From the late 1930s, until now there has been many changes in the Ponsford/Park Rapids areas. Electricity and electric lights came to Ponsford in 1949 (Walde). Although Ponsford was a pretty good sized town in its day, now it is considerably small. The Ponsford that Edith Walde remembers had a bank, a hotel, two grocery stores, a creamery, a hardware store and multiple taverns. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary a tavern is “an establishment where alcoholic beverages are sold to be drunk on the premises” (Merriam-Webster). Today Ponsford has a bank, a fire hall, and a church.
In 1941 Pearl Harbor was attacked; people had no choice, but to live in fear. Many eligible men were drafted into service:
On September 16, 1940, the United States instituted the Selective
Training and Service Act of 1940, which required all men between the
ages of 21 and 45 to register for the draft. This was the first peacetime
draft in United States' history. Those who were selected from the draft
lottery were required to serve at least one year in the armed forces. Once
the U.S. entered WWII, draft terms extended through the duration of the
fighting. By the end of the war in 1945, 50 million men between eighteen
and forty-five had registered for the draft and 10 million had been inducted
in the military. ("Take a Closer Look at the Draft.")
Herman Carl Walde was too old to be drafted into the war, so he was a Civil Air Patrol (Walde). He was one of many who watched the sky for enemy planes. Blackouts were put into place so that light was blocked from escaping houses and aiding enemy planes (“The Blackout World War Two”). According to the same article, many people died or were injured during these blackouts, because the lack of light caused many accidents (“The Blackout World War Two.”).
With all of the rationing, fear, and farming that those on the Ponsford Prairie faced, they still managed to show great support towards one another. Edith has been a giver her whole life, from when she helped community members in time of need as a child to when she was a member of the Osage Lions Club. The Osage Lions Club, founded in 1917, are a group that volunteers to help with many events and community projects ("Osage Lions Club - Lions E-Clubhouse.").
May 17, 1938 a wonderful lady, Edith L. Walde, was born into this world at Perham, Minnesota. This time era is better known as the end of The Great Depression. As Edith, better known as Edie, grew up on a farm, she learned some valuable lessons. When I asked her “What are some everyday memories you have growing up?”
She responded with “Well, life before electricity was a big difference. I learned to always measure twice and cut once. I too have learned how to make the best of what I have, unlike your generation”
“Do you have any regrets about your life? Or wish that you did something differently?” I asked, not wanting to comment on the fact she downgraded my generation.
“I think I have lived a grand life, but I wish that I would have started living for myself a bit sooner than I did.” She replied.
“Grandma, to me you have always seemed selfless. What is a word of advice that you have for when it comes to deciding on putting myself or others first?”
“Well when it comes down to it, be a leader. Remember the lead sled dog is the only one with a good view. I’m trying to say follow your heart, don’t be afraid to put yourself first. Remember to always help others along with the ride, so that when you are struggling you will have someone to help you as you did them.”
Edie is one that people often go to to find advice. She grew up on the Ponsford Prairie and has experienced more than we can imagine. Whenever I need advice, or just want to bake some cookies, I go to my grandma, Edie.
Edith graduated as valedictorian from her school. School back in the day consisted of all grades, K-12, being in one big room and they typically only had one teacher (Walde). Walde’s earliest memory of school was the fact that she rode, with a neighbor family, to school in a buggy that was pulled by a horse.
Before her family had electricity and running water, she recalls having to use lamps and hand pumps. Due to the fact that they used an outhouse, they had a “chamber pot” that was kept behind the door in the bedroom. Edith recalls that if you let it get too full, it would be very difficult to try and steady it out to the outhouse. Without running water, Edith’s family devoted a day for washing both laundry and themselves. “The cleanest was sent into the tub first” she recalls (Walde). Edith has a keen memory, and can be known for just that. From her telling her stories on the early days, she remembers every detail, I never have heard her say one negative thing or say how it was so hard. She often refers to her early years growing up as “The Good Old Days”.
Edith Walde met Richard Branstrom and on October 21, 1956 she married the love of her life. Edie is a mother to five children: Michael, Linda, Mark, David, and Mary. Edith made a wonderful mother to these children. Richard and Edie raised their five kids on a farm in their hometown of Ponsford, MN. They continued to farm until 1997, when Richard passed away due to a heart attack. Although Edith’s husband died at the young age of 46, she struggled through and gave her kids the best life she could offer them.
Edith L. Walde is a very humble person. Edie is and always has been a wonderful mother, grandmother, and friend. Whenever someone is struggling, she is the first to extend out a helping hand. Although, life hasn’t always been easy for her, she has made the best of every situation. Someone like Edith is very respected, she was even respected enough to be a postmaster back in her day. It takes honesty, dedication, and readiness to hold a job position like that. Edie helps people in time of need and makes them gain confidence and get back onto their feet.
Edith had another word of advice for all and that is to “Take time to smell the roses”. We often do not take time for ourselves. It is the little things in life that make all the difference and Edith is always there to point that out. Throughout Edith’s wide efforts to help others, the world could not and would not be as it is today.
Merriam-Webster. Merriam Webster. Web 09 Jan. 2017.
"Osage Lions Club - Lions E-Clubhouse." Osage Lions Club - Lions E-Clubhouse. Web. 11 Jan.
"Take a Closer Look at the Draft." The National WWII Museum New
Orleans: Learn: For Students: Primary Sources: Draft Registration Documents. Web. 01
"The Blackout World War Two." Web. 09 Jan. 2017.
Walde, Edith. Personal Interview. 30 Dec. 2016.