In sharing memories of her humble childhood, Doris Hermundstad Liffrig reminds us all that material possessions and creature comforts are not necessary for a happy home.
Growing Up Rich in a Poor Family is written for young people but will appeal to readers of all ages. Children will enjoy stories about Doris and her brothers, who entertained themselves for hours in make-believe worlds. Today’s parents will wonder how this pioneering family managed to enjoy life with no money and few luxuries. And seniors will travel back in time reading “Mama! I See a Tramp Coming Over the Hill,” and recall the hopelessness that plagued people during the Great Depression.
Jerold ran around outside hollering almost loud enough for the tramp to hear. “Doris! Doris! Where are you? A tramp is coming. Mama wants you in the house right now.” Doris was playing with her dolls in the old chicken coop, which she renamed “The Little Red House.” She came out when she heard Jerold yelling and ran to the house as fast as she could. She was afraid of tramps too, just like her mama. “Orin and Doris, get in the closet. You too Jerold. Hurry! Don’t come out until I tell you. And be quiet--don’t say a word.” Olga’s entire body was shaking. Jerold, Orin and Doris had done this before and, because Olga was so frightened, they were too. Especially Doris. They stood motionless in the dark closet not daring to move or make a peep. Olga grabbed two butcher knives and quickly shut the door. She slid the knives into the doorframe against the door and hoped the knives would hold the door shut so the tramp couldn’t break it open. She went to the window, hid behind the curtain and waited. She heard footsteps, then the knock. “Be quiet, kids. He’s here!” she whispered. The knock came again…and again. She heard the doorknob being turned and jiggled back and forth. A pause. Then kicks on the door, followed by more knocks and another kick. Finally, silence. Just as Olga was about to come out from the behind the curtain, another knock sounded, louder than the others. “Shhh...Be still kids," she whispered a little louder. "He’s still here.”
Doris Hermundstad Liffrig is a mother of eight, grandmother of 31, and great grandmother of a dozen and counting. Throughout her life as a mother and caregiver, Doris has expressed herself creatively through writing and music. She wrote a weekly newspaper column for years and recently published an autobiography titled, I’m Strong. I Can Make It, which chronicles her experiences as a child of a Norwegian immigrant growing up on the unforgiving North Dakota plains.
In writing her autobiography, Doris penned a number of short stories about her childhood. These stories are the inspiration for her second book, Growing Up Rich in a Poor Family. Through these stories, Doris hopes to help children today better understand the humble roots of their ancestors and the struggles people endured in developing this country. Most importantly, she hopes readers might realize the joy children of yesteryear found without the toys, electronics and scheduled activities that define modern-day childhood.
Doris and her husband of 60 years, Duane, have lived in North Dakota their whole lives, but for a brief stint in Alabama in the Army . They reside in Bismarck and fill their lives with reading, writing, daily mass and ongoing service to family and friends.