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Across The Lake

In the past 10 years, I've accumulated a list, a list of stories it would have been nice to look back on as ones you might have enjoyed reading. Whether from having other stories assigned or from not having done the necessary homework, they haven't been covered. It might also be due to my falling into a "so much to write about, so little time" mental trap, a trap full of stories both old and new.

Mal Freeburg could have been the subject in one of those stories. The son of a Blackduck doctor, Freeburg became a pilot, flew for Northwest Airways before it became Northwest Airlines and then Delta, becoming Northwest's director of operations, was the man who started their stewardess service, twice saved the lives of passengers -- once on a plane and once by stopping a train. He was awarded the Congressional Aviation Medal of Honor; later was elected mayor of Richfield, and is in Minnesota's Aviation Hall of Fame.

Richard Morine was someone else I kept putting off writing about. You've probably seen Dick on his yellow three-wheeled motorcycle, but what you'd have learned if I'd written the story is that he also makes violins. One, at least, and I'm told it has a highest quality tonal sound. I've heard the same about another violin maker nearby but am told he doesn't want it talked about.

Theresa Rabe is one of many people who work at a school -- Blackduck in her case, but there are others in every school. She's the activities director and we'd planned for some time to sit down and talk about what she does. A few years ago, I rode the school bus so I could write about bus drivers. Doing the same for janitors and other staff members still seems like a worthwhile project that hasn't gotten done. And, yes, a profile of every individual teacher describing the hours they put in, and the respect for kids that compels them to be teachers, is something it would be nice to have done. I didn't.

For a number of years, I had the honor of representing you at the annual high school graduation awards programs. Most of you are members of Beltrami Electric Cooperative, so in presenting scholarships to graduating seniors, I was there in your behalf. It was an honor, and it gave me no little pleasure in knowing that together, we were helping further the education of a deserving young man or woman.

Other awards included one presented by Bob Ness. I'd been gone during the years when Bob made his mark at the Blackduck School, and in his years as a state legislator. Repaying the debt he felt to Blackduck, he established and finances an annual scholarship. He's also still repaying the obligation he feels to the area, working to help a congressman keep in touch with the 'grassroots' by talking, and listening, to people in this district.

Another person I've come to admire is Bud Olson. I've known so many Bud Olson's; there's been at least one in every town where My Favorite Reader and I have lived. Conrad Slettom in Custer, others like them in both small towns and city suburbs, but each of them a "go to" person when something needs to be done. Communities seem to die without a person like them.

If you need to know who that person is, in Kelliher, Deb Tjepkes would be a good person to ask. When she moved from being postmaster in Hines to take the job in Kelliher, we'd already found that when someone comes in for their mail, the post office is a good place to visit. And if no one else is there visiting, Deb, like Mary before her and Kerrie and then Shelly since, have that welcoming smile that makes one wonder, if all those small town post offices are closed, where will people go to talk.

Thoughts while drying the dishes... I got a letter this week, but I won't share it with you. People who write letters but don't have the guts to sign them are usually either liars or cowards. If there's a reason for protecting a person's identity while something is being looked into, we'll respect it, but we can't do it without knowing who you are. Next time, sign your name.