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The French-Canadians; The Franco-Americans

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

Years ago I signed up for a workshop – I think it was titled “Family of Origin” – and the first assignment was to find out what we could about our ancestors, something which I had never explored before.

I was 40 at the time.

My parents took the bait; I found that my Dad was 100% French-Canadian, with very deep roots in Quebec, though near lifelong North Dakotan.

There are millions upon millions of people with French-Canadian ancestry today; hundreds of thousands of them in my own state.

“Quebec” (name first established in 1608) long pre-dates use of the name “United States of America (1776)” and “Canada” (1867). Here’s a National Geographic map from my copy of the Historical Atlas of the United States, Centennial Edition, 1988 (p. 96). Note the extent of “Quebec”. This was before the naming of “Canada”

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My first French-Canadian ancestor was in North America in 1618, and French-Canadians have had a very rich subsequent history all across North America.

I stay active in the quest to keep this rich culture alive, and yesterday prepared a reintroduction to be sent to our local mailing list. The 9-page mailing is here: French-Canadian001

If you wish, open and just scroll through the link. I’d especially recommend the last four pages, a recent essay entitled “Why Are Franco-Americans So Invisible?” by David Vermette, which appears in the Winter (Hiver) 2017 edition of Le Forum from the state of Maine.

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I dedicate this post to my great-grandparents, Clotilde Blondeau and Octave Collette, who married at what was then called St. Anthony, soon to become Minneapolis MN, in 1868; thence 1875 to the Dayton MN area, thence to Oakwood (near Grafton) North Dakota in 1878.

Below is the tintype photo of them about the time of their marriage. Clotilde would have been about 5 when they arrived in Minnesota Territory from eastern Ontario in the early 1850s; Octave was about 17 when most of the Collette family moved from St. Lambert QC to St. Anthony (later, Minneapolis) in about 1864.

(click to enlarge, double click for close-up)

Clotilde Blondeau and Octave Collette at St. Anthony MN ca July 1869

I also dedicate this to my grandparents: Henry Bernard, born 1872 and raised in rural Ste. Sylvestre Quebec, coming to North Dakota in the 1890s; and Josephine Collette, born 1881 at the now disappeared Red River town of St. Andrews, where the Park River enters the Red. They married in 1901 at Oakwood ND.

Henry Bernards of Grafton ND about 1920, with visitors from Winnipeg. Henry, Josephine, Henry Jr, Josie, and Frank Peter are center part of photo. Their home was on the bank of the Park River, then 115 Wakeman Avenue.

#1301: The Medicine Wheel and The North Country Trail

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

Monday I was in Valley City ND for an Alumni event at my alma mater, which I knew, back in 1958-61 as Valley City State Teachers College. The infrequent visits back are always nostalgic, this one more so than most.

My motel was a short walk from Medicine Wheel park, which I’ve known about since its first rough rendition back in 1992. It is a fascinating place, within sight of I-94, atop the “hill” which helps give Valley City its name. Here’s the park brochure: Medicine Wheel Brochure002The most recent Alumni Bulletin of the college tells the story of the Medicine Wheel, which you can read here: Medicine Wheel 001.

The current park is very impressive, a part of the American Scenic Byways. It is an interesting stop for travelers who know of it. At the park in early morning, just about sunrise, I met a person from Norway who was leading a bus tour through the area.

It happened, this trip, that I met the legendary Professor, Joe Stickler, who in sundry ways made the park possible. He was at the evening event, a soft-spoken but very friendly native of the Dayton OH area, who, I gather, made science come alive for generations of students. Prof. Stickler in turn gives the credit to generations of students who have brought the Medicine Wheel to its current state. Here’s what Joe says he’s been reading.

I asked if I could take his photo:

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Joe Stickler, Valley City ND October 2, 2017

This same day, I rendezvous’ed with my sister and brother-in-law at the Motel, and told them about the Medicine Wheel just down the street.

The Medicine Wheel was not new to them. They said that a number of years earlier, as new members of a group called the North Country Trail Association, they had attended a regional conference in Valley City. Medicine Wheel is part of the North Dakota Sheyenne River branch of the trail.

Carter at the North Country Trail marker at Medicine Wheel Park, Valley City ND October 2, 2017.

Flo and Carter are very active as stewards and volunteers of the Itasca Moraine (MN) portion of the trail, and I asked Carter how they happened to become involved. Carter remembered a day shortly after he’d retired: he decided to go for a solitary walk on an area trail. On the hike he met a solitary hiker coming in the opposite direction. The other man was a new volunteer for the North Country Trail. They chatted and the rest is history.

There is plenty of bad news in recent days.

My belief is that the positive stories above are replicated in thousands of ways, everywhere, every day, in our country and in the world itself.

What are your stories, where you live?

POSTNOTES:
1. I had planned, this day, to begin the retrospective on the recently completed Ken Burns/Lynn Novick series on Vietnam. The most recent post is here. I’ll add one or more posts perhaps beginning later this week. Check back.
2. While in Valley City I learned of the heinous massacre in Las Vegas.
Just weeks ago, I heard, in person, Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly give a very powerful talk on guns and our society at the Augsburg University Nobel Peace Prize Forum. Hopefully it will end up accessible on the internet. For now, check their website: Americans for Responsible Solutions.

I ask myself, about being cause in the matter of solutions: “If not me, who? If not now, when?”. Every one of us has more influence than we think. We just need to get in action.

The Empty Chair

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

September 19, 2013, I was at the North Dakota farm of my Uncle Vincent and my ancestors. It was a place I had been many times before, and this particular day I took the below photos, and 29 more.

I had ridden out to the farm with Uncle Vince, then 88 years of age. We did this every time I came west during the years they’d lived in town, ten miles away.

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Sep. 19, 2013

I’m not sure why I made this particular trip. My photo logs around that date show no related trips connected with the specific visit to that home place 320 miles from where I live.

My photos that day were the usual ones of the ever more run-down farm. This day I took this specific photo of the metal shed, showing where Uncle Vince, in recent years, spent most of his time when he visited his life long home. I purposely showed the place exactly as it appeared. There was no staging. At the time of the photo, Uncle Vincent was down by the barn, turning off the water to the garden; preparing for winter, as he always did.

What I do remember about that day, and those snapshots, was that I felt I was documenting the coming end of the then-108 years old Busch farm.

Since 2006 Vincent and his sister, Edithe, lived in town in assisted living; Edithe had, about a year earlier, moved into the Nursing Home down the hall.

As had become normal, Vincent continued to come out to the farm to do something: on this day, turn off the water to the garden.

But something else was becoming more obvious. Once again, he had forgotten why he made the trip to the farm, and I had to remind him more than once about what he had come to do.

He was slipping. He was also more and more depressed. He’d just sit in that old chair at the farm and look towards the nearby house and yard he’d lived almost his entire life, and look beyond in the direction of the old hometown, Berlin ND, elevators easily visible, about five miles from the knoll on which the farm stood. He’d just sit there in his chair and look….

Sep. 19, 2013, Berlin ND from the Busch farmstead

I remember one other particular photo that September day. It is below.

Sep. 19, 2013

I was down by the old garden, and took a photo of the old barn – I’d done that many times before. This particular day, as I noticed the car by the barn. I realized with a start that given Vince’s short term memory problems, it was a real possibility that he might drive home to LaMoure without me, not remembering that I’d come out with him. So I hustled back towards the barn.

Visit over, I made the over 300 mile trip back home.

My photos show that on October 24 I was back in LaMoure, then again on November 10, to do the deed that many of us have to do with an elder loved one.

Vince and Edithe Oct 25, 2013

The folks in assisted living had determined that Vincent could no longer live semi-independently in his apartment, and on November 11, 2013, I had to give him the talk, along with the Director, that he had no real choice but to move to join his sister down the hall in the Nursing Home. I accompanied him on that short trip by wheelchair. It was not easy.

These are things that stick in one’s mind: those Fall days in North Dakota will be among my enduring memories.

Fourteen months later, Feb. 2, 2015, Vincent died, having just achieved age 90.

There was always a melancholy sense with Vince; that he felt he’d failed, somehow, let the family down. It’s easy to fall into that trap.

I know better. He honored his family and his community as well. He was a good man.

We’re all on the same train track called “life”, with all that entails.

Three days ago, I went to the funeral of David, a teaching colleague from 50 years ago. Funerals become regular social event for older folks like me. I sent along to the mailing list announcing David’s death an old Ann Landers column that has always been meaningful to me, and offer it to you, now: The Station001

All best for a good life.

NOTE: Here are the blogposts written about the Busch farm and North Dakota generally over the last few years: Dick Bernard Blog Posts on Buschs and N. Dakota

POSTSCRIPT:

Neither Vince nor Edithe ever married, nor had kids of their own, but there were those 28 of us who called them “Uncle” or “Aunt”, and saw them from time to time. Six of us preceded them in death.

Sometimes you wonder, did you make any difference at all? I’m pretty sure Vince, in particular, wondered about that, though he was close-mouthed about his feelings.

Lately, I’ve had a couple of pieces of “evidence”, among many others, that yes, they/we made a difference.

Earlier this month, daughter Joni, was appointed Principal of a Middle School near here. She’s been a school administrator for 13 years, and the new assignment is a particular challenge/honor: she takes the reins at a 66 year old school, while at the same time supervising the construction of its replacement school a few miles away. She’s earned the promotion to what is a difficult job. Here’s the article announcing her appointment: Joni Hagebock001

Just a week or so ago we got the latest issue of the Catholic Archdiocese newspaper, and the entire back page was devoted to Carrie Berran, who we immediately identified as the daughter of another of Vince’s nieces, Mary Jewett. As the article states, Carrie was honored as the national NBA Jr. Coach of the Year for the United States. Not at all shabby! Carrie Berran Jul 2017003.

Carrie Berran

Dick Bernard: The Scaffold (a Sculpture, a Gallows); with reflections on Whitestone Hill, a 1997 Commemoration at Mankato and other items.

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

June 29, 2017: Recommended by a reader: The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Chief Red Cloud, an American Legend

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POSTNOTE 5:20 p.m. May 31 – A decision was made about the Scaffold today. See comments section below.

POSTNOTE 8:30 a.m. June 1 – This seems an appropriate place/time for a general timeline of historical events impacting on this conversation: FAHF Timeline 001. This two-page document was prepared by the French-American Heritage Foundation in 2016 as a beginning sketch of relationships in Minnesota and surrounding areas.

UPDATE June 2 here

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ORIGINAL POST May 31
If you are around the twin cities and follow the news at all, you’ve heard the controversy about the new proposed exhibit at the refurbished Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden. The tentative decision has been made to remove the Scaffold, and today is the official meeting about it. The issue is of such concern to me that I hand-delivered a letter plus photos to the Executive Director of Walker Center Tuesday afternoon. There has been, and will continue to be, news in Minneapolis Star Tribune, if you wish.

Here’s a photo I took of the sculpture at issue on Sunday:

(click to enlarge)

The Scaffold, from Lyndale Avenue, May 28, 2017.

To begin, here are the positions of the sculptor and the Walker Art Center, as found at the sculptors website (click on the tab “NEWS”). This perspective, probably not seen thus far, helps provide relevant background. In part, from the artist statement: “Scaffold opens the difficult histories of the racial dimension of the criminal justice system in the United States, ranging from lynchings to mass incarceration to capital punishment. In bringing these troubled and complex histories of national importance to the fore, it was my intention not to cause pain or suffering, but to speak against the continued marginalization of these stories and peoples, and to build awareness around their significance.”

Before I visited the above website, I had delivered the following personal letter, along with photos, to Walker Art Center. The letter is presented as sent, with slight additions in brackets to help give additional context. I’d be interested in other perspectives, if you wish.

My letter to Walker Executive Director Olga Viso, May 30, 2017:

“We are members of Basilica of St. Mary. Each time we drive home we pass by the Sculpture Garden heading south on Lyndale.  So it was, Sunday, about 11 a.m. We saw the “Scaffold”, and then read about the controversy in the STrib.  Later that afternoon I went back for a closer look. 

The Scaffold should stay. Its message is powerful and it is needed. This is a complex issue.  In my opinion, both the Walker and the advocates for removal are making a serious mistake in taking down this powerful work. Everyone will be the losers.

To be clear, I’ve long had an interest in the disgrace of December, 1862, in Mankato, and the events which preceded it, and the long history of running the Native Americans off their land, however that has been justified. The existence of the Scaffold is essential to an essential conversation.  Yes, it is stark, as it should be. I am grateful that it was contemplated, completed and installed, and yes, for the controversy which brought it to my attention.

September 21, 1997, I traveled to Mankato for the solemn dedication of the Memorial there, indeed I visited briefly with the Sculptor.

At the Mankato dedication, September 21, 1997.

The Dedication Plaque at Mankato 9/21/1997

Perhaps the Mankato executions drew me because one of my earliest Minnesota ancestors, Samuel Collette of Centerville, was a private in the First Regiment of Mounted Rangers, General Sibley’s command, Oct. 6, 1862 – Nov. 28, 1863, and thus quite possibly he was at Mankato at the time of the executions.  Samuel came to Minnesota in 1857, from Quebec.  Depending on one’s particular point of view, in this instance, he was good or evil.  For a year he was part of the militia which drove the natives west of the Missouri River and on to Reservations. [The official narrative of the Rangers, written about 1890: Mn Mtd Rangers 1862-63001].  

Both my paternal and maternal ancestors have benefited from white settlement taking native lands in northeast and south central North Dakota. My mothers parents had been in North Dakota four years when the monument was set at the site of Whitestone Hill massacre, about 30 miles from their new farm.  As you likely know, the Whitestone monument is to the dead soldiers who had been part of the unit which massacred the Natives encamped there for the annual buffalo hunt. Years later a simple symbol – an unlabeled boulder down the hill from the monument – was placed remembering the slain Native Americans.  I’ve been there many times [most recently a year ago].  More on the deadly encounter here. [Longer articles can be read at Whitestone Hill 1863001, and Whitestone 1863 at 1976002]

Whitestone Hill ND July, 2005

Whitestone ND Monument July 2005

At Whitestone Hill Aug 1994. Below soldier graves is a plain stone monument to the Indian victims in 1863

Succinctly, I’ve thought a great deal about the Hanging and similar atrocities in our past, and in the world itself…the focus of the Scaffold.

Were I in charge, I’d suggest a timeout of weeks, months or years to talk about what this all means.

Removing the Scaffold, will not destroy it or put it in hiding – I took 19 photos of my own yesterday; removal will do nothing to improve understanding or relationships or anything else.  

Looking at the Scaffold for the first time, Sunday, from the other side of the fence and the protest banners, I thought it would present an excellent focal point for better public understanding of our often inglorious history as a people.  

The Scaffold, with the Basilica of St. Mary in the background, May 28, 2017.

Put the sculpture in its own “prison” if you wish, surrounded even by concertina wire, but do not remove it. Let us see it, with a large plaque explaining what it is; why it was envisioned and commissioned. Let us talk about its meaning, publicly.

There are analogies, though every such event/place/circumstance is unique.

In 2000, we were with a Pilgrimage of Christians and Jews from Basilica of St. Mary and Temple Israel to Auschwitz-Birkenau and other holocaust sites.  

At Birkenau the horrid railroad tracks, examples of the awful barracks, even the remains of the hideous ovens, are kept as permanent reminders of the horrors that happened there.

May 4, 2000. Approaching the entrance to Birkenau death camp, Poland. Photo by Dick Bernard

I have been to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. several times.  The memories displayed are not abstract.  There, you are confronted with the reality of the horror.

I am only a citizen….”  

Others at that meeting today in Minneapolis will move towards a decision on what to do. My hope is that the Scaffold remains and becomes a point for us to look at ourselves, reflectively, and work towards a better future.

May 28, 2017. Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden Site.

One of the protest signs at the site, May 28, 2017

Your opinion? My e-mail dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom if you want to share thoughts with me, and with others through this post.

COMMENTS:
1. From Norm: I’m with you Dick. There aren’t enough such things to remind us of our past indiscretions.

2. from Virgil: Your position is well explained. I think you know me well enough that I would be an ally to not forgetting history as it has been lived with its particular circumstances for communities and individuals across the globe.

Thank you for your very clear explanation and for creating a platform for facing issues which should influence our thoughts about the place others should have in a world where dominant stories represent positions of a strength that should be tempered through a call such as you are putting forth.

3. from Jerry: Thanks, Dick, for your response to the new art at Walker Art Museum. I agree with you that the scaffold should remain and reasons for it given. We keep trying to hide the history of our relationship with the Native Americans and so much of it is very painful. I need to get over to see the art piece myself.

4. from Jeff: I agree with you on this.

The recent art display on lynching in America at the Museum of Modern Art in St Paul was excellent. Open wounds need to see sunlight to heal.

I think part of the issue is that native americans were not consulted on the piece. They should have had a seat at the Table.

5. from Bill: Dick, as an 8 year old child I had a very personal experience with this 1863 Indian uprising when my neighbors took me to the 75th anniversary of the uprising in Mankato in 1938. I approached a very elderly Indian man and made a comment to him about how bad the Indians were and he responded to me “Little boy, remember there are two sides to every story!” I have never forgotten that wisdom when ever there were sides being proposed in an argument.

As an adult I have read about the circumstances that led to the Indian uprising and have come to the conclusion that the Indians had been betrayed by the White politicians of the day in their promising that land along the Minnesota River would be set aside for Indian settlements only to have much of these lands taken over by the flood of European immigrants occurring about that time. Just one more broken promises of the White Man to the Indians.

6. from Greg: I must confess to being a contributor to [the Scaffold] controversy, albeit unintentionally. I remember attending the Lunch with [my City Councilperson] at which Olga Viso, the Walker Executive Director, described the artwork being added to the garden.

For some sad reason this controversy potential escaped my thought process. Thus, I failed to speak privately with her to politely express my strong opinion the Walker was making a major mistake in proceeding with the installation in the manner they had chosen, apparently without first meeting and speaking with members of the Native American community.

I agree that The Scaffold should ultimately remain. I also understand the reaction of the people who oppose The Scaffold, but this reaction does not seem to be acknowledging the valuable educational value of this art work, and that the Native American community will benefit from such educational value, as will we all.

7. from Jermitt: Thank you once again for your thoughtful and inspiring commentary. As a Nation we continue to fail in our commitments to the Native American Communities. And we continue to cover up our faults. Only through lessons from the past can we prevent similar atrocities in the future. Thank you, my friend.

8. from Janice: Powerful blog. Thank you for forwarding. You articulated my views—although with quite a personal history to back it up. I think it can be a powerful and important part of our city. I hope they can reconcile all the parties. Already, look at all of us who now know of this history, who were ignorant before (me included!)

9. from Johnathan: Beautifully written and expressed – US owns its share of national shame. Sunlight heals wounds. Native American voices must express their perspective on The Scadfold. Asking forgiveness is a means of educating future generations to the worst and best of the human condition. Thank you for sharing a great example of balanced and mindful view of facts…and the realities continued to be faced by Native Americans – and all human beings.

10. from Catherine: I too would like to see the sculpture remain, but I would stipulate that it be under the curatorship of the artist along with the local tribes of wherever it’s being displayed. It’s their history and they have never had proper control over it in the history books or the art world. The scaffold itself is painful — that’s the point — but unless it’s exhibited as a teaching tool and a public apology, it could be downgraded easily by trivial popular culture. That has to be avoided. Years ago the Mpls Art Institute had a controversial show on the costumes of the Native Americans for a secret religious ritual. Out of respect they worked closely with the local native population and had the galleries blessed by one of their elders. Even so there were complaints but overall that gesture was appreciated. I think the Walker meant well but went about it wrong.

11. from Catherine, 4:43 p.m., 8 minutes after preceding: Looks like we’re all too late. It will be dismantled by the Dakota and burned at Fort Snelling. That will be impactful at the moment, but what will remain of the many lessons learned?

11A. from Dick: Thank you, Catherine. I heard the same news at 5:10 p.m. on the news. I’m glad I made the effort, and I think burning the symbol will not be as effective as it being used as a long-term learning tool. But…the decision is made, apparently.

12.from Florence: Recently the daughter-in-law of friends of ours had a painting displayed at an art gallery in NYC. The subject was of a 14-year old boy who had been mutilated and hung to die, accused of raping a white woman, in the 1940’s. Yes, he was black. There was a huge out-cry from the African American community and a demand that the painting be removed and destroyed for dishonoring them. I supported their sentiments in my heart, as I support the sentiments of the Native American community against the Scaffold sculpture. Both artists had good intentions, but failed to talk with people from the injured communities. Those injuries don’t go away with time. We need to “walk a mile in their shoes.” I understand that the Walker Art Center has reached an agreement with the Native American community to remove and burn the sculpture/playground. I’m grateful.

13. from Paul: Dick, I, too, have been pondering this “Scaffold” incident. However, I have a very different conclusion than you.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

You seem to argue that the sculpture, “Scaffold” has good intent. And I can agree it has spurred a meaningful and perhaps eventually productive discussion and long deserved public attention to the history of injustice represented by government conducted executions.

However, another view of the sculpture and its prominent display at the Walker Sculpture Garden is to see it as an example of cultural appropriation by a white artist and the white dominated Walker Art Center.

Mostly we see cultural appropriation when the dominant culture uses artistic or cultural characteristics from a minority race or nationality. Sometimes these are displayed in offensive ways such as a tomahawk or headdress used by a sports team. Other times they seem more benign such as using in a new way some hot sauce borrowed from Mexican style cooking. I think back to when white hippies wore afro hair styles – clearly cultural appropriation. When is it wrong? Sometimes it is obvious, sometimes it’s subtle and sometimes it is not so wrong at all.

But what about the “Scaffold” is cultural appropriation? The indigenous people and other groups who have suffered the long-term trauma of past aggressions against their ancestors have a primary claim of ownership to the use and remediation of that trauma in our white dominated culture. The artist and the Walker failed to recognize that claim. While attempting to stimulate the healing dialog that is so needed, they failed. The did not even realize that the people who most need to have the power over the remediation of their cultural trauma were being ignored in the creation and the installation of this sculpture. From their point of view, it is white domination all over again. Just another example of the white power players deciding what is good for them, what is the best way to confront their trauma, what is the best way to start the healing.

At the very least, the artist when he first conceived the sculpture a few years ago, owed to the descendants of the victims for whom he had so much sympathy the opportunity to be part of the creation of the sculpture and it’s presentation. The Walker Art Center likewise owed those same people a chance to know about the sculpture and weigh in on its merits and the way it should be displayed (or not displayed).

Good intentions do not excuse colossal blunders. There is a reason that quote at the start of my thoughts is famous.

Now it is time for the next steps to be taken in concert with the people who are the victimized cultures. The Walker, the artist, other institutions have this responsibility. They should provide opportunity for these steps. They are not the leaders in this. They should be the followers. They can apply their resources to the cause and help facilitate.

14. from Fred: A very thoughtful piece on a terribly complex subject. Your family and personal history makes you well qualified to consider the topic. I hadn’t considered the situation in Minneapolis in the light of the German decision to preserve evidence of the Holocaust. The Mankato scaffold and what it represents should be burned into the minds of Minnesotans and their fellow countrymen.

15. from Dick: Here is the official report of the result of the Mediation which will remove the art work. I will next comment after the structure is burned.

16. from Maryellen: Thank you for your very thoughtful and thought-provoking post on the controversy over the artwork called the scaffold. I read through all the comments with great interest.

The hangings of Dec. 26, 1862 are a haunting thing. It will take a lot more than this artwork to put these ghosts to rest.

This parallel lacks some exactness, but I bring it up for painful contrast: the scaffold is a form of execution and so was the cross. How would the early Christians have reacted to a ‘Cross’ created as a Roman work of art? Even with the intention of reminding everyone of its horror?

And yet, it is true that this ‘Scaffold’ may help, if only by reminding us all.

17. from Barbara: Dick – This is the best response I have heard. And I agree with you.

18. from a boyhood friend in ND: Interesting reading. There have been, and still are, some very horrible people living on this planet. We have talked about the book that I am trying to write about religion and the difficulty that I have on the issue of morality because of how hypocritical people are. I don’t know whether there is an afterlife with a heaven and hell, but if there is a hell, it will be full of folks like our founding fathers for what they did to the Native Americans and their enslavement of other humans. It would also be filled with the Europeans that were responsible for not only for the invasion of North America, but also the invasions of South America, Africa, Australia, and portions of Asia during their colonization movements, and what they did to the native populations.

One thing that I am always curious about is the big deal that the world makes about the German Holocaust. There were more Iranians killed in the Iranian Holocaust that we were partially responsible for, and far more Native Americans, and possibly Armenians at the hands of the Turks. So why do we all make a big deal just about the Jews. Hitler killed more Christians than Jews. Where are all the monuments and museums commemorating the deaths of all those Christians. And what about the hundreds of Christians that have been killed by Israel in Gaza? Over 400 in just the 2014 attack on the UN shelter in place facilities. Don’t they count? I could go on and on, but to no avail. It is unfortunate though that historically evil has generally trumped good.

And thanks for that bible atlas that you got from your friend. I will take good care of it and will return it if Joe wants it back. I got a kick out of your notion that this is a hand-me-down from a Jew to a Catholic, to a Muslim. I would have thought that you would know that to be a Jew, Christian, Muslim or any other of the Abrahamic sects, a prime requirement is that you worship the Earth God of Abraham, and that from our previous discussions of my book, I do not believe that the Earth God of Abraham exists, like so many others that are pursuing a set of beliefs that are more consistent with our current knowledge base. I am what is called a freelance monotheist. That was a term coined by a lady back in the 1990s, whose name I cannot remember. [Karen Armstrong]

19. from George: Being from MN and from a southern MN family I immediately related the scaffolding to Mankato. I see it as an item of horror not of art. Just as I see Kathy Griffin’s attention grabbing ploy to not be comic “art” but in poor taste, and definitely not a threat.

19A. Response from Dick: One of the most interesting comments so far has been from Maryellen (above): “It will take a lot more than this artwork to put these ghosts to rest.

This parallel lacks some exactness, but I bring it up for painful contrast: the scaffold is a form of execution and so was the cross. How would the early Christians have reacted to a ‘Cross’ created as a Roman work of art? Even with the intention of reminding everyone of its horror?”

I happen to be lifelong Catholic. I hadn’t thought of the cross piece before. There is hardly a more ubiquitous piece of art than the cross, including in church art. I’d guess Christians would consider the crucifixion on a cross as a “horror”, but nonetheless it seems acceptable as art. The question is a difficult one, I’ll say. Which makes the conversation even more important.

20. from Stacy: I liked your article and the perspective you have on this. It would be a shame to sweep this under the rug when it is such a opportunity for conversation and reflection.

21. from Sandy:
Good and meaningful thoughts Dick! You certainly can speak with great knowledge on historical events and issues. thanks

22. from Rebecca: Because of your interest: Re: the Walker Art Center sculpture, I want to recommend to you the book An Indigenous People’s History of the United States, in paperback this year from Beacon Pr. It won the 2015 American book award. After reading this book last month, I contacted the author, a now 77 year old white/Indian woman scholar of American history who lives in California and is emeritus from one of the California universities. I contacted her just before the Walker art museum scandal had happened. I have invited her to come to the Twin Cities to speak and I will hopefully have an announcement about it at the MAP delegate meeting June 13th.

22A. Response from Dick: Thank you, Rebecca. Re “Because of your interest”, I’d like to share a few thoughts about what brought me to this particular place in my own history awareness and position on the sculpture issue. I’m North Dakotan, living there through college (1940-61). We lived, and thus I grew up, in a succession of tiny towns throughout the state. Basically, I’d say, the towns were Catholic; or Lutheran; there were Germans from Russia (mostly), and Scandinavians. That was our notion of “ethnic diversity”. This was back in the days when Catholics and Protestants had little to do with each other, to the point of outright hostility. There were others: Jews, Moslems, but they were rare and very unusual. It was not an enlightened time.

My mother grew up on a farm, which became very much like my “hometown”, as it was a consistent place in my life. My Dad grew up in a town of a few thousand, and his Dad was chief engineer in a flour mill.

I have said publicly as far back as the 1980s that “Indians” to us were about the same as “Negroes” in the south, even less fairly treated. Indeed, the situation for the Native Americans was probably worse, as they were on Reservations. My earliest memories, experienced, not spoken, were between 1945 and 1951 when, on occasion, we drove through the Ft. Totten Reservation near Devils Lake ND. I say “through”, it may have been beside – I don’t know for sure. What I am sure of is the sense I had as a kid that this was where the Indians lived, and it wasn’t a place you’d want your car to break down.

A few years later we lived a few miles west of Wahpeton ND, and I attended a tiny rural school and I was on the high school basketball team. At least twice we played basketball against the “Wahpeton Indian School” team out at the School of Science gymnasium. I remember the “Indian” ball players as very quick. I think that this was the same school, at about the same time, that author Louise Erdrich‘s father was superintendent. My Dad was school superintendent then at our tiny school. Both times we played on the Indian Schools court. Again, there was nothing spoken. The Indians were in their place, and it wasn’t with the rest of us.

Until the air bases and missile facilities of the late 1950s, there were few if any Negroes in ND.

I read somebodies memories of growing up in northeast North Dakota in the 1880s, and she remembered her French-Canadian mothers admonishment to the children: “Don’t trust the Indians or the Norwegians”!

I don’t have any Native-American ancestry – I’m half French-Canadian (Dad) and German (Mom) but I know of relatives of my French-Canadian grandparents generation who had strong native American ancestry. It is not at all unknown to me.

I first took a very active interest in Native Issues perhaps in the 1980s; in Whitestone Hill in the early 1990s. I am guessing the 1990s was the first time I knew of Whitestone (since it is remote – you need to be going there to really know it exists), and I’m also guessing it was a trip from the rural ND farm the 35 or so miles to see it. It is an impactful place, remote, alone, in its way beautiful. Rarely have I been there with any other visitors on the grounds. If one wishes an opportunity to meditate, Whitestone is a good choice.

My intention is to write more about this issue as time goes on, probably after the lumber is burned.

For certain, feel free to pass this along to the author you mentioned.

Thank you again.

22B. POSTNOTE, DICK June 9, 2017 The Scaffold has been disappeared from the news, replaced in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune by a long piece in the Variety Section, “Something to crow about”. Where the Scaffold was would have been the first sculpture seen as visitors entered at the “New Entry. It has been disappeared.

The culminating event, the burning of the pieces of the Scaffold, has been postponed.

Personally, I think the apparent leadership of the Native American community and its allies missed a major opportunity for dialogue and reconciliation, and possibly they recognize this now, and too late. The Walker doesn’t distinguish itself either. One can only imagine the behind the curtain discussions, and debate, within both camps.

I may wander down to see the new Garden June 10. At some later date, when/if it is decided to burn the pieces of the scaffold, in one ceremony or in many, I will try to cover that story as best I can, if I am privy to information about it.

I’m satisfied that I did what I could.

The photo below is of artifacts found over many years at the North Dakota farm of my ancestors, probably from plowing. Their home was three miles “as the crow flies” from the James River.

May a path be found to Peace. The June 2 post contains updates as I have found them over the last two weeks.

(click to enlarge)

from the North Dakota farm, found sometime after 1905.

23. from Norm: Thanks for your commentaries on the scaffold as well as your remembrances of growing up in the vicinity or the Fort Totten reservation and/or at least driving through it.

I grew up just a few miles from a reservation in Carlton County occupied by the Native Americans who now operate the successful casino located at I-35 and H-210 west of Carlton and south of Cloquet.

The conventional wisdom when I was growing up as well is that you did not want to have car trouble while driving through the reservation, especially around Sawyer which is on H-210 west of Carlton.

The Native Americans were seen in the same light as were negroes in the south and other parts of the country as well just as you said was the case in the state that you grew up in and where I was stationed for eighteen-months at the Minot AFB until being shipped to Thailand.

To this day, many of the residents of my home town and the surrounding area especially those near the ditch-bank areas northeast of town, continue to hold the Native Americans responsible for the lack of deer in the area because “they can hunt at anytime regardless of the season” and so on. They also hold them responsible for any thefts or damage that occurs to property and residences just outside of the reservation.

I had the good fortune to work with many dedicated Native Americans when I was the chief of EMS for the Minnesota Department of Health for several years. We utilized several talented folks from the Red Lake reservation and others as part of our testing crews as well as for the ambulance transportation services in the Red Lake area and on the White Earth reservation as well…and other places beyond that .

It was a privilege to work with them just as it was to work with all number of committed volunteers all across the state who provided basic emergency medical response services to their communities.

The fact that an Native American couple did come off of the reservation to a home just northeast of Cromwell a few years ago and kill a young couple and then stole their new truck that they later tried to burn on the reservation did add fuel to the fire of that perception no matter that the couple was later tried, found guilty and placed in prison.

Thanks again, Dick.

23A. Response from Dick: Thank you. Re your last paragraph “The fact…in prison”, I always pay attention to how such incidents are treated if by “people like us” versus “other”. A dramatic pre-9-11-01 example was Oklahoma City, where initially the suspect was somebody who apparently looked middle eastern. When it became known that it was two white anti-government guys, the conversation seemed to change, immediately.

We have a very long way to go….

(click to enlarge)

June 11, 2017, about 11 a.m. at southwest corner of the space formerly occupied by the Scaffold.

24. Dick Bernard: I returned to the site again this morning (June 11). A quick storm had passed through, refreshing the space. At the corner of the site of the former Scaffold location, I saw the flag and flower shown above. I don’t know who put it there, what their intention was, how long it will remain…. It was definitely put there on purpose, as would such symbols be seen at the Vietnam Wall in D.C. or elsewhere.

I want to comment briefly on my forbears role in this story, which I hope will continue long after “the ink dries” on these words.

Shortly after Whitestone Hill (1863), the final Treaty transferring Indian Lands to the United States was concluded at Huot Crossing in northwest Minnesota, at the Red Lake River (Huot Old Crossing 1863003). It was to the Treaty land that my French-Canadian ancestors came in 1878, and a number still remain to this day. They settled in Dakota Territory, not far west of the Red River. North Dakota became a state in 1889.

In 1904, my German ancestors came to North Dakota, taking virgin prairie south of Jamestown, perhaps 35 miles from Whitestone Hill, which with hardly any doubt they had never heard about. Whitestone had occurred over 40 years earlier – like the late 1970s compares to today. Indeed, they came across Indian artifacts such as the hammerheads shown above. These were turned over in plowing the prairie. Their farmstead was about three miles from the important James River, and on a rise in the surrounding countryside. Most likely it was a good vantage point in native days, as it is, still.

I doubt that either group, nor any of the ordinary settlers, had any notion of having stolen someone elses land. But, maybe they did?

What we’re left with is the present, over 150 years and many generations after the fact.

It has occurred to me that an appropriate resolution at the Sculpture Garden might be to have a mutually agreed to and designed nature garden (common on the Sculpture Garden grounds) placed at the exact site where the scaffold stood for those few days. That is just a suggestion.

Leaving the garden this morning I decided to take a closer look at what I called the “Chime Tree” yesterday. I was most intrigued by the story accompanying it. Both are pictured below.

The Cottonwood at the Sculpture Garden, June 11, 2017

Explanation of the history of the Cottonwood Tree

I wasn’t sure what kind of tree it was, yesterday, but when I saw the word “Cottonwood”, I thought of a story I had written some years ago about another Cottonwood on the North Dakota farm. Here it is.

Let us keep working towards reconciliation, no matter how long or hard the road.

25. from Mary Ellen: I read everything. So much to process. So many important perspectives. I was stunned by the choice of memorial placed where the scaffold stood so briefly– an American flag and a white carnation. What does that mean?
Yes, keep this going!
Right now I have nothing to add. Still thinking.

25A. from Dick, June 18: I was over to the Sculpture Garden today. The flag and white carnation were no longer there. A mystery perhaps no one else will notice or care about. For me, the Sculpture Garden has taken on greater significance than it ever had before.

Dick Bernard: A visit to the “Canyon of 60 Abandon”; and music in the country.

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

Ross ND Marching Band on Parade in Williston ND, 1954.

My birthday, Thursday, was just as I liked: quiet, the usual morning coffee, then Minnesota Orchestra, and dinner at W.A. Frost in later afternoon. I’m grateful for the many Facebook comments to Thursdays “birthday post.

A gift to me some years ago was a TED talk by Louie Schwartzberg called Gratitude. Here is the link to it, a gift transferred to you.

In my birthday post, I shared a 3 second YouTube of Grandpa Bernard at 77. Yesterday came a three second cut of myself at 2:24 of a 3 minute video from April 29, 2017, at “The World is My Country” (a film in which I’ve been directly involved). See the video here, if you wish.

May 4, at coffee I began to generate a list of elders who have influenced my life since I retired in 2000. To this day, with these folks – the ones still alive – I will remain “just a kid”.

I was remembering a long ago conference of the National Education Association in the far suburbs of Houston TX in November, 1998, where the major workshop, was entitled “The Canyon of 60 Abandon”. It became my Christmas greeting for 2000 which speaks for itself: Canyon of 60 Abandon002.

My list was really quite long, about half women, half men. Most recent of note was our friend Annelee Woodstrom, age 90, who was honored a week or so ago by the arts community in northwest Minnesota. They didn’t know, apparently, till the event, that she is about to complete her third book, to be published perhaps this summer. All of those on my list, in various ways, at various times, have, to borrow the phrase, “touched, moved and inspired” me.

Most noteworthy was Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, who seemed to go on and on as conductor emeritus of the Minnesota Orchestra. He conducted his last concert just months before he died Feb. 21, 2017 at 93. We saw him conduct several times in his last years. Here’s more about him, if you wish: Skrowaczewski001

We all have such a list. A good day to remember some of yours!

At the Minnesota Orchestra concert for May 4 – we’re long time subscribers – in the program I saw an essay by the late Minnesota poet and writer Bill Holm, who grew up in the small town of Minneota MN. You can read his Essay here: Bill Holm001.

Holm, in his essay, talks about education and a teacher who played the violin in his small town.

I related to the story, since my entire upbringing was in tiny North Dakota towns – Minneota was a “big city” compared to any of mine and, as many of you know, my parents were the teachers in all of them. (The photo which leads this post was in Williston ND, of the Ross ND marching band, ca summer of 1954 or such.)

Many of our small towns had two or three high school teachers, and perhaps three elementary school instructors. There was no room for specialization. And there were the characters, as Bill Holm describes, though I will defend to the death the value of small town education (while not dismissing its problems).

Music in these small towns was more miss than hit, of course. Only once in awhile was a town lucky enough to have a teacher who’d been in a band somewhere.

In 8th grade, in Ross, I at least learned the scales on a clarinet. Miss Stone, down in Antelope, and Sr. Rose, in Sykeston, attempted to teach me piano (I still see that metronome.). Miss Stone, I learned later, was conservatory trained, somewhere out east. It didn’t help her, with me!

I was told that my brother, Frank, did an amazing job with Taps on Memorial Day in Sykeston ca 1960; sister Flo ruined many an early morning practicing on the snare drums below we boys bedroom. (She was probably doing a good job, but the practice time and venue was not ideal for the older brother upstairs!)

And someone, Mom or Dad or both, liked to listen to live broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday afternoons.

As Mr. Holm was inspired by the eccentric Mr. Peabody, so did osmosis work its magic on we kids, in assorted ways. For years I’ve loved music (but I never did to learn to play an instrument!)

As age goes on, we learn what we have learned….

All best.

*

POSTNOTE: As with Mr. Holm in Minneota, some of the music bug rubbed off on me. We are longtime subscribers to the Minnesota Orchestra; a week ago grandson Ted and I completed our second Jazz season at Orchestra Hall; Sunday, grandson and granddaughter Ted and Kelly perform at the Ordway Theatre in St. Paul as part of the Angelica Cantanti Youth Choirs. Come on over, if you’re in the area. It will be very much worth your time. The youth choirs are wonderful.

#1255 – Dick Bernard: Thoughts at 77. “The World is My Country”

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Related: here and here.

Today, I’m 77.

This anniversary has something of a “ring” to it.

Those who’ve seen me recently will attest I’m still mobile. I passed the cognition test at my recent physical; so far the frowns from the doctor are not too serious…but on the other hand, there are a few miles on this jalopy! When you get to this age, you notice that you’re no longer 15, which our 6th grandkid, Parker, is, today as well.

Parker is a baseball player, and a very good one, so in recognition of our mutual birthdays, here I am (on the right) with my brother Frank, about the time I was 15, in 1955.

Richard Bernard, at right, circa 1955, with 9 year old brother, Frank.

Grandpa Bernard is my gift to myself today. He is the only grandparent of mine who has a place on YouTube, with ID. You can see Grandpa here for three seconds at about 4:14, kibitzing while they pave Main Street in Grafton ND in 1949.

He was 77 that day in 1949…. He had eight more years to live; his son, my Dad, almost made 90.

Time marches on.

I have always liked “The Station”, which Ann Landers popularized, as a teaching about living life: The Station001.

*

There may be some of my age, or even beyond, who can honestly say that their road of life has been straight and uncomplicated. That they planned their life, and the plans all worked out.

Those who know me, know that my life had its ruts and other assorted dilemmas.

Today, one very serious topic:

“Out in Washington D.C.”, probably today, will be the vote in the House of Representatives to kill “Obamacare”, which in the years subsequent to enactment in 2010 was symbolically slain by the House of Representatives more than 50 times. Ironically, it was the Republicans who first gave the intentionally derisive nickname to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

I don’t know what the vote will be today. One thing is certain, a vote to kill ACA will not be about improving medical care for people.

Within the last few days, comedian Jimmy Kimmel related his own very powerful story. His monologue is probably still accessible here, about his new son, William. Do watch these 13 minutes.

I also have a story about the unexpected.

It happens that last Sunday a group of us were debriefing the World Premiere of the film “The World Is My Country”. The film highlights the dilemma of being stateless – without papers – in this world.

Sundays discussion reminded me of a time in my own life when my family and I were uncovered by medical insurance, and I talked about it in our discussion of the film.

For myself, it was a 26 month period in 1963-65. It began with my marriage to Barbara June 8, 1963; it ended with her death from kidney disease July 24, 1965. When we married I was near the end of my time in the U.S. Army; when she died we had a son, about 1 1/2; I had just turned 25 and she was 22. We had no insurance and I owed in medical bills nearly four times my then annual salary as a teacher. I faced bankruptcy.

In those years there was no group insurance in the area of our employment; even if we had had full insurance, she would have likely been ruled uninsurable because of pre-existing conditions unknown to us till four months into our marriage.

In the case of Jimmy Kimmel and his wife and son, they had the best coverage available in the most ideal medical setting possible. Until their baby was born, all was going well.

In our case, I will never forget the time spent in the lobby at the University of Minnesota Hospital in late May, 1965, waiting for some unseen people to decide whether they would admit my wife, an economically indigent patient, for a desperately needed kidney transplant. It was both terrifying and humiliating.

In our short marriage Barbara and I had lived in three states, and several counties in those states, and in no case had we satisfied what was usual then: a one year residency. It was a struggle to get into a hospital, then, in the end, with huge bills I couldn’t pay, a very close call with bankruptcy. Would welfare cover the bill? And if so, how much, and which unit of government?

Finally, much of the bills were paid, allowing me to avoid bankruptcy.

But I felt what it was like to be in the horrible world of the uninsured.

Today, in Washington D.C., they advance the process of interfering with the lives of millions of fellow citizens…a matter of spite, and greed. They are fools.

As Kimmel said, there is no reason why any person regardless of circumstances should be uncovered in our society.

I hope it doesn’t happen. If it does, it is a disgrace.

Dick Bernard: Planting Onions…and Glorious Flowers

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

Today’s post is a recollection about my Aunt and Uncle. Shortly, we leave for a few days vacation. This computer will lie quiet for awhile. The following post has nothing to do with politics…then again, it may have everything…. At the exact same time I was composing this, among many critical issues, the most important of all, “repeal and replace” “Obamacare” has erupted in our nations Capitol. Insuring all of we citizens against catastrophic medical costs is a very, very big deal everyone needs to care about. In my view, the launch of this supposedly new plan is like launching a nuclear bomb against an unsuspecting people…. Here is a long and readable summary to read on this issue, if you wish. I will write later on my deep personal concerns on this matter. More in coming weeks.

Vincent Busch May 7, 2013


(click to enlarge any photos)

“Forwards” are not always welcome, as anyone who does e-mail knows.

Sometimes, like a couple of days ago, comes a gem, one such reaching me from a North Dakota farm near my ancestral farm at Berlin ND, a blog post by Rachel Held Evans received and forwarded to me by a good friend.

What caught my attention was the headline: “…Planting Onions*….”

What attracted my memory was remembering a row of onions I watched being planted by my Uncle Vincent May 7, 2013. (See photo which leads this post).

Uncle Vince was 88 at the time, and this visit he had a compelling need to plant some sweet onions in the now nearly vacant one acre garden he and his sister Edithe had kept alive long after the rest of the nine family members who had lived there, helping with and enjoying the fruits of the garden, had passed on.

Now there were only the two of them. and for seven prior years they’d lived in assisted living in town. But near every day they’d drive out to the old farm, and every spring was the ritual planting. Every year, the actual planted area decreased, but every year the entire acre was cultivated, to keep weeds at bay.

Now the gardeners were down to my Uncle, and he had very little energy left to expend. But once again he had plowed the ground, preparing the soil, and now it was time to plant something.

Six months earlier his sister had been admitted to the Nursing Home, and Uncle Vince now had to come to the farm alone. This year about all he was managing to plant were a couple of row of sweet onions. In his quiet way that pleasant day in May, I seemed to be witnessing almost a religious rite, near grief: a nod to a past that was rapidly disappearing.

It was while looking for the photo that leads this post that I came across another photo of something else I had seen at the same farm, a few minutes earlier that May day, as we drove up the lane, past the long vacant farmhouse.

Aunt Edithe’s voluntaries, May 17, 2013

Those and other flowers were Edithe’s passion, and probably in a previous year she had planted them, and here they were, unattended, but beautiful nonetheless, adding life to the house and surroundings..

No one had been by to remind them that it was time to bloom; they paid no mind that no one was weeding around them, or making sure they had water; or that they had an audience to admire them. They just were….

It seems to me, now, four years later, that both Uncle Vincent and those flowers were sending their own messages to us, about things like reverence for the land and tradition, about devotion to the better sides of our nature. Many other messages can be conveyed. They are for you to contemplate yourself and, if you wish, to share with others as well.

Have a great day.

* – Ms Evans post talked about “revisiting Madeleine L’Engle’s Genesis Trilogy,” and being “struck by how forthcoming the author is about her own fears around raising children during the Cold War. She writes of one particularly worrisome season: “Planting onions that spring was an act of faith in the future, for I was very fearful for our planet.”

In her Mar. 1, 2017 blog post, Ms Evans commented: “Planting onions” has come to signify for me the importance of remaining committed to those slow-growing, long-term investments in my family, my community, and the world, no matter what happens over the next four years”.

POSTNOTE
Time went on after that May visit to the garden.

In mid-July I made another visit to Vincent and Edithe; and once again Vince and I went to the old farm between Berlin and Grand Rapids.

July, 2013 in the garden

Vincent told me the rows of sweet onions were no more – he had gone out to the farm by himself, after dark, to plow the garden, and by mistake plowed them under.

It was clear to everyone that Vincents memory and general health were failing as his sisters had.

My next trip, in September, it was even more clear.

In November, 2013, Vincent joined Edithe in the memory care unit at the St. Rose Nursing Home in LaMoure. In Feb, 2014, she died at 94. Almost exactly a year later, in Feb, 2015, Uncle Vince passed on, having just reached 90.

At the lunch after Vincent’s funeral, neighbor farmer Pat Quinlan recalled the onion sandwich Vince had given him one day when he was over helping. It was the funniest of stories, as the photo below attests. Probably Vince would have squirmed, but it was all in great humor. Vince was who he was. In life, he would appear to be just an ordinary farmer with a small farm. But he was oh, so much more….

Pat Quinlan (at right) remembers the onion sandwich, February, 2015

We have only our own images of what heaven might be like.

Perhaps there is a garden and flowers and gentle breezes there.

Meanwhile, here on earth, let’s do what we can to make this world a better place for all of us.

Edithe and Vince in their garden July 27, 2007

Flowers and Onions, July 27, 2007

Edithe and Flowers, July 27, 2007

Edithe with the flowers from the garden July 27, 2007

Dick Bernard: An Old Photograph

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

Today is my oldest child, Tom’s, birthday. He shares the birthdate with my wife, and our daughter-in-law; and his great-grandfather, Henry Bernard, would be 145 today, were he still alive. And two days from now would be his great grandparent Ferd and Rosa Busch’s 112th wedding anniversary. Time marches on.

(click to enlarge all photos. Click again for more enlargement.)

Busch family history about 1937

This weekend I was continuing a long project – sorting hundreds of photos from the Busch farm, saved by the last survivors of the farm, my Uncle Vince, and Aunt Edithe, who died two and three years ago respectively.

There are hundreds of photos. The one which leads this story has always intrigued me, though as you can readily see (you can enlarge it twice if you wish) is not a prize winner. It was taken, almost certainly, on August 9, 1937, on the wedding day of my mother and father, Henry Bernard and Esther Busch, at the Busch farm near Berlin ND. If I’m correct – I think I am – it is the only photo surviving of my parents wedding day.

Back in those days, the days of the Great Depression, few photos were taken, and those taken were not wasted. And you didn’t know, sometime for weeks, whether the photo would turn out. But once you got it back, even if not good, it wasn’t tossed – thankfully.

In this photo, I can clearly make out my Dad, he’s the “tall drink of water” in the back row to the right. My future Mom is in front of him. Clearly, at the right in the picture, are Dad’s sister, Josie, and her husband Allen Whitaker, from San Marino CA. In the group would be both sets of my future grandparents, and Aunts and Uncles and others.

What really attracts my attention, though, is the dinner bell in the background. This is the oldest picture of the bell I’ve seen. The family story of the bell is uncertain. Certainly it was used to call the workers in from the field. We kids would always visit the bell when we came to the farm. It was well photo’ed over the years. My guess: it once adorned a country one-room school nearby.

And I note the dog as well, who appears in quite a number of the photos which have not been labeled. That pooch probably had a normal farm dogs life span, and helps me date some of the photos. He or she seemed to enjoy being in the pictures!

All the birthday folks mentioned at the beginning of this post started out in some family circle somewhere, going back generation after generation after generation. Everyone has stories worth remembering for generations, here or yet to come.

For every one of us there are hills and valleys in the family history. We like to think we can control our destiny, but as one who is rapidly approaching octogenarian status, I know that there are many and disparate intrusions into the dreams of youth.

Best wishes to everyone. To Tom and all the others, do the best you can with the time you have, and help make the world a better place. Take time to read “The Station” linked at the end of this post.

Happy Birthday.

Some other photos, more family specific.

Four generations: Grandma Busch with great-grandson Thomas, daughter Esther, and grandson Richard, at the farm, June 1964

Family gathering at the farm August, 1964. Barbara, Tom’s Mom, at far right.

The men in the Busch family with the youngest male, Tom, August, 1964

After Barbara’s funeral July 29, 1965, at the Grand Rapids Veterans Memorial Park. Ferd holds Tom, Rosa at right, all of the Busch “kids” are behind. It was a sad day, such as we all experience sometime in our lives.

Busch dinner bell, photo by Mary Kay Busch summer 1976

A popular and Inspirational Essay on Living Life, a favorite of Ann Landers called “The Station”The Station001

Dick Bernard: Three weeks after inauguration day. Letters to Judd

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

More on the topic of the 2017 Presidency here.

(click to enlarge)

The town in which we live, Woodbury MN, would be considered a prosperous suburban community just east of St. Paul. Sometimes I refer to it as “suburban 3M”, since 3Ms headquarters are nearby and many highly skilled employees live here. Politically, we’re probably a “purple” place: our State Senator and one of our two state legislators are Democrat and female; the other side of the district had a hard fought race between two women: one Democrat, one Republican. The Democrat (we call Democrats DFLer – Democratic Farmer Labor in Minnesota) is a young African-American professional woman; our town of 62,000 has a significant number of Muslims, primarily highly educated professional people.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was, yesterday, to see our local paper, the Woodbury Bulletin, carry a front page and very long column by Youssef Rddad on the WWII internship of the Japanese in America, with a headline “Does Trump order echo the past?

Meanwhile, back in Washington…. A good daily summary I look forward to every day is found in Just Above Sunset, a retired guy in Los Angeles. The last number, overnight, is titled: “The Persistence of Nonsense“. [Feb. 11: the most recent posting, again overnite, is chilling and important, here. Avoiding reality is not a good option…for us.]

Here at home I had occasion to pull down one of the boxes of farm “junk” – part of the last remaining residue of my grandparents 110 year farm in rural North Dakota.

I was looking for the book about the 1997 Red River Valley Flood (which is here, somewhere), but instead, sitting on top, was a 64-page pamphlet, “Letters to Judd”, originally written in 1925 and, according to author Upton Sinclair, “reprinted in 1932 and 1933. I might have rewritten it, but I thought you would learn more by reading it as prophecy.”

It would count as “prophecy” for the first decades of the 2000s as well.

Upton Sinclair was a prolific author, a Socialist, once a candidate for Governor of California. You can read the entire 1933 pamphlet here.

The pamphlet I have is the 1933 edition, and five pages can be seen here: Letters to Judd002

Take the time to read the first couple of letters. I think you’ll want to continue to the end.

Grandpa Busch was about 53 – my oldest sons age – when he picked up the book in 1933. His area, North Dakota, was in the hard times of the Depression. He had lost, or was about to lose, part of his land.

I’ve gotten to know a lot about Grandpa and Grandma and their family over these past many years.

Grandpa came to the prairie in 1905 to be somebody. As so often happens to the little guys (and gals), greed of bigger shots than he put the brakes on his aspirations. The Non-Partisan League beckoned; later he was one of the first to join and become very active in the North Dakota Farmers Union.

But I think he was always on the conservative side, not happy with “loafers” who got government jobs in the CCC and WPA and such (even though a nephew was in the CCC). He was a gifted tinkerer, convinced that inventing stuff – he had patents – would sail his families boat, though it never did.

It would be great to have a conversation with Grandpa about “Letters to Judd” – how he came to learn about it; what he thought of it…. He lived on 34 more years, on the same farm, always a dreamer, a tinkerer.

Letters to Judd is about the battle between concepts: Capitalism versus Socialism. We are in a society where Capitalism has won, but have we…?

Read the pamphlet, think about what you’ve read, share it, have a conversation.

What part do you play in our future.

COMMENTS:
from Corky: Letters to Judd is interesting read. Economic analysis is interesting. I understand the plight of farmers much better now.

from C: How sad. We watched the movie Grapes of Wrath last night on [TV]. You couldn’t help but cry at what they went through. I kept thinking of our refugees. I know we shouldn’t live in fear, but I can’t help it. I fear what is happening in our country. Is this the coming of Hitler’s dictatorship time? I hear how, ” this and that” is being investigated and it gives me hope but it’s so slow in happening. It’s like I read where a president was told “Don’t piss in the pot we all have to eat out of”. The women in congress speak up but the only men that speak up are Democrats, Senators Tim Kaine, your [Mn Sen.] Franken, and Republican John McCain.

from Emmett: As I read through the material, I found that it paralleled the story of my family. My dad suffered from a hernia and wore a truss, as did Judd. Our house was also made of a couple of houses brought together, and then other additions were added later. Much of what is said sounds a lot like what my dad said. And much of what is said is still happening today (automation). The letter writers would be shocked by what is currently happening in this electronic world we live in. It is interesting as to how people can witness the same thing and yet process it in such different ways. All this makes me think about Mitt Romney and his comment about makers and takers. You have a work force making things and the wealthy executives of the company take the profits for themselves leaving little for the makers. Yet from Mitt Romney’s perspective, he was the maker by virtue of his investments, while the 47%, made up largely by poor underpaid makers were the takers in his mind. I was thinking that this should be sent to Trump. But I’m not sure he has the intellect to digest it all. All this makes you understand the passage of Glass-Steagall, to protect us from the wealth crooks that caused the Great Depression and the Bush Recession.

from Peter: Here is a letter I just sent to my extended family. I encourage everyone to follow the link and take effective action

Love

Peter

*******

Family,

It may have been awhile since you heard from me about other than births, deaths or marriages.

We are confronted with an administration that seems bent on harming as many as possible of the most vulnerable among us. Most of you saw this coming, and opposed it, but here we are.

Today immigration raids have begun in earnest, tearing apart families all over America. I had seen this under the previous administration, when I participated in a workshop in Boston with teenagers who often came home from school to find the front door missing and their parents gone. In Boston. In America. But this is now set to “surge”, according to ICE.

This can’t be accomplished by haranguing people who already agree with us, which is what happens when we blog or use the Book of Faces. One way that might have real impact, however, is to erode their corporate support, as outlined below. Because, although corporations are not democratic in any way, they exist because we put up with them, regardless of politics or law. And we don’t have to put up with them. They live under the Rule of Money, not the Rule of Law, and in that country [Money], we have considerable, innate power.

The history of the list, and those included on the list, is GrabYourWallet.org/about.

We are seeing a massive power-grab by the likes of Bannon, who is a dyed-in-the-wool white supremacist. He is now attacking Planned Parenthood, the golden goose of his hate-spewing career, now that he is running the White House. That person knows no limits, and believes in an an ultimate war between the few people he likes, and the rest of humanity. The President, as is obvious, is a loon who is easily steered by such manipulators, and will be discarded – a last great trumpian spectacle – when his puffery ceases sufficiently to distract the nation from the deep substantive changes his backers are making to our system of governance.

We are all needed now. Meanwhile, as Joni Mitchell sang:

“The gas leaks

The oil spills

And sex kills…”

Love,

Peter
PS- as with all links in emails, paste it in your browser, don’t click on it here!

from Fred: Here is [a] Kipling poem The Sons of Martha and the note my friend sent. If you want to see Upton Sinclair’s comment [on the poem] just google reviews of the poem*.
“I’ve seen this cited in a couple of places on the web as a key to (at least some of) the psychology of the 2016 election. It’s called “The Sons of Martha”. Biblical reference is Luke 10. Notes here.”

Rudyard Kipling (1907)
The Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother, of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary’s Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.

They say to mountains “Be ye removèd.” They say to the lesser floods “Be dry.”
Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd – they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill-tops shake to the summit – then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.

They finger Death at their gloves’ end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.

To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden – under the earthline their altars are –
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city’s drouth.

They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not preach that His Pity allows them to drop their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren’s ways may be long in the land.

Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat;
Lo, it is black already with the blood some Son of Martha spilled for that!
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd – they know the Angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessèd, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the feet – they hear the Word – they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and – the Lord He lays it on Martha’s Sons!

* – Upton Sinclair: from “The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.(Under this title the English poet has written a striking picture of the social chasm. He figures the world’s toilers as the “Sons of Martha,” who, because their mother “was rude to the Lord, her Guest,” are condemned forever to unrequited toil. “It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.” The poem goes on to tell of the ignorance and torment in which they live—while the Sons of Mary, who “have inherited that good part,” live in ease upon their toil.
“They sit at the Feet and they hear the Word—they know how truly the Promise runs.
“They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and—the Lord he lays it on Martha’s Sons.”
But it appears that for a long period of years Mr. Kipling has refused to permit this radical poem to be reprinted. Under the circumstances, all that the editor can do is to state that it may be found in the files of the New York Tribune and other newspapers throughout America having the service of the “Associated Sunday Magazines,” on April 28, 1907. The editor ventures to doubt if there exists a more dangerous social force than the man of genius who turns his divine gift to the crushing of the efforts of his fellowmen for justice)”

Uncle Vincent’s Pastureland

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

Thoughts on the final day of 2016.
Remembering a North Dakota farm family.


(click to enlarge any photo)

Since 1934 an impressive cottonwood tree has stood watch over the former Busch farm between Berlin and Grand Rapids ND. I took the above photo, and wrote a story about the tree in 2005. The story is accessible here.

A few blocks to the west of the tree stands a piece of pastureland, which, 106 years after the prairies became a farm, has yet to see a plow. For reasons only my Uncle Vince knows, this pasture was a very important piece of ground to him, even though it was only a small part of the farm.

This was a pasture well known to Vince and Edithe’s parents and brothers and sisters, going back to the beginning of the farm in 1905; and known to any of their nephews and nieces who visited on occasion. We became familiar with “cowpaths” and the lane from pasture to the barn, and if old enough we could watch the cows being milked by hand, and even try our hand at milking. In a sense, the cows were part of physical life of the Busch place, the milk cows with names.

For most of its years it was pasture for a few milk cows. Here is a photo from the 1940s labeled Aunt “Edithe’s favorite milk cow.” Unfortunately, the cows name isn’t included; most certainly she had a name.

“Edithe’s favorite milk cow”, 1940s

My first vivid memory of the pasture is in the winter, sometime in the 1940s, watching what seemed to be gigantic white rabbits loping across snowdrifts. It wasn’t an illusion:

Uncle Vincent and Uncle Art with a productive hunt for rabbits, sometime in 1941-42.

Over the years, the rabbits disappeared, for some reason never explained to me.

As for the cows, we grandkids, who showed up from 1940 on, knew the drill: Twice a day, cows came home via the cowpath – force of habit, I guess – with a lead cow. Here’s an old slide from Nov. 1980 showing my Uncle and cousin Mary Kay. (double click to see the cows in the background, or a closer view of the cowpath)

Uncle Vince and Cousin Mary Kay (on a cowpath in the pasture, Nov. 1980)

In my growing up time, there were maybe 10-15 cows maximum, milked by hand twice a day, later usually by Edithe and Grandma Rosa. Kids were allowed to try milking, but it was hard work – the fun wore off very quickly. Cats hung around for a possible treat. Once in awhile a cow “kicked the bucket” partly full of milk, probably the origin of the saying about dying.

The cream separator initially was hand-powered. Cream and milk would be kept in cans, and kept cool in a water tank by the door of the barn. For years, Uncle Art kept the old separator; later he gave it to me; I think my sister has it now…”antiques” have their day…a nuisance, but yet a reminder of what once was.

I can remember the tedious job of hand-churning cream to make butter: the butter didn’t just magically appear. We kids didn’t have the patience, I’d guess. But once in awhile you could actually see the butter begin to appear.

Once in awhile we might be there when a truck came from LaMoure to pick up the milk and cream. In LaMoure was a small Land-o-Lakes Creamery which made things like butter and, perhaps, ice cream. At least once I can remember a visit to the creamery. Every time, however, we stopped at the Dairy Bar in the same building (photo below) for ice cream. Successive renditions of that Dairy Bar continued until very recently. I think it’s now closed.

LaMoure ND June 28, 2009. Edithe, Vincent and Dick Bernard at what used to be the Creamery and the Dairy Bar in LaMoure. We all appear to be tired. Must have been a busy day.

I can’t fix a date when the Busch’s stopped milking. It probably came sometime in the 1960s, before Grandpa died, and by then Grandma was in her late 70s. There quite likely was an extended period without cows in the pasture. Someone could correct me on this.

Beginning about 1980, Uncle Vincent began to graze a small herd of beef cattle in the pasture. This lasted until the bad winter of 1996-97, when snow conditions and his own advancing age made it impossible for Vincent to take care of the cattle. On occasion one or another of us would go with Vince to the pasture. The cattle were familiar with him; for strangers, particularly if there was a newborn calf nearby, extreme caution was advised. Mama’s cottoned no nonsense. Strangers were a threat.

After 1997, for reasons known only to Vince, this particular piece of pastureland lay unused, except he allowed a neighbor to cut and bail the hay for a fee.

Vincent in the pasture spring of 1987, photo by his sister, Edithe.

From 2006 on, Vince and Edithe lived in LaMoure, and the trips to the farm normally did not include the pastureland.

But in early October of 2012, just about a month or so before Aunt Edithe went into the Nursing Home in LaMoure, Uncle Vince felt a need to go out to that pasture one last time, and that we did, on a very breezy and chilly North Dakota fall afternoon. It would have been wiser to stay home, but Vincent was determined, and we went.

This particular day, Vince had his mind set on pieces of tin on an old feeding station out in the pasture, and we set about successfully taking off the roof, later to be used to cover a broken window or two on an old shed on the farmstead.

October 4, 2012

The farm has now been sold, and the young couple with three young children who now own the farmstead and have a contract to purchase the pasture in a given time period. When I was at the farm in early October, I saw the two calves who, by next summer, will bring farm life to the pasture, as the family is rebringing life to a rural North Dakota farmstead.

Two young calves outside the Busch barn, Oct. 6, 2016

Uncle Vince would be pleased, of that I’m certain.

As this year ends, and a new one begins, what do you remember about your growing up years when your life was being formed?

Busch barn, rural Berlin ND, May 24, 2015 at approximately 100 years old.

COMMENTS:

from Jon, Uncle Vince’s grand-nephew Jan. 3: Hi Dick..Hope you had a Merry Christmas.This is Jon Busch..Don’t know what you know about the pasture land..But in my few conversations with Uncle Vince with my dad alive the land where the pasture is has never been tilled for crops (native prairie). It was grazed by livestock many years ago. Also there is a native American burial ground at or near the farm..Not sure if nearby or on their property no idea if that would be the pasture? Or mounds? Elsewhere.. Thanks for all of the time you guys spent working on this stuff. Have a happy new year…Jon

Response to Jon from Dick: Over the years I’ve gotten to know a great deal about this particular piece of pastureland, primarily many visits with Vincent, which is a main reason I’ve endeavored to deal very carefully with it, particularly carving it out as a specific parcel of the property. It is a legacy of the family. It was very, very important to Vince, for some reason; more so than even the surrounding long-tilled land which was more valuable. Your Grandpa George, Vincent’s older brother, as you doubtless know, had a great affinity for this land as well.

The Indian mound(s?) of which you speak were a short distance north of the Busch property – to the north of what I call the Grand Rapids road. I do not know much about them, except they existed and (probably) weren’t respected by someone or other over the years. The Busch farm sits very near the western edge of the James River, and no doubt saw a great deal of Native American activity in pre-white settlement, which primarily came with the railroad about 1880 or so.

Over my life-time, now nearing 77 years, the size of the usable pasture land decreased as it is part of a watershed which, when combined with the natural consequence of wetter years, and drainage by farmers upstream, increased the permanent wetland. The gate to what we used to know as the south pasture has long been unusable and I think the south boundary of the property has been somewhat difficult to fence because of the water issue.

Thank you very much for your comment.

from Fred: This is an excellent, evocative and thoughtful study. It brought to life a different time, one with which I can identify — there were farmers in my family too. Very nicely done.

from Joe: I read and greatly enjoyed your essay about the pasture and your excellent 2005 story about the old cottonwood tree. Thanks for both.

from Gail: Good story. Even better, it’s true.

from Shirley: Another “so-very-interesting” piece! Thanks.

from David, whose Mom grew up on the then-adjoining farm: I still recall that great old barn.

from Leila: One of my relatives had an old barn near Forman that withstood all kinds of severe storms when others didn’t. He claimed that it was because air could move easily through all of the gaps in the roof and walls.

Response from Dick: It makes sense. They do get very strong and frequent winds out there! Often! There is another factor with this particular old barn. About the first day of August of 1949, the roof blew off the 1915 barn during a big windstorm. As a matter of fact, we were staying in the house, 200 feet away, that very night. It was a scary evening to say the least. I was 9, and I remember the fright of the night! There was lots of damage in LaMoure County. Re the barn itself, all that was lost was the entire roof; even the floor of the hayloft was intact. My Dad, being a schoolteacher and on summer break, stayed and helped build new roof beams, one at a time. My Grandpa had made the form, based on a barn he saw in the area. The construction of the beams was by hand and thorough. It is also possible that the roof itself, at least to this point, buttresses the rest of the structure, but that will change unless it is re-roofed. Without extensive and very expensive renovation, the barn will not be saved. Most likely, I would guess, someday we will see a pole barn for the small herd the new owners of the farmstead hope to have. It is an interesting process.

from Jo: Your farm story brought back my entire childhood until I turned 17 and came to [college]. I can read paragraph after paragraph of your story and it so resembles my story. We had a huge red barn which also went with the wind. It lifted the roof and haymow over the house we lived in and set it down on the pasture past us. This haymow we used to swing out over and drop into the hay that had been brought in by a team of horses and hayrack and pulled up to the huge opening with a chain which the horses pulled up (the sling hooked unto the dropped down part). When that load of hay was in the proper part of the haymow, a trip rope would trip the catch and it would drop unto the haymow floor. It took many trips with that hayrack, (each held 2 slings) to fill that large area. There were holes to throw down the hay into each stall below where the milk cows stood. For safety sake, I am sure, each hole was surrounded with about a 5 foot tall box around it with a lid. Harder to put the hay down as have to be lifted up before going down. Our cream cans were not picked up, they were driven to the Casselton Creamery by us. As we waited for them to be processed, our great and always anticipated joy was to order and savor an ice cream malted milk. They probably cost 10 cents or a quarter.

Our pasture was filled with large cottonwoods under whose shade in summer we would sometimes picnic. One of the first “jobs” I had was to help to drive the milk cows to the “North Pasture”. It was through the regular pasture and over the railroads tracks so there was a gate to get over the tracks and one to get into the N. pasture with due diligence paid to making sure there was no train either way. Not being old or big enough to open those gates, pulled shut with a barbed wire round, I was the chaser for cows that started other ways.

So thanks for triggering some very old memories. Life is so far from that now. Thank goodness.

from Dick, in addition: Thanks very much for this. We are old enough, now, I’d guess, to admit that we had our feet pretty deep in what truly were “the old days”. We just came to the farm to visit, but because we moved so much (my folks were both small town school teachers), the farm really became a “home town” in a very real sense of the word for me. They didn’t get electricity until the very late 1940s, so a wind charger did that duty; Grandpa was the rural telephone guy (“three longs and a short”, and perhaps 20 parties could “rubberneck” on calls), that sort of thing. But it was a good, solid upbringing for us.

*

Below are two photos, one after the storm, and one of the beams. You can click twice on them and see a closer enlargement.

Henry Bernard in the hay mow June, 1991, standing by the roof beams he helped construct in 1949.

Look closely at the below and you can see all five Bernard kids, including John, who was then a year old. Plus Mary Ann, Florence, Frank and Richard. Henry is hidden behind Richard.

The Bernard kids the morning after the barn went down, summer 1949. Richard (Dick) is the kid facing away from the camera.