Volume 127, Number 11
She retires in Minnewaukan, but you wouldn’t know it
BY LISA LAUCKNER
For a "retired" person Genevieve Smith, aka Genny, of Minnewaukan, is one busy woman. She was a full-time teacher for 39 years and utilizes that experience by working as a substitute teacher. She also has a mending and alterations business and makes "heat tubes" that are sold in 17 stores across North Dakota.
Genny is a people person and likes to be active in whatever community she is living in. She has been here three years and is already on the Benson County Housing board, the treasurer of the Minnewaukan Community Club, a board member of the Lake Region Concert Association, belongs to the Timely Topics, is a member of Trinity Free Lutheran Church and has agreed to collect and write the Minnewaukan news.
Genny grew up in the Munich area on a farm, the oldest of six children. Her family was extremely poor and everyone had to work. They had no electricity, no indoor plumbing or running water. Her mother would sometimes have to tie her shoes onto her feet because they were literally falling apart.
At the age of nine, she was taking care of her younger siblings, cleaning the house and cooking meals, while her parents worked in the fields.
Though her mother believed in education, chores came first. Genny was not allowed to get on the school bus until she had milked by hand all twelve cows, taken care of the milk and washed up the milking equipment. She missed the bus once.
Her parents didn’t allow her to play sports or participate in other school activities, but they did let her join 4-H. It was a huge blessing in her life and she credits the organization with teaching her many life skills, such as: cooking, baking, sewing, public speaking and demonstrations and it was her first effort in teaching children while she was a junior leader.
She put all this knowledge to use with her first paying job at the age of 13. For three summers she worked on a nearby farm cooking three square meals a day, among other domestic chores. She also had to butcher a flock of chickens before fall. She earned $18.50 and room and board for the six-day work week.
Genny learned to sew on an old treadle sewing machine (one that is not run on electricity, but by pumping with a foot to run the belts) in order to adjust or remake the hand-me-down clothes given to the family. She found that she really liked the creative process of sewing.
Upon graduating from high school and earning scholarships for college, Genny had a tough decision to make. Her mother thought it was Genny’s duty to stay and help the family and had forbidden her to attend college.
Genny is not by nature a defiant person and it was extremely hard for her to consider leaving her siblings, knowing that with her being gone they would have more work to do, but she decided it was the better choice. She ran away to college.
She attended NDSU and studied home economics. A year or so later her family left the farm and moved to Minnesota. She transferred to Moorhead State University and majored in elementary education, specializing in kindergarten and minored in home economics.
She taught school for 19 years in the Border Central School system, which was a co-op of the Sarles and Calvin schools. The elementary school was located in Sarles and the high school in Calvin. She married a farmer and had three children. Though she was a full-time teacher, a mother, and planted a large garden (harvesting at times in the dark by truck lights) she was also involved in the community by being a 4-H leader and Sunday school teacher. When that wasn’t enough she picked rocks, combined and generally speaking, was the "hired man."
This marriage ended in divorce and Genny moved to the state of Washington, where she had relatives. She taught school there for 20 years and continued her own education at Seattle Pacific University by taking classes yearly. The last few years of her career she concentrated on teaching creative writing to around 100 third graders. This was a team teaching situation and the state of Washington put a huge emphasis on creative writing, integrating it with the reading and math curriculum.
She eventually married again. While his name, John Smith, is a fairly common name, his career was not. John was an aeronautical engineer and had his own business, building unmanned radio-controlled aircraft which held technology devices. Clients for his products included the US Navy, NASA, Boeing, Hollywood movie companies and Greenpeace, which used his devices for whale tagging operations.
They lived on Puget Sound. John was also a gifted musician and could play many instruments, but specialized playing the jazz harmonica. His love of music fit right in with Genny, as she thoroughly loves music and dancing.
They were married for 20 years until he died. Genny wanted to be closer to her children and nine grandchildren, who live in the Rolla and Belcourt area, so she moved back to North Dakota to Minnewaukan. She feels fortunate to be closer to them and to be able to participate in their lives more often.
Genny was involved in a deer/car accident after she moved back here, which resulted in painful muscle injury to her neck, shoulder and upper back. A part of her recovery was treatment with Minnewaukan massage therapist Lisa Wold. It was Lisa who first lent Genny a heat tube. It helped so much that Genny looked around to get one for herself and couldn’t find one. Her creative side stepped up and she decided to make her own and thought others could also benefit from them.
The heat tubes are approximately 22" long and she now fills them with flax, as it has characteristics that lend towards a lasting, warm heat that therapists recommend. Eddie Gefroh, station manager of the Harlow Co-op Elevator and Seed Company in Minnewaukan keeps her supplied with the cleaned flax. While designed to fit conveniently around the neck area, she has been told by clients that they have been using them for many different areas of pain. She plans to expand on this venture with new different shaped heat therapy items.
Genny has graduated from her treadle machine to a computerized machine.
She has another that will sew very heavy fabrics, such as leather and tarps.
So if you need some sewing done (zippers, too!), or would like a heat tube (made with locally grown flax) to relieve a pain, call Genny. If you have a bit of news or a question or comment on the Minnewaukan community, call Genny.
Heck, if you just need someone to listen, call Genny. Just remember, she’s retired!
Genny Smith stands on her back porch in Minnewaukan with Devils Lake in her back yard. The house she lives in is owned by Al and Rita Staloch. For many years this house was the home of Ella Palmer. Genny has immersed herself in activities in Minnewaukan.
Brinsmade Road under water
Devils Lake has taken over the Brinsmade Road, a major road for the area. This view is looking west from Old US 281. The Brinsmade Road is also flooded just over the horizon and the road has been closed from both ends. Old US 281 is now closed to traffic from the Milton & Betty Moen farm south. This issue of the Farmers Press contains a number of photos of areas flooded by the growing lake.
In traveling art show
The ND State Student Art Show, which is presently being held at the Taube Museum in Minot, has 679 enteries from across the state this year. The show will run until April 30. Students from the Leeds Elementary School who have exhibits in the 2010 Traveling Art Show include, left to right, front row, Desidy Schwanke, Blayne Anderson and Madi Dulmage. Back row: Keaton Nelsen, Garrett Johnson and Devin Schwanke.
Duck stamp winners
Alea Manley and Jarrel McGarvey of Leeds were awarded honorable mention at the judging of the North Dakota State Junior Duck Stamp competition on March 24. This year the contest had a record-breaking 878 entries from around the state.
Warwick students use Skype
Mrs. Pranke’s fourth grade class at Warwick has taken a major step in technology. Earlier this year Mrs. Pranke introduced students to a program called EPALS. Students in the class were taught how to send e-mail to students from another school in a safe and productive way.
Thanks to the teachers of Schaffer Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Pa. Warwick students are using "Skype" to visit online with students at Schaffer. Together the classes are reading a book, "When You Reach Me" by Rebecca Stead. Once a week the students connect to Skype and have visual and oral conversations regarding the chapters assigned. Said Mrs. Pranke: "I’ve never used Skype before, but our students from both schools love seeing each other on our Promethean Boards. This experience has established a bond between our students that normally wouldn’t take place in any other way."
Warwick students discuss their reading assignments over Skype with students from Pennsylvania. In the front is Seanna Georgeson. Left to right are Jayrl Guy, Traysen Feather, Sage Bertsch, Raymond Peltier, Mark Lufkins, Jourdain Smith, Shania Georgeson and Julia Hill.
From the junction of new ND 19 looking south, Old US 281 looks like it’s had it with water covering most of the roadway.
It looks about the same when one turns around and views the scene to the north.
The bridge on Old US 281 north of the Arden Helgeseth farm is the only bridge on the old highway that’s still passable. The fish enjoy all this water and the fishermen are not far behind. When this bridge goes under, a number of people will no longer be able to reach their homes by anything other than watercraft.
This is the view on Old US 281 looking east at the Brinsmade road. This road is also under water over the horizon.
Minnewaukan’s boat ramp, on the site where the fair barns once stood, has been completely taken over by the lake and is no longer usable. A ramp at the city’s dumpground, half a mile south of town, is still usable. These photos are much more impressive in color.
The home of Hermoine Jorgenson stood on the high ground in the left center of this photo. The concrete block home was built by John Knutson and for many years was occupied by his widow, Bertha Knutson. The home had to be demolished.
The water is very close to the Minnewaukan School on the left.
Sandbags were placed at the north end of B Avenue to keep the lake from inundating the intersection of B Avenue and D Street. For reference, the Farmers Press is located on B Avenue.
Looking east from B Avenue at the east end of D Street which used to connect to Old US 281. Both are under water.
Looking west at the east end of D Street from Old US 281. Trinity Free Lutheran Church was located on the right.
Grand Prix winners
The Bethany AWANA Grand Prix was held March 7 in Esmond. Design winners from first to third were Darica Deckert, Will Rice and Samuel Hill.
Speed winners from first to third were Jessica Hill, Caleb Johnson and Will Rice.