Books by regional authors offer reflections on the past and area culture
The latest in a series of books by Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson, about growing up in rural, predominantly Lutheran communities in this region, has been released. "Growing Up Rural: You Smell Barn" is a companion to the award-winning book...
The latest in a series of books by Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson, about growing up in rural, predominantly Lutheran communities in this region, has been released.
"Growing Up Rural: You Smell Barn" is a companion to the award-winning book, "Growing Up Lutheran," which has inspired six "Church Basement Ladies" musicals.
Martin, who was raised in Hillsboro, N.D., started writing books in 1983. She wrote five books before teaming up with Nelson, a college friend, whose childhood was spent in west central Minnesota.
The pair has written 10 books that capture memories of their Norwegian-Lutheran-rural background. Their book, "Growing Up Lutheran, What Does That Mean?" won the Minnesota Book Award for Humor.
Glimpses of rural and small-town life in the mid-century-like the ritual of Friday night ballgames and Sunday afternoon visits-will resonate with those who lived it, and portray a simpler time for those who didn't.
"Growing Up Rural: You Smell Barn" will be the basis for a new musical set to debut in 2018, said Martin, of Hastings, Minn., in a news release.
The book is available at Amazon.com, major retail outlets, Scandinavian specialty stores, and Nelson's website, www.ruralroutebookstore.com .
For more information, call Martin at (800) 797-4319 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Author shares war memories
In her third book, "And So It Was: Reflections of My Life," Annelee Woodstrom, 91, of Ada, Minn., looks back on her life growing up in Germany-before, during and after World War II-and 70 years living in the Red River Valley.
"I felt there were things that were left out in the first two books," Woodstrom said, "like, how we lived in Germany and how contained everything was-in school and church."
In her hometown, which "was 96 percent Roman Catholic," she said, "what our priest and the mayor said was law. I don't remember that anyone protested."
Her first book, "War Child," published in 2003, describes life as a child growing up in Germany and includes memories of the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party.
As the war came to an end, she met an American soldier, Kenny Woodstrom, a member of occupying military forces in her town. They married and she moved to his hometown, Crookston.
In the book, "Empty Chairs," published in 2007, she wrote about emigrating to America, raising two children, and pursuing a career in teaching.
In her latest book, "And So It Was," she revisits her decision to marry a man she'd known "for only six weeks," and whose language she didn't speak.
"Kenny and I never had an argument, because we had to use a dictionary," she said. "I only knew five words."
She looks back at her choice "to come as an enemy alien to an area so completely different from Germany," she said.
Because of "the horror I had seen, and gone through, I couldn't take it anymore. That's the only thing I can think to explain it."
When Germany fell under the domination of Nazi rule and became "closed off from other countries," she said, she would hear "snippets" of older relatives' conversations about anti-Jewish activities.
"They couldn't understand what (the Nazis) were trying to do with the Jews. They hoped it was a temporary situation."
In her most recent book, Woodstrom draws from personal experience in '30s and '40s Germany to inform her observations about mankind's enduring tendency to wage war, and the importance of constant scrutiny of political leaders and the movements they espouse.
In Germany, "before Hitler, 7 million people were out of work for years," she remembered.
"Then, when he had the people where he wanted them, he switched."