Our Memories

Spared by a Kind Gentleman

My name is Steve Lindgren. I am privileged to be a Grandson of Frank and Amy Lindgren and truly indebted to them for bringing my father Obed Franklin Lindgren into this world on November 4, 1910. Unfortunately, my Grandpa Frank passed away in 1953, slightly before I turned four years old. Therefore, I did not witness first hand some of the wonderful stories about this courageous Swede. Fortunately, I am able to read about the experiences of my Grandfather as a result of the writings of his eight children. To this I say a grateful thanks to their eight children including my father.

Both my Uncle Gil and my Uncle Emory chronicled in the “I Remember” series a poignant story about a kind gentleman by the name of Henry McLaughlin who held the paper on Grandpa Frank and Grandma Amy’s farm in Lanyon, Iowa as Americans were challenged by the Great Depression. As we understand the story, Grandpa and Grandma Lindgren traveled to Storm Lake, Iowa to meet with Mr. McLaughlin in 1930 to inform him they simply were not going to be able to make the mortgage payments. This kind gentleman spared the Lindgren Family from a likely foreclosure and even gave them encouragement. I understand it was something along the lines of there is nobody better to care for the land, as well as we are in this together. He allowed them to make delayed payments and eventually were able to purchase the farm. His remarkable gesture was not widely copied throughout the United States during this difficult time. Somehow, someway I want to figure out a way to say thank-you to the McLaughlin Family. My, how life could have been so much different for so many in the Lindgren Family.

By 1930, my father had made his way from Lanyon to Lincoln, Nebraska to pursue an undergraduate degree at the University of Nebraska. I never heard the story about Mr. McLaughlin from my father. In fact, his time spent in Lincoln and working his way through those college years with an incredibly demanding schedule balancing work and education to achieve his goal of a business degree were remembered by him and told to me as a marvelous learning experience. Surely, he was aware of the kind Mr. McLaughlin and his gesture. Undoubtedly, he knew the story about the Lindgren farm being in jeopardy. He always spoke with great fondness about his years growing up in Lanyon, the farm, the school building, sports, and his family. And I learned from him the impact the Great Depression had on this country. Yet, the kindness of this marvelous Mr. McLaughlin never was mentioned.

Today as I reflect on this period in the Lindgren Family History, and as this world is challenged by the COVID-19 virus and the devastating economic impacts it is having on people, it brings to my mind the question: How many other Mr. McLaughlins exist today who will rise to the occasion and extend their kindness to others?

Steven Obed Lindgren in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

July 17, 2020

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