Notebook
September 10th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

It has been eight years since Auntie passed. There are many stories to tell about Auntie, but my favorite comes from her son Kevin. They had been visiting Kevin’s uncle in Alexandria and Kevin told Auntie that he wanted to get back to Upsala so he could watch the Preakness horse race on television.

The speed limit on County Road 17 is 55, so Kevin was doing 60. Auntie said, “You drive slow Kevin”. Kevin stepped it up a bit and a little while later, Auntie spoke up again. “We’ll never get there on time at this speed.”. Kevin responded: “Ma, I don’t want to get a ticket.” , but he dutifully stepped it up again.

There was silence for a while and then: “Kevin, why don’t you just pull over and let me drive”.  Kevin owns a four wheel drive pickup. Auntie was 90 years young at the time. We miss you Auntie. 

“I was born to have fun”.  Leone Larson Hagstrom 1922-2013

September 3rd, 2021 by Gary Osberg

The “Celebration of Life” for Marcia Julia Rudie Osberg, which was held last Friday, was great.  Had we scheduled the event for Saturday instead of Friday, the tent that we got from General Rental in Albany would have ended up in Bowlus.  One report was of a home owner on Cedar Lake losing 50 trees to the storm that came through central Minnesota on Saturday morning. 

Miller Carlin Funeral Homes did a great job.  The tent was pitched in Borgstrom Park next door to the funeral home.  Jordie’s Trail Side Café from Bowlus catered the affair. 

The music was provided by the Harren Sisters who were part of the original Rainbow Children, a group that Marcia had created to provide music for the Saturday night Guitar Mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Upsala. They were accompanied by Pat Hamilton a professional singer and guitar player from Colorado .  Pat is the sister of my brother Brian’s wife Jean Marie Hamilton. 

The eulogy was presented by our son Erik.  (A copy of the text is attached)    Erik and Jena’s daughter Leah followed her dad and even provided the various voices that Marcia used to address her loved ones. 

Be sure to hug your loved ones often.  We never know when we will leaving this wonderful world.

“Oh pfft, they’re great kids, they’ll be fine.”   Marcia Osberg

August 26th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

This is going out early because tomorrow I will be attending the “Celebration of Life” of my ex-wife Marcia Julia Rudie Osberg.  We were married on August 21, 1965.  I could have gone to see the Beatles at Metropolitan Stadium, but I got married to Marcia at St. Olaf Catholic Church in downtown Minneapolis instead.  The reception was on the Rudie farm northeast of Upsala.  They killed the chickens that morning. 

Marcia was born in a house on that farm on May 8, 1942.  Her dad had built the house along with the barn, the shed and the milk house.  During her final days, Marcia told our son Erik that her happiest times were on that farm.  She used to say that she could run barefoot across a newly mowed alfalfa field and she was proud of it.  Three of Marcia’s older siblings lived in California, so the evening of our wedding day we left on a four week honeymoon to California.  Her mother’s half-brother Bill Heisick and his wife Maggie also lived in California.  Maggie made quite an impression on Marcia.  So much so that when she got back to Minnesota she enrolled in the Patricia Stevens Finishing School in downtown Minneapolis.  Quite a change for a girl from a farm northeast of Upsala. 

Perhaps one of the most dramatic events in our marriage was the purchase of  a place on the north side of Cedar Lake west of Upsala.  Marcia’s mother Irene had mailed an auction flyer to Marcia.  We lived in Coon Rapids, Minnesota at the time.  So on September 15, 1973 we drove to Upsala and parked in the hay field near the house.  There was a huge turnout for the “Agnes Olson Auction”.  The small farm had 900 feet of lakeshore.  Marcia took me into the barn and said  “Gary, I want this place and this is how you win at an auction.  When it is your turn to bid, you do not hesitate.  Understand?  You react immediately.”  I said ok and went to see the banker who was a very close friend of my father. In fact he was Best Man at my parent’s wedding.  I had to tell Roland that I wanted to bid, but that I didn’t have the $3,000 earnest money check.  I told him that we would go to town and get the check from Marcia’s mother if we were the high bidder.  He took a long time thinking about it, but he finally said okay. 

The auctioneer started out and I jumped in.  After a while my bid was $50,000 which was the maximum that Marcia and I had set.  The auctioneer milked the amount of $50,500 out of the only other remaining bidder.  It went on and on.  Finally the other guy said yes to $50,500.  He turned to me and asked for $51,000.  I did as I was instructed and nodded.  It was over.  Later it was reported to me that the other bidder stormed away with the comment.  “That kid will never stop!”  Marcia was 100% correct.  The point is we never would have had the 16 years of fun and joy of living on Cedar Lake if had not been for Marcia. 

We were married for 32 years, 1 month and 8 days and we were friends for the next nearly 24 years.  May my first date and my first love rest in peace. 

“Understand, you react immediately.”  Marcia Osberg                     

August 13th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

Today is Friday the 13th. The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, NC, reported that an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business on this day. “It’s been estimated that $800 to $900 million is lost in business on this day..”  

Source: John Roach.

According to Wikipedia, the actual origin of the superstition appears to be a tale in Norse mythology. Friday is named for Frigga, the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility. When Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil – a gathering of thirteen – and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week.

For many centuries in Scandinavia, Friday was known as “Witches’ Sabbath.” source: Charles Panati, Panati’s Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things.

“Unconditionally love your beloved and your loved ones.  Show them the pure love and acceptance of the divine.  Enjoy watching them live their lives, living in love without judgment.  Allow them to learn, be, and change with no exceptions.  Bring heaven to yourself and those around you, with the divinity of pure love.”  don Jose Ruiz   from “Ripples of Wisdom”

August 6th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

In January of 1971, I attended a Coon Rapids City Council meeting to complain about the snowmobiles that were running up and down the streets in my neighborhood. I was not impressed with my representation, so that fall I decided to run for the Third Ward Council seat. I had met a few folks at a caucus in 1970, so with their help, we managed to pull off an upset victory. The fellow that we beat was a lawyer and the Vice President of a large insurance company and he was going for his third three year term.

I think what did him in was his decision to distribute a legal sized document with all of his qualifications on one side, filling up the whole sheet, and my qualifications on the other side, taking up not even half of the page.  Things like: “Attended college”.  After all, I was 27 years old when we started the campaign.  It was kind of mean spirited of him.

One of the guys that helped me get elected was Gene Merriam. We had spent a lot of hours collecting rummage for a garage sale fundraiser, so we got to know each other quite well. The next year Gene ran for Council at Large and he won that seat. Rick Reiter ran for the first ward seat and he won.  In late 1973, we filled a vacancy in Ward 2 by appointing Dave Therkelsen. We served together in the year 1974.

Last month the four of us met at Kendale’s Tavern &  Chophouse at the Bunker Hill Golf Course in Coon Rapids. Loren and Arnie were asked to join us.  They had both worked very hard on our campaigns. Dave brought a copy of the Coon Rapids Herald dated March 22, 1974 with the headline “Ban the Can Ordinance Adopted”.  Dave and the mayor Don Erlandson had voted no, but the rest of us voted for the ordinance.  All five of the council were pictured above the headline.  It looked like a Junior Achievement class photo.  The citizens had to gather signatures for a petition to place a referendum on the ballot that fall to overturn the new law.  The referendum passed.  The young idealists were overturned.  In the month of September of that year we had 20 public hearings.  I did not even consider running for another three year term.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your wild and precious life?”  from Mary Oliver’s “The Summer Day”, a poem beloved by Arlene Helgeson.

PS:  The Whit Gallery is having a special show tonight in downtown St. Cloud.  Works by Tony Caponi will be on display.  Tony created the Granite Trio which is also on West Saint Germain. Arlene Helgeson was a driving force behind the Granite Trio. Details on the event are at www.thewhitgallery.com 

July 30th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

Sun Valley was discovered by Count Felix Schaffgotsch about 80 years ago.  Averell Harriman, the chairman of the Union Pacific Railroad, had asked the Count to go west and try to find a suitable site for the creation of a ski resort similar to those that he had visited in Europe.  The railroad needed “destination places” to encourage rail travel.  The Count was advised to take a trip to Ketchum, Idaho, a mining town in central Idaho. Upon arrival, the Count wired Harriman, “This area combines more delightful features than any place I have seen in Switzerland, Austria or the United States for a winter resort.” 

Within days they purchased a 4,300 acre ranch and the Sun Valley Resort opened in the winter of 1936.  The “chair lift” was invented in Sun Valley.  You can visit www.sunvalley.com for information on the resort.   When you get there be sure to tune in to KWRV 91.9 YourClassical MPR. 

The Sun Valley Music Festival is live from the Sun Valley Pavilion once again this year. This year’s theme is: “Instilling a lifelong love of classical music.”  If you live in the Sun Valley area you can enjoy live concerts outdoors now through August 19th from within the open-air Sun Valley Pavilion or from the lawn. More information is at www.svmusicfestival.org  The Gala Concert will feature violinist Joshua Bell on Wednesday  August 4th.

“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.”  Thomas a Kempis

July 23rd, 2021 by Gary Osberg

Donald McNeely made his fortune in the warehouse business.  “A savvy entrepreneur and a forward thinker, he joined his father’s business , The St. Paul Terminal Warehouse Company after the war and turned it into a national company called Space Center, Inc.”  (St. Paul Pioneer Press obituary).  Donald was instrumental in helping to launch many of Minnesota’s organizations including the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Twins.

However, one of his passions is housed on the campus of St. John’s University on the third floor of Simons Hall.  The Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship is dedicated to giving young men and women the skills to succeed in business.  Every year the Entrepreneur Scholars participate in special classes and work with mentors to strengthen the entrepreneurial spirit. As a recovering entrepreneur, I deeply appreciate this educational resource. 

I crossed paths with Donald McNeely in 1986.  Jimmy Dorr and I had opened the Knoll Office Furniture showroom in International Market Square.  Jimmy was big on design but I insisted that we print temporary calling cards immediately, not wait until his graphic designer perfected the final design of business cards.  As it happened Jimmy’s locker at the Minneapolis Athletic Club was next to the locker of the President of Space Center. Jimmy apologized for the quality of the printing, but wisely handed his new calling card to his friend and told him about his new venture.  To make a long story short , that exchange lead to an order for over $250,000 of Knoll Office Furniture including Knoll carpet which is top of the line. Donald McNeely kept his old furniture, but all around him was the highest quality contemporary office furniture influenced by the Bauhaus school of design.  Never go anywhere without your calling card. 

Next Friday and Saturday there will be a rare opportunity to enjoy a self-guided tour of the St. John’s Abbey gardens.  Details on scheduling your visit are online at Saint John’s Abbey dot org.   I am booked for Friday at 10am.   I hope to see you there.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with the cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt

July 16th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

Fisher’s Club is a seasonal restaurant next to a city owned swimming beach on the north shore of Middle Spunk Lake in Avon, Minnesota.

George “Showboat” Fisher was a major league baseball player from 1922 until 1932. He played for the Washington Senators and the St. Louis Cardinals. He was 33 years old when he opened Fisher’s Club. The dance floor was added in 1937 and they started serving their legendary Fisher’s Famous Walleye. The secret recipe is still used today. The main dining room was added in 1953 and the porch in 1954.

When George Junior came home from a construction job in Greenland to work with his dad at the Club, ‘Showboat’ told his son, “Stick around to help me here at The Club or I’m going to sell it.” Junior and his wife Sally took over in 1959.  It used to be a bottle club. The lockers that the regulars used to store their bottles are still on the wall with their names on them.

The new owners, Cory and Jacob Voss, have a full service bar. Jacob graduated from Upsala High School in 2011. The new schedule is to be open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 4 until 8.  On Friday, Saturday and Sunday they open at 11am. Be sure to call for reservations, 320-356-7372.  www.fishersclub.com 

“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”  Yogi Berra

July 2nd, 2021 by Gary Osberg

Building an art monument to honor our military veterans requires dedication, commitment and a team to get the job done. It takes an artist willing to spend a decade researching, designing and creating the paintings. It takes a committed group of individuals to share the dream and it takes hundreds donors to make it come true!

The Veterans Art Monument was commissioned by the Minnesota State Veterans Memorial Association and consists of five 8’ X 10’ oil paintings; each paying tribute to the men and women of the five branches of the U.S. Military: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. The artist, Charles Gilbert Kapsner, a native of Little Falls, studied in the studio of Nerina Simi in Florence, Italy.  He has spent the last 10 years working on what he says is perhaps the most impactful project of his career.

The five paintings are installed in the Committal Hall at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery north of Little Falls. The paintings tell the story of each branch of service, commemorating the sacrifices of all who have served. Besides being a memorial to our nation’s military men and women, the paintings are educational tools which will help citizens and future generations to understand the vital role that the U.S. Military plays in maintaining our freedom and democracy.

Yesterday a new exhibit was dedicated at the River’s Edge Convention Center in downtown St. Cloud.  The “Minnesota Veterans Historic Art Monument” was financed by major donations from Marco, Ickler Inc., the Morgan Family Foundation, the Coborn Family Foundation, Stearns Bank, Freedom Flight, the Bernick Family Foundation and Rice Companies.  The exhibit features reproductions of the paintings and an audio visual kiosk with the artists explanation of the content of each of the five paintings.  King Banaian, Dean of Public Affairs at St. Cloud State University narrated the histories.  The St. Cloud Committee that made this possible included Burt Dubow, Len Wohlman, King Banaian, Dieter Pape and Ron Brandenburg. 

This Sunday, July 4th, the artist Charles Kapsner, will be at the Committal Hall at the Minnesota Stare Veterans Cemetery from noon until 3pm.    I hope that you will be able to take the time to visit with him and learn about the making of the monument. 

“Millions of men and women have served. Many were wounded in battle. Many died to keep us free. The least that we can do is to remember them.”  Jack Peck  Veteran U.S. Navy  and Past President of the Minnesota State Veterans Memorial Association.  

June 25th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

Tomorrow I plan on helping with my daughter’s garden in Upsala.  After I finish working in the garden, I plan on visiting “Hippe Landing” west of Upsala near the American Legion Memorial Park on Cedar Lake.  The park has one of the best swimming beaches in central Minnesota.  There are camping spots also, but I understand there is a long waiting list. 

There used to be an old store without any signage located where the landing is now.  At one time it was called Cedar Lake Pavilion. The store was owned and run by Emie Hippe. Emie was a real character and for many years she served ice cream, candy and pop to kids from the park and 3.2 beer to the adults. The PayDay candy bar was a favorite of mine.

Strangely, you could not buy a Coke there and I always wondered why. One day my brother Craig and I went in to have a drink and I finally had the nerve to ask her, “Emie, why don’t you serve Coca Cola?” She slammed her hand on the bar and said “The dirty rascals.  My husband Ben used to travel quite a ways with the empty bottles and bring back the full ones. Then during the war, they asked us to simply hold on to the empties and they would pick them up later.” So what happened Emie? “The dirty rascals changed their mind and would not pick them up.” “What did you do with them Emie, they would be worth a lot of money?” “You will never find them!” she proclaimed, “We buried them under two ton of rock!”

For over 60 years no Coca Cola products were sold from this store, all because someone broke a promise. I am sure that the Coca Cola route driver tried a few times when he would see the Pepsi truck out front, but she never let them put Coke back on the shelf.

“In the best institutions, promises are kept no matter what the cost in agony and overtime.”  David Ogilvy