Note to readers from Kristina Gray: This is the fourth installment in a six-part series, with this chapter written by one of my students and encompassing the reminiscing of old timers in their own words or according to my University of Minnesota, Crookston students’ interviews and writing up what their grandparents told them. In addition to the six-part series which will continue once a week through April, join me on a look into the past in the Crookston Daily Times’ 2013 Community Connections special edition, which publishes on Friday, April 26. In the meantime, I will be discussing Crookston’s earliest history on Wednesday, April 10 at the Crookston Library, beginning at 6 p.m. All are invited.
By (Hayden) MinKyun Kim
The world is spinning too vigorously where it becomes almost impossible for a person to just indulge in reminiscences of the “good ol’ days.”
However, it happened to me when I had a chance to meet Ken Hviding to sit down and listen to him. I was very much privileged to hear about his life and the great history about this town called Crookston.
My first impression about Ken Hviding was that this is the right guy for asking about the history within Crookston. Not long into our interview, I found out that what I felt about him was absolutely correct. Ken Hviding was 83 years old, with glasses, which was not odd but seemed pretty normal for someone his age. He looked as generous as he was also very polite with graceful manners throughout the 40~50 minutes of interview. Ken Hviding was rather a short person and he looked fairly in good shape considering his age.
Ken Hviding lives in typical American family style, wooden house with his wife, who by the way still looked gorgeous. The house was perfect for an old married people to live in, it was not too commodious but at the same time it was not too compact. As soon as I walked into the house, the very moment I walked past the screen door, I felt the house was so cozy and comfy. I almost felt identical feelings with my grandparent’s house back in Seoul, South Korea. Its floor was covered by what seemed to be a thick wool carpet, and had this beautiful fire place at the center of the living room which was not lit at the time of our interview.
There were many kinds of magazines on the end table and judging from it, I could assume that Ken still has good enough eye sight to read. Interestingly though, I took time to look at the many pictures they displayed and the majority of them were of their kids. From this I could see that Ken and his wife really valued their family as if it was like their own body.
Page 2 of 3 - Now, Ken Hviding lived quite a life. He was born and grew up on a farm near Perley, Minnesota but worked for a while in North Dakota. Ken first thought he would be a farmer later in his life, but as the cost of land got much more expensive than it was when he was a kid, he decided to take another career path. He then enlisted in the Army in 1954 and met his beautiful wife and they raised four children. But it was not long enough when he made a tough decision to, again, change his career, and this time, he found his dream job as a mechanic. He worked for mechanic at local garage then he decided to move to school district. There, he was the only technician with vehicle maintenance skills, thus, it, unintentionally, gave him a pressure to perfect his job. Later in his career, he found out that being perfect is not a definition for a job well-done but rather, as he says: “Satisfaction of job well-done is to have done it.” He did not end his career as a mechanic but as a bus driver also.
Ken Hviding considers being a bus driver more than just a job that man can have but rather it is a major part of his life. In the end, the fuel that made him keep going as a bus driver and mechanic was, like he says: “Go for whatever. Set your goal high and set your standards high.” Because he valued his career with high goal and standards, he was able to do it for over 30 years before he retired.
Towards the end, I asked him whether he prefers Crookston’s past, the way it was or the way it is now. His answer shocked me. He said, “There is no communication between family members, they are all busy using their cellphones.” What he emphasized was that nowadays, families are not communicating the way they did before.
Now, Not only Crookston has changed in sentiment, but also the way it looks, I mean physically. A noticeable change which Ken told me was that there were a total of five elementary schools in Crookston but now they are only two active: Highland and Washington.
Ken also mentioned another unfortunate change, which were the numbers of grocery stores that are still in business until today. He mentioned there were grocery stores in every addition in Crookston, there was a grocery store even right down the street he said. As he was having a flashback, he looked wistfully through the window located right next to his chair as if he could still see the grocery store still filled with produce. He did not need to tell me which period of time of Crookston he preferred, because I could literally feel his emotions. Ken Hviding did tell me the differences of his feelings when he talked about the past of Crookston and present days of Crookston.
Page 3 of 3 - Besides it was my assignment to do so, I got kind of curious about how my grandparent’s lives were like back when they were young and full of possibilities. So, I used a Skype conversation with my grandmother then she told me many valuable things and histories of her life and her town where she grew up. Now to compare Ken Hviding’s life with my grandmother’s, since my grandfather passed away decades ago I had to talk to my grandmother instead.
Without any doubt, and like I guessed, there were so many dissimilar factors, as my grandmother and Ken were born in two very different countries with very different cultures and atmosphere. And as I try to arrange all the differences that my grandmother and Ken had, it was easier to tell what is similar than to talk about what is different because there was one thing, the very one thing that was literally identical at the foundational level.
This one thing Ken Hviding and my Korean grandmother had in common, and even I could notice it and also became one of hot-issues being discussed in modern society with a serious impact on relationships among people nowadays, was that people are not relating, and communicating with each other anymore.
What it means is that people, living in today’s world, are busy minding their own matters instead of helping each other. They do not communicate directly face to face but rather choose to communicate via digital devices. Which for my grandmother and Ken Hviding might feel it is so different that it was before and they miss them so much identically.
To sum up, Ken Hviding and my grandmother’s life was not really different even though they come from totally contrasting cultures, Asian’s and Caucasian’s. People need to communicate more and interact more directly. And through this interview, I had a great opportunity of learning some very precious lessons that cannot be attained with money. Family should communicate more in person, go for whatever, set goals and standards high and finally, “satisfaction of job well-done is to have done it.”