Notebook
June 18th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

Sunday is Father’s Day. In 1998 Dad moved from his high rise apartment in downtown St. Paul to my house in Upsala. He had been a city fellow for most of his life, but he was raised in Upsala. I was working in Minneapolis as a sales manager with Albinson Inc., a Xerox agency, and I was gone most of the week. It wasn’t much of an inconvenience to have him there. His passion was cooking, however I told him in no uncertain terms that I hated the smell of fried foods and I did not eat leftovers.

In July of 1999 Albinson Inc. and Xerox parted their ways and so Albinson no longer needed a sales manager. I spent the summer painting old buildings and garages in the Upsala area and started working here at MPR in October of that year. If I did not leave a post-it note on the counter in the morning that said “NO SUPPER”, there would be a home cooked meal on the table when I arrived home. The food was awesome. The baked potatoes were done in a special way. He boiled them 10 minutes first and then baked them for one hour at 400 degrees. As Dad struggled with old age and cancer, sometimes the quality was not up to the usual standards. Also, many times the smell of burnt food or worse, burnt plastic, from the tea pot handle, would greet me at the back door. He burned three tea pots, with plastic handles, in the last six months. It got so that the only time I did not leave out the post-it note, “NO SUPPER”, was on Fridays.

On Friday November 19, 2004, I came home and he greeted me with “I have to go to the hospital, but you can eat first” I responded “No way” and I put on the oven mitts and grabbed the baked potatoes and dish of meatballs from the oven and shoved them in the frig and we drove to the VA in Minneapolis.

That was Dad’s “Last supper”, he never did come home. That weekend I ate the leftover meatball supper. It was a very tasty meal.

PS:  No, I did not catch the biggest Walleye last weekend.  My son Erik did.  Maybe next year. 

 

“To be courageous requires no exceptional qualifications, no magic formula. It’s an opportunity that sooner or later is presented to us all and each person must look for that courage in their own soul. ”  John F. Kennedy

June 11th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

This weekend I am going fishing with my four brothers, my son Erik and my grandson “Walleye Willie” plus brother Craig’s son Grayson.  A total of 8 Osberg men ages 12 to 77.  My sister’s grandson Adam and Cousin John will also join us.  Sometime in the nineties, my youngest brother Craig was invited by his father-in-law, Jim Keeler, to go along on a fly-in fishing trip to Trout Lake in Canada. Over time, my other brothers, who were into fishing, were invited to go along. In 2003 brother Bill offered to pay the way for my son Erik, so I decided to go along.

I am the oldest of five Osberg brothers and it was a wonderful bonding time. I told the camp host, Murdoch, that I would be back every year for the next 20 years. The next year we went to brother Brian’s cabin near Aitkin instead. The year after that went to Rainy Lake. Erik was working as a weekend sportscaster on Channel 10/13 in Duluth and he did a story on fishing with the guide and resort owner Woody for his TV show. He suggested that we try Woody’s instead of the fly-in in 2005. We had a great time and the greatest part was that Woody had a wonderful pub filled with memorabilia from his hockey days. For many years we went back to Woody’s. We never did do the fly-in again. You can check out Woody’s at www.fairlyreliable.com  It is worth the drive just to meet Woody. In 2011 we switched to Brindley’s Resort on Leach Lake. A large home across the road from the marina worked well for the whole gang, but fishing was tough.

In 2017 we decided to try Holly’s Resort on Otter Tail Lake.  Erik is an ambassador for Otter Tail County and we reasoned that we would have a better chance to find the elusive walleye.  We had a great time. One of the cabins is right on the lake.  Brother Bill is the chief cook and bottle washer, so we put him in that cabin along with brother Geoff from Chicago.  Next Friday I will give you a complete report. There is a traveling trophy and guess who’s name has never appeared on it.  Maybe this year. 

“Dost thou love Life? Then do not squander Time; for that’s the stuff Life is made of.”  Benjamin Franklin

June 4th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

Good sunny morning from Mill Stream Village,

This has been a very challenging year. Music has been very important to me.  I enjoy the many YouTube videos even with the short ads.

A year ago this video was posted on the MPR YourClassical Choral Stream Facebook page. https://youtu.be/Y92fWDDKs58

The video was taken at a rehearsal of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City performing “Bridge Over Troubled Water”.  The mission of the Young People’s Chorus is “to provide children of all ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds with a safe haven for personal and artistic growth.”  www.ypc.org 

“Although the world is very full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”  Helen Keller

May 28th, 2021 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 in 1961, the practice died out. Then in the 80’s, Lorna Koehn, a member of the 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.

This year the Memorial Day celebration in Upsala will start at 9am at the Veterans Memorial Park across from the school, south of the Catholic Church. The 105th Engineer Combat Battalion reenacting group will portray the U.S. Army combat engineer soldier in the European Theatre of Operations during World War II.

At 10am there will be a program in the school gym.  Following the indoor ceremony the celebration will return to the Veterans Memorial Park for the 21 gun salute. There 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 to the City Park where the `Upsala First Responders’ will serve a picnic lunch including “Bee Bop A Ree Bop Rhubarb Pie”.

Be sure to take the time to honor those that you know who have served. If you meet a service member, simply put our your hand and say “Thank you for serving”. They 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 20th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

The Governor’s Fishing Opener was a huge success.  My son Erik was operating on 4 hours of sleep by the time the sun came up on Saturday.   My grandson Walleye Willie was chosen to guide Ashlea Halpren and Andrew Parks from Minnevangelist.  Ashlea and Andrew searched 40 states in the United States over a 16 month period for a place to live and they chose Minnesota. 

What follows is what they wrote on their post.   https://minnevangelist.com/about-us/

“Meet 12-year-old Will, a.k.a. “Walleye Willie,” an aspiring marine biologist and one of Team Minnevangelist’s three boat hosts for the Governor’s Fishing Opener in Otter Tail County (Our other two were his doting grandparents, Lee and Kathy.)

Our fab five borrowed a pontoon boat from the family-run East Silent Lake Resort in Dent — and whaddaya know, it was a sunny blue day and we had East Silent Lake mostly to ourselves.

The goal? Catch and release crappies, bass, suckers, and pike. (Though honestly, we would’ve been excited to reel in an old boot.) Wise beyond his years, Willie was a fine instructor — showing fishing newbies Ashlea and Andrew the ropes (er, lines?) as we puttered around the pristine lake. With eyes like X-rays, he could laser in on a school of fish from 100 feet away. He demonstrated the proper way to jig a rod and shared his philosophies on fishing (it’s a little art, a little luck, and a lotta patience).

Four hours in, Willie had caught himself eight fish (six on the boat, two on the dock). But Grandma Kathy, Grandpa Lee, and Team Minnevangelist? ZERO. Or, as Willie taught us to say, “so many we lost count.”

We had such a fun weekend exploring Otter Tail County and look forward to sharing our favorite finds throughout the week. Stay tuned for curious roadside attractions, scenic hike-a-thons, juicy broasted chicken, a pedal boat workout, lakeside cabin tours, the dance to end all dances, and more pearls of fishing wisdom from a preternaturally talented sixth grader.”  
 Ashlea and Andrew

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the ways things turn out.”   John Wooden

May 18th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

Good cloudy morning from Mill Stream Village.   Tomorrow is the fishing opener.  The first Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener was held in 1948 on Lake Mille Lacs. The event was established as a way to improve Minnesota’s economy through the development and promotion of the state’s recreational opportunities, especially fishing. This year my son Erik is the chair of the planning committee.  The festivities will be held in Otter Tail County.     

A couple of weeks ago Erik was having a tough time getting enough boat hosts to sign up.  So I used my Friday note to “get the word out”. 

Erik was able to find enough boat hosts to match up with the media folks that signed up for the event.  Walleye Wille and his grandpa Lee will be taking someone out on East Silent Lake on a pontoon.   My brother Craig is going to help and my sister’s grandson Adam talked a buddy with a boat into helping out also.

I love it when a plan comes together.

“The secret of success in constancy to purpose.”  Benjamin Disraeli

May 7th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

Many years ago my Dad went to work as a dishwasher at Little Sisters of the Poor in St. Paul. His boss was a woman named Maxine. They became real good friends and her family referred to him as Grandpa Bill. Maxine and Dad never lived together, but they ended up living in the same high rise apartment building next to St. Paul Ramsey Hospital on University Avenue. When Maxine died, I attended the funeral and Dad surprised me by asking me to sing “The Lord’s Prayer” and “Amazing Grace” during the service. There was no piano, so I had to sing “a Capella”. It was ok.

One of the pieces of furniture that Dad brought with him when he moved into my house in Upsala was a corner unit with glass shelves and a glass door that had belonged to Maxine. Her family had given it to him. After Dad passed in 2005, I had to clean out his room. One of the items in the cabinet was a small green egg with silver decorations and a seam abound the middle. I was curious to see what treasure was inside, but when I pried it open, expecting to find a doll, what came out were ashes!

“OH MY GOD! IT WAS MAXINE”. I spilled a little in my haste to put it back together and I quickly put it back in the curio.

A few years later, it happened again to someone that was helping me to clean house.  After that I decided to dig a hole next to my Dad’s grave at Gethsemane Lutheran in Upsala and bury the “egg”. 

“Tell me, what else should I have done?  Doesn’t everything die at last and too soon?  Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”  From The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

April 30th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

Tomorrow is prom night at Swanville High School.  My daughter teaches art at Swanville High School and this year she is the advisor responsible for the event.  Upsala High had their prom last Saturday.  For many years now the thing to do is to have a lock-in at the school with games and food all night long. The parents work in shifts to be there to help out. This has proven to be one of the best ways to make sure your children get home safe and sound. My granddaughter Christen had a great time with her pal Will.  I like Will.  I got to know him when 20 Upsala students and 12 of us adults went to Europe on an art tour in 2019. 

My Junior Prom in 1960 was also an “all-nighter”, but it included a fast trip to the doctor in Royalton in a 52 Chevy.  I had been messing with “No-Doze” and that combined with the Slo Gin caused some sort of attack.

My buddy Bob put the pedal to the metal and I remember my date screaming: “Slow down Bobby, do you want to kill us all?” as we whisked through the Royalton bridge. 

Doc Watson administered some sort of medicine and sent us on our way.  In those days the local doctor had a shingle hanging outside of his house. I am not sure if he even charged us for the service.

When we dropped my date off at her farm house, we “borrowed” some of her Dad’s smoked white fish off of the kitchen table and had breakfast watching the sun come up in the Burtrum Hills. 

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.” Prince  from the 1984 song “Let’s Go Crazy”

April 23rd, 2021 by Gary Osberg

The first Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener was held in 1948 on Lake Mille Lacs. The event was established as a way to improve Minnesota’s economy through the development and promotion of the state’s recreational opportunities, especially fishing. This year, the festivities will be held in Otter Tail County. The opener is at 12:01am on May 15th.   My son Erik is the chair of the planning committee.

Erik tells me that he needs more boat hosts. If you choose to be a boat host, t you will take someone fishing in Otter Tail County on Saturday, May 15th. You don’t need to be a professional angler or have a big fancy boat. You just need to be interested in promoting the sport of fishing and preferably sharing the story of what makes Otter Tail County such a great place to visit, live or work. We can’t promise money or fame, but all of the boat hosts will receive a number of quality commemorative items as a thank you. Boat hosts will get a sweatshirt, a hat and a high end fish ruler called “The Judge”. 

To register as a boat host, click here;  https://web.cvent.com/event/13f18e69-6cd9-4298-b71f-20c23d7fe150/regPage:2ad91631-a27c-4443-a527-472aa152bfba?fbclid=IwAR25tO2zKERPLIDlGHMVi067yh5Qhcm_o7fZ5I_EY7ltl_lHLsm0IBfG14I

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns you can contact my son Erik Osberg at 218-639-3130.   Walleye Willie will not be there but I am planning on showing up.  I hope to see you there.

April 16th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

Twelve years ago yesterday we buried Brother Willie in the St. John’s cemetery.  In June of 2008 we celebrated his 92nd birthday in his room in the retirement center on the second floor of the Quad.  I brought him a choice of a cold bottle of O’Doul’s or a cold bottle of Budweiser.  He chose the Budweiser. 

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. I stopped and introduced myself.  I asked him what he did 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 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.”   

I visited Br. Willie in the woodshop many times. The first time I noticed a small wooden wagon filled with blocks. He made the blocks out of scraps of oak wood.  Most likely the oak had been harvested from the Abbey forest.

I always left him one of my calling cards and reminded him of my order for the table and chairs.  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 Br. Willie had 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.

Brother Willie was best known for his role as night watchman on campus.  The pub in Sexton Commons is named after him and George Maurer wrote a song named “The Brother Willie Shuffle”.  He was a great man and he is missed.  My friend Dave Phipps drew the caricature 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)