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Malcolm Watson

Malcolm Watson

World War II Veteran and Civil Engineer

Born: Columbia Heights, MN, United States
Heritage: Norwegian

Study your math.

Malcolm Watson

World War II Veteran and Civil Engineer

My name is Malcolm Watson. I was born back in April of 1927. I grew up on a farm during the depression. We were fortunate to have cows and chickens and deer in the woods. We picked blueberries and sold timber to the local mill when we needed money.

During the Depression you just worked with and helped your neighbors. It was called a barter system there was no money handled.

My oldest sister’s name is Jane. When she was 17 years old she taught school in a one-room schoolhouse. We road the bus to school. In the winter we’d have to call from way out in the country and say, “The bus is broken down again! You’ll have to send out another bus to pick up the kids.”

When you turned 18 during World War II you were called to serve the country. When I graduated from high school there were 17 of the boys from our class who were already in uniform serving their country.

My brother served in the European theatre. I served in the Navy. I was in the Philippines. Being in the Navy if they were shooting at me they were shooting at the whole ship. My brother risked his life several times for his buddies because he was in the front lines.

In one sea battle a big invasion army was heading for Australia. Our Navy sunk most of that invasion. The people in Australia realized the Americans had saved their country.

The government invested money in me. I went to college on the G. I. bill. I met my wife, Esther Harwood, at the University. There was a lottery to get seat assignments at the football stadium. So my wife, who was your school nurse at Valley View, said we won each other in the lottery. When we got our tickets to go to the football game there I was this Irish lumberjack sitting next to a beautiful Norwegian girl from the prairies of North Dakota.

She was getting her advanced degree in Nursing. I was getting my degree in Civil Engineering. After we married I went to work for Columbia Heights as an engineer. I served for 20 years as the city manager of Columbia Heights.

I laid out the streets like 49th avenue and put in the sewers. We use to have terrible floods, so we built a drainage system that prevents that from happening today. Whatever I’ve done and wherever I’ve went I’ve tried to remain active. I still teach the Old Testament from creation through Christ.

Notation: Download PDF

You Learn to Love Your Neighbor

Honoring Malcolm Watson

You Learn To Love Your Neighbor
Honoring Mr. Malcolm Watson

I grew up on the farm
Milking cows in the barn
Depression Days
I’m here to say
We traded milk, butter
For flour and sugar
At the store
Could not afford
We bartered with what we had
We lived off the land
A pantry full of large jars
Filled with venison times were hard
And we learn to love our neighbor
When we depend on them

We would pick blueberries
To help sustain the family
Oh me oh my
Blueberry pie
To help pay the bills
Sold timber at the mill
On the borderline
Money was hard to find
On the bus rode ten miles
To get to school we went wild
When it got cold the bus broke down
Had to call for help in town
And we learn to love our neighbor
When we depend on them

When I turned 18
Called to serve my country
In World War II
When the war was through
Thought I’d work at the paper mill
Instead I got the GI bill
Off I flew
I’m telling you
To the University
Where I got my degree
To become a Civil Engineer
Where I found the right work here

And we learn to love our neighbor
When we depend on them

Then at a football game
Esther Harwood was her name
Norwegian girl
Set my heart a whirl
From the Army Nurse Corp
Helping prisoners of war
With TB
She set them free
I guess I won the lottery
There she was next to me
This feeling was something new
I sure hoped she liked me to
And we learn to love our neighbor
When we depend on them

We both worked day and night
Here in Columbia Heights
Built up a home
Kids of our own
She was the nurse at Valley View
I always told her I love you
Yes I do
Just me and you
My favorite passage in the Psalms
Is to make a joyful song
To give help to those in need
All of life is ministry
And we learn to love our neighbor
When we depend on them

Words & music by Larry Long with Jill Swanson’s 5th Grade Class of Valley View Elementary School
Columbia Heights, Minnesota
(Assistance from Mark Renner, ESL Teacher)

© Larry Long 2009 / BMI