Category Archives: History


In approximately three years I will retire, and Husband and I plan to move to Brookings, SD.  We have much to do before we can move, including some updates to our current home to make it easier to sell.   We also have to get rid of many things we have accumulated over the years.  This includes hundreds of books.

I got some really good boxes from work last week, and started filling them up with books.  This was a strangely poignant activity. I only chose books I considered mine, as I don’t know which of his Husband intends to keep.  I started with the ones I had purchased most recently. These were mainly books I bought for pleasure reading, not the professional ones I keep in my office at work.   There also were books that  my parents had in their home for years. Some were college textbooks from when they were at Mankato State in the early 1940’s.   I tossed a few of those, but not without wistful regret.  I hadn’t looked at them in years, and I suppose I kept them as reminders of my parents and of my childhood.   It occurred to me that this task was going to be more difficult than I imagined, since we have associated emotions with many of these books.

When we have had uncertainty, instability, or grief in our lives, we seem to have relied on our books as anchors.  I think that is why we bought so many over the years instead of going to the library.  They provided such comfort.  Our life is much different now, and we really don’t need the comfort of all of those books.

We decided to keep history books and books concerning natural history and flora and fauna (including a book on wolves by a certain Baboon).   There are other, one of a kind books, that we intend to keep, as well as cookbooks.   Most novels will go, unless they are particularly beloved.  All children’s books will be kept.  The World Book Encyclopedias from 1966 are going to the landfill.  Husband perused the philosophy and religion collection at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, and feels confident he can get what he wants through interlibrary loan via SDSU’s  library system. He already figured out how to apply for a guest users library card.

We intend to take our time with this project.  We have a couple of years to do it.  Our local library has a second hand bookstore, and we are donating our books there.  They may need to expand their space by the time we are done.   I just hope we can limit our book purchases in the meantime.

What can’t you live without?


501 Jeans

My husband is a pretty finicky fellow, and has definite preferences regarding the clothes he wears.  He has been somewhat distressed lately after futile searches for his favorite jeans-Levi’s 501 jeans. Those are the ones with the button fly.  I have no idea why he prefers them, but there it is.

He has had trouble finding the size he needs  as well as the colors he wants.  His secret worry has been that they are no longer being manufactured,  and that he will have to find a new style and brand of jeans to wear.  This makes him feel as old and as out of date  as the Dodo. It is as though he can still imagine himself as a young man  at U of Wisconsin when he wears those jeans with his Frye boots.

He was delighted this weekend to find some on-line.  He tends to shop in stores instead of on-line, and our choices out here are limited.  Now his youthfulness  is preserved, and he can go forward into his mid 60’s with confidence.

What keeps you feeling young?  What do you fear will go out of production?

Old Favorites

Two iconic restaurants in St. Paul will be closed by the end of this week. This saddens me, because I love a good neighborhood restaurant, and hate to see them replaced by the chains or the glitz that seems to accompany so many newer restaurants. (Even although I’ve never lived in St. Paul, these two were well enough known that I had made my way there all the way from Robbinsdale.)

The St. Clair Broiler, a burger and malt place (visited by Al Gore), closed at the end of September after 60 years in business. Back in the late 70s, we used to meet a St. Paul friend for a burger at the Broiler, followed by a movie in a theater on the same block, if memory serves. A St. Paul Pioneer Press article  reads: “With the recent boom in neighborhood restaurants, staying competitive has been a concern for the Broiler, which underwent an extensive menu change and decor refresh in 2015 in the hopes of attracting some younger customers. Apparently, the gamble didn’t pay off, as the restaurant was no longer profitable…”

And it breaks my heart that Muffuletta is closing this weekend, Nov. 11 being its last day after a run of 40 years. A European style bistro, its wonderful outdoor patio was a huge draw in the mild months of the year, and the indoor space was cozy in the winter. If I could, I would drive up for one last brunch with a friend (including a nice glass of wine), followed by shopping at Bibelot and a tour through Micawbers Bookstore, both on the same Como Avenue corner. Apparently upcoming street construction is a factor, but even this icon hasn’t been a money maker for some years. Sigh.

What are some of your favorite places that are no longer with us?

Alas, Poor Yorick

Went to Hamlet tonight at the Park Square Theatre. It wasn’t very full so the theatre manager invited everyone to “upgrade” their seat for free – we ended up sitting center stage, fourth row.  It was a very good performance with intriguing casting (Horatio and Polonius were female) and a fascinating set.  It was set in more modern times and although the final scene was done with the traditional rapiers, when Hamlet kills Polonius in Act 3, he uses a gun. The only disconcerting part of the evening was that the director re-arranged a few scenes (and cut Rosencrantz and Guildenstern).  Not a big issue but for someone who knows the play well, moving some of the speeches around is noticeable to say the least.  Anyway, I would highly recommend it.

What was the last thing you saw in a theatre (play, movie, musical, sing-a-long)?

Strange Happenings

When she was a little girl of about 5, my best friend took piano lessons. Her father was the hired man who lived with his family in a small house on the farm yard next to the farm owner’s  house.  The owner’s house  was a very old, very large, well-appointed, two-story farm house with an enormous attic. It had been in the owner’s family for several generations.  My friend didn’t have a piano, but the elderly farm owner did, and he let my friend practice on his piano in his parlor.

My friend complained to the farm owners’ wife that she wished the old woman who came and listened to her practice would just go away, as she found her presence kind of upsetting. The owner’s wife asked my friend to describe the woman.  Friend did so, and after that, the owner’s wife came and sat in the parlor while Friend practiced, as the old woman my friend described had been dead for many years and was the owner’s grandmother. Friend had never seen a photo of the woman, and  everyone assumed she had seen her ghost. I am not making this up.

Strange things happen. What have you had trouble explaining?