– I’m Alice Buerkley
of Kulm, North Dakota. – [Interviewer] Okay, Alice,
tell us that you grew up on a farm, and tell
us what that was like. – I grew up on a farm about
10 miles south of Fredonia and farming was hard. It was in the ’30s and we
didn’t have much to go on. – [Interviewer] Well, tell
me, you told me one time that you were out with
your dad and it was dusty. Tell me that story. – Yes, I was outside
and we thought, it was really dust storm, and then he looked
up and he said, “I think we’re getting rain.” And I looked and he said,
the closer they got, it was all grasshoppers,
and they were just all over. We had to go into the house. They were terrible. – [Interviewer] And
would it get so dark? Tell me about how dark it
would get with the dust storms. – Oh, you had to
put on your lights and we put our kerosene
lights on in the house. We had a mantel light, but those we kept only
for special occasions. – [Interviewer] Did you
guys have enough to eat during the Depression? – Oh yes, we never went hungry. We had chicken,
ducks, and geese, and my folks always raised pigs. We butchered every year. Two pigs made sausage, head
cheese, summer sausage. And we had a garden, too. My mother had one
right beside the tank and we had another one that they called the
(speaks in foreign language) that was made out at the
farm, away from the farm, and we did potatoes,
pumpkins, and watermelon, all that stuff out there. And I don’t know, I
know in the dry ’30s, we got a few potatoes, but
my dad went to Fredonia and there was a guy
that went to Fargo and he’d get cucumbers,
potatoes, cabbage, and I guess my folks
had money to buy it, because then at least we
had some of the things. – [Interviewer] Why don’t you
tell me a little bit about what type of farm it
was that you grew up on? – Oh, it was a small farm. Our house was very little,
just two little bedrooms, and what was supposed
to be the living room held a stove, potbelly stove, and my mother got a dresser
for her wedding gift, and a little place behind
the door where we put nails. Those were our dresses
that we used for real good when we went to church
and someplace else. – [Interviewer] And
what type of crops did you grow on the farm? – Oh, they had wheat. My dad had flax, and oats
we always had, barley, but never got that much. My dad had kept wheat
before all this came, and he had quite a bit of wheat, and he would take in
wheat to the Kulm Mill and he’d usually come home
with 600 pounds of flour. That took care of us. We didn’t have to buy that. The only sugar that I
remember they really used was the honey, and
a guy came around, and he’d sell us five
gallons of honey, and that’s what we used
for a lot of sweet stuff. – [Interviewer] Did
they barter a lot? Did you barter a lot? Barter? – No, I don’t think so. Not that I know of. – [Interviewer] Well, you
were telling me earlier about going to town and what a special
treat that was for you. Why don’t you tell us
about going to town? – Oh, we went to Fredonia
on Saturday night. If we were good and behaved, we could all go
along to Fredonia. We took the eggs up. Dad bought the grocery. We took usually two
10-gallon creams to the depot and put it on a car there, and Mandan Creamery
would pick it up, and then they’d send us
the check in the mail. And otherwise, we
went into the store. We each got a
nickel and we went, and that was the first time
we had heard of cold shots. It was ice cream bar on a stick and I remember my sister
was always a little faster. She’d go in and she’d
come out with one while the rest were out
on the car yet. (laughs) So that was a big treat for us. And then we could go outside and there was
different people there. We could play with the
different kids there. We usually were supposed
to be seen and not heard. – [Interviewer] How
big was your family? – There was four of us. My mother lost her first
baby boy and then I was born and then was my brother
Arthur, he was next, and then Aida and Pearlene. – [Interviewer] What type of
chores did you do on the farm? – Oh, we had to get
the eggs, get the eggs, and if there was
clucks on there, you
had to throw them out. They’d pick at you. And we’d have to feed calves
and clean the chicken barn, which we didn’t like, and my mother raised a
lot of her own chickens. She had a brooder and
we’d have to go in and clean that out. Different things we did. – [Interviewer] You were
showing me pictures earlier of your ancestors, and why don’t you tell us a
little bit about your ancestors and coming from Russia? – Okay, the ones coming from
Russia is my great grandfather. He was John Schilling and
his wife was Christina, and her maiden name was Nanke. My grandfather was John
Schilling, too, and Christina, and she was a Schlepp, and
she was born in Russia, too. And then my mother,
she married Gust Woehl, and she was a Schilling, and I can’t remember
when they got married. – [Interviewer] So that’s
your dad’s side of the family? – Yes. – [Interviewer] What about
your mom’s side of the family? – Well, this was my mom’s
side that I said to you, the Schillings. My dad’s side was Phillip Woehl, and he married Christina
Rutt from Ashley, and they had a big family. They had 10 kids. My dad was the oldest,
John was the next one, Henry, Albert, and then
they had Bertha, Dena. I can’t remember. There were some later
that came later. – [Interviewer] Why
don’t you tell me about your grandparents and your relations
with your grandparents? – Okay, my grandparents. My brother and I especially
stayed there a lot when my folks
would go to Ashley, because when they wanted
to do more business, they went to Ashley because
there was more people there that had different things. And we’d always stay at
my grandmother’s house and, oh, she was so good to us. I remember every Christmastime,
she had 14 grandchildren. She’d come up with a candy bar
in her hanky and a quarter. So we got that every
time she came to visit and when we were there, she’d
always bake cookies for us and I could help her sometime, which she maybe didn’t
need, but I wanted to help. She was so good to us. And Grandpa Schilling,
he was a little more, you had to be quiet
and not heard. He didn’t like us noise. The other thing I can remember
is me and Art would go in, she had this big,
thick feather bed, and we would just love
to punch a hole in there, and she’d go in there. She’d be so put out with
us, she’d take her stick, and it had to be perfect. Oh, crocheting. She crocheted bedspreads
and I never got one. Her daughters got one. I didn’t need one with
five kids. (laughs) – [Interviewer] Why
don’t you tell me about, you were telling me a
story about your mother making all of your clothes. – My mother made our dresses and she’d order material
through the catalogs, and then if she had one
pattern, she’d lay it down and we had one
button in the back, and otherwise, it was just a
plain, little, simple dress, and that got hung behind our
door, which was a closet, and we could only
wear it to church or when we went someplace. Otherwise, she used
to make pants for us. She made everything for us, and we had little shirts
and then later on, I remember we got
a Sears catalog, and I looked at it and
I said to my mother, “Order me a dress.” And she said, “Well, you
have to have money for that.” I said, “Well, Dad
still has check blanks.” (both laugh) That didn’t work. (laughs) – [Interviewer] Your dad was
quite a record keeper, though. He kept books, didn’t he? – Yes, he did. Oh, he was real good on that. Everything, his gas that he
bought, that was in a book, which my brother had. But otherwise, when
he was threshing, he had perfect
records of everything. All the neighborhoods,
he was the only one in the neighborhood that
had a threshing machine. But later on, we had a neighbor
that he was gonna order a six foot combine. Well, he didn’t want
it, so he called my dad, and my mother said, “If you don’t buy that
little six foot combine, “I am not cooking for
those threshers again.” ‘Cause she always had to cook and every time it rained,
they’d all come to her place. They sleep on the hay barn. I thought to myself, “When
did they take a bath?” Like here we’d do it so often. Finally, my dad did
put a big barrel out and he put a hose on and
they could come home. ‘Cause there was usually six
that worked with the wagons that brought the bundles, and my dad had a guy helping
him with the tractor, and then there was two
that hauled the grain away. So she had about 10 people
to feed all the time. I don’t know how
those women did it. They baked everything. They had to make lunch. Usually I remember those
guys staying there. She’d have five o’clock
breakfast for them. Well, at nine o’clock,
she had to have lunch out for them at the
threshing machine. Then at noon, she had
to have a big dinner and a big pot of coffee
out there for all the guys. Then at three o’clock,
you had lunch again, and then they came home
at maybe seven or eight when it got dark, and then
they had another big supper. But she usually had a
hired girl that helped her, ’cause they made
everything their own, the buns, the bread, the pies, and everything that
went out there, cookies. So everything was homemade. We never bought anything. The only thing we ever
got was, at Christmastime, we’d go to Fredonia, and
I don’t if you remember, they had these brown things. They looked like the
shape of a banana. Can you remember those? And you’d put them in the
oven and you’d heat them and they were really sweet, but they had a lot
of seeds in them, and we’d always get that. And then my mother would
buy maybe two oranges and two bananas, and then
it was four of us kids. And we’d each get a piece,
and someday I thought, I’m gonna eat a whole banana. So (laughs) that wasn’t
a big deal now anymore. – [Interviewer] Did you
learn to cook from your mom? – Oh, yes, I had to learn. My mother always said to me, “If you don’t learn how to cook, “your husband’s gonna
bring you home.” (laughs) – [Interviewer] So
what type of things did she teach you how to cook? – Oh, I had to help
her with everything. The thing I hated most
was when we did geese. We had to pick those
fine feathers first so we could make
pillows with it, and then you had to
scald them and do that. And then we did
chickens, we did ducks. She had turkeys one year, but
my dad said no more turkeys. They messed up all
his lean-to shed and so that was the end of that. – [Interviewer] So tell
me some German food. Did you learn how
to make German food? – Oh, yeah, the knoepfle
and the strudels and the dampfnudels. I don’t know what
was the difference between the dampfnudels
and the strudels. They were still
made out of dough and, yeah, I still
make all those. When my kids come
home for Christmas,
that’s what they want. Sauerkraut, and last year I made about eight gallons
of sauerkraut. That was enough for my family, but now my daughter, she’s
gonna make 10 gallons. – [Interviewer] Did
you teach your children how to make German food? – Oh, yes, some of
them, they wanna learn, but it doesn’t always
work out that good. I had my son that lives
in Somerset, Wisconsin, she wanted to come
and learn how to make. She was so proud of hers,
but I didn’t say anything. They didn’t turn out
that good. (laughs) I said they were
fine, just fine. – [Interviewer] Going back
to a little bit earlier in your childhood,
you were telling me that it wasn’t ’til high
school before you actually got a dress from a store? – Oh, yes, the
first dress I got, even the ones when I went to
high school were homemade, but when I graduated,
I got a dress, and that was bought at a
store, and I got a purse, and I wanted high heel
shoes because all the rest, and we went to Bismarck. I was never so upset because those heels
were terrible to walk in and we stayed overnight there, and that was a big deal for us, but I thought to myself,
“That was stupid.” We had to have a purse and
those high-heeled shoes because everybody else had one. So that was our
trip to Bismarck. – [Interviewer] And then
you were telling me about getting your wedding dress, too. – Oh, yes, we went to
Aberdeen when I told my folks I wanted to get married, and then my mother said,
“We’re going to Aberdeen.” So we went to Aberdeen and I know there was
a Chewie’s store there and everything was cheaper,
so my dad said we go in there. So the first dress
I tried on was $17. He said, “That’s too much.” There was another store
down in the basement. So we went in there
and we got it for $12 and I borrowed the veil, and I had a cousin
that had a white Bible, and we had a lady that made all the flowers
for all the tables and a little flower
for on my white Bible and that was it for the wedding. – [Interviewer] You told me
the wedding was large, though. – Oh, yes, we had 300 people. I have a book here, and
my mother made everything. They butchered two pigs
and made frying sausage. She had potato salad. She had pineapple rice. Coffee cake, we made. We took a bed out of the bedroom and her two aunts came
and they helped her and that was full. And we had a wedding cake
that a neighbor lady made in town here. And pork and beans she even had, which I thought was unnecessary, but we had a good meal. But, oh, beautiful flowers. That lady decorated everything,
all homemade flowers. Never had any real ones. – [Interviewer] Why don’t
we go back a little bit? You were talking
about learning German and German being
your first language. – Oh, yeah, well, we
didn’t know any different. We had to learn everything. My dad would sit with us
at that little book… Every Saturday night,
he’d sit with us, and if we wouldn’t listen,
we got a big one on the head. So we had to listen,
’cause he’d read to us, and then when we went
to Sunday School, Mrs. Rutt was my first
Sunday School teacher, and we had to learn the
ABCs to say in German, and I can still say them. – [Interviewer] Go
ahead, say them. – Oh. (Alice speaks in
foreign language) I can remember. We had to learn all that
and that stays with you. – [Interviewer] When did
you actually have to start learning English, then? – Oh, I started learning
English when we went to school, and thank goodness there
was a teacher there that could understand the German because none of us
could speak English. But she stayed at my folks’
and she helped my mother, because she was gonna
become a citizen, to learn the Preamble, and
we had to learn it, too. The pledge to the
flag we had to learn and she helped us with, oh,
the tables were terrible when we got to those, but
she was so good with us. She worked with us and stayed
there for practically nothing. My mother just kept her and my mother learned
English with her. My dad knew English, but my mother and my
grandparents never did. – [Interviewer] So when you
were around your grandparents, you had to speak
German, I guess. – Oh, yeah, we had
to speak German. If we spoke English, they’d say (speaks
in foreign language). They’d always tell
us, I knew that. – [Interviewer]
What does that mean? – They don’t
understand me, yeah. Oh, I can still talk German. My mother, when she was here,
we talked a lot of German, but now I don’t do it so much. The kids laugh at
me when I talk it. – [Interviewer] Tell
me about your school. What type of school
did you go to? – Oh, it was a
little country school about a mile north of us and we always had
to walk to school, and we had one teacher one year. He was a man and, boy, we
had it really good there. He’d have opening exercises and he’d let us go out
and play until noon. Never opened the door. The doors were locked, but we made snow houses and
we had a good time out there. When it was nice, we played. At noon, he’d call us in. We could eat. One o’clock, he
told us to go out. Until I went home one
day and I told my dad. “Dad,” I said, “We sure
had a good time today.” He said, “What were you doing?” So he came up and he found him and I remember two
of the older boys that went to school there,
they went in one day, and they even pasted gum on
his nose and he never woke up. (laughs) And my dad
fired him on the spot. And then we got a teacher
and we had to learn. Boy, it was hard, ’cause
we didn’t know nothing. Nobody did anything and there was one to
eighth grades there and she had a hard time with us to get us all back to
where we should’ve been. – [Interviewer] Back
into a rhythm, yeah? – Yep. – [Interviewer] So and then
you went to high school. Where’d you go to high school? – Kulm High School. My mother always said, “If I
have to work day and night, “you kids are gonna
get an education “because I never had one.” And she did. We all went to high school,
except Art, my brother. He came to town
and he hated school and he’d be down at
the John Deere dealer sitting on a tractor,
so my dad came into town and he found him and he
said, “You better go home. “You aren’t gonna learn
anything in town here.” (laughs) But we all graduated there and then I went to
Allendale for summer term because I was going to
teach at the rural schools and I had to go eight weeks, and then I could
teach country schools. – [Interviewer] And did you? – Oh, yes, I taught six years. – [Interviewer] And
where’d you teach? – Right north, I
don’t know if you know where the Berlin
Baptist Church is. Okay, I taught
there for five years and then one year we
moved over south of Kulm, after I was married, and then I had school
there one year. But the one year, to start
with, I only had six students. And then the next
year, then I had 13, and I had a hard time
getting all those classes in, especially a lot of
them needed help, but the parents helped a lot. I could tell they would
help at home with the kids. – [Interviewer] It
must’ve been difficult to teach a one-room
schoolhouse, though. – No, it wasn’t that difficult. What was really difficult,
we had to come to school in the morning and
everything was cold. We had to get the stove going and we’d sit around until
noon around the stove, until it really got warm. By the time it got warm,
it was time to go home, and we did put some coal in,
but it never lasted overnight, ’cause those schools
weren’t that warm, either. They had big windows
to the south. I have pictures of them. – [Interviewer] You
grew up on a farm? – Mm-hmm. – [Interviewer] And then
did you marry a farmer? – Yes, I married a farmer. Had to do the same, do more
there than I did at home. I did everything from seeding,
except I would not seed. One day, a guy came along,
wanted to talk to him, and he sent Meg around. Then when I came back, he said, “My goodness, you
drove crooked.” I said, “Well, I had more
in the row than you did.” (both laugh) Oh, yeah, haying you
had to be out there. We couldn’t afford a hired
man ’cause we had five kids. I had a little girl,
a neighborhood girl, that came and stayed with
them, took care of them. Otherwise, they’d
go out with us, or combining especially,
we’d take them along out. – [Interviewer] When
they were very young? The children, when
they were very young? – Yes, we had a big
haystack right next to it, and they played on
there all day long, sliding off of it, and I
took lunch along out there, and they’d eat. Sometimes they’d cry and fight, but that was part of growing up. – [Interviewer] Why don’t
you tell me about the house that you had after
you were married and then buying a newer house? – Oh, the first house we
lived in for five years was a sod house with the mice. Oh, it was terrible. We had to have
everything in jars. One night, I’d baked cookies and my folks bought
me a breakfast set, and it was about maybe a
foot away from the wall, and I thought, “I’m not gonna
put those cookies away.” The next morning I had mouse
turds in those cookies. I had to throw them away. They were terrible, but by the time we left,
it was pretty good, except we had a little
lean-to porch on there and I had my washing
machine out there, and so my mother
gave me watermelons. Well, the next morning
I came out there, they were all taken
out on the inside, so those rats must’ve
had a good time there. Yeah, and then from
there, we moved to a farm, 16 miles south of Kulm. Well, we had to do a lot there. We bought a farm, 16,500
acres, was eight quarters, and we paid 16,500 for that,
but we had to do a lot. We had to put a barn
there, fix up the house, and we made an FHA loan
and they gave us the money to put in the water, because
he looked at the kids, and he said, “In a
year, you’re gonna come “and want to add to your… “You might as well
add it right away.” And it was a good thing we did, but we always had
water problems there. Finally we got somebody
that could do a well, that we had enough
water for even now yet. My son has no problem. – [Interviewer] When
you were growing up, before you got married, but
when you were growing up, did you have water and
electricity on your farm? – Oh, no. No, we got that later when
the telephone lines came in and everybody was on
the same party line and then my folks got
some engine or something they put in the garage, and we had one bulb in
the house we could burn, and me and my brother
didn’t like it because every night if
we’d come home late, we could see that bulb went on so she could look at the time. (laughs) – [Interviewer] Now did you
have water and electricity in your houses after
you were married? – Yes, mm-hmm. Yeah, it came in the
rural, electric came in, and they stopped practically
at every farm and put it in. So, yeah, we had
that electricity, but I know the first farm, they
brought in telephone bills. A dollar a month,
and that was a lot, but it was a party line. Our line was one
short and one long and everybody rang that
and everybody listened in on what you said, too. – [Interviewer] When
I was growing up, that was our first phone,
was a party line, yeah. – Yeah. – [Interviewer] Everyone
knew your business. – Yes, that’s for sure. – [Interviewer] What I
was gonna ask earlier on was when you were teaching, where did you live
when you were teaching? – I lived with a family
close to the school. It was Edwin and
Martha Mitinger, and they had two kids
that went to school, so they always took us. If it was nice, then
we walked from there. It was maybe about
a mile and a half. It was right close
to the Berlin church. Most of the time we
walked, even if it was nice when we would go and walk. – [Interviewer] So why
did you stop teaching? – Because I got married
and started raising kids. (laughs) – [Interviewer] How did
your life change for you after you got married and
you started having children? How was your life different? – Very different. You had more things to do. Our first baby, I had to go
to the hospital two weeks because they thought
I had toxemia, and so I stayed there, and
then he was born in March, and then we took him
home and he was okay, but he was so colicky, and
I’ll have to tell you this. My husband didn’t like, we had
a lady in the neighborhood, a Mrs. Liskey, and she could
do something for everybody. Every Friday night
we went down there. If you something wrong
with you, she fixed it, and so my husband
didn’t like that. He said, “You’re just
going to a quack,” and I said, “No, she helped us.” We went there
every Friday night. So we took him down and
she did whatever she did. She did something with her
finger and made a cross and said something, and she hung a little
red string around him. He never cried or was colicky. When I took it off
and gave him a bath, and my husband
sitting there, see? I put it on and he
didn’t cry anymore. She did so much. If we had ringworm,
which everybody had it, we went down there, and then
I remember she’d always say, we had these coveralls on, and she’d come and say
(speaks in foreign language). What that mean, I don’t know. (speaking in foreign language)
in German was something that had to come out of you, and she’d take a string and
she’d put it down your neck until it came out the bottom
of, we always wore coveralls, and then she’d take it and
put it in a potbelly stove and she’d make the cross
and she said something, but I never heard what
she said, but it helped. Everything we did,
ringworm, whatever we had, and I know the babies, I remember ladies
taking them down there, and they’d take them
from foot to foot, cross them like that, and that
was supposed to help them. I don’t know if it did or not, but there was so many people
there, you could hardly park. Everybody came. I remember a little boy came
and he was full of eczema from head to toe. He was bleeding. She went out and
she browned flour and she put him in a gunny
sack, and he was all flour. The next Friday we came
down, he was all healed up. She did a lot for the
people in the community. – [Interviewer] Have
you heard the expression a (speaks in foreign language)? – Oh, yeah, that was her.
– Tell me about it. – She was a (speaks
in foreign language). Yeah, she did all these things. My dad would get these
terrible boils in his neck and she made this salve. It did wonders for everybody, but my folks, the
men would always say she took skunk fat and made it. That’s why it was so good, but I’m sure that’s
not what she did. But it was good. It worked for everything. And different things. She gave you medication, too, and she said, “If you
don’t believe, don’t come.” And she never would
take money for anything, but my mother would
fix angel food cakes, give her different things. That you could do, but no money. Then it wouldn’t help. – [Interviewer]
Can you just say, “She was a (speaks in
foreign language)”? – She was a (speaks
in foreign language). Yeah, that what we called. There was a lot of
ladies like that. Ashley had quite a few of those, but she was the
neighborhood one. Everybody was
there Friday night. If you had anything,
I don’t know. I know that one
time when did this, I don’t know what it was
for, but (laughs) it helped, and I took my kids
down there, too, when they needed something. We never went to a
doctor, not as children. My dad went one year to
Little Rock, Arkansas. He had to have surgery, and
then maybe five men got together and they took the
train from Aberdeen, and then they came back, but locally we never went
to a hospital that I know. – [Interviewer] You
started to raise a family. Did you ever think that
any of your daughters might be interested in
staying in agriculture? – Well, they all
are in agriculture, except the youngest one. My daughter lives right there,
where those wind towers are. They live north,
they’re big farmers. My son farms all our
land and he rents some. Well, then, Warren he did start, but he married a gal, she
wanted to go to college, so she was a big
professor in college, and he had a good school, too, and then Carolyn, she
married a farmer, too, but then they didn’t like it
and he had a lot of allergies. He couldn’t stay. So they moved to Fargo
and he works for a farmer, Titan Machinery, and he
retired from Kulm here, ’cause they closed
the Titan Machinery, and now he’s working for a
Titan Machinery in Fargo, and they’re sending him
all over to work for them. So he’s got a good job, too. ‘Cause he couldn’t
take combining if there was dust
and he got sick. – [Interviewer] You never did
mention your husband’s name. – Oh, Herbert Buerkley. He grew up maybe five
miles east of Kulm here and the only time we ever
got, my brother got a car, and so we could go to
town on Saturday night, and they always had dances
at the old city hall, but my mother and my
grandmother always thought we’d sure go to hell
if we go to the dance, and that’s where I met him. But we couldn’t go to the dance because we didn’t
have money to go in. You had to have 50 cents and
we didn’t have it. (laughs) – [Interviewer] So how’d
you get in the dance to meet your husband? – Well, I didn’t go in. It was outside. He was in the dance
and he came out and we were all
standing around there, and that’s how I met him. But then after that, we didn’t really go
to the dance anymore because, oh, my
Grandma Schilling. Or when they started
roller skating in town, we told her one day. “Oh, goodness,” she said. (speaks in foreign language) She always said. – [Interviewer] And that means? – That’s not, I should
say, not Biblical. You didn’t do that. – [Interviewer] So your family must’ve been pretty
religious, then? – Oh, yeah. Well, we went to the
Baptist church there, and my grandparents, and
that’s another thing. People went together. We had revival meetings
the fall and the spring and all the local people came and we had the biggest
revival meetings and then we’d go
to the other ones or if there were Christmas
programs, that was a big thing. You went to every
church Christmas program and it was usually all German. I can remember my brother
(speaks in foreign language). And I had (speaks in
foreign language). That was our Christmas,
first pieces. After that, we had bigger ones. I know we went to all the
Lutheran churches around there and they came there,
the Methodists. At Lair, there was
more Methodists there. That was a big
thing you went to. And then the country schools, they had their
Christmas programs. That was another thing. When I had my first
year I stayed there, the parents came and they
put up a little stage and we practiced. The women came and
they put up wires so we could pull curtains. The women would
make popcorn balls and they’d pop corn and
they’d sell it for a nickel and then we had basket
socials and pie socials. And usually the girls would
want their boys to buy it, but I remember we went
to one country school and this young man
bought this girl’s pie and she wouldn’t eat with him. He opened the window and
threw it out. (laughs) – [Interviewer] So you’ve
been involved in agriculture virtually your whole life? So what changes do you think
are, from when you were a young kid growing
up ’til today, what would’ve been the changes
for women in agriculture that you’ve seen? – Well, you still
have to go out, but you don’t have to
work that hard anymore. It’s all done by machinery. I remember my mother, my
dad planted flax one year and he went threshing, and then you had to drag
that flax several times, and she’d drag that flax, and he had a good crop
of flax that year. And then I don’t remember what, but I think it was $12 a bushel, and he took it all to town, and then my mother said,
“And now is the time “we’re gonna put
in running water.” And he didn’t think
that was good either, but we did, they did. Yeah. – [Interviewer] So what
do you think for your mom was the biggest change, you mentioned technology, the biggest change that made
her life a little bit easier? – Oh, my dad finally bought
her a washing machine when the electricity came in. Otherwise, she had this
motor that had to run, almost gassed you
out in the porch, and she got a washing machine
and they put in electricity, and they had a thing in
the garage like a motor that would run it, but you could only run, we could
put two bulbs in the house, and he added a bathroom,
which was another thing, after they had a little more
money, and then they added on. And then in 1976, they
built a house in town here and then he got sick
and she stayed there. It’s just two houses down
here where they lived. Harold Frigand bought
it and they lived there. And then she stayed in the
house until he passed away and she stayed there
until she passed away, and then we sold
it, us girls did. My brother had passed
away by then already. He had cancer and he
passed away at a young age. – [Interviewer]
How about for you? What was the biggest
technology change that helped you, as a woman, relieve some of your
chores, whatever? – Oh, well, we built
a house in town here and I finally had
a washing machine that you didn’t have a
ringer or something on there and I got a dishwasher put in and a nice double stove
with double ovens. I could do a lot of baking. We did that in the house and then we put four
bedrooms in the basement and one upstairs, and all
the kids each had a bedroom, and they went to
school in town here. Yeah, and then the lawn,
we had a lawn mower. I didn’t have to do what
we did out on the farm. But we still had to go out
and do things at the farm because the kids
weren’t big enough and they went to school,
so we were a lot out there. – [Interviewer] When you
moved in from the farm, your husband was still farming? – Oh, yeah, we farmed until,
well, maybe about 10 years ago when he started
not feeling good. Then my son took over, but
he was out there everyday. You had to drive him
around just to look so they did everything
right. (laughs) – [Interviewer] So why
did your family move in from the farm if you
were still farming? – Because our son took over and he wanted to live
out there in the house. And so then Herbert said, “Well, let’s build
a house in town.” So that we did. It’s right across from
the Congregational Church here in town, and now then
when Herbert got sick, we moved here, when he
went to the nursing home, and then my son Herb
bought the house and now his daughter married
a young man from Wisconsin. He was from the Marines. Now they bought the house and Herb and Tammy bought
a littler house down, right across from us here. So it’s still in the
third generation. – [Interviewer] The farm? – The farm and the house. Yeah, Herb still farms
everything out there and his daughter lives in
there now with her family, and she has three little
girls, three, two, and one, and when they come over
here, oh, it’s a little… But that’s fine. – [Interviewer] So they’re
great grandchildren? – They’re great
grandchildren, yeah. – [Interviewer]
Now what happened to the farm you grew up on? – Herb still has it out there. Well, they burnt the
house down, it was so bad, but they put up
a big cattle barn and they have one where
they put their machinery in, but other than that,
they burnt the house down about two years ago, and
now there’s a big hole there and they throw everything in. – [Interviewer] So would
that have been the farm that your great
grandparents bought? – No.
– No. – It was a friend of Herbert’s that wanted to live
closer to Kulm. He was a cousin of his and he knew we were
looking for a farm and then we bought his farm. It was 16,500 acres and we
paid 16,500 for the farm. Boy, you couldn’t
do that now anymore. Later we bought land and
we had to pay $600 an acre, right north of town here. – [Interviewer] What do you
think is the biggest challenge for people that wanna
go into agriculture now? – They can’t hardly because
everything is so expensive. How can these kids start? If they don’t have
help from the family, like Herb bought
all the combines and, well, some of
the machinery didn’t, like he’s bought
different haying stuff. We had a little round baler
that was a back-hiller. So they have these big bales
now and they can handle them. That is completely different. Nothing is done
manually anymore. Everything, auguring, I
remember a threshing out. They had to shovel that
into those little windows in the granaries, and now
they’ve got these big augurs and in a few minutes,
the truck’s empty, and off they go again. – [Interviewer] Do you think
many of the women nowadays can still be on the
farm with their husband? Is that still possible?
– Yeah, there’s a lot of them. Oh, yes. I was out there until,
even when we moved to town, we were out there and farmed. Herbert had to look to see
that they did everything right. (laughs) And he’d tell them, “No,
you shouldn’t do that,” but they did what they
wanted to do anyway. – [Interviewer] So this
is a two-part question. So what is the thing
that you miss the most about living on a farm
and what is the thing you miss the least about
living on the farm? So tell me what you
miss the most first. – Miss the most, it’s
just it was so quiet, you could do everything
you wanted to do out there. You had your chickens, you
had everything your raised, and canning, your gardens, where in town here, we
can’t have a garden here. So my daughter-in-law wasn’t
gonna put in her garden, so I went and I put it in. So I got a garden. – [Interviewer] Out on the farm? – No, here in town. They live right down the street and she works as a nurse
in one of those new, where they put the old
people in, nursing home, I forget what it’s called. Evantide, I think.
– Evantide, sure. – She works there and he farms. And their daughter’s husband
farms with his son-in-law now and she’s going to be a teacher. She has another year left, and then she’s
gonna be teaching. ‘Cause her husband said
with three little girls, she better get something
together. (laughs) Well, he bought the
farm now, the young man. So Herbie sold it
’cause he wants to farm, but he wasn’t raised on a farm. He came from Wisconsin,
but he is so willing. Herb said the other day,
they put teeth on the rake. He said, “I was working on
one end and I looked around. “He had two, three done before
I had one done.” (laughs) He was in the Marines
and he did that stuff, worked with pickups and stuff. And when he was in the Marines, he could drive
these big gas trucks so he works for the
Allied Energy here, and he has to go at night
and get these big trucks, and then he fills Edgeley
up, and then he goes back, and then comes back
and fills up Kulm, and then fills the truck
again so they’re full. And then he goes to work
at the farm during the day. He’s really good. And then Herb has a grandson. He’s a step behind
him all the time and he said he was out there. He’s only 10 years old and
they harvested some wheat because they didn’t think
they were gonna get enough. They have about 450
cattle out there and the hay wasn’t
that good this year. So then he cut some
hay and like wheat, and he was raking it, only 10, but I said my kids did that
when they were out there. They raked, but he’s
gonna be a farmer some day when Papa isn’t
gonna do it anymore. So I thought, “Oh, you
better get an education,” ’cause there’s not that much… I mean, there’s no way,
a farmer cannot start unless the parents help him. That’s impossible
because the land now, well, like we bought
land for $48 an acre. A farmer left there
and then he said, “I’ll just give it
to you,” he said, ’cause nobody wanted to buy it. Everybody really didn’t, but we always
somehow got it paid. We got 10 1/2 quarters together, so that’s what the
kids are farming now. I get the income,
1/4 of the bushel. – [Interviewer] Good for you. – Yeah. – – [Interviewer] What’s
the thing you miss the least about growing up on a farm and what things you had
to do either as a kid or a farm wife or as both? – Well, we did a lot of things. We did visiting out in the farm. Neighbors visited each other. Even we’d get the kids ready
and we’d go Sunday night. You never called. Now you better call
because they’re not home and the visiting isn’t
like that anymore. Of course, here in town,
we run across the street, but not like it was out there. We went visiting. I know we had neighbors that
were maybe a mile from us and us kids would
walk over there because they had no children and she always made
the best cookies and one day we came over
there and she was making cake, and me and Art were sitting
and listening there, and my mother always left a
little something in there, in the batter, so we
could lick it out. So we said to her, “Why are
you taking everything out?” And she said, “Well, I
didn’t have any little kids “that wanted to
eat that.” (laughs) – [Interviewer] Were
there some chores that you didn’t like
growing up that you’re glad you don’t have to do anymore?
– Oh, I didn’t like pigs. They were terrible. My dad always took the
extra milk and the water and we had five-gallon
pails and we’d soak that. And when you came
to their troughs, they’d just about run you over. They were pigs. I know my brother had a stick and he’d whack at
them all the time, so you couldn’t even
get the feed in there, but then they had it,
they let you alone. But then my dad
did a lot of corn. I know even in the dry
years, he had a corn crib, and we had to take the corn cobs and we used them as fuel. My mother said it
was the best thing to bake coffee cake
with, the corn cobs. And wood. I don’t know how those people… I said to my mother,
“Didn’t your houses smell “when you took that…” They had that big box
in front of the stove and the manure was in there
that we picked corn cobs, wood, whatever you could
find, and coal, too. My dad would go to
Fredonia and get coal. We had a stove in
the living room, and then we used
it out there, too. – [Interviewer] It
must not have been fun picking up manure, though. – Well, you had to wait
’til they were dry. And I’ve walked fields now. When we kids were out, there was round
cactuses on the ground and they had little
berries in there and you could pull them
out and suck that out. I have walked fields
across the CRP and you don’t see that… It was red, it always
grew, and they’d make… Mrs. Liskey would
always make something that was good for you. (speaks in foreign language)
they called them in German. They had red berries on there and you took those berries
and that was such good tea. And she’d always make
something from those and it would help you. Excuse me. – [Interviewer] Were
those hack berries? – Huh?
– Hack berries? – No, I don’t know what. They were red.

Alice (Woehl) Buerkley Oral History
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