And Yet Another Alexandria Retrospective

[Salty Dogs]

But first, last night.  It was date night – we felt like a little celebration, so we went to SAWA for the Salty Dogs.  By doing so, we missed the boys’ hockey game – we won 4-3 over Little Falls [Errata:  I last reported the team’s record as 1-2; but we are now 3-1.  Apologies, research staff has been duly chastised.  Further reports from on-site coverage indicates the Cards came back from a 3-0 deficit and won in OT.  The first win over the Flyers in 6 years – fans and players alike responded like it was a state tournament win!]  The girls’ basketball team was at Brainerd last night and won 69-38!  We are starting to produce scores like last year!  The girls’ hockey team, as I understand, sent a limited team to play a make-up game against undermanned Morris-Benson – I don’t have a score on that game [Further reports indicate the score was something like 16-0].

[August 3, 2007]  I have never taken a photo of a “periwinkle tint” in my life – nor would I ever, particularly not in front of mixed company.  In my defense, I would like to present the following unsolicited (at least overtly) testimonials:

Oh my God!  These are gorgeous.  A little better than the pix of the sky! [Blue] ~ Jo Colvin, Echo Press columnist

You are indeed, an exceptionally talented photographer.  And how creative to come up with the title Blue [my Pulitzer Prize sky photo].  Is there no limits to your talent? ~  Jo Colvin (again), Echo Press columnist

Not only are you a budding cub reporter, you are one hellofva photographer too.  Thanks for sharing. ~ Dan Ness, mayor of Alexandria [OK, he was talking about Blue]

PERFECT photo shot, everything in focus, subject appropriately centered.  Gotta win the big prize for this.  ~ Lyle Brown, retired Department of Energy official involved in Superfund Sites [OK, he was talking about Blue too]

What an adorable photo.  Thanks for sharing. . . ~ Jo Colvin (again), Echo Press columnist [OK, it was a baby photo of me sitting on Art Engelbrecht’s lap]

Pictures are Gorgeous!!!  First Prize in my book. ~ Laima Ciguzis, Federal bureaucrat lost somewhere in the bowels of the Department of Labor

Someone has a good eye for some great photos — not you as I remember. ~ Bob Gilbert, retired Federal bureaucrat shriveling up in Sun City Grand

They were great!  Sorry to hear about the tragedy up your way.  Maybe Congress should appropriate more money to fix bridges we already have rather than building new ones to nowhere.  Oops, that would make too much sense. ~ Terry Sullivan, Department of Labor bureaucrat and longtime Mavericks manager

Great photos.  What kind of spider made that web?  It must be huge. ~ Bob Annen, cub reporter-in-training

You are really good! ~ Kathy Skadsberg, HQ

[Editor’s note:  Never pass up an opportunity for self-aggrandisement.]

[September 17, 2007]  Did I ever tell you about a shopping trip by sister Gretchen?  She was in a D.C. mall, wearing a wide-weave shawl, browsing in a Victoria’s Secret (don’t ask me why).  She left the store and continued checking out other stores in the mall when at some point she noticed something was attached to the back of her shawl.  She had apparently brushed up against a rack of items in Victoria’s Secret and totally unknowingly picked up a green bra and panties on a hanger – with one of those security “thingies” attached.  Somehow she had gotten out of the store, visited several others, and cruised the mall with this rather exotic item hanging from her back.  She headed back to Victoria’s Secret, totally embarrassed, and looked for a clerk to return it to and explain the situation.  When no clerk was to be found, she simply hung it back on the rack and walked out.

[November 12, 2007]  It was a beautiful mid-November afternoon – sunny, mid-50’s, no wind – so Ruthie & I decided it would be a good day to put up the outdoor Christmas lights.  We don’t do many – just a couple strings of garland, with lights, and a wreath, with lights, around the railing on the roadside deck.  So, I began by pulling everything out of their storage bags and within minutes looked like Charlie Brown trying to get his kite out of the tree.  When I finally found the light plugs, just like every year, none of the lights worked.  Since I am easily frustrated by anything electrical, mechanical, or any kind of “-cal” that don’t work, I immediately began cursing the Chinese wondering why they don’t spray Christmas lights with lead paint or date-rape chemicals to make the d**n things last longer.  Then I was saved by the phone . . .

High school classmate Lorlee Bartos was in town from Dallas and was wondering if I wanted to join her in a visit with our high school history teacher, Dave Dziuk.  A reprieve!  So off I went to the nursing home.  In transit a pair of bald eagles soaring in front of me all along Co. Rd. 22 enroute to the fairgrounds mightily distracted me.  I was surprised I made it because I kept craning my neck in all directions trying to keep an eye on the eagles – undoubtedly swerving all over the road in doing so.  At the fairgrounds stoplight, I stopped for a photo of the notice of this week’s major event!

Anyway, ultimately made it to Dave’s – we had a nice visit.

[December 2, 2007]  “The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”

Our niece, Jessica, brother Chris and Janet’s oldest daughter, recently moved to Eden Prairie from the State of Virginia, where she was born and raised.  Jessica got married this summer.  Her husband, Colin, got a job with Channel 9 in Eden Prairie.  She is very much a hot weather person like her father.  She hates the cold and snow of Eden Prairie.  She wants to move to Miami.

Alexandria’s Jefferson High School (JHS) is 50 years old, and we dearly want to replace it.  Jessica’s uncle, me, loves winter and thinks it’s the prettiest time of year.  A new winter snowfall even makes JHS look good.  We go to JHS in the winter to see concerts as part of the Central Lakes Concert Association (CLCA) series.  We sit with Larry and Laura McCoy at the concerts.  The McCoys bought the Obert house in Victoria Heights from Oberts in the 1960’s.  They still live there.  Today we told the McCoys the Jessica story.  Larry said his brother was Eden Prairie’s school superintendent, until he retired 5 years ago.  In that position, he hired Bud Grant’s son, Mike, to be the Eden Prairie football coach.  Eden Prairie just finished an undefeated season and won the state class 5A football title.  Larry’s brother also taught Paul Donley, Executive Director, Alexandria Area Education Foundation, how to ski.  Mike Grant’s sister (Bud’s daughter) once taught in the Alexandria school system.

Larry McCoy also mentioned that he recently went to Charles Krump’s funeral.  Charles taught in the Alexandria school system for 41 years.  His obituary mentioned that his brother and sister-in-law live in Loveland, Colorado.  Our Aunt Pearl and Uncle Ted have lived in Loveland for many years.  I e-mailed the Krump obituary to them.  Aunt Pearl responded almost immediately that she has known Joan Krump for years.  They met on a golf course and she is a pretty good golfer.

We want to take Jessica and Colin to an Alexandria girls’ hockey game at Breck on December 22.  We hope an introduction to Minnesota’s beautiful winter sport will help change Jessica’s feelings about Eden Prairie.  Breck is a private school located in Golden Valley, a neighboring city to Eden Prairie.  Kathy Sherry Skadsberg is a member of Golden Valley Country Club (GVCC).  Kathy grew up in Victoria Heights, just across the street from the house previously occupied by the Oberts and now occupied by the McCoys.  Kathy has invited the Obert family, et al, to have lunch at GVCC prior to the Breck-Alex hockey game.

This is getting too weird, even for me.

OB,  Did you know Mr. Krump was the same age to the day as Mickey Mouse and as good a man as Mickey ever was! We lost a hell of a teacher and an even better man when he passed. ~ Patrick

Your summer neighbor on Lake Darling, Carol Engstrom Lussier, sister-in-law to your friend, Sue Engstrom, teaches music at Breck School. She is a 1966 Jefferson High School graduate and participated in many concerts there.  When I lived in Eden Prairie, I lived across the street and golfed with Bruce Grant, Mike Grant’s brother who actually looks like Bud and who served as an assistant EP football coach. My nephew was the high school tennis coach in Loveland where Aunt Pearl and Uncle Ted supported him with their taxes until he married a rival tennis coach and moved back to Minnesota and was hired to teach and coach by the Shakopee School system where I pay taxes. ~ Trailboss 

[December 15, 2007]  I love your life, can I come and live with you?  Such a positive spin on winter.  You really are a writer of extraordinary skill, made me even reconsider my feelings about winter…not. ~ Beth

[December 11, 2007] Cardiac Cards – 64, Detroit Lakes – 61

As I write this, I am waiting for a report from our stringer in Little Falls.  For the first time ever, the Super Fans split up to cover multiple events on the same night.  Bob Annen and I covered the home girls’ basketball game; Vivian Annen hitched a ride with hockey mom, Deb Paulzine (mother of sophomore forward Stacey), to Little Falls for the girls’ hockey game.  Ruthie stayed home to watch Boston Legal.

Anyway, back to the basketball game.  I noticed just retired football coach, Denny Kalpin, and just retired Echo sports editor, Larry Halvorson, sitting a couple of rows behind us, so I crashed their conversation to congratulate both on their retirements.  They thanked me and sent me on my way.  I returned to my seat for the free throw shooting contest disguised as a game.  Sitting with school board member, Jim Hafdal, we got our biggest enjoyment out of watching Bud and Trish Bruzek, sitting on the other side of the gym, cheering on their sophomore starting point guard Gracie.  As we will learn later, Gracie was subsequently named player of the game.

Anyway, back to the basketball game.  Oh, I received an e-mail this week from Sue Justice, mother of senior goaltender, Danielle, a/k/a, “Roadblock.”  On behalf of herself, and fellow hockey mom, Kristi Nelson (mother of Abby), they requested membership in the Super Fan contingent next year since they will no longer be hockey moms.  We said, of course, all are welcome – provided they first pass the initiation!  (Still no report from Vivian . . .)

Anyway, back to the basketball game.  Detroit Lakes came into the game undefeated at 3 – 0 – the Lakers also made it to the state semi-finals last year.  In other words, they’re a darn good team.  Alex was 2 – 2, having started with a very tough schedule.  The game started and as usual (at least with respect to the games I have followed so far) the Cards jumped out to an early lead.  This is usually the result of scoring from the team’s leading scorer, Angela Christianson, who is averaging almost 30 points a game.  Then, as I have also noticed, the refs make sure Angela gets 2 fouls before we are halfway through the first half, so that leads to Angela spending a lot of time on the bench for the remainder of the half.  So, DL was able to get back into the game.  Well, it turns out the refs weren’t just after Angela – they were after EVERYBODY.  The game disintegrated into a fouling and free throw shooting contest, and with over 20 turnovers by both teams, it was, unfortunately, not a fans delight.  In fact, Bob left at the half to go home to watch Boston Legal, allegedly because his eyes were too dry in the sauna that is the Cardinal gym, but I think he was mad he didn’t get to see Angela play more. The Cards held on for a 64 – 61 win and, listening to the post-game show on the radio driving home, Gracie Bruzek was rightfully named player of the game, though she did foul out (one of many) – she played an all-around solid floor game and contributed 10 points.  (Angela finished with 28, with a whole bunch of free throws, and could have finished with 30 again but she missed her last two at game’s end.)  The radio announcers did happen to mention how much Gracie looks like her mom – which is true, and how I knew Gracie was Gracie the first time I ever saw the team in warm-ups.  (Still no report from Vivian . . .)

My brother Chris called from Virginia tonight – he was a classmate, at least through 7th grade, with Jim Hafdal, and school superintendent, Terry Quist, who also sits with us at the basketball games.  I mentioned to him that I would be sitting with Jim and Terry at the girls’ basketball game tonight.  Chris gave me the usual grief about going to a girls’ game – to which I always respond . . . well, never mind.

Still no report from Vivian.  I can only conclude they stopped somewhere on the way home for a celebratory beverage.  The game should have been an Alex “name-the-score” type of game.  It’s past my bedtime, so further reports will be later.  I did get home in time to see the last half of Boston Legal.

[December 12]  After many and varied reports, we believe we have the correct score from the girls’ hockey game at Little Falls last night.  Patty Wicken was on the radio this morning asking the listeners to phone in the score if they know: the first call was from the father of junior forward Megan Trenne, he said the score was 11 – 2; the second call was from Vivian Annen, who was at the game with the Paulzine family, she said the score was 15 – 2. Then in this morning’s Cardinal Connection, the score was posted as 13 – 2.  So, the Cards won by a significant amount, regardless of which score is right!

The boys’ hockey team also won at home last night, 5 – 1, over Sauk Rapids/Rice, raising their record to 3-1-1.

This just in:  Vivian called all embarrassed, but I told her she was a trooper for doing a road trip.  She further reported that “Roadblock” was in goal for the 1st two periods, and Little Falls only had one shot on goal during that time.  The 7th grade goalie played the 3rd period and got some good varsity experience.

[December 15, 2007]  A BIG win . . . but

The final score of last night’s girls’ basketball game at Big Jeff – Cards – 81, St. Cloud Apollo – 74 – is deceiving on a number of levels.

But first, I had planned to combine that story with this afternoon’s big girls’ hockey game against Roseau, but I have finished reading yesterday’s Heckler and today’s Red Star, it’s not quite 6:00 in the morning, and I couldn’t think of anything better to do until the morning’s mall walk.  So . . .

Just when we thought the Cards had finished the toughest part of their conference schedule – starting with co-favorites Brainerd and St. Cloud Tech, and a good Willmar team – we discovered Apollo came into last night with a 5-1 overall record and 3-0 in the conference.  With 7 minutes left in the game, the Cards had a 26 point lead!  They were playing a terrific overall game, getting contributions from everyone (not as heavily dependent on leading scorer Angela Christianson), and getting a great game from sophomore point guard, Gracie Bruzek.  At that point the cub reporter left the game figuring the outcome was not in doubt, realizing that both teams were already in the free throw bonus situation (meaning lots more free throws), wanting my beauty rest for today’s noon hockey game (the game started 20 minutes late, for some reason, and would run way late with all the free throws), and the scoreboard’s individual stat’s column was not working so I wanted to listen to the end of the game on radio.

Well . . . inexplicably, the Cards began committing fouls on almost every Apollo possession, playing like they were behind instead of way ahead.  And by the time the time was down to about 3 minutes, their lead was under 10 and the outcome was seriously in doubt.  Anyway, they held on for the win by going into a stall – for about a 5 minute stretch from their biggest lead, they only scored 3 points.  So how did they score 81 points . . . and Apollo 74?  There were 74 – SEVENTY FOUR –  free throws in the game, and that totally destroys the game from a fans standpoint.  This was very similar to the previous game, which I thought was an aberration.  But apparently that is the way they want these games refereed – ANY contact is a foul, which in this reporter’s opinion is ridiculous and ruins any flow to the game.  But as I said, Gracie had a great game – she ran the team from the point and scored 21 points herself – and Angela scored 25.  Ooops, time to go walking . . .

[December 15, 2007]  Roseau, Minnesota is 304 miles from Alexandria

It is a 5-hour car/bus drive to get there.  It is a stone’s throw from Canada.  It is the hometown of the Broten brothers and “Butsy” Erickson, of Olympic and NHL hockey fame.  It is a city law that residents must be able to do a cross-over step while skating backwards by the time they are 2-years old.  I have never been to Roseau.  The closest I have been is Bemidji, which is 131 miles from Roseau.  Today the Roseau girls’ hockey team came to Alexandria to play our stalwarts.  This was a big deal in the evolution of Alexandria hockey.  Both teams are highly ranked in the state standings.  The game drew a whole new segment of Super Fans, to include, finally, former high school principals John Knowles and Wayne Elton (his first time), and Jim Lehman (his first time).  The “adults” section was as full as it’s ever been.  They were not disappointed . . .

The game was as close and well played as the pre-game hoopla indicated it would be.  The Cardinals scored first – a high wrist shot by Kat DelZoppo in the second period; the Rams tied it early in the 3rd on a beautiful 2 on 1 rush (it had to be to get it by goalie Danielle Justice).  Both goalies played great games, the shots on goal by both teams were pretty even all through the game, and even our fans thought it would be a shame if either team lost.  So, they didn’t –

the game ended in a 1 – 1 tie, in OT.  Even then, I have to report that new Super Fan, Julie Shaughnessy, was so nervous that with about a minute and a half left in OT, she decided she couldn’t watch it anymore and left her seat – there were a bunch of us who thought about doing the same thing!  The ladies played their hearts out and both teams were totally exhausted at the end.  We hope the next game, Tuesday, will be of a much more comfortable 7 – 0 variety!  The Saturday, the Supers will follow the team down to Golden Valley, where they will play Breck, the 3rd-ranked team in the state.

[July 27, 2008]  Yet another famous Alexandria landmark . . .

Totally forgotten in previous discussions, but yesterday everything seemed to trend that way.  First, we met Jerry Kiehne, his wife Tricia, and his Dad, Merill, for breakfast at Traveler’s Inn (yes, an Alexandria landmark too, but we’re not there yet).  Jerry is the older brother of classmate Professor Doctor Colonel Tom, and he was in town from Florida to check on Merill and to attend his 45th high school class reunion, the first one he has ever attended.  Well, I believe he found the experience enjoyable, and we spent the morning discussing the good ole days (he discovered classmates who don’t live far from him in Florida).  Ruthie, grandson Tom, and I then headed to the opening day of Art in the Park (yes, another Alexandria landmark, but we’re not there yet) – I was interested in the musical performances of Dave Stoddard and Skilly & Duff, but unfortunately we would have had to park about a mile away down Nokomis.  So, we decided to go home instead . . . and take a nap.  For that evening [quite by accident, I happened to remember a couple of days ago that Theatre L’Homme Dieu (yes, even another Alexandria landmark, but we’re not there yet), for some reason, had not even appeared on our radar this summer], we had decided to go to the theatre’s penultimate play of the season – the quite raunchy, and thus exceedingly entertaining, The Middle Ages.  [Editor’s note:  Ruthie and Tom found “our paver” on the theatre’s walk of fame.  At this point I should also explain that we have been “taking care of” Tom for almost a month now.  We have taken him to bars, to the winery, on peace vigils, and now to a naughty play.  We beg his parent’s forgiveness.] 

After the play, we joined our fellow attendees in a mad dash back down County Road 42 to . . . that’s right, the northside Dairy Queen (we’re there!).  It’s still – 50 – 60 years? –  the place all of Alexandria goes at 10:00 on a Saturday night in the summertime.  High school guys, overcome by testosterone, were milling around everywhere in anticipation of the girls soon getting off shift.  Families were there with little round children wearing Blizzards on their faces.  I apologize for not getting pictures, but I was distracted by the teeming masses of humanity.

Tom,  Your talent for writing is amazing!   I love to read all of it.  It must be an Obert thing. ~ Margaret   p.s. It is parents’ rather than parent’s.

[December 27, 2008]  Little known fact . . .

To prove you were worthy of graduating from high school in 1965, you had to show you were capable of standing erect between two older persons with your eyes closed!

[January 20, 2009]  Bill Seal

On a recent perusal of the blog, I realized I had not yet written in about Bill “Julio” Seal.  We called him Julio in Victoria Heights because, for whatever reason (a shared left-handed zaniness?), his favorite ball player at the time was Julio Becquer, an obscure utility infielder for the Minnesota Twins.

I wanted to write about Bill because, for at least a couple years in my youth, he was my best friend.  Bill was two years younger than me, but he was one of two kids in the neighborhood who had skipped a grade (George Henry Johnston IV was the other).  We spent many a day in the Seal household playing the wonderful board games of the time – Easy Money and Money, Money, Money are two that come to mind.  And we spent many a day playing baseball on the field where homeplate was kitty-corner from Bill’s house.  I mentioned Bill was a leftie, and as such he had a first baseman’s mitt – I believe it was a legal requirement at the time that lefties could only play first base.  But Bill loved to pitch in our pick-up games, and he always threw too hard.  We couldn’t call him on that, however, because of the macho factor – so every time you made contact with a fast, weird-southpaw-movement-Julio pitch, it stung like crazy.

One of my most vivid fishing memories is of Bill’s dad, Glen, on the Lake Victoria landing, about a half block from their house.  It was at night, the lake was like glass, and there was a full moon – in other words, a beautiful Minnesota summer evening.  Glen began casting from shore with a huge bassarino – for walleyes, he said.  Now I was enough of a fisherman, I thought, to know that you still fished walleye in deep water – and that we kids often cast fished from shoreline, but for bass.  Well, it wasn’t long before all hell broke loose – a big walleye had broken the dead calm of the lake like a tarpon!  After Glen reeled in that beauty, I learned there was more than one way to catch a walleye.

Then I guess we all got too old to play anymore.  I have no memories of Bill through high school – and I never saw him again after I graduated.  A search of the copious Obert family photo files revealed no pictures of Bill – and my visual memory of him has clouded over time.  So, I was wondering if anyone has any photos of Bill and/or could fill me in about his life after Victoria Heights?

[February 21, 2009]  What are you doing up at this hour? ~ Me

. . . waiting for The Tommy News.  ~ Diane OB

[June 17, 2009]  Once again, overcoming the stigma of limited expectations, . . .

your editor fired what could only have been better than 75 today, making that three rounds in a row in the 70’s, and, I believe, 4 of the last 5.  Nevertheless, my handicap index singularly refuses to be impressed and has remained unchanged since the start of the year, apparently in the belief that such excellence cannot be sustained.

Wow or  WOW…. that is GREAT  🙂 ~ k

[February 14, 2010]  We went to the matinee performance of A Bad Year for Tomatoes at the AAAA Theater today (where by pure accident we sat next to Bob, Vivian, and Angie Annen) – and once again our marvelous local talent did a tremendous job.  Then we came home and enjoyed a lovely Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs (well, nothing but the best for the missus) while watching local Alexandria girls hockey Super Fan, “Dusty Johnson,” win his 2nd consecutive Pebble Beach golf tourney.  And then we reviewed Ruthie’s, “the scrapper,” scrapbook for 1997 – whatta year!  With Libby and Michelle, went to Rockport, MA to visit Rose & Dick.  Then we all went up to Waterville Valley, NH, for cross country skiing, skating, snowshoeing, and outdoor swimming.  It was Roy’s and mine 50th birthday year.  The Final 4 was in Indy, with our GOPHERS, right before we headed to Europe.  Niece Beth, Rita’s daughter, got married.  We did the Outer Banks with the Sullivans and Browns.  We hosted a Christmas party at the Astoria.  Ruth’s family and my mom were in D.C, for Christmas, which included a family tour of the White House.  All in all, life’s been pretty damn good!

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