Memorial Day

My great-grandfather Ole Olson-Hoel left his family in the Dakota Territory with his brother Simon near Lake Poinsett in 1906. He went with his brother Eston and his family and were joined by a few other families. The Wagon Train grew as they headed for North Dakota.

They tried farming in the Rice Lake area near Rider North Dakota where many died from Scarlet Fever. A cemetery got located on a small hill north east of Rice Lake. Drought conditions and hunger forced them to continue North into Canada. The only land left to Homestead was in Alberta.

Pioneer Cemetery in North Dakota.


The Antillans were Eston’s wife’s parents.

The family settled in a wilderness area north of what became Rocky Mountain House Alberta. Esten Olson died in 1911 and a cemetery got started on John Olson’s land.

Ole’s funeral in 1925.
There were no roads yet, travel was not easy. There was no church building, people met to worship in homes. It appears a picnic was enjoyed at the cemetery.
The Green Valley cemetery got vandalized in the wilderness. The graves remain there

but a monument was later placed in town.

Old Apostolic Cemetery near Lake Norden SD.

Uncle Simon, he was a lay preacher.
Uncle Gideon and Sophie Olson

Andrew and Gideon’s sister Etta; Mt Hope Watertown S D
Cousin Torsten Estonsen, he was a preacher on horseback, baptized several hundred babies.

Lake Poinsett Cemetery

Entrance to the Lake Poinsett Cemetery.
Grandpa and Grandma Olson

My father.
My mother.
My brother. Mt Hope Cemetery Watertown, S D
Lynn Wayrynen’s wife.


Trinity Lutheran Cemetery
Grandpa and Grandma Wayrynen
The uncle and aunt who took care of me.

Edwin and Alice’s children.
Leonard Wayrynen.
Baby Wayrynen

Olivet Cemetery Lake Norden S D

Rose Marie’s father.
Rose’s mother.
Wixom Michigan.
Dell’s father.
Rose and Leland in Canada 1980.
Cousin Angie and Jack Edgerton, Rocky Mountain House Alberta Canada. They lived to be 103 and 101 years young.
The Edgerton’s even square danced at the opening of the Calgary Olympic Games.

Hand Me Down Shoes

The Olson Boys

I was the youngest of three boys in a small farm family, so I know a few things about hand-me-downs. We were young kids during the Second World War when there were shortages of many things. We learned to get maximum mileage out of everything from shoes to food items. The early 1950s weren’t much different; times were hard.

At a family reunion in the 1980’s I heard my aunt say to someone, “look, here is a picture of the three boys sitting out in the yard.” The youngest ones shoes look kind of funny. Somebody said, “yeah, Leland has two different sizes. One is much larger than the other. ” My aunt says, ‘that must have been about 1944 he wasn’t in school yet.”

Like it made it okay to wear two different size shoes if you weren’t in school yet! I was almost bigger than  Harlan by then.

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We walked everywhere, in 1951, even walked 2 miles to the golf course so we could walk all day caddying. I remember that fall when school started. Harlan got new shoes, and I got his old pair. He had many miles on those shoes. The stitches that held the soles on got worn out in places.

We walked over a mile to school. One day when I was is about halfway to school. I kicked at something on the side of the road. The old rotten stitches on the right shoe all let go, the sole came loose clear back to the heel. I didn’t want to be late for school, so I kept walking. That floppy sole was kicking up a little cloud of dust around my feet as I walked. When I got to school, I found a couple of rubber bands and put them around the shoe to keep that sole from flopping. That got me to my desk before the rubber bands came off.

I sat at my desk, closed my eyes, and prayed that the teacher would not call me to go to the blackboard. When I opened my eyes, she was looking straight at me. Yes, she asked me to come up front to do an arithmetic problem. I slowly slid out of my desk and started for the front of the room, dragging my right flip-pity flop shoe along the floor.

The rest of the class was all looking at me like they thought maybe I suddenly got polio. I finished the arithmetic problem, and the teacher sent me back to my desk. I was so relieved I took off and flip-pity flopped back to my desk. The kids were roaring with laughter. I bet God got a chuckle out of it too. I always thought Miss Johnson called me to the front of the room because she knew I had that floppy sole on my shoe.

I was in junior high during the Pat Boone era when all the cool cats had White Buck shoes. There was no way I could afford a pair of White shoes. When a young person wants something bad enough, their imaginations go into overdrive. I had a pair of old white golf shoes somebody threw away at the golf course. They were a little large, but I was used to that. I unscrewed the cleats from those old golf shoes, and was happy to have my White shoes. There was one problem, the metal on the bottom of the soles that the cleats screwed into. They were going to sound like Tap Dancers shoes on those hardwood floors at school. I had a vivid flashback to my fifth-grade class and the terrible flip-flop ordeal.
That was the end of my White Buck plan.

Physical anthropologist Eric Trinkaus believes there is evidence that the use of shoes began between 40,000 and 26000 years ago. That is a lot of shoes. I imagine millions of others with older brothers have walked a mile in my shoes.

https://lelandolson.com/