Gales: 54 since '54

Lisa Hammer
Helen and Dean Gale are seen at the dining room table in the rural Galva home they’ve shared since 1954.

Fifty-four years since moving into the farmhouse in ’54, Dean Gale, 83, and his wife Helen, 81, sat around their dining room table on a recent June morning and reflected on their lives on the farm.

Gale thought back. One of his proudest achievements over the years involved agriculture, but took place off the farm. He helped in an earlier effort to pool money for a bigger cause.

 He was one of nine directors on the Galva Co-Op board in 1966 and 1967 working to raise $130,000 as the down payment on the first concrete elevators. The only other surviving directors are Bernie Cromien and Dale Collinson.

When Gale started out, a farmer could make a good living on 160 acres.

“Now you can have 1,000 and still have a job in town because of the health insurance and so forth,” he said.

And today’s market volatility -? does he think it rattles farmers?

“The price of commodities does scare me because they can go down as fast as they go up. They can go up and down in one day more than they used to in a year,” he said.

“There are people speculating in the grain markets who’ve never seen an ear of corn. They’re making the markets. It’s beyond the Board of Trade, it’s speculators in New York causing these volatile markets.

“And the price of inputs is so high ? fertilizer, chemicals, fuel,” he continued. “Yeah, it’s nerve-wracking I think. When I was young, markets didn’t change that much in one month.

“But it’s something they grow into, you know, like everything else,” he added. “That is something you rarely hit is the highest price. Then if you didn’t sell more, it goes down and you wish you would have.”

On Oct. 30, the Gales will have been married for 65 years. They have two children: Bob Gale and Shirley Crisco, both of Galva, as well as six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. There are triplet grandsons, and two sets of twins among the great-grandchildren.

Helen’s parents, Arthur and Ella Sandquist, bought the farm in the early 1920s.

“I lived one mile south, and we didn’t know each other,” said Mr. Gale.

The Gales got married, lived next door to her parents for four years, then moved into the farm house in 1954, raising corn, cattle, hogs and hay. They’ve been there for 54 years. They also expanded the farm into Knox County.

When Gale went to school, there were no ag classes so when it came to agriculture, his teacher was his father, Thomas Gale.

“He was a real good farmer and an honest man,” he reflected.