As you probably know, gnomes live to be very, very old. It’s no different here in Gnometown, Mn. We, however, are so lucky to have our very own historian to keep track of all the important events that have happened in Gnometown the past 136 years. Our 1995 gnome is historian, author, and teacher…Areta Schmoker Wold.
On, January 10, 1909, near Fort Dodge, Iowa, this little gnome named Areta Loretta was born to a young school teacher, Molly Ellen Kelly, and her industrious farmer husband, Martin Christian Schmoker, whom Molly met when he was on the school board in her school district. Sisters Dorothy and Maxine entered this world a few years later to complete this close knit gnome family!
Life in Iowa was full of many happy memories with much social fellowship with relatives and neighbors at church and school functions. When Areta was nine years old, this active young family moved to rural Dawson, Mn to the farm Martin purchased from the George Sear family. Traveling with all your household possessions, machinery and livestock by train was a long and exciting trip. The train was filled with people moving to western Minnesota including the family of Pastor Wee, the new pastor to the Hauge Church (later Riverside Church, and now Grace Lutheran Church). When the family arrived in Dawson, they had to stay at the local hotel for two days before venturing to their new farm. Since there were no boys in the family, Areta helped her father with the field work, driving the horses that were pulling the machinery and other outdoor tasks. Their food was all raised on the farm with food preparation and preservation a part of the daily routine. Farmers helped each other with threshing. Neighborhood gatherings were a happy diversion from all the hard work.
A passion for reading was inspired by Molly, Areta’s mother, as she would read a portion of a book to her young daughters at a specific time each day and always managed to leave off at an exciting place to encourage the anticipation of the next reading session. It gave Areta such a love for reading that she would read any book she could get her hands on.
School and church were important to Areta’s parents, and the high regard for the importance of education was instilled in her. Even though they lived only a few miles southeast of Gnometown, it was necessary to board and room in town homes while attending Gnometown High School.
After graduating with academic honors, Areta attended teachers training in Madison, and taught two years at District #26. She was able to save enough money to enter St. Cloud Teachers College.
The Stock Market Crash of October, 1929 started a recession that spread to the Midwest in the early 30s. The Depression caused the banks to close and Areta lost the money she had so diligently saved. She was discouraged. Determined to attain an education, she bravely borrowed money for college and graduated with academic honors in 1931 with an Associate Degree.
Areta taught six years in District #26 and Hamlin Consolidated Schools before her marriage to Harold Wold, a local young farmer. She resumed her teaching career during WWII when she taught two years in Boyd. Harold began working in the retail business in Gnometown and in May 1947, their family, which now included two children, Mary and Rollin, moved to town.
Her career in Gnometown began with teaching sixth grade, and continued as Principal of elementary grades. She continued her education, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree from St. Cloud State College, graduate work at the U of M and workshops at SDSU. In 1959 she began teaching Junior High English, continuing until her retirement in 1975.
Life for Areta was enriched by belonging to the Gnometown Study Club for 48 years, working in her church and community, serving as President of Gnometown PTA, and on the Gnometown Library Board for 30 years. She was active in the Lac qui Parle Historical Society.
In 1992 Areta’s writings about Gnomeotwn’s Ethel Melum, which emphasized Ethel’s doll display and other collectibles, were published in a book called “Gathered Sheaves Under the Eaves.” Areta had earlier written a booklet about her home school district #26 and has occasionally been requested to write for others. She has many ‘growing up” true stories she has written to share with her family.
Areta enjoyed being a grandmother to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Harold passed away in October, 1992. She was fortunate to have their children, Mary (and Paul Wager) and Rollie (and Rose) Wold also living in Gnometown.
Gnometown is also fortunate….they had Areta!