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#668 – Dick Bernard: Dad’s Birthday

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

Twenty-five years ago today, December 22, 1987, my Dad celebrated his 80th birthday.

Being Dad, it became a particularly special event, worthy of note this day.

As I recall, my sister, Flo, and I had taken the trip from Minnesota to Dad’s new home at Our Lady of the Snows, overlooking the Mississippi River Valley just above East St. Louis IL. Dad had just moved there from his previous home in San Benito TX, where he’d lived since he and Mom became “winter Texans” in 1976, and not long thereafter purchased a small home at 557 N. Dowling, and became full-time residents of that Rio Grande Valley community.

Mom passed away in August of 1981 and Dad had a decision to make. He decided to live on, staying very actively engaged in the San Benito senior and Catholic and general community. He became an active volunteer at the Berta Cabaza Junior High School across the street from their home, tutoring Hispanic kids whose first language was Spanish, and by all accounts, the volunteer job was a great fit for him. That story, with photos, continues here.

In 1987 his good Valley friends his good friends in San Benito, the Brashers, began talking with him about this Apartment Community called Our Lady of the Snows in their home town of Belleville IL They weren’t Catholic themselves, but they thought the Apartment Community there might be a good fit for Dad, and he decided to try it out with a short visit, then in the summer of 1987 with the help of Flo, and later with my help, he made the long move north to a small apartment in that wonderful Apartment Community.

Our Lady of the Snows became an exceptionally great fit for Dad, and he blended in with everything there. That’s a story in itself.

But this story is about his 80th birthday….

Dad was always a methodical sort of guy, and he’d become acquainted with a physical fitness program through the U.S. government which made suggestions for senior activities, and awarded certificates to those completing their projects.

Eighty days before his 80th birthday he made a decision.

He was going to walk a 15 minute mile once every day, culminating with the 80th mile on his 80th birthday.

I don’t recall him announcing this goal at the outset, but that’s what he did.

He picked his route and his time. He would begin at the stage area of the ampitheatre at Our Lady of the Snows at 7:45 a.m., walk back and forth, row to row, until he reached a mile. (On the general map of the shrine, the area I’m describing is in the lower right hand corner of the developed area.) Somehow he had calculated what was a mile. His goal was to reach the Bells by the time the Angelus rang at 8 a.m.

He’d walked this route the previous 79 days. December 22, 1987, Flo and I were with him.

I recall it as a chilly morning and, worse, a little icy and thus potentially hazardous along Dad’s chosen route.

No matter.

This was Dad, and this was his route, and this was the 80th day, and the day for the 80th 15 minute mile on his 80th birthday. No little thing like ice was going to stop him!

This day he led and we followed, and he was a man on a mission. We did our best to keep up, but it was futile, at least for me.

He arrived at the Bells two minutes before they rang.

There was no drama. He’d made his goal.

He lived on at Our Lady of the Snows till his death November 7, 1997, not quite making 90, basically covering every inch of that remarkable facility on foot, many, many times.

I got into my own habit of walking that day in 1987, and since, I calculate, I’ve walked the circumference of the earth.

Lately a bit of osteo-arthritis in the right hip has crimped my habit of 2 1/2 miles a day, and I’m searching for an alternative.

There are habits and there are habits.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

#585 – Dick Bernard: Visiting History

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Some months ago a cousin I’d never met in person, JoAnn (Wentz) Beale, wrote from California, suggesting that we get together when she came to an event in her home town of Grafton ND. It was a great idea. Her grandmother, Elize Collette Wentz, and my grandmother, Josephine Collette Bernard, were siblings, raised on the home farm, still owned by Maurice D. and Isabell Collette, just west of Sacred Heart Church in Oakwood. Maurice is the son of Elize and Josephine’s youngest sibling, Alcide.

JoAnn and I spent the better part of an afternoon and early evening visiting the sites of our Collette family history.

It was a most enriching day.

Maurice D showed us around, and JoAnn posed on the site of the Collette home which was occupied from about 1885 till 1978, when Collette’s built a new home just to the south. Here’s JoAnn, June 25, 2012, on the site of the old house. (click to enlarge)

JoAnn Beale on the site of the Octave and Clotilde Collette home, Oakwood ND June 25, 2012

I found a few earlier photos from that same farm yard a few years earlier:

1954 photo, Unlabelled photo summer lunch in the farmyard just to the south of the old house. Apparent identities as known. Isabel Collette probably took the photograph. At right: Bonnie and Maurice Collette; at the end Margaret (Krier) and Alcidas Corriveau; (couple in between not known); at left Beatrice and Alcide Collette; at end of the table Josephine and Henry Bernard. The other persons are not known, and the photo is not labelled.

Alcide and Beatrice Collette with Donald David, in the farmhouse, probably in 1956.

Photo old Maurice D Collette house with new house in background. Photo taken in 1979, looking southeast; new house was built in 1977-78. Old house was torn down about 1981.

JoAnn and I spent time, of course, in and around the magnificent Sacred Heart Church, which is due to be closed within the next two years. I’ve put together a small Facebook album of photographs taken on June 25 here. That’s Maurice D. Collette with JoAnn in one of the photos in front of the church. (The entire Centennial History of the parish, from 1981, can be accessed here.)

I’ve been to Oakwood many times, but until June 25 had never actively sought out the site of the old St. Aloysius School, and found it, at least as represented in the driveway and the flagpole, and the lumber used to build two homes on the site, about a block north of the church. Across the street remains the Grotto. All these are in the Facebook album.

We had a cool drink with Maurice in the tavern across the street from the Church, then took a little tour and back to Grafton.

Before dinner, I took a solitary drive to see the little house at 738 Cooper, the only place I ever knew as my grandparent Bernard’s home.

This time, for the first time in my life, there was no house there.

former 739 Cooper Avenue, Grafton ND, June 25, 2012

It caused me to think back to other photos of other times at that little house down the block from the Court House in Grafton.

Henry and Josephine at 738 Cooper Ave, Grafton, probably early in the 1940s

Grandpa and Grandma on the front porch, probably late 1940s. Here's where they watched the world go by, at least on Cooper Avenue.

Grandma Bernard "myself in the kitchen" at 738 Cooper.

Undated photo of a meal in the living room at 738 Cooper. Note photo of their son Frank Bernard on the wall behind them.

In the last photo, I can’t help but think of the time, at Thanksgiving I think, where Grandpa, among other occupations an old lumberjack, taught we kids how to clean our plates…by licking his own plate clean. My guess is that Grandma Josephine had a bit of advice for him later, but the memory was cemented in our mind. Ah the memories….

Grandpa had an immense amount of pride in his service in the Spanish-American War in the Philippines, 1898-99. Down the block from 738 Cooper was the monument to his unit in that War. Five of his comrades died in a battle at Paete P.I., and apparently two more died shortly after returning home. They are reflected on the monument, which was raised in 1900.

Here is one photo of the monument. A few others are here, on Facebook.

Spanish-American War monument at the Walsh County Court House, June 25, 2012. In front of the monument is a smaller monument to those who served in other wars. Let us work for Peace.

There is a necessary postnote to this post on a family history.

We cannot escape the reality of getting older. The wonderful lady who really helped give me much impetus to begin this family history years ago is very near going into a nursing home at age 92. I visited her on this trip. When I began this journey 32 years ago, she was a huge resource. Now she is completely vulnerable, confused, cannot live alone, and is obviously scared of what is a necessary change for her.

Others who helped with the history have died; still others are very ill.

This trip, and the great meeting with my cousin from California, remind me that if there is work to be done on family matters, now, not tomorrow or next month or next year, is the time to do it. We just don’t know when it will be too late.

Thanks, JoAnn, for the idea of (as my Dad liked to say) “a face-off”!

Winding down after a most enriching day travelling the "roots road": center is JoAnn (Wentz) Beale, at right, Dick Bernard, at left JoAnn's cousin Kasey (Kouba) Ponds. At the Market Place on 8th in Grafton, June 25, 2012

#582 – Dick Bernard: The Street

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

“Back in the day”, my Grandpa Henry Bernard (born on a farm in Quebec in 1872) spent most of his adult life in Grafton ND.

He came to Grafton area with a first grade education and carpentry as a trade but had a particular gift for figuring out how mechanical things work. For years he was chief engineer of the local flour mill, and long-time volunteer and President of the local fire department and the guy, the Grafton history notes, who drove the first motorized fire truck to Grafton from somewhere.

Both my Grandpa’s had inquiring minds – Grandpa Busch was a farmer with a couple of patents – but he didn’t have easy access to the streets of any big town.

Grandpa Bernard did, and in retirement he loved to “kibitz” or be a “sidewalk superintendent” in his town of several thousand. Most times it was on his bench on the front stoop of their tiny home at 738 Cooper Avenue. Sometimes it was watching the action elsewhere in town.

There exists a wonderful film clip from a day in 1949 which includes him watching a crew lay a concrete section of street in Grafton (here, beginning at about 4:15. He even merits a subtitle!). In the fashion of the day, he was dressed up. He was a common man, but when you went out, you dressed up!

Paving that street in Grafton was the ‘street theater’ of the day!

I think of that vignette because for the last week or so the crews have been in our neighborhood rebuilding our street – the first time in about 20 years.

(click on photos to enlarge)

Romeo Road, Woodbury, mid-June, 2012

Such projects are essential nuisances to folks on the street, but a change in routine.

Kibitzing a few days ago, a neighbor and I were wondering why they replaced some sections of curb and not others, so we went to look (cracks were the villains, mostly).

Some unlucky folks had the entryway to their driveway blocked for a few days because their section of curb had to be replaced.

As I write, the street is prepared, and repaving is about to be begin, but early Tuesday morning came another inconvenience. The neighbors across the street – the ones who couldn’t get into their driveway for a few days – had another unfortunate happening.

Early on June 19 came those violent winds, and one of their trees blew over, blocking that driveway again….

Early morning June 19, 2012

Its all better now. The tree was rapidly removed, and life goes on.

We have assorted complaints, of course, but work crews are doing their work very efficiently, and somebody somewhere in our communities did the planning, letting of contracts, etc., etc., etc. None of us had to worry about this planning and implementation.

Yes, we’ll have to pay an assessment, but it’s a small price to pay as part of our community.

And a bonus is the chance to re-view Grandpa Bernard in action at 77 years of age, now 63 years ago.

I wonder what he could have been able to do had he been able to pursue an education.

He died in 1957 when I was 17.

I’ll visit his and Grandma’s and others graves in Grafton and Oakwood ND next Monday.

Thanks for the memories.

#573 – Dick Bernard: Three Memories on Memorial Day 2012. Frank Peter Bernard, Henry Bernard and Patricia Krom

Monday, May 28th, 2012

SEVERAL UPDATES, INCLUDING PHOTOS at end of this post.

I’m at the age where death is an increasingly regular visitor to my circles. This Memorial Day three deaths come to mind.

The first came when I was 1 1/2 years old, when my Uncle Frank Peter Bernard went down on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor HI. He was 26 years old, and I had “met” him in Long Beach CA five months earlier, at the end of June, 1941.

(click on photos to enlarge them)

Henry Sr, Josephine, Josie, Frank Peter, Richard, Henry and Esther Bernard, Long Beach CA late June, 1941

I’m the family historian, and I recall no talk, ever, about any kind of funeral or memorial service for Frank.

He was from Grafton, ND. On Dec. 7, 1941, his brother, my Dad, was a teacher in the rural ND country school called Rutland Consolidated; his sister lived in Los Angeles; and his parents were wintering in Long Beach CA. Indeed, according to my Dad, they were not sure, for some time, whether or not Frank was dead. His good boyhood and Navy friend, John Grabanske, was reported to have died, though later was found to be very much alive (and lived on, well into his 80s). Here’s my Dad’s recollection, as recounted by myself 50 years after Pearl Harbor: Bernard H Pearl Harbor001

The closest I have to a “memory card” about a formal remembering of Uncle Frank is a long article in the February 17, 1942 Grand Forks (ND) Herald, reporting on a large ND picnic somewhere in the Los Angeles area on about February 12, 1942. Such picnics were common in those days – a gathering of winterers and transplants.

There is a poignant passage which I quote here in part: “A touching incident occurred during the program. [The counsel for the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles] read a press report telling of the death of a young man of Polish descent at Pearl Harbor, the young man being a native of the Grafton area. When he had finished reading a man and his wife arose in the audience, the man asking if he might interrupt for just a moment…the man [my grandfather] said the report of the boy’s death later was found to be in error, but that the man actually killed at Pearl Harbor was the pal of the boy mentioned in the first press report. “The boy killed,” said the man, “was our son!”…The entire audience arose and stood in silence for a moment in honor of the dead hero and the parents who made the sacrifice.”

Uncle Frank’s grave, on the USS Arizona, is probably among the most visited cemeteries in the world. I know his sister, my Aunt Josie, visited there in 1969, but my Dad and his parents never had that opportunity.

The next funeral I remember is for that same Grandfather of mine, who died May 23, 1957 at age 85. I was 17.

His funeral was in Grafton, on May 25, 1957, and many people came to his funeral.

Grandpa was a Spanish-American War Veteran, Philippines, 1898-99. We still have the flag in recognition of his service.

It has 48 stars. Alaska and Hawaii had not yet been admitted as states. It is the flag we raised on a flagpole the family purchased at Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville IL, after Dad died in 1997. We raised the flag on Memorial Day, 1998, dedicating it to Grandpa’s sons, my Dad and Uncle Frank. (Here’s an interesting piece of research about percent of Americans who actually serve in the Military)

Dedication of flagpole with Grandpa Bernards 48 star flag, Memorial Day, 1998, Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville IL

Plaque for the Our Lady of the Snows flagpole, 1998

Time passes on, many more deaths and remembrances of all assorted kinds.

The most recent came on May 19, 2012, in Langdon ND, a memorial service for my cousin Patricia (Brehmer) Krom. Pat actually passed away in Las Vegas on January 25, and there was a memorial service there at that time, but the Langdon area was her home, and my Uncle Vince and I went up for the Memorial Service.

All funerals are alike; all funerals are very different. Pat’s was no exception.

I doubt I will ever forget the eulogy at Pat’s Memorial, given by her husband of 42 years, Kent.

He retraced two lives together in a truly memorable way, one which any one in any relationship for any length of time could immediately relate to; from the first awkward dance at Langdon High School, to her death at only 62 years of age.

Pat Brehmer Krom's life, May 19, 2012

The details are unimportant, except for one which I will always remember. As I recall it, regardless of how their day might have gone, it was a frequent occurrence for exchange of a simple expression of affection: “I love you Kent Krom”; “I love you Pat Brehmer”.

Can’t get better than that.

Arriving back in LaMoure, before I left for home, I picked up a new flag for the flagpole at Vince and Edith’s residence, Rosewood Care Center.

Friday, May 25, at 10:30, they dedicated the new flag to the memory of Patricia Brehmer Krom.

Happy Memorial Day.

Spring at Redeemer Cemetery near Dresden ND May 19, 2012 near the grave of Mary and Allen Brehmer

UPDATES:

Memorial Day, which began as Decoration Day in post-Civil War times, has a long history. Ironically, it was born of what was likely America’s deadliest war ever (in terms of casualties related to the entire population). Americans slaughtered other Americans.

Here are some impressions of today received from individuals. Possibly because the day has an over 140 year history, and because the means of war has changed so much in recent years, making war almost impersonal (see the Pew Research above), there are differing interpretations of what Memorial Day means: is it an event to be solemnly remembered, enjoyed, celebrated, etc.?

How we look differently at the meaning of Memorial Day is good reason for increased conversation among people with differing points of view.

From Susan Lucas: Dick, at the end of your blog you say, “Happy Memorial Day.” I’m afraid I don’t find this day a happy one. The three flags represent our three sons. I’m just so sorry that so many in our society regard Memorial Day as the first day of summer and a three-day weekend to go to the cabin. Anyone who visits Fort Snelling or any other national cemetery can truly appreciate why we have a Memorial Day. While Tom did not die while actually in the service, as the original “Decoration Day” was meant to be, the day should honor all who have been in military service. It’s a day to honor their memory. I question whether it should still be a national holiday when, as Pew Research suggests, so few families are actually impacted by military service anymore.

May 27, 2012, at Ft. Snelling Cemetery from Susan Lucas

From Carol Turnbull: Beautiful!

Scouts observing Memorial Day at a Cemetery in South St. Paul MN, doing upkeep of graves, and placing flags at the stones of veterans.

Scouts at So St Paul cemetery May 28, 2012

Daughter Heather and granddaughter Kelly at grave of Mom and Grandma Diane in So. St. Paul May 28, 2012

The annual commemoration by the MN Veterans for Peace at the State Capitol Grounds, St. Paul MN. Many Vets for Peace, but no means all, are Vietnam Veterans. I have been part of Veterans for Peace for over 10 years.

Veterans for Peace near MN Vietnam Vets Memorial on the MN Capitol Grounds May 28, 2012

Local VFP President Larry Johnson at the MN Capitol area observance May 28

Gita Ghei, whose father was caught in the conflict in western India (a civil war of sorts) at the time the British transferred authority to Indians.

Vet Jerry Rau performs a composition on May 28

Commentary here from Digby related to a Veterans for Peace event in southern California.

Other commentaries on the label “hero” as a topic of contemporary political warfare are here and here.

Of course, such a term is a moving target. In the 2004 Presidential Election, candidate John Kerry, whose military service and heroism in Vietnam was ridiculed by “Swift Boating” negative ads, was made to seem the opposite of what he was: a serviceman who had done his job above and beyond the call of duty. I agree with the assessment that the word “hero” is often misapplied in todays political conversation. Personally, I’m a lucky Vietnam era veteran. I served during the first Vietnam War years 50 years ago, and can prove it. I did everything I was asked to do, and I never left the United States. Indeed, we were preparing a reactivated infantry division for later combat in Vietnam, but in our frame of the time, we had no idea that such a war was developing. We simply did our jobs. If that is heroism, so be it.

But, then, John Kerry was far more a hero than I every thought of being, and he was viciously ridiculed for his service….

President Obama spoke at the Vietnam Memorial on Monday. I had the lucky privilege of having been at that Memorial the very weekend it was dedicated in the Fall of 1982. Vietnam Mem DC 1982001

A little photo album of my service time as a “hero” at Ft. Carson CO can be found on the internet, here. Note my name in the first paragraph, click on the link to the album, and open the link to a few of my “Photographs of 1/61….” in 1962-63.

#533 – Dick Bernard: A Picture from the past, remembering Louis H. Bruhn

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

See Update from Carl Peter at end of this post.

Going through some old photographs recently I came across this one of Louis Bruhn, taken by my father in May, 1974, at a Valley City State Teachers College alumni gathering in Anoka, Minnesota. (click to enlarge).

Louis H. Bruhn at Valley City State Teachers College Alumni function in Anoka MN May, 1974.

I lived in rural Anoka at the time, and I remember my parents visit but not this specific event, though I’m sure I was there.

Both of my parents were graduates of what we called, then, VCSTC, Valley City State Teachers College. I graduated from there myself. Just this morning I mailed my annual small donation to the now-VCSU Foundation. A pleasant sounding student called me a few nights ago just to renew my acquaintance with my alma mater.

Colleges know how to keep in touch with their alumni!

Mr. Bruhn – that’s what we all would have called him – was Dean of Men and Director of Special Services at the tiny 700 or so student college in 1958-61 when I was a student there.

Two very important mentors: Lou Bruhn, and Mary Hagen Canine, pictured in the 1959 Viking Annual of Valley City State Teachers College

He seemed terribly old at the time, but through the miracle of the internet (which he could not have imagined then), he was apparently only 55 when I first darkened the college doors in the Summer of 1958. Here’s what someone wrote about him in 1976.

He was 71 when Dad took the above photo. GASP. That’s how old I am, now!

The bio says that Mr. Bruhn came to VCSTC in 1938 to teach Business courses.

My parents, Henry L. Bernard of Grafton and Esther Busch of rural Berlin, had both matriculated at the college, probably in the summer of 1929, and like legions of country school teachers of the time they would teach school during the school year, then come back to college in the summer. They are both long deceased, but left behind many stories. They met in the halls of VCSTC, married in 1937, then taught together at Amidon ND during 1937-39. Most likely they were back at Valley City in the Summer of 1938 when Mr. Bruhn arrived.

During 1939-40 Dad became a full-time, full-year student at the college – the only full year he ever spent in college – and he received his degree a few weeks after I was born. They lived, that year, in the McGillivray Apartments just off campus, right behind what became Cinks College Grocery (and what is now the Valley City State University Student Center – which was actively being planned in 1961). For over 30 more years they remained in public education, Mom taking a few years off to raise us younguns to school age.

Dad most likely got to know Mr. Bruhn fairly well. They were, after all, about the same age. Eighteen years later, in 1958, it was my turn to do something with my life after graduating from Sykeston High School.

Truth be told, for this lazy kid in the summer of 1958, college summer school looked far better to me than wrestling a wheelbarrow full of dirt at the under construction St. Elizabeth’s Church in Sykeston. So, off I went. My mother went as well, to Summer School.

College caught on, and I went straight through, graduating 50 years ago last December. Those were memorable years.

Small colleges like VCSTC certainly don’t have the reputation of big or prestigious institutions, but I’m here to say, loudly and proudly, that with folks around like Louis H. Bruhn, we country kids from tiny high schools not only got a solid college education, but we left well prepared for life, accompanied by a strong work ethic.

The biography does not list a date of death for Mr. Bruhn, though I’d doubt he’s still with us. Doubtless someone will let me know details posthaste (you can comment on this post – see tab below).

Thanks Mr. Bruhn, Mom, Dad, and everyone who saw me and legions of fellow students through the growing experience from post high-school to college graduation.

Thanks once again.

from Shirley Bruhn Lindsay (Lou and Mabel Bruhns daughter, received Mar. 9, 2012): It is with an overflowing heart that I reply to you re the messages about my dad, Lou Bruhn. It is such a lovely tribute to him – a man who loved people (especially the students) and the town of Valley City more than he could ever really express. He served on the City Commission for several years and ultimately served as Mayor. A fond memory for our family is of the “Lou Bruhn Day” the city declared when he retired as Mayor.

My dad died late October 1988. He and my mother, Mabel, moved to the Sheyenne Care Center (SCC) several years earlier after she suffered a severe stroke. They had a wonderful quality of life in SCC and continued their enjoyment of people in the town they both loved.

Thank you for these tributes and memories. I have shared them with my brother Dave’s family.

My parents moved to VC in 1938 to “try it out for a few years”…they never left. Isn’t that a tribute to the town and state of North Dakota?

UPDATES: MARCH 8

From Valley City State University Alumni Association via Facebook: Dick – thank you for sharing this post. We enjoyed reading it. Looking at our records it looks like Lou passed away in the late 80’s.

Bob Zimmerman, Fayetteville AR: It’s good to hear from you again, Dick! It’s okay if you and others want to send e-mail to me at: BobzATuark.edu. Lois Nunn Zimmerman and I willl be married 50 years on June 3, 2012. We [recently] were vacationing at South Padre Island, TX. I met Myron (Ike) Luttschwager there for lunch. I will be retiring from my position as Associate Vice Chancellor for IT at the University of Arkansas on June 30, 2012. We hope to spend some time in SD, ND, and MN this summer. Best wisher to all! Lois and Bob

I had a recent letter from Bob and Marge Nutz Sogn. Bob and Marge Sogn sent pictures with David Thielman and his new wife. The Sogns live in Tuscon, AZ. Dave lives in Palm Springs, CA, in the winter. I have not seen Dave and Bob for many years and I hope to find them and some other long lost pals again. Bob

Lois and I had a conversation with Bob and Deann Horne about a month ago. They have moved to Fargo from Minot. Their home in Minot was severely damaged by the floods in Minot. We will visit my brother, Allan Zimmerman and his wife, Carol Schmidtz Zimmerman in Fargo. Buddy Schmidtz is a brother to Carol.

Duane Zwinger, Carrington, class of ’64: It was sure enjoyable reading your recollections about VCSTC and “Mr. Bruhn”. I truly agree with your statement that “tiny” Valley City State Teachers College
gave us all a great start in making our small mark on this great big world. The email also brought back some memories of myself and some of my hooligan buddies having a “close encounter” with Mr. Bruhn. We really didn’t mean to get into trouble, but it did seem to find us.

Duane Zwinger and Dick Bernard, February 2012, at Woodbury MN

Darryl Pederson, Lincoln NE: Got your email. I remember the dean well. He was also a sought after square dance caller. One cold winter evening he called a square dance in my home town of Kathryn. When the dance was over there was a full blown blizzard outside Some of the dancers and Lou Bruhn came to my parents store (we lived in the back) and the square dance continued in the store. As I recalled all spent most if not all of the night with us.

Larry Gauper, Fargo ND: Dick…YES…I remember Lou Bruhn…one of those classic Valley City college names

Wes Anderson, Valley City ND: We have about three audio interviews with Lou in our collection from Don Welch

Colleen Zick: I don’t know if you knew, but he also repaired bicycles. He made mine like new! I remember him and his wife well. Thelma Acker lived right next door to him, and she always cut and permed my hair! Her daughter married Eldwin VanBruggen, Gladys’s brother. The VanBruggens were my next door neighbors.

Larry Gauper: I remember that…and I think he was a ham radio guy too..not sure about that…but do remember now that you mention it the bike repair thing….neat fellow and apparently a great teacher.

Bob Horne, Fargo: Thanks for the Photo of Lou Bruhn, your excellent comments, and ideas added by others.
We remember Mr. Bruhn with fondness; he was a great guy and a friend to students. Also, I knew his son David quite well, as I believe we played Legion baseball together the summer of 1953, between my freshman and sophomore HS years. That summer I stayed with my aunt, Charlotte Graichen, before returning to Edmore HS. You probably know that Charlotte taught at VC State for about 30 years; they named the women’s gym after her. Charlotte and Bill Osmon were long-time leaders of women’s and men’s athletics at VC State Teachers College.

Dick Bernard: The phrase “comfortable as an old shoe” now comes to mind with respect to Mr. Bruhn – but make no mistake, he was MR. Bruhn. As for Charlotte Graichen and Willis Osmon, I came to VCSTC with the idea that basketball would be fun. Things change. I’m guessing that one of the last credits on my transcript was for some required PE class I had neglected to take, and Ms. Graichen was the instructor at the women’s gym. In the spring of 1961, they were just completing the impressive athletic building just west of the campus, I think still named for Mr. Osmon, and I think I’ll dig out my old set of Viking News and scan the photo of me with the under-construction building.

Roger Taylor: I remember Lou Bruhn well. The Bruhn family lived across the street from my childhood home. He did repair bicycles, but not mine, my dad did that. They had a post at the end of their driveway on which they’d installed a backboard and hoop. It was one of the several hoops in our neighborhood which we used, probably the best as the hoop was regulation height and the playing area was flat (most driveways had slants which meant the basket had varying heights relative to the player’s position on the “court”). The Bruhns had two children I remember, a girl named “Shirley” and a boy whose name I don’t remember. They were at least four years older than we. The article also references Cink’s grocery store. That’s another place in which I spent a fair amount of time. But it wasn’t our primary local grocery. That one was on College Street about four doors down from the Bruhn home.

UPDATE March 9, 2012

Dick Bernard: This link Viking News Jul 61 Union001, from the July 5, 1961 Viking News (the college newspaper) shows the site of the to-be college Student Union, including part of Cink’s grocery, and the still under construction Physical Education building which was, in 1961, ‘state of the art’. In the photo, I’m the guy standing by the support beam. For some reason related to the times, I dressed up for the photo.

Ron Morsch: Boy, that’s a name out of the past. I knew the name right away, could faintly picture who it was but even after reading Dick’s post couldn’t recall anything specific. I think Beth is right about Kiwanis or maybe Elks or Toastmasters. My dad was active in them and maybe that’s why I know the name. The bicycle repair stuff also prompted a faint memory of my Dad and me being in his garage having something done to my bike, but I’m not sure.

Barb Lang: Mr. Bruhn’s daughter Shirley is living in Lake Forest, IL and my sister Mary sees her every now and then for coffee. Mary also thinks that possibly Mr. Bruhn was Mayor at some point . . .that’s her vague recollection! Mary notes that Shirley has a Facebook page (my sister is a big looker at Facebook).

Rhea Mills: Has been interesting listening to all the other comments on Mr. Bruhn. Having lived on the “north” side of the tracks, there are a lot of things I had never heard of that occurred on the “south” side of the tracks. I know a lot of names but I really can’t remember things about those names – if, indeed, I even knew those things in the first place – HMMMMM, that is one run on sentence that really doesn’t make much sense except to myself!

Dick Bernard: Of course, in Valley City, at that time, when you’d say “north side of the tracks”, the question would have to be “which tracks?” North of the Hiline, or north of the tracks downtown (or uptown? : – ) NP or Soo Line, or whatever the two railroads were. (My parents did the walk across the Hiline in the 1930s, I think. I never dared.)

I was born at Mercy Hospital in May, 1940, and probably lived in the very tiny McGillivray apartment (Dad once showed it to me – it was vacant at the time, basement, the side away from the college) for perhaps a month or two, then we moved to Rutland area.

I didn’t own or have access to a car during the college years. My ‘territory’ was virtually 100% walking. Farthest north was to St. Cate’s for church on Sunday. Otherwise downtown to Pillar or Omwick where I worked; or Mythaler Hall to the halls of STC…. An aunt and uncle lived in the St. Mary’s of Dazey community but it was real rare to see them out there. The first ND section of I-94 was built between Jamestown and Valley City during the time I was there – “a million dollars a mile” they said. My family lived in Sykeston, northwest of Jamestown, and while I seldom went back there once I started, I can remember driving that freeway including a portion that did not yet have completed shoulders.

The STC of my memory was something like an ant hill, full of activity and a community unto itself, small as it was. Having graduated with 9 colleague seniors, and gone to several other ND public schools which were even smaller, the college was immense. My roommate for three years at Mythaler, a kid from Wimbledon, is a retired teacher in a city high school in St. Paul, and he once told me that for we tiny town kids, VCSTC was much like high school experience for kids in much bigger towns (including Valley City). We came from places that might have three high school teachers, at most, and we got the basics: “Reading, ‘Ritin, ‘Rithmetic” and the occasional ‘hickory stick’ (a”likkin”). Having said that, those tiny towns, and that small college, turned out some tremendous folks who did something with their lives (including me, I hope.)

Yesterday I sent the posting to a guy I student taught at the Lab School at the college. He and I were work colleagues for years with the Minnesota Education Association. For the past six years he’s been Executive Director of the 130,000 member state teacher association in Ohio, and he’d been an Executive Director here in Minnesota, and in Wyoming as well. His Dad recently died and he would have been back to Valley City. It amazes me when I reconnect with people, as I am doing here.

Thanks for the memories.

From Carl Peter, February 25, 2013:

If I remember right, Lou Bruhn taught the college driver’s education class. I took this course, which was a textbook class plus machines. The second part was teaching a student how to drive with a dual control car. I took this course in order to get a certificate to teach driver’s education in high school. This certificate served me very well. I taught the textbook part of driver’s education in my first school. In the second school, I taught five years of behind-the-wheel driver’s education in addition to the classroom part. During that time, I logged in 10,000 miles of dual control teaching without having an accident.

One day I was walking down the hall and Mr.Bruhn stopped me and told me that there was an opening for teaching in McClusky, North Dakota. This was the during the spring of the year I graduated. He told me to call and ask if I could get an interview. At that time, this was just not ever done. In fact it was the first long-distance call I ever made from a pay phone. I called and the Superintendent said that he would like to have me send in an application and my credentials. He also indicated that I could come for an interview. The interview was on a Saturday. I met with him and the president of the school board. The next Monday when I was student teaching typewriting, my supervisor came in and told me that the Superintendent was there and he wanted to talk to me. He indicated that he would like to offer me a contract. The contract for nine months was for $4500.

Added Note from Carl: I graduated from the STC summer of 1960 after having attended there three years and three summers. My first teaching job was at McClusky, North Dakota. I taught there for three years. During this time I bought a 1962 Thunderbird. This was the first Thunderbird that was ever sold in Sheridan County. The kids asked me how I could afford to get a car like that. I told them that it was possible because I didn’t smoke or drink, or attend parties so I was able to save my money to buy this car.

My next teaching position was at Page High School in Page, North Dakota. This was a brand-new school and I taught there for seven years. During that time I had several student teachers from Valley City that I worked with. Their supervisor was going to go on leave of absence, so he asked me to apply to teach in his place. I did and was offered the nine-month contract. I had hoped to be able to be part of a expanding business department, but in the spring there was no opening. The VCSTC registrar came to my office one day and asked me to apply to be his assistant. I worked as an assistant for 13 years before becoming the registrar. I was at that position for 28 years, retiring in 1999.

We are now retired and living in an apartment. My wife retired from Farm Service Agency (FSA) the same year. She worked with making government program payments for farmers. We are enjoying retirement very much.

#510 – Dick Bernard: A Memory of a long-ago Ground Hog Day

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Today is a pea-soup fog day in my town, and the temperature is about 32 degrees, so any of the resident Woodbury groundhogs have no worries about sunburn, or freezing to death. They will not see their shadow, at least not from sunlight.

But the place for groundhogs today is Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Punxsutawney Phil has been on the job since 1887, telling us about the rest of winter. Here’s something about him, and what he predicted today….

There are, of course, other groundhogs, and twenty or so years ago my Dad, Henry Bernard, recalled a story of his Dad, circa 1912 at their home on Wakeman Avenue in Grafton, North Dakota.

“I must have been four or five [Dad was born Dec 22, 1907] when this incident occurred.

My father, Henry Bernard, was the chief engineer at the flour mill. During the summer the fellows caught a woodchuck (groundhog) and put him in a cage. He was named “Pete”. Pete gave a lot of amusement to visitors. His ability to peel and eat a banana was a source of awe to visitors. However, his ability to eat a soda cracker without losing any crumbs was remarkable.

Pete was kept in the cage until fall when he became very drowsy and slept almost all the time.

Dad decided that Pete was ready to hibernate and took him home and released him in the unfinished basement that we had. Pete got busy and dug a hole in the dirt wall., “stole” bananas, apples, carrots, etc., and took them inside the hole and sealed it from the inside.

Dad remembered the story about the groundhog and on February 2nd told mother to watch and if Pete came out to send the “boy” (that was me) over to the mill to tell him.

Sure enough Pete did come out, saw his shadow and went back into the hole for another six weeks. We must have had more winter.

Then he came out again but was sickly and died shortly after. The veterinarian said it was because he lacked certain things for his diet that he would have picked up if he has run wild. Dad had Pete mounted and kept him for many years. This story was often repeated and even I have repeated it many times since that time.”

Thanks Dad.

#292 – Dick Bernard: “Remember the Maine”; USS Arizona; “Never Forget” LPD 21 USS New York

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

December 7, 1941, my Uncle Frank Bernard was minding his own business on the USS Arizona, berthed at Pearl Harbor, HI. Without doubt he was awake at the time a Japanese bomb destroyed his ship and snuffed out his life. 1176 shipmates also died that day. Frank was definitely at the wrong place at the wrong time. Every year on this date, no doubt today as well, I will see a photo or a film clip of the Arizona blowing up.

I am the only one of my siblings old enough to have ever actually met Uncle Frank; the last time at the end of June, 1941, in Long Beach, California.

Bernard Family Reunion at Long Beach CA late June, 1941. Frank is in the center, Dick, 1 1/2, is next to him.

Frank had served on the Arizona since 1936. Though he seems to have been engaged to someone in Bremerton WA, he likely intended to be a career man in the Navy.

Frank Bernard, Honolulu, some time before Dec. 7, 1941

Wars are never fought without reasons, or consequences. They are collections of stories, often mythology masquerading as fact. One war succeeds the last war. That’s just how wars are.

Frank’s Dad, my Grandpa Henry Bernard, 43 years earlier had enlisted to serve the United States in what he always called the Spanish-American War in the Philippines. He was very proud of this service, which lasted from the spring of 1898, to the summer of 1899. The pretext for this war was the explosion of the USS Maine in Havana harbor. Whatever actually caused the explosion was blamed on the Spaniards, and led to an outpouring of patriotic fervor in the U.S. “Remember the Maine” was the battle cry.

Grandpa’s unit, one of the first to the Philippines, never actually fought any Spaniards – he and his comrades were hardly off the boat near Manila when the Spanish surrendered. His battles were with the Filipino “insurgents” who were glad to be rid of the Spaniards, and just wanted the Americans to go back where they came from. That war is now called the Philippine-American War – a term Grandpa wouldn’t know.

In Henry’ company was his future wife’s cousin, Alfred Collette. Some years after the war, Alfred returned to the Philippines, becoming successful, later marrying and living the rest of his life in the Philippines.

After Pearl Harbor, the first major conquest of American territory by the Japanese was the Philippines…. Alfred was imprisoned at the notorious Santo Tomas. During the final battle for the liberation of Manila in 1945 his second child, named for my grandmother Josephine, was killed by shrapnel from either the liberators or the Japanese. She was only four years old, in her mother’s arms. Her two siblings witnessed her death.

Seven of Uncle Frank’s cousins in Canada, all from the same family, went to WWII, three in the Canadian Army, four in the U.S. Army. One of the seven died in combat. Others from my families served as well, as did neighbors. Most survived; some didn’t.

Alfred Collette, 1898, Presidio San Franciso CA

Henry Bernard, middle soldier, in Yokahoma Japan, enroute home1899

Which brings to mind the USS New York LPD 21.

On Thanksgiving day came one of those power point forwards celebrating the launch of the Amphibious Transport Ship the USS New York, a ship partially manufactured out of the wreckage of the World Trade Centers September 11, 2001. The internet is awash with items about this ship, commissioned in November of 2009.

A key caption of the powerpoint said that the New York’s contingent was “360 sailors, 700 combat ready Marines to be delivered ashore by helicopters and assault craft”, apparently roaming the world at the ready to do battle with the bad guys wherever they were. The transport has “twin towers” smokestacks,

I could see the attempt at symbolism in the power point: “don’t mess with the U.S.”. The boat plays to the American fantasy that we are an exceptional society, more deserving than others.

But, somehow, I failed to see the positive significance of this lonely boat, roaming the world, looking for opportunities to do battle against our enemies.

It doesn’t take a whole lot of geographic knowledge to know how immense this world is, and how tiny and truly insignificant is a single ship with about 1000 U.S. servicemen, no matter how highly trained and well-equipped they might be.

It seems we have better ways to use our money.

Uncle Frank was technically a peace-time casualty – War wasn’t declared against Japan until after he was dead. He and his comrades at Pearl Harbor who also died were only the first of hundreds of thousands of Americans, who joined, ultimately, millions of others who became casualties of WWII. A few of Grandpa Henry’s comrades were killed on Luzon, and till the end of his life in 1957 in Grafton ND there was an annual remembrance at the monument in front of the Walsh County Court House.

The triumph of war is what we seem to remember.

The horror of war is what we best “never forget”.

Peace takes work, lots of it. Let’s work for Peace.