Ted and Sue Leagjeld, stand by Sues Shetland pony, Molly, who is 18 at their 80 acre Blueberry Farm. Photo by Betty Ryan
Sue (Kaldahl) Leagjeld grew up on a summer resort in Detroit Lakes. Ted Leagjeld grew up on a farm near Long Prairie.
It took teaching jobs in Washinton state for the two to meet.
Sue had her first Shetland pony when she was just 6 years old. It's not surpising that she still has Shetlands at their Blueberry Farm west of Crosslake. Sue attended MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Ill., where she majored in physical education and English. She taught English in Edina for two years.
Teaching in Edina seemed pretty tame to Sue, so she joined the Red Cross and served in Korea for two years. She then came back to the United States and took a teaching position in the state of Washington.
Ted said his parents were tenant farmers and he graduated from Long Prairie High School. Then he went to Valley City (N.D.) State University. He'd been in college for just a few weeks when the students at the school were sent to teach in rural schools.
"I had 21 students and two months of college," said Ted. "I lived in the schoolhouse and the second year I also cooked the noon meal for the students. The kids would bring jars of food and meat to school and I'd cook it."
Ted said he bought a pressure cooker and that helped speed up the cooking on the two-burner electric stove. He said an eighth grade girl would check on the pressure cooker for him and let him know when it was time to turn the heat down.
"I learned a lot from the North Dakota people," Ted said. "The kids were flawless. We had the best dang time."
In the spring, he also taught a kindergarten class. The kindergartners would join the first-graders at reading time.
"One little girl never stopped talking," Ted said. "She always had an answer. It wasn't always right, but she always had an answer."
Another girl kept jabbing her pencil into the top of her desk. Ted said he talked to the girl's mother, who thought about it and came up with the answer. It seemed the girl sucked her thumb and her parents told her that if she sucked her thumb in school, the teacher would cut it off.
Ted said her parents had to explain that they had told her that so she wouldn't suck her thumb at school.
Ted has written a book about put his adventures as a rural school teacher and plans to publish it soon. His adventures included the time the furnace blew up and singed his eyebrows and burned off his hair.
Ted did graduate from college with majors in biology and botany, and he taught at Valley City State University. He then decided it was time to see the rest of the West and took a teaching position in Fort Angeles, Wash. There was this cute English teacher from Minnesota there and the two became engaged.
Sue talked about her family's resort and convinced Ted they should spend a summer working there.
"I thought if Ted liked resort work, maybe we could buy a resort," Sue said.
Her idea worked. After a summer at the Detroit Lakes resort, the couple went back to Washington for another year of teaching. Then it was time to look for a resort they could buy. They looked at more than 50 resorts and chose one that had been operating since 1902. They bought the Whitefish Chain resort in 1959 and named it Driftwood Resort.
Not only did they have a resort, but Ted had his exotic chickens and beautiful begonias and Sue had her Shetland ponies.
Ted said running the resort was a little like teaching school. They always held special events for the kids at the resort. Sue even branched out with Paso Fino horses, but her heart was with the Shetland ponies. She later gave her Paso Fino stallion to her daughter, Ann, who lives in Florida and has won many ribbons with the stallion.
"I don't ride anymore," Sue said. "I don't need any more broken bones. I'm small and Shetlands are small. We go together."
Instead of riding a horse, she trains her Shetland ponies to obey voice commands and to pull a cart. She enjoys driving and often takes guests for a ride in one of the five carts in the barn. Her favorite Shetland, Molly, is now 18 years old and has free run of the 80- acre Blueberry Farm.
"Molly has stiff legs so I give her glucosomine every day," Sue said. "Shetlands are wonderful ponies, but they need to be trained, just like you'd train any horse."
Today, Driftwood Resort is closed and is for sale.
But Ted is still raising begonias, a big garden, and is active in just one garden club - the Pine River group. For many years he was in the Nisswa club, but now he enjoys the smaller Pine River group.
The garden produce doesn't go to waste. Ted's mother taught him how to can and freeze vegetables and Ted still does it. They even have a root cellar in their house so Ted's garden produce keeps very well.
Ted's office is on the first floor of their home, but Sue's is downstairs on the lower level. She says going up and down stairs is good for her.
They may be retired, but they are still active members of the community.
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