History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Eerie: old school seems like it's still there

Remember the art deco auditorium?
My old kindergarten room is at left. - B.W.
People who have had limbs amputated sometimes have senses indicating to them the limb is still there. I was reminded of this when driving by the old school site recently. I can't really internalize that it's gone. 
It's easy to visualize the days gone by. That land is a barren, quiet open space now. It has no value other than offering some peace, and maybe there's something to be said for that. What an open expanse of flat land next to 7th Street. The old football field looks like a good place for, well, a football field.
That flat space would be wonderful for soccer. We need to push soccer locally as an alternative to football. Soccer has in fact been played on the old school property. I'm not sure how welcome we are to even take walks over that space. Someone I know went there with a metal detector one day and was approached by a City of Morris official and asked to leave. "We're trying to sell it," he said he was told.
East 7th Street used to be the main entry to Morris from the east. What different times those were. There was a neighborhood grocery store (where I got my baseball cards), a drive-in restaurant and a Dairy Queen along the street. That drive-in was the "Pylin," an establishment that we might see in "American Graffiti."
The Dairy Queen had cones that were a nickel unless you wanted the "larger" size: a dime! We'd check out the Lesmeister establishment for its "Army surplus" stuff like canteens, knapsacks, Swiss army knives or whatever. The grocery store satisfied our comic book needs.
The school property was a community hub. It's 180 degrees from that now. The change is so extreme, we use our imagination to try to inject some life there, thus we have that phenomenon like what amputees reportedly experience.
I think it was a little sad at the end, this community meme of "dissing" the old school, like it was a disaster needing to be torn down sooner rather than later. Well, it certainly wasn't torn down sooner. Was there ever really any potential for re-use? There was a lot of rhetoric about that alleged potential. It reminds me of a William F. Buckley book title: "Have You Ever Seen a Dream Walking?"
Remember the talk of a "green community?" Didn't someone win an award for some blueprint presenting that? Another "dream walking." 
The University of Minnesota-Morris was able to get its "green dorm" built. As my old friend Glen Helberg, RIP, would say: "UMM can always get the money." The old buildings on the campus have been deemed worthy of upgrading, ever mindful of the history they represent. UMM cherishes that combination of old and new.
The old "erector set" of public school buildings didn't have any special advantages. Once abandoned, they rotted. Consider the history of trying to keep those buildings vital. It's sad it turned out to be a completely losing battle.
The abandoned buildings have finally been removed. To what benefit? We can now see all the way from Sixth Street over to the cemetery. Will some grand new project take over that space? Maybe. But maybe the whole U.S. economy will be crashing soon, as interest rates are set to rise. Janet Yellen, "Old Yeller," has delivered the usual coded Federal Reserve language to indicate that. A bubble may be about to burst. Maybe we as a society deserve it, given the way sheer greed has taken over so much of our thoughts.
Whither humanistic values?
Up until now, we have accepted that anyone who shows up at a hospital needing treatment is going to get it, regardless of financial circumstances (which can somehow be addressed later). Various politicians like in Georgia, are questioning that, applying pressure to end that status quo. These are tea party-type politicians on the political right, the same sphere that includes the self-professed leaders of Christianity on "the Christian right."
Millennials are known to not be attracted to organized religion. We can come up with theories as to why. Regarding the essential medical care that people need, we must ask ourselves: What would Jesus do? Wouldn't Jesus want to see an expansion of Medicaid? Wouldn't Jesus say that everyone deserves medical care? What about the many thousands of people who die because they don't have insurance? How would Jesus assess that? What would Pope Francis say?
The insurance model does not work for health care. That's because health care is something we all need. There has to be a tax, and those are fighting words for tea partiers and all the right wing "Christian right" zealots, who I guess feel we're all on our own.
A huge economic crash, a collapse of the bubble, might be the best thing that ever happened to this country. It'd teach us a lesson. God's wrath. 
Cemetery expansion weighed
Some have suggested the old school property could be used as expansion for the cemetery. You know what I think? Cemeteries may not be essential. When a loved one dies, how about just expecting a dignified disposal of the remains? Do we even need to bother with ashes?
As far as memorializing the deceased, how about an elaborate tribute website that would stay online forever? It would have all the bells and whistles. A person 100 years from now could visit that site and get familiar with the deceased within minutes. It seems far superior to a gravestone.
It takes time for these new sensibilities to set in. My family established a plot at the local cemetery because we never weighed any options. We're the kind of family that never talked about death - too unpleasant. When the time came, we went along with the "legacy" approach. We have a nice bench type of monument out at the cemetery on the open east end. I will arrange for flowers there this spring.
Looking back on the ridiculously high cost of a funeral and marker, I would much rather have given most of that money as community memorials to worthy causes. Oh, we did some of that anyway. I wish we had given more. Some of our friends gave on our behalf. That was nice.
Consider how much funerals cost. It isn't worth it. The deceased is gone and in a better place. A local minister says "people don't go to funerals anymore." He says that among other things, it can be hard getting off work, because you know, we worship the almighty dollar now. Recently we learned of a company that regulates bathroom breaks.
A fair number of people attended my father Ralph's funeral. God bless all those who shared condolences, even if it was just in your thoughts.
When people get very old, they end up with few close friends or associates who would attend a funeral. The old associates may have preceded them in death, or are slowed to where they can't get around. Medical science is expanding lifespans all along. In an earlier time, say the early 20th Century, many people died young and they'd attract large grieving crowds to final rites. Today, when a very old person dies, we feel greater acceptance at the end, as if that person lived life to the fullest and it was "time to go."
A cemetery on the old school property? It might come down to either that or nothing. I'm not sure why that whole property had to be abandoned for school purposes. It's a stone's throw from UMM. Except you'd have to get around a cemetery (Summit).
I know I used to feel like dying when we'd have to run the 1600 meters for phy. ed class (LOL).
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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