|Olan Wallin celebrates 100 years of a full life|
|Written by By Carolyn Lee, The Imperial Repbulican|
One hundred years ago last Saturday, July 14, Olan Wallin was born in Phillips County to Carl and Mae Wallin. With two brothers and two sisters, the family lived on the farm Wallin’s grandparents homesteaded.
The land was farmed with horses. Wallin’s grandfather broke the sod himself.
The family was of Swedish origin. Wallin’s father was 7 when they immigrated to America.
Farming has continued in the Wallin blood. Olan farmed until he was about 80 years old. Sons Gary and Dan farmed. Grandsons now farm land Olan’s father bought in Chase County.
That makes five generations on the farm.
In 1917 the family moved to the Chase County homestead, 12 miles west of Imperial, Neb. on Highway 6. They owned a half section of pasture and 80 acres across the highway.
Still using horses, the family farmed wheat, oats, barley and dryland corn.
Olan attended the original Dist. 66 school northeast of their house. After the eighth grade, his formal education ended.
“That’s as far as I got. Dad didn’t send any of the kids to high school,” he said.
Before that he was still a kid, wearing short knee pants. His older brothers got to wear long pants, and he was jealous.
Wallin began his independent farming experience at age 14 by raising cantaloupe, selling them to neighbors for 10 cents apiece.
That was in 1932, during the Depression years.
“It didn’t seem to affect us too much. Dad always had enough. Some neighbors barely made it, but we fared pretty good,” he noted.
That same year, Wallin began farming the 80 acres with horses. He raised 10 cents per bushel corn.
His brothers were getting married, so Olan stayed on the farm and did the work, also raising chickens and pigs.
There was a girl who moved with her family to a farm one and one-half miles south of the Wallin farmstead. Mary rode up to the highway each day to get the mail.
One of his brothers told him to court the girl. “She won’t go with me because she lives a different life,” he replied.
Mary’s family quit working Saturday afternoons and went “to town to run around and go to dances,” he said.
To Olan’s family, Saturday was just another day of work. His dad didn’t believe in running around in town.
But he asked her, and “We were together ever since.”
The couple married in 1939, in the front room of the house, with a preacher and one of his cousins standing up for them.
They had to wait until fall for their honeymoon, until the crops were in. Then they went to the Black Hills.
That two-story house was moved to the Jerry Bubak farm when Mary had plans drawn up for a new house. She sprang those plans on Olan, and he liked them. The house is now occupied by a grandson.
Olan expanded his hog operation, with about 100 head. World War II started, and he said the government came to visit him.
“When the war started, they said you’re doing more good here (raising pigs),” so he wasn’t drafted.
He never knew if his pork reached soldiers, but he hoped so.
When he bought some more land, one quarter included a well and was graded for gravity irrigation.
Wallin wanted another quarter, which had a well, to have one of those new sprinklers on it.
He went to town for a loan for a pivot, but was turned down. The bank officers said pivot irrigation wouldn’t take off.
So he had to grade the field for gravity irrigation.
In 1968, he started pivot irrigating.
The biggest change in farming, Olan said, was moving from horses to tractors.
“I didn’t miss the horses too much,” he said. “My brother had a team of mules and I was scared when I had to harness them up,” as they might kick.
Son Dan, who was visiting Olan last Monday, said, “With a tractor, you go out and start it and go to the field.” With horses, you had to get up one hour earlier to harness them.
Olan’s father bought the family’s first tractor from his grandfather, he said.
There was an International dealership in Lamar, Neb. When that tractor gave out in 1927 while breaking sod, the Wallins bought a new one in Lamar.
Today, John Deeres are his favorites.
His first car, which he bought used from a neighbor in about 1927, was a 1925 Chevy Coupe.
Olan really wanted that car.
“I wanted it so bad. I had the hogs to sell and pay for it, but they weren’t ready. So I talked my dad into buying it until they were ready,” he said.
The Wallins did most of their business in Lamar. Olan got his first haircut at the barber shop there.
His grandmother on his mother’s side of the family owned a hotel in Lamar that was moved in with horses.
His mother’s sister and her husband, Bertha and Ed Klein, ran grocery stores in Fleming, Venango, Neb. and Champion, Neb.
The family always bought their groceries at those stores, which Olan applauded, as a sack of candy was always included in the bag.
Olan and Mary belonged to the United Brethren Chase Church in Lamar, then the Imperial Bible Church.
They greatly enjoyed traveling, visiting Germany when Dan was stationed there in the 60s, the Holy Land, Egypt, Hawaii, England and Washington, D.C.
They pretty much went everywhere together. Dan said, “Dad very rarely went any place without Mom. If we broke down in the field, we had to stop and get Mom to go to town” to get parts.
Mary died in February 2011, shortly after the couple moved to Imperial Heights.
Olan loved to fish in earlier years, both at Enders and Lake McConaughy from a boat.
There’s still a mounted crappie in the basement of his home in the country. It was a one and one-half pound fish, “the biggest I’d ever seen.”
Wallin doesn’t know if he’s done anything “right” about living to be 100.
“I eat the same stuff as everyone else,” he laughed. His son added, “He has to have his bacon and eggs for breakfast.”
A woman told Olan he has to eat his vegetables and drink lots of water. He does neither, he smiled.
What does the future hold? “I’m waiting for Christ to come back to earth and take us out of here.” Parts of the Book of Revelation have been coming true, he stated.
The couple raised Gary, Judy, Betty and Dan. There are 17 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
Holyoke Enterprise July 19, 2012