Marion Hartse celebrated his 90th birthday with his daughters, family and friends Aug. 10, 2014 in Baker, making new memories and remember times past.
Posted Friday, September 5, 2014
By Lori Kesinger
Marion Hartse celebrated his 90th birthday with his daughters, family and friends Aug. 10, 2014 in Baker, making new memories and remember times past. “Thanks for coming to the party and being sociable. Ninety years – I’m feeling good,” Marion said.
Marion was born Aug. 7, 1924, to Edwin and Sadie (Ellenbum) on a farm two miles west of Carlyle. Marion was the oldest of four children and the only boy. Evelyn was the closest to his age, and Gloria and Irene came many years later. “It was wonderful growing up on the farm, not too many rules,” Marion said.
Marion walked two miles to and from school in Carlyle every day through the eighth grade. He had enough credits to graduate from high school after two years, but an oversight on an English credit caused him not to receive his diploma.
Marion got his start earning money by trapping muskrats and picking up old bones, brass and copper. A surprise mink catch once earned him $40. One year, the muskrats were so numerous he was able to sell 300 of them to Sears Roebuck for $1.90 each.
He worked for everyone in the neighborhood. When he was about 13 years old his dad allowed him to work on the threshing crew. He earned good money at $3 a day with a team and wagon gathering the bundles until the harvest was over.
During the Great Depression, the family mined coal out of Beaver Creek Hill for heat and did for several years. They lost their home to a mortgage company during that time so they moved from a 1/4 section to a 1/2 section and rebuilt – the house is still standing. His dad continued to work the fields with a team of horses until Marion put a substantial down payment on a tractor. His dad refused to take out another loan after losing the house.
Marion, at age 20, was drafted out of Wibaux County in 1944 and chose to enter the Navy rather than become a Paratrooper. He was sent to California to the San Diego Naval Training Center for ten weeks, came home on a five day leave, then returned to San Diego. He was assigned to the USS Saginaw Bay CVE-82, an aircraft carrier.
The carrier participated in the pre-invasion strikes against Okinawa and supported American forces ashore. The carrier was considered a flag ship and was highly targeted. The crew faced numerous Japanese bombers. The crew shot down one of the bombers which tore across the deck of the carrier causing extensive damage.
Marion held the position of boiler fireman in the ship’s power plant operations. The safety of the ship depended to a considerable degree on the engine room crew and their competency. As a fireman, Marion could not allow the water level in the boilers to drop below the lowest safe point or serious damage could have occurred with the loss of use of the boilers and the stoppage of the ship’s engine.
The ship was decommissioned in Boston in 1946. Marion was sent to St. Louis, Missouri for discharge that same year. Upon his return, he married Lila Mengel from Baker on May 12, Mother’s Day. They lived in Carlyle for six months while Marion helped his dad. They moved to Baker in the fall where Marion began working various careers until he started his own business. He worked for MDU, then as a project engineer for the State Highway, and spent three years on a pipeline crew building right-of-ways. Bob Woodward from Dickinson, ND helped Marion get into business on his own. M&H Redi- Mix was built one cement mixer truck at a time contracting to the oilfield.
Marion was married for 30 years and seven months to Lila before she passed away from cancer. He spent two years unmarried, then in 1977 married Esther Geving. They were married 30 years and six months before she passed away of heart problems. Marion also lost a six year old daughter to leukemia and his daughter, Ellen, at age 50 to cancer.
Marion has a business auction sale in October 2012 but still owns and tends rental properties in Baker. He often spends the winter months with his daughters in Connecticut and Oklahoma.
“I have never drank or smoked. The good Lord has blessed me with a long life. I might even go for 100,” Marion said.