The Grandpa Barn

Viking, Minnesota

Rural Reflections Radio

Thanks for checking out this old column.

The Grandpa Barn

When I was young we had scissors under the cupboard that belonged to my grandpa, we called them the grandpa
scissors.   My friend, Mike Anderson and his family have a pick-up that used to belong to his grandpa, they call it
the grandpa pick-up.  Recently my dad told me about a barn not more than seven miles from my home that his fath
er built, I think for this column and from now on I will call it the grandpa barn.

I knew that my dad had kept horses in my barn when he worked for our homes former owner, Clifford Lindquist.
Easter Sunday he mentioned he had even slept in our house instead of walking to his childhood home on days he
worked for Clifford.  He then started to talk about his old home and that there was still a barn standing that his
father had built.  The year was 1932 and my grandpa, Victor Nelson, had cut popple trees from their farm for the
new barn then used horses to skid the logs up to the yard..  He used a draw knife to remove the bark and an ax to
square the logs.  He dovetailed the ends and used pegs to hold it together.   The family laid straight beams from
wall to wall for a roof and covered all of it with straw.  If youd like to get a little idea what an undertaking this
must have been, find an ax and cut just one log.  The barn was built, the cattle had a place to live and then my
grandpa died.

My father was the oldest of the family-he would have been around ten years old at the time.   Grandma Nelson was
a strong woman who had taught school and moved in a Model T Ford with the kids while Grandpa Nelson drove a
wagon of household goods pulled by horses from Roseau, MN.   I cant imagine what Id do without my wife.  I
cant imagine what my grandma must have felt with her husband gone but she remained strong.  She hired a local
carpenter to side the barn and construct a more permanent roof.  Her family was going to life and prosper and they
must have a barn to continue grandpas dream.

Now I have driven past this barn several hundred times on my way to work.  When dad told me grandpa built this
barn, it was a little like finding out a co-worker is actually a first cousin.  I couldnt believe it had been here all this
time and I had just found out.  Lawrence Johnson now owns the property and he allowed me to take some pictures
and nose around a little.  A goose stood guard over her eggs so I didnt go inside but the pictures were
great.(theyre on my web site)  There was a consistent pattern of scratches on the logs that I could only guess were
made by the draw knife and though the barn had seen better days, it was still standing and meant a lot to me.

This week I was hauling fertilizer for the local  cooperative.  There is a huge boulder with a smaller rock on top of
it that we use as a landmark.  I parked my truck right next to it on one trip and sat down to wait for the floater.
I found a smaller rock and scratched my initials and the year into the rock.  I dont know why I did it but looking
back I guess maybe I wanted someone to know I was here and maybe even stop time for a little while.   When I
look at the grandpa barn I think that maybe in addition to housing the cows and horses, maybe my fathers father
wanted the same.