Laurel L. Russwurm's Free Culture Blog

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Dancing Through Life

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Antique tractors in the background, Lincoln cradles his pet rooster in his arms.

I am lucky to have an amazing father. But today I’m not writing about Dad, but instead want to say:

Happy Father’s Day

to my godfather, Lincoln Russwurm.

Dad and Lincoln are first cousins, and although they didn’t look at all alike when they were younger, recently it’s been pointed out that nowadays they can be mistaken for each other in photographs.

black and white snapshot of the two families intermingled, standing on giant logs in front of the barnLincoln and Hilda had a huge impact on my life. When I was a kid, we would visit them on their farm. Their kids were close enough in age with us that we got along. 

I remember the taste of raw milk…
listening to the “My Fair Lady” soundtrack…
the creak of the windmill…
warm summer days…
a really scary movie…
rollerskating and soft ice cream…
barn cats…
the heady smell of the pantry…
long walks on dusty unpaved roads…
fields of wildflowers…
bringing home the cows…
learning where milk came from…

So much of what I love, and much I still value, I learned from them.

The first dog I loved was their dog Rex, pictured here.

I met cows and chickens and got an exposure to nature and life that I would not otherwise have as a city kid.

Being their god daughter, I suspect I may have been somewhat spoiled when we visited. 

I do know that my first hands on exposure to media production was at their farm. At home, Dad had a professional quality reel to reel tape recorder, but it was for recording demos for his music. Needless to say, children were never allowed to touch the thing.  (I had to take Media Arts in college before I ever got to use a reel to reel tape recorder.)  But my cousins had a cassette recorder that was *gasp* a toy… kids could play with it and do whatever they wanted.

Cooool.

For me, that meant spending the time playing with it, when everyone else was out haying (as the youngest, or possibly, the most pampered, I didn’t have to help with that grueling job).  I recorded radio plays with that recorder.  I couldn’t tell you what about, but I performed all the different voices, and created sound effects.  I have a powerful memory of crouching over the device and recording the sound of a rubber ball bouncing down the back stairs.  Years later I did the same sort of thing with better equipment at Sheridan college. 🙂

Lincoln was always a talker, and a square dance caller, when he wasn’t dancing with my amazing godmother, Hilda.   I suspect that temperamentally Dad and Lincoln are a lot alike in many ways – they both love being onstage still.   So when Lincoln neared retirement, he took up auctioneering.  At which point the neat stuff at the farm seems to have increased exponentially.

Something else that imprinted on me strongly from them was a love of neat stuff.  There was always all sorts of truly cool stuff on their farm.  Gadgets.  Tools.  Historical artifacts.

The thing that seems most illogical, though, is Lincoln’s love of animals.   It seems odd, somehow, to a soft hearted tree hugging city dweller like me, that the person who raises livestock to eat can lavish such affection on pets and wildlife.  When I was very small I was aghast to witness the entire process of a barnyard chicken ending up on the table for dinner.   So these days I am tickled to see Lincoln enjoying his pet rooster.   When a couple of orphaned squirrels needed relocation, Lincoln and Hilda welcomed them to their farm.   Just as I played host to some baby squirrels.

It’s all real life.  And I am thankful that Lincoln and Hilda have been such an important part of mine.

I love them both, and have learned much from their dance.

Lincoln+Hilda dance at their 60th anniversary

Lincoln dancing with his beautiful wife Hilda (my wonderful godmother)
on the occasion of their 60th wedding anniversary earlier this year.

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

June 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm

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