Herb worked at several jobs before he started farming on his own. He went out to Columbus, ND and shocked oats, wheat, flax and barley. He also went out to Helena, MT and worked on the construction of the “Big Horn Dam." Herb also worked at Rath Packing Plant in Waterloo, IA for 5 years. In 1950 Herb started farming on his own. He is now retired, but still lives on the farm and does custom fencing for farmers. In his spare time he watches television. He especially likes to watch football. His favorite team is the Minnesota Vikings. He also enjoys watching birds year around.

Bio Photo

V.FW. Junior Drum and Bugle Corps, Decorah, IA, January 1931. Herbert Fretheim top row, last one on the far left.

Ruth (Bjerkvig) Fretheim was born on a farm 5 miles east of Zumbrota, MN. She attended country school at “Lena School,” District 72. The school was 2 1/2 miles from her home. Ruth and her brother and sister walked to school except in the winter when it was too cold, their dad took them in the sleigh. They kept warm under sheep skin robes. These robes had wool, hand woven coverlets in bright colors of red, blue and green attached to the back of the sheep skins. They were brought from the Trondheim area of Norway in the 1880’s by her grandparents, Jens and Regina Bjerkvig. Her dad wore a “buffalo skin” coat and fur hat and mittens when he drove the sleigh. The best part of school was recess. Everyone, including the teacher, played games such as: Prisoner’s Base, Ante-Ante-Over, Run-Sheep-Run and kitten ball. The girls all brought their jacks to school and played “jacks” on the cement porch. They always had a Christmas program at school for the parents. Everyone brought sheets from home to use for curtains. There was a Christmas tree and they drew names so everyone had a present. The big event in country school was when you took the “State Board Exams” and passed. Eighth grade graduation for all the country schools was held in the county seat of Red Wing.

Ruth grew up in the Depression years of the 1930’s. Everyone who lived on a farm raised their own food. Everyone had to help with the work. There was no extra money for luxuries. But there also were fun times such as: visiting neighbors, birthday parties, Christmas dinner at relatives and in the summer going on a picnic in a pasture by a stream or to a park along the Mississippi.

Ruth attended Zumbrota High School, graduating in 1944. This was during World War II. She still remembers the Sunday afternoon when the news came over the radio that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. In school they stressed being in physical shape. By the time Ruth graduated, most of the male teachers had been drafted into the service. In high school, Ruth and the other girls “rolled bandages” for the Red Cross. Civilians at home also did their part to help the war effort. Everyone had "ration books" for sugar, coffee, butter, meat, gasoline and canned goods. There were “copper drives” when people turned in things made of copper. They also turned in tinfoil from candy bars and gum wrappers, tin cans and old iron. One had to get a permit to buy tires. They quit making stoves and refrigerators. Nylon stockings were in very limited supply; if available, you only got to buy one pair. Ruth’s hometown had regular “black out” drills.

After high school, Ruth was in the “Cadet Nurse Corp" at Red Wing. She then worked for Kraft Cheese at the Farmers Milk Plant in Zumbrota. Ruth and 3 other women were the first women Kraft hired to make cheese. She was there over a year until she enrolled at Northwest Institute of Medical Technology in Minneapolis. Ruth graduated in Jun 1946 and started working at the hospital in Decorah 1 Jul 1946 as a lab and x-ray technician. She worked at the hospital until Mar 1951 when she was married. She then worked for Doctors Dahlquist and Svendson until her first child was born in Aug 1952. Ruth stayed home with her children for 11 years and then went back to work at the hospital in 1964. She retired in 1987.

Bio Photo

Ruth Fretheim as a lab and x-ray tech, at the Decorah hospital in 1949.

Since retiring, Ruth has been busy taking rosemaling classes at Vesterheim, going on Volkswalks, bowling, baby sitting and going to school activities involving her grandchildren. She also does a lot of bird watching.

Complete OCR transcription. See the associated scan to compare with the published information.

Please, contact the County Coordinator to submit additions or corrections.

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