Howard C. Larson
Born: February 28, 1918
Died: January 27, 2017
Howard C. Larson, originally wrote this obituary when he was 93 years old and made needed modifications to it as years passed. Howard died peacefully at home on January 27, 2017, at age 98.
This obituary is going to be different since I have chosen to write it myself while I am still living. I am the second son born to the union of John C. Larson and Mary Elsie Goble on February 28, 1918. I attended the one room country school district number 132 for eight years, then went on to Shabbona High School for 4 years, graduating in 1935. After several years of farming I felt a need for more education. So I attended an AG short course at the University of Illinois in Champaign.
On February 28, 1941 my high school sweetheart Harriet Elizabeth Coe and I were married on my birthday. Harriet was a very smart town girl graduating from Shabbona High School in 1937. She then attended NIU for 4 years graduating with a degree in Home Economics. This was very helpful during our married life together while raising two girls and one boy.
Harriet enjoyed and was very talented in organ and piano music. She was also a very excellent housekeeper. I have enjoyed woodworking and metal working projects that improved life on the farm.
Prior to our marriage, my memories of courtship time included: Watching the men drilling for oil south of Shabbona, Listening to and watching the "60" Cat tractors building the bridge over the railroad east of Shabbona, Roller skating on Route 30 (formerly Route 71) in Shabbona before it was extended west of town sometime later, Attending very good movies at the almost new Egyptian Theatre, with a malt or a milkshake afterwards for a total price of $.80 to $1.10 for two of us, Picnics with high school friends at the Pines State Park at Oregon, Attending an occasional vaudeville and show at St. Charles Theatre and many events at Shabbona School. These are all pleasant memories.
In the fall and winter of 1940 when Harriet and I decided to start our farm life together, I asked my father if we could rent the farm that he owned near Monroe Center, Illinois. His answer was no. It was not good enough for us and he wanted us to have a better start than that.
He and I then looked at many farms that were for sale at that time. He chose to buy our current home farm in rural Hinckley for our start. We were very grateful to him for giving us this start. As a sign of respect to him I have been pleased to have and use his middle initial C in my name all these many years. He was a very good father to us. I think he was pleased with the way his investment in us turned out.
After we had rented from him for about 10 years, he agreed to sell this farm to Harriet and I for what he had paid for it in 1941. $160 per acre.
On March 27, 1941 we spent our first night on the farm. The house was mostly empty with a noisy wind blowing outside. We fell asleep in each other's arms feeling a love and concern for each other that lasted 64 years.
Politicians please note, early in my farming days I decided to set aside 10% of all income into a cash account that I use for farm-related expenses. I could adjust my equipment purchases based upon if I had cash on hand to pay for it. This worked very well for me. Times of inflation also helped. It seems like 1941 was about the start of inflation in the economy. Some prices taken from my record books at that time include: A new 1940 Pontiac 2 door car bought in 1939 for $780 total.
My start up line of farm equipment bought in 1940 included: A model A John Deere tractor with rubber tires, electric start, and a remote cylinder for $1,250.00; 3 bottom plow, 10' tandem disk, 4 row planter with 40" check wire, 4 row cultivator all for $1,778.00 including the tractor.
In the fall of 1941 my 2 row mounted corn picker cost $730.00
Other 1941 prices were: A man's haircut $0.40; Gasoline $0.15 per gallon; Tractor fuel $0.08 per gallon; Hired help $3 per day; Coal $9.50 per ton; Land $150-175 per acre Soybeans $0.77 per bushel, yield 21 bushel per acre; Oats were $0.44 per bushel at 59 bushel per acre; Corn $0.61 per bushel, yield of 69 bushel per acre; Fat live hogs $12.40 per 100 pounds; Eggs $0.27 per dozen.
Compare those prices with today's prices and yields and you will understand how inflation helped us.
Memories of 1941 include grass and weeds growing between the wheel tracks of county roads and the one lane steel bridge over the creek on Bastian Rd. There was a small sign at the intersection of Bastian and Gov. Beveridge Roads that indicated that this was "Case Corner" since all four farms that came together at this intersection farmed with Case Tractors. I was the John Deere rebel that took the sign down. I should put up a new sign reading "Deere Crossing" since the same four farms now have at least one John Deere each. In 1941 all the neighbors also milked cows.
As Harriet and I got older and were beginning to be replaced by our son Roger and his wife Beverly we enjoyed the freedom to travel with tour groups to many of the attraction in the US and Alaska. But later on, Harriet began to suffer from Alzheimer's disease. She spent the last days of her life in Willow Crest nursing home while I was living at home alone with my very good dog Zak.
I have felt all my life a responsibility to be an active part in our Somonauk United Presbyterian Church and the local community groups and organizations. I was very disappointed to lose my bid for township road commissioner by one vote. Keeping all of our property in good condition, I feel has been money well spent.
One interesting experience occurred when we attended Harriet's favorite Uncle Joe's funeral. It was held in a very picturesque church built on the crest of a hill in Hillsborough, Il. Uncle Joe's death was a result of black lung from his years of working in a coalmine and too many cigarettes. This church location had many steps up to enter and after a funeral it was the custom of the funeral director to leave the support wheels attached to the casket and use eight pallbearers. Because of the many steps and Joe's weight leaving the church like this turned out to be "not good." Because of the closeness of the pallbearers one of them caught the heel of the man in front of him, causing him to lose his grip on the casket. I guess this caused a domino effect on the others who also lost their hold on the casket. It was therefore dropped down onto the support wheels. Then the casket proceeded to roll down the rest of the steps. As the freewheeling casket rolled past the open door of the hearse, it nicked the door enough to cause the casket to be redirected on down the street. As it approached the drugstore on the corner, the casket was able to jump the curb (since it was only about 2 inches high as a result of the new resurfacing of the street.) The casket proceeded across the sidewalk and into the open door of the drugstore. The jolt of the curb and the threshold of the drugstore caused the casket lid to open up and Uncle Joe in the casket rolled past the druggist. Uncle Joe gave his last "cough" and asked the druggist if he had something to stop this coffin. End of this memory.
Many times during the cloudy days of life I have found a ray of sunshine with a happy thought or a joke.
My heart is set aglow when I see Roger, Bev, and daughter, Jolee enjoy each other so much. Jolee is such a happy girl because of her mother Bev. I pray that they will all have a long life together.
My long life has given me an opportunity to view how Roger and Bev have used what Harriet and I left in their care and the addition they have made to it. I have enjoyed being the go-for-boy for them and their help.
Since I have chosen to be the author of this obituary, I can still visit with my living relatives: my son Roger, his wife Bev, and granddaughter Jolee all of Hinckley, my daughter Joan Hansen of Byron and grandson Ryan Hansen of DeKalb, and grandson David Newton of Rye, New York plus numerous relatives and many friends and neighbors.
Those that have passed on before me are my wonderful friend and wife Harriet, my much-missed daughter Janet Newton, her husband Lyman Newton, my parents John and Elsie Larson, Harriet's parents Tom and Lola Solberg, Harriet's brother Bob Coe, sister-in-law Dorothy Coe, my brother Johnny Mott Larson, sister-in-law Lucille Larson, my brother Glen Larson, my daughter Joan's husband Greg Hansen, Rev. Richard Harmison and many other friends and neighbors.
On June 13, 2011 my very good dog friend passed away in his sleep next to my bed. His ashes have been spread in his favorite place in my yard and also at Roger and Bev's house. I felt very alone until I found a very nice one year old female beagle by the name of Lilly to come live with me. She is a very nice, loving dog friend.
As my dog Lilly and I walk in the sunshine of my last days, I have no fear as I move closer to the day when my friends will deliver my body to its grave and my spirit passes through death's door into the care of the One who has provided me with a 98 year long and pleasant life here on His earth.
Since flowers are pleasing to the eye and nose such a short time, I would encourage any memorials be given to a charity of your choice .
Services will be held on Saturday, February 11th at Somonauk United Presbyterian Church, 14030 Chicago Rd., Somonauk, Illinois 60552. Visitation 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, Fay's barbeque lunch at 12:00 PM, funeral service at 1:30 PM followed by burial at Oak Mound Cemetery.
Arrangements were completed by Jacobson Funeral Home in Shabbona.