Saturday mornings

Cell phones have been around for quite some time now, more than 10 years … and yet, on Saturday mornings I think to myself, “I have to call my mom.”

Seems hard to believe there was a time when we waited to call our moms because of long distance charges. That’s correct, all you young people out there. Phones use to be party lines and/or emergency use only.

For those of you who have never had the opportunity to be on a party line, one of our interviews, or maybe more than one, mention the use of party lines. In the first place, having a phone was a premium and then this:

ELEANOR: Yes we had a real telephone. That was there in World War II before I left home a long time. You could ring, three rings, short, short and a long. You were on a party line. Even at times the kids were talking and a man would come in and say “I need to make a call, get off,” in German. Cause you could tell if the lines were busy.

That’s right folks, only one family at a time could be on the phone.


Martha Sayler-Ackerman answers her rotary phone. Photo taken in the 1950s and provided by Ida (Ackerman) Quatier. The photo was taken by Edward Ackerman and appears in Ewiger Saatz – Everlasting Yeast.

And there was a rate for weekdays to make local calls and long distance was extra. That’s why everyone called their mothers on Saturday mornings. The long distance charges were reduced for evenings and weekends.

Even though I had the ability to call my mother every day in the past couple of years – and I did – Saturday mornings still strike a chord with me. Homesickness rings about 9 a.m., the time she called, or I called. We talked for half an hour or more and then paid the price with the next phone bill.

The wait, the cost, the anticipation – all made those conversations the most meaningful moments of the week.

What did we do in the meantime? Wrote letters, mailed cards, subscribed to small town newspapers and watched the mailbox for news from home.

Letters are a topic for another time. If you can, call your mom and have a conversation this morning.

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Pre-sale Opportunity for You

Well, the day has come for the task of final proofing the interviews from Women Behind the Plow. The exhibit has been a huge success and will be a featured display the North Dakota Heritage Center from May 1 through July 30. What an honor.

We are sure hoping that our books will be printed and back from the bindery so it can be offered up for sale during those months so visitors may read the full stories of these women behind the plow.

Now is an opportunity for you to purchase the book before it is printed at a reduced price. If we do not receive enough pre-sale orders, there will only be 1,000 copies printed. The book is a companion piece to Ewiger Saatz (there are only a few copies of this book remaining for sale) – a 12×12, 120 page full color book with hundreds of photos depicting farm life. The interviews are narratives of life on the farm, the real pioneer women of an area settled by Germans from Russia.

The success of this project will provide support for other projects preserving the German Russian culture. The Tri-County Tourism Alliance would like to include Germans from Russia statewide, regional and nationally in future projects, but as a small group of volunteers, we really need help getting the word out and, of course, your book orders.

If you have questions, please email or call 701-527-5169.

THANK YOU for helping us with our important work. Your purchase is a donation to the Alliance. This book is indexed to find names and places you will surely recognize.


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Art opening postponed until Jan. 19

WBTP Exhibit opens in Jamestown

Here is a very nice story about the exhibit of Women Behind the Plow – the art opening was postponed until Jan. 19, due to very cold weather …

Join us in celebrating the life of women raised on farms in North Dakota. If you are at all interested in obtaining a copy of the book with the rest of the stories – please send us an email as the Tri-County Tourism Alliance will be PRESELLING this companion book to Ewiger Saatz at a reduced price. Stay tuned for the tentative date for mailing the book.

Also contact us if you wish to book the photo exhibit in your community.

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WBTP Exhibit opens in Jamestown

If you have not had the privilege of viewing the Tri-County Tourism Alliance’s Women Behind the Plow photo exhibit, it opens in Jamestown’s Art Gallery this Thursday, Jan. 12, with a reception at 5:30 p.m.

The exhibit is also up for display in your area for no cost except the cost or logistics of moving it from one city to the next. The exhibit was the jumping off point for the upcoming book of the same name – to be pre-sold in early 2017. The book will feature interviews from women who grew up and lived on farms. Stories and lots and lots of black and white photos make for an interesting behind the scenes story of farm life.

If you are interested in acquiring the exhibit for your gallery or special event, please contact:
Carmen Rath-Wald
Tri-County Tourism Alliance President
Logan County Extension Agent
301 Broadway
Napoleon, ND   58561
Cell: (701)320-4696

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Comparing snow storms

“The National Weather Service said 15.5 inches fell in Bismarck on March 3, 1966 — still the highest single-day snowfall total on record for the city. The State Historical Society of North Dakota said more than 35 inches fell in some parts of the state during the storm. And it brought more than snow.


Wind gusts reached 70 to 100 mph in some places, according to the Historical Society. Some snowdrifts were 20-30 feet tall and hundreds of yards long. There was no visibility for hours during the storm. Travel was discouraged and businesses shut down.”
(Bismarck Tribune Article by Jenny Michaels, March 4, 2013)

Christmas Day was called off at our home north of Mandan. And, yes, it was a huge disappointment. Snow started falling, after some rBlizzard 1966.jpgain, about 4 p.m. Dec. 25. It continued throughout the night and into the next day with some pretty wicked wind.

It’s a good thing we have a sliding patio door or we may have been stuck indoors for a lot longer than two days as the wind fiercely sculpted some fairly high snowbanks on both the front and south entrances to our home. However, this snowfall did not equal the Blizzard of ’66.

I was 10 years old at the time, or close to it, as my birthday is in March. We hunkered down in the gray darkness thankfully warmed by a coal furnace because the electricity was knocked out. After the storm, while adults were digging out their cars and businesses, we had a blast digging snow tunnels and walking where we had never walked before – to roof lines of homes. Many of the Women Behind the Plow talked about that blizzard and what it meant to be living on the farm – isolated and pretty much left up to their own devices caring for both families and livestock. I thought it would be fun to share a few photos of the Blizzard of 1966. A reminder that we are not alone in our battle against Mother Nature.


While searching for my Blizzard of 1966 photos I found these “Winter Jokes” and thought I would share, not taking credit for authoring these.

1. Your idea of a traffic jam is ten cars waiting to pass a combine.

2. “Vacation” means going to the Day’s Inn in Minot, Fargo, Bismarck, Grand Forks, for the weekend.

3. You measure distance in hours.

4. You know several people who have hit deer more than once.

5. You often switch from “heat” to “A/C” in the same day

6. You use a down comforter in the summer.

7. Your grandparents drive 65 mph through 13 feet of snow during a blizzard, without flinching.

8. You see people wearing hunting clothes to social events.

9. You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both doors unlocked.

10. You think of the major food groups as beef, walleye, and Bud Light.

11. You carry jumper cables in your car and your girlfriend or wife knows how to use them.

12. There are 7 empty cars running in the parking lot at the food store at any given time.

13. You design your kids Halloween costume to fit over a snow suit.

14. Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.

15. You think sexy lingerie is wool socks and flannel pajamas.

16. You know all four seasons as: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction.

17. It takes you 3 hours to go to the store for one item even when you’re in a rush because you have to stop and talk to everyone in town.

18. The migration of Sugar-Beat trucks signals the onset of winter.

19. You actually understand these jokes and forward them to all your friends from North Dakota and elsewhere.

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Merry Christmas

It’s time. After all the hurry and flurry of December, and its preparations for Christmas, it’s time for the quiet to set in.

Today’s sliver of a Moon triangulates with Jupiter and the star Spica in the south eastern sky while Venus brightens up the west this time of year. Nights are long and the small tree with white lights and gifts galore creates a Christmas card scene.

Now that the Winter Solstice has come and gone, the days will become markedly brighter as we reach the peak of 2016 and then slide into 2017. When we were in high school and talked about the year 2000 – there were times I thought “I will never live that long.” Yet, here we are. After the loss of my mother in October, I now assume the role of Grandmother in the highest degree. My lovely cousin, Sheila, who also lost her mother earlier this year sent me a card with this appropriate verse – “On the darkest days, when I feel inadequate, unloved and unworthy; I remember whose daughter I am and I straighten my crown.”

Now, it could be interpreted two ways. One – I am my mother’s daughter and I really want to make her proud of me and how she raised me … and this is good to remember. However, just now I was struck by a thought, methinks a divine nudging, to remember that I am also a daughter of the child born this day in Bethlehem. A child who grows to become Jesus, my father, and whose crown I will someday inherit and once again be reunited with my mom and Aunt Alice and Grandma Christina and Emma and we can bake and paint and laugh together forever.

In the meantime, here’s a small memory from Women Behind the Plow. Our latest book project at the Tri-County Tourism Alliance:

Mary Ann Lehr said, “There was always a Christmas program at church and it was the one night Mary Ann did not have to wear long stockings and a garter belt. “I could never get out of my garter belt,” she said. “In the wintertime, you had to wear long stockings, you know. I don’t think ski pants were in then, so I had to wear that garter belt which would go over your shoulders and then you would have all those garters dangling and you’d be always putting the wrong garter on the wrong leg …

“But on Christmas Eve I never had to wear long stockings. I had a lot of red velvet dresses that mom would make. I had an alpaca coat and that had red trim on the cuffs and red trim on the buttons down the front and I had a red velvet bonnet and a red velvet muff which I have to this day.”

The exhibit will be in Jamestown beginning January 12; so please support the arts, and the history, of this exhibit. And stay tuned, for the book – presales to begin early next year.

Merry Christmas and a Blessed 2017.

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Imagine being stormed in … for weeks?

It’s been a long time since this blog has seen any real action, however as we begin to earnestly work on the book, Women Behind the Plow, it will again be a snapshot of the rich interviews that have been conducted with German Russian women from the Tri-County area of Emmons County, Logan County and McIntosh County, N.D.

Whew that was a long sentence.

North winds are redistributing snow today, filling in the already narrow path that leads to the county road winding to the highway that takes us into town. Oh, we would be okay out here for a long time given the supply of meat and vegetables we have stored just for winter use. But, imagine not being able to get to town for a month or two because of the snowbanks reaching the eves of your house.

Well, one of the interviews placed on the pages of the Tri-County Tourism’s book project Women Behind the Plow provides a little, somewhat humorous, insight into life on the High Plains without roads and snowplows, much less the Internet, so I can reach out to you this blustery morning.

FROM THE INTERVIEW WITH Alice (Rohrich) Kramer:

“Well, you know it was in ‘54, I didn’t get out of the house for three full months,” Alice said. “Three full months, we had so much snow. There were no roads; we didn’t have good roads at that time. You couldn’t travel. So, the neighbors, my brother and the neighbors, and Pete, they took the sled and drove to Temvik. Jake Kuntz used to live there and he took them down to Linton with the car to get groceries and stuff. Oh, did he buy groceries at that time? Everything big.”
Pete stocked up not knowing when he would be able to return for more supplies.
Alice said, “We were getting low on groceries. And for two weeks, we had money, but we didn’t get to town. All we ate was eggs. You didn’t have to say what did you cook today; it was how have you got the eggs.”
Pete laughed and confirmed the time they ate so many eggs that the question was never “Honey, what have you cooked today?”  It was instead, “Honey, how have you got the eggs today?”

Imagine that?

The book will be filled with old photos, stories and family history coinciding with the traveling photo exhibit of the same name. So we are asking as you contemplate your good fortune at not having to travel anywhere today (if you are in the storm area of central and western North Dakota) and be on the lookout for the presale of Women Behind the Plow.

Book cover reveal coming before Christmas.Stay warm and safe.

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