‘The Old Halvorson House’ by Larry Woiwode

The Old Halvorson House by Larry Woiwode, 1971

The magic trick:

Telling the story of a house

Let’s wrap up our week in North Dakota with some family history from Larry Woiwode.

It’s the story of a house. Kind of. Not really. It’s the story of three families who have called this house their home over the years.

You learn about the town a little bit. You learn about the families a little bit more.

But mainly you learn about the way the past interacts with the present – even the unknown, barely connected past – in not particularly good ways.

And that’s quite a trick on Woiwode’s part.

The selection:

Although several other families must have lived in the Neumiller’s house since the time of the Halvorsons, it appeared that no one had touched the Halvorsons’ effects in the attic, as though to tamper with them or to remove them were to tamper with the heart of the house. Or perhaps their possessions had been so numerous (wasn’t the desk theirs?) that people had merely taken what they wanted without much diminishing the large, original store. Martin, for instance, as he walked around the attic, said that when they left, if they ever did, he was going to take the candlesticks, that teapot, the horse collar there, and a wheelbarrowful of these books.

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