Sunday Night: Extol the virtues

By MaryHelen Swanson, editor

When we think of immigrants in the late 1800s, we think of people who came to this country to work the fields, clear the land and use their brawn to craft a life in a vast wilderness.

We usually don’t think of them as poets.

But last week, I learned about just one such immigrant who not only worked with his hands, but imagined with his mind and put those thoughts down in words for all to see.

Manfred Carlson arrived in North Branch with his family in May 1890 when he was three years old. A homestead and farm was carved out of the wilderness near what is today Harder Park east of North Branch. Manfred lived there all his life.

He died July 6, 1969. Along with the hard, physical work of farming, Manfred was a poet. He wrote both in Swedish and English and had poems, in Swedish, published weekly in the Swedish-American Post which was published out of Minneapolis.

Manfred eventually had two books of poetry published, one in English and one in Swedish.

Manfred loved North Branch, and because he did, he wrote a poem that was published in the April 12 edition of the North Branch Review in 1951.

His daughter, Melva, now 83 and still living on that same Carlson farm, recently found a scrapbook of her father’s poetry. She thought it might be nice to reprint the NB poem. I thought so too.

“Here’s to North Branch”

By Manfred Carlson

A village good as North Branch,

You won’t find everywhere

And sure you hate to leave it –

When once located there.

Your neighbors, all are friendly,

Except the mean and low –

For humans are not angels

No matter where you go.

Here is the Larson’s Fairway

A mighty big one too –

Where you can stretch your dollar

For things to drink and chew.

The shelves from floor to ceiling,

With bargain stuff is filled,

And there’s a room south westward

Where hogs and beefs are killed.

Prepared and cut in pieces

Then frozen hard you see

And packed into a locker

To which you get a key.

Fresh meat you’ll have when wanted

And if you like a drink

Of famous Coca Cola

It can be had I think.

We have a good physician

To care for us when ill.

And here’s the skillful dentist

Who can and does and will –

Into your teeth put fillings

Or pull them if they’re bad.

But if you’re sad and toothless

Then new ones can be had.

Here is a Rexal Drug store

And skillful druggists too

If medicine can do it,

Their drugs will pull you through.

And when you leave “by passing”

Which sure will happen too;

The artful undertaker,

Will then take care of you.

We have the Merchants State Bank

A friendly bank at that,

The Bakery makes goodies

To grow you round and fat.

The Editor named Blakeslee

Is on his job alright,

The power plant gives power,

And also plenty light.

See Clayton if you’re planning

On something in his line

He sells the famous Ford car

And tractors that are fine –

If you prefer the Chev. car

You must to Central go.

To Al’s for Plymouth-Chrysler

And tire repairs, you know.

Here is the North Branch Hardware

And Nyholms called “our own.”

The Farmal as a Tractor

Is also widely known.

Alvins for nails and lumber,

The Olson brothers, coal.

And don’t forget the Churches

They work to save your soul.

The Leader – Brown’s – Red Owl

And Don’s, the friendly stores

Will serve you well and give you

Your dollars worth and more.

The North Branch Mill is busy

And Hilltop is not slow.

See Klickers, Klund and Pearson

And Johnson’s Radio.

And don’t forget that Sjoquist

Will do your shoe repair –

And Mary’s shop for beauty

Will make you young and fair.

If you are tired and thirsty

The Taverns have the cure

For Brandy, Wine and Whiskey

Go to the Liquor Store.

Just come to good old North Branch

To buy – to spend and save

And don’t forget the barbers

For hair cuts and a shave.

Drive to the filling stations

And get the tank its fill

Then visit our good eat shops

And give yourself a fill.

So many business places

We cannot mention all

Where you can get by truck loads

Of things, both large and small.

The business men in North Branch

Are here to treat you fair.

Are you in need of glasses?

See Krueger for a pair.

Yes, North Branch still is growing

East, West and North and South

This Village sure is something

To sing and crow about.

When you’re in need of something

For hunger, wear or thirst –

Whenever you go shopping

Then think of North Branch first.

Now there’s a promo for Shop Local if I ever heard one. Much gloom and doom surrounds North Branch today. But there has to be someone out there somewhere to extol the virtues of this town.

Perhaps, like Manfred Carlson, it would be better to dwell on what we have, rather than anguish about what we don’t. Think about it.

  • Brenda Liebelt

    This poem is awesome! Thanks Melva for finding it and for submitting it to be printed again. Even though Manfred had this printed before I was even born, I remember many of the places he wrote about. My favorite being the Hilltop feed mill that belonged to my Grandfather (Ruben Erickson). I have fond memories as a little girl of going there to visit my father and grandfather while they were working.

    Thanks MaryHelen for believing it was worthy of printing again, 61 years later.

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