Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SCA and the '27 Model T Roadster

Thanks to Stan Arendts for passing this story along:

Some of you may recall that I had a 1927 Model T roadster that I drove to school on occasion. Those T's didn't have fuel pumps and were gravity fed from the gas tank, which was located just below the windshield on the cowl.

When going up a hill, a fast enough speed was needed to make it to the top before running out of gas. One time, I was being tailed by my nemesis, Officer Jackely, of the Iowa Highway Patrol, while entering Northwood from the South on Hyw 65. I decided to slow down and therefore, ran out of gas before reaching the top of the hill. I had to stop, turn around and back up the rest of the way. Jackely just laughed and continued on his way.

Another time I was driving down the Northwood main drag (Central, as I recall), with Arlyn Morse aboard. We decided to put the T in low gear and get out and run around the car as it was slowly moving down the street. An AHA moment? Decidedly foolish, but what the hey? Anyway, Arlyn tripped and fell in front of the car and it ran over him!! By the time I regained control of the car, Arlyn was up brushing himself off telling everybody he was OK.

(The Photo is downloaded from the internet, not to be assumed to be Stan's.)


The 62 Yearbook includes a page of photos for that year's musical, "Here Comes the Showboat!" It was an annual tradition when we were in school, prior years including "The Roaring 20's" and others that fail to come to mind.

One of the songs from the Showboat was "There is a Tavern in the Town" - which seems a surprising choice given the clean-living folks we were in those days. The performance of the song included "barmaid" Jan Burgess leaning over to quickly buss Gerry Pike while two other performers previously "served" discreetly covered the act with their top hats, appropriately positioned. What irony - openly "drinking" but covering up a kiss on the cheek?

The yearbook also shows a performance of "Old Man River" probably by Wayne Groe - who is in blackface. Blackface? Must have been in the olden days.

So here we are today with Christmas concerts that feature traditional Christian music, all politically corrected by saying "We endorse no religion but choose to share the depth and richness of broad musical diversity." There must be a lawyer in the room.

Net net from this experience we had a broad exposure to the music of our parents and grandparents, and today's choirs are singing the music of the Beatles. My how things change.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Salute to Those Who Served

Some time ago we wrote about those who served, not knowing who all they were. Stan Arendts has forwarded a list of classmate/soldiers that he had compiled, and here they are, as we come into this Memorial weekend, a suitable time to salute them.

Navy -
Stanton Arendts, USS Essex
Mike Lien
Arlyn Morse
Richard Brunsvold

National Guard -
Robert Smith

Coast Guard -
David Skellenger

Army -
Robert Brim

Air Force -
Ron VanSteenburg

We do not assume this list is complete, and would be happy to add assignments as we have with Stan. Please call to our attention any person we have missed. And our thanks goes out to all of them.

(Note the photos are downloaded Vietnam-era images, not our classmates.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Miles and Miles of Music

Having posted the web link on the 60s, I took a walk to the post office, during which I listened to some of my eclectic collection of music including David Bowie, Emerson Lake and Palmer (or - wait - was that a legal firm?), Chris Botti, Diana Krall, Kings of Leon, Donald Fagen, and the incredible Miles Davis. In 1959 Davis brought his sextet including John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderly together to record "Kind of Blue", reportedly the all-time top selling jazz album, recognized in 2009 by the US House of Representatives on a resolution honoring it as a national treasure.

I missed all that, unfortunately, and maybe you did, too. I was busy listening - then - to music I don't listen to today (which also includes, by the way, country and most classical), when the tonal quality and sophistication of Miles Davis was available pretty much my whole life. Yes, he was a unique, once-drug-addled character who was known to perform with his back to the audience, but the man could play a horn.

Last weekend I had the great pleasure of listening to my grandson's high school jazz band playing music by Duke Ellington, Bobby Darin, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and others. Bryan is heading to Luther College this fall for a career in vocal music. On Sunday he pulled together his barbershop quartet to perform at his graduation party, and now I know barbershop is not dead. Whoaaa!! Music of the 40s? Barbershop? Didn't we perform some of that while at NKHS? That's going to mean another blog posting sometime.

In the meantime, look up Miles Davis, if you haven't already, and listen to "So What", "Mademoiselle Mabry" or "All Blues" for a real musical treat. (And now I have satisfied the reader who thought we maybe included too many football stories.)

Back to the Sixties - Online

A friend sent me a link to this site - and it's right up our alley. Click this link. Elvis, Chubby Checkers, Inflation, Bandstand, Beatlemania, Surfin' and everything.

I've heard from some that memories blur, fade, disappear - this will help bring some things back!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Great Balls of Fire!

Jerry Lee Lewis was in his prime in the '50s, which is what the Buddy Holly Days at the Surf every February is all about. Here you see him performing this spring, barely able to walk to the piano but all about performance once he got there.

You'll recall his classic hits like "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "Great Balls of Fire", the latter being chosen in 2005 to be selected for permanent preservation in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress. Remember the hair that fell down to cover his face, his inability to sit still on the piano, the way he slammed his hands across the keyboard - and you remember Jerry Lee Lewis.

You will also recall he married a 13-year-old cousin once removed, leading to his downfall as a performer, at least for a period, until he came back in the 60s as a country singer. And later, of course, he became a "historic rendition" at the Surf, for lack of a better term.

He was a maverick - and I can visualize Mike Lien doing an "air piano" and singing the words, can't you?

1958 School Consolidation

Pictured above, a few of our Kensett brethren gathered for a "Pre-Party" prior to the 2007 Class Reunion.

When Northwood and Kensett were having their discussions about the consolidation that came to play during our freshman year there is little that I personally can recall. These "new kids" showed up, and over the course of the four years and after have become friends and even lifemates for some on both sides.

But did you ever wonder as a Northwood schoolmate how difficult it must have been to make that huge plunge? To give up school colors, mascot, familiar surroundings, even teachers, to go to the unknown?

Football, for example, was an unknown commodity for those from Kensett, and even if you loved the game, it's not easy to just come out for the team and start playing when you really have no prior experience at terminology, angles, drills, and all the hoopla that goes with it.

In the course of writing for this blog I have thought of their adjustments from time to time, and with recent contributions from SCA (Mr. Arendts) I am finally putting down the words that come to mind about this consolidation. Having worked in the public schools for a number of years I can vouch for the difficulties that a merger brings with it. Yet for many of our class it was pretty much a non-event, and when Serena Shields Holstad was elected Homecoming Queen that year, 1958, it probably helped to bring us all together, at least within our class.

Not long ago I mentioned the lack of girls athletics when we were in school, but if memory serves me correctly, didn't Kensett have its own girls basketball team? And weren't they a pretty good squad until they found themselves homeless at NKHS? Seems like they were maybe way ahead of the times. Kensett had formed a Girls Athletic Association as early as 1911, perhaps a precursor to their later athletics, and at Northwood GAA was all that could be offered for women's athletics, at least until Title IX came along, as referenced previously in this blog.

Someone recently sent me a copy of the Kensett Centennial Book from 1972, which I found to be interesting reading, and the source of the GAA info above. The book addresses the conflict between the two communities over establishing the county seat. Both towns wanted that title, obviously, and the argument apparently went to the Iowa Supreme Court before it was finally settled. Maybe the title isn't so coveted today, but it certainly was in the past, even to the point where certain national companies wanting to expand their markets would list "County Seat" towns as a desirable location.

Ironically, there is no mention in the Centennial Book about the drama of the school re-org, at least in the section titled "History of the Kensett Schools", perhaps as if it were never an issue. It does tell us that in the early 1900s the graduating class was composed of anywhere from zero to 3 students, and since attending, let alone graduating, high school in those days was quite unusual, those numbers should not be surprising. But by the time we all graduated in 1962, I would have no idea how many of our 65 were from whichever town. And if you told me that 20 of us were from Kensett, I'd have a heck of a time picking them out of the lineup. And isn't that a good thing? We're all the richer for it.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Where's the Beef?

I got into the loop of some emails this week in which Donn Holstad ('60?) was reportedly the guy who gave Stanton Arendts the nickname of "Fabian." You remember that fellow, Fabian, I'm sure. Stan, who signs all his emails with his initials, SCA, clearly qualifies as the greater personality, because here he is today, and who knows whatever happened to Fabian?

I can just hear Richard Holstad referring to Fabian as "All hair, no cattle." So where's the beef?

Meanwhile, SCA, the MG Guy, had a way with the automobile (see yearbook description) even when we knew him as the Kensett Heartthrob. (Take it as a compliment, Stan. This is just a blog and the author has no limits, right?)

Another fellow with the Reagan "wave" is Albert Adams. I recall Albert more as the hard-nosed grinder on the football field, but this photo shows he had a real debonair tilt, easily recognizable in the hallway. On the field I most remember Albert's gait, and the hip pads that stuck up about 4 inches higher in the back, so there was never any mistaking him for any other player.

According to SCA, Albert and Dave Randall took him under their wing after the Northwood - Kensett School Consolidation in 1958. It seemed to work, because today we
remember Stan, and, who was that other guy again?

I'm sure I can/should be corrected on this but my understanding is that Albert became an ag teacher somewhere, maybe in Northwood, and David began his dentistry practice in Lake Mills, so he was never far from home.

David is obviously not in the "hair" category for purposes of this blog entry, but like the other two does qualify because as an NKHS grad, he's got the "beef."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Kensett Water Tower, aka the Stanton Arendts Water Tower

We've been a little short on stories about Kensett, which is too bad because their stories are likely far superior to the Northwood stories. So today we cajoled a story out of Stanton Arendts as a "southern" response to the Holstad - Lien Water Tower history.

Apparently there were some daredevils in Kensett, and Stan is one of them. Here's his story:

The Kensett Water tower was almost in my back yard. At least once a year, it would be struck by lightning and give forth a resounding bang. We used to routinely climb it. Even my sisters gave it a try! Apparently, our law enforcement was quite lax and our parents never knew? One time I climbed it via the zig-zag braces, just for bragging rights. I remember once a Mexican lad from Manly actually stood on the ball on top of the tank. Now that was impressive. Maybe Sharon Urbatch Dilling can also chime in, since she was a bit of a daredevil?

We've put out a call to Sharon to seek her input and will post it ASAP. And if you have similar stories to share, even if your name is not Sharon Urbatch Dilling, let's hear from you! And if you happen to have a picture of that majestic tower, please forward it.

A Fine 59 - Chevy, That Is

They don't get much prettier than this. Larry Patterson ('64) is shown reaching for the hamburger on the serving tray. How long has it been since anyone had one of those hanging on the car window? According to Contributor Richard Holstad this photo was taken at the September car show in Northwood, which is gaining in popularity every year.

Notice the Holstad-Lien Water Tower just over the trunk of the car. How appropriate that it was included in the photo frame! (You should be able to view a larger photo by clicking on it.)

Friday, May 6, 2011

When I Grow Up - a Retrospective

Just thinking - I'd bet the median income of our classmates over time is probably much higher than the national averages. I say that based on the success stories of those classmates that I've read or heard about. It's not that financial success is such a big deal. Other than our having graduated from a small school in a small Iowa town with perhaps no more than a good upbringing and a desire to do well for ourselves and others. And we did just that, it seems.

Maybe others had a goal in life during the time we were in school, but I did not really have one other than a comfortable life, and in fact, until not many years ago was still wondering what I would be when I grew up. Still am. Then it got close enough to the point that there wasn't much more growing up to do and the goals didn't make so much difference. Other than the comfortable life.

Today, May 6, 2011, I turned in my key and walked out of the office where I had worked for the past 3+ years, ready to move on with the part of my life that comes when I do "grow up." In the final 30 days I have thought many times that the goal of life had always been, for me, all about work, not about being retired and being inactive, so this new "life" has yet to prove itself to me. Don't take that wrong, I am not saying retirement is a bad thing at all, it's just that what I am looking at now is so different from the days when Sunday night was the planning night to get ready for the week, scope out the people I was going to meet, the places I was going to go. Going forward, that planning night will be all for me - not the company I work for.

Now there's no looking back except to review this blog about the school and the town "where dreams began." That was nearly 50 years ago for most of us. And those dreams have fulfilled themselves in a variety of ways, creating a number of business owners, top-shelf parents, entrepreneurs, educators, sales guys, maybe nurses or doctors, even a scientist or two. I think about Judy Nelson Holtan, who was the head OR nurse for the first heart transplant undertaken in Houston, TX by Dr Michael DeBakey, as one example of small town made good. That was a huge event - and Northwood-Kensett High School was "in the room", so to speak.

So I can't help but appreciate the town where I grew up, the adults who gave me direction, and the many schoolmates that have been such a big part of my life, even when they were far away. Thanks to all for just being such good folks.

Passions from the Past

One never knows where the commentary may go, especially when it tickles the fancy - or passion - of the right person. After we posted Richard's comment on his MGA, we heard from Stanton Arendts:

Richard, I had no idea you were into MG's. I have had MGs since 1973 and presently own two of the beloved breed. Even have a Jag for foul weather. CA is great for driving.....weather and vista. Photos taken in front of my house. Lots of upgrades on the one pictured and more have been added. Zero to 60 in 5 secs.

For verification Stan sent along several photos, two inserted here, and I'm sure would be happy to share more with you if you were to contact him. Even Marilyn Weidler might get engaged in this discussion, right, Marilyn?

Stan, we enjoy the MG Coozies tucked properly in position. Even here in Wisconsin the MG logo would probably be used BEFORE a Green Bay Packer logo.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Time for the Convertibles to Come Out

Received from Richard Holstad:

You can tell it is spring time when the desire wells up to get the MG out of storage.

I wonder if your readers will recall the Roberts boy’s 1956 MGA from back in our HS days.

I loved and envied it … and found one to restore many years ago. This is not THE Robert’s car, restored. Bill did some modifications to theirs … things this car was never intended to accommodate.

Underneath, this car is pretty much stock …. The paint is a GM color because I like it ….. and I modified the tail lights (taken from a 1959 MG) because the 1956 MGA had an unreliable electric system ---- either the tail lights wouldn’t work or the brake / turn signal lights wouldn’t work.

Shows you how “basic” this car is -- when you can’t even trust the signal lights to be reliable ….. today’s vehicles are run by DUMPUTERS. This 1956 MGA has a hole in the front bumper for you to insert a crank to start the car …. Makes you feel wonderfully self-reliant to have a hand crank for your car

Some may recall that this car does not have roll up windows ---- the release to open the door is a plastic coated wire that you reach in and pull while standing outside of the car. Stock seat belts or air bags? No way!

Those who ever owned a VW Beatle speak of them fondly -- Reminiscing how easy they were to repair, etc. This MGA is that way too. You NEVER leave the garage without your tools with you behind the seat…..you are going to need them.

This vehicle poised and headed out the garage door this way …… makes me laugh ….. it’s like the height of decadence ….. if you have the urge to get in this little buggy and go for a joy ride, you better not have an ETA ….. a cell phone in your pocket is recommended so you can call your destination to report your location.

This is not the greatest photo because the car is still in the garage on its casters. Casters are wonderful for pushing the car sideways and into a remote corner of the garage for the winter.

The football helmet is stored in the MG front seat - all the time. How about I get this car running and out in the fresh air again .. and take another photo with the top down?