Ole Larson's Folks

After the strike of 1935, and the birth of Darlene, Lovell saved diligently for a trip back to his natal home in ND-MT with his new daughter. But at his wages of $0.50 per hour, it was not possible to drive there in the summer of 1936. Also, apparently, paid vacations were not yet a part of mill workers’ benefits. That must have come a few years later, possibly after another strike. So Dad insisted that Mother and Darlene go by train. The round trip, adult fare was $64.00 – quite a chunk of change in those days, but somehow they managed it.

At Dad’s insistence, Mother accomplished a reconciliation with her parents, and visited them at their home in Savage, MT.Pictured above are Reatha, sisters Esther and Leah, and Darlene.

Also according to Lovell’s wishes, Darlene was baptized in the little church at Skaar, ND.For the return trip to Longview, some more Larson’s participated. This detail is not too clear on the tapes, but it seems that Uncle Vernon, fresh out of high school, bought a new 1936 Chevrolet for $750, and drove to Longview with Reatha, Darlene, and Uncle Ivan. The vehicle may have looked something like the one below. Possibly, Vernon bought the car for Lovell, as it was also in a 1936 Chevy that Mom, Dad, and Darlene made their first road trip to the homelands three years later. It is unknown where the $750 came from; one may speculate that Lovell had some remaining livestock or other assets that were liquidated at that time.

'36 Chev

Once in Longview, both Vernon and Ivan stayed at Mom and Dad’s for an extended period. Vernon attended Lower Columbia Junior College (its first year in existence), while Ivan attended his freshman year of high school. Mind you, they all lived in a tiny mill-workers’ cabin. Vernon and Ivan shared the back bedroom, through which the others had to pass to use the outhouse! [Note in the comments below that Uncle Ivan remembers this quite differently.] After that one school year, Ivan returned to Sidney, and Vernon transferred to Willamette College in Salem, Oregon.

home sweet homeIn 1937, the family moved to another rented house (owned by the mill), this one on 20th Ave. It was somewhat larger, but the big upgrade was that for the first time, their home had a bathroom. As Mom put it, they were really “coming up in the world!”

Two years later (1939), Reatha and Lovell bought their own home on 15th Ave. What frugality it must have taken to save up a down payment, on a mill-worker’s wages! By this time, Uncle Walt and Aunt Irene had moved to Longview with their infant daughter, Lois.

It was not until about 1946 [it was really around 1941, according to Ivan] that Isaac sold his ND farm and moved to Longview. He bought a small dairy farm near the present site of Robert Gray school, but poor health soon forced him to retire to a smaller place with only one milk cow, a vegetable garden, and a small orchard, which he maintained almost until his death in 1969. [Again, it seems that Mother was not remembering the events and dates quite correctly — there was apparently no other Longview farm than the one-cow operation I remember.] In 1949, my parents moved to the familiar place at 4316 Pacific Way, where my sisters and I grew up, and where Mother lived until 2000.

I hope you have enjoyed this series, taken largely from those cassette tapes Bonnie made almost 15 years ago.

Next: The mystery of Philip Myers’ parents.

The MeMe Tapes, Part V: The West Coast
The Mystery of Philip Myers' Parents