Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Family from Another View

San Miguel is the only town on the island of Cozumel, located off the shore of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.  Like much of Mexico, the land is nearly barren, growing primarily scrub bushes, and wandering off the main roadway that circles the south end of the island will put a tourist into thick brush and will coat him with the dust that is everywhere.

Here and there impoverished families live out in this bush, though most of the residents live in San Miguel itself, and primarily they exist by selling their goods to the tourists that come, whether to stay at a local resort or by way of a short visit from the cruise boats that come in weekly, to sit in the sun or to scuba dive.  If not in sales, the locals are serving in a restaurant or manning the many boating operations housed there.

On Sundays, their day of rest, they gather along the beaches that run from downtown to the hotel zone on the north end, and on Sunday evenings many gather as families in the town square to listen to a local band.  The group is mostly brass and percussion with an excellent female soloist. They play popular Mexican music, and most of the locals dance.  From time to time brave tourists join in, and the young male locals are cruising for dance partners among them.  Good dancers are successful in attracting partners, but if not, the visitors tend to stray away.

The children are beautiful and well-behaved, the family a cornerstone of the Mayan culture as you can see from the photo above.  Normally the kids are running about playing with each other, often inter-mingling with the tourists, while the parents sit and visit quietly, perhaps eating delicious ice cream (coconut is a favorite), or sometimes dancing.

Among the many dancers, one particular couple stands out.  They are in their 80s and walk slowly from the short stone wall that surrounds the square to the middle of the uneven dance floor, where he holds up his left hand for her to grasp, slips his right hand behind her back while she puts her left hand on his upper arm - and they glide away.  For song after song their dignity stands out amongst all the dancers.  And every Sunday night they come back for more.

It's also a great place for the young men to hang out with their girlfriends, who are wearing high heels and bright red lipstick to contrast against their skin.  There's a lot of hand-holding and swaying back and forth if not dancing, and often they look dreamily into each other's eyes.

When the band is done, the families like the one pictured will probably hop on their moped to speed away, the young child propped between dad's legs in front and mom sitting sidesaddle behind him.  Sometimes the baby is sitting on mom's sidesaddle lap.  As dangerous as it is, accidents are rare.

By day everyone returns to their work.  One young mother has marked her turf at a corner of the same square where the dancing goes on, and daily is offering bracelets, belts and sashes for sale, at the same time tending to her two youngsters, one in a sling on her back and the other now old enough to navigate from an unseen leash, always within range of his mother.  She gently approaches the tourists, with a shy smile on her face when she holds up her goods, her two children obediently quiet at all times.

It's an ultimately simple family life with many of the same symptoms of the hometown where you grew up 50-some years ago.  Disregard the poverty and the workstyle and it's just like home.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Thoughts on a Sunday Morning

I so recall mentally (if not outright) laughing at older folks who struggled to get up from a chair, thinking to myself that it will never happen to me. Now the reality of bone spurs and degeneration have put me on an aggressive physical therapy regimen that I don't necessarily enjoy, but it is a treat to be able to pull on my socks without a slow reach and accompanying pain.

All the more reason to recall the physical skills and agility that we once had. Strength, speed, flexibility to one degree or another, without the wisdom that comes with experience to provide perspective and a proper application. Would that I had taken the time to read more about the Civil War, or Lewis and Clark, to have taken the time to analyze with some diligence the art of the pole vault, or even to have taken advantage of lessons from parents who were pretty darn good at the two-step. The great irony: had they insisted, I would have, by nature, resisted immensely.

Too soon old, too late smart. It is what it is.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Buddy Holly and the Winter Dance Party

Your best bet to find out more about the annual Winter Dance Party is by the Google.  "Winter Dance Party" and "Surf Ballroom" should pull up info.  The Globe has already reported the White Sidewalls and Pat Boone will be in attendance, so if you're a fan ("A-aa--aaa-pril Love!") go to surfballroom.com to get your tickets.

Just a side note - Gary Busey, who played the title role in "The Buddy Holly Story" was in the Cities last week where he was supposed to have performed a few numbers from the movie.  Sorry for the late notice.

In case you won't be in Clear Lake either, you might enjoy this very active jitterbugging by Gary and Charlotte Chaney from St Louis.  None of the three folks pictured here has much need for a physical therapist.  They say keeping in motion is good for you and the good Lord knows these folks are doing so.  He looks like the Class of '68 and the two ladies look like '72, to be honest.  Dig the spats look.  All he needs is a gangster hat!

52 years since Buddy Holly died - it can go by in a big hurry - keep moving! Thanks to Bonnie Mack Wopperer for forwarding this neat YouTube.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Old News from the Anchor

Howard Fox, Minnesota Twins
January 25, 1962 - Howard Fox, secretary for the Minnesota Twins baseball team, was married to Yvonne Ewingman, Wayzata, MN, at the Northwood Methodist Church with Rev R R Ritter officiating.  Cal Griffith, owner of the Twins was best man.

This is a story about Northwood that is not about Northwood.  The individuals cited are not about Northwood, but the incident is.  Recall that in those days the waiting period for marriage licenses was considerably longer in Minnesota, and with Northwood being the closest and most prominent "weddin' town" right across the border, it came the convenient choice.

One fellow who was in a big hurry to get his wedding complete had picked up a JP somewhere, hopped on a private plane, and flew over Northwood long enough to get legally married, flew back to the Cities, and who knows where they dropped off the JP.  Perhaps someone can fill us in on that.  Memory serves only to recollect "looking" for the plane but not necessarily "sighting" the plane.

Today Mr. Griffith might have flown the entourage to Vegas, but from all accounts about Cal being somewhat miserly that isn't likely either.  Fox had a long relationship with the Twins ending with his death last summer.  The marriage was also a long one, not a "quickie" type as you might expect, with the news report of his death telling that he adopted the four sons of his new wife, one of them commenting they had been blessed by Mr. Fox coming along as he did.

Not about Northwood, yet the citation of the family recalls commentary this week about the "Ode to Parents" and their importance in our lives.  So it is about Northwood, in more ways than one.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Football Glory Never Goes Away

As a follow-up to yesterday's Ode to Parents, we were able to find this photo of Richard Holstad, warming up on the gridiron - or maybe that's a cow pasture - in Loveland, CO.

It's like the story of real men wearing leather helmets, and Richard has probably suffered from the inadequacy thereof.

In truth, it's the photo from a birthday card sent to him by Chris Brunsvold Hooigard, '65, with a notation, "Richard, you still have it!"

Richard has proudly shared this with us.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

An Ode to Parents

1935 Northwood High School Football Team

Arleigh Holstad - 1935
Richard Holstad has written fondly of his memories of his dad, and lessons learned or passed along by him. In the photo above, Dad Arleigh is in the middle row, far left.  Click on the photo for a larger view, and if you look closely you will see a bandage over his left eye.  

His official game photo is on the left, and Richard speaks with pride of  Arleigh's athletic experience.  He even has Arleigh's old practice jersey, "tattered, faded and worn as it is."  Perhaps we all have memories of valuable lessons learned, like those Arleigh passed along: Every game is a lesson in life, and when the buzzer goes off, the game is over, with no chance for a replay, or second or third chance.  It's not about winning or losing, it's about playing the game.  It's a team sport, and though you may let your team down, or your team may let you down on occasion, there's no feeling to compare when the team comes through all at the same time, as a team.

Richard says he learned how to lose before learning how to win, and it's much more fun to talk about the wins...  As we all would agree.  Perhaps being a part of that 61-62 basketball team may have been extraordinarily rewarding, but for some of us with limited skill set such that the ball has a tendency to "clank" off the backboard as it would if a brick were thrown up, could only participate vicariously - from the bleachers.

In any event, how much guidance did we actually receive from parents?  And how much was ignored?  Richard has clearly taken Arleigh's advice to heart.  If you have thoughts on the life experiences gained from your parents, mom or dad, pass them along.  This could be a whole new avenue to stroll.

Few of our era are likely to say there was never any advice or suggest there was no direct supervision.  More likely we may hear:

  • They always knew what I was doing.
  • They really kept me on a tight leash.  (And you deserved it?)
  • They didn't say so, but I could tell they were proud.
  • Rarely did they come to my defense in a dispute with a teacher; if they did, they may well have been incorrect in their decision.  But I wouldn't object, of course.
  • Right or wrong, they didn't want me to be like so-and-so.
  • They didn't tell me what to do in life - they thought I should figure it out myself.

Share your thoughts.  This could be fun.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Where Do We Go - From Here?

You may have wondered many times in your life, like post-graduation or other important events, where to go next.  Is that all there is, in Peggy-Lee-speak?

Just use your imagination on this question, because the point of this is to get to the other pages in this blog.  Considering that many readers were not aware of the Search Box on the right, so may they not be aware of the several other pages, also on the right side menu, each designed for storing information on a relevant topic.  Here's what they are, and each one here has a link to the page itself.  In the future, look to the right, under "Pages" to find these same topics:
Readers discovering the Search Box only after the posting to recommend it prompts this post.  The Blogmaster should never assume folks are all on the same page regarding the options and where else they might go, and life itself underscores that one path (or page) is not necessarily chosen by another, but perhaps this posting will help to reveal information that's been in place for some time.  Hope you'll enjoy what you may not have known or discovered previously.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Old News Meets New

January 31, 1937 -

Enrollment at Northwood High School at the beginning of the second semester Monday reached 212 students, which equals the highest enrollment in the high school history and with over four months remaning of the year, there is little doubt but what a new record high will be established.  Enrolment in the grades at this time is 258.

January 18, 1962 -

Members of the Vikings basketball team this season include Chuck Hendrickson, Larry Holstad, Phil Johnson, Mike Lien, Gerald Pike, Dave Skellenger, John Carlson, Gerald Anderson, Larry Christiansen, Wayne Groe, Morris Hanson, Keith Helgeland, Rod Lundgren, Jim Nelson, Craig Pelham and Leallyn Turvold.  Maynard Midtgaard is varsity coach, assisted by Bob Wilder.  The team is undefeated in nine games this season and leads the North Iowa Conference.

January 21, 1987 -

Enrollment at Northwood-Kensett schools is expected to drop another 100 students in the next four years, according to Superintendent Perry Uhl.

January 20, 2012 -

Lake Minnetonka, MN - Pond Hockey Underway!

You've heard before about the undefeated '61-62 basketball season, prominently occurring 25 years after unusual enrollment growth in the local schools, and 25 years BEFORE a substantial decline in enrollment.  And today, the featured event in Minnesota is "pond hockey," hockey in its purest form, played outdoors, using snow blower technology for its preparation.  50 years ago hockey featured players without masks - or teeth.

Just an interesting juxtaposition with the "hoopla" we recall.  Sorry for that horrible pun.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A View of the Past

Mary Nelson Groe sent along, by way of Marilyn Weidler Ulve, this photo show from the Denver Post, and though the archives are mostly before our time, they are still of our time.  Spend some time - there are 70 of them.
Mary Nelson Groe in 2007

Even better - her comments about the era:  I remember wearing shirts made of chicken feed sacks. Never wearing shoes in summer except to funerals or church. No shoes, no shirt,no service was never heard of.  Child labor law??? Took bath once a week. Made dirt roads to play with toy cars. Most adult men smoked or chewed but tobacco was not laced with chemicals. What was an inside toilet? This was fun viewing my past.

Add to the list long-sleeved shirts worn to school to start the year that became short-sleeved in the spring.  Sisters whose mother would sew dresses from feed sacks.  Mud squishing up between the toes after a good rain - or even in the barnyard.  Animals on every farm including the duke's mixture of cattle, hogs, chicken.  Child labor?  Free, and expected.  Baths?  Early on, in a dishpan.  Tobacco?  Practically every man and few women.

Send along your thoughts to nkhs62@gmail.com.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Homecoming Candidates 1959

Donnie Holstad and Donna Flatness Fridley, '60

Thanks to Bonnie Mack Wopperer for doing some investigating and reaching out to Donna Flatness Fridley to uncover the occupants of this car in the '59 Homecoming Parade.  Bonnie originally had it all pegged right, and Donna confirmed in an email to Bonnie:

It is me with my good friend Donnie.... Mom and Grandma did make my dress, I just loved it and yes I did feel so pretty in it.

But I did not win, Julie Nelson won---I remember feeling so bad for our class for not making it a clean sweep, as we did have the largest class,but the Deer Creek kids were a real close group. We won the best float and King Donnie. I was happy for Julie (pretty gal). 

I can't make out for sure but it might be Dennis Carnes in the middle...the others (Craig Ensign driving and Harry Rogers on the right) are right... Anyway it was a great day and night (I think we won the game also) The old pictures are great, lots of good memories.

Julie Nelson was the sophomore candidate, and second consecutive Homecoming Queen in the string of winners from the Class of '62.

Faculty - On Balance - They Were Good

Many of these folks are no longer with us, but many are.  As information has been available, their obituaries have been posted to the blog, and we welcome additional photos that you may have available.  Please forward them to nkhs62@gmail.com

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Oops. Let's Try Again

Technology is great when you do it right.  But when you fail to flip a switch, sometimes the lights won't come on.  So when this was posted the other day you might have been told the slideshow here was "private" and you couldn't view it.  Try again - that's been fixed.  Our apologies.

Here are some memories of the 45th Reunion in 1962, with apologies to many attendees whose faces were not recognized or remembered.  The photos shown here were collected from a few sources, and there are many more out there, and if you have some of your own, please email them to nkhs62@gmail.com so they can be included here.  No effort has been made to eliminate a common photographic symptom, multiple photos of the same person, and without a source that provides pictures of every attendee, some will be left out, unfortunately.  You can help correct that by emailing your own photos.

The music begins to skip part-way in, but bear with it because it will straighten out.  If you are receiving this posting by email, you will probably need to go to the blog site to be able to view the slideshow.

Don't forget to browse for classmates or events by name by using the Search Box on the right.  And if your name is missing from this blog, or a favorite incident, please email it to nkhs62@gmail.com so it can be included.  See you in - 6 months!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Today's 62

Know any of these people?  They're all on the NKHS 62 Picasa Web Albums.  If you have received an invite to add to albums you can do so by going to the website, click on "Add" on the page showing all the photos, then upload from your computer.

To restart these slideshows, click on the Viking logo in the lower left corner.  You can also go directly to the Picasa Web Album page by double-clicking on any photo.  If you are receiving this posting by email, you may need to go to the blog site to view the slideshows.

There are other albums at the Picasa Web to keep you posted on the era.  Below find a quick album of the "Friends of '62" - we welcome any and all additions.  Email nkhs62@gmail.com if you have photos you'd like to add.  

And don't forget to check all the pages at right, for other slideshows, information about the 2012 Class Reunion, and so on.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Old News from the Anchor

Miss Mantz - correcting papers, as typical.

January 14, 1987 - two teachers at Northwood-Kensett schools have resigned effective at the end of the current school year.  Eileen Mantz, who teachers computer science and mathematics, and Diane Groon, who teaches German and English, have resigned their contracts.  Both resignations were accepted by the board of education. 

An obituary  for Eileen Mantz was published in the Northwood Anchor in 2001.

January 11, 1962 - patrons of the Carpenter Consolidated School district favor reorganization with the St Ansgar - Grafton District, according to a recent ballot.  Out of 270 ballots mailed, some 196 ballots were returned and St Ansgar had 104 votes and Northwood-Kensett, 92, for a small margin of victory for St Ansgar.  

Beginning of the end for the NK School District?

January 14, 1937 - Moving his office equipment to Britt by truck early this week, Dr. C. T. Bergen has taken up his active practice t that city with Dr. B. F. Denny, old established physician and surgeon of Britt, with whom he has formed a partnership.  Dr. Bergen was located in Northwood over three years.  

The blogmaster will need confirmation from someone that this is the same Dr. Bergen whose daughter Ann graduated with the class of '62, apparently after a move back to Northwood.  According to class history, Ann became a classmate in fifth grade.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

When Marsha Came to Town

Back L - R: Linda Hempen Lokken, Betty Ryan Matthews, Jo Tenold Moritz, Marilyn Weidler Ulve,
Karen Oakland Abrahms; Seated: Marsha Gaarder Hasseler and Vickie Perkins Hall
Marsha Gaarder Hassler was back in town and it became a reason for some of the women of '62 to get together for lunch.  According to Marilyn they plan to do it again in Osage in the near future.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Names from Back Home

One story begets another:

There was a similar character In Kensett, when I was a youngster. His name was Ole Nubson. I know he had some patents to his credit and had a shop next to my father's dealership. I think he was a bachelor and had no family that I knew of, so when he died, my grandfather took care of the arrangements. Probably not much history about Ole, but he was quite an entrepreneur. I used to hang out with him, as a kid, and learned many practical lessons.  Editor's Note: Ole (and his patent) is one of many Kensett natives described in this Backroads North Iowa from the Globe Gazette printed last November.

-- Stan Arendts

Wilma Helgeland, like most all of our teachers in Northwood, had little sayings that she would often repeat.  She’d say, “One never knows, does one?"  That was her way of keeping the students on their toes …. Someone would ask, “Will there be a quiz on this or that subject”? Wilma would say, “One never knows, does one”.

I tried some reverse psychology on her one time. I said to her, “This subject - diagramming sentences - is really fun and interesting. Could we please have a quiz on this tomorrow?”

The answer was the same --- "One never knows, does one?" --- but she did have “a satisfied smile” on her face that maybe she had taught us something valuable.

-- Richard Holstad

Evelyn Wolfe used to take care of my brother, sister and me when we were just little squirts and my parents needed a babysitter for a night out. I remember her well. One of her favorite songs at the time was Jambalaya and I remember how interested I was in the shell case she carried as a small purse. They became a big fad with all us young girls for awhile. We'd purchase them at the Army surplus store in Mason City, color them with shoe polish.........I think ? ? Of course, you guys wouldn't know anything about that.

Went to school with a boy in Garner, IA, whose last name was Toothacher. Needless to say, he became a dentist. Seriously! Did he really have a choice ? ?

Mother told me there was a farmer who lived somewhere on the outskirts of Northwood. Believe it or not, his name was Norbert Hogbin. Really ? 

-- Bonnie Mack

For more on any other "name" use the Search Box on the right.  Enter the name and press enter - stories and comments in the blog, if any, will be listed.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Blog Search Box

On the right side of this page, just above the listing of all pages and contributors to the blog, there is a Search Box, powered by Google.  If you need to find anything that might be listed in this blog, like the name of a classmate, enter the name in the box and click "Search."  You'll be amazed how quickly you'll get a listing of every posting that's been made about that classmate.

Google "Card Catalog" to find Several For Sale!
Suppose, for example, you wanted to read postings where Buddy Holly's name was mentioned.  You will find in about 2.3 seconds that he has been discussed in six different postings.

Remember when you had to pull out those wooden draws in the library card catalog system powered by the Dewey Decimal System?  And it took more time than you had available in study hall if you were doing some serious study?  Raise your hand if you love technology.

Old News from the Anchor

Pre-Season Photo

January 4, 1962 -

The Viking boys basketball team is on top of the North Iowa Conference with a record of six wins and no losses to date.  Mike Lien and Phil Johnson are listed as number one and two in scoring for the conference.  Some 17 cagers were maintaining averages of 10 points per game or better at this juncture in the campaign.  Lien is averaging 20.8 and Johnson 20.3 points per game.

Just a Couple Things

Those who live in California today need to be reminded on occasion of the beauty of winter in the midwest.  Considering free desktop wallpaper from an online issue of Midwest Living, Merrilee Reid says:

It is beautiful to look at but I am a California girl and like the beach weather. This gave me goose bumps thinking about laying in the snow and spreading our arms and legs to make an angel - oh, the good ole days when you could get up by yourself when you were down on the ground!!

Incidentally, the bridge shown is a lift bridge that goes across the St Croix River between Wisconsin and Stillwater, MN, the final home of Jon Swenson.  In this span the water is probably open year-round.  Farther downstream folks from Hudson who work at the Andersen Window factory in Bayport drive across all winter, taking several minutes off their commute, and have designated individuals who plow their path open all winter.  Click on the photo for a larger view.

Another conversation revealed that Bonnie Mack (also living in California) took organ lessons from the fabled Opal Randall at the First Lutheran Church, then relatively new:

I used to practice for an upcoming wedding on the pipe organ in that church, sometimes late evening or early nighttime. The organ was located in the balcony so the only way anyone seated at the organ could see the front of the church was by looking into a mirror that had been installed above the keyboards (like a rear view mirror). I recall seeing that flickering red flame (of the eternal candle on the alter) on those occasions and, if it happened to also be raining and thundering at the time, it created a rather eerie atmosphere. One time in particular, I was so frightened, I didn't even turn the organ off and went flying down the flights of stairs and out of the church. What had occurred, Opal Randall later explained to me, was that air sometimes gets into the pipes and creates a howling sound.........a very LOUD howling sound. It was like someone had lit a fire under my behind. Gosh, how the memories that surface at the mere mention of a single event.........or a sound, a song.........a fragrance like newly cut grass or hay, etc. can transport us back in time so many, many years!

Bonnie also corrects the ownership of the local drug stores.  There were two in town, the Mack Drugstore owned by her family that was later sold to the Conner family (Eve, '63), and Veenker Drug, plenty of competition for a town the size of Northwood.  At least there was no Wal-Mart then.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Musician, Jeweler, Businessman, Promoter

The newspaper clipping on the left was marked as being published in 1955, celebrating the clock that was built by L T Dillon, he of the 1936 Band Concert.  Notice the archway on the left  indicating the entrance to the old Northwood Bank Building, and Mack Drug was somewhere in this vicinity.

Richard Holstad has pointed out that the clock was moved to the south side of the street where it still stands today, photo below.

Bonnie Mack Wopperer ('60) gave a great more detail about Dillon, his relationship with the Macks, and his work in the drug and jewelry store as well as his musicianship:

L.T. Dillon was a very special, influential man in his day, and his contributions to that community are almost countless. I can still see/hear him walking from the fron of the store to the back while whistling some John Phillips Sousa  song and almost marching to the beat. He loved his music. I'd go so far as to say it was the love of his life! L.T. also owned the watch/clock repair shop in the back of the drug store and employed a watch smith (isn't that what they called people experienced in clock repair?), named Bob Helgeland. Bob was a kindly man, forever a bachelor; spoke somewhat broken English and lived with and cared for his elderly, ailing mother until she passed, I think in '58 or '59. He may have been German as well. 

L.T. was the licensed pharmacist under whom my father was able to work as a druggist & dispense medications. I'm not sure how that worked............maybe LT instructed my father and my father was eventually certified or something, but he never did go to school to obtain a pharmaceutical degree. Back in those days, it was legal to do that; it certainly would not be today! Think I also told you that LT instructed me on the flute (it was actually HIS flute; on loan to me until I bought my own). I outgrew any desire to play that instrument, much to the disappointment of both L.T. and my father. I didn't want to play in the band, so I stuck with piano and organ (electric and pipe) exclusively. L.T's. flute was returned and there was never a need for me to purchase one.

Regarding L.T. Dillon's background and musical instruction.........I'm afraid I don't know anything OR I have forgotten it, if I ever did. But now that you mention it, I seem to recall someone (maybe my dad) saying that L.T. was self taught. One may be blessed with the gift to play a musical instrument or sing a song "by ear" but L.T. could read music and that doesn't just happen naturally...........but it wouldn't surprise me if he taught himself.

I'm not surprised that the Northwood School Band, under his direction, won the competition. He was a perfectionist...........a driven man........very goal oriented. He wanted the best for his students and his energy was contagious......I think they tuned in to it, if you will.

Bonnie lists herself as a "Soda Jerk" in the family store on this photo, held in the collection of Richard Holstad, who asked her to sign and date it for posterity when she confirmed that it was she behind the counter.  Click on the photo for a larger image.

Straying from the story of L T Dillon, the days of the soda fountain may be well gone, along with the fabulous syrup that Bonnie mentions. Seems there were several in town including Mack's, Connor Drug, Veenkers perhaps, and Young's Paramount Cafe. Must have been a substantial need for all things sweet!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Jon Swenson Obituary

Jon R. Swenson, 75, lifelong educator and former Stillwater High School principal died on December 23. He left a legacy of excellence and dedication to quality education. Jon was born January 5, 1936 in Lake Mills, IA to Josephine and T. Melvin Swenson.  He is survived by his wife of 41 years Julene, daughter Sara (Claude Sigmund) and grandson Atticus.

Jon was a 1954 graduate of Lake Mills HS and 1958 Iowa State Teachers College (now Univ. of Northern IA). He received a master’s degree from Northern Colorado University and a doctorate of education from the University of Sarasota, Florida. Post doctorate work was completed with the University of Minnesota-Humphrey Institute, Boston, George Mason and Notre Dame universities. He participated in three Endowment for the Humanities programs at Dartmouth, Harvard and the Catholic University of America. 

His teaching/school administration experiences included high schools in Northwood and Dubuque, IA, DOD American schools in Germany and the Philippines and 20 years as the principal of Stillwater High School.  He retired in 1995 after 20 years as the school principal. His many years of service were capped by his receiving four prestigious awards: Principal of the Year (1989) from the MN High School Press Association, MN Alliance for the Arts School Administrator award (1991), the Twin Cities Suburban Conference Fine Arts Leadership award (1995) and District 834/School Business Partnership award for significant contributions in the leadership of building the SAHS campus (1994). 

For a full obituary, click this link.  To read stories about Jon already on this blog, type his name into the "Search This Blog" box on the info menu on the right.

Snow White Herself

Lee, I didn't remember that you were one of the 7 dwarfs (and I still don't know who the other 6 were, do you?), but I think it's a shame you were nameless.............the dwarfs each had an important name, you know......Grumpy, Sneezy, Happy, Bashful, Doc, Dopey, etc. I think the names should have been on your shirts.....or hats......or something (but Maxine Butler didn't solicit my help or suggestions). That was really a fun project and, you're right, John Lee was my prince charming! :)

John Lee also sang tenor in a mixed quartet with Dave Mikkelson (bass), Marcia Stene (soprano) and yours truly (alto). We did well at state competition. Another great h.s. memory.

The one memory that stands out for me as Snow White was my staggering scene across the stage after taking a bite of the apple, when the poison was supposedly pulsing through my veins & bringing about my death. For the matinee, the bed I ultimately collapsed upon had been positioned too far away from me (almost to the wings of the stage) AND I took the bite too soon (while I was clear on the other side of the stage). Consequently, I had to continue choking, gasping for breath, and staggering...then gasping and staggering some more across the entire stage until I eventually made it to the bed where I collapsed. It became almost comical and many of the kids in attendance began to chuckle & laugh when it was supposed to be a rather serious scene in the play. haha Funny now, but very embarrassing at the time!

Dress rehearsals and matinees are learning "tools" of that trade. Because of that blunder, we learned to place the bed a little further in from the wings or side of the stage, and I knew then NOT to bite into the apple too soon from so far away, thus shortening the distance between me and the cot/bed. Therefore, the evening performance went much more smoothly, Don't know if you remember that, but I sure do................they were laughing at ME!! hahaha

Honestly, don't even recall if I had speaking parts or if it was done more like an operetta.....to music. How I wish we'd have had the technology in those days that we now have to record it on DVD so we could view it again and again in our latter years.....and share it with our children/grandchildren. :)

-- Bonnie Mack

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Gildner-Johnson Red Light Mystery - Solved

The NKHS Blog team put its crack researchers to work to uncover the real mystery behind the Gilder-Johnson Red Light.  The primary issue is whether the light in truth existed or was just another case of hometown lore?  And if it did exist, where was it located?

Richard Holstad and Bonnie Mack stayed awake nights trying to track down/recall the truth, and at last the full story is available.

The subject came up on the blog site months ago regarding the red light mounted somewhere on the corner of the Gildner-Johnson clothing store in downtown Northwood.  The light was allegedly controlled by the telephone operators whose offices were half a block south on the same side of the street.

Notice the wood pole in the bottom right of the photo below carrying an array of phone lines which undoubtedly emanated from the nearby telephone office and spread out around Northwood up and down the alley ways.

The story goes that if a Northwood resident called the phone operator with a trouble call, Mel Horgan, or the officer on night-duty would see the light and promptly check with the telephone office to see where and what the trouble was.  At the telephone office, there were live operators in charge of the switchboard 24 hours a day.  (The phone system back then is a whole n’other wonderful story of its own.) 

It goes without saying that this was the time period before 2-way car radios or cell phones. It is pretty sure that we had a fire siren that would wake the whole town if the emergency was that great.  In today’s jargon the light can be thought of as a very efficient, totally silent, very high-speed, communication interface link between every telephone in Northwood and the Police / Emergency Department.

Some Northwood trivia fans claimed “no knowledge” of the light. They contend that it is difficult to believe that Northwood was ever that unsophisticated.  But the “simplicity” of it all seems to resonate …. simply sophisticated. No moving parts.  Of course during the daylight hours the system wasn’t very effective.

But Larry Patterson’s Christmas Eve story about spinning doughnuts, in his car, in the fresh snow, on main street proved how effective the system worked at night.  Mel nabbed him, he went home, and Mayberry never knew the difference ….. except the operator’s switch board lit up like a Christmas tree for a short time.  

Comments on the subject ranged from, “Yah that’s a likely story”, to “We lived on the farm so we’d never see it”, to “There definitely was a light but it’s function was not generally public knowledge”.

It was a fun subject for awhile on the blog site, however, it was never really proven or disproven.  The matter was dropped and essentially nothing more was heard about it for many months …… until now.

On Dec 23rd Bonnie sent a frustrated message stating that the red light subject was taking far more of her attention than she could afford to spend.  She needed to get packed to leave for the Christmas Holidays with her family ….. but the red light subject kept surfacing, even in her subconscious.

She thought she could see something “curious” in the photo ….. if the photo were just “a little more clear.”  I was chuckling to myself because I have been hooked the same way when in pursuit of some detail like this.  But I had no idea that she was working on this riddle the whole time since it was first brought up to her.

I figured that this woman needs some satisfaction or it was going to make her crazier than she already is.  So I recommended she get herself packed and ready to leave …. In the meantime, I volunteered to enlarge the part of the photo that she was interested in .….  Then I would send the close-up to her.

It seemed to me that Bonnie needed to “let go” of this pursuit for a few days …. at least she shouldn’t lose any more rest over it.  Many people had already looked for the light and not found it …. I would humor her. Maybe she would have taken off by the time I returned the photo for her.

It wasn’t necessary to “zoom in” very much (see the photo below) and THERE IT IS!  Right along the roof line in the top left corner of the photo.

Click Photo for a Larger View
It is amazing how in the world the rest of us have not seen this before.  Looking at the photo now IT IS OBVIOUS.

The mystery is solved!

-- Richard Holstad, assisted by Bonnie Mack

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Only on Wilma's Say-So

The question comes up - why not put all this on Facebook?  Everybody is on there, it's easier to find, share pictures, track other business, and after all it's the latest communication tool.

What Facebook does not do, and what this blog does allow, is an essay developed with care and thought, with complete sentences, proper grammar and punctuation, and a composition that may not be the Gettysburg Address but is a full exploration of a topic, albeit minor in many postings.  Facebook seems to attract incomplete ramblings and, on many posts, nonsense.

But the ultimate test is - which would Wilma prefer, Facebook?  Or the NKHS 62 blog?

Is there any question?

Wilma Helgeland

Wilma Helgeland at the 2007 Reunion
One of several times that Mrs. Helgeland (Wilma) caught me talking or passing a note during class, she stopped, burned a hole right through me with those eagle eyes of hers, and said, "Bonnie Mack......what you DO thunders so loudly I cannot hear what you ARE!" I wanted the floor to open and swallow me. Believe it or not, I had occasion to quote her more than once with my children. She could certainly make you feel like $.02 waiting for change, but the best teacher I ever had.....bar none. :)

Bonnie Mack, '60

Monday, January 2, 2012

Only in a Small Town

In a series of emails with Richard Holstad and Bonnie Mack ('60) that strayed onto topics far and wide, including her role as Snow White in our elementary production of that operetta, some "small town" stories were shared.  Richard first:

There was a two-car fender bender at the Falgatter corner. Two elderly women ran into each other -- the women’s names aren’t relevant at this time. I’ll use Carol and Luella just for fun.

The investigating officer had to assign the fault to one of the women.  The officer first approached, Carol, the woman who appeared to be at fault …. based on the nature of the damage to each car.  Carol said something like, “Obviously it was Luella’s fault because she was driving erratically.”

Oh? the officer queried, What was erratic about Luella’s driving?  Well everyone knows Luella always turns right at this corner on her way over to see Leroy …. But she turned left!  If she hadn’t turned left instead of right, the accident never would have happened!

Then Bonnie Added this:

Bonnie Mack, Class of '60
Another "only in a small town" story is one my Uncle Bob shared with us many years ago when he was residing in Waterloo, IA, working for the telephone co., and he flew to Calif. for a visit with my mom, his sister, and us kids.

In one of several conversations that evolved during his stay, he mentioned that he was still subscribing to the Northwood Anchor........mainly because he found it to be so entertaining. I still remember the "only in a small town" story he shared w/ us.

It seems that the shoe repairman in Northwood at the time had an allergic reaction to some product he used in his trade (can't remember his name, but DeGroot comes to mind.....not sure). Apparently, it was so severe and painful that he notified the townspeople he would be closing up shop until the rash cleared up, and further requested that anyone having shoes in for repair, to please come in and pick them up.

About 3 weeks later, another notice stating that the rash had cleared up and he was fine and would be reopening the business the following Monday.....or something like that.

Then..........about month after that.......along comes yet another article from, yup, you guessed it, the shoe repairman. His rash was back and he was temporarily closing his doors again. And added, "Please come in and pick up your shoes by this Friday."

We laughed so hard over that, I think tears were rolling down my cheeks, as we tried to imagine the odds that a series of notices like that would EVER be printed in, say, the Los Angeles Times paper.

My personal recollection is that the repair guy that I knew/recall was "Shorty" from Shorty's Shoe Shop. And he was a short guy, hearing-impaired (because he had large hearing aids), and I believe was handicapped in some way because he walked with a glitch of some kind. He also had wavy blonde hair and an accent that makes me think he well could have been a Dutch-American. And DeGroot would fit that guess!

Along about junior high age I decided heel clips would be really cool so I paid him an outrageous 15 or 20 cents, picked them up and put them on immediately, then walked out on the street dragging my heels to make noise. People stared at me so I figured out that probably wasn't the way to use them. I think it wasn't long before I removed them myself. I was never going to make it as a tap dancer anyway.

Bonnie followed up with:

I remember the heel clips which were actually designed to prevent uneven wear on the heels of shoes. However, we kids wanted them on our shoes for the clicking sound they made. And, by the way, the very temporary 'fad' wasn't limited to just the boys. I had heel clips myself.............loved 'em. Reminded me of the tap shoes I wore when taking lessons years before when we lived in Garner, IA (that was before Northwood days). My dad, having been a "hoofer" in vaudeville days, insisted that I have tap dancing lessons, of course............and my dancing eventually included ballet and toe dance. Loved dancing; would have continued but no teachers in Northwood. We would have had to drive to Mason City or Albert Lea for lessons, and that was out of the question.