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

A house reminding of U.S. Civil War - morris mn

A house reminding of U.S. Civil War - morris mn
Click on the image to read about the historic Stanton house of west Morris.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Girls cross country team No. 1 in Section 6A

Only one runner was faster than Maddie Carrington in the big Section 6A cross country meet on Thursday (10/29). I assume the weather was just as blustery in Long Prairie as it was here. We're in that in-between time between fall and winter. We once had a "Halloween blizzard," remember?
Maddie Carrington and her fellow MACA girls team members won the Section 6A team championship. Here's a toast! We took the crown among the 17 total teams. Carrington covered the course in 19 minutes, 19 seconds. She was No. 2 to the finish chute behind Anna Donnay of Eden Valley-Watkins, whose time was 19:05.
Savannah Aanerud showed impressive form with her No. 7 showing, achieved in a time of 20 minutes, 43 seconds. Malory Anderson achieved the top ten, finishing right at No. 10 with her time of 20:57. Kaylie Raths finished 16th (21:29) and Midori Soderberg 30th (22:01). Eden Valley-Watkins was the runner-up girls team.
Donnay and Carrington were followed in the top five by Brynn Fernholz of West Central (third, 20:33), Kristine Kalthoff of Albany (fourth, 20:34) and Alli Ruprecht of Holdfingford (fifth, 20:35).
The champion boys team was West Central. Here's a toast to the Knights!
The MACA boys finished tenth, led by Tate Nelson (21st place, time of 18:11). Noah Stewart placed 39th, timed at 18:53. Cam Arndt arrived at the finish chute No. 53, timed at 19:10. Ryan Gray was 70th (19:28) and Tyler Reimers 112th (20:38). There are lots of runners in these post-season affairs.
The champion male runner was Ryley Nelson, one of those Knights from West Central Area. Ryley's time: 16:54. Ben Himmelspach of Otter Tail Central was No. 2, timed at 16:59. Then came Chris Swenson of West Central, clocked at 17:01. Charlie Frost of OTC was No. 4 (17:03) and Ethan Olson of WCA was fifth (17:23).
The section meet was a true spectacle at the Long Prairie Golf Course. Now it's on to state, slated November 7 at St. Olaf College, Northfield.
 
Volleyball: Tigers 3, Benson 0
Sometimes I wonder about these post-season contests where No. 1 plays No. 8. Sometimes they seem a mere formality. The Tigers breezed through round 1 of Section 3AA-North play on Thursday (10/29). The Tigers swept No. 8 Benson by scores of 25-11, 25-15 and 25-11.
Lindsey Dierks was a terror at the serving line. This Tiger was laser-focused on getting aces. She fueled the sweep success with four ace serves. These Tigers each had one ace serve: Karly Fehr, Riley Decker and Cassidy Fehr. Fehr was the cog as setter like always, on this night picking up 36 assists.
Jenna Howden executed two ace blocks while Fehr and Carly Maanum each executed one. Decker had the team-best dig total of 16. Dierks had nine digs and Brooke Gillespie six.
Here we go with the hitting summary: here it was Gillespie at the fore with her nine kills. Ashley Solvie had eight kills, Dierks seven, Howden six and Moira McNally five. Haley Erdahl and Maanum each came through with three kills, while Fehr added one to the mix.
Hanna Lindblad had a serving ace for Benson. Addie Forbord had six set assists while Lindblad had four. Three Braves each had one ace block: Megan Amundson, Amanda Nissen and Victoria Pagel. A trio of Braves each had three kills: Sophie Ascheman, Danielle Himley and Nissen.
 
A dubious ten-year anniversary
It was in 2005 that the UMM goalpost incident happened. It was on Homecoming weekend. I needed that journalistic obligation like I needed a hole in the head. I was probably at the P.E. Center when it happened. I had just arrived for the UMM volleyball match, and I was surprised to notice the football game hadn't ended yet. When leaving the volleyball match, I still had no word of that tragedy at the field: a student was killed as part of the rite of "taking down the goalposts."
Those students needed to do that like they needed a hole in the head. Only in sports could something like this happen. I'll take the UMM Homecoming concert at the HFA over any Neanderthal football game. People do not attend the music concert full of alcohol.
Was anyone at UMM ever fired as a result of the goalpost incident? If not, why not? Oh, I know why: the act of firing someone would be an admission of culpability. UMM's first priority when something like this happens is to protect its interests in terms of not getting sued. I would like to see a list of UMM campus security personnel who were present at the field when this happened.
Chancellor Sam Schuman would later say that if he had to do it over again, he would personally go out to the field and tell the students to knock it off. "Maybe they would have listened," he said. Why should it be up to him?
I must have answered a hundred phone calls over the rest of the weekend, from media near and far. Why couldn't Schuman have done a press conference on Sunday just to try to get all the questions answered? It's bad enough that football is a sport that greatly endangers the health of its participants. Football should be cancelled at UMM and we can enjoy soccer.
My coverage of the goalpost incident drew a response from Mike Busian, who I thought was probing the outermost reaches of his imagination. It was an asinine piece in which he even cited "the First Amendment." I wouldn't want a doctor whose mind worked that way.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The value of lifetime musical instruments

Did you ever take piano lessons? You probably took them from a woman who loved sending press releases to the local paper about the accomplishments of her pupils. Many adults probably wished they had taken such lessons more seriously. I had trouble concentrating on playing more than two notes at the same time.
I'm wondering why such lessons have to be given outside of school. Parents pay a fee to a private teacher. Kids go to a private home. There are many arguments you can make for the value of piano lessons. The same arguments can be made for learning the guitar. These are lifetime instruments.
So why are parents left on their own to seek instruction for their kids on these instruments? Why can't our public schools help out? You might theorize that the instruction has to be one-on-one, therefore the process in school might be impractical. The school model has a teacher presiding over a classroom of kids.
If your child is inclined toward music, your choices are band and choir. I would argue that band and choir, band especially, have limitations. There are limitations to advancing in music solely as a member of a group.
Your choir background can help you someday sing in church choir. If you want to learn guitar and sing Woody Guthrie-type music, or in the style of Pete Seeger, you're on your own. It's harder for me to grasp the value of "band." Directors actually prefer terms like "symphonic winds." (I can't help but think of Spinal Tap's "Break Like the Wind" tour.)
Directors also gave us the term "stage band" in the early days of jazz band. I was in "stage band" in high school. Directors later determined that "jazz band" was an acceptable term. "Jazz" may have been deemed an edgy term at one time (by the Lawrence Welk generation).
Why can't schools facilitate learning on the lifetime instruments of guitar and piano? Why instead do we see the model where a mass of kids playing various instruments are assembled before a dictatorial type of "director."
John Woell was the dictatorial type at Morris High School. That's what the system wanted at that time. He was director during that transitional time in our society when kids were no longer expected to be totally subservient. We were the ones rising up against the Viet Nam war. Time painstakingly marched on as increasingly, our point of view on things was judged to be right. The older generation with its veiled racism and sexism, and receptiveness to war-mongering, was heading for the shadows.
The guitar and piano are instruments of individual expression. That, I would argue, is the reason why our public schools don't promote them. Individual expression can lead to contrariness. You might want to sing an anti-Viet Nam war song. You might want to sing about racial oppression.
Meanwhile in "band," the kids are like slaves with no option for expressing themselves.
There were gender expectations when I was in high school. Boys played trumpet and trombone. Girls played flute and clarinet. At the start I played French horn. (There was a time when Bill O'Reilly would have wanted to call it the "freedom horn.")
I was surprised to discover that French horn was a girls instrument. I see no reason why. A while back, Del Sarlette emailed me an old photo that showed a French horn choir of sorts, about 15 kids, and I was the only male. I recall feeling flabbergasted. The French horn is a brass instrument.
The gender divisions have come down through the years, as they have in all sorts of endeavors. I took up trumpet in order to play in marching band. French horn was impractical for that. On the day I tried out for all-state band, I grabbed the trumpet. I hadn't been told which one to use.
I made all-state and visited the Bemidji State campus in the summer of 1971 for that. One of the friends on my dorm floor was Dave Fedderly who would go on to reach the apex of his music craft. Dave has been the principal tubist (tuba player) for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since 1983. Miles Johnson of St. Olaf directed us. He'd say "I sing for you" to demonstrate how a passage should come off. Without a doubt he got teased for that at St. Olaf.
We re-assembled in the winter for some type of performance in the Twin Cities, probably for some education group. Miles tapped me on the shoulder as the audience clapped for our final number. Was that because I had been the star performer? No, it was because I was at the end of the trumpet row, meaning I was last in the third chair section! I got knocked down for my trouble with sight-reading. Music on paper never really engaged me. Nashville musicians have little time for music on paper.
Am I glad I played in band? Not really. Choir would have had one advantage: I would not have had to lug an instrument around. In hindsight, I should have gotten my parents to get a pawn shop trumpet (cheap) just so I could tell ol' dictator Woell that I had a trumpet at home, thus I wouldn't have to take mine home.
Isn't it enough to be in school from 8 to 3:30 without having to do a whole lot more the rest of the day? Hasn't France outlawed homework? Outlaw it? The idea is that some kids can get their parents to do their homework for them, while others can't. I wanted to watch television when I got home from school.
I would have loved just being an average choir member - no special expectations. I would have loved to be a 'C' student just like George W. Bush. I admire 'C' students for their ability to walk that tightrope. Obviously they aren't mastering their subject matter, but they have an uncanny way of just "passing." I figure you either learn the stuff (get an 'A') or you don't.
Are we really pleased to have had a 'C' student as president? If you had a son in the National Guard, would you be comfortable with it? All that fuss we made about our National Guardsmen going to Iraq, and now there's a consensus that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake in the first place. That is not a minor error.
As a young person involved in music, I always got the message that "pop" music was lowbrow and cheap and not to be admired. What ridiculous propaganda. It was dispensed just to promote that school model of large groups beholden to that dictatorial director. Like John Woell, who actually got away with fining kids a quarter for allegedly minor misbehavior. He'd point at a kid and say "you. . .a quarter."
A director would be shot right out of the saddle, figuratively speaking, if he did that today.
Woell would seem to pick on certain students for reasons I couldn't see. One was Jay Stillwell. I think Jay should have just risen from his chair one day and given it back. I remember one student who did "give it back": Marilyn Strand. Her outburst caused Woell to immediately call off rehearsal. This was a scene just like Jack Nicholson in "Five Easy Pieces" (1970) at the restaurant. The scene was symbolic. People were no longer willing to behave like sheep.
Today I'm sure band directors try to make the experience enjoyable for the kids. But I'd still like to see the students get the opportunity to learn guitar and piano. The trumpet be damned. Make note of how "spit" needs to be emptied from those things.
I invite you to click on the permalink below to read about my 1972 experience with "America's Youth in Concert." This post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." Thanks for reading. - B.W.
    
http://morrisofcourse.blogspot.com/2015/09/americas-youth-in-concert-1972-blast.html
   
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, October 23, 2015

Our school facilities have leaped forward

The MAHS concert hall did not exist when I was in high school. In fact, the MAHS auditorium did not exist when I was in high school. How long ago was that? We watched "The Partridge Family" on TV. Danny Bonaduce was a child star, gaining the fame that would enable him to project his weird persona on us today. Burt Reynolds was in "Deliverance." Today Burt's picture is on the cover of grocery store magazines which accent his declining state.
Our then-superintendent would say for years that getting our auditorium built was arduous. He'd say he "almost got fired" over getting that rather modest facility built. It is certainly modest compared to the dazzling concert hall.
Has there been a band concert yet this year? I see one upcoming on the school calendar for November 3. In this community, it's best to confirm dates and times for events even after they appear in print. An odd tic of the Morris community is that times and even dates can get changed. I think it's inconsiderate.
I have theorized with a friend that the problem is the tendency these days for us to want to be perfectionists. An event is scheduled and then a problem or conflict is discovered. In the past, the people involved would have "toughed it out," maybe accepting a slightly diminished turnout. Everyone would still be happy. Today the bar is raised for feeling happiness. It is almost impossible to feel happy at the most fundamental level. Tech has smoothed over so many bumps in the road. Perfectionism can actually diminish our happiness.
Was it last year that the date of the resource expo got changed? Word on the street afterward was that Joe Schmit was only available to speak on a certain night. This should have been ascertained before the published announcement (what our family had from two paper sources).
I strongly question the assertion that Morris residents are more intelligent than residents of other communities of similar size. UMM does not appear to make us smarter. Burger King came here because of the myth that Morris is an attractive location because of being a college town. We're a college town, yes, but the campus is actually idle a good portion of the year. You may not realize this until you operate a business that is dependent on the campus community.
I find it discouraging that the MLK holiday comes along so soon after the prolonged break over Christmas/New Year's. The MLK holiday has been transformed into a "day of service" which is nice, but how many people really participate? I have noticed that with each passing year, the "day of service" aspect is accented more, and it seems less a holiday to honor a deceased individual.
The problem with the latter approach is that it strikes me, as I highlighted in a past blog post, as condescending. It's as if we're saying to non-white people: "You should be grateful to this guy named Martin Luther King who came along to make sure you could get the rights you were naturally entitled to." Young people are puzzled to hear this story. Young people today are truly color-blind. That's the way we want it, right? Let's forget the holiday. The memory of MLK could be preserved in history books.
Why would our Superintendent Fred Switzer be prickly and defensive when talking about the MAHS auditorium? One theory is that he was applying money for this from some category that maybe the teachers thought they should get their mitts on, or have a chance to get their mitts on. Switzer was in a generation of school administrators who felt they had to watch every penny. He wanted to show off to the board about what a zealous custodian he was, of school resources. It's commendable in theory. But. . .
I remember being at a school board meeting when Switzer trumpeted to the board about how he was walking through the school hallways one evening and noticed lights on in the gym (the 1968 gym). There was one individual in there shooting baskets. The superintendent accosted that person, asking what was up. The answer: "Community Education open gym." As I recall the story, the superintendent asked the person to try to turn off some of the lights, himself.
And the superintendent was bragging about doing this? That was the stuff of which he was made. I remember being told there were only two people in the Morris area who understood school financing: Switzer and Mary Ann Scharf. If that were true, it should not have been. It should not have been that complicated.
Switzer's approach encouraged a confrontational or adversarial air with teachers. Maybe I have blamed teachers too much. Maybe they were a product of the environment. Teachers developed a hard edge with their union-based arguments. There was a community uprising against some of the regressive stuff toward the end of the 1980s. Society wasn't going to sit back and let teachers continue with their ossified, cynical and combative ways.
Teachers have legitimate rights. But the scale had to be adjusted. I have a feeling the systems have been changed so administration can focus on the big picture stuff, and not worry about whether a couple extra lights are on for "Community Education open gym." I think the relationship between school administration and Community Ed. has been fixed so that the territories are well-defined. The early days of Community Ed. may have been disruptive.
Today we have the spectacular MAHS concert hall. It may even be too big for its purposes. I hope we didn't build it just to have a Bellamy Brothers concert. Remember that? At least one of the brothers came here with a bad cold. Worse yet, there was a souvenir kiosk at the entry to the school, full of bold Confederate flag symbols. It didn't seem right at a school.
I'm not sure the concert itself was appropriate. People can go to casinos to get that entertainment.
I think November 3 is too late for the first band concert of the school year. I was told it couldn't be on October 26 because of some "health fair." OK, then why couldn't the concert be a week earlier? In fact, why not have some type of performance in September?
We got a new varsity gym built at the time the concert hall was built. We got a new band room and choir room. I think a lot of this took the public by surprise. Did we really need all that? Did we need the new gym on the south side of the school, built in 1991? Jim Morrison wondered in print if we were trying to become "the gymnasium capital of Western Minnesota."
Money must be pouring from the sky for schools. We don't need a penny-pinching, Scrooge-like superintendent anymore. The old austerity seems quaint to reflect upon. And depressing.
Time marches on.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Maddie Carrington runs to WCC title

Maddie Carrington entered the finish chute triumphantly in the West Central Conference meet held Tuesday in Benson. Carrington glided over the smooth green surface at the Benson Golf Club. She was one of five Tigers in the top ten. We were No. 1 in the team standings.
Runners dealt with warm conditions that bordered on undesirable for distance running. Surely it was a beautiful day for the parents and fans. Carrington carved out her champion distinction with her time of 19:41.07. I remember covering Maddie's aunt Anna when she was a track star for Morris Area at the state level. Grandma Laura is smiling down from heaven, I'm sure.
Savannah Aanerud placed third with her time of 21:04.06. Then came Malory Anderson in fourth place, timed at 21:12.05. Kaylie Raths entered the finish chute No. 7 with her time of 21:34.09. Midori Soderberg was the No. 10 performer, clocked at 21:49.05.
The runner-up runner was Claire Sulflow of Montevideo (20:51.05). The runner-up team behind MACA was Melrose. Six teams vied.
The No. 1 boys runner, a familiar name in cross country circles, was Kurt TeBeest of Montevideo, time of 16:55. Benson/KMS was the No. 1 boys team, looking good on their home course. Monte was No. 2 and then came our Tigers at No. 3.
We were led by Tate Nelson in sixth place, time of 18:12.05. Then came Cam Arndt in seventh place, clocked at 18:19.07. Ryan Gray entered the finish chute No. 12 with his time of 18:39.03. Noah Stewart placed 14th (18:50.08) and Solomon Johnson 22nd (19:50.03).
 
Volleyball: Tigers 3, BOLD 0
Morris Area Chokio Alberta came down the home stretch of the regular season schedule with a 3-0 win over BOLD. It was our eleventh win in conference competition. In overall we're sitting with 20 wins against just two losses.
Success vs. BOLD came with scores of 25-15, 25-10 and 25-23.
Three Tigers each pounded two serving aces: Karly Fehr, Lindsey Dierks and Riley Decker. Koral Tolifson had one serving ace. Fehr raced around to perform 37 set assists. Moira McNally had two ace blocks. Dierks and Carly Maanum each went up to get an ace block. The digs list was topped by Brooke Gillespie with 12, followed by Dierks (11), Decker (10) and Fehr (7).
Let's wrap up the stat report with hitting. Here it was Dierks leading the charge with 12 kills, followed by Ashley Solvie (10), Gillespie (8), Maanum (6), McNally (4), Fehr (3) and Haley Erdahl (1).
BOLD is having a .500 season. Kiah Morse had six kills for the Warriors. Makenna Steffel had three ace blocks. Peyton Weis dug up the ball 18 times. Allison Krause had the team-high assist total of eleven. Krause, Weis and Emily Glass each had one serving ace.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, October 16, 2015

MEA week game is now a playoff game

NL-Spicer 32, Tigers 14
The MEA week game used to be the last game of the regular season. After that we anticipated the playoffs. Today the MEA week game is the first step of the playoffs.
For our Morris Area Chokio Alberta Tigers of 2015, a really exciting team to watch, the first step was the last step. We were a slight on-paper favorite. That's why we got home field. Could our state of the art Big Cat Stadium be a plus for helping nudge us to victory? Well, no.
Our opponent was those Wildcats of New London-Spicer. The Wildcats have been a nemesis for MACA teams in post-season. These apparent "hexes" always end sometime. For the present we're dealing with a 32-14 loss at the hands of the Wildcats. I wasn't there because the ELCA Lutheran churches have a weekly Wednesday gathering at the Old No. 1.
A friend told me the day after, that fumbles killed us early. You know one reason why Tom Brady likes a deflated football? It's harder to cause a fumble. One fumble can change the complexion of a game. Fumbles were a factor holding back our Tigers Wednesday, according to my friend Jim McRoberts who I saw at McDonald's. The game's boxscore shows two lost fumbles by the Tigers. There was also an interception.
A further examination of the boxscore shows that New London-Spicer had three lost fumbles. Maybe they weren't as critical.
I invite you to click on the link below to read about the Tigers' overtime loss at Montevideo on October 9. This post also reviews the volleyball team's 3-0 win over Monte on Oct. 8. This post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." Thanks for reading. - B.W.
http://morrisofcourse.blogspot.com/2015/10/duel-of-qbs-ends-with-montes-diggins-on.html
 
The Wildcats shot into the lead 12-0 in the first quarter. Josh Soine found the end zone on a run from the ten. Soine scored the second touchdown too - he sprang free for a 34-yard scoring run. NL-Spicer had to overcome problems on conversion plays. The Willmar newspaper reported that NL-Spicer failed on all five of its conversion plays, but that can't be right. NL-Spicer finished the night with 32 points, not 30, so they obviously succeeded once. The West Central Tribune can be sloppy in its sports reporting. Also, much of the type size is too small as in those boxscore elements. Wait 'til we get to the wrestling tournaments. Newspaper readers are an aging audience. We need type to be larger.
NL-Spicer scored the night's third touchdown when Jackson Ness scored on a one-yard run. The Wildcats had conversion play woes, but MACA would have loved to get a conversion try. Finally we did, when Eric Staebler and Trent Marty ensured we'd get some points in the first half. Staebler caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Marty. The pass try for two on the conversion was no good. Yes we scored but halftime was nearing with the Tigers in a hole. And it got worse before halftime: the Wildcats scored when Josh Evans passed 16 yards to Cody King. So halftime arrived with the Wildcats having scored four touchdowns and the Tigers one. A glum mood prevailed.
A loss would mean a mighty long wait before the start of winter sports. Well, there was no escape from our deficit in the second half. So, MACA athletes will indeed have that very long wait before winter. Long enough that they'll have to adjust their lifestyle appreciably. Spend more time at the computer? More time studying?
Apparently the schedule was moved up so that playoffs can be accommodated before the bad weather hits. That's fine if you're a member or a fan of a team that climbs in the playoffs. Not all do of course. In fact, with each new round of the playoffs, half the teams are eliminated. I'm not sure I like the new arrangement. When I was in high school there were no football playoffs.
NL-Spicer scored the only touchdown of the third quarter Wednesday: Evans threw a big-play pass to Blake Shuck: 52 yards. NL-Spicer will have to go back to the drawing board on conversion plays - again they whiffed. No matter, as the Wildcats had their winning outcome well in hand.
(The Wildcats' successful conversion had to have been in the first half.)
Jacob Zosel scored the Tigers' second touchdown of the night. Zosel ran 54 yards for six. Toby Sayles ran successfully on the conversion. This was an exciting score but it was no consolation to wipe away NL-Spicer's superiority, at least on this night.
What about the future? It's disappointing for our gridders to go one-and-out, just as it was disappointing last winter for our boys basketball team to lose at the outset of playoffs to the seventh seed. Sometimes I wonder if our teams are really geared for post-season excellence. We are underwhelming too much of the time, I would suggest.
Zosel was impressive with his ballcarrying numbers Wednesday: 210 yards on 27 carries. He was a workhorse. Conner Koebernick ran for 13 yards and Sayles for 12. Taylor Staples and Eric Staebler each rushed for six yards. Marty as quarterback completed six passes in 16 attempts for 83 yards. Staebler was Marty's favorite target as he hauled in three passes for 51 yards. Chase Metzger, Sean Amundson and Sayles each had one catch.
The tackle chart showed Staebler with one solo tackle and six assisted tackles. Brady Jergenson had four solos and three assists. Philip Messner had 3-4 numbers, and Sayles had 4-0.
Soine for NL-Spicer had 112 rushing yards on 14 carries. Ness was the other cog in NL-Spicer's running game, with 107 yards in eleven carries. Blake Shuck rushed for 72 yards while James Magnuson had 46 yards, Hunter Sjoberg 25 and Josh Evans 16.
Evans threw the ball downfield for the winning Wildcats. He completed all but one of his eight aerial tries and gained 137 yards with no interceptions. Cody King caught three passes for 72 yards. Shuck had two pass catches for 55 yards. James Magnuson and Wyatt White each had one catch.
Taylor Engelke had an interception. Magnuson had six solo tackles and six assists. Jacob Klavetter and Luke Gilbertson each had a quarterback sack. We'll all have to wait 'til next fall for the next MACA football game. And, we'll have to wait a while for the winter sports season. Yawn.
 
Volleyball: Tigers 3, Minnewaska 0
The MACA Tigers owned the volleyball court when hosting Minnewaska Area on Tuesday. This was another of those sweep win nights for our Tigers. Success came by scores of 25-11, 25-14 and 25-12. This was our 19th win of the season.
Lindsey Dierks powered two serve aces over the net. Karly Fehr and Riley Decker each pounded one serving ace. It was Fehr doing the precise setting as always. On this night she had 34 set assists. Jenna Howden went up to execute three ace blocks. Fehr contributed two ace blocks.
Decker put up the best digging stat: 17. Fehr posted 13 digs. The list continues with Brooke Gillespie (10), Dierks (8) and Koral Tolifson (7).
OK, on to hitting: here it was Gillespie and Dierks leading the way, each with 10 kills. Ashley Solvie had seven kills. The list continues with Howden (5), Carly Maanum (3), Moira McNally (2), Fehr (2) and Haley Erdahl (1).
Kaylee Glover had a serving ace for 'Waska. Taylor Amundson had five set assists for the Lakers. Abby VerSteeg had the team-best five kills. Emma Middendorf and Courtney Erickson each had one ace block. VerSteeg topped the Lakers in digs with 13.
 
Cross country: Carrington takes No. 1
Maddie Carrington was the champion in the Benson/KMS Invite. We're in the most pleasant time of year for distance running. Late fall is boffo. Certainly Maddie's performance at the Benson Golf Club on Monday was boffo. Maddie won the girls title with her time of 20:10.7. MACA was No. 2 in the girls standings behind Lac qui Parle-DB.
Savannah Aanerud placed sixth with her time of 21:04.04. Malory Anderson entered the finish chute No. 10, timed at 21:32.08. Kaylie Raths was No. 16 with her time of 22:01.07. Midori Soderberg placed 19th, timed at 22:21.00.
The MACA boys team placed fourth, led by Cam Arndt whose time was 18:35.05, good for 13th. Ryan Gray was the No. 16 runner on the course, timed at 18:40.02. Noah Stewart placed 17th at 18:40.05. Then it was Tyler Reimers entering the finish chute 33rd at 19:56.08. Dalton Dierks had a 20:11.05 time (40th).
Lac qui Parle-DB was the champion boys team. Kurt TeBeest of Monte was the champion male runner, timed at 16:49.08.
It is a great pleasure for yours truly to continue writing about MACA athletics.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Recalling the old allure of "Playboy"

We have reached the end of a very uncomfortable chapter in the history of civilization. Just say "Playboy" around anybody my age, and you'll cause a mix of amusement and shame. Actually the amusement isn't real.
We'll pretend that Playboy was no big deal, that we had fun with its prohibited status. If we're honest we'll say it wasn't fun. Playboy was alluring beyond words for boys of my age. Hardly anything would thrill us more. Yet we knew we were doing something deeply taboo. It's a shame such a situation was allowed to exist.
Playboy is in the news today, Oct. 13, 2015, because of its announcement that it will no longer publish nudie photos of women. Such photos were once its stock in trade, of course. How can it survive today? I stopped caring about the existence of Playboy a long time ago. I suppose we assumed that it was still being published. That's because print publications, despite the meme that online is taking over, rarely die. They hang on, at least in vestigial form. They hang on in the waiting rooms of dentist and doctor offices. Oh, not Playboy of course.
So Playboy continues and it probably presents some decent journalism like it always claimed it did. Remember the famous John Lennon interview? We'd laugh at its claims of superior journalism, because we knew what its primary appeal was. The barber might hide a copy of Playboy in his shop.
With the distance of time, we now must ask: why was it so illicit? There's a scene in the movie "Born on the Fourth of July" that presents a textbook example of what I'm referencing. Many boys feared this greatly: a parent, OK let's make that a mother, discovering a Playboy copy in your bedroom. The Tom Cruise character is berated terribly. You'd want to die if that happened. It was less likely for your father to discover a copy. Dads did less household cleaning. A father's reaction would be much different, a reaction really of indifference. He might be amused. Then he'd say "don't let your mother find this."
Why the hyper concern on the part of mothers? You cannot blame the boys for their reaction to this material. Heterosexual boys simply had a God-given makeup of finding thrills in this. We felt the same thrills going to Annette Funicello beach movies. Our bodies reacted in ways we didn't understand.
The "greatest generation" of parents were not great at helping its sons come to grips with sex. We were supposed to live our lives as if sex didn't exist. To the extent we came to acknowledge it, we were supposed to feel utter shame. Our parents didn't realize the harm they were causing with this stigmatization of sex.
I remember seeing an extensive documentary on the Manson family once. A young man had grown up as the All-American boy, football hero and everything, only to unravel with all the crazy stuff infecting our society in the 1960s. What happened? A documentary contributor offered the following: "There was something (those young people) weren't getting from their parents." That stuck in my mind.
Whether this theory explains everything, I don't really know. But there were odd and in many cases destructive impulses coming forward among young people - my generation. My peers will all recall this, but they'd be reluctant to tell about it. It's almost as if we emerged from some sort of strange spell. But of course it wasn't a spell. It was stimuli from our environment.
We see a scene in "Born on the Fourth of July" where the Cruise character loses a high school wrestling match. It's a drawn-out match in which Cruise feels the humiliation so common in wrestling: his back is on the mat. Why do we subject young people to a sport like this? Who would design such a sport?
The Cruise character develops an itch to join the Marines. Is it a strange sort of death wish? Is he ashamed because of so many of his growing-up experiences? "There was something they didn't get from their parents."
There was too little joy in the boomers' childhood. It was hard to just chill out and enjoy life. Many of our school classes seemed designed to torture us. In sports, half the kids involved in any given game would go home having "lost." Why such a complex apparatus for testing kids in a way almost remindful of war, where "victory" is the goal and you vanquish the other side?
Today with sports like swimming and gymnastics, the old model has faded. The hard edge of competition seems to have faded some. Football coaches are required to bench players who are hurt. They are being taught to do this routinely and not to gnash their teeth.
It's easy to theorize why Playboy has lost its old position among young males. The Internet makes sexually explicit images readily available. I would suggest it's a blessing. How can you argue for a model where the magazine is illicit and has to be hidden away? It's never healthy to have to hide things.
 
A little biology too
I suspect that a major problem is that young people started reaching puberty at a younger age. Being a teen was rather arduous in an earlier time. How many teens do you see in movies from Hollywood's "golden age?" Adults predominated with their ballroom dancing and nightclubs. Gary Cooper in a suit and tie. Teens must have been out there somewhere. They didn't yet have small radios by which they could enjoy their own type of music.
As teens became sexually aware at an earlier age, they needed help. They didn't get it. To the contrary, adults were unbelievably unnerved and shocked. We had the door slammed in our face, thus we were left to just stew with these feelings, and maybe discuss them with our peers on the proverbial playground. Boys went to Annette Funicello beach movies and developed an erection. It was as if we were in deep water and unable to swim, thrashing away, frustrated and unable to get guidance.
We were supposed to shut out sex. That of course wouldn't work. So we suffered psychologically.
The Manson family were total outliers, of course, but some of the familiar factors were at work with them.
There was a time when a magazine photo of a naked woman was the most taboo yet fascinating thing a boy could observe. The Tom Cruise character was scolded in typical fashion. He ended up in the Marines and got wounded horribly in Viet Nam. What a time to be an adolescent.
So, Playboy is discontinuing the naked women stuff. Its niche in American history with this commodity is weird, puzzling and shameful. And don't blame the boys.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, October 9, 2015

A reprise of spirited men's chorus sounds

The portrait photo shows Ralph E. Williams, founder of UMM music and director of the men's chorus. He was the only music faculty in UMM's first year. He wrote the "UMM Hymn."
 
I'm told the men's chorus concept is having a revival at UMM. I have wondered for a long time if it might re-emerge.
You might think it's a dicey subject for UMM: a gender-specific musical ensemble. Its advocates would say men's voices have a distinct quality. Still, the idea of exclusivity could easily get shot down on our jewel in the crown campus.
My take? I'm not offended by it. A recent news item had a barber getting fined for refusing to cut a woman's hair. The barber would say his skills are in cutting men's hair, and that men's hair has a distinct quality. Memo to Dave Evenson: if a woman comes to your establishment and requests a haircut, you'd better say yes. Does a barber have the skill to do a competent job on women's hair? I would suggest they learn. Dave told me once that there was a time when it was actually against the law for a female hair stylist to cut a man's hair. Incredible!
So, today the men's chorus sounds are being heard again at UMM. Will this be a tenable project within the political parameters as set up by UMM? I assume that the choir guy, Brad Miller, has floated this idea before the powers that be, at least the head of his department.
The new men's ensemble does not appear to be a truly stand-alone group. You might call it an offshoot from the concert choir. It's like a group within a group, comparable to the chamber winds from the symphonic winds. A source tells me "Brad was digging around in a storage room above the recital hall and found one of the red and black plaid 'world's fair' sport coats from the first generation men's chorus."
This individual further told me "the men's chorus sang the national anthem at the Homecoming game, and (director Miller) had some of the guys wear the plaid coats, the ones that fit, anyway. How 'bout that?"
The ones that fit. . . The average human body was smaller in the early 1960s. "Fat" people stood out and were stigmatized. Today, fat people are all over the place - they don't turn heads anymore. Remember the wooden seats in the old public school auditorium? Many years ago they began seeming too small for many people. I remember choosing the same chair every year for covering the Memorial Day program. The old school grounds were such a peaceful place for Memorial Day. As I write this I can hear Eleanor Killoran playing the piano in my mind. I can hear her playing "It's a Grand Old Flag."
The University of Minnesota-Morris men's chorus of the early 1960s was very high-profile and important for the institution. In its day it was just as spectacular as what the UMM Jazz Festival became under Jim Carlson. Carlson sang in the men's chorus back in those seminal days for UMM. (Jim would laugh at my use of "seminal.")
Today I don't think there's any equivalent. Jazz teacher Jason Squinobal left after the last school year. I criticized him for playing too much with his students. Does my criticism carry any weight?
Once again UMM jazz has an interim while the powers that be search for a full-time. The interim person is Jonathan Campbell.
A friend shared with me: "(Campbell) was told by higher-ups that Jazz Fest is losing money badly, and that the trend can't continue. He was thinking of cutting back the Fest to one night (thereby probably eliminating the 'All Stars'), but the last I talked to him, they had found funding to keep it as a two-day deal, for this year anyway. However, he only has enough kids for one jazz ensemble, quite a change from the Carlson era when there were four big bands."
 
Fest was a calendar highlight
The Jazz Fest in its heyday was so popular, it almost seemed like a cult phenomenon. There was a cult of personality around Jim Carlson. (He'd laugh at me writing that too.) But hey, I'm serious. I wonder if he really had to retire when he did. I wonder if his popularity led to some jealousy among his peers. Academia is notorious for such feelings. He's probably playing a lot of golf now. His wife Kay did not like me. Well, be that as it may. . .
I'm due to check any day with that annual giving office at UMM - I'm not sure if Carla Riley is still there, or if she's gone via retirement. If I make a gift, my intent is to give the funds to social sciences. I need to see if I can make a Ralph Williams memorial gift to a department other than music. I have stated publicly that I do not wish to give to music unless the music department can perform the UMM Hymn for graduation. Maybe UMM music doesn't want my money. That's their prerogative. I think social sciences will take it.
The social sciences crowd is my crowd, where I can easily break bread etc. Music has never been my crowd, even though my father Ralph began the UMM music department and wrote the UMM Hymn.
I don't want the Hymn to be assimilated into any other musical work. I think Jim Carlson would agree with me on this. If not, he can contact me and straighten me out. I defer to his judgment. Jim has a loose sense of humor that is becoming more rare in our society. We all need to stop and smell the roses.
 
When music germinated at UMM
A 1960 headline in the Morris newspaper said: "UMM band to make debut Saturday night." The musicians in those seminal days - there I go again - were adorned in their navy blue uniforms trimmed with maroon and gold. I'm sure it was a superb spectacle. I may have been there but I don't remember. The concert was in the Morris Armory and was for the Stevens County 4-H young people and their parents. Many years later yours truly would receive the "Friend of 4-H Award."
An audience of about 1000 was present in the old Armory edifice, razed by fire in 1966. The UMM band under my father's baton numbered about 50 pieces. This included six selected instrumentalists from the Morris High School band. The article told us: "A band of this size was not anticipated the first year." Ah, the wheels got turning.
In 1962 my father took his pride and joy, the men's chorus, to the Seattle World's Fair. Ralph was commissioned a "goodwill ambassador" on behalf of the state, by our governor at the time, Elmer Anderson. The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day ceremonies at the World's Fair in Seattle. They sang four numbers, lasting about ten minutes. One of them was "Born to be Free" which was written by my father. The chorus did its traveling by train.
The fabric of our society was affected sharply by the Cold War and nuclear fears. The Russians placed ballistic missiles on Cuban land, just 90 miles from Florida. While the UMM men's chorus was projecting joy with its singing, we were all really on the brink of nuclear war. I was seven years old. We had a fallout shelter built into our house. After my father's death, we donated our owner's manual for the fallout shelter to the Stevens County Museum. Oh, eggs per dozen cost 32 cents in 1962. Gas per gallon: 28 cents.
The Seattle World's Fair was also known as "Century 21 Exposition," so be aware if you're Googling. The Beatles were turned down by Decca Records in 1962. Didn't someone famously say there was no future for guitar bands?
Apparently the future of the UMM men's chorus was limited. I would like to hear today's UMM singers, whether male or mixed, perform the UMM Hymn under Bradley Miller, just so we can all know he can do it if needed. Tom McRoberts had the Hymn performed for his funeral at Assumption Church.
John Stanley Ross wrote an arrangement for the Hymn that was for both band and choir. A friend of mine joked that you could tell a non-brass player wrote the arrangement, because the third trumpet notes got a little low!
Look, if anyone wants to write a new arrangement of the Hymn, with my father specified as composer, that'd be great, and would probably get me to open up my wallet. "Money's honey, my dear sonny, and a rich man's joke is always funny."
JFK was supposed to be at the closing ceremony of the Seattle World's Fair on October 21, 1962. He cancelled and announced it was due to illness, a "cold," but no, that isn't what happened. He was dealing with the Cuban missile crisis.
UMM opened at a time when the culture of the 1950s still prevailed, the proverbial "Father Knows Best" culture. (Such shows have been described as "benevolent Aryan melodramas.")
Like all world's fairs, Seattle had futuristic visions. I wasn't along for the 1962 World's Fair trip. I did make the trip with the men's chorus in '64 when the destination was New York City.
The original music building at UMM was the one now designated for multi-ethnic. I remember going to an upstairs floor to watch the UMM football team play at the old P.E. Miller Field. I was at the first-ever UMM graduation in 1964. In spite of all that closeness, I never felt destined to attend UMM myself, never. I knew I wouldn't have the aptitude, certainly not in math and science. I perhaps made some mistakes in plotting my life. I probably never should have gone to college at all. I was one of those kids who felt he just had to. I could have just stayed in Morris, perhaps gotten some common type of job - emptying bedpans at the nursing home - and just found my own way to support UMM from the community.
That has been a very dicey subject through the years: the relationship between UMM and the community. In theory it has always been easy to say that the two should be intimate and mutually promoting. In practice it has rarely been that way. Even at present there is discord, as I'm told that this push for a gay-oriented organization at our high school comes primarily from "UMM people" or "people at the college." And so it goes.
Anyway, it's neat to see the men's chorus get a limited revival. Now we need to fill the void caused by the jazz program's near demise. Could a new men's chorus do that? Hmmm. At least we weren't all wiped out by nuclear war in 1962. We could have "kissed our ass goodbye" - remember the old joke? No, that could not have happened, because we all had to enjoy Vic Power playing first base for the Minnesota Twins.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tigers win by sweep vs. ACGC at home

First, a matter re. the school
I'll shoehorn in a little item here about our school, a matter involving some debate or - heaven forbid - controversy. We learn of an "activity audit." In August the school board directed administration (brrr, scary) to conduct an audit of all district clubs and groups that are not sanctioned by the MSHSL. The objective: to see if such groups have direct educational ties to curriculum.
Background: the Gay/Straight Alliance wants to be a school-sponsored organization with a paid advisor. The group focuses on education and advocacy on behalf of the LGBT community.
The district's "legal counsel" (brrr, scary again) is involved. Supt. Rick Lahn, who is referred to by one online journalist as "Sick Rick," noted that an audit found at least four activities that would be considered non-curricular. He won't tell us which ones.
Why all this tension over an area of school that seems quite innocuous and enriching? If you're arguing that everything at the school has to be directly connected to "learning," that's specious. We all know kids are dragged through lots of stuff at school that won't ever benefit them in any material way. I never benefited from dissecting a crayfish under Mr. Carlson. So, why so much tension?
I'm reminded of when I wrote about the school board in St. Francis, all tied up in trivial plagiarism accusations, and saying that maybe an argument could be made for cigarette smoking again. Cigarettes are a sedative. Maybe they could help us all just lighten up a little. Of course, the health danger is too substantial.
Anyway, the corporate media's coverage of our local school board cries out that there's more going on behind the scenes.
What's the real story? Well, a knowledgeable friend has filled me in. Here's an email I got from him:
 
(My source) tells me that this GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) thing that the school board is struggling with, is indeed a sticky wicket. If the administration determines that it can be tied to curriculum in any way, then the board has to approve of it by law. Word on the street is that if that happens, the Apostolic Christian families now in the Morris system will all open-enroll to Hancock. If (the administration) can't find a school-based reason to allow it, then they also have to kick out the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and other things such as chess club, etc. or whatever there is now. Remember when there used to be a Future Nurses of America group at MHS? I wonder if they still have Key Club. FFA will probably still be OK as they have ag classes at the school.
 
My take: GSA sounds like a quite justifiable group to allow. My advice to the school board. Do the right thing and let the chips fall where they may. The superintendent ought to impress such logic on the board, unless he's toothless, or "sick."
It didn't help that the Pope agreed to meet with Kim Davis.
 
My usual plug for "Morris of Course"
On my companion website, "Morris of Course," you can read about the MACA volleyball team's matches vs. Benson and Melrose (a win and a loss), and the football team's defeat at the hands of BOLD. Here's the link, and thanks for reading. - B.W.
http://morrisofcourse.blogspot.com/2015/10/a-solvie-nails-eleven-kills-in-sweep.html
 
Tigers 3, ACGC 0
Fans at the home gym cheered as our volleyball Tigers took care of business vs. the Falcons of ACGC. The Tuesday action had a sweep outcome with scores of 25-8, 25-9 and 25-10.
Again, Ashley Solvie showed quite fine spiking form. She was at the fore in this department with her eight kills. She was complemented nicely by Brooke Gillespie and Jenna Howden who each had seven. Then we see Lindsey Dierks with six kills. Carly Maanum and Moira McNally each had three kills. Karly Fehr and Haley Erdahl each had one kill.
Howden
went up to execute four ace blocks. Riley Decker led in digs with ten. Gillespie dug up the ball six times followed by Fehr and Erdahl each with five. Fehr was the set assist producer with 27.
Dierks
was aggressive at the serving line, picking up four aces. Fehr picked up three serving aces. Gillespie, Decker and Koral Tolifson each had one ace.
Kylie Rosenquist had a serving ace for ACGC. Maree Lee had 13 set assists. Hannah Wilner accumulated six kills for the Falcons. Wilner, Kendra Miller and Lee each had one ace block.
 
A regret
I wish I had brought my camera to the MAHS Homecoming parade. The problem is that Thrifty White Drug in Morris no longer processes camera film on a timely basis. That film gets sent out, and the photos (and CD) aren't available until about 9-10 days later. I did this once, was told that the wait would be eight days, but it was longer.
Should I buy a digital camera? Well, in order to get a camera that would be capable for low-light sports, with zoom lens, a high cost would be presented. I could get a lot of rolls of film developed for that cost. It's too bad I can't still get film developed locally. I could have taken an outstanding close-up photo of that Class of '65 reunion float, on which was seated an exchange student from that year: Roger (last name I can't spell).
I see where the town newspaper had an item on Roger returning, but that photo was terrible. You can't make out anything. I could have posted a top-notch photo at the top of either of my websites. Roger lived in my neighborhood back in the day, a guest of the Holts. I was so pleasantly surprised to see him back here.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, October 2, 2015

We've come a long way for kids since 1973

The photo shows Willard Wevley and Karen Luthi enjoying the repartee at the MHS Class of 1973 30-year reunion in 2003. We were at Lakeview Lanes.
 
I remember a syndicated cartoon that showed these two dudes with a time machine. One says "set it for 1973." The other one says "why?" That was the gag line: "why?"
Indeed, why would anyone want to go back to 1973? The economic times were discouraging. The political times were discouraging. We were witnessing the unraveling of the Richard Nixon administration. What a dragged-out process that was. Imagine the "Morning Joe" (MSNBC) panelists discussing that every morning, as if it were happening now. Back then, we could witness Watergate from a distance. Maybe it could be put aside for that reason. Our more concentrated media condensed and sanitized things.
The Viet Nam war was a fresh wound to our psyche. America wasn't accustomed to losing a war.
I graduated from high school in 1973. My class was at the apex of the baby boom. We overwhelmed society with our numbers. We couldn't be corralled. We were used to getting our way on all fronts. The job of educators was basically to keep order. They put up with us, then patted us on the fanny and sent us off. To what?
The drinking age got lowered at the time I graduated. We reveled not only in that, but with a certain substance we were smoking. I personally never saw the appeal of any of this. But it was best to conceal your skepticism. The peer pressure was enormous to engage in self-destructive behavior. The cinema character Austin Powers made all of this seem cool. That's misplaced nostalgia: No one could ever want to feel nostalgia about a time when girls athletics was in its stumbling infancy, and our high school didn't even have an FFA chapter - how's that? - and there was no indoor arena for hockey, this despite the fact that our numbers were so teeming.
Why couldn't society get together to provide the kind of resources and outlets that kids have today? Girls sports at the start was a novelty. It was almost like an experiment. I remember a referee saying "you have to call traveling every time (with these girls) or they'll never learn." The girls on those early teams deserved unbounded praise. It was chapter 1 of a total success story.
There were certain girls in my Class of '73, as in all classes, who had the requisite talent to be stars. It's interesting to close your eyes and imagine how good these girls would be today, if they could go all the way through a fully developed program. No novelty now.
Hockey used to be a sandlot type of sport. The boys who liked hockey were a little outside the mainstream. I'm sure you all remember certain boys who were in that category. They were undaunted. I think they knew that big things were eventually coming for hockey.
As for no FFA, I have a hard time understanding that. Today, FFA seems like the most vibrant and high-profile program at the high school. What other program gets a full annual special section with the paper? And yet in '73, there was nary a thought anywhere about having FFA in Morris. I thought some of the faculty resisted it because FFA smacked of vocational education.
I remember covering the launching of the FFA program here in the early 1980s. I remember the name of the first advisor: Jim Clendenin. There was suspicion that our high school administration wasn't totally behind FFA. In other words, there were political obstacles to overcome - a common situation with trailblazers.
Mr. Clendenin filled his role fine. Some stormy waters were ahead, though, in terms of FFA advisors. One, who had been in the Peace Corps, did not win the approval of the local agribusiness community. He didn't seem motivated enough, or organized enough. Then, another advisor came along who didn't get along with the teaching staff.
The FFA advisor had to get integrated with the total school in order for the program to succeed. Eventually the proper chemistry was found. The program has flourished.
Is it vocational education? Maybe to an extent, but so what? There is a gray area in education over whether the learning is really directly connected to one's eventual vocation. When I was at St. Cloud State, my classes in photography ended up seeming worthless. I was subjected to an artsy, avant garde approach. Had my teachers been confronted about this, they might have snapped "well, we're not a tech school." Well, neither is the University of Minnesota, but the U of M has a school of dentistry. Don't you think the purpose of that school is to teach students how to be dentists? I'm sure it's not to have them learn about the theory and philosophy of dentistry.
I think many of the problems in our public education system were solved by open enrollment. Before that, I think schools had many of the problems associated with monopolies. It's all about accountability.
Back in 1973, inflation was a horrible problem in our economy. We flocked to see the movie "The Exorcist." Some friends and I went to the Gopher Theater in Minneapolis to see it. When a movie gets hyped that much, prepare to be disappointed. I thought the movie was overrated. I also went to see "Last Tango in Paris" which might be exhibit 'A' of the oddball movies the '70s gave us. "Crocodile Rock" was a smash hit song from Elton John. Paul McCartney had his "Wings" and he sang the ballad "My Love."
On TV we enjoyed the Odd Couple. The Dow Jones ended the year at 850. A Ford Galaxie 500 car cost $3,883.
The boomer generation of Morris remembers Wally Behm as our principal. He is one of the biggest characters this town has ever known. In the end, I think he ran into problems due to changing times and demands in education - trends that he had trouble adjusting to. I remember when the referendum to create FFA passed, he said "a lot of people voted for it just to see it fail." He was cynical which was a common attitude in those times. He made at least one of the questionable hiring decisions for FFA advisor. I understood that this apparent mistake led to his downfall as principal - his decision to "retire" prematurely. Well, I "retired" too.
I don't think Wally handled retirement well. He should have just walked away from education completely and enjoyed life. He had trouble detaching himself from the Morris school and its affairs. He could be a busybody. He had been the kind of principal that did well by the standards of the "greatest generation" of parents, the WWII generation. That generation didn't really see school as fun for kids, it was more like boot camp. A pox on them for this attitude. Most of the men had probably served under some SOB sergeant at one time. "If it's good enough for me, it's good enough for my kids."
Generations would follow that would demand that school be more enjoyable and meaningful for kids - gentler. Their attitudes won out. Our memories can drift back to 1973 when such a different environment prevailed. Morris High School only included grades 10-12. No room for more. Yet we lacked so many of the amenities that parents have demanded for their kids since. Time marches on. At least we are survivors.
A time machine to go back to 1973? I think not. Let's bathe in the present.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com