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Ray Kenow and Arline 'Spike' Mills
I was born February 19, 1926, the youngest of 12 children (which meant I had to wear a lot of my brothers' hand-me-downs). The home place of 15 acres at 519 Prairie Avenue is now part of the Minnesota Riverland Technical School and Senior High School complex in Faribault.
I attended Trinity Lutheran for 8 years and then graduated from Faribault High School in 1943. During my high school days, Spike was attracted to me. Dating wasn't too heavy, yet, because of the 5 miles to "Mills Nite Club" in Cannon City, but when I got some wheels after graduation the dating picked up. After graduation and before joining the Navy, I worked as a coreman for Nutting Truck for about 3 months and then worked for Drings Delivery Service.
I enlisted in the Navy May 22. 1944. Boot camp was at Farragut, Idaho, then to Shoemaker, California and then a troop ship to New Guinea where I was assigned to the USS Mobjack in August 1944. The ship, which had the same armament and was similar to a destroyer, was a tender for a squadron of PT boats. We serviced the PT boats with fuel, ammunition, medical aide, etc. For 18 months, we were patrolling different islands in the South Pacific. In June 1945, we received a battle star from the Borneo Operation. I was discharged from the Navy, May 11, 1946 and married Spike on June 30, 1946.
After being discharged from the Navy, I was fortunate to get a job surveying with the Minnesota Highway Department (thanks to my brother, Pat, who, at the time, was working for the Minnesota Highway Maintenance Department). As a World War II Vet, we were entitled to additional schooling, that is, either college or International Correspondence Courses. I enrolled in Highway Engineering Courses and because of this and my experience in engineering, I became a Professional Engineer in July 1960. I was promoted and transferred to the St. Paul Central Office, where I worked and retired in February 1986 as a Plans Engineer for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Nearly all of my engineering work was designing freeways throughout the state of Minnesota, which I truly enjoyed.
During this time, Spike worked for Pastor Lemke at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church in St. Paul and then for 21 years for the Burlington Northern Railroad, from which she retired on December 5, 1985.
We have moved around quite a bit in our lifetime. From living with both parents for a couple of months, to apartments, to purchasing our first home at 628 5th Street, to building a new home in 1953 in Faribault next to Cub Simpson. (Spike still says that this was one of the biggest thrills of her life). Because of my promotion, we had to sell and move to St. Paul, where we purchased a new home. Eight years later, we sold this and built a new house at 83 B Street in St. Paul.
Around 1976, we started to think about retirement. We bought 20 acres of land in Welch and built a new home on this property (after tearing down 10 old buildings). On this 20 acres, we planted 2 acres of grapes. This is the time Bailey Winery started up and he promised to buy all the grapes we could raise. Three or four other vineyards started up at this time. After a couple of years, the owners of these vineyards started the Northern Vineyards Winery in Stillwater, which is a cooperative winery and now all the grapes raised are sold to the winery. With the help of our kids, their spouses, our grandkids and Ma and Pa Mills and many friends and some of my sisters and brothers, George and Ardella, Leona (number 1 picker), Harold, Mart, Len and Judy, enjoyed??? the harvest with me by helping pick grapes.
As the years go by, age starts controlling the things we are capable of doing and having a vineyard is very labor intensive and the fact that Spike has already gone through 4 hip replacements, plus a broken leg, we thought it best to retire from grape production. Our Welch home was sold September 26, 1994 to a young family who are continuing to grow grapes. This writing is in September of 1995 and they are doing great.
We bought a new home in Cottage Grove and are now enjoying our second retirement. (Of course, Spike had her 5th hip replacement surgery January 9, 1995).
We have 3 children - Charles, Anne and Becky.
Now we are looking forward to celebrating our Golden Wedding Anniversary on June 30, 1996!
- Ray's Service in the Navy
Last modified on 2011/10/15 by skenow