Donald Franklin Rodvold

Born: 4 March 1917, Lake Preston, SD
Married: 22 February 1941, Sioux Falls, SD
Died: 27 November 2002, San Diego, CA


As I started to prepare notes for this little story, I came to a very quick and definite realization - had I decided as a boy to become a writer, I would have starved to death a long time ago.

I will begin my recollections of my days at home with papa and mama and the rest of our large family at about the age of five or six on the Jarman farm. As I look back now, it perhaps was an almost ideal place far a large family such as ours to grow up on, with the large groves of trees, crabapple and plum orchards, a large farmyard and lots of horses to ride or hitch up to buggies and go for rides through the pasture.

Although we all had to start helping out with the chores and work in the fields quite young, we still had time to play. I recall the many hours we spent in the groves making roads with stores and gas stations along the way and using different leaves from the trees as money to buy make-believe things. Most everything we had to play with was homemade but we enjoyed them anyway. We would start eating the green apples from the orchard when they were about the size of marbles and got so used to them that we never got sick from them. We could never understand why other kids from town would get so sick from eating them when they came to visit us.

Being the middle of five boys in the family, I recall that I seemed to spend more of my time with my older brothers. I guess it made me feel bigger but it also got me into trouble occasionally. A good example or this is an incident between me and one of papa's horses known as Old Fred. Pergie and Phil had learned that Fred was ticklish or "goosey" under his tail and sometimes as they were walking through the barn they would reach over and touch him under the tail with the end of a pitchfork handle and he would make a funny noise and kick his hind feet way up in the air. So one day as I was walking through the barn with a short stick in my hand, I decided that I would goose Old Fred myself. Being quite small at the time and with the short stick I had to get real close behind him and stand on my tiptoes to touch the ticklish spot and when Fred kicked his feet in the air, one of them caught me in the chest and almost put me through the barn wall. When papa saw me coming out of the barn crying and asked what was the matter, I didn't tell him what I had done but only told him Fred had kicked me and I showed him the imprint of his hoof on chest. Papa got mad and went into the barn and gave Old Fred a whipping. I'm sure Old Fred wondered why. And then there were the times when the girls would be baking a cake. Perg and Phil would send me into the kitchen to open the oven door when the cake was about half done to make it fall. Then the girls would run me out of the house and start to make another cake and they would give the fallen cake to us to eat.

As I grew big enough to work in the fields with the horses, I recall times when we were cultivating corn we would line up beside each other in the corn field and whip our horses into a run and race to the end of the field. As the horses were resting from their run, we would lay down in the grass at the end of the field and smoke cigarettes that Perg had gotten in town. Workinp in the fields was a family affair and many times the girls worked along side of us boys. I think the time I disliked the most was at harvest time when we would look at the long rows of grain bundles we had to set up into shocks. It seemed like we never would get to the end of those rows.

The summers were always my favorite time of the year with all the things we used to do and going to town on Saturday nights - walking the streets with friends from town was always a joy to me. But the climax to the entire summer was the Watermelon Day Celebration or Carnival held each year on Labor Day. How I used to look forward to that day. Mama and papa would help out in the Ladies Aid hamburger stand all day and until about midnight and us kids would be there all that time. But the next day was always a sad day for me because it meant the end of summer and the start of another school year. I never was very fond of going to school, even though we did have some fun times at that little old country schoolhouse. The winters had their share of fun times with ice skating, sliding and hitching sleds and boards behind the horses and racing through the snow.

As I came into my teens we were in the middle of the big depression and along with it came years of a very bad drought. With no hay crops to put into the barns, some of the neighbors cleaned out their haylofts and had barn dances and we would all get together for some good times. I think some of the best times we had at home in those years was when everybody would come home for Christmas. That little old house would literally shake with laughter and things going on. I especially recall one Christmas Eve when about five of the girls crowded into one of mama's old beds to sleep. About the time they got settled down, one end of the bed broke down and they spent hours laughing and trying to sleep on that slanted bed. At these times mama was always busy cooking and baking good things to eat and our fun would even continue after we sat down to the large table to eat. You had to be real quick and careful or someone would scoop the food off your fork before you got it to your mouth or shove the butter dish into your hand hard enough to get your thumb covered with butter, or tip a jelly-covered slice of bread into your nose as your were ready to take a bite. Mama would slap her hand on her hip and say "You crazy kids!" but I think she loved every minute of it.

Perhaps I should end my story here but I think I will give a brief outline of my life after setting out to seek my fortune, as the saying goes. After few years of moving around to parts of the country, I met Kay and soon we were married. In about a year Donna Kay came into our lives and another year later Patty came along. When she was a year old I was drafted into the Army and was gone a couple of years. After I returned, along came Joe. When he was about four years old we moved to San Diego and settled down to putting the kids through their school years. When Joe was fourteen years old and Kay and I started to think of things we would do when the kids were grown and on their own, lo and behold, along came little Mary. So it was back to mixing formulas, 2 a.m. feedings, PTA amd Girl Scouts all over again. But, like the others In our family she has been a joy to us and it would be hard to think what the last fifteen years would have been without her. We have spent many happy times together as a family, especially the vacations we have spent in Yosemite and other parts of the woods and mountains. We have all learned to love the life in the great outdoors.

Now, as I am nearing retirement, my thoughts and plans are for Kay and I to do some traveling in our little house on wheels but maintain our home as a place to come back to and continue our close family relations with our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to come.

This then is a very brief description of events in my life. Now you too can see why I would never have made it as a writer. I must add, however, that I think we all will have to agree that this fine, large family has been truly and richly blessed over all these years and it is our wish that our children will try to keep in touch with each other in the years to come and enjoy getting together for many more family reunions.

Donald Franklin Rodvold


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