Saturday, March 31, 2012

Project McNamara - the Reunion

It's the story you couldn't make up.  A man who doesn't know his father or his family.  The father who died in Viet Nam.  Extended family unaware the son exists.  People who are strangers try to fit the pieces together - and they all become friends and meet in a Reunion barely two weeks after the story comes to light.

The experience has to be unlike any that the participants had ever experienced in their lives.  As the story came together a half-dozen individuals kept emailing and asking questions about the only soldier to die in Viet Nam who listed Northwood as his hometown.  Ultimately Donald McNamara's son Shane Edgar was reunited with Donald's cousin Marv Everhart and Shane's cousin Amber Carberry in a glorious, emotional event..

Party Hostess Ann Swensrud Johnson said it best:  hugs and tears, pictures and stories, more hugs, more tears!  You can see it here - when Amber greeted Shane:

And in this impromptu move by Shane when he sat down next to Marv for "official photos" of the event:

The NKHS 62 blog helped to glue the parties together; Ann was the straw that stirred the drink; and Nancy Hengesteg was the link to the past who got it rolling.  Jan Mielke found the photos of Donald in the '63 LMHS Yearbook.  Art Kuennen was a link to the Carberry family since he had lived with them for a period of time.  (Whatever else I had to do today didn't matter - I had to be here, he said.)

And all of these folks, who were basically strangers just three weeks earlier, were bonding like they had known each other their entire lives.  From time to time they were shaking their heads at the incredible series of coincidences that led to this meeting.  As the pictures were passed around, people gasped when they saw Amber's daughter next to one of Shane's - but for the age difference, they looked like twins!

You'll recall from the last post that Kim Edgar's niece is dating Ann Johnson's grandson - unbeknownst to Ann.  And in another little twist, Shane reports his son Michael isn't too keen about attending family gatherings - unless Ann's grandson Nate will be there!

There's more to come for the Project, with a second reunion tentatively scheduled for July 5th, so some of the principals who live out of town will be able to join this unlikely gathering.  Until then, here are the folks celebrating with Shane on Wednesday the 28th:

Seated: Kim, Amber, Shane, Marv, Shirley
Standing: Nancy, Jan, Dale, Ann, Lee, Art

It was an amazing day, and typical for Project McNamara, was pulled together in about 48 hours.  Smiles.  Tears.  Pride.  Joy.  Sorrow.  Strangers once, now friends forever, all in memory of Donald Woodward McNamara.

PS: Ann served pie and coffee before we left.  Of course.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Donald Woodward McNamara, Part II

Ronald McNamara, on the left
Donald McNamara, on the right, ca. 1962

Just ten days ago the story of Donald McNamara, who attended NKHS from the fall of '63 until he enlisted in March, 1964, was reported on the blog.

Without a complete re-write of that story, suffice it to say that Donald enlisted in the Marines, presumably with his mother's permission, rather than graduate, at age 17 1/2, then died in Viet Nam on July 21, 1967, at the age of 20, three months short of his 21st birthday.

Since the original posting, other NHS and NKHS graduates have been engaged in uncovering more.  They have found that Marv Everhart, '61, is a cousin, was serving in Nam in the Army, was part of the detail that escorted Donald home, and was present at the funeral and burial at Graceland Cemetery in Albert Lea.

Ann Swensrud Johnson, NHS '56, has led the search at the local level and coined the term "Project McNamara."  Through her friend Jan Mielke of Lake Mills, she found the above photo in the 1963 LMHS yearbook, with the twins on either side of Steve Kvale, the fellow with glasses.  Donald and Ronald had been students at LMHS prior to transferring to NKHS, and the photo caption identifies them as Ron and Don Carberry.

At this writing we have no other photos of Donald to share, though Ann has discovered that Marv and the daughter of a half-sister have several - which will allow us to meet the original commitment of posting his photo on the Virtual Wall and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund site, where his military information is available.

Donald and twin brother Ronald were buried at Graceland, Donald with proper military rites, having been transported to an Albert Lea mortuary from Minneapolis.  Thus Northwood was left "out of the loop" if you will, which is not surprising given his short attendance at NKHS, from September '63 to March '64, yet he enrolled as a Northwood resident, and his military records reflect that.

At this point we are researching any connection or commemoration for him at the Northwood VFW.  Marv has a copy of a short obituary that appeared in the Anchor on July 27, 1967, and notice of his funeral service two weeks later, August 3.

If you happen to be standing right now, you may want to sit down for this next part.  The bigger story for all involved in this research came four days after the original post.

We received an email request from a fellow named Shane Edgar, asking if we could provide more information about Donald McNamara.  He had Googled the name, found our post, and sent the email.  We told him we had posted what we knew, and asked Shane, as a point of curiosity, what his connection would be.

His email answer:  I am trying to get some information on him because I was recently told he is my father.

We were all shocked, and our search went into overdrive, resulting in much of the information above.

We have since spoken directly with Shane, who is piecing together his own story, have invited him to meet with several from Northwood and Lake Mills who were connected to Donald in some way, and invited him to meet with several from the Class of '62 during the 50th Anniversay Reunion this summer.

The story of Donald Woodward McNamara is certainly being fleshed out, with help from players like Ann and Marv, who not only was a cousin but a good friend of Donald, and is himself learning things he did not previously know, along with Amber Carberry, the daughter referenced above.

If anything good has come following the Viet Nam War, this just about has to be at the top of the list. Strangely, there have been so many coincidences that have brought it about including, in shortened format, the following events:

  • I had been copied in the past on emails sent to Ann Johnson, and beginning March 10 I connected with her more personally about our parents and family, with a series of email discussions. 
  • On March 13, Stan sent the email about the Virtual Wall, asking if anyone knew Donald Woodward McNamara. I forwarded his email to Ann Johnson, and the day following, she ran into Nancy Hengesteg and Vickie Perkins at the Northwood Theater. They knew him, and the story took wings. 
  • On March 16, as cited above, the story was first posted, and on the 20th, for the first time ever, Shane Edgar Googled the name of Donald Woodward McNamara. 
  • Then, in a bizarre twist, on Saturday, March 24, Shane told me on the phone that his wife's niece, Mary, from the Lyle, MN, area, is dating a fellow by the name of Nathan, who is the grandson of Ann Swensrud Johnson.

What a story. You just could NOT make this up.

Look for additional information and photos to be posted here on the blog as well as the two websites listed above. Donald Woodward McNamara may have slipped through the cracks 45 years ago but we will pay him due respect today. We salute his service.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Pool Sharks - Blade and Seed

A YouTube video of a pool shark making the rounds prompted this story from SCA:

Seed and I actually skipped school one day and used my father's station wagon to go to Des Moines and pick up a pool table. My Father agreed, but never thought we would do it. I think he secretly wanted one for his own amusement. 

We set it up at home in the breezeway and had many good times there. Seed, Bob Smith and I spent many late evenings perfecting our pool skills. However, we never came close to what is shown in this video. I made my youngest sister, Terry, a footstool, so she could also join in the game. I hate to say it, but she got so good, she could beat me. Ahh memories!!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Other Guys - LMHS

During the course of researching one of our stories mention was made about the LMHS yearbooks, and since I married a Bulldog and her '62 Yearbook is shelved in the basement next to the Viking '62 Yearbook, I took a chance it might provide the information I was looking for.  It did not, but I did find a horrible historical inaccuracy.  According to their yearbook, copy inserted here, the Bulldogs beat us 7-6 in the final game of the 1961 football season.

Obviously I was horribly offended by this inaccuracy, but Lonna didn't think it was much of a big whoop and asked me who I was going to report it to.  But here it is, check it out for yourself, and then compare it to the proper records of our own Yearbook:

She may not have thought it important today but look at her cheerleading face in this photo,  full of excitement and smiles, in a game against NKHS.  It has to be the game played at LMHS since it's on the stage, and if you look carefully (click the photo for a larger view) you will see David Skellenger on the far left end of the bench, what may be the crewcut of Maynard Midtgaard, and Gwen Hillman poised to cheer in response.

You may recall I once reported that she usually didn't know what was going on in a game, has little memory of the games, and so on, but she did seem to be pretty excited at what was happening at this moment.  And on the next page of their yearbook is this quality photo, full page, taken by a fellow named Bill Bakken.

This appears to be a shot taken at the Sectional game in St Ansgar, won by the Bulldogs 72-66.  Unfortunately, this time they did get the score correct, but some things you can't change.  The scoreboard, barely visible at left, shows the Visitor has 48 points at the time of this tip.  And notice that once again the crowd is standing room only.

Click the photo for a larger view, but if you can't read the caption it says: OUR MIGHTY FIVE!!!  Arlen (Stensrud) takes the tip from Phil!! The Bulldogs topped Northwood in sectional play 72-66 after being beaten by the Vikings twice in the conference contests.  A sad side note - Arlen and Allen Holstad (far left) are no longer with us.

You gotta admit - the rivalry with the Bulldogs was one-of-a-kind.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Childhood Play

Does anyone else remember playing Cowboys and Indians?  Being shot in the head but denying that you had been killed?  Being upset because some of the players would never die even though you KNOW you totally wasted them?  You know - "Gotcha!  Gotcha!  No you didn't!  No you didn't!"

Wearing the proper attire - cowboy hat, boots, a pair of six-shooters?  Did you ever look like this?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The New Season of Mad Men

Mad Men on AMCTV is so retro.  The men are superior and chauvinistic, the women are there to serve, the Siamese cats are on the wall, the furniture is chrome, the colors, er, so 60s...   And the issues were the issues of our times.

New season starts this Sunday.  Here's a smoke-filled view of the madness...

If you're receiving this post by email - go to the blog to view the YouTube.

And if you want a good review of the "second-tier" view of women that is predominant in the series, go to Newsweek for an excellent article by Eleanor Clift.  Here is a link . . .

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

You May Want to Know . . .

You probably had some difficulties with the audio quality in the YouTube posted (Parade, Picnic, Party) yesterday but it has been revised and reloaded so should work much better for you now.  Click here to see it YouTube.

In August of 2010 a posting about Today's Viking Logo has been the target of numerous Google searches around the globe, especially in the Far East but also in Europe.  There is no explanation as to who is looking or why they are looking, but apparently lots of people need to know what it looks like.  It's really not much of a story, but you can read the original posting here.

Following the discussion of the McNamara boys, an email arrived last Friday from Richard Holstad, who said,

I was just now riding my bike around lake Loveland .... The phone rings in my pocket.  It's Larry Patterson; he and his wife were calling from Graceland Cemetery in Albert Lea. They found both Don and Ron's graves.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Parade, The Picnic, The Party

Here's a remake of the photos available from the 45th reunion, which included participation in the 4th of July parade, golf, and a variety of parties.  Altogether they tell the story pretty well.  It's a YouTube so you can click the corner icon for a full-screen version though it gets a bit blurry.

If you're receiving notice of this post by email you will likely need to go to the blog site to be able to view this.  Tell your friends, post it on your Facebook page, and spread the word that #50 is coming!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Donald Woodward McNamara, 1946 - 1967

Stan Arendts sent along an email about a "Virtual Wall" that memorializes those Americans who gave their lives in Viet Nam.  The website,, lists names and hometowns, and photos if any are available.

The lone casualty listed from Northwood or Kensett is Donald Woodward McNamara, and Stan asked if anyone knew this guy.  He was a member of the class of '65 but apparently he and his family were not district residents for very long, so little information has turned up as to his local impact, other than his being a nice, nice, handsome guy.

Don's name and photo are not listed in the '62 or subsequent yearbooks, and there is no photo of him on the Virtual Wall website.  There is, however, a profile that reveals he died outright of hostile enemy action in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, and a report from the Virtual Wall:

The 3rd Bn, 3rd Marines' Command Chronolgy for July 1967 reports that at 2:15 PM, 21 Jul the 2nd Plt, Mike 3/3, while escorting a road sweep team on Highway 9 southwest of Ca Lu, encountered two enemy soldiers. The Marines killed one of the NVA soldiers, retrieving the dead soldier's body. Shortly afterwards, the platoon found itself under heavy attack by what seemed to be most of an NVA battalion. The remainder of Mike 3/3 came to help, while Kilo 3/3 and a light tank section mounted out from Ca Lu to assist. By 8:15 PM Mike Company reported they had broken contact and were withdrawing. While the number of enemy dead is not known, the Marines lost eleven men killed in action - and another died from wounds three weeks later.

The Vietnam Vets Memorial Fund has a page dedicated to him online.  One of his fellow Marines reports on his page that he is buried in Graceland Cemetery in Albert Lea, and the VVMF has a link that will allow you to make donations to their cause in his honor.

The page also includes links to Remembrances left at the Wall in his honor.  Lyle Frazer tells from a Marine's point of view about Donald and the incident leading to his death.

Ray Calhoun says Don and I would lay on our backs, looking at the stars, and singing Up Up and Away to the top of our lungs. They all thought we were crazy.

When he turned 18 he chose to enlist rather than finish school, and being a Northwood resident at that time he is listed that way in all the war records under his name, though sadly few that we've contacted can recall who he was.  Yet review the remarks of Frazer and Calhoun and you get a sense, a feeling, that this fellow was indeed one of our nation's finest. Perhaps we can find a photo that could be posted, not just here in the NKHS 62 blog but on the Virtual Wall, all to his honor.

He may have had few worldly possessions when he was at home or when he went away, and in the end, he gave his all.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Old News from the Anchor

March 15, 1962 -

"Here Comes the Showboat" - a musical production, will be presented by the NK Music Department Friday and Saturday evenings.  Cast members include Steve Sawin, Mary Pangburn, Bonita Loberg, Wayne Groe, Gerald Pike, Arlynn Weineth, Mary Hanson, Julie Rogers, Mary Pacey and Jim Nelson.  Lowell Gangstad, vocal music instructor at NK Schools, is director of the musical.

The Anchor story makes it sound like a three-act play, but should be recalled as a series of musical presentations including barbershop quartets, flappers, and Wayne Groe in blackface.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Rebel Rouser

One of the great things about Radio Paradise is the eclectic mix of songs.  They recently dipped into 1958 with the Duane Eddy classic, "Rebel Rouser", twangy guitar and all.  Surprisingly, the song never got higher than #6 on the charts, and it launched a career that kind of ended with its inclusion (the song, that is) in "Forrest Gump" in 1994.

The melody sequence is pretty simple, the saxophone honky-tonk, and the name itself worthy of young teens enjoying a style of music at least partially to annoy their parents.

Here's his version of "Honky Tonk".  Think of a live performance at the Surf and you won't be disappointed.

For a more recent version of the twang, see Danny Gatton, who played a Fender Telecaster and was known to use a beer bottle or even partially filled beer mug for his slide.  He lived hard and died early.  You wonder how the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith can stick around, although they do look like they've been abused.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Old Dress Code

Standards of dress have changed, and will continue to change over time.  When we graduated the girls did not wear slacks or jeans although that was acceptable for boys, and the boys often allowed the belt-less look to let the jeans slide down substantially like today's hip-hop wannabes.

By the late 60s the girls were indeed wearing slacks, and how logical was that for cold winter days.  In 1969 Tinker vs Des Moines Board of Education struck a huge blow to dress standards in schools when a Supreme Court decision ruled it acceptable for Tinker to wear an arm band in protest of the Viet Nam War, and schools changed forever.

Whether the impact is positive or negative when the dress codes were relaxed, there was always something to be said about dressing up, about "Sunday-go-to-meeting" clothes.  A graduation party or other special event meant the uncles were going to be dressed up with shirt, jacket, and ties, under the assumption that you can always "dress down" but it is really hard to "dress up" once you get there.

Glenn Rezabek, Scientist

Recall that teachers like Lyle Bestul always wore suit or jacket and tie, and Glenn Rezabek was normally in a lab coat.  His commitment to professionalism may have come from his having discovered a teaching career after working in retail and other business operations for a number of years.  His obituary was listed in a prior posting in October, 2010, and you can read it here . . .

Good Guy Gone Bad - Walt White
(Recently my favorite chemistry teacher to follow is Walter White, from Breaking Bad, now in its 5th season.  The only time he puts on a lab coat and full protective gear is when he is cooking meth, but that's another story.)

The point is simply that times have changed.  If you walk into today's schools you see teachers often wearing beat-up tennis shoes, knit shirts, and apparel that they might also be wearing this upcoming weekend, though perhaps not Sunday morning.

And speaking of Sunday morning, that has changed as well.  A recent email conversation with Ann Sandberg Johnson sparked memories of her folks all dressed up on a Sunday morning, and generally speaking so were all the other parents.  Today the percentage in "Go to Meetin'" clothes is minimal.  A good thing?  Or bad?  Decide for yourself.

Friday, March 9, 2012

More Childhood Memories

Marilyn - in Costume
Memories of my Childhood

Yep - Marilyn Weidler!
Growing up for me was so very different than that of my grandchildren. My grandchildren spend most of their spare time on the computer or playing Xbox. Our weekends and even during the week were spent visiting relatives and friends. I spent a great amount of time with my only girl cousin on my mom’s side. We had playhouses in the woods and spent many hours there. Also we spent a lot of time "putting on plays" for our "not so happy" audience of my brother & my cousin’s brother. We used the shower in the basement for the "stage" with our very own stage curtain.

Also as Merrilee said in her comments, we would play in the snow and make "snow angels." As we grew older, my cousin would come over after school (probably didn’t even have a driver’s license) and we would go pick up "Corky" also known as Corinne Luckason and go to the "big" town of Bolan and buy cigarettes. We thought we were pretty grown up!

Ronnie Myli
Other memories were with my cousin "Ronnie" who was about 5 years younger than I. He tells me that he would ride the bus home with me after school sometimes. He wanted to ride bikes, but he said, "But, no, we had to watch American Bandstand." I remember accompanying him for his 5th birthday to be on the TV show "Clubhouse". I believe Al Heinz was the person on there at that time. I remember Ronnie didn’t remember his last name, so they had to ask his big cousin. He also tells me my favorite R&R singer was Bobby Rydell.

My grandparents lived on our farm in a trailer until I was about 11 when my grandpa died. He played a fiddle by ear and often played for old time dances. Whole families would attend these dances. It was so fun for us kids to do the "bunny hop", getting in a long line, jumping around the dance floor. He passed that violin along to me. It is now in the hands of my cousin’s granddaughter. By coincidence, my granddaughter Afton has taken up playing the violin. My grandpa also had geese. I was afraid of the "old gander" as he liked to chase and bite me.

Ilene and Janet Eilertson
My other childhood friends were the Eilertson girls. They loved to come to my house to play as I always had lots of toys being an only girl in my family. There were 6 kids in their family so they weren’t as fortunate. We played with dolls I think until we were in Junior High. We also had a playhouse in our old house after building our new house. We remember seeing "feet" behind a door and became quite frightened. To this day, we don’t know whom they belonged to as we made a quick dash out of that playhouse.
We also spent Saturday nights on main street visiting with friends and neighbors.

Ilene & Janet were my roomates after graduating from high school. We had lots of fun before we settled down. I am taking Janet on her first trip to Vegas this fall. Watch out Vegas!!

Marilyn with Best Friend Carol

My childhood friend in elementary school was Carol Orman. We even had dresses alike in the 5th grade. By coincidence, my daughter’s best friend in grade school was also named Carol. They had dresses alike also! Carol & I both took accordion lessons. I remember when the salesman came to sell us an accordion. He was very pushy and my dad told him to leave. I went up to my room and was crying. My dad came up and asked if I really wanted an accordion. I of course said yes. The rest is history. Spoiled?

Great Accordion - So-So Player

 Inever did all that well on it & wouldn’t play for people. I still have it. I remember several of us kids being on the radio playing our accordions. I remember Jim Schaub playing his entire song with his hand on the wrong spot on the keyboard!! I wonder what it sounded like!!

Thanks Merrilee for helping me recall my own childhood memories.
Marilyn Weidler Ulve

Thursday, March 8, 2012

When I was just a little Girl

Merrilee, Bonnie and Cynthia Vold, 1949
I remember playing in the Shell Rock River in our back yard, pulling off the blood suckers on a daily basis in the spring, summer and fall months.  I remember the picnics in the park on Sundays with the concerts; not to mention ice skating in the winter months and pulling my sister, Bonnie, out of the river when she had broken thru the thin ice.  We had to run down the river to the little dam to grab her and pull her out.  I remember going down to the quick sand area with both of my sisters and getting in trouble for going there.  We had to pick our own "willows" from the Willow tree to get our punishment.  We knew not to pick a thick one or we would be in more trouble.

I wonder if any of you remember a little girl we went to school with - she had red hair and I think it was kindergarten. Her father owned Red's Beer Bar on Hwy 65 north of Main Street as you were heading towards Albert Lea. She moved to Paris, Missouri. I cannot remember her name but I can still picture her face with fair skin and filled with freckles and the long red curly hair. We played together in the little park behind Main Street on the swings. I was swinging up so high the legs would come off the ground. One time I fell out and passed out from losing my breath. I was with that little red head and she went across the street and got someone to help me. She was a good friend.

I remember going to the fairgrounds and spending $2.00 to finally win an adorable little blue "colored" baby duckling.  I brought it home and put it in my doll house. Her name was Babs Vold. When I woke up in the morning there was duck s*it all over my bedroom.  My mom and dad made me put it outside with Duke (our retired Springer Spaniel hunting dog).  Duke took care of Babs as though it was her own.  Babs thought she was a dog as she grew up, losing all of her baby fuz and getting feathers.  She slept in the dog house with Duke.  She got to be about 20 pounds and I painted her toes with finger nail polish.  Duke and Babs would walk up to Main Street from the house and go to Al's Cafe.  If Duke didn't wait for Babs to cross the street, Babs would quack until the dog came back and walked her across the Highway.  They were fed all the scraps from the restaurant.  They would start their trip home and they would be so full they would have to stop and take a nap in front of Doc Allison's office where there was a small patch of grass.  They would continue their walk home in about a half an hour.  One day just prior to Thanksgiving Babs did not come home with Duke.  We imagined she became a Thanksgiving dinner for some family,.

I remember playing hide and seek  and "I Draw the Frying Pan"  in the summer months with the Fistler boys, Ralph Thompto, Cheryl Grube and a few other kids.   I remember going to all my neighbors and asking for their magazines and then selling them back to one another for a quarter.  I remember setting up a lemonade stand on Hwy 65 on Blackmore Hill to make money to buy my bike at the Saturday night auction.  Those auctions were just amazing to think back on and how the auctioneer talked so fast and went thru his entire barn filled with items to sell.  I remember riding my bike with Cheryl, Bonnie, Bonnie Mack and Patsy Kohler.  We would ride out to Table Top and Top Table (just west of town under the lst or 2nd bridge) and play on the cement blocks in the water. 
Merrilee Vold 1st Grade
I remember playing "movie stars" in the basement with my sisters.  Cynthia was always "Marilyn".  I played Mitzi Gaynor and I think Bonnie played Doris Day.  We would put on plays and charge a nickel to get in and watch.  My mom had made Dandelion wine earlier in the year and it was bottled and placed on shelves in the basement.  One day we heard all this noise - like a gun going off.  All the corks popped out of the wine bottles - my family the bootleggers!  Thank heavens we were not down in the basement doing one of our skits.

I remember my mom frantically sewing all of our Easter dresses 24/7 for 3 or 4 days before Easter Sunday and being so exhausted to make us look so pretty in our new Easter dresses and matching Easter bonnets, she couldn't make church with us... I remember taking all my May baskets over to Mike Lien, Chuck Hendrickson and Keith Loan and I would run like the dickens so I wouldn't be caught .  If you were caught you would get a "kiss".

I remember having a slumber party on the outdoor patio upstairs; pulling the mattresses out and making up a bed for 3 or 4 girls spending the night...only to come up and jump into bed and the Fistler boys, Billy Roberts and Ralph Thompto had filled it with little garter snakes.  I hated snakes after that!

I remember playing with Joan Olson after school in her garage and we found a huge rat - it must have been a foot long and a foot and a half long tail.  Stan Forde's mom, Rose (later to be my sister Cynthia's mother-in-law) ran out from the kitchen when she heard us screaming and beat the rat to death with a big broom.  We couldn't thank Rose Forde enough for saving us.

I remember riding with my Dad out to the farmers to deliver gas on Saturdays with our rifles and Max, our hunting dog.  My uncle bought me my own hunting rifle when I was eleven so I got to go pheasant and duck hunting with my Dad.  Such fond memories and fun we had on those special Saturdays. 

I remember playing in the snow with all the neighbor kids - building our snow forts and having snow ball fights.  I remember laying down in the fresh snow and spreading our arms and legs to make an angel - such sweet and innocence that children have when they are youngsters.  And, it is so different today; how I wish that my grandchild, Jayden,  could have shared some of these memories and way of life.

I remember my first Girl Scout dance in 6th grade - I invited Wayne Gaskill...He picked me up and we were going to walk to where ever the dance was - my mom in tow as she was one of the chaperons.  It was wintertime and icy all over.   I  came down from the front porch, slipped on an icy step and shoved a 45 record that was in my hand right thru my lip - missed the dance and had to go get stitched up at Doc Allison's.

I remember the roller skating rink and falling in "love" for the first time with an adorable boy by the name of  "Sonny Lau" from Austin.  I think he had two brothers and I had no idea he was my cousin until years later. How much fun we had at that rink - dancing to the 50's music. It seems that every time I liked a new boy in that last year year I was in Northwood, I would find out later that he had been a cousin.  Three of you classmates probably never knew you were my boyfriends because we kept them a secret - just in our hearts.

I remember my most favorite teacher,  Mrs. Helgeland.  She was the best teacher ever.  She was teaching us to write a report and telling us just how the opening "topic sentence" was so important.   I remember writing my report on The Mandrill   It started out like this  "The reason I picked the mandrill is because it reminds me so much of my sister..,."  She loved it and called me up to her desk after class and told me  I had received an A on my paper.

I remember what fun I had with Betty Ryan.  We would just sit and laugh at one another and had such a good time together. We would giggle so much we cried.   Friendships never die and they can be picked up right where they are left off. 

From left: Bonnie,Rose, Ole and Merrilee Vold with niece
Roxanne Forde.  The Volds moved from Northwood
to California
I remember how excited I was when Mom and Dad told us we were moving to California so they could afford to send us to college.  We had been out to visit relatives a few times and it was an awesome place.  Now we were going to move there -  Yippee, Hurray - how lucky could we be?  Then the time came to leave 3 months later and I had second thoughts.  I didn't want to go anymore.  I didn't want to leave Northwood, my friends, my roller rink, my river...but it wasn't my decision.  We were moving whether I wanted to go or not.

On on way to California we stopped in Denver to see the Loan family.  They had lived in Northwood earlier. and moved after second grade.  They had 3 boys, Keith, in our class, Dennis and Dean.  The boys took Bonnie and myself to Mile High Park in Denver and we went on all the rides.  The roller coaster was 200 feet high and was just the most awesome ride I had ever ridden.  I was thinking about Keith this past week.  Lee and I were communicating about roller coasters and I shared my trip to Denver.  He shared his first overnighter was staying with Keith (known as KiKi).  I went to the internet and did a search for Keith Loan in Denver and found a reference moving to Port Angeles, Washington.  His mother is still alive and living in Iowa City at 94 years of age.  Keith was in the Air Force and was in Lybia when Kaddafi took over.  We have his contact information if anyone is interested in connecting with Keith.
From Left: Stephanie Davidson (friend of Bonnie), Bonnie,
Merrilee, Rose, Aunt Rose King, and Ole Vold
1960 Santa Monica Beach
I remember visiting Northwood after we moved around the time school was starting so I was able to attend school and see all of my old friends.  By then (high school)  Kensett and Northwood had merged together.  Staying connected has been wonderful.

Both of my parents wanted to return to Northwood when they died.  It was home to them and it will always be home to me.  Northwood I thank you for my friends and for the memories that have lasted me a lifetime.

The Lost Are Found

Everyone wants the long story to get "short" but this one goes the opposite direction.  Merrilee Reid mentioned a while back that she had once stopped with her family in Denver on the way to California (after they had moved out there) to visit with the Loan family.

Kiki Loan was a classmate and buddy who left with his family after 2nd grade.  Long story short (bear with me here) Merrilee tracked him down in Port Angeles, WA (near Seattle), and a couple nights ago I had a long phone conversation with him about all the travels in his life.  As Merrilee indicated in an earlier posting, his health will prevent his attending the 50th Reunion, but we've connected anyway.

Here's where the short story gets long again...   Cynthia Vold Forde, '57, got involved, Richard Holstad got dragged into the conversation, and voila!  We now have a photo of our first grade class with Miss Phyllis Stover as our teacher.  The faces just pop out as clear and memorable as if it were yesterday.  (And I understand why I never thought of Billy Roberts as anything but Billy, as he is named here.)

Miss Stover was a feature of a posting about a year ago, and I encourage you to read that story by clicking here...     And thanks to Richard Holstad who has the world's greatest archive on all things Northwood including the 1951 Yearbook!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Letter Jacket Saga

The Anchor continues to post news from 50, 75, and 100 years ago, and though this blog is just now coming up on two years of existence, going back to view the posts from the early months continues to be a source of entertainment.  You can easily do so by clicking on the date links in the Blog Archives at right, then scanning the titles of each post to find stories of interest.

Or just wait until the feeling hits the Blogmaster and it will be done for you.  Today's topic is the Classic NKHS Letter Jacket that is no longer made available apparently because it's not fashionable.  Or saleable.

Earning the jacket was the topic of a post in August 2010.  "Earned" means blood, sweat, and tears on the athletic field, AND an encounter with Coach Mounts.  Read that story here . . .

As the story progressed, we discovered Richard Holstad was dying to get a replacement letter jacket, his having been lost or destroyed somewhere along the line.

Through the efforts of several people and the good folks at Decker's in Mason City, he was finally rewarded.

The story of the process is detailed here and you can read more...

After Richard was rewarded with his second letter jacket he sent along photos to show just how happy he was, and we posted an article with those photos just about a year ago.  The letter jacket story has thus dragged on for close to two years, but it was, after all, the best piece of clothing worn 50 years ago.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Scenery without Cornfields

The objective is to do a posting every possible day, but sometimes you have to go "out of town" to come up with an idea.  Yesterday's post was all about rural Iowa.  There's another world out there that we were flat unaware of, and it did not feature cornfields, so this is a unique view.  Click the full-screen icon to get the full effect.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Growing up "Iowa"

With four grandsons around the age of the two mischief-makers here, this photo connects.  Richard Holstad, '65, and Steve Forland, '64, must have been 10 or 12 years old.  It's a great shot because it's a reminder of growing up and hanging out with friends.

They may have had more deviltry in mind but for the photographer who was watching, Dr. L M Forland, and surely acted out their visions when he left.

In any event, there wasn't much real farming going on in this picture even though it's a farm setting, so it brings to mind the Stan Arendts adventures reported last summer about his experience as a city slicker visiting farms of friends.  Read that story here . . .

In the process of preparing this post Richard happened to send along an additional photo, with the story behind it:  Yes, those are white bucks (in the photo above) and that is a pheasant feather in my hat.  Below is another treasure …. Steve and I were making cheese sandwiches on the campfire.

Steve’s job was to rub sticks together to make the fire. It took FOR EVER to get that fire going.

The moral of the story: you just can't beat growing up in Iowa!

Richard is also the source of a video taken of the boys locker room in the old gym and posted on the blog a couple years ago.  The trip down memory lane spawns a recollection of the mischief that goes on in the locker room.  The posting includes several comments about that "split level" hole that allowed a look out across the playing fields.

View the video here . . .

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Old and Sad News - Around the Nation

March 1, 1962 -

The NIC champion NK Vikings were defeated in the first game of the sectional tournaments by the Lake Mills Bulldogs 72-66 Wednesday night to end a 16-game winning streak.  The Vikings had defeated the Bulldogs twice in the regular season and will still go down in history as one of the greatest teams in the history of the school.

Not until 2006-07 when the Vikings won a state championship was this level of performance achieved again.  The next day at school was sad, but there was a sense of relief that it was over.  The follow-up 50 years later appeared in a posting just last month.  Read more here . . .

Mrs. Dean  Morris and her daughter Barbara of rural Northwood were injured in a train-car crash Monday night at the rail crossing over Highway 105 two miles west of Carpenter.  Both were taken to Mercy Hospital in Mason City by ambulance where their condition is rated as fair at the present time.

We all know what happened here, the death from an apparent blood clot that moved in a broken leg.  It was a sad moment for the school, and we all looked at what life is about at this funeral.  Read the previous blog article  from a year ago. . .  Apparently the accident occurred on Monday the 26th, and the game on Wednesday the 28th, but if you have better information, let us know.  One loss was painful, the other devastating.

Bringing home top honors from the district declam contest held Saturday in Mason City were Donna Davenport, Robert Hickman, Gerald Sawin, Ardis Holstad, Phyllis Mueller, Carol Boutelle, Sue Bergan and Sue Drury.  These winners will participate in the state speech contest in Cedar Rapids March 30 and 31.

"Mad Men" returns on March 25 with more references to the history and culture of our era, including a mention of two simultaneously-occurring events in New York City: March 1, 1962 was a day of intense horror and immense celebration for New York City. On that momentous Thursday morning, an American Airlines flight crashed on takeoff from Idlewild Airport (now John F. Kennedy International Airport), killing all 95 passengers and crew aboard. At the same moment, a roaring crowd of four million people waited enthusiastically along Broadway to honor astronaut John Glenn with a ticker-tape parade for becoming the first American to orbit the Earth.

March 1, 1962 is the date that K-Mart opened, and the US and Britain conducted joint nuclear tests in Nevada.  Each lives in a different kind of infamy.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Reunion Plans Announced

Vickie Hall has sent out notice of preliminary Reunion Plans:

The Northwood-Kensett Class of 62 will have our 50th Class Reunion starting Wednesday, July 4, and continue on with the banquet, Saturday, July.  More information to follow.

Area motels include the Holiday Inn Express across from the Casino, the Country Inn and Suites attached to the Casino, and the Royal Motel in town.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

McDonald's from the Beginning

McDonald's - As We Remember
This may or may not be the McDonald's you knew, but it looks exactly like it, as they all do.  Or did at one time.  Nice cars, huh . . .

The first McDonald's Restaurant I ever visited was next to a set of railroad tracks running across Hwy 65 on the south end of Mason City, and it was a glorious meal for 50 cents or whatever it was.  The visit was on the day several of us went to JC to take the ACT exam, and I only vaguely recall being there marveling at what was to become an institution.

Not until yesterday when I ate 3 pancakes, 2 eggs, and 2 pieces of bacon with coffee at the local Perkins for $3.16 have I enjoyed such value.  They should do their Customer Appreciation Week every week.