Monday, September 24, 2012

Shane's Story

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

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I apologize - too late

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

Saturday, September 8, 2012

An Email Recollection of Dining

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone? Anyone? .

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

The Vikings came away with a 44-34 victory.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 3, 2012

another cheesy story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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