Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Close Call -- Esther Remembers

This narrative was written by my maternal grandmother, Esther, in 1997, when she was 91 and living in Tarpon Springs, Florida.
I was eleven years old, the oldest of eight of us children. It was the summer of 1917, the seeding was done, school was out, and Mom and Dad decided it was time for a vacation. We had an Oakland Touring Car, the first car for our family.
 An Oakland Touring Car
My dad's family lived in Lake Norden, South Dakota, about 300 miles away. The roads were really nothing more than wagon ruts, but there were some signs on rocks or fence posts telling whether to turn or go straight ahead. We made our way to Jamestown where we bought some food, including some purple grapes, and proceeded to Edgely, ND, where we found a hotel. After settling in, Mom and Dad took Jennie, Eino and Emma to go shopping.
Being the oldest, I stayed home to see to the youngest, William (7 or 8 months), Josie, Hilda and Arne. Josie got sick (grapes!!!) and I didn't get her to the bathroom in time. We were a purple mess by the time the folks got back!
We left at the crack of dawn, causing some commotion getting ready to roll, so the hotel people weren't too happy with us. We made the rest of the trip uneventfully, arriving in the afternoon. We had a nice visit with the relatives. I can't remember how long we stayed.
The trip home went well until we reached New Rockford on the second day. It began to rain.  We stopped to put up the side curtains. They had isinglass (sort of like plastic portholes), but they weren't easy to see through, especially as it was getting dark.
These windows may have looked something like this:
The kids were edgy and I'm sure Dad must have had nerves of steel. There was a fast train that went through Rockford, but the crossing had not stop lights, barriers, etc.
 If there was a train coming, we didn't hear the whistle. Just as we were about to cross the tracks, Dad hit the brakes! A train, coming from the East went "whoosh" in front of us. In another second or so we would have been exactly on the tracks.

I'm sure we had a guardian angel in the car because to this day I can't understand how Dad was able to bring the car to such a sudden stop. It was a long train and when it finally went by, silence reigned in the car. We were all struck dumb.

So now, as you think about the size of the Efraimson family (I have 37 direct descendants and some of you are not far behind, especially Emma), consider how close we came to not having an Alfred Efraimson family at all!


  1. I enjoyed reading the stories about your family history. You told about they arrived at Volga,k South Dakota. Someone had to walk to Lake Poinsett to get John Adams to pick up the rest of the party. My grandparents lived neighbors to John Adams my grandfather was Andrew Olson he was a grandson to Simon Hoel. Ole and Eston Hoel left South Dakota for Canada, my grandpa Andrew farmed with Simon as he had all daughters. Simon had a stone house not far from the John Adams place on the east side Poinsett. I love reading these old stories, have tried to put together what I can of those early days. It's a shame to see it all going to disappear into the burning barrel.

  2. That is so cool! Our ancestors were neighbors! I am curious about your comments. Do you yourself live near Lake Poinsett now? And what are you referring to it all disappearing "into the burning barrel"?

    It may not be obvious to you, but I myself am not in South Dakota. Haven't even ever been there. It was only recently that I learned my relatives settled there first and then later moved to North Dakota. I've been to ND, but I actually currently live in the mid-Atlantic states.