Varland, Harriet

HARRIET VARLAND  ( July 9,1926—February,5-2013)

 (Wife of Rolf Varland and father of Doug and Barbara )

 (Harriet P. Varland (86) of Mesa died on February 5, 2013 in Mesa.  Services at Mountain View Funeral Home Chapel, 7900 E. Main Street, Mesa, on February 13, 2013.)

Doug Varland:

This is Mom’s history written by Mom for her granddaughters’, Janel and Karin, with some additions by family.

“All in all, I had a very good, happy life:

I had two lovely children, a great husband, and a life full of travels that were full of history, with the luxury of meeting some special friends, in all the countries wehave lived in.  It was inspirational to see Barbara and Doug entering school in Peru, South America. And I believe, from this experience, they came out as better people. Grandpa and I had loving families, with happy memories of our childhoods. Grandpa had a twin sister named Esther, but he lost her to death when they were five. She had spinal meningitis. This was a great loss for him and his family.”

My parents were: Carroll Peterson and Elizabeth Johnson Peterson.

“I was born in Minot, ND on July 8, 1926 and given the name Ethel Harriet Peterson, but I have always been called Harriet, as my Aunt Ethel lived next door, and two Ethels’ was just too much. My brother, Harris, was born May 27, 1925, so, with the two of us, my mother used to take us for rides together in a reed buggy. When I was 1, everyone thought we were twins; two very blonde kiddos with dark brown eyes. My brothers and sisters: Harris Edwin (deceased), Marilyn Elizabeth, Charles Carroll, and Jeanine Frances.”

Grandma, when did you learn to walk and talk?

I was 9 months old, when I walked. At a little over one year, I talked. My mother told me I never quit talking. But when I was 4, I became very shy.

 Grandma, what kind of games did you play?

I loved roller skating. I learned to roller skate when I was 14 and during WW II, the girls all learned to waltz on skates. Some of the games we played were: softball, tag, jumprope, jacks, marbles, kick the can, tarzan, red light-green light, dolls, and make doll clothes. We used to roller skate and ride a scooter, and play hopscotch in the basement, as we had a cement floor. We also had a clothes shute in the bathroom and would crawl in the drop to the basement floor and into the laundry basket. We also had a popcorn maker to make popcorn in the furnace. Mother also baked apples, squash, and potatoes in the mouth of the furnace.”

 Grandma, what were your favorite toys?

“Teddy bears, dolls, paper dolls, and a bicycle of my own. I got my bike in high school. There was no television back then. My family had a family radio. We listened to: The Shadow, Little Orphan Annie, Amos and Andy, and One Man’s Family.” She also made 3 Shirley Temple scrapbooks. This is a forever memory of Jeanine’s.

 What were your jobs around the house?

“I had to dust the furniture, and help hang washed clothes on the line to dry. Then I helped Mother fold the clothes, especially the diapers and towels. Marilyn and I made our beds every day, and if our brothers didn’t make theirs, we had to do it. I always helped Mom make cookies. I would sugar the dough and put nuts on the cookies.. Then, I was the one who got to put them on the table after dinner.”

 Grandma, did you ever get spankings?

“Sure I did: because of not practicing piano, not babysitting Jeanine, being naughty to Marilyn, and climbing on the roof with Harris.”

 Did you have a hiding place?

“I did: behind our garage, behind a hedge of lilac bushes. That’s where I would write in my diary. When we went to Aunt Pearl’s for piano lessons; I would hide in Grandpa Peterson’s, because I had not done my practicing. Grandpa and I would play checkers.”

 Memories of home:

“When I think of home, I remember our house and life in Fargo. We had lots of ice cream that my mother made; when I was in the fifth grade, (for one quarter) we could go to a movie for 10 cents, buy a hamburger for 10 cents, and a package of gum for 5 cents. ND was very cold, but we loved to ice skate.

 Family traditions?:

“Thanksgiving and Christmas were always with family. Dad and Mom always took us for rides on Saturdays, and Sundays after church. Dad loved to drive in the country and sometimes he would drive around the lakes where there was barely a road. We sometimes got lost.  I remember lots of snow in North Dakota. We enjoyed it. We went ice skating a lot. The rinks had warming houses with pot bellied stoves, We’d sit on benches to warm our hands and feet, and out we would go again. We also went on sleigh rides with horses pulling the wagons. We sat on piles of hay, and I remember lots of singing.”

 When you were 16, what did you and your best friends like to do?

“We talked on the phone a lot. We had party lines, so could not chat too long. People on the line could listen, so we had to be very careful. We went for walks. When we were not babysitting, and had money, we would go to the movies. We went to the Fargo-Moorhead Twins Baseball games and joined the knot hole gang. We also liked to gtet the the players’ autographs.  I had to babysit my brother and sisters, which made me mad. I also had to do the dishes while Marilyn practiced the piano, because I didn’t practice.”

 How I learned to cook:

“I learned to cook by helping my mother. I also took home economics in grades 7 thru 12. It all helped and I just kept trying new recipes.


I went to grade school in Minot, ND. We moved to Fargo, Nd, when I started the 7th grade, and I graduated from Fargo Central High in 1944. We played basketball, precision bike riding, swimming, and skating. In Junior High, I was a cheerleader, and loved to go to football games. Once I played hookey and was caught by the Dean of Girls. We were at the bowling alley. She took us back to school and we had to call our moms’. I never did it again. I took piano lessons in Minot for 2 years, and when we moved to Fargo, my Aunt Pearl was my teacher. I didn’t like to practice, or the recitals. When I was in the Girl Scouts, I played bugle in the drum and bugle corps.

 How did I meet Grandpa?

“We met at a Fargo High football game in Fargo. I was a junior and he was a senior in Grand Forks, ND. Fargo lost the game, but I won Grandpa’s heart. After high school, Grandpa joined the Marines and fought in the Pacific War. He was on Iwo Jima. After serving in the occupation of Japan, he came home, and we were married in the Presbyterian Church in Fargo. Our Wedding was June 28, 1946. We went to Detroit Lakes for our honeymoon. Marilyn and Rolf’s brother, John, drove us to the lakes in my dad’s car. We had no car and gas was still rationed from the war. We returned to Fargo on a Greyhound bus.”

Our first home:

“We lived with my parents for a year, and then we were accepted for college housing in the barracks at NDAC. We had a living room, kitchen, 2 bedrooms and our own bathroom. Barbara was born May 27, 1948, and Doug was born, April 27, 1950. After Rolf graduated with a degree in Geology,  He accepted a job with Cities Service Oil company.  We didn’t know this at the time, but this job gave us the opportunity of a lifetime of travel, and meeting some interesting and wonderful people. Made many good friends that we kept in touch with all our lives. ( Harriet and Rolf also lived in 3 different apartments before they moved to NDAC. They lived in one apartment where the only bathroom was out in the hall.)

Places we lived: Fargo, ND; Guymon, OK; Casper,WY; Salt Lake City, UT; Billings, MT; Calgary, Canada; Talara, Peru, (Negritos and El Alto, Peru); Wichita Falls, TX; Houston, TX; Bartlesville, OK; Tulsa, OK; San Jaun, Argentina; Cartagena, Columbia; Bogota, Columbia; Rotterdam, Holland; Perth, Australia; Jakarta, Indonesia; Mesa, AZ.


“I remember camping in Yellowstone Park. One morning, Doug came upon a bear, and Doug ran past our cabin door and right into a big pine tree. I don’t know who was more frightened; the bear or Doug. I remember flooding our back year in Calgary; and watching Doug and his friends play hockey. Also, seeing him use a hula hoop. When we lived in Peru, Rolf and I were flying to Lima for a company meeting. Doug and his friend looked at a map. On there, Talara was only an inch away (585 miles), so they decided to hike along the coast line to Talara. They had coconuts, a camera, pillows, and Jimmy’s dog. After a 6 hour search.j we found them. They were wet scared, hungry, tired and happy to be back home.”


As you can see: Mom loved being a mom. She loved her family and her home. She had a delightful sense of humor. We loved her dearly; and will miss her so very much. We will always cherish our memories of her.


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