Interview with Ernest Schock (ES)

Conducted by Orion A. Rudolph (OR)
3 November 2008 and 25 November 2008
Aberdeen, SD

First transcribed by Orion A. Rudolph
Edited and proofread by Linda M. Haag

Introductory Remarks & Questions

Introductory Remarks

OR:  Today is 11-3-08.  Continued 2nd interview on 11-25-08.  I am Orion A. Rudolph.  It is a pleasure to conduct this interview for the Dakota Memories Oral History Project in Fargo, ND.

Introductory Questions

OR:  Can you please state your full name:

ES:  Ernest Schock

OR:  When and where were you born?

ES:  I was born north of Long Lake, SD in McPherson County on Sept. 24, 1916.

OR:  Have you ever heard an interesting story about your birth? 

ES:  Yes, my mother told me that it was terrible hot that day when I was born.

OR:  Was a midwife or doctor present?

ES:  Yes, there was a midwife at the time I was born and her name was Mrs. Amby? Feickert.

OR:  Please share some of your earliest memories with us.

ES:  I can remember when my grandmother, my Dad’s mother died.  She said that she had to talk to her son, John, before she died.  She did talk to him and then she passed on.  I was five years old at that time when she died.


OR:  What was it like growing up in the plains?

ES:  Very sociable people at that time.

OR:  What did you find beautiful and/or enjoyable about growing up on the plains?

ES:  Well, it was always like building different buildings, like granaries, hog houses, chicken barn, barns, and so on.

OR:  What did you find bleak and/or unpleasant about growing up on the plains?

ES:  Well, I can remember walking behind the drag when we had to drag the field with the horses that you had to walk behind.  There was no cart.

OR:  What were winters like? 

ES:  They were very cold.  There was snow, blizzards and you could name it.  It was just bad weather most of the time of the winter time.

OR:  Please describe a typical fall.

ES:  Most of the falls were like a…  There was lot of work to done.  Like hauling hay home and stuff for the winter.  Preparing for the winter that was mostly what was done.

OR:  What were summers like?

ES:  Well, our summers were very uncomfortable because you had no air conditioning at that time.  It usually took all night for the houses to cool down so you could even sleep. 

OR:  Please describe a typical spring.

ES:  Well, they were very cold and uncomfortable because it snowed and rained, but you could still plow with the horses because you had no tractors at that time. 

OR:  What was your favorite season? 

ES:  Well, usually the fall of the year, like going to visit your neighbors, playing cards, husking corn, stuff like that.  

Family: Grandparents

OR:  Please tell me about your grandparents.

ES:  Well, I never got to know my grandparents because they passed on before my time.

OR:  What were their names?

ES:  John Schook and Catherina Rath

OR:  What type of person was your grandmother?

ES:  My grandmother was a very sociable lady, working hard lady.  She died in 1921.

OR:  What type of person was your grandfather?

ES:  My grandfather was a very small man, but he was a hardworking grandfather.  But I never got to know my grandfather, also.  I know he died of what they call an accidental death in Eureka, SD.  He died in 1904.

OR:  Did your grandparents come over from Russia?  If so, where did they come from, and where did they settle?

ES:  Yes, my grandparents came from Bergdorf, Russia and settled 6 miles north of Long Lake; where my father took up a quarter of land. 

OR:  Did they ever share with you any stories about Russia, their voyage to the US, or their journey across the US to the Great Plains?   

ES:  No, because I never got to know my grandparents, so I don’t know if they talked about that.  He was a quiet person and seemed to get along with all the people in the neighborhood. 

OR:  Where did they live when you were growing up?

ES:  They lived on the farm, on that land that he took up.  That is the land that my dad inherited, you know.  So that’s where…  And that land is still in the relatives at this time.

OR:  What did they do for a living when you were growing up?

ES:  They all built their own buildings.  They built the house, they built the barn.  And all the buildings they built as they were going along in the years. 

OR:  How often did you visit with your grandparents?

ES:  I never got to know them, so I never had a chance to visit with them.  All the things I know are what my parents told us about them.

OR:  Did you ever stay with them?

ES:  No, because I never knew them, so I don’t know anything about that I stayed at their house or anything. 

OR:  Were your grandparents religious?

ES:  Yes, they were very religious.  They had their morning prayers and they had their evening prayers.  Church was very special because they went to church at that time mostly with horses and buggy.   They were going to Church with. 

OR:  How many children did they have?

ES:  They had two sons and five girls. 

OR:  Were there any other relatives of the older generations in your family (great uncles and aunts) that you were close to?  If so, please tell us more about them and their role in your life.

ES:  I don’t know it because they passed on, so I don’t know anything about that at all.

OR:  Is there anything else you would like to add about your grandparents or others from their generation?

ES:  I believe they had hard times in their life, because everything was in manual and hand work, mostly all of it. 

Extended Family – Uncles, Aunts, Cousins, etc.

OR:  Please tell us about your aunts and uncles.

ES:  I believe they were all nice people, sociable people. 

OR:  Where did they live when you were growing up?

ES:  Most of them, they lived on their farms. 

OR:  How often did they visit?

ES:  My parents would visit them often, going with the wagon and horses, you know.  That was their way to go with us by team.

OR:  Who was your favorite aunt/uncle? 

ES:  Well, Uncle Dan & Herther, they were a young couple and they were like the same ages, you know.  Uncle Dan was only three years older than we were. 

OR:  Please tell us about your cousins.

ES:  I had lot of cousins, never got to know or see them very often. 

OR:  How often did you see them?

ES:  Well, I would say twice a year. 

OR:  Who was your favorite cousin?

ES:  My favorite cousin was Frieda Schock.  She baby sat for us.   It was very close to our family.  She used to milk cows with us and all that.

OR:  Please tell us about any large family gatherings.

ES:  There were a few, not too many gatherings.

OR:  How did the families stay in touch with each other?

ES:  We would write letters.  We had a fence phone, the old fence phone lines.

OR:  Is there anything else you would like to share about your extended family members?

ES:  No

Parents – Father

OR:  Please tell us about your father.

ES:  He was a very gentle person, and very sincere man.

OR:  Where and when was he born? 

ES:  He was born north of Long Lake, South Dakota on the farm, on April 3, 1893. 

OR:  How did your father express his emotions, such as fear, love, and anger? 

ES:  He was a loving father.  He did not get angry.

OR:  Describe your relationship with your father.

ES:  I got along with my dad very well.  I got one licking growing up. 

OR:  What was his profession?

ES:  He was a grain farmer and a large producer, farmer.  He use to play violin at dances, and was a good dancer too.

OR:  How did your father cope during hard times?

ES:  He took it very hard, because there were six children and mother to take care of. 

OR:  When, where, and how did your father die?

ES:  He died April 17, 1974.  He just fell in a bed, and died.  I guess he had a heart attack.

Parent – Mother

OR:  Please tell us about your mother.

ES:  She was a great lady.  She was very easy to get along with.  She took very good care of us children.  She just was the bread winner. 

OR:  Where and when was she born?

ES:  She was born north of Long Lake, South Dakota on the farm on December 12, 1894. 

OR:  How did she express her emotions, such fear, love, and anger?

ES:  She had a good disposition, loveable, and kind.  No anger at all. 

OR:  Describe your relationship with your mother.  

ES:  Very good, never had a bad word with my mother.  We always loved each other very, very much. 

OR:  What was her profession?

ES:  She was a housewife, helpmate to my dad; sewing, and quilting.

OR:  How did she cope during hard times?

ES:  Times were hard, but she managed by cooking us children good meals.

OR:  When, where, and how did she die?

ES:  She died May 9, 1989 at Ellendale, North Dakota of old age.  She was 95 years old.

Parents – Father  & Mother

OR:  How many children did they have?

ES:  There were six of us children.

OR:  Who was the strict parent – your mother or your father?

ES:  Mother

OR:  How would they discipline the children?

ES:  We would have to do extra chores.

OR:  Who influenced your life more – your mother or your father? 

ES:  Our mother would always think of what to do.

OR:  How did your parents meet?

ES:  They just got together, met and got married.

OR:  How long were they married?

ES:  They were married 60 years.

OR:  Please describe their marriage.

ES:  It was real good, but tough times.

OR:  What types of things did your parents do for past times?

ES:  They worked on the farm, raised their children, went with the team of horses and wagon to visit neighbors, and to church with the horses. 

OR:  Were your parents involved in politics when you were a child?

ES:  No, not at all.

OR:  Do you have anything else you would like to add about your parents?

ES:  My parents were very loving and easy to get along with. 


OR:  Please tell me the birth order of your siblings.

ES:  Edwin, Ernest, Gideon, Oscar, Ella and Walter.

OR:  Tell me about your brothers and sisters.

ES:  They were all good to get along with.

OR:  Where and when were they born?

ES:  All of us were born at home.  Edwin – 1915, Ernest – 1916, Gideon – 1918,
Oscar – 1921, Ella – 1925 and Walter – 1931.

OR:  Was anyone present at their births?

ES:  The mid-wife, that’s all.

OR:  Please share any interesting stories about their births.

ES:  Walther cried a couple of days, he had colic.  That he cried so much.

OR:  Growing up how did the children get along with each other?

ES:  Very good.

OR:  Was there any competition in your family?

ES:  Not really.

OR:  What type of mischief did the children get into?

ES:  Oh, we made candy and pop corn, and so on. 

OR:  Which brother/sister was you closet to?

ES:  We all got along good.

OR:  What was it like when a new baby came into the home?

ES:  It was very emotional, exciting.

OR:  What was it like when your brothers and sisters left home?

ES:  Very hard to accept.

OR:  Did your siblings have nicknames?

ES:  No nicknames at all.

OR:  Is there anything else you would like to add about your brothers and sisters?

ES:  We had our ups and downs too.


OR:  What type of activities did you partake in for fun?

ES:  Baseball, I was the catcher.

OR:  What games did you play inside?

ES:  Mostly card games.

OR:  What games/activities did you play outside?

ES:  Hide – in – go-seek, tag, and anti-over.

OR:  Where did you learn how to play these games?

ES:  My parents and neighbors.

OR:  How did the weather influence the games you played?

ES:  When it was snowing, we played fox and goose.  Summer we played baseball.

OR:  Did you remember playing any games that your parents/grandparents learned to play while they were living in Russia?

ES:  No, not really.  They did more singing of church hymns.

OR:  What type of toys did you play with as a child?  Were they store bought or homemade? 

ES:  We had one red wagon and that was it.  No, I don’t have any childhood toys. 

OR:  Who did you play with?

ES:  With my brother and sister. 

OR:  Did your mother or father play with you?

ES:  Yes, cards.

OR:  Where was your favorite place to play?

ES:  In the hay mound.  Catch birds and feed them to the cats.

OR:  Did you ever play with the farm animals?

ES:  We broke all the horses to ride in the winter time, in big snow banks so they couldn’t buck and throw us off. 

OR:  Did you go hunting as a child?

ES:  Yes, we hunted gophers, pheasants, ducks and geese.

OR:  Did you go trapping as a child?

ES:  Yes, we trapped a lot of muskrats.

OR:  Did you go fishing as a child?

ES:  No, we were not close to any lakes.

OR:  Did you have any favorite hymns or sayings?

ES:  Not really.

OR:  Please tell me about any superstitions or scary stories you grew up with?

ES:  I don’t recall any.

OR:  What were your favorite songs as a child?

ES:  “You are my sunshine.”

OR:  Did anyone in your family sing or play musical instruments?

ES:  Yes, my brother, Oscar, played the organ in church.  Walter plays the accordion and dad played the violin. 

OR:  Were you encouraged to play an instrument?

ES:  No, not really.

OR:  Did you take lessons or were you self-taught? 

ES:  No, cannot read music.

OR:  Is there anything else you would like to share with us about your childhood pastimes?

ES:  A lot of house parties and dances, playing cards and a lot of singing church hymns.  Most of the traveling was done by horses with sled or buggy; a lot of fun.

Grade School

OR:  What did you want to be when you grew up?

ES:  I wanted to be a farmer, raise cattle and small grains, but no sheep.  I hated them.

OR:  Where did you go to school? 

ES:  I went in the country school in Harrison County, Harrison District No. 2.   Yes, all eight grades in one room and one teacher.

OR:  How did you get to school?  How long did it take you to go to school?

ES:  We walked one and a half miles to school, and in the winter time dad took us with the team and sled.

OR:  What were your schools like?  (Size of classrooms, number of teachers and so on)

ES:  There were about 18 to 20 pupils in some and one teacher.  That’s all. 

OR:  What was the composition of the school population?

ES:  About half girl and half boys.

OR:  Did your teachers treat children from different social backgrounds differently?

ES:  No, everyone was treated alike.

OR:  Did children treat other children from different social or ethnic backgrounds different?

ES:  No, that was not allowed. 

OR:  Please describe the attendance situation in your school.

ES:  Attendance was very good at all times.

OR:  At times, did you have to stay home to help with work?

ES:  Yes, but not too often.  Sick was mostly a good excuse. 

OR:  What is your favorite memory about going to school?

ES:  In all, History.

OR:  What subjects were you taught?

ES:  Language, arithmetic, coloring and drawing.

OR:  Were you a good student?

ES:  Yes, most of the time.

OR:  Did you have homework?

ES:  Yes, we took home work home; arithmetic and geography too.

OR:  Did your parents and/or siblings help you with your homework?

ES:  Yes, we were helped by our dad and mother. 

OR:  What books did you read at school? 

ES:  Mostly about livestock and farming books.

OR:  Did you get into trouble at school?

ES:  We had to stay after school a half hour and then walk home alone.

OR:  What language did you speak in school?

ES:  English

OR:  Could you speak German?

ES:  Yes.  Not in school.

OR:  Was it hard learning English?

ES:  Yes

OR:  During recess or noon hour, did children speak German or English?

ES:  We could not speak German on the school grounds, only English.

OR:  Did you help teach your parents English?

ES:  Yes, we did.

OR:  What did you take for lunch?

ES:  An apple or orange, a sandwich and a couple of cookies.  That was it.

OR:  And, how did you take your lunch to school?

ES:  In a gallon syrup pail. 

OR:  Did you change country school or go to a town school?  What were some of the differences between the schools?  Which school did you like better, town school or country school?

ES:  I only went to country school through the 8th grade.

OR:  Do you remember your teachers?  How often did you get a new teacher?  Were the teachers male or female, old or young?

ES:  We had two men teachers and six ladies.  They were young 20 – 25 years of age.

OR:  What social activities were allowed during “recess” and “noon-hour”?

ES:  Mostly played ball or some other games.

OR:  Did your schools have parties to celebrate the holidays, such as Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day?

ES:  Yes, we just brought a gift for the teacher and one for the name you had pulled.

OR:  Were you encouraged or discouraged from going to high school?

ES:  Not really.  We didn’t have any money to go to high school.

OR:  How important was getting an education to your family?

ES:  Had to stay home to help with the farm work.  I had one brother that went to high school in Leola and that was brother, Oscar.


OR:  Please tell us about the chores you did as a child.

ES:  Gathering corn cobs, manure chips in the pasture.

OR:  Who did what around the house: the cooking, cleaning, washing, etc?

ES:  Mostly our mother and sister.  Oscar was a very good cook too.  In fact, he was sergeant in his outfit in the Army.  He was mess sergeant.  . 

OR:  Did you help around the house?

ES:  Yes, we scrubbed the floors, cooked, baked cake and made candy and popcorn and you name it.

OR:  Did you help care for your family’s garden?

ES:  Yes, we did all the hoeing and weeding it, and watering the garden.

OR:  Did your brothers and sisters help around the house or care for the garden?

ES:  Yes, we were all included.

OR:  Did your father help with the household tasks?

ES:  Yes, he usually churned the butter, cut the bacon and sausage.

OR:  How would your family do laundry when you were growing up?

ES:  They were washed in a tub, washboard and soap.

OR:  Where did you hang the clothes in the winter?

ES:  They were hung up around the inside of the house.

OR:  How often did your family do the laundry?

ES:  Several times a month.

OR:  How would you iron clothes?

ES:  Mother use a hot iron made for ironing cloths.

OR:  What were some of your outside chores?

ES:  Milking cows, water the cattle, hogs, sheep and feed the chickens, hauling hay, hauling the manure, clean the barn, pick rocks and all that goes with farming.

OR:  Did your mother work out in the fields or outside the home when you were growing up?  What did she do and how often? 

ES:  Yes, stacked hay, adding stacks and hauled hay.  She was outside most of the time.

OR:  Which chores did you enjoy, and which chores do you dislike?

ES:  Milking cows, I didn’t mind that at all, but cleaning the hen house, that was a no.

OR:  Were their differences between winter chores and summer chores?

ES:  Yes

OR:  If so, please tell us what the differences were.

ES:  In the winter it was cold doing chores.  Summer it was very hot with the flies and mosquitoes. 

OR:  Were you ever hired out to work for a neighbor or relative?

ES:  Yes, I baby sat a lot and picked rocks.  Always worked cold or hot, and then were treated very poorly.  Always not satisfied with what you did and always no pay, just board and room.

Daily Life – Family Home

OR:  Please tell me about the house you grew up in?  How many rooms did it have?  Where did you all sleep in the house?  What was the furniture like?  How long did your family reside in this house?  Who lived in your home when you were growing up?

ES:  There were eight of us, five rooms, a cellar and a porch.  It was a sod house and then put siding on.  It was a nice home.

OR:  If your family moved, where, when, and why did they move?

ES:  Because we didn’t have enough land.  We moved to Forbes, ND in March 1938.  We rented 1,000 acres; land, pasture and hay land.

OR:  How did your family keep the house warm in the winters? 

ES:  We had a big ‘Morning Glory Stove’ in the living room, and in the summer we just kept the doors closed and shades pulled.

OR:  How often would your family entertain guests in your home? 

ES:  Mostly on Sunday after church, and on Sunday evenings too.  They mostly sang religious songs and visited.

OR:  What language did you speak at home? 

ES:  We talked German most of the time.  My wife and I still talk German to this day.  It’s nice to be able to talk two languages.

OR:  Where did you go to the bathroom? 

ES:  We had a two holder out house, wash tub to take a bath and Sears Roebuck for toilet paper. 

OR:  Please tell us about the bathes.  How often would you take a bath?  Did you make your own soap?  How did you hear the water?  How often did you change the water? 

ES:  Every Saturday night in the winter time; in the summer, ever night.  We also had a homemade shower barrel on the roof. 

OR:  How often were you supposed to brush your teeth? 

ES:  Mostly every day when we needed it, too.

OR:  Did your mother have a garden.

ES:  Yes, a big garden.  We had to hoe it, pull weeds and carry water to it every night. 


OR:  Who prepared the meals in your family?

ES:  Mother and Dad and the kids too.  We all helped along.  We ate well: we had dumplings, strudels, all kinds of meat.  We had our own.

OR:  Where were the meals usually prepared? 

ES:  Always on the kitchen stove or kerosene stove, no grill.

OR:  Where did you store food to deep it cool during the summer?

ES:  In a shallow surface well.

OR:  Did the boys help in the kitchen? 

ES:  Yes, we set the table, washed the dishes and dried them.  We scrubbed the floors and dusted the furniture. 

OR:  How would your family have their meals? 

ES:  We all would always sit at the table in the same seats.  We did not talk when we were eating.  After we were done, then we could talk.

OR:  What types of food did your family usually eat?

ES:  Meat, potatoes, gravy, bread, butter and homemade jam.

OR:  What were some of your favorite meals?

ES:  Chicken & dumplings, strudels and rice.

OR:  What were some of your least favorite meals?

ES:  Pork & beef and chicken fry sausage.

OR:  What were the traditional German dishes that you had growing up?

ES:  Dumplings, chicken soup, homemade bread and milk.

OR:  Did your family make ice cream? 

ES:  Yes, in a gallon pail.  Just put two sticks in a pail and salt around it, keep turning it, half turns and then you take it out.

OR:  Did your family do their own canning, butchering, and/or sausage smoking?

ES:  Yes, we did that all in one day; two hogs, 1 beef, smoked it and everything. 

OR:  What was your family’s attitude toward alcohol?

ES:  We got a shot every morning in the winter time so we didn’t get a cold.

OR:  Did your family make their own root beer, beer, wine, or liquor?

ES:  Yes, we made wine, alcohol, beer, and root beer; all homemade.


OR:  What type of clothes was common when you were growing up?

ES:  A jacket, overalls and blue shirt.

OR:  Were your clothes store bought or homemade?

ES:  Mostly homemade.  Overalls and jacket were bought, sent from the catalogs.

OR:  If you had store bought clothes, where would your parents get your clothes; stores or catalogs? 

ES:  Mostly from the catalogs; one suit for church only.

OR:  If you had homemade clothes, who made them for you? 

ES:  Our mother and grandma.  She would buy material and make the clothes.  Sometimes old clothes were salvaged to make clothes. 

OR:  Did you ever have to wear hand-me-down clothes?

ES:  Yes, a lot, because with five boys it was hand downs a lot.

OR:  Did anyone in your family sew, embroider, or quilt?

ES:  Yes, my mother did all of that, quilt, sew and embroider too.

OR:  How often did you get new shoes? 

ES:  Only pair a year at school time, in the fall.


OR:  When did your family get electricity?

ES:  We got electricity in 1948.  It was nice to flip the switch and have light and listen to the radio, also to flush the toilet, take baths and showers.

OR:  When did your family get its first car or truck?

ES:  Car in 1916 and a truck in 1926.  Truck hauled our own grain and some custom hauling.

OR:  When did your family get a telephone?

ES:  Fence phone, telephone.

OR:  How important was the radio in your family?

ES:  Our first radio was in 1938.

OR:  What were some radio programs that your family listened to very often?

ES:  Globe Trotters, Lone Ranger, George Burns, Jack Bennie, Bob Hope, and Fiber McGee & Molly.

Farm Life

OR:  Describe the homestead/farmstead you grew up on.

ES:  We had a very nice farm, nice buildings.

OR:  Where was the closest town?

ES:  Long Lake, South Dakota.

OR:  Did you ever experience isolation? 

ES:  My brother and I were trapped in the entry way when a tornado hit one time.

OR:  How did your family gain possession of the land?  Did they inherit it or did they buy it?

ES:  My dad bought it from grandpa.

OR:  Was your family grain farmers, ranchers, dairy farmers, or diversified?

ES: We had everything, so we were diversified.

OR:  What buildings were on your parent’s farm? 

ES:  Barn, granaries, chicken house, all were used for livestock, grain, and chickens.

OR:  What type of animals did your family have?                

ES:  We had horses to do field work, cows to milk, hogs and chickens.

OR:  Did your family butcher the animals?

ES:  Yes, we butchered two hogs and one beef every fall for the winter eating.

OR: Describe the roads to your farm?

ES:  Just a prairie road and later graveled roads.

OR:  What type of farming equipment did your family have?

ES:  We had horse drawn farm equipment until 1940.  Then the first tractor was bought in 1940, an International H.

OR:  Please describe the fields and crops on your family’s farm?

ES:  We had wheat, barley, oats, and flax and other variety of crops.

OR:  Do you remember your neighbors?

ES:  Yes

OR:  Who were they?

ES:  The Heyd’s, Haucks, Harrisons, Phillips, and Hargets.

OR:  How close did they live to your farm?

ES:  All within one to five miles.

OR:  Did they ever look after the children while your parents were away?

ES:  Yes

OR:  If so, did they ever discipline you?

ES:  Yes

OR:  Was “neighboring” a common practice when you were growing up? 

ES:  Yes, all were good neighbors.

OR:  What were the farm kids’ feelings toward the town kids?

ES:  We got along good; we just had to show them a lot of things.

OR:  What was your family’s attitude toward the town people?

ES:  There was no difference.  We just got along very well.

OR:  What were the positive aspects of growing up on a farm?  How about the negative ones?

ES:  You just felt bad.  We had to do more than town kids, always busy making stuff.

OR:  What social classes existed when you were growing up? 

ES:  None that I am aware of.  We were all community farming families.

OR:  What ethnic groups were included in your community?

ES:  We were all Germans.

OR:  What was your family’s attitude towards the different ethnic groups, such as Norwegians or Scandinavians?

ES:  Everyone would be treated the same.

OR:  Were there places that your parents wouldn’t let you go or children they wouldn’t let you socialize with?

ES:  We could go anyplace and be with our neighbors at anytime. 

Town Life

OR:  Describe the town you grew up in.

ES:  For extra history see the Long Lake Golden Jubilee Book 1929-1979.

OR:  Who founded the town?

ES:  Long Lake, South Dakota was founded in 1929.

OR:  What is the present population?

ES:  39 

OR:  What businesses were there in town?

ES:  Normally the grocery store, hardware, bank, cream, water, elevator, and many others small working places.

OR:  How many churches were in you town?

ES:  There were two churches in town.

OR:  What denominations were they?

ES:  Lutheran Missouri Synod and American Lutheran Church. 

OR:  Who were your neighbors?  How close did they live to your family?

ES:  We lived on the farm, so this did not pertain to us.

OR:  What social classes existed when you were growing up?

ES:  There were none that I know of.

OR:  What social class did your family belong to?

ES:  Mostly farmers, they would visit and sing a lot at places.

OR:  Were there other ethnic groups in the town you grew up in?

ES:  No

OR:  What was your family’s attitude toward different ethnic groups, such as Norwegians or Scandinavians?

ES:  None at all.

OR:  Which ethnic groups were rich, and which were poor?

ES:  The rich and poor stayed together.

OR:  What were the town kid’s feelings toward the farm kids?

ES:  Quite a few fights and name calling.

OR:  What about the relationship between town adults and farm adults?

ES:  They did a lot of visiting.

OR:  Describe a typical Saturday night in your town?

ES:  There was ice cream and pop and playing pool.  That was fun and it was very cheap.

OR:  What were the positive aspects of growing up in a small town?

ES:  We did not live in town, so I would not know about that.

OR:  Describe some of the “characters” you remember in your town. 

ES:  The barber in town was deaf and dumb.  He was a good man also did shoe, harness and canvas repair along with being a barber.

OR:  Were there places your parents wouldn’t let you go too or children they would not let you socialize with?

ES:  We could go anyplace and be with our neighbors at anytime.


OR:  How important was religion during your childhood?

ES:  Very much.  Every Sunday we went to church.

OR:  How often did your family attend church?

ES:  Every Sunday.

OR:  What denomination were you raised?

ES:  Missouri Synod Lutheran German.

OR:  What church did your family attend?

ES:  Country Lutheran Church.

OR:  Please tell us about the seating arrangements.

ES:  Men sat on the right side, and women on the left side.

OR:  What were some of the religious activities that you participated in while you were growing up?

ES:  We belonged to the choir.

OR:  Were you baptized and/or confirmed? 

ES:  Yes, at Long Lake Church.

OR:  Did your family have a celebration after your confirmation?

ES:  Yes, my God parents and mother had a big dinner.  I got gifts of money.

OR:  Were you able to question religious teachings?

ES:  No questions; never thought of it.

OR:  Were your parents strict because of religion?

ES:  No dancing or playing cards.

OR:  Was Sunday dinner or supper different from other days of the week?

ES:  Yes, very much so; usually chicken dinner with all the extras.

OR:  What was typical meal for a church celebration?

ES:  Noodle soup, pie and coffee.

OR:  Where was the nearest church?

ES:  Country church, five miles south of the farm.

OR:  Was the German language used in church worships and prayers?

ES:  Yes, long time till I was 14 years old, and then it changed to English.

OR:  How did your family respond and react toward death?

ES:  Very emotionally and sad for a long time, too.

OR:  Please describe a typical funeral.

ES:  There were a lot of relatives that came to the funeral, a lot of crying and praying, too.

OR:  How did your family view other faiths?

ES:  Never thought anything bad about it.  We have been Lutherans all our life.

Holidays & Celebrations

OR:  What was your favorite holiday?

ES:  Christmas of course, we got gifts; a very small gift; usually clothES: shirt, socks and gloves.

OR:  Did your family celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas? 

ES:  Yes, that’s when we got our Christmas presents.

OR:  Did your family celebrate Easter?

ES:  Yes, we again got gifts and candy.

OR:  Did your family celebrate the 4th of July? 

ES:  Yes, we went to town for the parade.

OR:  Did your family celebrate birthdays?

ES:  Yes, always a gift and a meal.

OR:  Did your family celebrate names day of your saint?

ES:  No, not that I know of.

OR:  Did your family participate in sausage parties, communal butchering, or quilting parties?

ES:  Yes, we butchered two hogs and one beef all in one day.

OR:  Please tell us about any other holidays that your family partook in your childhood, such as Halloween or New Years.

ES:  News Years was always a party in a big way; meal and dancing and a lot of gifts.  

Youth Activities & Dating

OR:  What types of pastime activities did you participate in during your teenage years?

ES:  Visiting by riding our ponies to the neighbors.

OR:  Were you involved in any sports and/or clubs? 

ES:  We played ball in the summer time.

OR:  What were some of your favorite radio programs?

ES:  The Lone Ranger.

OR:  Did you go to the movies? 

ES:  We didn’t get to go very many shows at all.

OR:  How old were you when you started dating?

ES:  16

OR:  How are the customs of courtship different than they are today?

ES:  We went by pony.  Now they go with a new car or van.

OR:  Describe a typical date.

ES:  We just sat and talked to each other.  That was about it.

OR:  During your young adult years, did you ever attend parties?

ES:  Yes, house parties and dancing, and then lunch and then go home.

OR:  Did you go dancing?

ES:  Yes, we went to the dance by ponies or teams and wagon or buggy or bobsleds.  Then to the barn dances, and they always were on Sunday night; big parties.

OR:  Who attended these dances; young people, older couples and/or families?

ES:  Young and old had a good time all the time.

OR:  What days were these dances typically held on?

ES:  In the evenings on Saturday night, some on Sunday nights. 

OR:  What was the attitude of the older generation towards dance halls?

ES:  Oh!  They liked a dance hall better, more room and better music.

OR:  Was there a community meeting place for people to socialize, whether in town or someone’s farm or school?

ES:  Usually on a farm barn, danced a lot better.

OR:  How and what did you learn about married life from your parents?

ES:  Pretty much how they did, when I grew up.

OR:  Do you remember your parent’s attitudes toward sex?

ES:  Not really, they didn’t talk about that at all.

OR:  How would they have reacted to premarital sex?

ES:  I have no idea at all.

OR:  Did they ever offer you advice on sexual relationships?

ES:  No

OR:  Who did you go to if you needed that kind of advice?

ES:  I didn’t ask anybody.

Health Care & funerals

OR:  Please tell us about the health care that was available when you were growing up.

ES:  A doctor came to the farm.

OR:  Was anyone in your family seriously ill or injured during your childhood?

ES:  Yes, brothers Walter and Oscar were seriously injured.  My sister and I had diphtheria and scarlet fever.

OR:  What kind of help did they get?

ES:  We were taken to Dr. Maercklein in Ashley for medical treatment.

OR:  Do you recall any home remedies or cures?

ES:  Yes, they gave us a glass of wine or a short shot of alcohol for most ailments.

OR:  Do you remember hearing about births at home?

ES:  Yes, all of them were born at home.

OR:  What do you remember about midwives?

ES:  They delivered the child.  And they gave them a few dollars and hauled them home again.

OR:  Where was the closest doctor’s office?

ES:  Ashley or Leola.

OR:  During your childhood, did you ever visit a dentist? 

ES:  No, not at all.

OR:  During your childhood, did you ever visit an eye doctor?

ES:  No, not at all.

OR:  Did anyone in your family pass away during your childhood?

ES:  Grandma, the only one.  She was old.  I was five years old.

OR:  Did you have a funeral for her?  Can you describe it?

ES:  Yes, they had a funeral and hauled her with the team to the Missouri Lutheran Cemetery, one mile north and one mile east of Long Lake, South Dakota.

OR:  Is there anything else you would like to add about health care and funerals?

ES:  The funerals were very sad and long.  They sang a lot of songs at the grave site also.

High School

OR:  All these questions do not apply.  Ernest did not go to high school.

Historical Event – The Dirty Thirties

OR:  Please describe the Dirt Thirties.

ES:  They were just about seven years long, no crops.

OR:  How did the Depression affect your family?

ES:  Yes, very much.  We lived from one day at a time to the next day.

OR:  Did you experience any dust storms?

ES:  Dust so you had to have a gasoline light on the table all day long. 

OR:  Did you experience any problems with grasshoppers, jackrabbits, or other animal pests during these years?

ES:  The grasshoppers were so thick, the sky was dark black.  They even ate the fence posts and siding on the north side of the houses.  They liked the shade, too.

OR:  How did your parents keep food on the table during the Dirty Thirties?

ES:  We ate everything with dough, dumplings everyday and soup.

OR:  Do you remember the WPA? 

ES:  Yes, very well.  I worked at dad’s place with the horses.

OR:  Do you remember the CCC’s?

ES:  Yes, I had two brothers in the CCC’s.  They worked hard; winter and summer.

OR:  Is there anything you would like to add about the Dirty Thirties?

ES:  I hope I never see it again.  Those were sad days.

World War II

OR:  Please tell us how the outbreak of World War II changed your life.

ES:  Yes, I was in four years and nine months.

OR:  How did rationing affect your family?

ES:  Very hard; no gas, no tires on the farm.

OR:  Did speaking German affect your relationship with others in school, town, or church?

ES:  Not really.  We all talked the same.

OR:  Where were you when Pearl Harbor was attacked?

ES:  I was in the Pacific Ocean going to the Philippines.  I didn’t make it; we went to Australia.

OR:  Was anyone in your family drafted?  Or, did anyone in your family volunteer to serve in the war?

ES:  I was drafted, I enlisted.  My brother Oscar was drafted.  He was taken right out of school.  He was a teacher.

OR:  Did you serve in World War II? 

ES:  Yes.  I served in the South Pacific.  I served four years and 7 months in the Pacific.

Korean War

OR:  How did the outbreak of the Korean War affect your family?

ES:  Didn’t have anything to do with it.

Vietnam War

OR:  How did the outbreak of the Vietnam War affect your family?

ES:  Didn’t have anything to do with it.

World Trade Center Attack

OR:  How were you affected by the attack on the World Trade Center?

ES:  I was not affected, but our country was.  It was the most horrible thing that happened to this country.  In fact that was very bad thing that happened to the United States. 

Childhood Memories Conclusions

OR:  What was your most stressful childhood experience?

ES:  When I got sick for three months with scarlet fever and diphtheria.

OR:  What is your happiest childhood memory?

ES:  When we could go to neighbors and play.

OR:  What was the most adventurous thing you did during your childhood?

ES:  When we played big games.

OR:  Is there anything else about your childhood memories you would like to add?

ES:  It was hard to grow up in school.  Guys were big and strong, 16 and 17 years of age and still going to school.  They just were so poor learning, so they had to go longer.  They always picked on us smaller boys, but we managed and got through school, too.

Higher Education

OR:  These set of questions do not apply.  Ernest did not go to high school or beyond.

Weddings & Traditions

OR:  How did you meet your spouse?

ES:  At our church and bible class.

OR:  Was there any arrangement or arranging done by either family?

ES:  No, not at all.

OR:  What was your parents’ attitude toward your spouse?

ES:  Very good.  They approved of her.

OR:  When and where did you get married?

ES:  Got married December 9, 1945 at the Long Lake Lutheran Church.

OR:  Will you tell me about the wedding and reception?

ES:  A very small reception, just family at the time.

OR:  Were there money dances for the bride and groom? 

ES:  Yes, they sold the bride’s shoe for $50.00 by auction.

OR:  What foods were served at weddings?

ES:  A full course meal with cake and drinks of beer, whiskey and pop.

OR:  Anything unusual about your courtship and/or wedding?

ES:  Not really.  We just decided to get married.  I had a farm rented from my uncle for us to live on.

OR:  Did you have a honeymoon?

ES:  No, we moved on the farm the next day, and it was 20-25 below.

OR:  Is there anything else regarding wedding traditions that you would like to add?

ES:  For us it was just “I had the farm and we go to work”.  We took over my uncles cattle, the whole farm.  They moved out and we moved in.

Concluding Insights & Reflections

OR:  Why do you think it is important to tell your life story?

ES:  Because I got a lot of memories.  I’ve got a very good memory yet, way back when I was five years old and on and on.  I was in World War II for four years and nine months.

OR:  Are there other thoughts or observations you would like to share?

ES:  Well, everything went so fast in my life.

OR:  Is there anyone else you would like to suggest for us to interview?

ES:  I cannot think of anyone at the moment, but I am sure I can come up with something.

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