Dirks Family

History and Genealogy

Violet’s Story

By daughter Norine

Dad, Norvan Just, always kidded Mom about her ability to cook when they were married saying that she couldn't even boil water. This was Mom's version: " I grew up on a farm with seven brothers and six sisters. Since I was one of the oldest girls I was in charge of much of the cooking along with other household chores. I can't remember when I first learned to cook but it was ever since I was small. We never got any desserts or anything unless we had company and then grandma (Gretchen Dirks-she wrote this for Gerald, Patricia, Elaine and I) usually made them. We girls always made the standard meat, potatoes, and gravy or buttermilk soup in the wintertime and rice or oatmeal was put into it. Mom never made that ‘buttermilk soup’ recipe, so we assume it was just a 'survival' recipe she didn't really care for. We always drank tea. We never had milk on the table. Breakfasts were of pancakes and tea except on Sunday morning we got corn flakes with milk. Dinners and suppers were meat, potatoes and gravy. Sometimes grandma made bean soup.

After I married I finally learned how to make other things. Mrs. Larse Mahl, wife of the family we worked for right after we were married, got me to listen to Kitchen Kiatter on the radio." (Mom never missed Kitchen Klatter--they were like old friends! She'd sit and listen with her pen or pencil and paper handy and copied down every recipe.

During wartime in the 40's food was rationed. We couldn't get canned fruit, meat or shoes without stamps. Jerry (Gerald) and Norine were little then. Pat and Elaine weren't born yet. (Pre-1 948) When Jerry was born we couldn't get diapers. Grandma Dirks found some toweling material in town and we made diapers from them. I have many recipes using syrups that were substituted for sugar because sugar was rationed and we couldn't get much of it.

Mom baked a three-loaf pan and a single pan or two of white bread every week keeping it fresh in plastic bags given out by seed corn salesmen. Those bags would lose their color-printed advertisements and have many taped tears before Mom would toss them out! She made only three soups: "Lumpy Tomato" in milk, a potato soup that was beef bone based with onion, peas and maybe carrots and rarely a chicken dumpling or homemade noodles. Dad butchered a heifer/steer or hog when needed sometimes at home in winter or took to butcher in town--the meat was kept in a locker plant in town until we got a big freezer in the late 50's. We butchered chickens every spring to fry after the freezer came and Mom thought freezing vegetables, fruits and baked goods was heaven compared to canning and stale bread.

We grew most every thing we ate and got apples from a neighbor. Our diet was meat, chicken, bullheads & northerns (occasionally in the spring), pheasant, duck, goose (in the fall) and corn, green beans, peas, carrots, potatoes, onions, cabbage and tomatoes. Mom grew leaf lettuce in spring, made choke cherry jam, mulberry pie and rhubarb recipes. There was scarce road ditch asparagus too. She always helped milk the cows and had “cream” money and "egg" money to spend on flour, sugar, baking supplies and, if there was any left over, she bought tuna or salmon, peaches to can or crochet thread, fabric, etc. We girls helped Mom cook, garden, can, freeze and bake and sew as we got older so she taught us well. Sometime in the 50's Mom purchased a set of cake decorator tips at the Clay County Fair, Spencer, Iowa (she and dad always attended yearly). She began decorating cakes for our birthdays and made -their 25th wedding anniversary cake, Jerry & Linda's "church" wedding cake, my three-tier rose covered wedding cake and she & I made Elaine's sweet pea covered wedding cake. Jerry's birthday cake was usually a "tractor" cake.

Mom sewed most of her and her girls's clothes, made quilts which got fancier through the years, crocheted many pot holders & dresser scarves she embroidered, made her own dish towels and embroidered them. She saved flour and seed corn sacks for curtains, towels, clothing and sheets, made one popcorn stitch crocheted bed coverlet which took her years to complete as she had to save her money for thread. Later she made yarn crocheted pillows and Afghans and made beautiful pieced quilts for her children and grandchildren.

Mom had a hard life compared to other women of her day. Instead of a furnace, we had an oil burner (or two) and a cook stove for warmth and hot water. We also had a gas stove, electric refrigerator and freezer, but no running water or indoor bathroom until the early 60's. It was always too cold or too hot, dusty or humid as the weather turned; there was endless rock picking when we moved to Bingham Lake and endless weeding to be done in the bean fields as well as the garden. There was never enough time to cuddle babies, comfort school children, go visiting or join clubs. For Mom, whose health was always in question, there was no time to complain--just a routine of chores to be done. A wringer-washer and a set of wash tubs, a well-used scrub board and Fels Naphtha bar soap grated into the hot wash water and a water boiler tub beckoned her on wash day. Frozen wash and frozen fingers greeted her in winter--everything had to be ironed. Rain clouds always threatened summer wash days.

No wonder she was overjoyed when family came to stay or just stopped for the day. We all welcomed these people who seemed to love us for no reason! So Mom's happiest days were when, in the 50's, brothers John and Richard and sisters Margie and Eileen visited--even stayed with us. Things were easier then, happier and more joyful. Those days were spent on the rented Fred Heide/Hy Weimer farm near Brewster, Minnesota. Then we looked forward to Saturday house cleaning and the trip to Heron Lake for groceries. Mom would take the girls shopping and Dad would go to the "implement" with Jerry, but we always found them at the theater! Mom would sometimes run into a lady she knew and stopped for a soda pop at the cafe, but we always had to wait for Dad and Jerry to get out of the show.

Mom and her sister, Leona, seemed animated when they would get together. They told stories about log cabins, old relatives I never knew and old wives tales. Once they shared their ignorance when Leona confessed that she married Henry because she was tired of changing her baby brothers/sisters diapers, only to discover herself pregnant and soon changing diapers again! She said, (in her wide-eyed Missouri way) "I had no idea! Mom never told me how she got all those babies!" Most of all, Mom loved to get away from the farm and go to Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, California to visit her siblings. She always said that, when she got old enough, she was just going to sit in her rocking chair and take life easy. We all grew up, she finished her quilts, put away her canning tools, laid down the shovel and sat down to take life easy.

Is this what you want? There is no copy of Missy's memoirs of Mom as the minister did not return it. She will re-write it if you wish.

Further, Mom and Dad lived near Pomeroy when first married or Sac City and infants, Norma, and the twin boys are buried near Grandma and Grandpa
in Pomeroy's Union Cemetery. Dad and Mom worked for Larse Mahl then and Mom nearly died after kidney failure and surgery in Iowa City before Jerry was born. Dad also did custom combining until he got the chance to rent the farm at Brewster, MN. You know the rest of the story. They moved to Bingham Lake, MN and into the Jeffers, MN school district in 1 954 when Elaine was an infant. They first farmed with horses and milked cows joining the registered Milking Shorthorn Association in the 50's with a friend named Clarence Voehl. There used to be detailed production records until we moved to Bingham Lake and a year or two later across the section to the east to the farm where Jerry and Linda live. A large part of the daily chores was Mom's as she cleaned the surge milking equipment and cream separator with only an immersion coil heater for hot water. They used to test for butterfat--all that stuff, plus care for the cows and get them ready to show at fairs. First they hauled cream and eggs to town, then there was a period of time when they picked up on the farm and later back to delivering cream and eggs to town. Dad never made the leap into Grade A dairy, as it required building a new barn, expensive bulk tanks and regulated production amounts--so we got down to a cow or two for Mom to milk for the last years. When Dad died in October 1975, Jerry took over farming and debt redemption and Mom remained on the farm until she had a stroke about 1981. She moved to Windom and lived at 925-6th Street until moving to Good Sam in Mountain Lake, MN in Dec. 1 991 and passed away July 7, 1996.

Mom was always great with the grand kids; she always said that was because she had a lot of experience taking care of her younger brothers and sisters. She always kept her baby sister, Eva, in her thoughts and especially Verneeda who she dearly missed. This was "Grandma" who got out the coloring books, sat them on her lap and helped them learn to color. That mastered, it was on to drawing whatever you asked for--and she was pretty good at it too! But it was the master of patience who let those babies mix and stir and measure until the kitchen floor was goo and the kid? Forget it! In the tub with you! Besides, what mother could resist a plate of drippy sugar cookies held up by a floured 4-year-old wearing Grandma's apron? She could play with the lightest of hearts--who
knew?!! She knew what sizes they wore, what they liked, when their dolly needed mending and a new snowsuit! Grandma filled in where we 'fell through' and she earned the undying love and respect of her grandchildren. They keep the things Grandma made close to them for their children so they will know who Grandma Violet is.


First United Methodist Church Windom, MN Wednesday, July 10, 1996 2:00 p.m.
Reverend Kathleen Brandt
No. 361 "Rock Of Ages"
No. 504 "Old Rugged Cross"
Insert "Just A Closer Walk Wfth Thee"
ORGANIST Mrs. Deann Steele
Donald Anderson Roger Bockelmann
Don Piercy Jr. Mark Caauwee
Darold Dirks Bob Dirks
Jerry McGinley Marvin Dirks
Jeffers Cemetery INTERMENT Jeffers, MN
Please join the family for fellowship and refreshments in the church dining room upon our return from the cemetery.

Violet Marie Just, the daughter of Gretchen-(Ahrens) Dirks and Dick Ulferts Dirks, was born in Fonda, Iowa on August 13, 1919. She grew up in the Fonda area and attended Fonda Public Schools. While an infant she was received into the Christian faith through Baptism at First Evangelical Church in Pomeroy, Iowa in 1919.

On March 26, 1 941, Violet was united in marriage to Norvan William Just in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Following their marriage, Violet and Norvan farmed near Fonda for 4 years; moved to Brewster, MN and farmed there for 9 years;and came to the Bingham Lake area in 1955. They continued to live there until Norvan's untimely death in 1975.
Ln her early years of raising their family, Violet cooperated in the operation of the farm. She raised a garden and canned all of it’s produce. She assisted with farming work in whatever way possible. Learning on her own to cook and bake, she provided for her family in so many ways. In the early years, she was active in extension work and 4-H. As a member of the United Methodist Church in Jeffers, she helped in the work of the church as a member of it’s circles.

In more recent years, Violet was a skilled quitter. She made quilts for each of her grandchildren of an individual nature. She also enjoyed painting crafts, sewing and knitting. Over the years, her family and friends recollect her special cakes on many occasions.

Moving to Windom in 1980, Violet became a member of First United Methodist Church in Windom, gaining many more friends and neighbors, and was active and interested in many things. Her family had grown to include many grandchildren and great grandchildren. She enjoyed their visits and kept them busy with baking and enjoying time together.

Because of declining health, Violet became a resident of the Good Samaritan Home in Mountain Lake during Christmas of 1991. She remained there until her death on Sunday morning, July 7th, at the age of 76 years, 10 months and 24 days.

Her family includes I son and 3 daughters: Gerald N. Just of Binham Lake, Norine (Mrs. David Bockelmann), of Windom, Patricia (Mrs. James Villwock) of Aledo, TX, and, Elaine Galbraith of Windom; 11 grandchildren; 9 great grandchildren. Also surviving are five brothers and two sisters: Harold Dirks of Spirit Lake, IA, LeRoy Dirks of Fonda, IA, Marcella (Mrs. Donald Piercy) of Newell, IA, Margie (Mrs. Ronald Nelson) of Culver City, Ca. Johnny Dirks of Derby, KS, Richard Dirks of Lakeville, and Roland Dirks of Wichita, KS.

Besides her parents and husband, Violet was preceded in death by an infant daughter; infant twin sons-2 brothers, Fred and Edward; and four sisters: Leona McGinley, Eva Dirks, Verneeda Dirks, and Eileen Caauwe.

Just a Closer Walk with Thee
I am week but THOU art strong;
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I'll be Satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to thee.
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is My plea,
Daily Walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.


Jeffers United Methodist Church Jeffers, Minnesota
Tuesday. November 18, 1975 1:00 P.M.
The Reverend Rex Logan
Mrs. MaybeUe Bigbee Organist
Richard Duroe Vocalist
John Saalhoff Bryce Fairbairn
Albert Kuiper Harry Dick
Richard M@n John Johnson
Ernest Wipt GU Molitor
Jeffers Cemetery Jeffers, Minnesota


Norvan Just, son of William and Helena Hammer just, was born in Sac County, Iowa on September 13, 1922. He spent his entire early life in this area and attended the rural Iowa schools. On march ?.6, 1941 Norvan was united in marriage to Violet Dirks at Ft. Dodge, Iowa. Following their marriage they farmed for 4 years near Fonda, Iowa. The family than came to Minnesota ta and settled in the Brewster, Minnesota area. They farmed there for 9 years before moving to near Bingham Lake. Mr. Just was a dedicated farmer and enjoyed work cattle. Mr. & Mrs. Just became the parents of 7 childern, three of whom died in infancy. Norvan had been troubled with blood vessel complications and had submitted to surgery on August 13th of this year at the University of Minnesota HospitaL Things seemed to be going well with his health Condition untill he returned to the University Hospital on November 7th. He had furthur surgery on Thursday, November 13th, and it was following this operation that he took a sudden turn for the worse. His death early Friday morning, November 14th, came as a shock to his family and many friends. Norvan passed away at the age of 53 years, 2 months and 1 day. Proceeding him In death were his parents, 1 brother, and his 3 infant children. Thosee wbo survive him include his wife, Violet:: 1 son, Gerald Just of Bingham Lake, Minnesota: 3 daughters, (Norine) Mrs. David Bockelman of Jeffers, Minnesota; (Patricia) Mrs. James Villwock of Omaha, Nebraska; and (Elaine) Mrs. Paul Galbraith of Mankato, Minnesota: 5 grandchildren: 1 brother, Merlin Just of Lakeview, Iowa: and 6 sisters, (Elnora) Mrs. LeRoy Fitchett and (Verna Mae) Mrs. Dale Miller of NeweH, Iowa; (Nelma) Mrs. Edward Rix of Lytton, Iowa; (Donna) Mrs. LeRoy Dirks and (Merna) Mrs. Harry Johnson both of Fonda, Iowa; and (Helene) Mrs. Harlan Stoalman of Lake City, Iowa.
Blessed be the memory of the life of Norvan Just.