Notebook
April 9th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

I was a “town kid” not a “farm kid”, but I learned the joy of “tilling the soil” through gardening. I got into gardening by helping my bachelor brother-in-law Jackie with his garden. Jackie and his parents had moved into the original Swedish Mission Church parsonage in Upsala in 1971.  It was built in 1892 by members of the church.  The garden was on church property west of the house. Jackie was forced to garden with a three wheeler because of bad knees so I offered to help with the tilling only to get yelled at for running over some of the seedlings. The rows that he planted were not straight and I did not know how to distinguish between weed and seedling. The next spring I drove stakes in the soil exactly 36” apart and used heavy string to define the rows. I didn’t get yelled at that year.

I bought the old parsonage from the estate of my mother-in-law and most years I had lots of vegetables.  Now the garden is mostly taken care of by my daughter.  She bought the old parsonage from me a few years ago.  We already missed getting the Yukon Gold potatoes in by Good Friday, as the Farmer’s Almanac suggests, but maybe by May 2nd. There are few joys better than freshly dug Yukon Gold potatoes baked or boiled, with real butter.

The first professional dance company dedicated to the tradition of stepping, Step Afrika! celebrates the pursuit of freedom, deeply embedded within the American experience, in their latest virtual production, STONO.

On September 9, 1739, the largest insurrection of enslaved Africans in North America began in South Carolina on the banks of the Stono River. Twenty Africans marched south toward a promised freedom in Spanish Florida, waving flags, beating drums, and shouting ‘Liberty.’ One year later, when Africans lost the right to use their drums through The Negro Act of 1740, they began to use their bodies as percussive instruments in response. This act of cultural survival and activism earned them the name of “Drumfolk,” and gave rise to some of the country’s most distinctive art forms including the ring shout, tap, hambone, and stepping.

Fueled by the artistry and traditions of these art forms, Step Afrika! ensures that this little-known yet history-altering movement is recognized for its transformation of African American life and culture and honors its place in the story of America.

Tomorrow evening at 7:30, CSB SJU Fine Arts is presenting a virtual performance of Step Afrika!  STONO”  Tickets are available at  www.csbsju.edu/wow  

“You are a unique creation of nature and there is something that can be expressed only by you and that can be experienced by others only through you.” Anonymous

April 2nd, 2021 by Gary Osberg

On Monday we will celebrate Kaylin Marie Osberg’s 26th birthday. She is the oldest of my five grandchildren and life has not been the same since.  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 www.zygoatian.com  . 

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

March 26th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

I had my seventh birthday in Germany on the way to Vienna, Austria. I was an Army brat and we lived on the second floor of an apartment building at 41 Gregor Mendel Strassa.

When I was nine years old I was the leader of a small street gang of other Army brats and some Austrian children. Our apartment was across the street from a huge house with a fenced yard occupied by a Colonel in the Fifth Army. There were two dogs, Boxers, in the yard and one of the kids stuck his hand through the linked fence and a dog took his mitten.

The kid starting crying and I offered to go in and get his mitten. By then the dogs had moved to the opposite corner of the yard and when I starting walking towards them they rushed at me and knocked me down. I covered my face with my arms and they chewed on my arms and legs. After what seemed like a long time, a neighbor we called “The Fire Man”, because he stoked the large furnace in our apartment building, came to my rescue.

I remember walking home crying. All that was left of my winter coat was the torso. My pant legs were also gone.  When my mother opened the door she fainted. I spent many weeks in the Army hospital. For some reason they did not stich the wounds, so Ma spent a lot of time rubbing olive oil on the scars to lessen the redness. I have 11 scars on my arms and legs. I was afraid of dogs for a long time, but I did get over it.

Time heals most wounds, some just take a while longer. The Colonel bought me a new winter coat.

“No man is worth his salt who is not ready at all times to risk his well-being, to risk his body, to risk his life, in a great cause.” Teddy Roosevelt

March 19th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

Today is my “fully vaccinated day”.   Two weeks have passed since I got my second shot.  I got the Moderna.  I did not have much of a reaction to either the first or the second shot.  Being tired might just be due to being old.

I am sick of being locked down.  I used to meet new people every month because I always tried very hard to get a face to face meeting with prospects.  Now it is all by email, telephone or Zoom.  

The second of my  five careers was in office furnishings.  I started working as a sales rep for General Office Products in 1971.  Roy Utne was part owner of General Office Products.   Shortly after I started working there, Roy  called me into his office and said:  “Osberg, if you get a 10 and a 2 and a meaningful lunch, you will be falling off of your billfold.”   It is not easy to get a 10 and a 2 and a meaningful lunch.   I hope to be able to return to the third floor of Wimmer Hall on the campus of St. John’s  the day after Labor Day and go back to “meeting in person”. 

When you come to my “celebration of life” at The Paramount Center for the Arts, there will be a gray ring binder on a table in the lobby.  Inside of that ring binder you will find a list of the 24 companies that I have worked for since 1961 and 44 calling cards.  The first one has only my name:  Gary Michael Osberg.  Every graduate of Upsala High School class of 1961 got a calling card to send along with the invitations to the graduation ceremony.  The last 8 cards are all from Minnesota Public Radio.  Titles changed, logos changed and we used to have a fax machine. 

I trust that you are able to get your shots and hopefully by Labor Day this should all be behind us. If you also have reached your “fully vaccinated” day, and you would like to meet for coffee, I have a Keurig and both regular coffee and decaf, so give me a call and I will give you directions to my cottage in Mill Stream Village. 

March 12th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

Next Wednesday is Saint Patrick’s Day.  The song “Oh Danny Boy” is a very popular Irish song.  The tune is known as the “Londonderry Air” and it originated in the northern most county of Ireland.  The story goes that some time in the 1600 hundreds, a blind harpist, Rory Dall O’Cahan, left a gig at a castle in the Valley of Roe and having had a little too much to drink, he fell asleep in the ditch along side the road. He was awakened by the sound of fairies playing the most beautiful tune he had ever heard on his harp.  He returned to the castle and proceeded to play the first rendition of what became known as the “Londonderry Air”.

Around 1850, Jane Ross heard a blind fiddler playing the tune and she wrote down the notes and the tune spread all over western world. Some say that Jimmy McCurry was that fiddler. Many tried to come up with words to the tune, including some of the best known poets of the time, but none seemed to work.  Finally in 1913, an Englishman, Fred Weatherly, a teacher and a lawyer who had written nearly 1,500 songs in his life, was sent the tune by a sister-in-law who lived in America.  Fred had recently lost his father and his only son.  His sorrow is reflected in the words, especially the second verse.

“But if you come and all the flowers are dying, if I be dead as dead I might well be, you will come and find the place where I am lying and kneel and say an “Ave” there for me.

And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me and all my grave the warmer, sweeter be.  And if you bend and tell me that you love me, then I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.”

“Good judgment comes from experience and often experience comes from bad judgment.”  Rita Mae Brown

March 5th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

In the spring of 2000 I visited our classical music station in Sun Valley, Idaho, KWRV 91.9,  for the first time.  When I made my second trip in the fall of 2000, I decided to drive the rental car to Bozeman, Montana and visit my Uncle Bill and Aunt Maggie.  I wanted to get to know these folks better.  I had met Aunt Maggie when we went to California on our honeymoon in 1965 and she 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 stories and I learned to love these wonderful people.

Uncle Bill passed in 2008.  It has been four years since Aunt Maggie passed. She and her husband 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 told Bill “My girlfriend, Maggie Caven, lives in Bozeman. Please greet Maggie for me when he get back home”.

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.

Maggie would introduce me as her nephew from Minnesota and add:  “I got him in the divorce”. 

“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

February 26th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

Tomorrow would have been my cousin Tom’s 74th birthday.  Tom died way too young in November of 2019.  Back in the fifties, Tom was the first kid in Upsala to see the newest Chevrolet model every fall. His grandfather, Bill Hagstrom, owned Hagstrom Chevrolet.  The auto transport would come to Upsala in the evening with the car wrapped in a covering and Grandpa Bill would have it delivered to his home on the edge of town.  He would have it stored in the garage behind his house.  Later, he would let Tommy into the garage to get a look at the brand new model before the unveiling at the dealership. It was a huge event in this small town.

It must have been pretty exciting to work in the design department of Chevrolet back then.  The 1954 Chevrolet was quite different from the ’55 and the ’57.  Both of those are collector cars today.  In those days there was only one body design with the addition of chrome being the major difference between the Biscayne, the Bel Air and one other.  In 1958 Chevrolet introduced the Impala.

I bought my first car from Tom’s dad, Uncle Duke.  It was a white 1954 Chevrolet “150” which was the low end of the line.  Black rubber took the place of chrome on various parts.  I paid $300 for it and my grandmother Laura Ramlo had to co-sign the loan from Farmers State Bank.  The owner of the bank, Axel Borgstrom, was not very loose with his money. 

Today “Hagstrom Chevrolet” is Upsala Motors.  They are located in beautiful downtown Upsala.  Upsala Motors is a program sponsor for Radio Lab every Saturday here in central Minnesota.  Stop in and say hi to the Peterson brothers, Dean, Tim and Mike. 

 “Love is the magician, the enchanter, that changes worthless things to joy, and makes right royal kings and queens of common clay.  Love is the perfume of that wondrous flower, the heart; and without that sacred passion, that divine swoon, we are less than beasts; but with love, earth is heaven, and we are gods.”  Robert Green Ingersoll.

February 19th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

“You just need to find your authentic swing!” Advice from Bagger Vance, a character in the movie “The Legend of Bagger Vance”, released in 2000 and directed by Robert Redford. Doing well at the game of golf is akin to doing well at the game of life. I am here doing what I do, loving what I do, to a large degree because of luck. Being in the right place at the right time.

I had no idea what I was “going to be when I grew up”. I once signed up for the “Phillips Gas Station Management Program”. Those of us in the program wore company uniforms but I don’t remember having to wear “the cap”. They taught us how to properly check the oil and wash the windshield while keeping an eye on the gas pump.

One day in 1962, my sister’s boyfriend Barry Larson asked me if I had any skill with “drafting”. He had a side job that he needed help with. I was living with my mother recovering from a back operation and I told a fib, but I got the job. When he came to pick up the finished work, he was not happy. “Don’t you know the difference between an object line and a dimension line?” Clearly I did not. I bought an instruction book on “Drafting” and did the work over again. I ended up as an Engineer Aid on the Polaris project at Honeywell and designed a part for the gyro used in the missile . I own a tie clasp with a submarine on the face of it. I probably still have that instruction book in a box somewhere. When I left that job in 1965 to go back to college they gave me a very nice compass set and a briefcase to carry my books.

Over the last 59 years I have had twenty three jobs, in three different industries, drafting, office equipment and radio.  I started my radio career on the third floor of Wimmer Hall on the campus of St. John’s University in October of 1999.  It is hard to believe that soon, it will be 22 years with Minnesota Public Radio.

“Wisdom is what is left over after we’ve run out of personal opinions.”  Cullen Hightower

February 12th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

It is still winter and I for one am growing weary of it all. The days are getting longer but I have not heard any Cardinals singing their songs looking for love.

Sunday is Saint Valentine’s Day, “an annual holiday celebrating love and affection between intimate companions.” (Wikipedia) The day is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine, established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD.

Some claim that the first recorded association of Valentine’s Day with romantic love is in Parlement of Foules by Geoffrey Chaucer who wrote: “For this was sent on Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.” This poem was written in 1382 to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia both of whom were 14 years old.

The sending of “Valentines” probably started in Great Britain. Esther Howland developed a successful home-based business in Worcester, Massachusetts making Valentine cards based on British models. The US Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, second only to Christmas. There are many ways to demonstrate affection to those that you feel love towards. Gifts of music is one.

If it is romance that you are looking for, check out Allie Sherlock’s cover of “Unchained Melody” on YouTube. I have a close personal friend that unwittingly revealed his unique love for his wife. He is a retired business man who has a cell phone, but the only person that has his cell phone number is his wife. Every time his cell phone rings he knows that it is the love of his life who is calling him. Now that is romantic.

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”  Leonard Cohen

February 8th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

Sixty two years ago last Wednesday will forever be known as “The Day the Music Died.” Rock and roll pioneers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and “The Big Bopper”, J.P Richardson, were killed when their plane, headed for Moorhead, MN, crashed into a frozen cornfield near Clear Lake, IA, just six miles from take-off. Holly chartered the flight after his tour bus broke down and fellow musician Carl Bunch ended up in the hospital with severe frostbite. Don McLean referred to that day as “The Day the Music Died” in his 1971 song, “American Pie”.

Fans of the late, great musicians call the plane crash “the first and greatest tragedy rock and roll has ever suffered.” Over the years several memorials have been created in their honor, including a steel guitar and three records bearing the three performers’ names, a giant pair of Holly’s famous Wayfarer-style glasses marking the crash site, and Don McLean’s hit song “American Pie.”

Fifteen year old Bobby Vee and his Fargo band, The Shadows, were called upon to fill in for Buddy Holly at the Moorhead engagement because he knew all the words to Buddy’s songs.  Bobby Vee went on to become a music legend of his own.  He had 238 Hot 100 chart hits.

The Vee family lived in the St. Joe area and for many years they performed as the headline act for the annual Joetown Rocks fundraiser here in St. Joseph.  Let us hope that we will be able to rock in St. Joe to music in the streets in 2021.

“One kind word can warm three winter months.” Japanese Proverb