Weather, granddaughter's birthday inspire column
Glimpses of Yesteryear
Tuesday, January 22, 2013 7:48 AM
Two things prompted this column: The mild less-than-snowy winter, and my granddaughter, Kristen's 21st birthday.
Mary Jo Dathe standing at the end of her driveway with shoulder-high snow. Do you suppose we'll have winters like this again soon?
It was a pleasant day in October 1991 when Gordy and I traveled south into Iowa to visit cousins. Returning late afternoon, I don't recall any warnings or worries, but a nasty freezing rain began, making roads treacherous. As we neared the Iowa-Minnesota border, semi drivers were giving up and heading for shelter. For some crazy reason we kept coming north, the only vehicle on the road, creeping along carefully, tensely noting the power lines heavily coated with ice and sagging almost into the ditches. What if one broke and whip lashed into our car and electrocuted us, or if we skidded into the ditch with no possibility of anyone coming along to help? Foolhardy folks, for sure.
Nearing Spring Valley, we rejoiced in the thought of arriving home safely and a warm bed. Hah! There was a car in our driveway and people in our bed. Grand Meadow, where son Gene lived, had been knocked out of power so he, his eight-month pregnant wife, and 2 year old Rheanna were occupying our house, actually "for the duration" of about a week.
Spring Valley Tribune articles noted that on Friday, "Halloween turned wicked!" Freezing rain and 8 inches of snow with a half-inch of ice on trees and power lines meant Mower County reported two-thirds of their residents were without power yet on Monday. Grand Meadow, Racine and Byron all were without power for a week, folks keeping warm with wood-fired stoves, fireplaces, portable generators, or seeking shelter at the Legion or nursing home. We saw the aftermath for many years with trees that lost branches from ice damage. At any rate, Kristen was born a month later, and it was the beginning of a long winter, as the ice stayed until spring.
What was happening in the community? The former Denny's Super Valu (present library location) was reopening under new ownership: Jim and Deb Doherty and David and Kathy Tart. A '69 S.V. grad, and graduate from Hamline University Law School, attorney Donovan Frank, was chosen Chief Justice of the 6th Judicial District at Virginia, Minn. Kiwanis Club honored its oldest member, Harold Biel, and welcomed newest member, Dave Kabes, recently appointed EDA director. Kiwanis chose Elden Grabau as Citizen of the Year, with a fine program scheduled at the community center and gifts designated for the scholarship fund.
Lots was going on at the school. Andrew Neville noted that Homecoming events were very successful thanks to donations from businesses and individuals. The school board was preparing for joining the district with Wykoff, which involved a five-year plan of "cooperation and combination" with Superintendent Walt Simonson and board president Dwain Jorgensen in the news. Newly elected non-voting school board members were high school students Kindra Ramaker and Eric Reiland, who could take concerns to the board. Later, a joint school board considered the new name for the district; three finalist names were Kingsland, Spring Valley-Wykoff, or Central; the students chose Kingsland.
Cartoonist Ed Fischer of the Rochester Post-Bulletin visited sixth grade with caricature and cartoon classes, part of an Omnibus program for high potential students. Pastor Marlene Pankonin and husband, Dave Gieske, hosted an AFS student from Japan. Yuko Tozuska found it hard to get used to our cold weather.
Newly appointed as directors of the United Fund were Ken Churchill and Jay Webster. Also serving: Jan Christopherson, Lucille Daggett, Rick Kvam, Dave Phillips, Judy Rose and Walt Simonson. Advertising in the paper were the Brick House, a One-Stop Cheese and Sub Shop (in the old creamery), and Don's IGA ran two full page ads of specials each week, this week offering hamburger at $1.29 a pound.
Laurel Norman made headlines when she placed third in the Minnesota State Hand Corn Husking contest here, going on to the National Contest in Iowa. Alvin Rudlong was elected president of the S.V. Milk Producers, voting unit of Land O' Lakes, a dairy food cooperative marketing nationwide, at its annual meeting,. On the Farm Page, the question was asked, "Will El Nino bring drought to 1992?" Answer: "It appears farmers' decision making tries to deal with whatever weather is served up rather than long-term forecasts." They deal with it by diversifying farming practices and rotating crops.
Seven bowling leagues were active: Juniors, Seniors, Monday Night Ladies, Church, Merchants, Wednesday Night Ladies, and Urban.
There was concern about the senior dining program as at least 25 diners were needed per day to continue grant money, and Meals on Wheels depended on the senior dining number. Most felt its greatest benefit was the fellowship, although meals were well done and appreciated. Six regulars at senior dining celebrated a total of 496 years at the latest birthday party: Myron Cooper, Clarence Welch, Bernice Westphal, John Payne, Jewel Buss and Hugh Willmarth. The cake had 90 candles!
Bloomfield Cloverleaves 4-H Club placed first in the county competition for its play, "Wizard of Oz;" best actor chosen was Matthew Engesser as the Scarecrow, and best actress, Mary Howard, as Dorothy.
The historical society was planning "A Visit from St. Nicholas" at the Pioneer Home Museum in December, with six rooms decorated to delight the children, plus a house tour with Heidi Hagen at 310 North Broadway.
A year ago on March 14, I was picking up sticks in the backyard on a 70-degree day! Let's hope we get more snow to relieve the present drought conditions, welcomed by the snow-blowing businesses, the snowmobilers, and other outdoor enthusiasts.