An Essay by
The son of
(Rude) & Arthur Swanson
Solomon & Ida Swanson
Chris & Gunild
of Greaney and Ellen Johnson of Cook
Birthday, Sir Winston!
Ross A. Swanson
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
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.
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.
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.”
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!
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
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
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.
¹ This writer wishes to
thank James C. Humes, a former White House
speech writer, for some of the material in this
By Ross A. Swanson
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.
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
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!)
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.
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
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.
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
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
beef chuck + 10-lbs of lean pork
(Option: 20-lbs boneless beef chuck,
trimmed – no pork)
medium beef casings, Rounds (40-43mm)
the meat, (including the fat),
into pieces small enough to fit in the
Peel the potatoes and cut them up in
small pieces and rinse.
Peel the onions and cut them up in small
pieces and rinse.
ingredients go into the meat grinder,
and then are mixed together by hand.
salt and pepper to taste; then re-mix by
casings are sold dry & salted.
They must be soaked in water and rinsed.
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.
Bring the sausages, (we call them
rings), to a slow boil and then cook
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.
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!
Ross A. Swanson
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
Ross. When you turned around and started running
towards me, the buck turned around and started
running in the opposite direction!”
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
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
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!
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!
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!
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.
Experience may be the
best teacher – but it is not always the kindest
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.
Ross A. Swanson
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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!
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!
Swanson, the owner of Swanson’s Drug, was not related to
the Art Swanson family.)
The Winter of
By Ross A.
temperatures have always been the winter norm in the
North Woods of Minnesota. The City of International
Falls has long promoted itself as
of the Nation”.
Magazine agrees that International Falls is the coldest
city in the continental United States.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
He wrote the book of Ecclesiastes to record that the
(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,
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
This book challenges
everyone’s quest for the
So…what is the
meaning of life? The answer in Ecclesiastes is clear:
Without God, there is no meaning to life.
By Ross A.
taking of a
such as the
this word as
– on two
tablets – to
to the edge
end of the
was just on
side of the
This was a
the walls of
and on the
with a shout
Yes, you can
God ask the
to break His
which He had
to them a
in the mind
and the act
and it most
In World War
just as He
But He will
sets out to
4th of July
I sought for the
greatness and genius
in her commodious
harbors and her
ample rivers, and it
was not there;
In her fertile
fields and boundless
forests, and it was
In her rich mines
and her vast world
commerce, and it was
in her democratic
Congress and her
Constitution, and it
was not there.
Not until I went
into the churches of
and heard her
pulpits flame with
did I understand
the secret of her
genius and power.
America is great
because America is
and if America
ever ceases to be
good, America will
cease to be great.
1805 - 1859
Sent by Ross
Swanson of Redding,