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#965 – Dick Bernard: The Minnesota Orchestral Association Annual Meeting

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

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A brass quintet of orchestra members expertly closed out the public meeting.

A brass quintet of orchestra members expertly closed out the public meeting.

Pre-note, side comment, and recommendation: In light of current events it seems almost superfluous to write about a meeting of the Board of the Minnesota Orchestra. There is a great deal happening on the national scene, most recently the non-indictment of the policeman involved in the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island and Ferguson, Mo and spreading unrest around injustice. And all signs suggest that the U.S. Congress will be even more dysfunctional and confrontational with President Obama in 2015 than it is now, attempting its own power play with no good ahead for our country.

We are a country at war within ourselves. Still, a few words about an Orchestra organization trying to heal after one of the worst lockouts in American labor history seems worthy of some time.

On the national scene, the best daily source I have found, (6 days a week), summarizing major contemporary national and international issues of the previous day and offering intelligent comment, is a blog called Just Above Sunset, published by a retired guy in Los Angeles, Alan, whose brief bio is at the end of each post. Today’s post is about the Eric Garner situation. Here, here, here and here are links to a couple of others. Subscription is free. It silently finds its way to my e-mail at about 2 a.m. most days. My personal bias is clearly articulated at right on this blog.

Personally, I’ve never been a quitter, though sometimes, like now, I feel whipped as an ordinary citizen. It is not a constructive attitute.

It was good to listen in on the Orchestra Board meeting Tuesday night, and maybe there is some hope. But as with everything, its up to me, and to you, to get anything useful accomplished.

The Minnesota Orchestral Association Annual Meeting Dec. 2, 2014.

Tuesday night I dropped in on the public meeting of the Minnesota Orchestral Association Board at Orchestra Hall. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a good summary of the one hour session which, apparently, included about 150 of us, only a couple who asked questions.

I came to listen, and took the photo at beginning of this post of a brass quintet of Orchestra members. For those interested, here is most of the 2014 Annual Report: MN Orch Ann Report 2014001

At Tuesday’s meeting, you would have to have been an “inside baseball” type to gather that between October, 2012, and February, 2014, there had been a bitter and near fatal dispute between the Orchestral Association and its Musicians, and ultimately, Music Director Osmo Vanska, with the Audience as unseen bit players off on the side somewhere, though I would guess that everyone of us in the room knew full-well what had transpired over that long period of time.

My “filing cabinet” of that dispute is here.

We are one of those ordinary people with more-than-ordinary interest in the short and long-term success of the Orchestra. For example, after the meeting, I met my daughter and 14 year old grandson, Ted, in the lobby. He’s a music guy at his high school, especially interested in Jazz, and I wanted them to have a chance to see Wynton Marsalis and Ensemble from Lincoln Center that same day, best tickets available. It will likely be a long-time memory for Ted.

My guess is that we’ll lay out about $1000 for assorted things at Orchestra Hall this first full season back – for us, it is affordable, but noticeable in our circumstances. There are endless other entreaties for contributions from other worthy agencies. The well is only so deep.

As I sat, listening Tuesday afternoon, I kept thinking that the real dilemma for the Orchestral Association Board is to truly come to understand who we in the seats, the audience, really are, and how we can best participate in the Orchestra’s long-term success.

And it will be a difficult task.

Those who are the Orchestral Association Board are, I would guess, from a very comfortable economic class, well connected in the upper echelons of business and society, and influential in their circles. Indeed, this is a main reason they are appointed to this board: they not only have a passion for the music, but have both money and access to other important sources of money and power. The rest of us (once well described to me by head of a major twin cities Charity as “the poor ones”) don’t bring enough “value added” to effectively serve on such a Board, much less be listened to.

So, the only “power” the general audience possesses is whether we enter the doors or not, and keep this magnificent institution, this legacy of past benefactors, in business. It behooves the people on the Board to know us very, very well, and to talk with and about us as equals – not an easy task.

“During the meeting, a point was made of some “anonymous” donor who contributed $10,000,000 in the last few months to the Orchestra Endowment. Simply stated, that is 10,000 times our paltry $1000.

The big money is very important, granted, but it is people like ourselves who must fill the seats long term, and who must choose where to spend our discretionary income (if we’re lucky enough to have that).

The way this Orchestra (and most similar large cultural institutions everywhere) are structured, the sole responsibility for understanding the common folks in the seats rests with the uncommon folks who sit on the Orchestra Board and cannot really understand less privileged realities. And that $10,000,000 donor on any given night can occupy only a single seat as can I….

Put another way: Money most certainly talks, but that doesn’t mean it understands; to paraphrase the liquor ad, “with great privilege comes great responsibility”….

Understanding those of us come to the hall will help bring long term success. Without such understanding, long term recovery will be difficult.

Grandson Ted at right, Grandson and Ted/s cousin, baseball guy Parker, at center, Nov 29, 2014.  Both Ted and Parker's Moms were good at piano.

Grandson Ted at right, Grandson and Ted/s cousin, baseball guy Parker, at center, Nov 29, 2014. Both Ted and Parker’s Moms were good at piano.

#963 – Dick Bernard: The First Sunday of Advent, 2014

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

Today, at least for Roman Catholics, is the First Sunday of Advent. It will be noticed today at my Church, Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis.

As with most everything in our diverse society, there are many definitions of the meaning of this liturgical season, the four Sundays between now and Christmas Day, December 25. Here’s “Advent” as found in google entries.

I happen to be Catholic, actually quite active, I’d say. This would make me a subset of a subset of the American population.

In all ways, the U.S. is a diverse country. The Statistical Abstract of the United States, published by the Census Bureau, says about 80% of adult Americans describe themselves as “Christian”; 25% of this same population says they’re “Catholic”. (The data is here.)

Of course, if you’re a “boots on the ground” person, as I am, raw data like the above pretty quickly devolves. As the most appropriate mantra at Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis (my church) is stated every Sunday: “welcome, wherever you are on your faith journey….” The people in the pews know the truth of this phrase, and know that on every given Sunday, two-thirds of them are not even in the pews.

Regardless of specific belief, the vast majority of us, everywhere, are good people*.

I’m drawn to this topic a bit more than usual this weekend since I just returned from a visit to my last surviving Uncle, Vince, winding down his long life in a wonderful nursing home in a small North Dakota town.

Thanksgiving Day I decided to bring to him, for hanging in his room, the below holy family** (which had not yet been hung, and appears sideways, as it appeared in his room, prior to hanging.)

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Nov. 27, 2014

Nov. 27, 2014

For many years this image hung in the family farm home, and Vince seemed glad to see it come to visit. I asked him how old it was, and he said it was his mothers (my grandmothers) favorite, and it was probably older than he, in other words pre-dating 1925.

When next I visit, I hope to see it hanging on the wall he faces each day, and as such things go, it will likely bring back memories, and perhaps other emotions as well. Images tend to do this.

Of course, even in the religious milieu, an event like Advent is complicated. It is observed (including not being observed at all) in various ways even by people within the Catholic Church. A constructive observance, in my opinion, is to attempt to use the next 25 days to daily reflect on something or other in my own life. A nominally Catholic but mostly inspirational book of Daily Reflections given to me years ago by my friend Les Corey comes immediately to mind**; and very likely I can “tie in” Uncle Vince through letters this month. (It helps me to make a public declaration of intention on these things – a little more likely that I’ll follow through!)

Of course, there is, always, lots of side-chatter in this country at this season: “Black Friday” rolled out two days ago. We are a financial “bottom line” nation, I guess. Profits trump most anything else.

But, be that as it may, perhaps my essential message is that the next few weeks can be helpful simply for quieting ones-self and reflecting on a more simple way of being, such as greeted that icon when it was first hung in that simple North Dakota farm home perhaps even more than 100 years ago.

Have a good Advent.

* – A few hours ago, we experienced a good positive start to Advent. After a party for three of our grandkids who have November birthdays, we all went to a Minnesota based project called Feed My Starving Children where, along with 115 others adults and children, we filled food packets whose ultimate destination is Liberia. It was our first time participating with this activity, and it was a very positive activity. Hard work, but a great family activity. Check it, or something similar, out. Special thanks to one of the birthday kids, 8-year old Lucy, who apparently suggested the activity.

Nov. 29, 2014, Addy, Lucy, Kelly

Nov. 29, 2014, Addy, Lucy, Kelly

** – Of course, I don’t know the exact origin of the print which so captured Grandma. Almost certainly the real holy family of Bible days was not European white, as I am, and she was; rather, most likely, middle eastern in ethnicity and appearance.

*** – The book I’ve dusted off for the next weeks: All Saints, Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for our Time by Robert Ellsberg.

#961 – Dick Bernard: Ferguson MO. A Victim Impact Statement

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Beginning last evening there’s been plenty of news about Officer Darren Wilson, un-armed victim Michael Brown and Ferguson MO. There’ll be a great deal more.

The news will be as it is.

Some thoughts from my little corner….

Yesterday afternoon I met a guy at a local restaurant I frequent. He was a retired police Lieutenant. We were introduced by a mutual friend, Mary, who’s a grandma and a waitress par excellence.

As he was leaving, we compared notes a bit: he’s retired 16 years from an area Police Force, me, 14 from teacher union work. I gave him my card with my blog address, and told him I’d written about the tragic death of policeman Shawn Patrick in neighboring Mendota Heights some months ago. Maybe he checked it out.

Of course, very shortly thereafter Mendota Heights came Ferguson MO, which I also wrote about here.

The story about the implications of Ferguson is just beginning.

A few thoughts about what I’ll call “A Victim Impact Statement”.

When the Grand Jury deliberated, one witness obviously missing was Michael Brown, deceased. He was not available for questioning. He was dead.

He publicly lives on in (it seems) in a photograph, and a tiny piece of stupid kid action in a convenience store, caught on surveillance camera. There’s nothing he wrote about what happened that afternoon; there’s nothing he’s said.

He has no voice.

Officer Darren Wilson, on the other hand has a voice. He could tell his own story to people who mattered. And in the halls of justice he has apparently been cleared, according to the laws of the state of Missouri.

But Wilson’s own life will never be the same again. He is a victim as certainly as Wilson was.

He’s left the force, apparently, and after a certain period of great public attention, he will disappear into the anonymous world of one-time celebrities. His enduring fame will be as the cop who shot the unarmed kid on the streets of Ferguson MO. People will forget the date and the circumstances and the arguments will be whether or not he deserved his fate.

There are other victims too: Brown’s parents; Wilson’s family; the entire community…on and on. This espisode only began when the gunshots fell silent. There are many victim statements being written.

Shortly, I’ll head to my barber who is retired, works from his home, was a Marine in Vietnam, has a son who’s a policeman, and I’ll bring up the topic. We will have an interesting few minutes together today. We are, and will remain, very good friends. We might disagree.

For me, the un-indicted co-conspirator in this and in so many other cases will be weaponry – a gun. Surely it was used legally by an officer of the law. But without it, I wouldn’t be writing this piece. Michael Brown wouldn’t be dead.

Darren Wilson has killed a young man in circumstances none of us will never know for sure.

We can all be righteous in our judgments, but the fact remains: there are at least two victims in this scenario, a young cop and a young kid.

Will we learn anything?

Happy Thanksgiving.

POSTNOTE: The visit to the barber began with his bringing up the situation in Ferguson: I didn’t have to raise the topic. The topic dominated our minutes together. We had a very civil conversation.

There was talk about “anarchists” and the 2008 Republican Convention security in St. Paul. St. Paul was an armed camp then. At the time, his barber shop was within blocks of possible violence. He worried. I was in a protest march: I saw the police on rooftops in over-the-top battle gear. We were peaceful – no anarchists around me.

My barber was a Marine in Vietnam. In the course of conversation he brought up the battle of Chu Lai, of which he was a part, near 50 years ago. He remembered the shooting, particularly he and his buddy shooting at two people in pajama like garb running away. One fell dead. Afterwards they went to check. The victim was a very young girl. Neither of them has ever forgot what they saw that day in battle.

We wished each other a Happy Thanksgiving, and I was on my way.

from Flo, Nov 25:
Regarding your blog post. I think of the goal of Restorative Justice, recognizing that there’s a perpetrator, victim, and a community, including the families, for whom the need for justice needs to be addressed. For sure, there is no peace reigning in communities of color, anywhere, at this time. White people are further arming themselves against their perceived enemies, and the war goes on. Here is a piece that was just sent out by our UMC Bishop Ough for your consideration: “Do justice Special message from Bishop Ough following grand jury ruling in Ferguson”

from Carol, Nov 25: It didn’t take long to find this online, altho’ it was long ago. I remember being just stunned by the grand jury decision. These kids were running away from the police officer through an orchard, and he shot once. The bullet went through the back of both boys, killing them both. The officer said he thought they were adults, as “Hmong are small people” (I guess it’s OK to shoot adults in the back). This crap didn’t just start with Ferguson.

On Friday, November 19, the US District Court approved dispersal of $200,000 for the families of two Hmong teenagers that an Inver Grove Heights Police Officer Kenneth Murphy shot and killed in 1989, Inver Grove Heights Attorney Pete Regnier told ASIAN PAGES. The court determined this settlement last March, Regnier said.

… 13-year-old Ba See Lor, who was killed in the Inver Grove Heights case. Also shot and killed in Inver Grove Heights in 1989 was 13-year-old Thai Yang…

In 1990, a Dakota County Grand Jury issued a no indictment decision for the deaths in Inver Grove Heights, avoiding charges against Officer Murphy. After a police chase, the boys left their stolen car and ran across a field, but one boy carried a screwdriver that Officer Murphy thought was a gun.

from Dick, postnote: It happened, shortly after Ferguson erupted into the national news in August, that I was driving down a city street in Woodbury and for no apparent reason a policeman pulled me over. He approached the car, and was very polite, and told me I had not signalled my turn. This surprised me. I always signal my turn (but this time I had forgotten). He asked to see my insurance papers, and I looked where they always are kept, in the glove box. But they weren’t there. Now I was rattled.

There was no ticket, not even a warning, and the officer was very pleasant (such as these things go), and I was on my way. But the whole episode shook me up. This was not part of my daily return.

A little later I took out my wallet, and there was the insurance certificate. I had taken it out when I rented a truck to help a friend move. I wrote a note to the officer.

The entire episode reminded me that encounters between police and civilians are never benign, regardless of guilt or innocence. The word to the police has to be, it’s all about relationship. If the relationship comes to be based in power, and in the case of Michael Brown, armed power, all is lost. In my opinion, The Gun is a very major part of this issue. We need to attend to the issue of Guns in our society, regardless of who carries them or for what reason.

#955 – Dick Bernard: The St. John’s Bible at the Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis MN

Friday, November 14th, 2014

The “rack card” at the Basilica display of the St. John’s Bible can be seen here: St Johns Bible rack card001

The last two weeks I had noticed portions of the magnificent St. John’s Bible on display at my home Church, the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis MN.

A flier at the back of the Church attracted my attention to a Reception and Presentation Thursday evening Nov. 13. The flier: “The Saint John’s Bible is the first handwritten, illuminated Bible commissioned by a Benedictine Abbey in over 500 years. Its hand written lettering and stunning artworks truly present the Word of God in an engaging and inspirational way. Discover the beauty and splendor of the St. Johns’ Bible at a captivating and lively presentation which shares the story of this once in a millennium undertaking…”

Only a few of us came to the program last night. It was our gain to have almost a private program; all I can do is encourage your taking the time to view several portions of the Bible at the Basilica of St. Mary undercroft and Church proper during usual church hours through November 30.

Tim Ternes, Director of The St. John’s Bible at the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at St. John’s University, presented a fascinating program. I asked permission to take snapshots, all related to the St. John’s Bible Project. The link to much information about the project, which went from 1995-2011, can be accessed here.

Below are a few of my snapshots from Nov. 13.

But make it a point to actually see the fascinating display at the Basilica before it ends November 30. Information here.

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Tim Ternes (at left) Nov. 13, 2014

Tim Ternes (at left) Nov. 13, 2014

The creation story.  One of the many magnificent works of art within the St. John's Bible (which is, in itself, a magnificent work of the calligrapher's art.)

The creation story. One of the many magnificent works of art within the St. John’s Bible (which is, in itself, a magnificent work of the calligrapher’s art.)

In keeping with ancient tradition, the book is filled with art of local flora and fauna from, in this case, central Minnesota.

In keeping with ancient tradition, the book is filled with art of local flora and fauna from, in this case, central Minnesota.

Even calligraphers make mistakes.  Here is one of a few examples in the massive book where an entire line was missed.  Rather than redo the entire page, the calligrapher constructs a sometimes whimsical insertion, such as this one.

Even calligraphers make mistakes. Here is one of a few examples in the massive book where an entire line was missed. Rather than redo the entire page, the calligrapher constructs a sometimes whimsical insertion, such as this one.

I am not an expert in art. As I am fond of noting, in college I waited to the last minute to take the required class, Art Appreciation, and then got a “D” in it. I had a similar experience with Music Appreciation. But time changes things, and now I love both.

I came to “class” last night with only the vaguest understandings about calligraphy. I left with a great appreciation for the skill and even humor of calligraphers, and the awesome project that is the St. John’s Bible.

Do see the exhibit if you have the opportunity. It has been to many states, with more to come. The next exhibition is Madison Wisconsin beginning December 19, 2014.

According to Mr. Ternes, here are the scheduled talks in Madison:
January 19, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. at Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church, 401 S. Owen Drive, Madison, WI

Thursday, January 22, 5:30–8:30 p.m. “From Inspiration to Illumination: An Introduction to The Saint John’s Bible.” Tim Ternes, Director, The Saint John’s Bible. 5:30 p.m., illustrated presentation. 7 p.m., group discussion. 8 p.m., exhibition walk through with question-and-answer. Room L160, Elvehjem Building.

#954 – Dick Bernard: Armistice Day 2014

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

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The Armistice Day Bells, St. Paul MN Nov. 11, 2014

The Armistice Day Bells, St. Paul MN Nov. 11, 2014

This morning I attended the annual Vets for Peace observance of Armistice Day at the USS Ward monument on the Minnesota State Capitol grounds.

It was a bone-chilling day with a numbing wind, and on the way home I stopped at my favorite restaurant for a cup of coffee and a day old cookie (cheapskate that I am). Going to pay my tab I saw that the restaurant, in honor of Veterans Day, would give veterans for 50% of ordinary price, but you had to show evidence of service. Darn. Here I’d not only had a cheap meal, but my dog tags were at home….

Armistice Day? Veterans Day? Remembrance Day? They all commemorate the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when WWI, the War to end all Wars, ended.

It is no accident that the Vets for Peace, mostly vets of the Vietnam era forward, call their observance “Armistice Day”, while the official observance is called “Veterans Day”. The link hidden behind the words above gives the story of when the U.S. dropped “Armistice” in favor of “Veteran”. It was not a subtle change.

Our outdoor observance attracted about 30 of us today, less than usual, in substantial part due to the weather. On the other hand, this was a very good crowd especially given the weather.

But the gathering was its usual inspiring self, ending with an assortment of bells being rung 11 times to remember the 11th, 11th, 11th of the year 1918.

A moving rendition of the World War I poem “In Flanders Field” was offered by one of those in attendance.

"In Flanders Field the Poppies Grow...." Nov. 11, 2014 St. Paul MN

“In Flanders Field the Poppies Grow….” Nov. 11, 2014 St. Paul MN

One of the speakers announced the death, yesterday, of a young man, Tomas Young, 34, who I had never heard of. I read about him when I returned home, and this link includes a short article and a 48 minute video well worth taking the time to read and watch.

Mr. Young, who enlisted in the patriotic wake of 9-11-01 to go fight the “evil doers” in Afghanistan, ended up in Iraq and was near fatally wounded on his fourth day in combat there. The video continues the story.

Today I remembered the first Armistice Day observance I attended here. It was Nov. 11 of 2002, out at Ft. Snelling. I remember it particularly because a year earlier, Nov. 11, 2001, we were at Gatwick Airport in suburban London, about to head home after a vacation in London. At 11 a.m. on that day the public address announcer at Gatwick asked for two minutes of silence – of remembrance – for those who gave their lives.

We could hear a pin drop, literally. Not even a baby cried. I reported that at Ft. Snelling a year later to an attentive group of people who were all strangers to me.

The English take this day of peace seriously.

Today, those of us who served and got lucky and didn’t have to deal with the messiness aftermath of war, personally, can cash in on the sacrifices of others in our seeming endless wars. But there are huge numbers of “walking wounded”, homeless, etc. One of them, Tomas Young, died young yesterday.

Vets for Peace looks for some other way to resolve conflict than rushing into combat. Great numbers of us have been there, done that….

I end this column with the song that we started with this morning: an anthem of peace, sung here by John Denver, “Last night I had the strangest dream”.

"Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream...." Nov. 11, 2014, St. Paul MN led by Sister Bridget McDonald CSJ

“Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream….” Nov. 11, 2014, St. Paul MN led by Sister Bridget McDonald CSJ

#953 – Wayne: A bit of nostalgia remembering the early 1940s.

Monday, November 10th, 2014

This summer my friend, Kathy Garvey, gave me a photo and fascinating accompanying story, both of which speak for themselves and follow, below. I have purposely not edited Wayne’s words, as they are written spontaneously, and more interesting. “Dad” is Kathy’s Grandpa, and the other players are his wife and kids. Wayne writes extemporaneously the recollections about the family in the early 1940s. Shakopee is a southwest suburb of Minneapolis MN, on the Minnesota River. The other places mentioned are south suburban Minneapolis and St. Paul.

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1942, Shakopee MN

1942, Shakopee MN

“Thank you for the picture of Dad at our filling station at 139 Dakota Street in Shakopee in 1942 at the age of 68. I had never seen this picture. The pumps were not electrified. The customer stated how many gallons wanted and you used the hand pump to reach that level in the glass bowl, then gravity hosed it to the car. Plastic had not been invented and no metal quart cans of oil as aluminum was needed for building planes and tanks. You filled quart bottles from a drum as needed. At age 11 I waited on customers as well. Station was closed about a year later as it was a poor location and gas being rationed the average the average person only had stamps for three gallons per week. Margaret was at the Cargill shipyard and received extra stamps due to her vital work [nursing]. Cars of the day were difficult to start in cold weather so she had an extra battery installed under the hood of her 1939 Pontiac coupe.

In 1939 Dad’s legs were bothering after years of following a team of horses and a plow thru the fields so it was decided that Elmer and Irene would take over the farm at the time of their marriage and we would move to Shakopee to a house acquired thru a tax sale. Rita and I thought we were in heaven being only two blocks from St. Mary’s school, one block from the bakery and two blocks from downtown. There was no central plumbing or heat so Dad partitioned off part of the very large kitchen for a bathroom including a tub. After years of an outdoor toilet and Saturday night baths in a washtub behind the kitchen stove this was a real luxury. A furnace was ordered from Montgomery Ward in St. Paul and an installer came by train to put in and stayed with us for two days as he did not have a car. I should add that we were only two blocks from the first indoor movie that we had ever seen.

Farmers could not join the social security program in those days so we had no real source of income. We fixed up and painted a house acquired thru tax sale and rent from this helped. A few summers Dad worked for the State of Minnesota planting trees but he could not stand the hot weather. During the winter he liked to attend court trials and was always hopeful they would need a juror for the five dollars per day pay which could probably equate to eighty dollars today.

In 1941 he acquired a large stucco home in rundown condition which needed to be razed thru tax sale for twenty-five dollars. Rita and I spent many hours there stripping plaster and nails from the wall laths so they could be used in the new house on 139 Dakota Street. With the help of a retired carpenter for framing Dad did most of the building by himself. On the afternoon of December 7, 1941, he and I were working there when Rita hurried to tell us of the attack on Pearl Harbor. We moved to that house in 1942. Later he would build two other houses on speculation, one on East first street and another near the women’s reformatory.

During the war mother and other ladies would gather at the reformatory to cut sterile bed sheet into thin strips and roll them to be used treating the wounded soldiers in Europe. Also since we lived near the railroad tracks hoboes riding the trains would often come to the door asking to work for food. She gave them sandwiches and sent them on their way.

In the early days the Milwaukee railroad had a daily freight train with a passenger car on the end between Farmington, Lakeview, Prior Lake, Shakopee and Chaska, returning that afternoon. There was a siding in Credit River about one mile from our church. This would not happen today but at the time trucks to carry goods to the Twin Cities were not very reliable so farmers could use this siding to ship crops to market. Every fall Dad would contract to sell a load of grain, and each winter a load of cordwood. On the appointed day Mary, Margaret and Helen would go to the siding and flag the train down and instruct the trainmen as to placing an empty boxcar. Elmer would stand on the hill behind our house and listen for the whistle of the steam engine approaching the grade crossing. Then if he heard the engine starting up several minutes later he and Dad would hitch teams of horses to the already loaded wagons. The girls would wait at the siding and help load the boxcars which are huge in size and required many wagon loads to fill. Two days later they would again flag down the train to transport the car. Dad, Elmer and at times a hired hand would spend much of the winter cutting wood as there was no fieldwork at that time of the year.

Helen related that every second day mother would bake 13 loaves of bread and two tins of muffins. When a hog was butchered she would cook and can the meat in mason jars. The pork was put in huge crocks with a layer of salt between each.

I once asked Margaret to write some family history. She replied in part “we were so lucky to have such good, hardworking parents who did not smoke, drink, curse or gamble”. How true.”

Wayne, July 9, 2014

#948 – Dick Bernard: North Dakota’s 125th Birthday; remembering a farm as part of that history

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Today, November 2, 2014, is the 125th anniversary of the admission of the State of North Dakota to the United States of America.

I previously wrote about the history of this event, and the relation of my Grandparents Busch farm to that history on October 1. You can read that here, with numerous links.

The genesis for todays post came early Friday morning, in the hall between the North Dakota Nursing Home where my Uncle lives; and the Assisted Living facility where he lived until a year ago. I was walking down this hall and saw this photograph on the wall. I had seen it before, but this time it spoke to me in a new and deeper way. It was my Uncles farm, and he is the last of nine members of the family who called it home. I “borrowed” the photo and brought it home so I could scan it for posterity. The photo was taken, I learned, in the winter of 1992, hung in the hallway by someone I don’t know. Below is a marked version of it.

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The Busch farm, Henrietta Township ND, winter of 1992.

The Busch farm, Henrietta Township ND, winter of 1992.

Every one of us have our own stories about places familiar to us. Recently I had occasion to revisit Eric Sevaried’s 1956 classic story in Colliers magazine: “You can go home again”, about the always real and imaginary relationship between place, our past and the present.

For Eric Sevaried, the place of his childhood was Velva ND. We lived in Karlsruhe, not far from Velva, in 1951-53, just three years before he came home again.


Then there’s the Busch farm, above pictured:

Grandma and Grandpa Busch, Rosa Berning and Ferdinand Busch, ages 21 and 25, came to the little knoll, the farmstead for their little piece of heaven, as winter ended in 1905. North Dakota was bustling, not yet a teenager, 15 years old. Like a teen, it was growing fast, full of dreams and dilemmas, perhaps like todays western ND oil patch. The future was not yet known, the good times or the very bad, like the death of a child on the farm; or the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Theirs was virgin land, and the new house they soon built overlooked their surrounding acres. There was nary a tree in sight, in any direction.

To the northeast (upper right on the photo), about four miles distance down the hill in the James River Valley lay the older town of Grand Rapids. Within eyeshot, less than five miles to the southwest, was what would soon officially be the town of Berlin.

Grandpa’s Dad, my great-grandfather Wilhelm Busch, had purchased the farm for his son from the owner of the property, the father of later U.S. Senator Milton R. Young. Most likely they were steered to this land by Grandpa’s uncle, B. H. Busch of Dubuque, a budding successful land entrepreneur. They would be followed by other Buschs and Bernings, as Leonard, Lena, Christina, August. August and Christina Berning took up the neighboring farm to the SE about a year later, and farmed there for many years. Leonard and his wife came to Adrian for a few years; Lena married Art Parker, and before they returned to Dubuque, they were early caretakers at the Grand Rapids Park, the first residents of what we all know as the caretakers house.

The Busch house (marked “A” on the photo), initially was simply the standard two story prairie box. The kitchen was initially detached from the house on the west side; later added to the east side of the house; later an addition was built on the west side. In this house were born nine children; all but one lived to adulthood there. Rural telephone service came to this house in 1912, about the time Verena, the third child, was born in 1912. Ferdinand was right in the thick of things with Lakeview rural telephone from the beginning; Vincent did lots of work on rural telephone issues. Verena died of illness at 15, in 1927.

The Buschs, along with many others in the area, founded St. Johns Catholic Church in Berlin in 1915.

Vincent and Edith, brother and sister, never married, born 1925 and 1920 respectively, both lived on the farm until health issues led to a move to town in 2006.

Grandpa died in the old farm house, in 1967. Grandma was said to be the first person to die in what is now St. Rose Care Center in August, 1972. The torch was passed.

Another original building, which still survives at the farmstead, barely, is the granary labeled as “C” on the photo. The first barn was approximately at the letter “D”; another building, which I knew as the chicken coop, was later replaced by the metal shed labeled “G”. A new barn was built at “E” in 1916 for some unrecounted reason. In 1949, the roof blew off this barn and was replaced by the new hand-made roof, which the local Catholic Priest, Fr. Duda, himself an expert carpenter, declared wouldn’t last. That roof is what presently keeps the barn below it from collapsing. Early on, my Dad participated in the reconstruction; Uncle Vince did a huge amount of the work, including the shingling.

In 1957, Grandpa bought the old depot in Berlin and moved the freight house and the depot agents portion of the depot to the farm. They are F1 and F2 on the photo. F2 collapsed about 2006. F1 is at the end of its life.

In 1992, Vincent bought a new house, “B”, which they planted on what all of us descendants knew as the front lawn, a few feet from the old house, which remained there until we took it down in 2000. Most every gathering at the farm ended with a group picture on the same portion of lawn which is now occupied by the new house, presently being renovated.

There has been, now, 109 years of life on this farmstead, though at the moment no one lives on the property (soon to change). The farm is no more or less typical than any farm or town neighborhood anywhere. It is a place full of tradition and memory, especially for this grandson of the place.

There are endless memories in these few acres, as there are in every farmstead; in every block, in every town and city, everywhere.

There was Grandpa’s hired man, way back, who likely slept in the granary. One year, he didn’t come back, killed in WWI. George Busch was a naval officer in WWII; youngest brother Art, went in the Army at the end of the War; Vince stayed home to do the necessary farming. Music was a constant in the house, and probably elsewhere, all “homemade” music, sung and played by the inhabitants….

Busch farm harvest time 1907,.  Rosa Busch holds her daughter Lucina, Others in photo include Ferd, behind the grain shock; Rosa's sister, Lena, and Ferds father Wilhelm, and young brother William Busch.  It is unknown who was unloading the grain in background.  Possibly, it was Ferds brother, Leonard, who also farmed for a time in ND.

Busch farm harvest time 1907,. Rosa Busch holds her daughter Lucina, Others in photo include Ferd, behind the grain shock; Rosa’s sister, Lena, and Ferds father Wilhelm, and young brother William Busch. It is unknown who was unloading the grain in background. Possibly, it was Ferds brother, Leonard, who also farmed for a time in ND.

What are your memories, about your places?

Happy Birthday, North Dakota.

More about the Busch farm here.

#939 – Dick Bernard: DRAFT Sifting through the tragic mess that is the Middle East

Friday, September 19th, 2014

NOTE October 8, 2014: This post will likely continue to be preceded by DRAFT. My apologies to Prof. Beeman if I missed his point(s). The very interesting additional opinions (below) are as expressed (interpreted) by the writers, including myself.

Last night (Sep 18, 2014) I was one of about 35 persons who had a great opportunity to learn a bit more about the tangled web of people, countries, events and history that make up the contemporary Middle East. Our teacher was William Beeman of the University of Minnesota. The program was part of Citizens for Global Solutions MN “Third Thursday” program. It seems a good time to dust off a couple of maps I had cobbled together about the region, in 2005 when the Iraq War was raging, and more recently, in May, 2013, when the Syria Crisis was in an earlier phase, and I found a map to at least define the area in a blogpost.

Iraq environs ca 2005001 (click on link to open)
Syria and environs in 2013 (below):

(click to enlarge)

These maps preceded ISIS (or ISIL) as the case might be.

Professor Beeman of the University of Minnesota gave us an endless stream of information which could be interpreted in 35 different ways (by every one of us in the room) and millions of different ways by anyone else who has even the slightest interest in the topic. The greatest gift of a good talk is to encourage the recipient to think….

Prof. Beeman (photo below) is an acknowledged expert on the area, and respected as a scholar who understands and appreciates the culture (also diversely defined). He gave us many insights and well-informed opinions. I won’t even try to pretend that I have correctly “translated” him. What I offer are some fragments I gleaned from our two hours, and I’ve invited others I know who were there to add in their own fragments if/as they wish.

William O. Beeman, September 18, 2014

William O. Beeman, September 18, 2014

The Middle East is yet another example of the failure of colonialism and ignorance and disrespect by the western powers. For instance, England and France basically carved up the land that now makes up the Middle East, without any regard for the diverse cultures living within the area. As Dr. Beeman said, they “worked from a map” when they decided who would get what after WW I.

He was highly complimentary of T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), and especially Gertrude Bell, both of whom understood the peoples of the region from having lived among them.

It is impossible to pick out a single one or two points that were most significant. I paid special attention when Beeman took some time to point out that the word “Christian” includes a great plenty of differing beliefs, albeit centering on a dominant personality, Jesus, and Islam with Mohamed is really no different. Yet, I will hear people, Christians usually, regularly clumping all Muslims as if they were all the same even though, Muslims are as diverse as Christians.

The discussion of tribal cultures was also very interesting. In my opinion, in the United States, from an ethnic standpoint, the word “American” no longer has any particular “tribal” meaning in the ethnic sense. But tribes are useful from the standpoint of dividing people for the purpose of gaining a competitive advantage, so in our country there are constant attempts to create “us” versus “them” scenarios (“tribes”, as it were) for the purpose of winning. This becomes particularly intense during this absurd American election season: the Republican “tribe” versus the Democrat “tribe”.

Dr. Beeman suggested that a crucial actor in resolving the ISIL and other regional dilemmas in the Middle East is likely Iran.

Of course, much has been invested over many years in making Iran, along with Cuba and North Korea, part of the infamous “Axis of Evil”. So the U.S. blunders along, ill suited to get a solution, even at the point of weaponry, and its major client state, Israel, is not very helpful.

There are so many facets to the current problem that it is hard to devine what might end up being a solution. Of course, enter partisan politics. Crisis is good, and having somebody to blame for the crisis, is even better.

We must do better.

from Gail H, Sep 21 (referring to above session): At the Third Thursday Forum last Thursday, “America’s Confusion in the Middle East”, William Beeman provided an excellent overview of the historical, cultural/religious, and geopolitical context of that region to help us understand what’s been happening there recently.

For those who missed it or would like to hear more from Dr. Beeman, [here is] an article by him that was published in the Huffington Post, U.K., on July 31, 2014 BeemanShiaSunni. The article, “Will There be a Shi’a-Sunni War in the Middle East? Not Likely”, includes some of the same information.

from John B, Sep 19: The Citizens for Global Solutions meeting in Minneapolis last night was interesting, informative and, yes, a bit frightening. One take-away for me is that the USA seems to be led around by the nose by the radical Zionists in Israel. Their complicity in the geopolitical machinations and trumped up fear of Iran have made the USA look, once again, like bumbling stooges. I agree with many, who express the opinion, that Israel is standing in the way of developing an effective strategy to deal with ISIL which could include Iran, possibly Turkey, maybe even Russia. There are many other matters of conflict which the the Middle East countries and religious bodies need to work out. Not the least is the ongoing aparteid involving Palestinian interests and Israel.

A necessary disclaimer: I am not anti-Semitic. I admire many things about modern IsraeI. I love the Jewish religion, its culture and highly regard the contributions many, many Jews have made in science, government and the arts. If, in fact, the Ancient Israelites were GOD’s Chosen people, does that give modern Zionists the right to bully American politicians and wield its power in the halls of our government? By all accounts this is what is occuring. This is an “undiscussible”. It is yet another example of our broken political system. Maybe this is what America deserves; this could be payback for our meddling in the affairs of so many nations over the years. Lots of dirty hands need washing.

I stand opposed to any US involvement in the ISIL, Syria and Iraq situation. Yes, to some extent our nation has directly contributed to the mess in the middle East. Let’s not make it worse. A very ugly possible future is lurking in the background.

response from Dick B: I agree with John’s sentiments. I’ve been to Israel (1996, right before Arafat was elected, before the Wall). I’ve visited Auschwitz and other horrible places of the Holocaust in 2000, with a group of 40 that was half Jews and half Christians. (I turned 60 the day we were at the ovens in Auschwitz. It is impossible to describe adequately how it felt to be in that horrible place, and others such as the Schindlers List camp near Krakow, and Terezin, Czech Republic, etc.) But the Israelis idea of a short term solution is catastrophic for everyone, including themselves, long term. Just my opinion.

There is an unfortunate “no talk” rule about this issue. I’m glad John brought it up.

from Joe S, Sep 19: Thanks for your candid remarks, with which I generally concur. As one of the more faithful attenders of our Third Thursday Forums, you are probably ware that we have discussed Israel/Palestine on several occasions and will, I would guess, do so again.

from Gail H: I very much appreciate your comments, John and Dick, and your courage in raising this issue! Those who criticize Israeli foreign policy (which, by the way, is led by an ultra-Right government) are no more Anti-Semitic than those who criticize American foreign policy are unpatriotic. I agree that it has been ‘taboo’ to openly and candidly examine Israel, although that has begun to change as Israel’s excessive violence has become increasingly difficult to defend.

I joined CGS-MN because those who attend Third Thursdays seem thoughtful, well-educated about global affairs, and unwilling to accept without question what we’re told by our politicians and by our media. They don’t ‘stand’ on ideology, but want to hear from scholars such as William Beeman who can expand our understanding of events with historical, cultural, and geopolitical information and reasoned analysis.

In my opinion, Professor Beeman’s talk last Thursday, the questions asked by audience members, and the discussion which here has ensued shows CGS at its best. I am so proud of our organization!

from a retired lifelong American who’s also lifelong Moslem and grew up in a vibrant Moslem community in rural America: (His comments refer to a film in progress about Arabs in America. You can view the film trailer here. Included with his comments were these two items: British Mandate Summary and Lord Balfour_r3

(To the film producer) Thank you. I enjoyed the trailer very much.

A few things mentioned caught my attention:

My Dad and his brother also immigrated here to escape induction into the Ottoman Empire’s army as one of the persons in your trailer indicated

There were words from a Palestinian girl that reminded me of the British Mandate. She may be able to expand on it. I am having an interesting discussion with a couple of past co-workers on the Middle East mess created by the British. One is from England and they have provided me with much information that helps me understand the conditions that led to the immigration of so many Arabs from that part of the world. The first attachment [link above] is a summary of the British Mandate and the second is more descriptive of the background. Further back in history, the Ottoman Empire resulted from a local Turkish leader named Osman organizing an army to drive the Crusaders out of the middle east after 500 years of slaughter by wave after wave of Crusaders. But in short, all the problems we now experience in the Middle East were caused by the British, that same entity that felt they should rule the US before the Revolutionary War that the British still call an insurgency. It bothers me that we have become the new Great Britain feeling we are the ones to go around the world and tell other nations what to do and believe.

I’m sure you know the story of Lawrence of Arabia, the trusted soul that got the Arabs into WWI, but if not, I can expand on that for you.

There was discussion of Christians in the Middle East. The Middle East populations were predominantly Christian until the crusaders slaughtered most of them. There is an interesting article in the June, 2009 issue of National Geographic on the Christian Exodus from the Holy Land. Most Lebanese Christians live in the central area of Lebanon. They align themselves with Hezbollah because they do not trust the US and its western allies. We label Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorists, but both organization we created as relief organization to aid the victims of the US backed Israelis attacks. My grandfather returned to his Lebanon birthplace to live out the rest of his life after my grandmother died. After a few months he returned to N Dakota. The reason was that the Israelis would fly over southern Lebanon and kill the occupants for target practice during periods of calm. As the result of our foreign policies and undying support of Israel, Hezbollah has taken a more active role in military defense of their people. Hamas on the other hand has focused mainly on relief activities. We still refer to them as terrorists to appease Israel. But they are hardly militant. They have been shooting these small rockets into Israel to draw the world’s attention to their plight after the withdrawal of Jewish settlements and the establishment of the siege. Notice how quickly the news media shifted from the recent Gaza incident. The people of Gaza have the choice of sitting back and starving to death, or raising a bit of ruckus every now and then to draw attention to their plight

If you are a student of biblical history, the siege is the process that Moses and his people used to claim the homeland of the ancestors of the Palestinians 3000 years ago. Canaan consisted of a series of small city states and the Hebrews would besiege one and when their armies would come out to drive the intruders away, the people of Moses could easily defeat them, then they would go into the city and kill slaughter the women, children and elderly males, and then occupy the city as their home. This continued through five generation from Joshua through Gideon. Much on that subject on the web.

Note comment from Howie, in comments section below. This illustration applies to the comment and my response to it.

from Understanding the Catholic Faith, An Official Edition of the Revised Baltimore Catechism No. 3, 1955

from Understanding the Catholic Faith, An Official Edition of the Revised Baltimore Catechism No. 3, 1955

#937 – Dick Bernard: A Look Back at the History of the State of North Dakota as it approaches its 125th birthday.

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Today, September 17, is Constitution Day in the United States. This year the U.S. is 227 years young.

Happy Birthday!

Some serendipity happenings cause me to give focus, this day, to the original Constitution of the State of North Dakota.

North Dakota is my home state.

This year, November 2, is the 125th birthday of North Dakota – the 32nd state of the U.S. (South Dakota is 33rd). Elwyn Robinson, author of the definitive history of North Dakota, gives this description of the beginnings of the ND Constitution Convention in 1889: ND Constit – Robinson001.

Most of the text and illustrations which follow come from the 1911 Blue Book of North Dakota, which I found this summer amongst the belongings at the LaMoure County farm where my mother grew up. Her parents came to that farm from extreme southwest Wisconsin (near Dubuque IA) in March of 1905. Her Dad, my Grandpa Fred Busch, seems always to have been interested in politics, and it is probably thanks to him that I now have this old book. In the books illustrations (below) you see evidence of pencil scrigglings. Most likely, they were made by my then-two year old mother, Esther: she was born in 1909, and by the time this book was at the farm home, she was probably at the age where a pencil and paper had some relationship together. (The final picture, at the end of this post, is of the first page of the book. Likely an Esther Busch original!)

(click to enlarge)

The cover of the "red, white and blue" Blue Book of North Dakota, 1911

The cover of the “red, white and blue” Blue Book of North Dakota, 1911

North Dakota’s history, like all places, then to now,is a very complicated one. For anyone interested there are a great many sources and observations interpreting North Dakota’s early history and the torturous course of its Constitution pre and post 1911. Between statehood in 1889 and 1911, when this book was published, there had been great changes in ND, with extremely rapid growth. It was doubtless an exciting time on the prairie; a time of transition. The history as recorded in the book is as known and accepted as fact in 1911.

Here is the 1889 Constitution of North Dakota as reprinted in the 1911 Blue Book: ND Constitution 1889001

Dr. Jerome Tweton much later wrote an interesting commentary on a later effort to redo the oft amended original Constitution.

Here is the summary history of the state and Dakota Territory, its predecessor, as written in the same book: ND TerrHist writ 1911 002 [See note at end of this blog].

Dad’s side of my family preceded ND statehood.

My grandmother Bernard, then Josephine Collette, was born eight years before statehood at St. Andrews, where the Park and Red Rivers come together in Walsh County ND. Her parents came to ND in 1878; several uncles and Aunts came west about the same time.

Her uncle, Samuel Collette, who migrated to the St. Paul MN area from Quebec in 1857, was the first family member to see North Dakota. He was part of the Minnesota Mounted Rangers in 1862-63, a soldier in the so-called Indian War, and likely was with that unit in 1863 when it reached what later became Bismarck. This was a bit before Interstate 94.

Every state has its symbols.

Here are the 1911 descriptors of the Wild Prairie Rose, the State Flower, and the North Dakota Flag: ND Flower Flag 1911 002. These are the only state symbols within the book.

There is no descriptor of the North Dakota Seal in the 1911 book. Here is a more current interpretation of that Seal.

I found most interesting, in the reverential description of the ND flag, the many references to the Spanish-American War in the Philippines 1898-99. My Grandpa Busch, Mom’s Dad, would not, in 1911, have had any idea that his future brother-in-law, my Grandpa Bernard, Dad’s Dad, who came to Grafton from Quebec about 1894, was in that war, spending that entire year in the Philippines, part of Co C, Grafton. Where that ND flag was, there was Grandpa Bernard. I have visited Manila, Pagsanjan and Paete, all mentioned in that description.

Without knowing it, the two ND families were already “tied” together. (Another book found at the Busch farm is one about the Spanish-American War written at the time of the war in the grandiose style of the time.)

North Dakota was one of the earliest enrollees in Theodore Roosevelt’s Spanish-American War, spring of 1898. Of course, the “Roughrider”, Teddy Roosevelt, had spent two important years in ND in the mid 1880s, living in the Badlands not far from todays Medora. In a way, by 1898, Theodore Roosevelt had become a North Dakotan.

(click to enlarge)

ND Flag, as presented in the 1911 North Dakota Blue Book.  Scribbles likely compliments of then 2-year old Esther Busch.

ND Flag, as presented in the 1911 North Dakota Blue Book. Scribbles likely compliments of then 2-year old Esther Busch.

ND State Flower, the prairie Wild Rose, as presented in 1911 ND Blue Book

ND State Flower, the prairie Wild Rose, as presented in 1911 ND Blue Book

Great Seal of North Dakota in 1911 ND Blue Book.  Scribbles likely contributed by then 2-year old Esther Busch of Henrietta Township, rural Berlin ND.

Great Seal of North Dakota in 1911 ND Blue Book. Scribbles likely contributed by then 2-year old Esther Busch of Henrietta Township, rural Berlin ND.

Likely artiste, Esther Busch, in the 1911 North Dakota Blue Book.

Likely artiste, Esther Busch, in the 1911 North Dakota Blue Book.

Esther Busch went on to Henrietta Township School #1 near Berlin ND, thence to St. John’s Academy in Jamestown, thence Valley City State Normal School. She became a North Dakota Public School elementary school teacher in the late 1920s, met her future husband Henry Bernard at Valley City State Normal School, and together they taught a total of 71 years in North Dakota Public Schools.

Happy Birthday, North Dakota!

re ND TerrHist link above: At page four of the link you’ll find the population of ND by decades until 1910. Succinctly, the population grew by 75% from 1890 to 1900, thence 80% from 1900 to 1910 to a 1910 population of 577,000.

That more or less remained the population of North Dakota until the recent oil boom.

They say ND is now about 700,000; In the 1960 census, when I was a junior in college, ND population was about 630,000. When I did the Busch family history some years ago I looked up the population of Berlin, which was platted in 1903 and incorporated in 1906. Berlins highest population ever was in 1910, 137 people. It was all downhill from there. The current population of Berlin, ND is about 35. Here’s how it looked about 1910: Berlin ND early pre-1910001

The present ND population boomlet is in the Bakken oil west (Williston, Minot, Bismarck, Dickinson areas) and in the cities, particularly Fargo and Grand Forks.

#934 – Dick Bernard: Eight weeks (56 days) to November 4, Election Day 2014.

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Yesterdays post, here, relates to this one.

August, 2013.  Who every election is about....

August, 2013. Who every election is about….

Recently, in an e-mail, came a very interesting short test on current events* from the highly respected Pew Research Center. It asks 13 questions: “What do you know about the news?”.

You can take the test privately. Here it is. Elsewhere in this post I will tell you how I did, compared with the national sample who were surveyed August 7-14, 2014.

Re the next eight weeks, there is really nothing to add to what will incessantly be irritatingly obvious: there is a major election in a few weeks.

As usual, in a non-presidential year, most people won’t vote at all (it’s mid-term, after all); a distressing percentage of those who’ll vote really don’t know the issues, much less where the candidates stand on the issues, much less even knowing who the candidates are.

The bottom line for me remains: We like to complain about “government”; but we’re actually complaining about ourselves.

If we were a dictatorship, or if there wasn’t a reasonably solid statutory base for “one person, one vote”, we might have more of a right to complain. But the vast majority of us CAN vote.

We each have as much power, through an informed vote, as the richest person in the country: one vote. True, big money can influence votes through these incessant and vacuous media ads and mailers we will see, without end. But ads don’t vote, either, except through us.

A good place to start, today, is to find out who your candidates will be on November 4. For Minnesotans (my state), here’s the entry point. All you need to know is your where you live. All the other rules are to be found at the same website. Other states doubtless have similar resources.

Once you know your candidates, find out what they stand for, really (not just the ads), and let the people who you know, know where you stand, and why.

And if you’re not sure about someone who’s a candidate ask someone you trust about them.

In the end, I hope we elect more folks who truly care about the entire country, than simply about their own particular ideology. We used to have a tradition, Republican and Democrat, which was more like that, than it is today.

Again, if we want change, we’ll be the ones to demand it through our vote on November 4, and in future elections.

* – Did you take the test referred to at the beginning?

The person who passed the test along to me said this: “Try this test! It is very interesting. It will test your knowledge of current events. It is interesting that 11 people of the original survey conducted by Pew Research did not get a single question correct.

This is an excellent test and it shows results in a number of ways. National results indicate that the majority of Americans don’t know what is going on in their country. Are these the “low information voters” we have been hearing about?

It is astonishing that so many people got less than half of the questions right. The results say that 80% of the voting public are basically clueless about current events. That’s pretty scary but not at all surprising.

There are no trick questions in this test — Either you know the answer or you don’t. It will give you an idea whether or not you are current on your information data base.”

My score? I got 12 of 13.