Thursday, May 29, 2014

Water Cooler III: Further Down Memory Lane


This time, the water cooler chatter turned to our neighboring town - and good friends - Humboldt, MN.

Michael Rustad My Mother, Pat Carrigan Rustad, would have been 88 today. She died in 1989 at age 63.

Dan Ducharme So young

Cleo Bee Jones For sure, way too young

Donald Reese I think your dad was one of my closest friends.  I think he passed haway younger than that. I don't remember at what age...

Michael Rustad Dad passed away in 1986 at age 63.

Connie Lang Fowler I've already passed my mother's death by 16 years as well and all of the above died young as they say!

Maury Finney She and your Pop were super people!!! Great Humboldt memories!!

Michael Rustad Dad loved everyone in Humboldt. I remember him taking me to hear your Mom play the piano in the town hall. We actually had pretty vibrant town hall parties where everyone danced, roller-skated, played basketball. I think my Dad was just in love with Humboldt and everyone in the community. In all of his years, I never once ever heard him say anything remotely negative about anyone. Think the best of people was his watchword or his motto.

Cleo Bee Jones Sounds right...the more one thinks about it all, up there, the more one misses that way of life, my eyes leak so much when I remember all the people, friends, relatives, and just the life style and all...

Michael Rustad I was speaking last night with Aunt Norma and she told me that they would clear out the living room and have a house party with 50 or more. Everyone brought food and BYOB. She said she misses those house parties and where you can talk to your neighbor.

Maury Finney I really think when and where we grow up, we are so influenced by the community around us...Your mom and dad along with so many in Humboldt mentored a positive attitude and kindness. We were so fortunate to get our start there.

Donald Reese You're on-the-job education in a little community like Humboldt, including the surrounding farmers, really could be used for a foundation for your future,  I remember being interviewed at my workplace for an apprenticeship in maintenance job and was asked where I got my mechanic ability; my response was you don't grow up on a farm in Minnesota without knowing which end of the wrench to use. I got the job.

Michael Rustad Don, I think I was the exception. My mechanical ability remains undeveloped! I hope this means that there are different kinds of intelligence. Ruby Ohmann once said that I was his only student to ever take the Industrial Arts and pass (barely) with two left hands! I knew enough to study hard because I was going to be a flop as a farmer!

Donald Reese Maybe that is why I learned my mechanics, because I never studied very good when I look back I don't think I studied at all

Michael Rustad I was just ill-suited for farm life. I never liked it. I spent my teenage years plotting an escape. Now, when I look back I see a lot of positive aspects that helped to form my character. That's not to say though that I enjoyed life on the farm.

Donald Reese Another great family was the George and Dorothy Finney Family - fantastic musicians lived right across the road from us, and we could hear them playing the Sax and Piano, and it was always great. Looks like that talent rubbed off on Allen and Morris.  Great memories.

Michael Rustad Don, I hope you did not miss Maury and Allen and band at the Humboldt Centennial. They were a huge hit. I've never seen so many people dancing and having a great time! Was it the biggest dance ever held at Humboldt. It had to be 4-5 times larger than the largest previous dance. And, they were spectacular. They did all of my favorites and many more! I heard that Doug did some Elvis songs as well. This was one of my favorite nights of all time. Fireworks in Humboldt! Does anyone ever remember fireworks prior to June 2007?

Bell memorial:  Rescued
from old school roof...
Maury Finney That reunion was so great for everyone....we so enjoyed being home with such a gathering of precious people. Yes, we still love to play all the music and it was as good as it gets when it was with you all.  I appreciate your kind words (the only question I have for you Don, is WHY didn't we have a game of rubber ball with Allen and Neil?!)

Donald Reese They probably couldn't of stand another beating.

Donald Reese Maury, do you remember the waxed string attached to two tin cans we had strung between our houses to act as a telephone?  It worked after we yelled loud enough to get the end's attention!  Another great memory.

Michael Rustad You were referring to Neil McEwen, who was also a friend of my Dad and another lawyer from Humboldt. Did Neil try to resolve disputes when the rubber ball games got out of line?

Donald Reese No him and Allen were just good losers as they had to get used to it.  I wonder how many games we played in the lot between the Finney's and the McEwen's house.

Maury Finney Hey Don and all - just checking in on the rubber ball games (wins!). Do remember the "face" ball we played with for a few games Don? You could really get your hands around that thing and make it curve.  Remember over the power line in the alley was an automatic home run. We played every Saturday, Sunday and many other days, all summer long. Willis and Bernard Tri would join us too. Wow just to go back for a day...I can just imagine!

Maury Finney I must ask Don if he healed up from getting hit in the nit!

Donald Reese Fantastic memories, Maury, of the ball games and of course when winter hit the hockey sticks would come out and the battles were on again.

Michael Rustad Was Willis, Willis Roberts? I cannot think of any other Willis who lived in Humboldt.


Michael Rustad Did you guys ever have a baseball team growing up in Humboldt. I was always disappointed that Humboldt did not field a team. It was my best sport because I learned to hit and field from Dad, who played for the Humboldt 9. In the old movies, I see baseball teams of younger guys but it seems to be an Eagle not a Huskie! I guess the Huskies were not always our mascot. I would love to hear about your baseball experiences in Humboldt. I remember we tried to get together a team but I was ruled too young. That team, which had some good athletes, got annihilated by Pembina. It was a rout!

Donald Reese There was a team in Humboldt, we played in a States/Dominion league with teams from Manitoba, N. Dak. and Minn.  Some of the players were your dad Rusty, Burton Turner, Ralph Turner, Don Brown, Jerry Diamond, Loren and Neil McEwen, Bernard Tri, Bob Miller, and Willis Finney. Sorry I can't remember more but that is a flavor. Our Umpire seemed to always be Levi Diamond.

Maury Finney Uncle Willis Finney was the youngest of my Dad's brothers and spent a lot of time with us playing ball and hockey. Don, remember when the Humoldt midgets won the midget tournement in Lake Bronson in 1948. We had Elwood Grumbo (from St Vincent) pitching for us. We only had 9 guys with Elwood and he lied his age to play. We played all day and ended up with us and Bronson for the Championship game. Lorne McEwen was our catcher and was so tired he fell asleep between innings. Lake Bronson wanted to have a forfeiture of the game because Elwood was too old (more than 14 years old I think ) One of our supporters had them call the priest in St Vincent and he assured them he was young enough and "legal'...I also remember that we all had baseball caps with "H" on them except Joey Olsonoski had a "J" on his.

Maury Finney I forgot to mention Martin Robertson was one of the coaches and Allen Neil and I (maybe you were with us too, Don) all rode with him in his old car to the tournament in Bronson. We got a little unruly in his car and started pounding the seats and setting up a wall of dust so thick that he had trouble driving. Needless to say he was truly pissed off at us and get back at us by leaving us stranded in Bronson after the game. We had to have someone call our parents and come get us. I think he quit coaching after that...I think we could write a book!!

Michael Rustad These are wonderful stories, Don and Maury. Much appreciated!

Donald Reese Those were the days that really created fond memories.  I remember that a team from Humboldt School went to Hallock for a ball game. We didn't have enough boys so we had some girls on our team, The Hallock team got way ahead and pulled their starting team and were really harassing us because of the girls. We came from behind and beat them.  They tried to talk our coach into allowing them to put the starters back but he said nope, that's not allowed.  They weren't so cocky after that. Maury I believe your Brother Allen was our pitcher - he could really throw a curveball.

Donald Reese Mike and Maury,  you guys don't know how much I am enjoying this dialog.

Michael Rustad We are, too. You have really helped me fill in some gaps from stories my Dad would tell about Humboldt baseball. How he loved Humboldt and everyone in town. I think that my Dad had a lot of fans with the younger generation  - the Finney boys, Reese, McEwen, Tri, etc. I really enjoyed hearing about the lineup of the Humboldt team that would play in the Canadian League. I wonder what position Don Brown played.

Michael Rustad I enjoyed hearing about Willis Finney, who was one of our bus drivers in our day and a nice man. He had some pretty daughters too!

Donald Reese I don't remember what position Don Brown played, but he was a great batter, could really clobber the ball.

Michael Rustad I bet he could. He looked to be a strong guy. Don ran the service station and my Dad enjoyed him. He had inherent authority in his demeanor but I remember him as a really good guy!

Donald Reese He use to hire me to mow his folks' lawn (Tom Brown).  They lived right across the tracks, next to the Depot.  I got a dollar, big money in those days.

Michael Rustad You did get a good wage. I worked for Harris Easton on the tractor and in the fields for $3 a day! But, Marian Easton prepared such wonderful meals that I felt I was paid so well. They were nice neighbors. What was Tom Brown like. I knew young Tom, the grandson. We would play rubber guns among the train cars. I cannot believe that kind of risky conduct, playing in the railroad yard!

Maury Finney Tom Brown had the "shakes" is what I remember. I think at that time I was told by someone it was "Saint Vitus Dance", but I really don't know for sure as he was old and we were very young and I certainly may be all wrong. Maybe Parkinson's disease? Anyway, I have got to go now.  Enjoy and will check in later  It's been fun to read all the chatter!

Michael Rustad I would love to watch Virgil's films with Maury, Allen, and Don. I would learn a lot! You guys were just enough older that you saw Humboldt in its heyday. It wasn't my imagination. I remember as a young boy that farmers would come into Humboldt on Friday nights! By my adolescence, Humboldt was quiet except for Mayme's and the Cafe on Friday nights. I seem to remember seeing lots of people come into town in the evening. The other thing I remember is swimming in Hallock in the river. On hot July and August nights, our whole town was there! This was before the municipal pool. Where did you guys swim as kids? I was always intimidated by the ugly Red River with its murky water. Never trusted water where you could not see anything! Lake Bronson was popular when you guys were young guys. Did you go often?

Trish Short Lewis These conversations here are PRICELESS. Mike, when are you gonna write that book about Humboldt?

Bob Hunt One of my most vivid memories of St. Anne's Church in St. Vincent was on any sunny Sunday morning while Father Seitz was delivering his sermon. I would watch transfixed as the spray of saliva in the suns rays would fly forth from his mouth as he proceeded with his exuberant sermon. I always liked the nuns at the summer catechism classes. A couple of my brothers commented to me how this or that one was pretty crabby but I never had that experience. I really enjoyed reading your post Mike. I didn't know a lot of that stuff. I do remember a lot of the names though. I went to 4th grade in St. Vincent and Maribel Berg was the teacher. My mother had her for a teacher too when she was younger.

Bob Hunt Some of the kids in my class at Humboldt/St. Vincent were Jim Gatheridge, Robert Bouvette, John Finney, Betty Short, Paul Symington, Linda Symington, JoEllen Clow, Leonard Jerome, Cindy Baldwin, Cheryl Twamley, Mary Bernath, John Wilkie, Linda Stewart, Allan Cleem, Mary Boatz, Emily Hahn, June Babcock.  I don't remember the names of all of them any more. If I thought about it awhile I'm sure I could come up with more.

Michael Rustad I have not heard that name Robert Bouvette for many years. I do not remember the Bouvette family. They must have lived in St. Vincent.

Bob Hunt Robert Bouvette and I were good friends in the 4th grade. I never saw him again after we moved to Northcote. He did live in St. Vincent.