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Pathways Through Our Past

Haven't talked to you forever it seems. How are ya' all doing? Bet you're getting a lot of Christmas baking and shopping done in this nice weather.

As happens in a lot of families, my bunch will be observing Christmas here this weekend so that they can attend their "other side" of the family's Christmas next weekend, where ever that may be. We try to keep old traditions alive and sometimes start new ones as new members join the family. Hope your Christmas and holiday season is as nice and fun as I know ours will be and that the spirit of Christmas stays with you all year.

My history story this week came about when I was talking to one of my very best friends from our school days --Mary Swanson Beck. It's about Mary's father, Everett Swanson, who I knew well enough to get a hug when he was around, but his job information was not generally up for discussion, or passed around among us kids or maybe anyone else! I must say, I was really impressed when we pulled this story out of the archives.

Headlines read: Everett Swanson Aided World's Vital Network

Everett Miller Swanson (65) retired in Blackduck following Foreign Service time with International Telephone and Telegraph (IT&T) as an electrical engineer. Swanson moved to Blackduck with his family in 1945 and was employed at the then Summit Mercantile Company, which he later purchased. (Anderson Fabric's Outlet occupies the old Summit's store).

Everett received his electrical engineering degree in 1929 at Iowa State University and was employed following that at a timber company in Washington State and for the Chicago-Milwaukee Railway. Everett owned the Summit store and in his spare time, he designed and constructed the Swanson Building on Main Street in 1951.

Mary and I often say that her dad was ahead of his time --developing the first "mall!" He kept us from being a nuisance by having us "candle" eggs in the Summit's basement when we were youngsters. The "mall" was a wonderful addition to downtown Blackduck. It housed a clothing store, a very active bowling alley, a marvelous confectionary (kid's hangout in the 1950s and '60s) restaurant, apartments and even a barber and beauty shop through the years. Ah, I remember it well. But, getting back to Everett's even more important story...

He was an extremely busy man, having crossed the Atlantic Ocean eight times, the Pacific three times and worked in 40 of the United States. He worked at the Atlas Missile Base near Omaha and on an atomic power plant near Lincoln, NE. Everett was then hired by IT&T to work a communication network in the NATO and SEATO countries of the world, starting at the Titan Missile site in the state of Washington.

In the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are Greenland, Alaska, Canada, England, Scotland, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Holland and Belgium. The South East Asiatic Treaty Organization nations included Japan, Korea and Vietnam.

In traveling to and from assignments, Everett Swanson visited almost every country in the world. These communication networks were/are vital to our national defense. Swanson was in almost constant travel doing electrical engineering projects at the various sites. He was assigned interpreters, so it was not necessary for him to learn the different languages. IT&T which is headquartered in New York, had a policy of mandatory retirement at age 65, so Everett did just that.

Almost forgot. Everett spent two years in the U.S. Marines and also worked for a time in Greenland, Labrador and Newfoundland.

Everett and Gladys' family consisted of two sons and three daughters -- Gene, Jeanette, Mary, James and Linda.

At the time of this writing, Gene and wife, Gen (Bye) and family lived in Babbitt; James was married and a student at the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks, Jeanette and Tom Orr and family lived in Eugene, OR, Mary and John Beck and family lived in Omaha and Linda (Lynn) was graduating from Blackduck High School. Everett and Gladys planned to do some traveling in their just delivered 1968 Cadillac. "Actually I'm a Packard man," he said.

Mary and Jim are the only surviving members of Everett and Gladys' immediate family.

Merry Christmas!