Each weekend during the summer of 1933, Reatha and Lovell spent a great deal of time together. On Sunday evenings, they drove to Sidney for the movies. North Dakota had strict blue laws at the time, forbidding any public establishment (except churches) from operating on Sundays. This was not a major factor, as Sidney in any case was the nearest town. Speaking of borders, while the Larson homesteads were all in North Dakota, the Hart farm where Reatha resided was on the Montana side.
At the theater, Reatha, because of her petite stature and appearance, was admitted on a child’s ticket ($0.05), while Lovell and their companions (often Neva and her boyfriend) paid the full price of $0.10. Lovell always had enough money for a bunch of candy bars at a nickel each.
It should be noted here that motion pictures were one of many “taboos” for Reatha’s father, so it was a new experience for Mother after her recent emancipation; one that she considered completely innocent in retrospect.
Another former taboo, which Mother embraced even more enthusiastically, was social dancing. Every other Saturday night there was a dance at the community hall in Skaar, ND. The dance hall itself was located in North Dakota, but the park next to it bordered Montana. This was significant because of Montana’s less restrictive laws. It seems that a bootlegger would come to the dances, but station his vehicle on the Montana side of the park, to “deal” illicit alcohol to the dancers. Prohibition was still in effect at the time.
Mind you, Reatha did not drink, nor smoke, ever in her life, but this anecdote was still significant to her, possibly because the bootlegger was Fred Hart, a brother of her employer, and so a cousin by marriage to all us Larsons.
On the tapes, Mother spoke fondly of her early dancing experiences. Lovell did not really like dancing, so her usual partner was Norman Amundson. He complimented her on her waltz, which she said came as naturally to her as “1-2-3.” Reatha’s passion for ballroom dancing lasted the rest of her life.
On the Fourth of July, Reatha and Lovell visited a patriotic monument at Minot, ND. They were accompanied by Uncle Walt and his future bride, Irene Nelson. Here is a composite of two photos with the monument in the background.
On Sundays, after dancing until the wee hours the night before, and before the evening movies, Reatha and Lovell went horseback riding. Lovell brought her a horse named Harvey, which she said was old, clumsy, and stumbled (! very different from Uncle Ivan’s description of Harvey the Horse). Mom also related that in good-natured retaliation, cousin Harvey Larson named one of his horses “Lovell.”
Mom was a novice at riding, but her skills improved as the summer went on. She even accompanied Lovell, and Teddy Falkvord, when they drove a herd of mustangs from the Skaar area to Wibaux, MT.1933 Mustangs
The next fall and winter, Reatha worked at the McGlenn farm. Mrs. McGlenn was a schoolteacher, who continued teaching even though she was pregnant. That must have been quite unusual in those days. Mom considered her husband rather lazy, and was somewhat scandalized that his wife had to work while pregnant. Mr. McGlenn reputedly spent his time on a nearby hill, spying on his neighbors with field glasses. All winter, Mom lived in a lean-to on the side of their house, where it was so cold, she slept wearing gloves and socks.
The following summer, Reatha got a job in Sidney, as a domestic for the manager of the local Penny’s store. On her weekends off, Lovell would bring her back to the homesteads, where they spent their days and evenings together, and Mom slept at Neva’s (what few hours she did sleep).
Next: Breaking out West
10 CommentsLEAVE A COMMENT
May 21, 2010
George-I’m wondering why I have no personal recollection of Neva. Did she remain in Sidney? I remember visiting other Larson cousins (Dad’s) on our vacations, but I don’t remember Neva.
May 22, 2010
I don’t remember her either. Of course, for me, that doesn’t count for much. But she married in 1939, and I think did move away from Sidney. I am in occasional contact with her son, Randy Ness, although we have not met. He is doing genealogy, too. His web page is
May 22, 2010
Aha. In looking at Randy Ness’s site, I am reminded that Neva was the sister of Larry Larson, whom I remember from his visits to Mom (in the 80’s? or early 90’s?). So Neva was married in 1939, after Mom & Dad were well established in Washington (and her brother Larry was only 1 year old). I couldn’t find (on that site) where Neva raised her family. But Larry did end up in Sidney…Maybe we visited them and I just do not remember. But I do remember visiting “Aunt Mary” in Sidney.
May 22, 2010
Yes, Oscar’s was a widespread family (time-wise), like our own. Larry never left Sidney, as far as I know. He was very helpful on our visit there in 2003, riding with and guiding us to the old sites, and to an impromptu steak dinner at cousin Ron Whited’s (the Hart farm in this series; “Skeeter” and Lila’s place in our childhood). Side dishes were in short supply, but there were plenty of steaks – bless their cow-punchin’ hearts. So we have Larry, about Darlene’s age, and sister Neva, about Mom’s age, reminding us of our own stretched-out family.
May 24, 2010
I just love to do ballroom dancing specially during my free times. dancing is my passion.*.-
Lois Larson Hall
Jun 3, 2010
I love those pictures of our parents (before they even married–certainly well before we could claim them as ours!) when they went to Minot. That must have been quite the trip for them, probably in some old clunker of a car, but gee, Dad could have tinkered with it to keep it running in event of a breakdown I’m sure!! Does it strike you how much the Larson brothers look alike in the pictures, except for Lovell being taller?
Lois Larson Hall
Jul 3, 2010
Who is Leon Murray?
Jul 4, 2010
I don’t know, maybe a relative of Arthur Murray :-). His comment did not look like spam, so I approved it. Haven’t heard from him again. Lots of new readers came on board a couple months ago – someone popular must have mentioned the site. We are now getting 30-50 hits every day.
Sep 11, 2022
Neva married Ralph Ness and had four children. Ralph & Neva farmed near Plaza and had a home in Minot ND.
Sep 11, 2022
Thank you, cousin! I added your residence info to the notes with your mother’s profile page in the family tree. https://olelarsonsfolks.net/tng/getperson.php?personID=I487&tree=Tree1