March 14th, 2014

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#859 – Dick Bernard: Today the third one of us is 70!

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Happy birthday, Flo!

Brother Frank, on deck for this age, with one to go – John – sent a short e-mail: “boy, we sure are getting old!”.

But Flo will probably be happy to see this post. At least her brother, me, remembered. This year I don’t need to be reminded a few days later…if I’m lucky, our card will reach her today. Most likely it won’t, since I only mailed it yesterday.

Oh well, at least I sent it in beforehand.

I’m the keeper of the family photos, and in the Henry and Esther Bernard box is a manila envelope labelled, simply, “5 kids”. There are quite a few photos in that envelope, from 1948 when the youngest was born; to 1997, when Dad died.

Here’s my favorite of the bunch: (the birthday girl is at right; yours truly, then 16, probably took the photo).

(click to enlarge)

At Anoka MN, summer 1956, from left: Henry, Frank, John, Esther, Mary Ann and Florence Bernard.

At Anoka MN, summer 1956, from left: Henry, Frank, John, Esther, Mary Ann and Florence Bernard.

The day of the photo Dad would have been 48, Mom was 46. Need I say more?

This particular day we were enroute down U.S. Highway 10 in Mom and Dad’s 1951 grey Plymouth Suburban, one of the earlier station wagons. It was the second family car in my time on earth. The earlier one was a 1936 Ford. New family cars weren’t rushed in those years.

We were driving from Antelope, about a half dozen miles northwest of Mooreton ND, to Broadview IL, west suburban Chicago, to visit Mom’s kid brother, Art, wife Eileen, and new son, John. Our stop, probably for a picnic lunch, was in then-almost rural Anoka, a place with a long history in Minnesota, at the junction of the Mississippi and Rum Rivers about 20 country miles northwest of downtown Minneapolis.

That was a long trip; mapquest says 618 miles today, 10 hours. But today most of that is I-94 or I-90. Then it was a very long trip, seldom taken, on two-lane paved roads that went right through towns and cities. Most of the first half of the trip, then, would have been on U.S. 10; thence on U.S. 12 to Chicago.

At the time of the photo, I was a couple of months into my Drivers License years, so I was probably behind the wheel a lot of the time on that trip. The rest of the scrum was vying for “window front”, or “window back”, three in the front, four in the back. No seat belts, no air bags, no air conditioner (except open windows), ‘stick shift’, plenty of time to try to practice survival skills of minimal neighborliness in the confines of the vehicle. Restaurants didn’t see much of our money on those trips. They were an extravagance.

I seem to remember we got to Broadview pretty late at night, or maybe that was the trip where we were “mooching relatives” at Mom’s cousins place, the Langkamps, in Rockford IL. (We took two trips to Chicago – the other one was the previous year when uncle and aunt had just moved to Chicago-land from Ft. Wayne IN. Both trips we saw the Chicago Cubs. One year they played the Pittsburgh Pirates, the other the New York Giants. In both years, the teams were cellar dwellers, sharing 7th or 8th in the standings, but that made no difference. Wrigley Field was a big, big deal for we kids from North Dakota!

Life went on.

Little did we know that day at Anoka in 1956 that in July, 1965, I would sign a teaching contract in Anoka, in the very school Garrison Keillor had graduated from a few short years earlier. Nor that Flo, on return from the Peace Corps in 1968, would teach one year in the Anoka Junior High School Keillor had attended, before working for Anoka County Home Extension Service (or so I recall).

The memories go on and on, of course. Here’s a tiny “family album” from amongst that envelope of photos: Bernard mini-Album001.

And here’s one from 1966, in, probably, the Palo Alto CA area, where Mary Ann was a Nurse at Stanford, and Flo was about to head for Peace Corps Training. I won’t take responsibility for this photo as I was back at Normal IL, at the UofI at Normal, for summer school. In those days, you didn’t know what you had on the photo till the negatives were developed. Then, you took what you got.

Summer 1966 California, from left: Mary Ann, Esther, John, Florence, Frank, my son Tom, Henry Bernard

Summer 1966 California, from left: Mary Ann, Esther, John, Florence, Frank, my son Tom, Henry Bernard

Happy Birthday, Flo!