Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Our Floyd Foote says:

Floyd Foote

Floyd Foote reminisces about living to be 100.
Floyd Foote reminisces about living to be 100.
By Marcie Klomp
For 55 years Floyd Foote has mixed two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar (It has to be apple cider vinegar.) and one teaspoon of honey in a glass of water. That is the recipe Doc Buresh gave him long ago for aches and pains. It must work because Foote is in remarkable shape for a man a century old!
Some wisdom of his own is to heat the concoction in the microwave to dissolve the honey before drinking it. “It’s not the best tasting,” he warned.
Who can dispute his secret that he shares with anyone who will listen . . . that is if they can keep up with him!? “I usually walk one to three miles every day. From Monday to Thursday of this week I walked eight miles. If I’m tired, I don’t walk.”
Foote now lives at Cresco Care Center, but for 91 years he lived at the same place just two miles north of Davis Corners on the family farm.
It was not an easy life, growing up in the country. A person had to work hard or starve, and Floyd and his family liked to eat! His first paying job came when he was just 14.
His brother Howard was working 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. digging ditches one mile east and one-and-a-half miles north of their home place. It was hard work with bogs and water. The company needed another man. “Howard said. ‘He digs at home, and he digs the same as a man.’” Floyd was hired at 50¢ per day.
The way the brothers did it at home was one would dig the top two-and-a-half feet and the other dug the bottom one foot. “We always changed every hour.” After working for a couple days, the boss noticed the youngster on bottom. He wanted to talk to Floyd.
“I thought this was it. I was going to get fired. But he liked what I was doing. Instead of getting fired, I got a raise!” Floyd was getting a man’s wages at 75¢ per day. He dug tile ditch for two years.
When discussing the state of the gravel roads this spring, the old-timer commented, “When I hauled milk, that was the kind of roads we had.” For nine years he hauled cream with horses. He hauled cream for another seven years until the creamery business closed then he hauled milk for 21 years.
“I had good horses. One day we’d go 40 miles. The next day, the route was 45 miles.” He always started at 6:00 a.m. On good days he was done by 4:00. On bad days he was on the road until 8:00 p.m. Throughout his route he would have to feed and water his horses.
“As soon as I left Cresco they knew they were going home. They’d just pull it. I had to hold them back! When I got to the round corners [at Davis Corners], they knew they had two miles to go and they took off!”
He hauled about 300 cans of milk a day. That only took him about eight hours. He went home and had to farm. The family had 30 head of cattle, 30 hogs, 100 sheep and 80 acres. He remembers tenderly, “After we were married [Eva] did just as much work as I did. She delivered calves, lambs, kids.”
At one time the family had to dig in the couch cushions to find seven cents for a loaf of bread!
Floyd proudly said son Roger hauled milk for a few years, first cans then bulk, until he went to work at Thermogas.
Talking about gravel roads reminded Floyd of other roads. Roads that led to the love of his life, Eva.
He met her when she was visiting relatives in the area. She lived 535 miles away, in Indiana. It started off with some letters, and when he got a chance, Floyd would drive to see her for the weekend.
“I’d leave at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, and it took 12 hours to drive there. I’d get there at 5:00 a.m. and sleep in the car until they woke me up about 9:00-9:30 after chores.”
He said it wasn’t hard to stay awake. “Illinois had brick roads that were very bumpy. It would keep you awake!” Then he’d turn around and do it again to get home.
This went on every six weeks for about three years. She was 19 when they married, and he was 23 on Feb. 20, 1937. “Her step-brother said it would last two years. We were married 75 years, four months and eight days.” The family lost Eva just last year.
A lot of things have changed over the past 100 years, farming practices, roads, Davis Corners. Who knew there was a drug store at Davis Corners? Floyd Foote. Who knew there was all night dancing at Davis Corners? Floyd Foote. Who knew there was a bowling alley at Davis Corners? Floyd Foote.
That’s right, Davis Corners was booming back in the day. On the northwest corner was the Lutheran Church. There is still a marker depicting where the church stood. There was a dance pavilion about where Davis Corners Auction is located today.
There were all-night dances at the pavilion. The Foote home was two miles from Davis Corners. The dances went from about 6:00 p.m. until morning. They’d be held for a week at a time.
“I’d milk. When they had those dances, I’d tell myself I wasn’t going to go. Then I’d hear the music and have to go. I wouldn’t go all night. I’d go until 10:00-11:00.”
The pavilion had other dances, too. Lawrence Welk even played there one time.
The southwest corner was the most populated area of the “Corners.” There were at least four houses in the area.
Closest to the intersection Floyd remembers, “My brother ran the store for about 15 years. Before that Charlie Zender had a drug store.”
Next came an alley where the state highway had a station for trucks. It later moved to Cresco.
“Tiny Ripley and Leonard ‘Red’ Schultz ran a garage. They were busy all the time fixing farm machinery,” noted Floyd. They also had gas pumps.
Next in line was the bowling alley/dance hall, then a few houses. Vernon Atzen and someone else (Floyd couldn’t remember the name) ran the bowling alley.
Floyd enjoyed attending the local dances, but that’s where his interest in music ended. His dad was the musician of the family. “He would walk 30 miles to Spillville every Saturday. He’d leave at noon with his violin and play for dances at 6:00. He called the square dance and got paid one dollar.”
When looking back on the “good ol’ days,” Floyd recalls, “You can talk about it being bad times, but it was good. We worked hard. The income wasn’t much, but it was good.”

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