The Celebration Cycle Continues

Dave Moen, Jerry Ray and Keith Lura at a 1972 wedding

Dave Moen, Jerry Ray and Keith Lura at a 1972 wedding.

We’re going to a funeral this week. It’s not the first, but it’s a first in another way. It’s a big enough deal to provoke me to write one quick post on my “vacation.”

Last month we went to Don’s funeral. Don was the pastor at our church a long time ago, back in the seventies. He had a full and wonderful life, over eighty years of living. His funeral was a testament to his contributions to this world. That funeral felt like a celebration. We’ve been to a lot of those celebrations over the years. Parents. Grand parents. Uncles. All those old people. That seems like the way of the world. Old people die.

Eight years ago we buried a nephew. Barely twenty years old. Nobody expected this, he was too young. Who would have thought that a brain tumor caused his headache? A tragedy. Our friend Sonia was taken by breast cancer not that long ago. She left behind beautiful young children and a wonderful, grieving, husband. Not much to celebrate there; young people aren’t supposed to die. Most don’t. Another tragedy.

This week’s funeral is similar in one way, cancer was the proximate cause of death. But this wasn’t someone from our parent’s generation. This wasn’t the tragedy of a young life cut short. It was one of our own. My age. I went to college with her.

Could it be that another transition has started? Continue reading

California Sunburn

Eric writes:

Eric

Eric

After graduation from High School, Rick White and I took a two-week trip to the west coast to visit his family in Huntington Beach. That was quite the trip.

On the night of graduation, JoAnn and I and all our friends stayed out all night. We went up to Lookout Point Park to watch the sun come up. JoAnn and I talked all night about what we wanted to do with our lives now that we had graduated. We had no clue.

After taking JoAnn home, I went home. Rick came by and picked me up in his 1967 Camaro Rally Sport for our drive to California. It was a fun car. But every time I drove it, the engine would just quit after about an hour. Then Rick would take over and it would be fine. Strange.

It was a 24-hour drive to LA. Taking turns sleeping and driving, we did a straight through drive. When we got to the house, I was introduced to all Rick’s brothers and sisters (10 kids in the family). I was then given the car keys and Rick’s sister had a shopping list. We were off to the grocery store.

I was informed that there are “no guests here, everyone has a job” and I was assigned mine, too.

One morning I felt like going for a walk. I was gone for an hour or two just walking around. When I got back everyone else had gone to the beach. So I went out to the pool in the back yard and was enjoying swimming alone. I guess Rick’s Mom felt sorry for me. So she called a girl on the next block and asked if she would take me to the beach.

It turned out she was a girl that Rick’s brother had been trying to get a date with for quite some time. (She was VERY good looking). We went to the beach and swam and talked for a couple hours. I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I also got the worst sunburn of my life.

That night we all packed up and drove to Disney Land to play. I wore blue jeans and it almost killed me. For the next few days. Rick’s little sister would sneak up behind me and slap me where I was burned. I don’t know if she liked seeing me in pain or what. But it hurt plenty.

— Eric H

Making Sausage

Eric writes:

Eric

Eric

My first real job when I was in High School was working at Temptee Brand Steak Company in Arvada, Colorado. My job was to mix spices for the meats, prepare whole beef livers for thin slicing and cleaning of the plant after the days’ operations. I did that for almost three years. It was a pretty good job. My school schedule was pretty free because I would take summer school classes to get ahead. So, my senior year, I only had classes until noon. Then I would go to work in the afternoon and get home by six in the evening. Those were the days. I had lots of money to spend and no responsibilities other than school.

When I was in High School, I would never get my school homework done in the evening. So I would wake up at 5:00 AM. My mom would give me a ride to school. I would get there at six o’clock just as the outside doors were being unlocked. I would go up to the library and turn on the lights. I would sit there and study until class started about 8:00 AM. Seems like a strange study habit, but it worked for me. I got almost straight A’s in high school.

— Eric H

Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters, live and in person at the Minnesota State Fair, 1972.

Muddy Waters, live and in person at the Minnesota State Fair, 1972.

Muddy Waters! Live, in person, at the Minnesota State Fair. What an opportunity. My friend Mark had invited us to stay with him for the weekend, take in some sights around Minneapolis and spend an evening at the fair listening to Muddy Waters. Let’s go.

1972 had been a great summer. I completed my bachelor’s degree in engineering. The engineering department awarded me a full ride scholarship for graduate school. The summer job working with George taught me a lot. We even traded our old car for one a little more fitting for a young married couple. Maybe it was a better fit for a twenty-one year old male with raging hormones? A 1964 Mustang, complete with the big engine, a Hurst four speed shifter, cherry bomb mufflers, and a rag top. We loved that car, with some reservations. (More on that in another story.)

The Interstate highway system construction was almost done. From Fargo to Minneapolis was mostly easy four lane freeway, with just a couple of jaunts on the old two-lane highways. As we got closer to Minneapolis, we ran out of freeway, just west of where the 494/694/94 flyover bridges are today. We got dumped onto a two lane road that had more traffic than I liked. The Mustang didn’t like driving slowly, in a straight line, driving nose to butt in heavy traffic, so we took a little detour south, away from the traffic. We wanted to get to the city faster.

How quickly can I get lost? It only takes one wrong turn, and we were driving around somewhere near Lake Minnetonka. It’s beautiful country, but it was getting late, we were tired and had no idea how to get back to the main roads. Fortunately we had stopped at a rest area to pick up a free map of Minnesota. The state updated maps every year, and with the road construction on Interstates moving along so quickly it was important to keep up to date with the maps. They were still out of date.

There was a long straight stretch, so Judy showed me the map, and we tried to figure out where we were. It’s not that easy to find yourself in strange territory. There are so many roads, and they all have straight sections and sharp curves. Both of us were now reading the map trying to find out where we really were. Continue reading

The Longest Dentist Visit – Ever

8047597258_c33b79f5dd_mI went to the dentist last week, and it reminded me of the time when I was in college and went to the dentist.

Money was short, so I didn’t go to the dentist often, and my dental hygiene habits weren’t as good as they are today.

As I settled into the reclining chair the dentist did a few quick probes around my teeth and asked the fateful question. “Would you like a free cleaning and checkup?” I didn’t need to know anything else. What could go wrong? This was toward the end of the school year and the dental hygiene students were getting ready for their state board exams. Part of the process was demonstrating skill at cleaning teeth. I was to be the subject of that examination process.

They asked me to return the next week for the cleaning appointment, which was an easy thing for me. Once again I settled into the reclining chair for what would be one of the most memorable experiences of my life. A cute young hygienist put the little blue bib around my neck and started working. Continue reading

The Draft Lottery – Sometimes you win

During the cold war, from the late forties through the eighties, the USA fought a number of proxy wars with the Soviet Union. The biggest by far was Vietnam. There are a number of movies about the war if you want to learn more about it. Apocalypse Now is the one that sticks in my mind. There were jungles, illicit drugs, killing, bugs, death, guns, humidity … all things that this North Dakota boy wanted nothing to do with. Needless to say I did not want to go.

The government needed cannon fodder and not enough young men volunteered to go to the killing fields. So they restarted the draft. To make it a little more fair, there was a lottery system. Each year they would draw numbers and assign that random number to a day of the year. The day to watch for was your birthday. That gave you your number. When you were eligible for the draft, your number went into the pool. First they took boys whose number was 1, then 2, then 3, and kept taking them until the infantry was full. You knew exactly where you stood.

The system wasn’t exactly fair, as there were a couple of ways to avoid the draft. My out was college. My number was 96. That was a relatively low number, but I had a deferment. Life was good. I went to school, got married, and generally enjoyed the student life while the other boys went to ‘Nam. That plan only worked for four years, then I went into the pool.  I graduated from college in 1972, so immediately lost the deferment.

There was a chance they wouldn’t take me, as they were drafting fewer people every year, so I didn’t do anything serious. Then I got the letter, sent to everybody with a number below 100, to have their pre-induction physical. The letter said to report to the courthouse in Jamestown for the screening physical. So I drove from Fargo, where we were living in married student housing, to the post office in Jamestown. It was a nice drive. From there they tried to herd us all onto the bus for a trip to the induction center. In Fargo!

It took a little fast talking, but I did manage to convince them to allow me to drive back to Fargo and meet them at the induction center. They probably thought I was trying to chicken out at the last-minute. It was an experience being lined up with all these strange farm boys in their underwear. They did all those things that you saw in the movies.

Walter Cronkite on the CBS evening news

Walter Cronkite on the CBS evening news

We were more than a little worried now, especially since I had just received an NSF scholarship for the upcoming school year. The scholarship would disappear if I wasn’t in school. We discussed options, including what the job market was like in Toronto. Draft dodging was big business in the seventies. My dad would have been unhappy, but I was ready to ignore that issue.

The draft was big news on the TV. Each month they’d announce how many were being drafted, and which numbers would be taken. I clearly remember being home (53 Bison Court) watching the little B&W 13″ TV set as Walter Cronkite announced that everyone with a number up to and including number 95 would be inducted into the service. Those over number 95 were free to go, thank you.

That was one of the happiest days of my life. How different life would have been had I been drafted and sent to war. Several of my friends were drafted and served in Germany, Washington, DC and other benign places, so there’s a chance I would have survived. Happily, I didn’t have to find out. This life turned out pretty good.Grandpa Guy Havelick


 

Our 1953 Cadillac

My love of Cadillacs goes back to those early years when I first knew Jim. He bought a black 1952 Coupe shortly after I met him. That was in about 1965, so the car was a little old, but still nicer than anything my family every drove. I learned to drive in that car and went on all the special dates (like Prom, Homecoming, Wedding) in the ’52.

1952 Cadillac on our wedding day

1952 Cadillac on our wedding day

The trunk of the car was big enough for everything four guys took to college the first week. During college my friends and I did significant work on the car. We rebuilt the carburetor, replaced the drive shaft and repaired some rust. When I went off to college and met the special young lady who would become my wife, Jim sold the Cadillac to me for One Dollar. Unfortunately, being young ones with hotter ideas in mind, and facing more repairs than we thought we could afford, we decided to sell the Cadillac and buy a ’65 Mustang convertible. Jim was pretty sad that I sold the car, he loved that black beauty as much as I would now. The Mustang was a fun car, but let’s just say it was neither practical nor reliable.

Within a couple of months Jim showed up at our door with a blue 1953 Cadillac sedan. That was in 1972. Jim had that car for years and made several trips to visit us driving the stately old dowager. We called the car the “Blue Lady.” While Jim owned the car he made several trips to Wisconsin from Jamestown with his mother and his Aunt Sis. Jim’s Aunt Sis was a very proper woman with blue hair who loved lots of activity in her life. The ladies would ride in subdued elegance, talking and working on their handicraft projects. One of their projects was hand-made Christmas ornaments. Jim’s mother and Aunt Sis passed away many years ago, but we still have dozens of those beautiful ornaments. Continue reading