Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Lena is Found...and more

Yes, Lena has been found (thanks to Keith Finney - MANY THANKS, Keith!) More on that later in the post.

Speaking of whom, Keith is a distant relative of sorts (relatives on my Mom's side of the family married into the Finney family years ago...of course, we married into just about all Kittson County families - as my Mom always says, we're related to everyone up there...!) wrote to say that Dale Webster was one of the two men who found my cousins and uncle. My cousin Delphine took the information and called Dale a couple of days ago, and this is what she found out...
I told him who I was, and why I called, and all he said was, "Yes I do remember that. My brother and I are the ones who dove in to find them. Lena went to the farm and couldn't find them anywhere so she came and asked us to go help look for them. We went to the farm and looked around and then we discovered John's hat floating in the dugout. The girls clothes were all neatly folded and laying on the bank as if they planned to stay there for a while. The banks were real muddy and slick. We dove into the dugout and found all 3 of them laying at the bottom."

Delphine went on to comment that she had always heard that there was like a heal mark in the mud that slid down looking like one of the girls had slipped and fell in and perhaps the other jumped in to help her. She mentioned this to Mr. Webster but he didn't confirm this to be true.

She also said, "I had always heard that uncle John's face was grimaced and he was sort of curled up looking like when he hit the water he had a bad cramp. And people wondered why he drowned as he was a good swimmer so I asked Mr. Webster."
Delphine: I understand Uncle John was grimaced and curled up like he had a cramp when he hit the water.

Mr. Webster: No he was just laying there at the bottom of the dugout. I sure didn't sleep that night.

Delphine: That must have been awful traumatic for you; I never realized it was you who had to bring them out.

Mr. Webster: Yes, it was a very bad day.
My cousin ended by saying "...there was a lot of speculation that John had taken the girls and himself and committed suicide because he just would not accept the death of Elaine. It was known that he used to even go out and sleep on her grave because he didn't want her alone out there in the dark. But it is a mystery that no one will ever know anything about because they only had tell tale signs to go by. It was also told that Uncle John was evidently in the quanset hut shovelling grain while the girls were playing by the dugout and when he heard them scream it looked like he had thrown the shovel aside and ran out to save them but being all hot and sweaty from shovelling grain he got a cramp when he hit the water and that was why they all drowned. Nothing much else to tell or find out about it as it was all speculation as to what and why it happened."
My Mom used to mention (and Delphine reminded me of this just today) about how my sister Sharon was so upset by all that happened that year, that she lost her hair; although she was only 6 years old, it caused her hair to come out in clumps, and she even lost her eyelashes and eyebrows.

As regards Lena now? Well my cousin also talked to her this week after finding out she was alive and well, still living alone...
I just called her and talked to her. She is still living alone at age 92. She said though that she just got out of the hospital as she had gout so bad she couldn't walk. Was in for 4 days. She was still in bed as very weak after the hospital stay but was going to try to get up and make herself a cup of coffee. I am not real sure if she remembered me or not as I told her it was Delphine but she didn't make any comment about that. No surprise or anything that it was me calling so I am not sure. I asked "This is Lena Nordstrom isn't it?" She said yes. I told her my Mom was still living also and was 94. She didn't say much about that either. But she was maybe still groggy from sleep and having been in the hospital. When I told her Mom was in a nursing home she said she thought maybe she would have to go into one too as it was too hard to do all the work she had to do now...When we said goodbye she told me to call her again. will wait for a week or so and hopefully she will be more recuperated and can talk better. Thank you Thank you all for having been so helpful in trying to find her. Now I can tell my Mom, too, that I talked to Lena.
Yes, everyone from back home, a hearty thank you for all the assistance in finding Lena. She has led quite a life, a full, long life with its ups and downs, and truly an inspiration to many...