An Essay by

Ross Swanson

Redding, California,

now of Oceanside, California

The son of

Marion (Rude) & Arthur Swanson

Grandson of

Solomon & Ida Swanson

Chris & Gunild Rude

Nephew of

Vi Hall of Greaney and Ellen Johnson of Cook

Ross Swanson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday, Sir Winston!

By Ross A. Swanson

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November 30, 2012 is the 138th anniversary of the birth of Winston Churchill, the greatest statesman in history.  The designation, “The Greatest Statesman in History”, was first given to Sir Winston by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950’s; and then, thirty years later, the designation was bestowed once again by President Ronald Reagan. 

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Anyone who studies the history of World War II will see that Great Britain – still beleaguered from World War I – would probably have succumbed to the Nazi tyranny, had it not been for the indomitable leadership of Sir Winston Churchill.

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And one of this writer’s favorite quotes of all time came from Churchill when he came over to America on December 26, 1941, to address a Joint Session of Congress, on the subject of how Great Britain and the United States could be victorious as allies.

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In reference to the horrible destruction that was going on in Europe and the South Pacific, he ended his speech this way:  “…there is a purpose being worked out down here below, of which we have the honor to be the faithful servants.”

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Churchill did not invoke the name of God in his speech, but everyone knew what he was talking about.  Three weeks earlier, the United States had been drawn into the War in the Pacific, but after Churchill’s speech, we committed ourselves to the War in Europe as well, and it was God’s help that made all the difference!

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In addition to being a Statesman, Churchill also predicted many world events, years ahead of time.  In 1905 he foresaw the creation of the Israeli State.  In 1921 he warned of a militant Islam sect, (the Wahhabi’s).  In 1946 he warned – in his Iron Curtain address – that the Soviet Union would become a threat to world peace.¹

And also in 1946, he told Europeans at an assembly in Zurich, that Germany had to be welcomed back into the fold, in order to assure the future prosperity of Europe.

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Sir Winston may have smoked cigars, and drank whiskey, and cussed; but that did not stop God from using Churchill for great and wondrous purposes.

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¹ This writer wishes to thank James C. Humes, a former White House speech writer, for some of the material in this letter.

 

 


Potatis Korv

By Ross A. Swanson

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When Solomon Swanson immigrated to America in 1903, one of the Swedish traditions that my grandfather brought with him to Swede Hollow in Southeast Saint Cloud, Minnesota, was making Swedish Potatis Korv for the Christmas season.

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My father, Art Swanson, was the youngest of the Solomon’s seven children, and it was Arthur, a first-generation Swedish-American, who continued the tradition. The mantle then fell to this second-generation writer to pass on the potatis korv tradition to the third generation.

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Potatis korv is Swedish for potato sausage.  It originated in Southern Sweden in the province of Vӓrmland, where it was originally called Vӓrmlandskorv.  My two paternal grandparents and my maternal grandmother were all born in Southern Sweden.  My maternal grandfather, Christoffer Rude, was born in Norway.  Sweden and Norway shared a few common traditions – such as Lutfisk; Aquavit; and Pickled Herring – but I don’t think the Swedes wanted to share the delightful secret of potatis korv with the Norwegians; (I could be wrong – don’t get upset you Norwegians!)

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Potato sausage is a very basic concoction, (meat, potatoes & onions), and it has a delightful flavor and texture that appeals to just about everyone, including children!   I will share my 120-year old recipe with you at the end of this article.

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Most Swedes lived off the land.  Sweden, (along with the rest of the world), did not have electricity in the nineteenth century.  When winter arrived each year in Sweden, potatoes and certain vegetables were stored in the potato cellar.  Livestock was protected in the barn and fed with hay and grain.  So even in the dead of winter, all of the ingredients for potato sausage were readily available to the Swedes.

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As you will see from the recipe, the meat and potatoes and onions are cut up, and then ground up with a meat grinder.  All ingredients are then mixed together, and seasoned with salt and pepper.  And then, just like conventional sausage, the mixture must be stuffed into beef casings, (medium-size cow intestines which have been thoroughly cleaned and washed).  The meat grinder that had been used to grind up the meat and potatoes and onions is now used to stuff the ingredients into the casings – by removing the meat cutter blade and plate, and then installing a stuffer tube on the end of the grinder.

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Note: In 1905 Solomon could not afford a stuffer attachment for his meat grinder, so he hollowed out a cow’s horn; cut off the tip of the horn and stuffed the casings by hand.

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Swanson’s Swedish Potatis Korv

 

(The basic recipe, by weight, is 25% Beef + 25% Pork + 50% Potatoes + an additional 10% Onions)

 

Example: This is how it breaks down for 44-pounds of potato sausage:

 

10-lbs of beef chuck + 10-lbs of lean pork

   (Option: 20-lbs boneless beef chuck, trimmed – no pork)

20-lbs Russet potatoes

4-lbs Sweet onions

1-Hank of medium beef casings, Rounds (40-43mm)

 Salt and pepper

 

ü  Cut the meat, (including the fat), into pieces small enough to fit in the grinder.

ü  Peel the potatoes and cut them up in small pieces and rinse.

ü  Peel the onions and cut them up in small pieces and rinse.

ü  All ingredients go into the meat grinder, and then are mixed together by hand.

ü  Add salt and pepper to taste; then re-mix by hand.

ü  The casings are sold dry & salted.  They must be soaked in water and rinsed.

ü  Then the mixture is stuffed into beef casings, (pork casings are thinner and tend to burst open during       cooking). After filling, cut the sausage to a usable length.

ü  Bring the sausages, (we call them rings), to a slow boil and then cook for 45-min.

ü  The rings will keep for a week under water in the refrigerator.   You may also bring them to a boil for 30-minutes – cool rapidly – wrap in freezer paper and freeze.  When defrosted, bring them to a slow boil and cook for 30-minutes and they are ready to eat. 

 

(If you have any questions, Don Simonson can give you my email address)

Swanson Family Photo Gallery: 

This is a family affair that is always enjoyable and is fondly remembered by everyone!

 

 

The Young Buck

By Ross A. Swanson

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In June 1955, my grandfather, Christoffer Rude, left for Norway to settle the Rudstøen estate, following the death of his mother.  Violet, Ellen & Nels were no longer living at home, so grandpa’s departure would have left my grandmother all alone on the Silverdale farm.  Therefore, my folks decided that I should spend the summer with Grandma Rude until my grandfather returned from Norway.  That was welcome news for this ten-year-old boy who loved Silverdale and loved the Rude Farm!  The extended visit led to two, first-time events for me, during that summer of ’55.

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My family made the 3-hour drive from New Duluth to Silverdale, and they spent the night before returning home the next day, leaving me behind on the farm.  Grandma Rude had moved her bedroom downstairs to the living room, because of her painful arthritis, so I got to sleep in her old bedroom upstairs.

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The first night after my folks left was uneventful.  But the second night was a blockbuster!  As I was trying to go to sleep, I started crying, uncontrollably, and that turned into uncontrollable sobbing for what seemed like hours until I finally cried myself to sleep.  I had no idea what was going on, (and I never told anyone), so it was years before I gained an understanding of the emotional and psychological impact of homesickness.  Fortunately for me, after that first-time event, homesickness never occurred again.

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One day, Grandma got a call from our neighbor, Art Shogren, saying that his son, Everett, was going down to Johnson’s Tavern to see a western movie.  So Everett picked me up in his dad’s Willy’s Station Wagon, and we drove down to Aggie’s.  A fellow had a 16-mm projector and charged us twenty-five cents to watch the movie.

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In 1955 the Rude Farm was a great place for a 12-year old boy.  Grandpa had recently sold the cows, but there was still some baled hay to climb on in the barn, and I was able to explore the barn and the property to my heart’s content.  Grandpa’s 1930 Model A Ford sedan was no longer running, and it had been abandoned in the field next to the old chicken coops.  Parked behind it was the 1929 Ford model AA 1-1/2 Ton Flatbed, which was also abandoned.  So I spent hours of ‘drive time’ behind the steering wheels of these two vehicles.

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The 320-Acre farm is located in the Northwest corner of Silverdale.  There is a fairly deep swale with a seasonal creek that runs through the property on a SW diagonal, toward the Little Fork.  From the dining room window, which faces west, one could see the tree line along the westerly edge of the farm.  Beyond the tree line is the Little Fork River.  About 20-yards in front of the tree line is where my grandfather always placed a salt block for the cows, (or for any other animals that wanted to use it).

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I was looking out of the dining room window one morning when I spotted a deer in the vicinity of the salt block.  I told Grandma Rude that I was going to check it out.  I climbed over the fence behind the old chicken coops and hiked across the pasture and down into the swale and across the creek.  As I climbed up out of the swale, I suddenly came eyeball-to-eyeball with a young buck with velvet antlers.

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I was terrified!  I turned around and ran as fast as my twelve-year-old legs could carry me.  I could feel the deer’s hot breath on my neck as I ran towards the fence where Grandma Rude was waiting for me.  It seemed like forever, but I finally made it back to the fence.  That’s when Grandma Rude, with a smile on her face, said,

 

“You’re safe, Ross. When you turned around and started running towards me, the buck turned around and started running in the opposite direction!”

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The story of “Ross and the Young Buck” was re-told by the adults, (particularly by Violet and Ellen), many, many times over the years, to my painful embarrassment.

 

Normal School

By Ross A. Swanson

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Shortly after Minnesota became a state in 1858, the new state leaders recognized that school teachers would be needed to teach the children of the growing immigrant population.  But they also needed facilities where new student teachers could learn the “norms”.  So the State built their first “Normal School” in Winona; followed by a second school in Mankato; and then, in 1870, the Third State Normal School was established on the banks of the Mississippi River at 10th Street in St. Cloud, in an existing structure called the Stearns House.

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The Third State Normal School soon changed its name to St. Cloud State Normal School; and then, finally, Saint Cloud State Teachers College.  In 1911, a Model School was constructed on the campus so that the student teachers could have first-hand experience with real students.  The school was named Riverview School.  My father, Art Swanson, graduated from the 9th grade at Riverview in 1932 and from Technical High School in 1935.  He then returned to the Teachers College and received his elementary school teaching credentials in 1937.  The president of the St. Cloud State Teachers College was George A. Selke.  The principal of Riverview was Albertina Anderson, a woman for whom dad always had the highest regard!

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I followed in my father’s footsteps, walking across the old 10th Street Bridge to start Kindergarten at Riverview School in 1949.  We had a full-time teacher, and there were always a number of young student teachers in the classroom.  I can recall three specific events that occurred while I attended kindergarten at Riverview School.

My first recollection was when our teacher showed us how to make vegetable soup.  We had all been asked to bring a raw vegetable from home.  The next day, we watched as she prepared the vegetables.  Then she added some broth and started cooking the soup on a stove in the classroom.  And we could smell the aroma of the soup as it cooked.  Finally, we were all served a cup of soup for our noontime snack!

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My second recollection is not as pleasant as my first.  My father worked, and my mother did not drive, so I had to walk to Riverview School every day; rain, snow or shine.  The winter of ’49 was like all Minnesota winters: bitter cold.  And on my walk to school I had to cross the Mississippi River on the old 10th Street Bridge.

I cannot recall what had prompted my mother’s admonition, but she had cautioned me, saying “Whatever you do, don’t put your lips on the bridge!”  Well, that’s like telling a boy not to look at a present that is hidden under his bed!  As I crossed that old steel bridge on my walk to school that frozen morning in January, I just could not help myself!

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My first response after I put my lips on the handrail was shock and disbelief, because at six years of age I had never experienced the phenomenon of moist skin on frozen steel!  My second response was to rip my lips away from the grip of that frozen handrail.  And then I turned around and ran back home, tears streaming down my face.  I missed three days of school while I stayed at home with Vaseline on my lips.

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Experience may be the best teacher – but it is not always the kindest teacher!

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Later that spring, our Kindergarten teacher asked us to bring something to “share” with our classmates.  My folks had recently given me a bell for the handlebar of my tricycle.  So my mother put the bell in a little paper bag and I brought it to school.  Many of my classmates were not fortunate enough to have a tricycle bell, so everyone wanted to ring it. On my way home, as I was crossing the 10th Street Bridge, a couple of rowdy boys from the 2nd grade stopped me and asked what was in my paper bag.  I told them, and then one of them tried to grab the bag.  As I swung it away from him, the bell ripped through the bottom of the bag and flew over the bridge railing into the Mississippi River!  I was devastated…and I did not get a replacement tricycle bell.

 

The Reformatory

By Ross A. Swanson

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My grandmother, Ida Swanson, died in 1948.  The responsibility for taking care of my grandfather then fell to my father, the youngest of the seven Swanson siblings. So in the spring of 1948 our family moved into grandpa’s little white frame house on 11th Avenue SE, just South of Michigan Avenue¹ in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

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On the North side of Michigan Avenue was Selke Field, a community sports field. But in 1948, Selke Field had been transformed into a DP camp.  Following the end of WWII, thousands of Eastern Europeans, who had been displaced by the war, refused to return to their homes because of Soviet domination.  So the United States passed the Displaced Persons Act of 1948, which provided a place of refuge for these people.  I eventually developed a friendship with a young fellow my age, whose first name was Ban, and he lived with his family in a large Army tent in the DP camp in Selke Field.

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This writer was 4-1/2 years old when we moved into grandpa’s house, and whenever I needed to be admonished for a misdeed, my mother was fond of saying, “If you do that again, we are going to send you to the Reformatory!”

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I had never seen the Reformatory, but from comments that I had overheard I knew it was located a little over one-half mile through the woods to the southeast of grandpa’s house. I had no concept of what a Reformatory was or what a Reformatory looked like, but one thing was certain; I wanted no part of it!

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A year later, in the summer of 1949, my curiosity finally got the best of me.  I had to see what the Reformatory looked like.  So, at the age of 5-1/2 and without my parent’s knowledge, I started hiking through the woods, in the general direction of where I thought the Reformatory was located. The woods between our house and the Reformatory were very similar to the woods up in Northern Minnesota today.  They consisted mainly of pulpwood species and dense brush. Thus, as I hiked through the woods, there was no path to follow, and I was unable to see very far in front me.

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And then, in the blink of an eye, the dark veil of the woods was lifted, and I stepped out into a wide clearing that had been created between the edge of the woods and the Reformatory Wall.  You could have knocked me for a loop, (as my mother used to say).  But within seconds, my astonishment turned to primal fear as I gazed upon that imposing 22-foot high, rough-hewn granite block wall with the huge guard towers.

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And then, I was sure that a guard in one of the towers must have seen me!  I turned around and plunged back into the woods and ran, and tripped, and ran some more until I reached my grandpa’s house.  Once there, out of breath, with scratches on my arms and face, and with at least one wood tick burrowed into my skin, I related the odyssey to my mother.  Instead of being upset with me, I think she was actually pleased!  Because now she could use her Reformatory threat with even greater impact! 

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Editor’s Note:  Construction on the St. Cloud State Reformatory for Men commenced in 1887.  It was constructed entirely out of huge granite blocks which were quarried on-site by seventy-seven inmates from the Minnesota Territorial Prison at Stillwater.  The 240-acre complex is surrounded by an imposing 22-foot tall granite wall, with guard towers. Unlike a prison, a Reformatory is for first-time offenders, between the ages of 16 and 28.
 

 

 

Scarred For Life

By Ross A. Swanson

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In the spring of 1947, while the Art Swanson family was still living in St. Cloud, I came down with a case of Chicken Pox. This was not an unusual event for a four year old child. Almost all kids contracted this disease between 3-yrs and 6-yrs of age. There was no vaccine available, and there was no cure. You just had to endure the itchy spots until they turned into scabs, and then the scabs would fall off within a few weeks.

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By the time most of my scabs had fallen off, my mother, Marion (Rude) Swanson, decided she wanted to visit her sisters, Violet and Ellen, who were still living at home with the folks on the Rude Farm in Silverdale. I still had one prominent Chicken Pox scab at the very top of the bridge of my nose; right between my eyes.

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I loved my visits to the farm! Christoffer Rude had about twenty milk cows at the time, and Violet and Ellen had to milk them – by hand – twice a day. Christoffer Rude never milked any cows as long as the girls were available to do the job. And when the girls got married and moved away, Christoffer purchased milking machines. The farm did not have any refrigeration, so we always had to take the fresh milk, along with any cream that we had separated, into the Co-Op at Gheen.

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As a four-year-old, I tried my hand at milking, but it was unproductive and short-lived. I was content to let the young calves suck on my thumb while my aunts milked the cows. And I particularly enjoyed climbing up to the top of the baled hay in the hay barn.

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Within a day or two of our arrival at the farm, Violet, who was about 20-years old at the time, decided she needed to get some things at Swanson’s Drug in Cook. So along with Ellen, (or perhaps my mother, I don’t recall now), we got into Grandpa Rude’s 1930 Model A Ford Sedan and Violet drove us to Cook.

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At this point of the story, I should tell you that I was constantly reaching up to touch my one remaining Chicken Pox scab – the one between my eyes – just to make sure that it was still there! Violet observed my actions, and she admonished me, in a voice loud enough to call the cows home, that I would be scarred for life if I picked that scab!

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When we got to town, Violet again admonished me about touching my Chicken Pox scab. But when she wasn’t looking, I had discovered that one edge of the scab was starting to get loose! This was a new development that demanded my attention! When we were outside of Swanson’s Drug, the scab came off. Violet immediately yelled at me, “Now you are going to be scarred for life! With tears streaming down my face, I got down on my hands and knees and started searching for my Chicken Pox scab.

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Violet looked at me and said, “What on Earth are you doing?” I told her I was going to put the scab back on so that I wouldn’t be scarred for life. She told me to get up and to forget the scab; so I got up – still crying – and followed them into the Drug store..

Earlier this year, Don Simonson published this 1956 photo of Swanson’s Drug Store. I enlarged the photo and then, with my magnifying glass, I think I found my Chicken Pox scab, still lying on the sidewalk, just under the window to the right of the entry door!

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If Violet had only allowed me to find that scab, back in the summer of 1947, I am pretty sure I would not have a Chicken Pox scar between my eyes today!

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(Atle Swanson, the owner of Swanson’s Drug, was not related to the Art Swanson family.)

 

 

 

The Winter of 1952-53

By Ross A. Swanson

 

Cold temperatures have always been the winter norm in the North Woods of Minnesota. The City of International Falls has long promoted itself as “The Icebox of the Nation”. And Forbes Magazine agrees that International Falls is the coldest city in the continental United States.

 

Throughout the United States, winter starts in late December, but in Northern Minnesota it often starts in November; and this author can remember walking through snow on more than one occasion to Trick & Treat on Halloween.

 

The 320-sq. ft. woodshed on the Christoffer Rude farm at the far end of Silverdale was probably large, by comparison to many of his neighbors, because their 2-1/2 story farmhouse was large. And, like most of their neighbors, the Rude’s cooked on a wood-fired kitchen stove and they heated the house with a large, wood-fired furnace.

 

Winter started early in 1952. Silverdale got over six inches of snow in November with temperatures dropping to minus 13-degrees. December saw more of the same, with minus 14-degrees and five inches of snowfall. January 1953 saw minus 40-degrees at the Rude farm, and over seventeen inches of snow!

 

At this point of the story, it should be noted that none of the statistics above are particularly unusual for Northern Minnesota. In fact, one might argue that this is the norm. However, what is unusual about this story is that in mid-January, 1953, Christoffer Rude telephoned my father to say that he was almost out of firewood!

The Art Swanson family was living in New Duluth, close to the Coolerator Plant. Art was a machinist for U.S. Steel Co. in Gary. He had purchased a used 1948 Chevy Dump Truck with a snowplow attachment, and he plowed parking lots in the winter to help supplement the family income.

 

Christoffer Rude asked my dad if he could buy a load of coal in Duluth and deliver it up to the farm. Within 24-hours, we had removed the snowplow blade, loaded up the dump truck with coal, and we were on our way to Silverdale. We kept the heater in the truck going full-blast, and we had to keep the windows in both doors partially open to vent the engine fumes that were leaking through the firewall.

 

We delivered the coal; spent the night on the farm; and returned to Duluth the next day, after first stopping by the Greaney Store to say ‘hi’ to Pete and Violet. To my knowledge, Christoffer Rude never ran out of firewood again.

(Note: Ross Swanson is Christoffer Rude’s grandson. He resides with his wife in Redding, CA

 

Ross is the son of Art & Marion (Rude) Swanson, a nephew to Vi Hall of Greaney and Ellen Johnson of Cook.

 

 

What Is The Meaning Of Life?

By Ross A. Swanson

 

We are born; Life is hard; then we die. This cycle of life has been going on for at least 6,000 years, (if we use a Biblical timeline). We dream of the good life of achieving happiness and fulfillment and satisfaction, but we are left with disbelief, disillusionment and despair. As we near the end of our life cycle, most of us will silently ponder some form of this question: “What was the purpose of all that I have gone through in my life?”

 

The biblical book of Ecclesiastes – accepted by both Jews and Christians as the work of King Solomon – was written towards the end of Solomon’s life, about 935 B.C. Thomas Wolfe, a major American novelist from the early 20th Century once wrote; “I am not given to dogmatic judgments in the matter of literary creation, but if I had to make one, I would say that Ecclesiastes is the greatest single piece of writing I have ever known, and the wisdom expressed in it the most lasting and profound.”

 

We know from biblical history that Solomon was appointed king upon the death of his father, King David. As a young man, Solomon had faith in God, and he asked God for wisdom and he received it. But he allowed his faith in God to be overshadowed by his quest for the good life. He wrote the book of Ecclesiastes to record that the good life, (primarily his carnal desires for women and wealth), had brought him nothing but grief and despair. In the end, Solomon had lost his faith in God’s plan for mankind, and as he faces his own mortality, he concludes that life is meaningless and vain, (“…all is vanity”).

 

We can curse God and deny Him, until we are on our death bed, staring Him in the face! A man, facing death, wrote the book of Ecclesiastes.

 

This book challenges everyone’s quest for the good life.

 

So…what is the meaning of life? The answer in Ecclesiastes is clear: Without God, there is no meaning to life.

 

The Sixth Commandment: Thou Shalt Not (Kill?)

By Ross A. Swanson

 

According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, the original Hebrew word used in Exodus 20:13, to describe the taking of a life, was rậtsach – which Strong’s defines as: “to dash to pieces; to kill; especially, to murder”.

The King James Version, and several other bible versions, translate the operative word as kill. Many newer translations, however, such as the New King James Version, translate this word as murder.

 

When God handed the Ten Commandments – on two stone tablets – to Moses, the Israelites were still wandering aimlessly in the desert. Eventually, God brought the Israelites to the edge of the Jordan River, at the North end of the Dead Sea. Modern day Israel, (the Promised Land), was just on the other side of the River.

 

Moses had died, so Joshua was now the leader of the Israelites. The first city they came to after crossing the Jordan River was the fortified city of Jericho. This was a Canaanite military stronghold which guarded and controlled the trade route that the Israelites were following. God instructed Joshua that the Israelites were to march around the walls of Jericho for six days; and on the seventh day, with a shout and the sound of trumpets, the walls would fall down. Then, following God’s instructions to Joshua, the Israelites entered the city and killed all of the Canaanites.

 

Wait a minute – they killed the Canaanites on God’s command? Yes, you can read the whole story in Joshua, Chapter 6. But would God ask the Israelites to break His sixth Commandment – Thou Shalt Not Kill – which He had just given to them a few years earlier? No, God would never ask anyone to break a Commandment. This example clearly shows us that the intent of the Sixth Commandment was a prohibition against murder. And in the mind of God, there is obviously a huge gulf between the act of killing and the act of murdering; and it most likely centers on the operation of the mind.

 

In World War II, we killed hundreds of thousands of our enemies, and God blessed this country greatly, just as He blessed the Israelites. But He will deal harshly with anyone who, with malice aforethought, sets out to murder another human being.

August 2012, Redding, CA

 

4th of July

 

I sought for the greatness and genius of America

in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there;

In her fertile fields and boundless forests, and it was not there;

In her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there;

in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution, and it was not there.

Not until I went into the churches of America

and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness

did I understand the secret of her genius and power.

America is great because America is good;

and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.

 

Alexis de Tocqueville

French historian

1805 - 1859


Sent by Ross Swanson of Redding, California

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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