Saturday, February 5, 2011

Four Million People in Ponsford

A long time ago, on Saturday nights when my parents wanted to go out..my Dad would take off and go fetch Margaret Million to babysit my baby brother and I.

I adored Margaret, she was a kind woman, always dressed in a floral house dress with a sweater..her brown heavy stockings and black shoes were part of her little old lady uniform.  Her long grey hair was braided and then formed into a bun, it was always neat as a pin.  More often than not she would bring freshly baked cookies with her..after the cookies were gone, I would sit next to her in the overstuffed rocking chair in our living room and she would tell me stories as we rocked back and forth.  I would settle in,  comforted by her closeness and her voice would gently lull me to sleep.  Margaret wasn’t plump but she was ample in all the right places, so that a small child’s head would find a soft pillow like resting spot.

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Jack and Margaret’s place was way back behind the tallest pine tree.

Every once in awhile..for some reason we would have to go up to Jack and Margaret's house in Ponsford to get babysat. Their house was back in the woods behind the old Longfors Garage.  It was a tiny little house with not very tall ceilings, and a couch that was hard as a rock..it was a sad place.

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Sunset over the South West part of Ponsford.

Jack and Margaret had two grown girls..one was named Sally.  One morning or night..whatever..Sally stepped too close to the wood stove and her nightgown caught on fire. ( I seem to recall that Sally was getting up to feed her new baby..but maybe that isn’t correct.)  Sally died after a few days in the hospital.

Now why do I remember this story?  Sometimes in the wintertime I remember that almost everyone had a woodstove in their house..not a fancy potbellied stove either..sometimes just a crude barrel stove in the living room and a cook stove in the kitchen.  In the houses we would visit that had a woodstove ..we would always be reminded “Don’t get your clothing too close to the stove.” Then someone would tell the sad story about Sally.

I always wondered what Jack did for a living. It turns out that Jack could fire a Steam Engine, he worked at the Sawmill in Ponsford for a time before taking a job at the Pine Point School firing their boilers.

On a side note:  Dick Taylor had the sawmill in Ponsford..there were even Rail Road Tracks behind Nunns house.  This all makes sense to me now..it never did when I was a kid…there were large humps in the landscape back there..and the brush grew up and us kids were told to stay out of there.

Ponsford was a boom town back in the 1920’s until the highway to Detroit Lakes was re routed in 1942..then Ponsford lost most all of it’s businesses one by one..no it never had four million people but four people by the name of Million lived there:)

21 comments:

  1. What a sad story about Sally, but what a wonderful story about the Millions. Your stories and your memories are so clear, Connie, they come alive to me in your telling.

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  2. Nice to hear some history but sad about Sally.

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  3. Such an interesting story. I'm glad to hear more history of Ponsford and the people that lived there at one time.

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  4. What an awful sad story about Sally Million. Interesting history though!

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  5. Being the yougest of six I don't have any heartwarming babysitter stories, so I relly enjoyed the mental pictures of your story.

    Old lady uniform... I'm lookin' for an old lady style for myself that I can sink my teeth into.

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  6. That lady sounded like my grandmother, she would rock me like that and always had sweets. Great story.

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  7. "Four Millions", how cute! That is a fond remembrance of your baby sitter.

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  8. :) I remember a babysitting I had, name and all, which is remarkable for me with the inability to remember names! She too, was "ample" in all the right places and was the sitter of choice!

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  9. I worked at a senior building and one of the ladies there told me that she had a big burn scar on her left butt cheek. As kids they used to grab their clothes and race downstairs by the woodstove to get dressed. She bent over to put on her underpants, lost her balance, fell back and planted her bare butt right on the woodstove. Back then, her parents didn't even take her to the doctor--just kept her home from school till it scabbed over.

    Poor Sally! No doubt everyone heard her story. It was a sad warning. Sounds like you had the best babysitter, tho! :)

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  10. Oh poor Sally :-( But your post reminded me about our babysitter - Mrs Fulton, or Phoo-Phoo as we called her. She looked after us regularly and we were friends with her grandchildren who were about the same age as us. I can remember staying overnight at her house (between my siblings and her grandchildren, there were 7 of us) and we were all arranged in two rooms, with hot water bottles. I can't imagine taking on 7 kids to babysit, but she managed us all with no problems :-) Jo

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  11. How come I remember this story. My memory of this is in a graveyard... or maybe I am remembering incorrectly... is she buried in the cemetery with the geocash?

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  12. Loved hearing the history, but how sad for Sally and her family.

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  13. That is so sad about Sally. I cannot imagine being burned that badly - - - and when just minutes before she was going to feed her child. Beautiful story about the babysitter though. I love to hear about older people who love children that much.

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  14. Jennifer, Jack and Margaret are buried in the cemetery where we hid the geocache. And yes I probably told you the story about Sally there..Jack and Margaret's headstones would have jogged that memory:)

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  15. As Patsy said above, Margaret reminds me of my grandmother with her long hair that she braided and wound into a bun. A sweet memory, thanks for the story of the Millions.
    Blessings!
    CottonLady

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  16. I agree...very sad story. If you really think about it, the way things were done back then, it's amazing that people survived those days at all. Incredible stories...I love reading your blog.

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  17. A sweet memory, but so sad about Sally. Times were so much harder in those days...

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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  18. Margaret reminds me of the older lady that lived across the street from me when I was a small child. She was kind, nice to be with, and ample in the right places too. I called her Grandma C. My mother was not a huggy, cuddler type person and Grandma C. was. If it hadn't been for Grandma C. I don't think I would have received many hugs as a kid. Some memories are extra special and your Margaret description brought back some really good ones for me.

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  19. The town of Hopeville, Iowa was first built by religious zealots and later people just moved into the town. It was booming for quite a few early years and then the train didn't come into town. Now it still sits in a wilderness area alone and empty with no more business buildings and maybe five people living there. Time can change things so quickly with outside forces being detrimental.

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  20. Poor Sally....I know that nylon goes fast. When I was younger and walking in a parade, the float up ahead of us caught on fire and severely burned the girl riding....her clothes melted into her body.

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comments! If you have a question I will try to answer it here. Connie