Monday, December 31, 2012

Wilma Helgeland, 1921 - 2012

"One never knows for sure, does one?"

At the 50th Reunion of the Class of '62 with Serena Sheilds,
Chuck Hendrickson, and Lee Leidal
She was famous for that line, her standard answer each and every time someone came to her class and asked whether there would be a quiz on that day.  Grammatically correct, the phrase just lifted out of her mouth and into the air.  There may or may not have been a quiz planned, but she would never give indication, just like she never got rattled about anything.

I don't recall ever seeing her get angry or upset in any way.  Each day when I walked into the classroom I expected to see the same wry smile and feel a congenial welcome to her class.  She  treated everyone the same, and the class was always under her control because students respected her, and learned from her.

I learned from her that some phrases were grammatically correct not because they "sounded right" but because there were rules that were to be followed.  We diagrammed sentences, like it or not, and learned such annoying things as case, gender, number agreement, and other basics.  She taught us about funny phrases like split infinitives, improper antecedents, dangling participles, parallel agreement, and the misuse of a preposition to end a sentence.

We learned when to use like or as, well or good, and many of those lessons are still in my head.  Maybe she didn't teach us everything I've mentioned here, but she laid a groundwork that stayed with me over the years when I was studying and teaching English, later when I was writing papers here and there, and finally with this blog.  One never knows how long those lessons might stay with a person, does one?

For all her technical expertise most of us will remember her most of all for her compassion and humanity.

Perhaps because she was at heart a friend as much as our teacher her life impacted us all greatly.  In the last couple of months since my Dad has been in the nursing home I've had occasion to drop in to see her, though not as often as I'd like or should have.  One day in October I came to see Dad and we wheeled into the guest lunchroom (for lack of a better name) and found she was there with Chuck and Ann, who were spending the week.

They invited us to join them at their table, and we did. Dad was not too far along recovering from an accident and was still pretty well dosed up with morphine so I don't know that he was fully capable of being a part of the conversation.  Yet Wilma went out of her way to pull him in from time to time with a "Remember that, Curtis?"  or similar questions that saw to it that he would be included.

She was like that.  She noticed others and spoke to their needs, and Lord knows we eighth-graders had much that needed handling.  It's an age when we might begin rebelling, among other ways by wearing long hair, or a ducktail in those days.  I discovered butch wax applied to my hair allowed it to be slicked back on the side, much to my liking.  In her own gentle way she reminded me there is more to my head than what I can see in a mirror by telling me it looked sharp, but take care of it back here as well - where she touched my hair with her fingers in the back of my head.  She cared.

As we prepared for high school some of us were asked to write a short piece about what we saw ahead.  Once I had finished mine and turned it in she very delicately walked me through some things that maybe should remain  unsaid, each time by asking, "Are you sure you want to say this?  Maybe we could take it out."  Because she asked it the way she did, I was indeed sure that I did not want to say that.  And my piece was certainly improved.

This woman may have been the only teacher who brought up race in my twelve years of school in Northwood, at least in a thoughtful manner.  She once shared an experience while teaching in Manly.  One of her students, a pretty girl she said, was black, although I'm sure she referred to her in the language of the time as colored.  For Wilma I can't imagine that it made any difference what color she was, until the day she happened to see the girl in the bathroom with soap suds all over her face.  "Wouldn't I be pretty if I were white," the girl had asked?

There wasn't much else that needed to be said about the incident, since just by the way she told the story Wilma had already spoken to the issue of race and belonging in our society, the difficulty of being "different", and the sadness of it all.

She had a way of doing that, of saying the right thing.  She understood us all, a paradox of sorts when viewed against her favorite saying, because she was the one who did know for sure, wasn't she?

Most people have a teacher somewhere who influenced their lives.  She was one of them.  We were blessed to know her.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ready for the Prom?

My brother and I have been revisiting old pictures and gathering stories from our Dad and have  put together a couple different slideshows to tell the family story.  If the kids ever have any interest it will be there for them.

This is a photo I never saw or knew about until sometime last week.  Those who know my Dad will recognize him in his foxy straw hat and double-breasted suit, smoking the heater, and my mother is sitting in the passenger seat.  In a real convenience, the car door clearly swings wide open.  Dad's brother Kermit is standing to the right and Mom's sister Idena is on the left.

Just for a little geographic identification, we're sure the photo was taken at what Mom called "the Old Bisbee Place", where her family lived when they returned from North Dakota.  There's a story about the property in Iowa and in North Dakota, but it goes beyond the bounds of this post. Anyway, the road that you see over Kermit's left shoulder we are pretty certain is the Iowa/Minnesota State Line.

The Bisbee place is about 5 miles East of the Deer Creek Valley Lutheran Church.  Dad's maternal grandparents had a farm on the Minnesota side just across the road from Bisbee's, and he grew up on a Minnesota farm about 3 miles west of Bisbee's.  Dad met Mom at the DCV Church, worked at the Deer Creek creamery for a while after they married, and farmed just west of Deer Creek, mid-point between Deer Creek and the Minnesota farm that my great grandfather homesteaded in 1870.  When I was born in 1944 our family of five lived on "the Old Radloff Place" mid-point between my two grandfathers.  And all these points were on the State Line.

The history we've been collecting and the mapping we have done have rung my bell following my post recently about the transitions from child to parent, from those days to these.  Both sides of my family were friends back then, as this picture shows, because they lived so close together, attended the same church or school, dated each other's siblings, and so on.  The likelihood of that happening today is slim or none, with farms being sized at 700 acres and up, schools becoming county-wide and social life taking on a different turn as well.

There were 16 siblings between those two families, creating many fond memories for me at an average of four children per sibling.  I have flashbacks of a sort now that I have grandchildren in two families and they scream with excitement when the last family arrives for a family event.

Dad still has pretty good recollection on most of these things but I have yet to get the story behind this picture.  It almost looks like they're going to the Prom, although Mom and Dad had to be in their early 20s on this shot.  And she and Idena are not wearing flowers either.

Here's a real aside in this story, recalled because of that lack of a corsage . . .  For all those dances we attended in high school, when it was imperative that you buy a corsage for your date, every guy was concerned about the inappropriate placement of the corsage, because you didn't want to crush the corsage on a slow dance, but you wanted to dance close.  Remember? So the "arm corsage" became an option.

One classmate, whose name shall not be shared here, needed to buy a corsage with a Gardenia flower, perhaps because it was her favorite flower, I don't really recall.  When he picked it up at the nursery he was very taken aback because the corsage was so - o - o - o - o long!  He just knew it would cover her entire arm, and he was flustered as to whether he should give it to her.  Being the fine fellow that he was he could not refuse to pay for it, so there he was, corsage in hand - his hand - and all akilter over the right thing to do.

He wound up giving it to her and indeed it covered her arm, looking as much like a shield as a corsage.  But it was OK because that relationship came to an end, and life moved on.  It's just kind of hard to think that my Mom and Dad, or yours, may have had any of the same awkward situations.  They were just always seemingly above those things, or so we'd like to think.

Monday, December 24, 2012

looking back . . .

At some point or another in your life you likely had an impact on people and found them coming back to you to say thank you at a later date.  This might be true for you professionally or personally and either way may very likely have impacted you as it did this fellow, Bob Welsh.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Comin' home for Christmas

At this time 50 years ago, give or take a week or so, those who had gone off to college or perhaps enlisted in the armed forces or took a job far from home were coming home for Christmas for the first time.

It was a chance to catch up with classmates and friends, renew a girlfriend/boyfriend relationship, share some experiences with family, or just collect your thoughts.  Most likely it included a Christmas gathering with extended family, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  It was the only world we knew, and perhaps naively thought it would never change.

But it did.

As our parents are disappearing we are becoming the family host for our own offspring, and the caretaker for those parents remaining.  The change is drastic but has hardly been noticed as it occurs over a 50-year span.  Lonna lost both of her parents by 1981, sadly more noticeable to her at that age than for most of us who have the element of time to ameliorate the transition.

Even today, the loss of a parent with whom you spend much time can leave a hole in your world, may make you feel aimless for a period as you re-orient your life.  The impact may in fact be greater today because you have been the caretaker and clearly are an adult.

The flashback to 1962 was very real this week when the grandson returned home from college and attended my favorite granddaughter's Christmas concert.  I saw myself returning home, full of knowledge now and so worldly, I thought.  I didn't have a chance to see any performances of my younger siblings back then, and am sure I didn't see any at NKHS either because I would have remembered being in that new building.

I have only one clear memory of that long-ago vacation, and that was a card party, held New Year's eve as best I recall.  It's  a recollection that only occurs with some silent reflection and perhaps an outside prompt somewhere along the line.  Just another example of something happening today that rings the inner bell of memories, many to be treasured, some not.

(My favorite granddaughter, by the way, is also my ONLY granddaughter.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

suffer the little children

The sad news from Newtown, CT, is mind-boggling.  I struggle to recall any comparable incident from our youth, at least in the schools.  If it happened, it was an isolated incident, nowhere near a school zone, and carried out as a recurring event in multiple locations.

We were safe because assault weapons didn't exist.  Perhaps the greatest predator was polio, and when the Salk vaccine was introduced I recall lining up for a shot in Mason City.  My mother was like any other concerned parent who wanted to seize the opportunity to protect her children.

The nation responded to Salk's discovery.  And now I wonder if the nation will successfully respond to the slate of gun violence over the past 15 years.  As a gun owner, I have no problem with eliminating the type of weapons used in Newtown, or the 30-round clips that were used.

As a former teacher/administrator I find it ludicrous that some individuals including a congressman in Minnesota, are advocating for teachers and administrators having weapons available to them.  The fellow from Minnesota has claimed that knowing the school has weapons inside would keep the perpetrator away.

Really?  Let's see, the fellow in Newtown who obviously was not of the right mind would be rational enough to pick a different school?  Or the kids who shot up Columbine?  In their case the greater likelihood is that they would seek out the teacher they knew to be carrying, get the jump and eliminate him before carrying out their carnage elsewhere.

There are no simple solutions, and let's be clear that none of the massacres from Oak Creek, Aurora, Columbine, Portland, or now Newtown are acceptable, but at last we have found our lowest common denominator in Newtown, helpless 6-year-olds who may lift us to take action.

A solution was found for Polio, and a solution, complex as it may be with multiple parts, can be put together to reduce or hopefully eliminate this guy violence.  I hope.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

a memory of Barbara Morris

Normally the email sent to the blog email is forwarded to me but we hit a glitch in the system and I discovered this morning that no email has been forwarded since last June.  No matter, since for the most part the email was mostly spam, or email I had already received - except for one, from a Jane Sapperfield:

Hi, I'm Barbara's little sister, Jane, now Sappenfield. I would like to be a member of your website. Please feel free to publish my email as well as I would enjoy hearing from Barbara's classmates if any of you have memories of her you'd like to share with me. I was only seven when she died and have no clear memories of her, just an overwhelming feeling that I loved her very much and that her death hit me very hard as she was like my second mom. My daughter, Lorra, discovered your website and recognized her aunt right away. She was amazed at how much I look like her. Anyway, hoping to hear from you soon and looking forward to connecting with Barbara's friends.

For those of you who are able to do so, please email me and I will forward your request to her.  I'm concerned about publishing her email in an online forum.  I am sure she will be looking forward to hearing from you.  I have asked her to send more information about herself and will post that as it is available.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

the storm of '51


We had a foot or better of snow today, a mostly gentle salting from the sky that is wet enough to stick on your clothing, and fluffy enough to pile up on branches.  The street has finally been plowed so we could get out if we had to, but sometimes it's better to stay home.

I'm reminded of the storm of '51.  Or whatever year it was, and the exact year doesn't really make as much difference as the fact that it was a bruiser.  It blew in during the school day and my Grandpa Holstad came to pick us up at school, which is the only time I ever remember that he did so, and likely the reason that the storm sticks in my mind.

Perhaps it is my imagination but I believe we were stuck at home on the farm for a few days once we got there, and probably lost phone and electricity for at least part of the time.  If we lost the electricity, Dad would have to hook up the vacuum milking system to a petcock on the John Deere, or milk them all by hand.  It was slower to use the tractor but much faster than the hand-milk.

In those days we certainly lacked the capabilities we see today - generators for running your milking system, major snow plows, and more important radar and technology that enables some type of indication you need to hunker down.  Major league games may be delayed for 2 hours because of predictable weather coming in.  Science is good.

Seems to be letting up now so I may as well go out and shovel - for the 3rd time today.  Merrilee, Bonny, and Stan, eat your hearts out.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Class of '57 News



Cynthia Vold Forde has put together a website for the Class of '57 including photos from their 50th reunion 5 years ago and recent communications from class members.  The class held its 55th in September, on the night the new football field at NKHS held its grand opening and first ever 8-man football game.

Cynthia was on-site commemorating the occasion.

To view their site, click this link.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Good Times with Old Memories!

Did you have a Radio Flyer too?  The audio tells the whole story.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What's in a Name?

Thoughts from Richard Holstad on the subject of names, brought about by a short discussion on Bob Wilder:

I wish MY name was Wilder.
Wilder than what?
A person can have a lot of fun with that if his / her name was Wilder.
Honestly we had so much respect for Mr. Wilder, we always preceded his name with “Mr”.


But didn’t we get on the subject some time ago of the unusually creative names that can be found in the worth county neighborhood?
For instance:

Axel Boldt
Dick Chinery

I had a long list at one time of these real examples …. from a time when it seemed people were purposely creative when choosing family names.
I think I have lost track of that list by now ….. I challenge your blog readers to offer new examples.
Then there was the deal where -- what if so and so married so and so, the married name would be …..
A bad example, but the best I can do on short notice -- what if Bonnie Mack had married John Thnife, she would be Bonnie Mack Thknife.


That's an interesting start.  The Bonnie Mack example makes me recall a story in our school newspaper at one point when a creative Viking journalist pondered a number of "what if's" like one of the Groe girls marrying someone named Sideways, so her new name would become Mary Lou Groe Sideways.  

I'm struggling with that one because I don't recall the exact name of the Groe girl, nor do I recall any of the other invented names but perhaps you, Dear Reader, can flesh this out for us.  If you can, please send an email, and bring a little light to this matter, for me and for Young Richard.

Here's a late add-on from Bonnie Mack Wopperer:

More about names.......while I was working for a firm in Arcadia, CA (Engineering-Science), for a time they had some type of employee exchange program going on. One of the Chinese employees we had was a Dr. Shaw (Ph.D.) My friend Mary, who was also the very witty and interesting receptionist for the company, was trying to help Dr. Shaw choose an "Americanized" first name. Her suggestion was RICK...........what else? ?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Decorating for Christmas

Since Thanksgiving is the kick-off for the Christmas season, we've been decorating early the past few years, particularly since we don't have family around to enjoy the decorations during the time between the two holidays.  And it's much easier to put up the outdoor lights at 45 degrees than at 20 degrees.

My how things have changed since the 50s, when we put up a tree at our house a week or so before Christmas, and maybe an electric candle in a window here or there, and that was it.  Nor do I recall many other decorations around town, except for perhaps lights on the big evergreens at the courthouse, and I'm not so sure about that either.

The set-up has lost some lustre over the years, particularly with a back that complains of all the twisting and bending necessary to get the job done, and in an effort to make it easier and simpler, we invested in a pre-lit tree about 4 years ago.  The Frazier Firs we enjoyed the most were up at the $75 level, and sooner or later economy of scale predicts the pre-lit artificial tree will be reduced in price to something less than the inflation-driven Fraziers, due to the repeated use and one-time original payment.

What I should have done before buying it, however, was to ask "Exactly how much does this thing weigh?"  Even though it's in sections, it's a load to carry it from the basement up the stairs, with my aging back objecting the entire trip.  And I might also have asked about the life expectancy of the 900 bulbs or so that are on it, because once it is set up each year, there are oodles of lights that no longer burn.  So far this year I have replaced 45 lights, and I expect there will be more to be found.

Just thinking . . . one small tree with 3 cords of lights probably wasn't a bad idea.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Thanksgiving for Francis

Sometimes you are thankful for people in your life, and for many NKHS grads, Francis was one of those people, so it's appropriate that today be another story about this unique character.  As mentioned previously, he was the topic of conversation at a recent lunch meeting, where Chuck Hendrickson told several stories of his relationship with him.

Janis volunteered to type up those memories for us, which is suitable since she took typing from Francis, and later typed up papers for him when he was in Grad School in Colorado.  The mission was clearly "old school" typing: onion skin original, no errors, with duplicate copies.  Word was yet to be invented.  Uffda.  Still, Janis says, "I must have passed his class if he thought I was capable of doing the typing for him."  Here's the story told by Chuck:

Francis Boggess was a character.  People either liked him, or they didn’t – pretty sure there was no middle ground.  He had a quirky personality and a funny, dry and sarcastic sense of humor.  I coached against him for a number of years while we both were head girls’ basketball coaches…he at Northwood and I at Lake Mills.  He knew the game well and I respected his coaching abilities.  

He was excitable and dramatic and showed his exasperation when a play didn't go as planned by kicking the back of the bleacher as hard as he could with the heel of his shoe.  After one particular game I noticed that he’d actually split the bleacher board and wondered how he got off the floor without limping. 

Francis always had a funny story to tell – usually with a straight face, but I knew the punch line was coming because his lips would begin curling up, as if trying to stifle a smile.  After he retired from education he returned to Estherville, his hometown.  

I ran into him years later and asked what he was up to.  He answered that he was working part time filling bags at a seed corn plant.  It was summer and Francis told me that during an exceptionally hot period his working conditions became unbearable.  To help him stay cooler, he stripped down to his skivvies and continued to scoop corn into bags.  As I recall, he was working for a relative…probably a good thing since working in one’s undies probably wouldn't be tolerated by just any employer!  As I said…Francis was a character.

I always enjoyed my interactions with Francis.  Others may not have the same opinion, but I know he made me laugh – that’s worth a lot!  Rest in peace, Francis!

Chuck Hendrickson

With a tip of an Irish hat to Francis, Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Monday, November 19, 2012

For whom the "bell" tolls . . .

Ann Johnson sent a follow-up regarding Francis Boggess after our recent Teluwut lunch, as told repeatedly by son-in-law Dave Brunsvold, '76, brother of Richard Brunsvold, '62.  It has to do with a bell that didn't really "toll" but that makes for a better headline.  She says:

I feel sort of out of the loop because I was never a student of Frances Boggess but, as a parent of his students, I thoroughly enjoyed and admired him and respected his views and opinions...he truly was one of a kind. Our girls have great memories of “Mr. Boggess times”.

I forgot to tell you one of David’s best stories about 7th grade typing class.

Mr. Boggess was at the front of the classroom talking to the class and there was a resounding “DING” from out of nowhere.

Stone silence!

Someone had touched a typewriter....worse yet, the telltale “Tab” key.

No one breathed.

“ALRIGHT! EVERYBODY... HANDS ON YOUR HEADS”

Every student promptly clasped his/her hands together on top of the head and Mr. Boggess set out on his search and destroy patrol to find the guilty carriage that was teetering far on the left side of the typewriter. Dave, sitting in the very back of the room, found tremendous humor in the situation and was trying so hard not to laugh that his eyes were watering. Mr. Boggess noticed Dave’s reaction and did one of his “trying very hard not to crack a smile” faces.

Dave was laughing so hard as he was telling the story that I don’t believe he ever made it to the end and I don’t know what happened to the student who had to claim to errant carriage thereby admitting to touching the typewriter.

Did any of you ever have to do the hands on heads thing?

According to Ann, It’s much funnier when Dave tells (the story) because, being by far the tallest kid in the class, he was always seated in the back of the room....a great vantage point for keeping an eye on Mr. Boggess and seeing the reaction of all of the very scared and shaking little 7th grade girls.

Ann also reports her daughter Tanna apparently had a great personal relationship with Boggess, whom she called "Lucy" for reasons unreported, and even sang a duet with him:  "You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille!"

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lunch at Teluwut in Lake Mills

It was one of those spontaneous things when Lonna and I met with the Hendrickson's and the Johnson's at the new Teluwut Restaurant in Lake Mills.  The food was good, in keeping with the original from Osage and the second in Cresco, so we recommend any of them.

Chuck was busy pointing out his former students there for their lunch.  At one point he was talking about a lady age 88, and I was going to ask if she was one of his students too, but got distracted.  Probably by one of Ann's stories.  The fellow who took this picture is Justin, and I believe he is one of Chuck's.  But much younger...

It was a lot of laughs, with stories like Ann's description of 8-man football: like watching Deer Creek freeze over!

The building is the old Farmer's and Merchants Bank in Lake Mills, and if I'm not mistaken the other two Teluwuts are also in old banks.  You'll notice the bar directly behind us, clearly carried in from a tavern somewhere else.  

Janis suggested I tour the vault behind the brick wall on our right.  Inside the vault there are more pictures like the one hanging on the wall here, and one of the old hotel where Chuck stayed when he first moved to Lake Mills and started teaching.  He shared his floor with strippers from one of the taverns.  Only one bathroom on the floor, he said, but I suppose they were probably sleeping in while he was getting ready.

Maybe one day we'll take a restaurant tour across North Iowa and see what else we can learn.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

On Veterans Day, I might have shed a tear . . .

You may have seen the post-campaign speech by Obama to his campaign workers in which he shed a couple of tears while talking to the younger workers, addressing their hard work, loyalty, and commitment.  This post is not a political statement because presumably the tears shed will apply to most campaigns at this and down-ballot levels.

The passion and beliefs on which so many campaigns are founded can yield huge emotional results, whether in victory or defeat.  And it has led me to speak here of a number of events and observations that I have been mulling over for the past several weeks, events that have caused me to have my own "moments."  Emotion is personal to me, whether from success, joy, or sorrow.

Some time ago I watched a report on Paul Newman's "Hole in the Wall" Camp, founded for children with cancer and serious blood diseases.  Camp Counselors were creating an environment that few campers may have believed was within their reach until they were sitting in a circle, smiling and singing.  And by the end of the televised report, I felt a tear in the corner of my eye.

Wisconsin Lions have opened a similar camp in Rosholt, WI, for kids who didn't think they could go to camp because of their blindness.  Since the founding, the camp has expanded to kids with diabetes, and cognitive or physical disabilities.  Now many of the campers have themselves become counselors, bringing their experience full circle.

A DVD made available by the camp shows kids slogging through a mud pit, canoeing, walking a rope bridge, and enjoying all the activities that "normal" kids do at their own camps, activities they thought beyond their reach.  I've watched the video, during which a tear comes to the corner of my eyes.

Those examples perhaps illustrate a point. Most of the emotion-impact scenes I have witnessed seem to be tied to young people succeeding, perhaps beyond odds, or just because they put heart and soul into the effort and reap a reward.  Perhaps it's the opposite, where all the hard work and effort do NOT lead to success, but either way, it's the young people and their commitments that count.

As I have aged I have had more emotional reflection of America's finest going off to war, often never coming home.  When "Platoon" came out several years ago I can recall leaving the theater when the movie ended, with a very quiet crowd, few people including myself making eye contact with anyone, and indeed there were several cases of sniffling going on.

A few months ago I added "Platoon" to my Netflix Instant Queue, but have yet to watch it.  You know why.

So you can imagine that during the entire Project McNamara process late last spring my heart was full and my eyes were often wet.  On the day of the first meeting of the principals of the group we were tied by emotion, yet at this moment the engagement was not particularly deep.  Still, many tears were shed, and Marv Everhart said in a later email, "I had tears in my eyes all day."

There were two moments from Project McNamara that fully engulfed me, and both happened in Florida, where we drove for vacation immediately following that first event.  I took with me several photos gathered from Marv and others so I could scan them to include in later posts, but the primary need was to find the photo suitable for posting on the two websites, vvmf.org and thevirtualwall.org.

Once we arrived in Florida I spent a little time digging for information about Ray Calhoun, the fellow who lay on his back with Donald McNamara singing to the top of their voices.  And I found him.  We had gone back and forth without connecting until the day I went to a Walgreen's to scan all my photos.  As I was leaving the store, my phone rang, and it was Ray Calhoun.  I asked if he could confirm that he was the fellow who lay on his back singing "Up Up and Away" with Donald, and he did.

From that point on the conversation was difficult for me, as I did my best to listen and learn.  It was just a normal Project McNamara extraordinary moment of coincidence that as I finished scanning Donald's photos his fellow Marine Ray would call me. And I had more than one tear in my eye.

Back at our apartment I later made a choice on photos, uploaded them to the websites, and got a notice at completion that I would be notified when they were approved.  That took a few days, and when I checked my email several days later, one email from the Virtual Wall was a notice of approval, including a link to click to take me to his page.

When I clicked the link, the full-screen photo of Donald McNamara leaped out at me.  That was a difficult moment.  I expected to see the photo, but not the surreal full-screen version that was in front of me and I was lifted to a new peak.

I was proud to have played a part in providing recognition for this lost Marine, honored to have met his son along the way, but mostly grateful that the online photo makes it more difficult that he would ever be forgotten.  So yes, I might have shed a tear.

Today is Veteran's Day, and on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we honor all veterans, with a special salute to my unknown friend, Corporal Donald Woodward McNamara, United States Marine Corp.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

expansion on the "9 things"

By accident we discovered a symposium held at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls, only thirteen miles away, and today we attended the last of six sessions for the fall.  The series is called Morning with the Professor, and today's session was entitled Technology; Cognition, Commerce, and Culture.

It dovetailed nicely with the 9 Things last posted, since it began with an analysis of Artificial Intelligence (AI) including a video of a Wall Street Journal editorial writer who lives in Arizona, but was able to participate in an editorial board meeting in New York by way of a robot with a built-in webcam.  She not only was able to be a part of the session itself, but bumbled her way around the halls of the WSJ by way of the Segway-like robot.

Technically AI incorporates data from the past to predict the future by way of algorithms, the same mathematical formulations that allow political candidates to drill down into the electorate,  Google to observe your habits and offer you products similar to concepts or needs you've written about or researched recently, or Netflix to make suggestions of movies that you may be interested in, and predict how well you will like a movie you've not yet seen.

The Professor threw out recommended reading like Nicholas Carr's What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, or the New York Times series on "Your Brain on Computers."

He mentioned MusicXray, that he says "finds music that will be pleasing to the human ear." and listed mattersight.com that brought me right to the 9 Things when I read this on their websight:

We capture, analyze, and create insight from unstructured conversations, emails, employee desktop activity, and customer data.

Just when you thought it would be safe to come out of the woods.

(A great irony here - as I completed that last sentence Radio Paradise began playing Johnny Cash's "Ghost Riders in the Sky."  I'm back in the old days and I'm safe again!)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

9 things that will disappear in our lifetime

Stan Arendts sent this along, something forwarded to him from one of his old shipmates.  If you do the Google you will find several references to this list, the one sounding most original being on a Yahoo Group, where it has pictures to match.  Click here for that link, but you can read it here, and either way consider the consequences.

You're probably well along to converting on some of these, like the Post Office.  In today's mail, for example, I received one missive of any importance, and 10 separate political ads.  Must be an election going on.  I did send a letter yesterday, the purpose of which I can't recall, but with new software I am even able to fax or email signed documents that are acceptable legally.  So why do we have a post office other than for the mass mailings of catalogues and politicians?  And fax machines - remember when they were important?

Cheques?  Banks can't make much money on selling their checks any longer because they're so cheap at Walmart and other online places, so Deluxe Checks from nearby Roseville, once the premier source for banks, may even be out of business today.  So I checked just now to see how many checks I have written in the past 2 months - 12.  Six of them were for fundraisers for the schools, and most of the rest of them could have been handled by bill-pay but sometimes it's easiest to just write the stupid check.

For banks to handle the checks they need to have accounts with money, because that's where they make their money, and their deposit competition these days is on every street corner, all with lower costs and service that's just as good except for the cute teller who isn't working there.  So in lieu of making money on checks, they're charging you fees wherever they can, like Closing Fees on a mortgage.

On Item 3, personally I prefer the printed newspaper although while on vacation the e-version is convenient; however most of the books I read, Item 4, are on a Kindle or iPad.

I could go on as to my personal idiosyncrasies, but jump to #9, the privacy issue, that is paramount.  Yes, my house is on the Google Street View, though I never saw the goofy Google Camera Car come through, and yours probably is as well.  But that's not as scary as the report I saw last night from the PBS Frontline, in which both political parties are revealed to be scanning your computer with cookies to find out all your tastes, then deliver ads for you that are designed to trip your personal trigger.

They know where you are and they are coming for you!!!   Now read the rest, the original report . . .


Whether these changes are good or bad depends in part on how we adapt to them. But, ready or not, here they come.....


1. The Post Office
Get ready to imagine a world without the post office. They are so deeply in financial trouble that there is probably no way to sustain it long term. Email, Fed Ex, and UPS have just about wiped out the minimum revenue needed to keep the post office alive. Most of your mail every day is junk mail and bills.

2. The Cheque
Britain is already laying the groundwork to do away with cheque by 2018. It costs the financial system billions of dollars a year to process cheques. Plastic cards and online transactions will lead to the eventual demise of the cheque. This plays right into the death of the post office. If you never paid your bills by mail and never received them by mail, the post office would absolutely go out of business.

3. The Newspaper
The younger generation simply doesn't read the newspaper. They certainly don't subscribe to a daily delivered print edition. That may go the way of the milkman and the laundry man. As for reading the paper online, get ready to pay for it. The rise in mobile Internet devices and e-readers has caused all the newspaper and magazine publishers to form an alliance. They have met with Apple, Amazon, and the major cell phone companies to develop a model for paid subscription services.

4. The Book
You say you will never give up the physical book that you hold in your hand and turn the literal pages. I said the same thing about downloading music from iTunes. I wanted my hard copy CD. But I quickly changed my mind when I discovered that I could get albums for half the price without ever leaving home to get the latest music . The same thing will happen with books. You can browse a bookstore online and even read a preview chapter before you buy. And the price is less than half that of a real book. And think of the convenience! Once yo u start flicking your fingers on the screen instead of the book, you find that you are lost in the story, can't wait to see what happens next, and you forget that you're holding a gadget instead of a book.

5. The Land Line Telephone
Unless you have a large family and make a lot of local calls, you don't need it anymore. Most people keep it simply because they've always had it. But you are paying double charges for that extra service. All the cell phone companies will let you call customers using the same cell provider for no charge against your minutes

6. Music
This is one of the saddest parts of the change story. The music industry is dying a slow death. Not just because of illegal downloading. It's the lack of innovative new music being given a chance to get to the people who would like to hear it. Greed and corruption is the problem. The record labels and the radio conglomerates are simply self-destructing. Over 40% of the music purchased today is "catalogue items," meaning traditional music that the public is familiar with. Older established artists. This is also true on the live concert circuit. To explore this fascinating and disturbing topic further, check out the book, "Appetite for Self-Destruction" by Steve Knopper, and the video documentary, "Before the Music Dies."

7. Television
Revenues to the networks are down dramatically. Not just because of the economy. People are watching TV and movies streamed from their computers. And they're playing games and doing lots of other things that take up the time that used to be spent watching TV. Prime time shows have degenerated down to lower than the lowest common denominator. Cable rates are skyrocketing and commercials run about every 4 minutes and 30 seconds. I say good riddance to most of it. It's time for the cable companies to be put out of our misery. Let the people choose what they want to watch online and through Netflix.

8. The "Things" That You Own
Many of the very possessions that we used to own are still in our lives, but we may not actually own them in the future. They may simply reside in "the cloud." Today your computer has a hard drive and you store your pictures, music, movies, and documents. Your software is on a CD or DVD, and you can always re-install it if need be. But all of that is changing. Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all finishing up their latest "cloud services." That means that when you turn on a computer, the Internet will be built into the operating system. So, Windows, Google, and the Mac OS will be tied straight into the Internet. If you click an icon, it will open something in the Internet cloud. If you save something, it will be saved to the cloud. And you may pay a monthly subscription fee to the cloud provider. In this virtual world, you can access your music or your books, or your whatever from any laptop or handheld device. That's the good news. But, will you actually own any of this "stuff" or will it all b e able to disappear at any moment in a big "Poof?" Will most of the things in our lives be disposable and whimsical? It makes you want to run to the closet and pull out that photo album, grab a book from the shelf, or open up a CD case and pull out the insert.

9. Privacy
If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it would be privacy. That's gone. It's been gone for a long time anyway. There are cameras on the street, in most of the buildings, and even built into your computer and cell phone. But you can be sure that 24/7, "They" know who you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates, and the Google Street View. If you buy something, your habit is put into a zillion profiles, and your ads will change to reflect those habits. "They" will try to get you to buy something else. Again and again.

All we will have left that can't be changed are "Memories".....
And then probably Alzheimer's will that away from you, too.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Harry Johnson, Star Basketball Shooter

Harry was a classic.  His wife, Mena, is also a classic, and apparently an entertainer of sorts at the nursing home, just by being herself.  Yesterday she was doing her best to be herself, and that led to an email from my brother Kevin about Harry's prowess on the basketball court:

Harry Johnson was famous - at least among basketball players - for regularly walking into practice shoot-around, asking for a ball, and then making a basket from the baseline corner. He was better at it than any of the players. Hardly ever missed. Shot it two-handed.

I recall having seen him do that during our day as well, and players remarking as to his skill.  Another colorful personality better remembered 50 years later.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Babes of '62

I invited several of my classmates for a luncheon at my house. Unfortunately several could not come. In attendance were Marilyn Gentz, Sharon Urbatch, Betty Ryan, Gwen Hillman, Vickie Hall & friend Janet Eilertson from class of 1960. Those not attending were Linda Hempen, Jo Tenold, Donna Davenport, Mary Nelson, Eileen Perkins, Karen Oakland, & Diane Taylor. We enjoyed our luncheon together along with some wine served with eyeballs. Also dessert topped off with brains, eyeballs, ears, or hearts (candy ones that is).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Francis Boggess, 1920 - 2012

Francis Boggess, as his obituary tells it, was Junior High Principal at Northwood-Kensett following the consolidation and HS Principal at Kensett prior to that.  Stan Arendts says  I knew him very well, since he was our neighbor for many years and played pool at our house many times each week.

Here is his obituary:

Francis Xavier Boggess, the son of Les and Mary (Nolan)Boggess was born February 22, 1920, in Estherville, Iowa.Francis passed away Friday, October 19, 2012 at Avera Holy Family Hospital in Estherville, Iowa at age 92.

He attended Estherville High School graduating in 1937. He then attended Estherville Junior College 1938 - 1939. Francisserved in U.S. Air Corp - 1942 - 1946 as a Radio Operator and was discharged as Corporal.

Returning home from service, he worked at the Estherville Ready Mix and was part of the Surveyors crew for the State Highway Commission.

He enrolled at Drake University in 1949 majoring in Education where he received three degrees; Bachelors in 1950, Masters in 1954 and EDS in 1966. He also attended summer school sessions at Colorado State, University of Cincinnati and University of Minnesota.

Francis began teaching English and Business Subjects in Kensett High School in 1951 where he coached both boys and girls varsity basketball. He became Principal of Kensett High School in 1954. He served as Junior High Principal for 15 years at Northwood-Kensett before becoming High School Principal in 1981 until his retirement in 1992. Francis started the girls basketball program at Northwood-Kensett High School and coached the girls there for 12 years. The Iowa High School Athletic Association awarded Francis for his contribution to High School Athletics

He was a member of National Association of Secondary School Principals; National Education Association; St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Estherville; Knights of Columbus; American Legion and Elks Lodge.

Francis's interests included all sporting events but he especially enjoyed watching Notre Dame football and Drake basketball. He was an avid reader and loved working crossword puzzles. Francis enjoyed traveling both in the U.S. and Europe visiting Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, France, Austria and Germany. He traveled with his best friend Robert Perkins, a fellow educator whom he met while they were both students at Drake.

Left to cherish Francis's memory are twenty-one nieces and nephews and many more grand-nieces and nephews..

Preceding Francis in death were his parents, Les and Mary; his two brothers, Nolan and Maurice and his sister, Virginia (Boggess) Johnson.

Friday, October 19, 2012

why so many deer crossings?

You have all along wondered why the DOT has to create so many deer crossings, right?  I mean, couldn't those over sized chihuahuas just queue up in some remote place that would allow them to get to where they need to be while causing less trauma to humans?

You gotta ask, what did they do when we were growing up and didn't have Deer Crossing signs?  At least not at the same frequency of signage today. And they still were able to get to where they needed to be, without the bloody carnage . . .    Well, you get the point.  Which leads me to Donna from Fargo, who is on her own little campaign to make the world a better place, and spoke to a Fargo radio station that later shared it with the world on YouTube, to the tune of more than 4 million hits.

Here she is . .

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

the granddaddy of them all - Kennedy vs Nixon

Debates like the one you probably observed last night can often prompt thoughts of times long ago, including the 1960 debate between Nixon and Kennedy, wherein Nixon determined makeup was too girly-girl and below him.  To his dismay.

But you may enjoy watching this YouTube, at least briefly, and compare against more modern alpha-male peeing contests such as the second Obama-Romney elucidation of our national dilemmas.  Kidding, of course.

There have been some great moments in the past, to wit the Reagan-Mondale debate of '84 when Reagan threw out the great line about not making age an issue due to the youth and lack of experience of Mondale.  Even Mondale was laughing out loud.  Think Reagan had been planning that line?

Or the Bentsen-Quayle debate in '88 when you could almost hear Bentsen saying "Please proceed" to the self-congratulatory comparisons that Quayle tried to draw between himself and John Kennedy.  Then said: "I knew Kennedy - he wasn't no potato-head..."  Or words to that effect.

Think he had been planning it?  Or Obama leading Romney to the cliff by saying "Please proceed - 'to stick your foot in it by incorrectly describing my words in the Rose Garden...' "

Kind of makes you pine for the days when the parties met in the smoke-filled rooms to choose their candidates.  Recommended reading: Robert Caro's 4th in the Lyndon Johnson series, The Passage of Power.  Wilma will be proud of you for reading it, I suspect. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Stanley Cup!

There is a tradition in the NHL some of you may be aware of, that every player on the team that wins the Stanley Cup is allowed to have the Cup with him for a day, wherever he wants to take it.  In fact in some cases they've been known to carry it into a bar and kind of forget about it, but anybody who would attempt to steal it would likely get pulled across the ice a million times until their body is totally devoured by the cracks in the ice that are not smoothed out by the Zamboni.  Or would get thrown in front of the Zamboni, either way.


Anyhow, one of the LA Kings is David Drewiske, who is from Hudson, and a member of the '02 and '03 Wisconsin State High School Championship Hudson Hockey Team.  So he had the honor of hosting the Cup for a day and was in town this summer, where my hockey-loving 15-year-old granddaughter dragged her mom up so they could see him - and get this picture taken with the Stanley Cup.

That's Brett on the left, Dana on the right.  Think she was thrilled?

Probably reminds you of Marilyn running into Tommy Kramer in Vegas. . . .

But check the YouTube of his fight with Steve Ott, which is largely done by pulling on the other guy's jersey.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

from the archives

Sometimes you don't know what you don't know.

The truth of that hit home this week when I read an article in our local paper about a fellow who has repaired for me a chainsaw, lawnmower, and ATV, and also sharpened chainsaw and lawnmower blades from time to time.  He seemed to be a sharp fellow and I heard tidbits about him from time to time but never the whole story . . .

That's the beginning of a story written a little over a year ago about Dr Robert Flute.  I thought about him the other day when the local paper wrote of the fellow who has recently purchased the business that his wife thought she could run, but apparently found it beyond her capacity.

Click this link to go to the story, and I encourage you to click the link to allow you to read the newspaper article by Steve Dzubay, editor of our paper, about midway through the story.  Dr. Flute was an amazing man, and I wish I could say I knew him better.  But I can't.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Saturday, October 6, 2012

On a recent trip to Las Vegas with friend & classmate Marilyn Gentz Holland and friend Janet Eilertson Bergo (class of 1960) we met Tommy Kramer former Minnesota Vikings player at the Minneapolis airport. He was so kind to let us have our picture taken with him.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Remembering 1967

AMC's website has a new trivia game for you to figure out how much you recall about 1967.  The first question is "Jim Morrison and the Doors were banned from the Ed Sullivan Show for singing what lyrics?"
            1. Girl we couldn't get much higher.
            2. Let's spend the night together
            3. Love child
            4. Wanna take you higher
For the correct answer and more questions, go to the AMC 1967 Trivia website by clicking that link.  It may or may not be right up your alley.  Some of you might have been busy in other ways.  Sadly, I scored only 30 points on this quiz, and now you can show me up easily.

Here's another option, the 1962 Trivia Quiz.  I'm proud to say I scored 90 points on this one.  With a couple of guesses.

Good luck and let us know how you did!  By the way, you can build your own avatar on their website.  See mine above.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Shane's Story

For months we chronicled the story of Donald Woodward McNamara, his death in Viet Nam, our discovery of the photos from cousin Marv and niece Amber, the shocking appearance of a son who did not know his father.

Recently his son Shane was asked to write his story for a local newspaper and we've asked to reprint it here as well.
Memorial Day, 2012 - Marv Everhart, cousin of Donald McNamara,
presents the wreath laid in his honor to Shane Edgar, Donald's son.
My story,
When I was twelve years old, I realized I don’t look like my brother and sister. I was told that my father died in Vietnam and I had been adopted by the man I called Dad. Satisfied for the moment, I knew that my parents loved me and that was all that I needed to know.
A few years passed and I asked my mother again.  This time she gave me his name, Donald McNamara.  The name sat in my heart, and in time I looked for more information about this mystery man.  No one seemed to know him, and my mother said little.
Over the past few years it has become more important for me to find my roots and solve the mystery. As a father myself I began to look at things differently.   Increasingly I wanted to get more information about my roots.  
After my 45 birthday last March, I was in a church group on a Wednesday night asking questions of the people in the group. How should I be thinking about my father and the lack of information I had?  Were my feelings of being lost and confused about this man okay? Or should I find out more?  How?
After the meeting a member came to me to tell me she and her mother had been studying genealogy and she wondered if she could get dad’s full name so she could research it. I gave it to her thinking she would run into dead ends like I had.
The next week she came to see me with information she’d gotten off the Internet.  A group of people from Northwood, IA, preparing for a 50th Class Reunion were emailing each other.  One of the emails told of a Virtual Wall replicating the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC, where every American who died in that war was recognized.
They were surprised to discover a Donald McNamara died in that war – and was the only casualty listing Northwood, IA, as his hometown.  None of the Class of ’62 knew him since he transferred in a year after they left.
A search led to Nancy, who had graduated three years later.  She was a good friend of Donald’s, had taken long walks with him, and recalled him as a good-looking guy.  She was able to fill in more blanks, pictures were found, and the story was posted in a blog created for that Class of ’62 , the same information given to me by my friend from the church group.
I emailed the blogger more questions.  He answered what he could, and then asked “What is your interest in Donald?” I replied by email and said, I have been told he is my father.
The blogger called immediately. The door was opened, and for the next few days I was getting information on him daily and at times hourly. Not even a week went by and we were talking of getting together with the Northwood people to discuss an overwhelming amount of information, and meet family, for the first time ever.
There are few of the family left. Donald’s twin brother, Ronald, passed away about 18 months after Donald in a car accident. The boys had a half-sister (Deb) who lost a battle with cancer.  My grandparents had passed also. Donald’s cousin Marv (who escorted his body back from Vietnam) lives in the Northwood area.  Deb has a daughter Amber, my cousin, who lives in Albert Lea, MN, with a daughter Vanessa, and that’s it.
We gathered in Northwood and the stories of Donald flew about the room. Mostly I recall what others tell me about this day, that Marv said when I broke the plane of the door, “Oh my God, Its Donnie!”  Those words will always be held close to my heart. Yes, I belong and I know he really is my Father.
 He is a father to be very proud of, a Marine who died in a six hour gun fight in Nam. He was manning an M-60 and his squad had broken off from him. They tried several time to regain the ground but Donald gave his life to protect others in the field, taken out by mortar fire. Several of his squad did not come back to camp that day.
In conversation with those who served with him, my father Donald was a Marine’s Marine, a great leader in the field. He was kind and gentle when needed and tough as nails when the moment called for it, as my wife has described me. That sounds like a great man who has left me with a great gift. I believe he would be proud of me and would love and cherish his grandchildren. Thanks DAD for giving me life so I can carry on your name.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I apologize - too late

We heard it first from Chuck Helgeland.  But he's too late to the bookstore because Tony Danza has come out with a book titled I Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had.  Just thought you should know.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

An Email Recollection of Dining

Northwood Anchor - September 6, 1962: The Coffee Cup Cafe on Central Avenue will re-open Thursday under new management. Mr. and Mrs. E. Vaale, new owners and operators, have redecorated the cafe and installed new, modern equipment. A grand opening is planned in the near future. 

Ann Johnson: We were not in Northwood from ‘56 through ‘67. Does anyone know where this was on Central?  

Janis Hendrickson: It sounds familiar to both Chuck and me, but unfortunately neither of us can remember the location. Hopefully someone who was paying attention back then will have an answer for you

Ann: Was the café on the west end near the steps to the park always known as the “Maid-Rite Café”?

I only know of the Paramount, the Midway (formerly Rex Café), Quality Café, Chat n’ Chew and the Maid-Rite.......and in the late 50s there was Hazel’s Restaurant in a house on S. 8th St., south of the post office. Was there Jumbo’s on the north end of town?

Janis: Can’t remember a restaurant near the steps to the park, but it’s possible.

Hazel was Hazel Thompto (mother of Ralph, class of ’62 and Liz Thompto Kenison, class of ‘66). She had a restaurant in their home. Jumbo’s was on 65 north somewhere near the current bus barn. I “think” Jumbo’s last name might have been Thompson?? I remember Thea Seibreit (wrong spelling, I’m sure) worked there as a cook. I recall being a guest of my friend’s family several times at Jumbo’s Restaurant eating yummy fried shrimp.

Bonnie Mack Wopperer: I know for a fact that Jumbo's last name was Thompson. :)

I remember Hazel's restaurant, the Paramount, the Chat 'N' Chew and the Grill adjacent to the old theater, across from Mack Drugs. Didn't that grill change names with new ownerships......2 or 3 times??? Beyond that, my memory is very fuzzy.

Neither do I remember a restaurant near the steps to Crescent Park. I'm lots of help

Ann: The Grill (adjacent to the theatre) was the Rex Café owned by JoAnna Cooley’s dad, Hugh Cooley until about 1952. The name may have been changed to The Grill after Cooleys sold it...it was the Midway Café from the ‘60s through the early ‘90s and then was closed and sold and it hasn’t been a café since that time.

I guess I’d forgotten how young you kids are when I mention the Maid-Rite Café by the park steps (where the Civic Center is now). There were several buildings there that were demolished including the café, a hatchery, a gas station.... However, I guess I’m talking about late ‘40s and early ‘50s when I talk about the Maid-Rite.

I think Jumbo’s was on North 65... Yes, it was probably about where the bus barn is now.

The Quality Café: Again, I might be talking about ‘40s through early ‘50s. On the corner of Central Ave and 8th St. N (Hwy. 65 N) was a huge old building that was Bowen’s Grocery in the ‘40s-‘50s and I’m not sure when it ceased to be a grocery store. It has since burned and is now a mini-park. North of the park is a very small building that was a barber shop, then the alley, then the Quality Café, then the IA State Liquor Store, then Hallands’ Beauty & Barber Shop, then Plowman’s Café (now the Daily Buzz tavern)

Does anyone remember Mr. Marshall and his popcorn machine? I’m wondering if the Coffee Cup Café might have been there where he had his popcorn machine on the sidewalk in the summer time. (That would have been right next to the dry cleaners)

Anyone? Anyone? .

The N-K Vikings played their season home opener tonight against Rockford....first varsity game on the new field, part of the new N-K Athletic Complex which, at this point, has cost $850,000 and still counting. This year N-K started playing eight-man football.....L (Did’ja ever think you’d enjoy sitting in one spot watching a creek freeze over?)

The Vikings came away with a 44-34 victory.

Bonnie: Yessss! I remember Mr. Marshall and his popcorn machine, in front of a small cafe, next to the dry cleaners. OMG hadn't thought about that since forever! I used to ask him for the partially popped kernels that fell through to a container underneath......my favorites AND I didn't have to pay for them.


Was one of Mr. Marshall's legs shorter than the other...............I seem to remember he wore a special shoe for that.

That could have very well been the Coffee Cup Cafe.........not sure.

O.k.......I'm trying to visualize that corner of Central Ave. and I-65 No. If Fallgatter's Grocery was on the northwest corner, then Bowen's must have been on the northeast (NEC),, correct? I think it later became Nelson Hardware Store (or maybe that's the wrong corner). I do remember the Halland Barber and Beauty shops (one of the barbers who worked there was a man by the name of Bass Bergo........wonder if that was his "real" name). Wasn't the Masonic Temple (Lodge ?) near there also......maybe on the next corner north of Central? Well, you've got me going........will probably be dreaming about Northwood tonight.

And GO, VIKINGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ann: The more I think about it, the more I think that café by Mr. Marshall’s (Albert Marshall) popcorn machine must have been the Coffee Cup Café and now I do remember that he wore one shoe that was built up higher than the other. He was such a nice guy and he loved kids. (Can anyone imagine our kids today referring to ANYONE as “Mr.”?!) That MIGHT be the building we’re looking for....I remember that there was a café there and that it did close at one time.

This bit from the Anchor is from September of ‘62 so most of you might have left for college by that time. Maybe someone from the class of ‘63 can help us out...or later....what can you tell us, Richard???

Yes, Bowen’s Grocery was on the NE corner of that intersection...Bowen’s Grocery, Gildner’s Clothing, the post office, Fallgatter’s Grocery (the new Northwood Theatre) were the businesses in the four buildings at that intersection. Nelson’s Hardware was in the building next to Bowen’s where the Extension Office is now...the front of that building has been bricked and totally changed. I don’t know what Bass Bergo’s real name might have been; he was an avid fisherman with a huge love for (spirits) but I understand he was a great barber.

You’re right, the Masonic Temple is on the north end of that block. I can’t think of anything between Plowman’s Café (that became Gertie’s Tavern) and the Masonic Temple...maybe that was just a vacant lot...Northwood Electric is there now.

Another bit of Northwood’s past....The building that housed Bowen’s Grocery was built at the turn of the century by Nels Christianson and was a general store. Nels later became a banker. A biographical sketch in a history book tells us:

“N.T. Christianson was born in Denmark in 1867. When he was eight years of age, he was thrown upon his own resources and from that time till the present, he has rustled for himself. He came to America in 1886 and shortly after arrived in Northwood with a dollar and a half in capital and a determination to amount to something and make a career for himself which was worth far more than capital. Early in 1887 he began his experience in merchandising in the general store of the late Al Smith..........”

We can’t even believe that....orphaned at eight, came to Northwood at age 19 or 20 with a buck and a half.

Nels built the house that was later Bakke’s Funeral Home....the one with the curved glass in the windows...it became Connor’s Funeral Home and then it burned in ‘93 or ‘94 and another funeral home has been built on that corner.

Today we celebrate Founders’ Day in Northwood...the first settlers in what is now Northwood...and Worth County....Gulbrand and Karina Mellem came here in 1853. The Founders’ Day activities start with a 5K run/walk this morning so I’d better get my track shoes on and get outta here.

Janis: Bowens Grocery later became Applequist Grocery. Harold and Louise Applequist lived on S. 12th street and Jeannie was one of my playmates. Chuck reminded me that Falgatter’s took over the store west of them at some point in the late 50’s or early 60’s to make a larger grocery store. Would that have been the old Rexall store (Veenker Drug)?

YES! This has been fun – we might run into you today, Ann! It’s a beautiful day for Founders’ Day.

Bonnie: Veenker's Rexall was either adjacent to, or a couple of doors further west from, Fallgatters (I think). Oh yes......now that you mention it, Janis, I do remember the Applequist store..............and the friendly little price wars with Fallgatter's. hahaha I can recall my Grandma Lau making her daily trek to town from her home on 11th St. to shop at whichever store had the best price on peaches.....or flour....or bread.....whatever the major item(s) on her list for that day. A very similar competitive spirit existed between Mack Drug & Jewelry and Veenkers Rexall Drugs. After all, competition is what keeps prices down, right? Ahhh memories......this IS fun!



Me: somebody draw me a map. I'm lost.



Monday, September 3, 2012

another cheesy story

They're the official curds of the Minnesota Twins.  And now we discover they're also the curds featured at the Minnesota State fair.

It's official:  Minnesota State Fair's Cheese Curds are from . . . Wisconsin!  Be sure to watch the video.

My contribution to the gathering for Project McNamara on July 5 was a couple of these one-pound packages, fresh from the factory.  It's a 50-mile drive round-trip but well worth it to say they are "direct from the factory."  And it's pretty amazing that they have found a way to keep that creamery hopping over all these years, although the land throughout the area is more suited for dairy than crops, given the hills and woods throughout.

Makes for an enticing motorcycle ride for some, and a place of employment for many others including a "spokesperson" for the creamery, something pretty far-fetched for the creameries supported by 200-acre dairy farms, such as they were in our era. The Farm Boy's wife Shirley could tell you even more about that part of the world.

I couldn't recall that we ever sold milk to the creamery in Northwood, and discovered why we had not when I found this report on the creamery online.  Apparently it had discontinued operation in 1951and to be honest I don't even know where this building is located.

Family connections meant the creamery at Deer Creek Valley was more familiar.  My dad worked here for a time after he and mom were married, and it was about a mile or less from this creamery to the farm of my grandfather's.  Since he milked a few cows (by hand up into his 70s) and had milk to sell, this is where it went.  I went there often enough as a youngster to remember the smell, which was pretty much that of spilt milk a few days later.  At Ellsworth you don't notice that.

Perhaps they made cheese curds at Deer Creek, I don't know.  I do remember whey, a by-product of the processing, consumed by pigs and probably a few cats, and more importantly, I remember the Deer Creek Store located just across the street.  It was worth behaving yourself to have a chance to go along to the creamery, because that improved your chances of a candy purchase across the street.

A sign is posted at the store location now and that's all that's left unless you poke around the premises and find the original foundation that remains in some places.  The sign says the store was built in 1895 by Mr. Blecksrud, and in addition to the groceries up front, the rear of the store was once a tin shop/hardware store, and a community hall was upstairs.

Now there's nothing left on this plot along the state line but memories and the remnants of the cheese factory, shown here when my brother Kevin and I were on tour a year ago.  Only progressive factories with their own spokesperson can make the grade anymore.
Kevin snooping around the remnants of the Deer Creek Valley Creamery

Friday, August 31, 2012

a visit to Birchwood

A couple weeks ago I had my first visit with Dan Sorenson, the author of Snapshots of an Iowa Farm Boy.  I may have mentioned I expected to be there for 10 or 15 minutes, but Dan keeps time by not watching the clock, so it was two hours later that I left.  After viewing his collection of restored Case Tractors.
This is only one wall of his office showing some of his models, nearly all Case tractors, but it tells much about him, and the "tree" bottom left shows his commitment to genealogy, home, and family.  On another wall I saw the needlepoint referenced in an earlier post, "What's Time to a Pig?"

He pointed me to a chair to sit in that I later discovered had been his grandfather's.  "When we moved it here from St Paul we set it down and it fell apart!"  Since reassembled, he also recovered it, and I discovered it was a pretty comfortable sit, a kind of a recliner because the seat would slide forward, the back slide down, with support from a lumbar and head rest.

Our conversation started with a quick recognition of the book that brought me to see him, and he quickly turned to his first book, You Thought Like a Man.  He pulled it off a shelf and apologized for having only two copies left, and now it's out of print.  The title, he said, came from an experience he had at age 10.

He was pulling a disc behind a tractor and came to a swampy mudhole that needed to be crossed, but he knew he could not drive right through it.  So he unhooked the disc, hooked a log chain to it and the other end to his tractor, drove the tractor to the other side, then pulled the disc through separately.  When he got home he said his dad complimented him by saying, "You thought like a man."

"I was always proud of that," he said.  "What higher compliment could I ever receive?  And I've never forgotten it."

Dan has an incredible memory.  I remarked on the detail in his book, and  how many of my classmates tell me they don't recall some of the things described in this blog.  That prompted him to speak of the ladies aid church suppers he described in his book.  He remembers them like they happened yesterday, how the older women lined up along the walls of the church basement waiting for someone to take them home, the men out having their smoke, the orderliness that comes from years of practice.  And I think he expects the rest of us would have the same memory.

Their home is a log cabin in the small village of Edgewater on Big Chetac Lake, a vacation area that hosts a couple resorts, the Chit Chat bar and grill, the Edgewater Store, and a handful of homes.  Dan and Shirley live on the abandoned railroad right of way for the Blueberry Line, opened in 1893 and discontinued in use somewhere around 2000.  The railroad ran from Rice Lake to Menomonie and is featured in this Youtube.

Because it's a railway, the Sorenson 10-acre property is long and narrow, 300 feet wide and I forget how long, but 10 acres at 300 feet wide tells you it's a matter of miles.  As Dan walked me out to my car he was eager to show me a copse of trees where the local depot once stood, the framework for the old windmill the fan for which was sold and carried away some time ago, and the bed of the rail line itself, which he faithfully mows.  "You can feel the railroad ties as you bounce along on your mower."

The couple is quite comfortable in retirement after years as teacher/counselor and baseball coach in his case. He clearly loved the coaching, and lays claim to having had two of his players reach the big leagues.  Though he didn't mention the name, he did say that one of them will probably make it to the Hall of Fame.  "But I had some losers, too," he laughed.  "A murderer and a few other troublemakers.  We still get the Pioneer Press (the St Paul paper) up here, and for years Shirley and I would go through the police report to check on our former students."

I understood that.  Lonna still goes through that section of the local paper to check on her former students from her Behavior Disorder class.  The closest I ever got to recognition in this way was going through a red light in Mason City, duly reported in the Globe-Gazette and gifted to me by Mildred Hendrickson. A memorable detail, I guess. And those who climbed the water tower back then never got caught and thus listed.  I guess.

Perhaps this weekend, Labor Day, I'll have a chance to visit with Dan again.  He's a dandy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Man on the Moon

You may or may not recall hearing Kennedy's commitment to putting a man on the moon and you may or may not have believed that it was anything more than science fiction for that to happen, but it did.  This week that man, the first, Neal Armstrong, died at age 82.

The whole week prior was exciting.  I still have copies of the Waterloo Courier published each day of the trip, topped off with the moment when Armstrong took that first step.  Or "hop" might be a better word.  It was kind of amazing that a key talking point in the days that followed was that they didn't really "walk", they "hopped."  One of those silly things that stick in your head.

As the years have gone by the actual event has gotten later and later in the day in my memory, because my whole focus that evening was keeping my two oldest daughters, then ages 4 and 2, awake to see it.  I was sure it happened after midnight.  Now I'm surprised to learn that Armstrong actually stepped down at about 10 PM CDT, far earlier than my recollection.

We sat glued to the TV in the basement family room of Lonna's childhood home in Lake Mills.  The girls were tired and I wanted so badly for them to be able to see it because it was obviously an historic moment.  But they were tired from the trip to Lake Mills and all the excitement that goes along with being at grandpa and grandma's and if you're only 2, you don't quite get the impact.

I recall talking talking, it's exciting look at the moon in the sky, look, a man's going to walk there, would you like to go to the moon, that's the moon - and the only reaction was bobbing, dozing heads.  It seemed like hours from the time the door of the lunar module opened until the step was actually made, but I was committed to keeping those two girls awake, and I did.  One on each knee, bumping, shaking gently, talking, talking.

I confirm they indeed saw it.  But they don't remember a dang thing.

Still, Armstrong was a heroic individual.  Stoic, gallant, blessed.  Without astronauts we don't have many heroes like that anymore.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Farm Boy's Wife

In my visit with the Farm Boy we were joined by his wife Shirley, and she added much to the conversation.  She grew up near the Twin Cities, midway between Red Wing, MN, and Ellsworth, WI, where she attended high school.

(As an aside, you need to know that Ellsworth is the home of the Ellsworth Creamery, where the very finest cheese curds in the world are produced.  If you're ever in the area about 45 miles southeast of the Twin Cities some morning, stop at the creamery to buy the curds that are produced that day.  They will still be warm, and will squeak like crazy if you eat them as you continue on your way.  They're so good they're the official cheese curd of the Minnesota Twins!)


Returning to the story - Dan and Shirley met at Luther College.  She sang in the Nordic Choir and became a music teacher in the Twin Cities while Dan was a counselor in the same St Paul School system.  And when I mentioned my grandson is now having his final audition for the Nordic Choir, she grabbed pen and pencil and asked his name.

"Bryan," I said.  "And what's his last name," she asked.  I told her, not really understanding why she wanted to know, until it dawned on me that she would look his name up on the program when they went to Nordic Fest this year.  Luther Blue is apparently thicker than water.

Shirley knows of Lowell Gangstad, but since he was an upperclassman.he probably would not know her.  Or maybe he would . . .

As she has done throughout her career, Shirley continues to give voice and piano lessons, and I suspect the Birchwood, WI, area is blessed by her ability.  She laughed with pride as she told about some of her students, like the 60-year-old man who wanted voice lessons, the 65-year-old man who took piano lessons from her, and her very favorite - a 95-year-old woman who took piano lessons.

She was very proud of her oldest student, a woman who had considerable music knowledge and experience singing, but had never taken piano lessons as a youngster for lack of piano and money to buy the lessons.  When the woman mentioned she would have loved to have done so, Shirley offered - several times.  But the woman turned her down, until another lady mentioned to Shirley that the woman just didn't want anyone to know she was doing it, thinking some may make fun of her.

So Shirley suggested they do it quietly, privately, without telling anyone, and immediately the woman agreed. "She was excellent.  I knew she knew music, and sure enough by the third lesson she was playing music."  The lessons continued for a year until the woman was no longer able.  She lived to age 99 and Shirley sang at her funeral.

Shirley is a real gift to Birchwood, and I look forward to visiting with her and Dan in the near future.  Some people just bring a lot to the table.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Childhood Diseases

I clearly recall the commitment of my parents, especially my mother, to my getting fully vaccinated against a variety of diseases. Today's concern for Shingles amongst seniors should not be surprising since it's caused by the same virus to generate chicken pox, the source of the faint scar between my eyebrows.  So the virus is still in my body.

Seniors don't object to lining up for this new vaccine, having been indoctrinated by their parents as to the necessity of doing so.  Get in line and git 'er done.

Jonas Salk was quite the hero in 1952 when he developed the vaccine used against Polio.  The stories of the iron lung, the youngsters our age who walked on crutches or staggered along, or even the death of the infected caused great concern among parents.  Perhaps you, too, lined up in Mason City for the original injected dosage followed a couple years later by the oral vaccine.

That is the disease that rings the bell most loudly for our age, but our parents most likely could list many others that swept across the country wreaking havoc during their youth.  Although our parents would not likely have first-hand experience from the pandemic flu that killed close to a million people in 1917-18 they certainly heard about it from their own parents - if those parents survived.

Whole tribes of Native Americans disappeared when confronted with measles or other viruses for which they had not developed any natural immunity - or awareness.

It's a simple methodology: you learn from those affected and then carry the message forward.  All our mothers, all our parents, were attuned to the variety of scourges that could affect us and chose to protect us.  Many bore injection scars on the arm reflecting their having received the shot in a primitive process, but no one bore any shame from that scar.

We heard it from the parents, passed it on to our children albeit with less passion than we had heard, I suppose, and they to their own children, even less passionately.  You do not fear what you do not know/have not experienced directly.  And thus we are finding more and more parents putting their children and others at risk by opting out from the vaccination requirements.  They are mostly white women, well educated, Master's degree or higher, heavily oriented towards homeschooling and organic living.

As if it's a communist plot or something to listen to the medical community as to the risks and impact.  They fear autism.  A fear based on . . .  perhaps an actress espousing her beliefs on an afternoon TV show?  Think risk/reward: a few cases of autism or an entire generation wiped out by disease.  What do you choose?

We've been there.  Now it's up to us to sound the alarms.