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Back and Forth: Remembering those Farm Bureau ice cream socials

I've never forgotten those three summer Farm Bureau lawn meetings, conducted by the Sumner Township Farm Bureau. During June, July and August we all looked forward to some member's beautifully kept, well-groomed lawn and we had some great ones. Usually there was a speaker, sometimes memorable, like the county agent or a service man who had just returned for a short "leave."

One occasion featured two teenage lads from south of Preston, twins Jerry and Joe Ramaker and a sheep.

"Our lives were filled with sheep" Jerry, now 85, told me recently. "And we learned how to care for them as instructed by our Dad."

In July of 1944, Joe, who died two years ago, and Jerry demonstrated how to administer Phenothyazine to a sheep. I don't remember what the ailment was that would require this but the professional demonstration captured the audience's attention. One of the boys set the ewe on her butt and the other put the liquid medicine in her nostrils. All of us applauded vigorously.

This happened at the first farm west of Sumer Center Church, occupied then by Clarence and Fern Button. Some will remember this as Tesk-Holm farm where we held "country Breakfast" in 1998.


After the Ramaker boys' demonstration, everybody had cake and ice cream. I hated to see us paying 15 cents for a piece of cake Mom brought from home. A scoop of ice cream made at Rochester Dairy (AMPI today) was 10 cents. And I just never had enough ice cream, which was decided by my father. "More another time" he said.

Some great lawns were John and Emma Engle, Edwin and Ethel King, Bob and Dorothy Hale — where the 202-foot-long barn stood — Ethel and Henry Turner and Homer and Laura Ballinger. It was August 1945 at Ballinger's when the annual flower show was held, before the ice cream. I entered a bouquet of blue lilies and pink pom poms (so I called them), all from the creek/slough area, and I won a first prize, a beautiful white vase with a handle on each side. The category was "Wild Flowers." It probably helped that two judges were Arlene (Mrs. Pete) Kraling and Cousin Boyd Flathers' wife, Lee. They asked me to give a short explanation about the flowers. I shook with fright.

Today from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. there's a Mayo History Open House held in conjunction with Thursdays on First & Third and 3rd Summer Music Festival. The theme is "Our Tradition of Teamwork," sponsored by the Rochester Downtown Alliance. It honors the 25th anniversary of The Mayo Legacy, an organization of Mayo Clinic patients, employees and friends who leave a bequest to Mayo in their will. Pick up an event brochure from Mayo Clinic Volunteers at the Plummer Building, Mayo Building or Annenberg Plaza.

If you missed earlier showings of two 35-minute Heritage Films, you may watch "A Leap of Faith: The Founding of Saint Marys Hospital" and "The Real Moonlight Graham: A Life Well Lived." Times for "Leap of Faith" in Geffen Auditorium are 4:15 p.m., 5:45 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. "Moonlight Graham" showings are 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Tables will be filled with artifacts and historical displays, including that 1939 Lou Gehrig baseball, covered with signatures. It's probably identical to the one given to Charles H. Mayo II and his brother Ned back in 1939 out at Mayowood Mansion. We wrote about this July 9, telling readers that ball has been found. Please check to see if the Babe Ruth signature is on the ball and call me. You'll see lifelike cutouts of Mayo Pioneers, all of this while the Mayo Carillon brings you music from 28 stories up in the Plummer Building.

On the Plummer Building's third floor visit the Mayo Historical Suite and see the offices of Doctors Will and Charlie Mayo. This and more today.

Next week: Days of Yesteryear returns at the History Center of Olmsted County Aug. 8-9.

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