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Across The Lake

It seems the late Bill Balsiger gets the credit. This was back in the early 1970s. At that time he was living in the Twin Cities and got the idea to have some bumper stickers printed asking the question, "Where the hell is Blackduck?" It may have been Ernie Clubb, then living in Lakeville, who later spotted one on a car, mentioning it to Milton Beck the next time Clubb was in Blackduck.

In turn, the word got to Oren Wolden whose Wolden's Service was then a really 'full-service' station in that he was also the Chevrolet dealer. Lawrence Anderson was his car salesman He was also a friend of Beck's and like Beck a strong promoter of the city. So was Wolden, who ordered several hundred of the bumper stickers, handing them out at what was then his Union 76 station. It was one of these that made it onto an automobile bumper that My Favorite Reader spotted at that Mobil station in Arlington Heights, IL. (And thanks, Bud and Pat, for that background.)

Typical of the way change has taken place in the gasoline business, that Union 76 station was later a Phillips and now Kevin Beck's Shell service. Rick Bogart's was once a Conoco station. Deerwood Bank sits where there was once a Standard Oil station before Standard Oil changed to Amoco which was acquired by British Petroleum, now BP and I wonder what those BP stations around the Bemidji area are hearing from their customers these days. Hopefully, not much.

When Larry Zea announced he wouldn't run again, his fellow members on the Blackduck School Board didn't seem surprised. They'd apparently known his announcement was coming, but only in a sort of peripheral way did he indicate age had anything to do with his decision. In fact, he'd just been talking about coaches and the criticism they often get -- "It's about the only job I can think of that offers as much fun as being a school board member," he joked.

Zea kept coming back to the matter of age. When a discussion opened on the price of admission to athletic or other school events, he pointed out that seniors, "old guys like me and him," pointing to another man seated across the room, "we shouldn't get in for nothing -- we can afford it." Larry got into a discussion with someone else during the break so we didn't have a chance to ask about all those references to his age.

A couple of recent, unconnected accidents brought a lot of thoughts to mind. The 16-year-old trying to sail solo around the world lost in her attempt when a squall tore the mast off her ship. Search planes looked for two days before she was spotted and rescued. On TV, her parents seemed not overly concerned at letting the girl make the try and it all turned out all right though no one seemed too concerned, either, about who was paying for all that search effort.

Then there was that tragic accident in Hubbard County where a 12 year old apparently lost control of the ATV he was driving and crashed, killing his 9-year-old brother who was a passenger. The story in The Pioneer didn't identify the parents or the owner of the vehicle, or if the boys were wearing helmets. If they were not, it would not be too surprising. Look at all the adults riding motorcycles who go without helmets. The law requires adult drivers of automobiles to wear seat belts. Why are legislators so afraid to require bikers to protect themselves?

A word not often heard among oilmen these days is the word "gusher." It was once so much part of the language in the oil patch that there was even a board game called that and it was almost the name of a movie with Susan Hayward. (The title got changed to Tulsa but the gusher played a leading role.) In a way, that disaster in the Gulf was like a gusher.

On the contrary, the only thing gushing in North Dakota right now seems to be oil. In March, the rig count there topped 100 for the first time since 1982 and now it's gone up to 127 as of a week ago. Each rig employs an average of 40 jobs and another 80 jobs indirectly. The most recent success has brought to 4,810 wells the number now producing, with an output of almost 285,000 barrels a day. Hard to realize that in less than a week, that much is spewing out of that BP well in the Gulf.

Littleneck clams in New York, fresh salmon in Washington, walleye shore lunch in Ontario all rate high in satisfaction, but fresh Gulf oysters in New Orleans are the sort of seafood that a person remembers. A lot of emphasis is being placed on what the well tragedy has done to tourism, but the real emphasis has to be on the whole economy of the region. It's an environmental disaster but realizing how that has affected the lives of so many people and how much criticism has been directed at the federal government as well as BP, you still have to wonder how it will affect the rest of us.

An interesting thought was raised on one of the many talk shows: If this had happened along the California coast, or a comparable event in the northeastern states, would the federal response have been as slow? Would it have taken two months for the presidential address from the oval office to occur? And what were those 30,000 federal employees mentioned by the President really doing to help out? One thing about those talk shows is that the questions being asked often are more revealing than what you're being told on the news shows.

Thoughts while drying the dishes... I have no idea what the weather will be like by the time you read this, but in the bank lobby, in the barber shop, at the grocery check-out, dropping off mail at the post office -- even just visiting with My Favorite Reader, wouldn't it be nice to hear something other than "I'm so ( ___ ) tired of all this rain?" I suspect you can fill in the blank.