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Across The Lake

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Across The Lake
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

You haven't seen any candidates endorsed in this space and this is being written on Tuesday while the polls are still open and the races are still at least somewhat in doubt. Thus it seems safe to announce that some of those I supported will have won and some, I'm sure, will have lost. I will admit to reluctantly having put a small donation into one campaign fund, along with those of a few persons but our combined contribution will not have made even a small ripple when compared to the hundreds of thousands of others.

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Now that it's over and most of the votes counted, who did we elect? What have we changed? Was it all worthwhile? To that last question, think about it. For every commercial television station in the United States, you bet it was worth it. Of those estimated three to four billions spent on this election, the huge bulk of the money went for ads on TV. The torrent of negativism in this election cycle left station managers and network bosses grinning from ear to tone-deaf ear.

A lot of us felt this was worse than ever. Surprisingly, that's probably not true. Campaigns a century ago or longer, were marked by even more viciousness and mud-slinging. What is different now is the sheer volume to which voters are exposed and the inability to escape.

Broadcasters who now share in the profits, also must share the blame. There's a whole generation or probably two, that will not remember back to when broadcasting meant radio and television was still in its innocent infancy. That was an era when there was a chance to escape the campaigning every weekend. Radio stations as a matter of taste refrained from carrying political ads on Sundays. Then broadcasters realized newspapers carried those ads in their Sunday editions -- why not campaign commercials then, too?

You've seen and heard the results. Print volume is down, TV commercials up, yard signs as disturbing as ever and campaign buttons as good as extinct. You might still have one or two -- a faded Floyd B. Olson button or a Landon-Knox lapel pin, maybe even one urging Nordhougen for Congress but no one offered us one for Emmer or Dayton. I wonder how they'd be welcomed now. Or worn?

There are a few scattered around desk drawers or curio cabinets and tucked into the back of a bookshelf here and there in the den, mostly saved because of the memory stirred about the candidate involved. One urges a vote for Short for Congress. That would be Don Short, who served two or three terms from his home in the North Dakota Badlands. At the time, he was the only member of Congress who had no television, no telephone and not even a road to his house on a part of the old Teddy Roosevelt Maltese Cross ranch.

Another button now lost from Bourke Hickenlooper. He was a senator from Iowa at the time I met him and told of when he was sent to the drug store in that Iowa town to pick up some asafetida for his father. As instructed, he asked the druggist to "Charge it." The druggist refused, saying it was too much work to write "asafetida and Hickenlooper" for just 5¢. (Note to self: ask Chan Moon what asafetida is used for).

Turning from one smelly subject to another or, from politics to lutefisk. The late Red Stangland made a fortune from it, writing books of Ole and Lena jokes until they became politically incorrect. Stangland's books were filled with all kinds of other Norwegian jokes (What's the hardest thing on a Norwegian kid? Third grade) and that meant they had to include references to lutefisk.

There was an enterprising Scandinavian in Glenwood a few years ago who had an idea on making money from lutefisk. He'd been selling the processed whitefish for years and tried putting it up in microwave TV dinners. Prepared it with mashed potatoes, though I think most cooks at home would serve the spuds boiled. He also included corn which a lot of folks would not really consider "old country." Presumably the dinners came with another of the lutefisk attributes, too. The smell.

Lutefisk is soaked in lye to soften the bones. It is generally served at church suppers in Scandinavian areas. It is also generally served with meatballs or about anything else as an alternate entrée. It is also well-remembered for the rousing cheerleaders song, "Lutefisk and lefse, rah, rah, rah. We are the girls from sky-u-mah. We don't smoke and we don't chew and we don't go with boys who do."

We've got a reader in a Kansas town who some time back sent a note from the very Swedish town of Lindsborg. A supermarket there that week had strung a banner across the front window:

Yes, we have Lutefisk!

Below it was another sign hand-lettered and urgent in its appeal:

PLEASE BUY SOME!

Thoughts while drying the dishes... I have no idea how the idea of a lutefisk TV dinner went over but I've never seen one in the frozen food section at Family Foods.

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Pioneer staff reports
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