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We are proud to present the winners of the Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Family Health Care Providers: 1st Place Dr. Dan Anderson, North Mankato Family Practice 2nd Place Deb Schilling, P.A., North Mankato Family Practice 3rd Place Dr. Caroline Baerg, Family Practice, Mankato Clinic @ Main Street

Congratulations to the winning providers, and the entire Mankato Clinic health team. The Mankato Clinic offers complete health care services and a convenient location when and where you need it. Call 507-625-1811 to make your appointment.


ANKATO M magazine

FEATURE S July 2013 Volume 8, Issue 7

Mankato Magazine

15 Dining 18 People 22 Shopping 28 Entertainment 32 Goods and Services About the Cover

Graphic illustration by Christina Sankey.

MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 3








6 From the Editor Recognizing Mankato’s best 8 Odds ‘n’ Ends 10 Introductions Brady Krusemark 12 The Gallery 37 Your Tastes Two takes on American classic 38 That’s Life Not-so-easy listening 40 Garden Chat Singing the hoop house blues 44 Then and Now The best – and the bravest 48 Coming Attractions Events to check out in July 54 Your Health Ouch! High heels are killing feet 60 Remember When Impressions of an implosion:

Remembering Gage

Coming in August Gather ’round and have a seat at the table. If you prefer, we could chat over coffee and rolls at one of our favorite downtown cafes. Or, if global fare suits your tastes, we could sample that, too. We’ll beat the heat with fruit-inspired eats – and, if that’s not enough, we’ll load up for a day trip to Lake Minnetonka.

40 4 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


Join us – and please pass the salt and pepper.


From The Editor


July 2013 • VOLUME 8, ISSUE 7 PUBLISHER James P. Santori EDITOR Joe Spear ASSOCIATE Tanner Kent EDITOR CONTRIBUTING Nell Musolf WRITERS Pete Steiner Jean Lundquist Marie Wood Wess McConville Heidi Sampson Bryce O. Stenzel



Mankato Magazine is published by The Free Press Media monthly at 418 South Second St., Mankato MN 56001. To subscribe, call 1-800-657-4662 or 507-625-4451. $19.95 for 12 issues. For editorial inquiries, call Tanner Kent at 344-6354, or e-mail For advertising, call 344-6336, or e-mail

6 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

By Joe Spear

Recognizing Mankato’s best


hen I was a business reporter, I was always struck by the things that really mattered to merchants. Surprisingly, it usually wasn’t personal wealth or huge profits. It was their relationship with their customers. They loved getting positive feedback about their product or service. The feedback was its own reward for all the hard work and long hours they put into their life’s passion. The best thing about our “Best of” issue is this: Once a year, it connects customers, patients, clients with the merchants and professionals whose service they appreciate. This edition captures that connection and shares the experience with thousands of readers. Our annual Best of Mankato feature offers insights into everything from best places to eat and drink to best places to enjoy a relaxing game of golf. Our readers voted for the favorite places to go for entertainment, their favorite parks and favorite barbers, doctors and lawyers. People told us about the best plumbers, contractors and printers. Readers were able to vote for their favorites in dozens of categories, and we’ve featured a number of those winners in this issue. It’s always a good read and easy to get through. It is the best read issue of the year, and it has a very long shelf life (magazine talk for how long it stays on the coffee table). And while the voting and counting may not be as secured as say the Academy Awards with auditors guarding the “envelopes” to the armored car, we took care to make sure it was a fair and legitimate competition. Ballots were only distributed through Mankato Magazine, which goes to about 10,000 readers in the Mankato/North Mankato area. There were no online ballots as we know those can be loaded through various hacking techniques. Our editors and writers interviewed

some of the dozens of winners in 60-plus categories. You’ll often find out interesting stories about their backgrounds and motivations. They’ll offer advice on everything from back pain to good cabinetry. As a reader, I often find surprises in the selection of winners. You find out you didn’t know that service was offered. You didn’t know that there was a remedy for that ailment. It might be handy the first time I need a chiropractor, or the next time I need a computer repaired. Of course, many of the highly visible places in town -- especially eating and drinking establishments -- usually show up in the top three spots. It’s not surprising. Highvisibility venues draw a lot of people and tend to be good at what they do. The next time you hit that place, you’ll know a little bit more about it and the people who make it tick. The winners also take the voting very seriously and many will display their “Best of” Mankato Magazine certificate in their storefront. It offers customers a kind of reinforcement, like a waitress saying “good choice” when you order a dinner menu item. When you patronize a place that carries a Mankato Magazine Best Of certificate, you can be sure there were more than a few satisfied customers who gave the merchant a thumbs up. When we published the first “Best of” issue a few years ago, we were a little unsure of how it might be accepted. Small towns can have intense rivalries among businesses and professionals. But we were pleasantly surprised. You’ll always have a few who will gripe, but most see it as a friendly competition and a way to show off what they have to the community and be recognized for their hard work and success. That’s the idea and it works pretty well. M Joe Spear is editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at or 344-6382.

Mankato Magazine

MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 7

Bright colors! Bright ideas! Corporate Graphics Your Printing Solutions Company

Odds n’ Ends

By Tanner Kent

This Day in History July 1, 1926: Fred Young of Mankato filed a complaint against his 29-year-old wife for attacking his mother with a milk bottle. A week earlier, the wife – Hazel Young – had brought the husband before municipal court on a non-support charge. The judge stayed Fred Young’s 60-day sentence if he provided $15 per month for his wife and child. After the culmination of that case, Fred apparently remembered the attack on his mother and filed a complaint about the milk-bottle assault. July 3, 1942: “With both teams displaying more talent for oratory than softball,” the Tillisch Eyes beat the Tillman Grocery softball team 12-9 to earn a chance to represent the city loop in the Fourth of July softball tournament. The contested affair was underscored by constant verbal taunting and, at one point, a benches-clearing brawl. At the center of the squabbling were the pitchers: Raymond “Nippy” Landkamer for Tillman, and Oscar “Musty” Anderson for Tillisch. At one point, Tillman catcher DeWayne Simmonds chased Anderson down, prompting umpire Jay Mickselson to spend several minutes restoring order. July 10, 1880: The P.T. Barnum circus arrived in Mankato, drawing what was later described as “the largest crowd ever witnessed in the history of the city.” Visitors were treated to such delights and oddities as Madame Dockrill’s “thrilling set on bare-back horses,” Zazel being shot from a cannon, a yoke of performing This photo of a circus parade on Front Street is dated in the 1890s. oxen, the only P.T. Barnum visited Mankato on July 10, 1880. | Photo courtesy of hippopotamus in Blue Earth County Historical Society America and a museum of “30,000 curiosities,” including a lady dressed in glass, the Tattooed Greek, a giant and a dwarf. 800-729-7575 8 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

July 7, 1906: Mayor Charles Silverson of New Ulm issues a notice that saloons must close by 11 p.m. – marking the first time in the city’s 50-year year history in which any restrictions were placed on the operating hours of saloons. Several dance hall proprietors were also forced to close by 11 p.m. and protested by petitioning the mayor to close saloons on Sundays. The mayor responded by saying he would never enforce such a law.

The Bearded Lady was a common attraction in the Barnum circus.

Ask the Expert: Flag Etiquette

By Nell Musolf

Handle with dignity


n addition to grilling out, eating watermelon and watching fireworks, flying the American flag is a timehonored tradition on the Fourth of July. Former Scoutmaster Don Johannsen shared the basics about the correct way to fold the flag when the festivities are over. • Begin by holding the flag waist-high with another person so that the flag is parallel to the ground. Fold the flag in half. Fold it in half again so that the Union (stars) is facing down. • With one person holding the Union end tightly, make a triangular fold bringing the corner of the fold edge up to meet the open edge of the flag. Fold from the right to the left for the first fold. • Repeat until the end of the flag is reached. When the flag is completely folded, only a triangle of stars should be showing. • Tuck under the folds any remaining material. The flag is now ready to be stored. Contrary to legend, it is not necessary to destroy a flag when it touches the ground. However, it is best to try and keep a flag from touching the ground whenever possible. When a flag has reached the end of its life and is ready to be retired, it should be destroyed in a dignified way, usually by burning.

Since flags in the past were typically made out of cotton or wool, burning them wasn’t hazardous; but since many current flags are made out of synthetic fabrics, it is also acceptable to bury them.

News to use: Magic behind the curtain The Washington Post


here are optical illusions at play in the world of windows. Whether your windows are too low or too squat, too skinny or just plain misshapen, the way you hang curtains and shades can have an enormous impact on the way you perceive the windows themselves. • Make a window appear taller: For curtains, mount the rod eight inches (instead of the standard four) above the top of the window frame and let the curtain fall from the rod to the floor or farther. For a shade, mount it above the window frame so that when the shade is fully pulled up, the bottom border covers just the very top of the glass, therefore hiding the frame’s exact location. • Make a window appear wider: Mount curtain-rod brackets at least five inches to either side of the window’s molding, equidistant from the window, and add a curtain rod that spans the distance. Consider your new measurement (say, 46 inches wide, instead of 36) as the width of your window. Buy two curtain panels, each the width of your new measurement. When open, the curtains should be slid along the rail to just cover the window molding —

revealing only glass and tricking the eye into thinking the window extends behind the curtain. • Fix an overpowering window: For a large expanse of glass, such as sliding doors, a bay window or a plate-glass wall, mount one rod across the top of the molding and hang several curtain panels (that are as wide as possible) to break up the expanse. • Hide a poor view: Mount a sheer panel inside the window casement, close to the glass. Try using one panel instead of two (which will tempt guests to part them). Measure the width of the window and multiply by 1 1/2 for a standard amount of fullness, or up to two times the width for a richer look. Add to that a curtain or shade, mounted traditionally. The sheer panel can be static while the additional window coverings can be used to control light. For a more modern take, try sewing two dowels at either end of a panel of voile or muslin, and hang it taut in the window casement.

MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 9




Tanner Kent | Photos

by John


Once a marching member himself, Brady Krusemark is now the director of southern Minnesota’s top youth marching band.

Leader of the Lancers Brady Krusemark has a front-row seat for one of Minnesota’s best marching bands

Mankato Magazine: What were your first memories of music growing up? Brady Krusemark: My very first memories of music involve singing along to hits such as Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” on the radio. I was maybe 3 years old. 10 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

MM: When did you know that you wanted to be a musician, and also teach music to others? BK: I feel fortunate to have figured it out quite early on in high school. As a student at Mankato West, I had so many great opportunities to be involved in music that I instantly knew that this was something that I

Krusemark said many of the fondest memories of his youth relate to his experiences in marching band and drum corps. He is pcitured with this year’s Lancers squad during preseason camp at Dakota Meadows Middle School. wanted to continue with throughout life. I had several educators in my immediate family (including both my parents), so I grew up around kids and had an understanding for the work involved in education. Additionally, I’ve had several teachers throughout the years that became mentors to me and helped guide me toward a career in music education. MM: Who have been your biggest musical influences, both as a musician and an educator? BK: My biggest influences as a musician and educator include: Douglas Nimmo, professor of music at Gustavus Adolphus College; Steve Wright, professor of music at Gustavus Adolphus College; William Webb and Paul Kile, Edina Public Schools; Tom Giles; and my father and mother, Don and Beth Krusemark. MM: How would you characterize your own experiences with marching bands, both as a member of the Lancers and later, as a member of the Madison Scouts? BK: Some of the greatest memories of my youth are related to marching band and drum corps. As a member of both ensembles, I had the chance to travel the country and perform for thousands. Through these experiences, I’ve gained so much more than great memories and the ability to perform. I’ve learned life lessons that relate to teamwork, leadership, work ethic, humility, and an appreciation for music and people. Those are the lessons that we strive to teach current Lancers each and every season. MM: Were you excited to get a job teaching back in Mankato after working for a few years elsewhere in Minnesota? BK: Absolutely. I’ve been thrilled to work in such a great department, school, and district. Working in this position

is truly an honor, and I’m proud to be part of a music program with such a tradition of excellence. The students are outstanding, and the community and parents have been of great support. MM: What prompted you to assume directorship of the Lancers? BK: I’ve had a love for the Lancers program and the marching arts since I was a marching member, and I jumped at the opportunity to apply. The Lancers played such an important part of my youth, and I am excited to be able to help today’s Lancers have a similar rewarding experience. I’d been working with the Lancers as assistant director for the past 2 seasons, so the transition has been quite smooth. MM: In your mind, what separates the Lancers from other high school-aged marching bands? BK: There are a few things that separate the Lancers from many high-school aged marching bands: • The long tradition of musical and marching excellence (this is our 35th season); • The emphasis placed on values and life lessons; • The way in which the organization helps youth develop into future leaders; • The work ethic of the Lancers and how that translates into entertainment, which results in memorable experiences! MM: What’s the most moving musical experience you’ve ever had? BK: I’ve had too many to choose just one. Sorry! M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 11

The Gallery

By Tanner Kent

Pictured is Patti Ruskey’s “Red Thread,” mixed media on paper. Ruskey of Mankato created 32 works of various sizes for the exhibit, which remains on display through July. | Photo courtesy of Bloomington Art and Theatre Center

Sharing the intensity Mankato artist exhibits ‘Visual Sonnets’ at Bloomington gallery


fter nearly three years, Patti Ruskey has an empty studio once again. Not long after the self-taught Mankato artist received a 2011 McKnight Artist Fellowship Grant, jurors selected her for an exhibit at the Bloomington Theatre and Art Center. The gallery operates years in advance, however, and the show wasn’t scheduled until June and July of this year. She used the grant to purchase new supplies and set to work immediately on creating 32 new works for display. She finished just as the exhibit opened on June 6; the works remain on display in the facility’s Atrium Gallery through July 28. Ruskey said the art that comprises “Visual Sonnets” is highly personal and represents exhaustive artistic effort. The opportunity to share the work publicly, she said, brings a welcome respite from the intensity of its creation. “I walked into the studio after dropping off the works in Bloomington and it was so good to have all that energy out,” she said. “I am so glad to have a show, but it almost became too much energy for one spot.” The BTAC’s Atrium Gallery, then, should be a fitting location. The Atrium Gallery is located in an open, common space on the second floor of the arts center that attracts both intentional viewers and casual passersby. Ruskey said such an arrangement is well-suited to the interactive nature of her work. 12 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Though largely abstract, Ruskey’s work is marked by the appearance of familiar objects: geometric shapes and patterns, snatches of prose, numbers and other figural elements. Combining swatches of bold, primary colors with blacks and muted colors, Ruskey achieves a physical and emotional depth that marries with symbolic elements to create what she calls “a single plane of chaos” that is representative of human experience. Ruskey said she chose the name “Visual Sonnets” for her exhibit to reflect the narrative underpinnings of her work. “I love showing in the atrium because I like the idea of public art,” she said. “I’m fascinated by the interaction people might have with my work every day.” Deriving a narrative from Ruskey’s panopoly of images and symbols, however, could be intimidating. She advised viewers to take note of her titles, as they often state something important about the nature of the work. She also said to look for something familiar – a color, an object, a word – and explore the work from that point. “I try not to be mysterious,” she said. “I want people to put their own story in there.” BTAC gallery hours are: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on MondaysFridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 1-10 p.m. on Sundays. M

Waseca recognizes area’s young artists By Nell Musolf


arlier this summer, the Waseca Arts Council hosted an exhibit of art work by area high school students. Four received Best in Show awards and 19 others received honorable mention recognition. The show included five works from eight area schools with area artist Deanna Bendix judging the final entries. Among the honorable mention honorees was 17-year-old Rodrigo Madrigal, who attributed much of his success to the guidance he received from his teachers. Although he has just completed his education in the Mankato Public School System, Madrigal lists LeAnn Ryan, art teacher at West High School, and Lynn Callahan, former art teacher at Dakota Meadows, as strong influences. “I still ask Ms. Ryan questions and learn new things from her,” Madrigal said. “Ms. Callahan was also my teacher and it was about the time I was in her class when I actually started to produce a lot more artwork. She gave me a lot of new skills that I still use that made my art better.” Madrigal uses mainly black pens and pencils for his drawings – he used Sharpie for his exhibit entry -- but likes to experiment with whatever he comes across. He’s inspired by everyday items as well as movies and cartoons. “I enjoy watching cartoons because there are so many diverse drawing styles used in them. I kept all of the VHS animations from my childhood to watch and rediscover those styles. Disney’s ‘Atlantis’ was always particularly inspiring,” Madrigal said. With high school under his belt, Madrigal is spending the summer going through basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia with the Army National Guard. He plans to have either a military or technical career or possibly both with art on the side. The young artist also has another

interest that he excels at: solving the Rubik’s Cube. “My best time is approximately 1 minute and 34 seconds,” he reported. O t h e r honorees in Rodrigo Madrigal of Mankato West was among the the Waseca area high school students selected for recognition e x h i b i t during the Waseca Arts Council’s exhibit of high school artwork. | Photo courtesy of Rodrigo include: Best in Madrigal Show: Carter Johnson, Mankato East, “Angel,” colored pencil; Logan Haga, Mankato West, “Mac and Cheese,” pencil; Eric Ouren, Mankato Loyola, “Northern Pike,” ceramic and mixed media; and Brandi Johnson, Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton, “Mommy Why,” acrylic collage. Honorable Mention: Geoffrey Tollefson, Mankato East; Nicole Denzer, Tri-City United; Kendall Vance, Waseca; Brian Baker, Loyola; Stephanie Brunson, Cleveland; Jasmine Hancock, West; Andrew Murray, Loyola; Victoria Cook, JWP; Jordan Kuster, East; Danielle Vetter, Loyola; Emily Eibs, Le Sueur-Henderson; Brendin Stagg, West; Samantha Bruns; Rachel Smisek, TCU; Jolie Richter, Le Sueur-Henderson; Andrew Sweere, Loyola; and Bailey Wolf. M

Civil War tribute benefits Boy in Blue Memorial drive


he members of the Boy in Blue Civil War Memorial Project are hosting a musical tribute to Blue Earth County’s Civil War veterans at 7 p.m. on July 2. During the event, the Mankato Area Community Band will play a free concert at Lincoln Park in Mankato, the original home of the Boy in Blue statue. So far, organizers have raised nearly $44,000 of the approximately $120,000 it will cost to recreate the 12-foot statue and water fountain. The monument consisting of a Union soldier standing at “parade rest” in the center of a cascading fountain was erected in 1892. Due to several incidents of vandalism and weather-related deterioration, the entire monument disappeared by 1927. For more information on the “Boy in Blue” Civil War Memorial Project or how to donate, visit M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 13

Mankato Magazine

The Best of the Best Readers speak up for the best of Mankato

By Nell Musolf, Marie Wood, Heidi Sampson, Hilary Urban and Wess McConville


erhaps customer service is what sets these businesses and professionals apart. Perhaps it’s a rich history, or new innovations. Perhaps it’s the best prices in town, or the friendliest smile around. But there’s no doubting that these Mankato individuals and enterprises have caught the attention of Mankato Magazine readers. The winners were chosen through a write-in ballot distributed inside previous editions of the magazine. Readers were asked fill in their choices in dozens of different categories. All of the businesses and professionals chosen as Mankato’s best have reasons to tout their success. We can’t share them all in this limited space, but we hope you enjoy this smattering of history, advice and business insight from those who are setting the example in southern Minnesota. Without further ado, the Mankato Magazine presents: The Best of Mankato. M

14 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Best Breakfast

Best of Mankato: Perkins Second: Wagon Wheel Third: Tandem Bagels

Best Lunch

Best of Mankato: Panera Bread Second: Olive’s Third: Olive Garden

Best Place for a Dinner Date Best of Mankato: Number 4 Second: Neighbor’s Third: Olive’s

Best Family Restaurant Best of Mankato: Applebee’s Second: Perkins Third: Wow Zone

Best Asian Cuisine

Best of Mankato: Asiana Buffet Second: Pho Saigon Third: Mongolian Grill

Best Mexican Food

Dining Best Fast Food

Best of Mankato: Culver’s Second: McDonald’s Third: Chipotle

Best Hamburger

Best of Mankato: Five Guys Burgers and Fries Second: Culver’s Third: Guenther’s Café

Best Steak

Best Seafood

Best of Mankato: Red Lobster Second: Papageorge Third: Charley’s

Best Deli or Sub

Best of Mankato: Subway Second: Erbert and Gerbert’s Third: Jimmy John’s

Premier patties Best Hamburger – Five Guys Burgers and Fries


Best Pizza

Best of Mankato: Pagliagi’s Second: Jake’s Stadium Pizza Third: Dino’s Pizzeria

Best of Mankato: Charley’s Restaurant Second: Grizzly’s Third: Papageorge Restaurant

Best of Mankato: El Mazatlan Second: Mexican Village Third: Las Fronteras

lthough Five Guys Burgers and Fries is a chain restaurant with 1,000 locations in 47 states and six Canadian Provinces, its approach to food quality and customer service is anything but. “What separates Five Guys from other burger joints would be the freshness of our products,” said store manager Jennifer Kromer. “We handpress our patties in the morning, and we cut our vegetables fresh every day. Our burger is never frozen; in fact, we don’t even own a freezer.” Kromer attributes not only the quality of the product, but the atmosphere the employees provide that keeps Mankato customers coming back for more. “A lot of our business comes from

Best Coffee

Best of Mankato: Caribou Second: Panera Bread Third: Coffee Hag

repeat customers. We are always complimented on our food quality and how great our customer service is. People really enjoy our upbeat employees and their sense of urgency.” On a typical Saturday, Kromer said Five Guys’ Mankato location will use around 180 pounds of hamburger. “We use really good, quality meat and the way we cook it keeps the flavors and the juices inside the patty,” she said. “People also love our fries. They’re hand-cut daily, and soaked to remove the starch; the Cajun fry seasoning is very popular in Mankato.” - Wess McConville

Sushi 101 Best Asian Cuisine Asiana Buffet

The old Timber Lodge Steakhouse in Mankato has been transformed into a totally metro Asian restaurant with a hibachi station, sushi bar and Chinese food buffet. For one price, customers can enjoy all three. “There’s a big enough variety to suit everybody’s taste,” said restauranteur Qui Zedong, who was born in China and came to Minnesota in 1998. From the sushi bar, customers can choose California rolls, a mixture of avocado, cucumber, crab meat and rice, as well as shrimp, salmon and tuna sushi. Most sushi is cooked except the salmon and tuna sushi. Raw fish comes from a certified seafood distributor, because the fish must be frozen for seven days before it is thawed and served. Wrapped in a sheet of seaweed called nori, sushi should be eaten in one bite. “A roll of sushi is cut into eight pieces so it’s bite-sized. I like to dip mine in a mixture of soy sauce and wasabi,” said Zedong. Use chopsticks or your fingers to eat this delicacy. A fork will cause your sushi to fall apart. “If you pick it up with chopsticks, you won’t break the sushi before you put it in your mouth,” said Zedong. - Marie Wood MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 15

With butter, is better

Best Fast Food and Best Frozen Dessert – Culver’s


utterBurgers differ from other fast-food burgers in that they are made from freshground Midwest beef that is never frozen. Culver’s uses a hot griddle and 0 trans fat canola oil to cook your “fresh-made-toorder” burger in a minute and 15 seconds. The tomato and onion is sliced and portioned at the restaurant, so the burgers can be quickly assembled and brought to your table or car. But where’s the butter? “The butter is used to lightly butter the bun,” said Brian Duehring, co-owner and operator of Culver’s in Mankato and North Mankato. When it comes to dessert, Culver’s frozen custard licked the competition with 147 different flavors of the day and over 30 toppings or mix-ins for sundaes, shakes and Concrete Mixers. “Frozen custard is comprised of all fresh

dairy ingredients – cream and milk. There are no preservatives or emulsifiers like ice cream. It’s a real taste treat,” said Duehring. “Better than ice cream – that’s our slogan.” Emulsifiers are chemical additives that encourage the suspension of one liquid in another such as the mixture of oil in water in ice cream. Emulsifiers stabilize air bubbles to promote a smooth texture. Butter fat and egg yolks help make this frozen dessert rich and creamy. Local employees use Culver’s Kitchen recipes to make and mix the Flavors of the Day fresh in the store. One day it may be Blueberry Cheesecake and the next day it’s Chocolate Volcano. “We rotate the flavors, so we try to get to everybody,” said Duehring. - Marie Wood

The secret’s Where diners say ‘I do’ Best Place for a Dinner Date – Number 4 safe Best Mexican Restaurant – El Mazatlan


arina Felix, co-owner and manager of El Mazatlan Authentic Mexican Restaurant, won’t share any recipes except the recipe for success. “We have authentic Mexican food and the best margaritas in town,” said Felix. El Mazatlan makes everything from scratch: chips, salsa, guacamole and refried beans. Everyday, the kitchen soaks, boils and refries the pinto beans into a mixture that tastes great plain or on a chip. “They’re homemade. Nothing is poured from a can. It’s all fresh,” said Felix. House favorites include fajitas, chimichangas (soft and fried) and the Mazatlan Special which is a chorrizo, chicken and shrimp fajita platter served with Mexican rice and beans. Margaritas, lime or flavored, are made fresh and served on the rocks or blended. - Marie Wood 16 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


umber 4 has an atmosphere unique to Mankato. “The Number 4 is a great place to take your date,” said Jen Timm, a server at Number 4. “The ambiance when you walk in is different than anywhere else. At night, we dim the lights and have candlelit dinners; it’s an intimate and romantic feel. It’s a little different for Mankato. It’s like a city feel, but for Mankato.” At least one Saturday a month, Number 4 has had a wedding proposal. Timm has had the privilege of being part of quite a few of them. “One wedding proposal, the gentleman came in earlier in the day and prepared the table. He had the woman’s family waiting at the bar, and as soon as he proposed, we had the champagne poured and the family was able to celebrate together,” she said. “The last one was a double date with the couple and the woman’s sister.

They sat at the bar. The sister knew about it the entire time, so when he popped the question, she whipped out the camera, took a picture and was able to capture the moment.” Number 4 offers couples privacy and dates in an intimate setting. All of this is nice, but without great food, these amenities would be all for naught. “We have a rotating menu that changes with the seasons, but we have our staples like the prime beef fillet, the New York strip, the salmon and pasta. If somebody wants a special meal, as long as they order it ahead of time, we can cook that as well,” said sous-chef Mike Stark. - Wess McConville

Barbers Invites You

THANKS MANKATO for voting us #1!

Mankato Magazine

• Denise • Bernie • Dick • Ellen

TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT Call a few minutes ahead or simply walk in

Signatures of Vikings players adorn a pizza box in a display case. | John Cross

Popular pizza


12 Civic Center Plaza Suite 1625

Located in Mankato Place just down from Buffalo Wild Wings Downtown

Best Pizza – Pagliai’s Pizza


recurrent winner of “The Best of Mankato,” Pagliai’s Pizza has been a favorite of Mankato residents for 45 years, and has garnered the attention of some of our more famous visitors. “We’ve made pizzas for Aerosmith, Poison, Ted Nugent, (Minneapolis hip-hop artist) Atmosphere, and George W. Bush when he came to Mankato for a campaign stop,” said Pagliai’s owner Jacob Downs. The Front Street pizzeria has also played host to the Minnesota Vikings when they make Mankato their home for training camp each summer. “There’s been a couple of years in a row when we would get the entire offensive line to come in,” said Downs. “It’s pretty humorous because these huge offensive linemen would order a deep dish just for themselves, where a normal person would only be able to eat a slice or two of that and fill up.” The Downs family purchased Pagliai’s Pizza after it went up for sale in 2001. Since then, a number of different pizzas like the all-meat Maverick, and the four-meat and fivevegetable Works have been added; along with sandwiches like barbecue chicken and Philly cheesesteak. They don’t plan to stop there; within the month, new pizzas and sandwiches will help round out the menu. “The different sandwiches and pizzas keeps us on the edge of the competition and helps us continue to provide the great food we’ve been known for,” said Downs.

22 varieties of beer on tap


2nd and last Monday of every month

125 S 3rd Street St. Peter 507-931-9051

Tuesday Pub Trivia Karaoke Wednesday Live Music

Every Sunday 4pm-7pm




- Wess McConville­ MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 17

People Best Florist

Best of Mankato: Hilltop Florist and Greenhouse Second: Hy-Vee Third: Becky’s Floral

Best Waiter/Waitress

Best of Mankato: Maria at the Tav on the Ave. Second: Vikki at Perkins Third: Robin at Axel’s Bonfire

Best Family Physician

Best of Mankato: Dan Anderson, Mankato Clinic Second: Deb Schilling, Mankato Clinic Third: Caroline Baerg, Mankato Clinic

Best Photographer

Best of Mankato: Dan Dinsmore Second: Gregg Anderson Third: Quality 1 Hr. Foto

Best Insurance Agent

Best of Mankato: Aaron Hatanpa, State Farm Second: James R. Weir, James R. Weir Insurance Third: Steve Hasse, State Farm; and Frank Smasal, American Family

Best Dentist

Best of Mankato: Dan Osdoba, Oz Family Dentistry Second: Gary Eichmeyer, Commerce Drive Dental Third: Kevin Torbenson, Advanced Dental Solutions

Best Accountant

Best of Mankato: Eugene Braam Accounting Second: Kitchenmaster and Company Third: Milbrett, Dauk and Company

Best Realtor

Best of Mankato: Karla Van Eman, American Way Second: Jen Wettergren, NuStar Realty Third: Dan Wingert, NuStar Realty

Best Law Firm

Best of Mankato: Farrish Johnson Law Office Second: Jones and Magnus Third: Leonard, Street and Deinard

Best Auto Mechanic

Best of Mankato: Lynn Austin, Austin’s Auto Second: Joe Miller, Joe Miller’s Modern Garage Third: Greg Bednar, Greg’s Champion Auto

Best Chiropractor

Best of Mankato: Mark Dehen, Back to Wellness Clinic Second: Kuch Chiropractic Third: Theresa Marshall, Mankato Chiropractic

Touch of comfort Best Dentist – Dr. Dan Osdoba


pon entering Oz Family Dentistry, a potential client will find warm brown colors, softtoned maplewood furniture, a tranquil copper fountain, large windows, soft music and comfortable chairs. Its current facility, located on Adams Street, is completely different in atmosphere compared to the first dentist office Dr. Daniel Osdoba, owner of Oz Family Dentistry, practiced in with his father. “When I first started, we were downtown in what is now known as the Landmark Center, on the third floor,” Osdoba said. “Our patients, first of all, had to find a place to park, which was not easy. Then they had to ride the elevator to the third floor and walk down this narrow, dark hallway to our office.” 18 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

The staff of Oz Family Dentistry. When Osdoba moved the practice to its current location, he hired a dental architect to help create an environment that would not only reduce stress for the patient, but also be ergonomically designed to meet the needs of his staff. “One thing about dentistry is that your whole working environment is the size of a tennis ball,” Osdoba said. “So it’s nice to have space and not be in a confined office.” In the back area, clients will find large hallways, private dentist rooms for cleaning and dental consultation, as well as a large window in which patients can enjoy the birds, birdfeeders and landscaping while having their teeth worked on. “We realize fear is a big part of going to the dentist so we have to address that factor all of the time,” Osdoba said.

“Another way to address fear is through having a personal connection with each of our patients. People feel welcome here.” Despite the efforts made to reduce patient stress, Dr. Osdoba also believes dentistry is a very detail-orientated business. “I think the dental skill set is kind of unique because it is a combination of science and art. You need the science part to be a dentist and yet, dentistry is very artistic when it comes to creating crowns and finishing teeth,” Osdoba said. “The bottom line is that the patient knows over time whether a dentist does a good job or not by the feel of their mouth.” - Heidi Sampson

From server to manager Best Waiter/Waitress – Maria Hix, Tav on the Ave


aria Hix has been waitressing since she was 16. Her first job was at the Bear’s Den in Elysian and she now waitresses at Tav on the Ave. Hix said that one of the harder aspects of her job is dealing with people who aren’t polite but that the flip side of those kind of customers are the ones who make her job worthwhile. “It’s nice to meet new people every day and have customers come back just to have you as a waitress,” Hix said. She described her ideal customer as someone who is friendly and who is enjoying the dining experience. Tav on the Ave with its comfortable and relaxed atmosphere can become a home Maria Hix has now moved up to manager at Tav on the Ave. | John Cross away from home for Hix’s customers. Hix has a few suggestions for anyone who is you deserve.” about to become a waitress. Hard work for Hix has apparently paid off. She has recently “Smile, don’t be intimidated and have fun with your job,” Hix parlayed her skill in service into a position as a general manager said. Hix said that the one of the oddest tips she ever got was when with Tav on the Ave. someone wrote on the tip line of their bill, “Put what you think - Nell Musolf

An honest portrayal Best Photographer – Daniel Dinsmore


aniel Dinsmore, known for his candid wedding photography, has traveled to destination weddings from Midwest locales such as Duluth to the beaches of Jamaica and Mexico. “It’s a lot of fun. A little more laidback,” said Dinsmore. “The fundamentals of photography are the same as any wedding, but you’ve got such a pleasant backdrop.” When chronicling weddings in our An example of Daniel Dinsmore’s wedding photography. local churches, halls, parks, lakes and farms, Dinsmore puts brides and grooms at ease by having a good time, making a few jokes and helping them forget about the camera. The result is a more natural photo, explained Dinsmore. “I like to capture weddings as they happen throughout the day and have an honest portrayal,” he said. While sunny days seem picture perfect, Dinsmore gets some of his most interesting wedding photos in rain, snow and clouds. “We can’t change the weather at weddings. All we can do is adapt. I’m still charged with making a beautiful, impactful image,” said Dinsmore. “We’ve done a few things in the rain. That’s a little extra effort, but it pays off for the couple and image.” - Marie Wood MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 19

He’s got your back Best Chiropractor – Dr. Mark Dehen


r. Mark Dehen of the Back to Wellness Clinic has corrected backs and realigned spines for the last 26 years. From one interview with Dehen, it’s little wonder why he has become a favorite chiropractor for many in the Mankato area. Mankato Magazine: With the weather warming up and people becoming more active, do you see a common cause of your patients in need of a chiropractor? Dehen: Eighty percent of people experience low-back pain at some point in their life, so that’s probably the most common reason people will visit at any given time. This time of year, you’ll see people doing spring chores and start overusing their back, or they’ll start golfing and start to run into issues from being sedentary over the winter; versus the wintertime when it’s snow shoveling and slips and falls. MM: What tips do you have for people to keep their backs in good shape and avoid a chiropractor visit in the first place? Dehen: You want to stay active and keep your strength and flexibility going; and the longer you can do that, the longer you can enjoy a healthy lifestyle. We encourage people to exercise and stay active, have a good diet and stay busy because that supports their body function and maintains their health into the future. This way they are not relying on drugs, surgery or some alternate strategy that’s not as helpful to them. MM: What should people remember to get the most of their chiropractor visit? Dehen: Certainly ask your doctor for ways to enhance your life; that’s what you are looking for. Most people come in initially because they have some type of injury or condition they’re concerned about, but once we get their health enhanced or get through those types of injury situations, then we’re always available to help them with other strategies to maintain their health into the future with proper diet, exercise and nutrition. We’d rather have them keep that healthy lifestyle so they don’t become a recurrent patient. MM: How do people know when it’s time to come in for an adjustment or checkup? Dehen: Once or twice a year, similar to the dentist. Trying to stay ahead of the injury before it becomes full-blown. And some preventative maintenance is good for some people because everyone is under a fair amount of stress in our current society. Most of us sit too much, which is one of the primary causes of low-back pain, either from the actual sitting or trying to become active from sitting all day long. Anything we can do to maintain your health, flexibility and strength to prevent injury, that’s what we are looking for. - Wess McConville

Aaron Hatanpa in his Mankato office. | John Cross

Insurance assurance

Best Insurance Agent – Aaron Hatanpa


aron Hatanpa began his career handling claims with State Farm Insurance more than 17 years ago. But in 2001, Hatanpa decided to start his own independently owned State Farm Insurance agency called, Hatanpa Insurance Agency Inc., with branches in Mankato and Mapleton. “The best part of my job is being able to help customers when things are at their worst,” Hatanpa said. “It feels good to be able to say things are going to be OK and then to help them get back on their feet again.” Thirteen years later, Hatanpa credits his continued success to the outstanding team of professionals in his employ with eight licensed agents all specializing in a particular area of financial services. “We no longer offer just car or house insurance. Financial services are all-encompassing as we also deal with life insurance, health insurance, and mutual funds for retirement,” Hatanpa said. “Having agents specialize in a particular area means our customers receive accurate up-to-date information available to meet their needs.” So what should someone look for in an agent? “Find someone who is knowledgeable,” Hatanpa said. “Be selective with the company you end up staying with. Look for financial strength. For instance, how do they handle disaster? It also helps to look for a mutual agency, which means it is owned by its customers. We work for our policy holders.” In an age where more and more services can be purchased online without ever meeting an individual in person, Hatanpa firmly believes that, “it is very important to know who has your back because with insurance, you may not know what you have until you have a problem and then it may be too late.” - Heidi Sampson

20 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

More than numbers Best Accountant – Eugene Braam


ince 1973, Eugene “Gene” Braam has been preparing taxes and assisting his clients in tax and financial planning. Over the years, he has helped many families invest, save and budget for college and retirement. Braam views his profession as twofold. While tax preparation is a historical reflection on the past year, Braam’s No. 1 piece of advice to clients is: “Think ahead and plan for changes in Pictured are (from left) Mandy Karl, Kris Pinette and Gene Braam. | John Cross your life.” Many clients have stayed with him for London. He also is rewarded by third-generation clients, such 40 years. Braam, with his office manager and another CPA, are as a farm family where the dream has flourished from a an experienced and close-working team that can answer grandfather to a father to his son. questions and take care of business for all their clients. “I truly love what I’m doing,” said Braam. “For me, it’s not “This firm has one set of clients. Everybody in the office is about numbers, the computer adds up the numbers. I find responsible for their needs,” said Braam. solutions. Some clients are so loyal that they have continued with Braam even after moving to Denver, Portland, Ore., and - Marie Wood

Head of the class Best Realtor – Karla Van Eman


n the fall of 1976, American Way Realty realtor Karla Van Eman was a school teacher in Good Thunder, little did she know how an unplanned change in her career would bring her great success. When enrollment was low and Van Eman lost her job, she took a look at her life. She had just bought a house, and was inspired by the search and decorating. That is when Van Eman went to her Realtor’s office and struck up a conversation with owner Archie Waugh. By the end of the conversation, Waugh had hired Van Eman before even learning her name. Van Eman still considers Waugh to be a great mentor. With hard work and dedication Van Eman is now one of the most sought after Realtors in the greater Mankato area. She credits her teaching background as a contributor to her success. “We always need to educate our clients,” Van Eman said. Along with her educating skills, Van Eman has a knack for remembering her clients’ street addresses, a bonus skill in the realty business. Nowadays, realty is a family affair for Van Eman. Both of her children, Mike and Angie, are licensed real estate agents. After two years working in the industry in New York, Angie moved back to Mankato and is one of the top three producing agents in the greater Mankato area. Van Eman has some advice for those looking to get into reality: “Find a good mentor, and don’t get into the

Karla Van Eman was a schoolteacher prior to settling in real estate. | John Cross business because you think you’ll make a lot of money fast.” Van Eman has come a long way from the nameless employee hired by her mentor Waugh. Now as one of the best, Van Eman still shows her passion for real estate. - Hilary Urban MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 21

Shopping Best Antique Store

Best of Mankato: Pond Road Antiques Second: Old Town Antiques Third: Antique Warehouse

Best Place to Buy Appliances Best of Mankato: DeGrood’s Home Store Second: Meyer and Sons TV and Appliance Third: Sears

Best Phone Store

Best of Mankato: Verizon Second: Sprint Third: Best Buy

Best Furniture Store

Best Jewelry Store

Best Place to Buy Men’s Clothing

Best of Mankato: Exclusively Diamonds Second: Williams Diamond Center Third: Patterson’s Diamond Center

Best of Mankato: J Longs Second: Matt J. Graif Third: Kohl’s

Best Liquor/Wine Store

Best Power Sports Supplier

Best of Mankato: MGM Liquors Second: Hy-Vee Third: Cub Foods

Best Meat Market

Best of Mankato: Schmidt’s Meat Market Second: Hilltop Meat Market Third: Hy-Vee

Best New Car Dealer

Best of Mankato: Snell Powersports Second: Vetter Sales and Service Third: Starr Cycle; Gaffer’s Lawn and Sport

Best Place to Buy an RV

Best of Mankato: Keepers RV Center Second: Gag’s Camper Way Third: Kroubetz Lakeside Campers

Best Place to Buy Tires

Best of Mankato: Earl Johnson Furniture Second: Ashley Furniture; Rooms and Rest Third: Bedpost Furniture

Best of Mankato: Mankato Motors Second: Snell Motors Third: Heintz Toyota

Best of Mankato: Discount Tires Second: Tire Associates Third: Tires Plus

Best Grocery Store

Best Place to Buy Women’s Clothing

Best of Mankato: Herberger’s Second: Kohl’s Third: Sticks and Stones

Best Place to Shop for Home Entertainment

Best of Mankato: Hy-Vee Second: Cub Foods Third: Aldi

Best of Mankato: Best Buy Second: DeGrood’s Home Center Third: Meyer and Sons TV and Appliance

Grilling experts, and more Best Place to Buy Appliances – DeGrood’s Home Store When it comes to grilling, safety is the primary concern said Rich Froman, sales manager and purchasing agent of DeGrood’s Home Store. To keep grilling, safe he suggests that a grill owner do his or her best to know their grill and its potential. Also important are knowing how to light your grill and maintain its integrity by keeping it clean, in working order and covering it when necessary. When it comes to the big grilling question of gas or charcoal, Froman said: “That is sort of like asking which of your children you like better. It really is up to the individual. Gas grills are simple, straightforward, easy to light and easily understood. Charcoal grills are usually more for your grilling and barbecue purists.” Most of the employees at DeGrood’s own both a Big Green Egg charcoal grill and a Holland gas grill with the majority favoring the Big Green Egg slightly more for its versatility.

22 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

For grilling enthusiast’s, DeGrood’s offers the following condiment recipe: 2 T. DeGrood’s Sweet Chipotle grill spice 1 c. Hellman’s mayonnaise Use in place of butter and salt on top of sweet corn. - Nell Musolf

How to know, and where to go Best Place to Buy Tires – Discount Tires


wned by one man, Bruce T. Hollie, Discount Tire has been in business since 1960, with more than 850 stores nationwide. Marc Leddy, manager of Mankato’s Discount Tire, has been with the company for 19 years. “I love the place,” Leddy said. “I would never consider working anywhere else.” The Mankato Magazine sat down with Leddy to ask some questions regarding services, tire wear and tips for extending tire life.

MM: What are some of the services Discount Tire provides? LEDDY: We provide free rotations when you buy the tires from us. We also offer balancing, flat repairs, air checks and tire inspections, which I will do for anybody. We specialize in tire or wheel related issues. MM: How can a person tell if their tires are bad? LEDDY: There are two ways you can do that. Obviously, one is by visually looking at the tires, the other is through vibrational problems. In fact, 90 percent of all vibration problems are caused by a tire or wheel problem. It’s not necessarily an alignment issue. We can also teach you where to look on your tires so that you will know how your tires are

wearing. For instance, every tire has what’s called a tread wear indicator on the side wall of the tire. In Minnesota, sometimes when the tread gets close to that indicator mark, it is time to replace a tire simply because of the snow and lost traction associated with bad tires. It’s also helpful to check your air pressure once a month just to make sure you are getting the best possible gas mileage and tire wear available. MM: What are some tips for extending tire life? LEDDY: Tire rotations and air pressure are the two biggest things associated with extending tire life. If you keep your tires rotated every 6,000 to 8,000 miles, they are going to treat you right. Plus, if you are taking your tires to a place that inspects them, they are going to see if you are getting any regular wear on the tire. This means that they can tell you if you have a suspension or an alignment issue going on before the tire completely wears out. The second is air pressure. If your air pressure isn’t up to snuff, you’ll have premature tire wear and your gas mileage will be affected. - Heidi Sampson

Furniture family Best Furniture Store – Earl Johnson Furniture


arl Johnson Furniture has expanded considerably from its meager beginnings in 1971 as a small store located on Front Street in Mankato. Since 1974, when Earl Johnson Furniture moved to its current location on the corner of Second and Cherry streets, the company has grown to encompass all areas of home and office furnishings. In 1993, they opened a bedding superstore after remodeling the old bus depot to fit their expansion needs and in 2005, Town The fourth generation of Johnson is already being ushered into the family business. | Mn Valley Business and Country Interiors became a part of the file photo Earl Johnson Furniture team allowing 1) We offer the best customer service. them to include interior design to their list of customer 2) We have a price guarantee. services. 3) We also offer the best possible selection of great quality Family owned and operated since its inception, Todd items. Johnson is currently the third generation of Johnsons dedicated “I think it is important to have a furniture store that stands to quality home furnishings. behind their work which is what our customers will find here,” “Hopefully we are working on the fourth generation of Johnson said. “We feel better quality costs less when it lasts Johnsons. My sons work here too.” longer.” When asked what their model for success has included, Johnson responded with the following: - Heidi Sampson MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 23

What suits you Best Place to Buy Men’s Clothing – J. Longs


porting the largest collection of suits in the area, J. Longs (formerly Knights Chamber) has kept southern Minnesota men looking their best since 1985. “Going to a department store for a suit can be frustrating for many men because they only represent a small sampling of sizes; they don’t specialize in suits like we do,” said Aaron Jones of J. Longs. With years of experience in men’s clothing, J. Longs’ sales staff knows that staying on top of trends, and offering a wide selection of brands and sizes, free tailoring and expert customer service are the keys to success. “We want to bring Mankato and southern Minnesota quality brands they won’t find without a trip to the Twin Cities,” said Jones. “There are many different cuts, or silhouettes, represented among the 1,000 suits we offer. Every guy we have the opportunity to work with is built differently. This is why we stock a wide variety to accommodate all different shapes and sizes.” For the novice, J. Longs’ experienced sales staff can walk any man through the process of buying that all-important first suit for any occasion. “The shoulders of the suit are the foundation,” Jones said. “You need to make sure those fit true, and the rest can be personally tailored. Two-button jackets with flat-front slacks are something one should look for. As far as popular colors, look to shades of gray and navy to lead the way. There has been huge of interest in our slim and trim suit cuts. Also, do not buy polyester suits if you can help it; look for 100 percent wool. It will cost it a bit more, but will breathe much better and last longer.” Besides suits, J. Longs also specializes in casual wear and boasts brands such as Tommy Bahama, Robert Graham and Bugatchi. J. Longs offers deals throughout the year, including its “World Famous $1 Suit Sale” and a wedding package. - Wess McConville 24 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Southern Minnesota style experts Best Place to Buy Women’s Clothing – Herberger’s


uane Jahner is the store manager at Herberger’s in Mankato’s, and he made a few predictions of what the stylish women of southern Minnesota will be wearing this coming fall: • Faux leather trims will be big and will be found on jackets, pants and skirts. • “Perfect” shirts which will be woven and longer with rollsleeve tabs. • A boxy sweatshirt body in a knot or sweater with ornamentation. • Bling hardware trim such as beading or studs on jackets, pants, skirts, blouses, knit tops. • Skinny black pants in all fabrics. • Denim jeans with decorated back pockets. • Printed bottoms. • Black and white combos. • Plenty of lace. When planning a wardrobe, Jahner suggested that all women will enjoy a jacket that is all-over faux or real leather,

along with a big shirt and skinny black pants in denim, knits or relaxed fabrication. When it comes to accessorizing, he said to remember that big necklaces make any basic outfit pop and he encouraged using bold color in a handbag. Jahner added that the most important accessory goes on the feet. “The perfect boot is key.” - Nell Musolf

An RV for everyone Best Place to Buy an RV – Keepers RV Center


ow celebrating its 50th anniversary, Keepers RV Center has allowed Mankato area residents to enjoy our nation’s parks and highways without giving up some of our creature comforts. Although there are a multitude of size and add-on options available while choosing an RV, Keepers RV Center prides itself on finding the right RV for each customer. “We don’t sell what we want to get rid of that week,” said Keepers RV Center owner Lisa May. “We try to find the right fit for each particular customer.” May offers a few tips for those thinking about an RV purchase: Mankato Magazine: What is the most important thing to keep in mind before an RV purchase? May: The biggest thing is to find the right floor plan that fits your family. A lot of people will come in and ask ‘what is the most popular trailer,’ but there is no ‘most popular one.’ It depends if you’re doing weekends, if you’re doing long trips, or if you have a big-tow vehicle, a small-tow vehicle, or if you are parking it permanently.

MM: So, what would be an ideal trailer for a family of four who camps twice a year? May: Anywhere from a 24, 26 or 28-foot trailer; there’s all kinds of sizes. A lot of times for kids, it’s nice to have bunk beds, so they can have their own place to go. And these days, RVs are made so nice that kids will have their own place to put a T.V., or sometimes it will even come with a T.V. already installed. MM: What technologies have been included in RVs the last couple of years? May: A lot of RVs now have USB ports and places to put in

Jack and Lisa May, owners of Keepers RV Center. | John Cross video games and DVD players. They’re coming with more flatscreens, LED lights and satellite radio. And some of the more luxurious ones have blu-ray players. RVs are becoming a lot better with the construction that they are becoming lighter and can be towed with smaller vehicles. MM: What are the most requested appliances? May: Almost everything now will have power awning, air conditioning and a furnace. Power jacks are also getting to be really popular. It makes them a lot easier to get the RV set up and ready. MM: Is there anything you would like to add? May: We’re grateful to our loyal customers who keep coming back. We try very hard to please and appreciate the support from the Mankato community. - Wess McConville MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 25

Best price forward Best New Car Dealership Mankato Motors


ankato Motors realizes most customers find the negotiating process associated with the purchasing of a new or used vehicle distasteful. As a result, Mankato Motors practices a best price method for vehicular sales of Chevrolet, Nissan and Volkswagen. “Actually, we are the only best price dealer in Mankato,” said Dale Schmitt, owner of Mankato Motors, a member of the Rydell Auto Group out of Grand Forks, N.D. “It doesn’t take hours to buy a car from us as we don’t go back and forth, back and forth, and back and forth.” At Mankato Motors, customers will find the best price listed on all of their vehicles, new or used. They will also find that their internet price listings match the best price stated on the car, in the lot. “Every dealership knows the minimum they will sell a car for they just hope you will pay more,” Schmitt said, “All of our sales consultants are not paid on commission so it doesn’t matter if you buy a $2,000 car or $70,000.” Since its opening in 2009, Mankato Motors has almost doubled its employee base – from 47 employees to 85 – from its previous iteration as the Clements Chevrolet dealership. Schmitt credits Rydell’s five business principles as their secret to success both with their customers and the employees: Customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, market effectiveness, financial performance and ongoing improvement. “With the idea of ongoing improvement, this just means we do not accept the status quo,” Schmitt said. “We are always

Dale Schmitt of Mankato Motors. | MN Valley Business file photo improving. Our main goal is customer and employee satisfaction.” - Heidi Sampson

Unexpected delights Best Place to BuyAntiques – Pond RoadAntiques


ond Road Antiques, which opened in late 2011 near Hiniker Pond in Mankato, is the new kid on the block. “It’s just a really unique antique shop. When they drive up and see the tin building, it’s not what they expect when they get inside,” said co-owner Terry Saye. Customers can browse through antiques and collectibles such as metal and architectural pieces, refinished, outdoor and primitive furniture, folk art, advertising memorabilia, postcards, pictures, pottery, garden statues, and all things unusual. “You never know what you’re going to find. We change things around a lot,” said Terry Saye. Together, Terry and Ron Saye, Leah Christiansen Pictured are Pond Road co-owners Leah Christensen (left) and Terry Saye. Not pictured are and Bruce Freeberg own and operate the shop. fellow co-owners Bruce Freeberg and Ron Saye. | John Cross They have their own space and rent space to about old suitcases to use as card holders. 35 dealers. “It’s fun to see what they’re looking for,” Terry said. With many brides going vintage on their wedding day, they are heading to Pond Road for decorations. Fruit jars and - Marie Wood umbrellas make popular accents. Many brides also are buying

26 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

• Townhomes for sale or lease • Ready Fall 2013 • Community living: five buildings, 20 units • Residential Elevator Options Available


Call Deichman Companies at 507-625-7861 for leasing or purchasing information. For more information visit:

MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 27


Sibley Park hosts more than 250,000 visitors every year. | John Cross

Sibley combines beauty, function Best Park – Sibley Park


ocated at the confluence of the Minnesota and Blue Earth rivers, Sibley Park hosts an estimated quartermillion visitors yearly. With a petting zoo, softball fields, walking trails, playground equipment, picnic shelters and beautiful gardens, Sibley Park offers Mankato residents, and all of southern Minnesota, ample opportunities to enjoy themselves in the great outdoors. Sitting on 95 acres, maintaining Sibley Park requires hard work, and the city of Mankato has a crew of three to four people, led by city landscaper Kevin Dardis, to check the park daily, pulling weeds and maintaining the gardens. Ashley Steevens, the city forester, chooses the trees to be planted in the park, and, as parks superintendent, Mark McQuillan oversees the operation. As city landscaper, Dardis orders flowers and maintains the park’s gardens. “The flowers are ordered in the wintertime,” he said. “I choose the flowers by size, color and texture, and I try to order flowers that people may not know of. So when they come to

28 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

our gardens, they’ll say ‘Ooh what’s that?’ and go to their garden center and order that particular variety.” Dardis said tilling and watering are the secrets behind keeping Sibley Park’s gardens beautiful. “We till all of our beds to introduce air back into the system, and place compost underneath the flowers. Another important issue is watering,” he said. “You want to water deep into the soil — four to six inches at least once a week. What that does is bring the roots deep into the soil. That way on the windy and drier days, the flowers can tap into that deep-soil moisture and they won’t dry out. Lots of people will only sprinkle water onto the soil, which in the long-run, will create a shallow root system and hinder the plant’s growth.” Sibley Park’s large and wide-variety of trees is another great aspect enjoyed by many. Steevens said the trees are chosen by the aesthetics they provide. “The majority of the trees are native to North America,” she said. “We have hackberries, maples, among others. Many of the maples are hybrids between the silver maple and the red maple

Best Place to Take the Kids

Best of Mankato: Wow Zone Second: Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota Third: Sibley Park

Best Golf Course

Mankato Magazine

Best of Mankato: NorthLinks Second: Terrace View Third: Mankato Golf Club

Best Radio Show

Best of Mankato: TJ and Lisa, Minnesota 93 Second: Pete Steiner, KTOE Third: Don Rivet, KTOE

Best Local Band

Best of Mankato: City Mouse Second: Murphy Brothers Band Third: Powerhouse

Best Park

Best of Mankato: Sibley Park Second: Spring Lake Park Third: Minneopa State Park

to get the more desirable characteristics.” Sibley Park also boasts amur trees, oak trees and Japanese Tree Lilacs. Upper Sibley Park is also undergoing a return to its original savannah oak forest state through controlled burnings and new plantings. Parks superintendent McQuillan said Sibley Park has upgrades, this year, fitness equipment was added by the farm and playground equipment. The city received a $50,000 grant from the Mayo Clinic, to install what is called HealthBeat equipment. The new addition provides a variety of exercise stations along the walking and jogging trails. - Wess McConville

MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 29


By John Cross


n July, a field of Redbeckia fulgida bobbing in the summer breeze is pure eye-candy. Most of us know the late-blooming native prairie flower as the black-eyed Susan or even in more generic terms, a yellow daisy. While the blossoms are pretty to view, the flower’s roots have been used as a folk cure for sores, colds, even a snakebite treatment. In Maryland, where the black-eyed Susan is the official flower, there even is a drink named after the dainty blossom. The black-eyed Susan is a popular drink concocted of Kentuck whiskey, vodka and a variety of other ingredients (but nothing from the flower itself) served at the Preakness, the second leg of the horse-racing Triple Crown run at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course in May, right after the Kentuck Derby. M

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 31

Goods & Service Best Auto Body Shop

Best Nail Salon

Best of Mankato: Jerry’s Body Shop Second: Snell Motors Third: Austin’s Auto

Best of Mankato: Nails by Jordan Second: Liv Aveda Third: Kim Nails and Spa

Best Auto Repair Shop

Best Fitness Center

Best of Mankato: Austin’s Auto Second: Snell Motors Third: Mankato Motors

Best Bank

Best of Mankato: YMCA Second: Anytime Fitness Third: Curves

Best Tanning Salon

Best of Mankato: Minnesota Valley Credit Union Second: Wells Fargo Third: U.S. Bank

Best of Mankato: Indulge Salon and Tanning Second: Electric Beach Third: Planet Beach

Best Barbershop

Best Travel Agency

Best of Mankato: Y Barbers Second: Dan’s Barber Shop Third: Mark’s Belgrade Barber Shop

Best Cabinetry

Best of Mankato: Cherry Creek Cabinetworks Second: Acorn Custom Cabinetry Third: Top Shop of Mankato

Best Computer Repair Store Best of Mankato: Q Computers Second: Geeks2u Third: Best Buy

Best Construction Company Best of Mankato: Deichman Construction Second: Goodrich Construction Third: Frentz Construction

Best Employment Agency

Best of Mankato: The Travel and Cruise Center Second: AAA Third: Emerald Travel

Best Rental Store

Best of Mankato: A to Z Rental Second: G and K Rental Third: Just Ask Rental

Best Place for Specialty Printing

Best of Mankato: Insty Prints Second: Paragon Printing and Mailing Third: Riverbend Business Products

Best Carpet Cleaners

Best of Mankato: Vanderberg Clean Second: ServiceMaster Third: Shine Way

Best Beauty Salon

Best of Mankato: Express Employment Professionals Second: Jean Thorne Third: Manpower

Best of Mankato: Liv Aveda Second: Indulge Salon and Tanning Third: Urban Escape

Best HVAC Business

Best of Mankato: Snell Motors Second: Gerring’s Mankato Car Wash Third: Kwik Trip

Best Place to Get a Massage

Best of Mankato: Ploog Electric Second: BLK Electric Third: Fischer and Hoehn Electric

Best of Mankato: Schwickert’s Second: Northern Comfort Third: Davis Comfort Systems Best of Mankato: Liv Aveda Second: Indulge Salon and Tanning Third: Mankato Chiropractic

Best Hotel/Motel

Best of Mankato: Hilton Garden Inn Second: Country Inn and Suites Third: Holiday Inn Express 32 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Best Car Wash

Best Electrical Service

Best Plumbing Service

Best of Mankato: Mr. Rooter; Jordan’s Plumbing Second: Jerry’s Plumbing Third: Paul’s Plumbing and Heating

Something for all Best Fitness Center – YMCA


itness centers can be found tucked into all corners of the greater Mankato area. The YMCA, however, remains a people’s favorite. Executive Director John Kind has been working for the YMCA for nearly five years. He sees the benefits of the large fitness center daily, in a place that has something for everyone. With more than 11,000 members, Kind finds that the life center, swimming lessons and aerobic classes are the most popular among members, the pools being the most-used part of the facility. Kind explained that there are a lot of things both members and the public do not know about the YMCA. He said that 17 percent of members receive financial assistance and the prices are about the same as the other clubs in town. “Yet we have so much more to offer. We have a very respected preschool program, we have a skate park, along with our brand new locker rooms,” Kind said. More than 1,000 people visit the YMCA every. Kind said it is now recognized as the third most-recognized non-profit organization, just after Salvation Army and the Red Cross. Mankato’s YMCA has been operating for almost 140 years. - Hilary Urban

Dream designs Best Cabinetry – Cherry Creek Cabinetry


ary Rudolf is the owner of Cherry Creek Cabinetry and a Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD). The lifelong woodworker said that he took what was basically a hobby and turned it into a business. “Cherry Creek is my second business. My first business was in Marshall. Upon the sale of that business, my son Garrick and I looked at a number of locations to start Cherry Creek. Among those were Sioux Falls, Madison, LaCrosse, Fargo and St. Cloud. Mankato turned out to be the winner for a number of reasons and our choice couldn’t have been better.” Rudolf has a degree in economics from North Dakota State University. He studied Kitchen and Bath Design at the National Kitchen and Bath Association in New Jersey and received his certification in 1997. To the best of his knowledge, he is the only CKD in the Mankato area. Getting to know his clients is a definite perk for Rudolf. “Oftentimes our clients have been dreaming about their project for a long time and it’s totally a joy to be able to help them realize their dreams,” Rudolf

said. Clients come to Cherry Creek seeking the special and unique, and Rudolf along with his team of designers make it their goal to be able to provide that. They typically manage the projects that they do and Pictured is a submitted photograph of a remodel completed by Cherry Creek. | Rudolf said that Photo courtesy of Jeff Silker. can be design and outcome for each of our challenging at times to manage sub- clients.” contractors and to complete projects on Rudolf also praised office manager Kim time and on budget. Bristol and installation technician John “It’s a responsibility that we take Odegard for rounding out their team. seriously and take a great deal of pride in “We’re only as good as our last project accomplishing,” Rudolf said. “Our staff so we approach each project with that — my son Garrick, Heather Buisman, attitude,” said Rudolf. Nicole Wolters and Christina Sample — work as a team and often collaborate - Nell Musolf among ourselves to provide the best

A little bit of everything Best Rental Store – A to Z Rental


n 1968, A to Z Rental Center’s entire inventory of rental equipment fit into their current showroom on North Riverfront Drive in Mankato. Today, A to Z Rental’s inventory has stretched to include everything from lawn and garden tools, to contracting equipment and party goods. “The best part is, we have all our items in stock right here,” said Matthew Vihstadt, son of owner William Vihstadt. The Mankato Magazine asked Matthew Vihstadt a few questions surrounding day to day business operations at A to Z Rental Center. Mankato Magazine: What is your most sought after item? Matthew Vihstadt: It’s really seasonal. We are coming into graduation and wedding season right now; but all throughout the winter, wallpaper steamers and floor sanders were really big. In the spring, people start to request items that relate to the outdoors. We can go from party season, to lawn and garden one week and then if the weather turns, some people may start to hang drywall inside. It really depends on the weather and season. MM: What rental request stands out in your mind as a

particularly large order? MV: A couple of years ago a guy down in Jackson was putting on country western concerts. He’d come in with a semi-trailer to get 5,000 chairs from us. The fact that we inventory 5,000- 6,000 chairs, I think, is pretty impressive. MM: What if there is an order you can’t fill? MV: Sometimes we will go buy whatever it is just so we can fill that particular order. For instance, we have a wedding coming up that required a tent of a certain size but because of demand, we knew we would be out of tents when the wedding happened. This past winter, we ordered the tent to accommodate the rental. If we don’t happen to have an item, we will refer our customers to where they can get the item. It’s just that simple. MM: What makes A to Z Rental stand out? MV: I think our long-term customers know that if they have an oddball request, we probably have it. We never get rid of anything, or not too often anyhow. Besides, if they rented the item 17 years ago, chances are good we probably still have it. - Heidi Sampson MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 33

Building on industry trends Best Construction Company – Deichman Construction Mark Deichman of Deichman Construction has earned a reputation for being on the cutting edge of custom home building. Here are the two big trends he sees in new homes: - Efficient use of space The average square footage of custom homes has declined in Pictured is a submitted photo of a home built by Deichman Construction. the last five years, while overall efficiency and amenities have increased, explained Deichman: “People are much more Remotely or on-site, homeowners can easily control heating, interested in not wasting space.” cooling, lighting, home audio and video, security, even window blinds. - Home automation With advances in technology, homes can be controlled with “As a contractor, we recommend the right lighting, blinds the use of Internet, computers and Apple devices. And it no and security – the infrastructure that can tie it all together,” longer costs a fortune. For instance, Deichman Construction said Deichman. installed an iPad in the wall of a custom home. - Marie Wood

Printing made easy as pie Best Place for Specialty Printing – Insty Prints Insty Prints has been providing specialty printing services for the Mankato area since 1979. Examples of a few of the items created by the company are displayed in their store at 1402 N. Riverfront Drive and include calendars, pens, pencils, coffee mugs, baseball caps, and Frisbees. But those items are just the tip of the printing iceberg. “We like to say that we’ll print on anything from bathrobes to yo-yo’s,” said Ben Frindley, vice president and general manager of the store. Frindley estimates that Insty Prints does thousands of printing jobs a year and added that one of the store’s goals is to serve local businesses at reasonable prices. Owner Bob Shibilski said, “Even though we have state-ofthe-art copiers, customer service is our most important asset.” Included in that customer service is a pie giveaway that Insty Prints sponsors twice a year. Customers who spend more than $150 can have an apple pie hand delivered to their office in July or a pumpkin pie delivered in November. “We bring plates, forks and the pie,” Frindley said. “It’s our way of saying thank you to our customers and it makes for a nice coffee break too.” President Bob Shibilski opened his store in 1979 at 830 N. Broad St. The store moved to its present location in 1989. - Nell Musolf 34 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Calling up computer expertise Best Computer Repair Store – Q Computers


ark Broman and Wendy Greiner of Q Computers sat down to answer questions about their successful computer repair business. Broman and Griener discussed the changing times and constant upkeep of devices. Q: When did Que Computers get it’s start? Any interesting stories with the start up of the business? Broman: Que computers started with Ying Que in Minneapolis 25 years ago. Twenty years ago he got a partner in Mankato and Dave and Ying ran it until 2004. In 2004 Dave gave me the opportunity to buy them both out. We like to call it Q computers now. Que computers was a retail store with very little service. We quickly changed to a service store by hiring Wendy Greiner and starting a website department and also computer training came along. With the help of local community education, we have provided over 1,000 training sessions over the past six to seven years at very affordable costs. Greiner:We help train folks how to work with their computers on their own – but because the computer world keeps changing so fast, we never really quite get there.

Q: What are common computer problems that customers come to you with? Broman: We throw away two 55-gallon drums full of failed hard drives annually. After every thunderstorm, there are usually four to five failed power supplies come in. We get three to five virus calls daily, if you want to call them viruses. The latest that concerns me the most are telescams. Telescamming is like telemarketing where they contact you usually by phone and ask to connect remotely to your computer and tell you all the problems you have that they can fix. As things go on, the bill becomes larger and larger and I have heard $400 and $600. There is no way for us to know if the problems existed before the call or not, but these computer users are not happy in the end. Greiner: I agree with Mark on the viruses – but I believe another large problem is that customers really don’t know how to make the most efficient use out of their computers. They have one – it’s supposed to make their life easier and it doesn’t because they don’t know how to use it efficiently, or they refuse to learn enough about how it works to really make use of it well. Q: What can computer owners do to prevent problems? Broman: Run windows updates. Windows updates are the security fixes that cover the vulnerabilities between the computers operating system and any antivirus you may be running. Think before you click. The computer can’t do anything without your permission. Opening an email attachment used to be the main culprit; now, Facebook requests and Craigslist links even embedded in the pictures are big entry points. The best way to tell if you should click on something is if you trust the source. Back it up. Backup means having a usable copy in more than one place. If your pictures are on your camera and your computer, they are backed up. If you remove them from the camera before you burn them to a disk or a thumb drive, they are not backed. - Hilary Urban

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Professional pampering Growing Best Place to Get a Massage and stronger Best Beauty Salon – Liv Aveda


iv Aveda Salon and Spa is known for its skilled stylists and massage therapists. Owner Tami Tupy sat down to answer questions about her employees and today’s top styles. Mankato Magazine: What types of massages are available for customers? Tami Tupy: We customize our massage to fit our guests’ needs. It can be anything from relaxation to deep-tissue massages. We also offer different types of massages such as stone, chakra, stress fix, pregnancy and reflexology. MM: How do the massage therapists at Liv Aveda care for their own hands? TT: We care for our hands by making sure we get our own massages once a month and by doing daily stretching exercises. Each of our massage therapists are licensed massage therapists, and through their education and training, certain techniques are used to help alleviate stresses that can come from doing several massages a day. MM: How does it feel to be a stylist working on hair every day? TT: When we’ve finished the guest’s hair and can see them smiling from the inside out, that is when we know we have one of the greatest careers. It’s not

necessarily nerves, but excitement of being challenged to try new things and to continue to grow and learn. We do consider ourselves as artists. MM: What are some popular hairstyles right now? TT: Trends change constantly. Right now for women, it is short styles cropped and feminine. For long styles it is more loose with texture. For men it is short, clean cut, with a longer style on top. An example is Don Draper from the TV show “Mad Men.” We put a strong value on continued education to keep up with constantly changing trends. MM: What procedures do you recommend in caring for hair? TT: A lot of this depends on your hair type. For dried or damaged hair, we have botanical treatments. For thinning hair, we our Invati Treatment System. For colored hair, we have great products in our Color Conserve line to help you keep the color longer. For summer, we have a product called Hair Veil that is a must when being out in the sun to protect your color. - Hilary Urban

Plumb crazy

Best Plumbing Service – Mr. Rooter


hen it comes to keeping pipes flowing, Mr. Rooter of Mankato takes the honor as No. 1 plumber. Mr. Rooter employs three full-time plumbers and owner Sara Wenner shared some tips on how homeowners can keep their plumbing pristine. • More than 1 trillion gallons of water are wasted from household leaks each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. If you have a dripping sink, you can get an idea of how much water you’re wasting with the Mr. Rooter Online Drip Calculator at AskTheExpert/Drip Calculator.aspx. It determines the amount of water wasted daily, monthly and yearly based on the number of drips per minute. It’s easy to test if your toilet is leaking too. Just place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl without flushing, you have a leak. When you have a leak, it’s time to call Mr. Rooter.

36 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Best Bank – Minnesota Valley Federal Credit Union


t 11,000 members strong, Minnesota Valley Federal Credit Union has proven that people want to save and borrow in their own community and take ownership of their financial institution. “Because our customers are our members and owners, customer service really comes first,” said Nick Meyer, president and CEO of Minnesota Valley Federal Credit Union. “We tell our members, ‘Tell us what you want.’ We listen and deliver.” When the board meets, they make decisions based on how they can give more to the members. “One of the things that made us extra popular is last year we introduced shared-service branching. In any of the 50 states, you can find a credit union and walk in to do business,” said Meyer. Founded in 1934 as a cooperative credit union for Mankato teachers, Minnesota Valley received a community charter in 2001, which opened its membership up to people who live, work or go to school in Blue Earth, Nicollet and Le Seuer counties. “To be a really good credit union, you better deliver low loan rates, higher savings rates and low fees,” Meyer said. - Marie Wood

• Don’t overload garbage disposal with leftovers. It could lead to a clogged kitchen sink. Think before putting any food or liquid down the disposal. Major no-no’s include bones, grease, celery stalks, pasta and many peels (onion, potato and shrimp). • Don’t flush anything down the toilet other than toilet paper, including facial tissue, which does not break apart the same way toilet paper does. Wenner said that the best part of her job is working with customers: “Plumbing emergencies are never fun for the customer, so I’m lucky to be in a position to make someone’s day a little easier and their house run a little smoother. Plus, I get to meet new and interesting people every day. What’s not to love about that?” M - Nell Musolf

Your Tastes

By Family Features

Two takes on American classic No picnic or potluck is complete without potato salad. They are easy to make and even easier to pack full of flavor. Here are two unconventional recipes to wow crowds at your next gathering:

Potato and Pesto Chicken Salad

2 pounds potatoes, well-scrubbed (peeled, if desired) 1 pound fresh green beans, washed and trimmed 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes 3/4 cup prepared pesto sauce 3 to 6 cups mixed salad greens (optional) Over high heat, in a large, heavy pot with tight-fitting cover, bring half a pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, cut potatoes in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise in 1/2-inch slices. Add potatoes to boiling water, cover and return to boiling; cook 3 minutes. Add green beans to pot with potatoes and cook another 4 minutes; drain potatoes and beans and set aside. (Vegetables should be firm.) In same pot, heat olive oil over high heat and cook chicken, stirring 6 to 8 minutes or until meat is completely cooked through. Remove from heat; stir in pesto sauce, then

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

4 pounds potatoes, peeled 1 pound bacon, crisply cooked, and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (fat reserved, if desired) 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened 1/2cup chopped green onions 2 cups grated or shredded cheddar cheese 1 1/2 cups sour cream (regular or low-fat) 1 tablespoon black pepper 1 teaspoon salt Cook whole potatoes in boiling, unsalted water until tender. Refrigerate until chilled, then chop into 1-inch pieces. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl along with the remaining ingredients and thoroughly combine. Add some of reserved bacon fat if desired. Chill at least 2 hours before serving. Adjust seasoning prior to serving. Note: Any condiments or toppings typically added to a loaded baked potato may be used for this recipe. M

Mankato Magazine

MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 37

That’s Life By Nell Musolf

Not-so-easy listening T

wenty-three years ago this month, my husband Mark and I went to one of the best concerts of our life: Frank Sinatra performing in Milwaukee at a venue perched on the edge of Lake Michigan. It was a warm, starlit night and Don Rickles was the opening act. Truly, can life get any better? I was pregnant with our oldest son, Joe, at the time and I remember thinking, as we listened to Ol’ Blue Eyes croon, that our baby was hearing the music too, and that he’d undoubtedly grow up to have a true appreciation for good music. How couldn’t he if he was hearing Frank Sinatra sing before he was even born? My prediction seemed to be an accurate one since Joe always did have a musical bent. For the longest time, the music he listened to was nice, pleasant kid stuff with lyrics about trains and dragons. Then adolescence hit and Joe began to branch out and quickly grew a strong preference for heavy metal the heavier the better. This was not a problem except for the period of time when he was a student driver and needed a parent along in the car as he got in his practice hours. “Do you mind if I bring along some of my music?” he used to ask before we set out on a practice driving tour of southern Minnesota. It was a question I grew to dread and I will always remember those months as ones of sheer torture for both my easy listening ears and my right foot as I pressed down hard on an imaginary brake pedal. Finally, out of sheer desperation, I announced a new rule when it came to student driving time: The driver got to pick the first CD and the trapped passenger got to pick the second. It was amazing how Joe always managed to end his driving sessions just as I was slipping a Tom Jones or Bee Gees into the CD player. Around the same time, Joe got a part-time job and began to spend every dime he earned on more and 38 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

more CDs, always with bizarre covers that typically involved bats, dripping blood and men with big hair and permanent sneers. Joe loved to show me the covers, more for my cringe-filled reaction than anything else I suspect. “You know, the Beatles sold millions of copies of the White Album and there was nothing on that cover,” I pointed out one day, but Joe merely shrugged. “I always thought that was a pretty stupid cover,” he remarked. Fortunately, Joe listened to his music in the basement and he was always good about keeping the music down so that (usually) only he could hear it. That is, he kept the volume low unless we were out of the house. When he was home alone, he blasted the music on a CD player that he’d purchased that was apparently designed for hard-of-hearing construction workers demolishing enormous buildings in New York City. Joe showed it to his father and me proudly the day it arrived in the mail. “Remember in ‘Spinal Tap’ when they talked about the volume going to 11?” he asked. Mark and I nodded warily. “Well, the volume on this one goes to 25! Isn’t that awesome?” Awesome? Not so much. Coming home and hearing Joe’s music floating up from the basement was a lot like coming home and hearing something that sounded like the devil gargling razor blades down in our recreation room. “JOE!” one of us would scream, “WE’RE HOME!” To his credit, he turned the

“music” down immediately but I often sensed that he was thinking that neither Mark nor I had much adventure in our souls when it came to music appreciation. He’d be right about that. Somewhere along the line, probably in about the tenth grade, I stopped wanting to listen to anything new and that desire hasn’t lessened any with the passing years. New music makes me jumpy and the stuff Joe listens to makes me want to jump out a window. I give him credit for being far more adventurous than his mother. Joe listens to anyone and is always willing to give an artist he hasn’t heard before a chance. Such as Mr. Sinatra. One day I had Frank Sinatra’s Greatest Hits playing when Joe wandered into the room. He stopped and listened for a moment or two. “That’s not bad,” he said. “Did you know that the first concert you ever attended was a Frank Sinatra concert?” I asked. “You weren’t even born yet and you heard him sing. A lot of people think he’s the greatest performer ever.” Joe smiled knowingly. “That’s probably why I have such good taste in music.” Undoubtedly. M

Nell Musolf is a mom and a freelance writer from Mankato.

MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 39

Garden Chat By Jean Lundquist

Singing the hoop house blues


he only good thing I can think of this year, in terms of gardening, is that the drought of 2012 ended in 2013. But I will remember 2013 as the year without a spring. Last year, we couldn’t buy a raindrop. This spring, according to the calendar anyway, we couldn’t buy a warm, sunny day. Heck, I didn’t even know where to shop for one! But I did go shopping for my very first pop-up greenhouse — or hoop house, to be precise. With a hoop house, the only source of heat is the sun. When I bought it from a friend last fall as she was packing to move to Florida, I thought I’d have the proverbial tiger by the tail this spring. As you may recall, excited wasn’t the word for what I experienced. Giddy is a better word. I started my seeds, like usual, in midMarch. By mid-April, it was still freezing cold outside. When the ground thawed, I set up my little hoop house tent, and hoped for the best. The best was freezing temperatures into May. I left my hoop house up, but took my plants over to Carol’s hoop house next door. Good thing. The heavy snow that fell a few days later collapsed my little house, breaking the supporting struts. I spent a bit of money for new struts, but I got free shipping, so I was happy. And they came quickly – by the Friday after they broke. A week later, there was promise of some sunny days, and I got some cinder blocks (from Carol and Dale next door) and began building shelves with some boards I had. The shelves collapsed, and a cinder block jumped onto my foot. Hurt like the dickens! This many months later, I’m still doctoring for that. But with shelves finally built, new struts holding the plastic canvas in place, I was ready to believe it could work. I was confident that when the National Weather Service predicted an overnight low of 34 degrees Fahrenheit, my little greenhouse would hold enough warmth to keep everyone inside warm. I zipped it up tight. Boy was I wrong! Everything inside except for two eggplants and the 40 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

broccoli plants had every single last leaf frozen off. Every single one! The freezing process was slow. First, they looked like they had wilted a bit. I watered like crazy, even though I knew it would not help. Slowly, the leaves withered and dried and fell off. Did I cry? You bet. Larry encouraged me to not toss the whole works on the compost pile, but to wait a few weeks and see if anybody re-sprouted some leaves. Almost everything did start to re-grow, but they used to be so big and bushy and healthy, and by that time, they were spindly and looking pretty pathetic. Yet today, most are planted in my garden or in Carol’s, and we’re hoping they will feed us yet this summer. Think I’m done singing the hoop house blues? Nope – not yet. I sat in the warmth of the hoop house one day, watering and humming a gardening song. I finished the watering and went into the house. Larry got home a few minutes later, and said, “Come and I’ll help you with your hoop house.” “No, it’s fine,” I said. “I just barely came in from there.” The Minnesota hurricane we experienced that day had collapsed the other side of the hoop house from what the blizzard had earlier taken down, and it was breaking off all my nearly healthy looking plants. I sat inside and turned the air slightly blue with my “encouraging words” to the hoop house, holding the weight off my plants. Larry retrieved stakes and ropes, and he righted the thing while the gales blew. Now, I’ve always wanted a hoop house. I still want a hoop house. While I don’t want to covet anything of my neighbor’s, I think I want Carol’s hoop house. I’m not sure, but I think I might hate the one I have. And while I know that’s pretty strong language, I fear it might be true. I’ll limp back to the podiatrist a few more times, and contemplate on it a bit. M Jean Lundquist is a master gardener who lives near Good Thunder.

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By Bryce O. Stenzel

This monument still stands on the battlefield of Gettysburg as a testament to the actions of the First Minnesota.

The best – and the bravest How Mankatoans and the First Minnesota saved a nation


he Battle of Gettysburg was fought 150 years ago this month, on July 1-3, 1863. Because it was the largest Civil War battle ever fought, as well as being considered by many historians to be the “turning point” of the war, Gettysburg still captures the imagination of the American people. And we have a right to feel particularly proud in Minnesota. For critical to the battle’s final outcome in favor of the 44 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Surviving members of the First Minnesota gather in 1897 at the site of their legendary charge. | Photos courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society

Union was the decisive role played by the First Minnesota Regiment, which had a number of Mankato area citizens in its ranks. This is the story of when the First Minnesota was called upon to be the best, and bravest, for its country. The buildup Neither the Union nor the Confederate armies, however, intended to fight at Gettysburg. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s military strategy involved leading his army across the Mason-Dixon Line to capture Pennsylvania’s capital of Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Maryland, and finally cut off Washington, D.C., entirely from the rest of the United States. Union Gen. George Meade was just as determined to stop Lee’s second invasion of the North (the first had been a year earlier, resulting in the Battle of Antietam). Meade was not only the latest in a long line of generals appointed by President Abraham Lincoln to lead the Army of the Potomac (of which the First Minnesota Regiment was a part), he was also a native Pennsylvanian who desired to drive the rebels from his native state. But when an advance party of Confederates looking for shoes was drawn into a skirmish with Union cavalry, resulting in the first day’s fighting on July 1, it was only a portent of things to come. All the roads both armies were using converged on the town of Gettysburg. Like a magnet, the long columns of both armies were drawn in toward each other. Confederate

forces were successful in driving their Union adversaries through the town where they took up new positions on the high ground formed by a series of ridges and hills, with names that were to become famous in the annals of war: Cemetery Ridge, Seminary Ridge, Little Round Top and Culp’s Hill. Instead of retreating from Gettysburg and continuing on his way northward to attack Harrisburg, Lee resolved to smash the Yankee army once and for all, even if he was at both a numerical and tactical disadvantage. The battle July 2 dawned hot and humid. The First Minnesota, which had already endured more than its fair share of combat experience in earlier battles, was now composed of only eight companies and numbered only 262 men. The fighting got under way shortly after noon, when Confederate Gens. James Longstreet and Ambrose Powell Hill, Jr. were able to drive back the forces commanded by Union Gen. Daniel Sickles, who had advanced his troops out ahead of the rest of the Union line. This made the Union left flank extremely weak; in fact it was in danger of collapsing altogether unless it was reinforced quickly. Recognizing the danger, Union Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock ordered in the only troops available, the First Minnesota, to plug the widening gap in the Union line. With his command, the First Minnesota was matched against a force of 1,800 Confederates. There was no

MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 45

hesitation. Realizing they were outnumbered, the soldiers charged forward with a yell and succeeded in slowing the Confederate advance for a few precious minutes — long enough for Union reinforcements from other regiments to come up and push the Confederates back. The Union line held. Had it not, the entire outcome of the battle, and perhaps even the Civil War itself would have been very different. Today, on that same battlefield, a monument to the First Minnesota’s brave actions reads, in part: “In self-sacrificing, desperate valor, this charge has no parallel in any war.” The brave When it was over, only 47 of the original 262 men remained standing. The First Minnesota Regiment suffered the highest casualty rate of any regiment during the entire Civil War. Among the survivors was Pvt. Malcolm McIntyre of Blue Earth County. He came out of the Gettysburg battle without a scratch, according to the research done by local historian Roger Norland. Not so lucky were several of his comrades, also from Blue Earth County: Sgt. William Wykoff received a minie ball through his heart and was killed instantly. Sgt. Frederick Diehr was connected with the Quartermaster

46 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Department, but accompanied the regiment as a volunteer. He was first wounded on the left side by a piece of shell, which struck his canteen and bounced off, inflicting only a slight wound. He continued fighting and received a ball through his right side, which pierced his lung and killed him. Cpl. Stephen Lyons of Company A was shot in the thigh and fell. On the third day of battle, with fewer than four dozen soldiers still standing, the First Minnesota was once again called upon to charge Confederate lines in repelling Pickett’s Charge. The Gettysburg National Military Park was established by an Act of Congress in 1895 to preserve and protect for all time the hallowed ground where the men of North and South had battled to determine the fate of their nation in answering the question: One country or two? Several years before, the people of Mankato had taken a similar step. As early as 1885, members of the Alexander Wilkin Post, Grand Army of the Republic purchased the triangular parcel of land at the intersection of Broad, Grove and Lincoln streets in Mankato with the express purpose of erecting a Civil War veterans’ memorial. The “Boy in Blue” monument, consisting of a Union soldier standing at “parade rest” in the center of a cascading fountain was erected in 1892, and dedicated on May 30, 1893. Due to several incidents of vandalism and weather-related deterioration over the years, the entire monument had disappeared by 1927. To commemorate the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War (2011-2015), an effort is under way to re-create the “Boy in Blue,” and return the statue and fountain to Lincoln Park for future generations to enjoy and ponder its meaning. For more information on the “Boy in Blue” Civil War Memorial Project, please go to: or write to Boy in Blue; c/o Blue Earth County Historical Society; 415 E. Cherry Street; Mankato, MN 56001. M

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 47

Coming Attractions: July 2 – Mankato Area Community Band performance 7:30 p.m. – Lincoln Park, Mankato -free 2 -- Summer Organ Recital Series – David Porth 12:10 p.m. – Grace Lutheran Church – 320 E. Main St., Mankato – free – 3 – The Civil War, Gettysburg and New Ulm: A 150th Commemoration 3:30 p.m., grounds open, 4:30-8:30 event – Riverside Park – 101 S. Front St., New Ulm – 507-217-9276

9 -- Summer Organ Recital Series – David Fienen 12:10 p.m. – Grace Lutheran Church – 320 E. Main St., Mankato – free –

19-21 – Bavarian Blast Brown County Fairgrounds – admission $9 Friday & Saturday, $5 Sunday, free kids 12 and under – Weekend Passes only $15 –

11-13 & 17-20 – Highland Summer Theatre presents “Monty Python’s SPAMALOT” 7:30 p.m. – Ted Paul Theatre, Mankato State University – 507-389-6661

23 -- Summer Organ Recital Series – Wayne Wagner 12:10 p.m. – Grace Lutheran Church – 320 E. Main St., Mankato – free –

16 – Mankato Area Community Band performance 7:30 – Sibley Park – Leas Schwickert Memorial Bandshell – free

24 – Merle Haggard with special guest Shooter Jennings 7 p.m. – Verizon Wireless Center -- $65 reserved, $35 general admission – – 507-389-3000

3 – Buckcherry with special guest Girl On Fire 7 p.m. – Verizon Wireless Center -$25 in advance, $30 day of show – -- 507-389-3000

16 -- Summer Organ Recital Series – Ron Shilling 12:10 p.m. – Grace Lutheran Church – 320 E. Main St., Mankato – free –

4 – Red Hot Boom, Mankato’s 4th of July 7:30 p.m. – Verizon Wireless Center – live music by The Murphy Brothers Band at 7:30 p.m. – fireworks at 10 p.m. – free – 507-389-3000

17-21 – Waseca County Free Fair 11 a.m. outdoor concessions & vendors open daily – Fair Grounds – 409 8th Ave. N.E., Waseca – 507-835-8958 –

26-28 – Truman Days 5 p.m. Saturday Parade – 507-235-8585 30 -- Summer Organ Recital Series – Mark DeGarmeaux 12:10 p.m. – Grace Lutheran Church – 320 E. Main St., Mankato – free –

4 – Old-Fashioned 4th of July celebration Run/Walk events at 7 a.m. – parade begins at 10 a.m. – activities in park 12 p.m.-4 p.m. – fireworks 10 p.m. – Minnesota Square Park – Highway 169 South, St. Peter – 507-934-3400 4 – Lakefest 4th of July festival 3:30-9:30 live entertainment – fireworks at dusk – Clear Lake Park, Waseca – 507-835-3260 6 – Chautauqua 2013 11 a.m.-4 p.m. – Maplewood Park, Waseca – adults $2, children free – 507-835-7700 7 – Carnival at the Harkin Store 1-4 p.m. – The Harkin Store – nine miles N.W. of New Ulm, on County Highway 21 – $5 adults, $3 seniors (65+) & children 6-17, free children under 5, MHS and NCHS members – 507-354-8666 9 – Mankato Area Community Band performance 7:30 – Sibley Park – Leas Schwickert Memorial Bandshell – free

48 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

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52 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

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Your Health

By Christina Ianzito | Special



The Washington Post.

High-heeled shoes may look good, but they’re killing your feet


ow is the season when women take their freshly pedicured toes al fresco, often courtesy of strappy high-heel sandals or open-toed pumps that look fabulous but sometimes feel like the masochistic torture tools that many podiatrists insist they are. Michael Liebow, a podiatrist in Bethesda, Md., pulls out a wince-inducing photograph of a foot X-rayed in a high-heel shoe: It reveals the ball of the foot at a nearly 90 degree angle to the bones in the rest of the foot. It does not look good. The X-ray is a prop that Liebow says he shows to patients who “walk into the office in six-inch heels and say, ‘My feet are killing me! Why?’ “ He says he tells them, “That is not how your foot has evolved to walk.” To sum up his brief and frequently futile plea for foot health: Humans are meant to walk heel-to-toe, with the leg at about a 90-degree angle to the foot and the ankle joint employing a 60-degree range of motion during normal daily activities. By wearing a high heel, Liebow explains, “you’re altering the position of the foot and how the foot is to function. Therefore, lots of bad things happen.” Shall we count the ways? Among the more common problems podiatrists say they see in women are calluses and, more painfully, corns, hard nuggets of keratin buildup caused by pressure on the skin. With high heels, corns develop up under the balls of the foot where the weight of your body presses down, and they feel like small rocks underfoot when you walk. Liebow also sees capsulitis, a painful inflammation of the joints where the toes attach to the foot, and neuromas, or pinched nerves, where pointy high heels squeeze the toes. And when the heel is frequently in a high-heel shoe, it can cause the Achilles tendon (which connects the calf muscle to the heel bone) to tighten. When you kick off your shoes and the heel comes down to the floor at the end of the day, the extra stretching of the tendon can lead to a condition called Achilles tendinitis. Wearing high heels can also cause inflammation of the connective tissue at the bottom of the foot, the plantar fascia. That can result in severe heel pain and the need for aggressive treatments such as oral anti-inflammatories, oral steroids, cortisone injections, walking boots and crutches. All of these conditions can be incredibly painful, requiring corticosteroid shots and, ideally, flatter and wider shoes. His patients will take the shots, but give up the shoes? Women, Liebow says, “will wear their high-heeled shoes until their feet are bloody stumps.” Take Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. She wears four- or five-inch heels to work most days; on a recent Tuesday, she towered in five-inch stiletto-heeled black Sergio Rossi open-toed booties. “There are lots of things that impact the way you look that aren’t necessarily optimal for every muscle in your 54 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

body,” says Pletka, who admits that she has some high pairs “that are uncomfortable, no question.” But, she adds, “you want to look nice. I always get nice comments on my shoes. And I like it.” Erika Schwartz, a podiatrist who practices in Washington, says that when she asks her patients to stick with heels less than two inches high, “some say, ‘Oh, you’re so cute! No, I’m not going to wear under two inches, but it’s very cute of you to say that!’ “ Schwartz says she understands that many are in professions that demand a more fashionable shoe than the comfy, orthopedically correct footwear she wears to work. So she tells them to at least “walk in something else. Put those dress shoes on when you get to the office. Minimizing the amount of time that you’re standing or walking will minimize the issues that come along with such an unnatural position of the foot.” Did we mention that walking too long in high-heeled shoes can result in, besides all of the above, stress fractures, or cracks in the bones of the feet? Schwartz also suggests that women avoid the thin, stiletto-style heel: “The bigger the heel, if it’s chunky or a wedge, seems to be better because the shoe has a wider base of stability. A skinnier heel and you’re more likely to have ankle spraining.” You can also break your ankle or injure the ligaments on the side of your ankle, among other body parts, when you fall from wobbly high shoes. Franklin Polun, a podiatrist with offices in Washington

and Maryland — the name of his Web site is — estimates that at least a quarter of his female patients come in with issues related to high heels. Like Schwartz’s patients, many of them aren’t willing to throw out their Manolo Blahniks (or knock-offs). “A high-heeled shoe is sexier-looking,” he says. “I get that.” So he tries to give them, as he puts it, “an action plan that’s actually doable.” Polun’s advice includes going with a rubber-soled shoe over leather, because rubber is better able to absorb pressure on nerves in the feet. He also suggests shopping for shoes at the end of the day, when your foot is most swollen, rather than in the morning. Liebow, too, has a “short list of things you can do to minimize the problems” if you insist on wearing high heels. The list includes buying only shoes with good padding at the balls of the foot and a gradual slope (rather than the 90-degree angle shown in his X-ray), so “the force is more evenly distributed” over the foot. As for how high you can safely go with heels, Liebow says, “there’s no height that’s good.” But “most women can handle a heel of an inch or two with minimal side effects.”


MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 55





56 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix


1. Matt Margenthaler and Dawn Fazio browsing the items for sale at the silent auction. 2. Monde Schwartz, career and technical education coordinator, was the third speaker of the night. 3. Chankaska Creek employee Erika Masias pours a glass of wine during the wine - tasting portion of the evening. 4. Sheri Allen, Mankato Public Schools superintendent, speaks during the event. 5. JoAnne and Chuck Kodet enjoying some appetizers and contemplating a silent auction item. 6. Paul Lawton during his speech explaining Educare and how it benefits education. 7. Dorthe Hartmann and Mary Peters chatting during the event. 8. (L to R) Jessica Frein, Paul Lawton, and Megan Peterson before the event began. 9. (L to R) Katy and Jason Grovom, Ginette Kearney, Patty Christensen, and Wynn Kearney sitting at their table enjoying the appetizers. 10. (L to R) Danielle Elker and her mother Vonnie pose for a photo. 11. The Cherry Creek Cabinetworks table enjoying food and drink at Educare.








MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 57

Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

Our Community has heart walk 1. A 5k run kicked off the Our Community has Heart event on May 18 at Spring Lake Park. 2. Debbie and Lou Addante, part of the Jaden’s Superhero’s group, hang out with their grandkids at the Our Community Has Heart Event. 3. Walkers take to the path around Spring Lake Park to support the Our Community Has Heart event. 4. Jared Smith helps his son Ryder create a giant bubble at the Our Community Has Heart event. 5. Kaela Skistad participates in part of the obstacle course at the Our Community has Heart event in North Mankato. 6. Jayni Schulz helps her son Jobe check out one of the play therapy dogs at the Our Community has Heart event.



58 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE





Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

Mankato Arthritis walk

1. Walkers do a few stretches before jumping on the mile-long path to support finding a cause for arthritis. 2. Team Hayden was the largest team at the Mankato Arthritis walk. The group supports 4-year-old Hayden who was diagnosed with arthritis at the age of 19 months. 3. Mutnik, mascot for the Mankato MoonDogs, plays around with the acupuncture display at the Mankato Arthritis Walk. 4. The Mankato Arthritis Walk winds around Spring Lake. 5. The Mankato police mascot jokes around with an officer before the Mankato Arthritis Walk.





5 Mankato Magazine

MANKATO MAGAZINE • July 2013 • 59



By Pete Steiner


Impressions of an Implosion: Remembering Gage

ush Rush” came most nights just before 10. Curfew was 10 p.m. for the girls in A-Tower at Gage in 1967, and the stern Dorm Mother wielded the power to ground them if they accumulated too many “late minutes.” Thus, imagine the secretly perverse thrill the Dorm Mother must have gotten, observing dozens of passionate pairs of locking lips and eager embraces, as the girls’ boyfriends got them back just in time for a goodnight kiss. •••• By the time you read this, it’s likely that the closest thing Mankato had to a skyscraper will be no more. After 47 years, Gage Towers on the Minnesota State University campus were given a death sentence. Unlike the great landmarks of Europe – the thousand-year-old cathedrals – or Asia – the Great Wall – America’s buildings, like our clothes and our computers and our cars – come with built-in obsolescence (see also under “Metrodome”). Or think Edina, which has something in common with Beverly Hills: perfectly fine, mere decades-old dwellings which are, alas, not lavish enough, and so now ordinances must be crafted regulating so-called “tear-downs.” Not that Gage Towers were ever architecturally significant. But despite their utilitarian structure, I found it striking to observe them, say, from far across the broad valley at North Mankato’s Lookout Drive. •••• When Gage was still almost new, Lynn Callahan and Linda Janavaras moved in, Lynn from Le Sueur to second floor, and Linda from Renville all the way up on seventh floor. Fortunately the elevators worked back in 1967, because Linda had a lot to haul: “My picture was in The Free Press. I think I had more stuff than anybody.” Two years after it opened, Gage had become girls only, filling up with 60 • July 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

more than 1,200 of them, two to a room. Doors had to be shut after 10 p.m. to enforce “quiet hours” for studying. Anyone wanting to watch Lyndon Johnson announce on TV that he would not run again for president in 1968 had to go down to the first floor TV lounge. Lynn says hardly anyone had a TV in their room then, but in an era long before cellphones, “one girl would always stay back on the floor in case the wall phone rang, and it was a boy.” It seems almost quaint now, in an age where male and female students often live on the same dorm floor, that dorms were still segregated in “the radical 60s.” Lynn says there were not even visiting hours allowed for boys those first few years. One other thing both women remember: Gage was never air-conditioned, and it could get quite uncomfortable in the cramped rooms on a warm September day. There was another lingering concern: safety. Despite regular fire drills, both Lynn and Linda wondered if everyone could have gotten out in a real emergency. Still, as Linda put it, “We were in the new dorm! It was way better than Crawford!” •••• Anyone who moved to Mankato after 1980 may not know that MSU was seriously in transition in the 60s and 70s. The original “Valley campus” included what are now the empty Nichols Building and Old Main Village on Fifth Street. There was a mammoth brick, vaguely Art Deco building perpendicular to Old Main that served as the college’s athletic headquarters. “Upper Campus,” expanding across the cornfields on the hill, was only about half of what it is today – there was no Trafton, no Taylor Center, and the Performing Arts Center had just opened in 1967. Lynn says most of her classes were “down in the valley” and, without a car, “I’d often hitchhike down.” She

smiles wistfully, “I can’t believe I did that.” Coeds had to buy a food plan from the Gage cafeteria. According to MSU, room and board in 1967 was less than $700 a year, compared to more than $6,500 today. Was the food worth it? “We called it ‘Slater Slop” Lynn said, after the name the then-food service provider. One indicator of its appeal: Neither Lynn nor Linda put on the proverbial “freshman 15.” Both women met their future husbands through MSU, and both went on to successful three-decade careers; Lynn as an art teacher in District 77 and Linda as the founder of Odyssey Gifts store. •••• “Mush Rush” isn’t the only spectacle the women remember. With all the girls locked in for the night by 10, sometimes, male students, especially frat boys, would surround the towers. “Why?” the interviewer wonders. “Panty raids!” Yes, the girls in Gage would open their windows and toss bras and panties to the guys down below. Your correspondent easily imagines a TKE decorating his room with the spoils and crowing, “Got this from 12th-floor Gage!” While neither Lynn Callahan nor Linda Janavaras is particularly sentimental about Gage’s demise (neither bought one of the souvenir mailboxes the university made available), both had plans to watch the implosion. They do wonder why the iconic towers, which cost about $18 million in today’s dollars to build, couldn’t last even half a century. “I’m just kind of shocked,” Lynn says. Linda adds, “Was it really that poorly constructed? It seems like a waste.” M Pete Steiner is host of “Talk of the Town” weekdays at 1:05 p.m. on KTOE.


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