Monday, April 8, 2013

The Healing Power of Spring

Just back from a winter vacation in Arizona, I found snow all around my property.  Makes this story appropriate.

Creating Rituals of Renewal
By Scott Jacobs
It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! ~Mark Twain
As Midwesterners we are all too familiar with the ache/joy of “spring fever.”  We've endured/survived/enjoyed winter’s hibernation and now our thoughts turn to warm weather, longer walks, fresh smells, and colors other than gray. We have been at rest—like the trees and soil—and now something is calling us to awaken.
What is it about spring that calls you? Are there rituals that help create a sense of renewal for you? For me it is lilacs, golf (or at least the hope of golf), and getting on the motorcycle.
Our rituals have the capacity to energize us, to comfort us, and to prepare us for what’s next. We are metaphorically clearing out the cobwebs (whether we find them along the ceiling or in our thinking).
Maybe you've been planning to attend to your health, finish that project, reconnect with a lost friend, learn a new skill or tackle a new role at work. These changes can happen at any time of the year but spring can add a new sense of energy and hope about taking them on.
The spring was my inspiration for finishing an important paper 33 years ago to complete my Master’s degree—“no golf or motorcycling until you’re done” was my mantra. And three years ago, spring jump-started my final steps to complete a kayak I’d been building for…… (Let’s just say it was a long time in the making!).
Warm weather and flowers alone won’t make your important life changes happen. It starts with knowing that these matter to you—that you deserve the good they will bring. As we dust off the cobwebs in our mind we must keep our thoughts positive, focus on the strengths we will bring to our change process, and trust that setbacks will happen—but they won’t defeat us.
And our rituals of renewal can be made easier and lighter—like a warm breeze—with the help of others. Who might provide you the needed encouragement, or validation, as you embark on your process of change? An exercise buddy, a mentor, your therapist, or a friend who offers unconditional support can enhance our chances at realizing our new BEST.
 Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush. ~Doug Larson
I've noticed the cardinals whistling a bit louder as I take my slushy morning walks and I've been wondering if they know that spring is coming—or am I just paying attention better—looking and listening for the signs of spring.
Keep your eyes and ears open to spring’s healing energy. Find your rituals. Inspire yourself to change and know that the things you seek for your renewal are important. 

Reprinted by permission of REALiving Magazine.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

one of the girls - spreading her wings!

from Marilyn Weidler Ulve -

So 50's - all of us
Comparing myself now to the person I was in the class of 1962, I have changed from probably the
shyest person in my class to one of the most adventuresome persons that I know. 

Within 3 weeks time, I have attended a 50's Dance Party which was a tribute to Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper, wearing poodle skirt, saddle shoes...the works, went to Belize for my son's wedding and after being home a couple days took off for Vegas. I am, as a friend of mine said, "Spreading My Wings" and enjoying life.
Remember my friend Buddy Holly?

I purchased 6 tickets for the front row at Diamond Jo's by Northwood and coaxed the other girls to "dress up" in 50's outfits.  I mde 3 of the poodle skirts myself.  

We had a great time . . . we had "Buddy" and "Richie Valens" sign their autographs on our saddle shoes.

The trip to Belize was quite an adventure...this is the first time that I have been out of the country. We landed in Belize City, then took a 12-passenger plane to San Pedro on the island of Ambergris Caye.  If you remember the song "La Isla Bonita" by Madonna, she is singing about this island. (The Beautiful Island) 

At San Pedro we took a van (the driver drove wildly through the streets filled with potholes and tried not to run over the bicycle riders). The van took us to Wet Willy's where we took a boat to
our resort. During these bumpy rides, I had a very sore tailbone after falling on it before my trip. 
The weather was beautiful, the island beautiful, the wedding awesome.

me - and Ritchie
The trip to Vegas was made especially to see Celine Dion. It was a truly beautiful and awesome
production. The person sitting next to my friend was from Australia and the person next to me was
French, so people from all over the world come to see her perform.

I had a wonderful time in all my adventures…now to think of more to do…hmmm. The bad part was
all dressed up, somewhere to go!
coming home to cold and snow after being in 80 degree weather.


bouncing through San pedro

island girl
bride and groom
my friend Oscar
with son, daughter, and their spouses
with friend Janet in Vegas
all dressed up for Celine Dion
Up close to the stage to watch the Legends
the Luxor where we stayed

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

the last dance?

You might be able to make this full screen, I'm not sure.  It came to me as a Facebook Post and looked suitable for a blog designed for the Class of '55, maybe, since Nana is a bit older than our group, but her spirit is suitable for all ages.

Nonetheless it seemed to be a good post for the NKHS 62 blog, and until something else appropriate comes along, it may be the last for a while.  Things change, and my stories, at least those suitable for print, are now in a small pile, so I don't have much more to share.

Besides that, this has been about the past, and I'd prefer to have some current and future orientation, for selfish reasons.  Last year we were gone on vacation for 6 weeks, and didn't see our grandkids for another couple of weeks.  At some point our then-15-year-old granddaughter pointed out to her mother that it had been a while since we had seen her, and asked, "Don't they know their grandkids miss them?"

When we drove to Menomonie for an event the purpose of which I don't recall, Dana was upstairs finishing a shower when we arrived, and ten minutes later we heard a clattering as she bounded down the stairs to greet us, wrapping us each in a hug to express her love and/or admonish us for being gone so long. You can see from the photo with brother Bryan and Lonna that she's a sweetheart, and worthy of being our favorite granddaughter.

The point is, her sudden expression prompted me to put together another blog, this one about our past and current travels, including the notes I had already put together from our trip to Florida last spring, photos to match.  I did so to allow them to follow us this time around, perhaps having a vicarious experience as we explore the world, though who knows if they are following it or not.  I guess we'll find out when we get home.

The travel blog takes me away from the narrower mission of the NKHS 62 blog since I can go backwards, forwards, sideways, even segue into side issues, philosophies, and who knows what else.  A different kind of freedom, I suppose, lacking the restriction of "stories about high school days."

So we may be posting notes of interest here at NKHS 62 from time to time, and if you'd like to check into the other one, the title of it is Travels with Ole Holstad.  Click that link to go there if you'd like, or not - to read those posts and get background on the title.  I'm still open to input for the NK blog, so feel free to pass along your ideas if you're so inspired.  Most blogs only last about 5 months, I once read, and we're now at 4 years or so . . . with no economic impetus, just a passion.  Maybe I'm movin' on.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

a year goes by . . .

One year ago today we posted the first story about Donald McNamara.  Since then we have been able to locate his photos, on a mission to salute him on the Virtual Wall and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation site, have discovered numerous individuals who knew him, as well as his son and grandchildren.

Now we look forward to renewing friendships with all those who were involved in the story, and a reunion should be held in the next couple of months. is a website with information about the thousands lost in Viet Nam, with a link to the Education Center now under construction.  A YouTube on the Center shows it is built to commemorate all those individuals.  Here it is -

Thursday, February 28, 2013

another love story

Stan Arendts sent an email with this video story.  Neat story.  Thanks, Stan.

Here's the story behind it:
Published on Feb 26, 2013 - Joe and Beverly Smith were the proud owners of a 1948 Plymouth Convertible until they had to sell it when Joe was drafted to serve in the Korean War. As a 60th wedding anniversary gift, their son, Joel, found a '48 Plymouth through Craigslist fixed it up and gave it to them as a surprise. The car will now forever stay in the family and be passed down through generations.

Friday, February 15, 2013

another first car - from Stan Arendts

My first car was a '48 Ford sedan that I got when I was 14. Times were very different in those days. I never got stopped for driving w/o a license........I did have a learner's permit though. I never really liked the car. Seemed to be too fuddy-duddy, so I traded it for a 1940 Ford coupe, which I loved and souped up quite a bit.

I had one very memorable trip from Des Moines to Kensett during a major blizzard. When I started north, the sun was shining and I was not worried. By the time I got about half way home, I realized I was in trouble. The snow plows actually quit plowing and the drifts were so bad that I had to keep the car going at a high rate of speed just to make it through. Additionally, it was difficult to determine where the road was located. I had to estimate the location by trying to stay in the middle of the road by using telephone poles as guidelines.

Needless to say, there was no one else foolish enough to be on the road during that blizzard. Eventually, my windshield wipers froze, so I had to drive with my window open, so I could reach outside and push the snow off. I knew, if I stopped I would be unable to get going again. When I got home, there was a snow drift over my lap, in the front seat and water all over the floor from snow the heater had melted.

When I finally made it home, I actually got out of the car and hugged the hood to express my gratitude to the old crate. I think we formed a bond that day. My parents were surprised to see me. They weren't expecting me to drive in such weather........They thought I had more sense.....go figure.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What Model was your first car?

Stan Arendts sent along an email with a link to a web page containing brochures from cars manufactured prior to 1990.  The email said:

Find your first car or the one you drove to high school or college; hopefully your car brochure is available. This has to be one of the neatest websites whether you have gasoline in your veins or not. It features the original factory brochures for nearly every American car you have ever owned. Pick the manufacturer, the year and the model. Sorry, no Porsches, BMW's or Austin Healy's.

As usual, one thing leads to another, and Richard Holstad soon enough was waxing eloquently about his 1954 Studebaker, shown here.

Stan, thanks for sharing this link

This was my first car ….1954 Studebaker.  Oh what memories were made in this vehicle.

One night my girl friend and I were at the drive in movie east of Northwood. You know the drive in where the airplanes could fly in, park and see the movie?

Also the drive in where they would use another old vehicle that had a diesel fuel mixture (or whatever they used to kill mosquitoes) in the gas tank. The theatre operator would drive that smoky old vehicle up and down the parking lanes, gunning the engine all the time to maximize the smoke output.

This was done just before the movie started to reduce the swarms of mosquitoes long enough to play the outdoor movie.  It was thick enough oily smoke that one’s clothes would absorb the smell and stay with you long after you left the theatre.

Anyway, my girlfriend and I had one of those teenage tiffs at the movie. I drove that old Studebaker about 80 miles an hour from just west of Carpenter all the way to Northwood a grand total of no more than 10 miles or so.

I would buy re-processed bulk oil to put in this car because it really consumed oil.  In that short distance from the theater to Northwood ---- I blew out so much engine oil going 80 MPH that I and had to replace 3 ½ quarts when I got home …. It only held 4 quarts. There must have been a thick blue trail of smoke behind that car !!! But it was dark out so most likely no one really did see it.

On a separate trip to Mason City, I didn’t have the front hood securely latched down. A Greyhound bus passed me going the opposite direction. The hood flew up and wrapped over the roof …. It didn't fly off but the hood had this nasty concave warp in it from then on --- and I had to wire it down with bailing wire.

On the front ¼ panel just behind the front wheel is a super efficient air vent that was hinged on the door side of the vent. Driving down the highway with that vent all the way open, the air would come across your feet at about the same speed the car was traveling ….. you needed to have a bug screen over the vent because otherwise bumble bees, June bugs, and other large sized insects would be scooped in and impact against your leg with such force it wasn't funny. In Iowa the first thing to rust out was that air vent. Mine got rusted out so bad it wouldn't close anymore. When it was raining or snowing there was a constant spray across my feet from that air vent.

The manual shifter in the column wore out. I discovered that it was just a matter of rotating the stick from the right side of the column to the left side and it could be made to work again. Learning to shift gears with the left hand was quite a challenge for me …. But I did it.

If you need to, you CAN do most anything.  I loved that car! Just look at the body style …. And that was in 1954!  Wow was I ever in hog heaven!

Thank you, Stan, for the memories

If I'm not mistaken, the drive-in he references here is the old Bel-Air Drive-in located officially at St Ansgar, and cited in an earlier post in this blog.  Click here to read that post and you may understand how Richard may have gotten into a tiff.

And if you have a "favorite car" story, bring it on.  Email to share it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

where reunions should be held - Florida

The Hendricksons have been in Bradenton for a while, and the Helgelands were passing through, so Janis sent along these photos to console us as we look out the window at the snow.  And in truth she said, I'm attaching a couple of photos from last Friday when Chuck and Ann Helgeland drove from Ft. Myers to see us in Bradenton. We had a great day with them - fun conversation and great company. We're working on arranging a time for us to visit them in Ft. Myers before they leave for home in
Tennessee. It was just great to reconnect with them!

Janis seems to think it would be a great location for a min-reunion for the Class of '62 and I tend to agree!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Worth County Car-Train Wreck

Three months before my 5th birthday my family was devastated by the worst car-train wreck in Worth County history, probably to this day.  Mom's brother Marvin, Dad's cousin Fern, their three children and Fern's niece were all killed.

The accident happened at 11:15 AM on Sunday, May 22, 1949. Apparently they were heading to church services at Deer Creek Valley Lutheran on the State Line, located one mile further north and about five miles east..  They had just turned east on what is today 500th Street and by rumor may have been distracted by something on Highway 65 ahead and to their left.  Stateline Cemetery was directly ahead of them, on the other side of 65.  They continued on to the railroad tracks that run along 65 where they collided with a northbound Rock Island passenger train according to news reports of the day.

The photo here accompanied the story as written in either the Anchor or the Globe-Gazette, and seems graphic by today's standards.

My family was attending an end-of-the-year school party at the Grove Township school perhaps 2 miles East of the scene as the crow flies, and about one mile north of the farm where I was raised, on today's S48.  Knowing we were there, an aunt and uncle came to notify my folks of the accident.  When they turned into the driveway, someone grabbed Dad by the sleeve and said, "I think they're here to see you."

Clearly he already knew.

I have long had the memory of this day at Grove Township school, without really knowing for sure that it was the day.  I hear women shrieking in anguish, and one woman, either my mother or my aunt, running in my direction almost aimlessly, crying as she ran.  I visualize a tall stand of trees on my left, and a white building on my right, and I am sure that I was on the north side of the school house facing east.  The memory is short, perhaps only five seconds of my life.

I was also there when my mother and her sisters were cleaning out the home where they had lived, and there was no gaiety that day, highly unusual for these women.  It was much too somber.  All business.  And just another five seconds of memory.

Some time later Dad and my Uncle Kermit happened to go into a tavern in Northwood, which Dad rarely did.  This time Jake Jaspers was sitting at the bar, called them over, and offered to buy them a beer.  He had come upon the scene shortly after it occurred and told them he saw thick black hair on one victim and knew immediately that it was Marvin, but he was shooed away by law enforcement on the scene.

Somehow word came back from the engineer who must have had nightmares the rest of his life. Marvin and Fern knew they were going to be hit because at the moment of impact he was reaching for her as if to protect her, and she had a look of shock on her face.  How would you sleep at night with that memory?

Marilyn, the oldest child, would have graduated in 1962 like four of her cousins, but for the life snuffed short.  Sadly, she was instead honored in the funeral held two days later at DCV, attended by a few hundred people, many having to stand outside.

An eternal candles stands on the altar of First Lutheran Church, a common practice in many churches, I suppose, and both Richard Holstad and Bonnie Mack have told me their understanding was that it is in memory of a family killed in a horrible accident.  Without checking church history one can only say perhaps it was, or perhaps it was purchased and donated in their memory.  That would be appropriate.

All of our memories of NKHS are not happy, and though this one is not of NKHS so much as it is personal, I can't help but share this story, especially as my family elders are disappearing, this family completely so many years ago.  I honestly have no direct memories of Marilyn but have the thought that she would have been a very good person, and she may have graduated with us had her life not been shortened.  Each time I drive to Northwood I drive through the intersection and am reminded.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Rita Hayworth

OK, it's before our time, although the music is after our prime, but this is a pretty impressive collection of dancers teamed up with Rita Hayworth, and an awesome edit job with the Bee Gees music.  If you were ever close to this skill set my hat is off to you!  This is just a normal segue from Elvis . . . to Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire . . .

For those receiving this post by email, go to the blogsite to view the video.

Monday, January 28, 2013

another brush with fame

Somewhere in Florida, Chuck and Janis Hendrickson had a brush with fame, or a facsimile thereof.  This fellow may or may not have the singing skills of his mentor and Janis made no mention of it in her email, but he certainly seems to have some of the girth.

At a Lions Club event a few years ago we sold out the hall with an Elvis impersonator and I thought he did a really good job.  Afterwards he told a few of us privately that he was disappointed that some in the crowd seemed to have some disgust with what he was doing, unfortunately.  "They just don't get it," he said.  "I'm supposed to be the guy pretending to be Elvis, and they're supposed to be the audience pretending to be entertained by Elvis.  What don't they understand?"

In its own way, that was indeed profound.  Janis, did you get this fellow's email?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

what's weather to a Californian?

After my post about the cold, Stan Arendts sent along his memories, and Marilyn Weidler Ulve made comments as well.  Made me think more about the hoarfrost in the barn.  There was so much moisture there that many of the windows would collect the moisture from the air, alternately chilling and heating it to the point there was typically a bank of ice at the bottom of the window.  Just like the insides of a poorly designed refrigerator.

Here are Stan's memories:

I can really identify with this. Aside from 2 misadventures to CT and one to OH, I have spent most of my post NKHS days in warm climates. During the Iowa winter, I could not keep warm. I even resorted to sitting on the furnace grate, to no avail.

If we failed to keep the humidifier stocked, the wood in the house would actually begin to split from the dryness. Sometimes the window hoar frost was so bad, you couldn' see outside.

One of the few advantages was to comb your hair with water, go outside and let it freeze. Worked like butch wax, however, if my mother found out she would have a hissy fit. One of my sisters still lives in IA (Marshalltown) and fortunately for her, she loves the snow.

If I ever considered moving back to the "auld sod" I think my wife would divorce me. Even though she is from NYC she has never seen anything like the IA winters. I have never been anywhere else where you could tell someone was approaching by the squeaking noise made in the snow.

I spent a New Years Eve in Minneapolis around 1965. It was -26 (no wind chill) the day of departure the brand new demonstrator my father let me drive would not start. I made a pledge to God "Please deliver me from this wilderness and I will never return" I have never set foot there again and do not intend to do so.


Meanwhile, 20 miles west of here at the St Paul Cathedral, the true winter lovers are in the middle of their Winter Carnival and several crazies are participating in the Red Bull Crushed Ice skating competition.  Strangely, it was so cold the other day that they had to delay their start by 3 or 4 hours so the ice would warm up.  Seems that sub-zero weather (mid-20s are ideal) makes the ice so dry it cracks and causes problems.  That would fit Stan's comment about knowing someone is approaching because the snow squeaks.  Personally I think the squeaking mostly only happens up north.  You know, Bemidji, Duluth/Superior, Warroad, International Falls, Ashland.  I mean, it gets COLD up there.

You can watch competition live today as it is streamed at this link. It's way too cold for me to bother to attend, and I lack the interest to view it online. The whole drill seems an exercise in self-flagellation.  Here's a video of one of the skaters taken from his helmet-cam.  It doesn't really show how often he is actually in the air as he goes over several humps.

Friday, January 25, 2013

in the cold

Today the temp is darn near up to 20 degrees, which feels pretty good after the -10 and -16 we had over the past few days.  Stan and Merrilee, eat your hearts out!

Now that my brain is thawed out a little bit I thought I might come up with a story about the cold but fortunately didn't have too many.  Until I think about it.

Our farm house had an oil-burning space heater as the primary source of heat, and a small kitchen stove that was used to burn paper and some scraps, and in the cold of winter, pieces of wood or coal when we had it. When Mom got up she would close off the two doors that go into the kitchen and crank up that stove so one room would be nicely heated.  And it was.

Dad was the first one up, Mom shortly after, and I was next.  By the time I got my lazy bones rolling it didn't take long to dress because it was colder than blazes in our upstairs bedrooms.  In those days there was absolutely no insulation, and though we had at least some storm windows that would replace the screens, we still had a lot of hoar frost on the windows, or enough thin frost that you could write on it with your fingernails.  That meant the bedroom was cold . . .

Once dressed I would race to the barn where it would be so much warmer.  In the winter we housed 21 milking cows, 10 or 12 heifers, and 15 or 20 calves, all providing a heat source, putting enough moisture in the air that we ran a humidistat-controlled fan to get rid of some of it.  And in between duties it felt good to lean up against one of the cows because they were good and warm.
Talk about  hoarfrost on the windows - much was written on them, which only served to make my hands colder than they were.  Seems like all winter long my hands were rough and chapped because of that hoarfrost and the primary assignment of "washing" the cows.  The hands were never dry. I shake my head when I watch them milk the cows over at the Minnesota Zoo.  Something is not right about the automation.  Or the carousel platforms apparently in use in warmer states.

Could have been worse, I suppose.  Dad milked 10 or 12 cows when he started farming, all by hand.  Until he decided he should have more cows and less work so he bought a milking system.  My grandpa milked four cows every day as long as he lived, I think.  I don't know how you do that and sure wouldn't want to start today, but then again if you've done it forever I suppose your body is used to it.  Regardless the weather.  Just seems like a waste of time, and extraordinarily difficult with arthritis in the hands.

It might be easier to farm in the winter today with better equipment, insulation, and an elevated technology, but it was a pain 50 years ago because cold is devastating.  Water pipes break, handling anything is dangerous because of the heavy clothing you're wearing, tractors don't want to start - And we call this fond memories?

Friday, January 18, 2013

today's birthday party

Remember when a birthday party was a few friends, cake and ice cream, and everybody left not long after the ice cream was gone?  Or maybe your grandparents made a visit from a few miles away and their focus was primarily to visit with your parents?

More changes . . .  I got a call about a week ago from my son-in-law who had a load of 8 boys including my now 11-year-old grandson, who would soon be passing through town.  They had been jumping and bouncing for 2 or 3 hours in Oakdale, MN at JumpUppity, where kids can thrive in Jump Up Heaven.  (Or if you need corporate team-building you can bring in that "team" in need of liking each other, and turn your corporate world around.)

Brett and his buddies had slowed down very little by the time they made it to our house, where his Dad served ice cream with chocolate syrup.  And talk about a high level of noise and energy!  We old folks aren't used to that, for sure.  It's comical to watch them racing to and fro, upstairs and down, for no particular reason other than being somewhere else is better than being here.

That's our world today.  Here in Hudson we have the Giggle Factory, operating under the same premise. We use it for those rainy days when the grandsons are here and sanity is preferred. Though we haven't done a birthday party, the Giggle Factory is also set up for it.  You just bring the kids.

To their mind, we should go there every day, but honestly the shrieking is just about more than a person can handle, so we prefer the outdoor "Castle Park" with lots of swings, rope ladders, stairs, poles, horns, bells, and parents/grandparents happy to have a super place for the kids - for free.

So when your grand kids had their party, in Mason City, Des Moines, Chicago, or wherever, I'd guess you've seen the same thing.  Boundless joy, but it seems as if they never really wear out.  Like I would.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

non-linear linear thought

Logic is never linear.  It dashes to and fro and bounces off walls and makes hairpin turns and gets lost during detours.  Anything can be a catalyst, usually something unrelated to the task at hand, ricocheting your thoughts into an unexpected direction - a direction that inevitably leads to a solution linear thinking could never have approached.

That paragraph is from a Myron Bolitar book by Harlan Coben, and describes with great accuracy the process my thinking goes through as the stories of our youth pop into my head, with beautiful, symbolic phrases occurring to me in the middle of the night, often forgotten by morning when I may want to sit down and write out the story.  Or a song is played that reminds me of a moment or a time slot that has stuck with me, faithfully with time.  And sometimes one of you will write something to me that bounces and flies simultaneously, and I may forget it, pounce on it, or fail to tuck it back into the linear sequence that allows the reader to understand it as well.  Or it may become a centerpiece of a post.

A song like Blues for the Night Owl by Ramsey Lewis will make me stop what I'm doing, look at nothing, and recall the late-night KGLO radio program, Jazz Late Night, or some such title.  I'll hear the music in my head while visualizing a light snow, driving a '57 Pontiac down Highway 65, returning from an evening in Mason City, and the hairpin logic takes over so I may segue to thoughts of the other people who were in the car, a snowfall during which we may have been turning donuts, or how that relationship of that night may have ended - or took hold.

I may not have mentioned your name in any post, but I have been talking about you - did you notice?  The story is always about you - and you and you and you and you.  And there are many of you, some more cited than others, and all of you from the era we lived together.  If you don't understand any of this, that's OK, you don't have to, because this is just me, in the present, telling the process of that short time slot in my life that doesn't exist anymore except in my head.  And you have your own track that may or may not carry your own detail and may or may not have significance in your life anymore.

It's the human condition - the memory may escape, perhaps on purpose, or you may have it buried deep, in need of a prompt to pull it out of the deep blue as I often do. Hopefully one prompt will lead me to another - and another - to flesh out a story and share the memory.

How?  Perhaps your picture jumps out of the yearbook at me, an unknown youngster runs past my house, or an email arrives that triggers a memory.  As Myron says, anything can be a catalyst, usually something unrelated to the task at hand.

And so it is that I leapt from my chair to examine the concept I had just read, and to tell you I am eager to hear more from you so I can sort out more pieces.  And if you're not sure that I am talking about you, rest assured that I am.  I have no idea how much I don't know, about you or those times.  Share if you would.


If you're wondering where the heck all that came from, just know that I was totally struck by the Bolitar description of linear thinking, thoughts bouncing off walls, ricocheting, and sometimes getting lost.  The Oscar Mikkelson post is an example.  I had long thought of several stories about him, and they pretty much all came out when Jerry Pixley's Confirmation Bulletin arrived.  Then the process was one of establishing a linear connection so my jumbled thoughts would become understandable to others.

And sometimes you just have to unload, get things off your chest, as I just did.  The thoughts caused by Bolitar were bouncing and ricocheting, and writing them out was my only mental relief.  This time I chose to share it with you, for whatever reason, and maybe you learned something about me.  Or you.

It's just amazing how and when things come together.  My family knows I have unusual dreams.  OK, they would call them weird, but I prefer unusual.  For example, about a month ago I had a dream about a woman named Connie, who was the mother of students of mine in a prior life.  She was a good woman, and well known because she was an active parent and I saw her often at school.  After the dream about her, I realized I couldn't recall a single incident about her in our very separated social lives, and I honestly hadn't thought about her in more than 30 years!  So why in the world she was the subject of a dream in December of 2012 I will never know.

Such is the non-linear part of my thinking.

So why the Ramsey Lewis song?  It popped on my Google Play just after I read that Bolitar paragraph, and it came at a perfect time.  The song, by the way, had much of the syncopation and style of the typical jazz trio on that late night program, but if you listen to it you might also think of it as music used in a slinky strip club. If that offends you, sorry.  Or too bad.  If you care to hear it, click this link, which will take you to my Dropbox.

Send me something decent to write about, willya?

(I know, Wilma wouldn't accept willya . . .)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Confirmation and Oscar Mikkelson

Fran Pixley sent along a copy of the church bulletin from the Confirmation Services at First Lutheran Church on May 17, 1959.  I don't know that I can recall very much about that day but the legend of Oscar Mikkelson is lasting.

I'm not sure how Mom and Dad swung it, but Pastor Mikkelson was an honored guest at our home that day, and sat across the dining room table when we had our Confirmation Dinner.  It's a bit like having the Pope stop by, as I recall it.  And if I'm not mistaken it was the second time he had come for Sunday Dinner.

The first was following the Baptism of my sister in 1952.  That's in my head, anyway, so for purposes of the story, so be it.  Mikkelsons had just moved to town and we were honored, for the first time, with his presence, and like a good politician he was out and about mixing with the Congregation.  We moved outdoors to the woods near the house where Dad had set up a horseshoe pit, and the Reverend O was an eager participant.  Beyond that, he was glad to accept a cigar or two, which presumably were purchased to celebrate Kathy's birth.

Somewhere in his life he had spent time in Kentucky and had learned the virtues of a fine cigar so he was more than happy to partake.  He may not have liked the cigars that much but he endeared himself to the several Congregants in attendance by doing so and that's what it's all about.

Where that story may fall apart is the timeline of the events.  To be outside pitching horseshoes would have meant at least an April or even May event, which might stretch things given Kathy's birth in February. But like I say, I'm the writer, and so be it.

My most memorable interaction with this fine fellow was the Saturday morning Bible class when someone brought along a couple of white mice.  Bill Roberts would seem to be the correct culprit for this but he was a Methodist, I think, so I don't know why I think of him to do so except that's the way he would be.  Or maybe it was Mike Olson.  In any event, they wound up in my possession.  I thought they were pretty cool and was enjoying how they were sneaking up my sleeves - unaware of how ghastly quiet the room had suddenly become.

If you're guessing the Reverend O had noticed them, you are correct.  He was not at all amused by this provoking disruption of the class, expressing his anger to the point of banishing me to a room nearby.  Sitting there in isolation, I promised God I would read the Bible daily, never again partake of such silliness, or even further never sin again, all promises that lasted probably a week.  Maybe.

I don't know how long I sat there, several days it seemed, until he opened the door to beckon me back.  In truth, I think Reverend O was a bit embarrassed by his anger because when he did invite me back to the classroom he had a smile on his face to let me know all was forgiven.  So to speak.  And I don't think that story ever made it home.

One of the tasks of the Confirmands was to act as a candle lighter for the regular church services.  On some occasions I was hooked up with Arlo Severson to perform this duty, and what I remember the most is that through the task Arlo learned where they kept a supply of matches - and we accessed and used them for something that fortunately does not come to mind but was likely nefarious.  I just recall that Arlo was pretty enthused about having that access.

The most daunting part of the Confirmation process was the Questioning Sunday, when we stood alone in front of the Alter, parents and Congregation who dared to attend while we were theoretically grilled about our learnings and belief.  I can imagine no minister would ever want to display his failure to educate and most of the questions were pretty softball, some more than others.  Think of questions that might be answered with, say, the names of three books in the Old Testament.  Like Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Lambeau.  Or maybe it was Leviticus.  Let's face it, some members of the class who were confirmed had not been as, shall we say, studious as they could or should have been.

The late Jerry Pixley was indeed one of the confirmands, and his likeness is included in this photo of the class, second from the right in the front row.  The date must have been important enough for Jerry, or his mother, to have kept the Church Program, and thanks to Fran for passing it along!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

the transitions continue

Last week my Dad was back in the hospital again, this time with pneumonia.  He should be coming home today IF all the tests check out properly.  He had just begun getting back on his feet, using his computer to read and listen to music, making jokes with the nurses and feeling frisky, when he fell in the middle of the night, and progress was reversed.  Again.

Because of an original fall in September he was tightly watched, with numerous alarms attached.  For a man who's always been in control of his world and inventive about making things work, this was more than he could take.  Having only one arm hadn't stopped him from figuring out years ago how to clip his own fingernails, so he's pretty capable, and by golly if he wants his little toolkit he should have it.  At least in his opinion, although we don't know for sure what it is he's going to fix.

After a visit to the neurosurgeon to address the consequences of removing the alarms a plan had been put together with the agreement of LRH and he was ready to "get out of jail."  Until that mid-night fall.

Those who had or have had parents in nursing homes are familiar with the story, one I link to the issue of transition from care recipient to caregiver.  It's not like talking to your children about having to obey rules and being compliant, because he still sees himself as a fully capable adult.  The conversations are at times a little tense, and sometimes I know he's smirking behind my back, just like I did to him 50 years ago.  He's figuring that what I don't know won't hurt me, but he has more people reporting on him than we ever had teachers reporting on us.  As it should be.

As frustrating as this relationship is becoming, a lifetime of memories have become the source of solace, and a longer lifetime than others may know.  Many of our classmates lost their parents long ago.  Or there's the example of my grandson's girlfriend, now about age 21, whose father disappeared from the family a couple years ago, and whose mother died from cancer this fall.  There, indeed, is a load to bear.

Makes a person think about all the energy and creativity that we had but didn't appreciate in our youth, and now may pine to replace, knowing that we can't.  Call it "coming of age" perhaps.  We'll never have it all - except the transitions.  On to the next phase, right?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Wilma Helgeland Obituary

Wilma's obituary was just posted in the Globe-Gazette.  To view it, click here.  A celebration of life service will be held at a later date.

The family would like to suggest that those wishing to give a memorial in her memory consider a memorial contribution to the Northwood Public Library.