Radio Host's Mom Recounts Nebraska Childhood Ellene Montagne learned to make her own fun growing up with four siblings on a large farm in Nebraska. She passed her spirit of adventure on to her daughter, Renee.
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Radio Host's Mom Recounts Nebraska Childhood

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Radio Host's Mom Recounts Nebraska Childhood

Radio Host's Mom Recounts Nebraska Childhood

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StoryCorps has been part of this program each week for many years. We listen in as loved ones listen to each other. It's the same thing we're hoping you do over this holiday. On Friday, sit down and turn on a tape recorder for our National Day of Listening. That's what I did with my mother, Ellene Montagne.

She grew up on the vast plains of Western Nebraska, on the homestead her grandparents pioneered. Her own mother churned butter and cooked on a wood-burning stove, while raising five children.

Ms. ELLENE MONTAGNE: I was the baby.

MONTAGNE: You were doted on by your older brother John and you ran around with your youngest brother Val.

Ms. E. MONTAGNE: John's the one that taught me how to swim. And I have a picture of...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. E. MONTAGNE: I learned how to swim in a horse tank with floats on. And then when I got tired, John take me out, put me on the ground, take care of me the rest of the day.

MONTAGNE: So, what was it like being a kid on this farm? I mean, you were really in the middle of nowhere in a sense.

Ms. E. MONTAGNE: It was great. We made our own good times on the farm. I do remember once, when I decided to stay away all day and see if anybody missed me. So, I hid in a haystack. And time went by and nobody called me, and finally when I went in the house, not a soul had missed me. So, I sat in my room and cried because I didn't think they cared about me. I was quite small and young.

MONTAGNE: What was your dream when you were on the farm as a young girl? What adventure did you dream of?

Ms. E. MONTAGNE: Well, I think when I was about 10 - that was when the airplane was new - we called them barnstormers. They'd come into visit different towns, do their stunts and rollovers, and then they'd give a free ticket away for a ride. So, I won a free ticket and got to go up, do all the stunts and I'll never forget that. And I was planning on going to aviator school when I graduated from high school, and get my license. And then I was going to be a mailman.

MONTAGNE: You'd fly mail as a job.

Ms. E. MONTAGNE: Be the mailman.

MONTAGNE: And you did learn to fly and you did fly.

Ms. E. MONTAGNE: Later on, when I was working and living in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, a friend of mine and I decided to learn how to fly. So, we'd go out to the local airport, take a bus every time we had enough money, and fly for an hour or so.

MONTAGNE: You know, doesn't seem to me that mama, my grandma - who everyone knew, in Hay Springs, as Mama - it doesn't seem that she was adventuresome. Where do you think you got the sense of adventure? I mean, do you think it was because you were the youngest and so, in a sense, the freest?

Ms. E. MONTAGNE: I was forgiven the most, probably, which allowed me to try anything I thought up. Well, you have to make your own fun out on a farm. You don't just sit around and read all the time, which we did do a lot of reading. But I think I passed it onto you, Renee. But you've certainly expanded it on a lot more than I did.

MONTAGNE: Yeah. I love you, mom.

Ms. E. MONTAGNE: Love you.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: That's my mother, Ellene Montagne. Our conversation is part of the StoryCorps National Day of Listening project. Tips on how to record your conversation are at

Tomorrow, we'll listen as Sean Lennon talks with his mom, Yoko Ono.

(Soundbite of music)


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