Category Archives: History


Today’s post is from Clyde

I have been sketching from old photos, which has been interesting. Learned a few things, had some catharsis, wasted some time. Made me think about all the places I have lived.

1. Sebeka, in home my parents built, still standing, much changed. (44-45)

2. Superior National Forest, dozen miles north of Isabella, a shack torn down long long ago. (45-48)

3. Two Harbors, the farm. All buildings now gone. (48-63)

4. Chicago, dormitory. (63-64)

5. Chicago, apartment in old house. (64)

6. Minneapolis, apartment building very near U hospital, replaced by medical building. (65)

7. Minneapolis, apartment building, now I-35W. (65)

8. Minneapolis, apartment in old house, now I-35W. (65-66)

9. St. Paul, apartment building, Marshall Ave. east of Snelling. (66)

10. Minneapolis, Prospect Part, apartment in old house. (66-68)

11. Lindstrom, apartment in old house. (68-69)

12. Two Harbors, house on North Shore, header photo. (69-97)

13. North Mankato, century-old house, which we updated. (97-07)

14. Mankato. association home, worst place for us to live. (07-10)

15. Mankato, current apartment, from which I think I need to move.

Is 15 above the average for 77 years?

This is our house, or shack, over my shoulder, north of Isabella. I was an industrious thumb-sucker until age 4.5 when I announced I was done. And I was. My father and uncle, back from the war and a angry at the world, my uncle having spent more than two years in a stalag, took jobs in a logging camp. This was a trial for my mother, the bugs, the dirt, the cold in the winter. And her mother with twin teenage boys lived next door; my grandmother was my mother’s trial in life. It was a trial for me, but I have no memory of it. My uncle’s two daughters were nasty to me, have been nasty and miserable all their lives. I never crawled because they would not let me. Are they still alive? No idea.

This was the farmhouse, again behind me. It was not a promising place, but my father rebuilt, wired, plumbed, added on. Re-sided, with asbestos siding in fact. But it was at the upper reaches of poverty, which never seemed that way at all. There is a hint of the poverty and my mother’s frugality, if you look carefully.

How many places have you lived? Any stand out for you?


The other day, when we were talking about ads, I had the tv on for a bit in the afternoon and I looked up just in time to see a young woman sporting a pair of jeans that were definitely flared at the ankle.  I actually backed up the ad to confirm I had seen it correctly.  Not only were the jeans flared out but the word “flare” actually flashed across the screen.  After fifty years it was a little hard to believe that flare jeans have become retro.

I called YA to confirm that flare jeans are “in” but she was very quick (and very vehement) in pointing out that it’s just a little flare that is in, not the huge wide flare jeans that were popular back in the 70s.  I remember the outfit that I put together for the first day back of sophomore year in high school.  Wide faded flare jeans with a “Make Love Not War” sweatshirt and a watch with a huge white wristband.  I thought I was the cat’s meow.  During the time that flared jeans were popular, I altered a few of mine by slitting open the leg and expanding the flare with bright patterned material.  All the rage!

YA tried to get me to promise not to purchase any flare jeans for myself.  She said “just keep your seventies memories to yourself.”  I’m pretty sure I should be insulted but I can’t quite figure out how.

Anything you’d like to come around again?  Or not?

Memorial Stats

I got a tour of the farm on Saturday.  It’s bigger than I was expecting although I think if I laid out all the photos that Ben has taken over the years, I should have probably realized its actual size.  We got to talking about the blog and how many followers we have now and I thought I’d do a Stats Update.

We have 12, 672 followers.  Of course I don’t really know what this means on a day-to-day basis except that at some point in the past 12 years, since Dale started up the Trail Baboon, 12,672 folks have hit the Follow Trail Baboon button.  One of the things I do know is that having all these followers does NOT mean that 12K folks are reading the trail every day.

Most days we have somewhere between 200-240 views from 60-70 visitors – that includes us.  The average number of views is 2.46 to 3.25.   The average number of comments the last couple of years is 50.  Sunday is the slowest day on the Trail.  And for reasons that pass understanding, Wednesday is typically the busiest.  I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise to anyone that the days that generate the most comments are book days, music days and food days.

Over the years we’ve had visitors from 202 countries.  Pretty remarkable since Google says there are currently 193 countries in the world!   US has the highest number of visitors, followed by India, the UK,  Canada and then Spain.  The countries with the least are Gabon, Sint Maarten and Chad (just 1 visitor each).

The Trail is a more subdued space these days, but relatively stable.  Our least busy year was 2016, when Dale was cutting back and preparing to retire from the Trail.  2021 was the most active year since baboons took control.  One of the most interesting things I discovered while researching the stats is how many of us kept the blog going while Dale was on sabbatical the summer of 2015 and then during 2016 when he was tapering off.  This is not meant as a heavy-handed hint – although any pieces would be happily accepted by me and Renee – just an interesting phase of our history.

Any fun memories to go along with the Stats on this Memorial Day?

The Sunwise Turn

I’m reading a quaint little memoir called “Sunwise Turn: A Human Comedy of Bookselling”.  Two women, with no bookselling experience decide to open a bookstore in New York in 1916.  The book was written in 1925.  It’s a fascinating story of how they got started and how they survived.  The book downplays the fame of the store, but online you can easily find a history of the store which was also a salon for up and coming writers as well as an exhibition and performance space. 

Early on in the book, the author describes how they came to name their shop:

The name was one of the crises through which we had somehow to get.  There is sin and virtue in a name.  We wanted a name that would mean something.  Everything was to be significant.  All kinds of titles of the thumb-mail variety were offered.  My partner telephoned me one day that Amy Murray had drawn up in the net of her Gallic wisdom the name ‘The Sunwise Turn”. 

They do everything daesal (sunwise) here” – Father Allen had told her of the people of Eriskay – “for they believe that to follow the course of the sun is propitious.   The sunwise turn is the lucky one.”

The key goes sunwise; the screw goes sunwise; the clock goes sunwise.  Cards are dealt with the sun.  The Gael handed the loving cup around the banqueting table sunwise; he handed the wedding ring and loaned money sunwise  An old sea captain who once came into the shop told me that wind and weather go sunwise, and once when I called in our Swedish contractor, Behrens, to confer with him about the furnace, eh said: “It out to be in the other corner of the house, maam.  I always put my furnaces in the north end.  Heat goes with the sun.”

I’m pretty sure naming your bookstore “Sunwise Turn” breaks every rule you can find about picking a name for your business.  It doesn’t say anything about what the shop sells and it’s unbelievable obscure, but I really fell in love with the name and the thought and meaning behind it.  Makes me want to open up a shop of some kind, just to use the name again.  

Let’s say you are opening a shop of your own next week.  What would you sell?  And what would you name it?

I’m Afraid I Can’t Do That

Some movies are just so weird.

I was clicking around last week, looking for some good background noise while I addressed some cards and discovered 2001: A Space Odyssey available.  I remember seeing 2001 in the movie theatre when it came out and I remember a good deal of it; but even 5 decades later and a lot more science fiction under my belt, it is still weird.

Research led me to things I didn’t know.  First off, 2001 was a collaboration between Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C Clarke; it was not first a book and then turned into a movie.  The movie actually came out first followed by the book, although by the time the book was published it only had Clarke’s name on it.  I also found out that all the colored lights and psychedelic effects at the end were Dave becoming a “star child” after going through a star gate.  Of course I’m not sure what a star child is – I haven’t actually read 2001 (although you all know it’s on my short list now) – and the movie certainly doesn’t elucidate any of this.

It seems as if Stanley Kubrick got a little lost in his special effects.  And for 1968, they are great.  And the whole Hal sequence is, of course, fabulous:

I’m hoping the book will make a little more sense than the movie.  Fingers crossed.

Any special effects that you particularly like?  Cinematic or otherwise?

Into the Unknown

In October of 1915, Ernest Shackleton’s ship, The Endurance (oh, the irony), was crushed by pack ice in the Antarctic and then sank.  It had been trapped in the ice for 9 months.  In August of the following year, a rescue ship arrived; all of Shackleton’s crew had survived.

The news from Antarctica this week is that after 100 years, the wreck of The Endurance has been found – nearly 10,000 feet under those frigid waters.  It didn’t move too far in 100 years, it was found just four miles south of the location recorded by the crew when she sank.  According to the search team, it is “in a brilliant state of preservation” and is even sitting upright. 

I’ve read a handful of books about various exploration voyages, some about Shackleton, some about others.  I also see several stories in National Geographic every year about someone heading off into the unknown to do something that no one has ever done before.  None of these stories makes me want to do this kind of thing.  Even today, 100+ years later, I can’t imagine how awful it must have been to be trapped on the ice of Antarctica, listening to the timbers of your ship creaking then finally breaking.  You’d have to be fairly certain at that point that you would never see home/family/friends again.  I don’t even like to set up the tent out of sightline from the car! 

I used to think of myself as adventurous, based on all my travels, but after reading these stories about wandering out into the unknown, I’ve decided my level of adventure tolerance is much lower.  I can live with that.

Have you ever ventured into the unknown?  The partly unknown?

Deep Folk

Because we are sustaining members of MPR and the pledge drive gets tedious, and because we always have some sort of music playing, I put a random CD on the other night, The Child Ballads by Anais Mitchell. I learned about it from Dale and TLGMS and Radio Heartland, and I was somewhat surprised to see Husband’s reaction to it. He was entranced by the music and stories. He charged downstairs and brought up a massive document he had printed off after purchasing the right to do so, of English Folksongs of the Southern Appalachians compiled by Cecil Sharp and Olive Campbell. Some of the Child Ballads were in that compilation.

Husband has always been fascinated by any music that has come from the British Isles to the Appalachian region, as that is the region his mother’s people from Scotland and the north and west of England, settled. We have a vast collection of old and obscure hymnals and song books that he has found on our travels and brought home. We both love folk music, but that music from that time and region holds special meaning for him. He took the The Child Ballads CD with him this week to his job in Bismarck so he could revel in it in the drive there and back.

What are you listening to in the vehicle these days? What folk music are you drawn to? Did you know Anais Mitchell wrote the lyrics, music, and book of the Broadway musical Hadestown? Why is folk music important?

Happy Birthday!

Tuesday was my birthday. I had a great day. I got two lovely flower arrangements from my coworkers and from dear friends. I had lovely wishes from friends on Facebook and the Trail. It was a good day. I feel loved and blessed.

As I look on Internet sites concerned with happenings on my birthday, I see that I share a birthday with Clark Gable, G. Stanley Hall ( the first president of the American Psychological Association), Victor Herbert, SJ Perelman, Langston Hughes, John Napier, a Scots mathematician who invented logarithms in 1550, John Ford, the film director, and Boris Yeltsin. Queen Elizabeth I condemned her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, to death on February 1. Lots of things happened the first day of February.

What important things happened on your birthday? What are your favorite or tragic birthday memories. With whom do you share a a birthday?


Catching Up

Today’s post comes to us from BiR.

It’s been a rich couple of months here on the Trail, esp. with the return of some lapsed or very occasional babooners – Krista, mig (for madeline island girl, if memory serves), Crow Girl (where did that “handle” come from?), Occasional Caroline recently, and Lisa of Mpls. popped in Tuesday… did I miss anyone?

There have been a lot of changes here in the past few years, and there are no doubt major life events that we have missed in each other’s lives. There has also been much sadness following the deaths of two of our tribe – Edith, aka ljb/little jailbird in 2019, and our Minnesota Storyteller Steve this past Thanksgiving.

It occurred to me that perhaps we should have a catch-up day, where we tell the bare bones of what’s happened to/for us in the past few years. We could have a gossip/catch-up day – tell us if you’ve moved, changed jobs, where the kids are now..

For instance, Husband and I moved from Robbinsdale to Winona in 2016. By calling myself Barbara in Rivertown I was able to keep my BiR acronym… I’ll reveal more in comments below.

What’s up with you?

Two Bits

I see in the news that Maya Angelou is going to gracing our nation’s 25-cent piece this year.  I was actually a little skeptical about this, seeing as how Harriet Tubman hasn’t made it onto the twenty-dollar bill yet and they’ve been talking about THAT for years.

But apparently there is a whole series of 2022 American women quarters planned: Sally Ride, Maya Angelou, Wilma Mankiller, Nina Otero-Warren and Anna May Wong.  While I know Sally Ride (physicist, first American woman in space), Maya Angelou (writer, social activist) and Anna May Wong (first Chinese American film star in Hollywood), I have to admit that I didn’t know the names Wilma Mankiller or Nina Otero-Warren.

Wilma Mankiller was the first woman elected as principle chief of the Cherokee Nation and a lifelong activist for Native American rights.  Her surname Mankiller is a Cherokee name (Asgaya-dihi) and refers to a traditional Cherokee military rank, like major or captain.  She was elected Principle Chief in 1985 and served very successfully for ten years.  She was Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year in 1987, was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Bill Clinton.

María Adelina Isabel Emilia “Nina” Otero-Warren was a woman’s suffragist, educator, politician and the first female superintendent of the Santa Fe public schools.  In her role as superintendent she advocated abolishing the practice of sending Native American children to boarding schools  and sought to integrate ethnic cultures and languages into the New Mexico school curriculum.  She became the Director of Literacy under Franklin Roosevelt and later worked to preserve historic structures in Santa Fe and Taos and continued to promote Native American arts, language and culture.

I wish I had known who they were earlier, but I suppose this is better than never knowing them.  I’ll have to make sure to get one of each of these quarters in the coming year.

Did you ever collect coins?