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Across The Lake

She's been My Favorite Reader for a long time, but let me tell you a little more about her. This won't be news to some of you, but I hope it will be interesting, because she is. Has been, as a matter of fact, for a long time. It'll be 67 years in a few weeks, but even before that, our lives became intertwined from the night during a skating party on Blackduck Lake when with all the determination and certainty that teenagers have, I announced that someday I planned to marry her.

She graduated the next spring -- her class was a year ahead of mine--and went to business college in Bemidji, then moved to the Navy facility on Whidbey Island in Washington State. She was there and I had also finished my senior year in Blackduck and after working at The American, had moved on to Minneapolis with what is now the Star-Tribune. In the summer of 1944, she came home to Hines and we got back together. A few months later, on a cold, blustery January night, we were married.

World War II was still being fought and my entry into the Navy was not going to make it end any sooner, but having her to come home to gave me an incentive -- one probably shared by everyone in service even today. When I was sent to Boston for duty, instead of the submarine service I'd requested, I wound up typing discharges, while she got a job at the Jordan Marsh department store. When the war ended, we came home.

She was there with me when I went back to WDAY and while I worked as a radio reporter, she worked setting up housekeeping. Her dad helped us with a down payment so we could buy a little house on North Broadway. Our daughter, Jane,t came along in the fall of 1947, the first of our four youngsters with Suzi, the last, not arriving until 1964. We'd moved a lot in the meantime.

From Fargo, we went to Bismarck and from radio where she'd been My Favorite Listener, the advent of television had led to my becoming a news anchorman and along with raising a family, she'd become My Favorite Viewer. She'd also become the kids favorite mom, the neighbors favorite morning hostess (she was and is, known for her skill with a coffee pot) and especially for handling a schedule requiring getting youngsters off to school on time after staying awake at night until I got home after doing the 10 p.m. news broadcast.

When I was offered the chance to work as administrative assistant to a member of Congress, she helped with the packing and with navigating our way as we drove into Washington. When ill health prompted the congressman not to seek another term, she helped make the decision not to take a job with NBC but go back to Bismarck and our friends there.

She helped make the decision to leave broadcasting and go into public relations work and she encouraged subsequent moves to Chicago and then Denver. In fact, she's counted them up and, across the lake, we're in our 22nd home right now. She knows because in almost every case, the reason is the number of garage sales we've had to have.

As we've moved around to different jobs, Mavis has met a lot of people and has been at home in every group. She exchanged notes on raising little kids one night at dinner with the president of Shell Oil. When Weldon Anderson was governor of Minnesota, she helped Mrs. Anderson find the nearest picnic grounds toilet for her young daughter at a governor's conference. In fact, I think Mavis has been on a first-name basis with more governor's wives than I've been with their husbands.

Thoughts while drying the dishes... Now that this is written, the first person to see it, to read and correct it and to see that it gets in the paper, will be George Smith's daughter, Mavis. She really is My Favorite Reader.