Kremlin Homesteader Lee Kezar, 1913

This history of Kremlin Homesteader Lee Kezar was written by
his daughter, Betty Kezar Hutchison.

Kremlin Homesteader Lee Kezar was among the earliest arriving
Kremlin homesteaders in 1913.

"Our dad, Lee Kezar, was born July 31, 1888, in Wisconsin to Clancy and Alice Kezar. He was a light heavyweight boxer and kept in very good physical condition all his life. We always had fruit, plenty of garden vegetables, home-made whole-wheat bread and no fried food to speak of.

When Dad went to Shelby in 1923 to see his idol Jack Dempsey fight Gibbons, Jack's trainer met Dad and told him he had the best physique he had ever seen. It was probably a disappointment to Dad that he missed a career in boxing.

In those early days, our Mom, Signe, would put on boxing gloves and spar with him. He didn't know his own strength, and after punching her in the nose one day, she would never spar with him again.

I remember Dad going outside on a winter's day, stripped to his waist, and rubbing snow all over his torso. He would periodically fast for health reasons, ten days at a time; and in 1934 he fasted for 29 days on only water. He could still do the splits when he was in his 80's.

Dad played the French horn in a band in North Dakota, and later played the fiddle at dances in Kremlin. Mom accompanied him by chording on the piano.

Dad's homestead was 9 miles north of Kremlin, and we lived there in the summer. My brothers, Dalys, Leon and Gerald slept in the loft of the barn, while June, Mary, Bebe and I slept in the granary. (This was before Patti Lu and Joanna were born). I still remember the smell of grain and mice. We loved growing up out there.

Mostly Good Times

About 1933, Dad couldn't pay the taxes and lost his farm. He never got over that loss. We then moved to the Peters farm on the highway in 1934.

We had a big garden, and best of all, trees! Mom was happier there. Our house often had the aroma of fresh-baked bread, beans baking, and cornbread. We had home-made cottage cheese, which was common in those days.

Dances were often held in the Swanson barn by our homestead, and all the women fixed a lunch, usually fried chicken, and always a dessert. They put each lunch in a decorated shoe box, with the help of us girls in our case, and men would bid two or four bits on the box that struck their fancy. Sometimes Mom shared her lunch with a happy bachelor who didn't believe in bathing!

Mom was born in Sweden, and I've often thought how difficult it must have been to live on a dryland farm, with nary a tree or lake; but Mom seemed happy. She loved to travel and often visited her sisters in other states. She made the best of things, as she did one summer when a hailstorm did a lot of damage. She gathered up the hailstones and said "We'll make ice cream!"

Mom taught us girls to dance schottisches and polkas. In those days, dances were a family affair and also the entertainment for the week. How many remember watching Lenus Nelson and Ruby Sjordal dance the polka? They were good!

One summer it seemed all the teenaged girls in Kremlin came to our house for Mom's special, free haircut. She called it the "wind-blown bob". It was well named and also very attractive, short with bangs.

One day when Leon was very small, he planned to surprise Mom by getting the car ready for her trip to town. He filled the gas tank with water. No groceries that day!

Those Were the Days!

Mom was a movie fan and I guess that's where I got it. We had our washing machine in the front yard in the summer. My job was to push and pull the stick that activated the agitator. I daydreamed of being a movie star doing that monotonous job.

Later in school, I had parts in all the plays, and in declamation I won several trophies for the school. Woodie Laughnan and I played the old couple in a short play called "The Sodbusters", a real tear jerker!

If you sang in Glee Club, you will remember Leonard Burnette, and singing "Kentucky Babe". Also, he put on operettas, unheard of before that. He was so good, but we later heard he wasn't a certified teacher. Who cared?

Arlie Granell and I would often catch a ride into Havre to have a malted milk at Lindelow's Drug and see a matinee, or stay over and see a double feature that night. I adored Jean Harlow, Sonja Henie, and Gary Cooper.

I was the town hairdresser in my high school days. I took my comb and Wildroot Wave Set to almost every house in town. If I was lucky, I got 25 cents for a finger wave. I babysat, too, and one time I had to sleep in the same bed as Curley and Val Johnson. Funny! Those were the days!!
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