May 26th, 2023 by Gary Osberg

When I was a youngster in Upsala, we always had a Memorial Day service in the school gym, followed by a parade down Main Street. Sometime after I graduated Upsala High School in 1961, the practice died out.

Then in the 80’s, Lorna Koehn, a member of the Upsala American Legion Auxiliary brought back the Memorial Day Celebration in Upsala. I can still picture her marching in front of a group of children, each holding a bunch of lilac flowers.

The Memorial Day celebration in Upsala will start with a program at 10am in the school gym.  Following the indoor ceremony, the celebration will proceed to the Veterans Memorial Park directly across the street for ceremony. The Upsala American Legion has constructed a monument to the Veterans from the Upsala area.  This year they have added a building that will serve as a museum displaying military artifacts. At the end of another short ceremony, the children will wait in anticipation for the chance to collect the spent brass shells after the 21 gun salute. They make good whistles.

After that, there will be a parade through Upsala, ending at the City Recreation Building where the `Upsala First Responders’ will serve a picnic lunch.  Hopefully, there will be some “Bee Bop A Ree Bop Rhubarb Pie”. Whenever you meet a veteran or a service member, simply say “Thank you for serving”. They each deserve our respect.

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”  John Fitzgerald Kennedy

May 19th, 2023 by Gary Osberg

Last night I attended a board meeting of the Upsala Area Historical Society.  We are making plans for an open house at the Borgstrom House on August 12th during the annual Upsala Heritage Days celebration. 

Part of the history of the Upsala area is the story of “The Lost Children of Two Rivers”.  Late in the autumn of 1870, Maria age 10 and Christian age 8 had gone out one evening to bring in the cows.  They did not return.  Family and friends searched for weeks, but no trace was found of them.  At one time there were over 100 men and women engaged in the search.

In the middle of December, a Native American Indian who was hunting, saw some tracks in the snow and he found the girl.  She had been dead less than a day.  He fellow went to a farmhouse nearby and despite some difficulty with language, he was able to communicate that he had found the body of a girl.  The body of the boy was found nearby.

The poem “Babes in the Woods” was written to reflect the tragedy of the story.  My grandmother Laura used to sing it to her children.  My mother hated the song.  In May of 2006, a beautiful granite marker was placed on the farmstead of the children’s family.  Thanks to John and Ruth Heisick, Peg and Brad Bellamy, Dan Hovland and the Morrison County Historical Society for making this possible. 

“Hold a true friend with both hands.”   A Nigerian proverb

May 12th, 2023 by Gary Osberg

The Minnesota fishing opener is tomorrow, and I will not participate. I have never been one for getting up early and getting out there before the sun comes up.  I prefer to fish in the late afternoon and early evening.

My interest in fishing is only because of my son Erik and his son Walleye Willie. When we purchased a lake place 50 years ago, I got a fishing license for the first time in my life. I still have the fishing pole that I bought. Erik was not even two years old that first summer. His Uncle Duaine made a special short fishing rod for him and soon we were casting for Bass from our sailboat.

Earl Benson, the warehouse manager at General Office Products, was the one that taught me how to fish for Bass. Erik hated the process of putting a live frog on a number 2 hook with a slip sinker, but it did produce fish. Today it is almost impossible to find frogs anywhere . Minnows, leeches and night crawlers seem to work best for Walleye.

When Erik was 15 years old, our next-door neighbor, Obie, took Erik to Canada and Erik caught not one, but two 9 pound 15 ounce Walleye. He brought one of them home and we had it mounted.  

Erik is an “ambassador” for Otter Tail County, which has more lakes than any other county in Minnesota. One thousand forty-eight at the last count. He has volunteered to be a host at the Governor’s Fishing Opener in Mankato tomorrow.  It looks like he and his guests will be fishing in the rain.

“Arrange whatever pieces come your way.”  Virginia Woolf 

May 5th, 2023 by Gary Osberg

Today is Cinco de Mayo, the Fifth of May, commemorating the Mexican victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1862, when 8,000 well-armed French troops were routed by 4,000 ill-equipped Mexican soldiers.  And a beautiful day it is.

Years ago, I got interested in gardening because of my brother-in-law, Jackie Rudie. Jackie grew up on a farm and gardening was not a hobby, it was a matter of survival. In 1970, Jackie’s grandmother Mary Heisick died and my mother-in-law Irene Rudie inherited the old parsonage that had been built in 1892 by members of the Swedish Mission Church in Upsala. When they sold the farm in 1971 and moved to town, Jackie convinced the members of the church next door to let him till up a plot of ground west of the old parsonage so he and his parents could continue growing the fresh vegetables that they were used to enjoying.

Jackie had bad knees and so he bought a Yamaha three-wheeler and he did his gardening from that. By June, his garden was overrun with weeds, but it still produced. As his arthritis got worse, I offered to do some tilling for him on a weekend. The next time I came by, he growled something about how many vegetable seedlings I had destroyed. My only defense was that the rows were not straight and as a “town kid”, I was not schooled in knowing which were weeds and which were plants. The next spring, I introduced the idea of planting stakes spaced three feet apart and using string between the stakes.

Soon, my daughter, who now owns the parsonage, will plant the first two rows in the garden with Yukon Gold potatoes. Love those Yukon Golds, in rows exactly three feet apart.

“You will never find a better sparring partner than adversity” Golda Meir

April 28th, 2023 by Gary Osberg

The High School Juried Art Exhibition is held each year at the Paramount Center for the Arts.  The closing reception and Awards Ceremony is tonight. If you have not already seen the great artwork created by high school students, hopefully, you will get a chance to attend tonight.  The reception starts at 5:30. The Awards Ceremony is at 6:30.  Light refreshments are provided.   

For over 40 years the High School Art show was presented by Visual Arts Minnesota.  My daughter, Kerry Osberg, was the Executive Director for many years and so there is a lot of history with our family with this wonderful event.  Over the years I was able to purchase a number of very special pieces at the show.  It is not often that the artist is willing to sell their work, but you may find something tonight that you will love. 

Tomorrow evening, the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra is performing “Struggle and Triumph” in Ritsche Auditorium on the campus of St. Cloud State University.  There is a pre-concert discussion at 6:30. The concert starts at 7:30.  Tickets are available at

Singer song-writer Chasity Brown is performing at The Paramount Center for the Arts tomorrow evening at 7:30.  I do have two free tickets in row G for the first person to respond to this email.  I can leave the tickets at Will Call. 

Finally, on Sunday afternoon at 4pm, Great River Chorale is performing “Alway Something Sings” ,a celebration of song, love and hope, at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Cloud.  Tickets at  

“Caution! The left-brained world wants you to “be realistic, quit dreaming, be more like us, get your head out of the clouds and your feet on the ground.” To advance and prosper, steadfastly ignore that advice.”  Marilyn Grey

April 21st, 2023 by Gary Osberg

When the family moved from St. Louis Park to Upsala in October of 1956, one benefit to me was that I got out of having to serve “detention” at Park Junior High school. My rebellious nature had already kicked in. The Upsala school population was divided into “farm kids” and “town kids”.  That fall I started hanging out with other “town kids”.

For some reason one of us decided to steal a gas cap off of a parked car. I am not sure which “genius” came up with this idea, but in any case, the prank turned into a project. Everyone in town was talking about it and I am sure that old man Miller printed a story in the local newspaper. In time one of the “gas cap gang” confessed to his parents and we all got busted.

Earl Metzger was the local policeman. He gathered us up and forced me to reveal the hiding place of the gunny sack full of gas caps. All of those who were missing their gas cap were told to come to Earl’s garage in Uptown Upsala and sort through the lineup of gas caps to claim theirs. We appeared in front of the Justice of The Peace in the backroom of the fire hall. Justice Bernard Lunder sentenced us all to “six months of church attendance”. Many years later I would visit Bernard at the nursing home in Sauk Rapids and we would talk about the “separation of church and state”.  He simply laughed and said he thought we would benefit from his sentence.  Not all of us learned the lesson. The “Black Knights Car Club” was born a few years later.  That lead to another crime spree. 

I have two tickets in row G for the performance of Chasity Brown next Saturday, April 29th at the Paramount Center for the Arts.  Let me know if you are interested.  I will need your mailing address.

“It is unwise to pay too much, but it’s also unwise to pay too little. When you pay too much, all you lose is a little money, but when you pay too little you stand a chance of losing everything because the thing you bought is incapable of doing what you bought it to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot. It just can’t be done. So, when you deal with the low bidder, it is wise to put a little something aside to take care of the risk you run. And, if you do that, you can afford something better.” John Ruskin

April 14th, 2023 by Gary Osberg

Upsala Motors is a sponsor of Radio Lab every Saturday.  They are located “below the hill” in downtown Upsala.   A city divided by Two Rivers.  Across from Upsala Motors, next to the river, is a Shell gas station with an Italian restaurant, Marliano’s.  Famous for their pizza and their Borgstrom Burgers.  

The original building on that spot was a blacksmith shop. It is very likely that there was a water wheel in the river to power the many belts and pulleys that operated the various machines.  In the fifties the “smitty” was a jolly old Swede, Gust Olafson.  I can still recall the sounds and smells coming from the shop.  During the summer, the huge front door was always open, and the ceiling was full of large belts going in all directions.

One spring day, Gust was busy at the forge and anvil when a crusty old Norwegian bachelor farmer came rushing in demanding that Gust drop what he was doing and sharpen his plowshares.  After many attempts in his loud demanding voice, the farmer said to Gust, “If you don’t sharpen these shares right now, I will have to take my business to Swanville!

Without even looking up, Gust replied: “Happy Yourney”.

“To simply your life, and spend your energy on things that are meaningful to you, you must acquire a knack for saying no.”  Robyn Paper

April 7th, 2023 by Gary Osberg

On Wednesday we celebrated Kaylin Marie Osberg’s 28th birthday. Kaylin is the oldest of my five grandchildren and life has not been the same since she came into this world.  My daughter was working her way through school at St. Cloud State and from the time she was a baby, Kaylin would spend most weekends with her bachelor grandfather in the old parsonage in Upsala.  We did a lot of pancakes at the Uptown Café on Saturday mornings and a lot of washing her hair in the kitchen sink on Sunday mornings before church.  There was much wailing and thrashing about. 

Getting her to fall asleep in her crib at night was not easy.  It helped if I sang “It’s Summer Time” over and over again while she struggled to stay awake.  After many years, she finally said, “Grandpa, please stop singing that song!”. 

Now Kaylin is co-owner of a promotional products company, Zygoatian LLC.  Their moto is “We will print on most anything”  She owns a small home close to Lake Mille Lacs in Wahkon.  If you need a T Shirt or coffee mug, give her a call.  Simply go to  . 

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes, art is knowing which ones to keep.”  Scott Adams

March 30th, 2023 by Gary Osberg

In the spring of 2000, I visited MPR’s classical music station, KWRV 91.9, in Sun Valley, Idaho for the first time.  When I made my second trip in the fall of that year, I decided to drive the rental car from Sun Valley to Bozeman, Montana and visit my ex-wife’s Uncle Bill and Aunt Maggie. 

Uncle Bill was Marcia’s mother’s half- brother. They both had the same mother, but different fathers.  I had met Aunt Maggie when Marcia and I went to California on our honeymoon in 1965. Aunt Maggie told stories about a Native American ghost that would visit her. He often sat on the end of her bed.  She also introduced me to stuffed grape leaves at the shopping mall. Going to visit Aunt Maggie and Uncle Bill became an annual event.  Each year I heard more marvelous stories and I learned to love those two wonderful people. Knowing that Marcia and I were divorced, Maggie would introduce me as her nephew from Minnesota and add:  “I got him in the divorce”. 

Uncle Bill passed in 2008.  It has been six years since Aunt Maggie passed. She and Bill Heisick both grew up in Bozeman, Montana. Here is just one of the many stories that Maggie told me.

Bill served in the Pacific during World War II. When he came home, he and his mother traveled to LA to visit some friends. One day a fellow named Ivan popped in to see his friend Tommy who happened to be playing bridge with Bill and his mother Mary. Ivan asked: “Who owns the car outside with the Montana license plates?”. Uncle Bill spoke up. Ivan, in a proud way, told Bill: “My girlfriend, Maggie Caven, lives in Bozeman. Please greet Maggie for me when you get back to Bozeman”.

When Bill got back to Bozeman, he phoned Maggie and asked her to go to a movie. Maggie mistook Bill for his older brother Bob who she had once met in high school. She accepted the date, and she was very disappointed when she found out that Bob had been killed in the war. Bill had gone to a different school, and she did not know him.

She was quite sure that Bill, who was a couple of years younger than she, was not her kind of fellow. Bill was very handsome. In fact, he could have doubled for Clark Gable.  Maggie was sure that like most handsome men, he would prove to be full of himself. She tried to call it off, but Bill was persistent, and they were married in Tucson, Arizona on April 12, 1949. They were a very happy couple. They lived in Van Nuys, CA and retired to a small ranch outside of Bozeman in 1984. She would introduce Bill as “Her SOB, Sweet Old Bill”.   I am not sure what happened to Ivan, but he shared too much information and it cost him dearly.

“When one door closes, another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us”.  Alexander Graham Bell

March 24th, 2023 by Gary Osberg

It was in 2001 that I first noticed an old man kind of shuffling towards Wimmer Hall where the studio of Minnesota Public Radio is located. His bib overalls were covered with saw dust. I stopped and introduced myself.  I asked him what he did on campus and he responded in a gruff voice, “My name is Brother Willie and I work in the woodshop.  I make a table and chair set, haven’t you seen them?  They are for the little ones.”   Since I had a six year old granddaughter at the time, I asked him if he would make a set for me.  “Oh, I don’t know, there are many orders ahead of yours, I don’t know if I will live long enough to make a set for you.”   I responded,  “No problem, I will pray for you every day and I am sure that you will live long enough to make them.”   

During the next few months, I visited Br. Willie in the woodshop many times. Once, I noticed a small wooden wagon filled with blocks. He made the blocks out of scraps of oak wood harvested from the Abbey forest. I always left him with one of my calling cards and reminded him of my order for a table and chair set.  One day the phone rang and it was Brother Willie.  My table and chair set was finished.

Over the years I took delivery on two children’s table and chair sets plus 8 of the small wagons filled with blocks of many shapes and sizes.  Years later old age made it necessary for Br. Wille to stop working in the woodshop, but he still would make his rounds going thru the garbage searching for aluminum cans.  He donated the money from the cans to the poor.

At one time Brother Willie was the Monastery dairy herdsman, but he was best known for his role as the self-appointed night watchman on campus.  The pub in Sexton Commons is named after him and George Maurer wrote a song named “The Brother Willie Shuffle”.   

In 2005. my friend Dave Phipps drew a caricature of Brother Willie Shuffling, from which my granddaughter, Kaylin, has made a T shirt.  Kaylin was the 6 year old granddaughter who got the first table and chair set. The T shirts are available at the St. John’s Abbey Gift Shop in the Great Hall.  The Gift Shop is open Monday thru Saturday from 10 until 2 and Sunday from 11:30 until noon.  A picture is attached. 

“Success has nothing to do with what you gain for yourself.  Success is what you do for others.”  Brother Willie (William Jerome Borgerding, OSB)   1916-2009