"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, November 29, 2016

Early December can bring abundant snowfalls

Snow at the old Met Stadium
We will be into December two days from now. You will recall winters where the onset of true winter weather came well before this. We might be glad that we have been spared the harsh winter stuff. But a part of us would like a nice crisp white blanket of snow.
Winter is preferable here in comparison to the heart of the Midwest, like Missouri. A person with an Iowa background once told me there is a certain type of ice that is characteristic of the state. Be advised of this if you move there. But in Minnesota? An abundance of white fluffy snow characterizes. It tends to be a dry snow which is good.
We bundle up but we actually enjoy the outdoors in winter. The conditions further south can be blah by comparison. People just choose to stay indoors.
Remember when all our pro sports were outside here? Football games revealed to the nation our hardy qualities. The most extreme weather showed that maybe we had questionable judgment living here. We are in a position now, two days before December, of having that harshness visiting us.
It was December 4 of 1966 when an onslaught of snow befell a Vikings game. We were playing the Atlanta Falcons who were in their first season. There were 37,117 tickets sold but many fans had reservations about the conditions: Only 20,206 were used. That wonderful white snow started cascading down from the heavens at 6:30 a.m. By kickoff the snow was falling in an unyielding way. Visibility at the airport was 3200 feet. It was a struggle to keep the playing field well enough defined. The temperature was 23 degrees.
Fran Tarkenton did not play in this game. This was the chapter of Vikings history when the great quarterback was having difficulty getting along with coach Norm Van Brocklin. So Tarkenton stood along the sidelines, ironic since this game was the first time his play could have been televised back to his home state of Georgia.
Our quarterback on that snowy white day was Bob Berry. You might remember that Berry ended up having a nice tenure with the Falcons. But in '66 he and Tarkenton both had the horns on the side of their helmets. Berry had talent but he couldn't find his footing with the Vikings. On December 4 he literally couldn't find his footing. He said "I couldn't set up in the snow."
I chuckle because it seemed like a convenient excuse. He completed just 12 of 33 pass attempts but worse than that, threw five interceptions. As Keith Jackson would say, "whoa Nellie." The Vikings lost 20-13. Tarkenton later complained "I was cold." Chuckle.
Then let's consider the December 14 game of 1969. Our foe was the 49ers of San Francisco. Suddenly a snowstorm developed that dumped over two inches of snow on the field in about an hour's time. Yes, we in Minnesota are most familiar with such a phenomenon.
Met Stadium football crowds were famous for having snowmobile suits as typical outerwear. Rumor had it that fans enjoyed certain types of liquid refreshment to deal with the cold too. No one much worried about getting a DWI back then.
Officials had to sweep yard lines in order to manage the December 14 game. Those sweepers ran ahead of the plays. It might seem like a curling performance!
This time the Vikings won the weather-influenced game. Ah, Joe Kapp! Indeed this game was in his distinct era as the purple signal-caller. We loved this "man of machismo," as he was called on a Sports Illustrated cover. Kapp passed to Gene Washington for 52 yards and the key touchdown. We won 10-7. The Vikes turned the screws on the 49ers with a fumble recovery by Earsell Mackbee and interceptions by Mackbee and Roy Winston.
Don't those old Vikings names put a smile on your face? It's important for those Met Stadium memories to be preserved. The fan turnout for the Vikes win was 43,028, and yes there were countless of those snowmobile suits. Imbibing too, no doubt.
Ed Sharockman said that early in the game, players played conservatively and cautiously, most concerned with not falling down. I immediately remember Sharockman as the guy on the Vikings who was into the stock market. I remember him doing a commercial endorsement where he's reading the Wall Street Journal at the start. Those were the days when far fewer people owned stocks - it seemed like a distant novelty, reserved for very rich people.
The players were not nearly as rich as today. It was a different world, one in which we were thankful just having major league sports. The Vikings and Twins began in 1961. Before that? Well, we had the football Gophers. A much different world.
One constant all along: the vagaries of our Minnesota weather. We are about due right now to maybe get a blast. Be vigilant, as always.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, November 25, 2016

Here's my song re. Armistice Day blizzard, 1940

Historic storm indeed
My late father always told his story about the Armistice Day blizzard of 1940. Betty Waage of Morris had her story preserved in the well-known book by William H. Hull. Hull's book came out in the 1980s. He reported having collected many more stories than could be accommodated in his book. Today with online, all stories could be out there, of course.
I am pleased to have written a song about this incredible Minnesota event. It's called "The Blizzard of '40." It was recorded at the Nashville TN studio of Franklin (Frank) Michels. Frank epitomizes the very polished Nashville musical community.
Thanks to Gulsvig Productions of Starbuck MN for getting the song online. If you have media transfer needs or anything of that kind, contact the Gulsvigs. I invite you to listen to my song about the big Armistice Day blizzard of 1940. Here is the link from YouTube:
My father was two years out of college. He was ten years from getting married. I wonder if he had a wild side. He was a bandleader during college. He got to meet Glenn Miller.
In 1940 we were not yet drawn into World War II. We heard regular news reports about all the distress in Europe and the rise of Adolf Hitler. But would it end up affecting us? There was strong resistance to getting drawn into foreign entanglements. We might forget, today, just how strong that resistance was. Who could blame us? We had been through the hell of World War I.
Armistice Day was the time for remembering the sacrifices made in "the big war," a term which at that time denoted World War I. I refer to Charles Lindbergh in my song. Lindbergh was a leading voice for the America First movement. He became controversial because he seemed a little deferential to what was happening in Germany. He lost some of his hero luster. But in the lead-up to WWII, his staunch opposition to American involvement won great sympathy around the U.S.
America First died overnight as a result of the attack by the Empire of Japan on Pearl Harbor. We went from being isolationist, mostly, to being all-in with the world conflagration. Was our involvement really inevitable? Should our Pacific fleet have been concentrated in one place? Did FDR act like he had a chip on shoulder, daring the Japanese to do something drastic?
WWII changed the course of countless people's lives. Many young men gave their lives. Those who survived had the transformative effect of taking advantage of the G.I. Bill. The great post-WWII American middle class was born. In recent years it seems to have become endangered. We may be sliding back to a time where there's a marked division between "haves"and "have nots." We keep electing Republicans. We are bringing this on ourselves.
My father was a hunter. How fortunate he was not out in a duck blind on the day of the famous blizzard. The perils encountered by those poor hunters became one of the most well-known chapters of the storm. Some did not survive. Hunting was a bigger part of our culture then.
Our transportation system was not as well-suited as today, for dealing with such a storm, obviously. Cars were not as resilient. Some people used alcohol instead of antifreeze. Winter outerwear was not as effective. "We could have used more goose down filler," as I state in my lyrics.
The blizzard struck on Monday, November 11. It was Armistice Day but there was a feeling of routineness. But then, to recite the title of Hull's book, "all hell broke loose." The situation deteriorated rapidly. Cars became stalled to block roads. Visibility for drivers became nil. People all over just started holing up to get through it all. Hull wrote "it was as if all nature were on a rampage, unleashing its raw power on the universe."
My song reflects the considerable research I have done on the storm. I hope the song adds in some small way to preserving the sense of magnitude we have about the historic event. Betty Waage was living in Morris at the time. She can tell you about it.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Earl Wevley: pillar from a distinct U.S. epoch

Earl Wevley had seven brothers. Oh, and he also had seven sisters! It was a "Spencer's Mountain" type of family - you remember, with Henry Fonda?
Earl had a son who was in my grade at Morris High School: Willard. Willard had great athletic genes. Earl was such a strapping young man in World War Two, you can easily see how those physical traits were bequeathed.
A picture of Earl in WWII is in the book about WWII that was published by our Historical Society. It's called "The '40s, a Time for War and a Time for Peace." I consider the book more precious now than when it came out. That's because the WWII generation exists more in our memories now than in real life. Time marches on, alas. It's terrific to have those precious personalities preserved in the book. It's at our public library. A warning: the book was bound in a way that the pages fall out easily. My personal copy has become rather a mess. I keep it all together in a cherished place. I quoted from it not long ago when Francis "Fritz" Schmidt left us.
I had two contacts with Earl through my work with the Morris newspaper. I visited the family farm as a way of introducing a new FFA teacher at Morris High School. As I remember, I used the farm backdrop as a way of profiling the new teacher. I believe this was the teacher who had a background in the Peace Corps. I remember learning that Peace Corps alums were the kind of people who weren't necessarily in a hurry to get things done. It seemed like a character trait that had to be overcome. The pace of life was very slow and plodding in Peace Corps locations.
I got familiar with Earl's twin sons when making that farm visit. But Willard was the son with whom I was most familiar, having attended the Morris school grades K-12 with him. He and Dan Long were the athletic prodigies from our class.
Earl was four years old when his family moved to Breckenridge. Theirs was a farm life. His dad had the classic struggle of striving to make a living in the Depression. "We were poor as heck, you know," Earl was quoted saying in the book. "When kids got to be 13 or 14 years old, we were all on our own. Dad had a big family and couldn't support them."
That culture of the big families has faded away. Today we have "helicopter parents" who dote on their few children. The college dormitories built in the mid-20th Century are being torn down because they are seen as too impersonal. Impersonal? Remember the movie where Robert Mitchum hails one of his rescuers with "Hey Marine, got a cigarette?" No interest in the guy's name. Not real personal. Such was the lot of our WWII soldiers.
Young men like Earl flooded the ranks of our military when our country called. We faced the Empire of Japan and the Nazis. Today we face an enemy that doesn't wear uniforms. Things were much more orderly in the 1940s - the Japanese left a return address.
The young Earl worked for a farmer south of Alberta, Ed Holslin. The bombs fell on Pearl Harbor. Destiny was going to take Earl for a ride along with his whole generation. Earl was drafted. He was inducted into the military at Fort Snelling. He was trained in infantry and artillery in Oklahoma. Finally he came home on leave. Then came the overseas papers, sending him into the thick of it. His destination was the Southwest Pacific. His attempts to correspond with home were impeded by censors.
The environment was so different. He recalled a malady called "jungle rot." "It was so hot and damp, you know, and your feet never did dry out," he said in the book. "Some say once you get the disease, you never get over it - it's something in your blood, I guess."
It didn't help that the soldiers wore wool socks and combat boots. As far as the natives, they eschewed footwear therefore they seemed to avoid the problem. Soldiers had to fear malaria.
Earl was a guinea pig with others for a new kind of food, called a "D-bar." This was just before the troops would have invaded the Japanese mainland. Earl described the D-bar as "like a highly fortified candy bar. It was supposed to sustain you for a week." Maybe it would, but it was no waltz in the park. Earl said "You take a nibble off that and drink water, and your stomach swells up like a balloon. You feel like you're full but there's no bulk, just a lot of yeast." Earl did not react well. The idea was to be able to function with minimal or no food available once the troops penetrated Japan. "I got sicker than hell," Earl said for the book.
I have long heard about the free cigarettes given GIs. Earl confirmed that such a thing was done. It seemed everyone smoked. The movie "Pearl Harbor" was sanitized according to the political correctness standards of today: no smoking. It was a charade. Historical accuracy is always to be commended.
Were we really willing and ready to invade the Japanese mainland? I guess we were. The soldiers probably would have gone in en masse, and been mowed down in significant numbers. The development of the atomic bomb made the thrust unnecessary. An invasion of Japan might have made it impossible for Willard to be brought into the world. Earl might have become a "statistic." Fortunately the U.S. found the means to subdue the Empire of Japan. Earl, his wife Leola and their children ended up blessing our existence in Morris MN.
Leola was the former Leola Kussatz. I got to know Leola when she contacted the paper for coverage of various awards given by a service organization auxiliary, VFW or Legion or both. (It was easy to confuse the two, just like the men's posts could be confused.)
Earl recalled being on leave when he took Leola to a dance in Alberta. He was with Floyd Lange, a friend who also got drawn into the war. The two went their separate directions after the dance, saying to each other "See you when we get back from all of this." Floyd ended up on a ship that was sunk by a Japanese Kamikaze plane in the closing stages of the war. We lost Floyd. Click on the link below to read the post I wrote about Floyd Lange.
BTW he looked so much like the "Kramer boys" who would become family. Del Sarlette said of the Kramer boys: "They looked exactly the same at a certain age."
Earl's distress with war did not end with the end of the war. He was sent to Pearl Harbor. He was in a unit assigned to clean up "dud" bombs from the infamous bombing. Such bombs had timing that was off, Earl speculated. We lacked the tech means of today to do the locating. A fellow soldier just 50 or 100 feet away from Earl, discovered a bomb and it went off. Earl took the dog tags off this suddenly killed man. He carried the body up a hill. "Life wasted," Earl bemoaned. Such are the experiences that can lead to PTSD. Earl's friends and family would say that he could not sever himself from such memories.
Earl was discharged from the service at Fort Sheridan IL. He married Leola. He greatly savored the freedom of his life post-war. The war had been so suffocating in terms of taking orders all the time, he said. I guess freedom was what the war was all about.
Earl has gone to a better place: heaven. Far from "jungle rot," indeed.
In my interview with Earl in connection with Veterans Day, I remember him talking about how "we wouldn't want to live under a dictator." He truly knew what was at stake. Such a dynamic, selfless generation. I look down the table of contents of that WWII book, and see so many names that make me smile, men and women. Women were subservient in many ways at that time in our U.S. history. But undoubtedly, the men who served saw women fully as peers, I'm convinced. Societal norms weren't their idea or creation. The men and women joined hands in our great effort to dispatch the Axis powers.
I wish Earl's generation could have done more to suppress our involvement in both Korea and (especially) Viet Nam.
What if the U.S. had not been forced to build up its military for World War II? How might that have changed the course of history? What of all the men who would have been denied the benefits of the G.I. Bill? I'm quite certain the great "middle class" of the late 20th Century would never have come about. Could our national morale have held up? "Alternate histories" are a serious field of study and fodder for books. But this is just a blog.
Earl Wevley, RIP. Floyd Lange, RIP.
Addendum: Re. the movie "Spencer's Mountain," you might recall that it included a scene that is perhaps the saddest in movie history: where the tree falls on the old man, remember?
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Let's emphasize that our W/L record was 9-2

The fall of 2016 will be remembered on a couple fronts in Morris. We had incredible success in high school sports. We also followed the odds-defying rise of Donald Trump.
I notice that in the Willmar newspaper, the final won-lost record of our football team was reported as 9-3. As always they refer to us as "M/CA" and not with the correct form: "MACA." The 9-3 won-lost numbers were inaccurate. We of course only lost twice. The 9-2 record, as opposed to 9-3, befits "The Minnesota High School Football Team of the Year." We got that honor from the Minnesota Vikings.
The reporting error spills over to other places, as is always the case. I used the 9-3 record in my initial posting. The Morris paper's Donnelly news reporter alerted me to the problem. Because my reporting is online-only, no print, I can easily go in and make a correction, which I promptly did. I like this convenience.
I have wondered for years if people give the Morris paper a heads-up when the paper recycles erroneous information from the Willmar paper. I have seen these errors go uncorrected. The best example was a football game at Paynesville several years ago. It was a particularly exciting win for MACA. Maybe the Paynesville coach was in such a lousy mood at game's end, he didn't much care how the info got called in. Lyle Rambow contacted me within hours to give a heads-up on the errant coverage in the Willmar paper.
Incredibly, that disaster of a game review appeared in the Morris and Chokio papers even though a week passed, affording plenty of time for the Morris paper people to roll up their sleeves and attend to the matter. How easy it would have been to just contact Jerry Witt and arrange for maybe a half hour-long interview, making sure the game details came through OK. It would be a pleasure. It would be fun. Maybe the paper had a policy of not doing this because it would embarrass the Willmar paper which has the same owner as the Morris paper. The Willmar paper reported the wrong name of the Tiger who caught the winning touchdown pass. If I remember correctly, the heroic Tiger was a Chokio-Alberta student, and he didn't even get his due in the Chokio paper. I checked.
So now we have the Willmar paper reporting a 9-3 record for the Tigers when it should be 9-2. And again it spills over into other Forum properties. Of course I am not a Forum property - I simply write because I enjoy covering these teams.
My coverage of Tiger football goes back to the fall of 1972. The Richard Nixon presidency had begun to disintegrate. As a society we were in a funk over our failure in the Viet Nam war. We were embarking on a decade that would have economic stress: inflation and then "stagflation." But life went on. Our school programs went on. Our high school football coach was Jim Satter. He complimented me on my work.
The sports community of Morris had much lower standards, compared to today, for judging press coverage. Really they just wanted the paper to pay a little attention. We had fewer sports programs.
While there's still time, it would be nice to see our local museum collect photos from people presenting the Friday night experience of football at the old Coombe Field. It was so different from Big Cat Stadium. The idea at Big Cat Stadium is to seriously watch football. I think a lot of people in the old days would have considered that boring. Lory Lemke shared in an email to me that the old facility had a "town square" atmosphere that would probably never be replaced. What a perfect description - leave it to a UMM teacher.
We had cheerleaders through most of the years at the old facility. It was assumed the pep band would play at all home games. It was hard rounding up the band for a Labor Day weekend game. I found that ironic. I had heard through the years: don't ever schedule a class reunion in August because everyone will say: "We can't come because we have to get ready for school." But then when the band director tried organizing the band for the football opener, she'd hear: "I can't be there because we're going to be gone." I shared this story with a friend who said: "The people who want to be there (for a class reunion) will find a way to get there."
Getting back to press coverage: a football game is a rather complicated thing to summarize. There are many categories of information that have to be consistent with each other. I remember trying to summarize an MACA football game vs. YME 3-4 years ago, and there was a kickoff return for a touchdown during the second half. However, for this to have happened, the other team would have had to score first. The summary in the West Central Tribune did not report that. I couldn't report the info as presented in that paper, so I don't remember what I did - I probably glossed over it in some way.
I have seen the score-by-quarters part of a game review in the West Central Tribune flubbed. I have seen games go uncovered completely because they were played in places that weren't dependable for having someone call in. Maybe the West Central Tribune has worked to smooth out some rough edges, but believe me, newspapers now have much bigger problems than dealing with sports. The people running the business phase of papers probably grimace over the mere cost of having a sports department.
Newspapers are desperately attacking their overhead expenses. It will work for a while. I monitor these things, and recently I have learned that the decline of newspapers is taking off again after a lull in which papers appeared to stabilize. The distress is due of course to the migration of information online. I can cover MACA football and volleyball for zero cost.
I remember when the Sun Tribune had an editor who was eager to jump on me for any mistake or typo comparable to the West Central Tribune reporting the 9-3 record. I remember once summarizing an MAHS softball game against CAHN. One coach gave me an error stat for MAHS which differed by one from the stat submitted by the other coach. I wrote two separate articles. A discrepancy of one in a stat category, when interviewing two coaches about the same game, is absolutely nothing in the scheme of things. I'd be shocked if all their stats matched. But of course the editor fine tooth combed the articles, discovered the trivial discrepancy and had to make an issue about it.
"I hope I don't get any phone calls," she said to me. I told her there are no official error stats because determining an error, as opposed to a hit, is a judgment call by the coaches or stat keepers. High school softball and baseball games do not have "official scorers" to make these determinations. You'd have to pay them.
The editor at that time, who had an agenda to harass me, would have been extremely fortunate if her own mistakes were so minor. At least one of her mistakes, in my view, had the potential to bring a lawsuit against the paper. Nit-picking sports articles was a ridiculous thing for her to do, unless she had an aim of actually getting me fired, which, if this was in fact her aim, she failed to do.
It would have been better and more productive for the paper staff members to work together with a team spirit.
The problem in the 1980s in Morris was that the public school teachers union was muscling around too much. It turned neighbor against neighbor. I am not exaggerating. It was a time when teachers unions all over Minnesota were at least talking about going on strike. They lived in a world that most of us could not relate to. Many became hard-core unionists, the type who would shout "scab" at a strike-breaker or spit on such a person. They were not above promoting business boycotts.
Oh yes, it happened.
Parents had to be careful not even saying anything that might be contrary to what teachers wanted. Would teachers take it out on the kids? "They say they don't (do that) but they do," Dave Holman told me, referring to one family's distress in particular.
I have long described our community's problems in the 1980s as "a hangover from the deconstructionist 1970s." It was worse here than in other places, maybe because we had a liberal arts college in town. UMM was great for going along with the zeitgeist.
Traditional values had a resurgence in America in the 1980s, beginning about midway through the decade, as Ronald Reagan set the tenor. Our community got torn apart in the later stages of the decade. Community insurgents had to rise up at great risk to themselves and their businesses, trying to get the ship of our school righted. Of course the initiative should have come from within.
We had a high school theater program in the 1970s that did artsy, esoteric and avant garde things. That gave way to the bursting return of tradition in the early 1980s. We got the crowd-pleasing "Charlie's Aunt" directed by Sue Hauger. Some faculty members didn't like it. Oh, I remember.
So, let's emphasize that our MACA football team of 2016 had a won-lost record of 9-2, not 9-3 as reported by the West Central Tribune newspaper of Willmar (and extended to the Morris paper website). No one needs to be burned at the stake for this. But I look forward to the day when these sports programs can have their own independent websites. What's the delay?
The paragraphs below previously appeared on my January 28 post. I'm repeating this mainly because there was a horrible typographical error halfway through that post. The content is consistent with today's thoughts. January 28 was my birthday, incidentally.
I resent the power that the public school monopoly had on my life when I was young. I was a below-average student who should have been treated as such. But I came from a UMM-oriented family so I was supposed to be special. So as a sophomore I got put in Gene Mechelke's class with all the other "smart" types (not that they were really smarter).
I found Mechelke to be a distasteful person. He attacked me in a visceral way one day. Steve Poppe can tell you about that. Jerry Lembcke thought I should actually take action against this pretentious fool. Many years later when I was dealing with Diane Kratz on a newspaper project, I shared a comment about Mechelke and she said "He was in trouble a lot." Really? Were the problems with him ever solved?
Here's how I saw his modus operandi: He'd identify a couple kids in class who seemed unsure of themselves, give them low grades initially, then prop them up which of course caused them to praise him out of a sense of relief. He said things to agitate us, as if he enjoyed just seeing our response, as if he had some inner psychological need satisfied.
An example: he started carrying on one day about Donnelly being a backwater place (hint: w/ ignorance). There was a rather attractive girl in the class, whose name I won't type here, who everyone associated with Donnelly - Donnelly kids had a real group identity in those days - and she was so incensed at Mechelke's language, she stayed after class to dispute him. Did he get his jollies from that? He was arrogant and overrated, IMHO.
Approaching one's birthday causes you to reflect on the highs and lows of your life. Would I be a less cynical person if I had had Al Hendrickson instead of Mechelke for those classes? Hendrickson was just like Don Fellows: a genuine, gentle and caring human being. Life's road is challenging, though, and you'd better be ready to confront the SOBs. The union probably had more power than the superintendent or the board. We learn that life isn't fair sometimes. I may have had problems but I was just a kid.
More memory bits: One day in some idle moments toward the end of class, with 4-5 students hovering close to Mechelke's desk, he began speaking in a mocking and disrespectful way about one of his teaching colleagues: Andy Papke. He wondered if Papke might pronounce the word "psychology" as "psychogee." I don't think Papke would do this and regardless, he was a far classier person than Mechelke.
Mechelke made a big deal out of Francis Gary Powers the spy plane pilot. It was a down note in our history. I resented the emphasis. America was fighting the Soviets. Of course, teachers unions at that time were very friendly to communism or collectivism. How much better off we'd be just reading a nice mainstream historical novel like by John Jakes. Mechelke gave us these eerie reading assignments out of Japan. That's how I learned the word "concubine" which is "prostitute" or "mistress." Such distasteful memories.
Mechelke derided "American Heritage" magazine because it was "superficial." What is that supposed to mean? The diss was just typical academic pretentiousness (i.e. bulls--t). I think we all needed to be deprogrammed. The story circulated that Randy Thraen's parents made pre-arrangements to make sure Randy never got Mechelke as a teacher.
Mechelke showed a slide of a young Asian woman doing labor in a farm field one day. The woman beamed up at the camera with a smile. Mechelke said "she won't look like that for long," suggesting the hard work would hurt her appearance. That's called objectifying women.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, November 14, 2016

MACA volleyball team earns fifth in state AA

The MACA volleyball team is fifth in state. The long climb concluded Saturday when the Tigers met Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton and won 3-1.
Click on the link below to read about the win over Holy Angels, and also about the MACA football team's final game of 2016: a loss to the Rebels of DGF. This post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." Thanks for reading. - B.W.
The volleyball Tigers are most at home in the Class AA state tournament. We made it to that level last year too. Those bright lights are most stimulating. I felt the Saturday match deserved at least a small headline on the front of the Willmar paper sports section. Instead the coverage is buried, appearing under the "prep volleyball" subhead as part of a large spread on Page B2. Our society worships winning so much. Once you fall into the consolation level, I guess your exploits are not as newsworthy. Disappointing.
On Saturday we overcame the hitting of DGF's Faith Anderson. The DGF standout came at the Tigers with 27 kills. But MACA had the weapons to counter any strengths that the Rebels showed. Karly Fehr produced 38 set assists. Setting help came from Cassidy Fehr, Nicole Solvie, Riley Decker and Jenna Larson.
Decker showed dead aim and accomplished a serving ace. The hitting standouts were Jenna Howden with 16 kills and Ashley Solvie with 15. Then came Brooke Gillespie on the list: 11 kills. Nicole Solvie came through with four kills, Karly Fehr with three and Jenna Larsen with two.
Ashley Solvie had two ace blocks and Howden had one. Decker was busy in the defensive phase, accomplishing 38 digs. Here's the rest of the digs list: Karly Fehr (14), Cassidy Fehr (17), Howden (5), Gillespie (24) and Koral Tolifson (6).
Here are the scores by which we accomplished this 3-1 win for fifth: 25-23, 20-25, 26-24, and 25-19.
Faith Anderson had three serving aces. There were two Rebels who balanced the load in setting: Jena Jacobson with 26 assists and Sofia Reno with 25. Anderson's 27 kills spelled quite the force. Grace Steichen and Joeli Kelso each had an ace block. Paige Fabre was busy defensively with 43 digs.
Now it's on to winter sports. The Morris paper ran the winter schedules with a few businesses listed. This type of ad is a "sig ad" or "sucker ad" and I think they're a little sad. What do we learn from seeing a few business names on some spread that merely conveys a little info or has a benevolent message? How do those business names contribute to the quality of that little spread? The newspaper seems to be relying on these more and more.
Once again we had a 20-page paper (small) on Saturday. We have seen some 16-age Canaries too.
Car dealer ads have always been a staple for the Canary. We see Jim Gesswein Motors, as if a whole lot of Morris residents are going to run to Milbank SD to buy a car. The whole notion of car-buying is changing. It's changing for the better. Cars are made so much better than during the days of the Michigan monopoly. Car-makers had better make their cars well or they'll have legal action taken against them.
Why be skeptical of "government regulation?" Fear of lawsuits is the most effective form of regulation. Cars used to be made to last about four years. There was "planned obsolescence." Today you can buy a car that could last the rest of your life. No need to race over to Milbank SD every 3-4 years. It's really a blessing, but we don't need as many car dealers or so much car dealer advertising.
So, less money in the coffers for newspapers. Doesn't bother me. I write about MACA sports because I enjoy it, not because I'm trying to sell something.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, November 11, 2016

MACA girls fall to private foe in state

Concordia Academy? Doesn't sound like a public school to me. Here we go with an old issue: should public and private schools be on the same playing field? Concordia Academy is located in Roseville. Concordia Academy is who the Tigers played at the start of state volleyball play.
I remember when the Hancock girls basketball team under Jodi Holleman reached great heights before finally being cut down by a private school. I found an online discussion where protests were issued over the private school aspect.
This is not how it was when I was a kid. Public schools had their own grand tournament. I'm talking basketball because volleyball hadn't come into being yet. The huge attraction of the state tournament was followed by the afterthought or asterisk of the state "independent" tournament. Well, lobbying came forward fast and furious on behalf of those private schools, so today we have everyone in the state tournament. Fair? In my opinion, no. But this is the reality of things.
The Tigers came out on the short end Thursday (11/10). The site was Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul. The West Central Tribune continues to call us "Morris/Chokio-Alberta" rather than the correct Morris Area Chokio Alberta or MACA. The paper must feel it knows better.
The Tigers were making a repeat state tournament appearance. The Willmar paper had a subhead that sought to salve the disappointment: "Morris/CA volleyball team drops state opener but makes CA earn every point." I'm reminded how, starting in about 1989, I was forced by local politics to try to become a salesman for MAHS athletics. We had been getting shown up by some small schools. I was supposed to try to play that down. Eventually the ultimate salesman took over writing for the Sun Tribune: Mike Martin, who had a full-time job with the school.
Meanwhile, the majority of Sun Tribune readers didn't much care about sports at all, and would have been happier just seeing a smaller sports section. I don't blame them for gravitating to Senior Perspective: it's free and it has no sports, obituaries or district court news.
Concordia Academy is known as the "Beacons." The game scores were close, for what that's worth. We lost 3-1 with scores as follows: 25-23, 25-27, 23-25 and 28-30.
Four Tigers each had one serving ace: Karly Fehr, Brooke Gillespie, Ashley Solvie and Koral Tolifson. Karly in her specialty of setting racked up 46 set assists. Several other Tigers had a minor role with assists: Jenna Larsen (3), Riley Decker (2), Koral Tolifson (2), Ashley Solvie (1), Gillespie (1), Nicole Solvie (1) and Cassidy Fehr (1).
Jenna Howden was focused and powerful at the net, racking up 23 kills. Gillespie pounded down 16 kills. Jenna Larsen pounded nine kills at the Beacons. Nicole Solvie and Ashley Solvie each had seven kills. Karly Fehr added two kills to the mix.
Nicole Solvie had two ace blocks. The digs list is as follows: Riley Decker (45), Gillespie (21), Karly Fehr (17), Larsen (11) and Cassidy Fehr (7). Three Beacons each had one serving ace: Taylor Brunn, Sarah McTaggart and Rachel TerHaaar. Brooke Wechbrodt was the setting master for the Beacons with 60 assists. Erin Fallert was the top hitting contributor for the victor, pounding 30 kills. Three Beacons each had one ace block: Kira Fallert, McTaggart and Anika Neuman. Terhaar dug up the ball 37 times.
Newspaper shrinking more?
Is the Morris Sun Tribune newspaper showing more signs of retreat and retrenchment? When I left the paper in the summer of 2006, the general manager reportedly told the staff things will be "better" with me gone. I don't know how you define "better." Terry Timmerman said to me just before I left that it's a cliche to sometimes hear that a certain person is "irreplaceable" but that in my case, it might actually be true. I appreciated hearing that very much. I appreciated Terry remembering on my birthday that my favorite soft drink was Mountain Dew Code Red.
I certainly don't think it's any fun working for the paper anymore. It has gone steadily through phases of shrinking. Some of the work has gotten farmed out to Detroit Lakes.
And now, an ad sales rep is leaving and it sounds like he might not be replaced. This individual sent an email announcing his departure to his clients recently, and one of those clients forwarded the email to me. It said most of his accounts would be transferred to another ad rep already on the staff. We might deduce he won't be replaced. The Forum puts a smiley face on everything, so they would be incredulous at what I'm writing. Just let big business use "efficiencies" to keep on going, never mind the human element. We'd be better off in this county if the Morris newspaper didn't even exist. We'd be relieved of dealing with (and disposing of) those piles of non-Morris ad circulars coming at us every week. Elden's. Sheesh.
Congratulations to the MACA volleyball team on its abundant success in the fall of 2016.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, November 7, 2016

MACA girls to vie in state tournament again!

Eureka! The Tigers of volleyball are atop Section 3AA again! It seems they do nothing but win. Coach Kristi Fehr must have quite the regimen set up for her charges. Let's acknowledge the talent element too.
On Saturday (11/5) the Tigers' many attributes were on display at Southwest State University, Marshall. This time it wasn't a sweep but who cares? We won 3-1 over Jackson County Central.
Winning Section 3AA puts us in the state spotlight again. I'm practically getting exhausted writing about our volleyball and football teams. Let's acknowledge too our high-achieving girls cross country runners: Maddie and Meredith Carrington.
Click on the link below to read about the football Tigers' 36-16 win over Albany at SCSU. I put up this post Saturday morning on my companion website, "Morris of Course." And thanks as always for reading. - B.W.
Our volleyball team cruises into state with a 25-3 record. The scores in our Saturday success were: 25-17, 7-25, 25-23 and 25-19. The scores indicate there was actually a fair amount of suspense for fans of the Tigers to deal with. What happened in game 2? And then game 3 looked to go either way. But we found the tools to win that pivotal game 3, and then we parlayed that momentum.
Now we're anticipating state where the curtain opens on November 10. The site will be Xcel Energy Center. We have the No. 5 seed among the eight teams.
Our first challenge will be to face No. 4 seed Concordia Academy of Roseville. Sigh - it sure sounds like a private school. This is a persistent controversy in prep state-level play in Minnesota: whether private schools might have some unreasonable advantages. My own personal opinion is that they do. Remember those years when "Christ's Household of Faith" or "chof" was in the state hoops tournament regularly? It struck me as improper. We needn't be squaring off against Christ. Some people described that school, perhaps unfairly, as a cult.
When I was a kid, we heard about the "state independent tournament" for basketball, which came across as an obscure afterthought to the regular public school tournament. I guess the Catholics went to work lobbying over time. It worked. Well, maybe we can beat Concordia Academy on Thursday. Last year we went 1-2 in the state tournament, good for sixth place.
Coach Fehr suspects there was more pressure on the Tigers this year. There was a level of expectation. The nightmarish game 2 saw some "shanked passes," coach Fehr told the media. Ouch. Our Minnesota Vikings did some shanking on Sunday too. Hitting errors became a woe for a time. The Tigers got their ship righted by, among other things, getting the ball up to setting specialist Karly Fehr more effectively. We got a greater range of options for setting up the attack.
The MACA weapons went to work. It was mission accomplished in this 3-1 outcome. "We have four or five hitters we can rely on," Fehr told the media. "It's always somebody different stepping up."
There was just one serving ace and that was by Brooke Gillespie. Karly Fehr chalked up 40 set assists. Two Tigers each had two ace blocks: Ashley Solvie and Jenna Larsen. These Tigers each had one blocking ace: Karly Fehr, Jenna Howden and Nicole Solvie. Riley Decker set the pace in digs with 20. Karly Fehr came through with 15 digs. This list is rounded out by Gillespie (8), Cassidy Fehr (7) and Koral Tolifson (5).
On to the crowd-pleasing hitting department. Here it was three Tigers each with double figures in kills in just a four-game match. Gillespie pounded down 15 kills, Ashley Solvie had 14 and Jenna Howden contributed eleven. Nicole Solvie came at JCC with seven kills. Karly Fehr had two while Jenna Larson and Koral Tolifson each had one.
Wow! We'll all be watching the excitement carry into state in the "big city."
Darlene Olen, RIP
We continue to lose people who were members of a distinct, admirable generation. They were "joiners." They belonged to bowling teams in the age before the "bowling alone" sociological phenomenon, well-noted in a book. They joined all sorts of organizations in face-to-face contact, in the age before tech made it unnecessary to have so much direct contact.
Darlene Olen was devoted to the American Legion Auxiliary. I typed many press submissions from her, and I always heard her voice in my head as I typed! It was a voice that immediately made you like her.
I had her as a Sunday school teacher at First Lutheran Church in the early 1960s. I always had contact with her around Memorial Day. The Morris paper in those days put out a "bulldog edition" on the Friday leading into the holiday weekend. The week before the holiday was thus a very hectic time, and once it was over, the peaceful atmosphere of Memorial Day really took over for me. Darlene would compliment me on my press coverage of Memorial Day. I appreciated that. One year the theme was "freedom isn't free." We discussed that.
Darlene has left us now, her worldly concerns now behind her. I can still hear her disarming, reassuring voice in my head. I'll never forget it. Darlene Olen, RIP.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, November 4, 2016

Gillespie nails 16 kills in sweep of Litchfield

The MACA girls have the Section 3AA-North crown. The bumping, setting and spiking Tigers ascended yet again in post-season play. The site was the New London gym. On the other side of the net: the Dragons of Litchfield, who weren't going to breathe much fire on this night. Coach Kristi Fehr's Tigers swept to victory in this Thursday affair.
My, sweeping has been quite the habit. On this night the scores were 25-20, 25-20 and 25-18.
The fan noise/enthusiasm was substantial considering this was a neutral site match. Coach Fehr has actually gotten her Tigers conditioned to noise. This has been done by practicing in an atmosphere with loud music. I wonder what kind of music. Probably not the kind my generation liked. The Tigers have become savvy in communicating in the music-filled atmosphere.
gave MACA a decent challenge at times. MACA's passing was a little flawed early-on, according to coach Fehr. But we obviously summoned the tools to win in a convincing way. Now it's on to play the crown holder from 3AA-South. Jackson County Central is the team coming out of the South. Usually I only type the name of that school in the softball post-season. Southern Minnesota teams show a strange kind of dominance in softball. I have never been able to figure it out. But I have heard of no such thing in volleyball.
The Huskies of JCC sport a 23-8 record. Like the Tigers they won in three on Thursday. They swept Pipestone. The Tigers and Huskies have done nothing but sweep in the post-season. Something will have to give in the next phase. The big day will be Saturday and the site will be Southwest State. Match-time is 7:30 p.m.
The stat report from the Litchfield match shows Brooke Gillespie with three serving aces, Karly Fehr with two and Cassidy Fehr with one. Karly was the cog in setting like always, on this night getting 33 assists. Jenna Larsen contributed two set assists, and Ashley Solvie and Riley Decker each had one.
Gillespie had the primary role in hitting as she collected 16 kills. Ashley Solvie came through with eight kills while Jenna Howden and Nicole Solvie each had seven. On to ace blocks: here it was Ashley Solvie at the fore of a balanced effort, with four. Two each were performed by Karly Fehr and Nicole Solvie, and Gillespie and Howden each had one.
Here's the digs list: Gillespie (11), Karly Fehr (6), Riley Decker (10) and Cassidy Fehr (9).
Coach Fehr was quoted saying: "If we pass well and play that quick offense like we did tonight, then we'll do well." Get ready for the trip to SSU. Our basketball teams have been having trouble getting there.
Cross country excellence too
Good luck to the fleet Carrington sisters, Maddie and Meredith, in the state cross country meet which will be run at its traditional location: St. Olaf College, Northfield. Maddie and Meredith excelled in the 6A race, making the grade for the elite state affair. Maddie took sixth in 6A with her time of 19:53.60. Meredith took eighth in 6A, timed at 19:55.00.
Is it possible that little sister Meredith might overtake her sister one of these days? Whatever happens, family members are most proud, and surely Laura is smiling down from heaven. Anna is having memories of her own running exploits come back, I'm sure. I covered Anna in the 1980s along with Matthew who is the proud father of Maddie and Meredith.
The rest of the MACA lineup at section consisted of: Madelyn Siegel (42nd, 21:31.50), Malory Anderson (43rd, 21:34.40) and Midori Soderberg (61st, 22:05.70). Anna Donnay of Eden Valley-Watkins won the 6A girls race, time of 18:37.00, and her team was No. 1.
Solomon Johnson was the highest achieving boy for MACA: 13th place, 21:41.70. He was joined in the MACA effort by Noah Stewart (25th, 22:07.40), Tate Nelson (29th, 22:15.80), Tyler Reimers (66th, 22:57.30) and Jake Anderson (104th, 24:08.90). Ryley Nelson of West Central Area was the No. 1 boys runner, timed at 20:23.50), and his Knights were the top boys team. Jake Bright of WCA was runner-up with his time of 20:41.30.
Who will be president?
I have a feeling that when Monday rolls around, I will start feeling a hangover of sorts from the media coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign. I will begin to wonder why I was so fascinated with all the extraneous stuff, the daily gossip about the candidates, the nit-picking etc. We even had to pay attention to the re-emergence of the name and notoriety of Anthony Weiner.
We will realize come next week that Hillary Clinton is going to be our new president. And then we'll all feel fine about it. Not because she's a woman, but because she's an obvious patriot and leader. Who knows about all of Donald Trump's connections with Russia!
The World Series is done
I decided to write a song inspired by the World Series of 2016 involving the Cubs and Indians. America got quite attracted to the Fall Classic, involving as it did a couple Cinderella-type teams. My song evokes nostalgia from when these teams weren't doing so well, like during my youth. I wrote my song last night. The lyrics include references to Leon "Daddy Wags" Wagner and "Sudden Sam" McDowell. Here are the lyrics:
"Cubs and Indians"
by Brian Williams

Cubs and Indians in the World Series
I forgot how much I loved the game
Cleveland and Chicago were darlings
Leave it to those teams to light the flame
Could the Cubs accomplish what they wished for?
Could their fans be lifted to the heights?
Would they see the ghost of Steve Bartman?
Could the good Lord save them from that fright?
Could the Indians let out one big war whoop?
With their name that seems so obsolete?
Watch that smiling Indian inspire them
With their roster talented and deep
Baseball really needed an infusion
Ratings for the Classic were not high
Somehow fans were wedded to football
Could they come on back to balls and strikes?
In my youth the World Series flourished
Games were played in afternoon air
Then the black of night brought its cover
Bowie Kuhn put on long underwear
Cubs were not bereft of gifted players
In the '60s they could wow the fans
Ernie Banks inspired our rev-rence
Billy Williams played the game so grand
We remember home runs by Ron Santo
Kessinger at shortstop made the plays
Fergie on the mound was just awesome
Would that all those guys could win the day
Indians had some players worth admiring
"Daddy Wags" was boffo at the plate
"Sudden Sam" just loomed on the rubber
Alvis with his glove was at third base
Let's dismiss those memories and focus
On those teams as they exist today
With the watchful eye of Obama
Taking special interest in the play
Indians got a 3 to 1 advantage
But it's only done when it is done
Cubs were lying prone on the canvas
But they rose in time to keep it fun
They exploited quite the outfield miscue
Indians were disjointed in the field
They allowed a ball to just drop in
Now their fans suspect their fate is sealed
Nothing in the world is like Game 7
Say it and a sparkle fills the eyes
Pandemonium there by Lake Erie
As the boys of summer sought the prize
Cubs and Indians in the World Series
Two bad either one would have to fall
Was the ghost of Leo Durocher
There to help his Cubbies take it all
Cubs and Indians in the World Series. . .
Cubs and Indians in the World Series. . .
© 2016 Brian R. Williams

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

It's another sweep as MACA tops Montevideo

Put another 3-0 win in the books for MACA volleyball, adding to a long list. The first day of November brought the newest chapter: a 3-0 win in post-season play over Montevideo. Scores were 25-8, 25-21 and 25-19. Coach Kristi Fehr's squad is ascending in 3AA-North play. Fans at the home gym enjoyed the Tuesday success.
We're cruising with the top seed. Sooner or later, a sweep is going to be harder to achieve. Our next foe has the No. 2 seed. That's Litchfield. The Tigers and Dragons will battle in what promises to be a high-quality match at 7 p.m. Thursday at New London-Spicer. We're in the sub-section finals.
The playoff terminology has always confused me a little since the section format came in. For example, the sub-section finals are for all practical purposes the section semi-finals. We have to memorize whether we're "north" or "west" or whatever. So, you have to try to stay sharp.
Litchfield advanced Tuesday with a 3-1 win over New London-Spicer.
Two Tigers each had two serving aces in the success versus Montevideo: Karly Fehr and Ashley Solvie. These two Tigers each had one serving ace: Koral Tolifson and Riley Decker. Karly Fehr led in set assists and ace blocks. Her specialty of setting saw her perform 26 assists. And in blocking her total was three aces. Jenna Howden had two ace blocks, and Ashley Solvie and Jenna Larsen each had one.
Decker was tops in digs with nine, followed by Karly Fehr with seven and Brooke Gillespie with six. Brooke Gillespie and Jenna Howden led in kills with eleven and ten, respectively. Ashley Solvie pounded down six kills. Karly Fehr came through with three, Nicole Solvie had two and Jenna Larsen one.
Four Thunder Hawks each had one serving ace: Abby Olson, Molly Reeves, Sarah Sulflow and Ashley McKee. Kamren Saue put up 12 set assists. Olson topped Monte in kills with nine. McKee led in ace blocks with four. Molly Reeves was team-high in digs with nine.
The headline in the West Central Tribune was odd: "Morris/CA, Litchfield to tangle with 3AA-North volleyball title." Really? "With?" Of course it should be "for." I'm amused because I think I know what the headline writer was doing. He/she wanted to get as close to the right side as possible with each deck. In the old days when I took classes in this stuff, we'd talk about the "perfect count headline" as the ideal, where each deck went right up to the right side, perfectly.
Why was this taught? I'm sure it was because of mass communications teachers/professors wanting to assert their own importance. If they don't have myriad rules to teach, what good are they? Indeed, what good are they? Keep the students aspiring to all these rules like a rabbit chasing a carrot on a stick.
In the real world, no one much cares whether each line of the headline gets all the way over to the right side. I can prove this: How often do you see an online article where the last word of the headline drops down to the second deck, making it an "orphan" word in that deck? Sometimes the national media will display an online article for comment, and here we have this cute little "orphan" word in the second deck. Whatever gets commented on in the article, nobody comments on the orphan word issue. Of course, all that matters is that the headline makes sense.
Headline writers who strive for that "perfect count" ideal are more prone to misusing words and irritating the reader. A good example is the Wednesday Willmar headline about MACA volleyball. We're not tangling "with" the volleyball title, we're tangling "for" the title. Just write "for." Readers are smart and they know what you're up to.
David Brauer of Minnpost once told me that the orphan word thing can be caused by what browser you use.
What do you think of those super-large photos in the Willmar and Morris papers these days? It means less work, less writing, for the news department.
Papers serve their news departments only grudgingly these days. It's obligatory. It may even be with a wince. As newspapers increasingly struggle battling the Internet (i.e. people like me), their emphasis falls squarely on vacuuming as much money as possible from their legacy advertisers. They seek to hoist up those advertisers by their ankles and shake every piece of change out of them. We continually see those "sucker ads" like "we salute the pork producers." Do you think the real pork producers care about getting a gratuitous little salute from a small town paper?
Attention businesses: show more discretion with your money. The Morris and Hancock papers aren't even locally owned.
Did you see how a Morris newspaper headline writer misspelled a name in large headline type? They butchered the name of Ben Utecht, that former NFL player with head injuries, who came here to speak (but apparently not to condemn football). We saw "Utetch" in the headline on page 1. Maybe the writer was thinking of the word "wretch" from the hymn "Amazing Grace."
What if I had misspelled that name? What it comes down to is this: If the news department people of the fishwrap are in good standing with the leadership network of this community, there won't be a whisper of complaint. There's more likely to be complaints against someone like me who points it out. It's called small town politics.
My stock plummeted in this town when an incredible controversy consumed the town back in 1987 and '88. I never recovered in the aftermath of that. So if it was me misspelling "Utecht," I'd be crucified and been made to feel I was brainless. Can you imagine how Sarah Kissock would belittle me in a condescending way? I lived with that for years, just as I lived with all that secondhand cigarette smoke I had to breathe in, thanks to Kissock. She started out as an asset to the paper because she was the spouse of a UMM division head. Then she ceased to be the wife of a UMM division head. She produced virtual clouds of cigarette smoke at the old Sun Tribune building.
Voting on Tuesday
Our long national ordeal - apologies to Gerald Ford RIP - will be over Tuesday when we vote for president, ending the agonizingly long campaign. It will be hard for me to vote for Hillary but I suppose I'll have to.
I have worn a Gary Johnson pin, thanks to Jim Morrison, but it's hard "throwing your vote away" on a third party candidate. I might still vote for Johnson. I'll have to check my impulses Tuesday at the senior center. I wonder if the Trump campaign will have "poll watchers" there. No, it's probably just in non-white communities.
I swear I will never again follow, through the media, such a long presidential campaign. I learned nothing through the countless number of hours of media coverage.
Go ahead and vote for Donald Trump and we might become like the Third Reich. But it appears now he can't win. Maybe after the election, we'll all just go about our normal business in our lives and we'll be fine. Hillary will promote some progressive ideas. Maybe we can get Medicare to start covering dental expenses.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com