Archive for October 2009

Snowbirds

Posted: Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I’m watching flocks of robins outside my window pane
Gobbling up sun dried berries and shivering  in the rain.
Their instinct says it’s time to leave as they fuel up for the trip
The branches swaying to and fro offering very little grip.
 
I love it when robins come each spring but hate it when they go
Their arrival means green grass and flowers, their departure foretells of snow
 
I wonder if they’re nervous about the arduous journey South
There’s an urgency about them as each berry finds each mouth.
The older birds will be out front, when to the skies they soar
Young ones wisely stay behind those who’ve been this way before.
 
I’d like to fly off with you, and leave all cares behind
To where it’s always summer, worms and berries easy finds.
But I’ll be right here waiting when you fly home once again
I’m the big guy in the window with a Kodak in his hand.

Fraidy Cat

Posted: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Well, it’s that time of year again when, for some mysterious reason, we feel the need to dress up in frightening costumes like monsters, ghosts and witches or George W. Bush…then go around trying to scare the crap out of people. We decorate our homes to look like cemeteries..we take down old glory and run up a skull and crossbones flag in its place. It’s all in the spirit of Halloween which was invented to coax out those hidden fears we all have.One of my favorite movies is a comedy called “Defending your life” starring Albert Brooks. After his character is killed in a car accident, he ends up..with thousands of other new dead people..in a place called Judgment City where everyone is put on trial to assess their life and determine whether or not they move on to the next level in the universe. “The purpose of this whole thing,” says has lawyer Mr. Diamond (played by the wonderful Rip Torn) “is to get smarter and learn to overcome our fears.”
Poor Albert Brooks..it turns out..had not learned that lesson in several go-arounds on earth and was about to be sent back for another try.
I really identified with Brooks’ character because (I hate to admit it) I’ve been a fraidy cat all of my life..and I’m pretty sure I know when and where it started.
I was six years old in 1952 and begged to see “The day the earth stood still” showing at The Volga Auditorium Theater. My big brother and I always sat in the front row or as close to the screen as possible but this movie was nothing like Hans Christian Andersen or anything from Disney and had me wishing to be as far away from the screen as I could get. "The day the earth stood still"  not for a squeemish impressionablesix year old.There was just something about that robot coming out of a flying saucer that scared the beejeebers out of me and then when the alien spaceman, played by Michael Rennie, warned earthlings to shape up or face destruction, I closed my eyes, plugged my ears and slid down in the seat. There wasn’t a monster in it but the psychological effect it had on me was unnerving.
Four years later, my friend, Dixon Hoberg, invited me along to see a movie called Rodan..playing at the theater in Brookings.  It was a terribly made film from Japan about a flying monster. Terrible or not, I couldn’t get that creature out of my head resulting in several sleepless nights.
I vowed to never..ever..go to another horror film in my life. It’s a promise I’ve pretty much kept too.
For example, I’ve never seen “Aliens,” “The Exorcist” or any of the Halloween slasher-type movies. My kids even had to twist my arm to take them to “Jaws.”
When our granddaughter, Allison, wanted to see “Harry Potter” on her birthday, I had no idea it was going to be filled with all the elements that frightened me as a kid..but I got through it. After all, how could I hide my eyes, plug me ears and slump down in the seat with her sitting right there next to me?
This week, another granddaughter, Zoey, is staying with us. She just turned 8 and would like to see “Where the wild things are.”
“Is she up to seeing this?” I asked my daughter when I called ..hoping she’d say no so I wouldn’t have to go. “Oh yeah, she’s been asking about it and will be just fine."
We’ll find out this evening. 
I have no doubt Zoey can handle it. I just hope the wild things don’t keep me awake all night.
 

Autumn Blues

Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Looking out my window has me struggling to describe the feelings these gloomy days conjure up. There are the usual ones, of course; dreary, dank, dark, glum, depressing, dismal, despairing, dejected, disappointing and melancholy.
But, I think what I feel most is ticked off.
My reasons are purely selfish.
My golf game was finally starting to come around. By the time I play again, I’ll have forgotten everything that brought about that improvement.
I was hoping that Linda and I would get one more chance to go for a long ride in the convertible before covering it up for winter.
The tan on my ample legs is starting to fade…..my….”WAIT A MINUTE LUND,” I can hear you saying, “you’re complaining because you can’t play golf or go riding in your fancy schmancy car?!.  “Get over yourself!” 
Think of the farmers stuck in the house drinking coffee..staring blankly out the window at a bumper crop in the field wondering why God hasn’t answered their prayers for the rain to stop long enough for them to bring-in  that bountiful harvest before it rots in a sea of mud.
Or how about Sioux Falls growing homeless population having to cuddle up on a cardboard mattress under a bridge somewhere?
 
You’re right. I shouldn’t complain. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Still, little pep-talk Bible verses and the fact that others have it tougher than you, are not always enough to erase this weather-induced moodiness.
I think I’ll take that ride anyway..maybe go talk to a frustrated farmer.
I’m gonna give our Pastor a call and tell him to go ahead and put Linda and me on that list to serve at The Banquet next month.
I have friends and family members who are hurting and might appreciate a visit.
Well, whadda ya know, that brilliant red cardinal just landed on our now leaf-less crabapple tree. He sure is beautiful silhouetted against the grey sky.
Starting to feel better already.
I sure wish my legs were not changing from golden bronze to pasty white so quickly, though.
 
Oh, a little postscript here.The other day I received an e-mail with, what I thought was, a teriffic idea that just might give you peace of mind or even save your life.Not everyone has a home alarm system but most everyone, these days, has a car with a set of keys on a fob containing buttons to lock or unlock the doors and trunk..plus one that makes the horn sound. Well, take those keys with you to bed at night. If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the panic button for your car.  The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies. If the burlar/rapist hears that he likely won’t stick around. Plus, after a few seconds, all the neighbors will be looking out their windows to see who’s out there and sure enough the criminal won’t want that.You’re welcome.

Weekend Observations

Posted: Monday, October 19, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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“This could be the last nice day we have for awhile, I’m not going to waste it sitting in the house,” Linda announced as I poured my second cup of coffee and headed for the computer room. “I’ll be out in the back putting the deck furniture away and winterize the plants.”
That’s where I’m supposed to say, “wait for me, honey, I’ll get dressed and help.”
Instead, I said something like this: “Denny and I have a tee time at 1:20 and I’ve got a blog to write.”
“Yeah, that’s fine,” she said. But I could tell there were little icicles hanging on every syllable.
 
All in all, it was a pretty good weekend. On Friday afternoon, we met up with our friends, the Graves, and headed over to Worthing to play table shuffleboard at Boondocks. Four geezers getting all excited over that silly game and getting stares from the regular customers who wished we’d tone down the racket.
 This was followed by dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, the Brandon Steak House. My old friend, Bob Miller has been running that place for 30 years now and it is still the best quality and value around. Bob..who had vowed to go to jail rather than not allow his customers to smoke in the bar area..has, much to my surprise and I’m sure at the urging of his lovely wife, Marie, accepted the reality of the ban and won’t become a martyr.
Speaking of fantastic restaurants. We had a birthday party for Linda’s brother at Michaels..located just across from Elmwood Golf Course on Russell..and it is an exercise in dining perfection that only comes from years of experience in customer satisfaction.
Many of you may remember Michaels when it was located in Worthington. It was worth the hour drive to get there in order to savor the wonderful food and impeccable service.  Owner, Larry Lang, is a human dynamo who seems to fly around the dining areas, often with a pot of coffee in each hand, greeting and seating his guests.  Michaels also has the world’s best onion rings (I’d say “arguably” the best but if you tried them you’d agree.) which are served piled high in a huge basket..often at no charge if you have a coupon from the paper. I’m not supposed to eat them, of course, which makes the very mention of them cause me to drool on the keyboard.
Two of our grandsons enjoyed the sweet taste of victory on the fields of athletic competition over the weekend.
Michael was among 13 baseball players chosen to play an all star game against some of Iowa’s best in Sioux City. His team won both games.
And, Tucker helped keep West Central’s unbeaten record intact and exact a little revenge for last year as the Trojans beat Dell Rapids in high school football.
Speaking of football, the Minnesota Vikings proved once again that there is no such thing as a comfortable lead when they play. By games end, the living room floor was covered with chunks of grey and brown hair..pulled from my head while watching that game.
I also wasted four hours watching the much ballyhooed History Channel special, JFK 3 Shots That Changed America. It promised new insights into the Kennedy Assassination and the first part was indeed fascinating as they showed never before seen news coverage..including photos and film..from the time of Kennedy’s arrival in Texas..to the killing of Oswald by Jack Ruby. But then the special drifted back into the old conspiracy theory trap that has been scientifically debunked in recent years. One of the most convincing was an ABC special narrated by Peter Jennings shortly before his death. It’s an exhaustive study using the latest technology and concludes beyond most any reasonable person’s doubt, that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman and the Warren Commission was right. But the History Channel never mentioned all the new evidence..choosing instead to fuel the fires of conspiracy theorists again.
Anyway, that’s my weekend..and there’s the blog I told Linda I must write.
And, here she comes back into the house..her chores done. Funny..she doesn’t seem too angry. A nice Autumn day will lift anyone’s mood.
“Honey, will you clean off my golf shoes.”
Just kiddin’.

Confessions Of A Halloween Vandal

Posted: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I certainly hope the statute of limitations applies here because I’m about to confess to a crime from my youth that continues to haunt me more than any ghost or goblin ever could this time of year.
I’m pretty sure it was in the fall of 1959 because I had reached that awkward age of 13 which meant I was too old to go trick or treating. That was the first of many lessons I would learn in my lifetime that getting older wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be.  
Anyway, my farm cousin was in town and he was none too pleased either about being shut off from the joys of going door to door extorting candy. So we conjured up a plan to hit the streets and wreak havoc around town. If we can’t have treats..we said…we’re going to pull a few Halloween tricks.  Well, our bravado was strong until I sneaked up to a neighbor’s shed in the alley. There were some boards stacked up against the building and a step ladder leaning against it. My plan was to carry them off and dump ‘em in a neighbor’s yard. That first foray into vandalism had my heart racing so fast I nearly fainted. I managed to toss a couple boards onto a nearby lawn and knock the ladder down when the back porch light came on and we exploded into a dead run fully expecting a load of buckshot in our backsides.
Then, just as quickly as it came, the terror left and we proceeded to work our way downtown to see if we could gang up with other pubescent teens roving the streets looking to make trouble.  Sure enough, there were about 10 kids hanging out in front of the drug store and even though most of them were older, we were invited to tag along on their mission of mayhem.
Anything that wasn’t fastened down or locked up was fair game to be tossed onto Kasan Avenue..our main street. It was littered for three blocks with garbage barrels, lawn chairs, bicycles, flower pots and firewood. Every time we’d see the town cop, Ferman Feeney, we’d take off running in different directions only to rendezvous back at the drug store..act as if nothing had happened and plan another raid.  Earlier, one of the guys  put a bag of poop on the front step of Mr. Holtz..the high school agriculture teacher..set it on fire, knocked on the door. We all ran like hell hoping to see him stomp out the flame and get feces on his shoe. Mr. Holtz, however, had obviously seen that prank before and just let the bag burn. He knew who the likely suspects were and would exact his revenge when he had them in study hall the next day. (Ferman Feeney eventually got tired of being outsmarted and out run by us rotten hooligans so he started deputizing members of the local Jaycee chapter on Halloween night which dramatically reduced the crime rate.)
Being part of a gang of vandals was pretty cool, but you can only tip over so many back alley burn barrels before it gets sort of boring. That’s when we spotted Pete driving up the street in his ’49 Studebaker.
Pete lived on a farm west of town. He was three years older than us but we’d known each other all our lives so when we hollered for him to stop..he did and we piled in.
We couldn’t wait to tell him about all the evil activities we’d been up to..littering the streets, soaping windows and dodging Feeney.
Pete just laughed and shook his head. “That’s nothing.”  “When I was your age, we used to go around the country on Halloween night tipping over outhouses.”  “Now that’ll put the fear of god into ya.” He said
Whoa..that’s big time vandalism compared to our little petty offenses.
“Yeah,” I said, “ too bad nobody has outdoor cans anymore. That’d be fun.”
“Oh, there are still a few around,” Pete said, “but most of ‘em are outta town. You wanna check ‘em out?”
My mind said, good grief NO..what if we got caught? This is reform school stuff.But instead I blurted out, “heck yeah.” And we headed toward the country school just down the road from my cousin’s place.
We drove by slowly on the gravel road making sure there was nobody behind the school building guarding the biffy.
“We gotta be careful,” Pete said. “I’ve heard of people moving the privy a few feet off the hole so if a vandal approached with intentions of tipping it, he’d fall right into the pit. That’d be tough to explain to mom on wash day.”
Pete pulled his Studebaker into the driveway, shut off the lights and whispered..let’s go.
I have never been as excited and afraid at the same time as I was at that moment. We crouched down as if sneaking up on a German machine gun nest. Then Pete said, “On three…one, two, three…we all gave a mighty shove and over she went with a thud.
The dirty deed done, we flew back to the car and sped off in a cloud of dust.
The next day I was sick to my stomach at the thought of somebody having to clean up the mess we caused.
All those hours sitting in church and Sunday school..wasted.
All the hopes and dreams my parents had for their son to be a “good boy” ..dashed.
I wish now, I’d have summoned up the courage to confess my crimes right there and then..but I didn’t, of course..and it’s pretty late now. Perhaps 50 years of guilt and shame I feel each Halloween is punishment enough.

How’s Captain Eleven These Days?

Posted: Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Last Spring around the time of Dave Dedrick’s 81st birthday, he and his lovely wife, Marjean, came down to Skelly’s to hear Mogen’s Heroes play for the big St. Patrick’s Day celebration  that always packs the place.
When I got up to sing a couple songs, I mentioned that my old pal Captain 11 was in the audience and he had a birthday coming up. 
When Dave stood up to acknowledge the crowd and said “How’s my crew today?”  Everyone gleefully shouted loud in response, “FINE!” and then erupted into cheers and applause. Next they all recited the famous words heard every day at the beginning of “The Captain Eleven” program that entertained kids on Keloland TV for over 40 years: “One man in each century is given the power to control time..etc.”
It was obvious by the tear in Dave’s eye that he was thrilled and moved by the outpouring of affection from so many former Captain Eleven crew members who hadn’t forgotten even though it had been over a decade since he signed off the air for the last time.
For thousands and thousands of kids like me, the Captain was bigger than life..the nice guy in the blue uniform who liked kids; a hero that reminded us each day to “Mind mom and dad, eat everything they tell you to eat, brush your teeth and say your prayers before you go to bed..that’s the most important part.”
I share this with you today because one of the questions I’m asked most often is “how’s Captain Eleven doing?” Well, at the moment the answer has to be “not too well” and, if you still follow his advice about saying your prayers..I hope you’ll send a few his way.
Dave has had a rough go of it lately with a variety of health issues..not the least of which is a back condition that is particularly painful.
The doctors and nurses are working hard to fix him though..so keep looking up.To see how popular Dave still is with fans check out Friends of Captain 11 on facebook.
Another longtime friend, Gary Randall of Madison, could also use some divine healing.
Gary is one of the most talented and gentle people I’ve ever met.His amazing singing voice is only matched by his skills as a guitar player and song writer. Many years ago, Gary, decided to share those skills along with his faith, primarily through a music ministry in churches and other Christian settings.
Recently while working on his house, Gary fell 20 feet when scaffolding failed. He suffered a crushed pelvis and severely broken wrist. His sister tells me he is mending but the way back will be long and difficult.
Gary would never ask himself, but I know he and his wife, Deb could sure use any help they can get..spiritually AND in meeting their down-to-earth needs. Click here to learn more about Gary and his calling.

Miss The HHH? You Dome Right!

Posted: Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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It’s supposed to snow in Minneapolis after midnight Friday.
Temperatures for the weekend are forecast in the mid forties with nighttime lows around 30.
Cold, snowy weather is just as common as Indian Summer in these parts this time of year which is why I’m awfully glad Minneapolis has a dome in which to play post season baseball.
 Pretty smart of those Minnesotans to construct a stadium with a roof to shelter players and fans from the elements and assure that every professional contest will go on as scheduled even if the weather outside is frightful.
Can you imagine what it would be like having to sit outdoors trying to watch a baseball game at night in 30 degree temperatures with 30 mile an hour winds and light snow falling?
You know..like it usually does in October..or April in the upper Midwest.
Oh wait..that’s exactly what’s going to happen in 2010.
 I was talking with my old friend, KSOO-Radio news guy, and avid Twins fan, Gene Hetland, about this the other day. He recently interviewed Twins’ general manager, Bill Smith, and mentioned that the Twins fan base is pretty vast and a lot of out of state folks may not drive a long way to attend a ballgame if there’s a chance of bad weather.  Smith says he understands but a retractable roof stadium was just too expensive and they were lucky to get what they got. Trouble is, “ what they got” is a structure which was designed and located in such a way that a roof could NEVER be added even if financing became available later.
 Can’t wait to take in a ballgame on a nice mild sunny day like we always have in Apr.& Oct.
I’ve ranted here before about how building a new stadium in Minnesota without a retractable roof is just silly..but dome haters were so anxious to get out of there, they jumped on the only funding option available: a Hennepin County sales tax…plus a few million from the Twins.
Too bad the Pohlad family couldn’t have sprung for the extra cash. If  they were short, they could have a least given  Denny Sanford a call.
Anyway, it’s been fun to see the old Hump Dome refusing to give up the ghost; spoiling a lot of goodbye/good riddance eulogies that a lot of folks had planned.
The Monday Night Football game in the dome between the Vikes and Packers in which Brett Favre lived up to all the hype, also delivered the largest TV audience in cable television history.
According to Nielsen, nearly 22 million viewers tuned in to see Favre and the Vikings beat the legendary quarterback’s old team by seven points. "With all her faults, I love her still,"
Yes sir.. it all happened right there in the despised HHH Metrodome where just a few hours before , over 50 thousand screaming fans saw the Minnesota Twins pull off a miracle by completing a comeback from a seven game deficit to tie the Tigers…THEN on Tuesday go on to beat Detroit before another packed house  in one of the most exciting games ever played.  
A game that would have been called because of rain had it been outdoors.
 

Comic Books & Cinnamon Oil

Posted: Friday, October 2, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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A couple years ago, Linda’s mom..Mother Mary..gave  me a very special Christmas gift..one that keeps on giving year round.
She had noticed how much I enjoyed reading her Reminisce Magazine every time we visited her house in Alcester so she got me a subscription which I really look forward to receiving every couple months because of all the wonderful old photos and short stories it contains…especially from the era when I was a kid.
One recent picture looked so familiar that I had to double check to make sure it wasn’t taken in my hometown drug store.
 Reminisce Magazine Photo
I don’t recognize the kids..or the dog..but the magazine racks are pretty much identical to the ones I used to paw through at Tupper Pharmacy in my youth.
What’s missing is the cast iron radiator that provided a nice warm perch to sit upon during the winter months as I and every other kid in town stopped by to catch up on our magazine and comic book reading.  If it was really cold outside and Mr. Tupper had the heat cranked way up, the radiator bench would get too hot to plant our buns on for very long. We had but a couple of minutes at best before running a serious risk of getting second degree burns on our backsides.  
Mr. Tupper had his magazine racks in two locations..one on either side of the front door. Those on the south end were more for grown-ups. ( No..not porn or anything close to it. This is Volga in the fifties.) It’s where you could find  Life and Look…Colliers and Good Housekeeping, Time, Newsweek..all of the movie fan magazines..TV Guides..newspapers and a few books.
On the north side were all the comics.
I used to work both sides of the aisle: My favorite was Mad Magazine which was kept on the south end.
On the comic book side, I loved “Blackhawk” about a special group of ace pilots from all nationalities who made up the Blackhawk squadron taking on all challenges to peace and freedom. 
Oh, yeah, I also regularly paged through all the Archie comics but rarely ever actually bought anything off the racks.
I don’t know why Mr. Tupper put up with us sitting there reading for free the periodicals he’d purchased for people to buy.  Maybe it was because we always spent money on other things in his store..especially, cherry cokes and ice cream treats at the soda fountain.
Tupper was also our source for cinnamon oil. He kept little vials of the stuff stashed behind the drug counter in the back. We would dip toothpicks in the oil which was so spicy hot it would make our lips numb.
 That’s Mr. Tupper wearing his familiar pharmacist frock dispensing a Coke which most of us would customize with a shot of cherry syrup. This photo is from his ad in the 1964 Volga High School yearbook.
Eventually, though, the profit margin on magazines and comic books apparently got a little tight for Mr. Tupper because one day we came in to do our usual gratuitous browsing only to find them all STAPLED shut!
He’d obviously had enough.
But in closing down the free library, he torqued-off  a lot of  former freeloaders: many vowing never to darken his doorway ever again and took their soda/ice cream business just up the street to the Silver Bell Café.
Most eventually came back, though.
Unable to go too long without their fix of comic book superheroes, one by one they reluctantly returned to Tupper’s Pharmacy..coughed up the ten cents..and took their purchase home to read.
Anyway, that’s what seeing that photo in Reminisce Magazine this week made me think of.
So it was kind of a shock when I read in today’s paper that Duane Tupper died last Monday at the age of 86.
 
He and his family had stayed in Volga until 1969 then moved to Clear Lake where he ran a drug store for another 25 years before retiring in 1995.
I wonder if he sold magazines and comic books there too or if he kept a stash of cinnamon oil in the back.No matter. R.I.P.