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).

Friday, October 17, 2014

Hey Morris! Thoughts out and about in crisp 2014 fall

Entering UMM from the north: fine view (B.W. photos)
This post includes items that originally appeared on an addendum basis with recent Tiger sports posts on "I Love Morris." If you don't follow sports, you didn't catch these, and in any case I appreciate all readers!
Whither Morris' future?
I can remember the days when we had parking meters in Morris. That was when "downtown" was where you went to buy things and socialize. Men often went to the "pool hall."
Changing of the colors: beautiful fall scene at UMM.
Such was the primacy of the old "main street" in America, cities got revenue from parking meters. I
A view of Morris from the east, from by the river
Les Lindor helped make the WCROC "overlook" possible.
remember photographing an incident outside the Chamber of Commerce office in Morris, located where "Stephanie Foto" is now, where Congressman Arlan Stangeland's vehicle was about to be ticketed. He may have gotten a pass on that, most appropriately.
The Beatles had a song with the lyrics "Lovely Rita, meter maid."
Cartoonist Del Holdgrafer of Donnelly did a cartoon marking the end of that institution of parking meters in Morris. It had to happen. Economic geography was changing. The "Gibson's" store was a shot across the bow for that. I remember an apprehensive main street merchant saying sarcastically "I'm heading to Gibson's to get my 19-cent windshield scraper."
Go ahead and be sarcastic, people were going to be lured to these larger stores. The old main street model with its men's clothing stores and the like, was going to be "gone with the wind." Eventually people were lured not only by Gibson's (later to become Pamida and then Shopko) but to Alexandria, a much more practical destination due to cars being made more durable and reliable.
I chuckle whenever I see a sign outside of a community pointing me to a "business district." That term is a vestige of the old model. What the sign is really saying is, "main street is this way." Really, who cares? Main streets have largely become a quiet collection of businesses not nearly as attuned to the old walk-in model.
As some primary businesses in Morris seek a new location on the outskirts, out north of the highway by McDonald's, we have to wonder if our main street might be on the verge of actual blight. Maybe that term is too strong, so maybe I ought to stick with "quiet." Quiet and peaceful can be pleasant attributes but they don't make cash registers ring.
I have been hearing comments in a vein of levity about whether there are "enough financial services companies" to fill any holes on main street. When I was a kid we were scarcely aware of "financial services companies." People put money in the bank or they simply spent it. The stock market seemed a distant, mysterious and even rather foreboding place. It was a place where rich people played around with their money. Silly rabbit, rich people are never careless with their money. How do you think they got rich?
I have never accepted this new model that has common, middle class people lured into squirreling away money in non-FDIC investments. I have waited years to be vindicated on my thoughts about this, and maybe I still will be. As they say, if you wait long enough, the bears (on Wall Street) are always right.
In the old days in Morris, going downtown was rather a social occasion, especially on that one night of the week when stores agreed to stay open. You'd make your rounds, toting your sacks of items, and seeing your friends/neighbors. You might dine at the Del Monico Cafe, next to Messner Drugstore. That space is now occupied by Thrifty White Drug (on the west side of main street).
The Morris Theater might be abuzz for an Elvis movie. Today the theater survives as a co-op. I'm not sure it's worth the trouble. Some things are best left in the past, like parking meters.
So, Heartland Motors, Thrifty White Drug and Town and Country are re-locating, at least according to "word on the street?" This will bring a sea change unless other interests move into the vacated spots.
What will become of City Center Mall? Hats off to Floyd Schmidgall for his dream of building something classy on main street, and certainly that building is a pleasant place. Stevens County offices seemed to work out quite fine there. Stevens County used Floyd's space while the renovation or new construction of the courthouse was proceeding (a project I'm not sure we needed at all).
I heard positive comments about county offices being at City Center Mall. It was handy and on ground-level - truly "people-friendly." Of course, government doesn't want an image that is too friendly.
I feel rather intimidated entering our courthouse now. If I'm there to pay a bill, I have to use an elevator. Offices that regularly receive checks should be on ground level. I was advised once that parking is available higher up on the building's east side, but the space often fills up. Not only that, you'll see law enforcement vehicles parked there which can be very scary. If some cop comes out of that building and sees your seat belt not on, you're toast.
Reports are coming in from around the USA of cops who can become very irritable and testy even during a seat belt stop which you'd think is trivial. In at least one instance, someone got shot by a cop. I try to keep my distance from these individuals (cops) as much as possible. They can be dangerous. "The system" has created this and there's apparently nothing we can do about it. All those citations bring in revenue to grease the wheels of government.
I expressed my frustrations about a seat belt stop with a city councilman (while we were waiting at McDonald's) and he responded with one word (and a smile): "revenue." I wouldn't smile so readily. At least keep your guns in holsters, guys (or women), and maybe consider not bringing them into restaurants.
If the drugstores vacate Morris' main street, that part of town is going to be challenged attracting "foot traffic." "Foot traffic" is an intangible - it means that the potential for commerce is always around. What will happen to those old drugstore spaces?
What if businesses invest a ton of money to re-locate and then the U.S. is beset by a fallen economy? Look what the stock market has done lately.
Here's a sudden thought: What if we learn after the economy tanks that Jim Cramer actually had all his money in bank CDs? Business news reporting may not be what it appears. I have read that "trading floors" are really only maintained as "a backdrop for the financial networks." Enron had faking trading desks. Don't let the media unduly influence you.
What is to become of the Morris "business district," that place where families would wander on that designated weekday evening with a festive air presiding, toting those sacks? Saying "hi," pausing to chat?
We have ushered out those parking meters long ago. Wasn't Marlene Reineke a "meter maid?" The main street men's clothing store is a museum candidate. Long ago, "hats" were a big part of their business, along with the traditional suits and ties. Today people dress "grubby" to go to church and no one cares.
Time marches on.
"Northstar" makes dubious return at UMM
The newsstands labeled "Northstar" were empty for quite a while into the new school year at the University of Minnesota-Morris. I wish that paper could have found the resources to publish a September issue, just as a gesture of "welcome back" or to prevent empty newsstands which seem rather pointless.
The Northstar apparently has its own lawyers who seem to date to be much sharper than the University's own lawyers. Congratulations to them. If UMM had its way, this publication would not have the leverage of its very own newsstands around campus. It doesn't deserve such a standing. Those prickly students could just go online, like we all can, find a platform for their ideas (if you can discern them past all the juvenile venting they do) and build an audience. That would make too much sense.
Instead we have this paper product called "Northstar" bringing attention to itself, to a degree far beyond what it deserves. These students are conservative or libertarian and are resentful. Perusing these papers, one senses they actually resent UMM. Aside from reasons of taste, this could be reason enough to try to shut them down.
Shut them down? But oh my, don't we have a First Amendment? Anyone who spouts about the First Amendment here is misguided, because this argument would only be apt if some sort of criminal conviction was being weighed based on a student's thoughts, ideas or writing. Of course no one is thinking on  those terms.
Journalists and editors can get removed from their positions, and publications can go under, due to the usual vicissitudes of the marketplace. The First Amendment is irrelevant in such cases. An editor of a campus paper could be seen as incompetent or injecting improper values, thus could be removed by whatever designated authority is in place. Maybe it would be the chancellor herself.
Journalists are not spared accountability just because of the First Amendment, which like all amendments can be misunderstood.
I have no doubt these Northstar students have some valid ideas worthy of airing. Have the principles behind affirmative action run their course? Is it time to start drawing the curtain on them? Are students unreasonably burdened by loan debt? This is a prime topic for discussion on college campuses now.
If only the Northstar students could hone in on these arguments in a more rational, level-headed way, we could appreciate their points more. There seems anger behind the so-called "satire" in the Northstar - at least I sense this. It has the effect of putting UMM administration and faculty members on the defensive. It perhaps distracts them from applying their full focus to their jobs. It might have a demoralizing effect. They wouldn't like admitting this. They project an air of indifference, probably.
The Northstar does not deserve to be one of the two on-paper student publications on campus. It almost seems like a classic college gag. It shows chutzpah on its cover, proclaiming that it's "classy (for a change)" and that it's a publication that students actually "talk, read and care about." I suppose people would "talk" about me too if I publicly farted.
Classy? A publication that finds it necessary to refer to Chancellor Jacqueline Johnson's vagina? To assert that "Jacquie Johnson is rape culture?"
Part of the college experience is learning to respect and defer to the people who are paid to lead/teach you. If you feel you do not need this leadership, then maybe you don't belong at UMM or in college at all. Maybe you're too smart to be here. Well then, why not just move along?
That curious new fence by McDonald's/Coborn's
Are we seeing "range wars" in Morris? Just kidding, and there's no barbed wire involved, but a fence is piquing curiosity among the local citizenry. That rather odd fence in the Coborn's parking lot - excuse me, Coborn's doesn't exist anymore - is requiring some adjusting.
Of course, that parking lot isn't the beehive it once was. Coborn's and McDonald's together once attracted lots of motorists who filled parking spaces. At that time, in the heyday of that spot in Morris, no one much cared about any property dividing line in the parking lot. Both businesses were doing fine. I guess it's different now.
It seems the property owner for the blighted old Coborn's building wants everyone to know there is indeed a property dividing line. Hey it's just a parking lot! It does have value, though, even with the Coborn's building vacated and tumbleweeds blowing out front. It's nice to have that "breathing space" with the ample paved parking.
There's even an old "no loitering" sign on the lot's edge! We should be so lucky as to have loitering on that end of town. To the extent there was ever any loitering out there, it never bothered me. It's even rather nice to see such activity. People and traffic are what a town is all about, or should be.
Now we see a property owner who apparently sees fit to make a statement about how a certain piece of parking space is theirs. Never mind that those interests don't seem to be serving Morris' interests at all right now. It's just vacated, empty space around a rather embarrassing old building with its sign that proclaims "open 24 hours." That would be nice if it were true. Now we don't have a true 24-hour grocery store.
The "for sale" sign has had the name of Dennis Miller on it. It would be nice if this were Dennis Miller the comedian, so maybe we wouldn't have to take these gestures seriously. One look at the fence and you sense there's a conflict afoot.
I suppose McDonald's has been approached about buying the parking space. Is it a fair price or more of an extortion-type price? Who ever heard of a fence in the middle of a parking lot serving no apparent purpose?
It's common for semis, tour buses and school buses to pull in there. The space is now insufficient for all that.
Really, the City of Morris has an interest in this. And BTW, how come City Manager Blaine Hill hasn't put up any new blog posts for several months? Might he feel pressure to try to explain what happened at the library?
I realize that property brings certain rights - it's an underpinning of our way of life. But there's also such a thing as common sense and civility. We're not in a big city where such principles can be disregarded or blown off. We're Morris. We're a Garrison Keillor-type town. We don't need to resort to lawyers for every little thing, do we?
I do know we have an overly aggressive police department. That's actually rather scary. In these days when news reports of trigger-happy police are surfacing, it's concerning. Those dudes carry guns!
We recently learned of a case where a young guy who pulled into a parking lot and took off his seat belt before coming to a stop, was accosted by a law enforcement person who proceeded to shoot him! That officer has been fired and charged. In Ferguson MO the situation has been more murky.
The way Morris Police give seat belt citations is disgusting. I just hope they keep their guns in their holsters. I'd like to see local restaurants stop serving law enforcement personnel in uniform. That would send a message. Perhaps we need a complete housekeeping from the top down.
Will the Homecoming parade be rescheduled? Let's hope.
Passion behind cross country, running
Writing about cross country makes me remember the days when I ran 5Ks and 10Ks. Looking back, the 5K distance would have been entirely adequate for all such events. We sought to "tough it out" for the longer distance.
Running hard for five kilometers will tax your body to the max. If you run ten kilometers, just run slower and enjoy the scenery. Of course, many people become possessed to run the marathon. "Possessed" can be interpreted literally. I think it's a strange lure - this desire to run continually (or nearly continually) for 26.2 miles. That's running from here to Benson.
Now that I have castigated marathon runners, let me hurriedly add that I ran three marathons in my halcyon days. However, I never trained specifically for any of those marathons.
I ran the Twin Cities Marathon three times in the fall of the year. It was after the summer in which I made the rounds for doing 5Ks and 10Ks in our placid rural outstate communities. I remember one year having to beat the train across an intersection doing the 10K for the Elbow Lake Flekkefest - really. I also remember that race fondly for how kids in troll costumes would dash out and "scare" you in various places.
I remember that in Ashby, I went to the concession stand at the softball tournament to ask directions for where the runners were gathering. They laughed because all the runners were coming there to ask directions. I remember that for the Dumont Centennial, there was a breakdown with the stopwatch and so, after sweating hard to do a good 10K, we couldn't even find out our time. Oh, it's no biggie.
I did a run for the Donnelly Threshing Bee during that brief time when the Bee included this event. I handed my camera to Mrs. Spohr who took newspaper photos for me as I ran.
These small-town runs were charming with their very peaceful atmosphere and the camaraderie us runners felt. It was the stuff of a country music song. From that setting I sprang to the Twin Cities Marathon in three different years, where of course the atmosphere was quite different, quite thrilling really. It was neat running amidst that virtual sea of runners at event's start. There would be TV helicopters hovering overhead. We certainly didn't see that at Dumont!
Yes, I ran those marathons without training specifically for them. I just considered them an extension of the summer running season. I firmly believe you do not need to train specifically for very long distances. What you do, is run several 5Ks and 10Ks with maximum intensity and commitment, and then just "tack on" that marathon experience at the end. You'll be ready. In fact, you'll perform better in the marathon with this approach, as opposed to the approach where you simply get ready for the long distance. Just use common sense and pace yourself when you do the marathon.
It's exhilarating in the Twin Cities to have fans cheering you on, the whole way. I remember a band playing at Minnehaha Park. One year I wore a long-sleeve T-shirt that had "New York City Marathon" on the front, and was acknowledged accordingly by all the spectators along the way. I have been to "The Big Apple" twice but have never done the New York City Marathon.
I remember doing a 10K in Fargo where I broke 40 minutes for the first time. I nearly broke three hours in my first Twin Cities Marathon in 1984. Considering my large and somewhat lanky stature, that was a quite excellent time. I failed to do better in my next two Twin Cities Marathons. However, I did enjoy picking up my complimentary package of Pillsbury microwave brownie mix when registering!
I developed injury excuses as the years went on, like all runners. Today I swear I could "do it again," although every time I try, I quickly run out of gas. There was a time when I felt I could impress women by doing this, but I was wrong.
The best runners are very light and wispy. Carrying minimal weight is absolutely essential. We can fail to appreciate how small these people are, because when they're photographed, they're often with each other.
Alan Page gained note for taking up the pastime after his football playing days. Certainly his body didn't seem to lend itself, but he enjoyed. I did a springtime race in western Wisconsin where Page was present. He has been on the Minnesota Supreme Court for a long time. I hope he doesn't show head injury symptoms.
I have a rich tapestry of memories from my running experiences of the 1980s and into the 1990s. A sore right foot caused me to quit. Today I can jog short-term without having that pain re-surface, but if I try taking it a step further, it's no-go. My right foot will feel like an alligator is biting it. So. . .
I congratulate the intrepid cross country runners of Morris Area Chokio Alberta. Stick with it, guys and gals. And don't worry about trolls.
Reprise of a fun old story
Here's a favorite humorous story that I believe was originally brought to my attention by Della DeGier, office manager for the Morris Sun Tribune. Della is deceased. She and I had an old-fashioned workplace sense of humor. That kind of irreverence has been getting ushered out. Joe Tetrault, also deceased, used to address Della as "Delilah."
There was a young man once with a passion for baked beans, although they had a rather unpleasant side effect with him. He met a young lady and fell in love, whereupon he realized that she would stand for none of this and that once he got married, he'd have to sacrifice the beans. Then one day he was driving home and his car broke down. He parked it and decided to walk, whereupon he passed a diner where the aroma of freshly baked beans overwhelmed him. He figured he could have some and then walk off any ill effects, so he ordered three big servings. He putt-putted his way home, where he was greeted by his wife, who informed him that she had a wonderful surprise awaiting him, but she'd have to blindfold him. She led him into the dining room and sat him down at the table, his blindfold securely on. Then the phone rang and she said she'd be back in a couple minutes. In the privacy of the room, the young man had some unfinished business so he lifted up a leg and "let fire," followed by some other blasts until there was a real "prize winner." He grabbed his napkin and fanned the air to disperse the ill effects. Then his wife returned and said "I have the most wonderful surprise for you tonight." She removed the blindfold, whereupon the man was treated to the sight of several of the couple's closest friends, all seated around the dinner table next to him - guests for dinner that night.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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