Pictures are from my parent’s farm. I should point out that it wasn’t a farm. Dad, decided when I was a junior in High School, that he was going to build a self-sustaining life. He started out buying 5 acres in a small Indiana town known as Kirksville. Kirksville is a dot on the map, a small little town with a long-closed Elementary School, a grocery store and a volunteer Fire Department. When I was a school teacher in Bloomington, one of my co-teachers had been the very last principle of Kirksville Elementary School. But that is a story for another day. Today it is my father’s beloved gardens. One of the reasons, I suspect that he wanted to move to the farm, was to have more room for gardens.
Once dad moved to the farm, he started planting a lot more things then he had in the city. The first two big gardening projects were the planting of grapes and the Apple Orchard. Dad planted non-wine grapes along the back part of the original farmstead. (the first 5 acres he would eventually buy ten more acres). The first 5 acres ended up being where the apple orchard, gardens, and grapes were planted. There were also two ponds, one dry one with water. The one that had water when my parents owned the farm was often called “Kirksville Lake” by the people that had lived there for many years. There were fish in the pond that had been added by folks over the years.
From the pond with water you went downhill to the empty pond. About 300 yards past the now dry pond there was a cave entrance, but it was not large enough for a human to go through it. You could feel the cool air in the summer near the sinkhole where the cave roof had collapsed. The collapsed cave entrance was on the last 5 acres that dad bought. We added fencing around that wooded area one summer. I learned a lot about the barbed wire that summer. The most important lesson is, I stay away from it now. I had cuts all over my hands, arms, and legs from pulling barbed wire through the woods. , Dad bought the second five acres as pasture for the cows, and later for my little sister’s horse Woodstock.
I have talked about my father, the teacher many times. These pictures are from a class he taught in Chiang Mai now ten years ago. Chaing Mai was and is the Northern Capital of Thailand. The Kingdom once now as Siam. It is still known as Siam, but now more of a constitutional Monarchy than it was in the days of Siam. Then the king ruled the entire land. The king of Siam once wrote a letter to the President of the United States, offering to send war Elephants to the president to help his cause (the presidents). Abraham Lincoln replied to the king saying, thanks but no thanks. Thailand is a wonderful country. I now both mom and dad loved being there; they went many times!
When I was traveling, I remember when I finally made it to the top level of United Fliers. I got a letter saying that I could upgrade someone to the Silver level automatically. It helped mom and dad when they were traveling to have that! While dad traveled a lot, it was normally once a year. To move way up into the systems of an airline, you have to travel 100,000 miles a year. It isn’t a badge of honor. Flying a million miles and sadly spending more than a 1000 nights in a hotel, isn’t something to celebrate. We did, once a year spend all the miles and free hotel points on our family vacations. That was the one time of year that all that travel for work, paid back!
Dad was a teacher, and he loved teaching. I had the honor of taking his class one summer. It was a tough class, but you could see his connection as a teacher. I know I was never as good a teacher as my father was. He was amazing. I was a good teacher, but I was not in his category of teachers. When it came to technology, then I was in my world. Funny, I did for a time follow my father into education. I suspect now that was something I needed to do, to honor my father. It wasn’t the best choice for me, but the value of time is you can come to realize the error. I was meant to be a technologist. I just didn’t have that path in my heart until I was ready.
I am wandering the pictures of my father. I recognize more than half the people in the very first picture. It is family friends and my parents. I don’t recognize the hat my father is wearing. That was not the type of hat dad often wore. Dad used to wear one of three hats around the house or outside. I remember them because I think it was the same three hats most of my life. It reminds me of my younger sister and me, racing to my grandfather’s closet where he kept one of the two dream hats. They were dream hats, one captain’s hat, and one cowboy hat. I know over the years my sister, and I raced to those hats. I know we did because my grandfather and father took lots of pictures of the two of us in those hats.
We would grab them, grab fishing poles and run down to the lake. It was our tradition. I know the hats were originally my grandfather’s, but he never argued or declared eminent domain over the hats. He let us have them. It was part of the arrival process at the Lake. The other was waking up early before our parents got up and having grandpa make us breakfast. Grandma used to make big meals. Or, more importantly for me, Grandma used to make the pies. I love pie to this day, because of the pies my grandmother made. I love my mother’s cooking, she taught me how to experiment with flavors and to create so any ethnic dishes, but Grandam was the queen of pies!
Blueberry or cherry pies were my personal favorite. They weren’t made from a can brought at a store. Even though my grandfather and grandmother owned a store in Cambridge Wisconsin, they owned, in fact, the only grocery store in the town for many years. Grandma made everything for the Cherry or Blueberry pies from scratch. I remember helping in the kitchen. I was allowed to pull stems and pit cherries. Or wash and dry Blueberries. As I said, the love in those pies is why I love pies now! But breakfast was always peanut butter toast with Bacos. Bacos, fake soy-based bacon bits, spread on the toast that was covered with peanut butter. That was a grandpa special. My grandparents are always a happy memory for me!
I’ve shared my father’s many pictures of the Wisconsin River. Today these are the very first slides I converted, using a much different system that we used for the overall Family History project. I suspect in fairness and being an IT person by profession what we did or into his case what I did was a proof of concept. The pictures of the Wisconsin River from 1969. First, you can see why my father took so many pictures of the Wisconsin River. His father took many pictures of the Wisconsin River. Also, none of the pictures you see today are off the beaten path. You can’t drive to where the pictures were taken from. There are no roads that lead to where these pictures happened.
To get most of the pictures you see today, there is a considerable amount of walking. My grandfather loved to walk. His sport of preference then was golf. He walked the courses of Wisconsin Dells Wisconsin. I learned golf from my mother’s father. I never got to play gold with my father’s father. It is one of those things I wish I had been gifted with by time. He passed away before I was old enough to understand what a game of golf was. By the time I did understand the game of golf enough to look forward to playing, my father’s father was gone. My dad never really played golf. He never really learned to love the game. Funny but he did learn the love of walking from his father.
That was passed on to me as well, but it took many more years for me to understand that. Anyway, to see the places that you see today, there is a lot of walking — not walking on a flat path, a paved route. Rather instead this is walking uphill. Goat trails they are sometimes called. Billy Goat to be completely factual, trails. As though Billy Goats are the only thrill seekers on earth. Cougars, Mountains lions, and panthers also love places like that. There is an advantage to being above. I have been to some of the places in the past, there are pictures of a young me, walking with my grandfather and father and standing near the Wisconsin River in places that the tourists don’t go.
It is funny; I know my children have expressed the sadness of knowing I was gone. I was, for more than ten years gone often. I don’t often tell them, that I understood that pain. My father was gone often and back when he was traveling the world; he was gone for far longer. Three months at a time are often wandering places that needed help setting up a science education program. South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan. Thailand, Malaysia all countries visited. Although I don’t think dad visited Malaysia other than to visit a friend of the family, actually the others were the ones he went to and was gone for extended periods. I understood the frustration the kids expressed, rarely but from time to time.
You learn quickly when you are out of your land, that the world is different. I made it a point of always calling home at least once a day. At times those calls were more of a lifeline for me, than a conversation. At times they were a life-line for my wife, a moment she could get away from full-time parenting and be part of a partnership. I would say some of those calls were fun when I had to be the bad guy from 12000 miles away. The most important lesson I learned as an elementary school teacher was the need for consistency in discipline. That you have to be the same across the board, variance causes dissent. Dissent causes people to see the world differently.
So be consistent, apply the same rules at all times.
But 12000 miles away the impact is lessened. In that case, you have to be a backup, not the actual threat. Although I do recall “wait until your father gets home.” It is hard when you travel. Looking back the best decision I ever made was moving on, no longer traveling and settling in to view the world from the same place every day. Yes, it can be frustrating to drive an hour one way. But that doesn’t matter if you can be home for dinner every night.
I don’t miss flying either.
I am wondering some of dad’s pictures. A great picture of mom and her dear friend to start off and then some cool Sand Sculptures. When dad retired, and a few months later mom retired, they traveled. Well, they traveled while health was good enough. Part of dad retiring was hard for him. Dad loved being a teacher; it was a significant part of him. He loved guiding students on their path to where they were going. I know that was hard for him. I visited them in Thailand, where dad was teaching after returning from the University. He still taught in Thailand, and you can see the difference. He was more alive when he was teaching than at any other time.
Not that dad was absent when we were kids. He was alive around us as well. Perhaps alive is the wrong word. Dad was more animated, more engaged when he was teaching. He was always teaching us as his children. Finding different ways we could learn. The most important thing I learned was the next thing to be learned! I sometimes wonder as I wander my life if we are born with a predisposition to certain directions in life. I know there are friends of mien that can open the hood of a car, and see the problem. I have other friends who can look at an engine and tell you what is wrong. I can’t do that, but I can at times look at a computer and tell you why it isn’t doing what you want.
When I was little, I didn’t understand why my teachers would say “Dr. Andersen is your father; you are so lucky.” I know later as a teenager, and beyond I didn’t like it when people said that. Later, as I moved into my world, I loved hearing that. Funny how the cycle goes. Seeing dad in Bangkok, reminded me of just how much he loved teaching. It reminded me of that person that touched the lives of so many other teachers. Dad always used to say “Those who can do. Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach teachers.” He would leave the end of the sentence with his wry sarcasm smile. I know that smile took me years to understand. Being a teacher, was everything to my father!
Beauty they say is in the eye of the beholder. First, who is this they speak of? They are always them, are they ever us? IF they are us, then why not the US say beautify is in the eye of the beholder? Plus in the eye is such a funny thing. Does that mean that the person gets poked in the eye by an image? My father loved taking pictures. He was proud of every picture he took. He was, however, also a perfectionist. Most of the pictures he took over the 50years he took pictures were never shared with anyone other than my mother. From time to time he would share pictures with the rest of us. But my mother’s father, my grandfather was different.
My sister and I used to race to look at the old photo albums. We sat for hours watching the old home movies. Some of Grandpa’s video was taken as early at 1948. My mother always laughs about the old moving pictures. She said, “your grandfather used to make us go in and out of the backdoor of the house over and over.” First, my grandparents swapped what was traditionally the front and rear doors of the house my grandfather and great grandfather built. The front door was actually on the side of the house that faced the driveway. The driveway, however, was never really used for cars. Mostly that was so that people could easily back their boats down to the lake.
That side door was the front door. The back door was where traditionally you would see a front door. We also were never allowed to use the actual front door of the house. Grandma did not like having that door opened. It opened into the living room of the house. My grandmothers favorite part of the house, her chair was there, and her window. A giant bay window that looked out over Lake Ripley. Grandma was often there, watching Jeopardy. I remember watching Jeopardy with Grandam. By the time I was 15 most of the family wouldn’t play me in trivia games. But Grandma kicked my butt in Jeopardy. I remember the smile on her face when I finally was consistently faster than she was in the game.