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Across The Lake

If America Were a Village is the title of an interesting book about who we are and where we came from. Author David Smith says more of us have German roots than those from other countries. If the village has 100 residents, he goes on, 15 would be from Germany, 11 from Ireland, nine African and nine English. Polish, French and Native American would each have three -- the same as the number of Norwegian and Swedish combined. My Favorite Reader and I, between us, can count eight nationalities which is probably also the case with a lot of you.

There aren't that many 1955 Chevy's around, so when you see one, you can't avoid thinking back to when Corvettes and Mustangs were as much a part of the car talk as Lexus and Buick LaSalles are today. When you start thinking back to how things were some 50 or 60 years ago, you start thinking about how $10 would buy a week's groceries and if cigarettes ever get to 20¢ a pack you'd quit smoking for sure. It's like hearing the post office was going to start charging 7¢ just to mail a letter.

Things were starting to get tough in other ways and a lot of young couples were even hiring someone to watch their kids so they could both work. Married women were having to go to work so couples could make ends meet. Weekend short trips were out because who could afford $2 a night for a hotel room? And if those thoughts on how serious things were when that '55 Chevy was new and gasoline was 25¢ a gallon, who would have dreamed a haircut would cost as much as 30¢?

Much discomfort over news that those recycling bins might disappear unless a new location is found. They are now parked across from Bogart's Service on the lot where Marv Gunderson's Standard Station once stood. They've already been booted around from one Railroad Avenue location to another down that same street and then up to where they are now and have been so convenient. Bottles, cans, newspapers and cartons -- people who want to recycle have found them a boon. We're not sure what the impetus for a move may be, but at least one business person to whom we mentioned this seemed interested in finding a spot equally suitable -- he's looking into it.

A lot of folks aren't directly affected by the school's four-day week in Blackduck but parents are being surveyed to see how it's working. Younger kids are tired but getting used to the extended hours, according to what school board members were told this week -- we notice the school bus passes our place 20 minutes earlier than last year but it's as regular as the clock on the wall. In the midst of all this, we learned of how a school in another state is dealing with the matter of school-time hours. There, students are still on a five-day schedule, but the day has been lengthened a full hour. The explanation is that to keep up with the explosion in knowledge and what other countries are doing, the longer day is necessary. In return, the school year will be shortened. That would certainly be good news for those farming or in the tourist business.

If all the debate and argument over health care is giving you a headache, you might be interested in a simple remedy suggested by a reader. Just put everyone -- everyone -- on the same program. Congress and federal employees have. It's elaborate, it's extensive and it's costly. Taxpayers help fund it, so why not just give everyone the same coverage? Nice idea, but can you imagine a member of Congress thinking they should have to give up the cushy care they get in exchange for just the same coverage provided for everyone else? That would be like expecting them to deal harshly with lawbreakers in their midst. That New York congressman comes to mind.

It's the onset of the flu season and the growing number of cases of the H1N1 influenza has people waiting to get their shots to avoid even the "regular" flu. While the shots themselves seem worrisome, consider how folks used to try avoiding getting infected in the first place or treating it when it happened.

A warm brick soaked in vinegar rubbed with garlic and placed on the patient's chest was one preferred treatment, perhaps in preference to spitting into a fire in which eggshells and cabbage hearts were burned. Oral treatments included a tea brewed from ferns and chicory root flavored with honey and licorice, or concoctions including soot and egg yolks with oysters dissolved in milk and wine. Thinking about it sort of makes that quick shot from the nurse seem a lot easier to take.

October is a busy month with a lot of special weeks and days -- as an example, there's last week's story and pictures emphasizing Fire Prevention Week. One thing that didn't get much attention, and it's our fault collectively because it was also National Newspaper Week. Since 1940, newspapers have taken the week to look back at what they're doing and how they're doing. It's no secret that a lot papers, many of them big, have had their problems and are struggling. Still, big or little, we all strive to let everyone know that we take our work seriously.

Criticize us if we make mistakes. Remember, though, that what we're doing we do because it needs doing. For more than a century, the American public has been doing it because this is our community -- it's where we live and where we want everyone to know what's going on. Our goal is to print each week a newspaper that will, in today's world, keep you in the loop.

Thoughts while drying the dishes... All these technological improvements get to be confusing and hard to remember. You go through all the "press one" instructions and maybe that's what makes a person try to enter his password on the microwave.