"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)

Friday, May 30, 2014

MACA softball beats JCC, Fairmont & Marshall

MACA softball showed winning qualities through much of the post-season.
Memorial Day weekend saw the Tigers shine. The Tigers won two post-season games on Saturday, May 24. Success continued on the Tuesday following. But the end of the road finally came. MACA was stopped shy of the state tournament. The end was in a 6-1 loss to Pipestone Area, ranked third in MN Class AA. The Tigers fell to Pipestone on Wednesday, 5/28, at Marshall.
We wrap up with a final record of 19-7. Congrats. Fans can savor the many rich memories of the spring of 2014. Spring was late in coming. But the schedule finally found its legs. Now the focus is on the MAHS graduation to be held tonight (Friday, 5/30). I wonder if Craig Peterson will be there.
Tigers 5, JCC 3
The Tigers outhit Jackson County Central, from down south, in carving out this 5-3 triumph. MACA had a line score of five runs, ten hits and one error. The JCC numbers were 3-5-1.
The MACA runs came in two innings: two in the third and three in the fifth. JCC's scoring came in the middle innings.
The game was another showcase for the potent bat of Lauren Reimers. Reimers was not to be stopped as she went four-for-four with two of her hits doubles. She drove in a run. Becca Holland also socked two doubles. Becca had a three-for-four line.
Kayla Pring's bat produced a double. Chelsey Ehleringer had a hit in her only at-bat. Brooke Johnson went one-for-four.
Kayla Pring pitched the distance. She struck out two batters and walked two. She gave up five hits and three runs (earned). The losing pitcher was Kelsey Kannenberg.
Tigers 6, Fairmont 4
Lauren Reimers attacked Fairmont pitching right away in the first inning. She strode to the plate with two of her mates on base. She showed her homer bat yet again. The round-tripper put the MACA girls on their way to a savory 6-4 win vs. this foe from down south by the Iowa border.
Reimers finished at two-for-four. Four other Tigers had two hits: Becca Holland, Abby Daly, Carlie Zimmel and Brooke Johnson. Nicole Strobel stroked a hit.
MACA was pretty in control after three innings, leading 6-1. The MACA line score was six runs, eleven hits and two errors. Fairmont's numbers: 4-9-0.
Pring turned in a workmanlike performance from the pitching rubber: She scattered nine hits, struck out one and walked two. The losing pitcher was Alyson Evesrman.
Two Fairmont batters had two hits: Courtney Guetter and Micaela Gochanour.
Tigers 2, Marshall 1
This game was marked by suspense. Either of these "Tiger" teams could have won. But it was our Tigers who prevailed thanks to the single that Abby Daly delivered in the bottom of the seventh. That base hit drove in the winning run. The Tigers stayed alive with this 2-1 win over the Marshall Tigers on Saturday, 5/24.
Daly's base hit was to right field.
Pring put her pitching arm to work again. She fanned three batters, walked just one and allowed five hits and the one Marshall run. She out-dueled Miranda Fischer.
MACA scored one run each in the second and seventh innings. The lone Marshall run was plated in the sixth.
Morris Area Chokio Alberta overcame three errors while Marshall had two. We were outhit by the Marshall Tigers 5-3. The mere three MACA hits were no matter - we won! Daly, Brooke Johnson and Nicole Strobel had the MACA hits.
Notes on the media
According to the Willmar newspaper, three Marshall batters each had one hit, but in the boxscore we see Marshall with five hits. Discrepancies like this are not uncommon in the Willmar paper, which crams stuff in so drastically, reading glasses are barely enough to try to consume it.
When will the day come, when all these teams can find their own reliable online homes where we can get info and see photos? A reminder to the schools: we're in the year 2014.
Why couldn't the two Saturday wins by MACA softball be covered in the Tuesday Willmar paper, not belatedly on Wednesday? KMS won two post-season softball games on that Saturday, and Tuesday's Willmar paper included a nice headline and article trumpeting that. Our MACA Tigers accomplished the same thing. Why were we not in print?
The Willmar paper does not publish on Memorial Day (Monday). Through my newspaper career in Morris, I always found it difficult dealing with sports around Memorial Day weekend. The world around us slows down. Coaches can disappear to their free-time destinations. The newspaper schedule changes to accommodate the Monday holiday.
And yet there is lots of important spring sports activity, including games played on the holiday weekend itself. The solution here is simple: the coaches have to take the bull by the horns! The coaches need to find out how to get info to the various media outlets in an effective way. If you have to, write some sentences and paragraphs yourself and email to the various outlets. Communicate! Don't just disappear and then complain later when you find there are some lapses in coverage.
In my opinion, coach Mary Holmberg of the Tigers should have shown the initiative to find out what was needed to get her team's Saturday wins covered in the Tuesday Willmar paper. Two post-season wins are a big deal - at least I think so.
It's a cop-out for coaches to say "I don't have time."
When I was at the Morris paper, the track coaches faxed meet information from pieces of paper that had the rough info jotted down via pen or pencil. Pencil actually isn't advised for faxing. There was a Morris coach named Steve Harter with whom I went back and forth on this, and after reminding him for about the fourth time not to use pencil, he blew up at me. He was not a successful coach.
My memo to the track coaches would be this: Don't just jot the rough info, instead write sentences and paragraphs that explain everything clearly. It's not that much more work!
Faxing rough info is risky. The last year I was at the Morris paper, I saw the Willmar paper screw up by saying a certain MACA relay team made state. It did not. It finished second in section. Only the first place relay teams make state. One of the Morris coaches had jotted "the first and second place finishers make state." That only applies to individuals. The Willmar writer got confused. The glitch could have been avoided if only the track coaches had presented the info clearly in sentences and paragraphs. Isn't it just common sense?
Post-season spring sports can be complicated. A media worker can be confused. For example, the softball tournament is double-elimination but only after the first round. Double-elimination always makes things complicated. The media people need more help from the coaches. You shouldn't make us scratch and claw to get the info. Besides, it's in your interests to get good coverage for your student-athletes.
Don't play "hard to get" and then complain later about the coverage. In fact, follow the example of Mark Torgerson who independently puts his teams' info online. In the spring he uses the "Minnesota scores" website. How about a link to that stuff from the radio station website? It could be sponsored for a token fee. How about Bremer Bank doing that?
Will H.S. principal be at graduation?
So, the Morris Area graduation is tonight (Friday). What a gala affair. Again, I wonder if our principal who is on paid leave will be there. Reportedly, some school staff think he's viable enough, still, to consult on school matters. This is what sources tell me. I'll quote from an email:
Apparently some MAHS staff members are consulting with (Craig Peterson) relative to school and policy issues. Is that legal? He is on "unrequested leave" after all, but is still being paid. A very gray area, me thinks.
I guess the trial for the principal is set for August. At county fair-time?
My opinion is that the charges against him are a case of prosecutorial overreach. If I'm wrong and he lands in prison, my cynicism will be furthered. We will find we can't trust high school principals any more than we can trust Catholic priests.
Will Morris Area teachers continue to seek Peterson for consultation even if he's in prison? I can just see this: Peterson sitting across one of those tables and speaking to a visitor through a telephone.
Seriously, in theory he could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Peterson may be found innocent but I would still be tremendously ticked off at him. Look at what this incident has done to the school year. It was disrupting from a practical standpoint and (I presume) monetary standpoint, besides being just plain tawdry (to the max). Could the Apostolic Christian folks ever welcome the guy back as principal? Those folks believe in everything being decent and proper.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

50th anniversary of 1964 New York World's Fair

Your blog host, Brian Williams, w/ mother Martha at 1964 New York World's Fair.
The University of Minnesota-Morris was stretching its legs as a still-fledgling institution in 1964.
It was the year that "the world came to Queens," wrote Lisa L. Colangelo. UMM came to Queens, NYC, with its men's chorus directed by the late Ralph E. Williams. It hardly seems like 50 years ago.
I remember that towering Unisphere in its silver splendor like it was yesterday. It was a most classy world's fair. It might have done better in terms of attendance if it had your standard honky-tonk type of midway. It did not! For this I give the event a tip of the hat.
The fair was filled with fascinating futuristic thoughts. Its biggest claim to fame, OK maybe just one of its biggest, was that it was the unveiling platform for the Ford Mustang!
To continue with Colangelo's words, the world came to Queens "in a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors, fountains of dancing water and mouth-watering Belgian waffles."
Frankly I don't remember the waffles but I remember everything else Colangelo touches upon. I was nine years old. I accompanied my father Ralph and mother Martha to the World's Fair. Two years earlier, the UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the Seattle World's Fair.
In 1964 UMM was getting even more solidified. Morris legend has it the institution wasn't on particularly solid footing at the very start. Our future might have been shaky. Sometimes I wonder if that's exaggerated, but let's go along with it. Our "experimental" institution with its liberal arts accent was getting its profile heightened by the world's fair appearances.
The vocalists wore their grand maroon blazers. Perhaps they saw me as a little brat just scurrying around. In their informal moments, those guys liked singling some popular songs of the day like "Henry the 8th." Remember? "Second verse, same as the first." Their precision singing turned heads.
Events to mark the 50th anniversary are being held in NYC. There is a reason why people my age who were at the World's Fair, embrace those memories in a special way. The negative stuff we associate with the 1960s hadn't happened yet. The civil rights movement was necessary and positive in purpose, but it involved a lot of negative conflict.
Foremost among the negative stuff was the Viet Nam War. In '64 we were about three years before the apex of the Viet Nam War misery. Protests hadn't grabbed the headlines yet. But the Beatles sure did. The so-called counterculture was slowly weaving its way in. I remember a street vendor in Manhattan wearing a Beatles wig (which didn't exactly complement him). I'm good at remembering "the small stuff." I remember a boy selling newspapers on the street who, as we purchased a paper, gave us a quick lecture on the importance of newspapers!
The spectacular New York World's Fair of 1964 and '65 was a showcase for mid-20th Century U.S. culture and technology. The Unisphere was a 12-story high spherical stainless steel representation of the Earth. It's still there. How would you remove something like that? I have wondered why it can't be more iconic like the Eiffel Tower or Taj Mahal. Its profile was heightened by the 1997 "Men in Black" movie, in which a crashing flying saucer destroys it.
The sphere seems to have become fairly obscure again. I hear the locals pay hardly any attention to it. In 1964 it was the centerpiece for the spectacular World's Fair. The UMM men's chorus applied its own special spice. The admission price to the fair was two dollars - one dollar for kids.
Yes, the World's Fair preceded a lot of the troubling stuff of the 1960s. There was a pall hanging over it, though, from a tragedy still fresh in our memories. The Fair sought to salve the sadness that was lingering. The Fair, Colangelo wrote, "brought excitement to a city and a nation still grieving for an assassinated president." She continued: "The social upheaval of the 1960s was waiting around the corner. But for two summers, visitors indulged in the optimistic flavor of the Fair, which embraced the space age and the advent of technology that would forever change American culture."
We celebrated without JFK.
The Borough of Queens is distinct for its diversity. Thus it was a most apt place for such a gathering of people from all around the U.S. and the world. It hosted a similar gathering in 1939.
Our family still has its "Viewmaster" slides from the New York World's Fair. Boomers all remember "Viewmaster" I'm sure. We also still have some of the kitschy souvenir items common for such events - kitschy but cherished. A glance brings back the memories.
The University of Minnesota-Morris party did its traveling by train in both 1962 and 1964. My first contact with an African-American was with a very nice porter on a train out East. I can still visualize him.
Unisphere trumpeted progress
Three rings circle the Unisphere representing the orbits of U.S. astronaut John Glenn, the first Russian cosmonaut and the first communications satellite to orbit the Earth. The silver sphere was commissioned to celebrate the beginning of the space age.
Naturally the Fair was a grand consumer show. Many fairgoers got their first exposure to computer equipment! Way back then, computer stuff was seen as belonging in the back offices, away from the public. A sea change has happened since, naturally. I loved visiting "Dinoland" with its life-size replicas of nine dinosaurs. Thanks to the Sinclair Oil Corporation for presenting this.
Then we have the Ford Mustang, unveiled for the admiring public at the Ford pavilion on April 17, 1964.
"It's a Small World" was a popular show put on by the Walt Disney Company at the Pepsi pavilion. Our family attended that. My mother worried that the repeated playing of the theme song might drive the employees there nuts.
We strongly considered attending a New York Mets baseball game at nearby Shea Stadium. So close was Shea, it appeared on fairgrounds maps. The Mets were in their first season at Shea, having played previously at the seemingly ancient "Polo Grounds." Shea Stadium was the Mets' home from 1964 to 2008. And yes, it was the site for one of the most famous Beatles concerts. Jerry Koosman did his heroic pitching there in 1969.
As it turned out, we couldn't work in a Mets game at Shea. No matter, we had a treasure trove of experiences and stimulation. Topping that list was the sounds of our University of Minnesota-Morris men's chorus.
Music and the sands of time
I don't know this for a fact, but I think the men's chorus faded away here because of political correctness notions. I will subject myself to a thrashing if I'm wrong on this. Alas, I think UMM music entered a time when music with a sacred Christian component might have been frowned upon or eschewed. Again, political-type pressures were at play against the idea of anything that could be construed as "proselytizing."
I remember that 3-4 years ago, when I considered having a display for my father at that annual faculty exhibition - it looks like a science fair! - I felt I might need to affix a special disclaimer or clarifying statement: "Ralph did a lot of sacred composing, but we want you to know the Williams family respects all the world's religions." And we do. My father did in fact write a lot of sacred choral pieces, but he was anything but a proselytizer. We are plain vanilla Lutherans.
My father was a "Greatest Generation" member, a generation marked by a temperate approach to all things. Why get excited about anything after we beat the Nazis and the Empire of Japan?
We just had Memorial Day in Morris. My mother and I attended. I'm always very respectful. However, I can't help but think I'd rather live under Communism than have 60,000 young men (and some women) have their lives snuffed out in a war in Indochina. I'm essentially a pacifist. The Nazis could never have ruled the world.
I worked at the Morris Sun Tribune where our custodian said he voted for the Communist candidate in national elections. If the rapacious ways of "the one per cent" continue, we may have a people's revolution in this country. We hope it doesn't come to that. The WWII generation gave us the "middle class"  that helped define our fine country in the mid to late 20th Century.
The middle class was at its apex at the time of the New York World's Fair. It was the time that produced memories that made up the fodder for "The Wonder Years" TV show. That show was way too nostalgic. There were in fact many disturbing aspects to those times. The Cold War permeated.
The Cold War is probably why I was forced to take algebra. We had to "keep up with the Russians" in everything. We thought it was such a big deal when our USA hockey team, coached by Kurt Russell or whoever, beat the Russians. I couldn't give a flying f--k about the outcome of a hockey game. All I know is I couldn't do algebra, so I probably should have been put in with the retards. I developed a defensiveness about life that I never really got over. And that's a shame.
But I cherish the memories of the New York World's Fair of 1964-65, held at Corona Park, Flushing, New York City, Borough of Queens. It was a fantasy land. And, a wonderful venue for the UMM men's chorus to ply its talent under my father, Ralph E. Williams.
Oh, and as far as sacred music is concerned today, I think colleges realize it's presented as "art" and not a means to promote religion.
Our memorial monument at Summit Cemetery acknowledges Ralph's service in World War II. He served in the Pacific Theater. The movie "Private Buckaroo" referred to the enemy as "the monkey men of Tokyo." My father wouldn't have used such words, but I do remember that when "Tokyo Rose" was identified - I think there were actually more than one - his immediate response was "what's her excuse?"
The New York World's Fair was a wonderful platform for the UMM men's chorus and its unique sound. God bless those memories. It would be nice to hear my father's original UMM fight song again.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Assumption Catholic Church: well-grounded

The grand building of Assumption Catholic Church, Morris MN
The "Catholic kids" joined us public school students in the seventh grade. Grades 7 through 9 were in the old school building now torn down. The Catholic kids had their own school of St. Mary's through the sixth grade. There was a time when it was a high school.
I had occasion to visit St. Mary's School many times in my Morris newspaper career. I remember toward the end, the school decided to have its west door locked, so as to have only one entrance. The idea was to better promote safety of course. The danger from the public was no greater than it ever was, it's just that a more penetrating media sensationalized some bad things. Hence the ubiquitous fear.
Not long after, an Assumption Church pastor was discovered to be a threat with his behavior and had to leave. And we thought we were insulated from such things here in Morris. The incident affirmed what experts know: It's not the stereotyped "stranger" wearing the trench coat that endangers kids, so much as individuals who have an established relationship.
As kids we were warned about the trench coat type, male of course - I resent that - offering us "candy." There is a natural caution we should exercise around people we don't know. It's a little unnerving, though, if kids end up in a bubble where they don't trust anyone. Kids can gain a lot from their ties with adults. Adults can set an example with their maturity, so in contrast with kids' own peers.
My generation of the boomers was puzzled by the rigid division of Lutherans and Catholics in outstate Minnesota communities. Oh, I'm sure it was in the big city too. But in the big city you can get lost. In a small community you have to state your affiliation. We have all heard stories about a Catholic marrying a non-Catholic and having parents aghast almost to the point of disowning them. We rejected this.
Boomers in fact never really took to churchgoing, as my old boss Jim Morrison emphasized to me once. He's an unapologetic non-believer. I remember when we were talking in the back shop about a local resident putting together a display on "Jews in Stevens County," and I remarked about how maybe I could do a display on "agnostics in Stevens County."
I do attend church today. I stated my affiliation as Lutheran. Those are the stripes I wear. I'll never forget, though, how the mainstream denominations seemed to sit on their hands when they could have asserted themselves to help get the U.S. out of Viet Nam. My church had missionaries in the Cameroon in those days. We were supposed to help them. How futile to try to spread a little Christianity when the U.S. was involved in the unspeakable abomination called the Viet Nam War.
Many in my generation became indifferent about religion. Many of those who didn't, went to the opposite extreme, becoming "born again Christians" and absolutely crusading, making religion the centerpiece of their lives. Maybe the boomer generation just had trouble being temperate about anything. Our parents of the Greatest Generation were defined by a temperate outlook. It's fascinating to note the contrast.
Some of my closest friends from grade 7 onward were Catholics. Some were from the traditionally large Catholic families - ironic since I was an only child of Lutheran background! Opposites attract? I don't know, but I developed a nice bond with these kids who would take me to "Catholic bingo" in the Assumption Church basement.
I have never learned what "Assumption" means in this title. In my note-taking for the Morris paper, I always avoided the most obvious way of abbreviating "Assumption."
The Catholic Church had no problem with me coming to play bingo. Years later I would learn that the church had a policy of not serving communion to non-Catholics at funerals. No, I had no bad experience of being turned away. But, there was a public controversy over someone being refused communion at the funeral for "Rit" Eul. There were letters in the Morris newspaper. I guess I think it's unfortunate. ("Rit" for Richard was the guy who'd fix my bicycle tires!)
Considering the substantial problems the Catholic Church has now, the serving of communion to Christians at funerals ought to be done routinely, one could argue. I would hope the Catholics consider Lutherans to be Christians. Oh, there I go, whipping up the divisive aspects of our Lutherans/Catholics dichotomy.
I remember attending the funeral for Ray Lammers at Assumption Church. Had I not known better, I might have gone up for communion. I was spared that embarrassment or humiliation.
My thoughts about Assumption Church are fundamentally warm. That's a neat tunnel that connects the church with St. Mary's School. St. Mary's is a healthy traditional educational environment that seems to avoid the educational "fads." I fondly remember Sister Mary Louise as principal.
Church, Morris grow together
The history of Assumption Church reflects the history of West Central Minnesota. Mass was celebrated first in 1870, one year before the creation of the city. Divine services were held in a railroad section house by Fathers Hurley and McDermott. The two clergy occasionally visited Morris as an outlying mission from St. Paul.
This system continued until 1876, at which time a Father Walsh came here as our first resident priest. His parish covered the area that now includes the counties of Stevens, Pope Traverse, Wilkin, Big Stone and Swift.
Father Walsh was succeeded in 1877 by The Rev. Charles Wensieki. The original Assumption Church was built in his pastorate in 1877 on a corner lot donated by the railroad company for church purposes. Getting going had its challenges as the population was small and not well-endowed with finances. Those pioneers had grit, determination and we assume lots of faith!
One individual stands out, name of William Wunsch. He might be termed the father (small "f") of the parish. He was the most generous contributor for many years. Up until his death in 1927, he was the consistent friend of every priest who ever served here.
The Rev. A.V. Pellison succeeded Father Wensieki in 1879, then along came Father F.H. Watry. It was Fr. Watry who established a school. At first the school was part of the church building. The Sisters of Mercy came along to teach. The school went into a hiatus for a time. The Sisters of Mercy stayed active as teachers at the government Indian school for many years. That school, as anyone with a cursory grasp of Morris history knows, was on our campus which today is UMM, and for many years was the WCSA (ag school).
Father Watry was succeeded in 1885 by The Rev. William Lange. The 1880s were known as a prosperous time in Morris. Victorian-style homes went up. They were built almost as "fortresses" because the world was still a dangerous place.
The Rev. Frank Reilly came along in 1886. Fr. Watry came back for a time, then we welcomed The Rev. George Gaskell who became a fixture for 14 years. He died at the turn of the century, beloved by all. He left a legacy. It was under his direction that a large brick-veneered church was built at a cost of $12,000. The edifice was dedicated by the bishop of St. Cloud, name of Zardetti, who would become archbishop.
Following the death of Fr. Gaskell, the reins were taken by The Rev. G.J. Goebel and then The Rev. Edward Jones. The parish house was remodeled and enlarged in the spring of 1905.
The summer of 1905 brought disaster: Oh my, a fire destroyed the church that was so lovingly put up by Fr. Gaskell. Undeterred, the congregation moved forward and a new edifice was completed in 1906. The cost: over $40,000. The dedication was held in 1907 with Bishop Trobec of St. Cloud presiding. A sermon was given by The Most Reverend John Ireland, archbishop of St. Paul.
The new edifice had an exterior following the "Old English Church" design. The interior was Romanesque. The congregation was proud of a seating capacity of 650 in the main auditorium. The Sisters of St. Joseph opened a parochial school in the spacious church basement in 1911.
In 1914 the new St. Mary's School was built at a cost of $40,000. The second floor was for years given over entirely to the high school department. The high school was accredited to the University of Minnesota until, in 1943, the Sisters of St. Joseph, unable any longer to supply duly qualified teachers, withdrew.
Along came the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, with a "motherhouse" in Little Falls, whose ranks would include Sr. Mary Louise. (She made an impression on me, notwithstanding my Lutheran background.)
Father Jones was succeeded as pastor in 1921 by The Rev. George Rauch. Next came The Very Reverend John A. Fearon. It was The Rev. Fearon who guided Assumption Church through the WWII years, while my First Lutheran had a pastor last name of Ede. It must have been a traumatic time.
A new steeple was erected at Assumption to replace one destroyed by lightning and fire in March of 1940.
Personal recollections
The Assumption pastor I most remember from my newspaper years is Father Alan Wielinski. He gave me a candy cane once and I kept it in my dresser drawer for a long time, thinking it might bless me.
I was blessed having my father live to age 96, and my mother is soon to be 90.
I did journalistic work that ended up in the Diocese newspaper. First I took a photo of the retiring Fr. Botz, being presented with a golf cart as retirement gift. Actually I took a photo of Fathers Botz and Dressen riding in the golf cart down the church aisle! "What a way to go!" was how the caption began in the Diocese paper. I got the photo credit.
Years later I had a feature article re-printed in the Diocese paper. I felt special pride about this. Some of my old (Catholic) high school friends like Greg Cruze probably saw those papers. Those are the friends who took me to "Catholic bingo." I asked one of them once: Why does the church not care about non-Catholics coming to play bingo, but does make an issue about communion? His answer, offered with a wry smile: "We'll always take your money."
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

MACA softball falls into losers bracket too early!

Morris Area Chokio Alberta softball experienced two extremes on Tuesday. It was a busy Tuesday, involving two games in the post-season.
One extreme saw the MACA offense erupt for 15 runs. This was in a breeze type of win over MCLHI. Those initials denote Minneota/Canby/Lincoln HI. Yes, it's a cumbersome name for reporting purposes. How about something a little more snappy? This suggestion would even be apt for MACA. Shall we go back to "Morris High School?"
Anyway, the Tigers of Morris Area Chokio Alberta (MACA) had an offense that couldn't be stopped in the MCLHI game. Coach Mary Holmberg's offense produces runs in bunches often, and this game was an example as MACA won 15-6. MACA scored two runs in the first inning, five each in the second and fifth, and three in the sixth.
The Tigers fielded cleanly with just one error. MACA out-hit the foe 8-6.
The Tigers had to enjoy this success while it lasted. Their second game on Tuesday was that opposite extreme. Now the Tigers couldn't produce a single run. They were stymied at the plate by GFW pitcher Erin McDurmont. McDurmont tossed a two-hit shutout, slamming the door on the Tigers in a 3-0 GFW win. Her numbers were terrific, including 15 strikeouts and no walks! It was truly humbling for MACA's normally productive offense to experience this.
Coming up: a trip to Marshall on Saturday. MACA will face Fairmont (from way down south) at 11 a.m. The winner will play again at 2 p.m.
Tigers 15, MCLHI 6
The Tigers own the No. 2 seed for this level of the post-season. A pair of five-run rallies allowed MACA to cruise in their post-season debut.
Lauren Reimers continued with the hot bat she has wielded of late. She finished the Tigers' scoring with a double that plated three runs in the sixth. She had three hits in as many at-bats. These Tigers each had one hit: Chelsey Ehleringer, Kayla Pring, Carlie Zimmel, Lacee Maanum and Nicole Strobel. (I believe Carlie waits on me occasionally at DeToy's Restaurant.)
Brooke Gillespie was the winning pitcher. Her control was dead-on: zero walks. She fanned two batters and gave up six hits in her five and two-thirds innings. One of the runs she gave up was unearned. Kayla Pring finished up the pitching work: one and a third innings, three strikeouts and no walks.
Becca Kallhoff took the pitching loss for MCLHI. Two MCLHI batters had a two-run home run: Brook Bauman and Jenna Kockelman. Other MCLHI batters with hits were Brandi Merritt, Emily Stienessen, Payton Boerboom and Kallhoff.
GFW 3, Tigers 0
"GFW" stands for Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop. They're the "Thunderbirds," a nickname I really like. They're seeded No. 3. The No. 2 Tigers faltered and were dealt this mild upset loss, 3-0. But it's costly. It is highly desirable to stay in the winners bracket. Now there is no margin for losing for our Tigers.
Erin McDurmont was in control from the pitching rubber. Her two-hit shutout humbled the Tigers. She was a force batting too, as she connected for a three-run home run.
Kayla Pring was the hard-luck losing pitcher. One of the runs she allowed was unearned. She allowed just five hits over her seven innings. She fanned six batters and walked just one.
The two MACA hits were off the bats of Lauren Reimers and Abby Daly.
McDurmont went three-for-three for the victor. Carolin Goebel went two-for-three.
Baseball: Monte 7, Tigers 1
The Tuesday (5/20) action wasn't kind for the MACA baseball Tigers, who floundered against the Thunder Hawks of Montevideo. The Tigers fell back to .500 at 9-9.
Jordan Thompson had the Tigers under control from the pitching mound. Jordan allowed just the one run which was unearned. At bat he drove in two runs. Spencer Hildahl drove in three of the Monte runs.
Four Tigers each had one hit: Bryce Jergenson, Corey Storck, Gage Backman and Chase Wilts.
Noah Grove took the pitching loss. Brady Jergenson also pitched. Monte outhit the Tigers 10-4. MACA committed two errors while Monte had two.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Brady Jergenson's two-run homer caps win

The MACA boys crept over .500 with an impressive Monday victory. Coach Mark Torgerson's squad took care of business in five innings. The abbreviated length came about because of the Tigers' dominance. The opponent: Benson.
Here's a reminder to check out my post on the MACA softball team winning the WCN conference. Click on the permalink below to read this post from my "Morris of Course" site. Thanks for reading. - B.W.
Tigers 13, Benson 3
The MACA boys took charge at the start, coming at the Braves with three runs in the first inning and four each in the second and third. The score was 11-1 after four innings. Each team scored two runs in the fifth inning. The Tigers had the ten-run advantage needed to end this one via the ten-run rule. The Braves got "ruled."
Coach Torgerson had to smile as he watched his team rap out eleven hits en route to this 13-3 win. The success upped the team's won-lost mark to 9-8.
Pitcher Danny Tracy limited Benson to six hits. Tracy was the pitcher for all five innings. One of the three runs he allowed was unearned. He struck out one batter and walked one.
Brady Young was tagged with the pitching loss for Benson. Young pitched three and a third innings and was hurt by unearned runs. He gave up eleven runs but only six were earned. He struck out one batter and walked three.
Also pitching for Benson was Taner Gimberlin whose name is very familiar from MBA boys hockey. Remember there's only one 'n' in "Taner." Taner pitched two-thirds of an inning Monday. He gave up a hit, fanned one batter and walked one. He gave up no runs. Aaron Ahrndt was handed the ball for two-thirds of an inning. This Brave gave up two hits and two runs (earned), fanned none and walked none.
The Tigers enjoyed "sudden victory" as a result of their rally in the bottom of the fifth. The home field fans cheered as Corey Storck doubled with two outs. Brady Jergenson strode to the plate and connected for a home run. Two runs in, and now the scoreboard margin is ten runs, which wraps things up. Congrats to the orange and black crew. Jergenson's homer trot was done triumphantly.
Jergenson was on a tear throughout this game. Brady rapped a two-run single in the second inning. He delivered a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
This game might not have even reached the bottom of the fifth. Brady would not have had a chance to stroke that dramatic home run, had Cody Hammerschmidt not hit a two-run home run for Benson in the top of the fifth. Cody's blast kept the margin within ten runs for a short time. Let's accent "short." Morris Area Chokio Alberta came on like gangbusters in the bottom of the fifth.
The MACA line score was 13 runs, eleven hits and three errors. The Benson numbers were 3-6-4. Hammerschmidt's blast was part of a two-for-three showing at bat. Other Braves hitting safely were Tanner Mikkelson, Brady Young, Connor Staton and Adam Lindahl.
For the Tigers, Corey Storck finished at two-for-four including that fifth inning double, and he scored two runs. Brady Jergenson's homer blast was part of a two-for-three showing. Brady scored three runs and drove in five.
Gage Backman was unstoppable at bat, going three-for-three with two of his hits doubles. Gage drove in four runs and scored a run. Joey Dufault made noise with his bat, connecting for two hits in three at-bats. He doubled, scored a run and drove in two runs. Noah Grove and Riley Biesterfeld each went one-for-three.
The playoffs draw near. MACA's debut is set for Saturday in Montevideo vs. Red Rock Central.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Art Carlson and the joyous end to war(s)

We are distancing ourselves from the 20th Century. The passage of time shouldn't obscure significant events or personalities. We had the great wars in the 20th Century. We hear about the grand nature of our war commitment on such occasions as Memorial Day and Veterans Day. We commemorate the victory in world wars. Surely there was joy when each of those ended. How tragic, though, that mankind got dragged into those conflagrations, that we couldn't temper our bad side better.
In the category of "personalities" we have Art Carlson. I regret not having known him. He had a role helping Morris celebrate the end of both WWI and WWII.
Morris legend has it that at the time of the Centennial, in 1971, many people wanted Art to come forward and replicate some of that for the program. I heard that the program was too tightly scripted to allow for this. Actually I heard that the program was non-locally written and had blanks to be filled in for whatever community it was presented in. "There weren't any Indians in Morris," a friend of mine said, referring to the part of the program that emphasized Indians. It could be that burrowing owls were the most interesting manifestation of life out here.
Art Carlson's contributions were unique. Let's close our eyes and go back to the year 1918. We're in early November. The "great war" overseas had been raging. On November 6, word came that Germany had sued for an armistice. Turns out, this was not official. It resulted from a United Press correspondent in France deducing that war's end was imminent, based on some confidential information.
By the time a crowd gathered in Morris, some knew that this news wasn't wholly reliable, but it didn't matter. Everyone knew Germany was toast. If the war wasn't officially over, it soon would be. Celebration was most in order. People flocked to downtown Morris from around town and out in the country.
Art Carlson presided over the steam plant of Otter Tail Power. An impromptu celebration developed. No need for such formalities as a planning committee. An impromptu celebration springs right from the heart, and "heart" certainly characterized how Morris marked the end (or soon-to-be end) of the great overseas conflict.
Art Carlson opened the steam siren and began the ups and downs of the fire alarm. There was no fire, rather there was joyous news that "the boys will be coming home." The shriek of the siren served to attract steadily more people. The stage was set.
Carlson was able to orchestrate certain notes of familiar musical intervals! He was back in the boiler room, experimenting as to just how much of a pull on the cord produced a certain musical note. Music came forth! "My country tis of thee. . ." And so on. It was captivating.
The burgeoning crowd called for more. It didn't matter that rain was falling. The evening air was cold. The streets were muddy and the crowd dealt with puddles, their joy undeterred. They sang and "wept unashamed," according to an account. They danced, shook hands and embraced.
When Carlson reached the climactic note for "let freedom ring," there was a loud acclamation for the sentiment.
Requests came forth for other patriotic songs. Art was able to extract various songs from the old siren. The throat of the siren issued "Keep the Home Fires Burning," "Long, Long Trail" and "Home Sweet Home" among others. More challenging for Art was our National Anthem, known to be difficult partly because of the vocal range required. He put his siren to work quite competently again. "Oh say can you see. . ."
By celebration's end, the clarification had spread that this was a "false armistice." It seemed a quibble. The momentum was with the forces for good. Germany had been pummelled, but wouldn't it be tragic that Germany would foment even more conflict a mere two decades later? Was the settlement imposed on Germany at the end of WWI too harsh? We can only speculate.
Mankind could be mighty brutal through the early and middle stages of the 20th Century.
For the time being, on that wet November night in 1918, Stevens County was consumed with that celebratory mood, hoping there would be no more great wars. It was wishful thinking. The boys did indeed come home in 1918.
A few WWI veterans were still around when I began my newspaper career. I remember photographing a group of them at the Morris Legion Club. I interviewed Earl Eames and Thore Mathison, and perhaps others, for feature articles. Finally these pillar citizens left us, as all war veterans eventually do. It's just as important to remember the souls who didn't come back.
Why is killing necessary to resolve world conflicts? My generation was terribly scarred by the ill-advised Viet Nam conflict.
I was still with the newspaper when our community welcomed back the Guardsmen from Iraq. Why were state National Guardsmen sent to fight overseas? Time has not been kind to our decision to fight in Iraq.
The ceremony for the Guardsmen at the UMM P.E. Center was nice - all the bells and whistles - but why was nothing like this ever held to honor the Viet Nam War soldiers? I was in my formative years when that war pathetically wound down. Soldiers were reportedly told not to wear their uniforms on the way home. As a child I could sense the folly of the war. How strange.
The WWI Armistice was officially signed within days after the Morris celebration. Another more laid-back celebration was held.
Shifting to the 1940s
Let's fast-forward to the end of World War II. Again Art Carlson would come forth with a unique display to reflect the joy. This time it was with an exhibition of trick bicycle riding. He was top-hatted and grandly garbed. The date was August 14, 1945, when tidings were received that Japan had accepted the Allies' surrender terms.
Again, a joyous throng milled the downtown streets here. The stores closed their doors. No room for commercialism on this day, just unbridled joy. I imagine this joy was tempered quite a bit among families who had lost members in the war.
Once again farm families joined the city folk in celebrating. Horn-honking was steady. Young people snake-danced up and down the streets. Firecrackers crackled. This celebration, as in 1918, had an impromptu nature. A "spirit of '76" unit formed for an impromptu parade. The drummer was J.H. Brunsman. Other musicians were H.C. Probst, H.O. Watzke and Vin Kohler.
Then we had Art Carlson, in costume with clown garb, doing his trick bicycle riding. The celebration lasted until well past midnight. Let's emphasize there was little "rowdyism." A few fire cracker burns were reported. The local phone exchange was overwhelmed.
The Morris stores, even restaurants and service stations, were closed on Wednesday the 15th. There was no more din, though. Quiet prevailed now, perhaps a time for contemplation. Church services were held in the evening. My church of First Lutheran probably heard words of thanks and inspiration from The Rev. E.S. Ede.
The newspaper which came out on Friday was filled with ads promoting not products and services, but gratitude for war's end. Hopes for peace were accented, but of course in a few years we'd get the horrible Korean conflict. General MacArthur would later run for president but he flopped. My father Ralph E. Williams said "America was afraid of more war (under MacArthur)." We got it anyway with Viet Nam, the early stages of which were orchestrated, ironically, by the beloved JFK. Lyndon Johnson escalated it and went down in infamy, to the point where troops had to shed their military clothing. Shame? It wasn't the troops' fault.
"And they shall beat their swords into plowshares," read the Ryhn Dry Cleaners ad in the Morris paper marking WWII's end. The quote is from Isaiah 2:4.
Green's Milling proclaimed "The God of War has been sent back to his mountains."
The Del Monico Cafe, my favorite old cafe in Morris, where Thrifty White Drug is now, proclaimed "With victory comes a deepening sense of the tremendous debt all of us owe to our fighting men and women."
The rumor in Morris now is that if Heartland Motors builds out across from McDonald's, on that plot of land that has been the focus for myriad rumors, Thrifty White will build out there too. We have seen tree removal out there lately. If Thrifty White leaves downtown Morris, a void will certainly be opened up there. What would happen to City Center Mall? We'll see.
In the week after the joyous peace was announced, the Morris Theater showed no war movies. Instead, relieved citizens could watch "Topper Returns" with Joan Blondell or "Twin Beds" with Joan Bennett and George Brent.
"Everyone heaved a huge sigh of relief, gave thanks, and life went on," wrote Ardath Larson in the Stevens County Historical Society book "The '40s: a time for war and a time for peace."
Through all this, Sam Smith kept "running" at our Morris cemetery. He runs today. A statue would be apt for Art Carlson. Perhaps in front of the public library? Jerry Koosman too.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lakers turn back Tigers in baseball, softball

Those Minnewaska Area Lakers punished the Tigers Tuesday (5/13), winning in baseball and softball.
The baseball action was here. The Minnewaska boys limited the Tigers to three hits and prevailed 4-1. The 'Waska bats produced eleven hits, and 'Waska was flawless in the field.
Softball action at the Minnewaska field had the Lakers in command, winning 12-2 over the orange and black. 'Waska bats were good for 14 hits while MACA had just five. All in all a bleak day for Morris Area Chokio Alberta in the diamond sports.
Can't we at least get warmer weather?
Baseball: Minnewaska 4, Tigers 1
The first three innings were scoreless. Minnewaska assumed a 1-0 lead in the fourth. The sixth proved decisive. A succession of Laker batters socked singles. It was like a knockout punch. A skein of six singles resulted in three more runs on the scoreboard. The Tigers were unable to answer.
MACA avoided a shutout with one run scored in the seventh. 'Waska pitcher Riley Thompson was able to shut the door. Thompson pitched the whole way of seven innings. He was overpowering at times, recording eight strikeouts. He walked two and allowed three hits and the one run which was earned.
Tiger Bryce Jergenson was tagged with the loss. Jergenson had a rough outing as he gave up eleven hits and walked six. He struck out two and gave up four runs which were earned. The pitching work was finished up by Danny Tracy: one inning, no hits allowed, one walk.
Bryce had one of the three MACA hits. He and Gage Backman each went one-for-three, and Backman had an RBI. Brady Jergenson had a hit in two at-bats.
The Minnewaska hitting roundup: Matt McIver (two-for-four, an RBI), Michael Gruber (two-for-four), Matt Paulson (two-for-three and an RBI), Austin Ostrander (a triple), and the following Lakers each with one hit: Justin Amundson, Jon Nygaard, Hunter Thompson and Riley Thompson. (I wonder if Hunter Thompson will someday become a journalist!)
Ostrander's triple started the sixth inning rally. The 'Waska line score was four runs, eleven hits and no errors. MACA had a 1-3-2 line. Each team ended the day with seven wins on the season.
Softball: Minnewaska 12, Tigers 2
The Tigers have had lots of success this spring, but Tuesday was not an example. The orange and black committed three errors while the host Lakers had just one.
Coach Mary Holmberg had three pitchers work: Kayla Pring (tagged with the loss), Brooke Gillespie and Brianna Abril. The trio struggled trying to contain the 'Waska bats.
Mady Phillips pitched the whole way for the Lakers. Mady was quite in the groove, striking out eight batters and walking none. Phillips was reliable with the bat too, going two-for-three with an RBI. Rachel Bakko had three hits in four at-bats and drove in three runs. Bayley Pooler was a force at bat with her three hits in four at-bats including a double, and she drove in two runs.
Shanae Suchy had a double and two ribbies. Kacia Kollman went two-for-four with an RBI. Other Lakers who hit safely were Allyssa Engler, Morgan Majerus and Mason Schlief. The 'Waska line score was 12 runs, 14 hits and one error.
Brooke Johnson was the only MACA batter with two hits, and she finished at two-for-two. Lauren Reimers continued her solid form at the plate, connecting for a solo home run. Kayla Pring went one-for-three and Chelsey Ehleringer one-for-two. Ehleringer drove in a run.
'Waska came out of the starting gate with four runs scored in the first. They pulled away with one in the second, four in the third and three in the sixth.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Baseball: Tigers begin strong, beat ACGC

MACA came out of the starting gate with punch Friday, rallying for five runs in the first inning. The baseball Tigers ended up with a winning total of ten runs in this May 9 game at ACGC. The Tigers prevailed 10-5 at the home of the Falcons.
I will remind you that some of my Tiger sports posts are on my companion website, "Morris of Course." Click on the permalink below to read about the MACA softball split of a doubleheader at Montevideo on May 9.
And, you may click on the link below to read about these other recent Tiger games: the doubleheader sweep by MACA softball over Sauk Centre on May 6, scores of 1-0 and 2-1; the 8-4 baseball triumph over New London-Spicer on May 5; and the softball loss at the hands of Marshall on May 5, score of 4-1. Thanks for reading. - B.W.
Eight hits vs. the Falcons
Bryce Jergenson scored three of the MACA baseball runs vs. ACGC on Friday. He went two-for-five. The Tigers had eight hits in this winning performance. Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City matched that total.
What really worked against the Falcons was errors: six, compared to one by the smoothly-executing Tigers.
Following that five-run first, MACA went on to score three runs in the fourth, and one each in the fifth and seventh. ACGC scored one run in the third and two each in the fifth and seventh.
The other Jergenson in the Tigers' lineup, Brady, went two-for-four with two RBIs. Noah Grove had a double, two runs scored and an RBI. Ethan Stahman and Corey Storck each had a hit and an RBI. (Only seven hits are accounted for in the individual listing, not eight, but that's how the Willmar paper reported it.)
ACGC's Jordan Nelson was a perfect three-for-three with two runs scored. Mitch Macik went two-for-three with an RBI.
On to pitching: It was Noah Grove who was handed the ball for starting pitching duties. He was sharp in his two innings, giving up one hit and no runs while fanning a batter and walking one. But the brevity of his stint - two innings - kept him from getting the win. Instead the 'W' got next to the name of Danny Tracey, whose stint covered five innings. Two of the five runs he allowed were unearned. He allowed seven hits, struck out three and walked three.
The losing pitcher was David Kinzler.
The Tigers are slated to host Minnewaska Area today (Tuesday, 5/13). Our won-lost record now: 7-4.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, May 10, 2014

First Lutheran Church, Morris, keeping faith

The grass is richly green around First Lutheran Church. (B.W. photo)
One charter member of First Lutheran Church was still alive in 1947, the year when our community marked its 75th anniversary. The name was reported as "Mrs. O.C. Hanson." How quaint. The style of small-town newspapers once required that married women's names be reported like this. The woman's first name would not appear.
This practice continued all the way into the 1970s. I know because when I was researching the Morris Centennial, I found lots of names like "Mrs. Bill Dripps." Arnold Thompson was editor of the Morris newspaper at the time of the Centennial. He gave me my first break, arranging for me to cover Morris school activities as a "stringer." He was a pillar of the community, serving on the board of education. I remember when we learned of his sudden death.
First Lutheran Church, my church, celebrated its 65th anniversary in November of 1944. The horror of World War II was on. The pastor through the WWII years was The Rev. E.S. Ede. I was informed once that it's necessary to use the word "The" before "Reverend." But I'm not sure about this rule. I continue this out of habit. I typed many obituaries with pastors' names through the years.
Today, small-town newspapers don't even have an obituary department. That's because funeral homes have taken over the responsibility of preparing obits. I'm informed by a former co-worker that the paper isn't even allowed to edit an obituary!
Someday I'll write a whole post about the frustrations associated with writing obituaries. More and more I seem like a fossil with my recollections. Oh, and you should know the newspapers get paid for running the obits. Actually the families pay the funeral home which then pays the paper. My two cents worth is that this is unethical. What was wrong with papers publishing obits as "news" (and not, in effect, advertising)?
Mrs. O.C. Hanson was living in Minneapolis in 1947. She had been a member of First Lutheran for many years.
The original First Lutheran Church was a quite charming frame building. It was 28 feet wide, 44 feet long and 18 feet high, and it cost $2500. Keep in mind we're still in the 19th Century.
The commitment to build was in the pastorate of The Rev. P.A. Dietrickson who served First from 1890 to 1896. Construction began in 1891. It was on the same site as today. Formal dedication wasn't held until August 6, 1905.
At the inception 
Let's go back to the very outset of church history. The year is 1877, six years after the city's birth. On February 26, the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Morris was organized by The Rev. Marcus Koefod, then serving a charge near Starbuck. You can see a picture of The Rev. Koefod near the church office. A whole gallery of former pastors is there.
It looks like we will have another "former pastor" soon. It seems likely Pastor Paul Erdal is leaving. His wife Stacey has taken a teaching job in Brainerd (my mother's hometown). Stacey had hoped to stay here longer, perhaps permanently. However, a teacher who was on extended leave decided to come back, contrary to the expectations of many. Thus the Erdal family had to look at its options, and unfortunately they're gone or at least disrupted. That's a shame. I'm not a fan of the teacher who is coming back.
Pastor Paul gives stemwinding sermons with his authoritative voice, sermons that would easily fit in a more fundamentalist church. He would be a very effective "TV preacher" (and could be just as good at asking for money!). I will miss him when he's gone. He is Korean by ethnicity.
Pastor Cliff: pastor to the boomers
I grew up at First Lutheran when Pastor Clifford Grindland was the fixture there. He had a very long pastorate and retired there. He helped bring up the boomers of this community. Our family attended his funeral in Alexandria a few years ago.
Del Sarlette tells me that ol' Cliff had kind of a reputation of being overbearing, perhaps, asking for money. In today's culture, no one is apologetic about seeking money.
I would say that when Cliff was pastor here, and Fred Switzer was school superintendent, money was harder to come by for such institutions. (Fred was the boomers' superintendent, and Wally Behm our principal.)
Apparently it was like pulling teeth getting the high school auditorium built. Fred would later say he "almost got fired" over that. The auditorium really seems rather modest today. It has been upstaged totally by the opulent concert hall. Neither of these existed when I was in high school.
We gave band concerts in the 1968 gym, and actually I think it was a nice place for that! I remember sitting up in the bleachers and listening to an extended flute solo by Renee Schmidt (male), who was one of those prodigy musicians who comes along periodically. Terry Rice on trumpet was another of those virtuosos (who'd make us all jealous).
Looking down from the bleachers, I could actually see everyone in the band. At the high school auditorium, all you'd see is that first row of clarinet players. I have always felt the auditorium develops a stuffy atmosphere whenever a large audience is there.
It is hugely ironic that our public school has such a state of the art concert hall, when the University of Minnesota-Morris has nothing comparable! How much better it would be if the two institutions could have a fully shared concert hall or total humanities facility, rather than that stupid shared football field which sits empty and cold like a mausoleum all winter. Many of us are now shaking our head about football, a brutal sport, anyway.
The best thing to happen all year at Big Cat Stadium is when the Irondale marching band comes there to practice and perform in summer.
Sowing the seeds
The first business meeting of the First Lutheran congregation was on May 9, 1879, at which time the first trustees and deacons were elected. The Rev. Hans Johnson served the congregation from that time until 1884. He was succeeded by The Rev. A.J. Anderson who stayed on the scene until 1890. At that time the charge included not only Morris but Nora, Frog Lake, Scandia and Hancock. Services in Morris were held in the old East Side school building.
The exciting building project was under Pastor Dietrickson. Then we welcomed Pastor O.A. Dolven as pastor, and his tenure was from 1896 to 1898. Next was The Rev. Engel Olsen who served until 1915. During this period the parish was revised to include Morris, Reque, Wheaton, Hancock and Donnelly. In 1915 it was again revised to include Morris, Hancock, Alberta and Chokio, and The Rev. J. Thornell served as pastor from 1915 to 1918.
Next in the role was The Rev. Alfred Bredeson. In 1922 we welcomed The Rev. B.H.J. Habel. The parish at this time included only Morris and Hancock. It was in the early '20s that the congregation took steps toward a new brick church structure. There must have been growing pains.
The previous structure, charming and inviting as it was, was going to be insufficient. The new brick structure, which today remains the anchor, was built for a cost of $20,000. The formal dedication was held in October of 1926. The Rev. N.O. Peterson took the reins in 1928.
Trinity Lutheran Church of Alberta was added to the parish. The Rev. Peterson served until 1935, into the Great Depression. During this period, First Lutheran became a parish by itself. The Rev. Peterson guided parishioners through the very arduous challenges of the Depression and "dust bowl." It was quite a time. People learned resilience and to be content with just the necessities - not a bad mindset when you get down to it.
The Rev. H.M. Allison succeeded The Rev. Peterson and served until 1941. In December of that year more adversity would befall America, as we were pulled into World War II by the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Rev. Peterson resigned to become a chaplain in the U.S. military forces.
First Lutheran's pastor through the WWII years was The Rev. E.S. Ede. He arrived here in the summer of 1941 and continued through 1947 when he accepted a call to Fort Dodge IA.
At the time of the church's 65th anniversary in 1944, the financial indebtedness of the congregation was wiped out. The mid-1940s saw notable improvements to church property. Actually that's good and bad. Today the church has the image of a series of "add-ons," not the best thing.
The installation of a new oil-burning furnace was a big deal!
The 1950s were a time when The Rev. Lowell Larson presided. His fine reputation was such, he was invited to be preacher for the Morris Centennial in 1971. He spoke at the county fair grandstand. I was a band musician.
Pastor Grindland was the only pastor I knew through my childhood and young adult years. He was synonymous with First Lutheran.
I was confirmed in 1970 at a time when the boomer population was huge, and we assembled in several rows for the official confirmation picture. Years later the group of confirmation honorees had dwindled to a single row, or hardly even a "row." You can see this evaporation of numbers in the group photos in the First Lutheran upstairs hallway. You'll note I didn't have my hair combed straight back, back then!
I sort of broke away from churchgoing in my early 20s, reflecting the rather skeptical attitudes of my generation. Many of us saw church as irrelevant. We observed all the "hypocrites" (as we called them) who attended. Of course, we're all supposed to understand that we're sinful. But we were so idealistic. We saw lots of traditional church values as somewhat anachronistic. We felt the church was too detached from relevant social issues - civil rights, peace etc. Were we wayward? Perhaps we were.
I began attending church again when my parents, because of age needed me. I'm quite happy to be in the habit. It's nice going through the serving line at the traditional basement "pot luck!" Choose your favorite color of Jello.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fergus Falls has quite the story w/ "Kirkbride"

The grand Kirkbride complex of Fergus Falls
The historical annals of Morris should report a standard teasing line of the mid-20th Century.
Part of the purpose of my online writing is to preserve such stuff. A historical organization would consider it too trivial. Not only that, it's shameful for our society.
Today we manage kids like there's no margin for misbehavior. It started years ago with such buzzwords as "conflict resolution." Today we have all the anti-bullying efforts.
My generation, the boomers, was quite on our own. We'd swarm around the East Elementary playground. If you wished to denigrate a peer, here was the standard teasing line (drum roll please): "They're gonna send you to Fergus." I repeat: "They're gonna send you to Fergus."
Today we all know Fergus Falls as a wonderful community of about 14,000 to the north of here. It has always been a wonderful community. It should never have been stigmatized. However, the fact it was the site for a massive mental health treatment facility was seized upon by kids out in this part of the state, as a vehicle for teasing: "They're gonna send you to Fergus."
I doubt this line is going to be preserved through any formal historical preservation mechanism. So, I'll do it here. It's not something we're proud of. But it was reality.
Boomers were largely left alone to be who we were. Teachers did try to discipline us. They intervened when we were being obvious idiots. It was a yeoman's effort. But the kids always felt they had latitude to screw up. You could have a jackknife in your back pocket. Boys in those days played with toys inspired by World War II. Our fathers were strangely indifferent about that. Today I'm sure war facsimile toys would get kids in trouble. You'd better not draw a picture of a weapon in art class. I'm sure I drew stuff in art that would get me in trouble.
I was highly influenced by the comic books of the time. To me it was all fantasy. I wrote a fiction piece in about the fifth grade that had boys defending themselves with giant slingshots. They had run away from home. Hey, it's fantasy!
In the fall in 1964 we saw faux "gang" warfare on the East Elementary playground. The boys divided up into "Johnsons" and "Goldwaters" with the Johnsons having a substantial numerical advantage.
Another focus for conflict among us charming kids was the NFO (National Farmers Organization). You'd better be prepared to give the "right" answer if someone approached you and asked about NFO. The NFO was an attempt to unionize farmers, which always was a futile effort. Society as a whole was much more generous and accommodating about unionization. Union proponents are being highly marginalized today. This coincides, not coincidentally, with the evaporation of the middle class.
The middle class in America was probably at its height when the boomer generation was young. We were much more likely to be in a home with a stay-at-home mother. Did daycares even exist then? Today both parents work and the standard of living isn't any higher. I see these little clusters of daycare kids around town and I can't help but think they'd be better off at home with mom. Women have been "liberated." They have both feet in the workplace. Are they finding any real joy as a result of this?
Men could stay home and take care of the kids too. But someone should.
Home of the Otters
Fergus Falls MN is the county seat of Otter Tail County. The "falls" inspiring its name were discovered by an intrepid soul named Joe Whitford, a Scottish trapper, in 1856. The town got named for his employer, James Fergus. Alas, frontier times could be brutal: Whitford was a victim of the 1862 Sioux uprising.
Fergus Falls is a straight shot north of Morris on Highway 59. You pass by a wind farm. The Pomme de Terre River is always close by. The river issues out of Stalker Lake near Fergus Falls. Stalker is known as a deep lake with walleyes.
To look at a map, you'd think a short jog on the Interstate is necessary to get to Fergus Falls. I have been corrected on this. You can stay on Highway 59 the whole way, but I'll warn you: the segment closest to Fergus Falls is in rough shape. Word is, lots of highways around Minnesota are in rough shape. This past winter and spring were hard on our roads. I'm sure glad I don't need to commute.
Fergus Falls High School has the nickname "Otters."
The mental health treatment mission associated with Fergus Falls, goes back to the "Kirkbride" building. The last patients were dismissed in 2006. What's left is a sprawling, breathtaking really, relic of a building/complex. It's massive. It also presents a problem just like what we had in Morris with our old school. What to do with it? Tear it down? Let a developer try his hand?
"From the air it looks like a castle," Boyd Huppert of KARE TV reported.
The grand Kirkbride was built in the late 1800s atop a hill. It's a third of a mile long and 500 square feet in size. Wow! The state turned it over to the City of Fergus Falls. Demolition seemed likely. I'll offer the opinion here that it's still coming. I have grown cynical after seeing what happened to our old school complex. I was probably cynical already. But who knows?
City Administrator Mark Sievert was besieged with questions re. "When are you going to tear it down?"
Grand as the Kirkbride seemed, it seemed too old and too large to be of use in Fergus Falls. An organization called "Friends of the Kirkbride" was born. It opposed demolition. In Morris we had the "re-use committee" which seemed about as useful as a potted plant. In Fergus Falls the realists ran into the dreamers. Do you want to wager on which side tends to prevail in this stuff?
I do admire the spirit of the dreamers. The Kirkbride is a breathtaking architectural relic. But it's truly a relic, dating back to a time when society tried "moral treatment" as an approach with mentally challenged people. In the latter half of the 19th Century, massive structures like the Kirkbride were conceived as ideal sanctuaries. They had trouble maintaining the kind of resources necessary. Patient populations grew. Funding was a struggle.
Within decades of their conception, new treatment methods and hospital design concepts emerged. By the end of the 20th Century, the grand old buildings had been mostly abandoned or demolished. Many are decaying, "their mysterious grandeur intensified by their derelict conditions," it has been written.
The man who started it all
Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride was a founding member of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane. The Association was a forerunner of the American Psychiatric Association.
Dr. Kirkbride was a 19th Century physician and asylum superintendent who authored a treatise on hospital design. This treatise and other work had influence on construction of American insane asylums.
"Kirkbride" buildings are characterized by a "bat wing" floor plan and lavish Victorian-era architecture. Here in Morris, the art deco auditorium had that lavish quality that makes it a little heartbreaking to apply the wrecking ball. But that time comes.
The 19th Century was a time of growth in state-sponsored treatment of the mentally ill in the U.S. A greater need was seen, and why was that? It appears urbanization was a factor. Gee, does living in a big city really drive you nuts? We read about "growing populations and stress levels of U.S. society." Thus there was "an intensifying frequency of mental illness."
Maybe we were all better off living in Mayberry. Maybe those TV shows of the 1960s, including also "Petticoat Junction" and "Green Acres," reflected a pining for the simple life. Eventually those shows faded like the westerns. "Seinfeld" was the triumph of the urban-based lifestyle. Let's bring back Barney Fife!
The Kirkbride model represented the finest of ideals. What preceded it? Oh my, we're talking prisons and poorhouses! Voices rose from activists for humane treatment. This is the ideal represented by the grand Fergus Falls Kirkbride. The heart was most certainly in the right place.
Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride advocated an asylum system based on the tenets of moral treatment. He presented the "Kirkbride Plan" where the asylum was a place of structured activity, seclusion from causes of illness - the big city? - and some medical therapy. Males were in one wing, females in the other. The more "excited" patients were on the lower floors.
The well-meaning advocates sought to get patients away from pollutants and the hectic energy of urban centers. Fresh air and natural light were accented. Self-sufficiency was promoted by farmland on the grounds. Alas, all these good intentions didn't lead to a permanent model. Evidence simply did not emerge that the model was helping cure patients. Society saw no reduction in the incidence of mental illness.
A new direction had to be taken and we saw the rise of psychoanalysis and drug therapy. The asylum became obsolete. Many of the grand buildings continued as part of state hospital systems. The state hospital model then went into decline due to new forms of treatment. Many of the buildings have been torn down.
What is the fate in Fergus Falls? Indeed we see that tug-o-war with realists and dreamers. City Administrator Sievert in Fergus Falls had a vision of just saving the central portion of the building. The City turned to an outside broker. Last June, a Georgia-based developer signed a letter of intent. The goal is renovation, a hotel, a spa, restaurants and 60 apartments. Well, "good luck" is all I can say.
The amount of business needed to sustain that place might challenge (i.e. detract from) the rest of the Fergus Falls business community. Might it be more trouble than it's worth? Time will tell.
The Kirkbride stands as a tribute to the humanitarian aims of its founder.
Us kids were awfully unfeeling in the 1960s as we teased with lines relating to "Fergus" and its asylum. Let the historical record show, though, that the putdown of "They're gonna send you to Fergus" had great currency. I'm not sure we had ever heard of "sensitivity training" then. Teachers tried valiantly to straighten us out. Subconsciously we probably heard their message. Today we consider ourselves pretty well adjusted.
Our children and grandchildren deal with "zero tolerance" policies forcing adherence to the proper attitudes (e.g. no large slingshots). Will they be better off? We'll see.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, May 5, 2014

MACA girls score runs in bunches

The weather may not have been beautiful but MACA softball showed resilience and won on Thursday and Friday. Is it too much to ask for some summer-like conditions? We'll see this coming week.
Tigers 13, Melrose 3
The homer bats were alive for the Friday (5/2) success. Fans at the home diamond enjoyed seeing the orange and black soar into double digits with runs. Coach Mary Holmberg's squad achieved win No. 9.
I recall Friday as an especially windy day. Wind or no wind, Lauren Reimers and Kayla Pring homered. Reimers was in the zone with her hitting, going four-for-five. Pring's homer was in her only official at-bat.
Coach Holmberg who recently got to the 500-win career plateau, can smile about the 5-0 record her team owns in conference. The overall numbers are 9-2 in this most upbeat spring. Now we'd like to describe the weather as "upbeat." UMM graduation is this Saturday.
Today (Monday) will have the Tigers going south to play Marshall.
MACA came out of the starting gate to score six first inning runs, clearly setting the tone for the game. Melrose managed two runs in the first. MACA added to its run total steadily after that, with two runs in the second, two in the fourth and three in the sixth.
The MACA line score was 13 runs, eight hits and two errors. Melrose put up 3-8-5 numbers.
Two Melrose batters had two hits each: Nikki Zierden and Kayla Austing.
Reimers had her memorable boxscore line for the victor: four-for-five including that round-tripper, and an RBI. Becca Holland socked a triple. Pring had that home run and drove in two runs. Lacee Maanum and Nicole Strobel each had a hit.
On to pitching: Here we have Brooke Gillespie going the whole way and scattering eight hits. She fanned a batter and walked one.
Melrose had three players trying their pitching arm: Emily Revermann (the loser), Sandra Sprenger and Maddie Rausch.
MACA's 13-3 win was similar to the previous day's win. Read on:
Tigers 15, Minnewaska 5
Indeed, runs have been scored with great regularity for Morris Area Chokio Alberta. The Thursday story had 15 coming in. This onslaught was versus Minnewaska Area.
The Tigers erupted for ten runs in the fourth. They finished with 15 runs on a whopping 17 hits and four errors. Those four errors were pretty easily overcome by 17 hits. Meanwhile the overwhelmed Lakers scored five runs on seven hits and committed four errors.
Brooke Gillespie only had to pitch five innings due to the ten-run rule being implemented. Gillespie fanned one batter, walked two and gave up seven hits. The losing pitcher was Mady Phillips.
Let's roll up our sleeves for the ample offensive highlights for the MACA Tigers. Becca Holland was a perfect three-for-three and scored three runs. Chelsey Ehleringer went two-for-four with two runs scored. Lauren Reimers had a home run, an RBI harvest of four, two runs scored and a two-for-four line.
Abbie Olson had a hit in her only at-bat. Bobbi Jo Kurtz, Brooke Johnson, Gillespie and Lindsey Dierks each went one-for-three. Kayla Pring had two hits in three at-bats.
Nicole Strobel was a force with her three-for-four numbers, three RBIs and two runs scored.
Indeed the Tigers played in crowd-pleasing fashion here in Morris, winning 15-5.
Rachel Bakko had two hits in three at-bats for 'Waska. Phillips had a triple.
The Reimers home run for MACA was done inside-the-park style in the first inning.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Coach Holmberg enters exclusive circle w/ wins

I was a student at Morris High School when softball wasn't even offered in spring. What a different world we have today! Mary Holmberg was a pioneer establishing softball as a sport on completely even terms with baseball.
Softball is so well-established now, we might well forget the early days of girls sports as it climbed the ladder to full legitimacy. We take it for granted today? It should not be taken for granted.
I look back to my high school class (1973) and wonder which girls might have been the softball stars. They had no such opportunity. Girls basketball was underway but not softball.
Girls basketball was on wobbly legs in those early days. It had to be. Our whole sports culture was gradually changing to where girls would have total acceptance, graduating from "novelty" or "neophyte" status. Girls had to discipline themselves to advance the basketball without traveling. The time and patience were rewarded.
I was naive enough once to think that girls might have trouble making three-point shots. Sheesh!
Well, the full establishment of girls sports was impressed on us on Friday, April 25, when coach Mary Holmberg got her 500th softball win. It's a super milestone. I worked with Mary for many years when I was with the Morris newspaper. I made trips to St. Cloud when the Tigers vied in the state tournament in the mid-1980s. St. Cloud was a nice place for that tournament (Whitney Field).
I remember the McRoberts girls playing. I remember when we all piled into the Ground Round Restaurant in St. Cloud, and I believe Willie Martin picked up the tab! The Martin sisters supplied talent and enthusiasm for the program. I remember making trips with the Rick Lucken gang and facing the challenge of figuring out if games were in Brooten or Belgrade! Rick left us too soon.
The Tigers handed coach Holmberg her 500th career win with a 12-9 victory. It was a conference game vs. Yellow Medicine East, in Chokio - yes Chokio. I remember back when sometimes the team would play at Wells Park if wet grounds were a problem at Eagles. You had to scout around. The current spring has been a nightmare from a weather standpoint.
I'm writing this on Thursday morning, May 1. The weather outside is ungodly. It's good for nothing. In the fall it might be good for duck hunting. I walked to McDonald's this morning and felt like cussing. Then, I felt like cussing again when I went to the counter and found that my usual breakfast had gone from $3.78 to $3.90.
Coach Holmberg is in her 34th season. I first covered her program in the spring of 1979. I think they played all their games at Wells then.
Holmberg is only the sixth Minnesota coach to reach 500 wins.
The Tigers assumed a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Each team plated a run in the third. The Tigers punched through three more runs in the fourth while YME scored one. The game turned wild in the fifth when MACA scored four runs and YME five. The Tigers scored two runs in the sixth, and YME answered with three in the seventh, but YME needed a little more.
Morris Area Chokio Alberta had a line score of 12 runs, 16 hits and two errors. The Yellow Medicine East line score was 9-15-2.
Nicole Strobel went three-for-four and drove in three runs. Becca Holland also went three-for-four and she had a triple. Lauren Reimers was a perfect two-for-two. Brianna Abril had a double as part of going two-for-four. It was ditto for Abbie Olson: a double and two-for-four numbers. Brooke Johnson socked a double and went two-for-three. Abby Daly went one-for-one and Kayla Pring one-for-two.
Three of the YME Sting batters had three hits: Marissa Sneller, Megan Odegard and Allie Zieske. Halley Enstad had two hits for the Sting.
Brianna Abril was the winning pitcher and fanned three batters. She pitched nearly the entire game, getting relieved at the end by Lacee Maanum. Mariah Norell was the losing pitcher. She shared YME's pitching with Jordan Glad.
I assume that the game postponements have been piling up. I really think the state High School League needs to consider gymnasium sports in the spring months. The weather is too much of a distraction now. And yet we have climate change deniers out there. They are nearly all Republicans. Republicans refuse to accept climate change theory because they don't like government, and climate change is the kind of problem that requires big government to solve.
A Republican officeholder recently said "God controls the weather." We need to stop blaming these Republicans. We need to blame ourselves, the voters, for electing them. It's the Republicans who preach about how we need the death penalty, even though the Bible tells us we should be kind to prisoners. How ironic if "Christian conservatives" end up being denied the Kingdom of Heaven.
Today is May 1 which means it's May Day. I remember greeting the St. Mary's kids (with Barb Spaulding) as they went around town, including to the Sun Tribune office, to share their May baskets. You had to brush your teeth after consuming that stuff! I mentioned one year after they left that May Day is a Communist holiday. I was swiftly informed that this was not the context in which the St. Mary's kids were celebrating!
Congratulations to coach Mary Holmberg.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com