Notebook
October 17th, 2019 by Gary Osberg

Some were “summer kids”, not “village kids”.  They were kids who’s parent or parents grew up in Upsala and they were sent to spend some time with Grandma and Grandpa during the summer.  Some stayed for a few weeks and some stayed for the whole summer.  In one situation that I knew of, the son was getting into too much trouble in the “cities” and they thought hard work on a farm would be a better way for him to spend his summer.

Larry was a “summer kid” and he ended up marrying one of the Upsala beauties.  She was chased by all of the boys but Larry won her heart.  He was also one of the eight couples that camped on our lakeshore on Cedar Lake west of Upsala every fourth of July.  He was a fun loving fellow. One year he decided to make sure that my son Erik and I had a chance to experience grouse hunting.  This is the story that I share every MEA weekend, because it means a lot to me and I know Erik had a great time too. 

MEA weekend is a special time of the year. Many a father/son(daughter) combo head for the woods or ponds to bring home the “bacon” in the form of grouse or duck. Larry, a friend of mine who died way too young, knew that I had never taken up hunting, but he wanted my son and myself to experience a weekend of grouse hunting, up north at “the shack”. He invited our friend Ron and his son Matt, my son’s best friend, to join him and his son Danny. So there were three dads and three sons along with a black lab, “Bear”. We formed two teams and I was the “bird dog” on the DADS team. Bear went with the boys.

The first day we brought back 17 grouse and Larry fixed a meal of grouse with wild rice and cream of mushroom soup in the giant iron skillet that hung from a nail in “the shack”. It was one of the most memorable feasts of my life. I trust that you are doing something special with your family this weekend. I   

“Remember, it’s not about having time it’s about making time.”

The Live from Here show this week is rebroadcast.  Next Saturday, Paul Simon will be one the guests on a live show from Town Hall in New York city. 

October 11th, 2019 by Gary Osberg

I am about to leave on a trip up I 94 to Alexandria to deliver a few loaves of Johnnie Bread.  There were a few cars with snow on them this morning, but I should be fine.

In September of 1956 I was enrolled in the eighth grade at Junior High in St. Louis Park. The previous month my mother had given birth to her sixth child and Dad was once more in trouble. My mother’s mother, Grama Laura Ramlo, drove her 1952 Chevy from Upsala to our rented bungalow at 1620 Colorado Ave in St. Louis Park, put my dad in the back seat, drove to the VA Hospital in Minneapolis and said, “Here! He is a veteran and a drunk and he is your problem, not mine”. She then took her daughter, myself and my five siblings to live in the apartment above Ramlo Grocery in Upsala.

On Monday, October 1st, I rode my bike from Ramlo Grocery to the Upsala school. I had earned the money for my shiny new Schwinn by delivering newspapers, both morning and evening in our St. Louis Park neighborhood. Of course, that first day, someone let the air out of the tires. That evening I removed the headlamp, the tank and the fenders from my bike. No one messed with the bike the second day of school.  Another plus related to this move was that I did get out of the 10 hours of detention that I had accrued at school in St. Louis Park.

The next Monday, the student body was ushered into the school auditorium to watch game five of the World Series. We watched Don Larsen pitch the only perfect game in World Series history. He’d had a disastrous game two, lasting only two innings and allowing four runs on four walks. When he reported to the locker room that day, Larsen was astonished to see the baseball tucked into his shoe by the manager Casey Stengel. He faced 27 batters that day and not a single one made it to base.

Live From Here this week is a live show from Town Hall in New York City.  Musical guests include Trey Anastasio, The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Sarah Jarosz, Edward Norton, Dulce Sloan and Tom Papa.  Enjoy the show.

Tonight Tom Papa will be appearing at The Paramount Center for the Arts in downtown St. Cloud. I will be working a table in the lobby and I hope to see you there.  Tickets at www.paramountarts.org 

“If you are going to expect, you must inspect.”  Laura Ramlo

October 4th, 2019 by Gary Osberg

Tomorrow is homecoming here at St. John’s University. I am not sure when the homecoming is at Upsala. In my day it was the Upsala `Cardinals’, but some time ago Upsala football merged with Swanville and now it is the USA (Upsala Swanville Area) `Patriots’.

Some of my favorite memories of football games are those played in the mud. I was an overweight freshman on the Upsala Cardinal team in 1957. Freshmen wore the old uniforms and helmets and we did not win any fashion awards. John Atkinson, a senior running back, ran with his knees pumping up and down high and hard. He still managed to make yardage. In practice, I would simply bounce off of his knee pads. The memory of the pain is still with me. That was the year when no other team even scored on the Upsala team. Clarissa got to our three yard line, but our defense held.

A couple of years ago, the 1957 Upsala football team was inducted into the Upsala Sports Hall of Fame. I was one of nine of the twenty-nine original members of the 1957 Upsala Cardinal football team who showed up for our induction into the Upsala Sports Hall of Fame. One of the guys, Dave Chuba, came all the way from Ohio. The quarterback of the 1957 team was Bob Soltis. Bob was named All-State in 1957.  Bob was the guy who nicknamed me “Murray” because I went to the U of M in fall of 1961.  The other nickname that I had was “Alkie”.

This was the second year that inductees to the Upsala Sports Hall of Fame were chosen. Bob’s brother John was a junior on the 1957 football team and he accepted an individual award for his older brother.  The first year of the Hall of Fame, Bob’s brother Ralph was chosen. There were lots of Soltis boys and they all played football. No one lifted weights in those days, they just threw bales of hay all summer. Those of us who were “village kids” had a tough time keeping up with the “farm kids”.

The Live From Here show this weekend is a rebroadcast of a show titled “Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.  It was performed yesterday in San Francisco.  Special guests included Grace Potter, J.S. Ondara, Aoife O’Donovan and Nore Davis.  Tom Papa will be reporting his usual “Out in America”.   More details can be found online at livefromhere.org

“Is there nicotine stains on his index finger? A dime novel hidden in the corncrib? Is he starting to memorize jokes from Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang?” Professor Hill in The Music Man.

September 27th, 2019 by Gary Osberg

Fall is here and there is a forecast for frost tonight.  The Millstream Art Festival will be held Sunday in vibrant downtown St. Joseph.  The event runs from 11am until 5pm.  There will be 55 artists and 8 authors displaying and selling their works.  There will be live music and a wide variety of food available for purchase.  I hope to see you there.

I have to leave early to drive up to Breezy Point for our fall sales retreat. One of the cabins that is available is the 11 bedroom Fawcett House. It was Breezy Point Resort’s founder Captain Billy’s personal residence. My mother, Bernice “Bee” Larson was a nanny for the grandchildren of Captain Billy Fawcett in the 1930s. She had a bedroom in the Fawcett House and spent the winters in Los Angeles with Captain Billy’s son Gordon Fawcett, his wife Vivian and their two children, Gordon Jr. and Dennis.

Wilford Fawcett, better known as Captain Billy, was a millionaire publisher from Robbinsdale, Minnesota. His most famous publication was the Capt. Billy’s Whiz Bang magazine. The book “Humor Magazines and Comic Periodicals” noted that “Few periodicals reflect the post-WW I cultural change in American life as well as Capt. Billy’s Whiz Bang. For much of the 1920’s Capt. Billy’s was the most prominent comic magazine in America.”

Captain Billy purchased Breezy Point in Pelican Township, from Fred LaPage in 1920 and soon the main lodge was built along with his personal residence. The original lodge was destroyed in a fire in June of 1959. Of course he rebuilt the lodge and the “Fawcett House” still stands. With 11 bedrooms it is perfect for large family reunions. It was recently renovated. For details on rates and golf packages, go to breezypointresort.com

Live from Here this week is a live show from Town Hall in New York City. Special guests include Dawes, Jamila Woods, Becca Stevens, John Cameron Mitchell, Ann Patchett and comedian Tom Papa.  By the way, Tom Papa will be appearing live from the Paramount Center for the Arts in downtown St. Cloud, Friday October 11th.  I will be working a table in the lobby. I hope to see you there.

“This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we know what to do with it.  Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can.  Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” Emerson

September 20th, 2019 by Gary Osberg

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

All five of the paintings are complete and 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. There are 24” x 29” prints available for purchase.  My coffee buddy Phil and I donated a print of the U.S. Navy painting to the American Legion in St. Joseph. Both of our fathers served in the Pacific Theater during the second World War. It is hanging in the meeting room. You can contact me if you are interested in purchasing a print of any or all of paintings.   

This Sunday, September 22nd,  at 2pm,  there will be a dedication of the granite monument honoring both Veterans and donors. The monument is located outside of the Committal Hall.  I have attached a press release and I hope that you can make it to the ceremony.   


“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 

September 13th, 2019 by Gary Osberg

It has been six 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 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. 

Live from Here this week is a live show from New York City.  Special guests include The Lumineers, Raphael Saadig, Sarah Jarosz, Jeff Daniels, Aparna Nancherla and Maria Popova.  Enjoy the show. 

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

September 6th, 2019 by Gary Osberg

This note was cut and pasted from my son’s website, The Outdoor Report.  He wrote it in 2013.

“In our family, Labor Day weekend means a trip to Uncle Brian’s Cabin. It’s our way of saying goodbye to summer & one last weekend dedicated to feeling Minnesota. What I mean by that is a celebration of why we live here, sky blue waters, great food, fantastic fishing & family fun. This year, the weekend began with temperatures in the mid 80’s which lead to perfect swimming weather. Eventually the temperatures dropped far enough to make fishing the favorite activity. “The Cabin” is a gorgeous log cabin nestled in the woods on a small environmental lake near Aitkin, MN. It’s a great place to get away from it all, and the warm orange glow inside the cabin has a way of refreshing your soul.

This little lake doesn’t have much in the way of BIG fish, but it does have a healthy trout population. We’ve never really tried to fish for trout over Labor Day weekend, however, this year my son Willie demanded we give it a shot. Uncle Brian took Willie & I out in his 14 foot boat powered by an electric motor. We trolled the deep water with small crankbaits & “cow bell” rigs with crawler harnesses. Sometimes keeping it simple makes for a more enjoyable day on the water. No electronics, no big boat, no big motors. Just three guys trolling around hoping to feel the heavy strike on the end of the line. Low & behold, it worked. We managed to catch 3 nice eater sized trout that made the annual Labor Day feast even more memorable.

Keep in mind, just because Labor Day has come & gone, & it feels like summer is over, that doesn’t mean we are going to stop “feeling Minnesota”. Fall brings some of the best fishing of the year & hunting is going to be in full swing soon. As always, remember it’s not about having time, it’s about making time!” Erik Osberg

Walleye Willie, age 4 at the time,  is showing off his catch.  The picture of the shoreline was taken by Erik’s wife Jena this Labor Day weekend.  As always, a great time was had by all.

Live from Here this week is live from New York City at the Town Hall.  Special guests include Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, Natalie Lafourcade, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sarah Jarosz, Matt Braunger and Holly Laurent.  Enjoy the show.

“The willow which bends to the tempest, often escapes better than the oak which resists it; and so in great calamities, it sometimes happens that light and frivolous spirits recover their elasticity and presence of mind sooner than those of loftier character.”  Walter Scott

September 6th, 2019 by Gary Osberg

Ninety eight years ago today, a boy-child was born in Pretare, Italy. A village in the Apennine Mountains on the coast of the Adriatic Sea.  Anthony Caponi grew to be a giant in the art world.  In his lifetime, Tony created hundreds, maybe thousands of sculptures, many of them from rocks.  He also established the Caponi Art Park and Learning Center in Eagan, Minnesota.  Google the park and you can enjoy videos of Tony and his favorite fans, the children.

Forty six years ago today, the “Granite Trio” was dedicated on the mall in downtown St. Cloud.  The Granite Trio was commissioned by the St. Cloud Community Arts Council, which became Visual Arts Minnesota.  The SCCAC was lead by the late Arlene Helgeson.  Arlene found out that the mall was going to be redesigned to become a two way street once again so the city was planning on moving the Granite Trio.  Arlene told the city that she would chain herself to the rocks in protest.  The rocks stayed where they were and now the street winds around them.

Seventy six year ago today, another boy-child was born in Little Falls, Minnesota, 25 miles east of Upsala.  In his lifetime he sold Herman Miller office furniture, Xerox copiers and 15 second branding messages on Minnesota Public Radio.  For almost twenty years now he has been helping folks to “get the word out” about their companies and special events in central and southwestern Minnesota, Sioux Falls and Sun Valley, Idaho.  A picture of these two boys as they appeared in 2013, on the eve of a celebration of the “Granite Trio”, is attached.

Live from Here this week is the last of the reruns for a while.  The new season kicks off from New York City next Saturday. 

“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.

August 23rd, 2019 by Gary Osberg

“Welcome Class of 2023”  This is posted on the sign at the entrance to the St. John’s University campus. Yesterday, the Sexton Commons fountain area had tables set out with coffee, juice and plates of cookies fresh from the bakery. For many this was a family affair. Most young men and women were accompanied by one or both of their parents. In the fall of 1961,  I arrived on campus of the University of Minnesota, Main Campus. Coming from a class of 33 in Upsala and going to a class of thousands was overwhelming. Ma had moved the family from Upsala to south Minneapolis, in part, to make it easier for me to attend college.

My two quarters at the “U” were a disaster. The Institute of Technology was certainly a bad choice. My worst performance was in English 101. Every week I would turn in the blue composition book and every week I would get a “D” or a “F”. Not paying any attention to Miss Krier in 11th and 12th grade English class at good old Upsala High had caught up with me.

The highlight of the fall of 1961 was the Gopher football team. They were coached by Murray Warmath and lead by quarterback Sandy Stephens. They compiled a record of 8 wins and 2 losses. On New Year’s day 1962, they beat the UCLA Bruins by a score of 21 to 3 in the Rose Bowl. When I came home to Upsala that spring, defeated and broke, Bob Soltis nicknamed me “Murray” and he called me “Murray” from that time forward.

Live from Here this week is the final rebroadcast before the start of the new season.  On September 7th the show will be live from The Town Hall in New York City.  Special guests will include Sarah Jarosz and Holly Laurent.  Check out the complete tour at livefromhere.org.

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts”  John Wooden

August 16th, 2019 by Gary Osberg

It is another beautiful day on the campus of St. John’s University.   There is a sadness amongst us because our dear friend Father Hilary Thimmesh died on Sunday.  Father Hillary officed next door to me here on the third floor of Wimmer Hall.  I saw him many times during the week.  I always knew when he had arrived, because he would fire up his electric tea pot.  He was an English major after all.  Just last Friday he stopped by to tell me about having learned how to have his computer read his email messages to him.  He was so happy about this newly discovered technology. 

Amongst his many duties, he served as the 10th President of St. John’s University from 1982 until 1991.   He touched many lives, but I was amazed at his ability to continue to serve.  He was as a floor resident in St. Thomas Hall from 1963 until spring of 2019.  This would have been the first fall that he was not a resident there.   Many of the Johnnie football players were housed in Tommy Hall.  I can imagine the numerous times that he counseled a young man as the tough times were sure to come their way.

There will be a celebration of the Eucharist of Christian Burial for Father Hilary at 3:30 today in Saint John’s Abbey and University Church.

The poem that is attached is dedicated to his memory.

Live from Here this week is a rebroadcast.  The next live performance is on Saturday September 7th from New York City.   Check the schedule at livefromhere.org