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.
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.
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:)