Wisconsin State Journal


Date: Sunday, December 31, 1995
Section: Money
Edition: ALL
Page: 2E
Type: Column
Byline: Robert C. Bjorklund

Librarian Ronald J. Larson has given Southern Wisconsin a meaningful glimpse into the past with a new book this holiday season.

Larson, of McFarland, who is director of the State Journal/Capital Times library, has faithfully published the ``LittleVisits'' columns his grandfather, Iver M. Kalnes, wrote for The Wisconsin State Journal from 1933 to 1935, many of which are memorable stories of people and the problems they faced during the Great Depression.

Because Kalnes also was farm editor, many of the stories are of farm families. Among the experiences he shared with readers were many trying times on the farm -- tobacco at 3 cents a pound and 10 hogs selling for just $63.50.

But Kalnes patiently wove into those stories his philosophy about keeping the faith and succeeding regardless of the economy or drought setbacks.

Furthermore, families you know -- or perhaps your family, neighbors or relatives -- are listed among more than 650 names found in the columns and listed in a name and page directory, which Larson thoughtfully included in the book.

Also there are excellent historical references to 50 or more rural communities and area cities.

I have found scores of people I've met in my 45 years at the State Journal, but never had known the details of their lives as Kalnes captured and recorded them.

Julius Krebs, Sun Prairie, who for years was president of the Production Credit Association, gave Kalnes a great story of his farm, two and a half miles ``east of Sun Prairie village.''

Krebs and his two older sons sold farm-bottled milk on routes in Sun Prairie and Madison. This was the extraordinary effort Krebs used ``to keep his books out of the red.''

Kalnes described Krebs engaging in ``hard work and long hours these days to beat the Depression on one of the best farms.''

He also wrote that Krebs' son John was born on Feb. 29, 1933, and celebrates his birthday every fourth year. No wonder John looks so young, even now.

The Krebs philosophy and key to success, Kalnes continued, ``is that he is a quiet, modest man who tends strictly to business without any bluster and is always willing to accommodate his fellow man.''

Also, you can learn why Eugene Skaar became such a spirited Cottage Grove town leader, because he went to Buckeye School, where Ella Holt was teacher.

``The right kind of a rural teacher is a driving force in community building, in organization of 4-H clubs and all worthwhile civic improvement. With Ella Holt, Buckeye School has just such a teacher.''

Kalnes, a Norwegian, was a close friend of Professor Rasmus B. Anderson, one of Madison's celebrated citizens and U.S. minister to Denmark, and made numerous references to Anderson, including the gift of the King's pipe.

Anderson filed a large pipe with tobacco and gave it to Kalnes to smoke. ``Although the pipe went out, I had been king for an hour, with the pipe of Frederik VII, popular king of the Danes.''

And you can learn why Cornelius A. Sorenson in the Town of Springdale, east of Mount Horeb, always was called Colonel.

It was because his younger brother and sister found Cornelius hard to say when they were small.

HELP: The 221-page book, ``LittleVisits,'' which has an interest grabber on every page, may be obtained by contacting Ron Larson, 5403 Marsh Woods Drive, McFarland, Wis. 53558, telephone 608-838-4279. The price is $12.50.

Memo: Robert C. Bjorklund reported agriculture news for almost 40 years in the Wisconsin State Journal before retiring in 1989. His column appears on Sundays.

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