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Topic: The Women of Aspenland
Article: Nora (Ruud)Rasmuson
Date Posted: October 15/2012
Main District: Crooked Lake
Decades: 1870's to 1950's
Nora was born December 27, 1876 in Olmstead County, Minnesota to Norwegian parents Hans and Caroline Ruud. She spent her younger life in Minnesota with her two brothers and four sisters. In her early years, Nora made an intricate and delicate picture of flowers and a baroque design out of hair.
She married Edward Rasmuson on November 18, 1896 at the age of twenty. Her wedding gown was a deep purple, which Nora had sewn herself. Edward ventured by train from Wilmar, Minnesota to investigate land. He stopped at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and considered a homestead at Maple Creek. This decision never materialized, as he decided to continue on to the area around Crooked Lake, where his sister's cousin-in-law, Pastor Kjos, had already established a home.
Nora and Edward then made the decision to move to the Wetaskiwin area and bought half of section 14, township 47, range 23, from Mr. Berg. In 1914, they bought the west section of land. Edward and Nora travelled by train, an arduous journey with seven children and a freight car full of cattle and fowl. Nora minded the children and Edward took care of the livestock. George was only five months old at this time and Nora would dry out his washed diapers by hanging them on a stick poked out of the a window on the train. Between 1897 and 1917 they had nine children-eight sons and one daughter. They were: Olaf Gottfrid, Emily Agotta, William Harvey, Russel Leonard, Henry Victor, Arthur Rudolph, George Theodore, Emil Bernard and Clarence Herbert.
When they built their home in 1917 on the banks of Crooked Lake (Coal Lake), they used the sand, which was found while digging their basement, to plaster the inside of the house. The house had running water, supplied by a cistern, and a hand-pumped pressure system, sewer and electricity supplied by a 32-volt generator and batteries. The house was heated with a big coal furnace. Nora loved caring for the farm animals and her flock of turkeys. One day a coyote tried to attack her flock but Nora pinned it in the barbed wire and held it there by the ears until Edward came and shot it. Always anxious about the well being of the animals, she would stand at the kitchen sink and lament, "Now I wonder if the men have watered the cows?"
In 1924, they purchased the Rockstead place from Herman Jans. Their son, Henry Rasmuson, later owned this land where he and Gladys built their house.
Nora was called on many times to perform midwifery duties along with Mrs. Turnquist. Often as an extra kindness to the expectant mothers, Nora would arrive early and clean the house prior to the birth. Some of the families she was midwife for were the Tajes, Wicklunds and Lindens. Along with her midwife duties, Nora was kept busy cooking, baking and caring for her large family. On Sundays it was common to see twenty people sitting down for dinner. Nora was renowned for her sweet homemade butter. She worked it until the buttermilk was gone, rinsed it with lots of cold well water and flavored with just the right amount of salt. Those that had the pleasure of tasting her butter judged it to be of excellent quality and people came for miles to buy some.
She also made the best homemade bread for her hungry boys. One of her favorite desserts was soft bread cubes folded into thick whipped cream and topped with gooseberry sauce. Other favorites were dried beef for snacks, pie made with a cream crust, homemade ice cream and Lutefisk. Lutefisk, traditionally Norwegian, was enjoyed on December 27, Nora's birthday. Along with the traditional white sauce with nutmeg and butter, Nora and her family enjoyed Keen's Hot Mustard on their Lutefisk.
A typical evening on the farm would consist of the men gathering at the Rasmuson house to play a game of Whist or bridge. Many times visitors spent the night as a trip home by horse and buggy or jalopy might not be advisable. It is told that even the bathtub proved to be a suitable bed for some.
Nora was a very hospitable lady, who was always sending something home from the farm with her visitors. If a visitor did not have time for a coffee, Nora quickly served a glass of her homemade concord grape and dandelion wine, which was always smooth and clear. She also made many cakes and sandwiches that she donated to central Community Hall for dances.
Taking time out from her busy schedule to read the Swedish newspaper and letters and recipes sent to her from her sister, Wilda, in Minnesota was a favorite pastime. Nora also took pleasure in reading and clipping articles from the Western Producer (a local newspaper). Her 'special' rest time was spent listening to "Ma Perkins" and "The Guiding Light" (soap opera of old). She was a member of the Crooked Lake Ladies Aid, a group that is still active today, with Rasmusons descendents as members.
The wooden kitchen floors had to be washed daily, which Nora accomplished with her own hand made soap. With such a large family to cook and bake for, Nora hired a local girl to assist. Nora preferred working outdoors and always had a large vegetable, fruit and herb garden. She picked gooseberries, black and red currants, crab apples, rhubarb, raspberries, plums, saskatoons and chokecherries for her pies, preserves, jams and jellies. These were canned in a copper boiler on a wood stove. She also made sure there was an abundance of horseradish available.
Nora was about five feet and two inches tall and weighed about one hundred and twenty-five pounds. Her long hair was either twisted or braided and worn in a bun at the nape of her neck. She never wore make-up and skin was soft and clear. Nora was a very humble, common lady.
Nora's love for animals was evident and she was often called on to nurse sick animals with her home remedies. She washed the fleece from the butchered sheep, hung it over the fence to dry and carded the wool for patchwork quilts that were used by her family.
Nora passed away November 5, 1953 at the age of 77 years.
Information compiled in 2002.
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