"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)

Monday, May 22, 2017

MACA girls own conference crown for 2017

First, here's a comment from a reader re. the distressed situation with our local print media now:
Well I guess we knew it was just a matter of time before this occurred. Why the Morrisons sold out to this outfit is a mystery. Will the Chokio paper be the next one to fold and become part of the Morris paper?
Now, on to softball and great success. Congrats.
MACA softball owns the West Central Conference crown. It became official when the Tigers took the first game of a doubleheader against BOLD on Friday, May 19. The site was Olivia for this West Central Conference action.
Tigers 12, BOLD 2
Extra-base hits were frequent for the MACA crew in Game 1. There was no suspense as the Tigers took charge in the early innings. Clearly we were on our way to the conference championship.
We charged forward with three runs in the first inning, two in the second and four in the third. Finishing touches were applied with a three-run rally in the fifth. The action was confined to five innings. Our 12 runs came on ten hits. Our pitcher Brooke Gillespie held BOLD to four hits. Fielding was rather sloppy across the board as each team committed five errors.
Gillespie struck out two batters, walked one and gave up four hits and two runs neither of which was earned. The losing pitcher was Taylor Sagedahl. Sagedahl struggled with control as she issued seven walks. She fanned two batters and gave up ten hits and 12 runs (just seven earned). The frequent errors suggested that some of the runs would be unearned.
The four BOLD hits were by Brenna Weis, Elsa Skeie, Makenna Steffel and Devyn O'Halloran. Skeie's hit was a double. Steffel drove in two runs.
Let's review the extra-base hit barrage by the Tigers. Emma Bowman doubled, drove in a run and scored two. Piper Gibson doubled, drove in two runs and scored three. Brooke Gillespie went two-for-three with a double, drove in three runs and scored two.
Liz Dietz doubled, drove in a run and scored one. Ashley Solvie's bat resonated with a double and she drove a run across. Nicole Solvie joined the hit parade with her double, part of a two-for-three showing, and this Tiger drove in a run. Kalley Hottovy went one-for-three with a run scored, and Jenna Howden had a hit and a run scored. Bailey Marty was hitless but scored two runs.
Tigers 6, BOLD 1
The second game was hard-fought with a tie score going into the seventh inning. The Tigers and Warriors were deadlocked at one-all. Each team scored one run in the third inning. Then in the seventh, MACA rallied to establish breathing run on the scoreboard. Five runs came in to make the score 6-1 which was the final.
Our six runs came on eight hits and we committed one error. The BOLD line score was 1-5-2.
Kalley Hottovy had two hits and drove in a run. Bailey Marty went one-for-three with a run scored. Emma Bowman had a two-for-four line and crossed home plate once. Brooke Gillespie doubled and drove in a run. Ashley Solvie went one-for-four with a ribbie. Nicole Solvie went one-for-three with an RBI.
BOLD's Makenna Steffel had two hits in three at-bats. These three Warriors each had one hit: Taylor Sagedahl, Elsa Skeie and Sierra Weiss.
Ashley Solvie was showcased on the pitching rubber for MACA. Ashley struck out one batter, walked one and gave up four hits and one run (earned). Sagedahl pitched the whole way for BOLD and fanned four batters while walking six and giving up eight hits and six runs (all earned).
Tigers 11, Brandon-Evansville 4
Piper Gibson handled the bat like a true marquee performer in the Tigers' robust 11-4 success on Thursday. It was actually a close game going into the sixth inning. The complexion changed as coach Mary Holmberg's crew put seven more runs on the scoreboard. We matched the eleven runs with eleven hits.
Gibson's part in it all? Her bat sizzled at five-for-five. She connected for a home run. She connected for three doubles and drove in four runs. Jen Solvie had a hit in her only at-bat and drove in a run. Jenna Howden doubled and drove in a run. These other Tigers connected for a hit: Liz Dietz, Ashley Solvie, Emma Bowman and Nicole Solvie.
For Brandon-Evansville, Morgan Stelzer and Carrigan Okerlund each doubled.
Liz Dietz pitched the whole way for the winning Tigers. She held the B-E bats to four hits. She sat down six batters on strikes, walked three and gave up four htis and four runs (three earned). The pitching loss went to Sadie Roers. B-E committed four errors while MACA had two.
Click on the link below to read about the Tigers' two recent games against Minnewaska Area. The highlight was a 3-1 win that had homer bats. This post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." My sports updates appear on both my blog sites. You'll also find links on the MACA softball and baseball pages of "Maxpreps." Thank you so much for reading. - B.W.
Baseball: Tigers 3, Lac qui Parle 2
The baseball Tigers got a win that was good therapy on Friday, May 19, here. the team has found victory elusive in recent action, but against the LQPV Eagles they eked out enough momentum in the sixth and seventh to prevail.
A hero was Tim Travis whose single in the sixth drove in the tying run. The winning run came when LQPV did us a favor with an error in the bottom of the seventh. There were two outs when the decisive run came across to give the orange and black a 3-2 win.
Note: This was a non-conference game. (I need reminders on that.)
The Tigers sort of manufactured their run in the sixth. A batter got hit by pitch. Then the Eagles committed a passed ball. There was nothing manufactured about the Travis hit: it was authoritative.
In the seventh, Jared Rohloff tossed his bat aside and went down to first with a walk. Chase Metzger laid down a sacrifice bunt. Up to bat comes Mitchell Dufault who rapped an infield grounder. The LQPV defense had a lapse which opened the door for MACA victory. Rohloff scored our third run.
We scored one run each in the second, sixth and seventh. Lac qui Parle got its two runs right away in the first, then was stymied. Travis pitched six innings but Toby Sayles got the win with his one inning. Sayles hung in there while giving up four hits and walking four. The two runs he allowed were earned. Sayles fanned two batters and walked two while giving up one hit and no runs. Chalk up the 'W' next to his name.
The losing hurler was Payton Mortenson who pitched all seven innings, giving up six hits while fanning one. We outhit the Eagles 6-5. Our fielding was clean: one error.
Travis went two-for-three with two RBIs. These Tigers each had one hit: Chase Metzger, Toby Sayles, Mitchell Dufault and Denner Dougherty. Here are the Eagles who hit safely (one hit each): Cole Bungarden, Braiden Kittelson, Evan Benson, Brett Baldwin and Korbin Kells.
Baseball: Melrose 2, Tigers 0
One of those recent losses was against Melrose: a forgettable contest for MACA as we got shutout, 2-0. Yawn.
Brady Birch was the Melrose pitcher who showed control over the Tigers. Birch tossed a nifty three-hitter, fanning five batters and walking four. Ryan Bowman pitched solidly for MACA, the full seven innings but he got no run support. Ryan struck out five batters, walked two and allowed six hits. The two runs he allowed were earned.
Our three hits were by Mitchell Dufault, Ryan Bowman and Denner Dougherty. Jordan Klaphake hit a home run for the Dutchmen. Dillon Haider went two-for-three for the victor. Melrose scored both its runs in the first inning. Melrose outhit the Tigers 6-3, and we had the game's only errors: two of them.
This game was played on Thursday, May 18.
We need more sunshine for the post-season!
Click on the link below to read about the MACA boys' recent games against Montevideo and Sauk Centre. This post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course."
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

We only pretend we want school to be rigorous

I remember many years ago when the U of M president, C. Peter Magrath, came to Morris to speak. It was at Sunwood Inn which today has a different name. Today it's Motel 200 or Hotel 2000 or something like that. "Sunwood" was a nice name. Remember the "Back Door?"
It's a pretty big deal when the U of M president comes to Morris, naturally. Historically we're sort of a company town with our campus. So C. Peter Magrath wrapped up his presentation and then opened it up for questions. Our public school superintendent rose to ask a question. You could tell immediately that the U president was irritated. The question was about the "downgrading" of textbooks, an item that had been in the news. The trend apparently was for books not to be as complicated and dull as before. I would say the books were becoming more user-friendly. Let's have more pictures!
Magrath began his answer by stating he was merely obligated to answer and wasn't doing so enthusiastically. He simply denied that studies were being made any less rigorous. How could he suggest otherwise?
For a long time we had impressions of college that it was terribly difficult, with young people forced to wade through piles of books. It wasn't supposed to be fun. Our society didn't seem set up to facilitate much fun at all. The Viet Nam war wasn't fun, was it. Our society was plagued by economic inflation. But the science of economics reveals that there is a solution for inflation. Why wasn't it harnessed sooner? Instead we eventually got Paul Volcker who raised interest rates one whole point at a time.
Inflation and the Viet Nam war vanished. I was stunned. Those two problems had been implanted for so long.
Trends seem to be sweeping aside the concept of "rigorous academics." Young people needn't be made to feel miserable in school, whether it's college or high school. As I look back, I can see that my grades K-6 education was quite purposeful and had enjoyment much of the time. It is essential to master basic reading, writing and arithmetic. Beyond that I'm not so sure about the value of education.
Cliches and trends always abound in education. In the 1970s if you talked about the primacy of "reading, writing and arithmetic" you'd be pooh-poohed as old-fashioned in your thinking. In the digital world of today, with so many of our day-to-day processes made vastly simpler than before, the old model of "advanced" education seems less valuable.
There will always be a sliver of the population - kids destined to do great things and reach great heights - who will take to those advanced studies. Many other kids would not be suited, IMHO.
Skepticism toward classroom grades
I am writing this post because of the news last week that a consortium of prep schools has decided to abandon the traditional grading system completely. So much for "grade inflation." I remember when the term "grade inflation" crept into the news, maybe in the mid-1980s. The suggestion was that it was a bad thing. We needed to make our courses "challenging" for kids. We wouldn't want to suggest that coursework was being made easier, would we?
Realistically our kids were going to benefit from a less heavy, onerous classroom environment. We just didn't want to publicly admit it. So grade inflation took hold over time. The honor roll list at our Morris school is so much more inclusive and generous than it used to be. The 'A' honor roll was totally rarefied air when I was a kid.
Educational systems respond to societal pressures. I was a kid when the Cold War hovered like a big stinking cloud. We had to "beat the Soviets" in everything. All these years later, it is steadily being revealed that the Cold War was really a big ruse, a ruse used by both powers to suck wealth from the citizenry and pump into government and defense, with the idea of being competitive vs. the other major power. Our whole space program grew out of that. Remember the fears generated by "Sputnik?" Remember our "hero" astronauts of the 1960s? Remember the movie "The Right Stuff?"
Our poor schoolkids got dragged through an educational process in those days that was unpleasant in so many ways. Everything was fine through the sixth grade. We had "mother hen" teachers through the sixth grade, almost all women, who guided kids along in a practical and loving way. Why did that have to change in the seventh grade? School beginning in the seventh grade had qualities almost like prison. The "bell" would ring which would give you permission to go out in the hallway. The hallway could be like a no-man's land if you were there at an unauthorized time. Simply being there might bring the wrath of God down on you.
We took courses that we knew would have no relevance to anything practical the rest of our lives. We have since learned that the only way to learn a foreign language is "immersion." I sat through pointless French classes where we conjugated verbs. We conjugated those (expletive) verbs. Kids didn't learn to "speak French" this way, not even close. Courses like that were like being a slave rowing a boat.
Look around you. You see people doing all sorts of jobs in our community that realistically only would require mastery of reading, writing and arithmetic. In other words, a sixth grade education. I learned "penmanship" in the second grade from Miss Firstnow. Most of these common main street jobs simply require a disciplined and organized mind. It doesn't matter that you didn't take a course in Medieval literature in college.
We entertain these notions that somehow, difficult coursework makes us better human beings. It's rhetoric. It's political correctness. C. Peter Magrath gave the answer to Supt. Fred Switzer that he had to give, that books were full of rigor like always. But it was clear he didn't want to answer it.
To heck with schoolteachers who'd bellow out "take out a sheet of paper" for a pop quiz. I'm not willing to keep on rowing like that.
Now I'll keep your attention
What about sex education? People of a conservative political stripe bristle at this of course. They would want kids to behave as if sex doesn't exist. The parents of boomers were quite Victorian about all that.
We hear the joking references to how kids learn about sex "on the schoolyard." If this is true, is it something we should accept? I should think not. Sex is a profound thing for kids to have to confront. It can lead to anxiety that profoundly distracts them. And yet those conservative parents would prefer it not be addressed at all, as if it didn't exist.
I went through the schoolyard process and ended up very distressed about it all. We have learned that my generation reached puberty at a younger age than previous generations. We benefited from basic health advances. Our sexual urges, not properly guided, led to a lot of undesirable behavior and even catastrophic outcomes. I'd fear going to church because I might go up for communion with an erection showing under my pants. I have thought countless times that I would have benefited from a pill that would simply erase sexual thoughts. Away from procreation, how much value do these thoughts have? God created us in such a strange way.
My generation could be so wild and undisciplined in our behavior. In some critical ways, we just weren't getting the proper guidance. Our parents were clueless about some of our essential needs. We partied, drank, smoked dope and sought illicit sex. We wore "grubby" clothes lest we suggest we came from an affluent background which would be a source of shame in those days of the "New Left." (Jim Morrison once told me "The New Left is now the Old Left.")
Sex was not to be broached in our household, and if somehow it surfaced like through a conversation on TV, we would be afflicted with shame, instantly, and cower for a while. And heaven absolutely help you if you, as a male, had your Playboy magazine discovered. Shame beyond words. But why? Why oh why? The Tom Cruise character in "Born on the Fourth of July" had this happen to him. The movie was a template for what boomers went through.
You know what? If you allow a male young person access to unlimited porn for just a couple days, he will tire of it and become oblivious to it. Isn't that what we want? Let our boys get all this out of their system. The mystery and taboo of sex was so fascinating to us young boys, we'd get ahold of a National Geographic magazine because we might get to see female breasts on a primitive woman.
Why couldn't our society be more relaxed and enlightened? Like it or not, sex is something we all have to grapple with. School can be helpful.
Footnote regarding the "Back Door," part of the old Sunwood Inn: If you want to re-create the atmosphere in your mind, just imagine the Doobie Brothers' tune "Long Train Running" which included: "Without love, where would you be now." It seemed all the visiting bands played that there. I am not proud to note that I was an occasional patron. None of us benefited from our time there.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, May 13, 2017

More to R-P's Noah Carlson than athletics

He's headed to the University of Michigan: Noah Carlson.
Noah Carlson was spellbinding on the football field last season. His talents got all the way to Prep Bowl. His Rushford-Peterson team got slowed down in its final game. A force earlier, R-P settled for being the second-best team in its class. Carlson built on his reputation as a prime athlete.
And now we're learning about another impressive dimension of this young man. It has to do with books and the classroom. Don't we all marvel at those student-athletes who can excel in both sports and the classroom? We immediately wonder how they find the time. I certainly ask that in my mind. I was a non-athlete who was challenged finding enough time to do adequately in my studies. It probably didn't help that I watched TV shows like "The Virginian."
As I look back today, I feel no shame budgeting time to watch TV. I probably felt more guilt back then. What the heck, if I spend eight hours in a school building on a given day, why not come home and indulge in a little pleasure?
We suspect that Noah Carlson hasn't spent much time digesting TV fare. Noah has his priorities where his elders want them. Maybe it's because of the educational commitment among his relatives. Ahem. Let's consider Truman Carlson of Morris. Truman had countless Morris young people take his biology classes through the years. He was active in athletics and had a stint as athletic director. I suspect the AD job put a few gray hairs on his head as it would with anyone.
I'm glad Truman wasn't still AD in the latter half of the 1980s. Our Morris school district went through some unusual stress at that time. I wouldn't want to see someone of Truman's character get caught in the scissors of public pressure. Someone else was AD or "activities director" at that time. That individual did end up in scissors-like contentiousness which many would argue was of his own making, although there certainly were two sides to that. That was a big problem for the community: that there were two sides at all.
The temperate and gentle Truman was on the sidelines, fortunately. Today he enjoys lunch daily at the Morris Senior Community Center in the most serene setting possible. Congratulations Truman. Yours truly bathes in that serenity too, and you might argue I deserve it just as much. There would be two sides regarding that too: my abilities. I don't want to hear about any of it.
But I most certainly enjoy hearing about the accomplishments of Noah Carlson who is Truman's great grand nephew. Athletes don't come any better than him. And now we learn he excels in academics at the premier level. There's more! Noah is honored for his leadership and community involvement.
The Minnesota chapter of the National Football Foundation is pleased to announce Rushford-Peterson high school student Noah Carlson is a 2017 Scholar Athlete. Carlson and the other winners, chosen for academic excellence, leadership and community involvement, were recognized at the ten-year anniversary of the Minnesota Football Honors on May 7 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The 2016 Minnesota AP Football Player of the Year, Carlson led Rushford-Peterson to a berth in the Class A Prep Bowl. He also earned Player of the Year distinction from the Winona Daily News and Rochester Post-Bulletin. Carlson was a team captain and three-time all-district selection, and holds the Trojans' career, season and single-game records for rushing yards and touchdowns.
The running back, defensive back, kicker, punter and returner - whew! - also competed in basketball and is now in track and field. Carlson is a perpetual honor roll student who ranks highly in his class at Rushford-Peterson (southeastern MN). He hopes to study engineering in college.
In the community, Carlson volunteers much of his time coaching youth sports. He has spent more than 60 hours each coaching camps or teams in all three sports he plays, often coming there right from his own practices or competitions. He is a National Honor Society member and a student ambassador.
It is humbling to read about Noah. Beyond high school he'll be showing his athletic prowess in the Big 10. I am so pleased to write that his sport of choice from now on is track and field and not football. He won't be punishing his body in the brutal world of football. His choice reflects his maturity and sharp mind. We shouldn't rule out that he might be drafted by an NFL team after his senior year. His instincts as a running back are already as well developed as possible. His body would be fresh for football several years from now, but I hope he rejects any such temptation. We should hope he progresses right into engineering.
Carlson will be a University of Michigan Wolverine.
Academics? It can be foreboding
I congratulate Noah although I don't particularly like being reminded of the academic hurdles of school, particularly the 'A' through 'D' grading system that frankly terrorized me. I guess many institutions are taking a fresh look at that old A-D system. I read of at least one college that simply eliminated the 'D' grade. Grades can miss so much in terms of gauging one's intelligence.
My problem was that I tied up my self-worth with whether I was getting decent grades, when I should have just withdrawn some and gotten into "real life" more,
I remember a chat I had with the sage Donnie Eich once, and we were discussing those rigorous classes at our UMM. Do they really make you smart? Are only the smartest kids attracted here, to an institution that allows a "gay devil worshipers" organization?
Donnie said going to UMM just "showed you're good at reading books and then answering questions about them." I agree totally.
BTW Donnie once attended a Brooklyn Dodgers baseball game at Ebbetts Field, I believe when he was in the service. What was that romanticized place like, I asked him. "It was a dump," he said.
Background re. Football Foundation
The Minnesota chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame is a local non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and develop the power of amateur football in developing the qualities of leadership, sportsmanship, competitive spirit and academic excellence in Minnesota's young people.
The MN chapter recognizes legendary football icons, college football Hall of Famers and Minnesota's top high school and college football scholar athletes.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, May 11, 2017

MACA girls come from behind to beat ACGC

MACA softball prevailed in a high-scoring affair Tuesday. The Tigers battled the ACGC Falcons in a game that was less than a masterpiece, as we took advantage of 16 walks and four errors. Masterpiece or not we got the win in a 13-11 final.
The first victory might well be getting the other team to take the field. You'll recall we were part of a controversial little incident in which Monte surprised us by forfeiting after the game's first pitch, after we had taken the trouble to travel all the way to Montevideo. I notice that Monte was deflated in Tuesday action of this week, getting shut out by Minnewaska 5-0. Poetic justice, eh? I wonder if coach Kyle Goslee had any issues with the umpiring. Morgan Hess pitched the shutout for 'Waska over Monte. It was also a no-hitter in which Hess struck out seven batters.
Our Tigers had to grab victory from the jaws of potential defeat on Tuesday. We were quite on the ropes at one point. ACGC rallied for seven runs in the fourth to go up 9-1 on the Tigers. My goodness! But the Tigers were determined and undaunted. We scored one run in the fourth, three in the fifth and eight in the sixth.
The 13-11 win was achieved with the modest hit total of four, but keep in mind the walks and errors that opened the door. ACGC had nine hits. Each team had four errors. Our four hits were off the bats of Brooke Gillespie, Liz Dietz, Karly Fehr and Karli Siegel.
Alex Hovey of the Falcons made noise with her bat as she posted a three-for-four boxscore line. Madison Denton socked two doubles. Other Falcons hitting safely were Maree Lee, Micayla Hobson, Rylie Wilner and Miranda Lang.
Our pitching was shared by three. It was Ashley Solvie getting the win with her one and two-thirds innings of work in which she allowed no hits or runs, struck out two and walked none. Brooke Gillespie had a rough outing of three and a third innings. The Falcons got seven hits off Gillespie, but of the eight runs she allowed, only four were earned. She issued no walks. Then we have Liz Dietz turning in a pitching stint of two innings in which she gave up two hits and three runs (two earned) and walked one.
The losing pitcher was Lindsey Minnick. Taryn Reinke and Micayla Hobson also pitched for ACGC. Walks will haunt! The 16 walks issued by the ACGC pitchers took a toll for them obviously. Plus those four errors.
Getting back to the Minnewaska vs. Monte game, I have to wonder if Monte's hitless showing might have resulted from certain players getting suspended as a result of the controversial forfeiture. The victorious Lakers pounded out ten hits. Morgan Hess of the Lakers went three-for-four with two runs scored and an RBI. Bayley Pooler had a hit and a run scored. Carley Stewart had a one-for-four afternoon. Bailey Stewart went one-for-three with an RBI. Katelyn Lange had a hit and drove in a run. Ashley Blom had a two-for-three line with a run scored. Alisha Vigil had a hit and an RBI.
Breanna Welling was the losing pitcher for the beleaguered Thunder Hawks. 'Waska attacked early, scoring all five of their runs over the first three innings. Pitcher Hess finished just two errors away from a perfect game.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, May 8, 2017

Town turns purple but what does it all mean?

Took a look at the front page "above the fold" of the Morris newspaper this morning, through the glass at the DeToy's vending machine, and - guess what? - there's a big splash about the Minnesota Vikings. Surprise! Oh of course it's not a surprise, it's knee-jerk on the part of the paper. It's totally predictable hype.
The Vikings were here as part of a rather odd award that was bestowed on us. Does anyone really think we have the finest football program in the state? We're a community of 5000 on the western Minnesota prairie. We have the benefit of an artificial turf field that we would not have, were it not for the presence of UMM here.
Our school gets 10,000 bucks as part of the deal. If we're so well-endowed already, why do we need an extra $10,000? Maybe the money should be directed to where there's more need. Oh wait, our society doesn't reason like that anymore. In the business world our goal is to "make a killing," reflecting the Mitt Romney ethos. Why not just work to make a decent profit and to prioritize other things like church, family and community?
Morris bows down for a week and acts totally wowed by a behemoth entertainment enterprise that exists solely to maximize profit. When I first heard about our award, I was told we were being honored as "the best football team in the state." Since we had recently been beaten by BOLD, I was perplexed by this, and asked with furrowed brow how we could be considered "best in the state." I got basically a blank look in response. I irritate people sometimes in the community by being too analytical.
I was also puzzled when seeing a quote from an award spokesperson in reference to our "marching band." I am not aware of the Morris school having a marching band. We see a "drum line" once in a while but that isn't the same thing. Does that drum line actually go out on the field and do anything special at halftime? (The quote was with the original coverage of the award.)
I haven't been to a game in four years. I can't come back until I go digital with my photography. I'm not sure I should want to come back. There are pressures today to reduce our interest in football, for the sake of the young men who play it. I'm so thankful I never played it. But why should I be thankful for that? Why does the temptation to play football exist in the first place?
Football was actually a controversial sport in the early 20th Century. The forward pass was implemented to try to reduce the danger. Why do men, as opposed to women, choose to expose themselves to such great risk with their bodies and brains? Women would find this unthinkable.
Think of the way Wally Hilgenberg died. Think of the way Fred McNeill died. Can we defend any sport with these kind of consequences? How can we rationalize supporting it? Why do we put up purple banners welcoming the Vikings and bow down at their feet, in effect? I suspect the Vikings saw a need for a little public relations outreach in the western part of the state.
Given our asset of Big Cat Stadium, that huge structure that sits cold and empty all winter, Morris probably seemed a logical place for the Vikings to invest their efforts. And we were all wide-eyed about it, most willing to oblige this big entertainment corporation which can be likened to big tobacco as tobacco went through its throes of decline due to an enlightened public.
I wonder about the future of football in small communities that have the old-fashioned football fields, natural grass and ramshackle bleachers. Will those towns begin to feel like they're on the short end for the "haves/have nots" model? The interest in football is likely to go down in those communities. Fewer boys will go out, thankfully, and the teams that do get fielded are likely to lose badly vs. the "haves." So a cycle could grow where the "have nots" shrivel up more and perhaps cancel their programs.
So what we'll get, in all likelihood, is a "club system" for the sport where teams represent fairly wide regions and the young men commute. It remains to be seen if even this model is sustainable, given the constant revelations about how football is not a prudent sport choice for young men.
And why should there be any sport that is gender-limited? We accept the premise today that a woman can do anything a man can. So, why a sport for men and boys only? Well, the response might be, women couldn't withstand the punishment of football. But we're learning that men cannot absorb this punishment either.
Why is it taking so long for our society to phase out football? Nowhere else in the world do we see this kind of mania about football. We see it about soccer but not football. Why are we so discordant? For that matter, why do we stand alone by trying to assert, as Congress did so loudly last week, that health care is not a right for all? I have faith in this nation while I think the worm will turn.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, May 5, 2017

Controversy? Monte forfeits to MACA as protest

This is incredibly weird: the MACA softball team got on the bus to play a game at Montevideo Thursday, but were denied the opportunity to play. Based on my vast experience with youth sports, gained from a media perspective, controversy ends up not being worth the trouble. Play the game, follow the rules and accept the results. We do not live in a perfect world.
People can get so absorbed in high school sports, investing so much emotion, they can make a federal case of things. Was it the Monte players' idea to forfeit Thursday's game as a protest gesture? That's what it was: a wagging of the finger, or the display of a certain finger (figuratively), at the people who administer high school sports.
Background: a decision had been made to suspend the Monte coach for a game. The decision was made in an orderly way, it appears, even if one might be skeptical about it. But the waters got roiled.
This is like complaining about an official's call in an emotionally charged sports situation. I can remember being at Tiger football games in the pre-Big Cat Stadium days, and hearing such harsh language coming from fans standing behind me on the north side of the field - the visitors' side. The refs would be in the crosshairs of these individuals who did not seem to be having a good time at all.
Many times I wondered how people would even be willing to take a job as a referee or umpire. I would feel the wrath of the parents/fans myself sometimes, like from our family dentist.
Are these games even worth the trouble? Are they worth the trouble when we can't even get everyone to accept the judgment of people in responsible positions of overseeing these activities? Do the players themselves care that much, or is it just their parents?
Whatever, there were emotions on display in the manner of what the Montevideo Thunder Hawks did on Thursday as they walked off the field. They walked off the field! This after our Tigers took the trouble to board a bus and be transported to Montevideo.
Monte is a nice town, I have always felt, but it sure wasn't hospitable on Thursday. It was a total downer. The Monte student-athletes were totally rude hosts, absorbed in their parochial dislike of a decision having been made vs. their coach. This coach is Kyle Goslee.
Flashback to Tuesday: Goslee had his Thunder Hawks in action vs. ACGC. He had a dispute with an umpire. Such things happen. A line of restraint must be drawn in the amateur world of prep sports where one of the objectives is to promote orderliness and a pleasant decorum. OK, so the coach made his feelings known. Did he cross a line? Was this "rhubarb" excessive?
got ejected just like "Coach Dale" might be ejected in the movie "Hoosiers." Goslee's side of the story: he didn't raise his voice or speak inappropriately. That's a vague assertion. Someone thought it was inappropriate. This isn't the pros. We need to make sure we can keep hiring umpires and referees. I think this job can be incredibly difficult. I sure wouldn't want it, especially for football.
The rules called for coach Goslee to sit out the next full game following his ejection. That's what stuck in the craw of the Monte student-athletes or their parents. So on Thursday, after one pitch was thrown, Monte players gathered at home plate and announced they were forfeiting. Goslee was present just to observe away from his coaching role. He said he wasn't aware of his team's intent to forfeit. He said he tried to get his team to keep playing, but the players were defiant on this too.
The players left the field. So I suppose the MACA Tigers, who had no dog in this hunt of a festering dispute, had to re-board their bus and simply come home. It's a travesty. The High School League should look into this incident and recommend some course of action, perhaps to make Monte forfeit the rest of the season.
indicated he "appreciated the show of support" for him, even though the players didn't respect his wishes for them to continue. That's an odd little contradiction, so maybe the problem is Goslee himself. He was quoted saying: "It's nice that they stood up for me for what they saw as an unjustified ejection."
The players' opinions on such a matter aren't supposed to count so much. Part of being a high school student is to defer to authority and the orderly process set up for you. You might not like or approve everything all the time. But just play the game. We can't blame the players. Right now my inclination is to blame coach Kyle Goslee.
As I ponder this further, I wonder about the role of the person designated as head coach for the Thursday game, which I presume would be the assistant. What were that person's actions? What did this individual hear about the players' intentions? Did he/she direct the players to take the field and play the game, regardless of their feelings? If he/she did and the players were defiant, some sanctions are in order for the players. If he/she didn't, the punishment should fall on this individual. He/she had the head coach's responsibility that day.
And I wonder if Goslee should have even been present. He should have considered it a distraction, I feel. Bottom line: people involved in youth sports can get way carried away with their emotions. The sun will come up tomorrow, I assure you. We want the student-athletes to take the same temperate, mature attitude. I think down deep, many of the Monte players would have wanted to play.
I suppose certain people would have their neck turn red just reading this post. That's part of the problem.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, May 1, 2017

A winter-like morning to usher in May

I was looking forward to having a nice walk this morning, Monday, May 1. I dropped our Town Car off at the dealer for servicing. I thus was going to walk home. Heartland is now located a little further from our residence than before. It's still close enough to make walking practical. Knock on wood as the years go by.
I have to walk through some weeds because there is no uninterrupted road. That's too bad. There has long been a non-maintained road crossing the field close to Pizza Hut. That road went unchanged through decades. It's still there but it doesn't connect with the highway anymore. It is now cut off at the ditch, a change that came about when the service road was put in.
So, I was going to take that nice healthy walk. People who remember me as a 10K runner would figure that walk is no sweat for me. Knock on wood as the years go by.
We ought to have nice conditions for walking on the morning of the first day of May, eh? I'm looking outside our picture windows facing the north as I write this. You would think it's February. Snow fell through the early-morning hours. I presume we can scratch another day of high school baseball and softball. Games were erased one day last week because of the sheer cold. Spring sports can seem like such a futile proposition. But we expect this weather adversity to come sooner.
Let me finish my story about my contemplated walk this morning. I didn't take it. I wimped out. I requested a courtesy driver and got a nice little lift home. We used the Town Car which was my father's pride and joy.
I remember through the years how a class of St. Mary's kids made rounds around town marking "May Day." I remember Barb Spaulding accompanying them most years. I'd be at my Morris Sun Tribune office in the old building now occupied by Morris Community Church. If the walls of that building could talk. In the pre-church days, names of deities would be invoked there for reasons other than church-related. The old model for newspaper work involved emotions and a frayed temperament so much. Newspaper writers were too often expected to work like a bat out of hell, perhaps chain-smoking and sweating while at the typewriter. We shake our heads over that now. It didn't even seem to be justified at the time. It seemed to grow out of a stereotype. Perhaps writers felt that working with such frenetic intensity suggested a sort of heroism.
Silly rabbit. The frayed temperament was never consistent with putting out a sound product. The sense of self-importance we once exuded was justified to a degree, perhaps, in the pre-digital age when communications were so much more limited. We were all beholden to newspapers. It's surprising that people still turn to papers as much as they do. The papers are part of such a broad range of media. They have downsized dramatically as you can see vividly here in Morris, where the paper has gone from publishing twice a week, to putting out one very slim paper - 18 pages with pages smaller than before - each week. And while readership has gone way down too, it appears there is still demand for a reasonably viable paper product.
I only look at the Morris paper in public places. I wouldn't consider buying it, ever. I remember when we had a school administrator who had smoke coming out of his ears if a certain sports game didn't get covered thoroughly in the very next edition. He once wrote me a terse and rather disrespectful note in which he claimed among other things that "news is perishable." What he really meant is that "I have strong political incentive to try to kick your butt." Today, all the MACA football game news has "perished" before it appears in our local print product. But does anyone even care? I don't think so.
I'm no longer in a position to appreciate seeing those St. Mary's kids making their rounds on May 1, "May Day." There is a Communist holiday called May Day. I don't think this is the context in which Barb and her charming students were celebrating. It would be cold for them today. We will have put up with seven months of absolutely worthless weather here. Have you done anything interesting out of doors in the last seven months? Stop and think. Even if you haven't, maybe you don't care much. Such is the nature of our world today, electronic gadgets, social media and the like keep our lives interesting. I think it's sad, though.
A nice long walk outdoors, just getting lost in your own thoughts, is invaluable. Later today, I'm going to try to psych up and walk back to Heartland Motors to pick up my car. Wish me luck.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, April 24, 2017

Alan Hendrickson was endearing gentleman

(Swift County M-N image)
We lost one of the Knights of St. Urho last week. Alan Hendrickson is now prancing across those wrestling mats in the sky. He died just days after I became aware of his illness. It's an illness where unfortunately there is little wiggle room in terms of how long you'll live. We are all mortal and end up meeting our maker.
Hendrickson was the popular coach of the Morris High School wrestling program for a long time. It was the era before hockey in an indoor arena. It was the days of the "District 21 Tournament" when the small towns out here could sustain their own programs. Today we see all these combined programs. Our local wrestling team has the cumbersome, and I feel unwieldy, name of "MAHACA." It gets pronounced as if it's a word.
Hendrickson was coach of the "MHS Tigers." I'm not sure I ever saw a match until the pep band was required to play. I'm sure that was political: having the pep band play for a wrestling match. Pep bands were challenged everywhere as the number of athletic programs increased. The teams all demanded equal treatment, of course.
I can remember when UMM had a pep band playing for basketball games at the old P.E. annex. Once the women's programs got going, there was a justifiable demand for equal treatment, but those poor musicians could only devote a limited amount of time to these commitments. It got to where there was no pep band.
UMM at its outset had a fight song that was composed by my father. I wish that song could be revived now and then just for its archival value. The song did not have an introduction, so you had to watch the director if you wanted to sing it from the start. I don't think my father's "UMM Hymn" had an introduction either. I guess that was one of my father's traits, not to emphasize introductions. The creators of song often have their own particular traits, like Neil Diamond starting out his songs with the title of the song.
As I remember my high school years, I remember wrestling as the "other" sport in winter. Today with all the widened opportunities, I'm not sure any such judgment is made. Post-season basketball games at the P.E. Center could attract large, loud and wild followings, whereas today the fans have to travel so far right at the start of tournament play. There are so many activities, their supporters all get divided up.
It's quaint to think of the old full gym with that cacophony of sound. I found it a little troubling at times. So much emotional investment in a kids' game. I wondered about all the pressure these kids were feeling, to carry the banner of their towns as if they were warriors. I wondered if they might get psychologically damaged. In the meantime, I was just an observer, consistent with being a lifelong journalist.
At times I wrote as a stringer for the Morris Sun Tribune. Today the Sun Tribune wouldn't touch my work. Ah, the ebbs and flows of life.
Randy Thraen was in my high school class and he made the state tournament under coach Al Hendrickson. Randy's wrestling career ended on a downward note and I'm quite certain why: he worked too hard to lose weight. I thought that was an abhorrent aspect of the sport. Losing weight has nothing to do with developing your skills in a sport. It can hurt your ability to mentally focus.
I remember Randy wearing sweat clothes for phy. ed class as a way of getting pounds off. Our P.E. teacher was Roger Snaser for a time. He had been a star basketball player for UMM. He stood out with his tall physique. He had a "punishment" in phy. ed class that would be unheard of today, for boys to "wear a girls P.E. uniform!" Oh my, the sexism. The world of education continually passes out of one era with its values and into another. I was once shared with a friend: "the trail of education is littered with the bodies of education professionals who couldn't make the transition from one educational era to the next."
It's interesting how I as a young person could see and understand these eras as they flowed, while some adults in the system failed to.
This town was dragged through an unnecessary controversy in the late 1980s. Many people were demanding more quality in extracurricular, leaning more toward the AAU model, but what it was really about was accountability.
No one spoke a bad word about Alan Hendrickson, not during that time or in any other time. He had a fine sense of humor that was expressed in a deadpan way, making it even more funny. He was very perceptive and practical. He was gentle. He was effective and loved as the wrestling coach. It was a sport that seemed like the red-haired stepchild of winter sports.
Wrestling attracted boys many of whom - let's be frank - had a rather "ruffian" image. At the same time, these ruffians could surprise you by building a grandfather clock in industrial arts class. They were in a different league from me in that regard.
Why was wrestling developed as the "second" sport in winter? I theorize that relatively speaking, wrestling is inexpensive. Why does sports overall get so much emphasis? I think that way back when, sports was seen as a way for kids to combat boredom, in an age when there were so few alternatives. Today because of the tech/digital age, boredom seems to have been completely conquered. So much so, we hear about data overload and distracted driving.
And yet sports flourishes as much as ever, more so actually. I'm troubled at times because I feel the non-sports kids can be made to feel insignificant. I know those kids are out there. I look at issue after issue of the West Central Tribune with its sports section with the usual prominent photos of sports kids, and I really wonder about our sense of priorities. We make heroes out of these sports kids, many of whom excel simply because they were born with athletic genes.
Al Hendrickson was the kind of guy who valued all students, no doubt about it. I wish I had had him as a teacher instead of a certain other teacher whose name I won't type here. Al had a heart of gold, whether in the classroom, by the wrestling mat or at the Eagles Club as a member of the "Knights of St. Urho." We will miss him in all roles. Toward the end of his life I'd chat with him, his wife Dolora and maybe Dave Holman (the indefatigable Swede) at the McDonald's restaurant. The banter was always fun.
I'll close out this post by quoting an inside joke I had with Al, based on an anecdote from his background: "I always thought highly of you, Al."
- Brian Williams, morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Getting food at grocery stores: a dated habit?

I made a cake this past weekend, Easter weekend. It is no longer so practical for me to do such a thing. We're a family of two, and our long-time neighbor with whom I shared has passed on.
I remember bringing a piece of cake to the neighbor, Les Lindor, when Steve Poppe happened to be visiting. "You mean you have cake delivered?" Steve said with a smile. Steve and I graduated with the Morris High School Class of '73. He was one of the "little wrestlers" on Al Hendrickson's team, Craig Murphy being another. I'm sad to learn that Al is dealing with health adversity now. The sands of time cannot be stopped.
Many of the names I drop in my online writing are unfamiliar to the generation of young adults in Morris. They were household names once. Hey, even mine was, no doubt. So I made a cake in the year 2017 partly for old times' sake. It went well.
I cracked the eggs into the mixing bowl just fine. Which reminded me of a radio discussion I heard not long ago on WCCO. Young people of today "don't crack eggs into a pan," I heard. They don't really want to deal with the hassle of all that. You have a lot of clean-up while making a cake, and when you're done eating it, there's the pan that can be a hassle to clean.
Large families were common when I was a kid. The "housewife" took on the chores of preparing meals. All very Norman Rockwell-ish. Times change and our norms of behavior change. Few people seem very interested in spending time in the kitchen preparing meals in a manner that requires multiple steps.
These days, the population has so many young singles and elderly people who either live alone or with their elderly spouse. The young and the old aren't likely to want to prepare meals in an elaborate way. I walk through the Willie's store in Morris and often think it's obsolete. Preparing meals at home also means dealing with leftovers. You put stuff in the refrigerator and then you have to remember how old it is. You always end up discarding some of it.
Shopping in grocery stores also means you'll be making some "impulse purchases." You end up buying more than you need. I find that even if I resolve to not do this, my self-discipline lapses. No potato chips.
Remember the opening of "Ghostbusters" where we see Sigourney Weaver entering her apartment, a single person, with a sack of groceries, eggs on the top? I think back to that scene and wonder how practical it is - a single person buying "groceries." Today I think young singles and seniors would gravitate to a deli where they could pick up a reasonable meal in a sack, maybe with plastic utensils, and just discard everything by the time they're done. There goes the chore of "washing dishes" too. Is washing dishes becoming outdated? I would compare it to the writing of on-paper Christmas cards. We used to go through our Christmas card list and just assume we'd prepare a pile of cards to send. But it seems more laborious today, in our new age where we habitually communicate by email.
My Christmas communications are unique, I'd like to think: I write an original Christmas song, have it recorded, and then send links with personalized messages to my acquaintances. I'm proud of that. We have basically ceased sending on-paper cards.
My little adventure of baking a cake went well. It reminded me of the labor requirement in doing this type of thing, how it feels more demanding than it used to. I ended up eating most of the cake because I had to. It's a distant memory of bringing a piece over to Les.
Our dog had great affection for Les. We referred to Les as "Sandy's best friend." Sandy almost made it to age 17. He was put down two weeks shy in an unavoidable decision. He was half American Eskimo and half poodle. Sandy and Les are together in heaven now.
Sandy got to an age where it seemed he couldn't run anymore. One thing would get him to run. Les might be coming in from getting his mail and I'd say to Sandy: "Let's go see Les." Sandy would take off!
I look at various items on the Willie's shelves and I wonder: who buys this stuff? The frozen flounder? I experimented once with the frozen northern pike because I wanted to prepare it on my Foreman grill. So many bones! Pike may taste good but the bones make it totally impractical.
Thank goodness we dine each weekday noon at our Morris Senior Community Center. We trust Robert to put the best food in front of us.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minneosta - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, April 17, 2017

Celebrating chocolate bunnies for Easter

Mid-April is the time of year when weather is non-descript, just teasing us about the warmer weather to come. We often see a forecast for warmer temperatures and then find that a gale force wind sets in. So much for getting out the bicycle. It's a special occasion for me when I can get out the air pump and WD-40 and activate my bike for spring. Going out to the Pomme de Terre River is euphoric after the long winter.
We had a winter with sickness being reported all over the place. People coughed and blew their nose. It was nothing but an ordeal. Very soon I'll be making that full "lap" using both sides of the river, feeling quite elated doing so. Joggers and walkers will be out there.
I'm writing this on Easter weekend. I was one of those kids who associated Easter with chocolate bunnies. I heard the ministers talk about what Easter really was. But I found it depressing: all that literal torture that Jesus endured. Mel Gibson sure mined that to excess. I never saw that movie, just read about it. The crucifixion story is macabre. The story is that Jesus then rose from the dead. My former boss, Jim Morrison, doesn't believe that. Call me skeptical too.
I'm rather relieved when Easter weekend is over. There's a Monday holiday called "Dyngus Day" observed in various cities. Something about that gave TV journalist Anderson Cooper the giggles one year. It was just like when David Brinkley tried reading a story about damage done to the Maraschino cherry crop. He couldn't compose himself and the show went to a commercial. In Cooper's case, something about the "pussywillow princess" set him off, as I recall.
It's so nice to hear about an unbridled occasion for pleasure, Dyngus Day, coming right on the heels of a holiday that has blood and gore, i.e. the abuse of Jesus. Why do we even need to acknowledge that so much? Couldn't we just choose to emphasize the positives (if we have the faith) of what Christ's death meant for us?
Why can't we know more about what Jesus did between the ages of 12 and 30?
I was discouraged by our Morris Public Library being closed for Good Friday. The library is a public institution. A growing percentage of the population is not Christian or not affiliated. More of us choose to live outside the boundaries of religion. And it's rather understandable if you watch the movie "Spotlight" which has been available on DVD from our library. Anne Barber is pretty sharp running our library even tbough I still miss Melissa Yauk. I sent Melissa a happy birthday email on April 12. She was kind enough to answer, and she reports that spring has arrived nicely out in Idaho.
I was quite familiar with the factual background of "Spotlight" before watching the movie. It truly makes me skeptical of entering our Catholic church in Morris for any reason. I went there for Fritz Schmidt's funeral because I just had to.
I have heard it said that the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church has hurt all churches. Young people consumed the news and can't believe we continue to support institutions where this kind of risk is presented for kids. The millennials are wise.
Del Sarlette says that young people aren't necessarily rejecting faith, it's just that they don't see the point of "going to a building" for this. Generations have their different traits. The beloved WWII generation were "joiners" and did things like bowl on bowling teams. Then we got the book "Bowling Alone" which told of the erosion of that trait. It is no longer as important to form friendships based on sharing a geographic place - we form friendships based on shared interests, with people we find using the new communications.
My generation thought it puzzling that Christians were divided into different denominations. We rejected the old dichotomy of Lutherans and Catholics in our small outstate communities. We were better educated and had the benefit of affluence, giving us more freedom to form our own judgments. We reached the age of puberty younger. I won't go into the ramifacations of that - perhaps in a future blog post.
Back in about 1980 there was an organization called "Young Life" in Morris, the purpose being to get kids interested in Christianity again. They were not inclined to support the youth groups of their parents' churches, like Luther League. Some very prominent Morris citizens - heads of banks - were involved in promoting Young Life. Eventually I think their objectives were realized, so that's kind of nice.
Myself, I'm more inclined to go along with Jim Morrison's outlook on spirituality or the need to be free of it. Ron Reagan Jr. promotes this. My preferred activity on Easter weekend is to watch the DVD of "Life of Brian." Or, eating a chocolate bunny.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, April 14, 2017

Some UMM memories increasingly precious

You will see a display by the entrance to the HFA Recital Hall at UMM. It's a fond look-back.
UMM's earliest history fades further into the past, an inevitable process as the institution moves through changes and new challenges. I look at today's faculty and think "my, they're young." I also think that when looking at policemen. "When did they start hiring kids to be policemen?" It has been said that the latter thought is a primary signal that you're getting old. "When did they start hiring kids to be physical therapists?"
I'm 62 years old and have qualified for Social Security. I am a boomer and thus not inclined to acknowledge much aging at all. But I'm 62 and can recall firsthand observations about some of the historical stuff preserved at the HFA. I'm talking about the UMM men's chorus. It was a pride and joy of my father Ralph.
The heyday of that chorus finally faded. Perhaps there were "political correctness" forces working against it. Maybe a gender-specific choir was no-go as the political sensitivities of the late '60s and '70s built.
Is it possible that "sacred" music was put aside too? Music that presumed a prevailing Christianity? I was college-age in the '70s and could easily see such a snubbing. I would never suggest a push for Christianity as some sort of preferred philosophy. But music is fundamentally art. Christian-oriented art springs from a pure artistic wellspring.
I began sensing a few years ago at UMM that it was no longer taboo to present sacred music. The argument is, I presume, that some of the most inspired art can have a Christian or otherwise religious theme. I realize that religion has caused tremendous strife around the globe. But brilliant art must be acknowledged. When you exclude Christian-themed or Christian-inspired music, the range of choices is thinned.
I have a theory that UMM and other institutions may have been forced to change because of African-American gospel singing that celebrated that culture's contributions to our American art and was Christian-themed. I could just see a conservative campus organization complaining if the gospel/spiritual stuff was allowed and even celebrated, while other comparable Christian expressions on campus might be snubbed.
I remember when UMM people were asked to have little exhibits prepared touting the accomplishments of their own - retirees included. These little displays are up annually for an exhibition. It looks like a high school science fair! I remember considering preparing one for my father. I was immediately concerned, though, about the heavily sacred theme of so much of my father's original (professionally published) music. So I wondered if I would need some sort of disclaimer message.
Seriously, I considered this: "Much of Ralph's music has a sacred/Christian underpinning, but the Williams family wants everyone to know we respect all the world's faiths." I suspected that such a message would be needed to make the little "science fair exhibit" (LOL) palatable. I ended up wondering if the message would be sufficient to make the display acceptable in the painstakingly secular (in my mind at the time) world of the U of M-Morris.
As many critics of mine have pointed out: "Brian, you think too much." I hope it's not a totally worthless quality.
I refrained from considering the display, only to realize as time went on: "UMM seems to not have these inhibitions anymore." I learned this partly through attending concerts at UMM. So I suppose I should have pursued the display.
But instead we have the quite terrific display at the entrance to the Recital Hall. It celebrates UMM's travels in the early 1960s, UMM's heady (bur fragile) early days.
My father took the men's chorus to two World's Fairs: Seattle and New York. I was along for the New York trip in 1964. We were on top of the world or so it seemed. Our chorus opened the Minnesota Day festivities at the Seattle World's Fair. This was in a time when Americans were terrified by the Cuban missile crisis. We got through that.
UMM got through its fragile early days to become the "jewel in the crown."
I have always felt a personal schism with UMM, as I could never really internalize everything the institution stood for. I felt intimidated by it. But today I'm at peace, knowing I can be accepted as a UMM supporter without myself having to be any sort of intellectual.
That men's chorus at the '64 Fair gave unique thrills with its sounds.
Listen to the golden sounds of the original UMM men's chorus by clicking on this link:
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

MACA girls defeat ACGC and Montevideo

Tigers 14, ACGC 2
The Tigers made short work of it, five innings, in getting past the Falcons of ACGC on Tuesday. The offense clearly took over. We scored in each of the five innings.
Bailey Marty had three hits in three at-bats, drove in a run and scored four in this 14-2 MACA softball win. Piper Gibson was in the groove at the plate too: two-for-three, two RBIs and three runs. Whitney DeMaris went two-for-three with two ribbies and two runs. Emma Bowman had a hit and a run scored.
Karly Fehr had a hit and crossed home plate twice. Ashley Solvie had a hit and a run scored. Nicole Solvie went one-for-two with a pair of ribbies. Riley Decker had a hit in her only at-bat. Kailey Hottovy added a hit to the winning mix.
The MACA line score was 14 runs, 13 hits and a nice "zero" in errors;. The ACGC line score was 2-4-5. Maree Lee had a double and run scored for the Falcons. Rylie Wilner and Taryn Reinke also hit safely. Wilner had an RBI and Reinke had a double.
Brooke Gillespie pitched the whole way for the Tigers. She struck out four batters, walked two and allowed four hits in her five innings. Reinke and Micayla Hobson were the Falcon hurlers with Reinke getting the loss. Six of the 12 runs that Reinke allowed were unearned.
A pivotal point occurred with ACGC having the bases loaded. The score was tied. How did the Tigers put out this potential fire? With a triple play!
Tigers 9, Montevideo 8
The Morris Area Chokio Alberta bats were robust at the home diamond in a 9-8 win over Montevideo. Brooke Gillespie's bat was sizzling with four-for-four numbers including a double. Three Tigers each had a two-for-two line: Kailey Hottovy, Piper Gibson and Liz Dietz. Hottovy and Gibson each had a double.
Emma Bowman had two hits in three at-bats and delivered the decisive blow in the fifth. Bowman's single brought in the tying and go-ahead runs. Karly Fehr delivered a double. Bailey Marty went one-for-four.
Our line score was nine runs, 14 hits and two errors. Monte's line was 8-12-3.
The MACA pitching was divided among three. It was Gillespie getting the pitching win with her stint of 3 1/3 innings. She set down two batters on strikes and walked no one. Dietz picked up the save as she worked 2 2/3 innings. She fanned a batter and issued no walks. Ashley Solvie pitched for an inning, fanning two batters and walking one.
The losing pitcher was Breanna Welling. Welling made noise with her bat as she socked a home run. Cali Christianson had three hits in four at-bats. Other Thunder Hawks hitting safely were Ashley McKee, Abby Olson, Sydney Zindel, Sydni Striech, Rachel West and Jasmyn Kronback.
The fourth and fifth innings were the big ones for MACA: three runs in each. We scored one run each in the first through third innings. We're delighted that the spring sports season is underway. We're especially delighted that spring is here at all. We had a seemingly endless winter with no redeeming qualities.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Let's celebrate the peace of North Dakota

(image from "pow-wow")
North Dakota is a most unpretentious place. My own familiarity is with the eastern edge. I'm not talking about Fargo, I'm talking about I-29 going north to Grand Forks. I can still remember some of the billboards. We cruised along listening to Garner Ted Armstrong on the radio. This was in the 1970s. "We" was the musical group known as the Tempo Kings.
I-29 north to Grand Forks seemed such a peaceful world unto itself. Such is the nature of North Dakota. It might easily be known as the state of wide open spaces, except that Montana seems to own that distinction.
North Dakota? It doesn't seem to seek notoriety at all. It's a state where small towns are sprinkled along the countryside. The town of Rugby is at the exact center of the North American continent. ND is a rather celebrity-starved state that feels a big deal can be made of Lawrence Welk coming from there. Welk's music was a bastion for the older folk during the years of the "generation gap," remember?
So, ND doesn't much care if the likes of Manhattan-ites diss them a little.
I recently decided to pen a little song in recognition of North Dakota. It's simply called "North Dakota" and that's its refrain: "North Dakota, North Dakota." I hope it can make a positive impression. I don't have it recorded yet. This may be done in the near future, using the singing talents of Debra Gordon.
In the meantime, let's think further about the wonderful if understated assets of the state. I'm pleased to make reference to the rich Native American culture by including the powwows of springtime. The very first words refer to Medora as a place that fulfills artistically just as well as Broadway in New York City. I have sent my mother on two motorcoach trips that included a Medora show. Audience members are treated to the sight of elk grazing atop a nearby hill. Nothing like that in NYC.
Nor does the metro have anything like the grasslands to the west that have Theodore Roosevelt's name attached to them. Roosevelt first came to the North Dakota Badlands to hunt bison in the fall of 1883. It is said he "fell in love" with the rugged lifestyle and the "perfect freedom" of the West. He invested in a ranch south of Medora. He launched a second ranch north of Medora. He wrote all about this for eastern newspapers and magazines.
TR became a crusader for sound conservation practices. The crusade became part of his eventual presidency. I'm not sure our current president is attuned at all to this. A National Park commemorates Teddy Roosevelt and his legacy. Theodore Roosevelt National Park comprises three geographically separated areas of Badlands in western North Dakota. The grasslands predominate.
The Park's larger south unit lies alongside I-94 near Medora. My song has a reference to I-94 which goes east-west straight across the state. The Park received 753,880 recreational visitors in 2016, an increase of 30 percent from the previous year.
I'm pleased in my song to also acknowledge the wide Missouri River. The Missouri River in its whole is the longest in North America. More than ten major groups of Native Americans populated the watershed. They were mainly nomadic in lifestyle. The huge bison herds sustained them.
Long as the river is, it was not found to be that mythical (as it turned out) "Northwest Passage." Lewis and Clark were the first to travel the river's whole length. Passage or no, the Missouri turned into one of the main routes for the westward expansion of the U.S. in the 19th Century.
Trappers blazed trails in the early 1800s. Pioneers headed west en masse beginning in the 1830s. The covered wagons rumbled. Steamboats explored the river. Settlers worked to take over lands that had been occupied by Indians, leading to intense conflicts. The Missouri River became a resource for major hydroelectric power in the 20th Century.
Development has loomed as a threat to the kind of pristine environment that Teddy Roosevelt celebrated.
Here are the lyrics I have penned for "North Dakota":
"North Dakota"
by Brian Williams
No need to visit Broadway
Medora does it right
North Dakota, North Dakota
We've learned to do it our way
To make it like fine wine
North Dakota, North Dakota
We see the long horizon
As we cruise 94
North Dakota, North Dakota
Imagine all the bison
That roamed in days of yore
North Dakota, North Dakota
The Bakken has the oil that makes us go
The people of the North can make it flow
Just like the gold in them thar hills
The farmers all around can grow the wheat
A shining exhibition so complete
It does much more than pay the bills

A powwow makes it certain
That spring is in the air
North Dakota, North Dakota
And then the summer season
delights us with its fairs
North Dakota, North Dakota
Out west there is the grassland
Where Teddy left his mark
North Dakota, North Dakota
He knew it was the best plan
To make it all a Park
North Dakota, North Dakota
(repeat bridge)
We see the wide Missouri
A mirror to the sky
North Dakota, North Dakota
No need for you to hurry
When you are by her side
North Dakota, North Dakota
We feel the love in Fargo
The city not the flick
North Dakota, North Dakota
You can't beg, steal or borrow
The qualities of it
North Dakota, North Dakota
North Dakota, North Dakota
© Copyright 2017 Brian R. Williams

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April Fool's Day is outdated occasion

The front page of the Morris Sun Tribune is ridiculous. This isn't said in a spirit of sour grapes. I'm referring to the April 1 edition, a date that tempted their staff to attempt humor on a juvenile level. If they read this they'll snicker at me. People in the old corporate media aren't receptive to criticism.
Let's start with consideration of "April Fool's Day" itself. Haven't you noticed that we don't hear much about that occasion anymore? Doesn't it, in fact, seem like a stupid, outdated occasion? Do you find any humor in the kind of jokes associated with it? Aren't you a little fearful that such jokes can be hurtful? What sort of satisfaction can anyone take in such foolish gestures?
April Fool's Day has faded partly because of the litigious tendencies in our society.
I remember when Neil Thielke was one of the pastors writing a pastor's column in the Morris paper. This was back when the paper was substantially larger, twice a week in fact. Neil's column represented some of the best journalism in the paper. He recalled telling some young people about the dangers of actually doing some of the things you might see in the movies. Hollywood is the dream factory. The actors themselves say "leave 'em laughing." The expression is meant to show the line drawn between themselves and their audience. What's on the screen is make-believe, even for movies that claim to be "based on" or "inspired by" reality.
Is it legitimate to engage in a "barroom brawl?" Is it innocuous behavior? Is it "boys will be boys?" Movies that I grew up with showed violent conflict. But if you break someone's nose in an altercation, the victim will seek medical help and the insurance company will want to know what outside party was responsible. The Neanderthal behavior will be shut down readily. Try some elaborate April Fool's joke on someone and you could be setting up some undesirable consequences for yourself. You might get sued.
Someone mentioned to me that elderly people could be misled by the Morris Sun Tribune front page. I'm getting to that age where I might not be as "hip" and I could be vulnerable.
I saw a headline that announced the trade of Tom Brady from New England to Buffalo. At the time I wasn't aware it was April 1 or April Fool's Day. I just wasn't conscious of it. I couldn't care less. But I saw the headline and immediately took it seriously. OK maybe I was thinking like an elderly person, taking things at face value too readily. Is it ridiculous on the face of it to believe Brady would be traded to Buffalo? It seems unusual and certainly worthy of big headlines. But preposterous? Harmon Killebrew ended up playing for Kansas City. Brady is up in years. Player movement in pro sports is always to be expected.
I sort of shrugged and just moved on with my reading, as I used a computer at the Morris Senior Citizens Center. More affirmation that I'm elderly. A couple days went by. I suddenly realized I wasn't hearing any more about the Brady trade. Ergo, it was an April Fool's gag! So what? What satisfaction could the perpetrators have taken? It was dumb. It was nothing but dumb, just like the front page of the Morris paper which if nothing else engaged in overkill.
If you really want to appreciate an April Fool's joke, such a joke should be subtle and maybe have some finesse, IMHO. But I would suggest, why even bother? I remember when a joke was pulled on a fellow at our DeToy's Restaurant, wherein he was given a fake winning lottery ticket. It resulted in genuine better feelings. Again, why bother with such a joke?
If April Fool's Day had the kind of high profile it once did, we'd hear a lot more patter in connection to it on TV, on the cable news channels. I recall hardly any acknowledgment.
The news connected to Donald Trump might be taken as some sort of cruel joke: the fact he ran as a populist but now is doing things quite in contradiction. Remember the endless debates? Were there any debates at all between Nixon and Humphrey or Nixon and McGovern? But in 2016 in our new media-saturated world, we get incessant debates which resulted in a truly dangerous man getting elected president. So what have we accomplished? What does April Fool's Day accomplish?
At least we're inching close to more pleasant weather, quite belatedly. Let's shelve the April Fool's Day foolishness. Mr. Thielke, do you agree?
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, April 1, 2017

My Mom Martha is home again

Here's Martha Williams in her days managing the UMM post office.
The friends of Martha H. Williams will be happy to know she's home again. The past month and a half has been a real odyssey for her. I probably shouldn't share specifics about her health challenges, but I'll note that pneumonia in one lung was a highly complicating factor.
I give a grade of A-plus to the medical personnel of SCMC. Dr. Rapp of the Starbuck Clinic attended to her when her situation seemed most precarious. Dr. Lunzer attended to her during an emergency one evening where 4-5 nurses worked with her to temper the situation. I honestly thought she might die.
It was helpful for me that a high school classmate of mine was at SCMC with his mother at the same time. I won't type his name for privacy reasons. Though I won't list my mother's issues, I'll just say they were typical for someone of advanced age.
Dr. Rapp suggested a rehabilitation stay at a nursing home. I guess there wasn't room at our local nursing home. So it was off to Barrett, a situation that I at first wasn't enthused about. The daily commute wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The highway to the north is nice and smooth, having been worked on. I was careful to stay under 60 MPH and that's a good thing because I saw several "Smokeys" along the road. More than once I saw them turn their lights on, for a motorist other than me. Maybe the smooth highway tempts people to speed.
It has always been a problem in outstate Minnesota, on a smooth, lightly traveled highway on a sunny day, to get a "lead foot." It happens almost without awareness. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Cruise control solves that. But sometimes you have to disengage that to deal with other vehicles.
I remember once I was just east of Cyrus in the Sun Tribune van when a Smokey did a U-turn and pulled me over. I got just a warning. But the experience was chafing because the officer scolded me rather seriously because of something I did as he pulled me over. I reached to the floor of the van. I did that because I often chose to put my wallet on the floor of the van, so as not to have to sit on it during an out of town drive. The Smokey must be disturbed by that because, in his mind, I might be reaching for a weapon? The thought wouldn't cross my mind. I've never lived in Chicago.
In the 1970s I got several speeding citations, what I would attribute - we all have excuses - to spending a fair amount of time on the Interstate at that stage in my life. I drove my prize 1967 Oldsmobile Toronado which we got from Bill Dripps.
Careful as I am now, it is hard to maintain the proper discipline 100 percent of the time, out here in peaceful rural Minnesota where the traffic can be light and we have wide open spaces. But heavens I'm no Bill Janklow with my attitudes about this.
So, Mom and I spent time at the Barrett Care Center, following Dr. Rapp's directive or suggestion. It really was essential. It was harrowing for a time and then Mom, as she has always done in the past, stabilized. At present her condition is tender and I would not say she's completely out of the woods. But if past is precedent, she will be OK for the foreseeable future, maybe even improve more. It's so satisfying to note, yet it subjects me as the caregiver to no small amount of stress. I'm sure the health care professionals consider me a "helicopter" family member, to the point I need a little counseling sometimes. I'm inclined to think that family caregivers don't get enough empathy.
The drive between Morris and Barrett is an interesting one. It's certainly not like the drive between Glenwood and Sauk Centre! On Highway 59 we enjoy the sight of Pomme de Terre River and its lakes to the east. To the west we view the substantial wind farm.
All my life I have been struck by the rather odd entrance to Barrett. The road splits up with each portion having two lanes. So do I bear to the left or stay on the right? Frankly, a town the size of Barrett should not have confusing intersections.
The Barrett Care Center is a pretty ambitious facility. On the whole I was pleased. But I felt considerable anxiety over what the timetable for my mother's discharge would be. I was misled more than once. I began considering enlisting an attorney. I was worried the staff would set the bar too high, as it were, for approving discharge. I got nervous other whether my mother would have to stay there just because of having a bad day or a bad session with physical therapy.
My mother was rather "up and down" with her condition as you might well imagine with someone her age recovering from a bad health bout. She was having a bad day when I took her to Morris to see her personal physician once. So, any enthusiasm I might share about the Barrett Care Center is tempered by what I had to go through. Finally we got official word about her impending release. I made sure Mom truly wanted to go home. She made it clear. We do have home care provisions through Knute Nelson.
My mother showed an interesting trait through all her recent health travail: she reverted back to speaking the Swedish language, the original language she learned. Her parents emigrated from Sweden. Mom grew up in Brainerd which was a company town with the railroad at the time. She played with the band at ceremonies in connection to the Brainerd National Guard being called for duty in World War II. It's a tragic story because the Guardsmen were captured by the Empire of Japan in the Philippines.
Douglas MacArthur said "I shall return." He should have said "we shall return." MacArthur was greeted with a parade after he was fired by Harry Truman. But he flopped miserably when trying to run for president. My late father said "Americans were afraid he'd get us into another war." We too often associate our experience in WWII with glory and success. Truth be told, war is all hell.
I wish to acknowledge a nurse at Barrett Care Center who I thought was so totally capable and warm with her nature, all the time. Her name is Melissa. I don't know her last name. I will miss seeing her. I'll also warmly remember the house cat named "Jingles." I remember at our Morris Public Library, early when Melissa Yauk was here, they tried having a house cat. All it took was one complaint to end that. How unfortunate.
It is possible based on Mom's track record that she will continue improving. Of course we don't know - only the Lord knows. My father reached age 96. I would say they've done OK.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com