Saturday, October 25, 2008
Harold Lenius is 90 Today 10-25-08
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Tinney Talk, observations by Joe Dan Boyd
HAROLD LENIUS TURNED 90 ON OCT.25, and attributes his long life to a mindset of always keeping busy, both physically and mentally. He was born in Waterloo, Iowa, where his father, Rufus, worked at an electric power plant. Soon afterward, Rufus moved his family—-wife, Lucinda and young Harold--to Bremer County, near Waverly, where they became farmers, renting a 100-acre grain farm. “We grew corn, oats, and also raised hogs and cattle,” recalls Harold. “We marketed the grain by feeding it to the livestock.”
YOUNG HAROLD WAS AN EARLY RISER, up with the sun every day, after which he usually went out, barefoot, to round up about 20 cows for milking, usually from still-dew-moist pastures. “We had a DeLaval hand-operated milk separator,” explains Harold. “After processing the milk, we used what we needed for the family, fed some to the hogs, and also sold milk, buttermilk and butter for extra income.”
SCHOOL FOR HAROLD WAS EIGHT GRADES AT RIMIA Elementary School in Bremer County, to which he walked over a mile each way every day, sometimes in temperatures that reached 20 degrees below zero. “Mother bundled us up: me, my brother Robert and my sister Lucille, with scarves, heavy homemade coats and insulated caps with snug earflaps,” says Harold. “Snowdrifts were often waist-high, so tall we could hardly get through some of them.”
AFTER COMPLETING THE EIGHTH GRADE, Harold’s family moved to Waverly, where his father became a car salesman. Harold, then about 15 years old, became a resident hired hand for Martin Fritchel, a bachelor farmer in Bremer County. “That job lasted a couple of years,” recalls Harold, who then moved in with his parents to work at the body shop of the Chevrolet dealership where his dad was the star auto salesman. Harold then earned $10 a week, a salary that would be increased by $2 a week when he married.
HE MET JANETTE when he was 18 and she was 14. Married in 1939, they first rented an apartment in Waverly. By 1942 Harold, Janette and their two kids--Barbara and Larry--moved in with Janette’s parents at Vinton. Breadwinner Harold was about to join the U.S. Navy to serve in World War II, during which time their third child, Suzanne, was born. Harold returned to civilian life in late 1945,