Saturday, July 31, 2010

Drag Racing

Does anyone remember the red 63 "409" Chevy that my brother Gerald (graduated in 1960) had?

This is a quote from Mike Lien in 2002. "I remember Gerald's brand new red 63 chevy with a big "409" cubic inch engine in it and we went west of town at Aase's corner and raced. That's where all the guys used to go drag race back in those days. I had my dad's new 63 Pontiac and needless to say your brother's chevy won the race. It's a wonder back then that nobody got caught by the law or killed because that used to be a regular raceway in those day."

I wonder how many of you guys drag raced with that 409?

Senior Interview

Anyone else have their Senior Interview article? I might have one or two more.

NKHS Mens Locker Room

Friday, July 30, 2010

When Not Losing Is Still a Loss

We won our first football game of our senior season, hosting St Ansgar and establishing the norm that we will always miss at least one extra point. So we were pretty pumped going into the second week, another home game, this time against Forest City, optimistic about a good season ahead.

A party had been planned following the game, I think at Ann Bergen's house, and somehow Coach Mounts, who had a nose for these things, seemed to know about it. We were sitting on the bus before the game and Mounts was giving us the pre-game hype about the importance of winning, and said if we lost the game we better not be thinking about any parties afterwards.

Well, we didn't lose, we tied. 13-13. Another missed extra point. So the discussion after the game was short and sweet, to the point of "Hey, we didn't lose, did we?" And we headed off to the party, most of us probably still wondering what fate would befall us for our own interpretation of "lose - not lose". I think the party ended early, at least for me, because that was on my mind.

By Monday morning I had pretty much put it aside but I think I got an inkling from some teammates when I was about to hang up my letterjacket that Mounts was on the warpath. And sure enough, it was about that quickly that he showed up right there by the study hall where we hung our jackets and talked smart before the day started. He grabbed me by the shirt, got right in my face, and started talking about my lack of integrity and leadership. I was co-captain with Phil Johnson but that was ending right then and there, that since we didn't win that game, we "lost" that game, I was no longer deserving of being captain and like everybody else who attended the party, would have to pay the consequences.

Monday nights were usually a light practice because the fresh-soph team had a game and the coaches had to take care of that, but not this Monday night. We did all kinds of calisthenics and ran more than I think I ever had in my life, but so be it. We were paying the price.

I believe it was Wednesday night when we finally had "the speech." Phil was now the lone captain and he was leading calisthenics - until we were flat down on the ground and Mounts took over. It was the kind of speech you'd expect about commitment and integrity (my word, not his), and of course nobody but him said a word. Then he started walking towards somebody laying in the front row, and I don't recall if it was Mike Lien or Larry Holstad, but when he got there, he kicked him in the helmet. I cringed. Then he went over to the other of those two, and kicked him in the helmet, too. I cringed again - and quietly hoped that he was done kicking.

But he wasn't. He headed directly towards me and I thought, "Oh, Lord, help me!" The whole time he was talking, angrily, until "whammo" - I got it in the helmet. And I thought, "Sheesh, that wasn't that bad!" And it wasn't.

So he finally got over his speechifying, we stood up, were made whole and part of the team again, I was told to join Phil in the captain's role again, and all was forgiven. For now. But you just knew we had to win that Friday night at Buffalo Center.

Sure enough, the first half at Buffalo ended 6 - 6. ANOTHER missed point. At halftime we were on the bus getting verbally abused again, because obviously we did not have the commitment to be a good ball club. The good news was the second half turned out to be a lot better. We won 38-6, which means we scored 5 touchdowns (and only two extra points) in the second half to win the game.

NOW we had earned a party, but we never won at home again that season, unfortunately, and it just wasn't real practical to have a party after a road game. And if you're wondering why I never won that Nobel Prize for discoveries in chemistry or higher mathematics, now you know - it's because of that night I got kicked in the head.

I'll Have a Schlitz!

We'll keep the name out of this one because somebody who shouldn't know this might just find out about it. And those who know about it will know exactly who it is . . .

You saw the photo posted under the Photos - Old label of the group who went to Florida for the Luther League Convention. That trip happened during the summer before our senior year. Somewhere about Tennessee or Kentucky, and I don't know if it was on the way down or on the way back, a group of the conventioners wandered into a local tavern. The server came to the table to take orders, and if my memory serves me right, told the group they only served beer.

No problem for this classmate. He said, "I'll have a Schlitz!" No matter that he was on a church trip and that he was soon in training for the football season. So from that time forward, at least through the football season, his nickname was often "Schlitz", and may even be today, for all I know.

I wasn't there so can't vouch for the details, but I'm sure there will be those reading this who can firm up the story!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Billy Roberts, Part Deux

Billy was a really smart guy. And his "value system" for lack of better terminology, though in many ways just like mine, was totally different. Maybe that was because he had access to things that I didn't know much about.

Somewhere along the line when Eisenhower was president (there are fewer and fewer of us who can reference those days), he taped one of Eisenhower's State of the Union speeches on a reel-to-reel recorder about the same size as a cigar box. It was battery operated, so we were able to walk along the sidewalk in front of the high school listening to the speech. I don't think I even knew what a State of the Union Address was. But for some reason, Billy knew it was important. And my thought of the importance was all dialed into that recorder.

When we got into high school and had to prepare a project for the science fair, we somehow got teamed up to do this. Billy's role was to build a model house using balsa wood and other supplies. He even included indirect lighting from low-voltage bulbs secured behind a piece of balsa wood that caused the light to spill around the edges. I didn't even know what indirect lighting was, or that it existed. My only role in this team was to show up at his house from time to time and do his algebra for him.

He didn't seem to be able to make it to school during most of the few weeks prior to completion of this project. The notes from home probably said he was sick, but I suppose most of us knew better, and I sure wasn't going to argue. Right or wrong, it wasn't something that was going to happen at my house, I knew that.

And when we were seniors, one day I realized that I had screwed up not making arrangements to drive to Mason City for a doctor's appointment. When Bill heard that he said, "No problem, I'll take you," and away we went. On our way back home we stopped at Van Horne Auto Salvage, which I think still exists, right on Hwy 65 on the north edge of Mason City. Shopping the junkyard for auto parts was not in my routine, but Bill had the skill set including financial savy to be able to get what he needed. In this case it was the air conditioner from a late model Cadillac. He told the counter guy what he wanted, they said they had one available, and he asked "How much?" The price was $250 if he removed it himself. He agreed, and we walked away with one huge smile on his face.

He may have never installed it, I don't know. But that lifestyle was way unlike my own. He didn't graduate in the Top 10 but he was smart enough to have done it if he had seen any reason to do so. He was one smart guy.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Billy Roberts and the Pea Shooter

We were freshmen. Billy and I both had study hall at the same time in that big room upstairs that doubled as a stage and doubled again as a library, as I recall. With good planning on our part we were able to seize the very last seats in adjoining rows. Probably not a good place for us.

One day Billy brought these copper tubes to school. I don't know how he had them and I don't know where they would have been used except for somebody's HVAC (today's terminology) equipment. Whatever the source, they were the perfect size for shooting BB's, and Billy of course had a supply of them, too.

Being a study hall, the room was always quiet, and when you shot one of the BB's, it would bounce around a few times up front, and we thought that was quite the sport. Until I shot one and Earl Mason, the principal that year, walked in the front door about the same time it landed. And bounced. You will recall that Earl was sort of a disciplinarian, and he had a nose for finding trouble.

He slowly walked the back of the room, and I suspect he never actually looked at us until he was standing right beside us. Long story short, he walked away with our shooters and BB's and we walked away with detention that night.

When we dutifully arrived at the appointed hour that evening, Earl pulled out the supply of BB's and said, "Count them." I don't recall how many there were. It could have been 50 or 100 or 200, I don't know and it doesn't matter. We counted and told him how many we had. He turned with his back to the desks and threw them over his shoulder. They bounced in every direction, and he said, "When you have them all back, you can go home."

You can imagine that was pretty much an impossible task, and when he got tired of waiting for us to make good on his demand he came back into the study hall, told us never to do that again, and told us to go home. We did exactly as he demanded.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Northwood Public School 1957-58, Grade 8, Mr. Gillmann

Northwood Public School, 1956-57, Grade 7

Northwood Public School, Grades 5, 6 1954-1955

West Elementary School Goes Down

From the Northwood Anchor June 23, 1999


The three-story, brown brick building that served up reading, writing, arithmetic and a host of other subjects to five generations of Northwood and Kensett children came tumbling down last week.

Shortly after 7 a.m. last Wednesday morning, a giant yellow backhoe owned by Metro Wrecking, Inc., of Des Moines tore into the southwest corner of the building which was known in successive eras as Northwood High School, Northwood-Kensett High School, N-K West Middle School and N-K West Elementary School.

By 5 p.m. that afternoon, the giant black claw on the working end of the machine's jointed yellow arm had pulled down all but the northern wall off the 1915 building, leaving four south-facing, second-floor blackboards visible above the jagged line of bricks that topped the west wall's ruins.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

45th Reunion

Northwood today

These are pictures of the Diamond Jo Casino located on I-35 west of Northwood. Who would of imagined there would be a casino by Northwood? When it was first proposed, I thought they were crazy!!

57 Chevy

Ready for Sunday School

All dressed up for Sunday School. Myself & my brother Gerald. I'm thinking I look about 4. Does anyone know the year of the car?

Country School Beginnings

In 1950 the country school maybe a mile up the road from the farm where I grew up was in its last year of existence as a school. Helen Coyle, a neighbor, was the teacher of this 8-grade school. Somehow she got together with my mom and a decision was made that my "kindergarten" would be 6 weeks at this school, and I would enter 1st grade in Northwood at age 5 going on 6.

I have good memories of that short span. It was fun to be around the kids up to 8 years older than me, was obviously low pressure, and it seemed there was plenty of recess time. We got to play Annie-I-Over (if that's how it was spelled, but I don't know) the schoolhouse and I don't recall we ever played that anywhere else. There was a lot of screaming when either side caught the ball and came running around the corner to claim some victims, like Dodgeball.

Over the next few years, until the school was abandoned, we used it for Bible School. Since we were pushing into June, the oats crop in the field at Mielke's farm next door was perhaps 3 feet tall and perfect for creating paths by crawling on hands and knees, pushing the oats down ahead of you with your arms. But Duane Mielke's dad didn't think so, and the message came back to stop doing that.

That fall it was time to go to the real school, but I did some protesting. I refused to ride the bus, so Mom drove me to town. Then I refused to go into the school. I did some negotiating to get a new coloring book and colors out of the deal before I finally went on in. The next day my Mom decided I didn't understand what was best for me so she physically dragged me down the driveway, threw me on the bus, and said goodbye. Today that probably qualifies as child abuse, but it worked, and I soon grew to love being at school with all my friends.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Vold Sisters

Top photo was in June of 1957 when the Vold's left Northwood for California. Stopped in Des Moines to say our goodbye's to cousins.

2nd Photo - Merrilee, Bonnie and Cynthia in 1949.
3rd Photo - Merrilee building a snowman in 1950 something
4th Photo - Birthday party for David Haight (bottom row)
Top row left is David's mom, Marge, my mom Rose and Mike Lien's mom, Elsie
Bottom row is "unknown girl" on left, Mike Lien, David Haight, sister Laurie,
Bonnie and Merrilee

Classic Cars

Let Me Entertain You!

Dick Clark - American Bandstand. Get home early so you can check out all the "hotties" although they weren't called that in those days. Check out the video after this picture.

Ben, Adam, Hoss, Little Joe. America the way it's supposed to be. Musical chords you won't forget.