6/11/2008 – Editorials


By Richard Peterson

This has been the coldest, windiest spring I can remember. There have been only a handful of days that a person could be outside without wearing a jacket. Many days the wind was so fierce people didn’t want to be outside with or without jackets. Rain has been scarce, although we did get a good rain last Thursday night. So it goes.

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Gas prices are rising like helium balloons. The average gas price in the US is now $4 per gallon. Last week the Associated Press reported the rest of the world is generally paying even more than that. The highest price appears to be in Germany at $11.49 per gallon, followed by $11.29 in Turkey. In France gas goes for $9.66 per gallon. Gas was

$8.31 per gallon in Britain. Japanese motorists are paying $5.77. In Brazil gas goes for $5.67. In India the price is $4.16 and in Russia gas is $3.68 per gallon. There are some places where gas is still

cheap: $2.93 in China, $2.39 in Indonesia and 12c per gallon in Venezuela.

Those prices are already outdated. They’re higher today than they were when the AP made its survey the end of May.

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This is a reprint of a column from 1997. My mind is blank and I’m short of time because I have a lot of yard work to do. As a result, this is all I could come up with. Sorry ’bout that.

I have very fond memories of growing up in Esmond as a teenager in the 1950s. There was opportunity there. One could always get a job.

My main job was behind the candy counter at my dad’s barber shop and pool parlor. This building stood where the Esmond Fire Hall is now located. I sold candy and pop in bottles (this was before there was such a thing as canned pop) and played pool for the house. That means I played pool with anyone who wanted to play. If I won, the loser paid 10c for the game. If I lost, there was no charge for the game. I got pretty good at it, if I do say so myself. But I lost interest in the game and never pursued it with a vengeance.

In the summer we moved to the farm in Aurora Township eight miles east and a mile north of Maddock and I hauled rocks most of the summer.

My first job away from home was trimming evergreens for Clarence Jensen in the early 1950s. I was paid the grand sum of 20c per hour, which wasn’t bad money at all for a 13-year-old.

I got other odd jobs doing yard work. I raked Joe and Berenice Leibhans’ yard several springs in a row. I remember very well that their lovable black lab, Sparky, went overboard fertilizing in that yard all winter long I got the cleanup job in the spring. I didn’t mind doing this type of work as long as the pay was good, and it was.

I raked roots out of sand for Eddie Maddock at Cranberry Lake. I think he sold the sand to Ove Lunde to make concrete blocks.

I also worked for a time at the grocery store operated by Rochus and Elizabeth Streifel. My duties included sweeping floors, dusting cans on the shelves and candling eggs.

Jake Wolf hired me to spade up an area in his yard for a garden. That was hard, hard work to do with a spading fork, but that was the only way to do it. There were no roto-tillers back then. I remember the bill for spading up this area came to more than $20. At 50c per hour, this was 40 hours of work. I was fearful of giving Jake Wolf the bill because it was so much money. But when I gave him the bill, he didn’t bat an eye. He made the check out for $2 more than I charged. Boy, was I surprised. But then, Jake was pretty prosperous back in those days. He was selling big Chryslers and big John Deere tractors as fast as he could get them.

I dug a garden for Albert and Florence Horner in their back yard with a fork, too. And I raked yards for a number of other people, including Harry Rognlie and Minnie Craig.

At the time, I didn’t realize just how important a person Minnie Craig was. To me she was just a nice lady who invited me into her house for nectar and cookies while on break from raking. But later I learned she was a power in North Dakota politics. She was the first woman to be elected to the state legislature. She became the first woman in the nation to be elected speaker of the house of representatives. She served six consecutive terms and was a power in the Non-Partisan League. She was pretty famous in her day.

My only claim to fame and importance is that I raked her yard.

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A shiny new Mercedes Benz whizzed by the school one afternoon as the teacher and her students were outside in front of the building. A youngster turned to her teacher and said, "Boy, when I grow up that’s the kind of car I want."

The teacher asked, "What kind of work are you planning to do to afford such a car?"

"I’m going to be a third grade teacher," the student replied.

The teacher explained that she might have to set her sights a little higher, since a Mercedes is very expensive.

"Okay then, I’ll be a seventh grade teacher," the girl said.


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