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#1024 – Dick Bernard: “A Boy Named Sue”, a song for Mother’s Day?

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Today we did what has come to be an annual trip, possibly four miles to the Ramsey County Correctional Facility (RCCF) to purchase Mother’s Day Flowers. (More here.)

The seasonal business is staffed by inmates at this place once called the Workhouse; 25% of the proceeds count as a donation. It is a pleasant task, buying flowers at a jail while helping some folks recover from the mistake(s) that got them confined there.

(click to enlarge)
RCCF Flowers001.

I’ve written about this program before. Every inmate there has a mother, and father, and ancestors…and some problem that got them time….

This year I was reminded of a session on “heritage” that I conducted on Monday evening, coincidentally my 75th birthday, in Minneapolis.

Heritage, I said on Monday, is everything about us, brought to us from our past. In Old French the word heritage essentially means “inheritance” from our ancestors.

We usually think of our ancestry, as people we know: our Mom, our Dad, maybe our Grandparents, but we are a sum of thousands of predecessors, parents, uncles and aunts, siblings, on and on and on. Each brings to us something empowering or disabling. Much is DNA; or observed and learned behaviors, and on and on.

Our “inheritance” is far more than money – or lack of same….

Thinking about how to approach Mondays topic, I decided to frame heritage as our collective “baggage” and “balloons”.

If we’re lucky, and determined, the balloons we’ve inherited have greater lift than the weight of the baggage. We can rise above much; sometimes like these inmates who were helping us today, we’re dragged down, but we can recover.

I kept thinking of Johnny Cash’s old tune, “A Boy Named Sue”, and found an unexpurgated and particularly entertaining version on YouTube. (Yes, this version has the cuss words, little kids doing fake violence and the like, but c’mon, every now and then you’ve thunk the same ’bout your own situation and who bears the blame for your state of being at some particular time!).

Somewhere out there on the internet, I’m sure, there’s analysis about what drew Johnny Cash to sing the verses of that song, and made that song so popular. Here’s one. We identify with imperfection, because we’re imperfect. Doubtless in the video that accompanies the song, those little kids who were the “actors” had fun with the rubber knife and the play gun.

I guess it’s part of the life we all experience from time to time, our private face..

But for all of us it started with a Mom and a Dad, and for them, the same, and back all through human history.

Happy Mother’s Day!

And if you’re in the area, and haven’t got your flowers as yet, try the RCCF sale this weekend, or through May 24.

A related post here.

And an interesting commentary, “Teach Your Children Well“.

#1023 – Dick Bernard: On Turning 75….

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Today I’m 75. “Just a kid” to great numbers of my contemporaries; nonetheless, a very noticeable birthday, to me at least.

Each person has their own story, along life’s road. And life’s journey is, indeed, a new “road” we all travel, with the attendant surprises any trip down a previously untraveled road or path has for everyone.

(click on all photos to enlarge)

Richard Bernard, new kid on the block, with parents Henry and Esther, May, 1940, McGillivray Apts,  Valley City ND

Richard Bernard, new kid on the block, with parents Henry and Esther, May, 1940, McGillivray Apts, Valley City ND

(This photo was taken a block away from Valley City State Teachers College, which my Dad was then attending, and which I attended myself beginning 18 years later.)

Perhaps this birthday is more prominent to me than the others because the last member of my parents generation, Uncle Vince, died just three months ago, on February 2.

I’ve written often about he, the family and the North Dakota farm on this page. My sister, Flo, and I were with him during his final few hours.

It surprised him when I mentioned a few months ago that I was soon to be 75.

He’s told me that he was the first family member, other than my parents, to hold me after I was born.

Vincent was 15, then.

Tomorrow, I’ll be out at the family farm again, continuing the process of transitioning an entire generation into history. To me that place, those things, represents far more than just stuff to dispose and/or distribute. It’s occupants were, Grandma and Grandpa, and all of these Uncles and Aunts, and my parents, the ones who launched me and all my siblings and cousins in many and sundry ways.

Some pictures of them, at various times back then, are at the end of this post.

Today, also, grandson Parker celebrates his 13th birthday.

He’s already an accomplished baseball guy, his passion, and yesterday, at a small family dinner, I gave him a home-made card with a photo of my brother Frank, and I, taken 1955, at Antelope Consolidated School, near Mooreton ND. I used to stand out in our yard, there in the country, and try to hit baseballs over the trees, imagining I was Mickey Mantle.

We have our dreams.

Dick, at right, and Frank, summer, 1955.

Dick, at right, and Frank, summer, 1955.

I think he liked the photo.

He’s on his own road, now, with its own promise, ruts, crossroads, forks…. Like every one of us, he’s on his own journey, in which all of us participate, in one way or another.

Life is, I’ve learned, a community event. And the community, now, is the planet earth – every last one of us, everywhere.

Here are a couple more photos with my own past memories, one’s which today hold more significance than usual.

Maybe they’ll jog some of your own, about you.

Have a great day.

Grandpa and Grandma Bernard and we Bernards, Spring 1946, Grafton ND.  Grandpa, then, would have been 76.  I'm the five year old in front, with parents and then-three siblings, Mary Ann, Florence and Frank.

Grandpa and Grandma Bernard and we Bernards, Spring 1946, Grafton ND. Grandpa, then, would have been 76. I’m the five year old in front, with parents and then-three siblings, Mary Ann, Florence and Frank.

Grandma and Grandpa Bernard had three children. My Dad, Henry, was the middle child. His older sister, Josie, was deaf, and from the 1930s on lived in the Los Angeles area. She rarely came home to Grafton. Grandma and Grandpa, beginning in the later 1930s, spent winters in Long Beach, so they saw her often. Their youngest son, Frank, served on the USS Arizona beginning 1936, and died on the ship December 7, 1941.

Grandma and Grandpa Busch at the farm on their 50th wedding anniversary Feb. 28, 1955.  Grandpa would have been about 75.  All but two of their children, my aunts and uncles, are in the photo.  Art was unable to be there, I guess; and their daughter, Verena, had died at age 15 in 1927.  Uncle Vincent is third from left, his sister, Aunt Edithe, is at far left.

Grandma and Grandpa Busch at the farm on their 50th wedding anniversary Feb. 28, 1955. Grandpa would have been about 75. All but two of their children, my aunts and uncles, are in the photo. Art was unable to be there, I guess; and their daughter, Verena, had died at age 15 in 1927. Uncle Vincent is third from left, his sister, Aunt Edithe, is at far left.

Art, the only child absent, was an electrical engineer in Chicago, in the early years of marriage and career, and was probably unable to come home for this event. On the wall behind the family, one can see the General Electric annual wall calendar, which was certainly from Art to his parents.

Henry Bernard, 74, "mannequin" in a Quebec City suburban department store window, June, 1982

Henry Bernard, 74, “mannequin” in a Quebec City suburban department store window, June, 1982

Birthday  Twins: Parker (May 4, 2002) and Dick (May 4, 1940)

Birthday Twins: Parker (May 4, 2002) and Dick (May 4, 1940)

#1022 – Kathleen Valdez: A Surprise Find from a DNA Analysis.

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

PRE-NOTE FROM DICK: For some time I’ve been thinking of having an ancestry DNA analysis done.

A short while ago, the inclination racheted up quite a bit with this e-mail from an out-of-the-blue e-mail from Kathy (Corey) Valdez, an Oregonian whose Mom Ellie Lemire Corey was (she thought) from primarily French-Canadian roots from Quebec to Minnesota to North Dakota.

Here’s Kathy’s e-mail, with followup comment, all from Kathy, passed along with her permission:

March 24, 2015: “In going through mom’s letters, I felt I needed to tell you about the DNA discovery I’ve made and how it’s all come about through the Spirit. You know, the Spanish have a word that is much richer in meaning for our word- coincidence. The word is diosidencia – google it!

In my DNA (autosomal – half from mom and half from dad), I found among the English, Irish and Western European that I was 19% Iberian Peninsula. I first thought, “I don’t have Spanish blood- I’m all French on Mom’s side with some Native American mixed in.”

About 3 weeks ago, I came across a French-Canadian Project for Aunism…Spanish Jews who fled to France as a result of being targeted in the Spanish Inquisition. Yep, that be me! [NOTE from editor: here is a general link to the topic.]

I cross-referenced the 50 or so names of those on the list of Sephardic Jews who fled to France and then 400 years later to settle New France and I found 18 surnames on my Lemire/Parent family tree!

My great uncle Arthur Parent (Mom’s uncle on her mom’s side) passed on to his descendants that they had Jewish blood in their ancestry but I dismissed it because the ‘reporter’ (uncle’s daughter) was way off on some of her other information. She also liked to sensationalize information.

Well, my DNA test showed she was right!”

I asked Kathy for more info, and got her permission to pass on her information:

March 27, 2015: “I first had my test done through Family Tree dna because they test Y and Mitochondria chromosomes as well as the more general testing for autosomal. You are able to find your closest matches in the database and contact these matches, hoping they have some sort of family tree to see where you connect.

Ancestrydna did my second test and it’s more ‘user friendly’ to the public and only tests autosomal. Autosomal is the test for ‘ancestral place’. It goes back 4-5 gen. and matches you with other people who have been tested so you can contact each other.

So both test autosomal and give matches for you to contact but only Family Tree dna finds your Y dna (males) back to the beginning of humankind. Both men and women have the mitro. (X) and everyone has autosomal (half from your mom and half from you father).

Autosomal: It’s a toss up as to which genes you inherit (crap shoot:) Your sibs inherit different combos unless you’re identical twins. I just attended a LDS Conference in Forest Grove last Sat. and a woman from Ancestry was keynote – excellent! She said that AncestryDNA altho has only been around 3 yrs. is growing faster than Family Tree and for all intent and purposes the autosomal is the only test you need….unless you want to find your deep, deep roots!

Ancestry DNA usually has specials from time to time – I think before Mother’s/Father’s Day..$79

The woman said you’d have to test no less than 5 sibs to get a clear picture of your parent’s dna. Except for Tim, my sibs are reluctant so I guess I need to pay for their tests :) If both parents are alive, that’s all you need to test (not yourself as it’s all there :) Test your oldest relatives.

If you’re a member of Ancestry (AARP membership- I just joined last month because of this) has 10% off membership so I pay $209 annually now as opposed to $299 when you subscribe annually)….on Ancestry they have tutorials about dna that they archive. If you want, I can notify you when specials are happening:)”

from Jeanne: There will be a DNA round table at Minneapolis Central Library: Genealogy Research: DNA Testing Discussion Minneapolis Central Library • N-402 • Share Tuesday, June 9, 7–8 p.m.

from Christine: These Jews were called the Maroons in Spain and in France later. This is a well known migration of population in Europe. They have become Catholic and gradually lost their Jewish practice.

This search of your DNA and origins is very enriching.

from Marshall: It is funny you mention DNA. We have been curious for a while on our own DNA, and Carole and Karen (twins) sent in swabs for “zygosity” testing, meaning the absence or presence of twinship. To my surprise, they are certified identical. Their DNA markers were expressed as numeric, and some were 7 or 8 digits long. Being identical twins, their markers were identical with no deviations. Case closed.

My own DNA testing was through Here are my results (for me only).

Great Britain 54%
Iberian Peninsula 18%
Europe West 15%
Ireland 5%
Europe East 3%
Scandinavia 2%
Italy/Greece 2%
Finland/Northwest Russia 1%

From what I know about my family, I expected a higher percent for Europe West (the French influence). The Iberian Peninsula includes western France, the Basque area, Portugal, and Spain.

#1017 – Dick Bernard: Reminiscing Along North Dakota’s I-94

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

For a few hours last Friday I reacquainted with about 130 miles of North Dakota’s I-94, between Mandan and Valley City ND. Thanks for the unexpected trip, and the opportunity to reminisce, go to my Uncle Vince.

Vincent, who died on February 2, was a long-time member of the Catholic Fraternal organization, the Knights of Columbus, as was his Dad, my Grandpa. Grandpa joined about 1921, and Vincent in 1947.

As part of the annual North Dakota Knights of Columbus gathering, this year in Mandan ND on April 17, about 150 KCs who’d died in the past year were recognized by a reading of their names and procession of candles, one dedicated to each departed Knight.

I was invited as a member of Vincent’s family, and attending was the least I could do.

It was a very impressive event (portion of program here: KCs Mandan 4-17-15001. Listed (p. 4) and somewhere among the candles (below) was Vincent Busch. A retired and prominent Catholic Cardinal, Theodore McCarrick (p. 5), was celebrant.

Knowing Vincent as I do, he’d probably be embarrassed and said, “what did I ever do to deserve this?”

Well, of course, he deserved the recognition, and the others as well.

We all deserve to be remembered.

(click to enlarge all photos)

At Christ the King Church, Mandan, ND, April 17, 2015

At Christ the King Church, Mandan, ND, April 17, 2015

To get to and from Mandan I drove a portion of I-94 I have rarely driven in the past 50 years.

I-94 Bis-Vc001

Thursday, I started from LaMoure, where I’d had a very busy couple of days. Though only 60 miles to “Jimtown” (Jamestown, in Grandpa’s rendering), I arrived pretty well exhausted and “motelled” there. I wanted a beard trim, and learned from the clerk that the J.C. Penney store across from the motel had a walk-in Beauty Salon. Sure enough. A pleasant lady trimmed my beard.

“How much?”

“No charge”.

It was one of those unexpected kindnesses that you relish when they occur, and you don’t forget. It becomes an invitation to pay it forward, to someone else….

Next morning, enroute west, I stopped in at nearby Eldridge, my home from 1943-45. Elridge is a main-line railroad town on what used to be called the NP (Northern Pacific) Railroad. I photo’ed the first place we lived there (upper floor, north side); and the school in which my Dad was Principal, both still full of memories. I visited both with Dad back in the 1990s. Then, the school was occupied by a lady and her daughter. Today the place is empty, like most of those tiny town schools, mostly brick, which have managed to survive, though empty.

Eldridge ND April 17, 2015

Eldridge ND April 17, 2015

The Eldridge School April 17, 2015

The Eldridge School April 17, 2015

Enroute again, the map reacquainted me with places from my past, especially college days at Valley City State Teachers College. Many classmates I knew, then, were from places like Tappen, Napoleon, Streeter…. I graduated from high school in 1958 at Sykeston; another place we lived in 1942-43 was Pingree. These towns were tiny, but mostly much larger than they are now.

In Bismarck, of course, I visited the State Capitol. The “Prairie Skyscraper”, built to replace the old capitol which burned down Dec. 28, 1930, was always a place of pride for we NoDaks.

This was a bustling place this day: the state legislature was in session. I was there about lunch time, and Senators and Representatives were among those catching lunch. A group, DigitalHorizonsOnline, was testing our knowledge on North Dakota Trivia. Do visit their site.

On the Capitol Grounds is an immensively impressive and newly enlarged State History Museum and Interpretative Center. I highly recommend it. It matches any such facility I’ve seen anywhere.

ND State Capitol, April 17, 2015.  Foreground, the old ND State Library.

ND State Capitol, April 17, 2015. Foreground, the old ND State Library.

Of course, no trip to the Capitol is complete without a trip to the top, to take a picture (below). On the ground level are about 43 winners of the North Dakota Roughrider Award. There are perhaps 43 portraits now, among them my early childhood friend from Sykeston, Larry Woiwode, who is directly across from the portrait of the old Roughrider himself, President Teddy Roosevelt.

Missouri River from the State Capitol, Bismarck, April 17, 2015

Missouri River from the State Capitol, Bismarck, April 17, 2015

Larry Woiwode

Larry Woiwode

Enroute to the Mass I took a side trip over to the Ft. Abraham Lincoln a few miles south of Mandan. This is the place from which Gen. George Armstrong Custer took his ill-fated trip to the Little Big Horn in 1876. Of course, this is April, and nothing was open, but I could drive around, and walk to see the Slant Village and the Custer home. Earlier, a lady at the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department pointed out that this year is the 50th anniversary of the Parks Department, and each State Park will have their day. Fort Abraham Lincoln’s Day is Memorial Day, May 25, 2015.

George Armstrong Custer house at Fort Abraham Lincoln April 17, 2015

George Armstrong Custer house at Fort Abraham Lincoln April 17, 2015

Historic Slant Village at Ft. Abraham Lincoln State Park April 17, 2015

Historic Slant Village at Ft. Abraham Lincoln State Park April 17, 2015

Visit over in late afternoon, back on I-94 East, this time to Fargo.

Dominating the trip back was thinking about May, 1965, when my wife, Barbara, was released from Bismarck’s St. Alexius Hospital, and we began the long trip by car to Minneapolis where she was to be admitted for a kidney transplant at the University of Minnesota Hospital. It was her only remaining option to live beyond 22.

Near hidden facade of old St. Alexius Hospital, Bismarck ND April 17, 2015

Near hidden facade of old St. Alexius Hospital, Bismarck ND April 17, 2015

Back then, late May, 1965, someplace along 94, east of Bismarck, the radiator hose chose to burst. Luckily, we were close to one of the very few exits with a gas station. At Valley City, she and her mother and brother and our year old son Tom took the train the rest of the way to Minneapolis. I continued on by car. Barbara was admitted to the hospital, and died there July 24, 1965. 50 years ago, now. A major marker on my life path. We all have such….

I drove on, finding a motel in Moorhead MN about 9:30 pm.

In the morning, at the house breakfast, I saw a number of people wearing bright t-shirts, “Team Fred” on on one side; “Muscle Walk 2015″ on the other. I asked a family of four, “what’s this about?” “A walk for ALS” the Dad said. Fred, I surmised, was someone they knew who has ALS, but I don’t know that.

I went out to the car, remembering the earlier kindness in Jamestown, the free beard trim, took out my checkbook, wrote out a check for $50 to Muscle Walk 2015, went back into the restaurant and left the check with the family: “have a great day”.

Probably the gift surprised them.

Pay it forward, thanks in part to the kind beauty salon person in Jamestown.

It was a great day….

POSTNOTE: Sunday evening came one of those calls from an Unknown Caller. It was Jim F, from Carrington ND. Turned out he was the “Fred” from Team Fred, and he was calling to thank me for the donation Saturday morning. It was a most pleasant surprise; we knew people in common, it turned out.

#1014 – Dick Bernard: Farewell to a Special Lady

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Yesterday my cousin Mary Kay and I traveled to Dubuque to the funeral of Marion Placke. It was a long day: the odometer read 550 miles traveled when I arrived home; and the clock showed 16 hours from the time between when I left and arrived home.

But it was an extraordinary day; a very, very rich day.

Marion was one of those folks who, unsung, bring richness to the lives of those around them.

In the casket, she was 98, by her own self-declaration a month or so ago, “an old lady”.

A solitary photo by her casket was from some long ago time:

(click on photos to enlarge)

Marion Placke

Marion Placke

She never married nor had children of her own. Most of her life her occupation was “housekeeper” at various places. Her obituary did not include a listing of this or that degree, or such.

The fall and broken hip that preceded her death by about a week occurred at her long-time home on the slope of Sinsinawa Mound in southwest Wisconsin, a few miles from Dubuque, only half a mile or so from the nearby house in which she was born August 1, 1916.

But these few words hardly do justice to Marion Placke.

Her nephew, Fr. Wayne Droessler, himself a retired Catholic Priest, gave a wonderful tribute to his Aunt Marion, as part of his homily at the Mass. At the end of the Mass, before dismissal, he kissed her casket in a fond expression of farewell. At the mausoleum, the casket was surrounded by young people who up until the most recent years had been “babysat” by Marion and her sister Lucina Stangl. I particularly noticed one young person near the coffin, who was obviously grief-stricken at the loss of the person she quite likely called “Grandma”.

Fr. Wayne Droessler April 10, 2015

Fr. Wayne Droessler April 10, 2015

Farewell, April 10, 2015

Farewell, April 10, 2015

For we travelers from the Twin Cities, who seldom actually saw Marion in person, much of our trip down and back was dominated by memories of this or that about Marion and Lucina(Lu) Stangl.

Marion was a superb story-teller and this, coupled with her love of family history, brought the Berning family (our common root) and the old days alive in a extraordinarily rich way.

The two sisters – Lu was 6 years Marion’s senior, and died in 2010 at 100 – were adventuresome.

Mary Kay related that some years back, when Lu was a spring chicken of 92 (Marion, 86), Lu and Marion went white-water rafting. At the end of the trip, they learned that Lu was the oldest person who’d ever done that trip!

Ten years ago, in July, 2005, the ladies and several family members made the trip up to a mini-reunion at the North Dakota farm.

While there, they expressed an interest in visiting Whitestone Hill Battlefield monument, perhaps 25 miles away.

Those of who’d been there know that there is a rather daunting climb up to the monument itself, so we expected that Lucina and Marion would stay at the parking lot, and we younger “kids” would do the walk up the hill.

Not these ladies: both of them climbed the hill, reached the top, and spent some time at the monument itself (photos below).

That trip up that hill helps define, for me, the example left by Marion Placke and her sister. I could give more examples, but that will suffice.

Others will have their own memories.

A fond farewell.

Marion Placke and Lucina Stangl, LaMoure ND  July, 2005,

Marion Placke and Lucina Stangl, LaMoure ND July, 2005,

Walking up Whitestone Hill, July, 2005.  Marion in white slacks; her sister Lucina, in blue slacks just behind her.  Lucina's son, David Stangl at rear.

Walking up Whitestone Hill, July, 2005. Marion in white slacks; her sister Lucina, in blue slacks just behind her. Lucina’s son, David Stangl at rear.

A small reunion at the Vincent and Edith Busch farm, Berlin, ND, July 2005.

A small reunion at the Vincent and Edith Busch farm, Berlin, ND, July 2005.

Marion Placke (2nd from right) at Memorial Park, Grand Rapids ND, July 1920.  Her mother had come up to assist her Aunt Rosa Busch, who gave birth to Edithe.  Others in the photo are Busch's and possibly other Placke's

Marion Placke (2nd from right) at Memorial Park, Grand Rapids ND, July 1920. Her mother had come up to assist her Aunt Rosa Busch, who gave birth to Edithe. Others in the photo are Busch’s and possibly other Placke’s

#1006 – Dick Bernard: The Plane Disaster in France. Thinking about Flying….

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

1. Links to full length videos of about 10 talks at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum Mar 6-8 can be accessed in the first paragraph, here
2. The entire 90 minute video of the powerful Seven Stories from Vietnam on Mar 20 can now be accessed, also in the first para, here.
“I watched the news tonight from a slightly different perspective than usual. My wife is flying home from Arizona tomorrow night, and I am sure she and her sister are watching tonights news with more than a normal amount of interest.”
Those first sentences were written Thursday evening, March 26. What follows is written on Saturday, March 28.

A few hours ago, about 1:30 a.m., I went out to Terminal 2 to pick up Cathy. The plane was full, she said. Not a word was mentioned about the Germanwings catastrophe over France, still dominating the news. The 1280 mile flight was apparently uneventful.

Truth is, of course, that flying is far safer than driving a car somewhere. Over the last 15 months I’ve averaged 1500 road miles per month, 310 miles at a stretch, just traveling between my home and the town in rural North Dakota where my uncle lived. Over half of that trip is on very busy I-94, including big city traffic; the rest is on rural ND roads, sometimes facing icy or snowy conditions, and always meeting oncoming traffic.

We all know, from life experience, that stuff can happen. People are killed in cars all the time. Sometimes we’re the crazy ones; other times the person is driving the other car.

Aircraft casualties kill more at a time, and are thus more newsworthy.

But to be in a plane is, on average, to be much safer than to be in a car. Anytime. Anywhere. It is impossible to enact and enforce rules that guarantee anyone anything.

We tend to forget that.

We are a creature of the air age. This morning at coffee I simply jotted down some memories (below). My Dad’s sister, Josie, my oldest Aunt, who I knew well, was 1 1/2 when Orville and Wilbur Wright made the famous flight at Kittyhawk (Dec. 17, 1903).

Here’s a photo of Josie with a tour group just arrived in Hilo Hawaii in 1969: Airline tour group 1969003

Personally, I would be in the category of occasional passenger on an airplane, several times a year during my work career, but not “frequent flier”. Except for my first flight, which was nerve-wracking (personally, not anything to do with the plane), most of the flights were normal, though some had their moments, like landing in an approaching storm at St. Louis’ Lambert Airport back in the 1990s. Either we’d land or we wouldn’t – nothing you can do about it.

Here’s some of my memories. Maybe they will jog your own.

First sightings of airplanes:
1940s, in Sykeston ND: A local electrician owned a two-seater, and occasionally took off and landed in the pasture north of our house. One time he overshot the runway, ending up in Lake Hiawatha. It was far more interesting to me that he’d run in the lake, rather than what had happened to him. He apparently lived.

Somewhere in the late 1940s, same town, a huge six engine airplane flew over our town at very low altitude. It came from the northeast, as I recall. Later research showed that it probably was a B-36B from Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City, South Dakota. They were probably practicing bombing runs. Thankfully, we weren’t a target. It was probably enroute home to Ellsworth, approximately 300 miles southwest of us

About 1953, I saw Air Force One over Minot ND. President Eisenhower came to town, probably to review the in-progress Minot Air Force Base. Later we had a close up and personal view of the President in motorcade down the main street, in an open convertible. Those were the days….

First flights:
In 1962, I flew home on Army leave from Denver’s Stapleton Airport, to Bismarck ND. The plane was one of the class I knew as DC-3 planes, very, very loud. Lots of rattling. It was frightening just to be on the plane. We arrived at Rapid City, and the connecting flight to Bismarck was full. So two of us were switched to a single engine four-seat plane and flew across the night landscape. It was a flight not to be forgotten.

A year later, in the same Army unit, a practice troop deployment took us from Colorado to South Carolina. We didn’t know it then, but the Army was practicing for Vietnam.

We flew in what I’d call a flying cigar, probably a 707 type aircraft, which doubled as troop and general cargo carrier. There were no attendants on this flight, no plush seats, and there was only one tiny window, and the only sensation of whether you were flying or crashing, etc., was your gut. There was not much banter among the GI’s that day.

Most interesting flight:
In 1973, the organization for which I was working chartered an airliner to take a plane full of delegates from Minneapolis to Portland OR. The memorable part of this trip was when the pilots opened the door to the cockpit and allowed us to actually enter the cockpit, a couple at a time, to see the business end of the airplane, in business.

Wouldn’t happen today, that’s for sure.

Most tense flight:
Back in the good old hi-jacking days of U.S. flights in the 1970s, I was on another flight from Minneapolis to Denver.

A man boarded with a metal suitcase which seemed to be very heavy, and there was a protracted and very tense negotiation between the flight crew and the man, asking him to store the suitcase during the flight.

He refused, and ultimately they relented and he kept the suitcase with him.

I’ve often wondered what he was carrying.

The most memorable flight day:
Actually, this was an absence of flight days.

We live more or less on the flight path into and out of Minneapolis. There is always something in the air, and often times you can hear residual noise from planes.

For a few days after 9-11-01 there was no air noise whatsoever. Every plane had been grounded.

We have, it seems, been terrorized ever since.

I’m sure you have your own stories….

Care to share?

from Anne D:
Dick, yes it jogged my early memories of plane sightings and other flying objects… blimps.

I had secured a collection of plane cards, probably from a cereal box. So when one flew over I ran outside to see if I could identify the airborne vehicle. Some of the planes pulled banners. Later I remember many that wrote on the sky. My favorite were the slow floating dirigibles that fascinated me and my grandfather Vanoss. Also, the searchlights that lit the night. My grandfather told me they were friendly ghosts dancing in the sky. We watched them together from the front porch.

#993 – Dick Bernard: “3 Sad Words…: My Father Died”

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Related posts here, here, here and here.

My Dad died Nov. 7, 1997. Along with my sister, Flo, I was privileged to be there with him, at Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville IL.

He was a month and a half short of 90. Like my Uncle Vince, who died Feb. 2, less than a month after his 90th birthday, Dad had a rough run the last couple of months, and the last six months one could tell the train was on the tracks, and the destination inevitable.

A week and a half after Dad died I was in Chicago, at the O’Hare Hilton, for a conference. Sunday morning, November 16, 1997, I picked up a copy of the Chicago Tribune in a terminal coffee shop. Inside was a column by Mary Schmich, “3 sad words that virtually all face: My father died”: My father died 1997001

I’ve been thinking of this column a lot lately, in context with Uncle Vince, who never married, and was never a “father” in the biological sense of that word.

But in a greater sense he was, in a way, a Dad; just like a woman who never had children can very well be a Mom to somebody.

There were 28 nephews and nieces in Vince’s constellation (and his sister Edithe’s, too). We descended on the farm once in awhile for a visit, as the picture below illustrates.

(click to enlarge any photos)

At the Busch farm, probably 1949.  At left is Vincent, then 24.  Four of the Bernard kids on horseback.  Other two are likely cousins Ron and Jim Pinkney.  The man at right is unknown.

At the Busch farm, probably 1949. At left is Vincent, then 24. Four of the Bernard kids on horseback. Other two are likely cousins Ron and Jim Pinkney. The man at right is unknown.

My sister, Mary Ann, in that photo, recently remembered that Vince could be impatient around we kids.

Of course.

In that picture, she would have been seven, and I nine, and I can imagine that our bunch disrupted the normal day for everyone at the farm and, kids being kids, we probably were going places and doing things we weren’t supposed to do, and wanting attention.

But as time went on, and I made many, many visits to that farmstead, I came to learn that, indeed, Vincent became a “father” of a real sort, especially after my own Dad died.

Like all of us, the lessons were never dramatic.

Someone who wrote a note after the funeral simply called Vince “a common, caring man” (you can read some of these comments at the end of this post). I consider that a big compliment, but not the only one. He taught his lessons just by being, as we teach others around us, whether we want to or not.

I’m a much better person for having really gotten to know Vince well, especially the last 35 years or so of his life.

Vince, it can be said, showed up, not comfortable on the stage, but certainly on the court of life!

Six of his nephews and nieces preceded him in death. When the two most recent, a niece in 2012, then a nephew in 2014, died, even though his health and endurance was distinctly and rapidly failing, he wanted to go to their funerals. Both were wearing trips for him, but he was there.

The stories about him go on and on. He was quiet witness to a good man leading a good life, contributing in sundry ways to the communities of which he was part, including our family.

Yes, he fits my definition of “Father”….

Thank you letter to LaMoure, as printed in LaMoure Chronicle Feb 11, 2015: Busch Vince Chron 2-15001

Vincent at right, May 19, 2012, by the grave of his sister, Mary.

Vincent at right, May 19, 2012, by the grave of his sister, Mary.

June 3, 2014 at Tom's funeral

June 3, 2014 at Tom’s funeral

Vincent, as seen by others:

“…he was a true friend. Jerome and I enjoyed he and Edith when they sat at our table at Rosewood. God Bless his memory.”
Jerome and Darlene Rasmussen

“It has been a great honor to have known Vincent for so many years. He was a holy man, always obedient to our Lord. He showed us all a good example with his faith. We will miss him a lot.”
Norm and Sue Goehring

“Now we celebrate the life of Vincent!

What joy it is for our Lord when a life-long servant’s soul comes to him.

Volumes could be written of Vincent’s life.

I’m happy to have been a small part of his life.

He fashioned his life after the life of Christ. May we all imitate Vincent’s example.

Eternal Rest grant unto him O Lord and let Perpetual Light shine upon him!”
Kay (Schweitzer) Morehead

“Vince was a special person to know. I’ll bet Edith and he are putting in God’s garden already.”
John and Jackie Cisinski

“We are so sorry at the loss of Vince. We are neighbors of Vince and Edith, and were lucky to have them as friends. Vince was a good man – honest, hard-working, and very giving. We are thankful we knew him.”
Alvin and Diane Wold

“He’s probably got a whist game going on now.”
the Montgomery’s

“Vincent will remain in our memories. He was a wonderful person, He will be missed.”
St. Rose Care Residents and Staff

“Vince was a very faith filled person. He was often at weekday Masses and had a great love for Jesus.
We really appreciated his great voice in our Choir and throughout the Church.
He’s a good example of the common, caring, man.
May he have eternal peace in Heaven with Jesus.
God Bless his Memory.”
Jim and Kathy Potts

“Prayers and thoughts of all of you. I love the thought there is a reunion being planned – or even held for the Busch family now.

Lines from an old hymn came to my mind when I was notified of Vincent’s death

”What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.”

May Vincent’s welcome be so glorious. “
Rosi Zimbleman

“He represented a generation of strong willed hard working people that collectively built this country to the standard of living we have today. “
Doug Schmitz

“May he rest in peace. As happened when your dad Henry died, at the exact time of Vinces death I was singing profoundly religious music – Vivaldi’s Gloria. He was in my heart. In our last phone conversation, he was interested in trying lentils, he had never eaten a lentil…that wonderful quality of wanting to experience new things…so fishing and lentils too.

Thank you for your stalwart stewardship of our kin…I appreciate that in the early 80s you invited me to visit Vince and Edith and the beauty of them and the farm in many seasons became a source for renewal and heimat, a rare and precious preserve.”
Mary Busch.

“Was so glad I visited Uncle Vince this summer. What a wonderful person. At the restaurant by the ball field, learned about Vince’s love of baseball. We had a chance to talk about it. So much of his life was devoted to work. Baseball gave him the opportunity for time with friends. What a remarkable heritage we have been given.”
Georgine Busch

“In talking with my kids, they all remembered Aunt Edith and Uncle Vincent very well. Our family was very lucky to see them in Valley City at Mom’s apartment. They would drive up, or we would drive down for a day visit to Berlin.

Some of the memories we came up with:

Vincent loved to eat lots of strawberry jelly on his bread. It was a new jar every time, whether there was an open one was in the fridge. Mollie didn’t see that in our house.

Always up for fishing at the James river or Lake Ashtabula. He would have worms and off they went. Once, Vince said worms were good to eat, so Joe tried one. Vince, and my Dad laughed so hard. Vince got laughing and could hardly talk. I was having a fit, they let him eat a worm.

Carrie was in ND with my mom for a few days. She was probably around twelve. Mom, Edithe and Vince took her to the Peace Gardens. Vince took all these pictures at every stop. Getting ready to leave, Vince realized there was no film in the camera. So Carrie went through the Peace Garden sites again to take do overs.

Bill says Vince was such a nice guy. They could always talk about fishing and the Twins. They were always partners for pinochle.

He was a very good Uncle to me. I only got upstairs once in the old house. I remember two rooms. I was young and Mom and I slept with Edithe.

Great card games, meals, and they were always so happy to have company. Loved the produce and apples. I still have the double boiler and cream and sugar set they gave us for our wedding.

Also, my kids thought they were married to each for a long time, before they learned they were brother and sister. Too funny. They were a good team!!!

Have a good day.”

Mary Jewett

Aunt Edith's burial May 20, 2014, St. John's Cemetery, Berlin ND, where Vincent was alsoburied Feb 10, 2015

Aunt Edith’s burial May 20, 2014, St. John’s Cemetery, Berlin ND, where Vincent was alsoburied Feb 10, 2015

Comment from Anne: This piece makes loss and grief seem almost light. They float and rise on the human character expressed in so many kind and loyal words of love. A tribute of seemingly common content exposing a rare being. As I read it I began to hear the words inside my head spoken in a soft male voice. I thought your uncle Vince was reading to me! Sometimes death is less an end and more of a conclusion.

Comment from Annetta: I would say I am sorry for the loss of Vince. I will instead say thank God for the gift of him in your life and you in his. You made his journey one of amazing grace. And he taught grace in the way he lived. What a gift. The loneliness will be the loss of his physical presence.

#992 – Dick Bernard: Valentine’s Day, today and yesterday.

Saturday, February 14th, 2015
Early 1900s Valentine from the Busch farm.

Early 1900s Valentine from the Busch farm.

Thursday our 15-year old grandson (aka “the kid” and “hi guy” to me) was over for pizza. Grandma took him home (he lives nearby) and after returning she related a brief story.

He wanted her to go the gas station and the reason came out, after a little prying, about why: he wanted to pick up some candy for a girl for Valentine’s Day. “Don’t tell”, he instructed, specifically referring to his parents.

I haven’t heard how this all went on Friday. I think Grandma was a little jealous; some other girl had entered the kids life.

So is how it goes. We’ve all been there, done that, and there are doubtless sweet or funny stories about that first awkward move towards the first venture towards a possible relationship.

Of course, just a few days after Uncle Vincent’s funeral, I remain in a nostalgic mode, relating to the North Dakota farm, following the recent death of my uncle.

That place has been a treasure trove of artifacts from the past.

Some years ago, I borrowed the tin container chock full of old postcards, and brought them home to classify and scan them for posterity. The article I wrote about them is here*. There were Valentine’s back in the early 1900s. One of them is at the beginning of this post. Here’s another:

To Verena from Stella, early 1900s.

To Verena from Stella, early 1900s.

But the focus for me, this day, is another old piece of paper I found just days ago; another item lurking amongst the items in the old desk Vince and Grandpa used. You can read it here: Busch 62nd Anniv 1967002001

It is not known who wrote this draft of (perhaps) an announcement for the local paper in LaMoure, but it is most likely that it was submitted before March 17, 1967, less than two weeks after the anniversary, when Grandpa Busch died suddenly at home, the story being that he was coming up from the basement with some eggs for breakfast. Vincent at the time was 42 years old; his sister Edithe was 47; and Grandma would live five more years, dying in 1972.

I don’t know if there were “sparks” (or Valentines) in Grandma and Grandpas history, which led to their marriage, at ages 24 and 21, Feb. 28, 1905. Their families lived on adjoining farms in rural Wisconsin near Dubuque, and it was not uncommon in those days for the parents to have some say in who or when someone married someone else.

Whatever the case, as the story tells, they came to strange and uncrowded country far from their home in Wisconsin, raised 9 children, and lived a very long life together.

“The kid”, apparently, has started to notice girls, and is starting down the road that adolescence brings to us all.

I wish him well.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

#991 – Dick Bernard: A fine goodbye to Uncle Vince

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Related post here.

(click photos to enlarge)

At the Busch farm, probably 1949.  At left is Vincent, then 24.  Four of the Bernard kids on horseback.  Other two are likely cousins Ron and Jim Pinkney.  The man at right is unknown.

At the Busch farm, probably 1949. At left is Vincent, then 24. Four of the Bernard kids on horseback. Other two are likely cousins Ron and Jim Pinkney. The man at right is unknown.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015, showed little promise in Lamoure ND. Overnight a light coating of new snow was being covered by freezing drizzle, and our funeral procession with Uncle Vincent was to go down gravel country roads for near 10 miles for a look at the farm where he lived most of his 90 years, thence down those same roads to Berlin ND, to St. John’s Cemetery.

It didn’t look very promising.

But all went well: a very nice funeral Mass. The funeral procession went off without a hitch; a good farewell at the cemetery; thence back to the Church hall for the traditional lunch.

I thought to myself, what would Vince have to say about this weather. Well, probably he’d say, “we need the moisture”. His life, after all, was farming, and so far this winter it’s been fairly dry out there on the prairie.

Back to town and maybe 25 of us had lunch, followed by reminiscences.

Who was this man, Vincent?

One needs to have been in the room to really catch the sense of the gathering as we remembered Vincent in story after story. I got lucky, and got one photo that, for me at least, sums up the sharing time:

At the post-funeral lunch for Vincent, Feb. 10, 2015

At the post-funeral lunch for Vincent, Feb. 10, 2015

One of us reminded Pat (at right) of a story.

Pat, a neighbor farmer, related that he’d been helping Vince with something one day, and at some point Vincent appeared with a little lunch: a sandwich. Pat accepted the gift readily, and took a large bite.

The inside of the sandwich was sliced raw onions and nothing else.

Vincent was proud of his onions.

A surprised Pat simply ate the sandwich.

The room erupted in laughter.

Edithe and Vince August 1998

Edithe and Vince August 1998

As is true in such settings, one story begat another, and the essence of our relative, friend and neighbor began to flesh itself out.

Vincent was as he was; as we all are, unvarnished representatives of humanity.

There were a number of short eulogies in that hall on Tuesday.

One person, not there, sort of caught Vincent for me in an e-mail received a week earlier: Vincent “represented a generation of strong willed hard working people that collectively built this country….”

I read this to the group, and there were nods of acknowledgement.

Vincent represented every one of us in one way or another.

My sense was that we could have gone on with stories for a much longer period of time, but all good things must end, and we went our separate ways.

One story I wanted to relate was also sent to me some time before the funeral, indeed, before Vincent passed away.

Cousin Jerry related he “had a great memory of visiting the farm and sharing a room with Vincent” when Jerry was perhaps five, and Vincent about 30 years of age.

“[Uncle Vincent’s] night-time prayers on his knees by the bedside really impressed”.

For me, that little phrase sort of sums up how Vince impacted others: Uncle Vince never married, but to all of us cousins (and others, I’m sure), in one way or another, he conveyed little lessons that impacted on each of our lives.

There were 28 of we nephews and nieces who on occasion visited that farm, and we were probably more nuisances than useful, but in their own ways Uncle Vincent, Aunt Edithe and Grandma and Grandpa taught us in one way or another.

Each of us do the same, often not knowing our impact on others.

I’m certain Lamoure County is the better for Vincent Busch having been part of it for 90 years.

As one person said in a condolence note, Vincent is probably now organizing whist games in heaven…and I wouldn’t doubt that a bit! And his sister, Edithe, is right there at the table.

Uncle Vincent, St. John's Cemetery, Berlin ND Feb 10, 2015

Uncle Vincent, St. John’s Cemetery, Berlin ND Feb 10, 2015

Vincent and Edithe, October 25, 2013.

Vincent and Edithe, October 25, 2013.

#990 – Dick Bernard: A Reflective Time

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

(click to enlarge)

Feb. 5, 2015, Room 111 at St. Rose

Feb. 5, 2015, Room 111 at St. Rose

Uncle Vincent died Monday evening February 2. I wrote briefly about his death here. His funeral is on Tuesday in Lamoure. Details are here. The photo used there is one I took of him almost exactly a year ago at his sister, Edithe’s, funeral on Feb. 15, 2014. The one that people will see in the folder at the funeral Mass on Tuesday is of he and Edithe Oct. 25, 2013, couple of weeks before he joined her in the Nursing Home; and 3 1/2 months before she died. (That photo is at the end of this post.)

They lived together on the home farm for all but the last few years of their entire life. Nine children were born and raised there, and Vincent is the end of the line for “the Busch place” of Berlin ND. So is how it goes. There are lots of nephews and nieces, but we live all over creation.

There will be stories of course, some told on Tuesday. Others in other conversations.

My sister Mary and I went to clean out Vincent’s room last Thursday, reducing all of the possessions to a large box and some garbage bags. St. Rose provided a handcart to remove the possessions and as I was making my second and final trip a couple of staff opened the door for me: “Isn’t this as it always is: an entire life reduced to a few garbage bags….”

They see this trip quite often, of course. In one way or another, for all of us, it is the same. What we struggled for in this temporal life suddenly becomes irrelevant to us.

One of the possessions in the room was Vincent’s desk (pictured above), which I kept “off limits” till he died. It was important to him. It yielded an immense amount of stuff, which I have now been going through, piece by piece, to be sure that something of importance is not in hiding there. There are the usual questions, of course: “Why in the world did he keep THAT?” “Why is that pliers in here?” “Should I keep that 1987 fishing license?” And on and on.

Then there’s other stuff: an official document of a report on a U.S. Patent received by my grandfather Ferdinand Busch in 1925 for a “fuel economizer”. I knew Grandpa had a couple of Patents, in the 1950s, but had never heard of this one. It’s Number 1,541,684 if you’re interested. It expired in 1942, and already in 1925 many similar devices were being invented, so don’t presume you’ll get rich on it!

That this treasure appeared was not too much of a surprise. This desk had been Grandpa’s before, and had a very long history, perhaps going back to he and Rosa’s arrival on the ND prairie in 1905.

A folded and brittle piece of paper appeared in the pile of flotsam from the desk. It was from 1915 – 100 years ago – and was a detailed report on fundraising for the new St. John’s Church in Berlin (which closed in 1968). It was a single page listing of who contributed what to the construction of the church, and it appears from the pattern of contributions that the church was paid for in cash, $3,419.85. You can see the sheet here: Berlin St. Johns 1915001. It’s an important part of local history, perhaps inadvertently saved, but saved nonetheless.

Before we took down the pictures on Vince’s walls, I took photos (of the desk, and the other walls). Now, those things on Vince’s wall deserve the attention. What you see there is what was important to him….

On the way out of town, we stopped at the gas station and Mary Ann overheard an older guy (probably my age) talking to some of his buddies in a booth. They had seen the on-line obit, and he said: “I didn’t think Vince was that old.”

Maybe they’ll be at the funeral on Tuesday.

Vincent and Edithe and all of the family from rural Berlin are at peace.

For the rest of us, live well, but don’t forget the garbage bags who somebody will use when it’s your turn!

Feb 5, 2015 Rm 111 St Rose

Feb 5, 2015 Rm 111 St Rose

Feb 5, 2015, Rm 111 St Rose

Feb 5, 2015, Rm 111 St Rose

Vincent and Edithe, October 25, 2013.

Vincent and Edithe, October 25, 2013.

from Annelee, Feb 8:
I just read “MY Uncle Vince”you revealed much of the love you had for him — it touched me deeply.

The photos also gave me a glimpse of what kind of man Uncle Vince was. Warm and honoring the past, but living in the present.

When you wrote about the garbage bag — being part of the end of one’s life —that is only part of what happens.

I will always remember (until I die) what my papa said to me as we hugged for the final time before he left.

As he turned away and left I called out, “Papa, Papa, please don’t leave me just yet!”

I still can remember him standing there, he looked at me with so much love and he said, “Anneliese, I will never leave you.”

“But Papa”, —-

“Anneliese” he broke in, “ you will remember what I said and you will do things like I taught you. You see, I will be with you more than you know.”

He kicked a solitary tree trunk and walked away without looking back.

He was mot even 41, he is gone for more than seven decades. But I still remember these words, —

I taught much to my children of what he taught me. I told them about Papa —what I remembered.

So you see, Papa and all he owned is gone —but he is still with me in memories — and he will be with Roy [my son] because I tried to instill
the values my Papa taught me—in him.

Love and blessings Annelee

response from Dick: Annelee is our dear friend who I’ve known since 2003 when I learned of her book, War Child. Growing Up in Adolf Hitler’s Germany.

Her Dad and Mom refused to be part of the Nazis and as a result, he was drafted into the military engineers, and after the last visit home she describes above, her Dad went with the Germans into Russia and was never heard from again. They believe he died somewhere in Russia, but are not sure.

She will be speaking several times in the Twin Cities this spring, the next on March 8 at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum in Minneapolis.