By Bill Anderson
The brief rain shower that passed through Rutland and vicinity on the afternoon of Monday, July 19, was the equivalent of a bloop single that spoiled what would have been a perfect game for the Drought team this past week: no rain; no fog; and, no dew. Although the rain came down hard for a few minutes, it did not leave even a slight measurable trace in any of the local rain gauges. The haze that has been hanging in the sky for the past week is not any kind of moisture in the atmosphere, the weather gurus tell us, but is smoke from the fires in western Canada; eastern Canada; and, the northwestern U. S. The fires have already consumed hundreds of thousands of acres of timber and, with no rain in sight, are expected to continue until there is either significant rainfall, or all of the timber is consumed, whichever occurs first. In the meantime, the thought that, “Every day that it doesn’t rain is one day closer to the day that it will,” is keeping hope alive out here on the Great American Desert.
The harvest of Hard Red Spring Wheat commenced last week, and mixed results, ranging from poor to worse are being reported. Despite some reports of yields as low as 9 bushels to the acre, trucks filled with wheat are rolling down Main Street in Rutland, heading for the Wheaton-Dumont Co-op’s facility here, Rodney Erickson’s refurbished Rutland Elevator. The relative success of the harvest seems to be directly tied to when the crop was seeded. Cameron Gulleson reports that Gulleson Brothers have harvested some fields that were planted just before the one good rain this area received back in April, and those fields have yielded from 15 to 30 bushels to the acre. That is a long way from the 50 to 70 bushel wheat yields to which local producers have become accustomed, though. Old timers remember when 20 bushel wheat would have been a bumper crop, and a $2.00 price was boom times. This year, though, the only bright spot in the picture is that the reports of skimpy yields have pushed the price of wheat up to nearly $7.00 per bushel in some markets, so there’s always some good news, even if you have to look under the rocks to find it.
Eugene Erickson of Ithaca NY, accompanied by one of his sons, Jeff Erickson, visited in Rutland at Noon on Wednesday, July 14. The two were on a family history fact finding mission, and were in Rutland looking for information concerning Eugene’s mother, the late Ida (Helberg) Erickson. The original Helbergs were Swedish Immigrants who homesteaded on the Tewaukon-Ransom Township Line southeast of Rutland back in the 1890’s. The original farmhouse was in Tewaukon Township, and the barn was in Ransom. Their farmstead is now the site of Roger Nelson’s farm headquarters. Eugene’s mother was a daughter of these immigrants, and a younger sister of the late Theodore “Ted” Helberg of this community. Ida married Oscar Erickson of Dunbar Township, and they later settled at McLeod ND, in Ransom County. Eugene, now 92 years of age, grew up in McLeod ND and graduated from high school there. Oscar Erickson was a brother of Alvin Erickson, father of the famous “Uncle Ed” Erickson of Shuman Township who is noted as the inventor of the Eagle Ditcher and as one of the mastermind builders of the frying pan for Rutland’s “World’s Largest Hamburger” back in 1982. Eugene went to college at NDSU, at that time titled North Dakota College of Agriculture and Applied Science, in Fargo, graduating with a Degree in Agriculture in 1953. He then went on to graduate school at Michigan State University, and to a teaching career as a Professor of Rural Sociology at Cornell University in Ithaca NY, one of the most prestigious agricultural colleges in the world. Eugene has been retired for a quarter of a century, but he is still mentally & physically active, and, to look at him you would think that he is 62, not 92. While in Rutland, the Ericksons had dinner at the Rutland Seniors Center, and enjoyed visiting with many there, including Dick Meyers, who remembered the late Ted & Tina Helberg well. They had also stopped at the Sargent County Museum in Forman to do some research in the local newspapers from years ago. Jeff had found the obituary for his great grandmother, Karina Helberg, and from that had picked up some new trails to follow in their search for family history. When they departed Rutland, the Ericksons were headed for the Alan & Doreen Olstad farm, to check out their family’s connection to the Olstad family.
Norbert & Bev Kulzer and David & Pat Kulzer left Rutland on July 5, bound for Lanesboro MN and a reunion of the descendants of the late Myrtle (Aus) Kulzer of this community. They joined their sisters: Diane Davis; Cathy Kriegelstein; and, Karen Buisker; along with a number of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren for a 3 day family conclave. They report that the country around Lanesboro is beautiful, with rolling hills, woodlands and river valleys interspersed with fields of corn and soybeans. David said that his nephew, Trevor Kriegelstein, gave him a ride in his new Tesla electric powered automobile, a car with tremendous acceleration and power. “It put you back in the seat, and you couldn’t lean forward, no matter how hard you tried,” Dave said. So, Myrtle’s descendants, like her ancestors, are still on the cutting edge of technology. David & Pat returned to Rutland on the evening of Wednesday, July 7, while Norbert & Bev spent the evening of the 7th and the morning of the 8th at the Brandon SD home of their son & daughter-in-law, Stephen & Ann Kulzer, before driving home on the 8th.
After nearly 2 weeks in Rutland and in southeastern MN, David & Pat Kulzer headed west, bound for their home in the Swan River Valley of northwestern Montana, on the morning of Saturday, July 10. They were accompanied by their Standard Poodle dog, Buster. The Kulzers reported that they had made their way home through extreme heat and excessive smoke over 3 days, stopping in Dickinson ND on the evening of Saturday, July 10; Billings on Sunday, July 11; and, arriving home on the late afternoon of Monday, July 12.
Eleanor (Kulzer) Bommersbach of Wyndmere was a Rutland visitor on Friday, July 16. She was accompanied by her daughter, Patsy Stein of Wahpeton and granddaughter, Kate Evenson of Fargo. Eleanor is the youngest of the 16 children of the late Joe & Katherine (Nathe) Kulzer of Shuman Township, and, at 101 years of age is the only member of that generation of Kulzers still living. She wanted to show her daughter and granddaughter the old Kulzer farm and some of the scenes of her youth. Accompanied by a nephew, Norbert Kulzer, and a great nephew, Steve Wyum, they spent several hours, touring and reminiscing. The Kulzer farm was situated on the East ½ of Section #31 in Shuman Township and, more recently, has been known as the Malady farm. Joe & Katherine Kulzer moved to Shuman Township from Stearns County MN in the early 1900’s. They built all of the buildings on the farm, including the large 3 story house and a substantial barn, themselves. The house had been vacant for years, and was demolished by the current owners this past spring. The barn is now the only building still standing. Eleanor said that she still has vivid memories of milking 15 cows, by hand, every day before & after school. She also remembers chasing cows home from the east side of the large slough on the property, now known as Malady slough. The cows would swim across the slough, she said, and she would hang on to a cow’s tail to make the trip through the water to cross the slough. Spring and fall, Eleanor, along with her brothers and sisters, Walked 2 ½ miles to school at Shuman #3. In the winter her Dad or one of the older boys would hitch a team of horses to the bob sleigh and take them to school in style. On one occasion a prairie fire threatened the school, but 2 students volunteered the use of their coats to make fire drags while other students pumped water from the school well to keep the coats wet and put the fire out. The pumpjack is all that remains of Shuman #3 these days, but the handle is missing so the water bucket can no longer be filled. Eleanor also remembered horse races with the relatives, including Steve’s Dad, Bob Wyum, who was actually her nephew, but only 4 years younger. She also remembered spying on some of the neighbors who had dealings with bootleggers during the prohibition era. On one occasion, her 2 oldest brothers, Alphonse and Joe Jr., spotted the rock pile in which the bootleggers had hidden several gallon cans of alcohol, crawled out there in the middle of the night and confiscated a can of white lightning for their own enjoyment and amusement. They both lived to a ripe old age, so the bootleggers never did figure out who got away with their booze. Eleanor, Patsy, Kate, Norbert & Steve also toured the farmstead building sites that had been occupied by her brothers, Alphonse; Joe; Romey; and, Norbert, as well as the Obed & Sue (Kulzer) Wyum farm, the farm sites where the Nathe cousins had resided, the Preble farm site and the site of the old Perry Elevator. At the conclusion of the tour, they returned to the Steve & Sheila Wyum farm, where Sheila served lunch. They were also joined by Norbert’s wife, Bev Kulzer, for more laughter and reminiscing. Thanks to Steve Wyum and Norbert Kulzer for the information in this report, and thanks to Eleanor for giving it to them.
Tammy Widmer of Devils Lake MN was in Rutland on Monday, July 19, to help her Dad, Victor Joseph “Big Joe” Malstrom celebrate the occasion of attaining the age of Four Score Years. Happy Birthday, Big Joe!
A large crowd of family and old friends was on hand at The Lariat Bar from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 17, to attend the “Celebration Of Life” for the late Darwin D. Brakke. Darwin had passed away last fall at the age of 81, and the event had been postponed until this summer due to the covid-19 pandemic. The celebration of life was held in the back dining room of the Lariat Bar, a business in which Darwin was an owner from 1968 to 1974. Family and friends shared memories and stories of their times with Darwin throughout the afternoon. Darwin’s obituary had been published in a previous edition of The Rooster Crows. The Rutland community extends condolences to the family and friends of Darwin Brakke, a man who loved the outdoors, and enjoyed its bounty.
Janet Kiefer reports that she drove up to Bemidji MN on Saturday, July 17, to attend the Memorial Service for her maternal uncle, the late DuWayne Syverson. DuWayne had passed away at his home in Bemidji on August 29, 2020, at the age of 90 years, 1 month and 6 days, but the service had been delayed due to the covid-19 pandemic. DuWayne Ole Syverson was born on July 23, 1930, to Casper and Marie (Swanson) Syverson at Britton, South Dakota. He grew up on the Syverson farm in Tewaukon Township, where his nephew, Joe Breker, now resides. He attended elementary school in the 1 room country school that was just down the road, and graduated from Havana High School in 1947. An old friend, Dick Meyers, remembers that DuWayne was a tall, skinny kid who played baseball with the Rutland Roosters during the summers while he was going to college at Valley City State Teachers College. He had an arm like a cannon, a tricky curve ball and a fastball so hot that it smoked, Dick recalls. DuWayne’s first teaching job after college was at Kidder, South Dakota, where he earned the magnificent salary of $2,900 per year. In 1951 he married Shirley Motl at Havana. They became the parents of a son and a daughter, bill and Sally. They later divorced. In 1952, during the Korean War, Duwayne was drafted into the U. S. Army, and was assigned to complete his tour of duty in Germany, doing counter intelligence work during the Cold War with the Soviet Union. After completing his military service, DuWayne earned his Master’s Degree from Bemidji State and began a 37 year teaching career, teaching science to elementary students in the Bemidji School System. During his teaching career, DuWayne taught more than 5,400 students. In 1983, DuWayne married Marcia Stevens in Bemidji. He remained an athlete, and was a high school basketball referee in Minnesota for more than 30 years. He was a referee at the Minnesota State High School Basketball Tournament for 3 of those years. He was an accomplished poet, and often composed poems for birthdays and other significant events. Among his interests were golf; skiing; dancing; hunting; fishing; bird watching; baseball; story telling; and, sharing jokes with friends over a cup of coffee. On several occasions he accompanied his brother-in-law, Clarence Breker, on fishing trips to Alaska where they caught some huge halibut and many salmon. He was a frequent visitor in Rutland and at the Breker farms while his health permitted. As a boy, his nickname had been Buddy, and, even into his upper 80’s, whenever he showed up in Rutland or Havana, he was greeted by old friends with “Hi Buddy!” DuWayne is survived by his wife of 37 years, Marcia Syverson of Bemidji MN; by his daughter, Sally, of Phoenix AZ; by a step-daughter, Leah, of Minneapolis MN; by a granddaughter, Emily, of Phoenix AZ; by many nieces and nephews; and, by a host of friends. He was preceded in death by his parents; by his son, Bill; by sisters Adeline; and, Beverly; and by brothers, Donald; and, Colin. The memorial Service was held at First Lutheran Church in Bemidji, and interment was in Greenwood Cemetery in Bemidji. The Rutland community extends its condolences to the family and friends of DuWayne Syverson, a good man who left his mark on many, and who enjoyed life to the full. Thanks to Janet Kiefer for the information in this report.
This community was shocked and saddened on the evening of Monday, July 19, when it was learned that lifelong Rutland resident Steven Preble had passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly, at his home here. He was 70 years old at the time of his death. A funeral service is planned to be held at Nordland Lutheran Church in Rutland at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 31, with Pastor Julie Johnson officiating. Price Funeral Chapel of Forman & Britton is in charge of arrangements. No obituary was available as of this writing. There will be more about Steven Preble’s life among us in next week’s column. Thanks to Steve’s brother, Harvey Preble, for the information in this report.
Preparations for Uff-Da Day XXXVI are under way. Lefse Lena had her crew of lefse makers rolling out the dough on Tuesday, July 20, in the kitchen of the Rutland Town Hall. Uff-Da Day will be on Sunday, October 3, this year. Better start getting your Uff-Da Day Parade unit ready, too.
Meanwhile, on the national scene, covid-19 cases are on the upswing again. This time, though, it’s those who have chosen not to get vaccinated who are in the center of the target for the delta variant of the coronavirus. Why they want to expose themselves and their family members to serious illness and possible death when the means of preventing the disease is available is a mystery to rational folks, but seems to make perfectly good sense to the cult followers of the former President. While children seemed to be less vulnerable to the original coronavirus, the delta variant is not sparing them. All Americans over the age of 12 are now eligible to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, and the vaccine has proven to be effective against the delta variant. So, even if you’re a member of the Trump cult, or just haven’t gotten around to doing the right thing yet, do yourself, and everyone else, a favor by getting vaccinated to get rid of this deadly threat to our families and our communities. To make a vaccination appointment, call: Sargent County Public Health at 724-3725; Forman Drug at 724-6222; or, Sanford Clinic at 742-3267. Even though you may have been temporarily misled by the bullying bombastic bluster of a false prophet, you are still a friend and a valued member of the community. We don’t want to lose you, so please get vaccinated.
Well, that’s the news from Rutland for this week. For additional information about what’s going on in the little city that can, check out the community’s internet web site at www.rutlandnd.com, and take a look at the Rutland Facebook page while you’re at it, too. (No misinformation on that page, that’s for sure!) Don’t forget to patronize your local Post Office, and remember to keep the pressure on the U. S. Postal Service and the North Dakota Congressional delegation to SAVE OUR POST OFFICE! Later.