Monday, March 28, 2011

A Hole in the Bucket, Dear Liza

More memories - triggered by whatever... In May of 1960, Harry Belafonte performed this song at Carnegie Hall and it became immensely popular. Wikipedia now lists it as a "kiddie" song, but you and I may recall laughing each and every time we heard it, for some reason. Even when we knew what the outcome would be.

Popular as it was, the song was included in one of our musical extravaganzas. I do not recall who did the singing, but do recall very clearly the strumming of one David Colby to accompany them. David sat on a stool, gazing intently at whichever performer was currently singing. He was a ham.

You may want to refresh your memory, so click on this link, "Hole in the Bucket" to take you back.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Belly to Belly

Richard Holstad's story about Mr. Albertson reminded me of another football story. One night at practice Albertson and I had a a run-in over something, he made a playful move towards me like "straighten it up, Leidal" so I feinted like I was going to run to avoid it. Then he feinted towards me like he was going to chase me, and that was all it took for Coach Mounts to jump all over this.

"Get him!" he yelled, and Albertson started after me. So I ran, thinking we were playing around, and after a dozen steps we'd stop. But we didn't. He kept right after me, and I kept ahead of him.

This went on for quite a while until I began to realize "He's not going to quit!" So now my choice is to keep running, which would embarrass him, probably anger him, and get Mounts going even more, or slow down so he could catch me. I chose the latter, and it was a mistake.

He threw me to the ground and laid across me like a pro wrestler pinning his prey, belly to belly. If you recall, he was not real tall but he had adequate girth, and at this point in time I was fully aware of just how adequate it was, because my belly was pretty well compressed. Then, in his wisdom, Coach Mounts called for a monkey pile, and it got worse. I swear most of the team jumped on, and I was sure I would never breathe again until fortunately the novelty wore off and I was released.

I showed him mercy - and regretted it, because he indeed showed me none, like Richard encouraged.

Monday, March 21, 2011

More Reflections on "Close Calls"

Richard Holstad finished his last email with some reflections:

There are plenty more stories – close calls down at the Fort At Shell Rock River; Close calls at the train depot (yes the train depot); Close calls climbing on the roof tops down town; Close calls shooting marbles in our sling shots; Close calls throwing water balloons out of the car windows; Ask John Roberts about mixing chemicals in the basement laboratory; Close calls in the hay barn on the farm; Close calls climbing the windmill on the farm; The night we climbed up on the roof of the old gymnasium and wrote ”Show ’em No Mercy Albertson” in bold yellow paint so Albertson could see it from his classroom window; Oh Yeah, the 4th of July antics when it was possible to buy cherry bombs; The spring thaw when the ice jams would make the river flood … WOW there were some close calls there ……..

Remember the little red light on the wall of the Gildner-Johnson building ….. meant there was trouble somewhere and Mel, the Sheriff was supposed to call in?

All these adventures could have turned out poorly

Why did we make it this far and others didn’t?

Let me know if you figure it out ….. on second thought don’t let ANYONE know, we may just be here on borrowed time.

By the way, if anyone knows anything more about the red light on the wall of the Gildner-Johnson building, let us know. On my most recent trip to Northwood I went out of my way to check it out. There's a spot high on the wall that looks like it might have been "patched" with mortar, as if wiring had been there but later removed . . .

Stairway to a Confrontation

Just a few days after Richard Holstad told me about climbing the water tower I was in Northwood, where I ran into David Skellenger and his dad, Floyd.

I mentioned the story to them, and Floyd jumped right on it. Seems he was in charge of the public works in those days, and he got heat from the city council, his boss, when it happened. They were NOT happy. I suppose that's a good thing.

I figure it's like the Field of Dreams. If you build it, they will come.

A Stairway to Heaven

Richard Holstad reports on his climb up the water tower -

Another one for the books was climbing the good old water tower …. If I came home to Northwood and the water tower was gone, it just wouldn't be home. I've said this so often that if it were possible to remove the layers of paint from the water tower - one layer at a time – it would display a priceless documentary of our “glory days”!

I recall soo many adventures involving that water tower – Mike Lien told about climbing the ladder, someone saw him in the act, and called Arnold, Mikes’ dad. Mike had just begun his ascent of the water tower when he was discovered and the call went out to his dad ….. Mike got to enjoy the thrill of the climb, not knowing his dad had even been contacted and was on his way over to meet him when he came down. In Mike’s words, when he was making the descent and realized his dad was waiting at the bottom, he wasn't sure what would be worse: to face his dad’s wrath or to jump from a high level to his own demise.

The first time I climbed the water tower was an eye-opener pretty much from start to finish. It is one of those things like diving off the high board at the swimming pool the first time. People can describe it, advise you what to do, coach you, you can imagine how it will be - but until you actually do it …….. you don’t know diddle.

For instance, no one explained to me that the last 15 feet or so the water tower ladder tilts backward --- it feels like you are hanging on to a ladder that is not perpendicular (90 degrees) to the ground like the first section. But it is actually more like past perpendicular (110 degrees) to the ground, so that if you lifted both your feet off the ladder rugs, they would swing out and you’d be dangling by your hands ……. I wasn't counting on that sensation, especially at the very top.

So, to get yourself from the ladder to the platform, it is not a simple climb up and step onto the platform like you’d first anticipate …. WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME THAT AHEAD OF TIME ?!

That was S-C-A-R-Y with a capital S-C-A-R-Y! So I placed my hand above my head to reach up to the platform ….. still trying to figure out the proper maneuver with my hands and feet to make the transition onto the platform -- I was hesitant to just grab the platform and leave the ladder because my feet would swing out and away from the ladder. And the way my dad taught me, bless his heart, no matter your situation you need to always keep in mind that you need to reverse the this process when it is time to come back down again.

My heart is beating faster even now just telling you this …… I swear to you these are true stories.

So I got my strategy in mind on how to transition to the platform – there was no way to avoid that breathtaking moment when you transition from using your hands and feet to when you are holding on only with your hands to pull yourself onto the platform. It didn’t require super-human strength by any means. I just kept thinking about the fall if something went wrong…….Got the picture?


To this day, I can’t explain why I didn't totally lose my MoJo right there -- and let go of everything!

Why did we make it this far and others didn't?

Richard Holstad on the Fairground Racetrack

Richard Holstad has his own memories of the racetrack and passed them along.

Your memories of the races at the old fairground track …. Those were awesome times.

I recall sneaking in the south fairgrounds gate ….. crawling on our bellies up to the edge of the track …. at the southeast curve …. we would hide in the grass on our bellies …. where the cars would pass in front of us so close, the dirt would fly up and get in our hair, in our eyes and ears, and mouth and teeth … on every lap …. I can still smell the exhaust ….. the engine sounds were thunderous.

We were RIGHT THERE in the action ….. we never considered that if a car went wide and slid off the track on that curve we were RIGHT THERE in that action too ….. we would have been “H-I-S-T-O-R-Y” like the kid says in the Stand By Me movie clip. But they didn’t, and we weren’t, and the race track memories are SOLID GOLD in my mind.

Why did we make it this far and others didn’t?

Pondering Immortality

In response to a previous posting (Thoughts While Shoveling Snow) and a few shared emails, Janis Hendrickson ('65) sent this along, edited in part.

Your preceding emails called out to me – here’s my response…for whatever it’s worth.

Why are some spared, others not? That question perplexes us who have survived. Is it the luck of the draw, Divine intervention, common sense, or possibly a strong resistance to open the door if the Grim Reaper has attempted to get in?

I’d venture to say that as children, and certainly as teenagers, any of us could have easily succumbed from dangerous circumstances that required “thinking.” It has been proven in medical studies that teenagers’ brains do not have the ability to know good from bad judgment, many times. How many of us actually weighed the dangers before proceeding in something exciting, but perilous? I know I certainly didn’t…many times over. Three members of our class of '65 were driving a white Buick at age 17 on Highway 105 East of Northwood, all 3 in the front seat, when the driver put the pedal to the metal to test out the power of the car. One rider yelled over the roar of the engine ”105 is the highway number, NOT the speed limit!” Case in point, a living testimonial of the above mentioned medical study.

Another impulsive, non-thinking decision in my senior year could have easily caused an early demise. Two classmates were riding in a car when a 3rd somehow entered the scene and subsequently drove the car a distance down the frozen Shellrock River south of the ball park. Was there any discussion that perhaps the ice wouldn’t hold us? Did they think or reason out the situation? Not a thought…nada…of any potential hidden danger. The outcome could have been so different. Why were they lucky, when others who pulled the same prank elsewhere were not so fortunate?

It does give one pause to wonder why we’re here, and others have gone on to meet their maker ahead of us.

Ultimately we not in control of our own destiny, as hard as it is to own that thought. There is a reason and purpose for everything and it is not for us to understand all the whys and what-ifs in life.

I guess we need these ponderings, not to ask why we’re still here and others aren’t, but to be thankful that we are and remember, in reverence, the ones who preceded us to the Great Beyond! Pondering is a good thing – it quiets the soul and lets us come to terms with our own mortality.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sledding at the Shell Rock

I wonder how many of our classmates ever had the joy of sledding down the hill onto the Shell Rock? I only did it one time, and had what was then the time of my life.

Larry Holstad showed me the run and then did a demonstration. I had to follow and honestly was a bit terrified at how fast I was going, how I often became airborne, and how the sled seemed to have a mind of its own, ending when I failed to steer it away from a tree. Got a nice shiner out of that tree.

Bumps and bruises - part of growing up.

Good News

Richard Holstad is thinking he may get his "new" letter jacket next week. Finally. They already sent one to Decker's - but it had white sleeves, not the iconic yellow leather. Til then, stay warm, Richard!

Randy Moss and Ole Brua

Apparently Randy Moss is now part-owner of a NASCAR team. He grew up in rural North Carolina surrounded by dirt tracks, so it was in his blood, so to speak, and being a "a rebel, a redneck or a blackneck" (his words, not mine), getting into racing was a natural thing to do.

It brought to mind some memories of the track at the Worth County Fairgrounds and the Sunday night races that many of you/us attended. The big winner tended to be Ole Brua from Albert Lea, and my recollection is that a lot of people didn't like it when he did. Somehow he was a "dirty driver", and might have been one of those drivers fueled by barley pop.

My own experience on the track was non-existent, and the closest I got to it was vicariously through a cousin, Judean Thompson, who now lives in Albert Lea. He drove a car that was sponsored at one point or another by Galen Harris, who owned the Minneapolis-Moline shop at the north end of town, and I believe probably worked for Holstad Motors at one point.

Galen was a good guy, and he gave his mechanic expertise to this car by putting a dab of something like vaseline on the distributor with a suggestion to Judean that he do so just 15 minutes before every race. It didn't help. The car was still a dog. I don't think Judean really wanted to race anyway, and was simply filling in because they couldn't get anybody else.

The races have come a long ways since those days, in terms of cars, miles, and dollars. Things change.