Saturday, October 29, 2011

J Edgar Hoover and the Public Enemy

Perhaps you're looking forward to the movie coming out next month starring Leonardo di Caprio as the Man himself.  Back in 5th grade Andrena Hanson Opheim was a big fan of J Edgar, the guy who reined in all the bad guys and made America safe, or at least in her worldview.

Had she known of some of the rumors regarding his kinky sexuality, she may not have been a fan.  In fairness, Wikipedia reports it may have been rumor only, though the rumors indeed circulated widely.  Regardless of those sins, if any, Hoover was not above wiretaps and the elimination of habeas corpus if it were to his convenience.  Just to keep us all safe.  Few have been so polarizing as he.

Though it's not related to Hoover, it was also when we were in fifth grade that congress changed the Pledge of Allegiance by inserting the phrase "under God" and to this day I still don't know if you need to pause before, after, or both.  Seems like the norm is to set it apart with both.  Either way, I remain a patriot.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Old News at the Anchor

This just in from the Anchor, October 26, 1961:

The N-K Vikings hung on for an 18-12 victory over the Garner Cardinals Friday night and go into the last home game against Belmond with two wins, one tie and two losses and in fourth place in the North Iowa Conference.  Coach Clarence Mounts switched Doug Fallgatter from guard to fullback, Jim Nelson from fullback to quarterback and the regular backfield men Mike Lien and Leallyn Turvold moved the ball for the Vikings a total of 164 yards rushing and 20 passing.

The report makes it sound like Doug and Jim were in the new positions for the first time but since this game was 2 weeks after Homecoming where we lost Phil Johnson and Gary Hengesteg for the year, I am pretty sure it was their second time to line up as they did.

The offensive production, especially on the passing side, doesn't sound like much, and I'd be willing to bet all 20 receiving yards went to Larry Holstad since he was our primary receiving threat.  But even more surprising to me was that the yardage was even reported, because I don't ever recall any emphasis placed on statistics like you read about today.

The two wins in the story above were conference wins, and this was the third and final victory of the season because we next lost 19-9 to Belmond, and tied Lake Mills in the final game 6-6.  No surprise - we missed three extra points in the Garner game, the plague of the season.  We obviously didn't do it very well, but kept repeating the same strategy for some reason.  Mike Lien was responsible for kicking the extra points, and was probably as puzzled as the rest of us as to those misses.

Lien vs Britt

In the game against Britt the previous week he was appointed co-captain and that may have given him a little more commitment than normal.  We had scored a touchdown, then let Britt score to get right back into the game that they finally won.  Mike had suffered a short term injury on their touchdown drive and was clearly upset that they had been allowed to score, so when he came back onto the field for their kick-off, I saw a fire in his eyes that was above and beyond what I normally saw.  I was hoping he would receive the kick-off, which he did, and though he didn't score on the return, he did run it back 35 or 40 yards and looked like he wasn't going to go down.

If nothing else, our team produced a couple of good coaches.  Phil Johnson was the basketball guy who took LaPorte City to the state tournament in the early 70's, and Larry Holstad did very well over a long period of time at Ventura and Forest City, today still holding down the Athletic Director position at Winona State.  If we just had a chance to re-play that 1961 season with either of those guys as coach, my guess is we'd be undefeated.  I can dream, can't I?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Vikings go to Eight-Man Football

It should be no big surprise that the Northwood Anchor reports the enrollment of N-K is in a stage of decline, and the recent recommendation of the coach and AD to go to an 8-man program in 2012 reflects the problem.

Fifty years ago the graduating class was somewhere between 60 and 70 students annually, and today the entire high school will be housing 100-120 students for the foreseeable future.  If you're responsible for programs, as the board and administration are, you're looking at a significant issue.

How can you provide competitive services and curriculum at those levels?  Your high school staff has to be reduced at least 40% from the days of yore, and curriculum is probably provided through a sharing arrangement with other school districts, and that is not easily done for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that a top-notch math teacher can select whatever job he or she wants.  And traveling from Northwood to Manly or Lake Mills for half your assignment, on a daily basis, leaves little to be desired.

The N-K school district appears to have gotten boxed in or left behind for whatever reason, as other area districts did their merging.  So you're at the mercy of what's available, and in the case of the local gridiron heroes that means the JV will need to travel longer distance, possibly play both 8- and 11-man football, or even 9-man football against Minnesota schools just to have the program.

As freshmen, we had 13 players on our frosh-soph team.  That meant two available subs standing on the sideline and a coach, Jon Swenson, holding his breath and hoping nobody on the field got hurt.  Fortunately our team size grew as the Kensett guys came on board in the future, and the reflection here is to consider that at least for that year we faced what they face today - scarcity.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Sound of Change

Looking at Richard's jukebox brought back memories of the change change in sound over the years from what we first thought was pretty hot stuff, High Fidelity, to the modern Dolby Digital and surround sound.  THX is the quality assurance program that brought us this fabulous sound:

Rule of thumb with that playback is that it's not at the proper volume if something doesn't fall off a shelf.

Consider THX "progress".  I wound up with an old Edison phonograph that had been in my family, with the quarter-inch thick wax records that were the precursor to the LP.  My recollection is that the monaural quality went to High Fidelity, then stereo, and ultimately the surround sound that I love today, even though my hearing is impaired.  And that may be part of the reason my hearing is impaired but it is always great to "feel" the sound, isn't it?  Watching "Saving Private Ryan" and the D-Day invasion makes one uncomfortably involved in the movie when the fragments are whizzing over your head, "plinking" into imaginary metal barricades behind you.

Somewhere about our junior high years KGLO brought stereo to our home when they did a simulcast on radio and television.  One channel of this separated sound was on the radio, the other on the TV, and my Dad was pretty excited about setting it up to listen to it though at the time I couldn't really figure out what the big deal was.  Today, of course, you've already read above my total commitment to amplified sound.

God bless Surround Sound!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What Did You Expect?

This weekend I had the chance to visit with my grandson on his first trip home from college.  He is excited about all that is happening, and far more engaged than I was in the four years leading to a degree.  Seems he knew what to expect once he got there, much unlike my own experience, or perhaps yours.

For many of us there may not have been a pattern laid out, for a career or school of choice, and like Merrilee many may have chosen a job immediately after graduating, even if she didn't get her preferred CIA position.  Especially the girls.  What did our parents want them to become?

As a little birdie told me, for most girls the career choices were nurse, secretary, or elementary teacher.  Going to college may or may not have been expected of them, and if a girl did go it was to get some type of training that could be the "insurance policy" in case the man of their dreams, i.e., the husband they would marry, should happen to come to misfortune - or disappear.  Another reason for a girl to go to college was to get the MRS degree, and indeed I ran into some of those, although as an insensitive, non-intuitive, typical male, didn't realize it until some years later.

Brutalizing Wordsworth, the child is the son of the father, so the doctor's son becomes a doctor, the lawyer's son a lawyer, the farmer's son a farmer, the banker's son a banker.  And the daughter?  Well, her mother was a housewife in our world, so what would you expect to happen?  As time has gone by we've certainly and appropriately seen occupational changes for the fairer sex where female doctors, lawyers, and bankers are becoming more prevalent although the latter occupation remains quite paternalistic.  I earned the right to make that judgment after spending about 20 years calling on bankers - and seeing the glass ceiling that exists in that industry.

A Guidance Counselor's Dream!
Not many of the girls in our class had the expectations like the four pictured here - a photo included in an email making the rounds, apparently four young women in military training.  Awesome...  Unless it's a staged photo.

Lacking expectations myself, I should have undertaken the mission of preparing my own offspring, right?  Indeed - and I was all too reluctant to do so.  For reasons that I don't understand but regret today, I was kind of assuming that they would figure it out, didn't want to be dictatorial, and though they didn't have a straightline approach to a career, we did eventually have real discussions about results and happiness.

Now that the grandson is beginning his adulthood I will quietly encourage and watch with pleasure as he succeeds.  At long last I expect it - with little or no causation on my part.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Return - and Near Death - of Blade and Seed

OK, the preamble:

I always thought and still do that Arlyn Morse was the most intelligent person in our class.  It still amazes me that, although he was salutatorian, he never got a scholarship.   It always bothered me more than him.  We all strived to succeed and I think I only made the top half of our class, but that was significant since a very high percentage of us continued to excel in educational endeavors.  Anyway, Blade and Seed did make use of some of the education we received, however it was amplified by research, mostly from Arlyn's extensive reading.  HS was a phase of life that needed to be amplified.  The adventurous and entrepreneurial aspects were enticing and started for us during this time. 

Blade and Seed Sagas:

I would like to think that we coined the phrase "Road Trip".  It started in HS and continues to this day.  Through the years, I have visited every state, except ND, and a lot of that was accomplished by road trips with Arlyn (Seed).  Initially, we used the "dangerous"  Corvair.  The only problem we had with the car was the spark plug wires kept falling off, so we had to stop every now and then to reattach them.  We graduated to Sebring convertibles and MGB's.  As I recall, we made 2 road trips from CA to IA for NKHS class reunions.  At the outset, we could encamp and decamp in 20 minutes with tents and cots.  This flexiblity  led to the ability to come and go quickly.  Now, we have more money and can be more comfortable.  Also, the next road trip may need to include the better halfs, so who knows whether or not the tradition will continue?

#1 - The Bootleggers convention.

Probably during prohibition, but certainly before my time, Kensett hosted an event called the bootleggers convention.  According to legend, there was a bootlegger on every downtown corner during the festivities.  In an effort to carry on the tradition, we (Seed & Blade) decided to create our own white lightning enterprise.  Knowledge was gained from books and chemistry class.  Equipment was procured and a still was set up in Grandma Arendts's old garage.  The garage was used as storage and was located next to the infamous cottonwood tree described in the out house story.  It was secure and out of the way, so discovery was unlikely.  At the time, my grandmother was elderly and seldom ventured out side her house.

The liqueur of choice was corn whiskey.  The effort took a few weeks due to the fermenting process.  Fuel was charcoal, since portable butane was not available at the time.  In retrospect, the operation was quite impressive and involved a lot of engineering.  When the still was activated, we took turns tending, paying particular attention to pressures.  The watches were relatively boring, so we studied or read girlie mags.  As time went on, it became apparent that our design was not working.  Seed came to relieve me from one of my watches and found me passed out on the floor.  He managed to revive me.  We speculate that the carbon monoxide build up in the garage had almost done me in.  I was sick for a few days, but we never told a soul about our experiment.  There was no 911 in those days.  Moonshining was illegal.  No harm no foul.  If we would have had access to the internet, I feel it would have succeeded.   Seed, I owe you one!!  Such is life.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Magic of Being a Senior?

At this time 50 years ago we were a couple months into the school year, the first quarter having been completed and report cards issued, I suppose, and there were three games remaining in the football season.  So how did you feel about being a "senior"?  If not in 61-62, whatever year it was that you were a senior?

Personally I don't recall feeling much one way or another.  King of the hill?  Doubtful.  Glad to have one year to go?  Dunno.  Sad that it would soon be over?  Doubtful.

Was it really an achievement to have made it into the 13th year?  Let's face it, much of the drill is simply to move on to the next year.  We didn't have to pass any competency test other than passing grades, weren't required to climb a certain hill or run faster than a speeding bullet.  Call me a realist or a cynic, either one, and if you beg to disagree with the theory, send an email to and let's discuss it!

Presumably everyone is happy to have made it through high school and research tells you that it's one of the milestones to financial success in life, but the feelings of being in the year itself?  Probably empty for the most part.  And now maybe a greater memory than the reality was.  What do you think?

Friday, October 14, 2011

What Cheerleaders and Jukeboxes Have in Common

Click for a larger view
It was one of those email threads again, starting with Richard Holstad attaching this photo of our cheerleaders about 1960 or so.  He was sending it to one of his employees, who is restoring a jukebox, in an effort to make a comparison and possibly identify the model in the cheerleader photo.

His engineer thinks it is a 1953 Seeburg Model C, and reports there is one for sale on the internet, professionally restored, for $6995.  He also told Richard about a 1952 Seeburg Model C near Fort Collins, pictured below, and for sale at $2500.  Richard is probably on his way to check that out at the same time this post is being written, since he gets into this kind of thing.

The jukebox with cheerleaders was located in the old bowling alley, in the basement of Stan's Bowling Lanes.  I don't recall seeing it, having never spent much time there, even on a supervised visit with my dad like you may have enjoyed.

And the real story here is the reaction this series of emails has brought, including this email from Larry Holstad to Richard:  Pretty cool stuff.  You have done remarkable things with the history of NKHS.  I remember the jukebox as I worked in the basement for Stan Nelson.  It was a promotion from when Mike Lien and I set pins for him above Axel's.  When he built the new bowling alley with automatic pin machines, he gave me a job racking up pool tables.  Oh the fond memories it brings back.  Also the picture of the cheerleaders.  I believe I know all of them and one real well.  It is nice to have the history so we never forget where we came from.

Along the way the email conversation turned to cheerleaders in general.  It seemed to be a nice juxtaposition, and the answer to the question: what two things are designed primarily to rev you up?  You got it - a jukebox and cheerleaders!

So it's totally appropriate to include the photo here, taken around 1956 or 57, and I only recognize Judy Nelson Holtan in the middle.  Richard points out Cheerleaders are related to sports.  Everyone loves the cheerleaders.  The more I thought it over it makes sense that the cheerleaders have some terrific memories to share.  I asked Cynthia Vold Forde if she recalled such things as the physical conditioning required, the hard work, the social prestige, higher expectations of you because of being a cheerleader, embarrassing moments, rude spectators.  (She) has lots of stories and comments, (but) I want to know how to draw out more memories and perhaps photos that didn't make it into the class annuals.

Ladies, bring it on!  We're looking for your memories because you stir us up.  I'll keep asking the Bulldog cheerleader in my house, although her comments will be of a different color, so to speak.

Click for a larger view
And one more photo courtesy of Mike Lien, since we're talking of Axel's and the bowling alley.  White shirts, long sleeves, and ties.  And the other day I wrote of the bowler wearing pants hanging below his butt...  times have changed.  Anyway, here's the 40-41 Champs.  I assume that's Ansel Conner 3rd from right, and Morris Holstad, related to all us Holstads and the owner of Holstad Motors where Larry's dad Irving worked sales.  Bowling alleys - jukeboxes - cheerleaders.  Keep revved up!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Barn Stories

Larry Holstad emailed recently about the barn door photo in a recent posting, inserted again here.

I was looking at the barn door and remembered how we rode calves out the other door, against directions as I recall, and our reward was ringworm.

The more I thought about the door and the barn the more I had to laugh about the incident(s) he described, and all the memories about barns in general.  Ringworm was a downside to our rodeo fun, and "against directions" is a nice euphemism for the order we received but ignored.  But hey, we're young and these calves are tough, right?

When my girls were little more than toddlers their favorite bedtime story was the one I told of grabbing a cow's tail as she headed out the barn door after milking time.  A young cow was not suitable because she would be far too excitable and the ride was probably going to be out of control, and an older cow just wouldn't get up that much speed, but a cow at the proper age would free-wheel you all across the barnyard at speeds you didn't expect.  Presumably my siblings won't read this and report it to my Dad because he still won't like it today, the reason, of course, that I would not do it when he was anywhere nearby.

Sounds like a weird bedtime story but they didn't know farms and barns and it sure sounded exciting to them, and they were going to sleep with great fancies in their heads of becoming farmers, maybe . . .

The barn's haymow was always a place of intrigue, and I loved sitting in the haymow door when it was open because you could get a great view across the countryside.  And one time when we were chopping straw and blowing it into the mow, I couldn't help but decide I should jump from the haymow door into the wagon that had just pulled up below me.  It was probably about 20 feet down and since I would be landing on some really soft straw it would be no problem.

Wrong assumption - jumping into chopped straw is just like jumping into water.  It parts.  The difference is that there is a wagon bed about 3 feet below the surface, designed to stop you suddenly.  I was lucky to avoid a broken leg, or whiplash injury, although it did snap my neck pretty good.  Just stupid, I guess.

Richard Holstad commented some time ago about the sights, smells and sounds of the barnyard and he was pretty much right on.  Mostly the recollection is sweat with lots of frustration, cowshit, to use the vernacular at the request of Stan Arendts, the smell of hay, cows mooing or bellering,whatever their fancy at the moment, and a surprise kick from a cow that inevitably hit squarely on your knee and could put you down.  Pushing the calves out the door in the spring to watch them run and kick their heels with their newly found freedom was a fun job - herding them back in when they didn't want to go was something else.

Around the barnyard there's ups, there's downs.  And at graduation time Gerry Pike and I had the ultimate important conversation - about inviting a girlfriend out for the party, knowing that it was spring and the barnyard was in need of a good cleaning, so how embarrassing might that be, because whether you cleaned it or not, the air was always the strongest in the spring.

You know, if a person could just spend his time sitting on a chaise lounge in a screened in porch, with people you like to be around, away from the bugs and the elements at least, if not the odors, wouldn't life be great?  Do you think you'd miss the barn?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ready for a Reunion?

From an email sent by Larry Holstad recently - 

One of the things I was thinking about the other day is how, through the reunions, I have really gotten to sit and talk with some of you that when we were in school were actually only acquaintances. Because of my failure to take the time to really get to know you during the school years, I have now realized that I really missed out on. As I get on in years and really look upon the things that have made a difference in my life, I find that  it is all about the people that one has gotten to know and be associated with. It is the people and relationships that give us riches and so many memories to carry with us. NKHS was a special place for me (one who moved in) and the thing that made it special WAS the people in our class.

I will stop rambling now, as  I don’t know if this makes any sense to anybody but me,  but I would like to ask anyone that has ideas of what types of activities we should/would/could do at the reunion to help celebrate this big  milestone, and suggest ways as to how to get to know each other even better after 50 years.  Please get them to me or other committee members and then let’s begin working on getting all available classmates to attend this historic event by checking the list and make sure everyone knows when and where we are getting together.  Let’s have a record turnout and the best time ever.  Thanks for listening and Go Vikings. (At least those in Red/white & blue). Looking forward to a great get together.

So if you're reading this and you have an idea, contact Larry or email and we will pass it along.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Travel the Wild West - and Remember

On our way out west we spent a day in Cody, WY, a throwback if ever there was one, if you spend time in the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, five museums in one.  And I highly recommend doing so.

Hoss - Pa - Adam - Li'l Joe
We first walked into the Firearms Museum and saw numerous firearms, including what was left of Lucretia Borgia, the rifle Buffalo Bill used to shoot buffalo.  There are thousands of firearms here, more than I imagined you can have in one spot, with a history of the development of firearms.

Li'l Joe's Gun and Holster

Pa's Gun and Holster
The museum has the six-shooters worn by Pa and Li’l Joe of Bonanza fame, shown here, the latter being left-handed and the holster matching perfectly.  Try to think of that TV show without hearing the theme music in your head – then look at the blog post from July, 2010 because we have the opening music and video there.  Scroll to the bottom of that page to get to the video.

All during the time I was walking through the museum I couldn’t help but think: our kids NEVER had western heroes.  They wouldn’t know Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger if you showed them pictures, I’m sure.  The era is gone, and now the kids worship singers who wear their pants halfway down their thighs. 

OK, so maybe we wore ‘em low from time to time, but some of the yahoos I’ve seen have to walk bowlegged to keep them from falling completely off, elastic waist or not!  And plaid underwear to match?  Uffda.  I bowl  in a league featuring just such a fellow – the elasticized waist allows him to drop what looks like flannel pajamas below his gluteus maximus, revealing the aforementioned shorts at the conclusion of his delivery.  A real sight.

I digress.  To return to my story, the firearms museum was only the start of the local mission, and simply a delay until we could take the trolley tour of Cody, after which we returned to complete the museum tour.

Buffalo Bill, who was born in LeClaire, IA, just north of the Quad Cities, may have been the original promotions man in addition to the skill set that allowed him to kill a lot of buffaloes.  In his defense, when he saw how others were pretty much slaughtering the animal with disregard to the mutual future of man and animal, he did set out to do some correction.  And they still became nearly extinct.

In his Wild West show he used quite a large collection of cowboys and Indians traveling across the East, complete with horses and war whoops.  Jerky, black and white movies at the museum documented the performances.  And nearly all of his promo photos include a hat set on jauntily and a debonair tilt of his head.  He was a confident man.

When I got to that part of the museum devoted to his story, I couldn’t help but spend some time viewing Annie Oakley, the original liberated woman.  She had quite the life story, including time spent training some 15,000 women to shoot a gun, and according to the museum was training American soldiers the same way about the time of the Spanish-American war.

Another Bill, Wild Bill Hickok, who died in Saloon No. 10 in Deadwood, SD, had his own business connection to Calamity Jane, another Wild West heroine who was featured in the 1953 film of the same name.  Doris Day, once America’s Sweetheart and later the World’s Oldest Virgin, played the role in the movie and sang favorite songs like “The Deadwood Stage” and “Secret Love”, the latter topping the Billboard charts at one point.  (C’mon, croon with me . . .  “Now I shout it from the highest hills, I even told the golden daff – o – d – I – I – l ls . . . “)

Doesn't look that comfortable, does she?
The movie is memorable to me because I saw it in Austin, MN, probably on a Sunday afternoon at the Sterling Theater, with Larry Holstad, eating our way through more popcorn and candy than we should have.  I just can’t get the sight of Doris Day riding shotgun on a stagecoach (in the opening scene) out of my head.  It helped that she was a lovely lady.

So it was appropriate during this trip West that as we drove we listened to “Seriously Sinatra” – a channel on XM Radio featuring old favorites like Doris Day, including her top hit “Que Sera, Sera” and other crooners in addition to Sinatra himself.  Perry Como, the old smoothie (“I’ll be looking at the moon, and I’ll be seeing yoooooo!”), Peggy Lee – “Fever!”, Nat King Cole, Bobby Darin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, Bobby Darin . . .  It was a flashback, I tell you.  Remember when you had a stack of LP’s at home with music like that?  Perhaps even Chet Akins or the Percy Faith Orchestra?

It was all Memory Lane.  Head West, young man (or woman), and be as young as you want to be.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Cheerleader Stories

Richard Holstad passes along these photos and information about the Cheerleader Life.  Not being a cheerleader, I'm not real good at describing the pain of the workout, the agony of defeat, the joy of victory . . . you get the idea.

Cynthia Vold (Rev C Forde) has forwarded to me a box of memorabilia from the mid-fifties.  All three Vold sisters were Cheerleaders in their time.  Cynthia was an enthusiastic . . . "avid" may be a better term . . . cheerleader while in HS.

They have some pretty neat stories that I am just getting Cynthia to detail.  Embarrassing moments, the physical demands, the prestige of being selected, the expectations of the cheerleaders.  Who knows what else will be revealed as time goes on here.

Turns out there were several high-energy cheer leaders that Cynthia has been relating stories to me about.  

Click the Image for a Larger View
For instance – here is Cynthia’s team probably 1955 or 56 …. And if you have an appreciation of how high that stage is above the floor …. These gals were GOING FOR IT!  
(I asked Cynthia if they didn’t really jump off the stage for this photo ….. similar to how Mike Lien launching off Dave Skellenger’s back to dunk the BB?)  Cynthia assures me . . . these gals were for real jumping that high.

Click the Image for a Larger View
Editor's Note: what if you somehow broke an ankle or leg?  Does the cheerleading end?  Do you now cheer from the stands?  Like any athlete, do you now "sit"?

At another point in our communication Cynthia referenced having a cheerleader's handbook, which she has since sent me.  The photo here is the cover of that book.  I asked Cynthia (AKA Skipper) to be sure to autograph the book because I may be "enhancing" the cheerleader's story in greater detail.  The date inside the cover of the manual here is 1954.

Our thanks to Cynthia for sending this along.  National Sports Equipment doesn't show up through a Google search so presumably the company is out of business.  After all, it was a long time ago . . .

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Soldier's Story

On our recent trip out west we stopped in Coeur d'Alene, ID, and on the advice of a friend from Idaho took a trip around Lake Coeur d'Alene by way of Highway 3 heading south of Interstate 90 to Highway 97.  We stopped for lunch in Harrison, and then toured the East side of the Lake.

Seeing the lake while driving is restricted by all the trees between the water and the road but when you're in no rush, what's the difference.  As we approached Highway 90 (shown in the distance on this photo) we rounded a curve and noticed a photographer on the side of the road, at the approximate location from which the above picture is taken.

And a photographer he indeed was.  He had a very old, World War II issue camera that was given to him when he enlisted in the Army near the end of the War and was made a paratrooper.  He never engaged in combat but took lots of pictures during that time, then brought the camera home with him at the end of the war.

No doubt every photo he took was top drawer quality, just assessing the camera he was using.  For each photo, a plate was inserted in the camera, and he could take one picture on each side, for a total of two negatives per plate.  The image he viewed, under the shroud he pulled over his head, was upside down - symptomatic of many older cameras due to their construction.  When he got "under the shroud" his head, shoulders, and much of his arms were covered.  And at his age - 85 - his vision was impaired so he also had to strap a magnifying device on his head to get full clarity in the image he would view.

He has become a purist.  No photos of people.  Or animals.  Landscapes only.  In black and white.  I wish I could see them.

Hearing his story, I thought he could qualify as an American hero.  When he returned from the war he wound up working for the Hagedone's, the family that owns the the Coeur d'Alene Resort and its beautiful golf course, as well as the Coeur d'Alene Press.  It was the latter where he went to work with no journalism training but for the photography he had done during the War.

He began as an "ink-stained ragamuffin" doing all the odd jobs at the entry level: copy, sales, typesetting.  And eventually he retired from his final position - Publisher.  Of the Coeur d'Alene Press.

That's the "round-about", "via Highway 3" way to tell you a story about the kind of successes that come from hard work and sometimes being in the right place at the right time.  It was a joy to visit with the man and hear his story.  He volunteered some things, and other things had to be dragged out of him.  Finally, he pulled the shroud back up over his head and the talking was done.  Regretfully, I had failed to take a picture of him as we spoke, though I'm not sure he would have allowed it.

I'm always in a little bit of awe of the soldiers who served in World War II.  Certainly this guy didn't face what so many others have, but no doubt he has lived a good life, as our uncles and fathers have done, and made positive contributions to our society.  God bless 'em all.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Congrats to the Class of '61

Click on the Picture for a Larger View
Having been away on vacation for a couple weeks (a road trip west) I've fallen behind, and will try to catch up in the next few days.

The Anchor reports the Class of '61 held their 50th Reunion last month.  There are many faces and names to recall here, and they had a pretty good turnout after all these years.

Our congratulations to all of them.  To help commemorate the event, click on this link to enjoy some music - and thanks to Merrilee Reid for forwarding the link.