Review of the book Growing Up in North Dakota:
Book review by Dorothy Hoobler
Pritzkau, Philo T. Growing Up in North Dakota: A Memoir. North Dakota State University Libraries, Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, Fargo, North Dakota, 1996.
In Growing Up in North Dakota, Philo T. Pritzkau gives
a vivid account of pioneering and farming on the prairie in the
first 20 years of this century. In that era of what he calls "horse-powered
machinery," farm chorse included seeding, plowing, haying, harvesting
and threshing. The long hours and the arduous nature of the work--admirably
portrayed here--are testimony to the determination of spirit of
Pritzkau's parents, who were German immigrants from Russia. Pritzkau
describes daily life so clearly that even people who have never
farmed (or been in North Dakota) can share his youthful memories.
For those accustomed to today's shopping malls, it will be interesting
to learn what stores were like back then. A horse-and-buggy trip
into town was needed for such modest purchases as clothes, sugar,
salt, bologna, bacon, and sausage, but it was topped off with the
purchase of ribboned candy in a paper sack. Virtually everything
in the stores was unpackaged, and the store clerks had to wrap and
sack the purchases. The wealth of detail is delightful, providing
a contrast with life today.
Best of all, I enjoyed Pritzkau's stories about going to school
with his sister, Lillie. The one-room schoolhouse was cold and heated
only by a pot-bellied stove. The lack of indoor plumbing meant that
a trip to the outdoor privy in wintertime was not lightly taken.
The teacher had all eight grades in one classroom. Despite all the
difficulties, the children received a good education. In the small
school, students participated in plays, holiday programs, and fun
and games as well as learning. Pritzkau himself grew up to become
a college professor and author of several texts on education.
In his memoir, the reader learns about growing up in a Russian-German
home--the foods and treats and holiday celebrations. Pritzkau provides
concrete details that brings these happy occasions to life. For
today's readers, his book is a precious glimpse of a bygone time.
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