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).

Monday, February 29, 2016

H.S. post-season games not what they once were

I've had some recent conversations regarding the current state of post-season youth sports. I have offered comments on my "I Love Morris" site suggesting we want optimal fan turnout for such games. I remember the old days of games played at our UMM P.E. Center, where many decibels emanated. You didn't expect any real long trips for post-season games unless you were fortunate enough to make the section finals or state.
Today fans are routinely expected to make long, seemingly illogical trips very early in the post-season. I think it's rather crazy in some instances. Why should MACA and Minnewaska fans have to travel to Granite Falls for a second-round tournament game? This type of obligation has become typical, it would seem, but are fans complaining? Perhaps not. Perhaps this is just the new norm.
A long-time Tiger sports follower contacted me to say that realistically speaking, only the parents and some hard-core fans are expected at many of the post-season games of today. Why? We've conceded to the new model where there are so many activities and people are so spread out, we just accept some of these ragtag fan followings - no big deal.
I remember the days when the Wheaton girls basketball team would fill the P.E. Center here, with their fans all adorned in red and the band building a sense of drama. I'm old-fashioned. I still associate certain trappings for tournament games. I'm 61 years old and I guess I'm hopeless.
The MACA boys had just two post-season games, the second being played at the desolate place called YME. What a downer. Minnewaska absolutely killed us in the first half. Our fans must have been chagrined and upset. If they weren't, they're in a different universe from me. I bumped into a parent Sunday at DeToy's. That father said "we looked like we'd never played together before."
Why such a disaster? Fans invest considerable time and spend money following this team all winter. And it culminates in this? I have put my toe in the water and suggested that maybe coaching was a factor. Maybe it's time we all shed our inhibitions and talk more openly about this. Inhibitions? Yes, there are certain taboo limitations in Morris, inexplicably because sports would seem like a harmless, innocuous topic.
Back in the old days when Torgy first got the appointment, you didn't dare air a skeptical comment, because you'd risk being ostracized and being insulted to your face on the harshest personal terms, by people who built their bonds at house parties with popcorn, soft drinks and maybe an alcoholic drink or two. I had to occasionally make phone calls to such places to get sports info/comments, and I'd decipher all this with a background of the usual party noises and banter. What a waste of time (to be at such a party).
I felt that when Morris lost to Staples at Concordia-Moorhead in the year after we took second in state, it was the most clear-cut case of being out-coached I've ever seen. We had essentially our whole team back. My coverage after this suggested that all wasn't right in Tiger-ville. I made no blatant comments because I was shrewd enough to not cross the line, but let's just say I used some selective reporting. I felt I had to be honest: an attitude that has often made me an outlier in this community, because I don't go to those parties or join in with the good old boys. The good old boys of the community strive to keep everyone in line. As if the whole world cares about the state of Morris athletics anyway. Well I do care, and I care enough to try to share constructive observations irregardless of what way the political winds are blowing.
Staples in that pivotal game was constantly setting up drives to the basket. It was plain as day: Lynn Peterson had his players in a deliberate scheme to get high-percentage shots or to draw a foul. Time after time it worked. Morris? We would sort of lethargically pass the ball around the perimeter and sometimes there'd be an impulsive shot from outside, and sometimes there'd be one of those lob passes inside to Kevin Loge who would attempt a contested jumper while falling back. We lost.
Some parents made a maudlin display of assembling behind the Morris bench in the game's waning moments, showing the world "we still love our sons even though this game was a disaster." It needn't have been a disaster. Kevin Loge didn't have to withdraw from basketball in his post-high school years. I don't care if Kevin himself contacts me and says everything turned out fine - he definitely had a fire in his belly with hoops over most of his youth. I think he needed better guidance from coaches in his last two years of varsity play. I think he ended up feeling a little disoriented as he tried making the adjustment to Division I college basketball. You have to be prepared to the max to plunge into Division I, and even then it's hard.
If Kevin thinks he's happier now, then I congratulate him. But I think he had the potential not only to play Division I but of feeling fulfilled playing Division I.
It may be the whole community assumes our coach Torgerson has a lifetime appointment, and that we defer to him for an explanation regarding underachieving. I don't, but I guess I have never reflected the mainstream of thinking, or alleged thinking, in Morris MN. (I used to call us "Motown" in headlines.)
Dennis Rettke wanted to appoint Chris Baxter as boys basketball coach. We'll never know how that would have worked out, and that bothers me. It has never stopped bothering me. Why do I care? I don't know, maybe I shouldn't.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, February 26, 2016

Jerry Kill in odd dance with U of M big shots

Jerry Kill of "Jerrysota"
Put aside whether Jerry Kill was really a good football coach. The party line up until recently is that he was, and as a result there was a marketing type of machine putting out puffy quotes about the man who came to Minnesota because of a job. Now he's gone. This man of transitory fame here has moved into what I'm sure is a fine lake home outside Carbondale. That's in Illinois. Ski-U-Mah, eh?
These household-name types can end up coming off as shallow people. They aren't really in a people business, they're in a money business. They have learned a racket.
Fans salivate over Big 10 sports entertainment. The University of Minnesota wants to erect its athletics village. That will be quite an erection. Maybe it will be a white elephant. How quaint to think back to when Lou Holtz simply wanted some new football practice facilities built. One step begets another. Salesmanship, including selling yourself, trumps people skills. Those household names who get quoted in the Star Tribune do nothing more to add to our quality of life than our local sports coaches. The dollar figures get astronomical, as our late Willie Martin would suggest.
Big 10 football is about attracting the biggest, meanest, fastest dudes you can, so they can knock opposing players on their keister.
Jerry Kill became lionized on dubious grounds. Some of the movers and shakers were so upset with Joel Maturi for giving us the Tim Brewster regime, they went out of their way placing Kill on a pedestal. What did Tim Brewster ever do to Bob Stein? Stein gave quotes not only praising Kill, hyperbole dripping, he implied that the predecessor must have been the most hapless person on Earth. It was almost worthy of parody.
I remember when Patrick Reusse used parody in response to all the criticism of Vinny Testaverde when Vinny was struggling early in his NFL career. Reusse in the spirit of parody described Testaverde as "that oxygen-consuming waste of the Earth's space." That's what Stein was suggesting about Brewster, that he was "an oxygen-consuming waste of the Earth's space." What a business to be in: football coaching.
For as long as it was in the U's interests to promote Kill, they did so zealously. I saw through the facade. The U had just two legitimate wins this past football season, over Purdue and Illinois, while an asterisk could readily be attached to our other wins over low-caliber teams, like in our bowl game played in that sun belt city of Detroit. We beat a Mid-American Conference team: the Chippewas of Central Michigan. Chippewas? Can they keep that nickname?
Oh, kudos to Bob Stein for his role getting the Timberwolves here. I was at the first Timberwolves regular season home opener at the Metrodome, and my friend and fellow fan Rick Lucken got a chance to chat briefly with Mr. Stein. That was back in 1989. The Jacob Wetterling family came out to center court to a loud acclamation before the game. The tragic case of their son's abduction has never been solved. The Timberwolves lost to Michael Jordan and the Bulls. It was a fun night.
As time passes, we'll increasingly question our hiring of Jerry Kill here. Actually that concern might be upstaged by the general concern over whether our august institutions of higher learning should even continue to sponsor football. The rate of horror stories re. former players deteriorating, has accelerated beyond what we might have expected. It was enough just to get the movie "Concussion" with Will Smith. Personally, I thank the good Lord I never even tried to play football. I'm 61 years old and I can be confident my cognitive skills will remain sound (even though my critics might differ).
To the extent we still care about U of M football on a serious level, let's consider what the Star Tribune reported Thursday (2/25). Jerry Kill as we all know had to give up the coaching reins due to longstanding health issues. He left amidst showering and dripping good will, manifested in that stupid "Jerrysota" flag that we saw before the game vs. Michigan.
We might have expected that Kill, having been given this hero's mantle by the likes of Stein and others, would want to return the favor and find a way to contribute to the U. His contract described "potential" posts he could take here, for a nice little compensation sum of $200,000 per year - hey, it's only money, as we are always told in Vegas - if he had to leave coaching. Well, he had to leave coaching. So, he steps into the office of Beth Goetz, that cute interim athletic director, and they toss ideas around.
For $200,000 you could get me to do a lot of things. But if there's another option, to just take a $600,000 lump sum payment and say "adios," boy I'd weigh that and I might be off to Carbondale.
Kill and Goetz "could not agree on the new role." What? How tough was this proposition? Then we read that the ol' coach went higher in administration circles, to Eric Kaler, the man from Stony Brook himself, and that "the two agreed that Kill would not have a permanent position at the University." Posturing and boilerplate "happy" quotes were quite evident, as per our expectations in such matters. While conflict was very evident, none is specified in the press coverage, it is merely inferred. The story "between the lines" in this coverage must be substantial.
How hard would it be for the parties to mutually agree on a package where the esteemed Mr. Kill could keep making contributions to the U?
Kill talked about the "very professional" talk he had with Kaler. Why would it be otherwise? "Professional" means that certain harsh feelings were harbored but (maybe) they didn't come out. Decorum. I say "bulls--t."
"I want to be involved with athletics," Kill was quoted saying. Wasn't he hired here to be the football coach? It was determined that his health limitations were too severe. Jim Souhan got in trouble writing about this. But in the end, wasn't Kill's regime disrupted and ended by this? Wasn't this bad news, "Jerrysota" notwithstanding?
Kill presents himself as virtuous, saying "I wanted to be around the kids more than anything." Translation: "I'm the good guy here." Could he still get Bob Stein in his corner?
Ah, "Being around the kids."
"That wasn't part of the offer," Kill said. "I understand that, but that was the deal-breaker for me." Deal-breaker. Why would Kaler want to be the evil deal-breaker? Kaler gave a whopper of a boilerplate comment, to be expected of someone in his shilling role, giving Kill a big pat on the back while perhaps secretly giving a hand gesture of "up yours."
"Jerry Kill is an asset to the University of Minnesota athletic program and the broader community," Kaler said.
The community of Carbondale IL?
Kaler and Goetz spoke of how Kill might still make contributions to the U, but the Strib headline said "Kill, U part ways after they can't agree on job."
Ah, what a tangled web we weave (when we engage in public relations).
Kill's salary last year was $2.5 million. He was due to get a $100,000 raise each subsequent year. He had a medical condition clause in his contract, so he had the option to seek disability benefits as a U employee, or. . .take the $600,000 payment. These people live in a different world from the rest of us. So I presume he stuffed that $600,000 into his saddlebags and is trotting off to the Land of Lincoln: Illinois.
Kill broke from the friendly decorum to say "I'm more hurt than I am mad." So he implied that he could actually be mad about what happened, after having money rain down on him like from the heavens, and to have a "Jerrysota" flag sewn up for him in his season of wins over Illinois and Purdue. Actually he was succeeded by that new fat guy coach before this past season ended.
The Strib reports that Kill "could eventually land at Southern Illinois, a school close to his home where he still has strong ties after coaching there from 2001to 2007."
So he'd maybe get involved there, even after experiencing that tremendous adulation here in The Land of 10,000 Lakes?
So, the "Jerrysota" flag wasn't enough. Think of the anonymity the rest of us toil in. Kill, Kaler and Goetz are in a "twilight zone" sort of world where behind closed doors you find all the messy give and take that marks the mundane, normal world, but in public these people are celebrities, never mind we don't really know them.
A U of M donor was quoted being upset at the Kill resolution. "It's a slap in the face to coach Kill," this benefactor said, "and it's a slap in the face for fans of the University of Minnesota."
Dean Johnson, Regents chair and veteran of a conflict with our Minnesota Supreme Court, seemed chagrined, saying that dollars will now be harder to raise for that Land of Oz-like athletics village.
"I'll always be a Gopher," Kill said, never mind that he will have this orientation from Carbondale IL, and perhaps while he's serving Southern Illinois again. Are we all lemmings?
The reports of football's dangers are coming in fast and furious. The sport's promoters are whistling past the graveyard. It's possible the sport will go into a faster decline than we're all expecting. There is something quite primal about parents' love and protection for their sons, wouldn't you say?
Jerry Kill is one of the most overrated people ever to come to Minnesota, even though he might not be "an oxygen-consuming waste of the Earth's space." Come on, Bob Stein, get settled with your thoughts.
 
I blogged about Kill's liability with his health issues back in September of 2011. Ah, I was prescient? Didn't take a genius to have these thoughts. I invite you to click on the link to the post, and thanks for visiting my site.
http://ilovemorris73.blogspot.com/2011/09/coach-kills-health-distracts-from.html
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Cable TV news drones on, making me sleep

Marco Rubio, conservative
I woke up at about 5 a.m. this morning, as I always do, and decided to go back to bed. Normally I heat water, make some strong instant coffee, then turn on a cable news channel to begin digesting what's going on, what's causing "buzz."
There is no shortage of buzz these days, but so much of it is around the presidential race, and it's getting tarred by too much circus-like bravado. I'm just stating the obvious, right?
The news media landscape has paved the way for this. For one thing, the "race for the presidency" goes on way, way too long. The cable networks latch onto this like a horse craving its first oats of the day. They pick up on the various narratives and pour gasoline on them.
One cannot help but feel like a fool, consuming all this over a considerable period of time.
So I went back to bed at 5 and was in a semi-somnambulant state until about 8:30. I still didn't want to turn on cable news. So I tried a movie channel and found an old Jimmy Stewart western. I sampled it just to be reminded of the quality of that genre of movie from a previous time. I hung there until a horse got hurt. I have no stomach for that.
I took a look at cable news again, to find that this day (Saturday) did have a different twist: coverage of the funeral for Antonin Scalia. This is a man who made at least one racist or racist-tinged comment in his life, even recently. His apparently serious health issues should have prompted him to resign from the Supreme Court. Did he refrain from doing that, for no other reason than he didn't want President Obama to nominate a successor? Was he afraid of a "liberal" succeeding him?
Let's back off from this disturbing back-and-forth on whether something called "liberalism" should be allowed to advance in our public life. Many of us are far more "liberal" than we wish to admit. Scalia is being lionized in death not only as a dedicated justice, but as a dedicated "conservative" justice. This scares me. Jeb Bush has pushed his own conservatism by saying we need to abolish Medicare. Not that this statement has appeared to help him.
All advanced industrial nations are a combination of free market capitalism and socialism. It is my belief we are eventually going to get single payer health care. The trend toward this moves forward with a glacier-like force, quiet as a glacier too. In the meantime, so many of us fret about and scorn socialism, collectivism or other synonyms for those terms.
A guest on CNN upbraided a program host for reporting that Marco Rubio favored repealing "Obamacare." That's biased reporting because Rubio would "replace it with something," the guest implored. Really? Biased reporting? When Republicans want to replace an entitlement with something else, how truly helpful would that "something else" be for the common person? Oh, but Republicans don't care about the common person. Tax credits for buying private health insurance? Insurance burdens weigh increasingly on people.
Ever heard the expression "insurance poor?" We pay so much for insurance, there's little discretionary money left. Maybe it's best that we accept just paying a little more in taxes, or at least let's force all the shady hedge fund guys and their ilk on Wall Street to pay a few bills for the rest of us. We had better start tilting this way, or, in the event of a sharp economic downturn, we could have something akin to the French Revolution. Or, maybe something like what happened in 1930s Germany.
"Liberals" in the U.S. today are on the defensive, Bernie Sanders' rise notwithstanding. I could be wrong and maybe the worm will turn, but look at how many state houses across the U.S. are dominated by Republicans. The presidency is a bastion for the progressive folk, but we hear day after day such strong putdowns and disrespect from the Fox News folks, Rush Limbaugh etc., aimed at Democrats as if Democrats are truly evil. Tucker Carlson suggests that no one votes Democratic on the basis of principle.
I had an old college friend, Brad, very astute on politics, who said it was always hard to argue with Republicans on the basis of pure principle. "But Republicans don't care about people," he said. Do we all, deep down, really insist on another "conservative" justice on the U.S. Supreme Court? Do we, really?
How about a "liberal?" Hey, would it really kill you?
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Austin VerSteeg's '3' wins for Minnewaska over Tigers

Minnewaska Area 47, Tigers 46
The Tigers' home game against Minnewaska Area last Thursday (2/11) had a dramatic ending. It was not the kind of ending that had the home fans standing up and cheering. No, it was the Minnewaska Area fans who whooped when their Austin VerSteeg connected on a fadeaway '3'. The time remaining: nine seconds. It was the game-winner.
The Lakers came away with a 47-46 win over our Tigers. The win for 'Waska was good therapy for them: they had been on a skid, losing five of six leading into the Thursday contest. The skid didn't hurt the Lakers' record much. They came out of Thursday with a 16-7 record (6-6 conference). Our Tigers stayed over .500 too at 13-10 (a sub-.500 mark in league at 6-7).
Eric Staebler did all he could trying to prod the Tigers to victory, as he made four 3-pointers - quite the exhibition. He was complemented by these three Tigers each of whom made one '3': Robert Rohloff, Jacob Zosel and Camden Arndt. Staebler topped the scoring list as he often does, this time with 22 points, the only Tiger in double figures. Cam Arndt put in nine points. Then we have Zosel (6), Tim Travis (4), Rohloff (3) and Philip Anderson (2).
Staebler led the rebounding effort with 13. Zosel had four assists and Rohloff had three. Arndt stole the ball twice. We trailed by one point at halftime, 19-18.
The winning 'Waska effort was paced by two Lakers each with 14 points: Matt McIver and Austin VerSteeg. Greg Helander scored eight points, then we have Brandon French (4), Michael Gruber (3), Justin Amundson (2) and Jake Peters (2). Gruber, McIver and VerSteeg each made a three-pointer. VerSteeg snared seven rebounds. McIver set the pace in assists (3), and it was VerSteeg topping the steal effort with three. (I always wonder if there should be a space between "Ver" and "Steeg." I've seen it both ways.)
 
Breckenridge 74, Tigers 72
Another hard-fought game developed for Morris Area Chokio Alberta on Saturday, as they continued a pattern of playing on Saturday often this season. I'm not sure I like it. The frequent games seem to turn into a blur sometimes. On Saturday, Feb. 13, the Tigers dropped another close one. A fine Breckenridge team got its 14th win by a margin of two over our orange and black. The final horn sounded with the score 74-72. The score was deadlocked 32-32 halfway through this non-conference affair.
Breck was a prime district-level rival of our Tigers in my youth. We'd get irritated by that "green" color!
Eric Staebler kept demonstrating what an offensive force he can be. He poured in 25 points but it wasn't quite enough. Camden Arndt was quite on the mark with his offensive execution. Camden's point total: 21. Philip Anderson climbed into double figures with his ten points. Jacob Zosel put in eight points, then we have Tim Travis (4), Connor Koebernick (2) and Lukus Manska (2). Oh, this game was played in Morris. Let's enliven an otherwise sleepy Saturday!
Staebler made ten of 14 field goal attempts. Arndt was seven of 13. Zosel made two 3-pointers. Arndt and Staebler each made one long-ranger. We were four of 16 in three-point shooting. In freethrows our numbers were 12 of 17.
It was Arndt topping the list in rebounds with eleven. Staebler and Travis each collected nine rebounds. The top assist producer was Zosel with eight, and Travis had five. Rohloff, Arndt, and Staebler each had one steal.
 
Morris newspaper under duress?
This past Saturday's Morris newspaper was 22 pages, two less than the usual. The surprising thing is that this edition included the two tax pages, so you'd think they could actually bump up the size of the paper. But no, it's shrinking evermore, steadily, and should we really be surprised? Coborn's left us several years ago. Morris Auto Plaza deserted us for Alexandria. Cullen's closed up shop here. And then another significant advertiser, Thrifty White Drug, basically deserted us, downsizing to a degree that it's a tiny shadow of its former self.
It seems Thrifty White Drug pulled the rug out from under this community. It left a void in our main street, to be sure. The old drugstores were places that attracted a good amount of people traffic - you'd bump into your neighbors there and say "hello." No, it's a wasteland now. We can all go to Alexandria to be around people, including former Morris residents.
Let's all support the ShopKo pharmacy. The Morris newspaper still has "ad salespeople?" What are they selling?
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, February 8, 2016

Jesus Alou came along when name was an issue

I enjoyed the publication "Baseball Digest" in my youth. It was a collection of human interest articles about major league baseball. The publication appealed to true readers, not people who were turned on by lots of pictures and graphics.
I came across an article about the youngest of the three Alou brothers one day. I think I can remember the headline word-for-word. Surely this is the gist of it: "The newest Alou presents a problem." My, what was this problem? His first name was "Jesus." Several players with that name have come into the major leagues since. Jesus Alou was the first. Today we think nothing of the name, just like we think nothing of all the non-Anglo names that have become common in pro sports.
Let's backtrack to the 1950s and early '60s: major league baseball had what some people would call a "white bread" look, like an extension of "Father Knows Best" or other like shows, described by one cultural observer as "benevolent Aryan melodramas." Anglo names predominated.
I would suggest that big league ball was more of a dichotomy: the prevailing white players with names like "Bob Allison," and of course the black or "Negro" players who made inroads (not good enough, I'm sure) in the 1950s. The dichotomy in our society allowed the Jim Crow system in America's South. Being able to clearly differentiate between "white" and "black" made the system serviceable in its ugly way.
Society was of course headed toward change. the dichotomy was going to break down. The human race in the U.S. was going to become much more diversified.
Jesus Alou was part of the first great wave of Dominican players who came to the major leagues. Jesus was the 13th player with this background to join the bigs. His first name is not connected to the Christian savior. It's not pronounced that way either. The pronunciation is "hay-SOOS." The writer of the article in Baseball Digest was concerned about that first name, its identical spelling to the Savior. He was not alone. I am not going to fault him for his thinking at the time. Ethnocentric attitudes must often be considered in the context of the times. I must admit I wrinkled my forehead when first seeing the name.
 
Reacting to "different" names
Non-Anglo-sounding names often had us young white kids wrinkle our foreheads. Unfortunately we'd often react in a smart-aleck teasing way about such names. We might want to mock. Such was the outlook us boomer kids would have. We're ashamed reflecting on that now. We might not want to admit we reacted with amusement to the name "Bombo Rivera." Rivera was a Twin, remember? I remember a cringeworthy headline in the Star Tribune: "Bombo, Twins bomb Seattle." Ugh. first off, it's disrespectful in a headline to have a reference to someone by his first name. We all know what the paper was up to: finding levity in a name that seemed foreign to us. I seem to recall a Bombo Rivera fan club forming on the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota. It would not have existed were it not for the then-novelty of his first name.
These non-Anglo players must have felt offended and hurt. "What a strange land we're in now." Indeed, strangers in a strange land.
American writers and broadcasters were uncomfortable with the "Jesus" name, even though it was pronounced so separately from the Bible person. I read about this issue in Jim Bouton's seminal book "Ball Four." Bouton was a teammate of Jesus on the Houston Astros late in the 1969 season. Given that Bouton was a character with a "back of the bus" sense about things, he and his like fellows called the Dominican fellow "Jesus" with pronunciation like the Savior, or just "Jay." It seemed to be not out of dislike at all, rather it was out of a feeling of fun or irreverence.
I refer to "Ball Four" as seminal because it was a pioneering sports book that presented athletes as multi-dimensional human beings with faults.
Bouton informed us that Jesus was sensitive in the sense he might get sick or throw up easily. So when Doug Rader presented a birthday cake to someone in the clubhouse, a cake apparently decorated with a fake turd, Jesus had to run to the bathroom stall and throw up when everyone discovered that the turd wasn't fake! Rader then commented that he was "trying for a bow" with his decoration but that "I didn't make it." I think clubhouses are more serious places today. There's more money in baseball.
Baseball today is also a virtual rainbow of races, ethnicities and names. None of this turns heads anymore. "Father Knows Best" tried introducing us to multi-ethnic thinking with its Hispanic character "Frank Smith," remember? Well, the name wasn't ethnic.
 
Resistance to the name, but happy ending
When Jesus was about to begin his first season with the San Francisco Giants, a local writer asked local religious leaders about the situation. They all agreed he needed a nickname. They couldn't stomach a newspaper headline like "Jesus saves Giants." Writers often opted to call the young man "Jay."
In 1965 the player was quoted saying "what is wrong with my real name, Jesus? It is a common name in Latin America like Joe or Tom or Frank in the United States. My parents named me Jesus and I am proud of my name."
It took time, but by the end of his career, no one had any reservations about his real name anymore. Happy ending.
Jesus was one of three famous brothers to play in big league ball. There is an issue or quirk with the last name too. It should have been "Rojas" as in "Cookie Rojas" who I remember with the Philadelphia Phillies. Cookie played in the same infield as Bobby Wine, thus one clever writer came up with "days of Wine and Rojas." Rimshot.
Let's look at the "Alou" name issue: The family name in the Dominican Republic is the paternal family name. Jesus, Matty and Felipe should have been known as "Rojas." But, eldest brother Felipe and hence his brothers became known by the name "Alou" when the Giants' scout who signed Felipe mistakenly thought his matronym, "Alou," was his surname. The Rojas Alou brothers' maternal grandfather, Mateu Alou, was an immigrant from Felanitx, Spain, who emigrated to the Dominican Republic in 1898.
Felipe was the first Dominican to play regularly in the major leagues. Moises Alou is Felipe's son. Jesus had a 15-year baseball career, playing for the Giants, Astros, Athletics and Mets. He was a fine player but with one notable weakness: no inclination to draw walks at all. They say "a walk is as good as a hit" but that's not exactly true. A walk puts you in position to score but it can't drive in runners from second and third.
On July 10 of 1964, Jesus went six-for-six with five singles and a home run. He had a tic when batting: jerking his neck, which he said was just a mental thing. Such are the kind of things we remember about our old baseball heroes.
Jesus was a very friendly and sensitive player who teams just liked having around. Even in the midst of gags like with the birthday cake.
 
Addendum: When my ninth grade French teacher wanted us to adopt French names, I was read a list and picked "Philippe" because it sounded like "Felipe" of the Alou brothers! I didn't realize until later the spelling was different.
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Let's revive memory of "Doc" Ederer, gifted author

A book by Dr. B.F. Ederer
I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Bernard Ederer in the 1980s. His hair was white but his mind was sharp. I met him at an event at the Morris American Legion. "Doc" was a life member of our Post 29 of the Legion. I became familiar with the dentist/author in my youth. Our family obtained his book "Birch Coulie" from either the public or school library. It is a terrific historical novel. It tells about the Dakota War of 1862.
Ederer's choice of spelling, "Coulie," has not taken over. "Birch Coulee" has become the norm. The spelling issue stands in the way of Ederer's book being discovered by a large number of people today. Ederer could not have foreseen the Internet. Precise spelling is of course helpful when using search engines. "Birch Coulie" isn't likely to get high placement on search pages, when the preferred spelling has become "Coulee."
Ederer argued for his spelling in his book's preface. He quoted "the Honorable Chas. Flandreau," identified as a writer:
 
The French verb couler, to run, indicates a slow, trickling stream in a ravine, and wherever such rivulets were found, the voyageurs called the ravine a "coulie," probably a "coulee" as pronounced by them. There is no authority that I can find that justifies the spelling of the word "coolie." I therefore take the liberty of using what I regard as the true spelling: "coulie." I regard the battle of Birch Coulie to be one of the most desperate Indian encounters that ever occurred on the American continent.
 
Jim McRoberts is a long-time Morris resident who remembers the author well. His references to the man as "Doc Ederer" make me want to call him that too. It makes him sound agreeable which I found he definitely was. He practiced dentistry in Morris at a time when I'm sure I wouldn't have looked forward to seeing the dentist. He provided a valued service to be sure. Oh, and he was a lawmaker. He represented our area in the Minnesota legislature from Jan. 5, 1943, to Jan. 1, 1945. He served in the U.S. Navy Reserve as a Lieutenant in World War II.
This fascinating fellow was born in Morton MN just as the new century dawned, on Jan. 20, 1900. His occupation, as given in his legislative bio, was: "dentist, arctic explorer, lecturer and author." Quite consistent with Ernest Hemingway.
  
Toward lure of the sun belt
We need a little reminder of Dr. B.F. Ederer's significance in Morris history, IMHO. He did leave Morris for warmer climes. Our local media reported in 1957 that he was a "former Morris dentist now living in California." "Birch Coulie" was coming out at that time, published by Exposition Press Inc. of New York.
Ederer had his first book published in 1940: "Hunting the White-Tailed Deer." This book was published by University of Minnesota Press. His second book, "Through Alaska's Back Door," was published in 1954 by Vantage Press of New York. "Birch Coulie" was book No. 3 (1957), and finally his fourth and final offering, "Bingo, Gallant Reindeer Dog," in 1977, published by Exposition Press. How could the "Bingo" book be anything but a total delight?
Ederer wrote his significant historical novel "Birch Coulie" well before the age of political correctness. Today we're in an age where Native American logos/mascots are being eradicated at schools, quite appropriately. "Doc" was an enlightened and compassionate man, sad for the losses on both sides of the conflict, and his first childhood friend was a Native American. Yet he doesn't always use the most delicate language. This may hinder the book in the contemporary environment. But you cannot find a better way to gain insights into the Dakota conflict, than to read "Doc" Ederer's "Birch Coulie."
The author had strong personal interest in his subject. He in fact was born at Birch Coulie, first seat of government in Renville County. His grandfather Francis Ederer homesteaded there. Francis brought his family from Wisconsin to Minnesota in a covered wagon shortly after the conflict. He "settled upon one of the knolls upon which the Sioux chiefs had sat upon their horses while they planned the attack on the Fort Ridgely wagon train," we read in the preface.
Continuing:
 
It was in a log cabin on this hill that my father and his brother and sisters were born. In 1900, upon this old Indian lookout, now called Woodside Farm because of the acres of cottonwood trees planted by my grandfather, I arrived on the scene. When I started school in the little village of Morton, it was fitting that my first acquaintance and friend should be a Sioux Indian, Andy Goodthunder. Through the years I learned much about the Sioux from Andy and his Sioux relatives, especially Charlie Goodthunder, adopted son of Chief Goodthunder.
As a boy I had my opportunities to sit spellbound in our farm kitchen while visitors, many of them survivors of the "Outbreak," related their harrowing experiences. I can well remember helping move the mass of horse bones from the battlefield of Birch Coulie so that corn could be planted on the "hallowed ground." It was my privilege to meet and talk to men like J.J. Egan and Bob Boyd who came to visit the battlefield. From them I added to my store of incidents about the Outbreak. Knowing them inspired me to continue looking for more data. I memorized the legend on every granite marker, placed by the Renville County Historical Society on nearly every important site.
 
A simple glance at random pages of "Birch Coulie" reveals that Dr. B.F. Ederer was a master of words - a gifted writer. I'd love to have such talent with writing fiction style.
(Some of my detractors might say I often write "fiction" (LOL). Del Sarlette once feigned ignorance by saying "go out to de barn and get de tractor?")
 
Mid-19th Century: much bloodshed
The Dakota conflict was massive and tragic. It is upstaged in historical annals by the U.S. Civil War that engulfed the eastern states. How young was our nation? When you're referring to the western theater of the Civil War, you're referring to Tennessee! But here in Minnesota, the advancement of white civilization was quite underway. The schism of civilizations brought bloodshed.
Am I correct in saying the term "Sioux" has been phased out in favor of "Dakota?" Am I correct there is no grounds for ever using the term "squaw" in historical writings? Is it taboo today to refer to efforts to "civilize" the Indians? Should we even say "Indians?" "Redskins" is off the table.
Our language evolves as do all our cultural understandings. Like it or not, history is a messy story of the strong exploiting the weak. We cannot erase certain things because of their unpleasantness. I read this argument once in connection with historical preservation efforts at Fort Snelling. The fort is in fact iconic in Minnesota history regardless of insensitive things that were perpetrated.
I strongly recommend Ederer's "Birch Coulie" even if some cultural rough edges might be evidenced there. You get a taste of the suspense in "Birch Coulie" by reading a sample passage I'll share here. You'll see the word "roan" in the first sentence, a reference to a type of horse. "Doc" was young at a time when horse travel was still common, and the terms for such travel were many and various. Please read:
 
The hoofbeats of Hugh's swift roan had kept cadence with the distant drums all the way from Birch Coulie, but Hugh's heart pounded double time as he hastily dismounted before Wapasha's tepee and lifted the tent flap to enter.
The chief and his squaw were seated before their smoky little fire, puffing on their pipes. Winona and Little Deer sat together in the shadows, their hands clasped tightly in their laps.
Hugh extended his hand, palm outward, in greeting.
"Ho, friend Brandon," Wapasha said, offering him his pipe.
Hugh accepted it and puffed on it once for courtesy. He returned it, and squatted beside the fire on his heels, resting his elbows on his knees. He glanced around at the blank, still faces of the little group and then asked, "What is the meaning of the war drums?"
Wapasha replied stiffly, "You have nothing to fear, my friend. It is good you are here. I have spoken to my village this night, urging them to keep the peace. They see you here, they will be more willing to heed my words."
Hugh understood that shame and foreboding made Wapasha answer his question evasively, but he persisted, "Wapasha's village will keep peace then. But what about the war drums in Little Crow's village?"
Heavily, Wapasha confessed, "I do not know. Many of my braves have gone to the Soldier's Lodge at Little Crow's village. I think maybe Cut Nose has fire-water there. I do not know what the war drums will mean."
 
Here's another gripping sample. Now, wouldn't you want to read the whole book?
 
The charging Sioux presented a formidable spectacle to the few defenders of the corral. Most of the Sioux were on foot, some wearing blankets around them. Those on horseback carried lances topped with many-colored streamers. The horses and riders were bedecked in bright colors. The full war regalia added to the awful pageantry.
"There they come!" Captain Grant said clearly and calmly. "Give it to them when I say 'fire!' "
The air resounded in the bloodcurdling war whoops, the pounding of horses' hoofs on the prairie, the crackle of Indian rifles. The prairie appeared alive with moving Sioux.
Strangely silent, the corral made up of overturned wagons and bloated carcasses of horses seemed pitifully inadequate to stop such a surge of humanity.
Hugh clutched his revolver. Ole's lay beside him. The Indians were closer now. He could see the hideous war paint on their faces.
"Fire!" Captain Grant shouted.
The big rifles belched flame. Pistol fire rattled. Before the smoke had lifted, another volley poured into the charging redskins.
It was more than the Indians could take. They broke and fled.
"By God! That was splendid!" Hugh heard Captain Anderson say.
Hugh agreed. But it had taken most of the ammunition, he knew. The order came around to fire only when sure of a target.
The Indians were apparently having difficulty regrouping their forces. They stayed at a safe distance from the corral.
 
The battle of Birch Coulie (or Coulee) happened on September 2, 1862. It was the most deadly battle for the U.S. in the Dakota War of 1862. The battlefield is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Online searches about Doc Ederer reveal rather spotty and limited information. In addition to the "Coulie" vs. "Coulee" issue, there is the question of how exactly to refer to the author, as he commonly went by "B.F. Ederer." You can also search with "Bernard Ederer" or "Bernard Francis Ederer."
He gained his post-high school education at Creighton University (Omaha NE) and Marquette University. His legislative bio reports Clara (Wendling) as his first wife and Antonette as his second. His obit in 1992 refers to Toni as his spouse. He passed away in January of 1992 at the age of 91 in California. Funeral services were on January 19, 1992, in Bonita CA with interment in San Diego.
I thank Melissa Yauk, Morris Public Library director, for assistance in research for this post. She retrieved the book "Birch Coulie" from the back room. She noted "someone thought enough of this book to have it re-bound." There is a library display where this book would fit right in. Now that she knows of Ederer's importance with Morris, maybe we'll see his books readily available there. I don't know if they have "Bingo, Gallant Reindeer Dog." But what an irresistible book to pick out for your child. Sounds like it'd make a good Walt Disney movie.
I treasure the encounter I had with the fascinating author at our Morris Legion Club. I haven't been able to pin down how many years "Doc" was in Morris. His too-brief obit appeared in the Morris newspaper. It would be great if a comprehensive biography could be posted sometime. I would not have been overjoyed visiting him in his dentist's role, unless maybe taking a swig of alcoholic beverage first. A root canal in the 1930s or '40s would be arduous, I would guess. But I'm sure Ederer's standards were the highest, just like how he crafted his books. I wish he had written more.
I tried posting an online photo of "Doc" with this blog post, but it wouldn't "stick." I felt quite aggravated. I went with the book cover for the "Bingo" book instead. You can find his photo by typing "B.F. Ederer" into search. It's on a Minnesota legislature web page.
Dr. B.F. Ederer, RIP. I hope you're with your childhood Sioux (or Dakota) friend in heaven. We appreciate your life-long support of our Post 29 of the Legion.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com