to the wagon.

Dad takes an ear of corn in his left hand, with a hook on his right hand, he quickly removes the husks from the ear and throws it in the wagon. He does not look up, the ear hits the bang boards that are built high on the far side and the ear drops easily into the wagon. As regular as the tick of a clock, one ear follows another, they hit the bang board and becomes apart of the load. He will get two loads today, each will have 40 or 50 bushels of ear corn.

It is 5:00 O'clock in the morning, and it is dark and cold. I don't want to get up, but Dad says that if we work this week end we can finish husking corn.

This is a holiday week end, and I will take a team of horses and a wagon and follow him to the field. I will also take one ear at a time, wrench the leaves from it and throw it into the wagon. Dad takes the lead and pulls into the field ahead of me. I work as fast as I can but he gradually pulls ahead and leaves me far behind.

Noon arrives, and it is time to go to lunch. My wagon is only about two thirds filled, his is so full he has to place another board on top to keep the corn from falling out. He calls to me as he get on his wagon. "How are you doing Son?" I merely groan, get up on my load and follow him to the corn crib.

My back aches, my hands are sore, I can hardly straighten up. The wind had blown some of the cornstalks down, and I feel as if I have been crawling on my hands and knees most of the time. I am certain that Dad is having a good time, watching me struggle. He is 35 years older than I, but he can out class me in this operation. I never was able to keep up with him. Some times he would let me start ahead of him. The first time he let me start ahead, I thought he wanted to take it a little easier. When we came to the end of the field, he said he would like to go ahead this time, so I pulled my team over and let him pass. It wasn't long until I found out why he wanted to go ahead. While he was waiting on me to husk my two rows, he reached over and took a third row. Now he had only one row to husk, and soon left me far behind.

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An annual corn husking contest was held every year in the early 1900's. The last one I was to observe was in 1932, at York Nebraska, Verna and the family were living in York and I would come from Lincoln on week ends, This contest was to be the last, for the year. The Nebraska Champion Cornhusker, would be crowned at the end of the day.

In the fall of 1932 I wanted to earn a little extra money for school. A farmer had an ad in the local paper for a corn husker, so I called for more information. He was paying 2 cents a bushel, and he would furnish the team and wagon. This sounded O. K. to me, so the next morning, I went to his farm. I harnessed the team, hitched them to the wagon and went to work. I had my lunch with me and took only a few minutes to eat. By nightfall I had filled one wagon and half of another. By the time I had unloaded the last load I was a wreck, my hands were sore, my back ached and I could hardly stand up straight. I had worn out a pair of husking mittens that had cost me 25 cents, and I had a blister on my right hand under the hook.

The farmer seemed to be pleased, he complemented me on my ability to handle his team, He was pleased that I was able to scoop the corn to the top of the bin. I had harvested 75 bushels. He paid me the $1.50 I had earned, and said he would be glad for me to come back next week. I had netted $1.25 for my day's work, and I needed money badly, but I never went back, I thought there must be a better way to make a little money.

Times are different now. a farmer pulls into his corn field with a $50,000 machine that takes four rows, it removes the husks, shells the corn and will fill 7 or 8 wagons in a day, but in the last few years many of them have gone broke, just as we did in the 1930's.

I have never husked an ear of corn since 1932, and I did find an easier way to earn a little money. I think I know why Nebraska is called the CORN HUSKER STATE, but why do they call the football team the CORN HUSKERS? I suspect sometimes when they get thru playing a game, they are as sore as I was when I husked corn in 1932.

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Don Cunningham writes IN NEBRASKA LAND MAGAZINE, "For four turbulent years, Red Cloud Agency, a miscellaneous collection of store houses, corrals, work shops, residence and other structures surrounded by a rough pine stockade, stood on a low hill near White River, two miles west of the present town of Crawford Nebraska. The Red Cloud Agency became Fort Robinson, and the American flag was raised for the first time in Feb. 1876."

Fort Robinson was only about 6 miles from the ranch were I was born. At intervals from 1916 to 1976, before Verna and I came to Sonoma, Fort Robinson was a place frequently visited. When I was as young as 4 or 5, I recall going thru Fort Robinson on the train to visit my Uncle Henry who was living on a homestead close to Andrews, a small town at the head of White River.

My most significant trip to the Fort was in 1917 during World War I. My father raised horses, and there was a big demand by the army for horses to ship to Europe, and he sold 18 or 20 to the U.S. Government. These horses were trained at the Fort and then shipped to England and France. I was only 10 years old and Dad gave me a well trained horse to ride, and when we took them to the Fort, I rode ahead, leading one and he followed behind on his horse. I was so small that he had to shorten the stirrups and help me on. If I was alone I had to lead the horse up to a tree stump or a rock in order to mount.

The families around Crawford often went to the Fort to celebrate the 4th of July. There were polo matches, horse races and jumping. It was a popular hiking spot for young people living in Crawford, and Verna and I spent a good many Sunday afternoons in 1925 and 1926, with our friends, hiking in the hills around Fort Robinson.

From 1939 to 1945 we were again living in Western Nebraska. and made trips to the Fort. It was still being used as a remount station, and at one time had 17,000 horses. It became a prisoner of war camp during World War II, and a training camp for the K9 corp. Dogs were trained and and [sic] used with the guards at the POW camps.

In 1955 the State of Nebraska acquired the 22,000 acres for an experiment station for cattle breeding, and later made it a State Park. When we returned from our overseas assignment in 1967 we lived in Scottsbluff, and made frequent trips to the Fort. The former housing for the military personnel had been converted to accommodations for tourists and we would go there for a week-end vacation.

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It was in March 1907 that my father came to Crawford. from Eastern Nebraska to the homestead, at Crawford. He took all of his possessions in a railroad car, a team of horses, a wagon, a plow, two hogs and a cow. He and his father-in-law, rode in the same car. It took two days and one night for the freight train to make the trip.

It was late in the evening when they arrived in Crawford and they waited until the following morning to unload. The Tenth Cavalry, a regiment of Blacks was stationed at the Fort, and the soldiers often came into Crawford, to celebrate. That night there was a fight at one of the bars, and two men killed. The next morning my grandfather promptly got on the next passenger train and went back home. He told my father that no daughter of his would ever come to this wild place. I was born on April 1, 1907 in Crawford, so I guess she did come.

The history of the establishment of Fort Robinson needs to be told. The Red Cloud Agency was where Chief Red Cloud made his last stand for his people. The U. S Army left corpses all over Western Nebraska, men, women and children. What we did to the native Americans is a disgrace, and we still brag about our conquest of the west.

The Red Cloud Agency, that was to eventually become Fort Robinson, was named after Chief Red Cloud, who died in 1909, two years after I was born.

In 1940 Verna and I took Dale, Gordon, and a cousin, Bob Phillips, to see Captain James Cook. The Cook ranch was about 25 miles from the site of the Red Cloud Agency. We spent an after noon with Captain Cook, in his home that was filled with personal affects of Red Cloud. The Captain had been a good friend of the Chief. When Chief Red Cloud was forced to live on the reservation, he left many of his treasures with Captain Cook for safe keeping. There were many items that Red Cloud valued, such as feathered head desses [sic], beaded moccasins, buffalo robes and many other items of clothing.

I came away from our visit with Captain Cook, feeling as if I too had known this Chief. The treatment they received from the Whites can only be described as brutal and inhuman.

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The transcontinental railroads in the late 1800's, put the covered wagon, the stage coach, and the pony express out of business. Travel across the United States and the transportation of household goods, and building materials, brought fast development along the main lines. The development of the shorter railroads that branched off the main lines, brought many homesteaders to Western Nebraska.

Some of my most vivid memories are related to the steam locomotive. It was the only mode of travel that was available, when I was a boy, that could go faster than a horse. My parents moved all they owned by rail to their homestead. My father earned extra money with his teams by working for the railroad. We were able to get needed supplies by rail, and one of our greatest fears was to have a prairie fire that would be set by a steam locomotive.

One of the thrills of my life was my first ride on a train. At 5:00 O'clock in the morning. Dad calls out to me, "It is time to get up, get your pants on," We are going to make a trip to Uncle Henry's today and pick buffalo berries and choke cherries. My parents had been doing this every year since they came to Crawford. I was 5 years old, now, and old enough to go with them. My brother, Lawrence and I have had to stay with the neighbor while the folks made the annual trip to pick some of the wild cherries for jams and jelly for the next winter.

It was a warm September morning, and Dad hitches Charlie, the dapple gray horse, to the small one-seated buggy and we drove the 5 miles to Crawford. He puts Charlie in the livery stable and we board the train for Andrews, a little town with a post office, a general store, and the depot for the North Western railroad. Uncle Henry, Dad's brother, lives only a few miles from here, over very rough roads. He had taken a homestead at about the same time my folks moved to Crawford, in 1907.

I remember very little about picking berries. I do know, that when we finished we were so late that Uncle Henry had to get his team to a gallop to reach the depot before the train left for Crawford.

On the 4th. [sic] of July 1913, Mumsie wanted to go with a church group for a picnic at Glenn, Nebraska. This resort and picnic area was 12 miles from Cawford [sic] on White River.

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The North Western Railroad would often add a passenger car to a freight train and take it as far as Glenn, a small park and recreational area, and leave it until the passengers were ready to return.

Dad had just finished cultivating corn and was in the mood for a holiday. Mumsie packed a picnic basket, Dad hitched Charlie to the buggy and we drove to Crawford. I am now an experienced traveler, and I try to explain to Lawrence, my LITTLE brother, 4 years old, just what the process is, I explained in detail that we drive to town as we always do on Sunday when we go to church. This time we will go to the depot and get on a train.

When we get to the depot there seems to be a lot of confusion, buying tickets, arranging the picnic baskets and getting them on the special car. The trip seems very short. The telephone poles fly past, we must be going at least 30 miles an hour. At 5:00 O'clock our special car is picked up and returned to Crawford. [sic] and we are home before the sun goes down. Lawrence and I are soon in bed, but the folks have several hours of work. Feeding the livestock, milking the cows, all must to be done, even on holidays.

Phyllis Zauner, in her publication, THE TRAIN WHISTLE'S ECHO, graphically describes the dramatic effect the railroad had on the development of the UNITED STATES---"It is difficult to comprehend the compelling fascination and wonderment that every aspect of railroading possessed for an entire nation for a century."

The railroad came to Crawford in 1886. It closely followed the Sidney--Deadwood trail that ran thru our ranch, a trail dimmed by erosion, but deep tracks made by the stage coaches could easily be followed when I was a boy. I took a bad fall when my saddle horse nearly went on his knees, when he stumbled over the hidden ruts made by the stage coaches.

The trains that ran on this track seemed to me to be the ultimate in travel. The fact is, in the early 1900's, if it hadn't been for the trains, we would have traveled no faster that the Romans did, 2000 years before. We could go no faster than the horse could run.

My memories are filled with the thrill of hearing the passenger train, No. 42, with its long wailing whistle, as it approached the little town of Crawford. Every night when I crawled into my bed, I would try to stay awake until the engineer released the whistle cord on the last note. It will stop only long enough to load the mail and a few passengers, before it labors over Pine Ridge and settles down to a dreary night run thru the Sand Hills to Lincoln [sic] Nebraska.

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With the good memories, there are bad ones. The railroads were a blessing for the early homesteaders. My parents moved their entire belongings in one box car to the land where they lived for over 40 years. The coal burning engines brought with them the dreaded grass fires that put fear into the hearts of every settler. Fire guards were plowed on both sides of the track to prevent fires fro burning the grazing land, crops and homes.

I have seen as any as 5 fires started in a single mile. The plowed fire guards usually stopped them, but if one jumped the guards, an emergency call would go out over the party line, and every settler available would come as fast as he could with plow and team. Guards would be plowed around hay stacks, homes and barns.

The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, (CB&Q), known as the Burlington, ran thru our ranch. My brother and I would, occasionally walk along the tracks and place a penny on the rails, and then crawl out of sight under the bridge and wait for a train to run over it. We couldn't always find it afterward, but when we did it was just a thin copper wafer.

The wooden bridge, that spanned the drainage way, was a casualty of fire. After it burned a couple of times, it was replaced with a large concrete culvert. My father did some work for the Burlington Railroad, with a four horse team and fresno, (a large earth scoop), he moved earth over the concrete culvert, so that the rails could be relayed.

I suppose the reason the memory is so vivid in my mind, is because I had a part in the project. The earth moving job was hard on horses, it took a team in good working condition to walk in the soft earth for more than three or four hours. This meant that if Dad put in a full day, he needed more than one team.

The task of changing teams was partly my job. I was only 9 or 10 years old and I would bring a fresh four-horse team to him each day. Dad would have the extra team tied in the barn, and at noon I would go to the barn, and put the collars on the horses, I would take one horse at a time and tie it to a post, I would then take the halter rope for each horse and lead them to where he was working. Four horses, weighing 1800 pounds each, breathing down my neck didn't make me feel very comfortable. It only took about thirty minutes to get to the job. Dad would change the harness from the team he was using to the ones I brought an I would take the tired team back to the barn, to water and feed them.

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We were only about five miles from a center where rail cars could be unloaded. The closest loading point was Horn, a siding three miles from the ranch, but it did not have facilities to load livestock. We went to Crawford, the closest shipping point. We loaded livestock for shipment to Omaha or Kansas City. We received coal, lumber, farm equipment, and other supplies.

The settler that was within 10 or 12 miles of a shipping point was among the fortunate, he could make a round trip of 24 miles in a day with a good team of horses, and a loaded wagon. The longest trip I have made with a loaded wagon, was to haul wheat to Whitney Nebraska, for shipment to Omaha. I was 12 years old, there were five of us with teams and wagons. The wagons would hold 40 bushels of wheat that weighed 2400 [sic] lbs.

Dad would usually try to buy our supplies of coal, for cooking and heating, when a carload was shipped into Crawford. If we unloaded directly from the car, when it came in, we could get it cheaper than if we took the supply at the lumber yard. We were able to get our winter supply for only $4.00 per ton.

The greatest boon to the rancher, was to be able to ship livestock to the large meat packing centers. Omaha was the most often used by those who lived in Western Nebraska. Shipping grass-fed cattle was usually done in October, and ranchers would cooperate in rounding up the cattle and driving them to the rail center.

The trip from the ranches to the rail center could be done in one day. I have ridden in the roundup, with Jim Calame, Harvey Finley and Dawes Forbes, all neighboring ranchers. One of us would put a halter on an old cow, and lead her down the road, and the range cattle would follow. All would go well until we got close to town, most of the cattle had never heard a train whistle, nor had they seen a Model T Ford with flapping side curtains, and it took a good cowboy, on his best saddle horse to keep a wild eyed steer from going back home.

Cattle cars had to be ordered ahead of time, in order to have them on track when needed. Several cars would be spotted at the stock yards that had loading ramps. It wasn't hard to chase 40 head of steers up the ramp and close the door on them, but to move the loaded car with 40,000 lbs. of beef was not always easy. If there was a switch engine handy, the railroad crew would move the loaded car, and spot an empty one, but if there was no engine

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available, it would be necessary for four or five men, with long bars, to move the cars in place. A man on top of the car would set the brakes, when the door was in line with the ramp. We would try to load in time to get the cars on the night train to Omaha, so the cattle could be in Omaha and on the market the following day. The rules of the railroad required that we unload to feed and water the cattle if the trip took more than 36 hours.

The railroad allowed one care taker for each carload of cattle. One person got a free ride for each car. Some times this was anything but a fun trip, we rode in the caboose with the train crew. It could be noisy, cold or hot and dusty. The old potbelly stove often didn't work well and would nearly smoke us out. This was in the days before the engineer and brakemen could communicate by radio or telephone. The brakeman walked the top of the entire train, rain or shine. The engineer and brakeman communicated by hand signals. The engineer would use the whistle to indicate what his next move was going to be, lanterns were used at night.

To get over Pine Ridge on the Burlington, required an extra engine as a pusher. It was placed behind the caboose, and with every puff of the engine, the caboose would creek and groan. I feared that the caboose would fold up like an accordion, with me in it.

One of the last models of the steam engine locomotives.

This is one of the last models of the steam engines. When they burned oil they were not the hazard that the earlier ones were that burned coal. Screens were placed over the smoke stack to prevent hot cinders from escaping and starting fires along the tracks.

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The 1922 Model T Ford Touring Car.

The 1922 Model T Ford Touring Car. Verna and I went horseback occasionally, but more often than not I went to see her in this car. We were on a trip to Hot Springs South Dakota with friends, and had a flat tire. This model had tires mounted on a rim that could be removed and another tire replaced. The earlier models had to have tires reoved [sic] and patched on the spot, before continuing the journey.

The 1922 Ford Coupe that Jim and Verna bought in 1929 for $25.00.

This is the 1922 Ford Coupe that we bought in 1929 for $25.00. The windows could be lowered or lifted with a strap attached to the bottom of the glass. It was an improvement over the touring car with side curtains, but it was top heavy and caught a lot of wind at 30 or 35 miles per hour.

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The history of Henry Ford and his introduction to the world of his MODEL T, is a story that could fill a book. The story I want to tell is that of the Model Ts in my life.

My father bought a model T ford in 1917. He had just sold 18 or 20 head of horses to the U. S. Government to be used in the war in Europe. He bought a touring car, I never knew why it was called a touring car, it had a cloth top that could be used up or down, and side curtains to keep our the wind and rain. It was popular before the closed sedan was manufactured. I recall hearing long discussions among MODEL T owners, as to the merit of the touring car. Some said that the sedan was too tightly enclosed and would never sell, some said it would be too hot, not enough air, especially for those riding in the back seat.

I courted Verna in a 1922 model that was very much like the 1917. It was a black car, the only color that Ford made. Dad had kept the 1917 model, and made a pick up by cutting the back seat off and putting a box in its place, and it was still in use in 1930.

The 1922 model cost $450.00. It had a four-cylinder motor that had to be cranked to start it. It did not have a gear shift, nor was it automatic. It used what is called a planetary gear system. There was a hand brake, operated with the left hand for parking and, when set would allow the motor to continue to run. The driver had to operate three foot pedals. The left pedal was the forward gear, when pushed down it became the low gear, or starting gear, when released it became the high gear. The right pedal was the foot brake. The center pedal was the reverse gear. The pedals tightened bands in the transmission, a similar principal is used in the modern automatic transmission.

The 1917 and 1922 models did not have a foot feed. The speed of the motor was regulated by a hand throttle. It had no battery, no oil pump, no water pump,no [sic] fuel pump. The ignition and lights were made possible by a series of magnets attached to the fly wheel and a series of stationary coils mounted on the motor block. The faster the motor was running, the better the lights, they became very dim if the motor slowed, and that was usually when they were needed most.

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The roads we had to travel were roads made by horse drawn wagons and carriages. Ruts were often 8 to 10 inches deep, this meant that the clearance on the car had to be as much as the horse drawn equipment. It was not uncommon to hit a high center and have to use a shovel to dig out the center or fill in the ruts.

There was very little on the car that could not be fixed by a good blacksmith. In fact the first auto mechanic we had in Crawford, was a young man who worked as a blacksmith and later changed his sign to a mechanic. I have repaired many parts of the Model T. The bearings in the motor could be made by hand. The gears in the differential could be repaired by any one that could handle a wrench. It was possible to get the gears in backward, which I have done, and when I expected to go forward I went backward instead.

It was a problem for my father to drive. When he first started driving and had an emergency he would yell "WHOA" expecting to stop. I learned to drive at the age of 10, and he would often let me drive. No license was required for either the car or the driver in the early 1900's. I never had a drivers licence [sic] until after Verna and I were married. We bought our first car in 1929. It was a 1922 coupe, for which we paid $25.00, and drove from Lincoln to Crawford, a distance of 475 miles, with a cost of $8.75 for gasoline. The only problems we had were flat tires and a broken fan belt. There were no paved roads, a few miles of gravel, but mostly just dirt roads.

I have no idea how any tires I have had to patch. If we went 500 miles with out a flat we were lucky. We patched them at the side of the road and pumped them up with a hand pump. In 1926 I drove from Crawford to Cumro, Nebraska where Verna was spending the summer on the ranch with her folks. I left Crawford at 3:00 a.m. and arrived at 9:30 p.m., a distance of 350 miles. I had to go thru the sand hills, open 11 gates, and back up some of the hills when I was low on gas, in order to get gas to the motor.

I made this same trip in 1972. The road was paved and is Nebr. HY No 2. It took me only 8 hours to make the trip. Just one half the time it took me in 1926. The hills appear to be smaller, there were no gates to open, no cattle guards to cross. I did't [sic] have to patch any tires.

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Some one has said that one generation stands on the shoulders of the preceding generation. If this were not true, my friends and I would have had to invent the wheel again. I take for granted my comfortable life, it is very different from that of the cave dweller. The people living now are the ones that influence my life, and help cut the patterns from which I weave my tapestry.

The influence of my parents on my life is hard for me to evaluate. How is it that they were my parents, that I would be born into a caring family with concern that society would accept me? By the time I reached maturity, I had adopted the customs and manners of the society in which I live.

The people that I met by chance, or was it by design, after I left the protection of my family, is the story I want to tell. After leaving High School I went into partnership with my father on the ranch at Crawford, Nebraska. The word partnership, hardly describes the arrangement, Dad had run the ranch for as long as I had lived, and he continued to make most of the decisions, I merely followed.

Many people have touched my life and have influenced my thoughts and actions. There is, however, one person that has been my life since I met her in September, 1925. She was one of the new High School teachers who came to Crawford, and has been my room mate and traveling companion for 66 years.

Verna Pielsick came to Crawford to teach English and commercial studies. We met at a party that was held to introduce the new teachers to the other young people in the community, one of the games played was to tie a marsh-mallow in the middle of a string about four feet long, with a contestant at each end, chewing the string until they reached the marsh-mallow Verna and I reach the marsh-mallow at the same time.

We dated most of 1925 and 1926. I, an awkward country bumpkin, she a college graduate, interested in music; art, and the coach of the drama team. I could not convince myself that she could be interested in me. I knew that there were others interested in her also, but on October 9, 1926, she agreed to marry me. We would not be able to marry at that time if she were to continue teaching. Married women were not allowed to teach, as she just might take a job from a man who was supporting a family.

In Sept. of 1927 Verna returned to Crawford to begin her third year of teaching. We had our first date and it

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appeared to me as if we were going right over the same old track. I knew that I never would be comfortable until l [sic] got my college degree. I decided that I must make a change. I announced, one Sunday at the dinner table that I was going to Lincoln and to the University of Nebraska. It was a sudden blow, but my parents seemed to accept it and agreed that my younger brother, Lawrence, would take my place for the remainder of the year.

The mental torment the remainder of the day was one of the tough times in my life. I now could not turn back, but between 1:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., my mind was in a turmoil. I worked out a settlement with my father on the partnership and he gave me a check for $500.00. When the crop was harvested we would complete the settlement. He said nothing as he wrote the check, but I knew he must feel as frustrated as I did. I packed my suitcase, and boxed up some clothes to be sent later. I took my banjo and my beloved typewriter, and waited for the time when the train would take me to a new world. The die was cast, I dare not look back, or I might be tempted to change my mind.

Verna was at the ranch that week end, I was to take her back to town in the evening. We had very little conversation the rest of the day. At 9:00 o'clock we loaded my belongings in the car, Dad and Momsie would take me to the train, and then take Verna to her apartment.

It took less than an 30 minutes to reach the depot. It was vacant except for a lone baggage cart. A freight train was sitting on the side track, it was breathing heavily as steam escaped the cylinders. It was waiting for No. 42, the passenger train that would take me to Lincoln.

The agent sold me my ticket, and we waited for only a few minutes before the lights of No. 42 appeared. The train rolled to a screeching halt. I told my parents good buy [sic], with only a peck on the cheek for my mother, and a handshake from Dad. Verna followed me to the train, we stood for a few minutes and watched as the baggage was loaded. ALL ABOARD I kissed Verna, shed a lot of tears, turned and took the steps into the car and found a seat.

It was dark by the time the train left Crawford. I had a seat by the window. My spirits were low, I peered out of the window and watched the lights of Crawford, disappear I could see the twinkling lights of the scattered ranch homes slip by. We stopped for a passenger at Belont [sic]; at Marsland we picked up another. I have no idea how long I stayed awake, the clatter of wheels, the mournful wail of the whistle had a hypnotic effect, Five hundred miles to Lincoln thru the sand hills of Nebraska would start a new life for me.

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To leave my boyhood home, and matriculate at the College of Agriculture, was a beginning of a new life. I was familiar with the College, I had taken a short course in MOTORS, in the winter of 1925, but I knew that this would be different, this meant defining a goal for my future. I felt lost, and the need of help. Whether it be by chance or design, I will never know, but I was to find a person before I reached Lincoln, that helped me define my goals.

On July 3rd. 1927, it rained all day and most of the night. We were just getting started in the grain harvest. When the sun came up on July 4th. there was not a cloud in the sky, but the ground was so wet that there was no possibility that it would dry out enough for us to get into the field that day. Dad suggested that we take time out and attend the celebration at the Agricultural experiment station in Ardmore S. D. Ardmore was only 30 miles from home, but the roads were so muddy that it took us more than two hours to drive it.

Ray Magnuson, banjo player and entertainer, performing.

In 1927 President Coolidge had his summer White House in the Black Hills, and the Coolidges were present at the celebration. On the platform, with the Coolidges was an entertainer by the name of Ray Magnuson, who delighted the President and the crowd with his banjo playing and his singing.

I was to see this man Ray Magnuson again, sitting across the aisle from me on Old 42, the passenger train that I boarded the night before at Crawford. The traumatic experience of the previous day left me feeling very much alone. I needed to talk with some one who might help me get my mind off my problems. I finally got up courage enough to cross the aisle and introduce myself. I didn't remember the man's name, but I knew where I had seen him, and it didn't take us long to find something to talk about.

Ray had finished his sophomore year at Brookings S. D. and was on his way to Ames Iowa to get his degree in Agricultural Economics. He was going to stop off in Lincoln and investigate the Economics Department in Nebraska.

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I suggested to him that if he had no place to stay, I would be glad to have him stay with me. I had been asked by a fried, Rev. Sheaff, the Methodist minister at Epworth Methodist Church, to be sure and look him up when in Lincoln.

Ray never went to Iowa, and he became my room mate at 29th, and Holdrege for the college year of 1927 and 1928. We both played banjo, we worked out a program of music and other skits, which helped us pay our school expenses.

Ray's experience with college, his attitude toward fraternities, politics, religion and life in general had a great deal of influence on me. We often talked into the wee hours of the morning.

We tried out for a tour with the Red Path Chautaqua [sic] circuit, and were accepted. Other opportunities emerged and we did not sign the contract. Verna and I were married on April 9, 1928, and Ray had an opportunity to work for the University of Nebraska extension service. This all seemed more important than to travel all summer with the Chautaqua [sic].

Ray graduated from the University in 1929, and later entered the ministry, and served a number of churches in Nebraska before coming to California in 1955. Verna and went on the ranch in 1929.

Verna and I were to see Ray and his wife Marie many times while they were living in Nebraska. When they came to California, we took the assignment in Turkey. Seldom more than two years would pass that we would not see them. After Marie's death, Ray married Florence Samsel, also a friend from Nebraska days.

On Aug. 9, 1990, we had breakfast with Ray and Florence. They had tickets on a cruise for the inside passage to Alaska, and we joined them, so four old folks in their eighties packed their ailments, their walking sticks, bifocals, binoculars and hearing aids and headed for Alaska.

Florence's death in 1992, broke up the circle of four that had spent many hours together. Ray continues to live in Santa Rosa, and we see him often. The life friendship has extended over 66 years, and Ray and I can still find much to talk about.

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I never was able to play the banjo as well as Ray. He taught me to accompany some of his most popular numbers, and we played at several College functions The program that we developed brought us some extra money for school expenses.

Ray Magnuson and Jim Metzger, 1928.

Ray Magnuson--Jim Metzger

Ray Magnuson and Jim Metzger, 1988.

Ray Magnuson--Jim Metzger

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In a Variety of
Instrumental Solos and Duets, Sentimental and
Humorous Songs, Clever Impersonations and Imitations


Banjokers flier.
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It is 10:00 O'clock Easter Sunday evening, Apr.8,1928 [sic]. If we get married tomorrow will you? The question came from Art Uhl. Two gasps and 20 minutes later, Verna and I agreed that perhaps it was the thing to do.

For over a year Art Uhl and Jerry Blair had been planning to marry, and for a year and a half Jim Metzger and Verna Pielstick had been engaged. Marriage for Jerry and Verna was out of the question if they wanted to keep their teaching contracts with the Crawford School System. The rules in 1928 said that married women could not teach, these jobs were to be given to men who had families to support. How could it make a difference when there were no men in Crawford Nebraska qualified to teach in the Crawford school system? Could the marriages be kept a secret in a small town of 1200 people, where every one knew everybody's business?

Easter Monday, April 9, 1928 arrived, but it started early, 3:00 a. m. for me. This was a momentous decision, after all nothing like this had happened to be before, and I couldn't sleep. I wasn't sure how to deal with the situation I called Art on the phone and found that he had a short night also. We had all agreed that the marriage had to be kept a secret, but how could we be certain? My conversation with Art was very short, this was a country line and some one might be listening. I told my parents what we were doing, and they didn't offer any objection, but were surprised at the sudden decision.

Our first problem was to select a place to get married Do we drive to Lusk, Wyoming? That was out of state and only 60 miles from Crawford. Do we go to Hot Springs South Dakota? That was out of state and about the same distance? The easiest place to go was our own County Seat, Chadron. We knew a minister who would marry us, and be willing to keep it a secret. We were both acquainted with the County Clerk, and we thought he would be willing to withhold the announcement from the papers. It would be risky, but we decided to take the chance.

The morning of April 9, 1928 was bright and clear. We drove to Chadron in Art's new green Buick. I don't remember anything we talked about during the hour it took us to get to the court house, I do remember noticing the rolling hills with some streaks of snow in the gullies, I had seen this many times before, but some how this time it was different.

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There were many questions in my mind. There was no doubt that I wanted to marry Verna. I knew that if I didn't that there were others looking her way. The question was, can it be kept a secret? Will Verna and Jerry have to cancel their contracts with the school? How will her family deal with this? There seemed to be questions and more questions. Have we acted too hastily? We still have time to change our minds. We reassured each other that this was really what we wanted to do. We had known each other for two years, and we had been engaged for a year and a half; but how can we ever be certain?

We arrived at the court house and obtained the proper license, with the assurance from the county clerk that he did not have to publish the information. He did say however, that if someone came to check the records, he could not withhold them. One more step was necessary, we must find a minister. Art and I had known the Congregational Minister in Chadron. Eddy Newland who had been in Crawford several years, a telephone call and a promise from him to marry us and keep it a secret, was all we needed.

At High Noon, on Aril 9, 1928, there was a double wedding; James Metzger and Verna Pielstick witnessed the marriage of Arthur Uhl to Jerry Blair, the marriage of James D. Metzger and Verna E, Pielstick was witnessed by Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Uhl.

Art and I each bought our wives a half dozen roses and we treated ourselves to a steak dinner, with strawberries for desert [sic]. We returned to Crawford Mr. and Mrs. Metzger. Two days later I returned to the University at Lincoln, Nebraska. Verna remained to complete the school term and joined me in Lincoln in June.

I am writing this in January 1994. It has been more than 65 years since Verna and I took that step. I have never had any regrets, and I have never heard Verna express any, so I am going to assume that it is still all right with her.

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Jim and Verna Metzger.

Married April 9, 1928

Verna came to Lincoln as soon as her school year was finished. We were able to rent the Sheaff's home for the summer. They were going to spend the summer in England. Verna got a job at the First National Bank, as secretary to the President, Samuel Waugh. I continued my work at the Engineering Department in the tractor laboratory. We rented Sheaff's car for the summer and were able to take trips with our friends. This usually included Ray Magnuson and Marie Quick, later Mr. & Mrs. Ray Magnuson, and Glen Feather and Ruth Heather, later Mr. & Mrs. Glen Feather.

In the summer of 1929 Verna's father became ill, and we moved to the ranch on the South Loup river, in Custer, County. Our address for the next 3 years was Cumro [sic] Nebraska.

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This Certifies That James D. Metzger of Crawford, Nebraska and Verna Pielstick of Crawford, Nebraska were United in Marriage at Chadron, Nebraska According to the Ordinance of God, and the laws of the State of Nebraska On the ninth day of April i the year of our Lord 1927. Eddy C Newland, Minister. Witnesses. A H. Uhl. Mrs. A. H. Uhl

1928 marriage license for the union of Jim Metzger and Verna Pielstick.
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There have been two times in my life when I could have taken a 3-year vacation, gone fishing or sight seeing and have been better off financially. I would not want to go thru these experiences again, but there were valuable lessons learned. The depression of the 1930s was one of these times.

October 1929 to September 1932 was for us the great depression. We lost all our money and were in debt. It was to take us 15 years to get these debts paid.

Verna's parents lived on a cattle ranch in Custer County Nebraska. They were 30 miles south east of Broken Bow, the mailing address was Cumro, a rural post office, that no longer appears on the map. Cumro consisted of a filling station, a general store and the post office. The ranch was located on the South Loup river six miles from Cumro.

Verna's father became ill in the summer of 1929, and was no longer able to do the heavy work. He asked us if we would take over for awhile. He was willing to keep the cattle and pay us for operating the unit, or he would sell all live stock and equipment if we wanted to buy.

On October 1, we signed a contracts to buy the cattle and ranching equipment. Verna had $1,400 that she had saved from teaching, and I had $750 that I had expected to pay tuition for the next two years. It would take $2000 to make the down payment, so we borrowed $7,500 from the bank and our parents for the remainder. To-day this seems a small amount of money, but under to-days values the 150 head of livestock and haying equipment would be worth $400,000. Now our address would be Cumro Nebraska.

On Oct. 29th the stock market took its first fall. For the next three years it continued to fall. We had borrowed money at the Mason City bank, and by January 1932 they were getting anxious for more money from us. The president of the bank was my Uncle, Will Redmond, and I knew that he was taking a lot of pressure for us to make some payments on the loan, I knew that he was trying to protect us.

In July of 1932 it happened. A notice, issued by the Federal Land Bank. "We will no longer make loans on ranches that are not operated by the owner." The loan was due October 1932, and this meant that Verna's parents had to return to the ranch or lose it.

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If Verna's parents moved back to the ranch, they would re-finace [sic] the loans on the cattle and equipment, but that meant that Verna and I would lose everything we had put into the project, and more too. Now our $9,500 was worth only $4,553. We had lost $5,000, which was more than double our origional [sic] investment.

This was good fortune in disguise, because it forced us to leave. We had gone broke in 3 years. The depression lasted for another 8 years, and many of our friends stayed on, and eventually lost everything, and could not start again. I was able to return to the University and get my degree, and start over.

Verna and I had both grown up in the ranching area of Nebraska. We were both familiar with the life, and we were having a good time. We had two healthy children, a boy and a girl. We had all the good food we could eat, beef, eggs, milk, vegetables, and fruit. We could even have all the fresh fish we could eat by setting lines in the river. We enjoyed our neighbors and the community activities, it was going to be hard to leave.

Now we were four and not two. Dale was born April 19, 1930, and Peggy on April 30, 1932. I thought for the first time of the bread lines that I had been hearing about on the radio. I thought of the people on Wall Street who were jumping out of 20 story buildings. That wouldn't do me any good, the only windows I could jump out of were only three feet from the ground.

The depression did pass, we did repay the money we owed others, Dale and Peggy are both old enough to draw social security. They have two brothers who are now grandfathers. We did survive the depression. I can now look back and only wonder what life would have been for us, if we could have held on for a few more years, and then be forced to leave.

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Just one more day, and I will have examined every fence post on the ranch. Ten miles of barbed wire will keep 150 head of cattle in the pasture and out of the hay meadows and grain fields.

The men who trailed cattle from Texas to Montana didn't have to bother with barbed wire fences, it was those invading homesteaders that started the problem. My father was one of those homesteaders. He taught me how to build fence, to dig post holes and string barbed wire. Good firm corner posts were necessary in order to have wire tight enough to discourage cattle and horses from crawling thru between the wires. "Good fences make good neighbors," was a statement I often heard, as a boy.

The month of April was a very long month for me. It was calving time and I had to make regular trips to the meadow where we kept the cattle all winter. Then I would hitch the team to a wagon and load it with a dozen fence posts, and a few rolls of barbed wire. I would wear a good pair of heavy leather gloves to keep from cutting my hands, and getting blisters from the posthole digger. I will have a post hole digger, a wire stretcher, staples, hammer, wire cutters, and a pair of pliers.

My plans this morning will be to cover my half of the fence that joins our neighbor on the south. Many of the posts have been rotted off and I will reset them or replace them with new ones. The ground is wet from recent rains and the digging is easier than where I have been working, but by noon, I am tired, my shoulders ache and I am bored with the job.

A familiar buzz, gives me a start as I touch a rotting corner post. I give it a shake, I hear the buzz again, there is a rattler some where, I can't see him, but I learned from my father many years before, that I must stand still and make no move until I can locate the snake. I soon spot it lying in the sun, close to a Yucca plant. I reach for my shovel and cut his head off. I remove the rattles and take them home to add to the jar that is half full from the collection that I have made thru the years.

It looks as if we are going to have a change in the weather, so I head for home, and get there just in time. There is lots of lightening with this storm and I am glad to stay under cover. When there is lightening it's no time to repair fence. Our neighbor lost 5 head of cattle that were standing along the fence, when lightening struck and ran along the wire and executed all of them.

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Cattle seldom hurt themselves on barbed wire, but a horse is a different matter. A cut from barbed wire is a blemish that will often ruin the sale of a horse. I have seen a horse get its foot caught in a barbed wire fence and nearly cut it off.

When I was a small boy I helped my father repair fence that was being used for a telephone wire. It was the top wire of a three wire fence, and insulators were used to prevent grounding, but it was never satisfactory, live stock could rub up against it and short the line, and tumble weeds and tall grass would short it and make a very poor telephone connection.

Barbed wire made a good fence for cattle and horses, but sheep would crawl under. The bottom wire would look like a long strand of wool string. The barbs pulled the wool from their backs as the sheep went under.

Deer and antelope were common in the area where I grew up. Deer would jump the wire without difficulty, while Antelope would follow the fence for miles to get around it. When the highways were put thru Western Nebraska and Wyoming, antelope were known to stand in a corner and starve, rather than crawl thru the wires.

Landscape photo of cattle drivers, taken by L. A. Huffman.

This photo was taken by L. A. Huffman, known as the photographer on Horseback. It depicts the generation ahead of me, but the stories I have been told by some who drove cattle from Texas to Montana, fascinated me as a small boy.

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The life for the men and women who lived on the plains of the west, before barbed wire was a rugged existence. Trailing cattle from Texas, thru the tall blue stem grass of Kansas, to the short buffalo grass and wheat grass of Montana and the Dakotas, was a period that has become history. I came to this world in 1907, after this historic period. I was, however, privileged to have known some of these people who lived at that time. Drought, floods, and blizzards were serious problems for them. The fascinating stories that I heard as a boy, from some of these men: Tom Moody, Pete Cooper and Frank O'Rourke and his wife Jerene, made me appreciate the difficulties they experienced. Verna and I were to meet Frank and Jerene again, in 1967 when we returned from Jordan.

Our life on the ranch along the South Loup river in 1929-1932, had many of the same problems that these early settlers experienced. The ranch house in which we lived was comfortable with its three rooms, a path and a Montgomery catalogue. Verna had to get the water from a well 50 yards from the house. I had to cut wood for the central heating system, a potbelly stove in the center of the room. The quarters could seem very confining, when sitting out a long winter storm.

March 15, 1931, was the third day of a dreaded spring blizzard. I have not seen the cattle for two days, there was enough hay to take care of for several days, but this is calving time and this kind of weather is what kills new born calves.

I leave Verna and our son Dale, who is now nearly a year old, with a good supply of wood for the fire, and go to the barn and saddle my horse, I must see the cattle. My horse, Spike, a three year old gelding, has lots of spirit and is easy to ride. I have been training him for six months and he has the makings of a good cow horse, and I can rope from him with confidence, if I keep the rope from getting under his tail. When the rope gets under his tail he goes crazy and I have to ride hard to keep from being thrown.

I glance at the thermometer as I leave the house, it is 15 above zero. It is not as cold as it has been, but with the wind at 25 miles per hour, it is hard to keep warm. The short trip to the meadow where the cattle are, is across the river. The water is low, it comes to the belly on my horse. If I lift my feet, they will stay dry.

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I soon find the cattle, they are bunched together behind a wind break of trees, but a lone cow is standing beside a newborn calf that is half hidden in the snow. It appears to be only a few hours old, but unless it can get dry and nurse, it won't live long in this kind of weather. I ride to the calf, and expect to get it on the horse with me and get it to a warmer place, but when I get off of my horse, the cow makes a lunge for me, and I quickly get back in the saddle, and again dismount, but with the same results. I try to drop a rope over the head of the little critter, but he won't lift it high enough. I ride off, and wish him well, because it is dangerous to face that old cow.

I look over the rest of the cattle and find no more calves, so I ride over to the hay yards to check the fences. When I get off my horse and drop the reins, he has been trained to stand when the reins drop. I fix a gate that is down, and turn just in time to see him start for home. He crosses the river and heads for the barn.

For a moment I stand in shock. It is four miles around by the bridge, where I can cross and keep dry. It is less than 3/4 of a mile to the house if I cross the river. There are small cakes of ice slowly floating down the river, it has been cold enough for the river to start freezing again.

It will take me well over an hour to go by was of the bridge, and less than 20 minutes to cross the river. I do not hesitate long, it is too cold to waste time, so I decide to go the short route. I sit down on the bank of the river, off come my boots with spurs still attached, then my pants. The shocker comes when the long johns come off, there is nothing between me and the snowy bank.

The trip across was not as bad as I had expected. I rolled up my clothes, held them over my head while crossing. On the other side it was less of a shock, by scraping away the snow from a tree stump, it did not take long to get the long johns on. By the time I reach the house I'm beginning to get warm, but the potbelly stove never looked so good, and I DID HAVE DRY PANTS.

What happened to the calf that was left in the snow? The calves were all shipped to Omaha in October. The heaviest one weighed 500 lbs., but he was a queer looking creature, his ears were only an inch long, and looked like small horns; his tail had a length of only 5 inches. The frozen ends of ears and tail made him appear to be something other than a cow, but it never stunted his growth.

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What is this thing we call the mind? We say that it is in our brain, but the brain can still exist and the mind be gone. Is our physical being an illusion?

The first time I had the idea that I might be missing something important came from an experience I had in 1930. Verna and I were living on the ranch, and drought damaged our corn crop that we needed to feed the livestock that winter. To salvage the crop meant digging a pit silo, and cutting the corn to fill it. We had all the equipment we needed to do this, and in three weeks time we dug the pit silo and filled it.

The problem was to get the silage from the silos into the feed wagons. For $150 I could buy a lift that would do the job, but in 1930 where was I to get $150. I had grown up on the ranch where we made much of the equipment that we used, and I had taken Agricultural Engineering in college, why not do it myself? I got my drafting board and drawing equipment, and took the measurements I needed to reach the silage, For two days I cut lift arms, and fit pulleys and ropes.

The next day Harry, the hired man, helped me set the improvised lift over the silo. When feeding time arrived, we hitched Bob to the singletree and rope that would pull the load from the silo. Harry went into the silo and filled the barrel, but when we pulled the load up it wouldn't dump in the wagon, I had to do it by hand, so I went back to the drawing board, and made changes. For two weeks we used the lift, but we might as well have used a ladder and carried the silage out on our backs. Why can't I make this work?

One night I had a dream, it was so vivid that I wakened with a start, THERE IT WAS, the lift, right in front of me. I thought some one said to me "Put two more links in the chain and set the catch at an angle." I got out of bed, went to another room, and lit the kerosene lamp and looked at the clock, it was 3:30 a.m. It was too early to get up, but I knew that I wouldn't sleep, so I got out my drawing board and designed the lift as I was instructed, by this mysterious voice.

As soon as it was day light I went to the shop and made the suggested changes. I had to wait until feeding time to find out if this was the answer.

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Harry was as anxious as I was to see if the lift would work this time, so down in the silo goes Harry, I go to the barn to get Bob, the horse we always use. Harry fills the barrel, and calls to me, "Take it away." I hit old Bob on the rump, and send him off at a fast walk, and just wait. As the load comes to the top, I stand without taking a breath, the cross bar hits the chain, trips the catch, and the full load drops into the wagon.

Where did that message come from? Who told me how to solve the problem?

We left the ranch in September of 1932, but returned on several occasions, and that lift was still in operation.

Pit silo.

The pit silo was 30 feet deep and 20 feet in diameter. When the silo was full we could scoop the ensilage into the wagon, but if it were more than 5 or 6 feet below the surface we had to use the lift.

The operation was simple: The barrel was attached to a rope that went thru pulleys a--to--b--to--c. The horse pulled the load to tke [sic] top. When the barrel reach pulley A, it would be lifted from the silo and swing from frame 2 into frame 1 and dump the load into the wagon. My problem was with the hook that caught the barrel when it swung over to frame 1 to dump it in the wagon.

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The depression of the 1930s changed the life of a lot of people in the United States. Although we lost all the money we had and were in debt when we had to leave the ranch, our life during that period was comfortable and without a feeling of need.

Our closest town and rail center was Sumner, Nebraska. We did most of our shopping at a small grocery store where we could trade eggs and cream for groceries, and other item we needed for every day living. We had a radio that kept us in touch with the outside world. Omaha, and Kansas City would give us the daily livestock markets and news. This was a battery operated system, there was no electricity, so the battery had to be charged every few weeks. We would take one into Sumner to be charged and take a charged battery home with us.

Sumner was our closest point to obtain parts for equipment we used in the hay field. Many times we were able to repair equipment in our shop on the ranch, but occasionally we would break something that needed a new part. On one hot August day in 1930, we broke a catch on the hay rake, we needed it badly, but if one of the men in the field took time to go to Sumner, we would have to stop the entire stacking crew. When Verna found out what had happened, she agreed to take Dale, (age 6 months), put him in his basket and take him in the pickup and go to Sumner. She drove the 12 miles in 100 degree heat, over dusty roads and returned, only to find that the dealer had given her the wrong part. She took time out to take care of Dale, got back in the pickup and did it all over again.

Sumner was our loading point when we sold cattle and shipped to Omaha. We usually cooperated with Malcolm or Don, Verna's brothers who lived close by. We would start early and drive the cattle the 12 miles, hoping to get them out that day and have them in Omaha the following day. As soon as the cattle were loaded, one of us would take the saddle horses home and the other would make the trip to Omaha.

Often these trips were monotonous and tiring. I did make one that was more interesting than most. Sumner was not on the main line of the Union Pacific, and we would be switched over at Kearney. I was the only person, other than the train crew, in the caboose. It was late at night when we left Kearney, and I was awakened at midnight when we reached Grand Island. Before we left, a well dressed gentleman, carrying his suit case, climbed the steps into

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the caboose, and sat down across the aisle from me. I could hardly believe my eyes, this man was Dwight Griswold, the Governor of Nebraska. What was he doing riding a freight train? He had attended a conference in Grand Island and was due in Omaha the next day, and he said it was the fastest way to get there.

Many changes have been made in the past 75 years, in getting cattle to market. There is still no substitute for the saddle horse when it comes to handling cattle, and a well-trained, intelligent horse is the best friend a rancher can have. The 18 wheelers, the livestock semi-trailers, will now come to the ranch, load the cattle and take them directly to market. Before we left the ranch in 1932 we were able to use the trucks, but we did not have good facilities for loading, and dirt roads were not always passable for the heavy loads. The attached sale bill is for part of a truck load shipped on July 20, 1932. The same 8 head would be worth at least $5,000 to-day.

It has been many years since I have seen a train load of livestock. The large stock yards in Kansas City, Chicago, and Omaha no longer exist. They have been replaced with smaller processing plants that can be reached by trucks.

One of the last stories told of the problems involved in getting cattle to market was in Rushville, Nebraska. A rancher brought in 200 head of yearlings to be shipped to Omaha, it was dark when they reached the loading yards. The city lights were on, the cattle had never seen lights, and the city had to turn them off long enough to get the cattle in the yards.

Cattle in the winter feed lot

Cattle in the winter feed lot.

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Putting up hay for winter feed was an important part of ranching in the cattle country. Many hours were spent in other activities such as treating cattle for lice, vaccinating, branding, dehorning, castrating, and occasionally treating for snake bites. There were times when we had to pull a cow from the quicksand. Good hay was however, the life blood of the cattle business.

Alfalfa is an excellent feed for a cow, but it takes lots of irrigation water, which is often not available. The bulk of hay was from native grasses that grew in the bottom land along the river. There was always some grass to cut, even in dry years. In wet years the native grass could grow to a height of 3 feet, it could be high enough to touch the stirrups of my saddle when I rode thru the meadow.

The main topic among farmers and ranchers during haying time, was the weather. A rancher who ran into a rainy spell during the haying season would be hard to live with. He would cut the hay, and wait at least a day or two for it to dry enough to stack. Wet hay will spoil if stacked too early. A rain after the hay has been cut can cause it to bleach and lose food value. On the ranch along the South Loup River, the haying operation would begin about the middle of July, and it would take four weeks to cut and stack 200 tons.

For several weeks before haying time we would work on the equipment. The mowers needed a complete overhaul, the sickle needed new plates or a new bearing in the gear box. The rake must have some broken teeth replaced. The hay sweeps must have parts replaced that were broken, a swivel wheel or broken teeth must be replaced. The stacker needs anew rope, and some of the pulleys replaced. Harness for the teams must be repaired. It often took more than a week just to get all the equipment in order, because everything must work well if once the weather is favorable.

The day arrives to start the haying operation. We are going to have to wait until the dew is gone, to prevent the weeds and dirt from gumming up the sickles. If we start later the grass will be dryer and we can get it in the stack sooner.

The hired man and I, each with a good team, will cut enough to make one stack of hay. We can expect about a ton and a half of hay per acre, and we want enough for a 20 ton stack, so we will have to cut about 14 acres.

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In 1931 we started cutting the day after we celebrated the 4th of July. There was no dew on the grass that morning and we were in the field by 7:30 with two mowers. The teams had not been working much and soon tired, but by 5:00 in the after noon we had finished. The next few days were hot and dry and by the third day the hay was dry enough to stack.

We need two men for the two hay sweeps and four horses. The stacker with one man and two horses, the hay is close to where the stack will be located so we will put two men on the stack. If we have five men, and six horses, the stack will be finished in one day.

This year the weather favored us, and in six weeks we had cut, raked, bunched and stacked over 200 ton of hay. This will be feed enough to get the 120 cows thru the winter and with enough to feed milk cows and the work horses. This year we will put 10 tons in the barn, in order to have enough hay on hand if we get a blizzard.

When haying was finished, we usually took a holiday, and went on a picnic by the river. I have never had more of a satisfied feeling of accomplishment, than that of getting thru a haying season without rain.

Large haystack.

This stack is almost finished. The last sweep load is being pushed on the stacker. It is a full days work for 5 men and six horses. The man on the hay rake has finished raking and bunching the hay that will be stacked tomorrow.

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"HARRY, keep your eyes open, I have a snake in this load", Harry is stacking the hay this morning, because I want to teach a new horse to work on the hay sweep. I have just seen a snake crawl under the first shock that I put on the sweep, and did not see it get out, it is probably a harmless bull snake, but we do have rattlers on the meadow. The new horse is doing very well, but it takes some time to teach a young horse to work on this ingenious machine we call a "HAY BUCK". I have no idea who invented this queer looking piece of equipment, it looks like a dust pan with a short handle, and instead of a solid pan in which you would sweep dust, it has teeth like a comb. There is a wheel on each side to carry the load, and a horse hitched on each side, that can move the machine backward and forward. The operator has a seat on the handle of the pan, and can move forward or backward to lift or lower the teeth.

The horses have to work differently than if they are hitched side by side, to turn to the left the horse on the left must stop, while the one on the right walks forward. A turn to the right requires the horse on the right to stand while the one on the left goes forward.

To load this odd looking piece of equipment with hay, and haul it to the stacker, so that it can be lifted to the top of the stack, requires a skilled operator. The operator will take the sweep to the area where the hay has been raked and bunched, and one bunch at a time is scooped up by the sweep. The load is evenly placed by loading first one side and then the other. Four or five bunches are usually enough for the team to pull. The operator can ride by sitting on the handle, close to the load. The load is then placed on the stacker head, which is the same size as the sweep. The team pushed the load forward until it is firmly placed on the stacker, the sweep is then backed out and the load remains firmly on the stacker head. The horses then back the sweep away, leaving the load to be lifted to the top of the stack.

Great care must be taken when loading the hay on the stacker. The teeth of the stacker head are the same distance apart as those of the sweep, and must mesh properly when loading the hay on the stacker. If the load doesn't stay on the stacker head when backing out with the sweep, the operator must sit far back on the handle, lift the teeth and shove the hay up tight. The operator is continually talking to the team, and a well trained horse soon understands: get up, whoa, back, and learns to stand while the other horse changes the position of the sweep.

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An inexperienced operator can make life miserable for the person on the stack. If the sweep is loaded evenly the hay will go on the stack in good shape, but if the hay doesn't fall on the stack evenly, and lands in the wrong place, it is difficult for the stacker to keep the center of the stack high enough to shed the rain, and keep the hay dry. A well loaded sweep can also help the person driving the stacker team, to place the hay on the stack in the right spot.

Verna and her sister Marvelle were skilled hay sweep operators, they operated the sweeps for two summers, 1924 and 1925, while their father and brother did the stacking. Each year they would put up at least 10 stacks that contained 15 to 20 tons each.

When the last load is on the stack, the man on the stack rides down on the stacker as it is lowered.

When the last load is on the stack, the man on the stack rides down on the stacker as it is lowered.

Verna and Marvelle with their sweep teams

Verna and Marvelle with their sweep teams.

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Verna atop Betsy the saddle horse.

Betsy was the most popular saddle horse on the ranch. She was on the ranch when we took over Oct. 1929 and she was there when we left in Sept. 1932. She was the horse that Verna always chose to use, [sic]

Jim atop Betsy the saddle horse, next to dog.

Betsy and the dog were all I needed to move the cattle from the pasture to the meadow.

Wes and Spike, saddle horses.

These were both young horses when we bought them. Wes helped us on the ranch the summer of 1930. I thought I had Spike well trained, but he ran off and left me to cross the river with floating ice. I kept my pants dry by holding them over my head.

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October 1,1930 [sic]

Stock cows (54 head @ $50.00)$2,700.00
Yearling heifers (20 head @ $50.00)1.000.00 [sic]
Calves (64 head @ $30.00)!,920.00 [sic]$5,6200.00 [sic]
Sows (7 @ $30.00)210.00
Pigs (60 @ $12.00)720.00930.00
Prairie hay (200 tons @ $5.00)1,000.00
Alfalfa (50 tons @ 10.00)500.00
Corn (70 Acres Est. 30 bu. @ 75¢)1,575.00
Oats 1(200 bu. @ 25¢)50.00
Income from pasture rental500.00
Pickup 1929 Ford500.00
Household furniture500.00
Horses (6 Head)200.00
Laying hens (175)100.00
Unsecured Note (Runs indefinitely)$4,950.00
Unsecured note (Runs indefinitely)1,000.00
Mason City Bank,(Secured 20 heifers)800.00
Unsecured note (payable on demand)100.00

Our contract Oct. 1929, when we went on the ranch, stipulated that the feed for cattle would be included with the price of the cattle. That was really a generous gesture on the part of Verna's Father. When he had to return to the ranch in Sept. 1932, in order to keep the Federal Land Bank loan, it seemed necessary for us to do as he and [sic] done. The price of cattle, as shown on the sale bill for July 20, 1932, tells the story. In some parts of the United States, farmers were killing small pigs because the [sic] couldn't afford to feed them.

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Invoice from Tom Bryson Live Stock Marketing Agency.
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It was the first week in Sept. 1932 that we left the ranch. Verna's parents returned from York [sic] Nebr. The Land Bank will now renew the loan on the ranch for $11,000.

We will move to their home in York. Verna, Dale, and Peggy can live there, and I can go back to college. My former job is available for me at the Engineering Department at 25 cents per hour, in the tractor testing laboratory. I can get my degree in two years, and the Metzgers will get a new start. Verna will keep house for her brothers, Oliver and Weston, and I will return on week ends, to be with the family.

It is difficult for me to describe my feelings as we leave the ranch. I knew that we had lost every thing we owned, and were in debt more than $3000.00, but my real problem was, that I felt a complete failure. I had never had an experience like this, I did not always succeed in what I was doing, but there were usually alternatives, but there was none this time. I had lost.

We took with us only what we could get in a small 1932 Ford pickup. Verna's parents would leave their furniture and we would leave ours. When the loan was completed we could make an exchange.

I can feel again the pain, as we left the ranch headquarters. It was a bright September morning, The hired man waved to us as we turned into the road. WHAT IS HE DOING ON MY HORSE? He knew that I didn't want anyone to ride that colt until he was better trained! Is he going to turn the cows and calves into the meadow? He knows that they should stay on summer pasture for another month!

The sun is shining thru the cottonwood trees, the light is dancing on a small branch of yellow cottonwood leaves, that are changing to fall colors. The entire tree will be a bright yellow in a few more weeks! We cross the bridge to check the mail box for the last time, and then we turn and sit for a few minutes to watch the cows and calves as they drink at the river.

Is it like this to die? Do we have to leave this now? I start the engine, shift into low gear and climb the hill past the Shumaker Ranch. We turn right onto the main road to Kearney, Grand Island, and then to York. An era in our life, had come to an end. Will we pass this way again? How will we ever repay the money we owe? I heard this morning on the radio that the dairymen were pouring milk in the streets. What is happening? Has the world gone crazy? I think mine has.

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Life at York in Sept. 1932 was a new start for us. Verna's brothers did very well running the dairy, they were both in school and Verna was able to work out a satisfactory routine with the two youngsters. I felt free to go back to Lincoln for my junior year at College. On the 14th I drove to Lincoln and matriculate, for my junior year. This was familiar territory to me and it did not take me long to get settled.

My schedule was very rigid. I had worked in the Ag. Engineering dept. when I was there in 1927-1929. I could work 4 hours a day and still carry 15 or 16 hours a semester. I was up at 5:00 o'clock, and open the building by 8:00. o'clock, then to class and be back at 5:00 o'clock and lock up. Nebraska was testing every make and model of farm tractor in use in the state, and I spent hours on these tractors, from small sizes of garden models, to 70 horse-power caterpillar tractors. This could mean 5 days a week, and left me free on week ends to go to York, and be with the family.

By the spring of 1933 the ranch loan was completed, and we were able to get our furniture at the ranch. Verna's folks sold the place at York and moved their furniture to the ranch. We moved to Lincoln, just one block from the campus, 3223 Fair Street, where we were to live until August 1, 1934.

How we were able to get enough money to live on and still attend school, remains a puzzle to me. Our rent was $10.00 per month, ham was selling for 10 cents per pound, and we had a garden. My income was 35 cents per hour, [sic] On week ends I tried to earn a little extra money by husking corn at 2 cents a bushel, I couldn't earn enough to make it worth while, so I did that only once.

I borrowed $100.00 from the Methodist fund, and sold the pickup for $200.00. We then bought a Durant for $80.00 which furnished transportation for more than a year. On January 14 1934, Gordon was born, so now we had 2 boys and a girl.

June 1934 was a very hot month in Lincoln. Verna took the youngsters to Crawford and was spending the summer with my parents, and I stayed in Lincoln with the Tractor Testing, and took some college courses during the summer. My professor was a fat man who weighed 300 pounds, or more, and it was very hot. The classroom had only one window, and no air conditioning, I envisioned him melting and running all over the floor.

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The (Civilian Conservation Corp), the CCC Camps were established in 1933. One of the professors that I met, Claton W. Watkins, was head of the Nebraska Forestry Dept. and was in charge of the Nebraska CCC projects. Seldom a week would pass that I didn't have an opportunity to speak with him, and I never missed an opportunity to ask him what the possibility were for a job when I got my degree. He would often say to me, "There is nothing new today, but keep asking, it looks as if there will be an opportunity soon."

On July 1, 1934, Watkins called me and said, " Can [sic] you get me a transcript of your grades, and a history of your past experience?" Transcript of grades, yes, but past experiences! I went broke raising cattle, it didn't seem to me to be a very good history, but it didn't seem to bother him, because on July 15th he handed me a contract to sign, a contract for one year, as Flood Control Engineer at a CCC camp at Fairbury [sic] Nebr.

On Aug. 1, I reported for work at Fairbury. I had never asked Watkins what the pay would be, and he often remarked that I was the only person he had ever hired that did not ask what the pay would be. I don't remember how I felt about the pay, because I was getting $60.00 a month and I knew that it would be better than that. The job paid $160 a month, and I was never paid so well to learn as much as that first year out of college.

The family joined me in September, and we were able to live again. We soon started to pay back the money we owed, but it took us about 15 years to get the debt paid.

Civilian Conservation Corp camp in Fairbury, Nebraska.

The fair grounds at Fairbury were converted into a camp for 200 CCC enrolles [sic], with barracks, mess hall, recreational facilities and headquarters for Army and Forest Service.

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On Aug. 1, 1934 I went to work for the Forest Service as Flood Control Engineer. The Civilian Conservation Corp, known as the CCC Camps, were being set up all over the U.S. I was assigned to Fairbury Nebr. The camp units were usually composed of 200 or 225 men, and the U. S. Army had the responsibility of feeding and housing them. In Nebraska the U.S. Forest Service was responsible for the work units.

I wanted to be certain that I would be on time my first day of work, so I left Lincoln the day before and stayed all night with my Aunt Maude and Uncle Bob Dillon, who were living in Beatrice. It was only about 25 miles from Beatrice to Fairbury, and the next morning I got up early and was in Fairbury by 7:30.

The County Fairgrounds was to be the camp site. The Army had arrived only a few days earlier and had about 40 men in camp, who were busy getting the site in shape for a camp that would accommodate 200 enlisted men, Army personnel and the Forest Service Staff.

The hog barn was being made into the mess hall. The cattle barn and chicken house were to be barracks. The agricultural exhibit hall was to be the recreation center. The Engineer's office and the Superintendent's office were two red railroad box cars that had been moved in. I was assigned one of them, and used one end for living quarters and the other for my office.

The summer of 1934 was a hot one, day time temperatures reached 110 to 115 degrees in eastern Nebraska, the summer was the hottest on record. We had a fan that helped keep the hot air moving, but the box car had no shade, no air conditioning, and there were no screens on the doors, and it cooled off very little at night.

The Forest Service staff in Fairbury consisted of a Superintendent, an Engineer, and four Foremen. Our assignment was erosion control on farm land. We built small earth dams, terraces, brush dams in gullies and planted trees for windbreaks. Agreements were signed with farmers and an erosion control plan was developed, describing the type of work to be done and cropping plan to be followed.

The problems we had in getting started seemed never to end. We were slow in getting equipment we needed, such as wheelbarrows, shovels, hand tools of all kinds, and fresnos. The Rock Island Rail Road Co. loaned us surveying equipment: a transit, level, rods and stadia boards.

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Not until I set up my survey crew, did I realize what the depression was for some people, who could not get jobs. I usually had four men on a crew, I had young fellows with several years of college, and one who had degree in engineering, but could not get work, so he enrolled as a private in the CCC camp.

Our survey crews were kept very busy. We were building small earth dams and terraces with teams that the farmers ha available. We had to have two farms surveyed each week to keep the construction crews busy.

Training men for the job, proved to be a difficult task. Some of the supervisory personnel and most of the enrolled men had no farm experience. Some had never been around horses, and had to learn how to drive a team, hold a plow in the ground, and load a fresno. A man who had been raised on a farm and knew how to do these things soon was a sergeant and supervising crews.

An Engineer who had no farm experiences was useless at the Fairbury camp, he might have the technical training but know nothing about farm crops and farming problems. Unless some one was with him in making the surveys, he would treat an alfalfa field the same as a corn field. The farmers would be very unhappy, and it wasn't always easy to calm them down.

It was the responsibility of the army to take care of the men, but it was difficult some times to separate the work project from camp projects. We had 200 men transferred to Fairbury from Arkansas in 1935, and many of these boys ha never worn shoes. They were issued a pair of shoes that they were required to wear in camp, but when they got to the field the shoes would come off. They would follow the teams and equipment all day in bare feet. By the time November came and snow was on the ground, some still went barefoot.

There were days when we would have as many as 45 or 50 teams in the field. We built dams and terraces that I saw in operation fifty years later. The tree planting project for wind breaks was another thing that proved to be very useful.

I learned more the first year in camp than I did in a year of college. It is one thing to make surveys and draft plans in the class room, and another to do it in the field with help that has never been off the streets of New York, or from Mississippi where they never saw ice or snow.

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Thousands of cubic yards of earth were moved with horses and mules and the fresno, in building dams and terraces.

Thousands of cubic yards of earth were moved with horses and mules and the fresno, in building dams and terraces.

Four Horse Team with loaded fresno.

Four Horse Team with loaded fresno.

Farm ponds and other water conservation structures were built on more than 100 farms in Jefferson County in 1934-1938

Farm ponds and other water conservation structures were built on more than 100 farms in Jefferson County in 1934-1938 [sic]

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Fairbury, Nebraska ECW Camp SCS-15 May 18, 1936


J. D. Metzger

C.R. Dahl
Coop. Agreements
Const. Specifications

C.J. Novak
Coop. Agreements
Preliminary Surveys

M.C. Husa
Coop. Agreements
Agronomic Recommendations


H.O. Pederson
Proj. Supervision
Forestry Surveys &

D.A. Burn
Proj. Supervision

B.W. Woolsley
Proj. Supervision
Const. Supervision

C.L. Cramer
Proj. Supervision
Trucks, Tools, Equip.

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In March 1935, Ben Osterloh, the camp Superintendent, was assigned as District Supervisor, and I was promoted to Camp Superintendent. From a technical standpoint I felt qualified, but to supervise, 2 engineers, 4 foremen, an agronomist and a work force of 200 men would be something different.

I was hardly prepared for some of the headaches that were to follow. The engineer taking my former position came from the east coast and had no farm experience. He did not know the difference between alfalfa, corn, oats or any other crop, and this created a real problem with the farmers. There was no choice but to transfer him to another location.

The foremen all had different qualifications. It was important to assign tasks that would best fit the man. Bill Whitfield, a draftsman, had little farm experience, but he did an excellent job of designing structures, and keeping records. Jess Money was a graduate forester, he took charge of tree planting. Pop Cramer was the age of my father, a portly, good humored gentlemen that always seemed to be able to settle arguments among supervisory personnel and enrolled men. Pop was a peacemaker.

I suppose that anytime you have a 200-man work force there will be problems. I remember only one that really embarrassed me, I was out witted by a truck driver. There was always a shortage of trucks to transport men to the field, and we would occasionally assign one driver to cover several projects. When I didn't find him on one project I assumed that he was on another. After he delivered his crew he would disconnect the odometer and drive 60 miles to Lincoln to see his girl friend. This accounted for the fact that we were getting such poor mileage on the one truck. He was soon replaced by another driver.

My most frustrating task was not with the work crews, but with the army. Captain Phillips, the camp commander, was a pleasure to work with, and if we had differences we could always work them out. Transportation was a problem for us, we tried to keep at least 185 men in the field, and the army had to get lunch to them at noon, and had to use the same trucks we used on the work projects.

My real problems began when a company of 200 men came from New York. The commanding officer, Leut. Gidinsky, brought his entire staff with him. Most of the men had lived in New York City, and the philosophy of the people in a small town in Nebraska was not the same as New York.

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Verna and I felt very comfortable with the people in the Fairbury community. I joined the Chamber of Commerce and Verna was soon a member of the PEO chapter. I had received invitation from both Kiwanis and Rotary. The community put on dances and parties for the camp boys, and on many occasions took them into their homes. When the New York City boys started to come to the parties, and date the girls, the attitude of the townspeople changed, many refused to let their daughters come to the parties.

As Superintendent, I was getting complaints from some very unhappy people. I had no authority over the men after they left the work project, but I did feel that I should go to the commanding officer with the complaints. This didn't help my standing with Gidinsky, and with much gusto, he demanded to talk to the accusers. I didn't want to expose my source of information, but he insisted, and I had no choice but get him in my car and take him to town. I was embarrassed and frustrated. I didn't know what to say, so I said nothing. Before we arrived at the City Hall, Gidinsky suggested we pull over to the curb and talk it over. From that time on, the situation did improve.

Lesson learned: If you don't talk too much you might win your point. Gidinsky didn't like me any better after that but he did listen to me.

In March 1937 Soil Conservation Service took over the camps in Nebraska. All personnel in the CCC camps that had technical training were to be transferred to Soil Conservation Districts, and given Civil Service Classifications.

We were moved to the District at Syracuse Nebr. I worked as a field conservationist in charge of personnel training for CCC camps, that were working on water development projects.

We remained in Syracuse for three years. I was then assigned the task of establishing water development projects in Rushville, Chadron and Scotsbluff [sic], mainly flood control and irrigation. When the Soil Conservation District was established in Scottsbluff, I was assigned as District Conservationist. We lived in Gering, which was just across the river.

There was much to be done in soil conservation and irrigation, but I was tiring of the red tape and restrictions of government employment, and resigned in November 1943, and started our own business. We established MIDWEST FARM SERVICE, a farm management, real estate and insurance business.

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There have been several occasions in my life when I felt as if it were time to move on, but to make a final decision can be a painful process. The first decision of this nature, was when I left home to go to college, the second one was when I decided that it was time to leave the Government, and resigned my position as Director of the Soil Conservation District in Scotts Bluff County [sic] Nebraska.

Verna supported me in making this decision, but I knew that she appreciated a regular monthly check, after the long period of cash shortage when we left the ranch and I went back to college. I knew the time was coming when I would have to make a change, the red tape, the endless delays and the impractical decisions by my superior, was getting on my nerves. I knew if I set a date to leave in advance, that I could work up the nerve to quit when the time came.

On May 1, 1943, I wrote a letter of resignation to the Nebraska State Office for Soil Conservation Service, and set the date for November 1, 1943. My replacement arrived in August, so I took my accumulated annual leave, and turned my attention to a new field of activity.

During the depression, from 1930 to 1940, many folks lost their farm and ranches. The Federal Land Bank, and Life Insurance companies owned properties that had been foreclosures, I knew that I could manage these properties but didn't know how to start. The Scotts Bluff County Engineer had resigned his position and moved to California and was working in a War Defense Industry. I agreed to take the job on a part time basis, if I could get my own business started. For nearly two years I worked as County Engineer, with a salary of $150.00 per month, and established the company that is now known as MIDWEST FARM SERVICE.

MIDWEST FARM SERVICE, offered farm management services on irrigated farms. I had six farms the first year, and designed and developed an irrigation system, on a ranch in Banner County. The Air Force built an airport at Scottsbluff for a bombing training field, and MIDWEST FARM SERVICE, seeded land, harvested crops, and maintained areas adjacent to the runways, while bombers were taking off and landing. I passed my Real Estate and Insurance Brokers examinations for Nebraska and Colorado, and we bought a 160 acre irrigated farm that I managed, along with the others.

In 1945 I developed allergies that appeared to come from grain dusts and pollens. The Equitable Life Assurance Society, one of the companies I represented in Nebraska, was establishing a home loan service in Longmont [sic] Colorado, and I was offered the position.

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The Rocky Mountains area had always held an attraction for me, and since I had a brother living in Boulder whom we often visited; perhaps this might be a good move.

Verna's brother Weston, was a Vocational Agriculture teacher in Grant, Nebraska. He worked as a field inspector for a canning factory in Western Nebraska, during the summer when he was not teaching, and he agreed to take the farm management business if we moved to Colorado, and on the first of June I went to Longmont, and the family followed in August.

I will always have a sense of guilt for having pushed to make this move. We had spent most of our married life moving every few years, and we were well established in Gering. Dale, Peggy and Gordon were enjoying their school, and had many friends, Ken had not yet started school. Verna was President of her PEO Chapter, and we were both taking part in church and community activities. Verna never complained, but I knew it hurt. Both Peggy and Dale left some very close friends.

Longmont became our home town, and the ten years was a happy time for all of us. Dale, Peggy and Gordon graduated from High School, Ken went thru grade school and two years of High School, all participated in school activities, football, basketball, track, band and others. It was their home town when they went to college. Verna helped organize another PEO Chapter and became it's President. We lived on an acreage and produced a lot of our own food. We had a cow, chickens, garden and rabbits. We sold the farm in Nebraska and bought another in Colorado. The business did well, but I did take time out to help start the Safflower business, which failed and lost $35,000 for the Metzgers.

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To go broke during the big depression of the 1930's was bad enough, but I had to do it again. The next depression was what I call the Safflower depression. World War II ended in 1945 and brought a sudden halt to the manufacture of war equipment, and a change in agriculture in the western plains area of the United States. Thousands of acres had been devoted to wheat production. When the war came to a close, many farmers were looking for a crop that could replace wheat, of which there was a surplus.

A personal friend of mine from Uni. of Nebraska, Dr. Leo Christensen, had done a great deal of research on oil seed crops that could be grown in the High Plains area. Safflower was one of those seed crops. It appeared that it was a good crop for land not planted to wheat. The oil was a good cooking oil, and it could also be used for paints an varnishes. It looked as if there would be a ready market for the oil, and the by-product after processing, was good livestock feed.

With a lot of enthusiasm, four of us formed a general corporation in Longmont, Colorado. We called this company, WESTERN SOLVENTS; the organizers, Robert Bowers, a business man in Longmont, Al Lane, County Agricultural agent, Dr. Christensen, Uni. of Nebr. director of research, and Jim Metzger, Farm management, real estate and insurance broker.

We raised $100,000 and set out to promote the growing of safflower and to construct the Oil Processing plant. The plant was finished in Aug. of 1950 and we were able to harvest and process several hundred tons of Safflower seed.

In 1950 we produced enough oil to sell to a few paint companies, and cooking oil for some local restaurants. Everything seemed to be going according to schedule, but by that time we needed another $50,000. We received this support from local bankers, but they insisted that we have some local farmers and a banker on the board of directors.

The next year the acreage planted increased, and we had nearly three thousand acres in safflower production. The processing plant operated well and we were producing oil by the car load. Cook Paint and Varnish Co. of Kansas City agreed to take a car load of oil every six months, for two years and then they wanted a car load a month there after. By 1952 it appeared that we were assured of having a market for all the oil. Cook Paint and Varnish agreed to take it all. and we now had the capacity to produce a tank car every month.

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We were now needing another $50,000, and we were able to raise it locally. By this time the Metzgers had $35,000 in the project and more than half of that was borrowed from friends and banks, with unsecured notes.

We were now receiving attention from some large companies. We were corresponding with Archer Daniels and Midland, Kellog was interested, and a company from El Centro California. Rolston Purina were interested in the high protein meal which was a by-product that was used as feed for livestock.

The Korean war started in 1952, and the demand for wheat was increasing. Wheat was now worth $4.00 a bushel so it was no longer profitable to raise Safflower. Suddenly our supply of raw material was gone, and Western Solvents had no product to process. We finally had to admit that we could no longer operate, so we sold the plant to a local feed company in Longmont and went out of business.

This was the second time in my life that I would have been better off to have taken a vacation for three years. We lost $5,000 in the depression of 1929, and $35,000 in the Safflower business. The education was expensive, but we did get the $5,000 and the $35,000 paid back. For years we paid interest on interest, in order to keep the notes up to date.

Every time I go into a Super Market I shed a few tears. Safflower oil, and Saffola are available in every store, everyone is buying some of it to-day. All the Metzgers have is 10,000 shares of Western Solvents stock certificates that would make good wall paper.

First tank car of Safflower to Cook Paint & Varnish Co., 1951.
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I often wonder if it is by accident, or design that we meet someone that changes our lives. I can understand how people we live with, influence our lives, but to meet some one for a short period of time, as ships passing in the night, that change life completely, seems to be nothing less than a miracle.

We were living in Longmont [sic] Colo. in March 1955. For more than a year I had been the Lay Leader for the Methodist Church in North Eastern Colo. On March 2, Verna and I were to attend a District Conference in Denver, and I was to meet the person that would be my assistant for the coming year. Dr. Howard Finch, the Director of the Agricultural Extension Service for Uni. of Colorado.

Dr. and Mrs. Finch had just completed a 2 year tour in Turkey, Howard had been Agricultural Advisor for the Food and Agricultural Organization, (FOA) under the Marshal Plan, the assistance program established in foreign countries following World War II.

I was not only interested in meeting Howard for the first time, but I wanted to know more of his experiences while in Turkey. Much of our time was spent talking about problems that Turkey had in Agricultural Development. My interest was in Irrigation and flood control projects.

After the conference Howard and I resumed our discussion of Turkey. As we were preparing to leave, Howard said to me, "Would you and Verna be interested in going to Turkey for two years?" The idea was intriguing and we said that perhaps we would be. His next statement was, " You might as well pack your duds." I thought it was a joke, I had worked for the Government for 10 years and left, because it was more often than not, "Hurry up and wait", that was one thing that prompted me to leave the Government Service.

Life after March 1955 would change completely for us. Two day after meeting Howard, I received a copy of a letter he had written to the Ministry of Agriculture in Turkey, a copy of a another letter that he wrote to the Director of the U.S. Agency in Turkey. Three weeks later I received a phone call from Washington, wanting to know if we could be ready to go to Izmir, Turkey, by June 1. I informed them that it would be impossible to make arrangements for someone to take over the business at that early date, but we could be ready by the middle of August.

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The days from March 15, to Aug. 16 were hectic. I learned in the meantime that FOA in Turkey was very anxious to fill a vacancy at Izmir. The person who had filled the position, died in Feb. of 1955. I was to replace him as Irrigation Advisor to the Turkish Government in Western Turkey, where two large dams were under construction. The assignment was to assist in teaching modern irrigation practices on farms that would receive water from the dams.

The problems that Verna and I had to solve before we could leave, is the subject for another story. We had three young people in college, and a junior in High School. Arrangements had to be made to keep the business running, and we would have to rent the house. We had an opportunity to sell the farm, and we wanted to make the sale, but there had to be some type of settlement with the tenant.

Official papers confirming the assignment arrived in July, and on August 16 the truck backed up to the door of our house to load our household goods. I can still see Verna sitting in the yard, with a clip board and three lists, this goes to Turkey with us on the plane, this goes by ship, and this will go to storage.

Aug. 16, and all systems are "go". We had taken all vaccinations, our passports are in order and our tickets have been issued. Dale, Peggy and Gordon will take us to Denver to our plane. The plane leaves Stapelton [sic] Airport at noon, we arrive in Washington at 7:00 p.m.

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The flight to Washington left Denver at noon, via Chicago, where the temperature was 100 and humidity 95. It was the first ride on an airplane for Verna and Ken. Dale, Peggy and Gordon returned to Longmont, but within a week they would be going their separate ways. Dale went to Antioch College, Peggy to Ohio and Gordon returned to Nebraska Wesleyan University.

We arrive in Washington in the rain and wind, the end of a hurricane, we had a very rough ride. We spent the first night in the President Hotel, where Verna got a bad burn in the bath tub, when the hot water faucet wouldn't turn off. We rented an apartment from a friend of Peggy's who was going on a vacation, and were able to keep it for the two weeks were in Washington, D. C.

The next two weeks were spent at orientation courses, that were required of all personnel going overseas. My assignment was IRRIGATION ADVISOR to the Turkish Government (FDA), Foreign Operations Administration. It later became The Agency for International Development, and we were to be stationed in Izmir.

We left the U.S. on Sept. 3, 1955, with a stopover in Copenhagen. We then flew to Istanbul on Sept. 5th. A driver from the American Consulate met us at the airport. He was a Greek by the name of Leo, a very friendly and intelligent man who talked a lot on our way into town. When we got close to the city he became very quiet. There were crowds of people milling around in the streets and carrying clubs and signs. Obviously, something was wrong, and Leo was not telling us anything.

The slow trip into Istanbul soon came to a halt at the Galata Bridge. The police refused to let us cross the bridge and Leo left us, to find some one who would escort us to the American Consulate, while three of us were left sitting in the station wagon with the Turks milling around the car and looking in the windows as if we were monkeys in a cage.

It was at least a half hour before Leo returned, and when he did, he asked for my passport, he said he could get help if he could prove that we were Americans. We had been instructions in Washington, to hang on to those special passports, but he finally convinced me that he could get police help, so I turned my passport over to him. We reached the Consulate after driving thru streets that were strewn with refrigerators, typewriters, and many other item that were hard for the Turks to get.

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It was some time before we knew what the fuss was all about. The Greeks had damaged a statute of Ataturk in Greece and the Turks were showing their anger. This was the famous Istanbul riots of September 5, 1955.

We reached the Consulate at about 10:30 p.m., and saw the American flag draped over the gate of the compound, and I never was so glad to see some sign of America. We didn't leave the Consulate until 2:00 a.m. when the all clear signal was given, and we were taken to our hotel. This was our first trip out of the United States and we thought that perhaps we should have stayed home.

The next morning we could see the mess that had been left in the streets. There were armed soldiers and army tanks in every street around the hotel. I will never forget the sound of broken glass being swept up in the streets the next morning. Many of the Greek shops were looted and the goods strewn all over the sidewalk.

We stayed in Istanbul only the one night. The next evening we rode the ferry across the Bosphorus and took the train to Ankara. It was a comfortable night ride on the Orient Express. I wakened early and looking out the window and watched the sun rise over the dry, over-grazed, pasture of Central Turkey, a sight I would see often during the next five years.

The train came to a halt in the Ankara station at 8:30. We were met by the Mission Director, Mr. Hedges and the American Engineer who was to be my supervisor, Mr. Forsburg. The person to step forward first was Naki Uner. Naki was to be my Turkish counterpart for the next five years. The story of our travels, the work we did, the people we met, proved to be one of the most rewarding times of our lives.

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The welcoming party at Ankara soon had us located in a hotel. The University of Nebraska was establishing a University in eastern Turkey at Erzrum, and had personnel teaching in the University in Ankara, and some of them were staying in the same hotel. The Nebraska team was having a meeting the first evening we were there and they invited us to attend. I felt as if I were attending a University of Nebraska reunion. Dr. Homer Goodding, my agronomy professor Harry Gould, head of Extension Service, Jack Steel, from the Ag. Engineering Department, Dr. Crow, Animal Husbandry and Dr. Weldon from the Soils Laboratory, all had been part of my life at some time during my college days.

The week spent in Ankara was devoted to planning field operation for the Agean [sic] Area, which included all of western Turkey. Adam Karamilis, the director of the Soil and Water Conservation Division, (TOPRAK SU), Carl Forsburg, the the chief engineer for FOA and Naki and I mapped out the area where we would be working. The two experiment stations, at Mememan and Aydin were located in the irrigated area, and would be the locations were we would be holding classes and demonstrations.

On Sept. 14 we left Ankara for Izmir. We traveled in two cars. one of these cars was to be made available for Naki and myself. Our driver was Ihsan çhandas. Ihsan Bey spoke good English and was to be the guardian of the Metzgers for the five years we were living in Turkey. The trip to Izmir took us two days over dusty roads in a temperature of 95 degrees. The first night was spent at Karagaba Hara, a State Farm. At 5:00 o'clock the next afternoon we had our first view of Izmir as we came over the mountain above the city. The sun shining on Izmir Bay reflected on the old Roman Castle on the hill. This was a very old city. This was the city that was known as Smyrna, in Bible times. We drove into the old city thru vineyards that could have been in Sonoma County.

We were three tired Americans when we arrived in Izmir. Our reservations were in the Izmir Palas, a very good hotel by Turkish standards. It was situated on Izmir bay, and the sun, low in the west, reflecting on the bay, and looked like a blue shimmering mirror. We sat by the window and watched the sun change from a bright light to a big red ball that slowly sank into the Agean [sic] sea.

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The arriving merchant ships, as they slipped up to the dock below us, soon became only dark shadows. The darkness brought twinkling lights across the bay, that soon drew the outline of Karashaka, a town on the north shore. Verna, Ken and I went to the dining room and ordered our meal from the Turkish menu, from a waiter that spoke perfect English.

The day had been long and tiring so we went to bed early, listening to the mournful sound of Turkish music fro the building next door. We could hear the shrill whistle from a ferry arriving from the town across the bay that was unloaded its passengers. It loaded others and then returned The clatter of horses hoofs, and the rattle of carriages soon became quiet and we dropped off to sleep. Tomorrow we will waken in a new city, in a new land, with new friends. What will the new life mean for us? Will we regret leaving the family and our home in Longmont?

Horse-drawn carriage in Turkey.

The ARABA, the horse drawn carriages were as numerous as the taxi cabs, and were much less expensive. It was slower and safer. The drivers usually didn't speak English and it took a lot of sign language until we learned a little Turkish.

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Our first day in Izmir was devoted to finding a place to live. I was the only member of FOA staff that was not located in Ankara, and the U.S. Consulate in Izmir was to be my official station. We would receive our mail thru the Consulate, and the State Department would also be of assistance in helping us locate an apartment. Before leaving Washington we had met Donald Eddy and his family who were on their way to Izmir. He was assigned as the U.S. Consul. The Eddy family were stationed in Izmir the five years we were there, and we became good friends.

Our driver, Ishan Candas picked us up at 8:30 a.m., and we went first to the Girls School that was under the sponsorship of the Congregational mission, hoping they might be of assistance in locating an apartment, close to the school. We had friends in Longmont who were acquainted with the directors of the school, and suggested that we should make contact with the Blakes who ran the school. The trip to the school that morning turned out to be a very important contact for us.

The American Kiz College: (The American Girls School) was under the Congregational Church Board. The Turkey Mission operated 2 Hospitals, 4 Schools and 2 Clinics. Jack and Linda Blake were full time missionaries, and had lived in Turkey more that 20 years. There were both Turkish and American teachers. Our contact with the school staff and visiting personnel from U. S. colleges was to greatly enrich our 5 year tour in Turkey. Verna was to become a member of the staff for over 4 years, teaching Turkish girls.

We located an apartment just three blocks from the school. Our air freight, which was one of Verna's packing lists, arrived in good time and it took us only a few days to get settled enough, that I felt like going to work with Naki, and meet the Directors of the Experiment Stations and the Province Governors.

We must first visit the Mayor of Izmir, and the Governor of the Izmir Province. This took several hours, where we drank tea and coffee, at every stop. We met 2 experiment station directors and 3 governors of provinces. After five days of endless cups of coffee and tea, I thought it must be time to go to work, but it was to be another 2 weeks with more coffee and tea, before I had the nerve to ask Naki when we would begin our work on the plans that we made in Ankara.

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Ishan Candas, Turkish cabdriver.

ISHAN CANDAS, a loyal and caring person, proud of his uniform and his automobile. He always had his eyes on the road when he was driving, staring thru the steering wheel His method of driving in mud and snow never seemed to worry him, but it did me. He never looked at the speedometer, when he came to a long stretch of straight road, he would reach speeds of 80 miles an hour, if I didn't complain.

Naki and I inspected every Agricultural Experiment Station, from Mount Aarat [sic], on the Iran--Russian boarder [sic] in eastern Turkey, from the Black Sea on the north to the Syrian boarder [sic] on the south. Ishan did the driving.

Ishan Bey was my sounding board. He would inform me of things that were happening that he thought I should know. He always saw to it that I followed proper protocol when visiting dignitaries. He was embarrassed if I didn't ride in the back seat when in town.

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If there is one person that might be called a HERO in our Turkish story, it would be ISHAN CANDAS, my companion and my official driver for the five years in Turkey. He was a small man, only 5'6" tall, and weighed about 150 lbs. He wore his chauffeur's uniform as proudly as an Army General. For many years he had been the chauffeur for the Governor of the Izmir Province, and was now working for the American Consulate.

Ishan watched over us as a hen would watch over her brood of young chicks. He helped us find an apartment, took us to the markets, helped us get anything on the markets that we might need, and tactfully made suggestions to me on proper protocol, when we visited experiment station directors, and governors of the various provinces. He knew them all and his English saved the day for me.

I have known better drivers than Ishan Bey, he was so short that he couldn't see over the top of the steering wheel, he looked thru it. He never looked farther ahead than 50 feet and he would scare me to death two or three times every day. He would nearly hit an ox team and cart, or a flock of sheep, before coming to a halt. I wanted to get a cushion to get him higher in the seat, but it was an insult to him that I would make such a suggestion.

For me to hold my position was important to him. I rode in the back seat, and he always opened the door for me. When we were on long trips, he would be comfortable if I rode in front, but when in the city, I rode in the back seat. We were a curiosity in some of the small villages, and the youngsters would like to look the car over, but they had better not touch it, Ishan would holler "YELLA" (get out of here) and they would scatter like rabbits.

Ishan's ability to speak English, his knowledge of the area, an ability to help a foreigner adapt to Turkish life, made it possible for me to operate in the community with out Naki. I can explain best with a few stories.

When our furniture arrived in Izmir by ship, it had to clear customs. I was told by the consulate, what papers I had to have, and how to go about getting it from the dock to out apartment. Armed with the proper credentials I went to the Dock, Ishan knew just where to go, and with his help, I began my negotiation, with the customs officers, but nothing moved the furniture. When night came I was still not able to get the furniture released.

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The next morning Ishan said to me, "If you will give me ten lira I think I can get it. I gave him the lira, about one dollar in U.S. currency. He suggested that I stay at the apartment, while he went to the dock. In about an hour, the truck load of furniture arrived.

The Government offices opened at 9:30 in the morning. In the summer time, this seemed very late to me. I had been working with a farmer at the experiment station, that went by the name of ONE ARM AHMET. He had lost his arm in an accident, and in this way his friends identified him from another AHMET at the station. I persuaded Ishan Bey to take me to the village where one-armed Ahmet lived. He spoke no English and I very little Turkish, but we both talked horse language. He was open to new ideas and I helped him with hi planting. He had been hiring 25 women to make rows for him to plant cotton. I suggested that he put another type of blade on his plow and with his oxen he did more in two hour than the women could do in a day. This method saved him money and he was always glad to see me come.

Ishan would pick me up at the apartment at six o'clock in the morning and we would go to Ahmet's village, and be back by 9:00 o'clock when the offices opened.

One morning when Ishan stopped for me, I got in the back seat of the car, but suddenly remembered that I didn't have my camera. I asked him to wait a few minutes while I went to the apartment to get it, but when I returned, he was gone. I could only wait until he returned. It was more than a hour before he knocked on the door, and with many apologizes said, " I heard the door slam and thought you were in the car: I thought you were being very quiet". He missed me only when he reached the village.

Ishan died in 1982, just a few weeks before our visit to Turkey. We did get to the village to see one-armed Ahmet, but Ishan didn't take us.

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What is an Advisor? This was a confusing term to me. How do I get my ideas across to someone with out appearing to be superior, or patronizing? My classification and job description contained statements like this: "He must not become easily discouraged,---must work patiently and tenaciously toward bringing about the practical adoption of ideas. He must have imagination, initiative and be a "self starter."

If I were to propose what I thought had to be done, it would mean a completely different approach to irrigation, in Turkey. I didn't want to appear as the smart American that had all the answers, but after spending 3 weeks in the country, I was certain that the direction they were now taking in preparing land for irrigation, was headed for disaster.

My observation during the time we had been drinking tea and coffee and riding around the country, had taken me back 40 years. It appeared to me that Turkey was trying to modernize its agricultural practices by using equipment that wasn't designed to fit the small farms in the area. I saw many tractors that were sitting idle for lack of some part that was worn out or broken. There were disc-plows that were 16 feet long, that were used on wheat farms of 400 or 500 acres in Kansas and Texas. How could they ever be used in an area where the average-sized farm was 10 to 20 hectars [sic].(20 to 50 acres)?

Turkey had received money to purchase tractors, much of it from America. A lot of modern equipment was in Turkey, but very little attempt had been made to repair and service any of it, so much of it was sitting around and not being used. I would ask questions as to why it was not being used, and the answer usually was; "It is broken and there are no parts available."

After a little questioning as to what the policy had been in buying these tractors, I found that they wanted to try as many as possible in order to know which ones were best for Turkey. It was total chaos, no tractor company felt the need to set up service departments. I found over 50 makes and models, and most of them could not even use the same tires, let along any other parts.

An example of poor planning can be illustrated with one example, a 60 horsepower tractor with earth-moving equipment used hydraulic lifts, and when the operator unhooked the tractor from the carryall, he forgot to disconnect the hydraulic hose. When he pulled away it tore the hose apart.

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The only parts available were 5000 miles from Turkey, so this machine sat in the corner for six months before parts arrived.

It now appeared to me that the aid we were giving from the United States was geared to methods used in the States, and it had little value on the small farms in Western Turkey. To farm it the American way was out of question, big tractors and equipment to fit were not practical.

Every farmer had a team of horses or oxen, and was skilled in handling small farm equipment. This equipment could be bought at home and repaired in local shops. The skill of the Turkish blacksmith and the people who made the plows, cultivators and wagons were as good as any I have worked with. I felt that Turkey could do a better job in farming with improvement in the equipment they had, and could make, than with the equipment that was being imported from other countries. All imported equipment required oil and gas, and Turkey had none, and it all required scarce foreign exchange.


The idea of using animal power and homemade equipment was not shared by many Turks in high places. They wanted to do as we did in America, by using modern equipment. Many machine manufacturers in America were of the same opinion, so it took some time to convince the Governments that we should give the small, homemade equipment a try. We could make the equipment in the blacksmith shops, and use the farmers' teams of horses or oxen. It appeared now that I was going to have to call to mind, many of the things I had done as a boy. We could be making the earth-moving equipment, we could hitch four horses to a fresno, three would do for the ditcher. How could I now be an advisor, if I directed the entire operation? My Counterpart, Naki had no idea how to harness a horse, or hold a plow in the ground.

What would I be now, THE BOSS, THE DICTATOR, or could I NOW be called an Advisor?

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There was little doubt in my mind by the time we had visited the experiment stations and many of the farming areas in the Ege Region, that improvement in irrigation practices could be accomplished, only by getting the Turkish farmer involved, and making equipment that he knew how to use. We needed the local equipment dealers, and the manufactures from the communities where we were working.

I was still confused as what the duties of an Advisor should be. Naki had seen only irrigation equipment that was made in the United States. Would I still be an Advisor if I introduced an entirely new plan that no one in Turkey had ever seen? I felt sure that the farmers would understand, but very few of the Station Directors and Ministry personnel had farm experience, or knew how to irrigate. I discouraged anymore imports of American equipment. The farms were too small and it was impractical to use the large equipment that was available from the United States.

With assistance from the University of Nebraska group, I obtained bulletins and drawings of equipment we used when I was a boy on the farm. The Agricultural Engineering Extension agent sent me all the material they had. They cleaned out the Engineering Department files of animal drawn equipment. The file included multiple hitches for farm animals, small earth moving equipment such as fresno, plows, ditchers and floats.

With the help of Jack Steele, Carl Forsburg, and Naki, we were able to convince the Ministry of Agriculture in Ankara that it was worth the cost of making some of this equipment. The Ministry set up a budget that would cover the cost of construction. The next four months was a very busy time, we used local blacksmiths, and solicited the help of several equipment companies that made farm machinery. By March 15, 1956 we had enough equipment available to put on demonstrations and take enough pictures to prepare bulletins and other teaching material for training.

Teaching men to handle the equipment, training horses and oxen for multiple hitches took a lot of time. Translating English to Turkish, was enough to drive Naki and me crazy. To find words in English to convey an idea in Turkish is a story in itself.

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The classroom and field demonstration material was ready by May of 1956. For the next month we held classes in the morning and worked in the field in the afternoon. We used teams that were owned by the Experiment Station and farmers that lived close by. One of my problems in handling the teams for the demonstrations, was that I had to learn Turkish commands, the horses didn't understand my English. When we completed the training courses, each student was supplied with enough equipment to start his own projects.

My concern was that the students, who had taken the classes would have problems with the farmers, they had no farm experience, and to show the farmers the new methods of hitching their teams, might not be accepted. I had gone as far as I could, the Turks would have to take it from here.

Naki suggested to me that he had a friend who might be able to do the training necessary to include the farmers. In Bornova, a small village close to Izmir, there was a viticulture research station. The field foreman was a man by the name of Atif Atilla. He did not have a degree, and was shunned when promotions were made. Atif not only spoke English, he spoke farmer Turkish, had a farm of his own, and the farmers had confidence in him, and best of all he knew how to handle the teams and equipment. With some negotiations between the two experiment station directors, Atif was loaned to us for an indefinite period.

It was a pleasure to work with Atif, he taught me the language I needed to drive the teams, he knew how to hold a plow in the ground, put a harness on a horse, and he knew how to read the instructions on the surveyors' stakes.

For four and a half years, Atif, Naki and I covered the entire Ege Region where we set up equipment and held training courses. We made trips to Southern Turkey to the experiment station at Tarsus, we used small equipment to terrace the hills for new tree planting, as well as building new irrigation systems.

To get the equipment into the hands of the farmers seemed very slow to a pushy American, but Naki and Atif seemed to be pleased, and informed me often that we were getting along very well for Turkey. I did learn to relax a little and stop occasionally to drink coffee or chi (tea).

In September of 1956 Turkey hosted an irrigation seminar for 7 middle east countries. Iran, Egypt, India, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Greece. The small equipment for improving irrigation practices was the main attraction.

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On May 1, 1960 Verna and I were transferred to Jordan. I would have liked to stayed for another tour, because there was much more to be accomplished with the small equipment, but there was tension between, (TOPRAK SU), the Soil and Water Conservation Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and the experiment station directors. I suspected that Naki was not telling me the full story. My theme song: "You can do it better with what you have and can make, than to import a lot of American machinery." did not set well with the machinery companies in the United States. One of the tractor companies made me a visit, and wanted to know what I was doing as a government employee, interfering with private enterprise.

I was continually pushing for better animal breeding and care. The Ministry of Agriculture and some Americans were trying to be more modern. I felt it was too big a step for the small Turkish farmer, to buy equipment that had to be imported, including oil and gas. I thought that the fastest growth could come with improvement in what they already could support.

Atif Atilla standing next to workhorses.

Atif Atilla was transferred to TOPRAK SU in 1956. He was always on the job, he knew what to do, and how to do it, and could show others. He is responsible for making the small equipment project a success. (See TURKEY REVISITED, by John Kolars, Professor in the department of Near East Studies at University of Michigan.) TURKEY 1982

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Naki teaching a class.

Naki was an excellent teacher, he could hold the attention of the class for an hour at a time. He would have students at the blackboard with formulas on water flow and calculating cubic meters of earth to be moved in land leveling or ditching.

A field demonstration on water distribution.

A field demonstration on water distribution.

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The walking plow being used to construct an irrigation ditch.

The walking plow was a very important piece of equipment in the construction of an irrigation ditch. We usually called in a local farmer to help. It was hard to to find some one at the station who could give us much help.

Ditcher and horses.

The ditcher with three horses was the easiest method to get the ditch constructed. The farmers found this equipment easy to handle.

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To set spiles in the side of the ditch, remove the dirt at the end of the furrow and place the spiles low enough so that when all are set they will be at an elevation that will allow water to flow evenly.

Spiles Discharge the Same Amount of Water Into all the Furrows.

Spiles Discharge the Same Amount of Water Into all the Furrows.

It took many hours to prepare the bulletins in both English and Turkish. The instructions and pictures needed to be the same on each page. This was one of the easy ones.

Spiles Discharge the Same Amount of Water Into all the Furrows.
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Working in a foreign country changed much of my thinking. Not until I was confronted with the language differences did I realize what the problems can be in transferring an idea to another person, who not only speaks another language but has been a part of a different culture. I could speak only English, to communicate with the Turks I had to have someone who knew both, English and Turkish. Naki was fluent in both, but some words in English were not in the Turkish language. To explain to Naki a new idea in English was not difficult, but when he tried to express the idea in Turkish, it proved to be a problem that often was not easily solved.

The Turkish language was not easy for me. Since most of those I worked with knew English, there was little incentive for me to learn Turkish. In 1923 Ataturk was successful in getting the Turks to change from the Arabic script to Latin letters, they continued to speak Turkish but when they wrote they used the Latin letters. If a foreigner learned the pronunciation it was possible to read a paper in Turkish and be understood by the Turks. I gave several speeches in Turkish. I would write my speech in English and Naki would translate, and write it in Turkish. I often got a good hand from the Turks, but I could only guess that Naki had written in Turkish what I meant to say. The Turks could have made arrangements to hang me and I would have given my consent.

Naki and Ishan Bey were very tolerant with me when I tried to express something in Turkish. I occasionally would be embarrassed when I make a statement or gave an answer, and find that it wasn't even related to the subject being discussed. I got along quite well on subjects of irrigation or farm equipment, but sometimes there would be a conversation on a subject that didn't even give me a clue as to what was being said. One day Naki and Ishan were discussing something very disturbing to Naki. I asked Ishan later what was upsetting Naki. His answer was, "Naki wants to marry a girl that his mother does not approve of, and in Turkey the mother's concent [sic] is important." My knowledge of Turkish did not include matters of matrimony. On another occasion, when we drove into a village we heard a very loud discussion from a couple at the entrance of the coffee house. I asked Naki what the fuss was about, and he said, "The wife is insisting that her husband marry another woman so she doesn't have to do all the work."

To make multiple hitches for several animals, required words such as, singletree, double tree, and eveners. I needed a clevis to attach the teams to the equipment, but

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there seemed to be no word for this in Turkish, so I had to draw the article the best I could, until Naki understood what was needed, and he could then explain it to the blacksmith who made the clevis.

The making of equipment was not difficult, after we drew the plans and were able to translate them into Turkish To get the equipment to operate in the field was a another problem, only the farmers were able to handle the teams, an they did not speak English, so I could not give them instructions. We solved some of our problems by making bulletins with pictures and instructions in Turkish.

Making the bulletins was a problem all its own, I would write instructions under a picture in English, Naki would translate and write in Turkish, and many times it didn't fit the page. One example will illustrate what the problem was.

Before constructing a ditch, it was necessary to use the plow. I had written MAKE TWO ROUNDS WITH THE PLOW. This was simple language to any American farmer, but to the Turkish farmer it meant nothing. When Naki wrote his explanation, it was so long that it didn't fit the page. I asked him what was wrong, he said that the Turkish farmer didn't know what a "round" with the plow meant. He had written. ONCE GO, ONCE COME,ONCE [sic] GO [sic] ONCE COME, which was exactly what I meant. We did get the bulletins finished, and in good time to use in our irrigation classes.

Another example of what translations can do, is best illustrated in a technical paper that was prepared by an Iraqi engineer for our irrigation seminar. The paper was to be translated from Arabic to English, and the only person we had available to do the translating was a school teacher, who knew both English and Arabic, but had no technical knowledge of irrigation engineering. The word WATER GOAT appeared several times in the translation, and it meant nothing in irrigation engineering. What the author intended to say was,"HYDRAULIC [sic] RAM".

Why did all this have such an impact on me? As a boy I accepted as the truth, what I read in the history books, without questioning where it came from, or how many times i had been translated. It now became clear to me that an author might have intended to say something entirely different than what I thought was said when I read what had been written.

Is what was written in Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, Arabic 2000 years ago and translated into English, present the thought and ideas that were intended? I can no longer read ancient history or even something written yesterday, without asking myself, IS THAT REALLY WHAT THE AUTHOR MEANT TO SAY?

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To travel in Turkey to-day, on a well planned tour with air conditioned busses and modern hotels, is to see ancient history in style. To travel in the interior of Turkey in the 1950s was an experience, spelled with a capital E.

Naki and I had to make many trips out of Izmir, to the experiment stations at Aydin and Tarsus, and to farms in these regions. We would often be gone for a week or more at a time. Two large dams were under construction, one in the Gedez valley and one in the Menderes. Water was being supplied for irrigation to small villages in the interior. We cooperated with the Soil and Water Conservation Agency (Toprak Su), a division of the Ministry of Agriculture. We would occasionally stay in private homes, and the hostess could never seem to be satisfied that she had done enough for us, we were treated like VIPs. Much of the time, we stayed in OTEL PALAS, the village palace.

The Otel Palas usually was located in the center of the village, and only a small sign on the door would indicate that there were rooms for rent. The entrance looked the same as other doors from the street. Our first trip from Izmir, took us to a small village in Aydin Province. We arrived early in the afternoon, and Ishan took our luggage to the hotel, and made reservations for us. Naki and I went to the Station and when we went to the hotel, I was not prepared for what was in store for me.

There were only 6 or 7 street lights, all were so covered with dust that Naki said, " We may have to light a match to find the hotel." When we came to the door of the hotel, I discovered that we were not the only guests. A camel caravan had arrived from the mountain meadows, bringing large bales of hay to the railroad station. After unloading, the drivers parked their camels at the entrance to the hotel. There were Camels lying all over the street. One was right in front of the door. Naki gave it a kick, and with a loud bellow, it leisurely unfolded its joints, got up and moved over, allowing us enough room to get in the door.

The squeaky hinges on the door announced our arrival. and, the hotel manager called out, "Hos Geldonis", (Welcome), He pulled a light cord with a 40 watt light bulb, hanging from the ceiling at the far end of the hall. He pointed to a closed door and indicated that I could have that room. I pushed the door open, there was no lock, and found another cord and pulled it and got another dim light. This must be my room, it contained my luggage. I was to learn later that there were only two single rooms, and Naki and I were given them as honored guests. The one other room had 8 beds and they were occupied by the camel drivers.

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I asked Naki where I could find the bath room, he pointed down the hall where there was another dim light and above the door was a dirty white sign, W.C. I slowly opened the door into a small room that was about 4 feet by 5. A small can of water was sitting on the floor in one corner. In the center of the room was an odd looking depression in the floor, perhaps two and one half feet square. Two large flat foot-shaped slabs of marble, with a hole between them, that went some where, there was no toilet paper, and no wash basin, or towels.

The day had been a long one, and I was tired. I undressed and tumbled into bed, a wooden frame with ropes laced across the frame for springs. The cotton mattress was hard, there were heavy woolen blankets, and the pillows were stuffed with cotton that felt as if made of wood. I slept well and wakened about 6 o'clock. The next morning a small dark faced lad, about 12 years old, tapped on the door, opened it a small crack, and said " Goodidin Effendem" and with a smile, set a basin of warm water on the stand by the bed. I shaved and dressed, went outside where Naki was waiting. We went to a nearby coffee house and had our breakfast, a glass of scalding hot milk, a half-loaf of freshly baked bread, and a large bunch of sweet white grapes, Ishan was waiting for us with the 1952 Ford station wagon. We spent the next day with Toprak Su (The Soil and Water Conservation division of the Ministry of Agriculture.)

Our next hotel was not a lot better than the first. This time the bed was a little softer and the pillow not so hard. I was tired and it didn't take me long to get into bed. The bed seemed to be hot so I threw back the covers, but that didn't cool me off very much, the bed was still hot. By this time I knew that something was not right, so I got up, and turned on the lights in time to see a lot of bedbugs scurry to get out of the light.

The following week Verna and I went to Istanbul for a vacation, and we stayed at the International Hotel, recently built, It was very comfortable and well managed, modern hotel, that attracted a great many tourists.

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From Verna's diary, April 20, 1957. "We took over all 12 beds. The only hotel--dinner in a local restaurant,--no bed bugs, kerosene lamps, TAP WATER from a 5-gallon petrol can." I might add that the toilet was at the far end of the hall.

If you require a first class hotel when you travel in Turkey, you will miss a lot of wonderful sites in an ancient land. It was our fortune to be able to travel with members of the Faculty of the American Girls School. Verna usually went with them on these trips to the interior of Turkey, and I took time off, if possible, and went with them.

The Turkish Government permitted us to own a car while in Turkey. If we made a trip with the school faculty, our car and the school bus could accommodate as many as 14 people. The Blakes made perfect guides, they knew the language well, and were excellent historians.

The trip in April 1957 was to Demre, known in Byzantine times as Myra, the home of St. Nicholas. Yes, good old St. Nick, (Santa Claus ) to us. Santa Claus came from Turkey, not the north pole, in case you are interested.

Most of our roads thru Aydin, Denizli and Isparta were gravel. We made half the trip the first day to a little town called Elmali (Apple in Turkish). Rooms were not easy to find, there were 13 of us and we were assigned to three different hotels. Verna, Ken and I in one and the Blakes in one close by. Our hotel had no shades on the windows, a small light bulb hung from a cord in the middle of the ceiling, there was water and a toilet at the far end of the building.

Our night passed with out incident, but the Blakes were awakened by a knock on the door in the middle of the night. A male voice called out in Turkish. "Is there a basket under your bed?" Jack looked under the bed and assured him that there was a basket, and that he would hand it to him. The visitor then informed Jack that perhaps he had better get it himself, because his snakes were in it. A circus had been in town the day before, the snake charmer had slept in that room and left them under the bed.

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The next day took us to the town of Finike. There being no road west along the shore of the Mediterranean, we had to take a small boat to Demre, but rough water was too much for several of our people, and they had no interest in the lunch we had brought with us.

We arrived at Santa Claus's home town. Let me quote from the book. ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS AND RUINS OF TURKEY, by Ekrem Akukrgal. "The village of Demre contains the famous church of St. Nicholas. It consists of a Byzantine structure with three apses and a Basilica restored in the 11th century A.D.--A sarcophagus, believed to be the tomb of St. Nicholas, is early Christian in date."

It was getting late when we left Demre. The wind had gone down and the boat ride back to Finike was much smoother. I quote from Verna's diary again "Back to Finike over a calm, beautiful Mediterranean, no hotel rooms in Finike, so we go on to the tiny village of Turencova--and took over all 12 beds in a rooming house that might be called a hotel."

The 12 beds were in three rooms; one room had three beds, another two, the others beds were in one room. The single girls took the room with the seven beds, the Blakes and the Metzgers the other rooms. Things went well for us in the two rooms, but the girls had problems to work out. When Jack made the arrangements with the manager, he was not told that there was another guest who had claim on one of the beds in the room the girls were to use. The manager had assured the other guest, when he gave up his bed, that he could sleep in the closet of that same room.

I do not know what really took place, except that, as the girls were getting ready for bed, in walked the guest who calmly unrolled his blankets and prepared for a good nights sleep in the closet. I could hear a lot of excited voices, it seemed that every one was trying to talk at once. Jack explained to the manager that it was not part of the bargain for the other guest to sleep in the same room, and we never found out where he slept.

The next day we visited the ancient Aspendos theater, and the restored stadium at Perga that seated 27,000 people 2000 [sic] years ago.

We left for home the next morning in the rain, and arrived in Izmir at 11.00 p.m.

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Turkey had some first class hotels [sic] The hotel at Izmir was one of them.

Price sheet for the hotel at Izmir.
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I must close the Turkey story with more about Verna's experience with the AMERIKAN KIZ KOLEJI. My job always kept me busy and for Verna to be able to find something she liked to do was a special bonus. The school staff became our family and the school our home.

Verna's Turkish teaching certificate.

The American Girls School, a prestigious school, of such standing that Turkish parents would pull all the strings they could to enroll their girls. There would be 500 applicants each year for 100 openings. They were chosen by lot. In 1956 the school needed an English teacher and it didn't take Linda Blake, the principal, long to get Verna's teaching credentials approved by the Turkish Government.

Verna's class of Turkish girls who would stand when she entered the class room.

Verna's class of Turkish girls who would stand when she entered the class room.

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The Turkey assignment came to an end April 28, 1960. Turkey had quickly become part of our lives, the Turkish farmer was accepting the small equipment, and I felt that I should stay longer; my job was not yet finished. My two counterparts, Naki and Atif, were like brothers to me. Both were pushing hard to get the idea accepted in Turkey, that the farmer could do better with what he could make than what a foreign country might supply. It became obvious that high Turkish government officials thought that Turkey needed to be more modern. Perhaps it was time for me to move on.

The hardest part of leaving Izmir, was to leave the fellowship of the Staff at the school where Verna taught. The Makes and the young teachers became our family. We had taken many trips into Greek, Roman, and Hittite history, we were in Asia Minor. The Turks had treated us like royalty, and we had many Turkish friends.

At 8:00 o'clock the morning of April 28, we left the school with the Turkish ceremony of pouring water on the front wheel of the car, indicating that we would be returning. We spent one night with the Browns at Gazicuntab. where the Mission supported a Hospital. The following day we crossed into Syria. We stayed the first night in Aleppo the next in Damancus [sic], and on May 1st, we crossed the boarder [sic] into Jordan.

We were a little apprehensive, we had enjoyed the climate in Izmir, and on May 1, when we left Damascus, the temperature was about 90 degrees F. It was extremely dry, and women were in the fields pulling up clumps of barley, in order to salvage a little grain. When we crossed the border into Jordan, the temperature was over 100, and by the time we arrived in Amman, we were convinced that we were going to be living in a very hot country.

We reported to the American Embassy as soon as we arrived, and the Ambassador arranged for several from the Agricultural group to welcome us and take us to our living quarters. Everybody assured us that this weather was unusual, and that we seldom would experience anything like this. Our quarters were nice and cool, and perhaps they were right when they said that the weather was unusual. We lived in Jordan 7 years and it was only 5 or 6 times that we ever experienced such weather as the day we arrived. Amman, Jordan has one of the finest climates; elevation of 4000 [sic] feet above sea level, and dry. It seldom froze in the winter and it was unusual for it to reach 85 or 90 on the hottest days in summer, and the summer nights were always cool.

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King Hussein, personally, kept in touch with American personnel working on projects in Jordan. We were invited occasionally to social functions as well as official dedications. I didn't always attend if I could gracefully decline. Security guards checked everything, and we could wait for hours just for the King to arrive.

King Hussein stepping off a helicopter.

King Hussein piloted his own helicopter. In 1965 we completed the first section of the East Ghor Canal. The King arrives for the dedication, and is met by the project manager.

King Hussein handing the deed to the first farmer to receive a newly irrigated farm.

All the land east of the Jordan River was purchased by the Government. It was not possible to design an efficient water distribution system with the original ownership. The new farm units were then distributed to the original owners. The King is handing the deed to the first farmer to receive the newly irrigated farm.

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One of the most difficult tasks I have ever been assigned, was to design an irrigation project in the metric system. Any irrigation engineer, trained in America, is handicapped when working in other countries. I don't know why we in America have been so slow in adopting the metric system, not only is it simpler than the British System, it creates problems in world trade. Most countries use the metric system [sic]

The countries that I have worked in, used the metric system. Turkey, Jordan, Nepal, Colombia. To design an irrigation project requires extensive surveys, this involves calculations that require measurements in distance, elevation, volume, rates of flow, pressure and temperature.

The Jordan Government, with the assistance of the U.S. Marshal Plan, later USAID (U S Agency for International Development) built an irrigation system in the Jordan Valley, between the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee. This was all east of the Jordan river and was known as the EAST GHOR CANAL. From 1960 to 1967, I was assigned as irrigation Advisor to the Jordanian Government on this project.

Most of the people of Jordan are Muslims. At the death of the land owner, the property is divided equally between the heirs, and this division was made with the idea that the heirs would receive land of equal value, which often meant that the good land was the low land at the bottom of eroded hills, the poor land at the top. I have seen farms 200 feet wide. and a quarter of a mile long running up and down hill. A parcel of land of this shape did not make an easy field to irrigate. The Jordan Government bought all the land in the Jordan Valley and when the project was completed, it was redistributed into units that could be irrigated.

To best illustrate my confusion in surveying for these projects, I will describe the process I had to follow just to survey a simple irrigation ditch. My irrigation hand books were those I had used in the United States, and the design must be made in the metric system. Not only did we have to design in the metric system: we were below sea level and all bench marks would have minus signs. We were below sea-level and we were using sea elevations as we do in the U.S.

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This means that any decrease in elevation number would be a higher point than a lower number. A reading of -200 meters was below a reading of -199. All readings in the Jordan valley were below sea level.

In order for me to make the necessary calculations, I had to use my hand books. I had to convert the metric bench mark readings to feet and inches. Instead of -200 meters I would have -659' 5". A -199 meters would be - 656' 2". This was before the days of hand calculators, I used a slide rule and pencil and paper. If I wanted to irrigate a 10-acre field and apply 1 acre-foot of water. I apply 1233.62 Cubic meters of water to 4.047 hectars [sic].

The metric system uses the decimal point and is easy to calculate. One hundred centimeters is a meter. One hundred meters, a kilometer. For us it takes 12 inches to make a foot, 36 inches to make yard, 5280 feet in a mile or 146.66 yards.

Fortunately I did not make any serious mistakes in design. I tried to run water up hill once or twice, because I forgot to put the minus sign before my figures, The Jordanian engineers would often have a good laugh. My Jordanian counterparts, all of them young enough to be my sons, had PhD's from American Universities and knew the metric system. The only help I could give them came from my practical experience of 30 years. These boys were all Palestinian, and my experience with them was very rewarding for me, they were well educated, and capable people.

I have never forgiven the U.S. government for its position on the Arab-Israel issue, local politics have made our foreign policy decisions, and some of the blood spilled in the Middle East is on our hands.

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The 12 years of my life, from the age of 5 until the age of 17, when I graduated from High School, was for me the age of the saddle horse. The little Volkswagon Bug was the equivalent of the saddle horse for Verna and me from 1955 to 1967, while we lived in Turkey and Jordan. We owned one for 18 years after we returned from over seas. Verna and her red VW Bug were inseparable. I wanted to trade it in on a new car, but nothing doing, I had to trade the one I was driving. She was willing to ride in the new car, but to sell her Red VW Bug was out. It took an old man with a big Buick, who ran a stop sigh, to put it out of business. The front of the Bug looked like an accordion after he hit it.

The VW was made in Germany before World War II. It was called the peoples wagon, "Folksvagon". After the war, the stock could have been bought for almost nothing. Some U.S. soldiers bought stock to help the factory get started and made millions on their investment. I have seen the VW Bug in at least a dozen countries.

In August of 1962, Verna and I purchased a green VW Bug at the factory in Wolfsburg Germany. We ordered it when we were in Jordan, and on our return trip to Jordan we picked it up at the factory, in Wolfsburg, and drove thru Germany, Italy, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon.

We have owned 6 VW Bugs. When we came to the US on home leave we would pick up the Bug in New Jersey, and drive to Colorado and Nebraska to see family and friends, and then sell it when we returned to duty.

The VW Bug could go any place any other passenger car could go, and many places where they couldn't. We drove through the narrow winding streets of the old City of Jerusalem, we could enter the St. Stephens gate which was normally used for donkeys and horses. We climbed the hill to the castle at Karak [sic] Jordan, we crossed the desert to Palmyra in Syria. We navigated the streets of Damascus, Paris and Beirut, and many other cities and villages in the Middle East. We rented one in Marseille, France and drove thru France to Paris.

One of the most scenic routes we have ever driven, was along the Mediterranean coast in southern Turkey. A friend of mine once said of this road, [sic]"It is so crooked and has so many sharp turns that you can see your own headlights in your rear view mirror." The sight of the blue sea and small wooded islands is a sight I shall always remember.

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To live long enough in a country and become acquainted with the people, learn enough of the language to get around, is truly a privilege. Many places in Jordan, Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon, never see tourists, and we were able to drive to some of the less traveled areas. We could find comfortable places to stay in most of these countries. Hotels often were poorly heated, and lighted, but we would take extra light bulbs, and a small heater. The beds were some times a little hard.

When we took a trip and stayed over night we would pack the VW as you might pack a suit case. The little Aladdin heater furnished heat. We could take utensils and even cook our meals. I would pull the pin from the hinge that held the top of the heater to the heating unit and we could put it in the trunk, just behind the gas tank. We always took one or two light bulbs and two soft pillows, and a couple of extra blanket often came in handy.

I know of no passenger car that is being made today that could negotiate the roads we traveled. High centers were always with us if we followed an Ox Cart. An air cooled motor that never over heated in the desert. After a trip in the desert I could simply turn the water hose on the motor and wash the dust off for the next trip. The good old VW Bug still is traveling the roads in many countries in the world. Even the US with its love for big cars, will condescend to let it occupy a parking space.

VW Bug automobile.

The VW Bug was a useful automobile for us overseas. Narrow streets, crooked and rough roads, were always with us.

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"You may go now, the party is over." These few words in English by a Syrian soldier were music to our ears. For an hour, four Americans had been sitting in a little Volkswagon Bug, waiting for some one to give the signal that all was clear.

On Nov. 11, 1961, Verna and I, accompanied by the Embassy nurse, LuAnn Ziebarth and Beverly Persse, the secretary from the Embassy, left Amman, Jordan for a trip t the old Syrian city of Palmyra, known in Bible times as Tadmore. Tadmore was once a prosperous city on the trade route from Persia to Damascus, when camels were used to cross the desert.

The heavy rains had washed out some of the main traveled highway and we were required to take the old road to Homs. The old road took us thru the village of El Mnin, a village of clean white-washed buildings with blue painted frames around all the windows and doors.

It was obvious when we entered the village that some- thing was very wrong, people from every part of the village were running toward a large bus sitting in the middle of the village. They all seemed to be carrying shovels or sticks, and some were picking up rocks and throwing them at a bus that was in the middle of the road.

We were four scared Americans. We had been in a riot in Istanbul when we arrived in Turkey, and We knew that we had no business being where we were. This was a riot and we didn't know what we should do. The sticks and rocks were breaking all the windows in the bus, and we were within fifty feet of the bus, I tried to turn around, but there were so many people around us that this was impossible.

We didn't have to wait long, a 200 Lb. well dressed policeman pulled the car door open next to Verna and tried to get in beside her. He didn't fit very well, but he hung onto the door and hollered "Yella" in Arabic, I knew that he meant get out of here, NOW. He was a scared policeman and his lack of composure didn't help my state of mind.

With much hollering, he was able to get the people out of our way, and we drove past the bus, and a house where people were trying to get to, by crawling over the fence. When we got past the crowd, he motioned for us to drive up side road that was very steep and rocky.

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On each side of the road were soldiers, nervously fingering their rifles. The policeman slid out of the car when he let go of the car door, and motioned us to drive up a little further, where we were stopped by three young soldiers with rifles. They seemed good natured and smiled at us once in a while, but this did not help much, we wanted to get our of there. They motioned us to stay where we were.

After an hour or more, one of the young men came over to the car and said, in good English, "The party is over you may go now." With smiles and waving their hands, we made our way back to the village. As we approached the bus with broken windows, and dented sides, we saw a little old man cleaning up the glass and debris. Not another person was in sight. We could not read the papers or understand the radio, so we never knew what happened in that little village.

It was a great relief to be on the road again, but our troubles were not over. By 3:30 that afternoon we were able to leave the old road and get back on the highway. The heavy rains, however, had damaged the good roads as well and we were driving in water up to the axle. A sudden jolt and a noise that sounded like a gun brought us to a sudden stop. The car seemed to be sitting down in the street. I got out to take a look and could see that the right rear wheel was dragging on the fender, we had broken a torsion bar, we could still move if we went very slowly.

We were getting close to Homs, so we decided to continue I the best we could and hope to get help. We found a garage, the owner spoke some English, and with what Arabic I knew we were able to communicate. The mechanic looked at the J problem, and agreed with me as to what the trouble was. A new part was required.

The mechanic took out his watch and let me know that he might still get a call to Aleppo in time for them to send a new part to him by morning. He took the torsion bar out, got the serial number and put in a telephone call. They had the part, and it would be in on the truck the next morning.

The following morning, while Verna and the girls did some sightseeing around Homs, I went to the garage and waited. By eight o'clock the truck arrived, and sure enough the part was there. By 10:00 o'clock the mechanic crawled out from under the car, and with a greasy grin, held up his hand with the universal sign, thumb touching two fingers, and said in English. "It be O. K.", and it was. I have talked with other V.W. mechanics and all have said that it was an unusual break.

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I will never cease to be amazed at the speed and efficiency of that mechanic. What was so unusual was that we were in Syria, 3000 [sic] miles from the VW factory in Germany, and that the mechanic could make one phone call, get the part and with less than 2 hours work, have the car on the road again at a cost of $25.00. I doubt that it could be done that fast in Sonoma, California.

We completed our trip and the visit to the old ancient town of Tadmore. The Palmyra story is one of an Oasis in the desert that had entertained visitors from many lands, a far away as China.

Pillars at Tadmore, an ancient town.

TADMORE, now known as Palmyra, was built by Solomon on the trade route to the far east. From the Old Testament: Second Chronicles, Chapter 8, verse 4. "And he built Tadmore in the wilderness, and all store cities, and all store cities which he built in Hamath."

Many camel caravans, loaded with spices, silks and china passed thru this arch, the gateway to the old city of TADMORE.

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Arriving in Nepal.

Where ever we went in Nepal, there were would be a group of villagers ready to chase the livestock from the landing strip, and welcome us as long time friends.

Nepalese villagers

Always happpy [sic] people, the villagers seemed to be enjoying life. Some remote places had never been reached escept [sic] by walking or mule trains that brought in salt. Sore had never seen a wheel until the airplane arrived.

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In April 1966, Verna and I were making plans to take a trip to Turkey. We had been living in Amman, Jordan for six years, and anticipated that our tour might soon end. We wanted to get back to Izmir and see some of our Turkish friends before leaving the Middle East.

The Agri. Division of USAID received a request from Nepal to make a study of their irrigation projects. I was the only Irrigation Specialist on the team and was asked to make the study. I felt honored to be selected, but I knew from previous experience, that this type of assignment is a lot of hard work. The country asking for the help, arranges the schedule to make the best use of the specialist's time. The days are usually long and hard, filled with field trips and conferences.

Verna and I were disappointed that we had to cancel our vacation, but I really wanted to take the assignment, and I wanted Verna to go with me. She had gone with me on previous assignments, but it could be a lonesome trip if she had to spend days alone, while I was in the field. She wasn't so certain that she wanted to make the trip, but we had friends working in Nepal that we had known in Jordan, and I convinced her that she would have enough company to keep her busy.

On April 14, 1966, we left Amman by air. The first stop was Beirut, but we had to stay there for 2 days, because the British Air Line flight to New Delhi was delayed in London by a blizzard. When we did get to New Delhi, it was too late for our flight to Katmandu, so we were delayed another day. When we did arrive, it was as I had expected, the schedules were well made, and I was taken to the field the next morning. The mode of transportation to each project was very different from that I normally used.

"That is Mt. Everest, so we are in the right place, I have lost radio contact with Katmandu, but every thing looks good, we will set down here." These words from the pilot were not much comfort to me, I couldn't see anything that looked like an airport, but he lowered the landing gear, and circled a grass air strip several times, while a half dozen small boys ran the cows and goats from the grassy strip. The pilot set the plane down, facing into the wind, reversed the propeller and gunned his motor. Our safety belts bit into our shoulders, and we come to a quick stop within a few hundred yards from where the landing gear first touched down.

We are flying in a Swedish plane, with a 300 horse power motor. It carries the pilot and three passengers,

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and is designed for short runways. They call it the (STOL), Short Take Off and Landing. The mission had helicopters that were used for some flights, but only for special jobs, and rescue work. I only hoped that if we were stranded we could be rescued, because it would take us 7 days to walk out, we had taken less than an hour to fly in.

As the days became weeks, the trips to the far ends of Nepal became easier on me, but I never did feel comfortable with the method of transportation. Every takeoff and landing gave me the feeling of WHAT IF. What if we didn't hit the landing strip? Would they get the livestock off in time? What if we couldn't get back in the air again? When we got ready to leave, the pilot would taxi to the end of the landing strip, set his brakes, speed the engine until the plane shook as if it had a chill. He would suddenly release the brakes, give the engine full throttle and we would shoot out like a cannon ball. Some times we were on top of a mountain, and as we came to the end of the runway, with a thousand foot drop, the plane would drop a few hundred feet, and then suddenly begin to climb, and we would soar upward like a bird.

The areas we studied were as different as the people. The natives were Tibetans in the north, where it was cold and windy much of the time, and all were wearing heavy clothing. The land was hilly and bare, much of the wood had been cut for fuel and the hills were badly eroded. In the South, the Teri, the weather was hot and humid, the land was flat, and most of the people were from India. The area was mosquito-ridden, and after 10 or 15 years of spraying, a strain of mosquitoes had developed that was resistant to any insecticides.

One of the most memorable trips, was from Katmandu to the Teri, in the south. Verna went with me, and we rode in a Jeep, over a road that had been built from New Delhi to Katmandu, only a few years earlier. There were many sharp turns down the mountain, the curves resembled tear drops, you could not see the turn under the one you were on. We were 8 hours going, and it was a 45 minute flight home in the STOL.

I left Nepal with a feeling of sadness. How could this country ever support the people? The trees and other vegetation were gone, erosion had eaten away all the top soil and washed it into rivers that were now flooding Bangladesh, and northern India. With the continual increase in population, the people are doomed to a life of misery. There can never be anything but starvation, until the hills have some type of erosion control.

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January, 1967, ended our third term assignment in Jordan, but we did not leave until April 21st. My final report on the East Ghor Canal project was due in February but I had developed a blood clot in my leg and was hospitalized for several weeks.

My next assignment was to be with Soil Conservation Service at Salinas, California. State assignments were made after overseas personnel had served out of the States for at least 10 years. The assignment was approved by both the Agency for International Development and the Soil Conservation Service. I received my authorization on April 14th, and expected to report for duty in Salinas in early June. Before we left Washington I was handed a change of orders. I was assigned to the Jordan Desk in Washington, D.C.. The reason given! (I never did find out who did it), "This old man is 60, and will be of little use to us again, overseas".

Our travel orders were for home leave to Denver, Colo. We had purchased a VW Bug in New York and were going to drive thru to California. Neither Verna nor I wanted to live in Washington, D.C. and after much discussion, we decided that now was the time to retire, so I took the remainder of annual leave I had accumulated and sent Washington a notice of intent to retire as of Sept. 30, 1967.

Where to retire became a topic of much discussion, we had enjoyed our 10 years in Longmont. Dale and Peggy were both living in California, and we liked the area around Sonoma, but there were other things to consider.

Dad died in 1960 and Mumsie was living in her home in Crawford, and was in failing health. Ernie was still in the Navy, and Lawrence was very busy with his veterinary practice in Boulder CO., I was free to help, so the final decision was to retire in Scottsbluff.

We made numerous trips from Crawford to Scottsbluff. By September we bought a house and enough furniture to move into our own home. Because of the Arab-Israeli war in June 1967, our furniture didn't arrive until April of 1968.

We were back in familiar territory in Scottsbluff, we had lived in Gering from 1940 to 1945. Verna's brother Weston, owned MIDWEST FARM SERVICE, the company I had started in 1942, so we saw them often. It was an interesting experience for me to be back in Nebraska, and have an opportunity to be close to The West Nebraska Experiment Station. Several of my classmates from the

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University of Nebraska were working there, and I was able to participate in some of their functions. I renewed my license with Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, passed my Securities examinations and worked part time.

Verna became active again in the PEO Chapter where she had been president in 1945, and again in 1970. I served on the Board of Trustees of West Nebraska General Hospital from 1969-1976. We were active in the Methodist Church, we belonged to a bridge club, with friends of ours in 1940-45. We joined a discussion group that tackled many subjects on religion, politics, and government, on which we had a variety of opinions.

Mumsie had cataracts removed and lived with us for several months. She returned to her home in Crawford, but in 1970 had a stroke and moved into a retirement home in Scottsbluff. She died in May of 1973, and her home was purchased by one of her neighbors. We closed her bank account that was opened in 1907.

Wagons and cars along Crawford's Second Street about the early 1920's. (photo courtesy of Harold Gibbons, Crawford).

Wagons and cars along Crawford's Second Street about the early 1920's. (photo courtesy of Harold Gibbons, Crawford).

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The closing of Mumsie's bank account was closing a chapter in history that dated back to the homestead days of my parents. It was also closing a chapter in my life. As I stood looking down the street, from the bank window, where had stood with my father many years before, I could see the rows of hitching racks, where the steaming, sweaty, horses stood on a hot Saturday afternoon in 1914, and in the 1920's when they were replaced by the model T Ford with its flapping side curtains. I can see the snow piled high in the streets after a blizzard, when the only way to go any place was with a saddle horse.

Lots of snow near Howe's drug store, 1 of 2.

All of these pictures were taken from the same position. "Tubby" Howe's drug store on the left. The new building shown on the right, was the new post office, built in the early 1930's, The [sic] bank was later moved to a building down the street, next to the KENNEDY building, [sic]

Lots of snow near Howe's drug store, 2 of 2.
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Man Prepares for Walk In Well-Traveled Shoes


Shoes that have walked on four continents will get some additional mileage Sunday when Jim Metzger joins the CROP Walk for Hunger.

But Metzger isn't sure the shoes will be able to finish the 14-mile course — the soles are a bit tattered.

"Ill [sic] walk as far as the shoes will let me," he said. Nearly 20 years old, the tan-colored boots have been resoled three times, and Metzger said if he'd realized earlier that this walk was approaching. he would have had them resoled once again.

Before his retirement Metzger was an irrigation advisor with the Agency for International Development to the Turkish and Jordanian governments, and was involved in special assignments which took him to Nepal, India and Japan. The shoes covered a lot of terrain in these countries during 1955- 1967, he said.

"THERE WERE a good many times I walked from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea in these shoes," he said.

Last year Metzger went to Colombia, South America to redesign irrigation systems on two plantations there, as a volunteer with the International Executive Service Corps. Once again, the shoes accompanied him.

Sunday the shoes will lead him in a walk for an organization Metzger feels is worthwhile — CROP, the community hunger appeal of Church World Service. He helped lay out some irrigation systems provided by CROP monies, and became acquainted with many of the persons involved in CROP, he said.

THE CROP walk at Scottsbluff begins at the First United Presbyterian Church and follows a route that will lead walkers out of the city on Highway 29, over Mitchell Pass, past the Scotts Bluff national monument, through Gering and Terrytown and back to the starting point. Metzger said he thinks walking on concrete surfaces such as those he'llencounter Sunday is more difficult (at least on the shoes) than some of the areas he covered while in the foreign service.

Metzger says he never planned to give his shoes such a colorful history — "It just happened."

"They're comfortable and I did a lot of walking in them," he commented, and now the shoes have a special significance.

And when this Sunday's walk is over, said Metzger as he showed the worn shoe- bottoms, he plans to have the boots resoled, possibly in preparation for some more walking adventures.

Jim Metzger poses with his shoes.

AFTER WALKING on four continents, Jim Metzger's shoes will again get a workout Sunday when he dons them for the Scottsbluff- Gering Walk for Hunger to raise money for CROP. Star-Herald Photo by Tim Winters.

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If your shoes could talk, what story would they tell? I once heard an ambassador's wife say, after two hours at a stand up cocktail party, "I have my sit down shoes and my stand up dress." How many times have you wanted to kick off your shoes and go bare foot?

I have no idea how many pairs of shoes I have had in my life. My brothers always complained that as I out grew my shoes, they always had to wear them; the result was they never had new shoes. This could be true because, I can only imagine what a task it was for my parents to keep three growing boys in shoes. I had my Sunday shoes that I wore once a week, went to church, and occasionally when I went to some other dress-up affair. The shoes that I wore every day to school, and to work on the farm, were the ones that really took the beating.

I never liked to wear boots for riding, but regular work shoes, with strings and hooks, would get caught in the stirrup or ropes and were not safe when handling horses or cattle. Low-top shoes were always getting dirt in them, so for many years I wore a shoe that was a cross between a riding boot and a low top shoe. It was easy to get in and out of the saddle, and tight enough around the ankle to keep the dirt out.

I had a pair of shoes that I wore thru heat and cold for over 12 years. They were 10½ D. walking boots that laced to the top and came just above my ankles. I bought them from Sears in July of 1955. They were in the air freight that accompanied us to Turkey, and I wore them ever step I took in the field in Turkey, Jordan, Nepal, India, Colombia SA. and Japan. They were not water proof, they have been soaked with water, and have been covered with mud from four continents. They have walked along the Jordan river from the sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea.

As the years and kilometers passed, the shoes changed in appearance. The soft brown leather became stiff and cracked. The soles wore out and three times were replaced, first with leather,the [sic] next two times, with a special material that was used in the Middle East to repair automobile tires. Each time a bit of length and width were sacrificed to hold the new soles. By 1967 it was obvious that I would have to say goodbye to the beloved shoes, but when we came home I just put them on the shelf, and had no reason to wear them.

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In 1975 the churches in Scotsbluff [sic], Nebraska, organized a 14 mile walk for CROP, the community hunger appeal of Church World Service. It seemed fitting and proper that the shoes that had served so well all over the world, should be called into service for this worthy project. On Sept. 21, I took them down from the shelf and put them on, but it didn't feel right. Twenty years had passed since the day I purchased the shoes in 1955, I was 20 years older and the shoes were 20 years older, and although we had 12 years of close companionship, we did not grow old together. We were no longer compatible. I wore them for the first mile but they were not the same, so I changed to another pair for the remaining 13 miles.

I brought the shoes with me to California, but what do I do with a pair of shoes I can no longer wear, and that are so badly cracked that they are of no value to anyone? I put them on the shelf for several years and then with a short farewell, sent them to their final resting place, the Sonoma City dump.

IESC letterhead.
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Of all the organizations in the United States that promote good will and cooperation between nations, it is the INTERNATIONAL EXECUTIVE SERVICE CORPS. (IESC). The IESC was organized more than 30 years ago. Its purpose was to make available U. S. experienced personnel to foreign countries that wanted help in a variety of fields, Agriculture, Education, Medicine, Industry, Banking and others.

There was no salary for the U.S. personnel. The company or client paid the costs of travel and per-deim for the volunteer and spouse. Often the tour of duty was for 30 or 60 days. The United States Government, thru the Agency for International Development, occasionally would cooperate with the program if it involved a project that was of national interest. Rotary International coordinated some of its projects with IESC. A recent news letter from IESC, Sept 1991 reported over 12C volunteers in 39 countries.

Thru the encouragement of a friend, Harvey Brewbaker, I placed an application with IESC. I received only an acknowledgement from the New York office that they had received the application and that it would be placed on file.

In November of 1974 I got my first call from New York. "JIM: JIM: where are you?" Verna was calling from in the house. "You have a telephone call from New York." I crawled from under the house where I had been cleaning a drain, and make a run for the telephone. I watch Verna cringe as I cross the dining room floor with my muddy shoes. "Hello", the answer comes in a strong authoritative voice. "Mr. Metzger, this is Fred Woodworth, I am the recruiter for the International Executive Service Corp. (IESC). We have a client in Cali, Colombia, S.A. who is asking for an Irrigation Specialist to design and help construct an irrigation system on two plantations. If you are interested give me a call tomorrow."

The request came as a surprise, Verna and I talked it over and decided that it might be a great experience and so we called Fred Woodworth and asked for more information. In a few days we received a letter. The request was from CITROS DEL VALLE LTD. a family-owned corporation that had an orange and banana plantation.

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Negotiations thru the main office seemed never to end. My qualifications didn't seem to suit the client. The client's response didn't answer the questions I was asking. Later both the client and I were to have a good laugh over the reasons for the delay. Senior Humberto Tenerio, the client, owner of the plantation, had a bad experience with personnel who had been working for USAID. He complained that they just rode around in the car and made suggestions, but wouldn't get out in the field.

I had some experience with projects of this type and I was concerned that my contacts would be with some laborer, or gang foreman and I wanted to be certain that the owner would be out in the field with me. I had been in situations on special assignments, where I had only laborers to go to the field with me, I wanted the boss. I didn't want to run a construction gang.

Differences were finally settled and Verna and I, with all our shots and passports and visas, left home the last week of Jan. 1975. We wanted to see more of South America before reporting to our client in Cali, Colombia, and for the next week, we went sight seeing in Equador [sic], Colombia, and Peru.



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The day began at 4:00 a.m. Our flight from Scottsbluff to Denver was on a small 10 passenger plane. Our luggage was so bulky that I had to sit with some of it on my lap, and it was a relief to get on a larger plane to Miami.

From Miami to Bogata [sic] was not much better than the flight from Scottsbluff. The luggage was all checked in, but our seat assignment placed us beside a man that weighed at least 250 pounds, he spilled over into one of the seats that we had been assigned. Augustine Sanchez, a congenial, talkative man who spoke good English.

Augustin couldn't do enough for us, he got us thru customs in a hurry, he seemed to know every officer in the terminal. He insisted that we go to his home and meet his family, the result was that we were late getting to our hotel, and we lost our reservation, and we had to sleep on cots in the office.

We wanted to do a little sight seeing before we went to the assignment in Cali, so we left some of the luggage in Bogata and made a trip to Quito, Ecuador. Quito is on the equator so we had our pictures taken, holding hands, Verna standing in the southern hemisphere and I, standing in the northern hemisphere.

We had reservations to Machu Picchu, but Verna became ill with an amoeba bug and was not able to make the trip, so she spent the next three days in bed in Cuzco, while I made the trip to Machu Picchu.

Verna was very ill when we returned to Bogota [sic]. We located a doctor at once but he didn't do her much good. I wanted to call the client in Cali, and cancel our appointment, but it was easier to fly the 180 miles to Cali than it was to get back to the U.S. The IESC office in Bogota [sic] called the client in Cali and informed him that we would try to complete the assignment.

When we reached Cali, we were met by our client Senor Humberto Tenoria, and his wife Lucia. Senor Humberto was a graduate Engineer from Texas A & M, and spoke very good English, and we were welcomed as if we were long lost friends.

Humberto ask permission to take Verna to his doctor, who was a specialist in tropical diseases, so Lucia took her directly to the hospital in her car. The Doctor ran a few tests and in three days she was out of the hospital, weak and thin, but on the road to recovery.

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Senor Humberto loaded the luggage in his pickup and took me directly to the Continental Hotel, where we were to be staying, for the month we were in Cali.

Senor Humberto looked very familiar, I had a sense of having seen this man before. Shortly after I had the call from IESC, Verna and I were watching a TV documentary, on South America. Cali, Colombia, was one of the locations where the filming was done, and one of the scenes was an interview with a man who owned a large plantation. He was mounted on a white horse and riding thru an orange grove. I suddenly realized, that the man sitting beside me was the man I had seen on the white horse, when I watched the TV documentary. For 4 weeks I was to ride beside this man. I was to have my own horse, and we would be carrying maps and instruments, designing a new irrigation system for his orange groves and rice fields.

Our conversation on the ride into Cali was to answer many questions that both of us had been asking. Humberto had been reluctant to accept my assistance. He had an unhappy experience with some U.S Government personnel who had been working with USAID. He said they would seldom get out in the field, they would just ride around and talk. My concern had been that I would have to work with a laborer or some one who would not be able to understand what I was trying to do. I was insisting on working with the owner or a responsible person in the field.

Senor Huberto's first question to me was, "Can you ride a horse?" My answer was, "I could ride a horse as early as I could write my name." It was good that I could ride a horse, because it was the only way to get to the irrigated fields. The first three hours on the plantation was spent in the saddle. I hadn't ridden a horse for 10 years, and when I dismounted, I staggered like a drunken sailor.

One of the interesting aspects of the assignmet [sic], was that we were housed in the Continental Hotel with 7 other IESC volunteers. All were working on diffenent [sic] projects. Dairy, Leather goods, House construction, clothing mfg., Grocery marketing, and ball point pen mfg. Each of us had our own counterpart, and mine was THE MAN ON THE WHITE HORSE.

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In December of 1975, Verna and I made a trip to see Ken and family in Cape Girardeau [sic] Missouri. Ken was teaching at the University. We spent Christmas with them and then drove west to Arizona to see my brother Ernie and family, in Mesa and Verna's sister, Marvelle, in Sun City. It was now January and when we were ready to return to Scottsbluff, there was a blizzard in the Rocky Mountain Area, and we were afraid to drive thru the mountains.

While we were living in Jordan, we became acquainted with Romain and Bertha Swedenburg. Romain was minister at the Community church in Beirut and we had often driven from Amman Jordan to visit. They had returned to the US and were now serving a church in Fresno California. We knew that it would be some time before we could go home thru the mountains, so we decided to visit the Swedenburgs.

The best route home from Fresno [sic] CA. was north on 99 and then I-80. If we went that route we would be within a couple hours from Sonoma. How could we come that close without stopping to see Dale and Peggy?

Every time we were in Sonoma, we had looked at houses, thinking that some day we would live here. Peggy suggested that we take a look at the Mobile Homes at Pueblo Serena. The day before we were to start for home, we went to Pueblo Serena, the manger showed us the only two coaches that were for sale. We had never lived in a mobile home, and I wasn't interested. We made an appointment to return the next day, but canceled it the next morning. As we drove thru Sonoma on our way home, Verna said, "It will be at least another year before we get back here, perhaps we should have looked again." This comment sparked a lot of conversation for the remainder of the day. When we reach Elko Nevada, we had decided to make an offer on one of the coaches, so we made phone call to the manager of the park.

We were home for only one day, and received a telephone call, telling us that we had purchased the coach. Now we ha to do something. We listed our house in Scottsbluff, and sold it quickly. We called a mover and loaded everything on the truck, and arrived in Sonoma, May 1, 1976. We were now Californians.

Peggy and Russ met us at 29 Mazatlan Drive, as we drove up at exactly at 12:00 noon. They presented us with flowers and a bottle of Sonoma wine. Our house hold goods arrived a few hours before we did, and were all unloaded. We began the unpacking process within an hour. Russ informed us that if we would get our boxes unloaded he would be glad to get them out of the way the next day.

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Our community activities soon occupied our time. We joined the Congregational Church, Verna served as secretary to the Board of Trustees and I became Treasurer. Verna soon made her contact with PEO and in 1979-1980 was President. She became a member of AAUW, joined Women's club, delivered meals on wheels, and became a member of the Hospital Auxiliary. I joined the Chamber of Commerce and, for 10 years worked on the Membership Committee. I passed examinations for Life Insurance, Variable Annuities, and Real Estate, joined Rotary and was a member of the board of directors for 6 years. In 1978, received an appointment from Sonoma County Supervisors on the Ground Weather Advisory Committee, and later the Flood Control Advisory Committee. The community gave its support to the Senior Service Center, and we helped with that. My volunteer activities were soon taking all my time, and the Insurance and Real Estate licenses, became inactive.

We moved from our mobile home in Oct. 1991 to a two bedroom apartment. We can get our meals and have other help when needed. Sonoma has treated us like royalty. We have lived here in Sonoma 18 years, longer than any other place.

29 Mazatlan Drive.

29 Mazatlan Drive. Fifteen years in one house, [sic] We live less than a mile from our former home and occasionally join our friends for special social events.

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"Hey, what are you doing Kid: [sic]"? With a start I turned and saw Old Joe standing in the door way. What was I doing at 5 years of age, standing at Old Joe's bunk bed? I was blowing on his harmonica, and it tasted like something I had never tasted before. Old Joe chewed tobacco and his harmonica got the benefit of the portion that didn't stick to his mustache when he tried to hit the spittoon.

For many summers my Father hired a man that I knew as as Old Joe. He must have been a drifter that would appear at haying time when Dad needed more help in the hay field. When the day's work was ended, we would sit out on the porch in the cool of the evening and listen to Old Joe play his harmonica. To me it sounded as if he had moved the organ from the church. He played, Amazing Grace, or Onward Christian Soldiers. He played music that I had never heard before, Darling Nellie Gray, Down by the Old Mill Stream, When Johnie comes Marching Home.

I wanted a Harmonica and knew that if Santa knew how badly I wanted one, he would bring me one for Christmas, but Dad beat Santa to it, he bought me one for my 6th birthday, and on that day, my music career began. Dad could play a harmonica and he taught me how to breath in and out so that I got a note with each breath. I soon found out that with enough huffing and puffing I could get a noise that sounded as if it might be a tune.

We had a neighbor, Clint Jones, who often helped during the haying season. Clint would bring his banjo with him and then we really had music, Old Joe would play his harmonica and Clint would accompany him with his banjo. I wanted Clint's banjo, and he sold it to me for $5.00. I paid him from my allowance which was fifty Cents a month. Now I had a harmonica and a banjo. Old Joe and Clint were soon gone, but night after night I would try to make the Harmonica sound as if Old Joe was playing and at the same try to get the right cord on the banjo.

Victory was mine on the evening of May 14, 1924. I made my first appearance between acts of the High School Senior play. I heard my first audience clap, stomp their feet and, as I left the stage, call for more, but I had no more, I could play only two pieces. The banjo and harmonica did well, they followed me thru college. I later purchased a guitar from Clint Jones and was able to use either the guitar or banjo with the Harmonica.

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College brought a new dimension to my experience as an entertainer, I met a man who was to remain a friend for life, Ray Magnuson from South Dakota. I saw Ray for the first time on July 4, 1927, at Ardmore South Dakota. Ray entertained a 4th of July crowd, when President Coolidge was present. The President was using the Black Hills for his summer White House.

When Ray and I were rooming together in 1927, at the University of Nebraska, we paid some of our college expenses with our Banjos, guitar and harmonica. Most of our entertainment was in and around Lincoln, but we did go out of town on special occasions. Some of our trips did not make- us much money. It cost more to get to the town and back home than we made [sic]

In Feb., 1928, we had an engagement at Stromsburg Nebr. The radio had announced that there was a blizzard on the way, but since it was still as far as Lusk, Wyoming, in the morning, we thought that we could make the trip before the storm would reach eastern Nebraska. The blizzard reached Stromsburg about the same time we did and our audience consisted of less than a dozen people. I think they felt sorry for us, they gave us $5.00 and it took all of it to pay our friend who had loaned us the car. We had to ask him to wait a few days until we got enough money to fill the gas tank.

Ray and I tried out for the Red Path Chautaqua [sic] circuit and were offered a contract for the summer of 1928. Easter vacation changed our plans, Verna and I were married and Ray had an offer from the University of Nebraska for a summer job, so the contract was never was signed.

For 40 years, the banjo, guitar and harmonica lay quiet, I would occasionally play for a Christmas party, or for a family gathering, Silent Night, or Happy Birthday was all I seemed to remember.

In 1976 we came to Sonoma. Dan Ruggles, the music man of Sonoma, some times pushed me to play for a program he was sponsoring. Ray Magnuson was living in Santa Rosa, and occasionally we would get together for old times sake, but most of the time the harmonica, banjo and guitar were quiet. I have had the fun of playing with a dance band and a blue grass group, and I have played harmonica solos with the pipe organ. It takes more practice than I seem to be willing to put in.

Dan Ruggles, I need you to give me a boost. I want to hear again the singing, the clapping of hands and stomping of feet from the kids on the front row. I want to walk off stage and hear them shout, [sic]"MORE MORE."

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The countries of the world are fast becoming one. What happens in China can be seen in the USA as it occurs. We have so many common problems that we can no longer ignore our neighbors. We have arrived at a point where we must sit down together and solve problems of air and water pollution, energy, food production, population growth and others. We are living on a planet that has limited resources.

There are many organizations and businesses that are now operating internationally, and it is time for all of us to be aware of the problems that must be solved if we are to save life on this planet.

Rotary International was organized in 1911, and is now in over 170 countries, and has been active in many fields such as, Education, Health, and Business. I have been a member since October 1945, when I joined the Longmnt [sic] Club, and in 1955, when we went overseas, they were willing to keep me on as a regular member.

We were instructed when we left the United States, that we were not to become involved in religious or political activities in a foreign country. No one said that I couldn't go to Rotary in a foreign land. In 1955 there were about 4000 [sic] clubs in more than 50 countries, I knew that some of these countries would have Rotary Clubs, and that I might be able to attend, and I was pleased that I could retain my membership.

Armed with the international directory of Rotary Clubs, I looked for one at every stop we made. Our flight to Turkey in Sept. 1955 had a rest stop in Copenhagen. We took a ferry to Malmo, Sweden on Sept. 4th., where I attended my first Rotary Club outside the United States.

By the time we returned to the United States in 1967, I had attended 34 clubs in 24 countries, Sweden, Norway, Germany, England, Belgium, Holland, France, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Kenya, India, Nepal, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, Austria, Jordan, Israel. In 1975 when we went to Colombia, SA, I attended 2 more clubs. This made a total of 36 clubs in 25 countries, on 4 continents, and I left a Longmont banner at every club, and received one in return. These banners will be found on the wall of the Rotary meeting room in Longmont, Colorado.

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The contact with Rotarians from these countries was an experience I will always cherish. At every opportunity possible, I would remove my bureaucratic hat and put on my professional hat and attend Rotary. I often was able to get personal opinions and some times very frank statements and attitudes that other countries had of the United States and of the American people.

Verna and I attended the Rotary International Convention in Lucerne, Switzerland, in May of 1957. I helped start the Izmir Turkey Club in 1960, this was the third club to be formed in Turkey. I attended, again in Izmir in May of 1982 when Verna and I were there on a visit.

If leaving my wife sitting in a car, or in a hotel room for hours, while I hunted up a Rotary meeting, can be called wife abuse, I am guilty. I would go out of my way, or change my travel schedule, to make a meeting, and Verna would sit and wait for me.

On one trip home on leave, we drove thru France. We stopped one night in Fontainbleau [sic], the Rotary club was meeting in the same hotel where we were staying. This was the first meeting of the season and it was Ladies' night, so Verna attended with me, and if it hadn't been for her knowledge of French I would have had a difficult time making our wishes known.

At the dinner there was much toasting and many greetings. We were treated well but few could speak English. There were many toasts and the wine bottles lined up the full length of the table. The main meal was finally served. Verna was tired and asked to be excused, and I stayed for a while and presented the banner from the Longmont Rotary club. When I left the meeting, I went back to our room, I didn't want to disturb Verna, so I left the light off. I took my tooth brush from my case and a tube, I thought was tooth paste, but it turned out to be Mentholatum. I could taste this tooth brush every time it was wet, and I soon got a new one. Verna still accuses me of getting too much wine.

I attended the Amman, Jordan, club many times during our stay in Jordan. Every time I appeared at the meeting, the Club President would say, "We have an American guest today; the meeting will be conducted in English." I soon became aware of the fact that the majority of the members were refugees from Palestine, these were Doctors, Teachers and Business men that had been in Palestine while under the British, so they all spoke good English.

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In 1959 I attended a Rotary meeting in Beirut, Lebanon. I sat next to a banker who said to me, "If America does not change its idea on this Israel-Arab problem, there will be a lot of trouble." I now understand what he was saying.

We make our foreign policy decisions from local pressure groups. The local pressures are too much for our politicians, and we will pay for their mistakes for a long time to come. Israel cannot exist with out our support, and some day we will not be able to afford it. and some day we will find that we can no longer continue our support.

Rotary has had a continuous growth since it was founded in 1911 by Paul Harris, a Chicago business man, who felt that it would be a good idea for business men to meet on a regular basis to discuss their problems and meet for good fellowship. Rotary started with 4 men. In 1914 there were 4000 [sic] clubs. In 1957, 9288 [sic] clubs with 439,000 members. In October of 1990 the were 25,163 clubs in 172 countries with a membership of 1,107,950.

There have been many international projects; Hospitals, Schools, Clinics. The major project of 1989-90 was called polio-plus, and with the cooperation of the World Health Organization,the [sic] Agency For International Development, and over 225,000 clubs, a program was launched to eradicate polio in the world. To-date [sic] they have raised over $500,000,000, and more than 530,000,000 children have received the vaccinations.

Since the Berlin wall has come down, all eastern block countries have started clubs again, including Russia. Recently women have joined the clubs in the United States, and a few other countries. Sonoma had its first woman President in 1992, Grace Salt, a very active member since 1988.

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Dr. Atif Atilla.

Dr. Atif Atilla, known as Atif Bey, was the man that knew how to use the small equipment, and directed field operations in the 4 1950's. Atif Bey, tells the success story of small equipment in 1982 to John Kolars in TURKEY REVISTED, [sic]

Mustfa and his station wagon.

Mustfa and his station wagon. He was our guide and protector, and made our return trip to Turkey in 1982 a memorable trip for me and "MY LADY"

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March 1, 1982, 6:30 a.m. Verna to Jim, "How would you like to make a trip to Turkey? Half awake, I mumbled, "It sounds O.K., but let me wake up before I answer [sic]" I have been working on several projects, and one of them has a time limit. We are having a membership drive for the Chamber of Commerce, but that should be finished in a couple of weeks. Our passports are in order and we do not need visas, so perhaps we could go in two or three weeks.

Surprise trips have been proposed by Verna before and have turned out to be some of our most interesting experiences. The trip to Mesa Verde in 1951, with all the family, the one to Africa in 1966 from Amman, Jordan, and the one to Mexico with Russ and Peggy, the fastest decision we ever made, in eight hours after the trip was proposed at breakfast, we were on a flight to Mexico City. Perhaps it is time for another surprise trip, this time to Turkey.

At 6:00 o'clock the morning of March 23rd, we were on our way to Izmir, Turkey, where we lived for 5 years, from 1955 to 1960. I had served as Irrigation Advisor to the Turkish Government, and Verna taught English in a Turkish Girls school, under the Congregational Church Mission. These five years had been a very rewarding experience for both of us, and we were anxious to see Turkey again.

We took TWA Flight 754 from S.F.to [sic] Boston, where we spent a few days with Jack and Linda Blake. Verna met two of her former pupils she had taught while in Turkey, both were teaching in Wellesley College, Sumru Erkut, a top student had her PhD. and was flying to San Francisco to present a paper at an astronomy conference.

When we were ready to leave Boston, the airport was fogged in, our flight had to leave from N. Y., and it wasn't until midnight that we could get a flight to New York, and then to Frankfurt and Istanbul, so it took us nearly 24 hours to get from Boston to Istanbul.

We were met in Istanbul by Mel Wittier, a friend from previous days in Turkey. We spent two days in Istanbul with both Turkish and American friends, and were able to see our former landlady from Izmir, Nemica Aysoy, now retired and living in Istanbul.

I had an international drivers license, and since we had driven in Turkey before, we thought it would be our best method of getting around, but renting a car proved to be more difficult and expensive than I had thought. We soon found that we could hire a driver and his car for much less.

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I guess I can say that "we lucked out", because, I asked a Turk just outside our hotel in Izmir, if he could direct us to a travel agency, he spoke good English and asked us where we would like to go. He told us he had lived in Western Turkey all his life, that he was a retired Air Force officer and occasionally escorted visitors to ancient sites. He said his name was Mustafa, and that he had references if we wished to contact them. The deal was sealed when we found that he was a friend of Naki Uner, my Turkish counterpart in 1955 to 1960.

Mustafa made our trip to Turkey the experience we had hoped for, we rode with him for 10 days, in his clean, well maintained, station wagon. Mustafa took good care of us, he would not let us go into a restaurant, rent a room or by anything without his inspection and approval as to safety, quality and price. He was more than a chauffeur, he was our guardian and guide.

We had not been out of Izmir one day until Mustafa asked me what he should call Verna. He asked if it was all right for him to call her "MY LADY", I informed him that it would be perfectly proper, and that I thought she might like that, and from there on Verna was "MY LADY". He would help her in and out of the car, and spared no effort to help her climb around old ruins, and get to any place she wanted to go.

For five years I had traveled the west coast of Turkey. I thought I had seen all the ruins and old city sites. Mustafa had spent several years working with EXREM AKURGAL, an archeologist who spent his life studying Ancient Civilizations and lost cities of Turkey. Verna and I were taken to sites I had never heard of.

For three days we visited people and places around Izmir. We stayed at the school where Verna taught, and she was able to see two more of her students who were now teaching in the school. I was able to see Naki Uner, the Engineer that help design the small equipment, Atif Atilla, the man who made it work, and my farmer friend, that Ishan and I would visit early in the morning, "One-Arm Ahmet" [sic]

[At this point a reproduction of the following article is included in the original document: Kolars, John. "Turkey Revisted." The Christian Science Monitor, (Nov. 22, 1982): 23]
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April 15,1982, [sic] and Verna and I are on the last lap of a three-week trip to Turkey, A three minute telephone call to Sonoma, from Frankfurt Germany, informs our daughter we will be leaving in one hour. The plane will leave at 10:30 a.m. Frankfort time, and arrive in San Francisco at 11:30 a.m. San Francisco time, the same day. We fly at an elevation of 30,000 feet and a speed of 500 miles per hour, and cross a time zone every hour. We will travel almost as fast as the sun, by taking the flight close to the Arctic Circle. The sun appears to stand still as it shines in the window for the entire trip.

This would have been a miracle the day I helped my father string new telephone wire into the ranch house in Western Nebraska on a warm June day in 1916. We had a phone before that date but the barbed wire on the top of the fence posts made a very poor connection, and it was difficult for us to talk to the neighbors that were on the same line. Our call to the phone was two long and two short rings. Some times, neighbors would carry on a three, or four-way conversation, a common social occasion. With the new wire we could now reach a central operator in Moyer's drug store in Crawford. This made it possible to contact other party lines and make long distance calls.

Our transportation in 1916 was as different from that of 1982 as was our communications. The morning we finished stringing the new wire, Dad hitched Charley, a dappled gray, high-spirited horse to the small buggy that was used for fast travel, and go to the post office and pick up or weekly mail. There was normally room for two adults in the one seat, but if my brother who was then 8 years old, would sit close to me, we took the space of one adult and Dad would let us ride with him to go to the post office and pick up the weekly mail.

Will the next 80 years bring the change in communication and transportation that the last 80 have brought? The dialed cal from Frankfurt to Sonoma took no longer than it did to make the two long rings and the two short ones. The clarity of voice surpassed the old country line. The hour that it took to cover the 5 miles to the post office with Old Charley and the buggy was the same length as the hour it took us in flight to cover the 500-mile time zone.

In 1994 we are talking about the super communication highway, and space travel is already here.

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It is a hot day in June 1984, I have come from Sonoma to attend my 60th Crawford High School reunion. I park in the shade of cotton wood tree, at the north end of Main Street. I suddenly realize this is the location of the Todd Livery Barn where Dad use to leave Charley, when we boarded the train for Uncle Henry's.

There is a time clock in my mind, it has no hands, the face is blurred, and I cannot hear it ticking, but it has recorded the passage of time. If I were to close my eyes and walk down Main Street, my nose would tell me that this is not 1914. On a hot June day in 1914 there was a long hitching rack where 12 or more teams of horses were tied. The flies swarm over the hot horse manure, the ground is wet with urine. The sweaty horses were switching their tails and stomping their feet to fight off the flies. There are horses that are beginning to dry off, with long streaks of salt from the drying sweat that is running down their legs. The dry white streaks look like white cotton ribbons.

There is only one word that can describe the odor, and that is PUNGENT. The dictionary describes it as " Producing a sharp sensation of smell and taste, sharp and piercing to the mind."

Seventy years have passed, it is now 1984 and the little town of Crawford has a population of 1200 [sic], the same as in 1914. The street that was lined with hitching racks is now hard surfaced and there is a large drain that takes the surface runoff to White River which is only a quarter of a mile away. The street is now clean, there are no flies, there is only a little dust where once was horse manure.

An 18 wheeler is parked where the hitching racks were, that accommodated 15 teams of horses in 1914, but there is a different odor. The 18 wheeler is loaded with diesel fuel, and the idling motor is belching out smoke that is stifling, oppressive and suffocating. The driver is down on his knees with a wrench to tighten a valve that is leaking diesel fuel. This valve must have been leaking before, because there is a small stream of fuel that is running into the drain.

Strange isn't it, the pungent odor of the string of horses, tied to the hitching rack, is no longer with us. The horses are dead, their bodies have returned to dust. The manure was scooped up and spread out on the land to make it richer and more productive. What of the diesel fuel that ran into the drain, and then into the river? Where does the carbon monoxide go that is coming from the idling motor?

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The pollution of the air and water in Crawford seems of little significance, but I just left San Francisco yesterday in a smog that has the same odor as the diesel truck on the streets of Crawford. In San Francisco there was a warning that all people with breathing problems should stay inside.

It may not be necessary to have a sense of smell to live, but it may be that some of the things we are doing in creating odors, is contributing to extinction of life on this planet. Will we lose the ozone layer, poison our environment, the air we breath, and the water we drink?

The hitching racks on Main Street in the early 1900s.

The hitching racks on Main Street in the early 1900s. The dust and flies always found their way into the open doors.

In front of Todd's Livery Barn on Main Street.

The Todd Livery Barn, where Dad would leave Charley when we went to Uncle Henry's. Where teams could be left for days and be certain they would be well cared for. Salesmen would rent teams as we now rent cars. Dr. Richards kept his horse and buggy here. He was present when my two brothers and I came into this world. Those were really house calls.

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"My how you have changed." If I heard it once I heard it a dozen times. In fact, many had changed so much, they didn't recognize ME.

The week of July 8 to 15 1991 was the week of family reunion, for both Verna and me. On Monday the 8th we flew from San Francisco to Denver, and rented a car to begin our week of reunions. First my family and then Verna's.

To match time tables, for car, bus and plane can be compared to solving a cross word puzzle, one misplaced letter and you may have to start over. We had only one possible miss and that occurred when we boarded United Air, flight 520 for Denver. Just ahead of us, at the check in counter, was a family from Pakistan. They were checking their luggage thru to Lahore and we had to wait in line. We were able to check in just as they opened the gate to load.

Boulder, the first stop was to visit my brother Lawrence. There were three boys in my family, and my other brother, Ernest, from Mesa, Arizona, who was vacationing in Vail [sic] Colo. arranged to be in Boulder at the right time.

What do three brothers, all old men in their eighties, with different views on politics and religion, talk about? First they exchange views on their most recent ailments. They then reach agreement on how bad every thing is. They talk about things they used to do and can no longer do. They brag about the accomplishments of their grand children and their great grand children. When the reunion is over they wish each other well, get in their cars and drive off.

What do 77 people, ages 9 months to 90 years do when they first meet at a family reunion? They shake hands and say: "I am Marvelle's, I am Verna's, I am Weston's, "but that refers only to the oldest generation present. There is another and another, until you reach the great grandchildren.

July 12, 1991, was the first day of the PIELSTICK FAMILY REUNION, at Black Forest Inn, Colorado Springs. They arrived from all corners of the United States. Twelve states are represented. NE. VI. WA. TX. CO. MI. FL. OR. MO. KA. CA. ILL.

The first evening was devoted to introductions and identification of family tribes. I, an In-law and I suspect at times considered an Out-law, was attached to the oldest and the retired generation. I believed it to be my right to observe and evaluate those present, in order that I might know after 63 years, just what I had become a part of.

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As the life stories unfolded I began to take notice. Ten were in the educational field, Four PhD's, Three heads of departments in Universities, one a project director in a Medical research Lab, three RNs, one of them a head nurse in a hospital; two in the educational field, were directors of private schools, one in Florida and the other in Oregon; an Environmental Engineer for the city of Denver, a CPA with a firm of accountants in Portland, Oregon. There were Successful business men from Colorado, Oregon, Texas and Nebraska. Most of the parents were active in community projects, City Council, School Boards, Scouts, Churches. Thirty percent of those now working were in some form of Social Services. Among those retired were teachers and nurses.

One evening was spent singing. The pianist was a professor of music in a University. You name it, he played it.

The reunion came to an end after lunch on the third day. How do you say good bye? With lots of tears and hugs, and a vow to stay in touch.

The ethical values and principles of FRANK & NETTIE PIELSTICK had made their mark on future generations. I considered that I had done quite well when I married into Verna's family [sic]

Verna's parents, Frank and Nettie.

B 8-25-1875
D 5-22-1948

B 5-7-1878
D 9-5-1962

Married April, 8, 1897

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One of the most difficult tasks I have undertaken, is to put in words, my belief, or creed. The changes that have taken place in my thinking during the years, has caused me to wonder if mankind will ever know what really is a truth that does not change with the passage of time.

I was born a Caucasian, of parents who were of the Protestant faith. I was taught that there existed a supreme being that we called GOD, and if I would be good and did every thing I should, that I would go to heaven when I died. I was led to believe that this is the REAL TRUTH and that if I believed in the Bible and understood that it was the word of God I would be saved, what ever that meant.

More than 87 years have passed since I was first exposed to the realm in which I now live. I know that my physical existence became possible thru the union of my parents, I also have learned that in time my physical being will no longer exist, and that I will disappear and become part of the earth. What is the real me? Where did I come from? Who am I? What is the purpose in my being here? Where do I go from here?

Ever since mankind has been able to ask these questions he has attempted to explain them in the vernacular of the times. The civilizations of the world have done it thru religious writings, The Torah, the Bible, and the Koran, in the part of the world in which I have lived. Peoples in other parts of the world have done it thru other religious beliefs, Buddhism, Hinduism and others. From Genesis to the creation myths of ancient tribes, mankind has been seeking answers to the same questions.

I was 45 years of age before I was able to rid myself of a feeling of guilt, if I questioned the authenticity of the Bible as being the word of God. How this became the word of God was never clear to me, and by the time I reached the age of 60 I had lived 12 years with peoples of other faiths. I had been in 28 countries on 4 continents and had been around the world. People from all parts of the world were trying to find answers to the same questions I had been asking. Others seemed to think that their beliefs were the REAL TRUTH and that it should not be questioned.

I now believe that mankind may never find the answer to some of these questions. It seems that if we do find an answer, it only creates other questions, whether we are flying in space or splicing genes and creating new life.

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Thru the years I have developed some ideas that seem to work for me. I no longer feel that I have to accept everything written in a book, as the truth. A book written by an Israeli on the 1967 war in Palestine would tell a different story that one written by an Arab.

I believe that there is a super intelligence that exists. It is something that our minds can not comprehend. I believe that our minds are a part of this intelligence. I believe that we can accomplish much thru thought. I believe that thoughts are things. I believe that we can actually create conditions and things thru the mind. Christianity has taught that by communicating with this higher power that we call GOD, and having faith in this power, that we can create the situation we ask for.

I believe that a positive attitude creates a good life and that a negative attitude will create the opposite. I believe that thru thought control we can have better health and improve relationships with others.

Life thru the years has dealt me many good hands, I have not always played them well but by trying to follow rules of positive thinking, everything seemed to work out very well. The last hand dealt me, and at age 87 it could be the last, is a NO TRUMP hand with many Kings and Queens.

For 66 years I have lived with a Lady I find interesting and pleasant to be with. We don't talk much some times but maybe that isn't important. She usually knows what I am thinking and I can usually tell what she is thinking. We have a family of 4 children, 8 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren. All are in good health and our relationship could not be better.

I often have the feeling that I have traveled this route before; perhaps I will travel it again. Reincarnation is not a new idea; in fact it is a very old one. Ancient writings, including the Bible, make reference to this possibility. Can it be that since I haven't found an answer to my questions this time around that I might return and try again?

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If you KNOW WHAT YOU WANT YOU CAN HAVE IT; Can this really be true? Can I have what I want by merely wanting it?

In 1952 my daughter, Peggy came home from college and placed a book on my desk and said: "Dad, read this with an open mind." The book; YOU WILL SURVIVE AFTER DEATH,: by Sherwood Eddy. This book started me on a search that changed my life.

I believe that the conscious mind can direct the subconscious mind, and that the subconscious mind will do what it is directed to do.

Three rules are set forth in a small booklet, entitled, IT WORKS, by RHJ.

1. Write down the things you want most. Read the list: morning, noon, and night.

2. Think of what you want as often as possible, and BELIEVE that you have it.

3. Do not talk to any one about your plan, except The GREAT POWER within you, which will unfold to your objective mind the method of accomplishment.

Can it be this simple? If I tell my subconscious mind to do something for me, does it have the power to do it? In the next few years I was to have several experiences that convinced me that it was possible.

In the spring of 1954, Verna and I attended a reception at the University of Denver for the opening of a new dormitory, where Peggy was to be living during her senior year. The father of one of her roommates had just returned from an assignment in Japan with McArthur's occupation forces. I had an opportunity to visit with him about his experiences, and was impressed and envious. Why couldn't I have an experience like that?

For days this was on my mind. I knew that this was an experience I would like to have, but how can I get it? I had just finished reading the booklet: IT WORKS, and I decided that this is the time to try it. What do 1 have to do to start the process?

I knew from previous experience with the Government, that to apply for federal employment, required a completed form 57, so I went to the Denver post office for the form,

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filled it out and mailed it to the Foreign Operations Administration. (FDA) in Washington D.C. 18th of June 1954. In a few days I received a letter from FOA, informing me that they had no positions open in my field, but they would place my application on file.

For months I direct my thoughts to what I wanted. Nothing seemed to happen, but the little book said, "You don't have to be concerned as to HOW, it is going to happen, just BELIEVE that it will."

On March 2, 1955, We attended a luncheon in Denver. I had been appointed Lay Leader of the Methodist Church in Northern Colorado, my assistant was to be Howard Finch, Director of the Agricultural Extension Service, in Colorado at Fort Collins, he had just returned from a two year tour in Turkey. He ask us if we would consider taking a two year assignment in Turkey. Our answer was yes.

On March 4th. We received a copy of a letter that Howard Finch had sent to FOA mission in Turkey.

March 23rd , A letter from the FOA mission in Turkey. "I understand that you may be interested in an assignment in Turkey. Please contact the Agricultural Division of FOA in Washington, D.C., for further information."

April 2, Letter from the Chief of Food and Agricultural Division FOA in Washington D.O. with a Form 57 and a request to complete the form as soon as possible. I wired Washington the same day, informing them that they had Form 57 on file, dated June 18, 1954.

May 18. Letter from Office of Personnel FOA; "We need additional information. We can not meet your salary request, but your quarters allowance for you and your family will be $3,000.00. We hope to hear from you soon."

May 25th. Received a letter with job classification and description of duties. How can this be? This is just what I have been doing for the last 20 years.

June 7, Received notice confirming assignment as Irrigation Advisor to the Turkish Government. "Can you report by the first week in July?"

I asked for 60 days to get affairs in order, and on July 20 wired Washington that we could be ready by Aug. 15th. The rest is history, we went for two years but when we came home to stay it had been 12 years.

Did the plan WORK, or did it just happen? I will never know.

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When we left Longont [sic] to go to Turkey, we had a chance to sell the farm. We had lost money on the Safflower project and this looked like an opportunity to pay some of our debts before we left the United States.

For several years we had been partners with Herman and his family. We owned the farm, and Herman farmed it. It was a 50-50 arrangement, all farm equipment and livestock were owned jointly. If we sold the farm, we would need to dissolve the partnership, and this would leave Herman without the means to rent another farm.

Verna and I spent some agonizing moments in trying to come to a decision. The value of the equipment was about $25,000, and that seemed like a lot of money to us. We finally decided that we could get along with out selling, and that we would take a $12,500 note for our share, [sic]

When we were on home leave I would renew the note with Herman. In 1962, I went again to renew the note, but it was obvious by this time that he might never be able to pay it.

Could my subconscious mind find the answer? I thought it had worked once, why not try again. When we returned to Jordan I wrote on a small piece of paper, THIS MATTER WILL BE SETTLED TO THE SATISFACTION OF EVERYONE, and placed it inside the top drawer of my desk so that I would see it every time I opened the drawer.

In 1964 we were home again, I did not want to see Herman, I was sure he couldn't pay the note and so I waited until the last day before returning to Jordan. When I went to see him, his first statement was: "If you can give me $2000, I can settle the note". Give him $2000! He already owed us $12,500 and that was with out the 6% interest for 7 years. Why should I give him any more money?

This is the story: Herman's father died and left him a contract of sale, on a small farm adjoining the city of Fort Collins, Colo. He had not been able to pay taxes and other expenses and was about to lose the property. Two Thousand dollars would place him in position to turn the contract over to us. It didn't take me long to get to the bank and get the $2000.00, but since our plane to Jordan was leaving in 24 hours, I turned it over to our attorney.

In 6 years we received the $12.500 plus all interest. THE MATTER WAS SETTLED TO THE SATISFACTION OF EVERYONE. Does it work? I can't tell you for sure, but I believe it did.. [sic]

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It had been a long time since I felt that I wanted something that I didn't already have, but when we moved into West Lake on Nov. 1, 1991 we still owned the home at 29 Mazatlan Drive, I really wanted to sell it and get it off my mind. I decided to follow as closely as possible the instructions that were given in the little book: IT WORKS.

After we had prepared the coach for sale, with new carpet, painted walls, clean floors, etc. Peggy listed it for sale. I began at once to follow the rules as closely as I could. I knew what I wanted, so it was not hard to be specific. I WANTED TO SELL THE COACH. and I wanted some one to buy it who could enjoy living there as much as we had.

In January people were looking; a couple living in Temelec put in a bid, but it was contingent upon the sale of their home. We offered to take a mortgage on their property and wait until their property sold. They were willing to sign a note but would not let us take a mortgage on their property. They came back to look at the place several times but nothing became of it.

In April, Max Beer from Los Angeles put down a payment of $1,000.00. A price of $46,250 was agreed upon, and papers were signed on May 5th., Max was to move in on June 1st., but on May 28th he had a heart attack, and the Doctor told him not to move at this time. Mail was already arriving, and for several weeks we were returning his mail. Max asked if $500 would be satisfactory to with draw his offer, and we accepted and listed the property again.

On Aug. 18th, Moon Valley was holding open house for coaches that they had for sale, and we put out a sign at our coach, hoping to attract buyers. Gordon had made a contact with a friend of his, suggesting that it would be a good place for him to live. The result: Bob and Lois Best bought 29 Mazatlan Drive and moved in September 1, 1992. They have been well pleased with their new home, and we have become good friends.

I will never know, whether the property sold because I consciously made an effort to instruct my subconscious mind, or perhaps it would have sold without effort on my part. The interesting point is that there were over 20 coaches for sale in Moon Valley, and 7 in Pueblo Serena. It is now three years later, and there are many coaches that were for sale at that time and are still unsold.

I believe IT WORKS, but perhaps I will never know.

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My first thoughts concerning my own retirement, dates back to the day my parents left the ranch, where they had lived for over 45 years. Dad and Mumsie came to Western Nebraska in 1907, they came expecting to take a homestead but instead, bought what was called a relinquishment, that is they bought the rights of another homesteader. There were several advantages, a good well, a frame house and two barns. A family by the name of Wolff, lived on the place, and years later I met and became a friend of one of the sons, Fred Wolff, who was born in the log house that was on the place.

My folks made the decision to leave the ranch in 1943, when they moved to a home in Crawford. Dad was 75 years of age when he retired, because he could no longer do the heavy work, but he remained active until his death at the age of 88.

Several of Dad's friends had left their farms and ranches, and moved to town, but died within a few years. I have heard him say of them, "They died because they didn't have anything to keep them busy." This statement made me think, he was right, most of them didn't have anything to do, they had no other interests, other than their work on the ranch, and that was over.

Dad kept himself busy with a small garden for a while, but boredom soon set in and it wasn't long until he got in his car, and drove out in the country to call on some of his neighbors. Occasionally one of the neighbors would ask him to bring something from town, such as salt or some feed for their cattle. It wasn't long before he had the idea that perhaps he might make a little money and still visit with his friends He was soon selling livestock feed, salt and mineral and equipment that could be used in livestock care.

At the age of 86 the insurance company would no longer renew his auto insurance, and he had to quit driving, it nearly broke his heart. I remember my mother saying that the insurance agent asked her to tell Dad that he would not be able to drive any more, and she politely replied, "You tell him."

For several years, Dad was top salesman for the company he represented. He was proud of the honors that he received, but when he lost his drivers license, he lost his spirit. I knew then, that when I reached the age of retirement, I must have something to keep me busy.

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From 1934 to 1944, I worked for USDA, I had been an Engineer and Superintendent of a CCO camp, I had been manager of water development projects, but the red tape and inability of the Government to change its ways, was more than I could take, so I resigned and started my own farm management service, and so MIDWEST FARM SERVICES was born. The business soon involved real estate and insurance, and opened up a whole new field of learning for me, knowledge that was going to be of value in later years.

In 1955 we accepted the assignment with the State Department, and spent 12 years overseas. In 1967 we returned to the states. Verna's brother Wes, now owned MIDWEST FARM SERVICE. I renewed my licenses for life insurance, and variable annuities. My interest in the Estate Planning field, in business organizations and the stock market became a part time business.

We came to Sonoma May 1, 1976. I took all California examinations, for insurance and real estate licenses, but again this was a part time business. The fact that I was carrying a rate book and seeing people, kept me from being bored and added to our retirement income.

I had volunteer activities that eventually took all of my time. For 10 years I worked with the Sonoma Chamber of Commerce. I was active on three boards, the Congregational Church, Vintage House,, [sic] and on Monday afternoon for 4 hours, I held office hours at Vintage House to help people who wanted information on Living Trusts, wills, and investments.

In 1982 I bought a computer and set up my own stock portfolio, and kept up with the stock market thru Dow Jones Retrieval Service. I kept books on the computer for the Church, and learned to operate a word processor. The word processor opened up a new world to me, and has given me the tools to write a series of short stories of my life.

I am now 87, I have retired about 3 times. I find plenty to keep me busy with my writing, the stock market and volunteer work.

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Solution to flooding proposed by engineer

Metzger appointed to Zone 3A board

Jim Metzger file photo.

Jim Metzger
Serves on flood committee

I-T Staff Writer

Jim Metzger took his first splash in the field of flood control 52 years ago.

That was when, fresh out of the University of Nebraska, he became an engineer with the U.S. Forest Service in the Cornhusker state.

He later worked in Colorado, Turkey, Amman Jordan, Japan, India and south America.

While Metzger, 79, now officially is retired in Sonoma, he has not turned away from flooding. And his interest rose with the rain water last winter.

"We need to start flood control in the hills," he said at a Sonoma City Council meeting a month after the flooding. "We should delay the flow, rather than hasten it."

A Sonoma Valley vineyard uses the flood control method Jim Metzger espouses.

A SONOMA VALLEY vineyard uses the flood control method Jim Metzger espouses. forming on the con- tour so water flows downhill more slowly. Metzger says more Volley farming should be done this way.

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Jim and Verna Metzger honored by Vintage House

In honor of their recent 60th wedding anniversary last month, the family and friends of Jim and Verna Metzger have made a $10,000 donation to the Vintage House Building Fund.

The generous gift brings with it the reward of having one of the new rooms at the proposed new senior center named in honor of the Metzgers, with a bronze plaque designating it as the "Metzger Room."

The Vintage House Building Fund Campaign Board and board of directors of Vintage House voted several months ago to offer the naming of rooms to recognize gifts of $10,000 or more.

Such recognition has already been bestowed on J. R. (Bob) Stone, Myrtle Bowie and Helen Shainsky.

THERE ARE a limited num- ber of rooms remaining which may still be named in honor of someone under this special gift recognition program.

Peggy Baer, daughter of the Metzgers, made the $10,000 do- nation announcement at the Wednesday morning meeting of the Vintage House Building Fund Board, presenting a cer- tificate of recognition to her fa- ther before the applauding group.

Jim and Verna Metzger.  Photo by Richard Ammon.

Jim and Verna Metzger
Recently celebrated 60th wedding anniversary

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Jim Metzger file photo.

Jim Metzger Succeeds Nell Lane

Next Honorary Alcalde is selected

James D. Metzger, a resident and community leader here since 1976, was selected by the City Council as Sonoma's Honorary Alcalde for 1987 during an executive session at the Oct. 14 council meeting.

Mayor Jerold Tuller said the vote for Metzger was unanimous.

"Jim is an outstanding addition to the impressive list of dedicated Sonomans who have been honored as Alcaldes for exemplary community service," the mayor said.

Jim and Verna Metzger after Jim was selected for the Alcalde award.

To receive the ALCALDE nomination, from the City of Sonoma, was the highest honor I have ever received. Sonoma has more dedicated volunteers than any place Verna and I have ever lived, and many have given years of service. A very close friend and confidante, Florence Evans, asked to submit my name for consideration. I am convinced, had she not done this, I would not have received the nomination. My relationship with the community has continued to be enhanced by this appointment, and I will always be grateful to Florence Evans.

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Metzger new Sonoma Alcalde

I-T Staff Writer

Crawford, Neb. has changed little since Jim Metzger grew up on a ranch there.

The 79-year-old Sonoman says about 1,200 people lived in the town after the turn of the century. And the population now is about the same.

Metzger, too, has had constants in his life, such as his work in agricultural engineering and his 58-year marriage to Verna.

But unlike Crawford, Neb., Jim Metzger has come and gone a long way.

A Midwesterner who grew up helping his German immigrant father on his horse ranch, Metzger today is being recognized at a luncheon as the city of Sonoma's Honorary Alcalde for 1987.

Between the horse ranch and Sonoma honor, Metzger has defied the stereotype of monotony that often is attached to the engineering field.

His work has taken him to Turkey and Amman, Jordan for extended tenures, and he has had special assignments in India, Nepal, Japan and Colombia.

But before studying agriculture at the University of Nebraska, Metzger took a shot at ranching. Jim and Verna rented a 2,000-acre Nebraska ranch and purchased cattle and equipment Oct. 1, 1929.

THE STOCK market crashed 28 days later, the Great Depression was on and the Metzgers lost their investment.

"I was lucky I went broke in three years," Metzger says. "Some of my friends with more money lasted longer but still went broke."

After receiving an agriculture degree in 1934, he spent the next 20 years doing irrigation and flood control engineering in Nebraska and Colorado.

He began what has become a voluminous passport in 1955 when the U.S. government offered him a position as irrigation advisor in Turkey.

Despite the cultural differences, Metzger felt at home in the Middle East.

"It was amazing how much of rural Turkey fit my background," he says, referring a childhood that was homework by kerosene light, a wood stove for heating and riding a horse five miles to school.

"I got along better in rural Turkey than some of my Turkish counterparts who grew up in cities," he says.

THE RURAL atmosphere Turn to A9 Continued from A1 of Sonoma was what attracted him when he first visited friends and family here in 1957.

"I love the small-town atmosphere," he said. "You know the people you're working with. I don't know of any better place to live."

After Turkey, Metzger's next assignment was in Amman Jordan from 1960 to 1967.

While not working, Metzger attended the Rotary International Club there, which acknowledged his presence by conducting its meetings in English. His travels took him to 35 Rotary clubs in 28 countries, he said.

A Rotarian for 41 years, retirement in Sonoma in 1976 has given Metzger the opportunity to become involved with a myriad of additional groups: the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce, Vintage House Senior Center, Sonoma Congregational Church, Home Care Connections and Branch 41 SIRS.

He also was appointed in 1978 by then-1st District county Supervisor Brian Kahn to serve on a Ground Water Advisory Committee, and this year Supervisor Janet Nicholas appointed him to the Sonoma Valley Zone 3A Flood Control Advisory Committee.

ALONG WITH those activities, Metzger keeps busy with four children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

"I'm a workaholic," Metzger says. "I can't sit around the home; I have to have something to do."

As Sonoma's 12th Honorary Alcalde, he'll have even more to do, representing the city with the alcalde cane during various ceremonies and celebrations.

Traditionally used as the staff of office in the early days of California, the cane was used to settle property line disputes.

The post of alcalde has its roots in the Spanish colonial tradition, and historically the alcalde served as the final authority in the pueblo.

Once California achieved its statehood, the position was dissolved. Sonoma was without an alcalde until the City Council revived the post in 1976 as an honorary position.

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TO THE FAMILY: My story must end and this seems the proper place. There are some things I will do differently next time. I will spend more time with you. I will go to more school band concerts, track meets, football games, and more picnics. Verna and I have had the good fortune to see you grow up with your friends and your families. This has been a pleasant time with you, perhaps we can do it again in another place.

Verna and some of the little friends that followed her home from distant lands.

Verna and some of the little friends that followed her home from distant lands.

Left to right: Peggy, Ken, Dale, Gordon.


It has been great to share this journey with you.

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MS 128
Periodical: Box: 1
Folder: 1
Archives and Special Collections, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries