Saturday, June 30, 2012

Does Your Mother's Voice Ever Go Away?

I was attending a company meeting in Denver a few years ago, and on our last day there the agenda was a casual breakfast, a Super Shuttle to the airport, and a flight home.  Breakfast was buffet-style with a variety of goodies including scrambled eggs, bacon, cereal, granola, yogurt, fruit, all the good stuff.

With a plate full of these options, I was sitting next to the President, Tom, Senior, enjoying the food and the conversation, when I realized I had committed my typical buffet sin of taking more than I could eat, and I mumbled something about having taken too much.  In his typical wry fashion, Senior said, "Your mother isn't here.  You don't have to eat it all."

Senior's success stemmed from his ability to slice a dilemma, put a finger on the sore spot, and know that your mother's voice is all too often singing in the back of your head.  She probably told you, on more than one occasion:
  • Hang up your clothes.
  • Eat your supper.
  • Clean your plate.
  • Make your bed.
  • Eat what I gave you.
  • Because she's your sister.  (Or brother, I suppose.)
  • Because I said so.
  • That's just the way we're going to do it.
  • Pull it by the roots!
  • You didn't finish yet.
  • Wipe your feet.
  • You don't need that.
  • Be nice.
  • . . . and countless other warnings and advisories.
Many of us have lost our mothers, but the voice in the head, the perpetual conscience, will always be there.  That may be a good thing, even though as adults we should be fully self-guided.  But occasionally I think back to some of the situations I was in 50 years ago and the decisions I made, and hear myself thinking, "Gees, I wish I wouldn't have done that."  I know my mother would have prevented those bad moves had she been standing there.

I don't think her voice will ever go away, and this post is testament to that, I suppose.  So I had a light breakfast this morning, and ate everything.  Just like she would expect.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Remembering the 45th Reunion

Looking ahead to next week becomes a bit more enjoyable when you take a look back at the Reunion 5 years ago, in 2007.  And before this month is totally gone, we'd like to commemorate the two-year life of the NKHS 62 blog.  What better way to do it than with this playback?  Note this is a revision of many of the same photos posted earlier.

Next week we'll have two more videos online to commemorate the life and times of the class.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Celebrating Another Retiree

Karen Oakland Abrahams recently announced her retirement and was featured this week in the Northwood Anchor.  Front page stuff!

Here is a link to the Page 1 story, click here . . .

The story carried over three pages, so to go to Page 2, click here . . .

And to finish it on Page 3, click here . . .

The Anchor's new format provides a very small font view so you will need to use a browser tool to be able to see the "fine print" used.  There may be a pop-up magnifier at the bottom of the page, or you should be able to magnify the view by doing a right-click, then select "Marquee Zoom"  - and click on the story to make it larger.  Repeatedly, probably.

In any event, congratulations to Karen, who we can assume learned a whole lot over the 40 years she worked for the school district, and held a position of high trust for the past 20.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kensett #4 - More Memories

The photo of Kensett #4 brought back some memories.  The building was still there a year ago.  Karen Oakland probably remembers the log I dropped on her ankle way back then.  She probably still has a scar from it.  We used to have some great recesses!  In the winter we built awesome snow forts and had snow ball fights at recess.  As I remember it was always boys against the girls.  Some time in the 5th grade I had just sharpened a wooden pencil and was holding it with my left index finger on the point.  Somehow the point became embedded in the tip of my finger, still have the evidence on the finger after all these years.
After 6th grade we went to junior high in Kensett.  There we merged with the "townies" and those from other country schools.  The principal, Mr. Boggess was one to be feared.  Just the threat of being sent to his office was enough to change any behavior.  Our junior high boys basketball team was unremarkable.  I remember 1 game that we lost 17 to 2.  The only basket being scored by Stanton Arendts, as I recall.  The first semester of 7th grade I received the only "F" I ever had in any grade in school.  It was in math.  Must have been the change from country to city school.

Kensett #4 ca 1954

If you attended a rural school, this photo probably has a ring of familiarity.  Marsha Gaarder Hasseler sent it along as a grade school memory for the Reunion.  Here's her description:

This is probably not what you want, but it is the easiest one for me to find. I sent it to some Kensett # 4 friends after Dick Brunsvold gave me a copy four years ago when Bob and I had visited him and Gerd at their home at Torpo.
The photo includes the students and families at the end of year picnic. I guessed it to be 1954 and could err.
Karen Okland is just right of center in horizontal stripes.
Dick Brunsvold is on the left, the "tall" slender guy.
Ron VanSteenburg is mostly hidden on the right side of photo. He is standing beside Norma Berge. She was our teacher for grades 4,5,6. And she continued the following year as the school remained open, but we four had been transferred to town.
I am at the center bottom, faded.
Karen, Dick and I had six weeks of spring kindergarten, then went to first grade in the fall. In fourth grade the VanSteenburg family moved to our area, and Ron joined us, making us the "largest" class.

Marsha, that's exactly what I was looking for, and thanks for forwarding it. Perhaps it will prompt others to find and forward similar pictures.  These township schools were quite popular, probably very inexpensive to operate since children would have walked to them and only one teacher had to be paid, and phased out about the time we were in grade school.

My own experience was a 6-week stint at the Grove Township School, later used by the church for Vacation Bible School and ultimately torn down.  It formed many memories for those who attended for any period of time, and was a social center for the farming community, much like the Grange in earlier times.

If you look at the class history that is reported in this blog (at least for the Northwood kids - Kensett kind of got left out of that document) you will notice new classmates coming in from time to time as the rural schools shifted to the "metropolitan" flavor.  I recall Duane Mielke once saying it was tough to be in school in town because if somebody hit you in the stomach you just could not get your breath.  It's too closed in.

He was probably right.  Marsha, thanks for the memory.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hot Coffee - a Cool-down

I just returned from a bike ride on a beautiful day, 64 degrees outside.  Still, I got a bit warm, and the coffeepot was still hot when I got home, and that reminds me of the general rule of thumb that Dad used:  coffee is good for cooling down.


There were so many hot days when we'd be baling hay and Dad and my uncles would have their mid-day refreshment of a piece of cake, cookies, perhaps some Norwegian delicacy - and coffee.  And they all swore that coffee was an effective coolant.  Even though it flies in the face of logic and science, coffee seemed to be just their ticket.

And they weren't the only ones.  The corners of my mouth had to turn up as I was reading the stories of the Norwegian Lutheran Farm Boy, who reported the very same thing.

The old Norwegians I worked with believed hot coffee was a great coolant and seemed to drink gallons of it in the summer.  The hired man of our neighbor really gave me a good tongue lashing for putting ice in the water jug, which I had brought out to the hay workers.  He made me put the jug, without the cover on it, out in the sun so the water could warm up.  No one was going to drink cold water when he was around and get sick on him so he would have to do all the work.  I can still hear him talking to himself the rest of the afternoon about "dumb kids nowadays."

Some years later I decided that beer was a much better coolant, and it certainly enhanced the esprit de corps, not to mention fueled the imagination of a group of twenty-somethings.  Now that I'm old enough to know that water is the true hydration system I also am inclined to avoid the situation for which it is well suited.

Unlike the practice of ample hydration followed by today's athlete, all through high school we were charged with "making ourselves tough" by not having ANY water during football practice.  On more than one occasion that theory made me sick when I gorged on the water we were allowed to have once practice was completed.

I just wonder - do those Norwegian farmers still "cool" themselves with coffee today?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wilma, We're Losin' the Battle!

You know grammar is in trouble when the Wall Street Journal posts an article regarding the casual use of improper grammar and usage.  (And, yes, there is a difference in those two terms, and, no, it is not unacceptable to begin a sentence with "and," a practice that at one time would have meant an incomplete sentence.  The anticipatory "it" is also verboten, by the way.)

"Grammar Gaffes Invade the Office" was the sub-headline of the article.  I can see Wilma rolling her eyes as she reads about the inadequacies in the workplace, on Twitter, Facebook, or text-messaging.  When did we get so casual?  How does an English teacher compete anymore?

A friend is wont to end emails with "C U" and likes to refer to the President as P-BO.  I've gotten used to his shortcuts, understand the convenience, and in his case can excuse it because I KNOW he has the capacity to use the language when he chooses to do so.  Or wants to.  (Catch that?)

Maybe it only makes a difference to you and I.  To I, anyway.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It's All What You Make of It

The Norwegian Lutheran from Iowa tells the story of the farmer whose pig loved apples.

Each day the pig would head for the apple tree and clean up whatever had fallen, but as you can imagine, he soon was wanting to eat more apples than were on the ground. Pigs have a tough time tilting their heads back so that wasn't much of an option, and he was darn near going hungry until he figured out how to get up on his hind legs, thus extending his reach as well as his lunch.

That went on for a while until the new supply was depleted, and the farmer decided he could help - by lifting the pig up to reach higher. A neighbor saw this going on one day as he came to the road to gather his mail, and, not wanting to be too obviously nosy, just made it a point to look for the farmer to be getting his mail on another day . . . and then headed to the mailbox again.

Casually, he mentioned having noticed the farmer holding the pig up, and asked why. "Well, you know, the pig likes apples, they're a healthy food, and I'm just helping him out."

"But doesn't that take a lot of time?" the neighbor asked.

"Time? What's time to a pig?" he answered.

Proving once again that it's all a matter of perspective.  Dan Sorenson, the Norwegian Lutheran from Iowa, first heard the story on WCCO, that Minnesota mainstay radio station you may have listened to as a kid, or may listen to today.  It seemed the St Paul School System was too often sending out requests to their staff to complete one or another task, and hearing those requests from Central led him to use the phrase from time to time.

Hearing it from him so often, a daughter needle pointed a picture of a pig with the saying below it.  Sorenson hung the needlepoint in his counselor's office, and every so often someone would ask what it meant, so Sorenson would share the story.  Sooner or later that person would stop back, point at the sign, nod his head, and go away chuckling.

They got the point.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Will She Be Here?

It was apparently called the "updo bow" hairstyle.  No confirmation has been received that this style or the classmate who would have worn it will be represented at the July Reunion, but the list of returning classmates is growing.

At the latest count 37 classmates have confirmed they will be in attendance.  That includes a few who were in the class at one time or another but graduated elsewhere.

The committee also reports several former teachers will be in attendance including Jack McMullen, Maynard Midtgaard, Lowell Gangstad, and Bob Wilder.  Wilma Helgeland may or may not be able to attend.

Don't you feel like you've finally grown up when you're able to call those teachers by their first names?

See you in July!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Shout-Out to Fathers

To celebrate Father's Day, let's give a shout-out to TV's Uber-Dad: Jim Anderson, the calm, thoughtful patriarch played by Robert Young on "Father Knows Best." Antenna TV must feel the same way: On Sunday, the retro channel will air wall-to-wall episodes beginning at 6 a.m. and ending at 11 p.m. Here are five things to know about the show:

-- It aired on each of the three broadcast networks: CBS (1954-55; 1958-62); NBC (1955-58) and ABC (1962-63).

-- The show actually ceased production in 1960 when Robert Young decided he was tired of playing Jim and wanted to pursue other roles. But prime-time reruns continued to air for three more seasons -- a demonstration of the show's staying power.

-- During its first season, CBS aired it at 9 p.m., which attracted few viewers. The network canceled the show, but after a wave of viewer protests, NBC picked it up, and "Father Knows Best" became a hit airing at the more family-friendly 7:30 p.m.

-- "Father Knows Best" began as a radio program; Young was the only cast member who made the transition to TV.

-- The Andersons lived in a quaint town called Springfield. As far as we can tell, though, they didn't know The Simpsons.

-- Andy Edelstein, Newsday

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Phil Johnson, We're Calling for You!

Show a little respect for your elders, y'all.  After spending four hours in makeup, 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving heads to the courts of New Jersey to devour some young bloods in a pick-up game.  And gives us old folks a lift.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Another 50-Year Milepost

Wow.  Class of '62.  Target. Wal-Mart.  The Beatles.  You're in good company.

They were yet to hit the Sullivan Show but 1962 was the year the band was formed, changed drummers (to Ringo), and made their first recording at Abby Road.  The story was reported this morning via USA Today, the most widely distributed US Newspaper, and for the full account you can click here.

Ironically, of the talking heads on the set of today's Morning Joe (MSNBC) only one of them had seen the boys on Sullivan.  That youthful crowd missed out on all the good stuff, only to take advantage of the road we paved for them.  Or something like that.  If there is an iconic band, this has to be it.
Here's a one paragraph report from USA Today:  On June 4, (1962), they signed a contract with Parlophone, a subsidiary of EMI. And on June 6, they entered Abbey Road Studios with producer George Martin for the first time, recording demos of cover tune Besame Mucho and Lennon-McCartney compositions Love Me Do,P.S. I Love You and Ask Me Why. Martin, mildly impressed, lectured the band about its lousy equipment, then asked whether they had any complaints.

Harrison quipped, "I don't like your tie."

I discovered who the mopheads were in another Vic's Pizza moment in the fall of '63.  Like everyone else, I found their music was catchy, but didn't realize all those songs that I heard and liked were coming from the same group, and didn't know who they were until I heard one of their songs being played on the jukebox at Vic's.  That particular jukebox showed the album cover of the song being played - and that's when I discovered these fellows needing haircuts were the ones making that music.

By the next spring I was working Sunday afternoons at Kropman's neighborhood grocery store on East 9th Street in Mason City, and the owner's 12-year-old daughter and her friends were all agog over who was the cutest, Paul or John.  I thought they were nuts.  Well, they were 12, so what should I expect.

How about you?  When did you first "connect" with the Beatles?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Another Retirement

I happened to get notice of the report about Larry Holstad's retirement and found it online.  Congratulations to Larry for his success at WSU.  It was a huge leap from principal at Forest City High School back to his alma mater and he made a difference.

Read the full story at the Winona Daily News by clicking here . . .  If you'd like to contact Larry email and we will forward the request to him.

If you have news of other classmates making the big leap into retirement, let me know and we'll post it here.  Personally, mine was not announced in the paper, but if yours was, I'd like to hear about it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

1962 Band Festival

The thought was to put together a slideshow of all our locals who were there that day in June for the Music Man Band Festival, commemorating that event.  George Von Wald assembling his band, for example.  Then the slideshow/story would be posted exactly 50 years to the date of the parade, historically and accurately marking the most significant Band Festival ever. But the only relevant photos to be found were celebratory, of actors like Robert Preston, Shirley Jones (she was nothing but beautiful), Ron Howard, or Buddy Hackett.  Nothing from the Class of '62.

Without all those local photos, the slideshow idea went away, and knowing the exact date for purposes of historical commemoration became a non-factor.

The NKHS queen candidate is also unknown but perhaps you can email or add a comment so as to amend that loss, because this writer obviously doesn't know.  Outside of how gorgeous Shirley Jones was, the basic personal band festival memory became that of wearing a pair of white Bermudas that day.  Whatever it takes.

If you dig around the internet long enough you will find much has been written and many photos posted, but little will satisfy the original goal for this post, all those "hometown" photos apparently being buried in treasure chests belonging to members of the Class of '62.  One article found online comprehensively reports, with photos, the transition from stage to film, Meredith Willson's hometown connections, all those actors, and other not-so-well-known facts like the $100,000 Warner Brothers gave to the city to offset some of their costs associated with the event.  Read that article here . . .

Outside of "76 Trombones" a popular song was "Ya Got Trouble" and this YouTube footage from the movie will hereby take the place of the slideshow that was a good idea without enough photos behind it to make it work.  Still it's all a good memory.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Gettin' Ready to Get Ready!

We're less than a month away from the 50th reunion.  That includes a reunion of the four queens in our class.  You'll be seeing them soon.

Monday, June 4, 2012

She's the 10-year-old who "became a woman" in the most recent episode.  Kiernan Shipka plays Sally Draper, the daughter of Betty and Don Draper in Madmen, Season 5.  Episode 512 had a lot of plot twists including Sally's maturation.  Here's part of the Q & A on AMCTV online:

Q: Do you think kids are growing up faster today?

A: Well it's different today just because of electronics and Skyping and texting. I think that's put a big influence on everything. It's definitely changed.

Q: Does the Mad Men set look like it's from ancient times to you?

A: It's funny because you walk in and it's a huge sound stage, and within the sound stage, you walk into a little house and that's the Draper house. And then you walk back out of it and you're in modern times.

Q: How was it saying goodbye to the Draper house set?

A: It was really strange. That was kind of the set that I worked on the most. It was weird seeing it go.

Q: Sally has a really rebellious streak. Do you have one as well?

A: I'm definitely not super similar to Sally just because of the way she's parented and the time she grew up in... But sometimes I think of Sally as not really rebelling, but more so just coping. She's in an incredibly tough situation, and I can only imagine how I would react.

Q: But it must be fun to play a character with a dark side...

A: It's definitely been fun to portray Sally... All the characters on the show, really they act like human beings. They're written real; they're written flawed. They're just doing what a normal person would do.

If you don't follow the series, the Draper house was pretty '60s, and it was abandoned after Don and Betty divorced.  Poor kid lacks access to Skype and texting in this TV show, just like you did.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Norwegian Lutheran Iowa Farm Boy

Technically, that could be me in the title, but for the purpose of this post, it's not.  It's a take-off on Snapshots of an Iowa Farm Boy, or Growing up Norwegian Lutheran in the Heartland, by Daniel E Sorenson.

Sorenson grew up in Lyon County in Northwest Iowa, graduated Luther College 1958, spent 30 years as a counselor in the St Paul, MN, school system, then retired to a log cabin in Edgewater, WI, home to the Edgewater Store (beer, groceries, bait, coffee with table, the Pioneer Press, and 2 gas pumps), a resort, campground, a few houses, and the ChitChat Bar 'n Grill.  (What's a small Wisconsin town without a tavern?  A travesty, that's what!)

Edgewater is located on the north end of Big Chetac Lake,  a panfish paradise.  Edgewater is also about 1.5 miles from my daughter's cabin, so we've had occasion to visit this metropolis from time to time, though never at the home of Mr. Sorenson.

Marni bought the book for her personal reading, then husband Brad noticed the puppy dog look on my face so he picked one up for my personal library.  Nice move,  young man.

The title of the first chapter is "Well, For Crying in the Beer!"  I remembered hearing that, a memory that came from years ago, with my mother's laughter attached to it.  Understanding the connection was beyond me then and remains there today.  It's like his reference to "Judas Priest" that my mother would NEVER have said since that presumably mild epithet is beyond the pale for her even if Sorenson cited it as the pet phrase of his father.

It was his Uncle Herb who would bellow about the beer.  "On those occasions when we just didn't make any progress repairing a machine, he would stop as if challenging the gods in the sky and bellow the phrase we loved to hear.  Coming from him you could almost know he was thinking the worst swear word back in his brain, just like we were doing."

OK, so my mother would not have been thinking swear words; for her it was more the "can you believe that?" phraseology with a twist of sin added to it.  Remember, swearing was taboo.  And when Sorenson wrote of a neighbor's pet phrase, I was a bit dumb-founded because I know it's one I've heard, haven't heard in years, was always tied to a laughter of frustration, and normally came from my mother: "I get so mad I could cry!"  Or perhaps she said, "I get so mad I could just spit!"

Whatever.  Must be pure Norwegian Lutheran: don't swear, just say something with an absurd juxtaposition of human emotions, and you will pass any call to censorship.  We knew how to set that bar, eh?

To learn more about Sorenson, keep reading this blog because we all have much in common, Sorenson and I that is, or go to the New Century Press website, where I'm sure you can get a book, or write to Sorenson himself:

D. E. Sorenson
3015 N County Rd F
Birchwood, WI  54817

The book is $13 with shipping.  Next time I go to Birchwood I plan to stop to visit.  He has far greater recall of things we all thought unimportant at the time than you and I will ever have.