She may be best remembered as the pretty girl “who tickled the ivories” at many of the country dances in the local area back in the day.
By Sherry Vogel
She played the piano at dances at the Odd Fellows Hall in Ollie, Willard Hall, and the school house out on the 101 Road. She was often accompanied by Walt Siring who played the saxophone. The times were fun as couples waltzed, jitter-bugged, and did the schottische to tunes such as A Tisket-A-Tasket, Over the Rainbow, or Pennies From Heaven.
Ellen Brownson Rustad was born to Albert and Ethel Brownson Jan. 25, 1921. She was raised on the family farm three miles southwest of Baker. She attended town schools in Baker. She remembers the winter seasons the best. She has fond memories of tobogganing on a hill behind the farm house. Another fond memory was snuggling under the cozy quilts with her sisters Maria and Anna Mae while her dad drove the sleigh during the winter to deliver the girls the three mile distance to school. While in high school, Ellen took the usual music courses and learned how to play the piano. This has been a skill she has thoroughly enjoyed all her life. She graduated from Baker High School the year WWII broke out in 1939.
“After high school,” Ellen said, “I did something wild.” She moved out to Portland, Oregon to be a “Rosie Riveter”. She added, “Well, I didn’t actually rivet anything, I was a stenographer.” This was quite a culture shock for Ellen as the shipyard itself was a lot bigger than the town of Baker. During this time, she was in correspondence with a Baker boy named Ralph Rustad and admitted he was a deciding factor in her decision to return to Baker. The returning “riveter” rented a room at the Sinclair home in Baker and found work at the Fallon County Courthouse where Ralph was working measuring crops for the ASCS Office.
Ralph and Ellen were married March 31, 1942. The young couple made their home out on Ralph’s folks’ place southwest of Ollie. Ollie at the time still maintained a grocery store, post office, and a grade school.
Eållen continued to work at the courthouse where she strived for her goal of becoming county treasurer which she successfully achieved. She served in this position for two years.
The Rustads were blessed with two sons, Keith and Brian. The family later moved to Baker, making their home on Pleasant Avenue for a number of years while the boys attended school.
Sensing that our conversation was coming to an end, Ellen stated, “and the rest is all history”.
Happy 95th birthday, Ellen! Thank you for sharing your history with us. May you be blessed with many more wonderful years.