The Immigrants: “from huts and shacks to bright white frame farmhouses and big red barns, cattle and chickens and hogs and huge vegetable gardens. . . .”

Life as we know it
Pull of a Place Division (cont.)

Your Late Night Lady: “Subject: The Immigrants.

“I am sure dozens . . . no, hundreds of your readers have stories to tell like that of Mounds View Swede‘s ancestors. And your younger readers should pay attention.


“Those hard-working European immigrants who settled in the Upper Midwest left places that provided no opportunities for them, and it changed everything. We know how hard they struggled to clear the land of stumps and rocks in order to farm. They went from huts and shacks to bright white frame farmhouses and big red barns, cattle and chickens and hogs and huge vegetable gardens — a lifestyle they could never have achieved whence they came. In my family, they saw their grandchildren become teachers, dentists, doctors and lawyers. That never would have happened in England, Prussia, Germany or Ireland.

“OK, it’s cold here in the winter and sometimes hot in the summer, but it is a beautiful, fruitful land. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is glad they went for it.”

Bloomington Bird Lady: “Being third-generation Swede (my dad’s mom’s family came over in the early 1900s), I enjoyed Mounds View Swede‘s interesting descriptions of Sweden’s way of life: actually caring for their people with intelligent programs to give people the best start in life from infancy to adulthood.

“My parents visited there in 1960, and got acquainted with our cousins, who lived at that time on the island of Oland in the southeastern part, and where the family farm was located. Birdman and I went some 30 years later to meet the cousin, now an adult with a family.

“We’d been on a long road tour through many countries, changing money at each border, as the Euro was not in use then. Also, we needed to wash clothes and kind of regroup to continue back to Paris and fly home.

“It was so much like Minnesota in so many ways: the landscape with lakes, winding roads that looked so familiar (except for the signs that were in blue). Everyone could speak English, and the children were happy to test their language abilities with us. We were entertained with some side trips to the old farm, the older daughter taking us to see her horse — having just received her driver’s License at age 18. (Not a bad idea!) We drove to see their cabin ‘up north’ — another familiar sight. As we left Oland, we went up the coast To Stockholm — another city where we felt ‘at home’ again, visiting a garden nursery and taking home lupine seeds, which are still growing in our Bloomington garden every year.

“Yes, there were complaints about taxes; you can’t have these beneficial programs without them. It’s a relaxing way of life: taking time to enjoy a baby’s birth, and not struggling to get back to work in two weeks; never worrying about drunken drivers (a designated driver is always chosen for an evening out; getting caught drunk, your license is taken away automatically).

:As we walked to an evening out in Farjestaden on Oland, I asked if women were afraid to walk alone at night. No, there was no problem. I don’t think there’s a problem with the gun situation like we have, either. No kids getting a stray bullet as they do their homework, for instance.

“We have a long way to go to catch up, I’d say. The freedoms we have need wise use.”

Fellow travelers

Lucky Buck has sent us “another one of my favorites: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. People are allowed on the launch field and interact with the balloonists. These were popping up all around me.”



See world
Photography Division

Jim Shumaker of New Richmond, Wisconsin: “Otters on the Willow River, St. Croix County, Wisconsin. Hope your readers enjoy this fantastic animal.”






One for the books
Leading to: Know thyself!

Inspired by The Old Hand of Oakdale’s account of “Brother Aptitude” at Cretin High School, here’s Kathy S. of St. Paul: “A failing of job aptitude tests is that they don’t/didn’t screen for the ways girls are/were channeled toward girl jobs.

“I took the best-known aptitude test in 1978, when the ‘girl’ field I had gotten a Master’s Degree for — Library Science — was too full to make that career probable. When I saw the results — nterests in writing, liberal arts, kids, etc. — I told the counselor that I’d make a good wife of a rich man. She said she’d shoot me if that was the only way I used my talents.

“As it turned out, I had to support myself throughout my multi-field career, and I turned into an engineer — NOT a girl field.”

Crazy Dog Lady: “I thoroughly enjoyed The Old Hand’s story of Brother Aptitude. Both of my boys graduated from Cretin, so I should ask if they had ever heard of Brother Aptitude. It was good to have an out-loud laugh this morning at the goings-on of the aptitude test.

“I remember taking many of them when I was growing up — what seems like a hundred years ago. I was always told I should be a social worker or something that resembled that occupation.

“Being a social worker was the furthest thing from my mind, having my heart set on becoming a veterinarian. (Why do so many young girls want to be a vet? One of those mysteries of life.) In any case, the social-worker thing just did not ring true for what I envisioned for my life’s work.

“Having had so many jobs I have lost count, I realize I probably should have gone to college and become that social worker. I had many jobs: as a secretary — or ‘admin,’ as they are now called; a real-estate agent, unsuccessfully, for about two years; a manufacturer’s rep in the kitchen supplies/cookware trade; and  many jobs in retail. It occurs to me that all of these jobs required that I be more of a people person than, say, an abstract thinker or an artist. Maybe they were right, after all, with that social-worker business.

“Anyway, I never had the hilarious or maybe humbling experience with the ‘career counselor’ at my high school. I am sorry to have missed that, as he was a very serious and quite boring individual, with no creative ideas or any sense of fun. I think I, too, would have liked Brother Aptitude.

“By the way — I am interested in what The Old Hand ended up doing for a living for those 45 enjoyable years, with or without the help of Brother Aptitude.”

The highfalutin diversions
Virtual Jigsaw Puzzles Division

OTD from NSP: “BBers have sent in wonderful photos. Have BB submitters considered converting them to jigsaw puzzles? The colorful landscapes would be fun — and the moon shots, challenging. Just a thought from a person who has bookmarked.”

The Permanent Family Record

Peggy T. of Osceola, Wisconsin: “This happened a long time ago, when granddaughters Brooke and Erin were little girls. I had never heard the story before.

“Erin: ‘There is a dinosaur in the lilac bush.’

“Brooke: ‘No there isn’t.’

“Erin: ‘Yes, there is a dinosaur in the lilac bush. Go look.’

“Brooke goes and looks in the lilac bush. ‘Yes, there is a dinosaur in the lilac bush.’

“Brooke calls to her dad: ‘Dad, there is a dinosaur in the lilac bush.’

“Dad looks in the lilac bush and finds an huge iguana. Evidently someone had let it loose. It became a pet for many years.

“This has now become a favorite family story.”

Band Name of the Day: Clear the Stumps

Website of the Day: Baby Boxes (for infant safety)

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