Julia

A fisherman's daughter, Julia Bendickson celebrated her twentieth birthday on the boat coming from Norway to the United States in 1910.  There were thirteen children in the family.  Eventually they all left Norway for the United States.  Now there are just two left, Ben Bendickson and herself.

The first to leave Norway was her brother, Henry.  He had gone to school in Bergen to be a sailor.  When the letters quit coming home, they knew something had happened and he had drowned at sea.

Her brother, Matt came to North Dakota to farm so she and her brother, Carl came to join him.  "The first year at Matt's I was so homesick I cried and cried.  I would have run away back home if I could have walked across the ocean.  It's terrible to come in a strange land when you do not know the language.  Matt had told me that if anyone came to the farm for him I should say he was in the hay field.  I kept saying this to myself so much that it didn't sound right.  When someone did come to ask for Matt, I didn't go to the door, I went upstairs instead.  I was so homesick so I sent for my friend, Anna to come so she came in 1911 and we were together.  I had promised Matt I would stay with him until he got married."

"My first job in Cooperstown was for a dressmaker, Mrs. Hammer.  She went out to the homes and sewed and I took care of her children."

"In 1911 Mrs. Retzlaff came to Matt's and wanted Anna or me to help Mrs. Gilbert Johnson.  She cooked in a cook car and he worked on the rig.  We both said we'd go.  Well, Matt decided that in a hurry.  He and Anna got married, so I went."

"While working in the cook car I did all the odd jobs: washing dishes, setting table and peeling potatoes.  Mrs. Johnson was a Norwegian lady so we got along fine.  I cooked in cook cars for a total of seven years, off and on."

"Alfred (Retzlaff) and his dad had a road crew and one year built a road from Hannaford to Dazey.  The next year they made a road to Red Willow.  I worked in the cook car.  We had so many men to cook for, there were two shifts."

A married Alfred Retzlaff in 1917 and we have two sons, Marvin and Carrol."

"In 1918 we had no money and no car.  We drove to town in the buggy.  I was going to help Alfred in the field with the dragging and plowing.  I drove four horses.  They were so slow they wouldn't go.  I had blisters on my hands from trying to make them go.  Alfred said to have small stones in my pockets and throw them at the horses.  That didn't help so we changed teams.  Well, they were so frisky I got blisters on my hands from trying to hold them back.  That only lasted a week.  I told Alfred I'd rather cook for twenty men than go in the field."

"When Alfred started going place to place threshing I had to learn to milk the two cows and feed the pigs.  After we farmed bigger I never milked, I had too many to cook for."

"In the thirties we were very poor.  I went with Alfred to McHenry to thresh.  They had a better crop than we did here.  I rode on a machine that Alfred pulled with the tractor.  All I did was sit on a seat and raise or lower the reel."

"Our house on the farm burned in the forties.  It started from a gasoline stove that had leaked.  There was fire all over the floor.  We tried to fight it but it was no use.  It went so quick! Four hundred quarts of sauce and meat were destroyed plus most of our possessions.  We saved Alfred's time book, a few clothes, the cream separator and washing machine.  The hired men ran upstairs and in their haste, they threw out an old mattress while a new one burned, threw down a lamp with no chimney and two different shoes."

"After the fire we fixed up a new chicken coop and lived in it for nine years."

"I went back to Norway in 1916 because my dad was ill and when I came back Alfred and I were married.  I went back again when my mother was 92 years old.  Alfred couldn't go with me because we had so many turkeys, 12,000, and he couldn't leave.  Finally came the day when we could both go.  He said his work was all done and we would go to Norway.  He was so happy to go home with me, but he died on the boat, the second day out.  That was the worst thing I ever went through."

"Three years ago I broke my hip.  I was in the hospital for five weeks.  Then I got arthritis in my other hip.  The doctor said I should either have an operation or be in a wheelchair.  I had the surgery and I now get around with the use of a walker.  I go to church and to senior citizens.  I am glad I had it done.  I have no pain and I was always active and worked a lot so I wanted to work again.€

"When people say they wish they were back to forty, I say I wish I was back to 80 or 85.  At age 82 I drove my car.  I wish I could drive again."

She was a fisherman's daughter, and she is a lady who has lived many years without growing old.

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial Page 136

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