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Blackie the Crow

Updated: Dec 1, 2021

Story by Margaret Goodman Benson I#28389844

Shared with Icelandic Roots by the late George Freeman

A black and white portrait of Margaret Goodman Benson.
Margaret Goodman Benson

It was in the year of 1904 when my father died, he had been ill for a few years. My youngest brother Oscar and I were the youngest in the family of twelve. Our parents came to the United States from Iceland in 1885 to partake of some of the luxuries of America.

Much to their sorrow they found more hardship; if it hadn't been for their deep-rooted faith in our Lord and Savior their plight would have been worse. They brought their personal belongings which were only the bare necessities and a trunk full of their favorite hymn books, sermons and other good books, for they were self-educated by their reading of religious literature and sagas of old.

Now to go back to the black crow or Blackie as we called him. So many of the old folks in Iceland believed in signs, this and that would signify some incident that would happen. That was the way it came about with Blackie.

In the spring of 1906, one day a black crow flew over the house and cawed so fiercely. This was a sign that someone would die in that house. Several days later my father died.

To our joy in our sorrow that crow lingered on around the house especially was he close to the kitchen windows where the table stood. At every meal he would peck at the windows so we would let him in to eat. My mother loved all animals, in fact she loved everything God created. So you would know that she was so attached to Blackie as he was to us little ones.

My oldest brother who was now the head of the house, was not too fond of Blackie. He had a bad habit of taking refuge in a corner where my brother hung his good clothes, poor Blackie didn't take into consideration that these clothes were worn when he went to dances and to see his girlfriend. Occasionally Blackie would leave a little decoration he thought, but my brother was bitter and threatened to shoot him. Mother would tell him that she would see to it he wouldn't come close to his clothes anymore.

So Blackie was the sole heir to the ones who loved him.

In the summer, Mother would sit outside with her mending. Now crows are very fond of shiny articles, so it was if Mother would leave a needle or thimble in her lap, Blackie would take it and fly away with it, none knew where. Then he would come back for more. We lived in a small two-room house which was rather crowded so my brother decided they could build a small shanty that would be protection from the snow and wind in the winter. There was an old man named Sigrud, very handy with a hammer, so my brother hired him to help build this shanty. There were nails by the hundreds in a box handy for them to reach, also for the feathered friend and foe, who couldn't resist the temptation to snatch a few of them for they glittered in the sun. Old Sigrud became aware of the fast disappearance of the nails, knowing he could not use them so fast. Blackie knew enough to be at his work when no one was watching. My brother, of course, suspected "Mother's Crow" as he called him - and again as she had so often pleaded for Blackie's life she had to guard against these faults of his. The summer with all its beauty of nature in North Dakota came to a close.

My brother had put in a few acres of oats and wheat to have feed for the horses and a few bushels to sell to buy mostly coffee and mola sykur (loaf sugar) so extensively used by the Icelandic people. To have room for the crop which was good, as the Lord had given ample moisture, it was necessary to move one granary up to another small one. When the building was removed all Blackie's mischief was revealed. Here were Mother's needles and thimbles. She always had to replace a thimble to do the mending. Also were piles of nails so very well put in order.

Now Blackie must have sensed that he wasn't so popular anymore after having exposed his mischief because a few days later he flew away never to return.


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