Monday, May 28, 2007

A Weekend For Memories

It's Memorial Day. The Sunday edition of the Mpls Star-Tribune featured pictures and brief notes on the sixty one Minnesotans who have died in the current Iraq War. Three of those killed were from communities in the KAXE listening area. We send our sympathies and best wishes to the family and friends of Army Staff Sgt. Dale Panchot, 26 years old, from Northome. He died on November 17, 2003.; Marine Lance Cpl Levi Angell, 20 years old, from Cloquet, April 8, 2004; and Army Specialist Dwayne McFarlane, Jr., 20 years old, from Cass Lake, on January 9th, 2005.

Also, the Washington Post recently profiled a number of families from northwest MN. Their stories focused on how they are coping with the long absence of their family members. Everyone hopes for, and eagerly awaits, the safe return of their soldier, but circumstances at home and in the veteran's experience can make coming home a difficult transition.

Many members of the MN National Guard are curently serving the longest continuous deployment of any Guard unit in Iraq. Right now, they are expected to return some time around the end of July or early August. According to Nicole Felton, some members of Charlie Company based in Grand Rapids may be home before that. Nicole and her family live in the Virginia area. Her husband, David, is with Charlie Company, but won't be one of the early returnees. Nicole is a family readiness group coordinator, which means she keeps in touch with northern MN families who have a loved one serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Members of the group help each other anticipate some of the problems and uncertainties that may arise after they are reunited with their loved ones.

On a lighter note, Heidi Holtan and her guests on Between You and Me last Saturday, talked about life at the cabin on the lake. That triggered a lot of memories for me. My brother and I spent 17 summers at our grandparents place near Hackensack in Cass County. No phone, no TV or radio. We did the usual things - fish, swim, explore the woods, play ball in the back yard. I especially remember going berry picking with my grandmother. She made jams and jellies and biscuits and breads to put them on. Electricity came to their place at the end of the road some time after World War II, but they were set up to do just fine without it. Storms often knocked out the power, some times for 3 or 4 days. We'd fire up the cook stove and kerosene lamps, pumped all the water anyway. It was fun for two young boys.

When we were kids at the lake, our neighbor across the lake, Stan Hawkinson, was already a legendary muskie fisherman. At least once each summer we would see one of Stan's 4o to 50 pound lunkers in the bait shop window in Hackensack or Walker. I just talked to Stan last week. He still gets around 30 muskies every summer, but it's all catch and release now. I think he has a personal relationship with a lot of the muskies on the lake. This Memorial Day and Musky Opener will be the first for Stan without Carolyn, his wife of almost 54 years. Carolyn died lat summer from e.coli poisoning at a church dinner in Longville. This Saturday is the musky opener. All muskies less than 48 inches long caught on Leech, Winnie and Mille Lacs and 43 other lakes must be immediately released. ALL muskies caught in the Mississippi River between Grand Rapids and Coon Rapids must be immediately released.

More memories: Maria Muldaur put on a great show in Hibbing Saturday night. She did two sets over an hour each and came out after each set to sign CDs and talk to people. KAXE Board Member and good luck charm, Carolyn King, showed Maria an old vinyl album Maria had signed for her 35 years ago and gave her a polaroid shot of her and the Jim Kweskin band from 1969. Maria is on tour now mainly to support her latest release "Naughty, Bawdy, and Blue", another one of her tributes to Bessie Smith, Alberta Hunter, Sippie Wallace and other great women blues performers. She mixed in a lot of songs from her 2006 release, "Heart of Mine - Love Songs of Bob Dylan" and stories about Bob. Lots of KAXE people at the concert and the sweet potato fries at Zimmy's were good as usual.
-Scott Hall

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