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Dad. A Family Memory

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

Prenote: My Dad died 20 years ago today. I had been planning to write a little piece about him for some weeks, and in fact had been at the place where he died, Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville IL, on October 22-23.

I digress for a moment: We were tiny town folks, and church was central to our lives, so my thoughts are occupied now with the folks of Sutherland Springs TX, where 26 people were killed inside the community church at Sunday service. Who will stop this insanity?

I think back to that chapel at Our Lady of the Snows, where I attended Mass Oct 23, as Dad would have. To my family: “I went to 7:30 Mass on Monday morning. There were about 30 of us.” There have been lots of wake up calls to deal with the crisis of guns in America. Sutherland Springs should be at the very top of our list: it can happen anywhere, to anyone….

(click to enlarge photos)

Chapel at Our Lady of the Snows Oct 23, 2017

*

Dad

My Dad was like most of us. He had a good run, of almost 90 years. He contributed more than he took. He earned compliments and (I’m sure) criticism. Those who knew Dad can fill in their own blanks.

He lived ten years at Our Lady of the Snows, on the bluff just east of St. Louis in Belleville IL, from age 79 till his death. To prepare for his upcoming 80th birthday (Dec 22, 1987), he walked 80 consecutive daily 15 minute miles. My sister, Flo, and I were there for the “birthday walk”. It took him 13 minutes…

Henry Bernard about to begin his 80th 15 minute mile December 22, 1987

Nine days after he died I was in Chicago at a conference at O’Hare, and in the Sunday Chicago Tribune I found this column, by Mary Schmich: Schmich My father died001. To this day, whenever I hear that the father of someone I know dies, I send this column on.

It spoke to me.

His kids left a permanent marker in memory of Dad at Our Lady of the Snows Apartment Community on Memorial Day, 1998. Here’s the marker for the flagpole, photo from Oct 23, 2017. (Neither Mom nor Dad have gravestones. They both donated their bodies to schools of medicine for medical research.)

Marker at the flagpole at Our Lady of the Snows Apartment Community, Belleville IL Oct 22, 2017

*

There are lots of things to remember about my Dad.

Today is election day in many places, including our town. Most certainly, Dad would vote. If he had a partisan preference, he never said it to me. He was interested in political topics. I recall a long term project of his was to read the biographies of all the Presidents of the U.S. I graduated from high school in the 6th year of Dwight Eisehower’s time, so Harry Truman would have been the most recent biography. In 1983 he and I visited the Eisenhower Library in Abilene KS, and on the same trip Lyndon Johnsons Johnson City TX.

His livelihood and job as a school teacher and small town school superintendent depended on “taxpayers”. He would muse about “NRFA” (pronounced nerfa, No Reelection For Anyone), but I highly doubt he ever practiced that philosophy – it was just his expression of disgust at politicians at all levels whose primary interest was to get reelected.

*

In 1981, his wife, my Mom, died too soon, at 72. He was 73. They lived year round in San Benito TX, 245 miles south of Sutherland Springs. I think he went through a personal crisis in this time…how to go on. A life-saver for him was to go back to teaching, volunteering to teach English as a Second Language across the street at the Berta Cabaza Junior High School.

I recall that when he traveled he often would send postcards to his students back home, reasoning that this may be the only mail they ever received.

*

He was born in 1907, as modern life was just beginning to bud. A couple of months ago I participated in a program in which I attempted to condense his first 18 years into seven minutes from his writings. Here is what I came up with: DAD STORIES told early 1980s– 2. My spoken rendition of these memories can be viewed here, beginning at about 8 minutes.

About 1920, Grafton ND. Henry Bernard is tall kid in white shirt. Other family members are his parents, Henry and Josephine, and siblings Frank and Josie, and two families visiting from Winnipeg Manitoba. The 1901 Oldsmobile still exists in an auto museum in Pennsylvania.

Those who know me, know I like to write. It seems to have followed some genetic trait inherited by my Dad from someone long ago.

After Mom, his wife Esther, died in 1981, Henry embarked on what became a regular routine.

He developed a two week cycle for letters to we kids. Monday was to his oldest (me); Tuesday for the second child, Mary Ann; Wednesday, Thursday, Friday for Florence, Frank and John. The other days he wrote to other family or friends, here there and everywhere. He was constantly intellectually active.

His tiny apartment (96A, which is now used for storage), was set up for his daily activities. Here’s his desk on Dec. 22, 1987.

Henry’s “home office”, 1987

For whatever reason I kept my set of letters and a few years ago donated them as part of the family archive to the University of North Dakota Chester Fritz library (his haunt in years of living in Grand Forks.)

I had, frankly, forgot about the donation of the letters till a surprise e-mail came on July 26, 2017: “Dick: Greetings. I wanted to let you know that the family history materials you donated in 2009 and 2010 have been processed. The materials are now formally part of the Initiatives in French Midwest Heritage Collection. Your materials are Series 29 and the finding aid for the collection can be viewed here:

I want to let you know that I very much enjoyed processing this material. Your father seemed like a really great guy and I am honored to help document not only his history, but that of your entire family. Please look at the finding aid and let me know if you have any corrections. Thank you.”

The writer was Curt Hanson, Head for Special Collections at the University of North Dakota. Dad was an interesting guy. Here’s a column about him in the Grand Forks (ND) Herald May 31, 1987: Henry Bernard by C Haga001

There ensued further conversation ‘back and forth’, including a later comment from Curt: “A funny story regarding the processing of your Dad’s papers. I have, truly, never come across someone as Catholic as your father. The fact that I am Lutheran may account for this! Your father would frequently date his letters by noting something similar to “17th day of Lent 1987.” This caused me to have to look up and determine when the 17th day of Lent was in 1987. I had to do this frequently!

While I was processing your father’s material, I had to spread out on a table here in Special Collections. One day last month, the Department was visited by an Orthodox Jew who was researching the history of the synagogue in town. He was dressed all in black, with both a payot and a yarmulke. He sat at the table right next to where I was processing. I found it ironic that an incredibly Jewish man was working next to the papers of a very Catholic man. Maybe it is just me, but I found that to be interesting.”

*

The last family reunion, including many of us, September, 1996, at Our Lady of the Snows.

I close with a few more photos, mostly from Dec. 22, 1987. Happy Birthday to my daughter, Heather, who is 42 today; and an early b-day to Henry’s daughter Mary Ann, whose birthday is Nov. 10, and his son Frank on Nov. 17.

Perhaps you can take some time for remembering your own Dad (or Mom, or whomever) stories….

Henry, Dec. 22, 1987

Henry at 80. He was a ceaseless walker, until almost the end of his life.

St. Louis from Our Lady of the Snows, Dec. 1987. Now the trees have grown and the skyline is visible only in the fall after the leaves have shed.

St. Louis, Oct 23, 2017, from Cahokia Mound IL, a few miles northwest of Our Lady of the Snows.

“OldStuff”, Bingo, and the Travel Game.

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Monday, I took our 88 year old friend and neighbor, Don, to see the Fall leaves along the Mississippi River on the Wisconsin side of the river (across from Hastings and Red Wing, Prescott to Bay City WI). It was a fun afternoon, and we ended up at an antique shop in Bay City WI. It was a beautiful day.

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Bay City WI Oct 16, 2017

This was a nice shop, the proprietors a retired married couple. The man had a specialty: making bat houses. Yes, bat houses.

I’d never seen a bat house; if there is a “Parade of Bat Homes”, his would have been on the tour, a unique design, a work of art. Each house, he said, was a unique design, and there was a demand for his work.

When we were there, he also was completing a hand-carved wooden horse, which was a marvelous work of art.

I’m an antique, not an antiquer, but this was a most pleasant visit.

*

Saturday, my spouse convinced me to go to the semi-annual Bingo in the “Undercroft” at the Basilica of St. Mary. (Undercroft is a gussied up name for Church Basement.) There seemed to be about 100 of us. A good time was had by all.

How Bingo became a Catholic “tradition”, at least in the places I grew up, is a mystery to me. Wikipedia does have a history of Bingo, which dates Bingo back to 1929 in the U.S.

In the tiny towns of my growing up, Bingo was a social affair, using corn kernels for covering the numbers; with small prizes, like a can of soup, or sometimes a pie. It seemed a Catholic thing. No $100,000 prizes then!

I got to thinking about one of the curiosity things still saved from the junk on the ND farm: a set of Bingo cards from about 1936:

Bingo cards, etc., from a bingo game kit.

Here are the instructions for the game: Bingo 1936001

What intrigued me on Saturday was the large number of young adults in attendance, all enjoying themselves. Sitting next to me was a Dad and his teenage son, autistic and deaf from birth. Dad was signing the numbers for his son, and they were having a very good time.

BONUS: when I dug out the Bingo cards, I found in the same bag 83 playing cards which were an obvious part of a board game. Here are the variety of cards: Travel Game001 The set was incomplete. There was no board and no rules, just the somewhat bedraggled cards.

You can find most anything on the Internet. Here is a history of the game. Because the set includes a 30 miles card, it appears it would date from the 1937.

Trees, “junk”, and nostalgia…not all bad!

Have a great day.

Minneapolis Oct 15, 2017

#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:

(click to enlarge)

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.

“Respect the Board, Please”

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

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

Today, as I have for 16 years, I’ll go to my local Caribou Coffee, spend my usual 1 1/2 hours, sip a single cup of coffee, and come home to begin the rest of my day.

This coffee place is a busy, very civilized place. I imagine that it reflects this suburban community of over 60,000 quite well. The people I see every day, from my own neighborhood, to the post office, to other places, reflect civility and respect for each other. In point of fact, I travel around more than most in this metropolitan area of more than 3,000,000 people, and the usual experience is the same: civility and respect.

We are basically good people in this country of ours.

*

In the coffee shop there is a blackboard where people can and do write things. Occasionally I’d see someone draw something there, or post a few words. Personally, I’ve not lifted a piece of chalk….

A couple of Saturdays back, I came in to see a simple declaration on the Board, then the next day, a response below it:

(click to enlarge)

Public messages at coffee, June 24, 2017

The unknown authors were not known to me, nor perhaps to others. In fact, the sign seemed not to be noticed.

A bad cold side-tracked me from my favorite haunt for several days, and when I came back the sign had been erased, replaced with the simple phrase that titles this post, accompanied by a chalked smily face. Perhaps something had happened in my absence. There were no other comments on the now blank board, a frozen conversation as it were.

Yesterday, I watched an artistic employee draw a commercial for the featured coffee at the space. It isn’t the same.

*

We are, basically, a civil society with, most recently, a very mean and very visible edge to it, particularly in the very public and belligerent political discourse. The few “shouted” words on the blackboard dramatize the downside of our current situation in this country of ours.

Each one of us has a responsibility to change that conversation in the many simple ways available to do us. This is not a big deal. I notice a lot of genuine politeness among strangers recently, that I had not been seeing. That is a very good thing.

In and of itself, the three word complaint on the Board at Caribou was no big deal.

But it was not viewed as innocuous, and someone (not I) complained about it.

In a very small way it brought to the surface the rather ugly tenor of that public conversation we confront daily in the newspaper, the internet and the media itself: a single dimensional view.

We are better than what caused “Respect the Board, Please” to be written.

Have a good 4th of July.

POSTNOTE: The flag and flower appear in an earlier post which many have read: Here, scroll down to comment 24. The flag and flower are gone now…most recently I was back to the site this past Sunday. It is another place I will be watching.

Dick Bernard: A Matter of the Family of Humankind

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

Today is the day before the 4th of July. Three random thoughts on the matter of “family”.

(click to enlarge)

Ste Famille QC, June 2017

1. A few weeks ago, my brother John took a short trip into the Quebec of our French-Canadian ancestors (Dad was 100% French-Canadian). Within Ste. Famille, part of the beautiful Ile d’Orleans, John noted the evocative roadside sculpture shown above. (In the background is the north channel of the St. Lawrence River; just a ways to the right out of eyeshot is the famous Ste. Anne de Beaupre.)

This sculpture and John’s photo interpretation make one of those pictures “worth a thousand words”. I have my thoughts, you have yours.

2. During this same time period the results came for my DNA analysis through, in my case, 23andMe. I’ve done family history for many years, and just hadn’t gotten around to the ancestry piece.

I finally did it. I’m glad I did.

The results were a little surprising, but only a little.

My analysis has me as 99.9% European, primarily (37%) French and German but 22% British and Irish and 26% “broadly Northwestern European”*.

A look at the map (below), and a most cursory knowledge of immigration patterns over thousands of years fills in most blanks, I suppose, for most of us.

(click twice to enlarge more)

In my case, one of my primary root families, the first Collette (as we spell it) ancestor in our French-Canadian bunch came from Brittany more or less between Brest and St. Malo, which area is directly south of westernmost England, and the rest of the French roots were mostly along the western side of what is now France. The British Irish is hardly a surprise.

(A friend whose German ancestors came from the Ukraine, and was by definition a “German from Russia”, took the same DNA test, and told me that her analysis was that she was “mostly French”. It surprised her; it didn’t surprise me. She didn’t look German, and her family name didn’t sound German, but by geographic location (Alsace-Lorraine) her French ancestors had likely been part of the Germanic portion of Europe.)

I am very happy I invested in 23andMe. At the minimum, it is a gift to later generations who might wonder who they are. I recommend the process.

Questions? Feel free to ask. I’ll share what I know: dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom.

3. In the meantime, I continue in the process of really looking carefully at “stuff” from the German ancestors in ND. There continue to be interesting surprises, including this postcard which surfaced recently. (Shown are both sides of the card.)

(click twice to further enlarge the writing)

This “postal” has its own rich story, which must rely on individual interpretation of snippets of facts within. I only know a few of the facts, but here are some pieces I can share:

A. The card was to my grandmother Rosa Busch who, at the time the card was delivered was about 27 years old, had lived on the farm for six years, and had two children, ages 4 and 2. Berlin, her town, had come into being in 1904. She and her spouse came from extreme southwest Wisconsin, near Dubuque IA. It was a time when land was available and a boom of sorts was on, relying on railroad transportation.

B. Eagle Butte, according to Wikipedia, was incorporated in 1911, the same year of the postmark on the card.

C. It is unlikely that the correspondent had ever lived in or near Berlin ND. The towns were far apart in a day before easy access between places.

My guess, and that’s all it is: the two women probably knew each other when they were growing up in southwest Wisconsin. Eagle Butte is a place name I’d never heard of until I saw this card.

What’s your theory?

That’s three very short stories for July 3, 2017.

* – POSTNOTE: The analysis noted that I had more Neanderthal components than 89% of the sample. This, of course, gave an opening to my four younger siblings – payback time for things remembered from our youth! But, Neanderthals were survivors, and it can’t be all bad. Maybe when they were handing out the chromosomes I got most of the good stuff! Anyway, so goes the argument.

We are all part of the human family, and all residents of the same planet which has no boundaries. It would be nice if we remembered that, always.

Have a great 4th.

Remembering on Father’s Day: Grandpa Busch

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

All best wishes on Father’s Day. Today, as our Pastor acknowledged and affirmed at Mass, “Father” is a borderless term.

Today, a few words on my biological Grandpa, Ferdinand W. Busch, who I knew for 27 years of my life. No need for many details. Hopefully I’ll encourage some of your own memories of some Dad in your own life.

(click to enlarge, double click for added enlargement)

Near Dubuque IA Summer of 1941

Grandpa comes to mind because of the above photo, which I came across in a large collection of old farm photos which I have been working on identifying and classifying since my Uncle Vince died.

Grandpa was a farmer in North Dakota from 1905 till his death in 1967.

The photo was taken at a specific farm in southwest Wisconsin in June, 1941. Grandpa is one of the two men at right in the photo. The other is Uncle Vincent, then 16, who (very likely) quite proudly drove the near six hundred miles of this trip. Now, that 1940 Shell Oil road map for Iowa which was in the residue of the old farm desk makes sense to me.

Long trips were not the norm back then.

A short time ago I used the U.S. map in that map in another blog. It seems a good time to use it again.

part of 1940 Shell Oil Co. Road Map for Iowa.

Filling the radiator with water before leaving home.

But, back to the photo. My Grandma Rosa Busch is behind the sad looking lady in the white-fringed dress; next to her is her daughter, my Aunt Edithe. The adult women are all Grandma’s sisters…in her large family of origin there was only one brother, and apparently he was not on this trip.

There were 13 siblings in Grandma’s family of origin. Eleven were girls.

The first four kids for Grandma and Grandpa were girls, six of the nine total.

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I’ve done family history for years. This is not a festive occasion for a family gathering.

The lady in the white-fringed dress, the likely object of the visit, died about a year later, and, I think, she and all knew that she would be dying a difficult death.

She had been stricken with what they used to call Lou Gehrig’s Disease, what now is commonly referred to as ALS. In this photo she was 59, a year younger than Grandpa.

She had been Maid of Honor for her sister when Grandma and Grandpa got married in 1905. All the girls grew up in the house at the right in the photograph. The lady in the white-fringed dress still lived there.

Grandpa had grown up walking distance across farm fields from this same farm.

This farmyard was very familiar territory for everyone.

*

Life takes its course for all of us, as we know. Personally, I think it best that we don’t know the specific twists and turns ahead – better surprised than worry yourself to death!

All of the elders in the photo are long gone; probably most of those little kids in the picture as well.

We all have our stories. Grandma and Grandpa had theirs. Vince and Edithe (neither ever married) had theirs too, from numerous encounters with we youngsters from their siblings families.

Here’s to you own memories, most of whom are, I hope, good!

Happy Fathers Day – EVERYONE!

COMMENTS
from Annelee: Dick, thanks for the memories of Father’s Day and times past.

I never knew either of my grandpas as you know, both died before I was born.

But I do remember my papa. Wish now that just once I could have said how much I loved him, and could have thanked him for guiding me along to the roads of my youth. The war took him and many young fathers before they could watch their children as they remembered and used what their papas had told them.

It was Papa who taught me about not hating anyone. When I told him that I had heard in school that we should hate the Jews, he said, “Anneliese, I will NOT hear the word hate in our home. And don’t you ever hate anyone. You may not like what he/she does, but don’t ever hate because hate makes you a lesser person than the person you hate. “

About lying he said. “Don’t lie, tell the truth: You see, when you tell one lie, you will always have to tell another lie. Soon the lies own you and only the truth will set you free.”

About making mistakes: “Anneliese, I accept it when you make a mistake, we all do, believe me I have made mistakes too. What is important, is the fact that you must learn from your mistakes and not repeat them..
Otherwise you will have problems. No one will believe or trust you again.”

“Respect is not something you are born with. You must be kind and respect others who may not live like we do. But if they work hard and try to do right, they are good people and they will
in return, respect you.”

“When I questioned why I should have to go to church every Sunday to make it into heaven. Papa said, “Faith in God is not black and white. You may not understand it, but you should believe.”

As I entered school and advanced, PAPA always reminded me, “Anneliese, learn all you can and then some more.”

When I asked him “Why should I learn more than my friends? Why I should travel to Waldsassen on Saturdays to take typing and shorthand?” He patiently explained. “Anneliese, I want to give you a better change than I had. You see, times are getting hard. If you will have to work, and you have better knowledge than someone who applies for the same job, most likely, you will be hired. So you will do as I say, and that is that.”

Because of my knowledge of typing which was Not offered in school, I was hired as a telegraph operator instead of having to join the German Arbeitsdienst.

Oh, how did I get on that, Annelee

from Jermitt: Wonderful Blog. I enjoyed your story and pictures, and Annelee’s message as well.

Marking Times – Some thoughts on Memorial Day 2017

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Have a good Memorial Day. This morning (beginning 9:30 a.m.) I’ll be at the Vietnam Memorial on the MN State Capitol grounds for the annual Vets for Peace Memorial Day observance. Stop over, if you’re in the area. (See end of this post.)

This Memorial Day musing began with an unplanned detour on a north suburban Minneapolis highway on May 18, and concluded with a powerful musical May 26, about a post WWI farm family and community in northern Minnesota.

I hope my musing might bring back to you some memories from days past. All families have legacies which we inherit, and pass on…. (My own family list is at the end of this post.)

(click to enlarge the map, click a second time for greater enlargement, explanation below)

part of 1940 Shell Oil Co. Road Map for Iowa.

*

Some days ago I drove to an annual dinner in my old stomping grounds of Anoka County MN. Road work required a detour, and I found myself on Minnesota Highway 65 in Blaine MN, a route to/from work, which I had traveled daily for three years, 1966-69. The approximate six miles, from about 80th Ave NE in Spring Lake Park (1st Ave is downtown Minneapolis) to what used to be called 125th (Main Street east from Anoka) came on this day to be a reflective trip for me – a time to reminisce.

Hwy 65 at 109th in Blaine MN May 18, 2017

These days, the route is strictly suburban, and middle class; home to the world known National Sports Center. Back then, near 50 years ago, Blaine was just developing. Small tract starter homes were blooming west of the highway, ending about at 109th as I recall. To the east and north were essentially nothing but sod farms, and occasional small businesses and rural homes of the day.

I crossed Clover Leaf Parkway at about 94th Avenue NE, and remembered that back then I saw the large barn of Clover Leaf Farms, then a well known company name in the Twin Cities. The farm is long disappeared, but there remains an interesting history of the place here.

This is how history comes back to mind, unintended. The past is never that far gone.

As I drove up that stretch of “65” (as locals would say), I was listening to Vol IV of a CD collection from the 100th anniversary collection of the Minnesota Orchestra: it had been an impulse purchase at a garage sale a short time earlier. Playing as I drove that stretch was Mozart’s Piano Concerto #25 in C Major – a personal favorite. I stopped at Roosevelt Middle School, the place where I had been a teacher from 1965-72, and looked to see when the selection I was listening to had been recorded. Nov. 15, 1957, it said. I remembered Nov. 1957 in my life: we were at my Grandparents farm in Henrietta Township ND, probably at Thanksgiving, and in the evening we gathered on the lawn to watch Sputnik blink its way across the night sky – in those years, the newspaper printed the track of that first satellite in their areas.

I was a senior in high school.

in 1957, “CDs” were many years from becoming part of our vocabulary; now that same CD is rapidly becoming just another fossil. The computer on which I compose this blog, doesn’t even have a CD player as part of standard equipment.

Bernards, Summer 1956, at Anoka MN roadside park

Ah, Sputnik…it gave fuel to the space race and a real emphasis on science in American schools, and all of the other assorted things, good and bad, that went with the Cold War. Ah, CD’s….

Back home a few days later I was looking through a bag with some remaining items from my Grandfather Ferd and then Uncle Vincent’s desk at that farm, and came across several old road maps I had found there after Uncle Vince died. One of them, a well worn one of Iowa roads and towns in 1940, included the map of the U.S. which leads this post. This was, of course, printed long before the Interstate Highway System, which was designed as America’s autobahns, first and foremost a military defense highway system. I first drove on a section of Interstate in 1958, between Jamestown and Valley City ND. “A million dollars a mile”, they said of its cost, then.

My trip down memory lane, at least this trip, culminated last Friday night when we went to see “Sweet Land, the Musical” at Minnesota History Theatre. We were part of a packed house. Its last show was yesterday, though my guess is that it will be back. But you can still access the movie of the same name, or read Will Weaver’s short story which inspired both film and musical, “A Gravestone Made of Wheat”

Short synopsis: Sweet Land is of the triumphs, trials and tribulations of small farmers in Minnesota, from post WWI when a German war-bride came to marry a Norwegian farmer, when anti-German prejudice was still very high. Years later, the intended husband helped save a neighbors farm, and the community in turn helped them save his own farm. It is story of humanity, about greed and about generosity and the tension between invaluable legacy and valuable land. A further history summary of the era, from the program for Sweet Land, is here: Sweet Land001

The show begins with a for sale sign on the property, whose owners have died; it ends with the land not for sale…. I thought of my own families 110 year old farm which recently has begun a new life in North Dakota.

I thought of all of the inhabitants of that farm, now all but one deceased, and those of the neighbor farm whose owners were brother and sister of my own grandparents.

*

For this Memorial Day, I remember all of those people who lived for all or part of their lives on that land in rural LaMoure County North Dakota. May we be good examples of their raising us up.

The children of Ferdinand and Rosa (Berning) Busch: (born 1907-27) Lucina, Esther, Verena, Mary, George (Lt., U.S. Navy, Pacific Theatre 1943-45), Florence, Edithe, Vincent, Arthur (U.S. Army 1945-46).

The children of August and Christina (Busch) Berning: (born ca 1907-28) Irwin, Irene, Lillian, Cecilia, Rose, August (Captain U.S. Marines, Pacific Theatre WWII), Hyacinth, Ruth, Ruby, Rufina, Anita, Melvin (U.S. Army, Korea).

These families felt the cost of war. The husband of one was killed over Italy near the end of WWII; the son of another committed suicide on return from Korean war – he couldn’t leave the war behind; the brother-in-law of another, my uncle Frank, went down with the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor; a neighbor of the family, Francis Long, was killed in action, hardly a year into active duty in WWII. Everyone is affected by war. This day the tendency is to honor the fallen, who we call “heroes”. But among us are survivors, suffering in assorted ways from the effects of war. War is insane. We need to work very hard to rid ourselves of the impulse of war as a solution to problems.

And there are other true heroes who have committed their lives to finding some ways to seek peace.

Last night we watched the always moving Memorial Day program on PBS. At the end of the program Vanessa Williams and choral group sang the Hymn which captioned my 1982 Christmas greeting. Below is the cover, and here is the text of that card: Vietnam Mem DC 1982001

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Listen: “Let There Be Peace on Earth, and Let It Begin With Me.”

COMMENTS:
from Donna: Thanks for your inspirational words once again. This Memorial Day I am thinking of my relatives in Germany where my daughter and sister are currently visiting. Rich and I had the opportunity to visit them in southern Germany last October and it is amazing how welcoming they all were. While there I could not imagine leaving the beauty of southern Germany and arriving in North Dakota. It must have been a rude awakening that first winter. I expressed this to one of my cousins from Germany and he said “well if they hadn’t left they would most certainly been part of World War I & II”. Apparently during WWII my relatives would draw around their feet and then send their foot outlines to my dad and he would send back shoes. Growing up in an the all German community of St. Mary’s I am sure that all of our neighbors and friends had family back in Germany that were caught up in the two wars.

from Annelee (who grew up in Nazi Germany): Dick,Thanks for the Peace and Justice memorial Day 2017. I learned a great deal about the past as you took us down along the highways of memory lane. You brought alive the toils and struggles of your ancestral families on the farms. Then they were asked to give their sons. They were called to serve and they gave their lives.

Times have changed, some for better, some for much worse. Young men throughout the world since then have died and are still dying to serve a cause?

I remember my papa: I don’t know where he read, heard or came to the conclusion on his own.

He always said when our young men were called during WWII, and he learned that that many he knew had died — he shook his head and said
“WAR IS INSANITY AND INHUMANITY OF MEN TO HIS FELLOW MEN— I MAY NOT REMEMBER IT EXACTLY.

WAR IS STILL GOING ON, AND IT WILL CONTINUE AS LONG AS WAR AND ITS COST ARE GLORIFIED AND WE NEGLECT LIFE AND ALL ITS BLESSING PEACE COULD BRING.

from Christina: What great thoughts for this Memorial Day!

Veterans for Peace at Vietnam Memorial on MN State Capitol Grounds, May 29, 2017.

It was a chilly, blustery day, but there was a large group who gathered. Below are a few photos from the annual gathering.

May 29, Veterans for Peace gathering.

Ceremonial Bell Ringing remembering those who have died.

May 29, 2017

Anne Dunn: “Keeper of the Hair Bowl”, from her book, “Fire in the Village”

Monday, May 8th, 2017

COMMENTS at end of post.

Note: Anne has honored this space with her work on a number of occasions. With her permission, I present this story from her wonderful book Fire in the Village. Ordering information at end of this post. Regarding the photo, see note at the end of this post.

(click to enlarge)

Grandmother died suddenly, as so many had during those difficult days. For that reason, her eldest granddaughter began to clean th old woman’s small tar-papered house by the big lake.

If Grandmother had sold the valuable lakeshore property she would have been a rich woman. But she’d held on to the land so she could leave something for her surviving children. Eventually, however, the land had been divided and bit by bit, it would be lost.

But today her orphaned granddaughter, Rose, would discover an old mystery carefully wrapped and packed in the bottom of a wooden barrel. The barrel was full of rug rags, colorful yarn and remnants of fabrics the old woman had been saving for quilts.

So it was that Rose found herself holding an exquisite bowl. After turning it around several times to admire the shape and design, she looked inside. She was startled to find a long braid of human hair coiled in the bottom of the bowl. It was an old braid from an old person. The braid had been tied at the ends with faded red ribbons. Rose wondered whose hair it was and what her obligations were now that she had become the keeper of the hair bowl.

Thoughtfully she put the bowl and its mysterious contents into a box of things she would keep for herself. Then she went on sorting the rags and folding the fabrics in neat stacks for the giveaway, which would celebrate Grandmother’s life one year from the day of her death.

After the four-day wake and burial, Rose turned her attention to the hair bowl. She fully recognized her responsibility to the hair and decided to seek counsel on the matter.

On a bright spring morning Rose made a bundle of several carefully chosen items from Grandmother’s possessions, put the hair bowl in a bag and went to visit Maggie Sore Eyes.

After a warm greeting followed by three cups of maple-sweetened wild mint tea and four fig cookies, Rose placed the bundle on the table between them. Maggied opened the bundle and found a tin of tobacco, a pair of blanket slippers, an embroidered apron and three skeins of yarn. She smiled at Rose and thanked her.

When the gift had been accepted, Rose showed her the hair bowl. The elder woman lifted the braid and held it in her hands for several long minutes. Then she laid the hair on the table, opened a nearby chest and removed several items.

She placed a large abalone shell, a bundle of sage and a sweetgrass braid on the table. Prayerfully she prepared and lit a cleansing smudge. The women sat together in silence as the shadows of the tall trees crept across the yard.

At last Maggie spoke. “We will be visited in our dreams. After you dream, you must come to me with the hair bowl. I will be waiting for my dream, too. When we receive instructions we will know what we must do.”

Rose was greatly relieved as she walked home late that afternoon.

That night she had her dream. An elder woman, whom she’d never seen before, came to her and said she wanted to give her a gift. Reaching up, the elder cut off one of her braids with a stone blade and held it out to Rose.

When she woke up she dressed quickly and hurried to Maggie’s small house. After sipping a cup of hot coffee, Rose told her dream. The elder woman listened the told her dream to Rose.

Maggie lit the smudge. Together the women prayed for guidance and understanding. Afterwards, they discussed what must be done. They decided to create a ceremony of compassion, burn the hair in a nearby balsam grove and wait.

It took several days to gather everything they needed for the ceremony. When all was ready they went to the grove, performed the ceremony and waited. At last, another woman joined them. Rose recognized her as the woman in her dream. Her braid had been restored and she was pleased. Now she could continue her journey.

For many years Rose kept her own hair in the bowl. She burned the hair under a full moon several times a year.

Eventually she became the mother of several children and her eldest son was married. Tanya, the young bride, was interested in the ceremonies of women.

But before the newlyweds could celebrate their first anniversary, Tanya became ill and Rose prepared a cleansing ceremony for her healing. She also decided to give Tanya the hair bowl. So she presented the gift with a braid of sweet grass inside. Tanya looked into the bowl for a long time. Then she said, ‘I must tell you my dream.”

The young woman spoke softly: “An elder woman came to me. She said she wanted to give me a gift. Then reaching up, she cut off one of her braids and held it out to me.”

Rose was overcome with emotion and turned toward the window to hide her feelings. Then it was that she saw four women standing in the yard. They were her mother, her grandmother, Mattie and the elder woman she had seen in the balsam grove so many years before. The women smiled at Rose, then looked beyond her at Tanya who smiled back. Slowly the four women faded into another dimension and were gone.

Tanya reached across the table to hold Rose’s hand. They sat together in the gathering darkness and thanked the visitors for coming.

Sharing the same dream would enrich their long relationship. The women would enjoy several good years together and many times they would be asked to make ceremonies for the healing, cleansing and guidance of other women and their children.

POST NOTE FROM DICK BERNARD: Anne, longtime friend, sent Fire in the Village to me as a gift a few months ago. Its contents are 75 stories similar to the above.

“Keeper of the Hair Bowl”, at page 195-97, spoke to me immediately. Anne won’t know, till she reads this post, that in the possessions of my last surviving elder from my mothers side, I found in a trunk at the former family farm in North Dakota the container pictured at the beginning of this story. It was a possession that spoke to me, profoundly, but what does one do with a can full of old hair? It has been safely stored in our garage for the past two years.

I took the photograph, without embellishment, on May 8, 2017. For the first time I disturbed the contents to see what was within.

There are no labels with the various cuttings of human hair.

Almost without any question, they were collected by my grandmother, as her children were born and grew up on the North Dakota prairie. From 1907-27, nine children were born in that farmhouse, and they all grew up there as well. The first five children were girls, then a boy, then two more girls, then two boys. Among them they had 28 children, one of whom was me.

Of course, I have read the story, and it brought tears to my eyes as I read it now.

For any reader who wishes, how would you advise about the future of this can full of hair?

It is one of those treasures without price or money value. Just some old hair…but much, much more than that.

Anne, need I mention my grandmothers name: Rose Busch.

And one of her granddaughters: Tonya….

(click to enlarge. There are two photos).

COMMENTS
from Kathy:
My thoughts about the hair-
Many of us who sew or make quilts, save old scraps in hopes of piecing these remnants together someday. Often these scraps get relegated to the back of a closet or put away into boxes or plastic tubs and are soon forgotten in life’s whirlwind.

The hair scraps made me think of the antique hair wreaths I’ve seen in museums. My friend also has a tatted hair wreath displayed in an ornate frame, passed down in her family from the 1800s – bits of hair from family members…a sort of tapestry of family dna samples.

I suspect that’s why your bucket of hair was being saved – a treasure.

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.

Shack II – Good Friday at the Basilica of Saint Mary. “God” Among Us.

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

SEE COMMENTS AT THE END OF THIS POST.

In my tradition, today is Easter. Whatever your tradition, this day, all best for a happy one!

(click to enlarge)

At the Stone War Memorial at the Minnesota State Capitol Mall, March 28, 2017. Each Minnesota County contributed a boulder on which part of a single war time letter was inscribed. This one is from Todd County Minnesota.

March 17 at this space, I posted about the film and movie, The Shack. You can revisit it here. At the beginning of that post, I very deliberately mentioned Columbine High School which became memorable April 20, 1999. At the end of that post I have now added my blogpost about The Shack written at the time I read the book in 2009, plus my Amazon review at that time. At the end of this post – postnote 1, below – is my unedited first rough draft thoughts about todays post, saved on March 19.

*

It’s been almost eight years since some friend told me about the book, “The Shack”, and now well over a month since I saw the film version in Littleton CO (see postnote 2 below). I have had some very interesting conversations about the book in the past month (including with myself!), and my antennae have been up to observe, as I say in the headline, “God Among Us”.

These are two repetitive thoughts this day:
1) Ours is an individualistic society, with a tendency to create God in our own image and to justify our own action. This is a real dilemma for organized hierarchical religion of all varieties, long accustomed to controlling the flock through one or another view of what God is, or is not.
2) We have great trouble dealing with forgiveness…of others, and of ourselves. The 1916 quotation on the boulder which leads this column merits long and very serious reflection and conversation.

*

Tenebrae on Good Friday evening at Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis – two days ago – seems to bring it all together for me at this moment in my history.

We were in a jam-packed church Friday night.

The stage for Good Friday had been set for me, personally, through a brief back-and-forth between two of us – long-time good friends – earlier in the day.

I’m a regular at Catholic Mass; my friend used to be. He has his reasons.

Some snips:
J: “Happy Easter from the Apostate. I haven’t been to a Good Friday service in ages… do they still pray for the conversion of the Jews?”
D: “Maybe we’ll go tonight and I’ll let you know…we visited Auschwitz, etc., in the spring of 2000, a mixed group of Jews and Catholics from Basilica and Temple Israel. About that time, the big story was the shakeup in the famous Oberammergau (sp?) Passion Play, where the big deal was the guilt of the Jews… But, I think, there is a relatively positive equilibrium at the moment….

Seated, I leafed through the program booklet, and in the section, “Jesus Breathed His Last” on p.6, was this (click to enlarge):

Tenebrae Program booklet at Basilica of St. Mary Minneapolis MN Good Friday April 14, 2017

The powerful service continued, and at page 12 in the booklet, came a prelude: “Remarks (Please be seated.)”

Presider and Basilica Pastor John Bauer began brief remarks by talking about the tragic history of Jewish – Catholic relations, and the strong impetus to change those relationships particularly in the time beginning with Pope John Paul II.

Then he introduced the speaker, Rabbi Sim Glaser of neighboring Temple Israel in Minneapolis.

I have heard Rabbi Glaser before, and we did go to Auschwitz with Temple Israel members in 2000, so what I and the others were about to hear was not a surprise.

I would summarize Rabbi Glaser’s very powerful remarks in this way:
1) There are three major Abrahamic religions: Jews, Christians, Moslems.
2) Jerusalem is important to all these religions.
3) We all live together in this world, and we need to relearn how to communicate with each other, rather than continue isolation and division.

I usher at Basilica often. I am sure that many of these people who Rabbi Glaser was addressing from this Catholic pulpit had not been in Church for a long while. Some may have been surprised.

The Rabbi had been introduced to much applause; when he returned to the pew, seated among all of us, the applause was even greater and sustained. This at a service where the final words in the program are “All depart in complete silence“.

I thought of my earlier conversation with my apostate friend, and about “The Shack”, whose focus (at least to me) is the need for forgiveness, of others, of ourselves.

A few hours earlier, my friend and I had closed our e-mail conversation.
J: “Heck, I go [to Catholic Mass”] fairly often… at least 2 Sundays per month at least, at St Joan… and I don’t even consider myself either Christian or Catholic….
D: “Actually, I like going to church. It’s a good calming place for me. We’re a large diverse place so there’s all sorts of folks who wander in, including me, I guess.
J: “Yep, calming… agree!

The Shack? A novel followed by a movie. By traditional standards, perhaps, a purveyor of bad theology.

But what I witnessed at Basilica of St. Mary on Good Friday 2017 was the very essence of what I had read about and saw in “The Shack”. It may not seem like it, but people are beginning to get it. Let’s leave it at that.

Happy Easter.

*

POSTNOTE 1 – the early draft of this post, March 19, 2017: This post begins with two pages from an 1896 8th grade Geography book, used by my grandmother when she was in 8th grade – the final year she went to school at a Catholic school in Wisconsin, not far from Dubuque IA. It speaks for itself. (Click a second time and you can enlarge both).

The above was 131 years ago, in the United States of America, in a textbook sanctioned by my Church, the Catholic Church. It was the basis of instruction for 8th graders in a Catholic School.

We have changed, and I think very much for the better. But where we started was dismal, and for some what the standard should still be.

POSTNOTE 2: We saw the film, the Shack, literally across the street from “Cross Hill“, overlooking Columbine High School in Littleton CO. By sheer coincidence, I was visiting my family in Littleton five days after the massacre on April 20,1999. We joined the throng of people who slowly moved up that “hill” of construction remnants, to see the crosses that had been planted there by a man from another state for each of the victims killed that terrible day. It was incredibly moving.

It is long ago, now, so I don’t remember precisely, but in my memory, the day we reached the top, two of the crosses in that line had been cut down – the ones erected for the killers, the two students who had killed the others and then themselves. They, too, had perished, but denied standing as having also been killed.

In effect, they had been denied the right to be grieved – two more lost lives on an awful day.

My son and I walked up that same hill little over a month ago, and there is now a permanent monument – presently being reconstructed – remembering those killed 18 years ago.

But the killers seem to appear nowhere in todays monument, at least nowhere I can see. I can see the reasoning. At the same time, how long will it be till we can forgive, to echo that letter in the photo above, written in 1916, about the Civil War 60 years earlier.

In my opinion, unwillingness to forgive others, and ourselves, is the blind-side of forgiveness that affects every one of us. No one need qualify for forgiveness. To me, that seems to be the essence of this day, Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017.

Have a great day, and all which follow.

COMMENTS:
from Flo: Amen.

from Jermitt: Wonderful testimonial, wonderful historical story of your Grandmothers education and great lesson on forgiveness for everyone.

from Larry(wordchipper@gmail.com, with permission): Found your pieces on “The Shack” and Good Friday in your Roman Catholic Church to be thought stimulating. Will watch for the book and/or movie. I’ve bypassed the book several times but your article prompts me to maybe read it or at least look at the movie.

Regarding the Roman Church, I have my problems with this body and not just because I’m a lifelong ELCA Lutheran. I have many dear friends – like you – who are Catholics and when my wife and I have visited places like Mexico and Hawaii, we’ve attended mass at the most prominent landmark in any village, the Catholic cathedral. I find your church’s emphasis on string instruments and piano refreshing. I’m with Garrison Keillor on protesting against overly-enthusiastic organists. We have them in our church and, apparently, they’re also playing loudly in Mr. Keillor’s.

But my concerns today with your church have to do with their heavy-handed role in American politics. Although it raises my blood pressure, I listened to Catholic media, both radio and television, featuring endless praise for Donald Trump because of his stand on “abortion,” although his stance on anything, including abortion, is a bit suspect. The commentators on Catholic media sounded like they took their training from Fox News. Horribly one-sided. I called into one national program and reminded two of the on-air expounders, who were praising Republicans and blasting Democrats, that it was Democrats who put across the Civil Rights Act, Medicare and Medicaid, and fought for working class people, many of whom belonged to unions and were good Catholics. Also, because I’m “pro-choice,” does not mean I’m against life. I believe Republicans and Catholics ought to care as much about babies who are born – through health care, education, and so forth – as they are about getting between a doctor, his or her patient, and the patient’s God, or no religious belief. Our Republican legislators in North Dakota, many of whom are Catholics, cut health care programs for women and others but pass unconstitutional measures that waste tax dollars on wild goose chases that do nothing but please the Roman hierarchy.

Noting the personal morality record of Mr. Trump, multiple divorces, not paying subcontractors, and proposing to cut health care while investing more money with the Daddy Warbucks of the country, I just don’t get it why the Roman Church in the USA is so in love with Trump and expressed such hatred for Mrs. Clinton. They preached their right-wing philosophy so strongly during the Presidential campaign that, I believe, the should have lost their 501-3c tax exemption.

Response from Dick: Larry, it’s a rather daunting task to take on your response. I just googled the words “Catholic census” and the first link was a reputable one, Pew Research, that says there are over a billion Catholics worldwide, half of the Christians. The whole global population is over 7 billion. I usually hear that Minnesota has about 20% Catholics; the U.S. about 25%. That’s lots of folks, and I know from long experience that they aren’t all alike.

I was in college in the transition from the old to the new Church – 1958-61. Generalizing is dangeous, granted, but I think I can fairly say but “authority” took a hit in the post-Vatican II era. This was great for many Catholics; “the pits” for many as well. In one sense or other this battle is joined every day in one way or another.

Personally, I’m on what I’d call the social justice side of the debate within the church. I’m sure the authoritarian side would also say they’re for social justice, but they’re more into control, often played in the assorted debates that you cast concern about in your state (which is a state very familiar to me.)

I choose to stay within the Church. I don’t see it doing much good to drop out and start over in some other denomination. Those I would call “authoritarians” are not comfortable with the current Church, which is fine by me. The Catholic Church, like many Christian churches (and others, doubtless) has a very long history of authoritarianism, going all the way back to Constantine’s embrace of Christianity as essentially the state Church of the Roman Empire about 300 A.D. In general, where the ruler went, the people went. Some places, everybody was Lutheran; other places, something else. in the olden days sense, we’re sort of in the wild west.

I think I’ll leave it at that, except to emphasize once again Rabbi Glaser’s advice at my Catholic Church on Friday: we need to look at and talk with each other. That is risky, but the only way to break the current and very unhealthy stalemate. Just my opinion.

A LETTER: On April 17, I sent a letter to the Denver Post. I almost immediately got a call back that they were interested, and I expected it would be printed. Thus far (Apr 26) I haven’t seen it printed. So here it is:
Last month we were in Denver to visit family. I asked to visit “Cross Hill”, the place above Columbine dating back to just after April 20, 1999. March 11, 2017, we walked to the memorial.

April 25, 1999, I was in Littleton to visit the same family, who then and still, lives little more than a mile from Columbine. In a steady rain, four of us patiently trod up to those new crosses.

At the top were two fewer crosses than originally set in the ground. Those two were those raised for the killers, also students, who also perished that day. Those crosses were cut down.

I know the reasons those crosses came down.

Today I speak to the need, in my opinion, to recognize once again these two students whose personal demons led to the heinous results. They were victims too.

Forgiveness is difficult. Consider it, seriously.