|Faith Lutheran Church, Morris, w/ its large roof|
My confirmation class was at the height of the baby boom, so we were arranged in multiple rows. Today the church generally has just a handful of graduates or whatever they're called. The situation gets cloudy when the kids of First Lutheran and Faith Lutheran are combined.
The combining of First and Faith resources has become, at least in my mind, a sticky wicket. Maybe there should just be one church. If one of the two buildings had to be picked, it would be Faith because it's handicapped or elderly-friendly. First Lutheran is woefully deficient in that category. First has so many structural issues, I wouldn't want to specify them - too embarrassing. A sheet of ice develops in spring leading up to the elevator entrance door. It's a disaster waiting to happen.
There's a long walk from the elevator to the sanctuary. At Assumption Church you step out of the elevator basically right into the sanctuary.
It would be fun for our family to visit Assumption again for the Thanksgiving dinner, but that event hasn't been held for several years. It's a black mark for this community: the cancellation of that event, so helpful for people for whom it isn't practical to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal - elderly people, singles, shut-ins etc. If there were problems, they should have just been solved. If people weren't contributing enough money, then a set charge could have been established at the door. If the delivery system got unmanageable, cancel it. The solution wasn't to cancel the whole thing.
Prairie Inn used to have a buffet meal for Thanksgiving. That was discontinued. Is all of this evidence of Morris' general decline as a community? I was told there was one place we could dine out for Thanksgiving: the hospital. That shouldn't be the only choice.
First Lutheran has a row of photos of pastors who have served that church. The pastor's position has been such a revolving door, it might be impractical to continue all those photos. I recently heard a long-time member of First say: "There's no life in this church."
We have a new pastor now who in his first two weeks gave sermons that were depressing beyond any purposes for that content. I don't want to hear a story about a family dog, a beagle, wandering off one night to be dispatched by the neighboring farmer who had complained about the dog. I don't appreciate hearing a story about a kid who gets accidentally shot during some play around guns. I can stay home and be in a happier and more constructive frame of mind.
First and Faith should maybe combine and have a new church built, according to all the contemporary specifications, out along that development strip on the north end of town. How about a nice Wal-Mart style parking lot? No longer would Faith Lutheran be "the church on the other side of the tracks."
First and Faith are both located in the old residential core of Morris that is showing its age. Compare those homes to the new homes built on the east edge of town, out toward the river.
The Wednesday night "burgers and blessings" event at the Old No. 1 got canceled this week. Why? Yes, Faith had its big annual fall supper that night, but First had its supper the previous Wednesday, and "burgers" wasn't cancelled. Does all this tell us that Faith is a more significant church than First? Is First Lutheran just limping along?
I wish we could have kept Chris Richards as pastor. It isn't fair for the synod to disallow this. The synod has its own problems as with embezzling.
We had to wait many years before the bike trail became reality. Now of course we take it for granted, and on any given warm weather day - even on cool ones - you'll find walkers, bike riders and dog walkers enjoying the serene surroundings close to the lazy flowing Pomme de Terre River.
I remember going out there as a media person to give some attention when this feature first became reality, and thinking "wow." I remember coming upon Nancy Erdahl who was out walking the dog, a large setter as I recall.
When I was a kid the bypass hadn't even been constructed. The wonderful natural environment close to the river, with its butterflies and dazzling wildflowers, was pretty remote to us.
"They were built because of prudent management of school district resources," this now-deceased individual told me. "If you say 'left over funds' you'll be in trouble with the superintendent. . .again!"
That dirt road east of town was used by the Morris High School cross country team for early-morning workouts. If it weren't for that, I might not have been aware of its existence. Perhaps a new housing development was envisioned as a possibility out there. What we have today is the Rileys' townhome development on one end, right off the bypass. The rest of that dirt road is as barren as it ever was, making you wonder "What was the purpose of this?"
Further to the east you'll find that wondrous bike path/walking trail. There are gazebos and benches enhancing the route. Also there's a spur that goes right down to the river's edge, on the west wide of the river. You might "spook" some Canada geese there certain times of the year!
If you find the people at work seem like the Cyclops character in The Odyssey, just go to this peaceful place for a while. Its serenity is an antidote.
Those big Skyview apartment buildings could never have been envisioned years ago, before the bypass came into being. The housing development east of the bypass with its "McMansion" type houses couldn't have been envisioned either. Only my Boy Scout acquaintance with his forward-looking images of recreation might have been able to see all this in his imagination.
This individual went on to play football for the University of Minnesota-Morris Cougars and get a tryout in the NFL. I haven't written his name yet but I've given enough clues. It was Cary Birch.
Remember Cary, the big, bruising ballcarrier?
We've had an unseasonably warm April in which many people have gotten out to the bike path for healthy exercise and communing with nature. If you do the full "lap" you should know it's four and a half miles, according to Myron Syverson who made it a project to find out. Myron enjoys bicycling.
We should all remember the Birch family as we make our rounds out there.
Back when I was with the Morris newspaper, I felt obligated to collect photo caption information all the time. I just assumed everyone would want to know the photo details. I also assumed that newspaper management would want the job done. Were I to show up at the office and say I hadn't gotten caption information, I would risk having people absolutely scream at me, calling me 100 kinds of stupid. The newspaper once had an editor who would be more courteous to Jacob Wetterling's abductor than to me. It's a line of work that can make people temperamental.
Maybe the news department people are just trying to justify their importance. Because truth is, it's the advertising department that prevails in terms of real importance, while the news department is just a trivial little matter off to the side. I'm not saying news isn't important, I'm just saying it's the ad department that pays the bills.
Times change. The Morris Sun Tribune newspaper, ever since I left, has tended to run collages of photos of major events with no caption information at all! How easier my life would have been, if I had been spared that responsibility. It's a 180-degree difference. I would use a pencil for the Parade of Lights, because the cold temperature would knock out a pen. One year I thought I had photographed all major or interesting floats, only to find out later that one of the award winners was one I didn't deem worthy.
There is a photo of the late Willie Martin in the Parade of Lights, on display at that sit-down area of Willie's Super Valu. I took that photo! Please pay special attention sometime. Willie radiated with the spirit of that event, and of Christmas itself.
How good was the 2015 Parade of Lights? We didn't take it in. Even on a relatively good night in November, the cold can be a barrier. I hope it was fine.
If you aren't stunned (or souped) by the suspense of the game, maybe a little alcohol in the refreshments will do it. I would guess the extent of alcohol in Super Bowl party drinks is much less than in the days when the Minnesota Vikings played in four Super Bowls. Back then, social drinking was fashionable and DWIs didn't have the disastrous consequences of today.
I remember watching the Minnesota Vikings play the Pittsburgh Steelers in a dormitory lounge at St. Cloud State University (Shoemaker Hall). The campus was within easy walking distance of so many bars, I'd have a hard time listing them all. We're wiser and safer today. Or you might say "what were we thinking?"
The Bill Brown fumble (on a kickoff) stands out from that Super Bowl vs. the Steelers. Of the four Super Bowls the Vikes played, this one afforded the best chance to win. But it wasn't meant to be, just as it wasn't meant to be for this year's Vikes to make the big circus at all.
So we'll be watching the Saints play the Colts in this year's Super Bowl. Many of us will be at parties where bowls of crunchy snacks, bratwurst and cold, alcohol-free refreshments will be left and right. By day's end we'll feel drugged and most certainly will sleep soundly, perhaps with visions of next year's Vikings playing in the Super Bowl. (If Sly Stallone can keep making "Rambo" movies, Brett Favre can keep playing quarterback.)
I read a couple years ago how the kind of snacks people consume at Super Bowl parties have an unintended and unpleasant consequence: flatulence. This article stood out for me among the sea of predictable, frivolous and vapid feature coverage of Super Bowl weekend in the media.