When our parents told us they had bought a farm on Goat Back, all six of us were disappointed. We lived close to Pepin, and even though we had to walk two miles to school, we were content there. I don’t think there was a kid I didn’t like.
How could life be good, way out in the sticks — ten miles from town? And how could we cope with a name like Goat Back? It was embarrassing! But we had to. And I thought, “Way out here, how will I ever get a date when I grow up?” (But I did.)
The neighbors had a farewell party for us. The Jahnkes were very musical, and they came down to our place and provided an evening of wonderful music, but we were so sad to be moving away. Elaine was my neighbor and close friend, who I saw almost every day, but that would be a thing of the past.
My brothers remember moving the cattle. Marvin said it was like a Wild West show. “We opened the barn doors and let out the cattle, and we were off! We went the back way, down to Lost Creek, up to Barry Corner, then down the Goat Back Road. My dad drove the horses and hay wagon, and we walked all that way to our new home.”
The hardest part was changing schools. We had to walk down through the pasture to the West Frankfort School. It was almost like we were an intrusion to the school. The classes were small, so you really had to stay alert ... not as relaxing as Pepin. It took a while to fit in, and I never felt like I really did fit in. But we read the classics, diagrammed sentences and memorized poems. There was no art work; the teacher made the few decorations on the wall, and was she strict! But she had a big job keeping everyone focused. Of course, we made some friends there, but we were not close.
Apparently not even our dog Hike liked the moved. For the first few months, he would trek back to the old place, stay a few days and then come back home all tired out.
We all worked to make the farm productive. We all had to pitch in to get the work done. We hoed thistles, weeded the garden, carried wood, milked cows by hand, drove the horses in the hay field, threw down silage, picked rocks and picked up potatoes in the fall. But out parents worked much harder than we did.
We found the neighbors to be very friendly. The threshing crew worked together well, and they all became our friends. Finally, we joined the Little Plum Lutheran Church. There were lots of kids our age, and they could really belt out those favorite old hymns. I think we all had great memories of being there. We were also able to join the 4-H club under the direction of Gladys Schruth. Sometimes I went to their place and sewed with their daughter Rosella. Going to the county fair in Durand was lots of fun, and it was a great learning experience.
When we had free time, we set off for some adventure. Sometimes we would walk to Ella and invite kids along the way to go with us. Joyce said it was seven miles one way, and we would go walking, walking, walking, laughing all the way. We might have a nickel or dime to spend in the store. A nickel would buy a bottle of pop. Sometimes we would go to the Notch, another store beyond the West Frankfort School. I also headed beyond that store to Porcupine sometimes to help the Metcalfes, and they had a store there also. Walking was our means of transportation, and it was very enjoyable.
At home in the evenings, we played ball and other games. I remember that most of us made stilts, and we walked around the yard on them. In the winter, we went sledding and skiing and built snow forts.
It turns out that life was good on Goat Back, but we really never got used to that name! Now city folks and artisans flock to out-of-the-way places like Goat Back to be in a peaceful environment away from traffic and the hustle and bustle of city living.
A few years back, Pepin County officials thought they should change the peculiar names of roads in Pepin County like Goat Back, Porcupine, Bear Pen and Bogus to letters or numbers. Landowners thought they should be left as is, and so it is. Now as I think about it, the names are nostalgic, and maybe there is meaning behind them.