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I am one of the fortunate, or maybe not so fortunate, to be an early riser. It seems to be something I was born with. In fact, my mother often reminds me that even as a baby I did not sleep much, which was hard for a new mother to deal with.

As I watched them gather at the bus stop near my home this past week when the morning temperatures dropped down in the 30s, my thoughts turned to the kids. It must be hard, especially for the younger ones, to have to get up early and leave their nice warm beds so they would be ready for the school bus. I guess the colder temperatures we experienced for a few days was a reminder that winter will be here before we know it.

My uncle, Paul, reminded me that compared to his growing up years, today’s early bus ride would be a picnic. The farm youngsters had to get up and do their morning chores before they got dressed for school. 

Once they were done with the chores they would have to try and wash off the smell of the cattle and such before they would get dressed, eat breakfast and head out the door. And if that wasn't enough, many of them often had to walk some distance to catch the bus that would take them to school. Those walks, many which could reach a mile or more, could really be cold early in the morning, especially when the winter winds were blowing.

Of course, if you went to country school you probably rode in Dad’s sleigh and kept warm using horse hair blankets, wool snow pants and coats, four and five-buckle overshoes, wool scarves and mittens, sitting in a pile of straw.

Buses weren’t always big yellow monsters like they are now. My mother reminded me when my aunt, Helyn, or Toody, rode the school bus it was a wagon or sleigh, depending on the season, and when the winter winds started blowing they often had a tarp-like top for a cover to help keep out the bad weather. Often they would heat bricks and children were able to put their feet on them to help warm their toes after those cold walks in the snow. Remember, they didn’t have snow boots back in those “olden days” like we do now.

There were no radios back then either, to allow bus drivers to keep in contact with the school. And we won’t talk about the quality of those county roads, especially in bad weather. There weren’t as many kids back then, so there weren’t so many bus drivers either. Some of the early bus drivers who come to mind in the Ellendale area are Norris Thompson, Menard Vangen and Arvid Langlie; and the “Geneva Kids” had Donny Bartsch.

While today’s kids have so many activities to keep them busy, yesterday’s children had a variety of chores they were required to do before homework and then getting ready for bedtime, often by lamp light before electricity.

By those standards, maybe today’s children have it made. Not necessarily so. Back in those early years parents and children were together more often at meal time than some families are now. They weren’t busy rushing out the door to go to a ball game, musical program, shopping, etc. Once children came home from school, they stayed home until it was time to get up and go to school again the next morning.

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Birthdays and anniversaries:

• Thursday, October 8th: Alex Schlaak (2014), Lauren Olivia Sommers, Barb Hagen, Barb Dobberstein, Barb Strenge, Mary Kay Spurr, Mandy Moon, Haley Hanson, Hazel Spiering, Brad Anderson, Doug Anderson, Daniel Paulson, Kaye Nelson, Julie & Brian Dahl

• Friday, October 9th: Matt Kubiatowicz, Joshua Kasper, Randy Mucha, Nancy Jo Anderson, Ashley Hove, Keith Neidermeier, Paul Aronson, Dennis Blouin and Cheryl Paulsen Wilson

• Saturday, October 10th: Pat Goodnature, Trevin Stollard, Aarin Gray Pirsig, his 2nd; Eric Anderson, Nicole Anderson Loken, Luverne Hamor, Haley Hanson, LeRoy Ingvaldson, Ncole Lonning, Betty DeRaad, Elena Grace Spande

• Sunday, October 11th: Michell Edwards, Mayro (Leak) Kubista, Melissa Otto, Jenna Swearingen, Alisha Moody, Mike Trumble, Cory McGrath, Shawna Besco, Lee & Jody Loverink

• Monday, October 12th: Katilyn Crabtree. Christopher Wallace, Beth Spande, Elena Grace Spande, Marilyn Dobberstein, Terrie Mullenmaster, Lewis Kelly, Charlie & Becky Phagan, Larry & Terry Jensen

• Tuesday, October 13th: Hunter Knutson, Adrianna Schewe, Journey Lynn Utpadel, Courtney Deml, Otto Nels Oquist, Mitchell Wallace, Jackie Flor, Rita Thompson, Suzanne Peterson, Becky Wallace, Mikkel & Jennifer Iverson

• Wednesday, October 14th: Chris Schlaak, Jim Lutgens, Reece Alexander, Chris Ritz, Janet Goette, Dan Hanson, Delana & Daniel Routh, Breanna & Tim Briedenbach

• Thursday, October 15th: Colin Farr, Corbin Brocker, Tony Anderson, Sandy Jensen, Edwin VerHey, John Dittlevson, Madison Lynn Homuth, Barb & Jack Kuckenbecker, Heidi & Tim Schaefe

• Friday, October, 16th: Kade Schember, Jenny Shaunce, Sabrina Marie Bauers, Donna & Gordon Hanson, Jamie & Amber Jensen, Travis & Stacy Simon

May your special day be filled with all the things you treasure most.

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