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Across The Lake

Donna Hendrickson and her friends must be having a lot of mixed emotions these days. While they're busy sending out address changes with their new road name on it, they have to be wondering at the township or county officials who completely ignored their pleas years ago. Typically, those in authority knew better -- and so they named a road for a man largely forgotten by today's residents instead of calling it by the name people had been using for generations.

The reference of course is to Blackduck Lake Road. It's North Blackduck Lake Road on those expensive new signs, which were already made up, painted and ready to go even as the change was announced. The excuse is that over the past half-dozen years, someone had stolen eight of the old Stoner Memorial Drive signs. There are probably twice that many new signs up now, shiny green and with the new name. The odd thing is, it's the North Blackduck Lake Road. That would infer that there's a South Blackduck Lake Road. Not so.

The South road is Buckhorn Road. To get to it you turn off the Lake Road west of Blackduck (where it joins the North Blackduck Lake Road at the golf course) but turn south onto Pass Road which you take if you want to pass the lake on your way to Buckhorn. It all proves that maybe you can't beat city hall, but you can just wait for them to do it to themselves. I think the old military term was snafu.

It's like the old road southeast out of Hines -- it was built on an old railroad spur line after the rails had been removed, and so it was called the Spur Road. I walked it many a time late at night coming home from seeing My Favorite Reader -- long before now, when she was just My Favorite -- a nd when I whistled a lot to keep away the swamp uglies, but that's another story. Somewhere along the way, the experts in Bemidji decided it shouldn't be called the Spur Road, and renamed it the Hines Road. Like I said, it runs southeast out of Hines, so naturally it's Hines Road Northeast.

There weren't many Kodak moments around our place last weekend, but only because nowadays everyone is shooting with digital equipment rather than film. Except for one day when one of the crew took along a pocket-size Olympus loaded with a roll of 35mm film to shoot some fishing pictures. The best photos, though, were when Kenny Cardenas came back from a day of guiding and two young grandsons and their uncle showed off the results of a good day.

Ken, by the way, is my cousin Lucille's son, and later we had a long family discussion. Does that make our daughter -- the boy's mother -- a second cousin, or a cousin once removed? Ken has kids, too, and pretty soon you're talking about who's a third cousin, and what's a grand-uncle? Somewhere there must be an explanation.

Our little gathering was successful if success is measured by watching your youngest grandson licking the dasher after the ice cream is done. Or by the excitement our kids from Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota and Oregon generate for themselves shopping and sightseeing in Blackduck. The new flower shop, Northlander Gifts, the History Center, and of course, Moon Drug and Variety -- they made them all, and then came back to the house to enjoy fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and zucchini. Not ours, though -- it came from Kansas where summer really did arrive this year.

Maybe it was because some of us are too old, and some too young, but no one mentioned The Guiding Light. It's been on TV just about longer than anything, but next month it will leave the air after 57 years on the CBS network. In all likelihood, somebody has counted up all the births and deaths and weddings and divorces and the rest of the events occurring during those years but those things didn't get talked about last week. Instead, about the only television talk seemed to center on how the networks spent so much time on Michael Jackson's departure.

All this recent talk of post office closings, and of dropping Saturday mail deliveries as a cost-saving measure, raised a question. Will Congress try to stop it? Lloyd Hoffman sent along a reminder that Congress has a habit of stepping in. In 1918-1920, it cost a penny to mail a postcard, he writes "and the postal department thought that was too cheap and printed cards with 2¢ on them. But they didn't get Congressional approval and Congress made them go back and print a large 1¢ blocking out the 2¢."

From his home in Sauk Centre, Hoffman sent along one of those rare cards that he had saved from years ago. Almost as interesting as the card itself was the ad on the back offering 100-pound sacks of sugar for $17.95. Dated Aug. 19, 1920, the offer was made by Sears, Roebuck and Co. They were major distributors of that kind of cooking essential back then, at the same time they were selling houses by mail -- in kit form, of course.

Thoughts while drying the dishes... Those changes in road names got me thinking about other name changes foisted on taxpayers by bureaucrats who always seem to know what we want better than we do. Langor Township is an example that comes to mind. Named for a member of the Langord family, the 'd' had to be dropped because somewhere, though not in Beltrami County, a pencil-pusher somewhere remembered Minnesota already had a Langord Township. Next thing you know, we'll probably be told the state has too many Gull Lakes.