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#909 – Dick Bernard: Garrison Keillor and Prairie Home Companion at 40.

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

UPDATE July 5, here.

There are big doings at Macalester College in St. Paul this weekend, celebrating 40 years of Garrison Keillor and Prairie Home Companion (PHC).

The St. Paul Pioneer Press (last Sunday) and Minneapolis Star Tribune (yesterday) had long articles about the anniversary. You can read them here and here.

Thanks to my friends, Laura and Don, I learned about and first attended Prairie Home Companion in the fall of 1977, probably at Macalester, though I’m not positive of that. That program and all others had a standard formula in those early years. Those were the years when you could walk in off the street and find plenty of good enough seating. Nothing fancy, but plenty good enough.

A year or two later our teacher’s association in Anoka-Hennepin School District hired the Powder Milk Biscuit Band, more or less the house band for PHC, to do a dance in Anoka. I wish I had photos.

It was a very fun evening.

In late April, 1979, I had gone to St. John’s University for the then-annual Swayed Pines Festival (ditto, thanks to Laura and Don). By then I knew what Garrison Keillor looked like, and a la Paparazzi, I got a candid photo of this long, lanky, bearded fellow walking quickly across the street.

(click to enlarge)

Garrison Keillor, late April, 1979, at St. John's University, Collegeville MN, Swayed Pines Festival.

Garrison Keillor, late April, 1979, at St. John’s University, Collegeville MN, Swayed Pines Festival.

There was nothing particularly impressive about this tall drink of water with too short pants. But Garrison Keillor was in the process of making his mark, and I’m proud I could witness some parts of it, going quite frequently to PHC until national exposure made it difficult to impossible to get tickets.

My Keillor file has lot of paper in it, including two wonderful articles he wrote about hockey when he edited the literary magazine at the University of Minnesota in 1965. Some of his books are in my shelves. For me, Garrison Keillor has been an easy guy to like. I’m glad I “met” him through his show.

In April, 1986, I was in the audience when country music legend Chet Atkins was guest at the then dowdy World Theatre. It was a thrilling evening. I saw two or three of the annual Joke shows, and on one memorable occasion the assigned seat was on the stage, behind the performing cast.

Yes, we knew the formula, but every appearance was a surprise. Sometime in 1982-83, I heard that Garrison would be at the University of Minnesota Law School. He had all of us mesmerized with his story about some otherwise mundane event in the lives of the people of Lake Wobegon. The memories go on and on….

I think the events at Macalester this weekend will be awesome and memorable. Hopefully I can witness some of the free ones; PHC itself, always Saturday night, has long been sold out. Listen in on your local National Public Radio station. Wander over yourself, if you happen to be in the area, but take the bus – there are free tickets (see link at beginning of this post.)

I note that I did another column about Garrison in 2011. Here it is.

Here’s my most recent photo of Garrison Keillor.

Garrison Keillor and friends, July 16, 2012, Lake Elmo MN

Garrison Keillor and friends, July 16, 2012, Lake Elmo MN

COMMENTS: (see also response to this post)
from Norm N:
Thanks for the Garrison piece. One of my favorites that I just had to search out and have the words was
his Class Warfare song.

from Mary M: I recently met a lawyer from New Zealand who was a real fan of Garrison Keillor and Prairie Home companion – always impressed with these small world scenarios.

from Laura S: Oh, thank you, Dick! Such fond memories…and I still listen to Garrison’s radio program!

Some photos after three hours at the Macalester Festival, Friday morning/early afternoon at Macalester. These were three of the nine available sessions I could have attended.

(click to enlarge photos)

from left: Fred Newman (sound effects man); Tim Russell. voice impersonator; Sue Scott, and Garrison Keillor did a full hour show featuring characters from Prairie Home Companion.

from left: Fred Newman (sound effects man); Tim Russell. voice impersonator; Sue Scott, and Garrison Keillor did a full hour show featuring characters from Prairie Home Companion.

in background, at right, Dan Chouinard expertly provided the stage music (or whatever the background music for performers is called!)

in background, at right, Dan Chouinard expertly provided the stage music (or whatever the background music for performers is called!)

Young girl was one of many youngsters entranced by Fred Newmans ability to make odd sounds, and make them sound real.

Young girl was one of many youngsters entranced by Fred Newmans ability to make odd sounds, and make them sound real.

Dan Chouinard and Prudence Johnson gave a great program.  Dan was also the background music for Keillor and the Royal Academy of Radio Actors (above).

Dan Chouinard and Prudence Johnson gave a great program. Dan was also the background music for Keillor and the Royal Academy of Radio Actors (above).

Maria Jette and Dan Chouinard, like the others, gave a fabulous program

Maria Jette and Dan Chouinard, like the others, gave a fabulous program

#907 – Dick Bernard: The Tool Shed

Monday, June 30th, 2014

My friend, Bruce, and I were in one of our occasional jousting modes earlier today. I had sent along a post including a commentary by a self-described member of the .01%ers – the super wealthy. Basically, Mr. Hanauer, reminded his fellow super-wealthy folks that starving the middle class was not productive for the wealthy. The middle class was, after all, the market for the goods that drive prosperity.

There were a couple of parries and thrusts back and forth (see end of this post for the entire thread) and in his last comment Bruce said this about our future when we run out of the resources we have squandered: “I think community will be more important than it is today. Neighborhood resources will be important to sustain lifestyle.”

It happened that just 20 minutes before the above comment I had received an e-mail with the following subject line, and brief contents: “Project Update #6: Aurora/St. Anthony Peace Garden Shed + Tool Lending Library by Garden Volunteer, Kristine Miller. Project Update #6: We Made It!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you beautiful people!!!! More information soon! With love from your friends at the Aurora/St. Anthony Peace Garden”.

Kristine, who I had met just days ago, and community activist Melvin Giles, who I’ve known for years, and others, unnamed, had pulled off a major accomplishment, raising some funds for a simple tool shed in their neighborhood. The story is in a less than three minute video accompanying the final report of the fundraising success.

(Melvin is the “star” of the video. Listen for his “strawberry” story.) This isn’t a million dollar deal, but for the folks around 855 Aurora Avenue (just a block or two south of University Avenue, and a few blocks west of the Minnesota State Capitol) it surely is the very essence of “community” as described by Bruce. It is, also, a “kickstart” to encourage folks to make small and large differences in their circles.

The video shows the shed being replaced; I was privileged to see the new shed, still under construction, a few weeks ago. The photo is below. The shed was built as a project by students from the University of Minnesota School of Landscape Architecture.

(click to enlarge)

The still-under-construction tool shed at 855 Aurora Avenue St. Paul.  June 11, 2014

The still-under-construction tool shed at 855 Aurora Avenue St. Paul. June 11, 2014

Ehtasham Anwar interviews Melvin Giles in the garden June 11, 2014.  Filmed by Suhail Ahmed.  Ehtasham and Suhail, both from Pakistan, were at the end of their year in the U.S. as Humphrey/Fulbright Fellows at the Human Rights Center of the University of Minnesota Law School.  Interviewing Melvin was part of Ehtasham's year-end archival project about peace-making in the Twin Cities.

Ehtasham Anwar interviews Melvin Giles in the garden June 11, 2014. Filmed by Suhail Ahmed. Ehtasham and Suhail, both from Pakistan, were at the end of their year in the U.S. as Humphrey/Fulbright Fellows at the Human Rights Center of the University of Minnesota Law School. Interviewing Melvin was part of Ehtasham’s year-end archival project about peace-making in the Twin Cities.

It is the small stories such as this one which will save our planet.

As Margaret Mead so notably said many years ago: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.

FOR ANYONE INTERESTED, here’s Bruce and my on-line conversation “thread” which helped lead to this post. I think such ad hoc discussions (arguments) on-line can be useful to both parties, if they begin and end with respect, as I think Bruce and I have for each other, over a number of years now.

Dick, June 30, 5:29 a.m. to my usual list: If nothing else, read up on Nick Hanauer, at about the middle, about the Middle Class: [link here]

Here’s a brief bio about Hanauer.

In the end analysis, its people like ourselves, not the politicians, who’ll have to change the direction. The nature of politics is to read the wind of public opinion and get and stay elected. It’s a nasty reality in our electoral system. You are useless if you can’t stay elected, and being a representative requires you to follow more than lead.

Nobody, especially idealists, likes to hear that.

So…what do you plan to do about it, these remaining few months before the 2014 election? It’s about four months away.

Bruce, 9:27 a.m.: “…thriving middle class is the source of American prosperity, not a consequence of it.”

What has American prosperity done to the environment? That question looms large in the presents of human influenced climate change & global warming. Our economy is predicated on infinite expansion, while our planets resources are finite. Because of dwindling quality of natural resources( the high quality stuff that built the middle class is gone), the economic expansion that the rebuilding of the middle class depends on becomes far more expensive than what it took to create the golden years of the middle class from 1946 to 1980. And, the degradation to the environment becomes more severe.

I think this model that the Sunset guy [the blog referred to above] is trying to get back to is a broken romantic dream like the return to the Garden of Eden.

Dick, 9:38 a.m.: So, I challenge you, what is the alternative…a viable solution in our country, when even folks on welfare decline to accept certain kinds of used furniture because they’re not good enough….

I’m a bit more sensitive than usual about this as I’m beginning the process of closing out the history of a 110 year farm, as my 89 year Uncle, the last survivor, never married, is in the nursing home in the nearby town.

In some of the old farm photos, recently, I found two iconic images of the good old days (before prosperity). One is of a two bottom, four horse, cultivator, tended by the hired man, who probably slept in a grain bin during his summers there. The other is “Edithe’s favorite milk cow” (my aunt Edithe died in February). This from the day when she and Grandma, basically, milked the cows by hand, and had a hand run cream separator.

This was the “pitchfork” era, as you know. We’re heading back to it [“pitchforks”, literally] quickly, but the solution is not to go the utopian route. Its a bit like being addicted to something: initially, the cure is worse than the disease, and most people can’t take the transition (poverty) between wealth and reason….

Bruce, 11:31 a.m.: I’m not sure what alternatives we have. But, what I am sure of is that we aren’t given the truth of what the consumerism & materialism has done to our home. The high quality natural resources that were taken out of the earth to build the society was used to manufacture, buy, and sell things for profit. These precious natural resources that are real wealth are expressed in the stuff called junk thrown in landfills & dissolved into the atmosphere, land, and water.

The articles like the Sunset guy wrote perpetuates the destructive dream of a new middle class where labor is equal to capital so that the ever expanding economy can march timelessly on into the sunset. It can’t.

The next twenty years will be different from the past twenty years. Cheap oil is gone & the alternative fossil fuels are very expensive and don’t provide the net energy gain that the quality stuff did. The alternatives to fossil fuels will not support or sustain the consumer life style that built the middle class as we remember it. We will have to drastically change life style and the ultra-rich are the ones who will suffer the most relatively to what they are accustomed to. That is why some like Hanauer advocate for higher taxes on the rich, better wages for labor, and stronger safety net for the needy. It’s to grow the middle class. They are liberal market place capitalists that want to generally perpetuate the status quo.

The solution is to understand what the consumerism of the middle class did to the planet. Then we can move forward with solutions. People hate change, but they get use to it and it becomes normal. But, time is dwindling.

Dick, 1:04 p.m.: The Sunset Guy just reflects on stuff, as you know. [ED. NOTE: In my opinion Just Above Sunset is a very useful (and free) daily musing on matters national and international]

What would happen if we were forced into the horse and milk cow stage again? My relatives knew that era. I witnessed it in action when I was young.

The grandkids generation (mine are from about 8-27 years of age) are going to be the first generation to fully bear the brunt of our wastrel ways.
It is complicated, beyond that.

Bruce, 3:55 p.m., June 30, 2014:
I think community will be more important than it is today. Neighborhood resources will be important to sustain lifestyle.

What is a better indication of a vibrant middle class: a high quality education system, transport system and health care system or individual material wealth? Values will change.

The rich of the 50s through 70s thought that the planet’s natural resources were infinite and understood the way to wealth & perpetual growth was to grow the middle class affluence so they could consume material goods, which would keep the economy expanding making the wealthy wealthier. They for the most part thought like Hanauer. But today the wealthy understand the finite nature of the high quality natural resources of years gone by. Their answer to grow there wealth is to hoard and strangle the middle class because there isn’t enough to go around. Their answer is short sighted. The middle class is shrinking & will not return to the position it once maintained. But, the wealth of the wealthy will collapse too, because their money depends on the health of the primary natural resources( the planet) and the resources that manufacture & create things. From what I’ve read, the Thomas Pikkety book, CAPITAL IN THE 21st CENTURY gets at this point. The wealthy would rather invest in the investment markets than grow the economy. The potential to make higher rate of return is better. That is a big disconnect.

Politically, this argument is being made by fringe parties & candidates for office. I don’t see any one running for office of any kind from the two major parties making this argument. Jean Massey’s IRV [Instant Runoff Voting] voting system is the best way to effect the political changes we need. It will allow the marginal candidate with the best ideas a good chance to be elected.

Dick, to everyone who’s read this far: So, what is your opinion?

#905 – Dick Bernard: Cloud Watching and Some Beautiful Flowers

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Late yesterday afternoon was beautiful weather for driving, east bound from North Dakota to the Twin Cities.

A brilliant sun was at our back, and all around us were those wonderful puffy cumulus clouds, and farther ahead magnificent “mountain ranges” of white clouds atop rainy weather somewhere to the east. The vista began about Freeport MN, “Lake Wobegon” country, and lasted till we bore south at St. Cloud. I tried to catch the moments in photos, but you know how that is: the best pictures are in the minds-eye, and the scenery, when it comes to clouds, changes by the second. But I did stop once, and below is what I caught in a snapshot – no prize winner, but at least evidence.

(click to enlarge all photos)

Along I-94 after 6 p.m.  in the "Lake Wobegon" neighborhood, June 24, 2013.

Along I-94 after 6 p.m. in the “Lake Wobegon” neighborhood, June 24, 2013.

As I drove, it reminded me of long ago days as a kid in North Dakota, on occasion lying on the grass looking at clouds floating by. Maybe you could imagine something a cloud represented; you got at least a sense of speed and direction and even elevation of the clouds. Of course, this was all abstract to a kid, but nice clouds in combination with a nice day were times and memories to be cherished, if only for a few minutes (till some bug, or another thought or interest, interfered!)

Perhaps the sense of those clouds was heightened by the two days prior when four of us were engaged with doing the necessary things which come with drastic change of life for a relative in a nursing home. Things like attending to beginning to prepare the farm home for hoped for new inhabitants; making arrangements for scrap metal to be hauled, etc.

It wasn’t a neutral activity for me, having spent a lot of time at this farm place over the years, and now the guy in charge of the most major change in the history of this 110 year old farm, owned and occupied continuously by the same family, and now being prepared for new residents, a new life.

This sense of change, more than the work at the farm, contributed to a personal sense of feeling emotionally and physically exhausted this particular day. We had planned to stay one more day at the farm; it would not have been productive for me.

The puffy clouds within my eyesight, coming home, were an occasion of reverie for me, remembering.

I had taken one last photo when I left the farmyard four hours earlier. It is below. At right is the original grain bin built in 1905; in background is the house we had been working on for the last day.

At the farm, June 24, 2014

At the farm, June 24, 2014

Before leaving the property, I noted two voluntary clumps of peonies, festive in bloom beside the house. They were as if in memory of Aunt Edithe, who planted and nurtured them in past years, and who died just months ago. Through them, she lives on.

June 24, 2014

June 24, 2014

At the corner of Highway 13 and the farm road to the ancestral farm I stopped to take my annual photos of the Wild Roses that abound there each summer. The road grader crew needs to know of their existence, and allows them to live on, a vibrant colony.

The wild rose remains the state flower of North Dakota, and here is the one I found most attractive this day.

Wild Rose June 24, 2014

Wild Rose June 24, 2014

The clouds and the flowers: a good reminder to us all. Take time to enjoy the simple things of life. After awhile, it’s all that’s left.


As noted, the sole survivor of the rural North Dakota home now lives in a nursing home. He has always been, and remains, very spiritual.

Recently I came across three family photos that are pertinent to his and the family story. They are below.

The first is of the old Catholic Church and Public High School in the County Seat in which he lives. The current Catholic Church, in the same location as the old, is directly across the street from the old High School, which was replaced by, and for 42 years has been, the Nursing Home, and is now my Uncle’s residence. Most recently Uncle was pushed across the street by myself on Tuesday morning.

early Church and High School in LaMoure ND

early Church and High School in LaMoure ND

From 1915-68 the family Church was about 10 miles west, in tiny Berlin ND. Here are two recently discovered photographs of life in that Church.

A n undated photo from the choir loft of St. Johns in Berlin ND.

A n undated photo from the choir loft of St. Johns in Berlin ND.

Apparently a summer religious education time at St. Johns' during the time when there were lots of kids in the rural area.  The photo is undated.

Apparently a summer religious education time at St. Johns’ during the time when there were lots of kids in the rural area. The photo is undated.

School and church: two of many symbols of community.

#899 – Dick Bernard: Happy Father’s Day

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Happy Father’s Day to everyone.

My favorite postcard, from 1910, to my Grandma Busch on the farm in North Dakota, from one of her sisters in Wisconsin, is this one:

(click to enlarge photos)
BUSCH Postcards early 1900s - 92 - Sep 1 1910097

At the time, Grandma had two kids, three and one (my mother, the one year old), and Women’s Suffrage was 10 years away.

The card was a little reminder, I suppose, even back in the “good old days” (as perceived by some, perhaps even still).

This Sunday morning I was ushering at Basilica of St. Mary, as usual, and one of the male members of the fabulous Basilica Choir was leading the congregation in the Alleluia before the Gospel reading.

A lady came back about that time, tapped me on the shoulder, and said, proudly, “that’s my son, singing up there!” A minute or two later, enroute back from wherever she’d been, she added a footnote: “he’s an identical twin; his brother is also in the choir!”

Her pride was merited.

I thought to myself that in this picture was a biological Dad. And any number of male and females that had been in advisory capacities, along with Mom, as these twins with marvelous singing voices grew up. Being Father (and Mother) is a team activity, from birth to death.

In our own constellation, there are five biological Dad’s, each their own unique person.

Everyone of them, and this Grandpa, have their own styles and are examples to others. Note, I didn’t say “good examples”. It seems to me that each one of us, regardless of gender or role teach not only by our positive qualities but by our mistakes, which are (at least for me) plenty numerous. Every now and then I run across parents who are trying to insulate their kids from the evils of the world. I feel badly for them, since it never quite works out according to plan. Maybe we can minimize the problems, but as each one of us can attest we sometimes bumble along, remembering stuff we wish we hadn’t done; regretting things we wish we had, but didn’t.

My favorite Father’s Day picture is one I only recently found, from 1949, out there on Grandma and Grandpa’s farm:

Mother's Day, 1949, at the Busch farm.  Standing at rear, from left, Lucina Pinkney, Edith Busch, Henry with John Bernard.  Middle Row: Esther and Mary Ann Bernard; Grandma Busch.  Front row from left: Richard and Frank Bernard, Ron Pinkney, Florence Bernard, Jim Pinkney.

Mother’s Day, 1949, at the Busch farm. Standing at rear, from left, Lucina Pinkney, Edith Busch, Henry with John Bernard. Middle Row: Esther and Mary Ann Bernard; Grandma Busch. Front row from left: Richard and Frank Bernard, Ron Pinkney, Florence Bernard, Jim Pinkney.

This is a Mother’s Day picture, but to me it contributes to the universality of the word “father”.

Dad is there, of course, and it is May, 1949. Not in the photo are Duane Pinkney, the father of the two boys are lower right (most likely he was taking the picture); nor are Grandpa Busch and his son, my Uncle Vincent.

We went home after that day on the farm, and as was quite common, came back late in July of 1949. This time we stayed overnight, and a vicious wind blew the roof off the barn, a scant 200 feet or so from where we had been sleeping.

Uncle Vince takes up the story: they now had a big problem on their hands. No barn roof. Dad was a school teacher and it was summertime, so he stayed around while the three men set about hand building a new roof for the barn. Dad was invaluable, Vince says. Me? I was nine. I remember bits and pieces: the form for the roof, the big people nailing boards…. Sixty-five years later the barn still stands, though it is not doing well, as they’d say at a clinic for barns.

The Barn, Sep 20, 2013.  Built 1915, roof replaced 1949.  Unused for years.

The Barn, Sep 20, 2013. Built 1915, roof replaced 1949. Unused for years.

Look at that barn. Imagine it without a roof, in August, 1949, after the storm. Notice a young boy up there, 9 years old; his Dad, 41, his Grandpa, 69, and his Uncle Vince, 24. The nine year old was me, then, watching the others pound the nails, etc. Probably I could pound one or two….

Dad died in 1997. For some years prior to his death I would quite often be his driver when he came north to visit places like the farm. About that time, I began to spend perhaps a week most summers at the farm, just helping out. Vince, who is now in the twilight of his years, became in a real sense something of a new Dad, and a good one, though most of our times were basically quiet times. His sister, Edith, helped out in that role too.

We are all family, whether biologically connected or not.

At the end of Mass today, the Priest asked all the men to stand for a Blessing. Years ago this used to be for biological fathers only.

It’s a good change.

Happy Father’s Day.

Uncle Vince, at the funeral of his sister, my Aunt Edith, February 15, 2014

Uncle Vince, at the funeral of his sister, my Aunt Edith, February 15, 2014

#896 – Dick Bernard: Magnifique!* An evening with Mozart’s last three symphonies

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

For subscribers (and all): here’s the May 3 “For Pete’s Sake” concert in honor of Pete Seeger. The originating post is here.

My sister Mary Ann’s continuing posts from Vanuatu can be seen here. Scroll to the June 7, 2014 addition at the very end of the post.


While by no means an expert, I like orchestral music, and a favorite composer is Mozart. So when we dug out our tickets for last night, and they said “Mozart: The Three Final Symphonies”, I was pleased. It would be a great evening at Orchestra Hall.

And it was.

The program: Symphonies 39, 40 and 41, all composed in 1788, when Mozart was 32 years old; all first performed in 1791, the year he died at age 35, less than half my age.

What a life he lived. And what a legacy he left behind. Larger than life in many ways. A prodigy.

I can’t sit still with his music in my ears.

(* – Mozart was Austrian, and thus German language. But the French “Magnifique” as a descriptor works just fine for moi!)

It happened, last night, that a young man took the seat next to me, and was very friendly, striking up a conversation before the concert began. He’d been the Orchestra “years before” he said at the invitation of a teacher at the college he was attended. This concert was “pretty pricey” he said. We chatted, briefly, about this and that.

No question, that he was engaged and enthusiastic about the performance he was witnessing.

I got to thinking about a recent Facebook post I’d received from my daughter, about Grandson Ted, who was 14 yesterday, and whose birthday we’ll celebrate in an hour or two.

The Facebook post included grandson Teddy Flatley’s arrangement of Spanish Flea, June 3, 2014, South St. Paul MN. His Mom, my daughter, Lauri: “Ok… so I have to admit it. I’m pretty proud of this kid. Not that I have ever NOT been proud of him. Today was just a flat out reminder of how extraordinary he is to me. Way to go T Flat. I can hardly wait to see where the road takes you next!”

Happy Birthday, Ted!

Shortly before that, daughter Joni had e-mailed files with music programs of her kids, Spencer and Parker, 14 and 12. I’d attach those audio files too, but don’t have the expertise….

Ted is mathematical, a good aptitude for a musician, and he seems to have settled in with music as a specialty. Spencer and Parker like band, but Trap Shooting and Baseball respectively seem to be their activities of choice.

For all of us, our own way in our own time….

Looking through the program I noticed an upcoming program: Pixar, June 26-28, 2014: Pixar001

This afternoon I’ll ask the three kids if they want to go to this concert.

It will be interesting to see their response.

Great music from the proverbial “old dead musicians” isn’t all there is, but it surely is very important to all of us, especially the young, and I hope the boys stay interested.

There are variations that reach across generations. As previously noted in the blog about the Bugs Bunny at the Symphony concert, fine music and ‘toons go hand in hand.

Could be much worse….

Fine music has to be accessible to and encouraged for young people. This includes pricing and accessibility. Fine music isn’t for only those who can “afford” it.

#894 – Dick Bernard: Remembering Pete Seeger

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

UPDATE JUNE 8, 2014: Here’s the May 3 “For Pete’s Sake” program.

Today, June 5, and Friday, June 6, a very special event, the radio replay May 3, 2014, concert in tribute to Pete Seeger.

As announced by the show producer, Larry Long, “We are happy to announce that For Pete’s Sake: Celebrating Pete Seeger’s 95th Birthday will be aired in its entirety through Heartland Radio (Minnesota Public Radio/The Current) on June 5th, Thursday, noon – 2 pm Central Time, and June 6, Friday, 7 pm – 9 pm Central Time.

Radio Heartland is a 24-hour folk, roots and Americana music stream over 89.3 The Current (www.radioheartland.org and on HD radio at KNOW 91.1 FM HD2 in Minneapolis/St. Paul).”

We had a conflict on May 3rd, so we weren’t able to attend the actual concert. A friend, David, who was there, shared the program booklet with me. It can be read here: Pete Seeger w Larry Long001

More about the concert at Larry Long’s website.

In an e-mail to his list subscribers yesterday, Larry Long also said this: “We are presently looking into the possibility of making both the audio and video documentation of For Pete’s Sake: Celebrating Pete Seeger’s 95th Birthday available to the general public through a KICKSTARTER campaign.”

Stay tuned.

Here’s a memory article about Pete shared by another friend, Kathy: Pete Seeger Remembered001

#890 – Dick Bernard: Dad’s Flower

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Originally published as #889 on May 28.

A couple of days ago, daughter Lauri stopped by and noticed:

(click to enlarge)

May 25, 2014

May 25, 2014

Of course, it’s spring in Minnesota, and the State Flower this time of year is the Dandelion, and the Barbary Bush that is aggressively protecting it is very prickly. So, what to do?

Besides, as she pointed out, and we both know, the Dandelion was my Dad, and her Grandpas, flower of choice for special occasions.

When he was out and about in the spring, and dropped in on the Brashers, or somebody he knew at Our Lady of the Snows or elsewhere in Belleville IL, and Dandelions were in season, Dad’s “calling card” was not infrequently a bouquet of Dandelions, with a certain amount of je ne sais quoi (a pleasant quality that is hard to describe).

He was that kind of guy, Dad was.

I’ve done home-made holiday greetings since 1977, and each year something “speaks” to me and becomes the topic of the annual greeting.

In 1996, the year before Dad died, it was the Dandelions turn, and the resulting simple card is here: Bernard H Dandelion 96001

There’s an old saying that goes something like this: “a weed is simply a flower misplaced”. I just google’d “weed flower misplaced quotation” and here’s your daily reading.

Dandelions haven’t received the memo….

Dad, lifelong teacher that he was, would be delighted to know his little and delightful eccentricity (not the only eccentricity!) is being publicized.

Have a great spring.

POSTNOTE: Sad to say, that proud Dandelion pictured at the beginning of this post is no longer visible, at least for this year. I put on some heavy gloves and removed the greenery and the flowers.

But that doesn’t mean its end.

It is entwined with the root system of its host plant, so it will be back, and back, and back.

#887 – Dick Bernard: “What’s up, Doc?” Warner Brothers Presents Bugs Bunny at the Symphony

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

NOTE: The “Filing Cabinet” for items regarding the Minnesota Orchestra Lockout, including far more than past posts, can be found here. Supplements to the below post can be found at May 25, 2014, at the end of the Filing Cabinet.

Feb 14, 2014, very shortly after the lock-out ended, I wrote a brief e-mail to ticketing at the Minnesota Orchestra: “We are ticketed for Saturday evening Feb 15, but cannot attend due to a family funeral in ND on the same day.” A most gracious ticketing representative wrote back: “I am sorry for your loss. This concert was a non-exchangeable purchase, but I made an exception due to the circumstances. I have placed the value ($120) of the tickets onto an exchange voucher for you to use for a future performance.”

We looked at the options, and decided that “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II” sounded like fun.

Thus, last night found us at a packed Orchestra Hall with the real maestro, ever self-assured Bugs Bunny, assisted by on-stage stand-in Maestro George Daugherty.

I cannot imagine a more enjoyable evening. The entire program is here: Bugs Bunny MN Orchestra001 (The usual prohibition on photography, etc., was not recited, thus the couple of photos (sans flash) which appear below.)

If Bugs Bunny comes to your town, see him!

(click to enlarge photos)

May 24, 2014, Orchestra Hall, Bugs at the Podium.

May 24, 2014, Orchestra Hall, Bugs at the Podium.

It’s a fools errand to try to summarize Bugs Bunny and ensemble, including a magnificent Minnesota Orchestra filling in for the Hollywood Studio Orchestras so common in the olden days in which Bugs Bunny and his many colleagues came to be well known. Competitors like the Roadrunner, Elmer Fudd and many others shared the screen at one time or another in the evening.

It brought me back to the now old days. In my childhood we very rarely saw a movie, but when we did, the 7 or so minute cartoon was always part of the preliminaries. Over 50 years ago, in college, I spent a year and a half as doorman and assistant manager at the Omwick Theatre in Valley City ND, so saw at least bits and pieces of many cartoons from that era.

The Orchestra music was snuck in on unsuspecting younguns back then, and what a delightful fallout it had. Who in my age range doesn’t remember The Lone Ranger theme from the William Tell Overture?

Creator/Conductor George Daugherty gave extended comments at two points in the concert. Our mostly adult audience was heavily laced with kids, and we were all having fun, but he said we were no match for a packed house of elementary school kids on Friday afternoon.

We’re still very early in the healing time from the 488 day lockout of the Orchestra, just ended Feb. 1, 2014, so that was on my mind too. Back in January, we were faced with the possibility of a permanent parallel season funded by the members of the Orchestra itself. A full line-up of stellar concerts were planned. Last nights program booklet was a clue that Bugs Bunny had been scheduled as an alternative concert before the lockout ended. It is not the usual Showcase edition we now receive; rather the more simple booklet we received during the lockout concerts.

Maestro Daugherty was effusive in his praise of the musicians on stage with him, and presented to them a print by Chuck Jones, the animator and director who built the Bugs, etc. empire.

In his bio (linked above), Jones recalled the power of children imagination: “Jones often recalled a small child who, when told that Jones drew Bugs Bunny, replied: “He doesn’t draw Bugs Bunny. He draws pictures of Bugs Bunny.” His point was that the child thought of the character as being alive and believable, which was, in Jones’ belief, the key to true character animation.”

Later in his life, Jones created paintings of his characters which are now in the Smithsonian Institution. One of them became a limited edition print, and at his appearance in Minneapolis, a print was presented to the members of the Orchestra for hanging in their break room.

It was a neat touch.

I’ve been an activist in the Orchestra situation since it began so long ago, and I recall an early on comment by a retired band and orchestra director in a Twin Cities public school, lamenting the diminished attention to the Arts. She said this June 21, 2013: “As a retired … music teacher, I am aware of the cuts to grades K-12 vocal and instrumental music, that started about 1980. As public schools eliminated music classes, so disappeared the process necessary to build an audience base-development for the MN Orch. If instrumental music is reinstated in grades K-12, today, it will still take 20 years to rebuild the arts tourism community that will purchases season tickets to the MN Orch.”

In so many ways, kids are the future.

Presentation of the Chuck Jones art work to the Minnesota Orchestra musicians May 24, 2014

Presentation of the Chuck Jones art work to the Minnesota Orchestra musicians May 24, 2014

POSTNOTE: Todays Minneapolis Star Tribune carries an interesting perspective by Bonnie Blodgett: Diminuendo: the dying sound of stewardship among the ruling class.

Earlier this week I was at the ancestral farm in North Dakota, a place now going to seed because its occupants have all passed on, save my Uncle, who is now in a Nursing Home and will no longer make his frequent trips to the home place. I brought back a couple of boxes of photo albums, just for inventory and safety purposes, and in the same closet found in a ramshackle weather-beaten case the Clarinet my Uncle once learned how to play as a youngster. In the same collection was a newspaper column sent from my Uncle’s older sister, Mary, dated June 17, 2002: Cousin, Violin maker001 Carl, the subject of the article, played Grandpa’s fiddle with much feeling and expertise at a family reunion over 20 years ago.

My family, like most, is not one of substantial means; like only some, however, it has a very strong musical tradition.

The wealthy, who seem to run things (including into the ground), and are more dominant than ever, need to pay close attention to their real “base”, which is people like us.

from Shirley L, May 25:
A delightful report about a wonderful experience! We all need a little Disney in our lives now and then. Thanks!

#886 – Dick Bernard: Ten Plots

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

(click to enlarge photos)

St. John's Cemetery, Berlin ND, May 21, 2014.  Verena's headstone is to the right of the Busch family headstone.

St. John’s Cemetery, Berlin ND, May 21, 2014. Verena’s headstone is to the right of the Busch family headstone.

Tuesday morning we laid Aunt Edith to rest in the St. John’s Cemetery in tiny Berlin ND. Seven family members were there, including Edith’s brother, our Uncle Vince, whose entire 89 years had been spent with his sister, who was 93 when she died February 12, 2014.

The next morning I was talking with a guy I hardly know, my general age, and the topic of death came up. “Do you ever think about dying?” he said, then going on to remember his Mother who died days after a terminal cancer diagnosis; and his Dad, dying just minutes after having coffee with his son, and declining to ride along up to “Jimtown”.

Death is the one constant for every living thing. All we don’t know with precision is exactly when and how.

I’m guessing the vast majority of us hope that when the time comes, at least one other person will care enough to care that we passed on, and will acknowledge that we made at least a little positive difference sometime in the time we were passing time on earth.

I’m also guessing that someone’s death is more a time for the living to reflect on their own lives, already lived and to come. The deceased has no reason whatever to worry about what hymn was sung, or so forth. The ritual varies culture to culture, place to place, but there is a constancy.

Graveside May 21, 2014.  Edith's grave next to that her mother, Rosa, and father Ferdinand Busch.  Fr. Jerome Okafor presiding.  Brother Vincent nearest the car.

Graveside May 21, 2014. Edith’s grave next to that her mother, Rosa, and father Ferdinand Busch. Fr. Jerome Okafor presiding. Brother Vincent nearest the car.

Which brings me to the title of this post “Ten Plots”.

Back a few months, when the possibility of death of one or the other sibling seemed ever more likely, I inquired about burial plots at St. John’s just outside of Berlin ND. The sexton looked at the map and said the Busch’s had ten plots reserved in the cemetery, which surprised me a great deal.

No family narrative exists laying out the reasoning for this purchase; which gives me free rein to speculate.

Ferd and Rosa Busch married Feb 28, 1905, and immediately thereafter moved to their new patch of ground about five miles northeast of Berlin. Nine children were born to them.

In early May, 1927, when the third child, Verena, was 15, she died of peritonitis. Hers was the first family death. It was a devastating event for the family.

Vincent, then two, recalled looking for his sister.

Edith, then nearing seven, was very well aware of the death of her 15 year old sibling.

It was a terrible time for Mom and Dad.

My speculation – and it is only speculation – is that when they purchased the burial plot for Verena in the then-rarely used cemeteries, they purchased lots for their entire family.

Of course, time went on. The youngest child, Arthur, born in Oct 1927, may not have been counted in May, 1927. Except for Vincent and Edith, who stayed on the farm, all the other “kids” moved on. They are listed at the end of this post.

Of the ten plots, only five will likely be used.

But they stand as silent testimonies to life, and to death.

We’re all “on deck”. Make the best of the time you have left!

Certificate of marriage of Rosa Berning and Ferdinand Busch at St. Josephs Church Sinsinawa Mound WI February 28, 1905.  The feather from Rosa's post- wedding hat adorns the frame.

Certificate of marriage of Rosa Berning and Ferdinand Busch at St. Josephs Church Sinsinawa Mound WI February 28, 1905. The feather from Rosa’s post- wedding hat adorns the frame.

The Busch Family: (information is as best known. Amendments are welcome.)
Lucina (Jan 3, 1907 – July 6, 1996) married Duane Pinkney, buried Morris MN
Esther (Jul 27, 1909 – Aug 20, 1981) married Henry Bernard, donated body to University of Houston; memorials at assorted places at Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville IL
Verena (Mar 21, 1912 – May 2, 1927) buried St. Johns Cemetery, Berlin ND
Mary (Sep 26, 1913 – May 2, 2003) married Allen Brehmer, buried Wales, ND
George (Jan 11, 1916 – Jun 23, 1979) married Jean Tannahill, buried Grand Forks ND
Florence (Nov 3, 1918 – May 24, 1996) married Bernard Wieland, buried St. Mary’s, rural Dazey ND
Edith (Jul 20, 1920 – Feb, 12, 2014) buried St. John’s Cemetery, Berlin ND
Vincent (Jan 6, 1925 – )
Arthur (Oct 16, 1927 – Feb 23, 2011) buried Chicago Archdiocese Catholic Cemetery Westchester IL

The “Double Cousins” who lived next farm over, August Berning, Grandma’s brother, married Christina Busch, Grandpa’s sister)
Irwin (no birth date known, died at 6 months)
Irene (Dec 7, 1908 – Jul 15, 1994) married Carl Langkamp. buried Calvary Cemetery, Rockford IL
Lillian (Feb 8, 2010 – Dec 20, 1999) married Walter McFadden
Cecilia (Nov 24, 2012 – Mar 11, 1998) Married Donald Thimmesch. Buried Glendale Cemetery Des Moines IA
Rose (Nov 2, 1914 – Jan 6, 1998) (married George Molitor KIA over Italy Apr 4, 1945; married Ben Van Hoorn
August (Nov 12, 1916 – Jul 3, 1965) married Betty Cisinski
Hyacinth (Nov 16, 1918 – Dec 7, 2002) married Robert Sweeney
Ruby & Ruth (Sep 25, 1920; Ruby married Miles Fitzgerald and is still living; Ruth died in infancy)
Rufine (Feb 21, 1922 – ?) (married Don Anciaux)
Agnes (Sr. Mary Catherine) (Jan 18, 1924 – Mar 23, 1981)
Anita (Oct 20, 1925 – Jan 25, 2013) married Dale Cranfield
Melvin (Apr 13, 1928 – ) married Leola Peters

#884 – Dick Bernard: New Cement: Memories of Grandpa Bernard

Monday, May 12th, 2014
Scene of the action: Caribou Coffee at City Centre, Woodbury MN May 12, 2014.

Scene of the action: Caribou Coffee at City Centre, Woodbury MN May 12, 2014.

My coffee mate Steve and I usually quietly occupy our respective corners by the front window at Woodbury Caribou Coffee. Today he suddenly whipped around to watch the action on the sidewalk the other side of the window.

As action goes, what we saw outside wasn’t much. A guy was by with one of those saws to break the bond between blocks of sidewalk concrete.

The task for the next crew, sometime very soon, will be to take out the old concrete and replace it with new.

Of course, Steve had to quip: “they have to fix the sidewalk so that some old guy [presumably me] won’t trip coming in here.”

Fair enough, but a bit much to take from a young whippersnapper, scarcely five years retired.

Young pup. Who does he think he is?!

Talk got around to sidewalk superintending, and I remembered a YouTube piece I saw a year or two ago, with a cameo of my grandfather, Henry Bernard, watching them pave Main Street in Grafton ND. Turns out the piece was filmed in 1949. You can watch it here. Grandpa appears at 4:15 of the 5 minute video. He has three seconds of fame, maybe, and he’s one of only two old birds who gets his own name affixed to the video.

“Old bird”? In 1949, Grandpa would have been 77, not much older than I am now.

In the fashion of the day, he was dressed up, even to do this sidewalk duty. White shirt, tie and straw hat. He’s pointing out something or other to one of the other nearby folks. He had a first grade education in Quebec, and a first class engineers mind: he had been chief engineer in the local flour mill ‘back in the day’, and he loved to see how things worked. He’s recorded as the guy who drove the first motorized fire truck to Grafton from somewhere or other; fire chief and all around first class guy (and tough in bar fights too, I heard). At his funeral in 1957 all the VIPs of Grafton attended.

Back home I went out for my walk and coming east on Lake Road I approached an older guy standing motionless, looking at something off to the side.

He just kept standing there.

Finally I reached him, and saw the reason: he was watching some guy put new siding on a house.

Just continuing the fine tradition of sidewalk superintending. Doubtless remembering something from sometime.

We chatted a bit, and I walked on.

Thanks, Steve, for the memories.

Re the job specialty: “Sidewalk Superintendent”, the pays lousy, but the hours are good, and sometimes the work can be quite interesting!

From my front row seat, 9 a.m. May 12. 2014

From my front row seat, 9 a.m. May 12. 2014

May 12: As I left,I asked the guy who seemed to be supervisor, “how do you keep idiots like me from walking in the wet cement?” He just smiled. Another kibbitzer remembered working on these crews as a summer job long ago; and wondered if there’ll be someone carving initials before it dries….

POSTNOTE: Like most ordinary people, Grandpa seldom made the news, which for most of us is a good thing.

Some years ago, cousin Loria Kelly in E. Grand Forks happened across a powerful account of Grandpa and Grandma in Los Angeles in the winter of 1942. You can read it here: Bernard Los Angeles 2-42001