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#1078 – Dick Bernard: North Dakota and South Dakota in 1912. A school textbook freezes a year in time.

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

Today, November 1, 2015, is the 365th day of North and South Dakota’s 125th anniversary as states of the U.S. Tomorrow they’re 126 – that’s a bit like having been 21, and now you’re 22. It seems a good day to remember a bit more of that good year, the 125th….

(click to enlarge all photos)

Central States of U.S. 1912 from Natural Advanced Geography, Redway and Hinman, 1912

Central States of U.S. 1912 from Natural Advanced Geography, Redway and Hinman, 1912

As readers of this blog know, the past year has found me frequently and physically revisiting the rural North Dakota where Mom, born 1909, grew up. Soon the 110-year family farm, not far from LaMoure, will belong to new owners. The work has been hard, both physical and emotional, now close to finished. Three times in the last twelve months I’ve written about the 125th birthday of ND: Sep 17, 2014, Oct 1, 2014 and Nov 2, 2014.

October 18,2015, I was at the farm, doing a near-final “sift” of “junk” left in the machine shed, and an old book caught my eye. I fished it out of a box. A portion of the 10×12″ cover is pictured below (click to enlarge).

Cover of 1912 edition of ND Public School Geography text.

Cover of 1912 edition of ND Public School Geography text.

I’m an old geography major. Back home I decided to leaf through and see what I’d find. Its last copyright was 1912.

At the very end of the book, I found two chapters on North Dakota and South Dakota geography.

(Not until preparing this post on October 29 did I notice the note at the very top of the cover page of the book. You can see it hidden, above, at the top of the page. Apparently there were many regional editions of this more than 175 page textbook, each having a section focused on a particular state or region of the U.S.)

What the book had to say about North and South Dakota geography is presented in entirety here (in two twelve page chapters): No. Dak Geog 1912002 (including 23 photos) and So. Dak Geog 1912003 (27 photos).

At page 77, North and South Dakota are introduced:

Geography 1912 ND SD003

The chapters have lots of most interesting tidbits.

On the last page of each state chapter is its 1910 census.

For North Dakota the 1910 census total was 577,056. The “Principal Cities” ranged from Fargo (14,331) to Eckman (population 84, founded 1908, not long after almost a ghost town near Maxbass.). South Dakota totaled 583,888 including Sioux Falls (14,094) and Effington (46) among the “Principal Cities”.

(North Dakota’s current population is 714,551 est in 2013; South Dakota’s 833,354. In 1960, when I was in college, the respective populations were 630,000 (ND) and 680,000 (SD)

1910 was North and South Dakota’s 21st birthday, each state roaring along with all the enthusiasm and hope of someone at 21.

For reasons most of we natives of the states have learned, boom times ebbed, and things like the Great Depression of the 1930s left their mark, everywhere. As my relative, Melvin, born 1928, who grew up the next farm over, said in a letter just days ago: “It was a good life for all of us and I am sure that there will always be some bitter sweet memories of the old homesteads, growing up in the Post Depression years which were further dampened by the drought, grass hoppers and the dust bowl in the prewar [WWII] years.”

The chapters, and the book itself, are filled with raw material for great conversations. (If interested, note that the 1898 edition, probably for the California market, is at google books (click on the tab, other formats).

Ferd and Rosa Busch with first child, Lucina, in yard of their farm home likely Fall 1907

Ferd and Rosa Busch with first child, Lucina, in yard of their farm home likely Fall 1907

POSTNOTE: Geography is much more than just relatively static features, like rivers and mountains. It is very much geopolitical: things as country and state names, and boundaries, and peoples, and conflict change the picture of the landscape. So the publication date of a map or data on which text is based makes a big difference.

For a single example, note the below map of Central Europe in the 1912 textbook. The configuration of the countries is much different in 1912 than it is today, and played into World War I, then into World War II.

If you live in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, there is a current and important exhibition at the Museum of Russian Art entitled “Faces of War: Russia in World War I (1914-18)”. We have been to this exhibit, and the text and pictures are a vivid history lesson in themselves. Do take the time if you haven’t already done so. The Museum is at 5500 Stevens Avenue S. Minneapolis, at the west edge of I-35W, at the SW corner of Stevens Avenue S and Diamond Lake Road.

Map of Central Europe in 1912 edition of Natural Advanced Geography textbook

Map of Central Europe in 1912 edition of Natural Advanced Geography textbook

#1077 – Dick Bernard: Remembering Sandy Peterson, two Unions, and a Merger

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Sandra Peterson died on October 24, 2015. Her death was local news in Minnesota. She deserves the kudos which are coming her way. She was a visionary leader.

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Some of the guests at the anniversary, Feb. 28. Center front is Judy Schaubach, then VP of MEA; 2nd from left in top row is Sandra Peterson, then President MFT.  Others: front row Sharon Kjellberg and Denise Specht; top row from left Paul Mueller, Greg Burns and Dick Bernard

Some of the guests at the anniversary, Feb. 28. Center front is Judy Schaubach, then VP of MEA; 2nd from left in top row is Sandra Peterson, then President MFT. Others: front row Sharon Kjellberg and Denise Specht; top row from left Paul Mueller, Greg Burns and Dick Bernard

I knew Sandy as a union leader, first of MFT, then Education Minnesota, “back in the day”. It was to be expected that she would be described as a “tough union leader and tender hockey grandmother” as though these were contradictions in terms. She, like so many “union leaders” and “grandparents” made, and still make, a very positive difference. She and I didn’t know each other well, but we certainly weren’t strangers either. Indeed, we office’d just a few doors down from each other for the last two years of my career, first at MFT, then at MEA.

(For many years, here in Minnesota, there were two competing unions: one was the Minnesota Education Association (MEA); the other the Minnesota Federation of Teachers (MFT). I was one of many MEA Field Representatives; Sandra was President of MFT.)

At this point, a little history would help to understand the “teacher union” business in context with Minnesota.

For most of my staff career (1972-2000), each organization viewed the other as the enemy, and we acted accordingly.

The two-union conflict is a long and interesting and important story, which veterans of one camp or the other can likely still recall with fervor (and differing interpretations). It is a story younger teachers cannot relate to.

The time of change in relationships was the 1990s.

I happened to be the MEA staff “on the ground” in Rosemount-Apple Valley in the early 1990s when the winds of change began to blow. Both “sides”, I think, knew that the teachers they represented were sick and tired of the unproductive conflict, and discussions led to proposals which led ultimately to state then national action: To my recollection, the two locals became Dakota County United Educators in 1993, the first merged MEA-MFT local, recognized by both national unions (the photo above is at the 20th anniversary of that merger in 2013).

In 1998, the two state unions merged to become Education Minnesota, and at the end of August, 1998, several of we MEA staff were assigned offices at the nearby MFT headquarters in St. Paul. President Sandra Peterson’s office was just down the hall from us, and while there was likely apprehension among all of us, it wasn’t visible and it didn’t last long.

On August 31, 1998, I took the two following photos outside the new Education Minnesota co-office; about the same time Sandra Peterson and MEA’s Judy Schaubach became the merged Unions Co-Presidents. (click to enlarge).

Changing the signage from MFT to Education Minnesota, August 31, 1998, 168 Aurora, St. Paul MN

Changing the signage from MFT to Education Minnesota, August 31, 1998, 168 Aurora, St. Paul MN

Some of the MFT staff August 31, 1998

Some of the MFT staff August 31, 1998

I retired from Education Minnesota two years later. My retirement had nothing whatsoever to do with the merger. It was an ordinary retirement.

The merger had been well planned, and the years of working more and more closely together on many things made the transition simpler.

It took a long while for the “brand” “Education Minnesota” to stick. (In some sectors, I doubt it will ever stick. For instance, the third Thursday and Friday of October will, it appears, always be called “MEA days” or “MEA vacation” in the public eye in Minnesota.)

It is 17 years since the merger of MEA and MFT. Anyone with less than 17 years of teaching experience has no real context of a time when there were two teacher unions in conflict with each other (and were thus easier to divide and conquer.)

Mergers take lots and lots of ability to find and build common ground. Sandra Peterson more than played a strong and positive role. There are adjectives better than “tough” which I would use to describe her and others who have built strong and effective unions, not only in the public school teacher sector.

“Visionary” comes to mind.

Unions are an asset to the public good, not otherwise.

Ironically, just a couple of days ago my copy of the NEA Retired magazine arrived in my mailbox. It’s cover topic is about Union. It is worth a read, here: I am the Union001

Bon Voyage, Sandra!

#1072 – Dick Bernard: September’s Song, “When the days dwindle down, to a precious few….” Don and Stan and Ted and Jessica and all of us.

Saturday, October 17th, 2015
Woodbury MN Oct 2015

Woodbury MN Oct 2015

It was quite a week, including Thursday at the Minnesota Orchestra where our 87 year old friend, Don, and I, watched 92 year old Stanislaw Skrowaczewski conduct Schumanns Concerto in A Minor for Cello and Orchestra, Opus 129, and Bruckners Symphony No. 7 in E major. MN Orch Oct 15 105002.

I go to concerts to listen to music; this concert was great…so said the reviewer. Age hasn’t dimmed the maestro’s baton!

The Bruckner Symphony itself is over an hour, and conductors don’t take breaks in their duties. Occasionally the maestro would hold on to the support bar behind him (the bar extended in height by about a foot, likely specifically for him), and I noticed an unused chair beside the podium – just in case? But on he went; and apparently tonight as well.

At the intermission Don and I were talking about keeping on, as Stan is doing: “when you stop doing things, you die”, said Don, with the voice of experience that I, trailing him by a dozen years, can more and more relate to.

Like all elders, Don has his rich stories. Most of his career he worked keeping track of railroad cars for the Northern Pacific RR in the days before computers. But in his younger days, his credits include at least one small dinner party with actress Elizabeth Taylor, and sitting in Joan Crawford’s seat at the Oscar’s one year (she was unable to attend). He was most impressed by Audrey Hepburn, who he met more than once in Hollywood.

Pretty good for a native of St. Paul’s Frogtown.

For Don, for Stan, it’s now past September, and September’s Song fits.

But as we know, there are lots of Stan’s and Don’s around in the world, from, let’s say, March till late December….

A week earlier I’d been at the same Orchestra Hall with Grandson Ted, now 15, and an aspiring musician.

We went to a Jazz concert in the Atrium, and Ted especially watched the drummer, as he’s been asked to be the drummer for his schools jazz band this year. He’s got lots of musical talent, and drummers have a big job. He’s up to it.

The previous night, two of us old-timers were up at our Alma Mater in Valley City ND, to meet Jessica, the first recipient of a class scholarship we have worked on the last couple of years.

Jessica, a most impressive Senior, preparing to be an elementary school teacher, made my day. I was her age, at that college, once…. (photo at end of this post)

Two days later, good friend Joe, another 87 year old, convened a major conference in Minneapolis which went splendidly Oct 9&10. It was, literally, his conference. I wrote about it here. The Workable World conference will, I predict, live on far past October 10, and far beyond Minneapolis…. It will live on, especially, in the abundance of young people who were there; who left with much to think about, and act on.

I saw Joe two nights ago, in a group where a young woman, Mnar, spoke powerfully about “Muslims as the other” in this country. Afterwards Joe wrote some of us about his experience: “[Her] presentation not only shattered a number of stereotypes about Muslims and women, but also provided some much needed lessons about the slanted way we get — or fail to get — the news.”

*

The past few day, in a physical sense, have been tiring. I am ready to “couch potato”. But that lasts only a little while.

Last night I gave in and joined Lynn, 94, for dinner. Lynn will die with his passion of world peace on his lips. He will never, ever quit.

Rebekah and her friend Quinn, students at a local University, brought him to our meeting, and the four of us had a too short conversation which needs to continue.

It was an inconvenience to meet last night, but it was one of those meetings I will remember far beyond last evening.

I think of a sign I saw at my coffee shop yesterday morning, and photo’ed especially for Joe.

It is below. It applies to every one of us, regardless of age.

It’s now October, and there is still hope….

Dream Big001

Dick, Jessica and Carl, October 7, 2015

Dick, Jessica and Carl, October 7, 2015

#1071 – Dick Bernard: Getting perspective on the UN System at 70.

Monday, October 12th, 2015
Those remaining at the very end of the second day of the conference.  Photo by Claude Buettner

Those remaining at the very end of the second day of the conference. Photo by Claude Buettner

Click to enlarge any photos.

Keynote speaker W. Andy Knight, and artist R. Padre Johnson's well known art work of the Family of Man.  Padre was at the conference.

Keynote speaker W. Andy Knight, and artist R. Padre Johnson’s well known art work of the Family of Man. Padre was at the conference.

First things first: it is impossible to summarize the Workable World Conference I attended on Friday and Saturday, October 9&10, at the University of Minnesota.

Here is the program booklet: Workable World Speakers Oct 9-10 2015. The entire conference, every speaker, was videotaped for later use, and later there will also be proceedings published for posterity. Check back at this spot in some months, and I’ll include an update.

I attend meetings frequently, both to learn something, and to give support to the process. It is much like the synergy of a basketball game. The team can play the game, but it helps a great deal to have someone in the stands – an audience. But it has been my experience that there are always “ah hah” moments, small or large insights that flow out of some comment, or an amalgamation of several comments: learning moments; insights.

There were a lot of these for me Friday and Saturday.

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Charlotte Ku and audience, Saturday Oct 10, University of Minnesota

Charlotte Ku and audience, Saturday Oct 10, University of Minnesota

At some point in the proceedings it occurred to me that there were roughly as many registrants for the conference (over 200), as there are countries in the UN (193), so I began to imagine each of us in the hall, including the speaker, as a “country”.

Of course, all is not alike between countries. One of we audience members, for instance, would control 25% of the Gross National Income of the entire world; another has 20% of the world’s humanity. (These are the U.S., and China, of course.) (This data an much more from Transforming the United Nations System by Dr. Joseph Schwartzberg. I highly recommend it.)

Then, there are those in power positions (I was one of these, controlling the portable microphone!) And, of course, those who registered but never came to a session, or could be there for only a short time for one reason or another.

Whatever the case, this was a melting pot of sorts: experts, critics, supporters, all with a common interest in ideas about the United Nations System.

Schwartzberg book001

One speaker, in answer to a question, described the UN at 70 to be much like an airplane over New York City which has a problem with a wing which has to be repaired on the fly.

This provided rich imagery for me, about how the immensely complex business of the United Nations is an endless series of crises to manage amongst people with different priorities.

What if, I thought to myself, we in that audience at Cowles Auditorium had some problem dropped on us, and there was no one to decide except ourselves?

Given how people can be, it could be a dicey proposition to even decide on a simple matter. It’s easy to despise “government”, but one sort of government or another is essential to individual and group survival.

The conference was expertly moderated by Prof. John Trent of the Centre on Governance at the University of Ottawa; Maryam Ysefzadeh and Tim O’Keefe of Robayat helped quiet our minds with gentle Persian music.

Maryam Yusefzedah and Tim O'Keefe Oct 10, 2015

Maryam Yusefzedah and Tim O’Keefe Oct 10, 2015

We were reminded that the United Nations was a creation of a specific moment in time, post World War II. Change is required for any such organism, and indeed change is happening in small increments and in less than obvious ways (from the bottom up, for instance.)

But imperfect as the institution is, it is far far better than the alternative of no United Nations.

That is my main takeaway. With all its fault, the United Nations is essential to our future as a planet…and I think the collective speakers and audience and most of the rest of humanity know and appreciate that.

Prof Robert Johansen of the University of Notre Dame spoke on the dilemmas and realities of Peacekeeping in the contemporary world.

Prof Robert Johansen of the University of Notre Dame spoke on the dilemmas and realities of Peacekeeping in the contemporary world.

POSTNOTE from Dick Bernard: As one would expect from an academic conference, there were many comments of note, that stick in my mind: here’s a single one for starters. A speaker talked about the U.S. role as present day hegemon (which I define as “big dog”) of the planet. Of course, there have been successions of hegemons over the centuries, and ultimately they all overreach – something of a nation version of the Peter Principle: each rising to their level of incompetence, then collapsing….

It was observed that President Obama, in his role as leader of the U.S., has been working to tamp down a bit the U.S. tendency to interfere in everything, everywhere. This diminished interference can be interpreted by some as weakness, but at the same time, it is a strategy that helps to keep the U.S. as primary hegemon of the planet. In an odd, but logical way, the actions of President Obama support the objectives of the very people who are most critical of him as being weak and ineffective. And at the same time, those who would promote a more aggressive policy of particularly military engagement in the world would act against the U.S. own hegemonic interests.

At least for me, there was a lot of food for thought in this observation, such as I heard it stated.

#1070 – Dick Bernard: Bombing the Hospital in Afghanistan. Who’s at fault about the killings in Roseburg, Oregon…?

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

If you watch the news at all, it is not necessary to define the very recent topics in the subject line, at least in the terms that they have been reported, and your personal feelings about them.

In my opinion, both give we Americans an opportunity to take stock of ourselves: how each and every one of us fit into construction of our image as a country.

Of course, the simple narrative is to blame somebody else. We know how this goes. We have lots of practice. Left, right, center, it is virtually never ourselves to blame: it is somebody else, most always one person. “Obama” bombed that hospital, some would say. That gun-obsessed mother of the gun-crazed son who killed the students at the Roseburg Community College is now the target.

Tomorrow it will be something else, local, regional, national, international. “Whose fault? Not mine! He (or she) is to blame.” Never us as a nation of individual citizens.

*

For me, regarding the endless war in which we find ourselves mired, most recently the tragedy at the Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Afghanistan, Day One was not 9-11-01, but it came soon after, in early October, 2001, when the decision was made to bomb Afghanistan (though the real objective was, we learned later, Iraq).

I keep few newspaper clippings, and refer back to these infrequently, but here is the one that I kept the day after the bombs began to fall on Afghanistan in early October, 2001:Afghanistan Oct 7 2001001

Just read the article, and put yourself in it, then, and since then, to today. How would you have answered those survey questions then? Why? How would you, now?

What politician of any party could have been anti-war then, or indeed, today? It would have been political suicide for almost 100% of the politicians, then. Even today, it is high risk to actively advocate for peace.

We are a war-sodden culture: war is our national tradition. And it is killing us.

*

As for the gun issue, the polling data seems to favor doing something about unrestricted “firearms in every pocket, makes no difference who has them or where”. We apparently don’t buy the unrestricted “freedom” mantra. Still the gun culture prevails. For a politician to be for gun regulation of any kind is a guarantee of political assassination by the likes of the National Rifle Association. And their “target practice” has been very effective.

Unfortunately, “we, the people”, every one of us, assure, by our inaction, that our elected representatives will do nothing to stop the insanity in which we find ourselves with guns.

Every one of us have good reasons (in our mind) why we don’t do anything to change the course.

That Mom in Roseburg, Oregon, like that Mom in Newtown CT – the mother of the serial killer of elementary school children there – might be complicit in the crime of her son, but she is less guilty than the entire body politic who allow this insanity to continue.

We are the ones who need to be indicted.

*

Till we act, as individuals, the gun industry and those who exploit the fear-obsessed to move the “war as the answer to all our ills” narrative will continue to rule the roost.

Fear, after all, sells.

We are a good country, filled with very good people – just look at your own self, and the vast majority of your friends and neighbors in your town.

But we continue to fail, by our inaction. It is our inaction at home that assures our bad image abroad.

It’s up to us, not to anybody else to change our countries direction on War and Guns and so many other issues. We cannot delegate this responsibility to someone else.

Until each of us act, minority rules.

*
Some useful resources:
On guns: The Brady Campaign and Americans for Responsible Solutions are good, credible sources deserving your attention and support.

On policy, just read that short article about American attitudes in early October, 2001. Politics is People, and every person counts.

Personally, my favorite daily source of a summary of national and international current events is Just Above Sunset, an indefatigable blogger in Los Angeles. It’s a long read, but a great summary of what’s going on six days a week. Check it out. Todays, “Whistling Past”, is about the Afghanistan quagmire. Here. Yesterday’s, “Only in America”, is about guns.

#1068 – Dick Bernard: In Love With a Gun.

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

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Grandpa Ferd Busch with shotgun and game  in summer of 1907, viewed from the north of his new farm home.  At  left, his Dad, Wilhelm Busch; at right his brother Frank.  At the time, Ferdinand was 26 years of age.

Grandpa Ferd Busch with shotgun and game in summer of 1907, viewed from the north of his new farm home. At left, his Dad, Wilhelm Busch; at right his brother Frank. At the time, Ferdinand was 26 years of age.

In 2013 I happened to come into possession of a book of poems, “Lyrics of the Prairie” by a retired professor at the college I attended beginning in 1958. Soren Kolstoe (bio here: Kolstoe,Soren-History) had retired right before I began my four years, but he was legendary at Valley City State Teacher’s College. His “beat” was psychology, but his love was the outdoors, particularly the North Dakota outdoors. I wrote about him here, including (with permission) his book of poems.

Near the end of the book of poems is this one:

A GUN
Strange how much a man can love a gun;
A battered thing of senseless steel and wood,
I’ve used it hard and fear its day is done.
I’ll get a new one, or at least I should.

A sleek new job with parts that really match,
A perfect product of the gunsmith’s art;
Smooth, shiny blue, without a scar or scratch,
A beauty that should win a hunter’s heart.

Yet all these beauties leave me strangely cold.
I find the parting harder than I thought;
I know they’re good but still prefer the old,
To any new-style gun that can be bought.

This gun was more than just a gun to me,
A trusted hunting pal for many years.
It served me well and somehow seemed to be
A partner in my triumphs, hopes, and fears.

It’s battered now and worn beyond repair;
Its hunting days it seems at last are done.
But still I’ll keep it, cherish it with care,
Strange how much a man can love a gun!”
SOREN O. KOLSTOE

I knew my Uncle Vince loved North Dakota outdoors, and in his home were four guns – I call them farm guns – which were always ready, but, by 2013, not used for many years.

He was generally a solitary hunter for the occasional duck, deer, varmint or whatever that crossed his land. (From time to time, he’d use the shotgun to scare off the pesky blackbirds who were decimating his sunflowers – I remember that). His gun was his companion on the hunt, that was all.

So, I gave Vince a copy of Dr. Kolstoe’s poems. As it happened, it was at a time in his life when he was rapidly deteriorating in health, and five months later it fell to me to admit him to the nursing home in LaMoure. I doubt he ever looked at the book, which I found in the envelope. Life had changed his priorities.

But the possessions Vince worried about the most were his guns.

I saved them from being stolen, but I’m not sure he trusted me – someone who has never had any use for a gun, nor even owned one – to take good care of them.

He’s gone now, and I still have those guns in safekeeping, at some point to go to the family member who wants them the most.

They’re just some old farm guns: a 12 gauge or two; a .22 calibre; something that would pass for a deer rifle; a single shot out in the shed. Just old farm guns.

I think of those guns, my Uncle, Dr. Kolstoe’s poem, and lots of other things, this day after the day before when the latest carnage took place in this country at a college in Roseburg, Oregon: lots of innocent folks, and the gunman, falling to bullets from guns.

Been a long while since we in this country have crossed the boundary from sanity to insanity when it comes to guns.

Our politicians are threatened with political assassination if they mess with any one’s gun in any way whatsoever.

“Second Amendment Rights” they say.

It’s long past time we figure it out. Those folks in Oregon yesterday, now being prepared for funerals, had a “right to life” too.

Vince once belonged to the National Rifle Association, but I gather not for long. He didn’t like the policy drift of that organization.

I wonder what he’d say if he were here today, having watched the news….

Once again we have a chance to converse about this topic. And maybe a chance to do something.

Lets….

COMMENTS:
from Christine: It was risky to call your message “In Love With a Gun”. Of course, one can understand your real feeling about it after reading the message.

from Claude: Very interesting, Dick. Thanks. The recent shooter had six guns on him and seven more back at home. I think it was more than one gun that guy was in love with.

On Thursday night I was returning from St Paul and listening to MPR here (dated Oct 2 but I heard it Oct 1) to a college professor being interviewed who had grown up in Baltimore in the crack cocaine days. He said it was easier to get a gun than a job. He inherited his dealer “starter kit” when his brother was killed and left a safe full of money and drugs. So this now college professor knows from the inside a lot of the gun problem. He professed never to be a gun person himself. He bought as a mid teenager his first gun just because he felt he needed one for posturing or protection (often unloaded! that seems to be a mistake?). But he knew people who loved every aspect of guns and he said that today’s gun culture is probably the same.

from Sharon: This brought memories back of my dad on the farm and the many guns he had. One was placed over the back door. They were given to nephews and us kids when he died. The rest were sold at an auction. I took the old gun that did not work anymore just to hang over a wood stove in the basement. Just sold it on E Bay last year when we moved. Thanks for sharing.

from Larry: Thanks for sharing this. It is quite powerful, and express my sentiments about gun control.

from Jim: Dick, thanks for sharing. Brings back memories of my childhood too!

from Duane: Thanks, Dick… AMEN, FGS.

from Lynn: Thank you Dick,
As I remember we credited Dr. Kolstoe for founding the EBC’s and originating it’s name.
The EBC’s had a traditional fall pheasant hunt. After the hunt, we invited our dates to a pheasant dinner which we prepared and served.

During my first teaching job in Bowdon, ND, Dr. Kolstoe spoke to our high school student body and demonstrated hypnosis with a volunteer student. After, he came to my bachelor apartment and we had pheasant, which I had hunted and prepared in a crockpot.

I had two farm guns like you describe, a double barrel 20 gage and a .22. They were strictly utilitarian and I no longer have them, left behind when I left the farm. I fired military weapons on the practice range when I was in the Air National Guard. I have no use for guns now. My son loves to hunt and he is teaching his sons proper use of guns and hunting skills.

I agree we need to do better and withdraw from the insane use of guns. I thought the task force chaired by Vice President Biden put forth reasonable legislative proposals. I would like Senator Heitkamp [ND] to introduce her alternative, since she did not support the work of the task force. Somehow, some protective mechanism should have prevented a person who was an Army boot camp dropout from bringing six guns and five ammunition magazines to an Oregon school.

from Ken: Thanks for sharing this piquant and well-thought piece. Like many, I tend to feel that the situation is rather hopeless. With a reported 90%+ plurality of polled citizens being in favor of at least more extensive background checks, still the advocates of divinely ordained 2nd Amendment prerogatives (NRA and gun manufacturers) rule the day, along with nonchalant and effete politicians who fear taking them on.Truly a problem that our system does not seem capable or competent to address, much less solve. Sad.

from Norm: I feel the same way about the limited number of guns that I own having used them and still using them for deer and bird hunting every fall, something that I really enjoy doing.

While I know that the killings in Oregon have prompted another push for gun control, I honestly don’t think that would make much of a difference in preventing such future outbursts of violence. Just like I did not think that the adoption of the permit to carry law in Minnesota would lead to an increase in gun violence as claimed by it opponents…and it did not, of course although it did lead to some business for the sign people given all of the guns are banned from these premises postings that one sees all over the place.

Of course, the laws do allow the occasional idiot who needs to have people notice him or her who wanders through public places carrying a gun visibly on his or her hip. Those folks seem to have a need for attention and probably believe that people will really “respect” them if they walk through crowds with a visible weapon on their hips.

Goodness, if their mommies had only hugged them a few more times when they were growing up maybe they wouldn’t have such a need for public attention.

I am not an NRA member nor ever will be given their far right positions on not only gun control but many other issues as well. On the other hand, I honestly do not think that more stringent gun control laws will reduce the number of incidents like the recent one in Oregon. The shooter in that instance had bought several guns over the past three years all through legal purchases. As such, the gun control laws in Oregon did not prevent him from doing what he did.

I wish that I could say that I thought that more stringent gun control laws would any future Oregon’s but I honestly do not think that they would.

from Jim: Ok Norm, we know you love your guns. But you must admit that the level of gun violence in the US is well beyond sickening toward the astounding, war-like. In the country of Columbia, which the media portrays as a hotbed of revolutionary violence, FARC revolutionaries kill about 500 per year. Columbia is a country of 48 million so a matching kill rate for the 320 million US citizens would be a little under 3400. But actual statistics for US gun violence in 2013 are 11,209 deaths by homicide, 21,175 deaths by suicide, 505 deaths by accident (Cheney events), and 281 of undetermined cause. We are bythose measures, a far more dangerous place than revolutionary Columbia.

from Charlie: Many Very Good comments here about GUNS.

Like You Norm I grew up on a farm & my Dad also kept a gun above the kitchen door. I hunted many years with him & we had a lot of fun hunting pheasants, ducks, fox, squirrels, deer & even going to Montana & Wyoming Deer hunting a few times. I also still have a couple Small Caliber guns, the shot guns & deer rifles I gave to my sons & grand sons years ago. I always loved to hunt but after my Dad died, I pretty much lost interest & only hunted a few times after my Dad’s passing. Stupid me, I even was a member of the NRA for one year & soon learned how very crazy & far right they were & still are.

Many comments here that I agree with, that it seems almost hopeless that NOT much will change.

I do feel we need much more thorough Back Ground Checks. The Change of Ownership of every gun should require a Back Ground Check, Even those like when I gave guns to my kids. A limit on the size of ammunition clips. What kind of a hunter needs more than a 10 bullet clip ? Last but not least, Ban the Sale of Assault Weapons. NO HUNTER HAS A NEED FOR AN AK-47 type Gun, I also believe we should have National Gun Laws that I think fewer of the crazies would slip through the cracks. We Do Need the Same Gun Law in Every State All Over the USA ! !

Thanks Everyone for All Of Your Great Comments.

from Kathy: Here is my personal opinion on the matter of guns.
1. Repeal the Second Amendment. We no longer need to have armed citizen militias.
2. Put a huge tax on all ammo and guns except those used specifically for hunting. Require hunters to attend a class on gun safety and require them to carry insurance for owning a lethal weapon, just like we have to have car insurance. Require them to be disabled and locked up when it is not hunting season.
3. Confiscate all other guns and ammo. Collectors must disable the guns they have, not add to collections, and register their collections with local authorities. Hunters must also register their hunting rifles. A yearly tax to own a gun and/or maintain a collection should be required. Limit the number of hunting rifles a person can own.
4. Anyone involved in a death by gun will be subject to the death penalty.
5. Shut down the NRA, and gun manufacturers.
6. Allow only ammo for hunting to be made.
7. No more gun shows.
8. Prohibit the sale or transfer of a gun to another person.

from Emmett: We are working to get an activity started here in the state of Washington to publicly highlight those persons in Congress and our State Legislature that are against tighter gun sale laws and see if we can get a national movement to do that like the $15 minimum wage movement that we started. Something has got to be done. Listening to the Sunday cable news programs, there was much discussion about the subject. Several of the discussions had to do with the high levels of crime in Chicago and Baltimore, both of which have strong gun laws, yet none of the so-called experts seemed to understand that those cities have the problem of the states around them allow gun runners to buy volumes of guns at gun shows then turn around and sell them to criminals and others just outside the city limits. We need a national referendum on the subject and the selling of guns without doing proper background checks should carry a life-in-prison punishment. This won’t solve the entire problem, but it will hopefully make some impact.

from Carol: I’ve had more than enough with the handwringing that we “can’t do anything.” I am committing to not voting in the next election for anyone who will not personally assure me that they will support (on federal/state level) the very reasonable gun control laws that Obama proposed after Newtown. Have to look up the exact language, but they were background checks for every sale, a ban on (semi-?)assault weapons, a limit on number of rounds. If some Republicans can spend their whole lives voting on the basis of abortion only, we can only look at guns. I think it is truly the only way to make a difference.

Care to join me?

from Lloyd: I took Kolstoe hunting out in the Flasher [ND] area which is where I was from with a bunch of EBC’s. We had a great time but I mostly remember knocking a hole in the oil pan of his car and ruined the motor. I have always lived with some guilt because I was driving and should have been more aware that it had happened. The poem was great and so true. I have lots of guns, or at least several and they were almost all purchased in the 50’s and 60’s. They are great relics and all work well and I still hunt with them.

#1067 – Dick Bernard: French-Canadian Special Event on Genealogy, Minneapolis-St. Paul area, Oct 2, 2015

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Friday evening, October 2, the French-American Heritage Foundation (FAHF) hosts a special event focusing on genealogy in Maple Grove MN. All details are here. Time is short, so check this now, if interested*.

The event venue is in the heart of what used to be one of the French-Canadian rural settlement centers in what is now the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Note photo below (which is also in pdf form, here: Dayton MN 1873001)

(click to enlarge photo)

The French-Canadian presence in Dayton MN 1873

The French-Canadian presence in Dayton MN 1873

This map, though unpolished, gives an interesting look at a “nest” of L’Heritage Tranquille, the French-Canadian presence in a single township in the Twin Cities area. Otsego, to the immediate west (between Rogers and Elk River), also had significant French-Canadian presence; as did Osseo to the east, and Corcoran township to the south, and many other places (Little Canada, Centerville & Hugo, pre-Minneapolis St. Anthony et al).

(On the map, Simon and Adelaide Blondeau are my great-grandparents, who came to Dayton from Canada in the early 1850s.)

A mysterious and intriguing presence, by virtue of ownership of a piece of land just west of present day Dehn’s, is Thomas L. Grace, who happens to have been the second Bishop of what is now the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis. (Scroll down to the para beginnng “After the death of Bishop Cretin…”) The story of that piece of land is one yet to be told….)

As late as the 1980 census – the last to ask the question – nearly 8% of Minnesotans recognized their French ancestry. Fr-Can in U.S. 1980001 Of course, this ancestry carries on, though the French surnames are less often recognizable as identifying people of French ancestry, masquerading their heritage (two French words, by the way) behind surnames of other ethnic groups, or, common back in 1873, behind French names that were anglicized: “Roy” became “King”, and infinite other examples.

But, back to Friday, October 2. Check us out. Stop by. Let others know.

*

About the sponsoring group, French-American Heritage Foundation (FAHF):

FAHF (full disclosure: I am current vice-president) is the latest in a line of groups seeking to preserve the French heritage in the midwest.

In the twin cities, in recent history, FAHF was immediately preceded by La Societe Canadienne-Francaise du Minnesota (LSCF) which existed from 1979-2002, and whose founder was legendary Franco American John Rivard, native of the Range-Somerset WI area also well known as the popular Father John of St Anne’s in Somerset. . LSCF lives on at the FAHF website in Chez Nous, its “kitchen table” produced newsletter, all of whose near 1000 pages, indexed, can be found under the tab “library”.

(Mr. Rivard retired before the internet age, thus no URL links were found about him for this article; though much can be read by him within Chez Nous. He died in 2005 at age 94.) Below is the jacket of the video produced for his memorial service in 2005.

John Rivard 2005001

September 28-30, 2012, another well known and passionate Minnesota French-Canadian, Dr. Virgil Benoit of Red Lake Falls MN envisioned and put together an event, Franco-Fete, in Minneapolis. This event followed several predecessor events at Grand Forks, Turtle Mountain (Belcourt) ND, Bismarck and Fargo, ND.

The 2012 event was very successful, but not without considerable stress. Three days prior to Franco-Fete, Dr. Benoit was in a serious car accident, and spent Franco-Fete and many days after in a hospital in Grand Forks. A dozen or so of us who had volunteered to help, were thrust into completely unanticipated leadership roles.

After Franco-Fete, in November, 2012, a core group in the Twin Cities met to debrief Franco-Fete, and an outgrowth of that meeting came FAHF, which has formal 501(c)3 standing, and is now completing its third year of existence.

We have weathered the birthpangs of any new organization, and look forward to a long future.

We invite you to join us as we continue the task of helping to preserve the French in America presence in Minnesota and surrounding areas. Membership information here.

* – Questions? Call Dick Bernard at 651 334 5744

#1065 – Dick Bernard: Creating a Workable World: Transforming the United Nations System

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Friday evening and Saturday,October 9&10, at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Dr. Joe Schwartzberg’s book, Transforming the United Nations System, will help focus attention on transformation of the United Nations, this year celebrating its 70th birthday. All details about this “Creating a Workable World” conference, including about conference convenor Joe Schwartzberg, can be seen here.

Schwartzberg book001

The conference promises to be a very interesting exchange of ideas about making the UN better.

There is no shortage of opinions about “the UN”. Far too many of these opinions, unfortunately, are ill- or un-informed.

Powerful people with their own agenda, who hate even the concept of the UN system, want it gone. Most of us have little or no knowledge of how the UN or its broad network (as World Health Organization et al) works. The UN is a complex system, a global community, which is often called upon to deal with impossible situations: hunger, refugees, atrocities, on and on.

One might call the UN a global mechanic, on call to take care of wrecks.

The UN was created out of the horrors of WWII, officially founded October 24, 1945, and during its entire history it has been called to help order chaos in an extraordinarily complex and imperfect world.

70 years after emerging from the ashes of WWII, it is still dominated by the five winning countries of that war: the United States, Russia (formerly Soviet Union), France, United Kingdom and China.

The most populous of its over 190 countries, China, outnumbers the smallest, Nauru, by a factor of 145,000 to one. Its power actors represent competing ideologies, only slightly dimmed by the end of the Cold War.

Dr. Schwartzberg’s academic work describes the UN system in understandable terms, and furthermore proposes a framework of solutions for the future. This major conference will be a unique opportunity to learn more, and engage in conversation, about the UN and its future role in the world.

I’ve read the book, and been part of a discussion group which talked about every chapter. It was a rich learning experience, a framework of reference.

*

What is the world that is the United Nations? There are endless examples….

A week ago I attended a talk by Dr. Jeffrey Broadbent of the University of Minnesota which added greatly to my knowledge of how complex this world is.

Dr. Broadbent’s topic was very simple: watching how newspapers in 18 countries treated the topic of global climate change, thus assessing national attitudes. (His website can be accessed here.)

His powerpoint was simple and very complex. Here’s a photo of one slide:

(click to enlarge)

A schematic representation of newspaper reporting on climate change....Dr. Jeffrey Broadbent

A schematic representation of newspaper reporting on climate change….Dr. Jeffrey Broadbent

This slide shows two foci; a later slide introduced a third, called Mitigation, as an approach to climate change. It was all very complex, but at the same time understandable.

Near the end of the program, a black man, a native Oromo of Ethiopia, rose to powerfully observe that none of the data presented appears to represent Africa.

Indeed, that was true, because Africa does not have dominant newspapers from which to glean the data Dr. Broadbent seeks.

But the point was nonetheless made: Africa is already, and will doubtless increasingly be, bearing the brunt of the failures of the more developed world, with consequences for us all.

Making a point with Dr. Broadbent, Sep. 16, 2015

Making a point with Dr. Broadbent, Sep. 16, 2015

(Similarly, alternative media like Facebook, now dominant over print media in many quarters, are not yet part of the analysis. The research is still a work in progress.)

Whatever your knowledge, or your feelings, about the United Nations, the October 9 & 10 Workable World Conference will be worth your time. Check it out.

The United Nations Building, snapshot, June 30, 1971, Dick Bernard

The United Nations Building, snapshot, June 30, 1971, Dick Bernard

More on the general topic of the UN at 70 here.
The matter of the removal of the United Nations Flag at Hennepin County (MN) Plaza here.

#1063 – Dick Bernard: The International Day of Peace 2015

Friday, September 18th, 2015
The United Nations Building, snapshot, June 30, 1971, Dick Bernard

The United Nations Building, snapshot, June 30, 1971, Dick Bernard

The United Nations has had an International Day of Peace since 1982; and in 2001, set the day for future annual observances as the autumnal equinox, September 21, of each year. The theme is “an annual day of non-violence and cease fire”

(The observance of Peace Day at the United Nations in 2001 happened to be September 11, 2001. According to my friend, Madeline Simon, “on Sept 11, 2001, the celebration started–but was not completed, due to the attack. [The event] appeared to somewhere on the roof area [at the UN], and then an evacuation of the building followed.”)

The first Peace Day I actually attended was at Minneapolis’ Loring Park on September 21, 2003, organized by a coalition of downtown churches led by First Unitarian Society and member activist Madeline Simon. It was an inspiring program.

International Peace Day at Loring Park, Minneapolis, September 21, 2003

International Peace Day at Loring Park, Minneapolis, September 21, 2003

As time has gone on, thanks to efforts of groups such as Peace One Day, the Day of Peace has thrived. The young man whose passion led to the UN proclamation setting Sep 21 as the day to spotlight peace, Englishman Jeremy Gilley, has seen the day grow from a few curious supporters in London, to as many as a billion people who know of peace day, and take the message to heart. The film which introduced Peace Day to me in 2003 is still available, here, Peace One Day Pt. 1. Gilley’s accomplishment has been an amazing one, a testament to one man’s grit and persistence, and it has grown, and grown, and makes a difference in the world.

Check out celebrations of the International Day of Peace in your area. If none exist, become part of the solution for next year.

In the Twin Cities I know of at least three events this coming weekend (there may be more):

1) In St. Paul, at the Landmark Center on Saturday, Sep. 19 at 2 p.m. an important exhibition and film will commemorate Pictures from A Hiroshima Schoolyard. More information on this program and related events here.

2) In Minneapolis, at the Loft Literary Center on 1011 Washington Ave. S, the Loft will be dedicated as a Peace Site at 2 p.m. on Sunday Sep. 20

3) In Minneapolis, 3:30 – 5:30 at Midtown Global Market 920 E. Lake St Minneapolis more info at this Facebook link. About the worldwide event: Families in U.S., Japan, China, Australia, Saudi Arabia, and more will sing for peace on September 21st: To celebrate the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, thousands of Music Together families with young children around the globe will participate in a livestream of [their] song for peace, “May All Children.” For 22 hours, families from around the globe will gather and sing “May All Children” in the 4 PM hour in their local time zones, creating an ongoing live presentation of the song from many different cultures. Children, parents, and teachers from more than 30 locations are participating in the event, including New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Croatia, Bermuda, and across the United States. The livestream will run for 22 hours on September 21, 2015, 12:00 AM to 10:00 PM Eastern Time. Live link here.

There is a culture of Peace that is alive and well in our communities, showing itself in many and sundry positive ways.

Become part of the movement to make every day, everywhere, a place of peace.

#1062 – Dick Bernard: The “Debates”

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Last night I turned off the “telley” at 6:30. I missed the “debates” from the Reagan Library in Simi Valley California.

Not that there is much to miss. The combatants (that’s what they are) are practicing refining their hopefully winning message to a certain subset of the American electorate who will, in a few months, be voting in Republican Primary Elections in some early states, like New Hampshire and Iowa.

Everything is very predictable. Occasionally some surprise happens, as when now-former candidate and Texas Governor Rick Parry, in the 2012 round, declared firmly that he would eliminate three U.S. Cabinet departments…but who, when asked, couldn’t remember the third…. Those things are noticeable. Depth of knowledge apparently is not needed.

We are stuck with the “debates”.

The choice is whether to watch them or not. It is like getting hooked on a “reality” show like “Big Brother” (doubtless borrowing from George Orwell’s “Big Brother” in the book 1984. Big Brother never makes an actual appearance in 1984, but he is omnipresent….)

The debates cause me to think back to 1982 when my Dad and I and four traveling companions met a solo traveler at Laval University in Quebec City. Her name was Mary, and she was from England. We invited her to join us for a day or two of sightseeing.

Mary, I came to learn years later, was the daughter of a prominent Judge in London’s Old Bailey Court, His Honour Alan King-Hamilton, and years later, in October 2001, I was able to meet him in person, still intellectually formidable at age 96.

In 1926-27 he had been President of the Cambridge Union Society.

Cambridge Union Society with  committee and two  guest speakers 8 June, 1927. Debaters in America, Fall 1927:  Alan King-Hamilton and H. L. Elvin, front 4&5th from left; H. M Foot, back, 4th from left.   From King-Hamilton's book, "And Nothing But the Truth".

Cambridge Union Society with committee and two guest speakers 8 June, 1927. Debaters in America, Fall 1927: Alan King-Hamilton and H. L. Elvin, front 4&5th from left; H. M Foot, back, 4th from left. From King-Hamilton’s book, “And Nothing But the Truth”.

Mary took my wife and I around to places to see in London, one of which was for lunch at Middle Temple, a haven for barristers, and in the library I pulled a book from the shelves by her Dad, And Nothing But the Truth. Lo and behold, the first page I opened referred to a 1927 Debate Tour of the United States taken by the Judge and two of his colleagues, H.L Elvin and H. M. Foot, as part of the exchange program of the Institute of International Education (IIE), now commonly referred to as the Fulbright Program.

Over time, I came to learn much about the Debates in 1927. A list of the debates is here (two pages): King-Hamilton et al 1927001. Alan K-H turned 22 near the end of the U.S.-Canada tour.

In 1927, debates were, like the Presidential debates now, spectator sports. In effect, in this case, the U.S. college versus Cambridge!

The teams had to be prepared to argue either the affirmative or the negative of several different issues.

In one memorable debate, at UCBerkeley, there was such a large crowd that they agreed to do two debates simultaneously in two separate halls. This made for some amusement. Judge King-Hamilton recalled in his diary “when I arrived in the second hall, I [found] that their first speaker and Elvin (who spoke first for us) [had] already finished, and Elvin [had] been filling in time by entertaining the audience with his views on America. I [had] to dash back again to the first hall and reply to three speeches, two of which I [hadn’t] heard.” But, all was well: “it [was] a very successful and amusing evening, and we were all in good form.”

After a month and a half in North America, King-Hamilton mused on the United States: “through the Middle West, from North Dakota to Texas, we have encountered religious curiosity which develops into something like intolerance upon the information being given to them. In the East they want to know who your father is, in the Middle West who your God is, and in the far West how much money you’ve got!” In his 1982 book, “And Nothing But The Truth”, Judge King-Hamilton recalls this same question, and asks “I wonder if it is still the same now, more than fifty years later.” (p. 14)

I wonder how the good Judge, deceased at 105 in 2009, would comment on the American “debates” if he were now to witness them.

Personally, I find them as substantive as “let’s make a deal” or similar game shows.

Caveat Emptor….