Location: South Dakota
Darrel Rainford was always interested in how things worked. He wrote a series of articles in retirement so his children and grandchildren could understand his childhood on an 80-acre family farm--a world that no longer exists.
Frances Klapperich's Cook Car --Darrel Rainford 1992
Frances Klapperich Labrie, 1877-1960, learned to cook as a young woman when she had a cookcar to feed the threshing teams. She could feed dozens of hungry men-- without running water--in a small kitchen on wheels set in the middle of the field. She made pies and bread, meat and potatoes and lots of it.
|Frances Klapperich Labrie Cookcar, Turton South Dakota|
In the 1930s and 40s, all of us Rainford kids used to go to Grandma Frances' house on Sundays, along with our cousins the Mannies, Blooms and Fraziers. All the kids went outside to play on the farm. Grandma could drag a dinner out of nowhere and feed 10 to 12 kids just like that. She never had a fridge until 1940. She knew all the recipies and she made the best beet pickles. She had her own smokehouse, about 8 feet square wood building where they would hang the hams for preservation and to add taste. They built a fire in the smokehouse of hardwood or cobs.
South Dakota had almost no trees, so when the wagon wheel went bad, that was hardwood. Nobody but Grandma Francis had a smokehouse. In later years my dad Clyde had smoke salt that he rubbed in the meat when it was butchered. The Klapperichs made their own sausage by washing out the intestines. Germans used to catch blood to make blood sausage. We kids used to be real careful right after butchering when she offered us food. She made soap, too. She mixed the ingredients cooked all day in a big vat: 11 cups of grease or rancid lard, 1 can lye and 5 cups water, 1 cup borax. The mixture was poured into a box 18 to 24 inches long by two bars wide, about 12 inches, and 3 inches high. There were slots on the side to cut the bars evenly. She said to be sure to slice off the jellied part on the bottom of the bars and throw it away. Bars could be used for washing clothes or hands.
The Ben LaBrie and Frances Klapperich house was located 2 miles south and 1.5 miles west of Turton, South Dakota. The farm house was built in 1910 by Ferdinand LaBrie, who was a master carpenter, and was really advanced for its time. It had all hardwood floors and 32 volt electrical from big glass batteries in the room by the side of the house. They had a gas engine put-put they used to generate 32 volts and charge the batteries. They charged them up every few days. The batteries were 2 feet tall by 12 feet wide and made of glass; they had 12 to 20 of them.
|Glass Battery Packs|
Between the living room and dining room they had wooden colonades with a grid in the floor below for the gravity fed furnace. The stairs ended in the kitchen where they had a big tank behind the cookstove that gave them instant heated water, winter and summer. That was rare. The house burned down and has been gone for years; only the foundation remains. Frances passed along her recipe for meat brine to Irene Labrie Wolfgram, who gave it to me. Here it is: 100 pounds pork meat (shoulders ham or side pork) Brine 7 lbs coarse salt, 2 oz soda, 1 oz red pepper, 2 oz saltpeter, 6 to 8 gallons of water to cover meat. Boil brine, rest (skim off scum), let cool and add red pepper last thing before adding to meat.
Darrel Rainford was born on a South Dakota farm on April 10, 1928, one of 11 children born to Clyde Rainford and Florence “Dolly” LaBrie Rainford. He attended the school in Doland,SD and farmed with his father. In 1949 he married Bonnie LaChance of Turton, South Dakota and after serving 4 years in the Air Force finally settled in Minnesota. Late in life Darrel wrote this series of articles for his grandchildren explaining farming in the 1930's. A father of seven, his hobbies focused on their needs-fixing toys, then fixing cars, then auto-body repair. He was also a history buff and interested in how things worked.
A series of stories about growing up farming in 1930s Dakota By Darrel Rainford
A word about how machinery evolved. We will start with the Grass Mower: A horse-drawn, ground-driven machine with about a 6 foot sickle bar. It had pointed metal ‘guards’ that protected the cutting sickle that traveled back and forth, sort of protected inside the guards. In case you hit a rock you did not wreck the sharp sickle sections. The sickle, which had to be sharpened once a day, was removable. It was taken back to the house and sharpened on one of those big old white grindstones that you propelled with your feet. ( Look in the Frankfort book for a picture of the mower.)
The sections looked like this. And after so many sharpenings, new sections would have to be riveted onto the sickle bar. Inside of each guard was riveted a ledger plate that sickle sections slide back and forth on to create cutting surface, and every couple years new ones had to be riveted on the guards. So if you wanted to be a mechanic--or not--you were indoctrinated.
Next came the Binder, made by McCormick in the early 1900s. It had the same sickle bar but was made to cut and bundle grain. It also had a “Reel’ which was rotating just above the sickle bar to sweep the grain into the cutting surface. When cut, it laid on a moving canvas that took it up to the needle. When the grain stalks got about a foot thick, the needle would come around and wrap twine around the grain stems, tie a knot and cut twine. At this time a bundle neatly tied would kick out. After the field was cut and bound into bundles we would have to shock the grain, which consisted of carrying about a dozen bundles and setting them up teepee fashion. Heads up and stalks down to protect the grain from the rain somewhat. Later, in the fall at threshing time, the threshing crew would come to each farm. It consisted of a grain separator (threshing machine) and an old tractor to drive the separator with a long belt, plus about 6 teams of horses and hay racks.
The separator would be stationed in the center of the field or wherever the farmer wanted his straw stack. Each man would load so many shocks (bundles) on his rack and drive up to the conveyer. The conveyer was a long metal chute with moving slats in the bottom that carried the bundles to the rotating cylinder inside the machine. This knocked the grain out of the heads and was elevated up and ran into horse drawn wagon or a truck. The stalks were broken up and a powerful blower blew the straw out of about 10 inch diameter pipe into a big pile that became a straw stack.
Straw was used for bedding to keep the cattle and horses clean, and to bind the manure together so you could use a pitch fork instead of a shovel. It was hard work and we ate 6 times a day. Normally we worked 10-12 hours per day.
Rainfords: A Farming Family in South Dakota
Clyde Rainford met and married Florence Delia (Dolly) LaBrie on Dec.14, 1925 in Redfield. That first year of their marriage they lived on Dolly’s parents’ farm with Ben and Francis LaBrie near Turton while Clyde continued to haul gravel. Their son Duane was born in 1926. But in spring 1927, Clyde started as a hired man on the Aksel Realson farm and moved Dolly and Duane there. By that fall they went out on their own to “begin their life of farming” as Dolly put it, on a rented acreage in Belle Plaine Township in Spink County, 4 miles west and 4 miles south 1/4 east of Doland.
|Dolly and Clyde.|
1928 Farmall Regular They farmed with horses until 1928 when Clyde purchased their first tractor, a 1928 International Harvester (regular) Farmall with steel wheels. He also bought at a new contraption that cut harvesting time by 75 percent: a 1928 International Harvester 8-foot combine. He planned to do custom combining since few farmers bought combines until the 1940’s. Remember that in 1928, Clyde was 23 years old. Three more children were born south of Doland. Darrel was born in 1928, Marvel was born in December of 1929 but lived only a month. After Donna Jean was born in 1931 they moved to a farm not far from Ben LaBrie. Clyde had ideas that many farmers didn’t think of, and the skill to build them. For example, Clyde found a broken-down old hard- rubber tired truck and tore it down to the frame and wheels. Most hay racks are 8 x 16 feet. Clyde built a 10 x 20 hay rack on that frame that could move a 10-ton stack of hay in three trips. West Farm But that fall they had an opportunity to move to the farm they stayed at for 11 years, informally called the West Farm. The farm buildings were four miles west, four north 1/2 west of Doland. Dwight was born there in 1932. The land was owned by Connecticut General Insurance Company, as much of the land ownership defaulted after the crash. The Rainfords were sharecroppers. The insurance company furnished the seed and land and farm families furnished machinery and labor. In return, the insurance company’s share was 1/3 of the crop delivered to the elevator in Doland. Clyde farmed the north 320 acres in Section 17 of Prairie Center Township and also the Southwest 160 acres of Section 8 across the road. Clyde traded the 8-foot combine for a 12-foot International Harvester in 1932. But the price of grain had fallen so much because of the 1929 depression that grain was hardly worth harvesting. After the stock market crash, most banks were failing by 1933. There was no rain in 1933, 1934 or 1935. Dust storms blew tons of prairie topsoil on the winds to Chicago and beyond. South Dakotans had red dirt from Oklahoma dumped on them. It was South Dakota’s worst drought and hottest summer, with temperatures to 100 degrees F. After Franklin Roosevelt created the work recovery, many farmers who were idled by the drought found work with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) or the Civilian Conservation Corps. Clyde worked for WPA hauling gravel to surface the roads with a team of horses and wagon. He drove to a road building site and unloaded the gravel, shovel by shovel, in weather that ranged from 100 degrees F to 20 degrees below. To get milk from the cows, they had to be fed but there was no pasture grass. Clyde mowed Russian thistle to use for hay but the barbs kept the cows from eating much more than they needed to stay alive. Iowa farmers went out on the ice to mow slough grass to sell to South Dakota farms. It was a coarse grass without much food value, but farmers including Clyde took loans to buy it. The cows were so thin it was pointless to butcher them, so they were kept for milk. During those three years there was no need to plant seed since there was no moisture. Clyde told International Harvester that they may as well come get their combine in 1933 because he could not pay for it. But they said to just leave it sit and when the crops return, he could pay for it. That is what happened. In the late 1930s Clyde did custom combining and paid for it. And by 1938 they were able to purchase a new f-20 Farmall tractor with rubber tires and a road gear that would go about 10 m.p.h. Four more childen arrived at the West Farm. Delmar was born in 1935, Darlene “Dardy” in 1937, Delroy in 1939 and Delia Diane—always called Dee Dee—in 1941. In Spink County, South Dakota, the flat, even land was laid out in regular 1-mile sections that made up a 36-section square 6 miles by 6 miles. Two of those sections, 16 and 36, were always set aside to rent to farmers to support the school system. We rented about 80 acres each year on the south side of road between the second and third mile west of our farm.
Crops The name of the game in South Dakota was diversification, so if one crop failed the others would carry you through. The Rainfords didn’t do much winter wheat—they planted rye in the fall and a spring Durham wheat. They planted the barley and oats and got the corn in about the 10th of May for a three-month growing season. In addition to these crops they had cattle, pigs and chickens. They milked 8 or 10 cows in a herd of 50 cattle with no milking machine. The soil was a light loam, different from the heavy loam in Minnesota or Iowa. Back then, 20 bushels an acre was a good crop. Now it’s 40 bushels with fertilizer. It was rocky on the south end of the East Farm. Stones would ‘heave’ or rise to the surface over the winter. Kids had to pick rocks so they didn’t break the plow. Chores When the kids came home from school they had to clean the gutter, a trough that collected manure and used straw where the milk cows were kept in stanchions at night. They also spread new hay, carried grain from the granary and kept busy with chores until suppertime. Of course, before kids went to school in the morning there was the milking and stock to be fed. Farm Equipment The Rainfords were able to buy an Alice Chalmers (B) tractor in about 1944, which meant we could rent another quarter across Highway 37 in section 7 of Richfield Township. They also made hay on section 16 of Prairie Center Township. In the late 50s, they farmed the southwest quarter of section 8 of Prairie Center Twp across the road from the farm on County Road 16. Most farm work was done shovel by shovel. There were no elevators or augers to move grain up to the peak of the granary. Standing on the back of a pickup, it was an overhead reach with a shovel load of grain. There are 75 bushels of grain in one pickup load. The pickup had to be shoveled out briskly to get back to the fields where the combine was continuing another round of the field. If the combine had to stop and wait for a pickup to dump, somebody was in trouble. Hay Stacking In those days before bailers, we had a steel frame work about 18 feet high bolted to the front of our farm tractor. It had a “bucker basket” with wooden tines which scooped up the hay from windrows. When we drove over to stack and engaged a power cable winch to pull the basket up, the steel frame work track then drove forward and tripped the bucker basket from horizontal position to a vertical position. The hay would slide off the tines to fall on top of the haystack. We had to drive carefully on rough terrain because the center of gravity was so high with this frame. Darrel mention this because it was prerunner to hydraulic bucker stacker and very few were sold. Milking by Machine When Dona Jean married Everett Felderman, Dolly lost a fast cow milker since Jean could beat the boys. Fortunately about 1951 a new milking machine was installed and the cream separator was moved from the house to a room on the end of milking parlor. This was a wise move that saved effort. We did not have to haul buckets of milk uphill to house to separate it and then haul it back to barn to feed calves and pigs. The Rural Electrification Act (R.E.A.) brought electricity to farms in 1949. There may have been an electric motor installed on the separator by then so they did not have to hand-crank it. Our sister Dee-Dee always claimed she milked all the cows all the time but never disclosed the fact she did it with a milking machine! Brooder House The brooder house was right near the family house so Dolly could take a lot of care with the baby chicks. Dolly and the girls picked eggs and the boys were responsible for feeding the chickens and cleaning the henhouse. Milk Cows A milk cow by 1930 standards was any cow that gave milk, and color or size or breeding made no difference. Our parents paid $7-$12 or $16 each for cows during The Dirty 30s. We had About 8 Milk cows when we were kids. We had Bonnie and Pet, two spotted black and white big boned cows called Holsteins. They filled a 12-quart pail each milking, but the butterfat content was only 2 to 3 percent. We had a little Guernsey cow named Betts who only produced 7 quarts but the butterfat content was at 6 or 7 percent. Marion was a Brown Swiss, an ornery critter that would as soon kick you as not while milking her. She was a brown cow with muted black stripes running down each side; the rest were just roan or black. Dee-Dee remembers milk cows named Star and Charlotte. Breeding Clyde said it was time to improve our cattle herd and milk production, so Clyde and Darrel got in our 1939 International pickup with the wooden box Clyde had built for it, about 7 1⁄2 feet by 9 feet with a stock rack. We drove to Norwood, Young America, out by Highway 5 and 212 which is almost to Minneapolis, MN. Clyde purchased a purebred registered bull (milking shorthorn.) I believe we paid $400 for it which was a monstrous sum of money in those days. That Norwood farm had whitewashed milking parlor with electricity and running water in the barn--sort of an eye opener for a scrub South Dakota boy. The milking Shorthorns were a deep-bodied animal like a Hereford beef cow, but they produced nearly twice as much milk as Herefords. By the second generation our steer calves were selling for more than Herefords at the sale barn. Bulls have to be replaced every few years. Our next bull was quite large; I can’t recall where we acquired him but he had a ring in his nose so a rope could be attached to lead him around. We gave him wide berth when he was in the corral since he would snort and paw the ground. He never attacked anyone, but then we never put him in a corner, either. He never bothered us when we were on horseback so we never worried when we rode down the pasture to fetch the cows for milking. Cattle dehorning, vaccination Once a year, likely in the fall, would be time to dehorn, vaccinate and castrate all the bull calves, all male sheep, all male colts and male pigs. We also would vaccinate the heifers. We would get the dehorn chute lined up in the barn door, the syringes filled with serum to prevent Brucellosis. We got ropes ready to tie the legs of calves and colts so our home-trained veterinarian Lawrence LaBrie [Dolly’s brother] did not get his head kicked off while performing the delicate operation. The crew usually consisted of two or three neighbors and 5 or 6 kids. The kids’ job was to drive the cattle into the dehorn chute and lock the gate behind them. The men on the front end had to lock the stanchion to secure the critter for limited movement. The dehorn shears had two blades – one stationary and one moveable--driven by 3-foot handles with a mechanical advantage of handle to blade. Opening the handles of the shears opened the shear blades. We had to place the shears over the horn and maneuver it down so as to get all the horn including the root (which would include some of the head and hair.) Some horns were very brittle and may take two men to close the handles and make the cut. The blood would squirt two feet high; it was a dirty job. If the dehorning wasn’t complete then a scrub horn would grow back which looked worse than leaving the original horn. Calves’ horns would only grow to 5 or 6 inches in length, but that was enough to injure another cow in your herd. Darrel tells this story because in the 1930’s and 1940’s this was a ritual once a year. But come 1948, both Clyde Rainford and Lawrence Labrie [Dolly’s brother] died. Brother Dwight was 15 years old and Delmar was 13 years old and they had very little experience performing this ritual and it cost a lot of money to have a vet come out to the farm. Dolly's son Donny LaBrie stepped in with welcome skills. Running the Grain Drill Donny also could pass on some good advice about farming to Dwight and Delmar, who were only 15 and 13 years old. Advice like: one acre equals 1 rod (16 1⁄2 feet) wide by one half mile long. The old Mc McCormick Deering grain drill was probably 20 years old. It had a chart inside the cover that told how to pick the number to set the gears in order to plant exactly one bushel per acre. That drill had a 12-foot span. By filling the grain box full when starting to plant, they would cover 48 feet wide at one –half mile long.
Seed Wheat Each spring it was necessary to clean one bin in the granary extra clean for the Seed Wheat. It was home-grown wheat, likely ‘CERES’ as we did not use hybrid seed until later years. We set up a fanning mill and installed proper sieves to eliminate weed seeds, chaff and grasshopper parts. At this point, a poison powder was applied to the seed grain to prevent smut (a fungal infection) of the crop. Some grain would get spilled in the process and chickens would eat it from the ground. The eggs tasted awful but we ate a few anyway. Grain Elevators Doland had three grain elevators near the depot. Everyone burned coal so the coal barns were located along the railroad track and sold by the ton in bulk. You shoveled it onto your truck and weighed in at the elevator. We sold our grain to the farmer’s coop elevator, but when harvesting grain came in fast and furious, “Oscar” the grain buyer would say “Can’t hold any more till we move some loaded boxcars.” We would take the International pickup loaded with wheat and pull out a couple of loaded boxcars and spot a couple of empty ones. The long, round spout pipe on the side of the elevator was to load grain in boxcars. Trains There were many more train lines in the James River Valley then. These small lines were important to get coal in and grain out. There was a once-a-day passenger train called the “Galloping Goose.” During the 40s, scrap iron was hauled out for the war effort and new machinery was hauled in. The House The kitchen of the West Farm house was on the south edge in a shed-type room behind the front porch. The big stove was in the living room on the northwest end of the main floor, across from the master bedroom. The stove pipe went through the boys’ room on its way to join the chimney. That pipe was the bedroom heating system. Needless to say, they didn’t hang around that room to wash up and get dressed but used the teakettle on the stove downstairs. The girls’ room was above Dolly and Clyde’s room. The dormer held a staircase and storage. Dolly never had a refrigerator. Darrel thought she never needed one because there was never anything left over with all those kids. Those who had iceboxes had to cut ice from the James River 14 miles away during the winter and store the ice in sawdust all summer. The first refrigerators were kerosene. Dolly never had one but her sister Irene bought one in the 30s. It was called a ‘servelle.’ To run it, kerosene would fuel the fire that expanded the Freon and circulated it up to cool the refrigerator compartment. As the Freon cooled, it would drop down to be reheated. Well water The artesian well was on a slight hill so there wasn’t enough pressure to feed the pump in the kitchen. There was no electricity on the farm until 1949, so we couldn’t use a pressure pump. By burying a tank 6 feet in the ground, there was always water to draw in with the kitchen pump. Also, the stock tank was downhill from the well so the water always ran fresh from the well and never froze. The waste water from the kitchen ran through a pipe to the circle area in front of the house. The Outhouse The outhouse was a good distance away from the house, beyond the clothesline. It was a trip that most people avoided at night if they could during the winter. Clothes Washing Dolly had a Maytag washer with a Briggs and Stratton engine. She would pump a foot pedal to start the 1- or 2-horse engine and then run a flexible hose out the door for exhaust. Behind the range in the kitchen there was a hot water tank. The copper boiler on the back of the stove kept the water warm since the stove was fired up all day. The warm water was poured in the washer and after the clothes were clean, Dolly ran them through the wringer into a square washtub for rinsing. Then they could be hung on the clotheslines to dry. Baths The square washtub was also used for baths on Saturday night. Kids were scrubbed one after another from the smallest to the largest with no water changes in between. Getting to School At the West Farm, the Rainford kids went a mile and a half to the one room Ed Sapp School every day, winter and summer. Sometimes there were three Rainford kids lined up on old half-blind Pedro. Pedro was blind in his left eye. If a pheasant flew up out of the ditch on his blind side, he would shy and dump everyone off. Unlike most ponies, he would settle down and rather than running all the way back to the barn, go over to nibble grass while the kids picked themselves out of the dirt. Our perfect pony was born about 1942 and we named him Pronto. His mother was a purebred bay Hambeltonian trotter named Mabel that we acquired from a breeder in Huron S.D. The pony’s father was a purebred Shetland owned by Chet Seaman of Doland S.D. Pronto was a very intelligent horse with a lot of gentle common sense; white with brown and black spots. Pronto was taught many tricks: to kneel so little kids could get on; to rear up on hind legs at a tug on reins; to come to you when you whistled. He was spirited when older kids rode him for sorting livestock but with young unsure riders, he was so careful and gentle. If the rider began to slip or fall off, he would just stop. We believe he lived until 1954 so even the youngest child [Delaine] got to ride him. Later, Art Grandpre gave us a small black Shetland named Buster who was quite cantankerous who often wouldn’t take the little kids where they needed to go. Darrel remembers the move to the East Farm because he had just graduated from eighth grade going all that way every day and then the new schoolhouse was across the road. Education Schools were named for the closest farm, and at the Ed Sapp School, the one-room schoolhouse had as many as 21 kids in eight grades. Donna Jean complained about having to write job applications listing "Sapp School." Brother Duane read everything he could get his hands on from the time he learned to read. There were two books in the school library and a few dozen in the Doland Library so he read them all. It was a great day when he found out that books could be ordered from the Redfield Library. Duane read by kerosene lamp until they got a Coleman lamp which gave even, bright light and that was a very big deal. Duane graduated from Sap School in 8th grade, but he claims high school didn’t go as well. In high school one nice Indian summer day, he and a friend took the afternoon off and the principal suspended them for a week. Mr. Thiebault was the bald-headed principal at the Doland High School; he was called “Cue Ball” although not to his face. Duane didn’t figure that he needed any more time off since he was behind anyway, from starting six weeks late after harvest. So he never went back to school after the suspension. Darrel also had problems with the late start and early finish school schedule. When he joined his class November 1, they were well into math or history so he had to scurry to catch up. Just about the time he was back on track it was spring and time to help with plowing and planting the crop. Big chunks of math that are taught in the fall and spring will come up later to cause problems. By Christmas of his sophomore year in high school, he was finished and stayed home to farm with his Dad. Donovan finished school in Turton. Duane figured that Donny didn’t know how much fun they were having in Doland so he just kept going till he graduated. Living on the Farm Donny called Diane the ‘Kool-Aid kid’ All summer she liked to suck on Kool-Aid constantly and you could tell what flavor it was by the color of the ring around her mouth. Delmar liked cucumbers and Dolly would make a big bowl full at mealtime. When they came to Delmar’s turn would rake a big portion on his plate in case there were not enough for seconds. Delmar had an uncle (Lee Wolfgram) who always had a bottle of wine when picking corn in the fall. Lee never completely emptied the bottle and would put it under the seat of the truck. Delmar was about 9 years old when he noticed this and every day would show up and rummage under the seat and clean out the wine bottles. The Depression and Drought If Dolly ever worried about poor crops and other calamities that happened, she never showed it. She just went about her business as best she could and never a ‘why me lord.’ Sickness and Health No one ever broke a bone on the Rainford farm but it wasn’t for lack of trying. There was the machinery and heights and sharp objects and animals. But Darrel doesn’t remember visiting the doctor in town even for stitches. Probably the worst accident was when 16-year old Donovan LaBrie shot off half his thumb and half the middle finger on his right hand. He was shooting rabbits with his single-shot 410 and set the rifle upright. Donovan still had his trigger finger, however, so he served in the Navy later on. Darrel also caught his middle finger in the door hinge of a Model A. It was pretty flat and it’s still flat now but it works. On the West Farm, the Rainford kids used to chase each other to the haymow and shoot out the upper door, 8 or 9 feet off the ground and keep running. When Dardy started school in September 1943 at the school house right across the road from the East Farm, she was six years old. A chain on the swing broke and came down on her head with only a month of school. She began having pains in her head so we took her to Huron Hospital. Without a way to examine her skull, they said she was fine. But her head kept hurting so we went back to the hospital again. Clyde and Dolly took turns staying at the hospital with her for several days at a time. The doctors asked Dolly if that was the only child they had. That went on all winter. In the spring she got Rheumatic Fever which made her legs swell and hurt so bad we could hardly touch her. Then she got better and went back to school the month of May. They called head pains "meningitis." She went into next grade the next year. Dolly remembers that as the nightmare year. Cousins Visiting Dad’s brother Calvin had two boys; Bob and Rol, who were about the age of Darrel and Dona Jeanne Rainford. In the 1930s they lived in Minot, N.D. and in the summer would visit for a month on the farm. The first few days it was wonderful for we kids had little company on the farm. For us, it was boring herding cattle with a pony to keep them in the grassland and out of the planted grain. To the cousins, having your own pony was a big deal. We welcomed the company but by second week we would be challenging them and bickering like brothers. They were our guests and we had the ponies and farm animals that the Minot cousins did not have, so among the farm kids we felt that not all decisions need to be democratic. Our dad was very fair minded and when he made a rule he would stick to it. Sometimes it would favor the Minot kids and next time the farm kids. Then in 1942-45, Bob & Rol lived in Watertown, S.D. and would come out to the farm during the war years. These days they found out the meaning of farm work and pitched in and did their share.
War Years and Beyond The Second World War began on Dec 7, 1941 and Donnie Labrie enlisted in Navy on June 16, 1942, right after high school graduation. Also in fall of 1942, the Rainford family moved from the West Farm in section 17 of Prairie Center Township to East Farm in section 13 of Prairie Center Township. This East Farm was larger with one square mile [640 acres] of land and it had a larger house and barn. Plus, there was a barn for sheep and hogs and cattle barn for shelter when weather was severe, so we were able to increase the herd to 50 head of stock cows. Darrel's first year to be on a threshing crew with his own team and hayrack was 1942. He was fourteen years old and would not normally have got a job, but so many men were being drafted into the army that it was difficult to find help. Wages were also high, and when Darrel was paid $1.00 per hour, he thought he was rich. The downside was being six weeks late to join his high school each fall, and algebra was the toughest to bring into focus. Every Rainford boy served in the military. Duane was in the Navy and had a great time with his shipmates, college guys who taught him a lot about doing calculations with a slide rule for navigation. Darrel was advised by friends who said “Don’t go to the Army. You lay in the mud and they shoot at you.” He decided to enlist in the Air Force and get training. The Air Force was recruiting farm boys as aviation machinists since they were good mechanically and great at problem solving. When the tractor breaks down in the middle of the field, you don’t call AAA. Farmers replace the part themselves and if they don’t have a part, they make one. Delmar went to the army and was stationed in Germany. Dwight was also in the navy, Delroy, the youngest boy, served in the army and later finished college on the GI Bill. 1943 In 1943, Clyde Rainford went to Mayo Clinic and was diagnosed with Cancer on his left hand. They removed the lesion and some lymph nodes but research on cancer was very limited. He continued to have pain and sometimes plowed at night when he was unable to sleep. 1944 Duane enlisted in the navy in 1944. It seemed everyone had gone to war; they even drafted 42-year old men who did not have a family. By Christmas of sophomore year Darrel just stayed home year around to help the folks farm as Clyde’s health was deteriorating. Clyde and Darrel farmed together for the next several years. Darrel learned a lot and Clyde was fairly tolerant of Darrel’s mistakes. One Friday night Darrel was quickly changing the oil in the tractor to get finished for a night in town. As he poured oil in the crankcase, Clyde stopped to watch and said “What are you going to do, fill it from the ground up?” Darrel screwed the cover back on the drain and never made that particular mistake again. Nobody could plow a straighter furrow or plant a straighter corn row than Clyde. Darrel would be watching the seagulls to see if they got the worm, but when Clyde came back from dinner and climbed on the tractor, that furrow would be straight as arrow in two rounds. Clyde was a good mechanic as well as a good farmer, because the combine he purchased in 1932 lasted until 1947. The F-20 Farmall Tractor purchased in 1938 was still in use in 1957. They were fortunate to be able to purchase a second tractor, a new Alice Chalmers [B]. Getting that tractor was pure luck or pure need, since all metal was tied up for war effort. 1945 The Second World War ended and rationing was letting up although farmers were better off than townspeople. We were fortunate to have several more siblings in our family getting old enough to keep the farm humming. 1946 Clyde reminisced about the earlier years since Darrel was only 5 to 8 years old in the Dirty '30s. Darrel was allowed to keep and care for one brood sow as his own, so in the fall when pigs were sold Clyde and Darrel purchased a Willy’s Jeep which we used on the farm for many years. Donnie was discharged from the Navy. The price of grain stayed up even after the war because America had a ‘LEND-LEASE’ program and the Marshall plan to rebuild war-torn countries. We were able to rent 160 acres across highway 37 to bring our acreage to 800 acres. 1947 We purchased a new Massey Harris self-propelled combine and sold our International Harvester #12 combine which had been in use since 1932. Duane was discharged from the Navy. We rented 80 acres of hay land on Section #16 of Prairie Center Township which was 2 to 3 miles west of the farm. In every township, sections #16 and #36 were reserved school sections that were not sold to farmers but were rented as income to the school system. In winter of 1947 South Dakota had 100 inches of snow. Arnold Labrie, who lived across the road, teamed up with our tractors and hayracks to fight the snow. We each had 50 head of cattle plus horses and sheep that had to have load of hay every other day to survive. Together, we hauled one day for them and the next day for us. 1948 In March 1948, our youngest sister Delaine was born at Huron Hospital, the only one of our family to be born at a hospital. In April and May of 1948, we helped Dolly’s brother (Lawrence LaBrie) put in his crop as his health was poor. Lawrence died in May. On June 24, 1948 Clyde Rainford died at age 43.. After the funeral Dolly informed the kids Duane would be coming back home to run the farm. It was obvious there was not enough income on a 640-acre farm to support two families. The family on the farm scattered. Dona Jean went to Omaha, Nebraska with Marguerite Galbreath to work in a restaurant. Later she worked at West Side Café and Jim Lovelace café in Doland SD. In the fall of 1948 Duane did come back to the farm. However, he stayed only 2 or 3 weeks; decided he was not really a farmer at heart and went back to Pennsylvania. Also in Fall 1948, Darrel took a contract with Lawrence’s widow (Evelyn “Mac” LaChance) to farm her 480 acres. Darrel could rent 160 acres and use her machinery to plant and harvest the rented acreage. We were acquainted with the LaBrie land since we had helped plant the crop that spring. 1949 Dona Jean was working at café in Doland when Dolly went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Jean came home to care for the kids and keep farm running. In fall of 1949, Darrel’s wheat crop failed because of a bad weed; that ended his farming career. In December married Bonnie La Chance of Turton and then worked for big farmer at Northville SD in 1950 and 1951. On Nov. 2 1953, Darlene married Roger Kahle so Dolly lost a good farm hand who always pitched in to tie the loose ends together. Dwight and Delmar could do the farming although Delroy was 14 and Diane/Dee-Dee was only 12. 1954 South Dakota had never required a drivers’ license until 1953. Now a 15 year old who had 50 cents and could sign his name could acquire a driver’s license (no test needed.) Occasionally during harvest time there would be a back-up at the elevator and a farmer may have to wait an hour to unload. The boys did not want to lose harvest time when weather and grain were ready. By 1954, Dee-Dee was 13 yrs old. The boys talked Dee-Dee into getting a special permit so she could drive the ton-and-a-half farm truck with 150 bushels of wheat to the elevator in Doland. So little Dee- Dee got to be a straight pipe, manual tranny, double-clutching trucker babe. Donny decided he could utilize her talent when she was not busy at home. Donny claimed she had lots of excuses to put him off; the main one being that Donny would be very upset if she banged up the combine or pickup. She finally did it with no trouble and was a little chesty after that. One time Dee-Dee was supposed to drive Donny’s pickup down the field to unload the grain hopper on the combine when he waved. She got the pickup started all right but the shift pattern was different than the other truck and she panicked when she could not get it into gear. With some quick experimentation she got it in reverse and backed away from obstacle, down the field and under the combine grain hopper so Donny could finish combining his field. Dwight went into the Army in January 1954, so Delmar had to run the farm with less help since Delroy and Dee-Dee were still in school. 1955 Dolly was able to get Dwight a little early release from the Army Paratroopers to help with the farm, but not until November 1955. 1956 Dwight was home from the Army to run the farm so in March of 1956, Delmar went to St. Paul, MN and got a job with Braniff Airlines. Delmar also teamed up with his brother Darrel, who was also in St. Paul, on a landscaping project. 1957 In January 1957, Delmar was drafted into Army and sent to Germany where he married a German bride. The same month, Delroy volunteered for the draft for a two-year commitment. Later he was the first Rainford to finish college, using the GI Bill. Dwight married Janice Mowery Feb 7, 1957. They lived at the farm and farmed it until fall of 1957. After the farm auction in Nov 1957, Dolly left the farm after 30 years in farming.