Chapter 1979, age 36-37

Themes and Events:
* OPEC raised world crude oil prices from $18 to $23.50, the biggest increase in five years. Dollar a gallon gasoline became a fact of life… Before the oil embargo of 1974, we were paying about $0.25 to $0.35 per gallon.
* The CPI (Consumer Price Index) rose 13.3%, the largest jump in 33 years. The bank Prime Rate rose to 14.5%. The price of gold and silver skyrocketed as the fear of runaway inflation droves investors to seek safety and others to speculate.
* In March, 3.4 million families (10.4 million individuals) were receiving AFDC (Aid To Families with
Dependent Children). About 40% of all black families with children under 18 years of age are involved, compared with only 6.8% of white families.
* The first Sony “Walkman” radio/tape player becomes available.
* A nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island and the prophetic movie, The China Syndrome, give strength to the anti-nuclear movement.
* The Susan B. Anthony metal dollar is introduced an promptly fails, it looks uninspiring and is too close to a quarter in size.

Buttons & bumper stickers:
* If you can read this, you’re too damn close.
* The best things in life are free, while supplies last.
* The Skylab is falling! The Skylab is falling!

Last payment on our property
We made our final $3000 Contract for Deed property payment to Bobby and Arlene on March 8 and received Full Title to our thirty-nine acre rural property.
Around this time, Bobby rather sheepishly disclosed that he purchase our acreage and an adjoining forty acres in 1969 for $3,000. Now, ten years later, he’d sold it to us for $8,000 (discounting Strout Realty’s fee). Neither Donna or I felt bad about the price we’d bought the land at, nor that he’d made a profit, that was simply good business.[1]

Books read during the year
During the year I read books on various topics, mostly whatever was either important in our lives at the time or of general topical interest to myself, including:
1.  Living on a Few Acre: The 1978 Yearbook of Agriculture © 1978 by U.S. Department of Agriculture – Covers briefly all aspects of rural living. 432 pages.
2.  Back Yard Livestock © 1976 by S. Thomas. Rural technologies.
3.  Small Scale Grain Raising © 1977 by G. Logsdon. Rural technologies, and others…

A forest fire runs through our woods
On the afternoon of April 17, a grass fire got away from the young men living in ‘The Tin Palace’[2] and swept east-south-east across their field, our woods and into Bobby’s back forty acres. The worst damage done was that it burned three of our large wood piles–five or six cords of firewood.

First layoff at Landy Packing Company
Spring  was a slow time of the year in the beef meat-packing business. Cattle destined for slaughter are more frequently marketed during the fall and winter as native pastures dry up and feed grows more expensive. During the last several years, I didn’t miss any time from work due to the spring slow down. This year, in order to reduce overhead when beef prices were particularly low, the company closed its production line, rendering plant, hide’s processing house and the waste water treatment plant for a week.
A month after being called back to work, beef prices dropped again and the company closed for an additional three days. It was a little unnerving to find that when business was slow you became liable for lay off. When your livelihood dangles beneath a dark cloud, one can never really become comfortable with the security afforded by that job. Since Donna and I both worked for Landy Packing, we had in effect, double jeopardy.

Memories of the telephone system 1979 [3]
During the latter half of the 1970s and into the 1980s, there was a rapid growth in the number of “decorator,” or as they were also called, “personal” phones, that became available. Telephones began to show up on Department store shelves. In time they were to be found in a multitude of shapes and styles: there were replicas of early 20th century wall phones, Mickey Mouse phones and even sculptures of a duck – when the phone “quacked” you picked up the top half of the duck, the receiver. Telephones became cheap enough that you could buy the style and color that suited your sense of decor. At the same time decorator telephones began replacing the standard telephone offered by the telephone company, the ‘rotary dial’ telephones started to give way to the ‘touch tone’ telephone. The ‘touch tone’ phones were popular for rapid dialing and their ability to access computers; however, the touch tone phone and line was rented to the customer at a higher fee rate.

[Internet image, right: Same model Princess rotary decorator phone that we had for a couple of years. It ‘looked’ good (maybe pretentious), but was less functional than the newer touch tone phones;  we ended up sell in the ‘Princess; for a few dollars.]

Meanwhile, the telephone ‘wall jack’ rapidly spread, replacing the old, hard wiring between the telephone and the wall receptacle. With wall jacks located in multiple rooms throughout the house, one could simply unplug the telephone in one room and move it to another room. Wall jacks also allowed you to unplug the phone when you didn’t want to be disturbed by incoming calls.

As the 1970s passed, we found the telephone ringing more and more frequently. Husbands and wives called each other at and from work, friends called to plan a weekend or evening meal, there were more and more dialing errors, but the biggest increase came from business.  We began receiving calls from department stores stating that our catalog orders had arrived, pollsters were using the telephone lines to ask our opinions, and the volume of telephone sales advertising increased. Instead of listening to their spiel we learned to say, “What?… What?… I am not interested in giving you that information. Goodbye.” or “Hello…What do you want?…We’re not interested!”, then rudely hang up the phone.

The most disturbing penetration of our privacy came from employers who were becoming less and less inhibited about calling you at home. Landy Packing Company was particularly  villainous in this respect, we never felt safe from their irritating intrusions at night, on weekends or while on vacation at home. We were subject to receiving calls at any time (of the night) by employees looking for something or another, wanting instructions for a procedure, and needing help fixing equipment…

The driveway is finally installed properly
Being completely dissatisfied with the work previously done on our driveway, we telephoned around and located bulldozer operator with road building experience. It was a sad day in September, when Dale Erdman and his father met with us at the property to assess the situation and determine what must be done. We needed to have a drainage ditch dug along the north side of the driveway. The ditch
would intercept and collect water running off the small hill and channel the spring water. A galvanized steel drainage ditch would needs be installed at the lowest point in the drive way. The roadbed would have to be built up over the culvert and a another channel was needed to drain the water to the Fen Bog.
Soil from the ditches would be mounded up to create an elevated road across the entire length of the driveway, up to the proposed homesite. We would need to have Class 5 dumped and spread on top of the elevated bed to create a compacted road surface. Bulldozing out a drainage ditch beside the driveway, meant removal of a lot more trees.

The Erdman’s had a bulldozer that they described as being equivalent to a big D-8 Caterpillar. They charged $60 per hour labor, which was a little more than a day’s gross labor from my wages. It was estimated the job would take about a day, or eight hours labor. We OK’d the project and returned home feeling sick. Not only did we face a large expense, but the forest would be gouged out. We were use to walking and driving through the woods on the driveway, with trees rising immediately on either side of us. (See photograph, ‘Early driveway’ below)

[Photograph at right is of the early driveway in the summer of 1979, facing west. The  fen Bog is to the left a couple hundred feet. We’re standing at a point half way down driveway from homesite. The future homesite clearing begins is about 200 feet behind camera. The next photo was taken from 150 feet further down driveway looking back in this direction, across this same area, but from the far side.]

Dale Erdman started working in the afternoon, a few days later. We drove out to see his progress after work and were and absolutely amazed to find the driveway progressing well toward completion. I’d never seen a big bulldozer work before, but learned immediately that they are awesome machines. When Dale wanted to remove a tree he hit the tree and over it went, then he’d back up gouge it by the roots and push the entire tree back into the woods.

When the bulldozer’s blade was lowered into the soil, it rolled up a small hill in front. The machine possessed the power and the ability to create a kind of raw carnage as I’d never seen. We realized immediately, that the $60 per hour we were paying, was not too much for the job being done.

[Photograph at right is of early driveway during September 1979, facing east. Erdman Construction is building a proper driveway with their D10 Caterpillar, cost $440. We spent half as much money on ‘half way measures’ & learning. The home site is about 350 feet in front of camera, at the opening near center of picture.]

There wasn’t enough soil removed from the drainage ditches to create the required road bed so Dale dug out three additional areas just for soil. These dugout areas slowly filled with water and over the years became wildlife ponds, one  filled with cattail.
It cost us $440 for the approximately seven hours of bulldozer work.  When the work was done, we asked the Erdman’s to come back in the spring to do some clearing in the home site, prior to our mobile home being moved in.
Finally, we had eight to ten each ten cubic yard dump truck loads of Class 5 spread along the length of the driveway, and with that our driveway was completed.

 Music [midi: Labyrinth Melody]

Dowsing for water
In October, as soon as we had a functional driveway, our concern turned toward finding potable water in the homesite.  We visited the property owners around us to find out what their water situation was. The Bialke farm[4], a half mile to our northwest had water at forty feet. Bobby, about 3/8 mile to our south east also had water at about forty feet. We were just about in the middle between the two, but had no way of knowing if the aquifer was narrow or wide.
Bobby taught us how to dowse for water. He cut and bent a pair of wire coat hangers and showed us how they worked in the yard at his mobile home[5]. He said that, as one slowly walked over a subsoil water source (a good spot for a well), that the wires would cross forming an X over the spot. Donna and I were skeptical, but we each tried the homemade dousing rods. It was uncanny, but the rods did turn of their own volition, and came together over the same spot.
We brought the bent wire rods back to our homesite and began walking around. Near the tree line on the mid-northwest side of the upper yard the dousing rods began to swing together. I approached the location from a different direction and they moved together and rapidly crossed again. Donna walked about with the rods and they closed for her in the same spot. Every time we got within about six feet from that one spot, the rods began to swing together and within another couple of steps they crossed. All we could think of was that a pool of water near the surface must have a different electrical or magnetic effect on the wires than deeper soil. At the precise location where the dousing rods crossed, we drove a stake in the ground topped with a small red flag.

The well
We called Traut Well Drilling Company in St. Cloud and asked them to come out and install the well. Traut came out about a week later and hit water at the location we’d marked. They hit a pressurized aquifer at forty-three feet and sunk a four-inch casing into it. The pressure in the aquifer forced water up the casing to within eighteen feet of the surface. When the well was tested, they found an available flow rate of sixty gallons per minute. Unlike our neighbors, our water did not have a brownish-yellow tinge from dissolved iron. We had a small hand pump installed on top of the well casing to act as a backup water supply in case of emergency. A submersible, three-quarter H.P. stainless steel pump and screen was installed down inside the casing to provide water for our future home and yard hydrants.[October 1979. A panoramic view of the early home site, facing north. Our future driveway enters at center left, passes  just the other side of the two smaller trees at near left. At the cloth arrow (on tree stump at right), the driveway curves north  toward the future garage—where Donna is seen standing (barely visible standing at the right side of the center photograph). The future location of our mobile homes front door would be located just behind the large dead Elm tree  seen at the center of the middle photograph.]

We had Traut Well Drilling install: the well, casing, pump & screen, one hydrant in the back yard, the water pipe rising to the house riser, and a forty-two gallon holding and pressurization tank. The pressurization tank and internal connections were installed after we moved the trailer onto the property and while all the other utilities were being connected. Traut’s billing for the equipment and labor was $1,585.

Icabod P Tailfeathers dies
It was a sad Fall day when we found our little buddy, Icabod, had died. Ol’ Icabod lived with us for his entire life, from the time he was a little feather ball at the pet shop, until his old age. We taught the little guy to screech a few words, sit on our fingers, ride on our shoulder. He was a good little pet and brought tears to our eyes when we found him laying on the bottom of his cage one weekend morning.

Since we’d all been working so hard to buy our rural property and it was always in our mind that Icabod would live there with us, we found it appropriate to bury him there. We gathered our little green friend, his plastic toys and mirror, and placed them in a small box. Later that the day, we tearfully buried him in
a quiet location, about a hundred feet off our new driveway, near the lowland and not far from a large rock pile. I made a little cross with “Icabod” inscribed and put it on his grave. Donna seeded his resting place under the trees with shade bearing flowering plants.[6]

We felt really bad about Icabod’s death and missed our ‘birdie’, so within a few days went to the pet store and bought home another parakeet, who we aptly named, Alexander R. Little.[7]

Selling firewood
That Fall, with a functional road running back into the homesite, we were able to truck several loads of cut firewood out from the homesite. We ran an advertisement, “Firewood for Sale, $60 per pickup load” (three quarter cord) in the newspaper and on the bulletin board at Landy Packing Company. We busted our ‘behinds’ (!) loading cords of wood on the pickup, hauling them to customers homes, then unloading the wood into their garages.

Selling firewood for profit sounded good ‘in theory’, but in practice, it turned out to be too much physical labor for us to accomplish expediently on our weekends. As it was, we were working hard all week, had household work to do, besides get some rest. We could have made good money, since we still had plenty of wood to haul, but after a couple of loads it simply wasn’t worth the additional effort to continue.

A solution to employee theft at Landy’s
Landy packing had an ongoing problem with the employee theft of meat. This was not a situation where entire sides of beef were being stolen, but a continued pilfering of small packages ranging from maybe two to ten pounds at a time. The people with access to specific meat cuts and packaging materials worked in the company’s Boning Department where special orders were filled. The Boning Department frequently worked in two full shifts and occasionally with a small graveyard shift. Ever so often, particularly at night, the company security guards would catch an employee or several employees sneaking beef out to the trunk of their car or to a collaborating non employee who was waiting in the parking lot to receive the meat. Meat was a big item to steal, but employee theft also included tools, various equipment, truck and automotive parts, gasoline, you name it.

One day I happened to walk into the office conference room where there was a meeting going on between the Landy family officers and company’s top supervisors. They were trying to develop a security system to stop the thievery that apparently was running out of control. As I stood back, unobtrusively waiting to speak to my boss, Jim Landy, one of the  family members asked how I would solve the

This presented a challenge, into which I immersed all my spare time for the next two days. I noted the broken security fence, several open gates leading in and out of the property, location of, or absence of security lamps, and the location of the guard shack. I drew out a general map of the company grounds and added, moved or modified security features that would reduce theft. When I was satisfied with the proposal, I wrote up my recommendations, included a redrawn map of the grounds showing the security improvements and gave the plan to Jim Landy.

My plan included: 1) rebuilding the security fence around the employee parking lot, 2) closure of all but one gate onto the premises and funneling employees all through that gate, 3) moving the Security Guard shack to the one open gate, 4) installation of high intensity security lamps in various strategic locations
to illuminate movement anywhere near the perimeter fence and the parking lot.

The company accepted my recommendations in their entirety and implemented each one. I seldom heard any stories of employee theft after that and the security measures remained in effect thereafter.

Setting up the Wastewater Treatment Plant’s chemistry lab
When the waste water treatment plant first went into operation, the City of St. Cloud collected samples of the sewage discharge water from our automatic sampler and took it back to the their own Municipal Waste Water Treatment facility’s laboratory to test. Landy

Packing’s sewage bill was based on the amount of water purchased from the Water Department and the sewage load as tested from the discharge point. The Landy’s were distrustful of the City returning honest test results and perhaps ‘over billing’ for the sewage. It was only good business practice to run our own tests on the same sample and compare figures, in this way, everyone was kept honest.
So, it was no surprise when I was told to, “Do whatever is necessary to set up our own tests for BOD and Oil and Grease…. make a list of all the equipment that you’ll  need. Get my (Jim Landy) approval before placing any orders.” I was already running an hourly TSS test.

[Photograph A at right: The wastewater plant office and chemistry laboratory. Viewed from the  doorway.  Out of view to right: 1) immediate right, refrigerator which was an incubator for BOD, 2) analytical balance on stand, against right hand wall.]

A description of the tests I was to set up is as follows:
1)  Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD): is a chemical procedure for determining how fast biological organisms use up oxygen in a body of water. To ensure that all other conditions are equal, a very small amount of micro-organism seed is added to each sample being tested. This seed is typically generated by diluting activated sludge with de-ionized water. The BOD test is carried out by diluting the sample with de-ionized water saturated with
oxygen, inoculating it with a fixed aliquot of seed, measuring the dissolved oxygen and sealing
the sample (to prevent further oxygen dissolving in). The sample is kept at 20 °C in the dark, to prevent photosynthesis (and thereby the addition of oxygen) for five days, and the dissolved oxygen is
measured again. The difference between the final DO and initial DO is the BOD The apparent BOD for the control is subtracted from the control result to provide the corrected value.

[Photograph B above right. View of the lab, across the room from the door. I set up the quantitative chemistry lab and  procedures. We tested grease & oils, salt, moisture and protein from our rendered “cracks,” also tested the  wastewater plants effluent for BOD, O&G, TSS and pH.]

2)  Oil & Grease (O&G) This test provides am estimation of oil and grease in water and wastewater by a gravimetric determination of fluorocarbon extractable substances from an acidified sample.
3)  Total Suspended Solids (TSS): The TSS measurement we used was determined by pouring a carefully measured volume of influent and effluent water (typically one liter each) into graduated Imhoff cones, then reading the depth of the settled filtrate in the bottom of the cone. Laboratory determinations of suspended solids (SS) in the influent, primary effluent, and final effluent are standard measurements used to indicate treatment plant efficiency.
4)  Acidity (pH) – acidity of the plants wastewater. For chemical feed control purposes and to show the City that we didn’t have spikes that would interfere with their treatment program.

I phoned with the City of St. Cloud Wastewater treatment facility chemist to have the official test procedure mailed were using mailed to me at Landy’s, meanwhile I ordered several industrial chemical-apparatus catalogs.

When the water testing test procedures were scaled to our sewage load levels, I made a list of the
equipment and chemicals that would be needed for an ongoing operation. Shortly after the (price) list was given to Jim Landy thing began to happen. The Landy’s bought a set of very used and somewhat rusty lab cabinets with counter top. Over the next few weeks, I cleaned and painted the cabinets. A plumber was sent  to made the water connections and an electrician installed power outlets above the lab’s shelf top, for the various electric instruments we’d be connecting. Finally, the equipment and chemicals were ordered.

It took another month (hence, 4-5 weekly tests) to work out the procedural bugs and bring our test results close to those the City’s lab was getting. Thereafter, the City workers brought and installed their own sampler at the Second Clarifier’s weir, while our flow proportioned and refrigerated sampler took grab samples a few yards further on down the pipe.

It’s important to realize that the City used a non-flow proportioned, non-refrigerated sample while our was flow proportioned and refrigerated. The difference being, that in the very important BOD test, non refrigerated samples allow bacterial growth to explode, while refrigerated samples have retarded bacterial growth. Hence, non refrigerated samples have a larger ending population of bacteria, who use up more oxygen from the sample water…creating higher BOD test results and subsequent higher water billings. Also, since the City’s water was non flow proportioned, their sample took the same size and frequency of samples regardless of whether it was during the middle of production or between midnight and 6:30AM when the plant was essentially closed and there was no flow. So how could we compare samples—we couldn’t, not really. Actually, the City took half the content of our sample bucket and based their test on those results. I never verbally questioned this procedure. The City was happy to make me (and the Landy’s)  think they were cross testing between their sampler and ours, but in reality they weren’t, and I told the  Landy family so.

Setting up the Rendering Products lab
A little background: After a cow was killed, it was hung on a hook through a rear ‘hamstring’ to a rolling conveyors that went around within the plants ‘kill floor’. As soon as the animal was hung, it’s throat was cut and blood drained down a floor drain to the Rendering Plant. Moments later, when the animal was skinned, its hide went to the Hides plant for cleaning and salting prior to shipment to a leather processing plant.

The carcass was carried from butcher to butcher, pulled along by a chain driven overhead conveyor, where it underwent the  butchering process. At each work station, the butchers performed a specific series of cuts, so that by the end of the chain, the animal was sectioned into major parts. The major parts went into the company’s ‘boning room’ where they were refrigerated while being further reduced, then boxed in bulk or loaded into refrigerated trucks as ‘sides’ of beef.

What was left, that is, the hoofs, slices of fat, head, organs, stomach pouch, etc., were fed through stainless steel chutes to ‘Rendering’, in an adjacent large room.
These ‘byproducts’ were batch cooked and ground into a rather dry, somewhat boney and fibrous, pea sized and smaller, particulate called ‘Cracks’. One or two large truckloads of Cracks were shipped out to a local poultry feed plant daily, where the material was mixed, in several story high automated hoppers, with corn or other protein grains to make poultry feed.

The feed mills bought and paid for our Cracks product based on several criteria, specifically, the amount of protein, oils & grease, salt and moisture content. As with the City Waste Water Tests, Landy’s had been at the mercy of the Feed Mill testers to provide honest tests. It wasn’t long after the Landy family found that I could set up a quantitative chemistry laboratory and carry out a proficient testing
operation, that they wanted to expand the lab in order to test their Rendering Product  and compare results against the prices they were receiving. There had also been an issue of sodium (salt) in
the Cracks, above a given level and the product had to be shipping to one feed mill and below that number it went to another mill. Apparently their product was close to the pivot point and could swing one way to another between truck loads.

After receiving a few congratulations (‘warming me up’ for an additional assignment) on how good a job I had done with setting up and implementing the Waste Water chemical test procedures, I was given the job of increasing the labs testing capacity, to include protein, oils & grease, salt and moisture content.

Of course, they wanted the procedures and equipment set up immediately. Of course…

By this time, I’d been working at Landy Packing for several years and in the owners eyes had developed,  a history of no-nonsense productivity and responsibility. I was seen as thrifty, and known to shop for the best prices and quality when ordering for the company; further more, I  always showed positive results from my efforts. So, this time I didn’t need to provide a list of equipment, but began by ordering a few pieces of equipment right away—to show things were proceeding rapidly.

I took the company’s thick  ‘Rendering Operations’ text home several consecutive weekends and worked out test procedures, as well as a list of the specialized testing apparatus that would be needed for lab testing. Over the next month or so, as the equipment came in, I began running tests.

Right from the start the testing ran into a problem, there wasn’t enough time during my shift to run the tests, operate the waste water treatment plant, test the water, make black grease and keep the place smelly-nice, the floors clean, etc. The swing shift operator was basically ‘labor,’ with no training in chemistry[8].  So, Landy’s told me to hire someone with a chemistry degree to do the Product Chemistry and pump the water plant tanks on Graveyard Shift.

I  ran an advertisement in the St. Cloud Times, hired a chemist (with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry).  Shortly thereafter, I was ‘promoted to ‘Waste Water Treatment Plant Superintendent and Chief Chemist”, the Swing shift operator was Water Plant Operator, and the lab tech became Company Chemist. It was all very official sounding and as such, kept the three of us out on the Meat Cutters Union. When the laboratory began testing, and a data feed loop was developed (ie., daily log books) for owner, Max Landy and the Rendering Supervisor, Herb Johnson, the ‘stars were aligned’ for me to receive another pay raise. (Grin)

As I recall, this pay hike was similar to another I’d received a year or two earlier, 50¢ an hour broken into “35¢ now and 15¢  in three months”…the Landy’s thought process for holding onto that few extra cents just a while longer, was something that never changed.

Looking at Photograph A above: Seen on the counter across the room– the apparatus at right is the Cracks oil and grease extraction cooker, while the two apparatus at left are protein extraction cooker. Reagent storage bottle are seen on the shelf above the sink and a Imhoff cone is on the stainless steel
table center, with solids settling.

Looking at Photograph B above: My various log books are seen on the shelf above the work bench. A multitude of ‘sample test result forms’ and the ‘daily waste water treatment plant log’ are hung from wall hangers. Two long glass burettes used in titration are seen at center front, on the stainless steel table.
Our refrigerator/incubator and analytical the balance didn’t get into either of the photographs, the balance was crucial in weighing fraction of a gram quantities, while the refrigerator was needed to hold– BOD test samples at a set temperature for their five-day incubation.

Iran seizes the American Embassy
A tense situation developed on November 4, that eventually and unfortunately helped topple President Carter’s administration: Iranian (militant) “students” in seized the American embassy in Tehran, taking sixty-three Americans hostage. At first they demanded the return of the Shaw of Iran who fled to the U.S.A. and stayed to receive cancer treatment.
Some fifty two of the hostages were held more than a year. Daily TV new coverage showed the President’s administration unable to negotiate, bluff, or in any way affect the release of the hostages. The standoff made America look weak, it made Americans feel like we were hostage to an inept group of little more that tribal Bedouin hoodlums in a desert country. Iran used every opportunity to rub (The great Satan) America’s nose with their propaganda.

Buying a wood burning stove
Energy costs continued to gyrate and climb for several years after the end of the OPEC oil embargo. World oil companies, refineries and producers were seen making huge profits as everyone between the well head and the consumer tacked on an extra price increment for their own higher profits. Energy costs across the board rose: Gasoline, coal, natural gas, propane and electricity– regardless of its energy source. Our desire to buy a wood burning stove arose from three sources:
1)  The ever-present potential for an electric power outage during winter. We learned from the ‘Blizzard of the Century’ in January 1975, to have respect for the weather, particularly the life threatening severity of winter’s bitter cold.
2)  Since we bought partially wooded raw land, we owned renewable resources that could be burned. There were quite a few dead trees and plenty of annual wind fall amongst our woods. Chain sawing the wood into proper lengths and splitting the pieces for burning in a stove, was all that was required to reduce our electric heating bill.
3)  Finally, we wanted to enjoy winters cheeriness and the warmth of an indoor fireplace.

[Photo at left shows the same Goldilocks model with nickel highlights  as we bought.]

On November 12, we bought a Fisher Stove more accurately a radiant heater/fireplace stove. The “Goldilocks” model had a two-step combustion chamber which recirculated wood gases back into the flames for almost total combustion. It had a triple sealed door to keep air out and smoke in, firebrick lining, air tight construction, a bi level cooking surface on top, should we wish to heat water or cook an emergency stew. We paid a little extra and bought the model with attractive nickel-plated pine tree images on the stoves two cast iron doors. The stove was delivered to and installed at our  mobile home a couple days later.

Fisher Goldilocks, nickel stove (420 pounds) $805.
Chimney kit $159.
Hearth pad $129.
Kemstone wall insulator, 48 inch by 54 inch, red brick. $64.
Tax $46.
Labor $130.
Total cost $1,333.

Cost of the unit installed:
With the installation of the stove, Donna and I immediately made a trip to the property and brought back about a half cord of  dry firewood. We stacked the wood behind our garden shed and covered it with a tarp to protect it from the elements. As it was already mid November, we  promptly began heating the home with small test fires. Within a couple days, we’d learned to shovel out the ashes, to efficiently start a fire in the fireplace and began to enjoy the heat and the stove’s hominess[9].

A two month list of our supper entrees
By Thanksgiving, we knew that in about a half year, we’d be ready to move the mobile home onto the rural acreage and start a large garden. We wanted to raise crops and livestock that would best fit the region’s climate and our food preferences.  So in order to understand what we might raise, we decided to take a closer look at our food consumption, particularly suppers. For several months during the Fall and Winter, I kept track of the main course from each supper meal.

Table of main entrees for supper meals December 1979 through January 1980:

1  Sat. Pork chops, creamed corn 1 Barbequed lamb, fruit bulgur
2  Sun. Lamb, rice, fried eggplant 2 Enchiladas
3 Fried chicken, mashed potatoes 3 Left over ?
4 Enchiladas 4 Spaghetti, meatballs, garlic bread
5 Tacos 5  Sat. Cold cut meat, large bowl soup
6 Pork chops, broccoli, cheese sauce topping 6  Sun. Hamburgers, buns, fixings
7 Mexican Village: combination plate 7 Steak, baked potatoes with sour cream
8  Sat. Steak, baked potato with sour cream 8 Pork roast, potatoes, carrots
9  Sun. Patty melt sandwiches 9 Tacos
10 Spare ribs, zucchini, corn 10 Lamb chops, turnips, corn bread
11 Spaghetti, meatballs, garlic bread 11 Pirates Cove:
12 Ring sausage, spinach 12  Sat. Sammy’s Pizza: Lasagna
13 Tostadas 13  Sun. Lamb goulash
14 Christmas party dinner at friends 14 Pork roast, potatoes, carrots
15  Sat. Ham & cheese sandwiches 15 Hamburgers, buns,  chips, guacamole dip
16  Sun. Curried lamb, rice 16 Pork chops, broccoli, corn bread
17 Chili rellenos, beans, rice 17 Ham, boiled cabbage
18 Pork roast, potatoes, carrots 18 Pirates Cove:
19 Ring sausage, spinach 19  Sat. Pizza Hut: Pizza
20 Enchiladas 20  Sun. Barbecue chicken
21 Steak, baked potatoes with sour cream 21 Ring sausage, spinach
22  Sat. Sammy’s Pizza: Lasagna 22 Metalloid, potatoes, carrots
23  Sun. Kings Inn: Steak dinner 23 Pork chops, turnips, corn bread
24 Lamb, rice 24 Chili rellenos
25 Duck, rice 25 Pirates Cove:
26 Hamburger patties, mashed potatoes 26  Sat. Sammy’s Pizza: Lasagna
27 Mexican Village: combination plate 27  Sun. Lamb chops, wheat pilaf
28 Pork chops 28 Steak, corn on the cob, baked potato
29  Sat. Pirates Cove: 29 Tostadas
30  Sun. Ham, sweet potato 30 Cavatini
31 Pork chops, corn bread 31 Enchiladas

Note regarding meals from the table above: Our non Mexican supper meals were generally served with bread and either two vegetables or a vegetable and salad. The supper beverage was usually, either milk, beer or water.

Music [midi: Casablanca]

Restaurants we frequented
This was a good year for us economically, we were living in our mortgage free mobile home at Rockwood Estates and earlier, in March had finished paying for our rural  property. With both Donna and I working and earning good incomes, we were flush with ‘excess cash’. Some of that excess cash was used to enjoy meals served at local restaurants, including:
1.  The Pirates Cove was a grand and expensive restaurant, situated about thirteen miles north of St. Cloud and overlooking the Mississippi River. The Pirates Cove had a wonderful dining ambiance and great cosine, a perfect place to spend the evening in conversation, while enjoying a particularly good meal.
‘The Cove’ had several dining rooms in which there were  separate, small, four person tables situated next to large, floor to ceiling windows overlooking nature. There was always the low hum of voices in quiet conversation and the gentle sounds of orchestral music playing over hidden speakers in the ceiling. We particularly enjoyed eating dinner at this restaurant during the winter, when we could sit and talk, plan and reminisce, all the while looking out over the floodlit frozen expanses of the Mississippi River.
Dinner at ‘the Cove’ required reservations and appropriate attire. Meals included soup and a small loaf of fresh-baked bread, salad bar, two vegetables and the main course. For our main course, we frequently ordered either the filet mignon, Peking duck, steak and lobster combination, or sea food platter.  The meal cost about $25 for two, including one round of mixed drinks.
2.  Another favorite of ours was the Mexican Village which had a menu of tangy Mexican food combination plates. The restaurant did not require reservations, but without them there was often a half hour wait in line on weekend evenings. A meal at the Mexican Village often began with a pitcher of Margaritas, shared by everyone in our party, and a basket of tortilla chips served with a bowl of delicious salsa.
There was no expected dress code at the Mexican Village, you could eat there ‘dressed up’ or wearing blue denim jeans; however, most men wore slacks and women wore either dresses or slacks. Conversation tended to get loud, there was a lot of laughter and cheerfulness as people leaned over their table telling jokes, telling of interesting things that happened to them at work during the week, and gossiping.
The interior of the restaurant was designed and furnished to resemble eating outdoors in a Mexican courtyard. There were fresco paintings on some walls and photographs of Mexican bandits and revolutionaries on others. The waiters and waitresses dressed in predominately white clothes, somewhat imitating Mexican peons. In the background there was always lively Mexican music, filled with guitars and trumpets, complementing the party  atmosphere.
About half an hour after the Margaritas and tortilla chips were served, our individual meals were brought on very hot plates set in wicker plate holders. A typical meal consisted of an enchilada smothered with mild red sauce and topped with cheese, a taco filled with meat, crisp lettuce, tomato and cheese, a generous serving of refried beans, another of Mexican rice set amidst a bed of lettuce and tomatoes sprinkled with Cheddar cheese. On either a cold winter night or a hot summers eve, eating at ‘the Village’ was a meal that couldn’t be beat. A meal for two with Margaritas cost between $12 and $15.
3-5.  Sammy’s Pizza, Pizza Hut and Shakey’s Pizza, each provided a fast tangy supper meals that were good during either summer or winter. There was no expected dress code at these restaurants, except for the public law requiring restaurant patrons to wear a shirt and shoes. We generally wore blue denim jeans and a sports shirt. These restaurants all had jukeboxes loaded with the currently popular songs, which the teen and college age crowd  played continuously with their quarters.
We usually shared a large pizza with several extra meat and vegetable toppings, and a pitcher of beer. Occasionally, we had Cavatini Supreme at Pizza Hut, or  half order lasagna dinners at Sammy’s.
Donna and I made note of the ingredients in the Cavatini Supreme and began making it on occasion, for ourselves at home.
Frequently, when we ate at a ‘pizza parlor’ we were in a hurry, with intentions of going to the movies immediately after the meal. Dinner for two, at Sammy’s Pizza and Pizza Hut, cost between $12 and $15, including a pitcher of beer.

What’s on TV tonight?
My favorite programs in 1979
•  Local Evening  News
•  National Evening News
•  Mork and Mindy
•  Occasional ABC, CBS or NBC evening movies
•  Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
•  Benson
•  Fantasy Island
•  The Love Boat
•  The Incredible Hulk
•  Battlestar Galactica

10 with Dudley Moore, Julie Andrews, Bo Derek, Robert Webber
1941 with John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Ned Beatty, Lorraine Gray
Alien with Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Harry Dean Stanton
Apocalypse Now with Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Marlon Brando
Being There with Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas
Hurricane with Jason Robards, Mia Farrow, Max von Sydow, Trevor Howard
Love at First Bite with George Hamilton, Susan St.James, Richard Benjamin
Meatballs with Bill Murray, Harvey Atkin, Kate Lynch
Moonraker with Roger Moore, Lois Chilles, Michael Lonsdale, Richard Kiel
Star Trek-The Motion Picture with William Shatner, Leonard Nemoy, De Forest Kelly
The Electric Horseman with Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, John Saxon
The Great Santini with Robert Duvall, Blythe Danner, Michael O’Keefe
Time After Time with Malcolm McDowell, David Warner, Mary Steenburgen

[1]  By the mid 1980s, 40 acres of semi wooded marginal land within commuting distance of St Cloud was selling for $18,000 or $450 per acre;  and by 2007, the property had an estimated  tax value of $120,000!
[2]  The ‘Tin Palace’ was a 50 foot long, very old mobile home set up on the adjoining property to our north, near County Road #14. The property owners son had several friends living in the place with him.
[3]  See Journal 14, Trace of the Temporal Visitor, page 2744, “My “Memories of the Telephone System.”
[4]  Norbert A. Bialke: October 6, 1927-April 25, 2002. Died at his home in Foley at age 74 years,  from a battle with cancer. Survived by his wife Dolores, 8 (?) children and 19 grandchildren.
[5]  In making the dousing rods, Bobby cut the hanger hook off the metal coat hanger. The remaining wire was straightened and a small approximately four inch length handle was bent at one end, 90 degrees to the rest  of the wire. The person dowsing held a dowsing  rod ,very loosely by its handle, in each  hand and about a foot apart. The handle wasn’t actually being held as much as the hand formed a small, half inch diameter, open hole into which the rods handle set and was allowed to move freely. The rods started pointed straight out from the dowser, as he moved  forward in a straight line. The dowser moved forward very slowly so as not to jiggle the rods; as he moved over electric?
gradients beneath the soil, the  rods would slowly move together or apart. At the spot where the rods crossed there is a subsurface water source . The rods could go from pointing straight ahead to having crossed at their ends in a matter of three or four small steps , so the indicators movement was quite pronounced over the distance of  7-10 feet.
[6]  We also replanted several chunks of moss at his grave. Over the decades that followed, ever once in a while I’d go off the driveway and down by Icabod’s  resting place to remove fallen branches. Slowly the rocks circling his small grave were covered with leaves, which in time became soil  and so returned to nature. During my last visit in the fall of 2006, I could no longer find the tiny grave. Icabod, now lives on only in my memory.
[7]  Named after Alexander, The Great.
[8]  Recall that I’d completed three years of college chemistry, including: Introductory College Chemistry,  Inorganic Chemistry A, B, and Bio-Organic Chemistry A, B.
[9]  Photograph, ‘The Living room’, in Chapter 1988, contains an  image of the stove.

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Filed under Autobiography, __3. Searching: 1964-1979

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