Notebook
April 11th, 2024 by Gary Osberg

Upsala Motors is a sponsor of programming on 88.9 FM KNSR MPR News 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 5th, 2024 by Gary Osberg

Today is Kaylin Marie Osberg’s 29th 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 as a waitress at Trobec’s in St. Stephen 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 Summertime” 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 runs her business out of her 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  . 

Today is also the 16th Annual “Night with the Fishing Pros Fundraiser” at the Rice Creek Event Center east of Little Falls.  Doors open at 4 dinner is at 6:30. My son Erik is the MC and auctioneer.  I hope to see you there. You can get your tickets here:   https://www.eventbrite.com/e/night-with-the-fishing-pros-fundraiser-tickets-810553375967

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

March 29th, 2024 by Gary Osberg

One more thing about the scam in Sun City West.  VRBO is not the villain in this story.  The host is the villain.  One of my sister’s daughters did some investigating and it turns out that the owner of 12506 West Skyview Drive in Sun City West operates under three different names.  The scam doesn’t always work.  Sometimes the renter does check in by email between the hours of noon and 4pm MST.   The fellow is simply mean.  My brother and I are planning to gather documentation on the many attempts that he made to check in and get instructions on how to enter the house and mail a packet to the Attorney General in Arizona.

On the bright side, Bill and I got to spend the whole two weeks at Kathie and Duaine’s home in Sun City West.  We were able to have coffee with the Granite Falls men at Bashas’ grocery store every morning from 9 until 10.  The numbers are lessening with the aging of everyone, but I did manage to get addicted to “Bear Claws”. 

The birthday party for brother Geoff on Sunday the 17th was a blast.  The weather was perfect.  Sister Kathie has wanted a recreation of the picture of the six siblings that was taken in 1984 at a family gathering at the lake.  We managed to pull it off. Brother Bill even took his shirt off for the occasion.  Photos are attached.

One other thing, VRBO did send brother Bill a $2,600 refund, 80% of our rental fee.  

“Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.”  Robert Louis Stevenson 

March 22nd, 2024 by Gary Osberg

There is so much fraud and scam going on in Arizona, that the email address for the volunteer from the Arizona Attorney General office is [email protected].    Cindy comes to the Sun City West owners and rentals association every Monday to meet with victims.   Here is the rest of the story.

We decided to celebrate my brother Geoff’s 70th birthday at my sister’s house in Sun City West.  Last December, brother Bill booked a house in Sun City West. He booked it through VRBO.  On Wednesday, March 6th, Bill tried time after time to get the instructions for entry to the house.  Voice mail and texting only lead to more text messages in response, but no code. We rented a car at the airport and arrived at the house about 6:30. We were met in the driveway by a fellow whom we assumed to be the host.  He quickly corrected us and said something about his wife was in the adjoining unit crying.  They had a lot of trouble getting into their side of the house.  He showed me a piece of paper with two four-digit codes.  Neither one worked for the house, but 7890 did work for the outside door to the shared laundry room. We still needed a key to enter the house. Without any four-digit code for the key box, we had to call sister Kathie and told her we would have to spend the night at her place. 

That evening Bill received a message from VRBO that the key box must have been broken and it would be fixed by Thursday morning.  We still had not received a four-digit code from the house owner, but I tried the 7890 code for the house and the key box opened.  We were upset about not being able to get in on Wednesday, but we were finally in. I decided to take a nap before we would go grocery shopping.  When I got up from my nap, Bill told me that we were being evicted.  To make a long story short, the very fine print in the rental agreement stated that we had to check in by text between noon and 4pm MST.  We were in the airplane most of that time frame, so we were not in compliance.   The owner is a scam artist.   One story we heard was of a 90-year-old man losing $8,000.   We at least had a place to stay.  Bill did have to sleep on the couch. Others, coming later for the party, had to book hotel rooms.  We hope to get VRBO to remove this property from their approved rental list.   Please be careful out there. 

St. John’s Prep Theater is presenting “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” at the Paramount Center for the Arts, opening tonight.  My granddaughter’s company Zygoatian LLC is one of the sponsors of show. 

If you need t-shirts or any other promotional material, go to www.zygoatian.com  I hope to see you there.

“Manure Occureth”   

March 1st, 2024 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 2000, I decided to drive the rental car 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 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 seven 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 Aunt Maggie told me.

Bill served in the Pacific during World War II. When he came home from the war, 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 you 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 with a stranger, 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

February 23rd, 2024 by Gary Osberg

Next Tuesday would have been my cousin Tom’s 77th birthday.  Tom died way too young. He passed 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 tarp. Grandpa Bill would have it delivered to his home on the edge of town.  He would hide the car in the garage behind his house.  Later, he would let Tommy into the garage to get a look at the brand-new model Chevrolet before the unveiling at the dealership. It was a huge event in this small town.

It must have been exciting to work in the design department of Chevrolet back then.  The 1954 Chevrolet was quite different from the ’55 and the ’57.  Today, both of those models are a car collector’s prize possession.  In those days there was only one body design with the addition of chrome being the major difference between the Biscayne and the Bel Air. In 1958 Chevrolet introduced the top-of-the-line 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 in beautiful downtown Upsala.  Upsala Motors is a sponsor of programming on KNSR 88.9 MPR News every Saturday here in central Minnesota.  Stop in and say hi to the Peterson brothers, Dean, Tim, and Mike. 

Tonight, there is an Organ & Cello Concert in Saint John’s Abbey Church on the campus of St. John’s University.  Organ Maestro Greg Zelek and Cello Virtuosa Dr. Tommy Mesa perform at 8pm.

On Sunday afternoon at 2pm the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra and Great River Chorale, along with the CSB/SJU Chamber Choir, perform “Requiem and the Perennial Question” in the same Saint John’s Abbey Church. There is a pre-concert discussion at 1pm and a reception in the Great Hall after the performance.

“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 16th, 2024 by Gary Osberg

Today’s note comes from Brenda Perlowski, Executive Director of the Minnesota Fishing Museum and Hall of Fame in Little Falls.  She posted the following on their Facebook page.

”Come and meet our emcee, Erik Osberg, owner of The Outdoor Report media brand, at our Night with the Fishing Pros Fundraiser on Friday, April 5, 2024, at LeBlanc’s Rice Creek Hunting Recreation and Event Center.   Erik Osberg is an avid angler, outdoor communicator and he has a passion for promoting the sport of fishing.  He owns and operates The Outdoor Report media brand which operates on social media, and he had a short but sweet run as the producer of a TV show. During the day, Erik is the Rural Rebound Initiative Coordinator for Otter Tail County, Minnesota.  By night he can be found “making time” to be on the water. Erik is the coach of the Wadena-Deer Creek High School Fishing Team and he was the chair of the 2021 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener. He also does a little guiding on the side.  Erik as a wife Jena, daughters Anna and Lead and son Willie (aka Walleye Willie).

You can get your tickets here:   https://www.eventbrite.com/e/night-with-the-fishing-pros-fundraiser-tickets-810553375967

“It’s not about having time; it’s about making time.”  Erik Osberg

February 9th, 2024 by Gary Osberg

It is still a kind of 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.

Wednesday 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.

I have a close 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 2nd, 2024 by Gary Osberg

Sixty-five years ago, tomorrow 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”.

The plane was a Beechcraft Bonanza with room for 3 passengers and the pilot Roger Peterson. Richardson was suffering from the flu, so Waylon Jennings gave up his seat on the plane to Richardson.  Another member of the band, Tommy Allsup, lost his seat to Valens on a coin toss.

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 live 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.  You may want to come to St. Joe this July to celebrate being alive.

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

January 26th, 2024 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. Her family also referred to him as Grandpa Bill. Maxine and Dad never lived together, but they ended up living a few floors apart 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 set out to clean his room.

One of the items in the corner 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 into the curio.

A few years later my daughter bought the house from me. Every summer Kerry and her mother would have a garage sale. It happened again to Marcia while she was helping my daughter gather items for the garage sale.  After that I decided to dig a hole next to my Dad’s grave at Gethsemane Church in Upsala and bury the “egg” before there was nothing left of Maxine. 

“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