"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What if America had been settled from the west?

John Candy in "Wagons East!"
Any little boy could hum the "Bonanza" theme song in the 1960s. Lorne Greene was like a father figure to our nation. Greene did not always play such sympathetic roles. In the Charlton Heston movie about the Battle of New Orleans, Greene played a civic leader who had cold feet. And in "Peyton Place" - remember? - he played the bad guy lawyer who wanted to portray the rape victim as a slut.
Hollywood re-shaped Greene's image for "Bonanza." He and his three sons on the series became beloved all across the land. It was the days of the "Big 3" TV networks. Any popular show would be known to everyone. It really put the actors/actresses in a fishbowl for celebrity treatment. Today you can be a minor celebrity by being involved in a pawn shop!
TV westerns were indeed big in the 1960s, my formative time in life. We see the later half of the 19th Century portrayed as Hollywood imagined it in the American Old West, western Canada and Mexico. Here's a question: what if America had been settled (by Europeans) starting in the West, and the movement was east? Would TV have shown "easterns" instead of "westerns?" John Candy's last movie was "Wagons East," an amusing premise for a movie although it was a failure.
The stereotyped western cowboy a la John Wayne is overdone. The stereotype was built up for entertainment purposes. The development of the USA West was really a grudging, tedious and dangerous proposition for all, as we saw the evolution of the "territories" into states. Minnesota completed this in 1858. Remember the territorial judge in the Clint Eastwood movie "Hang 'Em High?" He said "until we become a state and there is a court of appeals, I'm the law."
Conflict with the indigenous people - the "Indians" - was inevitable and was bound to be unpleasant. We had an outright war in Minnesota at the same time as the Civil War.
Westerns on television had their apex in 1959. The prime time shows numbered 29. That's a lot of opportunities to hear someone say "all right, draw!" Back around 1970 there was an outright purge of such shows, orchestrated by network leaders, who decided it was time to "de-ruralize." Shows like Andy Griffith and "Petticoat Junction" were phased out in order to go urban with the Norman Lear type shows.
Today the old rural stuff can still be appreciated on obscure cable TV channels like "Inspiration." Oh, "The Big Valley" with Barbara Stanwyck! Such fare can be entertaining even today. But it could never pass for first-rate, top tier TV anymore because the overall tone is too ponderous. The shows need time developing the plots. Many of the plots seem banal today.
 
A genre to teach us lessons
In the background of all the TV westerns was morality. I suppose we'd call it the Judeo Christian ethic. Some of those shows can grate on you, by how they hit you over the head with who "the bad guys" are. There was a series called "Lawman" starring John Russell. Indeed, the morality had an element of respecting duly designated authority (e.g. the sheriff).
Respecting authority became a complicated thing during the 1960s, as our duly elected national leaders led us through the moral abomination of the Vietnam war. Kids got the message that they should not hesitate being non-conformists. TV westerns seemed to become trite and irrelevant in this climate. There may have been overall burnout from the format.
I fondly remember "The Virginian" TV series. It was significant partly because of its 90-minute length. James Drury played the title character but he got upstaged by Doug McClure who played "Trampas." I suspect Drury was happy to keep riding the gravy train of that show which had its run from 1962 to 1971. That perfectly spanned my childhood years. I graduated from high school in 1973. The show ran on NBC which was the only network we got for a while.
Drury plays the tough foreman of the Shiloh Ranch. "Trampas" is his top hand. The series was set in Medicine Bow, Wyoming. The ranch was named for the Civil War battle. Season 9 brought a name change for the show, to "The Men From Shiloh." The opening theme song was replaced. (Old fans will always be able to hum the original theme which sounded like it was played on French horn.)
 
My own musical tip of the hat
I have written a song in recognition of the old cowboys, even though such souls may reflect an exaggerated myth. Surely there were some men in the Old West like this. My song has a verse-climb-chorus construction. The part about the "sword pushed in the ground" is out of Stevens County History. Some children at play really did find this near the remnants of the Wadsworth Trail.
I'm happy to share the lyrics here, to my "Cowboys Did Define Us." It fits a melody I originally wrote for a song about Rocky Colavito the baseball player. Thanks for reading.

"Cowboys Did Define Us"
by Brian Williams
 
The Civil War was done
Graycoats on the run
Now our nation sought its destiny
Men would find their path
Through the untamed land
Even though the dangers were supreme
 
Some were seeking gold
Optimism bold
Others simply wanted something new
And through the prairie grass
Wagon wheels were fast
Western vistas beckoned for those crews
 
Hist-ry in the making
People put stakes down
Let's pay homage to the rugged souls
 
CHORUS:
Cowboys did define us
As we stretched our limits
Only in America did cowboys have their place
They defied the long odds
As they did their big job
Cowboys did define us where the rattlesnakes held sway
 
 
They cussed about barbed wire
Feared the prairie fire
Forded rivers with undaunted grit
Guns were at their side
So they could survive
Hats and vests were always part of it
 
Out Arizona way
There's a whole new day
Yes I know the heat could leave you worn
Tombstone made its mark
With its violent spark
Still the church bells rang on Sunday morn
 
Trampas on the TV
Showed how it was done
And ol' Hoss was ready with his smile
 
(repeat chorus)
 
A sword pushed in the ground
Was a grave kids found
Near a trail that headed to a fort
A modest resting place
Still it had God's grace
Let's remove our hats and cry no more
 
The women weren't all pure
Hardy though they were
Still their vision matched up with the rest
"Gunsmoke" showed us how
Everyone was bound
See Miss Kitty match up with the best
 
Some of them wore bonnets
Children held their hand
As they crossed the bless-ed new found land
 
(repeat chorus)
 
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, May 18, 2018

Softball: unearned runs give Tigers rare loss

Melrose 3, Tigers 2
Our Tigers were reminded that they are not world beaters on Thursday. The reminder came here in Morris where it was the Dutchmen of Melrose carving out a one-run advantage.
Liz Dietz was the hard-luck losing pitcher for our Motown crew. All three of the runs that Dietz allowed were unearned. She fanned six batters, walked two and gave up just three hits in her seven innings. She fanned six batters, walked two and gave up just three hits in her seven innings. Melrose won the game 3-2.
The Tigers jumped out to the early lead at 1-0. Melrose got the score knotted one-all in the third. Each team scored one run in the fifth, then Melrose got the game-winner in the sixth. The Melrose line score was 3-3-3 while our Tigers put up 2-5-4 numbers. Yes, the four errors hurt the Motown cause. Note that we out-hit the Dutchmen.
Dietz's pitching opponent was Makiya Luetmer. Luetmer retired the Tigers in the bottom of the seventh to polish things off for Melrose. Luetmer had a strikeout total of two. She walked two batters and gave up five hits and two runs (one earned).
Five different Tigers each had one hit: Bailey Marty, Emma Bowman, Dietz (with an RBI), MacKenzie Hockel (a hit in her only at-bat) and Karly Fehr. The three Melrose hits were off the bats of Luetmer, Amy Austin and Allison Pohlmann.
Click on the link below to read about the following: the 11-1 softball win over Benson, the 4-3 baseball defeat vs. Minnewaska, the 3-0 baseball win over Hancock with Parker Dierks throwing a two-hitter, and the girls golf meet at the Minnewaska Golf Club. I also share about the grades 7-12 choir concert, so well attended. This post is on my companion blog site, "Morris of Course." Thanks for reading. - B.W.
 
Baseball: Montevideo 4, Tigers 1
The Montevideo diamond was the site for a baseball clash between the Thunder Hawks and our Tigers on Thursday. One inning saw the host T-Hawks get all the momentum they needed to prevail. That inning was the fifth. Monte rallied for all four of its runs in a 4-1 triumph over the Tigers.
We grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first but were unable to score any more. Monte had a slight edge in hits, 6-5. The Tigers committed two errors compared to one by Monte.
Jackson Snell pitched all seven innings for the host. Snell set four Tiger batters down on strikes. He walked just one while allowing five hits and the one MACA run which was unearned. Parker Dierks was the pitcher of record for Motown. Dierks struck out two batters and walked two while giving up five hits and two runs (earned). Brock Anderson hurled for two innings for MACA. Brock struck out two batters, walked one and gave up one hit and two runs, neither earned.
John Van Ravenswaay doubled as part of a two-for-three showing for Montevideo. Noah Buseman also doubled. Chase Korte had a hit and a run scored. Snell and Colby Buseman each added a hit to the mix. Chandler Vogel was the only Tiger with a multiple-hit game. Kevin Asfeld doubled. Tyler Reimers came through with a hit and an RBI. Colten Scheldorf hit safely.
 
Girls golf at Benson
It was a pleasant day for golf on Thursday at the Benson Golf Club. Minnewaska Area continued its pattern of having a very fine season. Those Lakers topped the standings that included seven teams. Lakers Emily Harste and Madi McGinty led that Laker effort with Harste taking first and McGinty tying for second with BOLD's Ashley Trongard.
Here's how our Tigers performed: Peyton Hennen 52, Hannah Zimmel 41, Miranda Hesse 45, Mackenzie Stahman 47 and Shayla Kill 62. We were No. 4 in the standings.
 
Girls golf at "The Crossings"
It was Madi McGinty putting up the top score at the Montevideo-hosted meet at The Crossings. McGinty shot a 37. Ashley Trongard of BOLD took second with her 40 performance. Again Minnewaska had the top team. The Tigers placed No. 3 among the six teams. Our individuals were: Peyton Hennen 49, Hannah Zimmel 43, Miranda Hesse 48, Mackenzie Stahman 52 and Shayla Kill 66.
 
Boys golf at The Crossings
Melrose had the top team in the Thursday competition at The Crossings in Montevideo. Eight teams total vied with MACA placing fourth. Montevideo's Seth Olson was the top individual with his 36 showing. Here's how the Tigers fared: Chase Engebretson 48, Dalton Koehler 43, Brady Loge 47, Brock Peterson 44, Easton Hacker 48 and Tyler Buss 44.
 
Boys golf at Benson
The busy recent schedule for our golf teams included a meet at the Benson Golf Club, Thursday. This WCC affair saw Minnewaska take top team honors while MACA placed fourth among the eight teams. Melrose's Nate Loxtercamp was top performer in the meet, shooting a 34.
Here's the MACA roster for the day: Chase Engebretson 44, Dalton Koehler 45, Brady Loge 50, Brock Peterson 48, Easton Hacker 51 and Tyler Buss N/A.
 
Boys tennis again, ever?
I'm wondering: Does anyone ever float the idea of MACA again having a boys tennis program? It seems other comparable-size schools are able to offer this. Oh I know, I know, I know, I know. I didn't come into town on a turnip truck. I know what kind of response my query will get: there's insufficient interest. Or at least there was insufficient interest at the time our program got phased out.
Are we just supposed to shrug and accept this as reality, set in stone? I know how powerful the local party line or conventional wisdom can be. I have bucked that for years. I'd like to think we can re-start boys tennis in Motown. The main catalyst naturally would be a coach who is dynamic and willing to promote.
There, easy answer. So let's consider it, eh?
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

They were champions: 1991 Minnesota Twins

"See you later Aguilera"
I remember being with friends in Paynesville MN for the start of the 1991 World Series. The first pitch thrown by Jack Morris was a strike - I seem to remember it was a called strike. We jumped off our couches in celebration of that one pitch, knowing of course that in the scheme of things it meant nothing. We laughed. Our upbeat mood proved most apt for the duration of that magical series.
The Twins called the Metrodome home. The memories are receding.
The Dome was built as an essential answer to our sports infrastructure issues. It was supposed to help U of M football recruiting but it appears this was misguided. The state got its money's worth with a heyday of Twins baseball that included the 1987 and 1991 seasons. The Twins had a 15-game win streak in 1991. That stretch of success vaulted us from fifth place to first. In all we would win 95 games in the regular season, good for taking the West banner.
Note that there was a three-year gap between our 1987 and '91 championships. Fans appeared to maintain their enthusiasm even though we finished dead last in the division in 1990. Our '90 mark was a languishing 74-88.
We can easily forget today that Gary Gaetti was not part of the '91 team. His name is such a standard from that era, associated with third base. We might forget that Mike Pagliarulo came on to play a key role in '91 at third. The Twins signed Pagliarulo less than 12 hours after Gaetti left as a free agent for the California Angels. Pagliarulo came here from the New York Yankees. The front office kept on refreshing things by signing free agents Jack Morris and Chili Davis. I never liked the way the Twins P.A. announcer pronounced "Chili." Davis wielded his bat from the DH role. Morris was a top-echelon starting pitcher of course. He was a nemesis of ours when he pitched for Detroit.
We reaped benefits from a trade we made in 1989: Frank Viola to the Mets for relief pitchers Rick Aguilera and David West and starter Kevin Tapani. Didn't Chris Berman of ESPN refer to Aguilera as "See you later Aguilera?" Only seven players were still on the roster from the 1987 team. None of those seven were pitchers.
Pagliarulo was platooned with handsome Scott Leius who we always heard was a friend of actor Matt Dillon. Chuck Knoblauch was in his prime at second base and not yet showing symptoms of the horrible psychological disorder that would prevent him, as a Yankee, from being able to throw the ball to first base. I have always felt the problem was due to obsessive compulsive disorder. The brain takes over where instincts were meant to operate.
"See you later Aguilera" was a fine closer and racked up 42 saves. We had a 1-2-3 punch in starting pitching with Morris, Tapani and Scott Erickson. The fourth and fifth spots weren't as clear cut. We saw Allan Anderson, David West and Mark Guthrie hurling from the mound.
The beloved Tony Oliva served as bench coach. "Tony O." was hitting coach in 1987. And of course back in 1965, when we won the pennant, Tony was in full glory as one of the best hitters to ever play the game.
Kent Hrbek won the Lou Gehrig Award in 1991. Jack Morris won the Babe Ruth Award. Morris was World Series MVP. Kirby Puckett was the ALCS MVP. Knoblauch was Rookie of the Year. We had three players on the All-Star roster: Aguilera, Morris and Puckett. Erickson was slated to be the All-Star starting pitcher but he got injured.
I was 36 years old in 1991. As the years pass, of course, those of us with vivid memories of '87 and '91 will increasingly sound like old-timers. I can never put thoughts of the 1965 team out of my head. Minnesota was so mesmerized by the still-new Twins in '65. Sandy Koufax prevented us from taking it all in '65, though we pushed the Dodgers to seven games. I feel sad that the '65 team is one notch below the '87 and '91 units in terms of accomplishment. Our memories of '65 should be embraced with just as much fondness.
My reminiscing is not to suggest that today I'm a big Twins fan. I'm not. I worry about the players whose bodies are subjected to so many dangers. We hear about this much more for football than baseball but baseball has substantial risk. In the age before pitch counts, pitchers were at great risk of "throwing their arms out." Pitchers came and went in the '60s all the time because of this, and now I find that profoundly sad.
Kirby Puckett probably died as the result of getting hit in the face with a pitch. Back in '64 it was Twins hero Jimmie Hall who was severely beaned by Bo Belinsky. Many have speculated that Hall eventually went into decline due to effects of that. So I feel for those guys and worry about how they face risks. In football the worry is fundamental and profound. Weighing this, I frankly have withdrawn from pro sports interests at this stage in my life.
But I invite you to read the lyrics to my song called " 'Til the Last Out" which is my tribute to the 1991 Twins. Asterisk: Yes, I know the '91 Series did not end with an "out" because it ended with Gene Larkin hitting into the gap. But as a matter of pure principle, those Twins played 'til the last out in terms of their nonstop intensity. So that's the theme. Will I have the song recorded? As always I'll say that I write lots of lyrics and poetry and only occasionally do I have some recorded. We'll see.
 
" 'Til the Last Out"
by Brian Williams
 
Poppy Bush was president in 1991
We would someday pull the lever for his eldest son
Minnesota Twins were in their glory at the Dome
Teflon Roof and plastic grass were part of their dear home
 
Hrbek in his prime with all those skills that made him great
Knoblauch in the days when he could still throw that ball straight
Gagne playing shortstop, handling that pill
Mr. Pagliarulo, makin' plays at will
 
CHORUS:
'Til the last out, 'til the last out
They tested all their fortitude and drive
'Til the last out, 'til the last out
They made us all just glad to be alive
 

Puckett out in center was a jewel of a star
He could bring the house down when he hit the ball so far
Coming from Toledo as the answer to our prayers
Kirby was a bowling ball, goin' on a tear
 
Atlanta was the team we had to face for No. 1
With a staff of pitchers who could put us on the run
Back and forth the Series went, like a tug of war
Then we got Game 7, let's break down the door
 
(repeat chorus)
 
Like a god from ancient Greece Jack Morris took the hill
He was all just steely-eyed, going for the kill
Zeroes on the scoreboard had us gasp all through the night
All we needed was one run and we would win the fight
 
Gene Larkin sent the ball into that open space in left
Gladden came across the plate - fans all cheered and wept
Twins were on the throne just like in 1987
Baseball had our self-esteem lifted up to heaven
 
(repeat chorus)


- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Moe Bandy and Joe Stampley and dated culture

Country song lyrics of the 1970s did not always elevate us to the highest standards. It was the decade of "Smokey and the Bandit" movies. We did not put authority figures on a pedestal. We might dismiss law enforcement people as sticks in the mud who'd disrupt a good party.
I remember an op-ed that expressed disgust at Jackie Gleason for playing the dim-witted sheriff. We saw the same kind of sheriff character in Clint Eastwood's "Bronco Billy." That sheriff led an effort to rough up someone who had been found to be a draft-dodger during Vietnam. Authority figures were lumped in with the clueless folk who sat on their hands as the Vietnam war escalated. The generation of young Americans had long memories.
Jaded to the hilt after Nixon's exit, the peculiar type of cynicism associated with the 1970s really set in. "Outlaw music" sprouted in the country genre. No high ideals then. Just the opposite. And now I'm thinking about Moe Bandy and Joe Stampley. Perhaps they epitomized the air of resignation, the retreat into beer-soaked hedonism, that I'm suggesting. "Moe and Joe" was a popular reference to these guys who promoted a dive bar motif. Each had a good solo career going before the pairing.
The pairing was launched in 1979 when Jimmy Carter was president. They came out with the album "Just Good Ol' Boys," self-deprecating with the word "just." Indeed they sought an earthy and common touch while of course seeking a mint of money with their releases. Male-bonding came to the forefront. In the age before political correctness, women could be in the background, rather disposable frankly, perhaps worthy of mention only in the context of demanding alimony!
Were the lyrics to be taken at face value? I didn't sense among my generation of young males that we thought there was any sort of put-on. Many of us in fact hung out at pretty nondescript bars. Believe it or not, drunk driving wasn't a worry then. Society even allowed those in their late teens to drink, starting when I graduated from high school. Society was reacting to the war and figured if young men could die for their country, everyone their age ought to have the privilege of drinking too. The habit of drinking has since been thrown on its heels.
The songs of Moe Bandy and Joe Stampley were like a release. These two guys sought pleasure in the most immediate way and didn't much like dealing with any sort of pretense. Peel away the veneer of the music and maybe you'll see something hopeful there, something accenting the best of our nature. These two guys wouldn't want to hurt anyone, although they might if they drank too much. Society seemed to be looking the other way when it came to the dangers of drinking. Natalie Wood and her two male companions were out in that boat drinking a lot "because that's what people did then," a commentator on her tragic drowning once said.
Today we see "Just Good Ol' Boys," the single, described as "a tongue in cheek novelty single." It may seem tongue in cheek today. I'm not sure there wasn't a thread of genuineness in it at the time. Bandy in later years said "I really think my songs are about life." And I'll agree, as I point out that even superficial-sounding country lyrics hit home with us. The best songs would not climb the charts if they didn't.
President Carter talked up "outlaw country music" in a way that would be unheard of today. This sub-genre of country was a reaction to what could be termed "formulaic" country music. The younger folk didn't like the slick approach anymore. Protesting the war required the beating down of comfortable convention. A part of pop music drifted toward a hippie-ish, counterculture direction while in country, a fun-loving anti-intellectualism took hold. Hence, "Moe and Joe."
We saw the glorification of the truck-driving profession. Jerry Reed in the "Smokey and the Bandit" movies epitomized this. It seemed for a time that truckers were the last cowboys. Today, trucking is a job not unlike any other. Technology prevents truckers from bending rules and acting so independent. "Smokey and the Bandit" is like a time capsule.
A place we'd like to go back to? Oh no, not at all. Women were so incidental to it all.
 
My own personal ode
I have written my own song inspired by the kind of music that Bandy and Stampley gave us. It's called - ahem - "Loving Her is Like Parking Next to a Two-door." A friend said to me many years ago, "don't ever park next to a two-door." Obviously the door can swing open wide to give you a "ding." Someone mentioned to me the other day that two-door vehicles have become uncommon.
So, hurry up and record the song? I write song lyrics and poetry all the time and I only selectively have one recorded now and then. My "Loving Her" song is such a throwback but I enjoyed writing it just for that reason.
 
Is there a psychologist on campus?
My best friend in college and I once created an imaginary redneck friend who we named "Leroy." Full name of "Leroy Toffel." He had a dog he called "F--ker." "C'mere "F--ker." My friend and I shared how redneck guys tended to have such sweet mothers. We imagined Leroy's friends arriving for a party at his place with several guys standing in the back of a pickup. The driver stopped abruptly and some of the guys would fall down, getting mad as hell and swearing.
We observed outlaw country and didn't really think it was "tongue in cheek" at all.
Today we all have to be more responsible because of stringent DWI enforcement. Oh, but the old days: smoking without much reservation, putting down beers, listening to Waylon Jennings. And, Moe Bandy and Joe Stampley, "good ol' boys" to be sure. Was it all a dream? Now, just imagine some pedal steel.

"Loving Her is Like Parking Next to a Two-door"
by Brian Williams

She came to my attention
In ways I can't explain
I don't know why or wherefore
I had to learn her name
For sure we felt vibrations
A temptress she was true
She toyed away with my hormones
But was it just strange brew?

I got turned on by her smile
Or was it just her skin?
It's hard to know when you're wasted
And can't hear through the din
The bar was full of ebullience
Now go and look that up
A friend said better be careful
In case I felt in love
He said:

CHORUS:
Loving her is like parking next to a two-door
You get too close and you find there's hell to pay
Ask her out and you'd better know what you're in for
'Cause loving her is like parking next to a two-door

She said she was from a small town
Now aren't they all alike
A friendly wave at the Co-op
Can make the day feel right
My hand slipped onto her shoulder
And then I felt the buzz
But maybe it was a moonbeam
That came down from above
 
I felt a need to unwind some
And she sure held the key
To find some bliss in the evening
And join that reverie
We saw the light with the neon
And heard the jukebox sing
And then my friend did exhort me
About that woman thing
He said:

(repeat chorus)

-Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

We gave Mom a fine send-off to heaven

MHS Class of '71 members at Mom's memorial service, l-r: Deb (Lyseng) Mahoney, Jodi (Sherstad) Jordon and Del Sarlette.
 
Obviously I thank the Morris community profusely for your caring and acknowledgment at the time of Mom's memorial service. Funerals in general are not as well-attended as they once were. I was informed of this by Pastor Paul Erdahl while he served at First Lutheran. The way we handle such things is changing just like so many institutions in our society are changing. Change can overwhelm us but we cannot resist it. We must accept it and move on.
When my father died about six years ago, I don't think the word "cremation" was even part of the name of the Morris funeral business. Cremation has become preferred by a rapidly increasing number of people. Another alternative that could gain ground is "natural burial" where the body is simply placed in the ground and allowed to decompose (the way God intended, many of us might suggest).
Some of us sniff at the funeral business because of a suggestion that it might be exploitative. The family is vulnerable and having to make decisions fast. I'm quite convinced that the funeral home people in Morris and elsewhere are sincere people wanting to offer a service that will provide solace. Brooke at our local funeral home was a wonderful person through services for both Mom and Dad.
On a more sober level, families must realize that a funeral is a business transaction. When you get taken in the room of caskets to observe, don't feel defensive about thinking about cost a little. Same with other funeral home services. Our current First Lutheran pastor thought it was quite necessary to have a formal committal at the cemetery. I went along with that and am now thankful. I'm told I will get no separate bill for that. Mom's cremation urn will be buried at our family plot at 4 p.m. on May 24.
We have a nice black bench monument in the new portion of the cemetery. I arranged for that after Dad's death, just after the cemetery changed its policy to allow for monuments other than flatstones. I feel sorry for families who might have wanted traditional monuments but were forced to go with the flatstone. I suggest that the flatstone-only policy was to make it easier to mow grass at the cemetery.
Anyone is welcome to "sit a spell" on our bench when you're at the cemetery. If a cemetery attendant should shout at you, just tell them "Brian said it's OK." I chose a bench monument for a reason.
My name is in the middle portion of the monument. I have "caregiver" listed above "journalist" because I feel the caregiver role was a higher priority in my life. People are living longer, and more and more families have to confront serious issues about how a loved one is to be properly cared for as the medical issues mount. My mom was in home hospice for her last year. Both my dad and mom died at home.
I read an op-ed about how elaborate funerals are waning. One major reason cited is our more mobile society of today. In other words, people are less likely to be associated with a particular community. They don't build up a lifelong web of friends like before, like in the Norman Rockwell days.
There was a time in America when the visitation was held in a private home. I read a recollection by someone who grew up in the '30s and '40s, noting that funerals then were meant to be profoundly sad. Today the idea is to make the funeral "a celebration of life" even though this contradicts our true feelings.
I think embalming could become an antiquated practice. I told Brooke that I never really cared for looking at an embalmed body. The practice of embalming took over as an accepted norm after the Lincoln funeral train - did you know that? Did you know that when Jefferson Davis had his reviewal, his body was decaying badly?
No, I'm quite content having had my mom cremated, and I thank Marilyn Syverson for being the urn carrier. Marilyn is associated with Sons of Norway in Morris. Of course when I was a kid, she was the girls phy. ed teacher! I couldn't take Mom to Sons of Norway meetings toward the end because she had "sundowning" symptoms where she could be agitated, talk to herself etc. The Knute Nelson Hospice people typically came in the morning when Mom was quite composed and calm. She had some mental decline toward the end but it was never total.
Mom and I were delighted seeing the rabbit visitors in our backyard. We made up little conversations we'd be having with them! I will remember that forever when I see the rabbits and squirrels stop by. Sometimes I'll talk as if Mom is still with me. I once asked Del Sarlette if it's OK to have a "conversation" with a deceased loved one at the gravesite. We saw this with the Jimmy Stewart character in "Shenandoah," when he'd visit his wife's grave. Del said such behavior is OK "but don't get carried away with it."
I'd like to tell my dad that it was never necessary for me to have any music accomplishments at all. I'd have been optimally happy just being a normal, unexceptional kid.
What would I tell my mom? I'd tell her that it was foolish to have such inhibitions about male/female relationships. She sure wasn't uninhibited when forming her relationship with Dad. With me she acted like she didn't even want to broach the subject, as if it was some profound taboo thing: to have an opposite sex friend. But we're all allowed to have a fault or two, Mom.
The University of Minnesota was central to my parents' lives. I'll remind you that Dad graduated from the U and taught at the U's St. Paul campus (the "school of ag") in the 1950s before we came to Morris. I always felt a little inhibited and scared around UMM as if it was a place where I didn't belong. Today I can be a benefactor and supporter and not worry about ever having to take a class there. I was present for the first UMM graduation in 1964.
I thank our new pastor at First Lutheran, Rev. Dan Belgum-Blad, for serving as officiating clergy at Mom's last rites. We had several short-term pastors before him.
Had a minister not been readily available for the service, I would have just offered money to Pastor Donald Main of St. Paul's Lutheran to do it, anywhere that was practical. For a time, Pastor Main seemed more like our regular pastor than anyone else. We got to know him because he stopped by McDonald's at a time of day when our family was often there. Then we attended some of his services late Sunday afternoon at West Wind Village, third Sunday of the month. He's a songwriter like me! I hear that his Wisconsin Synod is more strict than ours. I figure I could easily fit in with his church because my life is too dull to do a whole lot of sinning. Willie Martin was a member of that church.
Thanks to Willie's Super Valu for sending flowers for both my Dad and Mom's funerals. Thanks to Ken Hodgson for being the soloist for Mom's memorial service. Thanks to the wonderful First Lutheran Church choir, augmented by some talented UMM students, for singing. Bradley Miller directed as they sang one of my father's compositions!
The May 2 service was not the end. How wonderful that the UMM University Choir and Concert Choir dedicated its final concert of the year on May 4 to Mom and by extension to our whole family.
I visited Barrett Care Center on Monday to have lunch and touch base with some of the people there. Mom was there for about six weeks a year ago, then she came home to begin the hospice chapter of her life. I chatted with the Barrett administrator, the always agreeable Jeanine. Volunteer Mary made me feel welcome. The highlight was getting to pet the house cat named "Jingles!" The Barrett Care Center isn't just a care facility, it feels like home!
Oh, I'm so happy that members of the Cruze family attended Mom's services! These guys fall in the category of old high school friends, but now more than ever I consider them family too. Of all the flower arrangements at the funeral, the one I wanted brought home was the one from the Cruzes. Their parents were Carl and Leona Cruze. Mom and I didn't have much real family left to be at the funeral. So many have passed on to the next life.
What will that life hold for us? I do know that if I can't be immediately re-united with Mom, then I don't want to go. I hope to greet her as she's alongside our canine family members Misty, Heidi and Sandy.
The cover of the service program shows the deceased being greeted by Jesus in heaven. My parents were highly spiritual but in the temperate sort of way associated with their generation, the Depression and World War II generation. I will strive to keep attending church because they would want that, in the same way that Jimmy Stewart's deceased wife in "Shenandoah" decreed!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Liz Dietz, Jen Solvie excel in 11-1 triumph

The bats sizzled in MACA softball's 11-1 win over Melrose on May 3. Melrose didn't score until the seventh. Until then, pitcher Liz Dietz had the Dutchmen put up a string of goose eggs. Dietz was quite in the groove as she struck out ten batters. She walked just two and gave up two hits.
The losing pitcher was Makiya Luetmer who gave up 14 hits and eleven runs, nine earned. She struck out six batters and walked two.
Jen Solvie brought her lumber to the plate and delivered a solo home run to ignite a two-out rally in the fourth. Jen would finish the day with three hits in four at-bats. The home run seemed decisive for putting the momentum in the Tigers' corner.
Bailey Marty connected for two hits in five at-bats. Emma Bowman doubled as part of a two-for-four showing. Dietz supplied a hit to the mix. Whitney DeMaris and Abby McNally both went one-for-four. Karly Fehr had a two-for-four line and Riley Decker went two-for-three. Melrose's Luetmer connected for two hits.
We scored four runs in the fourth inning, five in the fifth and two in the seventh. Our line score was eleven runs, 14 hits and one error, while Melrose had 1-7-3 numbers.

Let's play golf!
The destination was Olivia for the West Central Conference golf meet Friday (5/4). It was a day for Minnewaska Area to shine. 'Waska took top team honors in the eight-team field. Melrose was runner-up. As for our Tigers, we were No. 4 in the standings. Here's the rundown on our individuals: Chase Engebretson (45), Brady Loge (46), Dalton Koehler (53), Brock Peterson (45), Tyler Buss (51) and Easton Hacker (47).
Minnewaska's Isaac Burgess took medalist honors, shooting a 39. Melrose's John Brang was second (40) and Minnewaska's Drew Nelson was No. 3 (41).

The Schlief family benefit
I don't know the Schliefs but I was happy to come and support the fundraiser benefit Saturday evening. Such a pleasant early-summer day for the affair. So tranquil. How blessed we would be if there were no cause for the benefit. But as I told one of the relations of the van driver in the accident, "God works in ways mysterious." God has a plan that challenges all of us and invites all of us. We need to stay committed to his Word.
I haven't gotten around much in recent years because of family commitments, taking care of people entering their 90s. Those circumstances have changed now. My late Mom would be happy seeing me get around to events like the Schlief benefit. What a crowded gymnasium for the event. Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I visited there when I reported for the local corporate media. For 15 years I was the sports reporter and a chief photographer for the Hancock Record newspaper. I photographed the Owls at the Met Sports Center and Williams Arena in the Twin Cities. Those were the days before digital photography.
Some of the memories are bittersweet because there was a coach who, while wildly successful, had some personal weaknesses that called for him to be punished in prison. Those days are drifting quite far into the past now.
I remember Dave Schoeck as the boys basketball coach. He was an agreeable fellow while maybe not setting the world on fire with his coaching. I know he loved being the coach. He had some dynamic sons who played sports like "Boo," remember? Wrestling had a somewhat volatile person - ahem - at the coaching helm: Spencer Yohe. He was certainly driven. I doubt that some of his excesses would be allowed today.
I think that today, everything is run very smoothly with school programs, with everyone on the same page in terms of their approach and temperament. I liked working with Adam Steege who coached football. I thought it was cute how Adam talked about a pair of twins in school, one who he described as a "pacifist" because he was not on board with football, while the other one was. "Pacifist!" I like that word and think it is an admirable trait.
I looked around the gym Saturday and unfortunately, did not see very many familiar faces. Ah, time passes. It has been sad checking in on the Schlief page on Caring Bridge. So many prayers for them. How do we rationalize all that has happened so that it makes sense? Man, I don't know. But we need to keep the faith, pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and move on. Bless the Schliefs.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, May 3, 2018

MACA baseball shows flourish w/ 8-run sixth

Tigers 16, Benson 4
Benson took the early lead Tuesday (5/1) but then MACA came on like gangbusters. The Tigers asserted themselves starting in the fourth inning. There was a big six-run rally. The Tigers proceeded to bury the Braves further with an eight-run sixth. So we tucked this game into the win column with an impressive 16-4 score.
We pummeled Benson pitching to the tune of 15 hits. Both teams had lapses in the field, Benson with five errors and MACA with four. Brock Anderson got the pitching win with his stint of 3 2/3 innings. Brock set down five batters on strikes, walked four and gave up three hits and three runs (none earned). Jaret Johnson logged 2 1/3 innings of pitching work. Johnson fanned five batters and walked one. He gave up one hit, and the one run he allowed was unearned.
Hunter Mondor was the pitcher of record for the host Braves. Also pitching were Jared Kurkosky and Matt Lenarz.
On to the offensive story: It was quite a parade of offensive contributors for the Tigers. Zach Bruns showed he can handle a bat as well as a hockey stick. Zach came at the Braves with three hits in four at-bats including a double. He crossed home plate twice. Johnson crossed home plate three times while going two-for-five. He drove in a run. Parker Dierks went two-for-three with a double, drove in a run and scored two.
Chandler Vogel had a hit, drove in two runs and scored two. Tyler Reimers joined the parade with a hit, three RBIs and a run scored. Alex Daugherty had a two-for-four line with an RBI. Joseph Kleinwolterink rapped two hits and scored two runs. Trevor Voges tripled, drove in two runs and scored one. Anderson added to the mix with a hit, an RBI and a run scored.
Four Benson Braves each had one hit: Brandon Osterbauer, Aaron Zosel, Devon Liles and Matthew Goossen.
 
Softball: Tigers take two
MACA softball sizzled in a Tuesday (5/1) doubleheader sweep of Sauk Centre. We scored in double digits in both ends of the action. Scores were 13-2 and 12-10. The 13-2 game #2 saw Kenna Kehoe get the pitching win. Kenna fanned two batters and walked one in her 4 1/3 innings of work. Liz Dietz had her turn on the pitching rubber too and gave up no hits or runs.
Fans at the home diamond enjoyed seeing the 13-hit attack by their team. Bailey Marty went three-for-five with three RBIs. Emma Bowman, Liz Dietz, MacKenzie Hockel and Karly Fehr all went one-for-two. Whitney Demaris added a hit to the mix.
Holy cow, that's eight hits if you add 'em up, yet the Willmar paper and its sister Morris paper on its website reported that we had 13 hits! The Fourth Estate is failing us, eh? What would it take to push the standards up? Just asking.
Five Sauk Centre Streeters each had one hit: Kenzie Schmiesing, Kailyn Seidel, Theresa Farlow, Megan Toennes and Madison Deters. Kayle Trisko took the pitching loss for the Streeters. The Tigers fielded cleanly with one error while Sauk Centre committed two. We took command early as we scored ten runs over the first three innings.
OK let's review game #1 where the Tigers again asserted themselves early as they plated nine runs over the first three innings. Sauk Centre was more competitive than in game #2. MACA prevailed in the 12-10 final even though we got out-hit 12-8. Each team committed two errors. Emma Bowman had three of our eight hits and drove in three runs. McKenzie Hockel's bat resonated with a home run. Karly Fehr socked a triple. Also hitting safely were Liz Dietz, Jordann Baier and Riley Decker.
Shelby Otte exceled with the bat for Sauk Centre as she pounded three hits. These three Streeters each went two-for-four: McKinley Weiers, Emily Gapinski and Theresa Farlow. Also hitting safely were Kenzie Schmiesing, Kailyn Seidel and Megan Toennes.
The pitching department saw Liz Dietz go the whole way. She fanned five batters and walked just one in her seven innings. One of the runs she allowed was unearned. Kailyn Seidel took the pitching loss for Sauk Centre. She was wild with eleven walks and fanned no one. The runs-by-inning shows that Sauk Centre mounted a threat in the seventh with four runs, but could not overcome MACA's decisive lead.
I greatly appreciate coach Mary Holmberg coming to First Lutheran Church Wednesday morning for the visitation for my mother Martha's memorial service. I covered coach Holmberg's first historic softball teams when the sport was getting established. I will never forget that, nor will I ever forget seeing Mary Wednesday morning. Life's blessings can be abundant.
Click on the link below to read about the Tigers' doubleheader sweep over ACGC at ACGC. This post also includes the baseball team's 2-1 home win over Montevideo. 
Baseball: Tigers 5, NL-Spicer 4
What an exciting late surge by the orange and black! After getting throttled by New London-Spicer pitching over the first six innings, that situation sure changed in the seventh. MACA rallied for five runs to prevail in the 5-4 final over the Wildcats. Back-to-back singles fueled that late decisive surge. A bases-loaded walk was critical, and we got a favor in the form of two NL-Spicer errors.
The rally helped get a 'W' next to Chandler Vogel in the pitching category. Vogel was dominating much of the time and fanned ten batters in his nearly seven innings pitched. Parker Dierks pitched a third of an inning. The NL-Spicer pitchers were Will Roguske and Christian Lessman (the loser).
The offensive attack for the winner saw Tyler Reimers get two hits and score a run. Joseph Kleinwolterink had a hit, and RBI and a run scored. Trevor Voges went one-for-two with a ribbie and a run scored. Kellen Erdahl didn't have a hit but he scored a run. Kevin Asfeld added a hit to the mix. Colten Scheldorf scored one of the Tigers' five essential runs.
The Wildcats who hit safely were Paxton Nelson, Will Roguske (with two hits) and Derek Dolezal.
We outhit NL-Spicer 5-4 (same as the score). We overcame four errors while NL-Spicer booted the ball twice.
 
Softball: Tigers 8, Benson 2
MACA softball showed a winning flourish on the softball diamond vs. Benson. Liz Dietz pitched the whole way, seven innings, and set down five Brave batters on strikes. Her control was pinpoint: one walk. She allowed four hits and two runs (earned). The pitcher of record for Benson was Mackenzie Kurkosky. Emily Miller also pitched for the Braves.
Our line score for this April 26 game was perfect: eight runs, ten hits and zero errors! It's always nice to see a goose egg in the error column. Benson booted the ball around and committed five errors.
Dietz pitched five scoreless innings before giving up two runs in the sixth. Liz Staton doubled to help produce the Benson scoring rally. The Tigers plated three runs each in the third and fourth innings, and two in the sixth. Our 8-2 win fuels optimism as the delayed spring schedule picks up steam. The temperature is cooperating now but we have that doggone wind on so many days.
Dietz came through with the bat as well as on the pitching rubber. She rapped a hit and drove in two runs. McKenzie Hockel gave fuel with a two-for-four showing including a double. She drove in three runs. Whitney DeMaris had a double as part of her two hits, and this Tiger drove in a run. Riley Decker connected for a two-bagger. Bailey Marty had a two-for-four line with a run batted in. Emma Bowman doubled and drove in a run. Karly Fehr added a hit to the mix. For Benson, Abbey Lundebrek got to Dietz for two hits, while Kaitlyn Berreau and Staton each had one.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com