The Erickson sisters recently celebrated their 11th ‘Running O’ the Green’ in Jamestown. It is a way for them to connect and have some fun. “We don’t really run,” explained Michelle. “And, when people learn we are sisters we ask them to put us in order according to age!”
Michelle is the oldest and when her mom started working, she was responsible for babysitting after school. “I remember someone calling Social Services when I was 10 or 11 and complaining that I wasn’t old enough to be babysitting,” she said. “After that we had to stay in the backyard when we were outside”
At one point, their dad decided the girls had to cook dinner so their mom did not have to. “The only thing I knew how to make at that time was a can of spam with fruit cocktail over it and then I would bake it,” said Michelle. “We would have that once a week.”
“Michelle is now the best cook in the family,” noted Stephanie. “She trades out household chores for a pan of lasagna.”
Dawn remembers some of those meals, as well. “We were always so worried about what dad was going to cook,” she said. “Stephanie used to always just eat cold hot dogs.”
The girls have their own distinct personalities. Michelle is the organizer, making sure the family is on the same page. “I am like the caretaker,” she said. “I am like my mom that way. She thought if it was sunny today, it would be sunnier tomorrow.”
Stephanie is the tomboy of the family and always seems to be living on the edge. She is on the local Roller Derby team and her nickname is ‘Deathproof Déjà vu’.
“Stephanie has been Deathproof Déjà vu from the beginning,” said Michelle. “She has had her share of stitches.”
Stephanie agreed she may be kind of a rebel. “I have always done things my way, but I have managed to succeed,” she said. “I love being on the roller derby team. I have been a mom since I was 18, and now she is 18 and it’s the first opportunity for me to have something to do.”
Dawn is very social, independent and put together. She describes herself as ‘kind of a nerd.’
“I would curl up in a ball in front of the heat register and read a book,” she said. “I always wore two polo shirts and matching socks. Matching was very important to me, I was definitely the preppy one.”
The baby of the family, Jessica, hates confrontation, loves everyone, and is the best mom in the whole world. “She does everything by that book, ‘What to Expect when you’re Expecting’, said Michelle.
“I think Michelle and I are a lot alike,” said Jessica. “We all have equal parts of Mom and Dad in us.”
All of the sisters inherited their parent’s work ethic. “That is probably why we are all successful in our positions,” said Stephanie. “When we grew up, Mom and Dad worked and worked and worked. That is one thing they would say about all of us, one thing we definitely got right is our work ethic”
A favorite memory for everyone is camping. “Our mom would have the camper packed and ready to go at 6:00 every single Friday evening,” said Stephanie. “Dad would get home from work, we would hop in the truck and go camping. That was huge for us growing up.”
“It was one of those campers that cranked up with the queen bed over the pickup,” said Dawn. “Michelle and I would sleep in a tent. Mom and Dad would get up early and go fishing and we had the run of the campground.”
“That was a great camper,” recalled Jessica. “I remember my dad snoring all night, fishing, dropping us off at an island so they could fish all day.”
Michelle spoke about another favorite family story. “My parents were all about honesty and following the law. I had this little frog I had made, you squeeze its cheeks and put a little Hershey kiss in it. We hung it on the wall in the house. One day I walked by, squeezed its cheeks and the kiss was gone. I think I was about 13 at the time. Nobody would admit to taking it, so Dad called us all into the living room. He wants to know who stole the Hershey kiss, but nobody would admit it. I think the older girls were grounded and everything.
At Christmas a couple years ago, Jessie decides that she should probably fess up, that she took it. ‘I have to tell the truth. I took that Hershey Kiss,’ she said. She got out of everything,” said Michelle.
A similar Christmas confession came from Dawn a few years ago. “Before we lived in Bismarck, we lived in a very rural subdivision of Mandan. There were drainage ditches on both sides of our driveway. My dad wanted to make sure mom stayed on the driveway, so he put up some posts with reflective tape so she wouldn’t drive in the ditch. I broke one and my dad was so mad, but I wouldn’t confess, so both Michelle and I were grounded for two weeks,” said Dawn.
Parents are Important
Alan and Jeanette (Dolly) Erickson were very influential in their daughters’ lives. “I was always amazed at my mom,” said Dawn. “I always felt she was never paid enough for what she did. My dad, too…he cared so much about what he did. My mom put him through college. She was a teacher and worked while he finished college. (When he started working) she would go out on jobs with him and hold the flags.
Their dad was a registered land surveyor and worked for the same company for 33 years. He encouraged his daughters and never compared them to each other. “He talks to each of us individually,” said Dawn. “He knows what is important to us.”
“Our mom taught us it’s ok to get emotional,” said Jessica. “she also taught us not to go to bed mad at each other.”
All of the sisters agree they are closer now than when they were younger. “I love to come back home and hang out with the family,” said Jessica, who lives in Fargo. “I didn’t spend a lot of time with Michelle and Dawn when I was little, so I am trying to make up for that.”
Michelle lives across the street from her parents and her sisters call her ‘Dad’s other wife’. “When mom goes bowling or somewhere else, Michelle steps up and makes dinner or just hangs out with him,” explained Stephanie.
“We do have boundaries,” said Michelle. “But it is handy if I need an egg or something!”
Growing up, the girls were not perfect. “Our parents are not happy with some of the decisions we have made in our lives, but they supported us and let us find our own way,” said Michelle.
Stephanie agreed. “I think Mom and Dad are proud of where we have all ended up now, because it could have easily gone another way.”