Growing up on a dairy farm in the 1940s couldn’t have been easy, but 76-year-old Betty Jacobson sure makes it seem that way. “Things were pretty quiet,” she says, with a faint chuckle in her voice.
Betty Jordan was the 10th of 11 children, and just one of two girls, born to Mathias and Anna Jordan between 1917 and 1938. When Betty left the farm in 1963 after marrying Wayzata-native Dennis Jacobson, her memories stayed alive in her heart. As Jacobson reflects on her upbringing, it is clear that her family was, and still is, the most important thing in her life.
Jacobson’s parents were gifted the plot of land for a dairy farm, just east of present-day Dundee Nursery, by her grandfather when they got married. Jacobson recalls her father purchasing at least three additional sections of land to add to the 120-acre plot throughout the years.
The original house was two stories high with a porch in the front and back of the house. In 1947, one of Jacobson’s brothers, who worked as a carpenter, transformed the back porch into a larger kitchen and added a bathroom, another bedroom and a pantry.
“Then we had a barn, with the lower area being for the cows and the upper area as the haybarn. We had a windmill, a silo, a granary with a machine shed on each side, a milk house and a garage,” says Jacobson, listing the other facets of the property.
When asked about her favorite part of the farm, Jacobson’s response is simple: “I don’t know—the whole thing!”
The Dairy Business
After each morning and evening milking session, the milk was put in tall cans, then picked up by Twin City Milk Producers Association (TCMPA) drivers the next morning. “They would bring the cans to Minneapolis and then bring them back later in the afternoon,” Jacobson recalls.
After a few years, TCMPA switched to the big milk tanks that were electronically cooled right in the Jordan milk house, “so they’d come every other day with a big tanker truck,” she says.
In the summer when school was out, Jacobson helped her mother in the garden and her father and brothers in the fields. She vividly remembers Fourth of July parties and her brothers teaching her to drive the tractor at the tender age of 10.
“I drove to pick up the hay,” she says with a laugh. “I wasn’t out on the roads and it was very low speed. It was a pretty carefree time.”
When school started up in the fall, Jacobson rode about 3 miles to school in the neighborhood carpool each morning. She attended Holy Name in Medina, a two-room schoolhouse for all grades. “You had four grades in a room, so by the time you got to the fourth grade you had heard it all a few times, and the same goes for eighth grade,” Jacobson says.
Winter was also a special time for Jacobson. “Christmastime was my favorite,” she says, “especially the year that all my brothers came home from the war.”
The family decorated the house with what little decorations they had, and always did a lot of baking, cooking and candy making. They spent hours outdoors, always sledding and skating as long as the ice was safe for sport.
When spring arrived, Jacobson stole away to the woods with the maple trees (which her brothers tapped for syrup) and gathered wildflowers by the creek.
Jacobson’s father retired in the late 1950s, and the property stayed in the family until a few years after her mother passed away in 1986. The woods are still thriving off of County Road 9, a nostalgic sight for Jacobson as she keeps the memories of growing up with her family in Plymouth close to her heart.
BIO: After taking the Plymouth history tour in September, assistant editor Maureen Kroening decided to write a series of columns exploring our city, then and now. This is the third in that series.