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Memory Lane

Horak grew up with girl power

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Clara Horak’s life is proof that girl power is not a new idea.

Clara Waletzko grew up on a farm near Willow River, Minnesota. She was born in 1926 and grew up during the Great Depression with three sisters and a brother.

When asked what a typical day on the farm was like, she recalled milking cows morning and night, then picking strawberries by the quart for hours a day. Her father sold those strawberries to people at the nearby lakes, she said.

“Women did the work and the men got the money,” Clara said, laughing.

Living on a farm, she spent a lot of time with her family. Most of her aunts, uncles and cousins lived just a mile away. One of these aunts was very influential to Clara, she said. One day, a fire burned rapidly through the farmyard. Her aunt, who was still a teen, saw a spark atop a haystack. She grabbed a ladder and ran up to put the spark out. Had she not done this, the fire would have gotten to the house.

The next day a man tried to move this ladder that her aunt had moved and he wasn’t able. Clara really emphasized how strong this woman was. Her aunt later married and had four girls. When the girls were kids, Clara’s aunt left her husband due to some serious problems. She took a job at a foundry, “doing work even the men couldn’t do,” as well as her other job doing laundry, she said.

Clara, like her aunt, also had a career when it wasn’t too common for women to work outside the home. Her first job was at a local bank in a town called Bruno, Minnesota. Once the war was over though, Clara’s job was given to a man who had just returned home.

Even after this injustice, she didn’t give up on having a career. She got a job in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. She worked at a promotional printing company called Brown Bigelow. Clara had a lot of fun at this job, she said. She stayed in the Cities for two years before getting married and moving to the Horak farm a few miles northeast of Wyndmere.

Anne married Tim Horak and they had three daughters together. Clara is still living at the farm today after her husband’s passing.

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