An Unfamiliar Face

     Archie Olson was a lifelong bachelor who worked for area farmers spring, summer and fall, then worked in the big woods during the winter cutting pulp wood, as did so many other men in the Wannaska community. Never one to rest on his laurels too long, Archie worked various part time jobs including driving a beer truck into the more remote communities of northwestern Minnesota.

     One afternoon, my father was nearly six hundred miles from his home in Des Moines, Iowa, and had stopped for a bit of refreshment in a tiny little gathering log-built place in far northwest Minnesota called ‘Fourtown’ on the edge of Beltrami Island State Forest, when the beer truck pulled in to this unlikely log cabin oasis in the middle of nowhere.

     Dad, seldom a disagreeable sort as stories go, sat alone at a table as the beer truck driver walked by him with a stack of beer on his wheel cart that he was trucking to the big walk-in cooler in the back. 

    Archie called him by name for he never forgot a face. And Dad was shocked for he had, and thought surely no one knew him within sixty miles from his destination of Wannaska and nearly six hundred from his home in Iowa. 

     But Archie did because he had grown up with my mother’s family in Palmville Township, Roseau County, Minnesota. He had spent many nights under their roof, ate many meals at their table, went to school and church with them, helped with chores, for Archie’s family were very poor and couldn’t always afford to keep him clothed and fed, so I guess my grandma and grandpa did. That’s just the way it was back in the 1930s, neighbors helping neighbors. So Archie knew Mom  . . . and Dad.


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