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June 9-10

Arts By The River featuring

June 14

Mason Jennings

June 23

Ted Nugent with special guest

mankato symphony Orchestra

Laura Wilde

July 7 August 2-5

15th Annual RibFest featuring Sawyer Brown,

July 28

Riverbend blues festival featuring Jonny Lang

Tesla with special guest

Jason and the Scorchers

Smash Mouth & Eddie Money

August 17


with special guest Farewell Milwaukee

september 7

september 3

Little Feat september 14

Indigo Girls

Trampled By Turtles

For details and ticket information, visit


FEATU RES May 2012 Volume 7, Issue 6




The good fight At war and at home, father and son veterans Tom and Mike McLaughlin answer the country’s call.

Rebuilding a dream Opening the garage, lifting the hood and rebuilding a car is a rite of summer in southern Minnesota.



Get out! Summer fun shouldn’t be too far away.

Rodeo royalty Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial’s McKenzie Smith is Minnesota’s rodeo queen.

On the cover: Rodeo queen McKenzie Smith poses with Ruby, her 11-year-old quarterhorse. Photo By John Cross

MANKATO MAGAZINE • June 2012 • 3








6 From the Editor The anticipation of summer 10 Familiar Faces One hot lot 12 Artist Insight Susan Shanklin 28 Garden Chat Barrel of fun 30 Places in the Past Mankato’s first four-wheel drive 32 That’s Life Father’s Day and flashlights 34 From the kitchen Scone simplicity 35 Happy Hour Grapefruit: Bittersweet love affair 39 Things to Do, Places to Go Events to check out in June 44 The Way It Is What a time it was

Coming up in the July issue of Mankato Magazine ... We’ll explore the Best of Mankato. The best restaurants, the best entertainment, the best shopping, the best goods and services — all of our favorites in this little haven on the prairie that we call home. What’s more, we’ll give you some of the inside secrets to success for some of the “Best of” winners.

34 4 • June 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


When it comes to Mankato’s finest, we’ve got a lot to talk about. Join us, and we’ll enjoy together.

MANKATO MAGAZINE • June 2012 • 5

MANKATO magazine


James P. Santori Joe Spear Tanner Kent


Nell Musolf Pete Steiner Grace Webb Marie Wood Jean Lunquist


John Cross Pat Christman


Christina Sankey


David Habrat


Cheryl Olson


Barb Wass


Aaron Tish Seth Glaser Sue Hammar Tony Helget Christina Sankey


Denise Zernechel

Mankato Magazine is published 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 Cheryl Olson at 344-6390, or e-mail

6 • June 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

From The Editor

By Joe Spear

The anticipation of summer The June Mankato Magazine tends to be the kickoff-of-summer issue. If we’re lucky, there will have been some nice summer-like days before the magazine goes to press in mid-May. We need time to take pictures that can pass for summer-like. This year we weren’t disappointed. Of course, in reality, summer starts before June 20 in Minnesota. If you have kids in school, you tend to think of the beginning of summer as the end of the school year around the first week in June. Graduation parties can signal the start of summer. But above all, the weather in Minnesota signals the start of summer, at least unofficially. When 70-and 80-degree days become the norm, when the leaves pop out on all the trees, when the wind is warm and from the southwest, we can at least feel like summer has arrived. By most accounts, that occurred Mother’s Day weekend this year. All conditions were right. Annuals got planted. Irises popped. It was time to leave the windows open at night. The presence of various forms of loud internal combustion engines can signal the start of summer. ATVs, motorcycles and souped up muscle cars that had spent the winter in the garage. Kids on bikes, trikes and in wagons populate the parks and sidewalks. You can’t forget the water indicators in the land of 10,000 lakes. Fishing boats, jet skis. Inner tubes tied together with bungee cords, stuffed in the back of pickup trucks. All indicators are that Minnesota’s unofficial summer is here. Adults tend to take the start of summer for granted. It’s not as exciting as when you were a kid and the beginning of summer meant you were “off” the whole three months — no work, no responsibilities, sleeping in. Now, the start of summer to most adults means very little. Another day at work. Another day at the grocery store. Routine, routine, routine. There are very few folks who come up to you at work on the first day of summer and say: “Aren’t you excited about the start of summer?” Or, if they did, they would be met with puzzled looks, blanks stares or the classic rolling of the eyes. There is evidence that the modern-day

workplace created a culture for these anti-climactic beginning-of-summer feelings. A perusal of the “Desk Partner 2012” daily calendar planner on my desk makes no mention in June of what day summer starts. Or spring or fall or even winter for that matter. It does, however, mention that Dec. 26 is “Boxing Day,” a Canadian type holiday similar to Christmas. The fine folks at MeadWestvaco Corp. who produce my planner apparently see no need for the busy worker to know when summer begins. Boxing Day is apparently more important. Nonetheless. We’re still celebrating the beginning of summer with this month’s issue. We’ve got a story on Garden City teenage rodeo queen McKenzie Smith, a top competitor in Minnesota High School Rodeo. Her arsenal of technique is ready with a “two-wrap” or if the goat’s a “real kicker” a “three-wrap.” Pretty impressive, if you ask me, for a 17-year-old. As always, we can offer ideas of places to go and things to do in the summer. There’s a biking club for hitting numerous trails in the Mankato area. There’s a paddling club for navigating the numerous rivers and they even have a try-your-neighbor’s-boat day. If you’re inclined to watch instead of do, Nokturnal Frye might be worth checking out. Husband and wife Chris and Jessa Mayo conduct what they call fire dancing, with real flames and a warning not to try this at home. So take note. Summer has begun. M Joe Spear is editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at 344-6382 or


Printing more than just your everyday color!

June Almanac

This Day in History June 12, 1873: Rocky Mountain locusts begin a four-year descent across the Midwest, including southwestern Minnesota. In total, the species of grasshopper caused more than $200 million in crop damages. The Rocky Mountain locust is now believed by many scientists to be extinct. June 15, 1892: A windstorm ravages Martin and Jackson counties, cutting an 85-mile swath of destruction and killing 50. June 19, 1852: An act of Congress changes the name of the St. Pierre River to its original Dakota name “Minnesota.” For 150 years prior, the river was called “St. Pierre” for the explorer Pierre Charles Le Sueur. June 20, 1970: Dave and John Kunst, as well as a pack mule named Willie-Make-It, walk east out of Waseca. More than four years later, Dave Kunst would become the first man to walk around the earth. During the journey, Dave was wounded and John was killed by bandits in Afghanistan. Dave walked more than 14,450 miles and 20 million steps, wearing out 21 pairs of shoes and collecting a signature and stamp from every mayor of every city he slept in along the way. June 22, 1919: In the second deadliest tornado in Minnesota history, 59 people were killed in Fergus Falls. In Minnesota, the month of June accounts for 37 percent of all tornados, more than any other month.

Click Here Best car websites We love our cars. We dote on them, care for them, sometimes name them. We monitor the odomoter to make sure we don’t miss the big moment when all the zeroes line up at 100,000 miles. We paste our political views on their backsides and hang garters, dice and air fresheners from the rear-view mirror. Our cars are sanctuaries. So, in the spirit of opening the garage, getting out the tools and getting our motorcars ready for the open road, here are some websites to get you in the mood: • Perhaps the go-to website for new and used car advice. The site has reviews and ratings as well as pricing, buying advice and consumer news.

Corporate Graphics Your Printing Solutions Company

1750 Northway Drive North Mankato, MN 56003 800-729-7575 8 • June 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

• This website allows individuals to submit their repair questions to a team of professional auto mechanics. Questions are typically answered within one or two days with answers posted in a searchable directory. Those who don’t want to ask a question will likely find someone else who already has. • This site is all about car culture. There is a wide variety of commentary and insight about the automobile world, as well as more frivolous offerings like car crime and LOLcars. The site also invites car experts for regular Q & A sessions.

At a Glance The summer music schedule for the Vetter Stone Amphitheater at Riverfront Park: • June 9-10: Arts by the River featuring Mason Jennings • June 14: Ted Nugent, Laura Wilde • June 23: Mankato Symphony Orchestra • July 7: Riverbend Blues Festival featuring Johnny Lang • July 21: Brantley Gilbert, Rocket Club • July 28: Tesla, Jason and the Scorchers • Aug. 2-5: RibFest featuring Sawyer Brown, Smash Mouth and Eddie Money • Aug. 17: Bodeans, Farewell Milwaukee • Sept. 3: Little Feat, Dirty Dozen Brass Band • Sept. 7: Indigo Girls • Sept. 14: Trampled by Turtles

BARK AT THE MOONDOGS The Mankato MoonDogs open their 14th season at Franklin Rogers Park on June 1. The MoonDogs, who joined the Northwoods League in 1999 and played three years as the Mankato Mashers, are coming off one of the most successful seasons in franchise history. Last year, the team set records for wins (42) and earned its first-ever playoff victories while also boasting the league MVP (Shaun Cooper) and pitcher of the year (Blake Schwartz). • A handful of MoonDogs players have appeared in the major leagues. Curtis Granderson (New York Yankees) was a 1999 member of the Mashers and finished fourth in the 2011 MVP race in the American League. Other major leaguers who spent time in Mankato include Jack Hannahan (Cleveland Indians) and Brandon Crawford (San Francisco Giants). • Outfieder Aaron Grant is the only MoonDogs player to have his number (No. 1) retired. Grant was a three-year player for the MoonDogs, never batting below .300 and earning all-star honors in each season. He was never drafted professionally. • The MoonDogs have a tradition of inviting former Minnesota Twins to throw out the ceremonial opening pitch of the season. This season, it’s three-time All-Star Rick Aguilera. Former invitees include Harmon Killebrew, Tony Olivia, Frank Viola and legendary broadcaster Herb Carneal. MANKATO MAGAZINE • June 2012 • 9

Familiar Faces

Interview & Photos By Tanner Kent

One hot lot Unique Specialty & Classics a haven for car hobbyists

Jeremy Thomas opened Unique Specialty & Classics in June of 2006.


here’s no car lot in this area quite like the one at the corner of Victory Drive and Stadium Road in Mankato. Each day, rare and classic cars representing the very best of automobile manufacturing are put out on display, like sirens calling to the oil-smeared gearhead in all of us. Their tailfins cut through the prairie wind, their whitewall tires reflect the sun. It’s hard for passing drivers to resist craning their necks to get another look at the goods. Owner Jeremy Thomas gets to spend a lot of time with these beauties, and he doesn’t take it for granted. After a lengthy career in new car sales, he’s made the switch to classics and isn’t going back. 10 • June 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

MM: When did you open Unique Specialty & Classics? JT: Unique was opened June 1, 2006. MM: What prompted you to open the business? JT: It had always been a goal of mine to have my own dealership. I spent nearly 15 years in the new car business. The knowledge gained from that, coupled with my passion for classic cars, really helped make it come together.

MM: What is the biggest difference between selling new/used cars and selling classic cars? JT: I would say the biggest difference is fun! When most people buy a car that is going to be their daily driver, most of the time they are buying it because they need to and there isn’t much emotional investment. With classic/ specialty cars, they are buying because they want to, oftentimes to relive their younger days. It is a fun and exciting transaction for them. MM: How many, and what kinds, of cars do you have on your lot? JT: Right now, we have about 100 vehicles in stock. They range in years right now from a 1914 Ford Model T all the way up to a 2012 Dodge Challenger RT. MM: Can you tell me a little about the rarest, oldest and most valuable cars you’ve sold? JT: The rarest car we have sold so far was a In addition to a lot with about 100 classic cars, Unique also has a service and restoration shop for 1933 Cadillac Lasalle Roadster Pickup. It was both classic and late-model vehicles. literally 1 of 1 ever built. It was made specifically as a “flower car.” These types of cars were usually used in a dignitary’s funeral procession to carry MM: What advice would you give to someone looking to purchase flowers from the church to the cemetery, for example. The most or restore their first classic car? valuable cars we have had include a 1970 Dodge Superbird and JT: The best advice I could give is to be sure you know what you are looking at, and if you don’t, then involve someone who does. others that exceed $100,000. I have heard of all these horror stories where someone has bought MM: Where do you get your cars? Do very many come from local a car and they were disappointed with what they got. sources and individuals? JT: A large amount of our inventory comes from trade-ins. In the classic car hobby, a lot of people enjoy getting a car, tinkering with it and going to shows. But then after two or three years, they want to get something else to play with and oftentimes trade their current vehicle for another classic. A lot of people assume that because of the quality of the cars we have that they all come from “down south.” There is an incredible amount of nice cars here in the Upper Midwest as well as the rest of the country.

MM: What classic cars do you own? What would be your dream addition to your collection? JT: While I have sold off a majority of my personal collection over the last few years, I do still have a 67 and a 70 Oldsmobile 442. Of course, my son already has his eyes set on one of those. M

MM: What is something that people may not know about Unique Specialty & Classics? JT: It seems that people are still just finding out about our service and restoration shop. We service all kinds of vehicles, both classics and late models. We have the ability to do everything in our shop from the most basic oil change and brakes on the late models, or a complete frame-off restoration on your classic. The other thing that people may not know is that we have the ability to buy or work with entire collections and estates, taking the burden off the owners. We handle everything from transportation, getting them running if need be, complete detailing, and more.

Hometown: Faribault

MM: What do you enjoy most about your job? JT: Without a doubt, it is definitely the people we get to meet and work with from all over the world. From our collectors in Australia, Italy, Germany, etc., to the Antique Car Museum curator in Dubai, it is very interesting to meet these people from abroad that share the same passion that we do.


Jeremy Thomas Education: Accounting major at Minnesota State University Work history: Worked and managed at both GM and Ford franchise dealerships Two children, Dylan (13) and Jordan (4)

MANKATO MAGAZINE • June 2012 • 11

Artist Insight

By Nell Musolf

Passion for life Photo by John Cross “Glass is my paint,” Susan Shanklin said. “My goal is to make the glass sing.”


usan Shanklin’s passion for life is evident. The petite St. Clair artist’s interests range from organic gardening to being a nurse to her latest passion: creating colorful, natureinspired stained glass pieces. Shanklin expresses enthusiasm for each and every one of her passions. “I do have a passion for life,” Shanklin said. “God gave me a life. I say let’s use it.” Shanklin, who was born in Philadelphia and raised in the East, spent a fair portion of the late 1960s and early 1970s moving around the country with her husband, Tom, in search of a satisfying lifestyle. The couple, in Shanklin’s words, were a pair of “dope-smoking hippies.” “We were living in a shack,” Shanklin recalled. “We told ourselves that we were happy, but we were really miserable. Then I found God and everything started to change for the better.” Both Shanklin and her husband became born-again Christians and the elusive something they’d been searching for became apparent: they wanted to live their lives for God. Tom combined 12 • June 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Photo by John Cross Philadelphia native Susan Shanklin didn’t start working with stained glass until 2006.

a career in journalism with being a minister while Susan raised their three children, Heidi, Nathan and Ruth. Susan went back to school for her nursing degree when she was 42. Along the way, she expressed herself creatively by fixing up whatever house they were living in and also trying her hand at such art forms as pottery, rug hooking and knitting. But it wasn’t until she went to a garage sale at the School Sisters of Notre Dame and met fellow artist Sister Mary Ann Osborne that Shanklin discovered stained glass. Shanklin was visiting Osborne’s studio when some stained glass caught her eye. She asked Sr. Osborne to show her how to cut the glass. She did and then suggested that Shanklin get more advanced training. In 2006, Shanklin began taking stained glass lessons from Sleepy Eye instructor Mike Mason. She realized that she’d found the right medium for her. “Glass is my paint,” Shanklin said. “My goal is to make the glass sing.” Shanklin turned an extra bedroom in the couples’ 100-year old

brick house into her studio. There she began creating custom stained glass windows and hangings that can be free hung or inserted into cabinets or frames. She received her first commission shortly after and since then has been artist-inresidence at Eagle Lake Elementary and has also taught community education classes as well as the occasional class in her home studio. Shanklin begins a stained glass piece with a detailed sketch. Designing a piece is one of her favorite parts of making stained glass, though her end piece often deviates from the original vision. She likes to sketch outdoors and finds a great deal of inspiration in nature and also studies photographs of stained glass made by Tiffany. Working at a well-lit table in her studio, Shanklin then makes a pattern from her design, selects the glass she wants to use, cuts and grinds the glass, applies copper foil to all the pieces, solders the pieces together — “I’m always working on my soldering skills,” Shanklin noted — and finally frames, cleans and applies a patina. When she is finished, her random pieces of glass have formed a vibrant, colorful portrait. “I have to give Tom a lot of credit,” Shanklin said of her husband, who double checks all her measurements to ensure accuracy. “He’s always been very supportive of everything I do. I give the Lord and my husband the credit.” Shanklin said that she tells people

who have commissioned a stained glass piece from her that it can take up to a month for her to complete it. “If I’m making something and a piece doesn’t work for me, I’ll take it out and play with it until I get it the way I want it,” Shanklin said. “I spend a lot of time playing with the glass. I tell my clients that I want to do quality work. Quality work takes time.” In addition to her stained glass, Shanklin also helps her husband with his ministry, maintains a web page devoted to her art and also a blog that she writes with her husband about their life on 3.3 acres in southern Minnesota. “For a couple of bornagain old hippies, we feel very blessed we get to do what we want to do,” Shanklin said. Susan Shanklin’s website is Her blog can be found at: http://www.tomandsusan. net/. M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • June 2012 • 13

Photo by John Cross Mike (left) and Tom McLaughlin are a father-son duo that both served in the Marine Corps and have dedicated themselves to advocating for veterans.

The good fight

At war and at home, father and son Tom and Mike McLaughlin answer the country’s call

By Marie Wood


n Veterans Day 2007, Mike McLaughlin and his dad, Tom “Mac” McLaughlin of Mankato, observed the 25th anniversary of the Vietnam Wall together in Washington D.C. They are both Marine Corps combat veterans: Mike served two tours in the Iraq War and Tom served in the Vietnam War. When Tom attended the dedication of the Vietnam Wall in 1982 with a group of local Vietnam War veterans, he never imagined that he would return 25 years later with his only son, a decorated Iraq War veteran. 14 • June 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Hosted by the Marine Corps League, Mike and Tom also visited the Marine Corps War Memorial and attended a service at Arlington Cemetery. The names on the Wall and the gravestones of Arlington reminded them how many fathers and sons were not sharing the moment together. “There’s a sense of pride of being a U.S. citizen — to see the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial and all the monuments to the fallen service men and women in between,” said Mike, 27. At an early age, Mike had a sense of patriotism. Mike was a

Submitted Photo In 1967, Tom Mclaughlin served in the Marine Corps infantry in AnHoa, Vietnam. first-grader at Franklin Elementary School during the Gulf War. His mom, Theresa McLaughlin, received a concerned call from school, because Mike wanted to join the Marines. Mike grew up in the Mankato VFW Post 950 and The American Legion, where Tom is an active member. As a teen, he bussed, waited and cooked. He listened to war stories and learned about VA home loans and the G.I. Bill. He also heard a refrain that stayed with him. “If you’re not going to take care of vets, then stop making them,” recalled Mike.

Answering the call

Mike was a senior at Mankato East High School when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. By 2003, our nation was involved in two wars — Iraq and Afghanistan. While working nights as a janitor to pay his way through South Central College, his buddy in the Army called to say that he got his orders for Iraq. “I took a deep look at what I was doing. I always thought that if there was any way I could contribute, I would be one of the men and women who volunteered to answer our nation’s call,” said Mike. Mike returned home to his college apartment filled with beer cans, ashtrays and pizza boxes, woke up the next morning, and headed to the Marine Corps recruiter’s office. He could choose

Submitted Photo Mike McLaughlin served two tours in the Iraq War. from a number of jobs, but he wanted infantry. Marine infantry are known as “grunts.” “They know when they sign up to be grunts, they’re the bottom of the barrel. They’re the workhorses of the Marines,” said Theresa. Tom was a grunt in the Vietnam War, serving from 1966 to 1968. Tom saw 11 months in combat and ended his service as a Marine Corporal E4. On Feb. 3, 1968, at the age of 20, he was wounded in action during the Tet Offensive near the city of Hue. Shortly after his leg was amputated. Tom enlisted before he could be drafted. Because the Marine Corps was a voluntary military branch, Tom believed his chances of surviving Vietnam were better in a small cohesive unit. “You never leave a wounded or dead Marine behind. You go to any cost to retrieve them. That’s what they did in my case. They came back and got me,” said Tom. When Mike called his dad outside the recruiter’s office, Tom’s reaction was opposite of the recruiter. Tom hoped Mike would join Marine Aviation or choose a non-combat job that could translate into a civilian career — anything but a grunt. “I won’t tell you not to do it. Just make sure it’s what you want,” Tom told Mike. Mike served in the Marines from 2004 to 2008. Like his dad, he completed the 13-week boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, served in the 1st Division and made Marine Corporal E4. Both were squad leaders who experienced about a year’s time in MANKATO MAGAZINE • June 2012 • 15

tape, batteries, knives, anything they thought Mike could need. In 2006, Mike was deployed to the Fallujah area of Iraq. Squads of 12 soldiers would hit houses and buildings harboring insurgents. Sometimes as a whole platoon or company, they executed raids to clear an area. When out in the field, they stayed in their gun trucks or a house they confiscated. “Some weeks, it seems like every corner someone is trying to blow you up or shoot you. When it rains, it pours, but it doesn’t rain every day,” said Mike. On June 20, 2006, three Marines from his platoon were blown up by an explosive. One was a good buddy from California, whose family had taken Mike Submitted Photo in during infantry training. All told, four While participating in a Marine Corps 1st Division reunion at Camp Pendleton, Tom pinned the Navy and Marines lost their lives that day. Tom Marine Corps Achievement medal with a V for Valor on Mike. saw it on the news. In early July, a sniper took out another combat. Marine in Mike’s platoon. “In combat, we did the most with less. That’s the way the “That three-week period influenced the government to do the Marine Corps is. When you can accomplish something with very surge,” said Mike. little resources, you build a pride,” said Tom. Mike returned from Iraq in August 2006 and married Megan “That was why it was difficult for me to see Mike going into the Briley of Eagle Lake. During his tours, mailed letters were the Marines as a grunt — knowing what he was stepping into. I know couple’s most reliable communication despite a three- to fivethat hadn’t changed in 35 years. week lag time. Then and now, she is proud that he served. They began their marriage at Camp Pendleton, Calif., where Mike was Combat stationed to help prepare a new batch of Marines bound for Iraq. In December 2004, Mike was aboard a ship, a Marine “I saw a lot of me in them, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, ready to Expeditionary Unit, on route to Iraq when the tsunami struck kick ass and do whatever Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand on Dec. 26. The unit the nation asks of you,” was the first outside force on the scene. said Mike. Mike and his unit detoured for almost a month, distributing humanitarian aid, building pallets, boxing water and food, and Homecoming sifting through debris in Indonesia. The ship purified gallons of Coming home from water. Iraq was different than Before going into Iraq, he went to Kuwait for training and a coming home from weapons check. Chinook helicopters flew the platoon into Vietnam. Mike’s family Baghdad at night to reduce the chance of being shot down. threw him a party at “You’re just new in the country — if you go down, you’re on Mankato VFW Post 950. your own,” said Mike. Vietnam vets, on the Fortunately, Mike’s platoon suffered no casualties. He served in other hand, were met Baghdad and northern Babel, where they primarily policed the with hostility and local population, built schools, restored utilities, distributed indifference. school supplies and humanitarian aid. Mike described war as “90 “People just didn’t give percent boredom and 10 percent chaos.” a crap. They didn’t think “I felt like I dodged a bullet in my first deployment,” said Mike. you accomplished Communications home were infrequent. Theresa was happy to something by service to hear her son say “Hi Mom. I’m OK. Let me talk to Dad.” As the the country, even other wife of a Vietnam vet, Theresa has received counseling to vets. Vietnam vets understand the conditions, experiences and the effects of that war on veterans. Submitted Photo “I don’t ask questions of Mike or Mac,” said Theresa. “I let Mac Tom McLaughlin visited his son, do his job. I stayed in the background. When it comes to war, I Mike McLaughlin, at Camp didn’t have any experience to give him.” Pendleton, Calif., where both Theresa sent letters filled with family news. Meanwhile Tom trained for the Marine Corps and his Vietnam vet buddies packed care packages with electrical infantry. 16 • June 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

stepped up and made sure vets coming home would not be treated that way. That’s a positive thing that came of the Vietnam vet experience,” explained Tom. Mike returned to Mankato in 2008. He and Megan bought a home and had a daughter. Meanwhile Mike earned a degree in resource management from Minnesota State University. He is now a production supervisor at Unimin in Kasota. He can talk to his high school buddies who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a dual member of the Madison Lake VFW and Mankato VFW Post 950, as well as the Madison Lake American Legion, he has connected with vets spanning generations and wars. Above all, Mike has his dad. “Some stuff is best kept between people who have been there,” said Mike. “He can understand the full gravity of the situation.” For many veterans, the transition isn’t as smooth and they lack a strong support system. “Returning vets still have the highest homeless rates. For our age group, Afghanistan and Iraq War vets have the highest homeless rate,” said Mike. “You want to see them come home and have a good experience.” said Mike.


Since 1978, Tom has been advocating for recognition and services for veterans. The former Blue Earth County commissioner has become a spokesperson for Vietnam Veterans of Southern Minnesota and a trained visitor for the National Amputation Foundation. Tom, who uses a bionic “smart leg,” was instrumental in the naming of the Veterans Memorial Bridge and served on the committee to build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Mankato. Recently, Tom has worked with Congressman Tim Walz and state legislators to benefit his son’s generation of war veterans. For instance, Tom and state Sen. Al DeKruif are members of the Minnesota Patriot Guard, a motorcycle motorcade that provides honors at veteran funerals. Tom approached DeKruif about reinstating veteran preferences for state hiring. In 1973, Minnesota revoked veteran preferences just when Vietnam vets were coming home and needed jobs. DeKruif carried the bill and Tom brought Mike, Army veteran Luke Weinandt and members of MSU’s Veterans Club to the state Capitol to lobby for state hiring preferences (the bill has since been signed into law). “When I came with a group of 20-something Afghanistan and Iraq vets, that opened doors. They’re used to seeing me,” said Tom. Mike and other veterans also worked with Walz to update the G.I. Bill. Service men and women pay into the G.I. Bill during their first year of service and can use the funds to attend college. Under new provisions, colleges bill the federal government directly for tuition, veterans can start classes and cannot be disenrolled for G.I. benefits pending. Previously, veterans paid up front and were reimbursed. In January, Mike accompanied Walz to the State of the

Submitted Photo Tom and Mike McLaughlin visited war memorials in Washington, D.C. while they were there for the 25th anniversary of the Vietnam Wall on Veterans Day 2007. Union Address in Washington, D.C. Mankato VFW Post 950 paid for his airfare and hotel room. For Mike, the most valuable part of the experience, was voicing the concerns and issues facing today’s veterans to congressional leaders and staff. “Vietnam vets didn’t get invited to our nation’s Capitol. They’d didn’t get invited behind the closed doors of Congress,” said Mike. “Dad’s generation cleared the path for us.” For Tom and Mike, their support for veterans goes all the way to the grave. Both attend Memorial Day services and veteran funerals. “I think it’s important for a veteran no matter what age or what war — they should have honors when they are put into the grave,” said Mike. M

Photo by John Cross Mike and Tom McLaughlin take a stroll around the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Mankato MANKATO MAGAZINE • June 2012 • 17

Members of the Mankato Paddling and Outings Club take to Swan Lake for an evening adventure. The club hosts a variety of events all year round.

Get out!

Summer fun shouldn’t be hard to find By Nell Musolf | Photos by Pat Christman 18 • June 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Submitted Photo The Greater Mankato Bike-Walk Advocates formed a few years ago to increase the use of biking and walkng as alternative means of transportation. Pictured are (front to back): Linda Engstrom, Tom Engstrom and Lee Ganske.


ummer and fun. The two words go together a lot like peanut butter and jelly. People generally aren’t at a loss when looking for fun things to do during the summer months, but just in case anyone should find themselves with a few hours to spare, here are some suggestions. Enjoy the pleasant summer breezes by taking a walk or going on a bike ride. Tom Engstrom has been president of the Greater Mankato Bike and Walk Advocates since the group formed two years ago has nothing but positive things about walking or biking one of the many trails that can be found in and around Mankato. “There are so many great trails in our

area,” Engstrom said. “It’s easy to go on a long bike ride or take a shorter one if that’s what you want to do.” The Greater Mankato Bike and Walk Advocate has over 200 members who meet at the second floor of the Mankato Place on the first Thursday of every month to discuss ways to make biking and walking in Mankato more attractive and viable. “The key word in the name of our group is “advocates,’” Engstrom says. “We want to remind everyone that walking and riding bikes are healthy options to driving.” Engstrom said the trend of walking or biking instead of driving a car can be traced in part to ever-rising fuel costs and

also because many people want to improve their health. Walking or biking is an easy way to fit exercise into a busy schedule. Area bike shops such as Nicollet Bike Shop, Scheels and the Flying Penguin all sponsor weekly rides to encourage people to get out and enjoy the summer weather. For people who would rather be on water than on a trail, the Mankato Paddling and Outings Club might be something to consider. Dean Peterson is president of the group that boasts approximately 60 members and has been around for 19 years. In addition to canoeing over the six rivers in the area, the Mankato Paddling and Outings Club also sponsors a river cleanup that annually pulls out between 900 and 1,000 pounds of garbage from the rivers. On July 3, the club will also be sponsoring its annual picnic. Peterson says the club is active yearround, leading a variety of ski and snowshoe outings in winter and boat trips on local rivers in the summer. There is a New Year’s bonfire at Seven Mile Creek and various travelogue programs during the “indoor” season. An interesting event is the boat trials at Hiniker Pond in June, where members bring various canoes and kayaks for others to try out. “It’s a lot of fun to try someone else’s boat for a while,” Peterson said. For people who prefer to watch rather than participate in summer fun, check out the group Nokturnal Fyre. Husband and wife Chris and Jessa Mayo started the group in 2006 after attending a wedding where the entertainment was fire dancing. “Basically, when we perform we get to play with fire,” Jessa says. Although the troupe regularly warns observers not to try what they are doing at home, Jessa says that performing with fire isn’t as dangerous as it sounds. Nokturnal Fyre follows strict safety regulations and rehearses each of its acts thoroughly. Jessa admits, however, that at first getting used to playing with fire took a few mental adjustments. “You really have to talk your mind into letting your body do this to yourself,” Jessa says. “We’re taught from the time we’re very small not to touch fire and not to get burned. You have to get past that, but once you do it, you’re really all about it.” Nokturnal Fyre has performed at birthday parties, weddings and at the School Sisters of Notre Dame winter solstice celebration. On June 9, the troupe MANKATO MAGAZINE • June 2012 • 19

In addition to canoe events, the Mankato Paddling and Outings Club hosts a New Year’s Bonfire at Seven Mile Creek County Park and ski and snowshoe events in the winter. will be performing outside the Coffee Hag for a free public event. Nokturnal Fyre will also be performing July 29 at Rak Star Fusion at Riverfront Park. In addition to playing with fire in front of an audience, Nokturnal Fyre also teaches classes on how to become a fire dancer. Jessa compares dancing with fire to dances performed at Hawaiian luaus and says that anyone can learn. The fire-dancing curious can reach the Mayos at 507-382-5804. “It’s really good exercise and it’s also an adrenaline rush,” Jessa

says. “I’m addicted to this.” Finally, for those who would rather enjoy staying in the air conditioning with a good book, Barnes and Noble holds a Mystery Book Club at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month. A different mystery novel is discussed by the group. Store manager Allison Bluhm says, “The group is usually pretty intimate. Anyone can join and everyone is welcome.” Barnes and Noble also hosts science fiction book clubs as well as literary book clubs year round. M

Get Involved Mankato Paddling and Outings Club: For more information, call Dean Peterson at 345-8701 or 995-2708. Upcoming events: • June 9: Le Sueur River • June 19: Boat trials at Hiniker Pond • June 23: Wild card event Greater Mankato Bike and Walk Advocates: Group members organize a variety of scheduled and impromptu events through the summer. Find them on Facebook, or contact Tom Engstrom at Greater Mankato Multisport Club: A collection of run, bike, swim and traithlon enthusiasts that participate and sponsor a varety of events. In June, events include Mountain Bike Mondays (for all skill levels) and Tuesday bicycling events for more experienced riders. For more information, visit Prairie Enthusiasts: A private organization “committed to the protection and management of native prairie and savanna of the Upper Midwest.” This area is home to the Many Rivers chapter and hosts a variety of field trip and preservation events. For more information, contact Scott Siegfried at 507-317-8532. Mankato Area Lifelong Learners: A club for individuals 50 years and older that schedules a wide variety of events for members — from concerts and presentations about current and historical events, to field trips and outdoor activities. For more information, visit 20 • June 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

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By John Cross

22 • June 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Anyone now old enough to receive Social Security undoubtedly remembers a song by Nat King Cole extolling the virtues of summer. Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, those days of soda and pretzels and beer ... Astronomical summer officially begins in these parts June 20, at 8:09 p.m., when the sun climbs to its most northerly point in the northern hemisphere — the summer solstice. But it has been a curious quirk of nature this year that south central Minnesota, indeed much of the Upper Midwest, has basked in summer-like weather conditions that began already in April. But nice as it has been, from a more youthful viewpoint, summer officially begins when the last test is taken, the locker is cleaned out, and three glorious months of summer vacation await. And like the song says: You’ll wish that summer could always be here ...

MANKATO MAGAZINE • June 2012 • 23

Rebuilding a dream By Grace Webb | Photos by Pat Christman 24 • June 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Larry Peterson is pictured with his 1971 Cadillac, a car he bought a few years ago and “needed serious attention.” He spent about five months rebuilding and has several other projects in the works: “I enjoy fixing them up and bringing a piece of history back to life.”


ften, car restoration begins with a dream, a vision, a determination to bring something back to life. For 21 years, Nate Zrust dreamed of rebuilding a Volkswagen Beetle from the floor up. “I’m making headway,” Zrust said. “I can actually see the car. It’s going to feel good when it’s done.” Zrust bought a 1970 Beetle in 2010 and has been working on it ever since in Mankato. He said the car brings back memories from when he was a teenager and had a friend who owned a Beetle. “(We) had so much fun (with that car),” he said. “(This one is) bringing back memories of teen years and first driving experiences.” Zrust’s Beetle broke down shortly after he bought it because of a faulty engine. When Zrust went to install a new engine, he discovered the car needed to be completely rebuilt. “The further you tear it down, the more you find to do,” he said. “There’s not going to be much left of the car except the frame.” As a finishing touch, Zrust is having his old friend — the same whose Beetle started it all — send over the old Beetle’s stick shift so that Zrust can install it in the new one. But even when the paint coat has dried and the stick shift is installed, Zrust said his rebuilding days won’t be over. “Once this car is done, what’s the next challenge?” he said. (Rebuilding cars) is something in your blood. There’s always going to be something to work on.” Chuck Thompson started with a dream, too. The 1948 Ford F-1

that now sits on his driveway was little more than a poorly patched beater when he purchased it 10 years ago. Thompson saw an advertisement for the truck in the National Street Rod Association magazine; upon noticing that the seller lived in St. Cloud, Thompson said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity. “The body was pretty nasty,” he said, shaking his head at the seemingly endless number of mechanical challenges he found once he began tearing the truck apart. “Stuff just kept coming up.” But Thompson persevered. His father had the same truck when he was just a boy. And though dad didn’t live to see the truck in its present form, Thompson said he’s proud of the rebuild. “My attraction is that this is the same truck my dad had when I was growing up,” he said. “It was our transportation 90 percent of the time.”

Two cars and two men Jeff Welbon is rebuilding two cars: a 1967 Mustang and a 1968 Camaro. One for him, and one for his brother-in-law. Welbon bought the Mustang 23 years ago when he was serving in the Navy. He hadn’t had it long before it ended up in a ditch and was no longer drivable. After he pulled it apart, he left it for 18 years. “Eighteen years is a very long time,” Welbon said. Welbon started working on the Mustang about four years ago because he hoped to take it to his 20th high school reunion. He didn’t quite make it, running out of time and money. Now, he’s trying again, and this time he’s got help. Welbon bought a Camaro last fall for his brother-in-law, who couldn’t buy it at the time. The MANKATO MAGAZINE • June 2012 • 25

Chuck Thompson rebuilt this 1948 Ford because it’s the same truck his father drove. men are fixing up both vehicles together. “(The rebuilding project) is going very smoothly (since) I got him initiated,” Welbon said. “Ever since I got the Camaro, he’s been wanting to work on the Mustang. If anybody else is going to do a project like this, make sure their brother-in-law is interested.” Welbon said his Mustang is going to be painted by the end of the month, and the car will be finished in time for him to drive it to his 25th high school reunion next summer. “It’s going to feel awesome,” Welbon said. “It’s going to feel like I’m 20 years old again.”

Starting from scratch Some students write 20-page theses as their senior project. Minnesota State Mankato senior Bryce Tillman is building a car — from scratch. Tillman is part of an 18-student team competing in the 2012 Formula SAE Competition, where students from around the country build small formula-style racing cars and compete against other teams. Tillman and his teammates are all seniors in MSU’s Automotive Engineering Technology program. “Most senior design projects don’t involve such a wide array of research, theory, building and testing,” Tillman said. “Most are cut off at the design phase and rarely given the opportunity to make something that they can take this much pride in.” Tillman and his teammates will see how well their project stacks up June 20-23 when they compete against 79 other teams in Lincoln, Neb. The competition includes judging on technical inspection, design report, cost report and marketing presentation. They’ll also be judged on how well they accelerate, their fuel economy and their skid pads. But the fun part is crawling into the cockpit and racing the other cars over a 25-kilometer course. Last year, the MSU car didn’t make it through the entire endurance course. But Tillman isn’t worried. The original engine was 32 horsepower, but this year’s team has managed to increase it to nearly 80. In addition, this year’s car features a redesigned clutch and a 10 percent reduction in frame weight. Tillman said the team has also eliminated some of last year’s problems, such as overheating and engine shutdown. To top it all off, the team has installed sensors in the car to 26 • June 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

measure things like wheel speed and steering input, something not previously done in an MSU project car. Tillman praised the efforts of his team but said they’ll be a longshot in Lincoln. “Our budget constraints really make us a Cinderella story to shoot for first. The top teams have budgets approaching $1 million [and] we have kept costs down to approximately $20,000,” he explained. “We are hoping to be in the top 20.” M

Submitted Eighteen students in Minnesota State University’s Automotive Engineering Technology program built this car for the 2012 Formula SAE Competition held this month in Lincoln, Neb.

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • June 2012 • 27

Garden Chat

By Jean Lundquist

Barrel of fun

Rainwater vessel a headache from the start


he drought broke about a month ago, now. Lightning cracked the skies open, and the rain poured

down. And plant life was good. I think I told you of my experience with rainwater for plants versus groundwater (or well water). Rainwater seems to have every nutrient a plant needs. Groundwater seems to require outside fertilizers. Maybe it’s because, as we all know, the most abundant source of nitrogen is lightning. And maybe, most rainwater has been exposed to lightning. Of course, that is conjecture, but I still maintain that when watering plants either in containers or in the ground, strive for rainwater. After just one rain event in April, overnight, I dumped an inch and a half of rain from the rain gauge near the garden. I looked with anticipation to my newly assembled rain barrel, hoping for the mother lode of rain. Late last fall, I got a really great deal on a 55-gallon rain barrel, some assembly required. Due to a small scratch in the light tan exterior, the rain barrel was mine for $20, rather than the regular price of $95. An attractive price for an attractive vessel. After purchase, I discovered it would not fit in my trunk. Rain barrels are not collapsible. It barely fit in my back seat. When it was in place, my dog certainly didn’t fit. I didn’t think Juno would accept riding home from the Cities inside the barrel, so Juno moved up to the front seat, the rain barrel wedged tightly in the back. Once at home, the barrel was nestled into the small shed to wait out the winter, 28 • June 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

with the bag of pieces, parts and instructions lodged inside. Then, on a warm day in March, I lugged the barrel from the back of the shed. I sat on the glider seat in the sun, enjoying the heat, and spread the parts for the overflow pipe and the release spigot in front of me. All parts of the kit were present and accounted for. Then, I went in search of the required tools. I returned to the assembly scene armed with a butter knife and a rusty pair of pliers. Now, it’s probably true that if I had found the 18 different sized screw drivers, the hammer and the wrenches the instructions called for, the job might have been done more quickly, and more easily. But the job was done nonetheless, and no blood was shed. Last summer, where I now placed my newly assembled rain barrel, I had set a large flower pot with the bottom holes plugged. The flower pot had started out as my fish pond for gold fish, then minnows, before being re-purposed as a rain receptacle when the fish succumbed. With the smallest rainfall last summer, water flowed over the fluted edges. It was pretty, almost like an ornamental water fountain. But wasting all that rainwater bothered me. What I wanted was a real rain barrel that would not allow mosquitoes to breed, would not allow leaves and other debris in, and would not be something I had to scoop water out of. And, since it’s in the front of the house, I wanted it to look nice. So I turned the scratched side of the new rain barrel away from the window, and carefully placed it to catch the bulk of the rain coming off the roof during a moderate rainfall. As we all know, April showers did not materialize. A few light drizzles managed to place a couple of inches of rainwater in the base of my rain barrel, so that strong winds did not overturn it or blow it away. When I tried the spigot at the base of the barrel, nothing came out. I guess a few

more inches of rain were required to make this device a real rain barrel. I didn’t get out a tape measure, nor did I use a surveyor’s rod, but I was pretty sure I had the center of the screened top of the rain barrel directly under the heaviestflowing portion of the roof during a moderate rain event. So after I dumped the rain gauge, I approached the rain barrel knowing how heavy it would be to move (a full 55-gallon rain barrel should weigh well over 400 pounds). I walked up, grabbed the overflow arm, gave it a push, expecting to find it unmovable ... and tipped it on its side, landing ungracefully on top of it. There was no water in it. It was still nearly empty, except for the few inches from the few unceremonious drizzles we had previously. Since then, I’ve repositioned the barrel a few inches this way, then a few inches that way, and still no fill of rainwater. I’ve even gone out during a storm and repositioned it, only to find the flow changes significantly a few minutes later. Have I somehow angered the rain gods? Am I forever beholden to the groundwater gods for my garden? Those water gods may or may not exist, but I did discover a fact or two that relieved my mind. Sort of. Figuring you get what you pay for, I examined that barrel, looking for a blemish more that the slight cosmetic scratch I turned away from the window. I expected to find a slash right above ground level. What I found instead, was that the spigot I so proudly installed with a butter knife and a rusty pliers was leaking like a sieve. Maybe there is something to using the proper tools for every job. I might have to invest. But I know now what it will take to nourish my garden with refreshing rainwater this summer, and give the well water a break. M Jean Lundquist is a master gardener who lives near Good Thunder.



in the


By Grace Webb

Mankato’s first four-wheel drive

rnest Rosenberger looked at the auto parts strewn around his carriage house: gears, chains, a 20-horsepower engine. The year was 1905, and this Mankato businessman was attempting to build his own custom automobile. He had to create an automobile that could manage the steep hills surrounding his shop at 201-03 South Second Street. There was only one problem: This candy shop owner had absolutely no experience when it came to cars. Yet somehow, merely three years later, he had created his own automobile manufacturing business and patented an early version of the fourwheel-drive truck still being used today.

Starting from scratch Rosenberger might have had a vision, but it took some time before he was able to make his dream a reality. The businessman invested $50,000 of his own funds into his new company, the Four Traction Auto Co. It was harder for him to drum up outside support; in fact, many early Free Press articles urged other businessmen to buy in to the fledging company but few seemed eager to do so. Still, Rosenberger managed to get his company up and running by 1908. He borrowed $4,000 from the First National Bank of Mankato to make ends meet, built his factory at 211 East Hickory Street and began acting as company president. That year, his new “Kato” truck, featuring his unique four-wheel-drive system, surpassed all competing vehicles during a driving test featuring bad roads and steep hills. The Kato, a four-ton vehicle that could hit speeds of 40 mph, performed so well that the local paper announced, “Hurrah for the ‘Kato’ ... To think that the “Kato” is a Mankato product and what a demand there is going to be for these cars as soon as they are put on the market.” Things were beginning to look up for Rosenberger. Businesses from across the region, from Minneapolis to Iowa, began approaching him about buying his company. By 1909, the Four-Traction Auto Co. had 221 active and 17 non-voting stockholders and 20 employees. Within 30 • June 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

five years of its inception, the company had built 17 cars and 30 trucks. Mankato’s Hubbard Milling Co. ordered a Kato truck to replace its horse-drawn carriage for flour deliveries. The Duluth city council even sent a request for a patrol car, a job that brought the Four Traction In this photo from 191 Auto Co. 0, Ernest Rosenberge r’s Kato Truck is show loaded with goods. His widespread n patented four-wheel dr ive vehicle was the fir praise. st to keep wheels from slipp ing on steep hills.

Hard times

While the Four Traction Auto Co. seemed to be growing and thriving in its first five years, all was not well. With orders only trickling in, the company was not able to turn enough profit. While Rosenberger sketched plans to create a roadster, a grocer’s truck, a fire engine and a bus, these plans never came to fruition. In 1914, Rosenberger sold his patent rights to the Nevada Manufacturing Co. of Nevada, Iowa. From there, the Four Traction Auto Co. moved to Nevada as well. At first, the company seemed to do all right at its new location. The U.S. army chose to offer it a contract for army trucks, and the Russian government also ordered three trucks from the manufacturers. However, the company was not able to raise enough money to build the trucks, so the contract fell through. Within the next 15 years, the company faltered beyond recovery. Bigger companies such as Ford and General Motors were taking over the auto industry, and small businesses couldn’t compete. The Four Traction Auto Co. went out of business before 1930.

Something new

Rosenberger stepped back, admiring his first Four Traction Auto Co. vehicle. It had a wooden frame and a two-cycle, watercooled engine. It weighed about 3,600 pounds and had three different gears as well as reverse speed. Its steering wheel was on its right side and the cab area had no doors. It was a beauty. But, would it run? He’d had his share of automobile problems before. One time, his chain had snapped and he’d rolled down a hill, nearly plowing into a horse team. Another time, he’d almost got hit by a train when he hadn’t heard it and started to cross some railroad tracks. Both incidents had, unfortunately, been noted in the local papers. Reaching down, he shifted into reverse and turned on the first Kato truck. The engine turned over with a smooth purr. Then, he pressed the accelerator, backed out through the factory entrance and was on the open road. M

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • June 2012 • 31

That’s Life

By Nell Musolf

Father’s Day and flashlights F

ather’s Day is fast approaching but I’m not worried about searching for that “just right” present for my husband Mark. I already know what to get him. Not a tie or a fishing pole or a bottle of aftershave or even a weekend in Las Vegas. Mark is the easiest person in the world to shop for because all he ever wants whenever a gift-giving occasion arises is a flashlight. A flashlight to add to his collection of approximately 495 other flashlights, ranging from the teensy-tiny-perfect-forlooking-for-things-dropped-behind-sofa-cushions model to the major league, huge, honking flood light, affectionately known as “Mr. Big,” that he keeps plugged in next to his side of the bed to blind any misguided criminals who might trespass across our backyard in the middle of any given night. Thankfully, he’s never had to use it to catch a thief but he has caught many a raccoon in that particular flashlight’s glare, lighting up not only our backyard but also the neighboring yards on all three sides. Whenever Mark points “Mr. Big” out the back window, I half expect to hear the sound of a prison siren along with the clanging of gates shutting and rifles being cocked as the raccoon frantically attempts to make a break from the Big House. I don’t know how or why Mark’s fascination with all things flashlight occurred but it does make gift-giving remarkably easy. An average person, such as

32 • June 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

me, might not think there is such a vast variety of flashlights available out there in the big, wide world. That average person would be wrong. Flashlights abound and, with the introduction of LED bulbs, the choices have become even more jaw dropping. Just last Christmas, Mark found yet another flashlight that had to be added immediately to his already impressive fleet. “Would you like to see a picture of the flashlight I want for Christmas?” he asked me in all seriousness. Not wanting to hurt his feelings, I agreed and Mark pulled out an ad from a sporting goods store. “Why do you want another flashlight?” I asked, squinting at the picture and trying not to gasp out loud when I saw the price. Mark shrugged. “You never know when you’ll find yourself in the dark.” Since I already had something else in mind for his Christmas present I tried again. “Doesn’t $49 for a flashlight seem a little high to you? Besides, that looks just like the one I got you for your birthday.” Mark snatched the ad out from under my nose. “It’s marked down from $79 and it’s nothing like the flashlight you got me for my birthday. This one has a more powerful bulb and the light can be changed to red, blue or green.” “Why would you want to change your light from red to blue to green?” I asked. “What’s wrong with the regular color?” Looking at me with the pity he always has whenever I ask a truly dumb question, Mark responded, “So you can use your flashlight as a signal.” An unspoken Duh hung in the air between us. “This flashlight can also do Morse code and has a built-in SOS,” Mark added. Needless to say, on Christmas morning there was a box under the tree with Mark’s name on it that contained the much-desired, Morse-code enhanced, color-changing flashlight. Mark was ecstatic and spent the rest of the day pointing the flashlight at the Christmas tree and demanding that I notice how he was able to change the color of the ornaments from red — to blue — and finally to green. The plus side to being married to someone who has a flashlight fetish is that whenever I need a flashlight, I don’t have to do more than put my hand down and I’ll find one. The minus side is that we are running out of storage space. One day I asked Mark what he thought we should do with the flashlights he no longer uses, the ones that have become pass as technology has improved and beams have become brighter. He thought for a moment and then said, “You could hand them out at my funeral. Give everyone a flashlight to remember me by.” I would have laughed only I knew he wasn’t kidding. ... M

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




By McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Scone Simplicity


ike biscuits, scones are part of the quick bread family, rustic cousins to more refined pastries and cakes. Just like the quick bread name suggests, scones come together quickly, a few ingredients only briefly mixed before baking. Simple as they may be, there is an art to a great scone, and it starts with ingredients. Don’t bother with a packaged mix — it should take no more than a few minutes to gather the six or so ingredients you’ll need, and you have more room to be creative when you work from scratch. Some flour, a little sugar and salt, and a leavener will get you started. Whisk them together in a large bowl, then add some cold butter. Cut in the butter as if you were making a pie crust, just enough so you can still see little chunks of butter, being careful not to overmix. As the scones bake, those bits of butter will melt into the scones, and the steam will give the pastry layers as the butterfat lends richness.

As soon as the butter is added, stir any sweet or savory flavorings into the crumbly mix. Stir in a little liquid to bind. Buttermilk has a gentle tang, though cream or even regular milk will work just fine. Some recipes call for egg, but it’s not necessary. Work the dough gently, pressing and kneading a few times, just until it comes together. The trick is to have a delicate touch, or your tender scones will toughen. Cut the dough into wedges or rounds and bake until puffed and lightly golden, 25 to 30 minutes. While biscuits are best served fresh out of the oven, scones can be baked ahead of time, ready to go whether you’re serving them for a celebratory brunch or a simple snack, even afternoon tea. A basic pleasure, best shared with others.

Adding flavors to the mix • Currant scones: Add 1 1/2 cups dried currants. Consider soaking them in a little fruit juice or liquor (Grand Marnier is wonderful). • Chocolate chip scones: Add 1 2/3 cups chocolate chips: Fold in semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips, perhaps with some nuts or a little orange zest. • Ginger scones: Add 2 tablespoons grated ginger to give a nice tang. • Jalapeno-cheddar: Roast, peel, seed and chop 2 jalapenos (or more), and add them to the dry ingredients along with 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese. • Chive-Parmesan: Add 1/2 cup of chopped fresh chives to the dry ingredients along with 1 cup of grated Parmesan. Form the scones, then sprinkle a little more cheese over right before baking. • Prosciutto-Swiss: Chop 4 ounces sliced prosciutto and add to the dry ingredients along with 1 cup of grated Swiss cheese.

Basic Scones Total time: 50 minutes, plus cooling time Servings: 8 Note: If you’d like to add any flavorings to your scones, it’s best to add them after cutting in the butter and before stirring in the liquid. 3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) flour 4 teaspoons baking powder 3/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup sugar 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 1 cup cold buttermilk, milk or cream 2 tablespoons heavy cream 2 teaspoons turbinado or coarse decorating sugar Heat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the buttermilk just until incorporated; the dough will be crumbly and look dry. Knead in the bowl a few times to bring the dough together into a single mass. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press into a circle roughly 7 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Cut the dough into 8 wedges, and place the wedges on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the wedges with the cream and sprinkle over the turbinado sugar. Bake on the center rack until golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the scones to a rack to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature. M

34 • June 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Happy Hour

By The Washington Post

Grapefruit: Bittersweet love affair


hen it comes to booze, it’s hard to beat the grapefruit for sheer mixability. Gin and aquavit, brandy and bourbon, amari and herbal liqueurs: You name the spirit and there’s a fabulous drink calling for grapefruit juice. What stands up to smoky mezcal? Grapefruit. In Jalisco, Mexico, where tequila is produced, the favorite local cocktail isn’t a margarita with lime juice. It’s a Paloma, which can be made with grapefruit juice or, via the quickie method, with grapefruit soda. What was in Ernest Hemingway’s signature

drink, the daiquiri variation called the Papa Doble? Well, that would be rhum agricole, maraschino liqueur, lime juice and then a little something else to bring it all together: grapefruit juice. Case closed. The name of this grapefruit drink, the 866, refers to a Danish long-distance bus called the Graahundbus, or “Greyhound bus.”

The 866 Ingredients: Ice Salt, to garnish the glass 1 ounce aquavit 1 ounce freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, preferably ruby red 1 ounce Campari Sprig fresh dill, for garnish (optional) Steps: Fill a mixing glass halfway with ice. Rim an old-fashioned or rocks glass with salt, then fill it with ice. Combine the aquavit, grapefruit juice and Campari. Stir vigorously, then strain into the salt-rimmed glass. Garnish with the dill, if desired. M

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • June 2012 • 35

Rodeo Royalty McKenzie Smith brings the queen’s crown to southern Minnesota By Tanner Kent Photos by John Cross Lake Crystal’s McKenzie Smith is the Minnesota State High School Rodeo Association Queen for the 2011-12 season.


cKenzie Smith knows that in about nine seconds, this will all be over. So there’s no time to indulge negative thoughts. She’s already drawn her adversary and sized him up to determine if she’ll use a two-wrap, or if he’s a “real kicker,” a threewrap. She’s already reminded herself to “be in the moment,” and has galvanized her nerves for the ride. Her saddle is polished and her shirt is loose in the shoulders so she’s got plenty of room to work. Once in the arena, her 900-pound quarterhorse Barrett paws the soft arena dirt. Years of constant practice and training have taught him to square his legs and load his muscles for the acceleration he knows is coming. Once the goat is in her sights, McKenzie flicks the reigns in her hands and, in a gust of horse and hoof and dirt and determination, the 17-year-old junior at Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial is off and racing.

36 • June 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Her mount strains his muscles for speed; still in full stride, she swings one leg over the saddle and prepares to dismount. She’s done this a thousand times in the arena her father carved out of the vineyard on their rural Garden City acreage, but here — in front of a crowd, in competition, with times counting for pride and state rankings — the pressure is on. She jumps from her saddle with a sense of timing and technique she’s honed since junior high. With art and purpose, she gathers three of the goat’s legs and reaches for the four-foot nylon rope clenched between her teeth. Deftly, she wraps, cinches and ties. She throws her arms out and looks to the judges for her time. This is high school rodeo in Minnesota. And she is McKenzie Smith, the queen. “Once you get started with rodeo,” she said, “you can’t stop.”

A queen from the beginning McKenzie earned her crown in the summer of 2011. Having competed for three years in events like goat tying, pole bending, barrel racing and breakaway roping, McKenzie auditioned (and won) the title of Minnesota State High School Rodeo Association Queen. But long before she joined rodeo royalty, McKenzie was just a dirt-smeared cowgirl chasing her passion in the unlikely pastures of south central Minnesota. “There’s only about five or six rodeo families in the area,” McKenzie said, “and we know ‘em all.” Rodeo is much more popular in the northern half of the state, and to the states west and south. McKenzie is not only the first queen from Lake Crystal, but also the first from south central Minnesota (at least according to records dating back more than 30 years). To this day, McKenzie said a lot of her classmates are surprised

her slightly worn but spirited and savvy tying horse, and Ruby, an elegant 11-year-old mare given to her by a professional bull rider diagnosed with terminal cancer — like children. She rides almost every day (even in the winter, keeping their horses at a stable in Hanska) and doesn’t envision giving up her passion anytime soon. Though she’s got just one more month with her title, she’ll continue to compete in rodeo for her senior year. After that, she’s intent on attending South Dakota State, Iowa Central or Black Hills State — all colleges McKenzie Smith, who is finishing her junior year at Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial High School, has ridden horses with rodeo programs. since she was 3 years old. “It’s something you can do your whole life,” she said. “Being queen, I want Rodeo for life to learn she’s involved in rodeo at all. to show people there are opportunities out “A lot of her friends don’t understand These days, McKenzie is with her horses M there.” how much commitment and time goes into almost as soon as the final bell rings at her rodeo,” said McKenzie’s mother, Charla. high school. She dotes on them — Barrett, Yet, McKenzie’s path to rodeo was paved early on. She was just 3 years old when her father McKenzie Smith takes Ruby, an elegant Ole was injured an ATV accident. With 11-year-old quarterhorse, for a barrel run Ole confined to the house with a broken in the arena her father built on their leg, Charla took years of being told “We’re Garden City farm. never getting a horse” into her own hands. In cahoots with Ole’s father, they secretly cleared a pasture and built a fence. One day, they borrowed a friend’s horse trailer and, under the guise of “going shopping,” spirited away the young McKenzie to go choose her first horse. She started riding almost immediately and was a natural, patient and fearless around the giant beasts that she’s come to behold as family. She joined a local 4H horse program in fourth grade and started riding in shows. She began competitive rodeo in eighth grade and began attending events all over the state on weekends — including the annual St. Peter rodeo that is held the first weekend of June and serves as the junior high finals and high school regional finals. She’s even earned spots in national rodeo events in New Mexico, Wyoming and elsewhere. “I’ve always had this passion,” McKenzie said. “I just connect with horses.” MANKATO MAGAZINE • June 2012 • 37

McKenzie Smith preps her horses. Barrett, left, is her tying horse and Ruby — whom McKenzie proudly trained herself — is her barrel horse. She spends several hours with them every day.

Upcoming events Rodeo June 1-3 in St. Peter: The junior high finals and high school regional finals will take place at the Nicollet County Fairgrounds.

Contact Cheryl Olson for solutions to your advertising puzzle.


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Saddle Clubs

Presented by

Enjoy live music by area bands, food sold by a variety of vendors and fun activities every week led by the Mankato Family YMCA. Thursdays in June • 11 am - 1 pm • Civic Center Plaza

(in front of the Intergovernmental Center)

• City Center Mankato

june 7

The Divers

With interactive activities by the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota

june 14 The Lost Walleye Orchestra june 21 Rain Kings june 28 The DW3



Special thanks to: Verizon Wireless Center, City of Mankato, City of North Mankato, The Free Press, Pepsi-Cola of Mankato, Mankato Family YMCA, and Red Door Creative Sponsored by: MEMBERS OF RADIO MANKATO

38 • June 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


An event of


June 3: Wilton River Riders Saddle Club, 8:30 a.m. at the Waseca County Fairgrounds June 8: Fox Hollow Open 4D Barrel Jackpot, 6:30 p.m. at Fox Hollow Arena in Le Sueur June 9: 4H Clinic, 9 a.m. at Le Sueur County Fairgrounds June 10: Tri County Saddle Club, 8:30 a.m. at Faribault County Fairgrounds June 12: Tri County Saddle Club, 8:30 a.m. at Faribault County Fairgrounds June 17: Madelia Saddle Club, 8:30 a.m. at Watonwan County Fairgrounds June 24: Frost Border Riders Saddle Club, 8:30 a.m. at Faribault County Fairgrounds July 1: Waldorf Saddle Club, 8:30 a.m. at KaBoy Up Arena in New Ulm

Angie’s Kettle Corn Buffalo Wild Wings Culver’s Frozen Custard Dino’s Gourmet Pizzeria Hy-Vee The Neighbor’s Italian Bistro Number 4 American Bar & Kitchen Olives Pub 500 Sodexo Tavern on the Avenue The Loose Moose Saloon


to do,


to go

June 1- 2 • Minnesota State University’s Highland Summer Theatre presents “Love, Sex, and the IRS” 7:30 p.m. • Andrea Theatre of the Earley Center for Performing Arts 320 Maywood Ave. $16 general admission, $14 discounted and $11 for currents MSU students •

3-16 • Minnesota State University Highland Summer Theatre presents “Avenue Q” 7:30 p.m. • Ted Paul Theatre of the Earley Center for Performing Arts 329 Maywood Ave. $22 general admission, $19 discounted and $15 for current MSU • students

2 • Mankato Symphony Orchestra presents “Bach’s Lunch” 11 a.m. • Mankato YMCA $10 for adults, $5 for youth younger than 18 •

26 • Thunder of Drums 7 p.m.; 6:30 p.m. • pre-show Blakeslee Field, Minnesota State University free • 340-2660

7 • Songs on the Lawn featuring The Divers 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. • Mankato City Center free • 385-6640

26-30 • Minnesota State University’s Highland Summer Theatre presents “God of Carnage” 7:30 p.m. • MSU Andreas Theatre of the Performing Arts Center 320 Maywood Ave. •

14 • Ted Nugent and Laura Wilde 7 p.m. • Vetter Stone Amphitheater Mankato $25 • 16 • ArtSplash Art Fair North Mankato Taylor Library 1001 Belgrade Ave. free • 345-5120

9-10 • Arts by the River 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Noon to 5 p.m. • Mankato Riverfront Park free • 14 • Songs on the Lawn featuring Lost Walleye Orchestra 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. • Mankato City Center free • 385-6640

21 • Songs on the Lawn featuring The Rain Kings 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. • Mankato City Center free • 385-6640 23 Rockin’ by the River 5:30-9 p.m. • Vetter Stone Amphitheater, Riverfront Park Mankato free • 625-8880

2 • Livestock 10 a.m. • Minnesota Square Park, St. Peter free •

8-9 • Winstock Country Music Festival Winsted $90 general admission, $155 reserved seating •

20 • Trio con Brio from Stockholm, Sweden 7-9 p.m. • Grace Lutheran Church 320 E. Main St. free •345-4248

16-17 • Solstice Festival 12:30-10 p.m. • Riverfront Park Mankato $20 weekend pass, $15 for Saturday, $5 for children 8-14 and $10 for Sunday •

26 • Highland Summer Theatre presents “God of Carnage” 7:30 p.m. • Andreas Theatre of the Early Center for Performing Arts $16 for general admission, $14 for discounted tickets and $11 for current MSU students • 389-6661 28 • Songs on the Lawn featuring The DW3 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. • Mankato City Center free • 385-6640 30 • 1860’s Vintage Base Ball Tournament 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. • Land of Memories Park free, donations accepted • 345-5566 30 • Merely Mysteries and Indian Island Winery Wine Tasting Event 6-8 p.m. Indian Island Winery Janesville $30 • 507-234-5469

MANKATO MAGAZINE • June 2012 • 39

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Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

Kiwanas Pancake Breakfast at the salvation Army


1. Mark Mitzel and his son Alex serve pancakes to the patrons. 2. Lauren Colway flips pancakes for the Kiwanis breakfast at the Salvation Army. 3. Kelly Gage serves Erin Gullickson a banana at the Kiwanis club pancake breakfast. 4. Sarah Bedell volunteered to work cleanup at the breakfast. 5. Perry and Muff Smith enjoy breakfast with their grandson Nathan Crist (far right), while conversing with Dave Hubner (left), and Steve Betzing (far left). 6. Braxton Wojcik chows down on some pancakes.






MANKATO MAGAZINE • June 2012 • 41

Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

Elton John Concert


1. Stage lighting coupled with fog and a large lightup screen made for an entertaining show. 2. Backstage before the show began, John received an award from Eric Jones and Burt Lyman of the Verizon Wireless Center. 3. Lines to get into the concert reached across the street and all the way to the Intergovernmental building. 4. Hundreds of fans showed up wearing their best “Elton” sunglasses. 5. Some fans who were lucky enough to get a front-row ticket caught a closeup look at one of music’s living legends. 6. A sold-out crowd of around 7,000 people were on hand to see the show. 7. Sir Elton John waves to the crowd before sitting down at his piano.

2 3

4 5


42 • June 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

Mankato Gorilla fun run 1. Lauren Wurdinger and Stefanie Lewison pose for a photo before the run that benefits Miracle League of North Mankato.


2. “Stunt Monkey” of Radio Mankato led the charge as the lead banana for the run. 3. Mercy Jane Emery and Cordelia dressed up as bananas and were pulled along the route by their father. 4. Stephen Kelzer (banana) feels the love from a group of gorillas. 5. Sam’s Club and Walmart had a large number of participants at the event. 6. (L to R) Mike Braun and Andy Nyberg of SPX Sports participated in the event in their work gear. 7. Hundreds of people showed up for the fun run which started at MSU and ended at Busters.







MANKATO MAGAZINE • June 2012 • 43

The Way It Is

By Pete Steiner

What a Time it Was

“Long ago it must be, I have a photograph. Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.” — Paul Simon


ummaging through old photographs ... Might one spark an idea for this month’s article? Yes, there she is: Lazarus.

Don’t we Americans all have that one favorite vehicle that claims a permanent niche in memory? Went on my first date in that one. Took a trip to California with her. Shouldn’t have sold that one, such a beauty. I don’t know why we typically refer to our autos as being of the feminine gender. With her lengthy wheelbase and substantial engine, my Lazarus was neither dainty nor petite. And by the end, her complexion was a disaster, doors and roof all pocked by rust spots. Maybe the ugliest car in town, probably why I got pulled over once at two in the morning after leaving the late shift at the radio station: I suspect just because of my car. But Laz got me through the ‘70’s. That big, old Chrysler Newport, which by the time I scrapped her for $25, had well over 100,000 miles, had burned through a couple of transmissions, a couple of starters, several brake jobs and more — yet nothing could stop her. I never 44 • June 2012 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

wondered why other vehicles yielded in an intersection: Size plus ugliness can equal power. I was just back from the Army, and I needed a car. My Dad had bought her from my great aunt’s estate, with only about 20,000 miles on the odometer, for under a thousand bucks. He probably didn’t make me pay him back in full — I have conveniently forgotten that part. What I most remember is what a great car she was in the snow. At my first radio job, I went with the local Guard unit from Cambridge to a winter stint at Camp Ripley. On the day I was to head back, a big snow storm hit, and access to 371 was blocked by a large wind-row the plows had pushed there. Another plow came by and cleared an access for me. He asked where I was going and when I told him, he said he wouldn’t even try it. But I was young and stupid, and had Lazarus. We made it back in time for my scheduled air shift. There’s lots of other Lazarus stories, some of which I put in a song called “My Old Gas Guzzlin’ Hawg’: “Let ‘em buy a bicycle and learn how to jog, but the critics can’t stop my old Gas Guzzlin’ Hawg!’ (An updated version costs a buck to download from Milo Bobbins at CD Baby or iTunes.) •••• Here’s a trivia question for you: Who hit the last home run at the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington? (Answer below.) There’s been so much talk about professional sports stadiums in recent years, and I hope the Vikings get one as fan-friendly as the Twins’ new ballpark. But rummaging through those old photos, I found some shots I took in September of 1981 at the last game at the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington. You know, the one that stood near where a very, very large mall stands today. It was a beautiful ballpark, site of Harmon Killebrew’s 573-foot megablast, of Rod Carew’s record-breaking season of batting .377 and all those steals of home, of Tony Oliva’s batting championships,

and of the 1965 World Series. (Not to mention the site of the Vikings’ glory years of four Super Bowl appearances, but we’re talking baseball here.) The powers that be had decided a domed stadium was necessary in downtown Minneapolis. So that beautiful outdoor ballpark was to be demolished, along with subsequently, an entire generation of outdoor baseball. A bunch of us, mostly local musicians, went up on a drizzly autumn day to catch what we feared was the last home outdoor baseball game ever for the Twins. We sat there getting damp with the rest of a meager but loyal crowd. As I recall, Roy Smalley had a chance to pull it out if he could hit a home run, but he did not. The Twins lost to Kansas City. And it was Kansas City’s Clint Hurdle who hit the final home run at The Met. At the conclusion of the game, fans defied local law enforcement, some of whom were on horseback, but most of whom were rather unenthusiastic about any potential crackdown. We rushed onto the field, some seeking souvenirs, others just wanting to stand where some of the greats had stood. I took this photo of our group, plus a couple of guys on the far right we did not know, but who simply wanted to be in someone’s photo documenting the occasion:

Of note in the photo, the tallest guy in the back row is the late great bass player and sound man, Craig Black; the guy in the white jacket third from left is the late, original Gestures’ drummer Bruce Waterston, and the only woman in the photo is singer Teense McCloone. M Pete Steiner is a longtime radio announcer, newsman and news director for KTOE Radio.

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