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

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

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Is St. Cloud State a drag on MnSCU?

SCSU's Holes Hall, now razed
Joe Scarborough once said that if you're a student at a college that is not a prestige college, you might wonder if it's worth it. St. Cloud State University was guaranteed long ago to never be a prestige college. By allowing its name to be bandied about in "party school" discussions, it essentially dug itself a hole.
Today when a person drops the name of that school, we wonder if in the next breath we'll get some levity about the party school thing. I have argued online that the state should never have let this theme about St. Cloud State spread so far. The state has an interest in the school being optimally effective in sending well-educated young people out into the world or work force. I guess an "educated work force" is what MnSCU is all about.
It would be wonderful to learn that MnSCU is achieving its mission. Instead we hear about a "financial crisis." In a sense, institutions that are tied up with government always proclaim they're shy of needed funds. A truism about government is that it lacks efficiency, and that's because there's no incentive to be efficient. Efficiency might suggest that the current funding is satisfactory - no pressing need for more.
St. Cloud State fishes for more resources as aggressively as anyone. After all, the institution has a "comprehensive plan" that is a laundry list of projects requiring funding. The college "arms race" continues apace.
A whole dorm has come under the wrecking ball at my alma mater of SCSU. You see, dorms all across the country that were built in the mid-20th Century for the boomer generation, are deemed inadequate for today's kids. The public is getting quite the bill for these changes/upgrades. SCSU's Holes Hall is no more. It has sat empty the past few years. Click on this link to view the recent demolition:
Today's students proclaim they want resident halls that have more of an apartment style feel to them. So outdated are the old dorms, dorms that were deemed good enough for my generation, it is cost prohibitive to renovate them. Considering that the very necessity of college is arguably coming into question, I wonder how much of a dive we need to take into new facilities. If MnSCU cries long and hard about its "financial crisis" - what really is that? - maybe it can fill its coffers well enough. There have to be limits to this.
We also have to question if a full-fledged "bailout" of old SCSU is underway. I don't think the campus has aged well. Nothing really distinguishes the place. I was disappointed several years ago to see the LGBT students get a real prominent headquarters on the main level of Atwood Student Center. I totally back gay rights but the conspicuous nature of this headquarters struck me as uncalled for. I was at SCSU that year for Homecoming, something I never had time to attend in my newspaper career.
St. Cloud State Homecoming! That's a punch line, isn't it? The media began gearing each year to collect police blotter data after each Homecoming. Some people started using the word "riots" to describe what went on. The party school image became a real caricature. A president was brought in to hose it down. No, not to literally hose down the dumpster fires, but to eradicate the dubious reputation. Good luck.
This individual moved to cancel Homecoming. Unfortunately he's no longer with us. I'm sure you heard on the news that Earl H. Potter was killed in a car accident. No other vehicle was involved. I wonder what happened. If he were still alive, he might email me in reaction to this post. He did this once before when I reacted to his posturing about maybe cancelling the football program. Football has survived at St. Cloud State, but you've probably read about the cancellation of some minor sports.
SCSU has the typical laundry list of goals for at least giving the campus a facelift. All campuses do this. SCSU seeks new pathways on campus. It wants to "open up the (Mississippi) River and make it more user-friendly." SCSU has the river on one side and old residential neighborhoods on the other. Those neighborhoods were old when I was there 40 years ago. I'm quite certain that blight has crept in. I learned from a comment board that those neighborhoods are evidently one of those places you don't want to take a walk after dark.
SCSU shares the buzzwords of wanting to improve technology in the classrooms. We hear about the desired renovations to athletic facilities: grand old Halenbeck Hall and the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. The hockey thing wasn't there when I was a student. Brooks met his maker the same way Potter did: a one-vehicle accident, perhaps due to drowsiness at the wheel.
SCSU's comprehensive plan has been in development for two years. It is broken down for projects to be completed in the next five years, six to eleven years, and then eleven years and up.
How much more of a toll will the digital world take on traditional college education in the next eleven years? The MnSCU system office has approved the plan. Can the bureaucracy create enough smoke to get us, the public, to be led along as if we're a horse being led by the ears? I'm a Democrat but if we need Republicans to apply some discipline and restraint in all this, I'll go with the elephant.
MnSCU appears ripe for a unique outside analysis to find the bloat and inefficiencies. The MnSCU Board of Trustees has behaved like sheep. Our legislature has appeared no more bright. Maybe St. Cloud as a community has political clout that intimidates the stewards.
SCSU has shown declining enrollment and multi-million dollar annual deficits. The school has lost a whopper of a sum of $ on Coborn Plaza. Since fiscal year 2014, SCSU's annual financial deficits have been in excess of $5,000,000. Meanwhile, MnSCU submitted a supplemental budget request for an additional $21,000,000. Ergo, we can readily conclude that a big part of that is earmarked for St. Cloud State as a bailout. A bailout!
Republicans try to make sure taxpayers aren't used as ATMs to cover for $ mismanagement.  This is where Democrats irritate me: a lack of vigilance. Democrats make me cringe with their talk of "investing in education." This is no investment. It covers amenities many of which have only a vague connection with learning. We ought to have the proverbial "housecleaning" at MnSCU.
Conservatives are better able to achieve power than when I was a student at SCSU: those disco '70s. Citizens need to get more suspicious.
The old "party school" SCSU is anything but the "prestige college" that Scarborough (of "Morning Joe") referred to. This isn't to say that a large number of students don't get a lot out of the experience there. I'm talking about overall reputation. Potter had to know that cancelling Homecoming in itself was a damaging gesture because it highlighted the problem so much. It was the lesser of two evils, the other being those continuing riots and burning dumpsters.
Holes Hall was home to tens of thousands of SCSU students from 1965 to 2014. Surely it was plain-Jane. And yet, I feel it was a decent place to live if only certain essential rules were enforced, No. 1 being quiet hours when all those infernal stereo record players would be shut down. This was hard to achieve in the 1970s. Loud rock music was considered an essential part of our culture. Quality stereo systems were a status symbol. How quaint.
Today there's no financial issue with acquiring the best possible sound system, like right on your computer. No need to buy records, as tunes are routinely called up on YouTube. It was uncool in the '70s to complain about someone's loud stereo. You might get a resident assistant (R.A.) to go talk to an offender, but this would be done grudgingly. The R.A. might even whisper to the offender who the complainer was, then you'd be in for some harassment.
Students drank alcohol. My, how they consumed alcohol. The drinking age was lowered in the early '70s on the logic that if young men could fight and die in Viet Nam, then everyone their age ought to have the "privilege" of drinking.
The site previously occupied by Holes Hall will be converted to green space.
A recent feature in the New York Times highlights what it describes as the "dorms you'll never see on the campus tour." These residence halls stand in stark contrast to many of the opulent living situations colleges now use to lure students on campus.
"Built in the middle of the last century or even earlier, they have survived to shock and dismay new freshmen with their cinder block aesthetic and dingy common rooms," Times reporter Vivian Yee writes. "Air conditioning is a distant luxury. Bathrooms are nasty, crowded and few."
Let's put on our futurist caps. As we move from today's primitive state of Internet education to the more sophisticated levels, the question arises: will we ever reach a point when colleges (the ones with campuses, dormitories and cafeteria food) become obsolete?
In talking about the coming revolution in higher education, Fay Gale, the president of the Academy of Social Sciences, said "the bulk of a student's work in the future would be done at home and they would only visit campus to socialize or for occasional intensive face-to-face work with tutors."
Traditionalists will put up a battle, surely. As I reflect on my time in St. Cloud, I distinctly remember the differences in pizza between Tomlyano's, Newman Center and House of Pizza. This must say something. I did eschew alcohol.
Earl H. Potter III, RIP.
The video of the Holes Hall implosion on a WJON web page appears to have been removed. I think I know why. I remember seeing passers-by appearing to scurry to avoid the dust cloud. I was surprised because you'd think the area would be cleared and plenty of warning given. My alma mater is not always the brightest bulb on the chandelier.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Burgeoning foster homes: what's in store?

We read that foster homes are getting filled to capacity. We read that Native American kids make up a high percentage.
There was a time in our history when it was a norm to have a large family or to seek a large family. Remember the movie "Spencer's Mountain" with Henry Fonda? Large families by their very essence seem heart-warming and inspiring. (Liz Morrison hated it when I used the term "heart-warming.") Large families seemed right out of the American fabric. Catholic families led the way.
Today, it seems raising kids is very daunting. Regardless of how the Dow Jones keeps rising, the common folk all across America seem stressed in ways we didn't see in prior times. Not only are families stressed, they are having to live under a microscope. Rules and standards were lax if not nonexistent in prior times like when my boomer generation grew up.
Today, I gather that if you have a lapse and allow your child to play unaccompanied by a supervisor in a park, you risk getting a call from Human Services. Maybe your kid will end up getting whisked off to one of those foster homes. Will we need to expand our foster home system? If so, someone will have to pay for it.
In the old days, your child would attend a school very close by. If you lived in a small town, there would be a school right in your town. Your child might elect to walk or ride bike to school. Today, the powers that be seem to look down on kids going to and from school by themselves - too much danger.
Danger has always existed around us. It appears the parents of the boomers, and generations before that, just shrugged and realized they and their children would have to live with those risks. "Bums" might pass through the area on freight trains. Howard Moser once told me his mom got mad at him for waving at some bums. "Don't wave at them - they're bums!" How much nostalgia should we feel about those earlier times?
People my age often think virtue was instilled. We became self-starters. Human Services could hardly have controlled all the boomer kids in our midst. We swarmed like faux gangs. In the summer we might be gone from the house all day. For sure, some kids had bad things happen to them. I think we just accepted that as a matter of human nature, danger existed and we simply had to strive to be vigilant against it - a stance that didn't require government workers all over the place.
Today we have Human Services keeping watch even on small families where issues ought to be manageable. No one wants bad things to happen to kids. But will the day come when, in the name of protecting kids, they'll simply all be sent to facilities or institutions where they can be raised according to impeccable government-approved standards?
More and more people are in fact getting dependent on government. Part of this is due to our aging population. It is just populist rhetoric that we need to reduce the imprint of government on our lives. It is pie in the sky or fantasy. The reality is, government intrusion proceeds despite lots of conservative or Republican politicians getting elected. Senior citizens without a doubt need considerable help because they're beyond their productive years.
I have mixed feelings about all the intrusion into young families where the kids might not be getting a textbook upbringing. Just think back, you boomers, to when you were young. The state decided to lower the drinking age in the early '70s. The government conscripted young men to fight in Viet Nam. Tens of thousands were sent to those jungles, were handed guns and told to shoot and kill other human beings while they shot back. Yes, as if this will solve an ideological divide. We are finding out years later that the absolute necessity to leave Viet Nam had to do with American troops killing each other - it was called "fragging." What a backdrop for my growing-up years.
The idea took over that aggressive school consolidation was a good thing, having kids travel ever-longer distances simply to attend school. The Lac qui Parle school was drawn up as such an idealistic thing, so state of the art. Fortunately for Dawson-Boyd, they pulled out when all factors were considered.
Della DeGier at the paper once said to me that consolidation would continue until Morris kids were bused to Alexandria where they'd live in dormitories. "And then we'll have communism," she said.
The spouse of an old high school friend of mine, residents of Willmar, said "eventually the Federal government is just going to take care of everyone." Her husband is now retired as a sheriff's deputy.
The original American ideal was to fend for yourself in a free society. With time, of course, perceived problems were going to be tamped down by government. After all, government exists to solve problems.
The media and technology have been part of the evolution. All those bad things we hear about today, like child abduction, have always gone on, it's just that the pervasiveness of today's media impresses them on us. Technology connects everyone. We are more aware of the foibles and peccadilloes of everyone. We decided that any and all human failings must be eradicated. Just turn to the government. Turn to Human Services. Report your neighbor.
In a long-ago time, having a large family helped ensure the financial security of the parents when old. Your kids were your "Social Security." Then we got Medicare in the '60s despite the efforts of the likes of Ronald Reagan to stop it. Bernie Sanders leads the effort to increase the safety net considerably. It is inevitable that we will get this.
But the old days of larger families and "freedom to roam" for kids will be locked up in history books. We need to ponder whether we really will be better off.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, August 22, 2016

We're in a blessed time of summer

The period between the fair and the start of school is the most underrated part of summer. The weather has settled down. The coolness in the evening air is refreshing. We hear crickets at night.
The Threshing Bee is another end-of-summer sign. Sorry, but I haven't been there in years. I remember feeling thrilled as I won a liter of Pepsi in a ring-toss. I remember Donnelly personalities who have since gone to their reward. I had to tell Darlene Awsumb one year my coffee wasn't hot enough. She remedied that. I remember the Upper Mississippi Bluegrass Band at the Threshing Bee. I remember Mr. Sax dancing with his daughter, the queen, at the start of the dance at the Donnelly Town Hall. That hall is an old WPA project. Thank you, FDR.
The harvest will clean out the air further. The characteristics of fall have always given me a feeling of euphoria. Is that typical? As a kid I'd see promos for "NBC Week" on TV. That was the much-anticipated week when NBC would unveil its new fall TV shows. The shows were hyped so endlessly. They all seemed so intriguing and inviting. But of course they could became stale quickly, falling under the ax of cancellation.
Those were the days of the "Big 3" TV networks. For a long time in my youth, NBC was all we got. Therefore I watched Huntley and Brinkley and not Walter Cronkite. Cronkite gave that famous message about how it was about time we just got out of Viet Nam. If we had the media landscape of today, that conclusion would have been obvious much sooner. It should have been obvious anyway.
Brinkley endeared himself to us all when he broke up laughing, unable to recover, after his partner read a story about the Maraschino cherry crop. It defies understanding that a show like "Star Trek," destined for such permanent treatment as a classic, got canceled because of ratings struggles. The writing was on the wall for Star Trek's last season. Some of the investment in this show was pulled, leading to artistic shortcomings, but the last year ensured that enough total episodes of the show would be in the vault for syndication. And, what a story this show became in syndication, showing up on the likes of WTCN TV in the Twin Cities.
We sure hear a lot of the "back to school" theme this time of year. This was a downer for my generation. We were the generation that got whipped and abused as the U.S. felt determined to outdo the Russians in the Cold War. Our nation's leaders felt we had to excel to high heights in science and math. It was misguided, in my view. Let me clarify: It was certainly fine to try to cultivate an elite of young people who could be geniuses in science and math. The folly was clearly in suggesting that all kids be elevated to that level.
School was grim. The atmosphere was almost prison-like. We'd hear "the bell" and then move from one classroom to another. Heaven help us if we simply got caught in the hallway at an improper time. You'd have to have a "pass." The atmosphere can't be so draconian today, can it?
I took classes in the 1914 building, now razed of course. I was a student during "split shifts," that desperate time when the teeming number of the boomers became a pain - make that challenge. I was a student for the "buddy system" where rural kids were forced to stay in town when bad winter weather was upon us. Problem was, the buddy system could also get used when the forecast merely was bad.
I believe those were the days when public schools were desperate to the point of endangering kids' lives, to get in school days, so to get state aid money. I think the Chokio-Alberta school bus incident was attributable to that. I believe the state relaxed guidelines subsequently. Kids could be allowed to spend a few extra days at home, even if this would lessen the odds of becoming a science/math genius.
Those science/math goals may have ruined my whole outlook on life. I struggled, but worse than that, I learned to be calculating and devious, devising "end runs" to simply get past my school requirements. Surely that made me cynical. I was self-motivated to read. I always digested the TV news with great interest, going all the way back to pre-school and the Eisenhower administration! I developed a savant-like skill in writing that probably made teachers think I was smarter than I was. I did have an inquiring mind. Teachers probably lowered the hurdles for me a little, sensing that surely I had the intelligence to progress. Did I? Good question. I literally could not do algebra.
So, this is the time of year, with the county fair behind us, when kids start pondering the new education year ahead of them. Labor Day weekend is our last big fling. Labor Day: strange holiday. What is its purpose? Is it to honor organized labor or working people in general?
Labor unions have been on the ropes. I don't think we will ever again see people demonstrating with picket signs on the borders of our U of M-Morris. It was an incredible turn-off the last time it happened. I don't think the community could stomach it again. Many UMM donors will decide to direct their money elsewhere. We had to wonder: How did the work of all those strikers get done during the duration of a long strike? Didn't they have valuable, essential work to do?
Certain people in this town will gnash their teeth as they read my comments about this. Most people assuredly agree with me.
A long-time Donnelly resident tells me this year's Threshing Bee could be the last. I have to assume it has become more of a struggle, just based on how all the tiny rural towns have lost viability.
We surely miss those old days when the towns were more vibrant and had so many interesting personalities. Remember Del Holdgrafer, the artist from Donnelly? Donnelly seemed to have more than its share of interesting personalities. Donnelly once supported its own school. Cyrus had its own high school sports teams. Chokio-Alberta had a long colorful history of prep sports. My, I covered those Spartans at the Metrodome, twice! So much of all that is gone with the wind. We're not the same.
What about our county fair? My family went out there innocently enough this year. The fair announced it would start on Tuesday this year. We went out on Wednesday. I was too thick-headed, evidently, to sort out what was really happening. Wednesday was not really Day 2 of the fair. It wasn't even Day 1. The true Day 1 of the fair, as always, was Thursday. If I had known that, we would have behaved accordingly. The fair isn't "on" if the 4-H foodstand isn't open. It isn't "on" if you can't get a brownie sundae from the 4-H foodstand.
We approached the place where we normally park - that big open space north of the ethanol plant - and discovered "private parking" signs. We learned that Superior had put up stakes. Naturally I was offended. Our Stevens County Fair is supposed to be completely open to the public - that's the whole idea, isn't it? What makes Superior so important that they can take over a big chunk of it, telling the public sorry, you'll have to park by the Lee Center. The Lee Center parking is a long distance from many of the most popular fair attractions. Why not make the Superior people park there, while the rest of us in the general public can park in our old favorite spot?
Maybe we should ask the question of whether anything corrupt is going on, in terms of the relationship of the fair board and Superior.
This wrinkle of the fair completely surprised us. I went out there hoping to just follow our usual routine. We were chased off, in effect, and we were in no mood to return to the fair, not even to have those brownie sundaes.
Were those "private parking" signs legally enforceable? Remember, that notorious police tent is located right next to the parking lot in question. Our police have a reputation of being unforgiving. Maybe this is because of all the international students at UMM. Law enforcement promises UMM interests that its law enforcement efforts will be vigorous. Vigorous they are. If I were spotted parking in the Superior space, and if we departed from our car for the fairgrounds, would we be at risk of getting some sort of trespassing citation from the police? Who wants to take a chance?
I have suggested that it would be better for Superior to sponsor a fair event, but the event would still be a fair event. I have been told that one reason for the community supper being held on Tuesday - most unusual - was that the Superior people should have a chance to attend it. Otherwise they'd be hung up at their own, private event.
Bottom line: I'm sick of even hearing all these references to Superior in discussions about our fair. They need to retreat and leave the rest of us alone.
Labor Day weekend meant a lot to me when I worked at the paper. Like Memorial Day, we'd put out a "bulldog edition" on Friday and then get a three-day weekend (but we'd have to knock ourselves out first). One year I attended a Catholic church service in St. Louis Park on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. The priest talked about the significance of work in a Biblical context. I soaked it all in, being such a committed "working person" at that time. Today? Ahem.
Everyone please enjoy the upcoming fall months. Just try to watch less football.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Understanding commercial success in art

How about a movie starring Bill Cosby, Robert Blake and O.J. Simpson? I joked about this with a friend recently. Simpson would have to be sprung from prison first.
I'll bet a lot of us are revising our thoughts about Simpson. He definitely belongs in prison. But think of all the years his body got punished playing football, both at USC and in the pros. Time after time, he'd get the football and the opposing high-caliber defensive players would attack and converge on him. Often the consequences of such punishment take time to surface. Once they do, it can be incredibly tragic. I wonder if Vince Bugliosi has modified his thoughts too.
It is fashionable in Hollywood to not say a whole lot of nice things about Simpson as an actor. We should judge his acting separate from his enormous problem. He was part of the incredible three-man comedy team, joining Leslie Nielsen and George Kennedy in the "Naked Gun" movies. Simpson did the job totally. They say the best actors make it look like they aren't even acting.
The Naked Gun movies were not fine, sophisticated art, the way we generally think of that field. People who reach commercial success in the arts will tell you that their job is just as tough as for the "fine arts" people, if the latter is to be viewed as commensurate with college campus standards. Whether it's music, painting or theatrical acting, performing in a way that garners commercial success is incredibly exacting.
I remember exchanging letters with Mort Kunstler back in the pre-Internet days. I had just purchased one of his limited-edition art prints (showing U.S. Grant at Vicksburg). I liked his work and wanted to communicate with him. He also built a reputation painting covers for the men's magazines that we used to see on newsstands.
I had just read comments in a Civil War magazine from a competing artist, a guy who I rather viewed as a pain. The comments were thinly veiled as a response to quotes Kunstler had recently given about his field. This guy who I felt was a pain, last name of Troiani, talked about Civil War art as if it were "illustration." The point of illustration is to show something exactly as it is, or was. That's fine, if that is your objective. But "art" entails so much more than that. Art is judged by the emotional impact it has on the viewer. Many classic works of art based on history are not totally historically accurate. But they convey an important element of the events they're depicting.
Consider that famous painting of George Washington as a boy in which he has an adult's head! Or consider "Out of Egypt" which ought to have a desert-like backdrop but in fact has generous vegetation.
The famous Civil War artist Dale Gallon did a painting depicting George Custer and some of his charges, a painting where he came right out and said he took some "artistic license." A painter should not have to be defensive about this. But in Civil War art, apparently there is a fair amount of defensiveness because of the "Civil War nuts" who have a standard of historical accuracy that is really just a misguided obsession.
answered my letter. He was very nice but he stressed how he didn't want to get on any bandwagon of criticism vs. another artist. A very class guy. His point was that commercial success is very hard to achieve in his field. For that reason, he said, he had nothing but respect for his fellow successful commercial artists.
There was a time when Civil War limited edition art prints were quite the thing. I assume the main customer base was the Civil War re-enactors - quite the hobby out East. So many Civil War prints were being turned out, I had to wonder if the demand would stay sufficient. I hope Mr. Kunstler's career is still vibrant, unless he has chosen to retire. His craftsmanship is stellar.
I remember in the 1960s seeing those "men's magazines" here and there. I barely bothered to page through a copy. I found them disturbing. They seem to have completely vanished. Americana to be filed away in the dubious history category. I seem to recall a "damsels in distress" theme for a lot of that stuff.
Will O.J. Simpson ever see the light of day outside of prison? It would be best if he did not. The Hollywood record will show him as a quite effective actor, playing his role to complement the actors around him, which is the prime objective of acting. Ah, "Nordberg." A Scandinavian name for this African-American character. He took pratfalls big-time. Think it's easy? The good actors always make it look like it is.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, August 12, 2016

Let's keep community supper on Wednesday

Our county fair is a great county fair. The famous song actually uses the term "state fair," remember?" In Stevens County, the superlative is just as called for.
Our fair seems twice as big as when I was a young adult. It went through a phase where it took a back seat to the Wheaton fair. Legend has it that Wheaton picked up momentum with a stroke of luck: booking a band just before it became big-time. Those bands and performers were once a centerpiece of our rural fairs. Morris had a run of several years bringing in some household names in country entertainment. It was the thing to do in those days. We got the famous puppet "Shotgun Red" here.
We got Donny Osmond but I don't remember if Marie was here. Today Marie touts weight-loss products. I don't think people are as embarrassed about being overweight as they once were. The fair is not a place to visit if you're shunning food.
Our 2016 fair had a wrinkle that got us disoriented. We always assume the community supper is held on Wednesday night. It takes over the fair that night, quite justifiably. It is the kick-off event for the fair. The serving lines can be long but they move fast. It uses the Lee Center which didn't exist when I was young. The fair board brings in entertainment for the community supper. Some awards get announced. In recent years I haven't gone because it's rather loud and congested - a mob scene of sorts - for a family with a 90-plus person. But I'm totally congratulatory about the event.
What's strange is this: it was held on Tuesday this year. When first made aware of this, I just felt the fair was continuing to burst its buttons with its continuing success, and was expanding its schedule by a day. A billboard on the north end of town proclaimed the fair dates as beginning with Tuesday. That's the 9th.
We assume the fair gets going full-bore on the day after the community supper. This year that would be Wednesday. Our family went out to the fair Wednesday at around 3 p.m. We approached that short dirt road that would take us to that expansive parking lot on the south end. We'd always roll by the Michaelson residence as we went to get parked. We'd wave to the Virgin Mary (well, figuratively). We belt "blessed" arriving at the fair. "Mary" was that little figurine in front of what looked like a bathtub. It's nice to be reminded of the better spiritual elements of our nature.
As we turned into that dirt road Wednesday, I was immediately taken aback by signs reporting that the lot was reserved by a private business interest. "Can't be," I thought to myself. "This is a public fair that promotes free and ample parking."
We continued to the parking area where I spotted someone wearing a shirt that indicated he was involved with the private event. He was nice and informed us that indeed, as indicated by the sign, the lot was closed off to the general public. "That's rude," I thought. The gentleman told us we could park in front of the Lee Center. Thanks, I told him, but this would be too long a walk for the 90-plus member of the family, to get to the 4-H foodstand. We went home. I was in a mood to not even come back to the fair this year.
The business that reserved the parking lot is like the 800-pound gorilla in this area. I suppose they get what they want. The next day, I got an email from a friend explaining some background: the community supper on Tuesday did not represent, really, an expansion of the fair schedule. This friend informed me that Tuesday was chosen because this was an open date for "Tonic Sol-fa," the featured musical group.
In my humble opinion, it was not that essential to book this particular group. I remember one year when a very fine '50s rock 'n' roll band came. It was a blast. The fair board created confusion by having the community supper on Tuesday night.
The fair board must realize that there's a broad swath of the general public out there who don't know all the fine details of these big public events - the background. As a newspaper employee I was always aware, almost to a fault, of the background (and that included the politics). Today I'm in that broad swath of the general public who are detached.
On Thursday morning I had breakfast at McDonald's with a party that included someone who was confused by the fair schedule just like me. He said he had taken his family to the fair Wednesday night expecting to dine at the 4-H foodstand, but it was closed. That must have been tremendously disappointing. He just assumed, as did I, that the fair opens up completely once the community supper has been held. It feels strange if it doesn't.
As I pieced everything together, I deduced the following: the Stevens County Fair essentially followed the same schedule it always does. The one exception was the community supper which was moved to Tuesday just to accommodate the schedule of "Tonic Sol-fa" (a group I've never heard). "Tonic Sol-fa" can't be that good.
Had the supper been held Wednesday like always, my family would not have even attempted to visit the fair Wednesday afternoon, and my friend would not have tried to check out the 4-H foodstand Wednesday night. I would not have been offended by a private interest - Superior - taking over a big chunk of the fairgrounds, because the Superior event would have been outside the fair schedule.
So, now I'm disoriented and trying to figure out how the fair will be run in the future. Our county fair is a great county fair. Let's just not confuse people.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Trump vs. football on TV: OK, which is worse?

Donald Trump says his upcoming debates with the Democratic nominee should not coincide with televised football games. Considering how saturated our TV world has become, with football, the scheduling is going to be a challenge.
Trump's comment underscored an underlying national problem: our attachment to football. The game has become an odd sort of opiate. We are awash in news stories about how hazardous the game is for participants. There is no longer any debate about this. But, just as Trump and his supporters defy rational thought so often, so too are football fans and coaches holding off on recognizing the obvious. You confront them about some of the data, and immediately they get a look in their eyes like they think you're getting carried away. They have handy excuses available for their thought processes. You mention certain NFL players and they'll smile and say "oh, that's the pros." Well, the pros are an underpinning of our whole obsession with the game.
Football was a rather marginal sport up until the mid-1960s. The improved quality of the television picture for football was the catalyst for the explosion in popularity. Ironically, the American public in the distant past had a better realization of football's dangers than today's public. Today we watch football as if it's a pinball game in front of us. The glass separates us from the ball in pinball. Watching football on TV presents no hazards to us. We see all those young, vigorous bodies out on the football field, showing no evidence of deterioration. They are so easily replaceable, all those football players. We get interested in the new players and forget about the old.
The discussion in connection with the presidential debates gets me to wondering: Is the American public going to stay obsessed with football indefinitely? Troy Aikman has commented that football faces a threat from mere saturation. People who understand marketing understand that scarcity is an important part of determining value. Remember the days of hyped boxing matches shown on "closed-circuit TV?"
Aikman talked about how each televised football game seemed like a big deal when he was young. Monday night football was a phenomenon for a time. Of course, when something is a phenomenon, it's going to creep beyond its initial boundaries and become more accessible. TV channels have proliferated. So there's lots of football out there, having burst far beyond its one-time confines of Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
So Trump didn't even want a debate coinciding with a major football game. We are so stuck at the altar of football, we are encouraged to be skeptical about having a game coincide with a presidential debate.
The debate subject by itself is rather confounding. How many Republican debates were there during the primaries? Didn't you lose count? It became like entertainment. Everyone just watched to see what novel or insulting comments might come forth to fill the Internet news sites the next day. Democrats had debates that were not quite as dramatic. But all in all, weren't we really overwhelmed by the debates, to where no one has any excuse for not knowing the important policy positions of the candidates? Policy positions hardly mattered in the end - it all just became a forum for entertainment, quite similar to professional wrestling.
We can't be proud of this. We now have Trump as the official nominee of one of the two major parties. He seems to have catapulted to where he is, not through a sober consideration of policy stances, but through an entertaining, provocative flair in how he carries himself.
Trump's political party is hardly recognizable anymore. It is a mob of reactionary people. The party has been guided toward this by Fox News, a network that does not behave like the loyal opposition (to the Democrats). It behaves as if the so-called left-of-center people, really just caricatured by them, are stupid and evil. Just watch "Fox and Friends" in the morning. Listen to Tucker Carlson. Why is he given a platform like this? Is it because of Roger Ailes?
Ailes himself has been in the news lately - have you been paying attention? "Fox and Friends" has a starlet seated in the middle, formerly Minnesota native Gretchen Carlson. She's now in the news for reasons that have been well reported. Fox finds new starlets to replace any that have moved on. It's pretty well established that the females on Fox must wear dresses, not pants. The makeup department handles them in a way that makes them come off rather as hookers. When we see them now, whoever they are, we must seriously wonder how they catered to Roger Ailes to get their positions.
Carlson's lawsuit is reportedly on the verge of being settled for eight figures. Megyn Kelly and Andrea Tantaros have come forward to make revealing comments about Fox's descent into depravity. And this is the network that has coordinated the national effort to make ultra-conservatives into heroes and Democrats into scoundrels. Clearly the Democrats have been put on the defensive. Hillary Clinton has withstood the barrage pretty well so far.
I will not write off Trump's chances at being elected. He has defied all the well-thought-out predictions so far. He may be the articulate despot with that unique gift of appealing to a wide swath of the electorate. We can't help but be reminded of 1930s Germany. The final event in sealing Trump's rise to power could be the long-awaited major correction in the stock market, an event predicted by the likes of Carl Icahn. Overwhelming stress in the economy could trigger a descent into a throbbing tidal wave of irrational, reactionary thinking.
Trump as commander in chief could instigate something that could cause other world powers to coalesce in stopping us, just like the Allies reacted in World War II. This time we'd be the bad guys. Of course, we already were the bad guys in Viet Nam. World War II instilled in us the feeling that victory over a despicable foe is uplifting. Of course, war is nothing but bad.
So, we're worried about the presidential debates coinciding with football. Nixon never debated Humphrey or McGovern. Somehow nobody really seemed to care. We care now because the entertainment industry presses so many buttons. As always we end up manipulated by the media/entertainment industry, just like we are exploited by big-time football.
The Morris Area Chokio Alberta football Tigers begin their pre-season practices this time of year. We can pray that their numbers will be down, that people will become enlightened enough to reject this sport. The Morris area supposedly includes many intelligent people. We'll find out.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, August 8, 2016

Lenny Green helped launch Minnesota Twins

I wrote a song not long ago called "Michigan, We Need You to Win Again." It recalled the heyday of carmaking in this state by the Great Lakes. It promoted nostalgia, never mind that the scheming carmakers got away with planned obsolescence. Norman Rockwell images can make us teary-eyed. But we'd never want to step back into those times.
Lenny Green came from a family that was invested in the old car-making heyday. Gene Green worked at the Ford Motor Company stamping plant in suburban Dearborn. Anna ran a flower shop. Their son Lenny was destined for baseball. He was one of the many players of color who played for Calvin Griffith when Griffith brought the Washington Senators to Minnesota to become the Twins.
No racial issues here like in - heaven forbid - Philadelphia. No quota of non-white players to hold them back like in Boston. Griffith wanted the best players to help his team win. To the extent racism existed in Minnesota, it was below the surface. Many critics said this wasn't a whole lot preferable to overt racism. Nevertheless, black and Cuban players seemed quite at home in Griffith's tent. Fans my age cared not at all.
Gary Rose who was two years older than me, coveted a Lenny Green baseball card. You're probably familiar with Gary today, as he's the most reliable window washer around town. As a kid he got swept up in Twins enthusiasm like the rest of us. We'd run downhill from East Elementary School to Stark's Grocery, there to spend whatever disposable money we had on baseball cards and comic books, along with snacks like chips and ice cream sandwiches.
The school building is gone now. It was called East Elementary to differentiate it from the west side Longfellow School.
Gary Rose, according to Morris legend - OK, according to my friend Del Sarlette - traded some valuable baseball cards to get the one Lenny Green card which was apparently hard to come by. And then what happened? Green was promptly traded! I would still have coveted that Lenny Green card.
Green would be warmly remembered as an early Twin. He spent over three seasons with our fledgling franchise out in Bloomington. He had a steady and reliable manner - no drama with his personality or lifestyle. Ne was known for his defensive abilities in the outfield. His baserunning was superlative. He was with the Senators when they made their historic move to Minnesota.
Green reflects most happily on his time with Minnesota. He was parked in centerfield for the Twins' inaugural season of 1961. He played in between Jim Lemon in left and Bob Allison in right. His bat had pop as he batted .285 in an even 600 at-bats. He led the Twins in hits with 171. His power was limited - nine home runs - as was his RBI total, 50, considering he was an everyday player.
Most notable was Green's 24-game hitting streak which covered the month of May. The streak remained the Twins' standard until Ken Landreaux strung together a better one in 1980. The Twins made a managerial change during that first season. Out was Cookie Lavagetto. In came Sam Mele who would get established in our minds as the Twins' true first manager. The change was made in mid-June.
The Twins were interesting but not real competitive in that first season. Everyone could see we had a most promising nucleus of players. Lest there be any doubt, we blossomed in the very next season - 1962 - to the extent of actually challenging the dynastic Yankees for the pennant.
Just think: two years earlier all we had here in the "frozen tundra" of Minnesota - term promoted by Steve Cannon - was the Triple-A Minneapolis Millers.
In '62 there was an important new piece in our arsenal: the unforgettable Vic Power. Harmon Killebrew moved to left field. I wonder how many wins Harmon cost us because of his limited mobility in the field. Anyway, his power bat put fannies in the seats, to be sure. Our Twins finished second behind the Yankees, just five games back. Green batted .271 but his power lagged behind his fellow outfielders Killebrew and Allison. Killebrew led the league in homers and RBIs. Green did hit a career-high 14 home runs and accumulated 63 RBIs.
Here's a historical nugget to cherish: fog caused a delay in the action one night. A fan reminisced as follows: the crowd roared when Lenny Green ran to centerfield with a miner's hat with the light on atop the helmet! The game did eventually resume.
Fortunes slid for both the Twins and Green in 1963. Green found his playing time threatened by Jimmie Hall's arrival. Hall quickly became a fan favorite with his power bat. Hall homered a then-rookie record 33 times in '63. Green still managed to play in 145 games but his at-bat total was just 280. The highlight in this twilight time with the Twins was on May 29. The Twins were in Cleveland. Green hit a two-out, two-run homer in the top of the ninth to beat the Indians 7-6.
Green built his bond with Minnesota's young fans by taking part in off-season promotional events. He was one of four Twins players named to an in-house committee to study the problem of planning for racially integrated housing arrangements at their Orlando spring training locale.
Green hit well in the 1964 pre-season. But with Jimmie Hall taking over in centerfield and with Tony Oliva now in the fold, Green could think about packing his bags. On June 11, he was packaged in a three-team, five-player trade, going to the Angels with Vic Power.
Baltimore was where Green launched his big league career in 1957-59. He joined Griffith's Senators in the 1959 season. His Twins tenure seems to have defined him. He was blessed as an inaugural Twin, thus his baseball card was so prized. His post-Twins career seemed anticlimactic. Stints with Boston (1965-66) and Detroit (1967-68) marked the end of his career. We remember that he batted and threw lefthanded.
Lenny's career began in the Orioles' farm system in 1955 after serving in the Army. He was traded to the Senators in May of 1959 for the 1958 American League Rookie of the Year Albie Pearson, about whom I have blogged thoroughly (and written a song). Green was with his hometown Tigers in 1968, the year they won the World Series, but was not part of the post-season show, as he was unconditionally released in July.
Green retired with a lifetime average of.267 over 12 seasons. His homer total was 47. We cherish the memories of Green and what he meant to our early Minnesota Twins baseball team. I wonder if Gary Rose still has that Lenny Green card.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Leading up to the Fair, summer rules

The period between Prairie Pioneer Days (PPD) and the Fair is the height of summer in Morris. This summer has seemed pretty laid back. PPD seems to be lacking some of the features it once had. I don't take notes so I won't venture to list them. It's still a nice social gathering. Morris had nothing like this when I was a kid. We had the one-time celebration of the Centennial in 1971. You would think we could have had carry-over from that.
I'm one of the diminishing circle that remembers the Fall Festival. Any event held in fall is going to face some risk in terms of weather. Finally some people felt we needed to shift the community celebration to summer.
had many special bells and whistles for many years. The FFA would build an "alfalfa arch" replica over 7th Street. Reminder: the real alfalfa arch from the early 20th Century was a defining symbol of Morris, if anyone cares anymore.
I think our sense of community is diminishing in our increasingly mobile society. This has been cited as a reason for the increasing popularity of cremation over the traditional funeral-burial system. People are much less likely than in previous (Peyton Place) times to go through their lives associated with a particular community.
East Side Park still has a reasonably festive air for PPD. Last Sunday my church, First Lutheran, put on a festive event that had polka music. It was a "polka worship" featuring the Wendinger Band. The church arranged for a big-top tent (actually three tents connected) to accommodate both the band and the audience. What's interesting is that the church decided not to use the Killoran stage at all. The tent was set up next to the stage but the stage was empty and ignored. People are wising up, I thought to myself.
The church could have been lazy and just asked the band to set up on the stage. Those metal bleachers could have been put in place. The only way this would work, would be for the sun to be under the clouds the whole time. Because if the sun was out, almost zero people would be seated in the natural audience area. Instead they'd be sprinkled in a half-hearted way around the edge of the park. I have been to the park when this happened, like for that UMM tuba players concert, and it's ridiculous.
I guess I'm not the only one who has noticed this. Our church leaders probably had a discussion about this, in private so as not to offend anyone, and decided to arrange for those tents which made for a totally successful event. Congratulations.
But it's a negative reflection on our city park system. Why couldn't city planners have foreseen problems with the Killoran stage before it was constructed? It should not have been hard.
City of Morris spokesmen would probably say "well, we had private parties willing to donate for construction of the stage." So, someone else was paying for it, just like a private party paid for the chimes at the cemetery, thus the cemetery board felt it should accept it. A significant number of people were dragged through hell for a long time because of those chimes.
The cemetery should concern itself with more important matters, like how the cemetery is non-handicapped accessible. I recently communicated to a cemetery board member that maybe the facility had obligations through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). That person did not respond to me. There are serial litigators who visit communities and start raising all sorts of issues connected to the ADA. The Star Tribune recently featured one on its front page. Maybe I should contact that person and ask about cemeteries and maybe even ask him to come to Morris and check us out. Would that be a good thing?
I was skeptical about the Killoran stage all along. For one thing, as I have reminded Blaine Hill, the whole purpose of a public park is to have open space. That's why parks are legally mandated at certain intervals in cities. So, we allowed the construction of this monstrosity at one of our public parks, and then watch as it sits idle for what seems like 99.5 percent of the year. Stupid.
Whatever performance events might be considered for the park, could be handled by means other than that huge structure, as First Lutheran demonstrated so beautifully last Sunday.
Blaine tells me we're due for a re-assessment of how East Side Park is organized. I agree. I'm not sure it's a proper place for that David Day memorial. A stone marker in a park where kids are running around? And why just a monument to Mr. Day? Many other Stevens County natives have given their lives in wartime.
Shall we talk about Crazy Days (or Daze, or Krazee, or whatever)? The town has experimented numerous ways in keeping Crazy Days going. We are now terribly handicapped by how the two drugstores deserted main street. I'm not sure there's much hope anymore.
My generation remembers when Crazy Days was a truly magical affair filling downtown Morris. We went to the Lindrud's Variety "fish pond." We had parking meters in those days. We had the pool hall.
Today? I noticed that the Morris newspaper leading up to Crazy Days was the usual 24 pages, and one of the pages, curiously, was devoted entirely to Running's. Running's? It was Page 12A, the back page of the front section. Running's? Did someone in Running's management call the Morris paper and arrange to buy a full-page ad for their stupid "bag sale?" Were they quoted a price from the newspaper's "rate card?" Did Running's then decide to buy that full-page ad? Of course I'm skeptical.
My theory is that the page was a "perk" gesture to a Forum Communications advertiser. We see this rather often, like an ad in a special section for a Detroit Lakes law firm. I'm not sure it's fair. What if Thrifty White or Prairie Ridge called the paper and inquired about buying a full page? Would the paper be so generous as it was to Running's (according to my theory)?
I joked recently with Jim Morrison that we were about due to see those medical clinic ads for sports physicals, you know, those appointments where the doctor will grab your testicle and ask you to cough. Has a doctor ever reacted to this by saying "uh oh, you have problems." The paper benefits from how we still have two medical clinics in Morris, and the two have to advertise to compete with each other. I wish SCMC would just buy out the other place. I don't think the old personality conflicts are in play like they used to be. Times change and people die, even doctors.
When I was a kid, our high school marching band was the proud dominant symbol of this community in summer. I played trumpet. I also played trumpet with the  "German band" that entertained for the Morris Centennial in 1971.
I have suggested for years that the Hancock marching band, which does so great for the Hancock Fourth of July, come to Morris about a week later and play in our PPD. My, how it would spice the parade. Two problems: 1) It would be embarrassing for Morris if we don't have our own band, and 2) I can just see the Hancock director saying his kids take off and are gone. Is it so essential to leave town? Relax.
At any rate, enjoy the upcoming County Fair and the rest of whatever we have for the summer of 2016. I'm still not over my biggest personal adventure: trying to get my lawn tractor fixed. In the meantime I mow with my manual push mower, a bit daunting when you're 61 years old. My generation denies the advancement of years and the effect on our bodies. We have always sworn we won't end up like "Uncle Joe" in "Petticoat Junction." That show got purged with all the other rural programming back in around 1970.
Oh, we had that event at East Side Park honoring law enforcement on Tuesday. Immediately I felt this event was a response to Black Lives Matter. I'm sure organizers including Thrivent would deny that. But I'm sure it was. We may have lost our prospective new UMM chancellor because he gave quotes to the University Register making it clear he sympathized with Black Lives Matter. Perhaps he got some unpleasant pushback on that, and decided that Morris was just not his place to be.
Jacqueline Johnson will be continuing as UMM chancellor, awkward since she was ushered into retirement last spring. I'm told she will probably phase out the ceremonial aspects of her work, and I think that's sad. UMM ought to have a full-fledged chancellor. I'm told a tuition reduction could be upcoming for UMM students, and while this may seem heartening, it will mean less money flowing into UMM. I'm rooting for the students actually.
Maybe UMM could borrow some funds from the U of M-Twin Cities athletic department.
Oh, keep on flossing.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Mickey Mantle: solid sheen of a superstar

Mickey Mantle was receptive to making commercial endorsements in his prime of stardom. I still remember, all these years later, taking the subway around New York City in 1964 and seeing pictures of the smiling Mick, endorsing things. Given that baseball players were still chattels, relatively speaking, before Marvin Miller came along, I congratulate Mantle and other stars on making money by whatever extraneous means possible.
Mantle was the definition of celebrity. His mere name promoted awe. Recently I have written some posts about other Yankees of the early '60s, guys for whom we need a reminder of who they were. Like Tom Tresh. Mantle is still ingrained in our consciousness.
The Mantle I remember was mature in terms of being up in years. I didn't pay much attention to baseball until 1962. I became intrigued by seeing baseball cards on cereal boxes. I also got some of the regular baseball cards, with that bubble gum that we always discarded, at those neighborhood grocery stores in Morris. Today we have "convenience stores" where you get gas too.
Mickey Mantle! Such a superstar, and yet he had a common air about him. He actually was rather a country hick. Sorry for the coarseness but it fits. Mantle might have been pigeon-holed by the NYC media as such, but he became friends with the street-wise Whitey Ford. Ford was the superlative pitcher of that era.
We see a movie scene where Ralph Houk (played by Bruce McGill) has a private conversation with Mantle (Thomas Jane) at the start of the 1961 season. Houk tells Mantle he has to be a leader. One of the problems is that Mantle set no example with his lifestyle. This has become famous, making Mantle into rather a caricature. Could Mantle be a leader for a pennant-contending team? This was not in Mantle's nature. The post I recently wrote about Phil Linz confirmed that.
Mantle could have completely prevented the "harmonica incident." Manager Yogi Berra told Linz to knock off his harmonica playing in the bus. Linz asked Mantle "What did he say?" Mantle, behaving like the character we all sensed he was, responded: "He said to play louder." Linz doubted that but he kept playing. The rest is history. While the incident seemed at the time like a black mark, revisionist history took over. The biggest reason for that was the Yankees started winning. They came from behind to win the pennant. They nearly won the World Series vs. St. Louis.

The New York-centric attitude
David Halberstam saw fit to write a whole book about the 1964 baseball season. Halberstam saw way too much symbolism in certain things. I have to chuckle when I realize that such a book had as a prerequisite, a New York City team being in the Series! Oh yes. Let's talk about "media bias" here outside the political realm. I consider it a fact, not an allegation.
Take the script for the 1991 World Series in which our Twins dramatically beat the Braves. Had a New York team been in that, movies and books would proliferate about it.
It's probably not as bad today as it was in the '60s or the next couple of decades. The new media with its democratization has leveled the playing field, as it were.
When I was a kid, it was rare to see a televised baseball game that didn't include the Twins. We looked forward to the "Game of the Week" on NBC with Curt Gowdy and former Yankee Tony Kubek. Kubek must have been in his playing prime before I became a fan - all I remember about him is that he was injured. On the Game of the Week I'd get rare glimpses, as if I'd come upon a rare bird, of players who I mostly just read about in the paper. What did they look like at the plate? I could finally find out watching TV on Saturday afternoons.
The young fans of today take for granted seeing baseball games on TV that include a great many different teams. Think of scarcity and marketing. There is nothing scarce about seeing prime baseball talent on TV anymore. The All-Star Game and even the World Series aren't what they used to be. People buy baseball entertainment by just going to the ballpark - they aren't mesmerized by the "big games" as much anymore.
Mantle drank too much. He admitted his flaws at the end of his life. I remember him saying: "They say I'm a role model. I'm a role model all right, don't end up like me."
Mantle began his decline in 1965, the year our Twins won the pennant. Roger Angell of The New Yorker wrote a book in which he had a chapter about this: "West of the Bronx." New York City was always his point of orientation. The Yankees fell down to sixth place in 1965. It got worse in 1966: last place! Amazing. It was sad to see some of the stars of the past still sticking with it in the field in '66. Mantle hit for a respectable .288 in 1966 with 23 home runs and 56 RBIs. He was still worth the price of a ticket. He became a first baseman after '66, so to be gentle with his knees.
Mantle's final season was 1968. That season became famous for how pitchers took over the game. Mantle batted .237 with 18 home runs and 54 RBIs. He was chosen an All-Star and pinch hit in the All-Star Game on July 11.

Honoring the man with music
I have written a song and lyrics about the great Mickey Mantle. Perhaps I was inspired by all those signs I saw in New York City with Mantle's picture as he endorsed things. His smile was in fact effective and endearing. So I titled my song "That Mickey Mantle Smile." I don't know if I'll have it recorded. The verse portion has a halting quality with syncopation. The next section is not really a chorus because it presents new lyrics every time it's sung. So I'll just call it the 'B' section. The letter 'B' normally denotes a bridge. My song does have an actual bridge which is sung just once. I like the bridge because it incorporates a name that has probably never appeared in any other song: Bobby Richardson.
I invite you to read through my song which is a paean to cherished times. It begins with a Cold War reference.
"That Mickey Mantle Smile"
by Brian Williams
We feared the bomb
So much alarm
But life had to go on
We heard "play ball" right into fall
So nothing could go wrong
'Cause we could see that Mickey Mantle smile
When he would hit that ball a country mile
He was always one of us, truly marvelous
And we just loved to see him smile
He drank too much
It was his crutch
He only needed space
He had the feel out in the field
Right in the pennant race
In '62 I saw that pennant fly
I saw that Number 7 in his prime
He could hit both left and right, show his homer might
But we just loved to seem him smile
There was Whitey Ford and Yogi
Bobby Richardson
Roger Maris swingin' hard
Giving us that fun
And we could see that Mickey Mantle smile
And from the cheap seats we could see his style
It was go, go, going gone, when his bat was on
But most of all we loved that smile
We loved that Mickey Mantle smile
© 2016 Brian R. Williams