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

Focus of pride in Morris MN: our school! - morris mn

Focus of pride in Morris MN: our school! - morris mn
Our school in Morris is a hub of community activity and enrichment. (B.W. photo)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Smith, Ostby reach elite plateau of state

The state wrestling tournament is an elite plateau indeed. The state exudes excitement like no other level.
I used to make trips to the old St. Paul Civic Center for this. I covered Tiger wrestling when Al Hendrickson was at the helm. You can occasionally reminisce with Al and his wife Dolora at the Morris McDonald's restaurant.
Fast-forward to the present: We're in the ranks of Section 3AA. Luverne hosted the section tourney. Two Tigers finished second at their respective weights. Thus they have the privilege of vying in state. This smoothly-executing pair: Travis Ostby at 132 pounds and Myles Smith at 145.
Ostby is a sophomore and Smith a senior. Smith survived a "true second" challenge.
Seven Tigers total placed at their weights including Jordan Thooft who took fourth.
The site for state is the Excel Energy Center, St. Paul.
The headline in the Hancock paper: "MAHACA send two to state tourney." Shouldn't it be "sends?" Also on that page I see the word "halftime" with a hyphen: "half-time?" If I had been responsible for this, I would face some serious criticism over my alleged lack of brainpower.
Ostby owned the No. 3 seed. He was awarded a bye at the start. He wrestled in the quarters against Christopher Krenz of Fairmont and won by fall. Then he faced a nemesis of his, Spencer Suflow of "United," and turned the tables, winning by fall in the second period.
Now Ostby is in the championship bout for 132. He didn't fare so well this time, getting pinned (2:27) by Logan Axford of Tracy-Milroy.
Myles Smith like Ostby was seeded third at his weight. He came on like gangbusters at the start, pinning Cooper Olson of Tracy in 1:20. The quarters saw Smith matched against Cody Michelson from down south: Worthington. Smith fought to a 13-11 decision win in OT. Bring on the semis!
Smith gamely squared off vs. Elijah Gronewold of Fairmont, the second seed. Smith upset Gronewold 8-3. The finals saw Smith on the short end by fall, in 2:59 vs. the top seed, Dylan Johnson of Quad County. But Smith's work wasn't done. He faced Solomon Nielsen of Luverne for "true second." Smith wrapped up his state qualification by prevailing 14-5 over Nielsen.
Tiger Jordan Thooft had the No. 3 seed at 170. He got a bye at the start. He won in the quarters over River Zvorak of Tracy: a fall in 1:19. Thooft lost by a 9-3 decision to Joe Weeding of United in the semis. The consolations saw him beat Harley Luhmann, Fairmont, by fall in 1:48.
Thooft was matched against Sam Hoppe of New Ulm in the match to determine third place. Thooft dropped a 6-4 decision. Jordan would not have gotten a true second match anyway.
Jacob Sperr, the Tigers' "big guy" at 285 pounds, upset the No. 4 seed, Trevor Wietzema of Worthington, by fall in 5:02 in the quarters. Sperr then fell to the top seed, Jake Lehmann of United, by fall in 1:12. The consolations saw Sperr lose by fall in overtime to a Tracy grappler, Lane Anderson.
Then in the match to determine fifth among these "big guys," Sperr lost by fall in 2:48 to Adrian Moscoffian, a Fairmont grappler.
 
Other Tigers:
Matt Munsterman placed sixth at 106 pounds. Clint Messner had an 0-2 tourney at 113. Jared Rohloff went 1-2 as the Tigers' 120-pounder. The 126-pound class was open.
Trenton Nelson at 138 pounds had a 2-2 tourney and did not place. Max Feuchtenberger went 0-2 at 152 pounds. Steven Koehl came up shy of placing with his 1-2 showing at 160. Aaron Nelson placed fifth at 182 pounds.
Matt Vinson was the No. 6 grappler at 95. The 220-pound class was open.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Our Wayne LeSage survived Battle of the Bulge

Grim scene: Battle of the Bulge
Wayne LeSage was a right-hand man of Willie Martin. Willie was the man for whom "Willie's Super Valu" was named. The "new" store building isn't so new anymore. It's a relative term.
Many of us remember the store when it was across the street, where the Dr. Stock building is now. I realize the medical building has a more formal name, but that name changes so often, you can't even count on the current phone book having the correct one. That's why I had to drive into town once, because I couldn't find the phone number.
We take the new Willie's store for granted now. The old one was much more modest with its atmosphere, but it served our purposes well. Willie and Wayne were on hand to help ensure a smooth operation. They exemplified The Greatest Generation.
I knew Willie well but not Wayne. I remember photographing Wayne at the halftime presentation for the Morris High School Homecoming. I seem to recall he was out there as grandfather rather than father of a female member of the royal court. Ron Lindquist at the newspaper was happy I took that photo.
Willie, Wayne and Ron have departed from us now. Willie's funeral was at the Morris Armory, such was his reach with his personality. I didn't hear about Ron Lindquist's death until after the funeral, otherwise I would have attended.
Wayne survived incredible peril in World War II to come back and re-join Morris. He joined the war effort in the late stages. The year 1944 saw him employed as meat cutter at Dolva's Grocery Store. Uncle Sam came calling. First stop: Fort Snelling for a physical. (The late Walt Sarlette of Morris always joked about how he "fought the battle of Fort Snelling.")
Next stop: Camp Fennin, Texas, for basic training. Wayne was in the ranks of the 23rd Infantry, 2nd Division. He got a ten-day furlough to spend back in Morris, so he could share precious time with family before taking further steps toward war. He had two small children.
The next stop: Camp Shanks near Baltimore MD. Wayne boarded the ship Queen Mary which was transporting 18,000 troops. He was on duty as MP during the trip. The destination was England. Winston Churchill was on board. 
A meat cutter, Wayne probably had little experience with rabbit. He recalled his group preparing "rabbit stew" while headed to the front lines in France. "The fellows would catch or steal rabbits," Wayne was quoted saying in the Stevens County Historical Society book "The '40s, a Time for War and a Time for Peace."
I have previously written that my copy of the book has pages falling out very easily. I should note the situation has gotten worse, to where the "book" has become basically a pile of loose pages. That's too bad but it's all still very precious.
"About 50 fellows came and ate," Wayne recalled of the rabbit stew. "Some Germans also ate with us, then left. Later we would be killing each other." I found that strange.
By December of 1944, Wayne had gotten into the thick of the absolute worst that WWII had to offer. This was the Battle of the Bulge. It was the major German offensive launched through the densely forested Ardennes region of Wallonia in Belgium, France and Luxembourg on the western front toward the end of the war.
If only Germany could have capitulated earlier. Germany was on the skids. Maybe the Allies were guilty of too much wishful thinking. Or overconfidence. Because, we were caught rather flat-footed.
Today we simply remember that we won World War II. At the time, there were turning points and suspense that made the immediate future hard indeed to script. The Battle of the Bulge ended up as the costliest battle in terms of casualties for the U.S.
Fierce as it was, and staggering as it was for the U.S., the battle had the effect of depleting Germany's resources. This so often happens in war. "Winning" a particular battle exacts such a toll, it can diminish your chances in the long run.
A pugnacious stance in war is assumed to challenge the enemy, intimidate the enemy and get the enemy discouraged about continuing the conflict. The Tet Offensive in Viet Nam was not successful, except in the sense that it got America (finally) fed up about that war.
No one was more pugnacious than Robert E. Lee in the U.S. Civil War. His objective in invading the North, even if he couldn't wipe out the Army of the Potomac, was to get the war-weary North to sue for peace. He failed.
The Germans had their own name for the Battle of the Bulge: "Operation Watch on the Rhine."
Vicious as it was and hellish as it was for the Allies, we were not deterred, and in the end could be heartened by how the Nazis had depleted their war-making resources.
The Nazis' goal was to split the British and American Allied line in half, capture Antwerp and then proceed to encircle and destroy four Allied armies, forcing the Allies to negotiate a peace treaty in the Axis' favor.
Robert E. Lee too wanted to "split the enemy line" on Day 3 at Gettysburg. These grandiose plans went awry. Such an awful proposition: war.
Hitler wanted to concentrate on the Eastern Theater. The reality was that the Third Reich was tumbling like a house of cards. Conflict and death on such a scale cannot be comprehended today. We must learn from history, lest we repeat it. We know the potential of the human animal for conflict. We must be vigilant.
Weather favored the Germans at the start of the great late-war offensive. The weather at first grounded our superior air forces. That would change. The terrain ended up favoring the Allies. Hitler needed time. He wanted time for his forces to develop advanced weaponry, like jet aircraft, new U-boats and super-heavy tanks.
"Send more Panzers!" is a refrain we hear from frantic German commanders in WWII movies. We see some of those German jets in the movie "Red Tails" about the storied Tuskegee Airmen. I think the German empire would have eventually crumbled regardless of the outcome of particular battles. Bad guys often end up fighting each other. Then again, maybe I've watched too many Westerns. 
 
Harsh atmosphere of winter
Wayne LeSage and his compatriots arrived at the front lines and got set up in foxholes. Those foxholes became their "home," as he described it in the Historical Society book. The Battle of the Bulge is remembered for its harsh and wintry conditions. Wayne recalled freezing his feet several times.
Word came for Wayne's unit to advance to a new position, this one requiring drilling holes in rocks to make the foxhole. Now Wayne found himself in St. Vith, Belgium, a forested area in addition to the rocks. "There we used jack hammers to make our foxhole," he said.
His unit left the infamous "Malmady Massacre" area just hours before the Germans moved in and killed everyone. This is at Christmastime of 1944.
Wayne spotted German tanks through the fog one morning. Four tanks came right at his group. One actually ran over the foxhole he was in. A shell was tossed in the hole. This could have been the end for the intrepid Wayne, but he came away with wounds only. And you think you have problems on your average day!
Wayne was transported by train from Liege, Belgium, to Paris. The specter of war was still out and about, as the trip was delayed due to German forces bombing the tracks ahead of them! Wayne spent Christmas at a Paris hospital in 1944. New Year's Eve found him on a flight to a hospital in London.
He proceeded in his recovery, then learned that orders were sent out for cooks. He volunteered with his specialty as meat cutter (but presumably not with rabbit). Wayne cut whole frozen chickens to be used in the officers' mess hall. And "we bought 15 kegs of beer for $16 each."
Finally Wayne got on board a ship again, this time en route home, and he landed in New York City on V-E Day. What festivities! What thankfulness! Wayne was sent to O'Reilly General Hospital in Springfield MO, and later boarded a train equipped for the wounded en route to Percy Jones Hospital in Battle Creek MI. There he was discharged, his incredible adventure over, in September of 1945.
America was ready to try to get back to normal. The Greatest Generation would get to work creating families and prosperity, along with the fabled "middle class" that enjoyed prosperity previously unheard of.
Back in his beloved Morris, Wayne purchased the Dolva Grocery Store with Arthur Thralow. I wonder if Arthur might have been our "milkman" when we first came to Morris. Remember "milkmen?" We had one whose name was pronounced "trollow" and I suspect this was "Thralow." He was an older fellow. I can picture him like it was yesterday. This was in the early 1960s, until finally "milkmen" were phased out of our lives, like the "ice" business which was once overseen by the unforgettable Roy Lucken.
Maybe in 20 years we'll be saying "remember the Morris newspaper?"
The movie "Airplane" pays homage to "milkmen" where Lloyd Bridges says to his wife over the phone: "Tell the milkman, no more cheese!" (There is a quote from "Airplane" to be found for a great many subjects.)
As a kid I heard Wayne had an especially interesting war background. I was pleased to eventually be able to read about it.
I was able to visit France and England in the summer of 1972. How thankful we could all be, the Nazi menace had been crushed and was just a memory.
 
Cinema and Battle of the Bulge
The best-known movie about the Battle of the Bulge bore the name of the battle.
"Battle of the Bulge" was among those 1960s WWII flicks that were late enough to be in color but too early for CGI. The lack of CGI is a blessing even though it certainly pushed up budgets. The movies were sanitized so as to draw a line with gore, blood etc.
We as moviegoers, I feel, could assume the level of gore instead of having to be shown it. Eventually, Hollywood in its "wisdom" decided the blood and such needed more exposure, thus we got "Saving Private Ryan" and others. These may have served to kill off the WWII action flick. That's a shame because such movies could be very instructive about our history.
The movies often took artistic license with facts. We considered that no big deal, as long as the major forces of history were properly acknowledged. It's probably a bigger deal today in this age of Internet-based "fact-checking."
"Battle of the Bulge" (1965) does take liberty with facts as with the chronology of the battle. The idea of course is to maximize the dramatic story. I have watched "Battle of the Bulge" on TV and could not put it near the top of my favorite WWII movies. It's OK.
What's fascinating is that there's no portrayal of senior Allied leaders, civilian or military. Hey, there's a reason! You see, there were major controversies about this battle. The issues bubbled up during the war and after. They center on the Germans' initial success and how it could have been allowed to happen.
Henry Fonda is the heroic "Lt. Colonel Kiley" who foresees what is coming and strives to warn. His superiors aren't so sure. The movie lacks the cold and snowy atmosphere that pervaded the real battle. We see no snow in the film's last big tank battle.
Fonda is part of a stable of "name" actors whom we associate with the 1960s and in large part with war films. We see Robert Shaw as the menacing "bad guy" German tank commander. There's Telly Savalas, Robert Ryan, Dana Andrews and Charles Bronson. Yes, we're reminded of "The Dirty Dozen," a film with Lee Marvin in a role that could never be duplicated by any other actor!
Yes, "Battle of the Bulge" had to be sensitive to the potential for controversy, but even after those delicate steps, General Eisenhower (or President Eisenhower) came out of retirement and held a press conference! He held this conference to denounce the film! He derided what he saw as "gross historical inaccuracy."
Robert Shaw went on to play the eccentric fisherman in "Jaws," remember? In "Battle of the Bulge" his hair is dyed yellow and his eyes project malice.
One critic says the movie "has the feeling of being patched together from different scripts." Maybe this is the basis for my reservations.
Robert Shaw? One movie aficionado says of the character that it's "a caricature - a cross between a Klingon ('Star Trek') and sociopathic human."
Do we subconsciously see the Nazi when we see Shaw in "Jaws?" Is his fate in "Jaws" thus more easy to accept, or to even delight in?
It's too bad the WWII Battle of the Bulge ever happened. It's too bad WWII happened. Just think how the war changed so many lives. 
  
Resuming normal life in Morris MN
Wayne LeSage was blessed coming back to Morris and co-owning a humble grocery store, and later becoming Willie Martin's right hand man at the Willie's store.
Willie's in my childhood was a "Red Owl." His family would have decried anyone mentioning "Super Valu." Daughter Edith, my age, put together a little humorous scrapbook in which she had the Super Valu name on one page, and under it this description: "America's number one skinflint." (Edith would flip if she knew I remembered this.)
That scrapbook also poked friendly fun at basketball player Joe LaFave, a year older than us. (Scared s--tless of the ball. . .")
Time passes. Willie's Red Owl gave way to Willie's Super Valu, and finally came along that big new building that looks a little like a casino. Juergensen's Super Valu became a thing of the past, along with Coborn's later on.
"The cheese stands alone" now with the state of the art Willie's, run by Willie's son Paul. If only we still had Willie and Wayne still around. We have them in our memories.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sports venues come and go as we age

I have heard it said, you know you're getting old when you no longer know what time Taco Bell closes. I would argue that age sets in when something you remember as shiny new, becomes scrapyard material.
This should always give us pause. Any physical structure that was once revered, likely had merits or still has some merits, we ought not forget.
I remember writing about the legislative discussions and proposals leading to our Metrodome. The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Could you imagine "wasting" the name of a facility like this on a public figure today, in this age of "naming rights?" Such lucrative sums.
At the end we were talking about Mall of America Field, not some long-time Democratic politician. Today's young people would need a primer on Hubert Humphrey. I got to sit in his office chair in Washington D.C. in 1964.
HHH had a sad ending, succumbing to cancer. He was vice president under Lyndon Johnson and ran for president as the Democratic nominee in that tumultuous year of 1968. He would have won had be bent over more to oppose the Viet Nam War, I feel. Hindsight is easy. We were a different country then. It was the days of the "generation gap," a schism with intensity that today's young people cannot imagine. 
I was born in the Twin Cities and spent the first five years of my life in St. Paul. In that time, Minnesota had no major league baseball or football teams. Minneapolis had the Millers, a AAA team that was about the best at its level, but no substitute for the bigs.
Dave Moore might have been the only one who was truly effusive with nostalgia about Nicollet Park. I have seen photos of Nicollet Park, home of the Millers, and it looks rather like a dump. I'm sure little new money went into keeping it up, because everyone knew major league baseball was eventually coming.
There were treats being a Millers fan, like being able to watch Willie Mays as a home team star in the early 1950s.
I was six years old when the Minnesota Twins began playing. My boomer generation was ecstatic. It's sad that by the early 1970s, the Twins had lost their "new car smell" with us. We judged the Twins to be passe at a certain point.
We got on the Minnesota Kicks soccer bandwagon. The problem there was that soccer seemed almost peripheral as the drawing card for the untamed youth of that time. The Kicks were fashionable because their home venue, Metropolitan Stadium (with its sprawling asphalt for parking), became cool as a big hangout. What did we all do for recreation? I'd prefer not to say.
The mid to late 1970s dragged along with fading idealism and faith in our institutions of America. The sagging popularity of the Twins was likely a reflection of that. Jimmy Carter was a kind and gentle man but he couldn't lead us out of that abyss. (I wouldn't mind being able to buy a bank CD or two that would pay the kind of interest we had then!)
We began hearing that a new sports facility would have to replace Met Stadium. We needed a facility that would insulate us from the weather handicaps everyone knew we had here. I interviewed our local state senator about discussions at the Minnesota state capitol. He was a DFLer. Momentum seemed in place for what would become our HHH Metrodome.
No one felt the Dome was going to become any sort of shiny jewel or opulent piece of architecture. It came in under budget! Hooray. We saw it as adequate, maybe a bit better than utilitarian. My first time there, I felt it had an atmosphere rather like a basement, not that I was frowning on that. We needn't worry about weather threats anymore.
I saw Dave Stieb of Toronto toss a pitching gem at the Twins in my first visit there. I had just run a 10K race outside the Dome that was a benefit for Muscular Dystrophy. Carl Pohlad fired the starting gun. Who says the "one percenters" are all bad? I also remember we got drenched by a cloudburst during that 10K. I enjoyed the game and the atmosphere at the Dome, and would return many times.
I have not been to the new Target Field, nor have I been to the TCF Bank football facility. I have rapidly come to the conclusion that football is immoral and unacceptable in our society.
As for Target Field, I suspect all the high prices would turn me off. I remember ordering the "dollar size" beer at the old Met which was the "large" size!
I'm a little worried about the urgency behind these demands for new sports venues that arise every couple decades. Maybe we should slow down and smell the roses some. Metropolitan Stadium was a peaceful setting with an unmistakable big league veneer. It has been too quickly forgotten. The Dome follows its path.
And, what time did you say Taco Bell closes?
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A bright Tuesday: girls, boys hoops wins

Tigers 77, ACGC 36
The MACA girls soared up to win No. 16 with a most impressive win over the Falcons of ACGC. Coach Dale Henrich's crew entered mid-week with an overall record of 16-7, 12-2 in conference.
The Tuesday success over ACGC was by a score of 77-36 at home.
Fans of the orange and black cheered early and often as they watched their team assume a 42-17 halftime lead. The game seemed over. MACA applied finishing touches in the second half, displaying the same caliber of play as in the first. The MACA scoring advantage was by 35-19 in the second half. The Tigers roared!
Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City is having a down season - just two wins.
It isn't too early to start thinking about the post-season. In the meantime, though, the conference race deserves our attention. The Tigers are in the ranks of the West Central-North. Their 12-2 record obviously puts them at or near the top. Sauk Centre entered Tuesday at 12-1 in conference, and Monte owned a 13-2 mark.
We'll be hosting New London-Spicer tonight (Thursday). We hope the home surroundings will be just as friendly as on Tuesday.
On Tuesday the success came in spite of one made three-pointer in six tries. Beth Holland had the make. Beth had a hot hand offensively and topped the team scoring list with 24 points. Abbie Olson was No. 2 with her 15 points.
The list continues as follows: Rebekah Aanerud (8), Becca Holland (6), Lacee Maanum (6), Lauren Reimers (5), Nicole Strobel (4), Correy Hickman (2), Liz Tiernan (2), Kayla Pring (2), Kaitlin Vogel (2) and Moira McNally (1). Indeed it was a night for many Tigers to get into the scoring action.
Olson topped the rebounding with six followed by Strobel and Maanum each with four. Olson also led in assists with three followed by four Tigers each with two: Reimers, Beth Holland, Becca Holland and Strobel.
Reimers played aggressively and picked up eight steals. Becca Holland shadowed the Falcons and picked up seven steals. Olson stole the ball three times.
The Tigers put up 75 field goal attempts and made 30. The freethrow stats were 16 of 28.
The Falcons had a bright spot in the three-point shooting of Jacey Nelson. Jacey had four makes from beyond the three-point arc - pretty nifty. She scored a team-best 16 points. Kendra Miller and Marlee Lee each made one '3'.
Miller and Lee each scored six points. Bailey Klinghagen put in four points. Katie Peterson and Payton Wilner each scored two points.
 
Boys: Tigers 68, Minnewaska 57
The MACA boys surged after a halftime deficit to upend the host Minnewaska Area Lakers. MACA trailed by three at halftime, 36-33, in this Tuesday, Feb. 18, action.
Could the Tigers summon come-from-behind form as the visitor? Coach Mark Torgerson had considerable reason to smile in the second half. He coaxed his team to the superior position. MACA outscored the Lakers 35-21 in the second half. Thus they won in the 68-57 final.
It was the ninth win for the orange and black.
The Tigers had to survive horrific three-point shooting: just one make in ten tries! It was Noah Grove who had that make. The Tigers were 32 of 52 in total field goals. In freethrows their numbers were three of eight.
Eric Staebler and Noah Grove each had five rebounds. Grove was tops in assists with seven. Grove and Staebler each had two steals as did Andrew Goulet.
Staebler is the Tigers' sophomore center and he can go on a tear offensively. He came at the Lakers with 30 points scored. Noah Grove was second best on the team list with 20. Nathan Anderson put in 12 points.
These three Tigers each scored two points: Bryce Jergenson, Jacob Zosel and CJ Nagel.
While the Tigers were putting up bricks from three-point distance, 'Waska was doing quite fine in that department, making eight of 17. These Lakers each made two 3's: Austin Ostrander, Austin VerSteeg and Jayden Beecher. Riley Thompson and Matt McIver each made one '3'.
It was Ostrander leading the Lakers in scoring with 21 points. No other Laker scored in double figures. Thompson scored nine points, and VerSteeg and Beecher each scored eight. Matt McIver scored six points, Thorin Erickson three and Alex Elwood two.
Ostrander snared seven rebounds, and Beecher led 'Waska in assists with five.
'Waska was 22 of 47 in total field goals and five of seven in freethrows.
The Tigers entered mid-week with a 9-14 overall record, 6-8 in conference. The 'Waska numbers: 10-13 overall, 6-9 in conference.
 
A sensitive topic
I indicated recently that I would be writing no further on this matter involving the MAHS principal. I'm not sure I can remain distanced. Morris High School has been a journalistic priority of mine since I was 16 years old.
I have seen our public school deal with various controversies over time. Wally Behm was never in a bind like what we see now. Ol' Wally was the principal for the boomer generation in Morris. Thus he has an iconic position in our memories.
The boomers swarmed in the MHS hallways in their teeming numbers, in a time when school amenities were fewer than today. Students who today would get "special education" attention had to make do, to survive, amidst the regular student body, and in many cases this might have been to their benefit. They escaped the stigma of needing special attention. In some cases, of course, that special attention was probably warranted.
There was no Morris FFA when I was in high school!
The high school building included only grades 10 through 12. The younger kids were in that old building. We had a junior high and then a middle school although I'm told that legally speaking, we never had a "middle school," and by the same token we were never legally recognized as "Morris-Donnelly," even though the press reports referred to "Morris-Donnelly." It was a gentleman's agreement. There is no such thing as gentleman's agreements anymore. Everything is legal today.
Today our high school principal is the focus of legal charges that could send him to prison for many years. Except that I'd be willing to bet he doesn't serve a single day. The circumstances leading to these charges seem too murky.
If Nancy Grace of HLN were to read the most recent newspaper account of what happened that night, she'd laugh this case right off the TV screen. The story strains credulity. There is too much ambiguity. There was alcohol involved, a factor that law enforcement usually has no tolerance for. And yet, law enforcement won't cite alcohol as a clouding factor making stiff legal charges unreasonable
People do stupid things. We may have a stupid principal. We may have a stupid police department. But it's terrible to see the continuity of the school year so completely disrupted. Kids are going to be hurt by this, even if school officials won't admit it. You can't simply lose your high school principal in such abrupt fashion and see no negative consequences.
Is he still on "paid administrative leave?" How much longer can be stay on paid leave before the school can sever its ties to him? The legal system can move slowly.
Does the system allow for charges to be dismissed on the day of the pre-trial hearing? Even so, can the community now welcome the principal back? What if he's convicted but wins on appeal? Can he sue for back pay?
Perhaps I shouldn't be writing any more about this. But what the heck? I have no job, no friends, no future. I might as well share what's on my mind.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, February 17, 2014

Boys win, girls falter vs. Breckenridge

The MAHS gym was the site for non-conference hoops action Saturday - boys and girls. The orange and black vied with the green of Breckenridge.
Coach Mark Torgerson's boys took command, going up on Breck 29-17 in the first half and winning in the end, 64-55. This was win No. 8 on the season for the orange and black boys. Breck is having a below-.500 season.
Morris and Breckenridge were long-time tournament rivals in the old "District 21," remember? I seem to recall Breck winning a little too often. It's nice to see the Tigers with the winning total from Saturday (2/15).
Noah Grove made two 3-pointers. Eric Staebler made one as the Tigers were an efficient three of eight in that category. MACA was 24 of 45 in total field goals and 13 of 24 at the freethrow line.
Staebler snared ten rebounds while Grove had six. Grove set the pace in assists with five, followed by Nathan Anderson with four. Staebler stole the ball three times.
Staebler and Grove were offensive cogs with their 23 and 22 points respectively. Anderson put in eight points followed by Bryce Jergenson (7), Andrew Goulet (3) and Jacob Zosel (1).
Three Breck Cowboys each made one 3-pointer: Nate Blaufuss, Blaze Smith and Jordan Christensen. Nate Lorenz was the top Breck scorer with 16 points.
Morris Area Chokio Alberta arrives at Presidents Day with an 8-14 record. Breck's W/L numbers: 9-12.
 
Girls: Breck 65, Tigers 60
The Tigers bounded onto their home court with a seven-game winning streak, hoping to dispose of the green-clad foe to make it eight. They sure looked like they'd accomplish this at halftime. The Tigers led the Cowgirls 29-15 at halftime.
Breck was a foe to be respected, owner of an above-.500 record. Breck showed that quality in the second half. The green team surged, scoring 50 points in the second half to overcome the host Tigers. Breckenridge outscored the orange and black 50-31 in the second half and won 65-60. It was Breck's tenth win of the season against seven losses.
Breck's success was with just one successful '3', put up by Allison Beyer. Kennedy Conzemius was Breck's top scorer with 22 points. Haley Bommersbach was the other double figures scorer for Breck, putting in 17 points. Katina Dahlgren and Beyer each finished with eight. Katie Fredericksen scored seven points, Kenzie LaNoue two and Morgan LaNoue one.
The Cowgirls got a fair number of freethrow opportunities, 31, and made 18.
MACA made five 3-pointers led by Becca Holland who made four. Lauren Reimers made the other. MACA had five of 13 team numbers in 3's. The Tigers were 22 of 69 in their total field goals, and eleven of 17 at the freethrow line.
Lacee Maanum was the top rebounder with eight followed by Abbie Olson and Becca Holland each with six. Reimers led in assists with five followed by the Holland sisters - Becca and Beth - each with four. Becca Holland and Olson co-led in steals with three.
Three Tigers scored in double figures led by Beth Holland with 17 points. Becca was right behind with her 16, and Olson put in 13 points. Reimers scored seven followed by Nicole Strobel (3), Lacee Maanum (2) and Kayla Pring (2).
Prior to this loss, coach Dale Henrich's squad had put together a string of success marked by eleven wins in 12 games. They'll strive to find that winning groove again on Tuesday, here, vs. ACGC.
 
Not a placid Presidents Day
The weather is blustery and depressing for Presidents Day 2014. Such weather has seemed to be the norm for this gloomy winter. Global climate change?
The word is that school is two hours late today. But that was subject to change at the time I heard it (at McDonald's). Will school get nixed for the day? Conditions don't seem all that terrible, but I heard that common expression: "It's bad in the country."
You know what? This is a phrase that is really associated with Morris. "It's bad in the country." Maybe it could be emblazoned on our water tower.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Holland sisters and Olson combine for 35

Tigers 62, Melrose 42
The Holland sisters were smooth with their offensive execution, yet again, and Abbie Olson scored ten points in the MACA girls basketball win Friday.
Beth Holland scored 13 points and Becca put in 12. Thus the Holland sisters and Olson combined for 35 points in the Tigers' 62-42 home triumph.
The opponent was Melrose in this February 14 affair. The win was No. 15 for coach Dale Henrich's Tigers, against six losses. MACA entered the weekend with an 11-2 conference mark. Melrose is having a .500 campaign.
Morris Area Chokio Alberta treated home fans to some sharp three-point shooting. Nicole Strobel and Becca Holland each made two 3's. Lauren Reimers made one shot from beyond the three-point arc. MACA was five of nine in that category and 50 per cent in total field goals, with 25 makes in 50 attempts. The freethrow stats were 20 of 41.
Strobel and Kaitlin Vogel each scored six points, while Reimers and Kayla Pring each scored five. Rebekah Aanerud and Lacee Maanum each added two points to the mix, and Moira McNally had one.
Vogel was tops on the rebound list with eight while Olson had six. Reimers with her six assists led there. The Holland sisters each had two steals as did Olson.
The Tigers took complete charge in the first half, outscoring the Dutchmen 34-17. The Tigers basically went on cruise control in the second half.
Justine Revermann made three 3-pointers for the visiting Dutchmen. Gabi Sawyer and Taryn Van Heel each made one '3'. Emily Goerdt's 14 points made her Melrose's top scorer.
 
Boys hockey: Storm 3, Wadena-Deer Creek 0
Hockey fans gathered at the Benson Civic on Tuesday, Feb. 11, to watch MBA skate against Wadena-Deer Creek. The home fans were delighted with the caliber of the Storm's play. MBA put in three goals and didn't allow any.
The success has been the norm in the closing stages of the season. Things didn't start out well for the MBA skaters this winter. They then performed a turnaround. Beating Wadena-Deer Creek 3-0 was part of a run of success reflected in 6-1 W/L numbers. The Storm's overall record: 8-16-1.
Wadena-Deer Creek has had a similar type of season with more losses than wins. Their W/L numbers: 4-20-1.
Tony Bruns was the goalie getting the shutout on Tuesday. Tony was authoritative in goal, stopping all 30 W-DC shots. His goalie rival was Wesley Janson.
Neither team scored in the first period. MBA's winning fortunes started taking off in the second period. Taylor Staples scored for the Storm at 6:01.
Corey Storck took over in the third period. First Corey scored at 15:50, then he put in an empty-netter at 16:28. Hats off to Corey and the Storm!
 
Wrestling: Quad County 41, Tigers 25
MAHACA came up shy in the Section 3AA quarter-finals. The Tigers fell to Quad County which represents Renville County West, Yellow Medicine East and MACCRAY. Oh, and MACCRAY represents Maynard, Raymond and Clara City.
Quad County downed the Tigers 41-25. The meet results as reported in the Willmar newspaper are in extremely small type. It seems even smaller than usual. It seems to me the size could be hiked up a little with no harm done. Online we have no space restrictions, thus the type is easily large enough to handle.
So, it's my pleasure to report that Matt Munsterman at 106 pounds won by fall over Jake Roger in 1:37. Ben Koehl at 113 pounds wasn't so fortunate, as he lost by fall to Jordan Odegard in 1:45. Quad County's Ethan Thein at 120 pounds won by forfeit.
Mitch Ascheman was on the short end of a technical fall vs. Colten Specht at 126 pounds, score of 16-0. Tiger Travis Ostby came on strong as the Tigers' 132-pounder, to win by major decision over Cole Hatch, 14-2.
Dillan Johnson was on the winning end by an 11-5 decision over Austin Friese. Quad County has a wrestler named "Dylan Johnson" (slight spelling difference), and Dylan downed the Tigers' Myles Smith by decision, 8-3. At 152 pounds it was K. Winston pinning MAHACA's M. Feuchtenberger (first names N/A) in 3:30.
Then at 160 pounds, Quad County carved out the winning edge again with Wyatt Hatch decisioning Danny Tracy, 7-3. At 170 pounds, Tiger Steve Koehl found victory elusive vs. Hayden Johnson in a 10-8 decision. Tiger Jordan Thooft at 182 won by fall over Brian Bratsch, in 2:45.
Matt Vinson at 195 lost by fall to Zach Juarez in 1:30. Alec Gausman, 220 pounds, was on the short end of a 3-1 decision against Zach Fischer. MAHACA 285-pounder Jacob Sperr, the "big guy," came on strong to pin Ethan Beckler in :56.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Girls turn back quality Monte foe at home

MACA notched a significant win over a quality Montevideo team Tuesday (2/11) in girls basketball.
Click on the permalink below to read about the following athletic contests: the MACA boys hoops loss to Benson (58-45), the MBA boys hockey win over Redwood Valley (4-2), the girls hockey loss to Fergus Falls in Section 6A play (9-0), and the MAHACA wrestling invitational (second place for the Tigers). This post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." God bless you all for reading. - B.W.
 
Tigers 52, Monte 48
The MACA girls showed a solid brand of play in getting their 14th win of the season. MACA led 28-24 at halftime and went on to win 52-48 at the home gym.
Montevideo came out of the night at 12-5 overall, 10-2 in conference. Coach Dale Henrich's Tigers likewise sit at 10-2 in conference. The overall MACA record: 14-6.
The Tigers and Thunder Hawks battled down to the wire. The score was tied late in the second half. Freethrows made the difference for the orange and black. The Tigers were 14 of 23 in their freethrow shooting. In total field goals they were 18 of 64.
Lauren Reimers and Beth Holland each made a three-pointer, a department in which the team was two of six. Lacee Maanum set the pace in rebounds with 12, followed by Abbie Olson with five. The Holland sisters led in assists, Becca with five and Beth with three. The Holland sisters were all over the court as they also led in steals, Becca with seven and Beth with three.
Here's the individual scoring list: Beth Holland 13, Lacee Maanum 12, Lauren Reimers 10, Abbie Olson 8, Becca Holland 6, Kaitlin Vogel 2, Moira McNally 1.
Two Thunder Hawks scored in double figures: Morgan Reidinger with 16 points and Ashley Hoehne with 12. Tori Kuhlmann put in six points, Jesse Janisch four, Chelsey Hass three, Nicole Erickson three, Lexi Quigley three and Erin Balken one.
Kuhlmann made both of Monte's three-pointers.
The Tigers and T-Hawks are West Central Conference contenders but are looking up at those Streeters of Sauk Centre, who (as of 2/11) own a 13-4 overall record, 10-1 in conference. The Streeters are fourth-ranked in state.
Coach Henrich's orange and black crew will host Melrose on Friday, 2/14.
Viva Morris Area Chokio Alberta basketball for 2014!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, February 10, 2014

Girls overcome late Minnewaska surge to win

Tigers 73, 'Waska 64
The Holland sisters were precise with their shooting eye on Thursday (2/6) in the win over the Lakers. Beth Holland scored 23 points and Becca followed up with 17.
The combined 40 points were critical in the Tigers overcoming the host Minnewaska Area Lakers.
The win wasn't as routine as the final score might suggest. Or, as the halftime score of 38-22 might suggest. These Lakers had some fight in them. The Lakers drew cheers from their home fans as they got the score tied 59-all with the clock showing 2:30 remaining. All of a sudden it's anyone's ballgame.
Freethrows were a weapon the Tigers used in re-establishing their edge. The Tigers prevailed 73-64. The game was not a masterpiece as there were frequent fouls. Indeed the blast of the whistle was heard often. In all there were 61 fouls called on the night.
Was it a case of sloppy execution or over-aggressive play? Whatever, MACA was going to summon whatever tools were needed to win. Those fouls opened the door for freethrow opportunities. MACA put up 48 shot tries from the freethrow line, making 30. Meanwhile the Lakers made good on 21 of their 39 tries from the gift stripe.
The Holland sisters produced 18 of their points on freethrows.
Lauren Reimers put in 14 points for coach Dale Henrich's Tigers. Here's the rest of the scoring for the orange and black squad: Lacee Maanum (5), Nicole Strobel (4), Kaitlin Vogel (4), Kayla Pring (2), Correy Hickman (2), Abbie Olson (1) and Piper Gibson (1).
Becca Holland made a pair of three-pointers while Reimers made one. The Tigers were three of eleven in 3-pointers and 20 of 53 in total field goals. Those 30 of 48 freethrow numbers were eye-opening on the stat sheet.
The Lakers made half their total field goal attempts: 20 of 40. They were three of eight in 3's as Bayley Pooler, Madi Phillips and Taylor Amundson each made one.
Ariel Ostrander collected 12 rebounds for 'Waska. Pooler led them in assists with four, and Phillips was the top steal producer with six. Carley Stewart topped the 'Waska scoring list with her 18 points, just ahead of Pooler with her 17.
The MACA record coming out of this game: 13-6.
 
Boys hockey: Storm 5, Prairie Centre 4
The Storm put up a goose egg in period No. 2 and this proved costly in the Thursday, 2/6, puck action.
MBA scored one goal in the first period and three in the third. This wasn't enough to overtake the host, Prairie Centre, who found the net for two goals in the first period, one in the second and two in the third. Thus the final horn sounded with Prairie Centre up 5-4 on the scoreboard. The action was at Sauk Centre.
That first period MBA goal was scored by Corey Goff at 5:43 with an assist from Corey Storck. The "Coreys" showed good chemistry. Prairie Centre, unfortunately for the Storm, owned the rest of the period. Zach Pierskalla scored with an assist from Kristian Laaksonen (9:07), and Adam Fronseth scored at 11:51, making the score 2-1.
Preston Pung made the score 3-1 at 14:52 of the second period, assisted by Laaksonen.
The Prairie Centre lead kept growing as Fronseth struck with a goal at 4:58 of the third period, assisted by Laaksonen. So the Storm are down 4-1. But they certainly didn't fold. The Storm focused to outscore Prairie Centre 3-1 the rest of the way. It was Tanner Gimberlin scoring with a Lincoln Pahl assist at 9:20 of the third. Then it was Storck getting the puck into the net at 15:05, short-handed.
Alas, Laaksonen scored what would prove to be the game-winner for Prairie Centre at 15:51, assisted by Alexsi Runola. Gimberlin scored MBA's final goal at 16:48.
Tony Bruns was the MBA goalie and he had 32 saves. Clay Deters wore the goalie equipment for Prairie Centre.
 
Boys basketball: Sauk Centre 64, Tigers 53
The MACA boys visited Sauk Centre Friday (2/7) looking for win No. 8. They didn't get it. The Streeters prevailed in the 64-53 final.
Sauk had the 37-23 advantage at halftime.
Noah Grove was the only Tiger making three-pointers. He was two of four in that department. MACA was two of nine as a team.
Jordan Arbach and Eric Staebler each blocked a shot. Eric pulled down eleven rebounds. Riley Biesterfeld executed three assists and Bryce Jergenson had two. In steals it was Jergenson and Arbach leading with two each, followed by Andrew Goulet and Staebler each with one.
MACA got ample freethrow opportunities and made 25 of 33. But Sauk Centre just had two many weapons on this night.
Eric Staebler put in 20 points to top the Morris Area Chokio Alberta scoring. Grove's total was 18. Jergenson scored seven followed by Goulet (4), Nathan Anderson (2) and Arbach (2).
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, February 7, 2014

School activities abuzz: hockey, wrestling wins

First, let's clarify something: I have been advised by our police chief that contrary to suggestions on this website, the legal charges against our high school principal have not been dismissed, nor is there any understanding or assumption that they will be dismissed soon.
Let the record show the charges stand, which I think is sad because this whole episode has disrupted the school and community. Of course I want justice to be served. That's a given, but I still think it's reasonable to say we'd be better off without this whole mess.
I initially heard charges were "tossed out" from a source with connections to the school. Subsequent to that, I heard statements about how the principal would be back to work and it just seemed a question of when, not if. Just this week, a person who happens to be in the legal system said to me "he's coming back" (to work as principal).
I guess I'm surmising that if the principal returns, there must be some understanding that he's past his legal problems, because those problems appeared quite severe. But maybe I'm wrong on this too.
I do not wish to hear from the police chief again, therefore this is the last post in which I'll be sharing any thoughts on this. Again: charges have not been dropped.
The high school principal in any community is a leading citizen who should be setting an example with his behavior, for everyone. This current legal situation ought to be discouraging for everyone concerned with the image of the community.
Am I sticking my neck out to say the school should maybe have a policy encouraging all employees not to hang out in places that serve alcohol? I mean, I personally don't drink, and I'm not in a position of setting an example for the community's youth.
  
Boys hockey: Storm 3, Redwood Valley1
The MBA hockey faithful gathered at the Benson arena on Monday, Feb. 3, to see the Storm battle Redwood Valley. It was a victorious night for MBA.
A highlight was Corey Goff sending the puck into an empty net with a mere one second remaining. Up until then, the margin on the scoreboard was just one goal. Goff's empty-netter left the final score at 3-1. It was the Storm's sixth victory in this season which has had some struggling.
Tony Bruns wore the goalie equipment for Morris Benson Area. Tony stopped 24 of the 25 shots that were sent his way.
MBA scored a goal in each of the three periods. Bo Gullickson was the first Storm skater to score. He put the puck in the net at 3:03 of the first, assisted by Bo Olson. Redwood got the score tied at 15:47 as Bailey Sommers scored, assisted by Logan Sandgren.
We heard from "the Bo's" again in the second period as it was Bo Olson scoring at 10:18, assisted by Cole Watzke.
Goff scored his empty-netter just before the game's final horn. Corey Storck and Tanner Mikkelson were credited with assists. Bruns' goalie rival was Tyler Domeier.
Congrats to the Storm. I get enthusiastic updates from Grandma Carrie Melchert.
  
Wrestling: Tigers 45, BOLD 24
Forfeits are a discouraging aspect of the wrestling sport. A team shows up at a venue ready to wrestle, and some of the kids end up having their arms raised in "victory" by forfeit. Former coach George Graff used to joke about "Fred Forfeit" being assigned one of the weights.
Well, MAHACA picked up forfeit "wins" at the bottom three weights in the win over BOLD. These wins went to Christian Athey, Matt Munsterman and Jared Rohloff. The Tigers prevailed 45-24. The action was part of the Quad County Triangular.
Mitchell Ascheman at 126 pounds was on the short end by a 13-6 decision vs. BOLD's Brett Grund. Travis Ostby came up short as the Tiger 132-pounder, dropping an 8-4 decision to Benny Garcia.
Phillip Messner at 138 pounds battled Drew Maher through two overtimes and alas, came out on the short end of a 4-3 decision. Trenton Nelson of the Tigers picked up a forfeit win at 145. Myles Smith won by fall over Derrick Lothert, time of 1:11, at 152 pounds.
Danny Tracy won by fall too. The MAHACA 160-pounder pinned Jake Rauenhorst in 5:42. Steven Koehl lost by fall in 2:38 to Ben Steffel. Jordan Thooft, 182 pounds, wrestled with a winning flair vs. Joel Erickson but it was a hard-fought win, with Jordan getting his arm raised via a 6-5 decision.
Aaron Nelson got Austin Einerson's shoulders pinned to the mat in 3:23, at 195 pounds. Alec Gausman at 220 was edged in a 4-2 decision by Manuel Garcia. Jacob Sperr lost by fall in 0:19 to Trevor Nissen in the battle of 285-pounders.
Congrats to the Morris Area Hancock Chokio Alberta Tigers.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Girls roll over Benson, boys fall at WCA

Prep sports can keep our spirits high when the mid-winter blahs might be setting in.
The MACA cagers have been busy. The girls were sizzling with their performance on the court on Monday, Feb. 3. Coach Dale Henrich's Tigers hosted Benson and won 76-17. Wow! The boys weren't so fortunate playing at West Central Area on Saturday. The outcome for coach Mark Torgerson's boys was a 61-55 loss.
The wrestlers were also busy Saturday at Alexandria for the Big Ole Invite. The ice sport has been abuzz.
Click on the permalink below to read a post on my "Morris of Course" site that includes coverage of MAHACA wrestling. That post also includes a review of the boys hoops win at BOLD, and the MBA boys hockey win over Worthington. Thanks for reading. - B.W.
 
Girls: Tigers 76, Benson 17
The final score says it all with regard to the Tigers' dominance.
The MACA defense strangled the Braves in the second half, limiting them to seven points. Coach Henrich must really be molding a stingy defense. MACA scored 40 points in the first half and 36 in the second.
MACA didn't need three-pointers in creating cushion on the scoreboard. We had just one successful '3' and this was by Lauren Reimers. Lauren also topped the Morris Area Chokio Alberta scoring list. Her total was 15.
The Holland sisters joined Lauren in double figures: Becca had 12 and Beth had 11. Kayla Pring scored eight points, Abbie Olson seven, and Nicole Strobel and Rebekah Aanerud six each. Lacee Maanum added five points to the mix, Kaitlin Vogel four and Correy Hickman two.
Reimers was a leader across the stat categories. She led in rebounds with seven and assists with five, and was co-leader in steals with Becca Holland, each with four. Maanum had six rebounds.
The Tigers were 34 of 69 in total field goals, one of four in 3's and seven of eight in freethrows.
Krista Motzko led Benson's scoring with six points. Cyra Carlson and Hannah Ricard each scored four, Presley Gonnerman had two and Jessica Goff one. Motzko made a '3'.
Benson was just five of 27 in total field goals.
 
Boys: West Central Area 61, Tigers 55
The Knights of West Central Area took to their home court with a determined look Saturday. Each team had played the night before. The Tigers beat BOLD the night before.
Would the Tigers or Knights show more resilience on Saturday? Coach Mark Torgerson felt it was the Knights who showed a little more energy, so it was the Knights winning 61-55.
Torgerson lamented the hole his team dug for itself. The loss left the team's record at 7-12.
On this day the Tigers shot just 39 per cent and made just four 3-pointers in 22 tries.
Hunter Pfingsten and Dakotah Kashmark came at the Tigers with an effective outside game for West Central Area. Jay Zimmerman was potent inside. It was Zimmerman leading the Knights in scoring with 20 points. The two outside guys scored around 15. Indeed these three Knight standouts took a toll for MACA.
MACA couldn't achieve the balance it wanted. Zimmerman was on a tear in the first half, scoring 16 of his game-total 20 points. At times the Tigers seemed "a step slow" on defense, Torgerson noted.
Pfingsten came off the bench to be a thorn in the Tigers' side in the second half. Twice he made timely three-pointers for the Knights.
"We had our chances," coach Torgerson said, "but shot after shot failed to connect. Our press in the game's final minutes was effective at times, but we couldn't counter enough on the offensive end to overtake the Knight lead."
WCA came out of the day with nifty 12-5 won-lost numbers.
Eric Staebler led MACA with 25 points scored. Noah Grove put in 19, Nathan Anderson 6, Jacob Zosel four and Bryce Jergenson one. Grove was three of eight in 3-point shots. Staebler made one of his seven tries from beyond the three-point arc.
Zosel produced five assists and three steals, and Riley Beisterfeld had one shot block. Staebler collected 14 rebounds to lead there.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, February 3, 2014

1962 "State Fair" movie puts us right there

The 1962 movie "State Fair" is more than the sum of its parts. It's sort of a guilty pleasure to watch it and enjoy. We see Ann-Margret in her breakthrough role. We see the maligned Pat Boone who in the '50s was enlisted to sing covers of R&B hits.
Critics were most impressed by Ann-Margret and Pat Boone in this movie. On the whole, critics didn't rave about the movie. It didn't meet box office goals. It cost $4.4 million and grossed just $3.5 million. Today it projects the rarefied air of an earlier time. It shows up on cable TV with fair frequency. That's probably why I'm writing about it today.
I'm also reminded of "State Fair" by an event that was held at my First Lutheran Church, Morris, recently. The church presented a "cookie bake." We could see some cookie masters actually prepare their recipes. Better yet, we could sample the warm cookies later.
One of these masters was Sharon Ehlers. She explained that her recipe that day included rum extract. This prompted a little humor of course. I was reminded of the Alice Faye character in "State Fair," the mother, who prepared her mincemeat entry for competition. The father, played by Tom Ewell, felt the mincemeat was a little flat.
The movie was made in the 1960s when we as a society found considerable humor in alcohol consumption. The Ewell character sneaked some brandy into the mincemeat. Alice Faye later returned to the kitchen, unaware of this little adulteration, and decided to add her own brandy. The judges at the fair were enamored. Wally Cox played the chief judge. (My generation remembers Wally mainly for being on "Hollywood Squares.")
Faye's character took the top prize. I had more than one of Sharon's cookies at the church. I'm sure the rum extract was a negligible ingredient, hardly like emptying a bottle of brandy into the mix. It made for some fun joking.
Who doesn't feel charmed by fair judging? Especially at the state fair which is the most prestigious level for judging.
Indeed, the movie appeals to our love for our own state fair and the county fairs that are down the ladder.
Who doesn't love the fair? It's a great leveler of our culture, drawing people across all lines that might otherwise divide us. At my stage of life, and my mother's, it's most fun to just sit in front of the rest cottage at the Stevens County Fair and watch all the people. Some stop to visit. Everyone enjoys the open air.
The 1962 movie "State Fair" captures the atmosphere in an authentic way.
The fair is about 4-H and farm demonstrations, the carnival, the family atmosphere and the introduction of young people in domestic and farming activities. Getting first place at the state fair is a really big deal. Tom Ewell's character wins with his beloved huge hog named "Blue Boy," remember? Perhaps the most charming song in this musical is when "Abel Frake" serenades his pig.
Serious ag professionals might not like this, because hogs are not intended to be companion animals. I would hope they could suspend such judgment for the sake of enjoying a movie.
The 1962 "State Fair" projects authenticity largely because it was actually filmed at a state fair. The scene is Texas. That's a shift from earlier versions of the story. The previous versions - the stage musical and the 1933 and 1945 movies - were set in Iowa.
 
Filming in shadow of "Cleopatra" 
Filming at a real state fair was a stroke of good fortune. And it came about due to economic circumstances. The 1962 "State Fair" was filmed in the aftermath of the Hollywood disaster "Cleopatra." Elizabeth Taylor starred in "Cleopatra" in a monumental and expensive flop.
Hollywood, being the business machine it is, had to deal with the consequences of bad judgment. Moviemakers were forced to be highly cost-conscious for a time. I wrote a post about "The Lost World" in which I reported that special effects had to be cheapened to deal with the "Cleopatra cash drain." The sci-fi "Lost World" took the risky route of using real contemporary lizards, putting horns on them and then filming them in such a way as to make them seem giant. No "stop-motion" (Ray Harryhausen).
"The Lost World" came off as something other than laughable, and today it shows up periodically on TV just like "State Fair."
In the case of "State Fair," filming at a real state fair eliminated set and staging costs. It was a boon for the film, as it turned out.
One of the songs from the original had to be removed: "All I Owe Ioway" (about Iowa of course). The song was replaced by "The Little Things in Texas."
 
Roles had to reflect our mores
The 1962 "State Fair" gives us the old-fashioned notions about love and gender roles. Love is this ethereal quality that just sweeps us off our feet. Sometimes in real life this happens, but we realize deep down it's mostly mythology.
We see Bobby Darin as "Jerry Dundee," a brash TV interviewer. We see him dismissing a woman with whom he has promised to have a beer. It comes off as rude. "Jerry" has just become smitten by the Frakes' daughter. Pamela Tiffin plays "Margie" who of course seems pure as the driven snow. She comes to the fair with no apparent special talents. She's the wholesome farm girl.
We know that the Hollywood minds would have someone like the Darin character, street-wise as it were, become fixated on Margie. We're not supposed to sympathize with the woman who wanted to share the beer, because that's not wholesome. Today we would consider "Jerry's" behavior rude nevertheless. Sharing a beer is innocuous.
Hollywood promotes firm stereotypes, or at least it did then. Gender stereotypes could be very firm. Women more than men were guided by emotions. Women were vulnerable. They couldn't engage in the same vices as men, lest they be perceived as having low character.
Pamela Tiffin represented the ideal. Her desirability in the eyes of men was built on intangibles. She's the only Frake family member not seeking awards for her endeavors at the fair. She's quite receptive to finding love. Thanks to her fleeting interview with Bobby Darin on the fairgrounds, the dye is cast.
We fear toward the end of the movie that the two are separated for good. "Jerry" is climbing his professional ladder. Then we see the triumphant reunion because, after all, we can't go home realizing a girl like "Margie" got abandoned. The two reunite dramatically at the outskirts of the little rural town.
"Margie" is the sister to the Pat Boone character, "Wayne Frake," whose skill at the fair is sports car racing. OK, so Pat Boone falls in love with Ann-Margret. Critics agree that Ann-Margret (as "Emily Porter") absolutely sizzles on the screen.
I had to watch the movie more than once to realize there's no triumphant reunion at the end, with Wayne and Emily, like the Darin/Tiffin reunion. The moral of the story? Ann-Margret despite her appeal was, after all, a "showgirl." For crying out loud, it's not like she was an exotic dancer. She was a true dance artist, but I guess by the standards of the time, we weren't supposed to be totally approving.
One review states that Ann-Margret is a "sexy showgirl." If by "sexy" you mean attractive, well then Ann-Margret fits the bill. Her kind of dancing requires hard work. Maybe that was the problem: Women as full-fledged professionals or artists weren't in the mainstream, culturally, then.
Again, the Pamela Tiffin character seemed the ideal. The Pat Boone character arrives home and decides to contact his old girlfriend. Presumably this girlfriend is more in the mold of the Pamela Tiffin type. Earlier, we saw Ann-Margret withdraw from Boone because of her fears about being considered a "tramp." "Tramp" itself is a dated term. We're reminded of that girl whom Darin dissed, who expected to "share a beer." No-no.
We want "Margie" (sans any talents but wholesome) to win out.
As a musical, "State Fair" of course has music as a prime selling point, such as "It's a Grand Night for Singing."
It's easy for critics to take potshots at the 1962 "State Fair." I find some plot elements to be stupid. Who would make a bet with a friend ($5) on whether they'd have a good time at the fair? This is like the old worthless practice of giving someone a dollar to bet for them in Las Vegas.
Having the mincemeat judge be so bumbling, empty and susceptible to the allure of alcohol, seemed stupid. Wally Cox played the judge named "Hipplewaite."
  
The glory of mincemeat
Mincemeat is a very obscure product. This movie represents the only contact I've ever had with it.
We learn that mincemeat includes, as a standard ingredient, distilled spirits. Mincemeat is a mixture of chopped dried fruit, spices, those spirits, and sometimes beef suet, beef or venison. It was a popular pie filling from the 15th through 17th Centuries.
Brandy would fit right in but within reasonable limits.
Sharon Ehlers' rum extract in her cookies was within reasonable limits. Of course it was negligible but it's good for prompting a few laughs. Gosh, I hope she can bake up a few more for us sometime (LOL).
The 1962 "State Fair" came out in the same year when my late father Ralph took the University of Minnesota-Morris men's chorus to the Seattle World's Fair. I was seven years old.
Eventually our family would take in our Minnesota State Fair. We attended the auto racing one year. I could visualize Pat Boone out there.
I stayed in the 4-H dormitory one year, not as an exhibitor but as an observing media person. I'll never forget that.
  
Minnesota State Fair memories
I saw grandstand shows through the years, including Lawrence Welk and his ensemble (with the African-American tap dancer), Bob Hope (at his misogynist best), Emmylou Harris (with her "hot band") and Rodney Dangerfield at the apex of his post-"Caddyshack" fame.
I saw ol' Rodney in the early 1980s, and what sticks in my memory is the out-of-control and silly behavior of the audience which was dominated by boomer-age young people. What I won't forget, is that Rodney finally got tired of it. He made remarks indicating as much. Our society was hung over from the cynical '70s. We hadn't righted the ship yet.
I saw Linda Ronstadt at the State Fair giving a performance that I later learned she had to apologize for. I didn't attend such shows very often so I wouldn't have known the difference, really. She wore grubby clothes, kept reaching up to her ear to adjust some sort of device, and seemed to abbreviate the whole thing.
Bob Hope told his famous "grasshopper" joke. A bartender looks down and sees a grasshopper in his bar. He says "I'll bet you didn't know we have a drink named after you." And the grasshopper looks up and says: "You mean you have a drink named Thorndike?"
Ah, the state fair. A critic said of the 1962 movie that despite its thin storyline and other flaws, "there's something about the hominess and wonderful music."
Critics back in 1962 were sticks in the mud with their negative views. They must never have been in 4-H, or tasted anything like that mincemeat, or Sharon Ehlers' cookies!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Reimers, Holland sisters lead MACA in win

MACA reached the ten-win plateau in girls basketball Friday (1/31). The Tigers entered the weekend at 10-6 overall and 7-2 in conference.
Their Friday foe was ACGC, the Falcons, on the road. The Falcons have had a struggling season. Their struggles continued Friday at the hands of coach Dale Henrich's Tigers. The Tigers won 73-43. They were up 33-22 at halftime.
The decisive win came despite being skunked in three-point shooting. The Tigers really opted not to turn to this tool. They were 0-for-3 in 3's and 29-for-64 in total field goals. In freethrows: 15-for-22.
ACGC made just one 3-pointer in six tries. Jacey Nelson made that '3' for the Falcons.
The Holland sisters combined for 24 points for the surging Tigers. Beth scored 13 points and Becca eleven. But it was Lauren Reimers leading the orange and black in scoring. Lauren poured in 19 points.
Nicole Strobel scored seven points, Liz Tiernan six and Kayla Pring five. Kaitlin Vogel added three points to the mix, while these four Tigers each added two: Sam Henrichs, Lacee Maanum, Abbie Olson and Moira McNally. Rebekah Aanerud put in one point.
Maanum was the MACA rebound leader with eleven. Becca Holland picked up seven rebounds. Beth Holland executed six assists. Reimers led in steals as well as scoring. Lauren's steal total: seven. Beth Holland stole the ball four times. 
Katie Moore was the top ACGC scorer with 14 points. No other Falcon reached double figures. Moore was the top ACGC rebounder with eight. Abbie Halvorson had two assists, and Kendra Miller and Jacey Nelson each had two steals.
The Tigers were stronger in the second half than in the first. They outscored Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City 40-21 in the second half.
 
It's Super Bowl weekend
Marijuana is arguably far safer than playing football, yet marijuana is illegal, and we're surrounded with promotional fluff about the Super Bowl. So, it is a very strange world in which we live.
We as a society are belatedly waking up to the abomination that is football. The players who are young and healthy are under the Klieg lights. Those who have been seriously hurt, whether it's the body or brain, and those who have gotten too old, fade away and we simply don't care about them anymore.
I have written with some regularity about this. So you might wonder: Has yours truly been successful in turning away from football as entertainment? To a large extent I have been (successful), fingers crossed.
It's hard to detach from a longstanding habit. I was on board for the four Super Bowls involving the Vikings, and had my heart broken like everyone else. Today I'm ashamed to realize I ever had an emotional investment in this stuff. How Neanderthal.
So today, while I still have a little curiosity about how certain teams are doing, and certain coaches, I really have withdrawn. It doesn't bother me at all to visit at West Wind Village on a Sunday afternoon, when I might otherwise be watching the Vikings. I don't feel as though I'm making a sacrifice.
The new Vikings stadium is pure folly. It only got approved because it picked up irresistible momentum. Governor Mark Dayton became like a deer in the headlights.
The only hope football has, is to modify itself to eliminate most of the intense contact. Can it evolve into a significantly different game? This is the only dependable path forward.
It's Super Bowl weekend. Who will win? I haven't given it a thought.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com