Reaching the End of an Era

A 95-year-old friend died last week. Ferrell Haug grew up in a family of twelve on an unproductive farm in the Nitchi Valley, about as far west as a wagon road could take you in the 1930s. The family was desperately poor-to the extent that they occasionally lived on oatmeal for a few days at a time. But they were made of stern stuff. The mother who gave birth to most of the children at home and relied on dandelions in the spring to give her the salad vitamins she had not seen all winter, lived into her 90s. All 12 children who were sadly undernourished by today’s standards walked several hilly miles to and from school in all weather. They survived to grow up, have responsible jobs and most raised families of their own. All lived to be senior citizens. Ferrell, worked in an airplane plant in Edmonton to help the World War II home front, cooked at a college, ran a restaurant, raised five children, helped her husband run a farm, contributed to numerous church and community projects, wrote the local news for nearby town newspapers for many years, grew a huge garden, became one of the district’s most knowledgeable authorities on birds, and was the “go-to person” when anyone wanted to know anything about Bergen’s history. I have been given the honor of writing her eulogy and, as I think on what to say, I am most strongly affected by the thought that they don’t make people like this any more. If some disaster put younger generations in a position such as these pioneers not only coped with, but eventually triumphed over, what would happen? I pose the question but do not want to think of the answer.

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