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1943: Christian Boisen's story continues with sighting of the first 'spring buggies'

Bits By Betty
Lead Summary
Betty Mann, Rock County Historian

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on September 30, 1943.
Christian Boisen, Luverne, Owned Luverne’s First “Juke” Box
(Continued from last week.)
Snow was so deep in the streets of Luzerne (Iowa) that it was possible to walk from the center of the street in one place to the top of a two story building.
         Considerable sleet fell too, that year, and Mr. Boisen recalls skating to town three miles distant on the ice sheet that covered the ground.
         At that time, he worked on a farm and earned $30 for the 9-month season. Grain was harvested with a self rake, and to go someplace, a person either walked, or rode in a lumber wagon as buggies had as yet not come into being.
         A “wonderful” development, he relates, was the “march Harvester” on which two men could stand and bind grain by hand. Later, a binder attachment was invented for the machine. A binder using wire instead of twine to tie the bundles didn’t prove successful, because livestock, in eating the straw, often swallowed wire which later caused them to die. First binder to really attract attention was the “Walter A. Wood.” Mr. Boisen recalls that a demonstration he once attended in Iowa attracted 300 persons. Even then, practically every other bundle was loose.
         He remembers also when the spring buggies were first used. People then ran to the window to see them drive by, just as they later watched with interest the coming of the automobile and airplane.
         He stayed at Luzerne until he was old enough to “paddle his own canoe,” he states. He travelled around the state, mostly working on farms. He was in Plymouth county for a while, and recalls that in 1895, farmers in that section raised one of their best crops. Wheat yielded 40 bushels to the acre, but was worth only 35 cents a bushel. He worked on a threshing machine for 75 cents a day.
         “Those were really hard times,” Mr. Boisen states. “I can remember when potatoes sold for five cents a bushel and butter was worth five cents a pound in trade. I also remember one time that a whole carload of potatoes was just dumped because they couldn’t be sold, and the owners couldn’t afford to pay for the use of the railroad car for storage space. I’ve seen them come down the railroad track in groups of 50 or more, all of them out of a job. Many of them were wearing stiff collars, but thy were broke.
         “One thing about it though, prices of what you had to buy were correspondingly low. You could buy the best suit of clothes for $10.
         It was in 1898 that Mr. Boisen set foot in Luverne for the first time, and he has been here ever since. The first thing he noticed was that so many people spoke the Norwegian language. “I’d never heard Norwegian in my life before,” he states, “and I couldn’t figure out what nationality they were.”
         That same year, on Sept. 2, he was married to Anna M. Everett at Jasper.
         He later obtained a job driving a livery for John Cameron, and the next spring he bought a light dray line. He would haul a whole load any place in town for 10 cents. He also made deliveries for Hawes and Son’s department store, making four deliveries daily and furnishing his own team for $10 a month. “I soon found out that there wasn’t any money in that so I sold out,” he says.
         He then obtained a job helping to lay the first sanitary sewer through Main street. His wages were $1.75 per day for a 10-hour day.
         In 1903, he began to paint and do paper hanging, and that has been his business for the past 40 years. The first house he ever worked on was what was then known as the old Stelling house in the northwest part of town. He earned $1.25 per day for his work.
         Here it might be well to explain that Mr. Boisen’s work was done under physical handicap. When he was a young man, he fell from a moving train and lost one foot, and part of his leg. After it healed, he used a peg leg for many years, and with that peg leg, he has walked behind a walking ploy day after day, and has climbed and stood on ladders 50 feet in the air while painting.
         It didn’t even affect his dancing, one of his favorite pastimes as a young man. Even after the accident, he taught dancing in northwestern Iowa, and in Luverne and Hardwick.
         Although he doesn’t work as hard now as he once did, Mr. Boisen is still active, and enjoys life.
         He has two sons, Staff Sergeant Waldo Boisen, of Camp Polk, La., and John Boisen, of Luverne. He also has two grandchildren, Jarvis and Ramona Boisen of Luverne.
         Mr. Boisen was the youngest of a family of eight children, seven of whom were boys. Only he, and a brother, J. F. Boisen, of Keystone, Iowa, are now living. One brother was killed in the Prussian war.
         Donations to the Rock County Historical Society can be sent to the Rock County Historical Society, 312 E. Main Street, Luverne, MN 56156.
Mann welcomes correspondence sent to

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