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PLAY ME A MELODY! We visit with a few of the area’s most gifted musicians, like Maddie Ceminsky

Keep running,

KEVIN LANGTON Winter is coming. Get your CAR ready West High principal

SHERRI BLASING Maddie Ceminsky OCTOBER 2017 $2.95

The Free Press MEDIA

Speaking of Health:

Make Healthy Choices Wendy C., a college student, shops the Mankato Farmers Market

Mayo Clinic Health System is proud to support health and wellness in our community.

When life gets hectic, remember that eating well can give you more energy, reduce stress and improve your immune system. Eating well can also decrease your chance of developing heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases. It can also lower blood pressure and help prevent some types of cancer. Make healthy choices for you and your family — one meal at a time.

Ideas to give your health a boost Healthy eating is a marathon of healthy choices that can help fuel your daily race and benefit you regardless of weight, age or gender. — Grace Fjeldberg Registered dietitian Mayo Clinic Health System

Attend a Speaking of Health presentation. “Healthy Eating: Cooking for One or Two”, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 11 a.m. to noon, VINE Adult Community Center, Mankato. Rethink your drink. If plain water isn’t your thing, stop by the Mayo Clinic Health System booth at the Mankato Marathon Expo on Saturday, Oct. 21, to sample fruit and vegetable infused waters.

Have a healthy Halloween. Mayo Clinic Health System will be helping families explore healthy foods during the Special Needs Accessibility Night on Friday, Oct. 27, at the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota.


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F EATUR ES OCTOBER 2017 Volume 12, Issue 10


Play me a melody

Mankato is full of talented young people, and that’s certainly true when it comes to music. Meet three of the area’s best.


Winter is coming

Don’t wait until the last minute to get your car ready for The Big Cold.


Keep running, Kevin

As the Mankato Marathon approaches, we bring you the inspiring story of ultramarathoner, and former addict, Kevin Langton.

ABOUT THE COVER Maddie Ceminsky holds her clarinet proudly during a break in the action at private lessons. She was photographed at the home of instructor Hunter Ellis by Jackson Forderer MANKATO MAGAZINE • OCTOBER 2017 • 3

DEPARTMENTS 6 From the Editor 8 This Day in History 9 The Gallery


Painter Gerry Tostenson

10 Beyond the Margin Musical connections 12 Familiar Faces Sherri Blasing 16 Day Trip Destinations

Prince’s Paisley Park

30 Then & Now Mankato Normal School 33 Food, Drink & Dine 34 Food


Fuel for the big race

36 Wine

The people behind the wine

37 Beer Octoberfests 38 Happy Hour

Fuel for the big race

40 Garden Chat Tomato deception



42 That’s Life Oddities of the mind



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48 From This Valley Char Hiniker



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Celebrating Minnesota Authors and Books

Authors and Deep Valley Appetizers Gala Book Festival October 6

October 7

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Mankato Event Center, 12 Civic Center Plaza, Suite #10

Where readers and authors meet Keynote Author

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Author Panels Food Music & More

Meet Authors, Illustrators & Publishers Book Sales & Signings

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The Free Press MEDIA

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885 E. Madison Ave. Mankato www.hilltopflorist.com 507-387-7908

Mon.–Thurs. 9am–8pm, Fri. 9am–6pm Sat. 9am–4pm, Closed Sun. MANKATO MAGAZINE • OCTOBER 2017 • 5

From The Associate EDITOR By Robb Murray OCTOBER 2017 • VOLUME 12, ISSUE 10 PUBLISHER

Steve Jameson

EDITOR Joe Spear ASSOCIATE Robb Murray EDITOR CONTRIBUTORS Nell Musolf Pete Steiner Jean Lundquist Leigh Pomeroy Bert Mattson Leticia Gonzales Ann Rosenquist Fee Bryce O. Stenzel James Figy Amanda Dyslin Brian Arola

PHOTOGRAPHERS Pat Christman Jackson Forderer PAGE DESIGNER

Christina Sankey

ADVERTISING Phil Seibel MANAGER ADVERTISING Jordan Greer-Friesz SALES Josh Zimmerman Marianne Carlson Theresa Haefner ADVERTISING Barb Wass ASSISTANT ADVERTISING Sue Hammar DESIGNERS Christina Sankey CIRCULATION Justin Niles DIRECTOR

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. $35.40 for 12 issues. For editorial inquiries, call Robb Murray at 344-6386, or e-mail rmurray@mankatofreepress.com. For advertising, call 344-6364, or e-mail advertising@mankatofreepress.com.


Moved by music! M

y love for music is a matter of public record. I’ve written more than once about my Bruce Springsteen obsession. I’ve been known to livetweet the goings on within the pep band during football games. And more than a few readers have read along as I’ve poured my heart onto the newspaper pages regarding my children and their experiences with band. It’s a subject that means a lot to me. And it’s mostly because of the latter. When I was a kid, I was into sports. All season long, I’d be on a field or a hockey rink or a tennis court. Even sports I wasn’t good at had their place in my life. I spent more than my share of time shooting hoops in the alley on the neighbor’s garage. And my grandfather, an avid golfer, ordered the parts necessary and put them all together to give me my own custom-made set of golf clubs. My friends and I toyed with volleyball. I spent on odd and illfated year on the Johnson High School football team (where I was injured early, then spent several games avoiding my coach so I wouldn’t have to play.) Still … the idea of music was always there. My father introduced me to plenty of great musicians and bands. (He’d tell me a story about being the only white guy at a Ray Charles concert.) But neither he nor my mother ever pushed me to try becoming a musician. Even in sixth grade when they brought the band instruments in for us to check out and I went home wanting to become a saxophone player, their interest was lukewarm in letting me explore it. Ultimately, it would seem, so was mine. When they didn’t make it happen, I didn’t push the issue. And that’s where it ended. Fast forward a few decades. Now it’s the late early 2000s and I’ve been through Prince, Punk, glam

rock, grunge and, yes, Springsteen phases, and my daughter’s getting to the age when it’s time to start playing an instrument. We never really talked formally about it as a family, but learning to play music was something I wanted to make sure was available to her (and later, to my son.) I wasn’t hoping to raise a rock star. But I did want them to have a chance and learning how to make that magic. The rest of the story is a happy one. Without rehashing it all, I’ll just say she’s a junior in college and still playing her clarinet. And he is a senior in high school and president of the band. Saxophone. Just like I’d hoped to try all those years ago. And they’ll both tell you music has made their lives much richer. The three musicians we’re featuring this month in Mankato Magazine are extraordinary. Each already has earned local and statewide acclaim. And they are just three standouts in a community teeming with talent. Go to any high school in the area you’ll find students whose love of music is resulting in beautiful things happening in band rooms, orchestra stages and choir risers. Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll find the inspiring story of Kevin Langton, who overcame his substance addiction and is now (in the month of the Mankato Marathon) a well-known ultramarathoner. Also, check out the new kid in school. Only, she’s not exactly new. And she’s exactly a kid. And she’s in charge! Sherri Blasing, a lifelong Mankato resident, is the new principal at Mankato West High School. She’s ready for a new year with new challenges. And now you’re ready to dive into the rest of this issue. Robb Murray is associate editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at 344-6386 or rmurray@ mankatofreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @freepressRobb.

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This Day in history By Jean Lundquist

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Tuesday, Oct. 10, 1967 Council treats for no Halloween tricks Don Reimers, representing Mankato Jaycees, Mankato State College and School District 77 received a $430 donation from the Mankato City Council for Halloween parties for youth in Mankato, North Mankato and Skyline. North Mankato contributed $200 this year. Skyline will be asked to donate $35. Membership in the program last year included 1,200 children in elementary and high school. “If we don’t give them something to do, they may find something we may not want them to find,” Reimers said, in reference to the lack of vandalism last Halloween. Wednesday, Oct. 20, 1954 Former Katoans picnic in Hollywood As has become the annual custom, former Mankato residents now living in California met at the Mineral Wells section of Griffith Park in Hollywood on Sunday, Oct. 10 for a day of renewing old friendships. It was a beautiful day, reminiscent of a fall day in the land of sky blue water. Dozens and dozens of families attended. Wednesday, Oct. 13, 1965 New Coca-Cola bottling plant dedicated Coca-Cola’s new $500,000 bottling plant at 1201 North Front Street was formally dedicated Monday by former U.S. Postmaster General James J. Farley. It will be open for public inspection with tours, prizes and refreshments from 7-9 p.m. this Thursday and Friday. Upwards of 10,000 persons are expected to inspect the ultra-modern and automated plant, processing and marketing five drinks in 23 different containers, 51 assorted packages, and pre-mix in 10 flavors. Monday, Oct. 30, 1972 David Kunst to give up world walk, return home Davis Kunst told his parents in a phone conversation this morning that he will return home when he is released from the American Embassy Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan where he is recovering from a gunshot wound he received over a week ago. His parents reached him at 6 a.m. less than a day after the burial of his brother John, who was killed by bandits at the same time David was wounded, and were told David would not likely continue the global walk. According to the parents, of Clear Lake, Iowa, David said he needs to regain his strength before thinking about resuming the 15,000 mile walk, which the brothers began 28 months ago. The brothers had gotten about halfway through their walk to benefit UNICEF when they were attacked. Tuesday, October 9, 1945 Rural youth in LeSueur County will reorganize Young men and women 18 years of age and older interested in joining the LeSueur County Rural Youth Group are invited to attend a meeting that will be held in Le Center Thursday evening, Oct. 18. This group, which was very active previous to the war, is being reorganized at this meeting. The purpose of this group is both educational and social. In the educational part of the program, boys will discuss better farming practices, while girls will take up topics of interest to homemakers.

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Wednesday, October 19, 1921 Nubs of News A valuable Pomeranian dog belonging to Mrs. F. G. Heinze was poisoned by eating a piece of liver with strychnine on it, which some careless person put in reach of animals, and which no doubt was left for rats.

The Gallery: Gerry Tostenson Story by Leticia Gonzales

Getting some air Artist’s evolution brings her to plein air


espite having limited exposure to art growing up, 73-year-old Gerry Tostenson was always drawn to the illustrations found in the children’s books she used to read to her kindergarten class. “Because I was in so in awe with all this beautiful color, I enrolled in the Philadelphia College of Art as an illustration major,” said Tostenson. “When I came to Minnesota 48 years ago, there was very limited art going on,” she shared. “There wasn’t the Carnegie and all of these arts centers that all of these towns have. It was pretty dead.” Tostenson quickly became immersed in what art happenings were going on through MSU by participating in art nights with other artists. “The next thing I know I transitioned from oil, which I still do now, into watercolor,” she said. “I’ve taught some of the community education classes, I’ve taught drawing, I’ve even taught around my dining room table years ago. Of course then you have children and then you get involved with regular employment, so it was there and I would try and do things a little bit here, a little bit there, but it wasn’t a continuation of my dream.” It wasn’t until Tostenson retired nine years ago that she was able to pick up where she left off. With an easel gifted by her husband, some paints and a few brushes, she decided to take a community ed plein air painting class. “I knew what is was, but I didn’t have the proper easel,” she said. “I remember one time I did try plein air with this cheap $3 easel and the wind came up and I was wearing the painting on my chest. I, of course, invested in a good heavy

duty easel that takes the wind.” Following that experience, Tostenson was awarded four grants, including opportunities to study with artists in Grand Marais and Ely. “I can go out and paint, but all of these competitions have a quick paint and that’s quite challenging,” she said. She recalls having to crawl out onto Artists’ Point in Grand Marais for a competition. “We all had to set up, and had to wait for this fog horn to go off, then we were given an hour and a half to paint, and I proved that I could do that,” she continued. “That was a good experience. I was really scared to death to do that.” From watercolors to negative painting, Tostenson strives to keep up with new techniques. “You’re always evolving,” she said. “You don’t want to become stagnant, otherwise it becomes a craft. I’ve always loved drawings and things that depict things, like just a plant, or things of nature — a bird’s nest, things like that.” Her main inspiration continues to be what is in her own backyard. “You don’t have to travel thousands of miles to find your subject matter; it’s right under your nose,” she said. From the prairies throughout Minneopa State Park to the sod houses in Sanborn, Minnesota, Tostenson is in awe when it comes to the resurgence of art in southern Minnesota. “You can drive down the same road a hundred times, but one day, the sun will just be shining down a certain way on your subject, and it is just inspiring.” MANKATO MAGAZINE • OCTOBER 2017 • 9

The Rock Bend Folk Festival in St. Peter is one of the biggest local music festival in southern Minnesota. Shown here are the Fabulous Love Handles from Owatonna.

Music connects a culture, places in time I

f given the choice between studying an anthology of music in the 20th century or listening to a good song, most of us would choose the song.


ƌƊƟƳƲƨơƏƊĆąĆĽĆ˜ĆŤĆ­Ć˛ By Joe Spear

That’s nothing against anthologies. The song wins out because music is one of the most basic forms of communication. It’s easier than speaking or writing, more easily understood and felt. Music and songs have a special place in the way that we connect. Everyone has “my song,â€? and couples even have “their song.â€? U2’s “With Or Without Youâ€? was that song for a couple I know. “Sleight of hand and twist of fate, on a bed of nails you make me wait.â€? OK, not exactly the wedding march, or even “Precious and Few,â€? but hey, to each their own. r—Â ĂœĂœĂŠÂ? ã—ĂœĂŠĂƒÂ˘Ăœôã¨Â“ÂŤÄ—Â—Ă˜Â—ĂƒĂŁĂ•Â Ă˜ĂŁĂœĂŠÂĄÂźÂŤÂĄÂ—ĘƒĂ•Â Ă˜ĂŁĂœĂŠÂĄ growing up. When Bruce Springsteen sang “Barefoot girl sittin’ on the hood of Dodge, drinkin’ warm beer in the soft ĂœĂ¨Ă‚Ă‚Â—Ă˜Ă˜Â ÂŤĂƒĘƒĘŽô—Â?Â ĂƒÕèãĂŠĂ¨Ă˜ĂœÂ—ÂźĂłÂ—ĂœÂŤĂƒ㨗՟ Â?—ô—ÄƒĂ˜ĂœĂŁ heard that song. For me, it was sitting on the open trunk of a Dodge Dart Swinger, “drinkin’ warm beer in the soft summer rain.â€? The only thing missing was the barefoot girl. My friend Kevin fashioned that Swinger for Springsteen, Peter Frampton and Led Zeppelin, whose songs screamed what we were feeling at 16 and 17. Th e c a r h a d a c l a s s i c eight track player installed separately attached under the dash with sheet metal screws. Speakers were built into the back window. You had to cut holes in the back window dash ĂŁĂŠÄƒĂŁ㨗 ÂÂÊã¨ĂœĂ•Â—Â ÂšÂ—Ă˜Ăœ you bought at the “Electric Fetus.â€? And for some reason, the music sounded best when you cranked it and opened the trunk. We parked behind Como Park junior high, between the Œ Â?šÂŒÂ ÂźÂźÄƒÂ—ÂźÂ“Â ĂƒÂ“㨗Ă˜Â ÂŤÂźĂ˜ĂŠÂ Â“ĂŁĂ˜Â Â?ÂšĂœĘˆ,ĂŁĂ´Â Ăœ ĂœĂŁĂ˜Â 㗢Â? location because if the cops turned the corner to see you, you still had enough time to hide the beer. There’s money to be made in helping people remember their connection to music. A group in Minneapolis called Radio Active can recount the nostalgia of whatever period you know or want. “Do you still have that T-shirt from that epic Journey, Pat Benatar or Bon Jovi concert? Do you remember listening to Head East, Peter Frampton or Led Zeppelin on transistor radio, vinyl or 8-track? ... If so, we are the band for you,â€? says the band’s pitch on the website gigmasters.com. Minnesota has its own place in that anthology of 20th Century music. Bob Dylan and Prince were the kings of the Minneapolis sound and scene who went on to change the world with their music. But you had to love the bar bands, too, like Lamont Cranston, the Suburbs and the now obscure Sussman Lawrence, who have a great video on Youtube with a woman in a swimsuit feeding them Oreos in the pool as they sing: “I’ve seen sanity sucked into the TV screen.â€? The Mankato music scene had its own character. You hear

people talk about it in historic and legendary ways, so maybe there’s a music vibe going through the citizenry that gave birth to things like the Little Crow music festival, People’s Fair and the enduring Rock Bend Folk Festival. ĂƒÂ“ĂŠÂĄÂ?ĂŠĂ¨Ă˜ĂœÂ—ĘƒĂŠĂƒÂ—Â?Â ĂƒĂƒĂŠĂŁĂ¨ĂƒÂ“Â—Ă˜Â—ĂœĂŁÂŤĂ‚Â ĂŁÂ—㨠ãÂŤĂƒÄ„Ă¨Â—ĂƒÂ?— music has over our civic life here in Mankato. The singing that takes place every Monday at noon at the Downtown Kiwanis Club must take its rightful place in our anthology. Though most of the songs the group sings were Ă•ĂŠĂ•Ă¨ÂźÂ Ă˜ÂŤĂżÂ—Â“ÂŤĂƒ㨗ÄƒĂ˜ĂœĂŁĂ•Â Ă˜ĂŁĂŠÂĄ㨗ȝȚã¨Â—ĂƒĂŁĂ¨Ă˜ĂşĘƒĂŠĂƒÂ—Â?Â ĂƒĂƒĂŠĂŁ Â“ÂŤĂœĂ‚ÂŤĂœĂœ㨗Â—Ä—ĂŠĂ˜ĂŁĘˆ,ĂŁÂŤĂœ㨗ĂŠĂƒÂźĂşÂ˘Ă˜ĂŠĂ¨Ă•ĂŠÂĄĂ˜Â—Â˘Ă¨ÂźÂ Ă˜՗Ê՟—Ę  ÂźÂ Ă´ĂşÂ—Ă˜ĂœĘƒ Â?Â?ĂŠĂ¨ĂƒĂŁÂ ĂƒĂŁĂœĘƒÂŤĂƒĂœĂ¨Ă˜Â ĂƒÂ?—Â Â“ĂłÂŤĂœÂ—Ă˜ĂœĘ ÂšĂƒĂŠĂ´ĂƒĂŁĂŠĂœÂŤĂƒÂ˘ together every week in Mankato, outside regular choirs. At one meeting, a youngish woman, (under 40) suggested the group needed to sing more modern songs. We moved the repertoire 50 years up to sing John Lennon’s 1971 hit “Imagine.â€? That song was never sung again, nor was the young woman heard from. But I jest. It’s fair to say the generation that grew up in the 1960s got most of the way they thought about the world from their music. Ę­aÂŤĂƒĂœĂŠÂźÂ“ÂŤÂ—Ă˜ĂœÂ ĂƒÂ“BÂŤĂšĂŠĂƒĘ°ĂœÂ?ĂŠĂ‚ÂŤĂƒÂ˘ĘƒĂ´Â—Ę°Ă˜Â—ÄƒĂƒÂ ÂźÂźĂşĂŠĂƒĂŠĂ¨Ă˜ĂŠĂ´ĂƒĘˆ Ä?ÂŤĂœĂœĂ¨Ă‚Ă‚Â—Ă˜,Â¨Â—Â Ă˜㨗Â“Ă˜Ă¨Ă‚Ă‚ÂŤĂƒÂ˘Ęƒ four dead in Ohio.â€? Neil Young took an event like the Vietnam War that had to be explained in the voluminous Pentagon Papers and created an understanding that could be summarized in that one line. Genius.com, which offers behind-the-lyrics summations of song meanings, said the song’s impact: “Ohioâ€? is a protest song written and composed by Neil Young in reaction to the Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970, and performed by the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young quartet. The incident took place on May 4, 1970 and became a sociopolitical symbolization during the Vietnam War. The sequence of events led to a nationwide anti-establishment student strike, forcing hundreds of colleges and universities to close. Though I’ve never really thought of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young as a “quartet,â€? the impact of their music was enormous on the politics of the day. The Vietnam War remained a topic for Springsteen in 1984’s Born in the USA album. President Ronald Reagan apparently understood it to be an anthem of sorts to how great America was. Not so much. Ę­#ĂŠĂŁÂŤĂƒ Ÿã㟗Â¨ĂŠĂ‚Â—ĂŁĂŠĂ´ĂƒÂśÂ Ă‚ĘˆZĂŠ㨗úÕèã Ă˜ÂŤÄ„Â—ÂŤĂƒĂ‚ĂşÂ¨Â ĂƒÂ“Ęˆ ZÂ—ĂƒÂ“—ĂŠÄ•ĂŁĂŠ ÂĄĂŠĂ˜Â—ÂŤÂ˘ĂƒÂźÂ ĂƒÂ“ĘˆaĂŠ¢ÊÂ ĂƒÂ“šŸŸ㨗ú—ŸŸÊôĂ‚Â ĂƒĘˆ, was born in the USA.â€? There’s no political pollster who can predict the impact one song might someday have on the republic. And that’s the beauty of music.


There’s no political pollster who can predict the impact one song might someday

have on the republic. And


that’s the beauty of music.

Joe Spear is editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at jspear@mankatofreepress.com or 344-6382. Follow on Twitter @jfspear. MANKATO MAGAZINE • OCTOBER 2017 • 11

Familiar Faces: Sherri Blasing By Amanda Dyslin

New West principal has longtime personal, professional ties to district I

t can be a challenge, sometimes, for a new principal to take the reins of a school and spend the first few months getting to know the staff and students before setting a course for the future. That adjustment period has definitely not been needed for Sherri Blasing, the new principal at West High School. Her title may be new, but to say Blasing knows the ins and outs of West High – and the Mankato Area Public Schools district, overall – is an understatement. 12 • OCTOBER 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Four of her own kids went to Roosevelt, Garfield, Dakota Meadows Middle School and West, and Blasing herself has served in numerous positions in the district: special education teacher, Roosevelt, 1997-1999; teacher, Central High School, social studies and special education – taught reading, writing, math, economics, U.S. history and music, 1998-2007; assistant principal/co-activities director, Dakota Meadows, 2007-2009; and assistant principal, West High School, 2009-2017.


Sherri Blasing

Age: 52 City of residence: Mankato Job title: Principal, Mankato West High School Family: Married to Shawn; four children: Zach, Laura, Nick and Sam. With all of this experience behind her, Blasing has her goals firmly in place for her new leadership role. “I want every student, family and staff member to feel valued and have a sense of belonging,” she said. “We are really going to focus on engagement and collaboration (two of the district’s core values) and being intentional about how we do this with every student in an effort to ensure every student graduates college and is career ready, with many options available to them in their adult life.” Here’s a bit more from Blasing about the importance of education in her life personally and professionally. Mankato Magazine: Why did you want to be an educator? Sherri Blasing: My mom had the biggest influence on my career path. She modeled the importance of learning throughout my life. As a small child, every afternoon was spent reading books and singing songs. In elementary/middle school, every evening at the dinner table there was discussion about what we learned in school and, in high school, she encouraged me to be involved and to take courses that would challenge me. She instilled the love of learning in me. While in high school, I began teaching piano lessons to younger students and loved watching a student have an “aha” moment and watching their pride and confidence grow as they learned. This is when I decided I wanted to be a teacher. I came to MSU as a music major, then changed my mind a few different times in regard to the content area, but it was always about teaching. I had been fortunate to have some amazing teachers growing up – teachers who were passionate, teachers who were caring, and teachers who took the time to get to know their students and catered their instruction to meet their individual needs. These teachers inspired me, and part of the reason for choosing education was to give back to others, as I had been given such a rich educational experience growing up. MM: You were a teacher first. What were some of your most important teaching/learning philosophies, and how have you helped to foster them in your schools as an administrator? SB: You have to get to know your kids on an individual level if you are really going to support their learning in a way that is best for them. You have to meet them where they are, accept them unconditionally, every

day, and use the strengths they have to help them achieve success. I began teaching when Lisa Ray, a Special Education teacher and good friend, told me I should apply for this part-time Special Ed job at Roosevelt. I was a stay-at-home mom at the time, working on my Special Ed licensure. She told me, “You can do this; it is just like being a mom.” She was right, it is just like being a mom, but what I learned from watching her was that you continually ask questions until you know that child so well and what their needs are, that you have no doubt what you are doing is going to make a difference for them. Growing up in a small town in northern Minnesota (Two Harbors), everyone I knew was pretty much like me. When I began teaching at Central, I learned quickly that, while everyone has a “normal,” different people have very different “normals.” This is where I learned how important it is to build a positive relationship with students if you are going to have any impact on their learning. You have to look at life through their eyes because they have so much more going on than learning my history lesson. Empathy is important, but so is problem solving. As a teacher you can’t get bogged down in feeling sorry for a student or making excuses for them, but you do need to help them problem solve. While teaching at Central, I may have learned more from the students than they did from me as the teacher. The kids were amazing. They were there because they struggled in school, but they were smart, resilient, adaptable and they had the skills needed in the adult world. As an administrator, I encourage our staff to do the same: build positive relationships, know your kids’ strengths, ask questions of others to help build your understanding, accept them unconditionally, work collaboratively to problem solve, and trust each other to support student learning. MM: During the years you worked as an assistant principal, what did you learn about good leadership practices from the principals with whom you worked? SB: We are fortunate to be in this district with so many talented teachers and administrators. Working in the district for almost 20 years (10 teaching, 10 in administration), and having had our own children attending school prior to that, it has been my experience that the best leaders are the ones who really care about kids. I have learned how important it is to be a servant leader, and while the kids are the most important, you also need to be sure you are taking care of your staff. Just as we do with our kids, we want them to feel valued, to have a sense of belonging, and we want to push and support the adults to continually improve, just as we do with our students. I have also learned the importance of building partnerships with parents. Working with teenagers and parenting teenagers can be tough at times, but if the adults can work together, we can have a bigger impact on helping the kids. We can do better for our kids if we work together; it really does “take a village.” Our district’s core values are there to guide us, especially our leaders: respect, engagement, responsibility, excellence, collaboration, adaptability and integrity. If we adhere to these core values in our practice, we will do good things. MANKATO MAGAZINE • OCTOBER 2017 • 13

MM: What are you most excited for during this next chapter of your career? SB: There are so many things to be excited about! We are in an exciting time in education. We are beginning to see more options for students to be involved in tailoring their high school experience to their strengths and a college or career path they choose. You are seeing the shift in classrooms, from teachers lecturing and students taking in the information to teachers facilitating learning with students being actively engaged participants, and taking ownership of their learning. We are forming partnerships with industries in the community to provide students with authentic career internships and apprenticeships. We have dedicated teachers and staff members who are passionate about students learning not only content, but also embedding 21st century skills in their instruction. Most of all, we have amazing students coming through our doors, and they deserve the best we have, every day. This is what

excites me every morning on my way to school.

events are some of the most exciting events we attend.

MM: What are some of your hobbies outside of work? SB: I love to spend time with family and friends. My husband loves to BBQ, so we host quite a few backyard picnics for friends and family. We both enjoy music and attending live music. I enjoy gardening (flowers) and working in the yard. I keep trying to be a runner but find myself with fluke injuries from time to time (I’ve been on a good run now after recovering from a broken knee cap). I like to attend sporting events, especially hockey as we have been a long time hockey family; all of our kids played hockey, my husband played hockey, even my dad played hockey, and now Zach is on the coaching staff at West. Because of our love of music and sports, this job allows me to combine my interests with work. Often, our Friday night date night is attending a Scarlet event, whether that be a concert, a play, an art exhibit, or an athletic event. I have to say the high school

MM: What should the Mankato community – and especially future West students and parents – know about you? SB: It is one of my goals that every student is as excited as I am to go to school every day. Since becoming a teacher in this district, I have never felt like this is “work.” I look forward to every day of school. I want students and parents to know that I bring a high level of positive energy and work collaboratively with our school community in an effort to provide each student with as good as, if not better, a high school experience my own children had at West High School. I believe that if we work together, we can do great things for all kids. MM: What would surprise them to learn about you? SB: As wonderful as the teenage years are, they can also be challenging. Our own four children were born within a span of six years. Yes, they were all teenagers at the same time, and

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we survived. We were very busy while they were growing up; they were all involved in a variety of activities, and we were constantly on the go. Now, I try to go to as many high school events as I can, as I do love seeing the kids participating and attending activities, but also, this is what we have always done as a family. We started going to West football games when our kids were in the stroller, as we just lived up the hill. We would sit on the wall and watch the games, and the band would come down to that end of the field and play a song or two. It was then that I knew we were in a special community. I am honored to be serving this community as principal.

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Day Trip Destinations: Paisley Park By James Figy Exterior of Paisley Park


Purple Reigns Explore Prince’s life and music at Paisley Park Photos courtesy of Paisley Park/NPG Records


t’s been a year and half since Prince Rogers Nelson, the musical pioneer and Minnesota native known simply as Prince, left us alone in a world so cold. However, those wishing to learn more about Prince’s music, life and legacy can visit Paisley Park, his home and music sanctuary in Chanhassen, Minn. Prince fans can see many artifacts while touring the recording studios and exhibits. The Purple Rain exhibit houses a 16 • OCTOBER 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

motorcycle used in the movie, a copy of the script and the Oscar award for the film score. “It all centers around Prince’s instruments or clothing pieces, things that were a part of Prince’s world,” said Mitch Maguire, tour operations manager. “And those are all things that we can continue to change out over time, too, so that when people come back, we give you a bit of a different tour experience.” The 65,000-square-foot music

compound was completed 30 years ago in September 1987. Scheduled public tours began in October 2016 after Prince’s death in April of that year. However, these aren’t the first tours of the property, Maguire said. “(Prince) offered scaled-back tours of Paisley Park on a limited basis going back to the year 2000,” he said. “Even in these last few years, when he would host his ‘Paisley Park after Dark’ events, he would sometimes offer studio

In the Purple Rain exhibit visitors to Paisley Park find memorabilia from the film and platinum album that spent 27 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Charts. Prince truly was a triple threat with Purple Rain, earning him the rare accomplishment of having the No. 1 movie, album and song simultaneously. This exhibit space showcases the Academy Award Oscar statue Prince won for Best Original Song Score, Prince’s personal script, one of the motorcycles featured in the film along with wardrobe worn by Prince.


Paisley Park, 7801 Audubon Road, Chanhassen, MN Admission: $38.50 to $160 Visit officialpaisleypark.com for more information

tours.” Visitors today can choose from three different tours listed on Paisley Park’s website: the 70-minute general admission tour, 100-minute VIP tour or new three-hour Ultimate Experience. Paisley Park’s main floor houses recording studios A, B and C and a soundstage that visitors might recognize from Prince’s film “Graffiti Bridge.” The basement vault and parking garage are off limits to visitors, and even staff members do not enter the top floor, Prince’s private residence. It’s just one of his rules that remains in place out of respect. Another is his cell phone ban. Visitors who want a picture of themselves inside Paisley Park can pay to get it on a flash drive on the VIP tour. “Even when he was doing shows down there in the past, you would either have to leave your phone in

Atrium at Paisley Park your car. If you brought it into the facility, security would ask you to put it in your car,” Maguire said. “It’s also a meat-free facility, as Prince was a vegetarian,” he added. “We offer a menu at Paisley Park that was designed by a couple of Prince’s personal chefs. So everything on that menu were his favorites and all meat-free.” Before his death, Prince had talked to those close to him about turning Paisley Park into a museum, Maguire said. The goal is to honor the Minnesota

musician and create a one-of-akind experience for people to learn about and celebrate his legacy. “The facility very much represents who Prince was and what he liked. He customized everything — the paint, the flooring, certainly his wardrobe,” Maguire said. “It’s a good representation of ... his creative mind. He wasn’t just a musician. He was a creative businessman. He had a creative eye for all sorts of things, and Paisley reflects that.” MANKATO MAGAZINE • OCTOBER 2017 • 17

MUSICAL YOUTH In a community full of talented kids, you can put these three young musicians right near the top By Robb Murray


f you didn’t know better, if you know she’s just a kid, if you somehow stumbled into the Merely Players rehearsal that day knowing about Lauren Senden, here’s what you might have thought. An angel. There’s an angel here. An angel that sings. An angel that somehow descended from heaven and perched itself on the stage of the auditorium in the Lincoln Community Center. It was just a rehearsal, the kind where there aren’t any costumes or props, where the actors sit in chairs with sheet music in their hands and they learn the music together. A fine collection of actors was assembled, all of whom are probably great singers. Still … One voice rises among the others in a pitch so high and clear and, yes, angelic that you simply cannot wait to hear more. And you’re bound to hear much, much more Lauren Senden. She’ll be in high school plays and community theater for now. But eventually you’re likely to see her on a screen somewhere. Because she’s that good. Lauren is one of three young 18 • OCTOBER 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

musical phenoms we’re focusing on this month in Mankato Magazine. The Mankato area has cultivated dozens of elite musicians. Many of them have gone on to great collegiate careers. Some of them are professional musicians. Each year dozens of area young people sing, play and perform their way to state and even national competitions. This area has a lot to be proud of when it comes to its musical youth. These are just three of the many success stories. Lauren Senden You might say Lauren’s tendency to vocalize her feelings was evident at an early age. “I was always a hummer,” she says. “My second grade teacher would say, ‘Lauren, you have to stop humming!’ I didn’t even know I was doing it. It’s just in me.” She was 8 years old the first time she auditioned for a part in a play. She got the part. She played Princess Michal in the musical “David and Goliath” at Christ the King Church. “I remember my mom getting

the phone call,” Lauren said. Added her mom, Lynell Senden, “She had never auditioned for anything. But when she was singing and acting, it transformed her. I didn’t recognize her as my child. It wasn’t Lauren. She morphed into someone else.” Getting that first acting and singing gig tapped something that had been brewing inside her. She’d loved to sing around the house. But doing it for strangers? Strangers who had come to see a performance? She realized soon after she began performing that this was what she wanted to do with her life. The more she auditioned, the more parts she got. So the family began to explore the idea of taking Lauren’s skills to the next level. Lauren began auditioning for — and getting — parts in Twin Cities area productions. She auditioned for the musical “The Little Mermaid” at a Minnetonka theater and was cast as Ariel. “In the middle of that production,” Lynell Senden said, “a couple of strangers came up to us and said, ‘Lauren’s singing

Lauren Senden (left) attends rehearsals for the Merely Players’ upcoming production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” The reigning Miss Outstanding Mankato Teen recently won the State Fair Talent competition for her singing. Photo by Pat Christman. makes us cry.’ And I thought ‘Mmmm, that’s not a normal reaction. And my husband and I thought we should find ways for her to explore this. We looked into the Children’s Theater and then it just grew.” She’s appeared in several Mankato East High School, Merely Players and Minnesota State University theater productions as well as productions at The Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis. She’s participated in a youth music program at the MacPhail Center for the arts. In her spare time, Lauren likes to share her voice with anyone who will listen, including nursing home residents. In the past year, she says, she’s starting to realize why people like listening to her sing. “Seeing the residents at nursing homes crying, laughing, hearing them say they’ve always loved opera, and helping them relive memories from ‘West Side Story — it’s so meaningful knowing I’ve been able to brighten their

days.” Oh, and by the way: Lauren, who is the reigning Miss Mankato Outstanding Teen, won the Minnesota State Fair talent show this year for her vocal rendition of “Ah, Je Veux Vivre.” Maddie Ceminsky If Lauren Senden fits the “bubbly, extroverted” high school archetype, Maddie Ceminsky might fill something on the opposite end of the spectrum — a quiet kid with a cute smile, slightly introverted, cautious, maybe a tad shy. But Maddie might be one of the most talented kids you’ll ever meet. She was recently selected for the All-State band, a process that involves statewide competition and a tough audition process. (Her high school band teacher said she was a lock for admission.) Several years ago she skipped a grade because she’s academically gifted. This semester, as a junior at Mankato West High School, she’s got a schedule packed with AP classes,

private clarinet lessons, piano lessons, tennis team matches and figure skating. This kid does it all. (When she tells you she’s going to medical school, count on her wearing a lab coat and greeting new patients in about a decade.) But the thing that stirs her heart, it seems, is music She was 7 years old when she took her first piano lesson. The piano she used was a gift from her grandfather. The teacher was a woman across the street. “I remember I was really excited to start,” she said. “At my first lesson, my mom was sitting there and watching … I remember that.” Unlike most kids, she practiced. And got better. There were times when her practice wavered, when she was content to merely progress through the books. Mom and dad, meanwhile, didn’t meddle. “They kind of kept their distance,” Maddie says, “and kind of let me go at my own pace.” And then came sixth grade and the clarinet. MANKATO MAGAZINE • OCTOBER 2017 • 19

Maddie Ceminsky works with her private lessons instructor, Hunter Ellis, to hone her clarinet skills. In February she’ll perform at the annual All-State concert with some of the best musicians from around the state. Photo by Jackson Forderer. The summer before kids can start band in school, they’re offered a chance to get a head start with a handful of summer lessons. “The first day I couldn’t get a sound out,” she says, laughing. “It was just a day of standing there with puffed out cheeks. I was actually afraid; I thought I’d be the worst clarinet player.” If she was, it didn’t last long. Like everything else in her life, Maddie resolved to master it. So instead of practicing the recommended 100 minutes per week, she shot for 200 and hit it, often exceeded it. By the end of sixth grade, she was clearly above the other clarinet players. She was ready to tackle Dakota Meadows Middle School. And then … seventh grade happened. In the timeline of a person’s public education, few look back on that time and say, “Hey, that was amazing.” Brains are still developing. Hormones 20 • OCTOBER 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

are raging. Emotions and feelings are raw. And as Maddie navigated the morass of middle school, she encountered struggles. “Life started happening,” she says. One of the things she did to deal with those struggles, she says, is turn to music. Her piano became her outlet. After school she’d sit down at the piano and … just let her emotions flow into the ivories. It helped, she said, and eventually middle school was behind her. High school came next. And it is here where she’d establish herself as one of the best musicians to ever play at Mankato West. Each year, thousands of high school students audition for the All-State band, and just a few are chosen. It’s an exclusive club. High schoolers can try out during their sophomore and junior years. Accepted students spend a week at a Minnesota college during the summer, then

reconvene in February for a concert at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. To make two trips to All-State is rare, and it looks like Maddie is on track to do just that. (The first thing they do is audition for chair placements. Maddie was placed at second chair.) When she went to Concordia College in Moorhead for her week-long stay at band camp, she says she was nervous about meeting her roommate. “Within 10 minutes it was, ‘Hi, my name is Maddie,’ to ‘Oh my God, this person is just like me!’” she said. At the end of band camp, the group performs a concert for the parents. “It was amazing,” she said. “It was really cool to be a part of putting something like that together. Even the last chair was so good.” Cooper Fuller His friends call him Coop. The

Cooper Fuller strums his Martin guitar in the front yard of his North Mankato home. Like Senden, Fuller also has competed at the State Fair talent show, as well as numerous gigs in southern Minnesota. Photo by Pat Christman. name fits him. He’s a super chill, laid-back kind of guy who also happens to have virtuosic skills on guitar. And if you’re a frequenter of local drinking establishments, you may have seen him. No, not with a beer in his hand, for Pete’s sake; Coop just turned 18! He’d be the guy on stage, strumming his Martin acoustic guitar, or shredding on his Stratocaster. Like the other young people above, Coop’s story with music began when her was very young. While out for a bike ride with his father, they rolled past Scheitel’s Music and a worker inside tossed Coop a guitar pick. There was something magical about that pick because, once he had it in his hands, Coop wouldn’t stop bugging his folks to get him guitar lessons. They agreed, and Coop started playing guitar. “I struggled with it at first,” he said, “but I kept on going on. I’d been playing four to five years

before I really started to play it and not just practice, like playing it for fun.” Why? One word: the blues. (OK, maybe that’s two words, but it sounds odd to just say “blues.”) “I started getting into blues music. I picked up a blues book of guitar music. Today, if anybody asks me how to get better at playing guitar and playing solos, I say ‘Listen to blues music.’” He was roughly 10 or 11 years old when that happened. And from then on, his progress exploded. “When I was 12 or 13,” Coop said, “my instructor said I didn’t need to take lessons anymore.” After that, he experimented with everything. During eighth grade, all he listened to and played was grunge. In ninth grade, it was metal. He even dabbled with pop. And he’s never stopped playing the blues. While Coop isn’t a fan of competition (he once told The Free Press, “I don’t like the idea

of competition in the creative process”) he nevertheless entered the Minnesota State Fair talent show and nearly won the thing. That was three years ago. For right now, though, Coop’s attention is elsewhere. He’s buckling down for his senior year at Mankato West High School, after which he hopes to start a college career that will one day land him a job in medical research. He’s interested in psychology and wants to go to medical school. Once all that school stuff is squared away, he says, he’ll start playing gigs again. All of this is a far cry from his thoughts a few years ago, back when he wanted to be a rock star. “I don’t know if I really want to be a rock star anymore,” he said. “Maybe I grew out of it. I had that dream of one day being on a huge stage selling out an arena. But now if I did that again I’d rather be like an underground band and not be a megastar.” MM MANKATO MAGAZINE • OCTOBER 2017 • 21

Instead of waiting until it’s too late, act NOW to get your car Minnesota Ready


By Robb Murray | Photo by Pat Christman


ne of the greatest things about living in Minnesota is the changing seasons. In spring we celebrate rebirth, warming temps and the coming of new life. In summer, we take advantage of most of our 10,000 lakes. In autumn the changing colors in nature are breathtaking. And then there’s winter. (Cue the sound of crickets chirping to emphasize the lack of similarly glowing seasonal characteristics.) Let’s face it, unless you’re doing tricks on a snowboard or, for some reason, are one of those people who enjoys pulling crappies through auger-cut circles on frozen lakes, winter, as a season, doesn’t bring much to 22 • OCTOBER 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

the table. And it’s a real gamechanger in terms of transportation. • Bicycles and motorcycles, for most, are no longer an option. • Public transportation brings with it the indignity of waiting for the bus outdoors in freezing temps. •And, of course, there are cars. Fussy, temperamental, beloved cars. They dominate the way our culture moves from one place to another. And when temps drop, they require a little extra TLC to make sure they’re ready for that trip to the mall, and that they’ll always fire up even when the mercury suggests they shouldn’t. We checked in with Mankato

car guru Joe Miller, owner of Miller’s Modern Garage on Madison Avenue. He walked us through a few of the key elements of getting your car fully prepared for another Minnesota winter.

Light ‘em up

A funny thing happens as autumn’s march creeps further on toward winter. The amount of available daylight decreases, and we spend more of our time in the dark. That, of course, means more of our driving will be done in the dark. And that, of course, means paying attention to your headlights. “You’re going to want your

headlights in working order,” Miller says. A standard Halogen headlight might get you up to 1,000 hours of dark-piercing glow. If you’ve never had them replaced and you’re fairly certain the headlights on your car are pushing 1,000 hours, consider replacing them. You can probably get both bulbs in your headlamps replaced by a reputable mechanic for under $100.

Short trips

For a car, one of the most unfortunate things that occurs in the winter is the fact that, when it’s cold, short trips become more common. Suddenly, a trip to the corner store goes from an evening stroll to a quick car ride. And that’s an engine killer. “They’re horrible for a car,” Miller says. Your car’s engine was designed to run at a particular temperature. And while modern cars are much more efficient, older vehicles are not, and bad things can happen to engines that aren’t cared for properly in the winter driving season. The white “smoke” you see coming out of tailpipes is water vapor. When cold, your car’s combustion engine can’t combust very cleanly; the resulting smokelike discharge is coming from the water both in the gasoline and from condensation. Only when the car warms up can it fire at maximum efficiency (and hence produce less water vapor). Do your car a solid and, instead of running the engine for two minutes on that trip to Hy-Vee to pick up mangoes, take a leisurely drive around town to take in the sights. Miller says that, when your heater is pumping out hot air — and not lukewarm air — it’s safe to park it.

Kick the tires

Back in the day, a lot of folks practiced a twice annual ritual of swapping out tires. “I remember when I was young,” Miller recalled, “and my dad would send one of us brothers out with a tire wrench.” The order: take off the regular tires and put on the snow tires. Snow tires have deeper treads,

or sometimes studs, that provide better traction on snow-covered roads. They will not help much on extremely slick surfaces, the likes of which come along quite regularly in Minnesota. These days, most decent tires handle Minnesota’s winters just fine. Combined with advanced braking systems and better tire technology, a standard tire today might have your car handling as well as a car equipped with so-called “snow tires” back in the day. And, speaking of tires, tire pressure is something you’ll definitely want to check on. In cold weather, tires tend to leak air a little bit. Less air, of course, means lower pressure. “You’ll lose one pound of tire pressure for every 10 degrees of temperature Fahrenheit,” Miller says. “So tire pressure needs to be checked. Make sure it’s up to snuff before the weather gets cold and check it frequently during the winter.”

Battery power

One of the most frustrating things for any motorist is, on that first bitter cold day, you try to start your car and find your battery is dead. AAA research shows that cold weather can wreak lots of havoc on a car battery. At 32 degrees, their research shows, a battery loses up to 35 percent of its power. And at 0 degrees — a fairly common occurrence in Minnesota — a battery can lose up to 60 percent of its power. Numbers like that are more than enough reason to make sure you’re not one of those poor souls calling a friend for a jump start at 6 a.m. Or worse, a tow truck. “It should be tested before winter to make sure we’re not going into the winter with a marginal battery. You want to make sure that’s in good shape.” As technology has advanced, you would think batteries would get better and last longer. But actually the opposite is happening. Because newer cars rely so heavily on electronics, car batteries are, on average, needing to be replaced more often. If your battery is more than 5 years old, consider replacing it, or at least having it tested.


It never fails. As soon as the rain falls and you need your wiper blades to bail you out, you remember that they’re in horrible shape and they need to be replaced. If this is you, stop what you’re doing right now and go purchase replacement wiper blades. When you get there, you’ll see there is some variety in wiper blades these days. As winter is coming, you’ll be tempted to get some so-called “winter blades,” and they’re probably pretty good. But Miller says modern wiper blades, even the average ones, are a far cry from what we had 15 or even 10 years ago. They’re more durable, have fewer moving parts and generally do a better job than previous iterations. One thing to keep in mind: if your vehicle is parked outside, sun exposure can damage them. Plan to upgrade at least annually. And speaking of wipers, you should also keep in mind the windshield washers. During the winter, melting snow can result in the need for a lot of washer fluid. Have your mechanic check them over when you bring your car in for a …

Tune up

It’s never a bad idea to have your mechanic give your car a good once over. It’s far better to have a person you trust give you an honest assessment of what needs attention on your car and, perhaps more importantly, what doesn’t. During the tune up, it might not be a bad idea to get an oil change. Like wiper blades and tires, basic motor is all you need these days. Modern oil technology has rendered obsolete the need for a so-called “winter oil” that is lighter. And that’s it. Please, people, get on this task soon. Don’t wait until December when you’re wallet will be tired from all the Christmas shopping and a costly repair or tow won’t exactly be in the budget. And drive safe! MM


Reflections By Pat Christman



he decline of the monarch butterfly is well documented, but you wouldn’t know it around our area. Swarms of them have been spotted in the prairie around Minneopa State Park. The rise of native grasses and wildflowers, such as the rough blazing star this monarch found, are popular with the butterflies, as is milkweed. Scott Kudelka, Department of Natural Resources naturalist for Minneopa State Park, said they’ve collected and tagged about 100 monarchs in just a couple of outings. “Last year we barely tagged 20 after going out three or four times.” Human intervention may be playing a role, scientists say. As people become more sensitive to the environment and their effect on it, fewer pesticides harmful to monarchs are used. More prairie flowers the butterflies like are planted and more attention is given to the kind of habitat monarchs love. MM MANKATO MAGAZINE • OCTOBER 2017 • 25 MANKATO MAGAZINE • OCTOBER 2017 • 25

For Kevin Langton, it’s not about the race or the road. It’s truly about the journey. His has been an interesting — and sometimes difficult — one

Meet the



evin Langton has run marathons. The usual, 26-mile ones. His first was the Mankato Marathon. Yet, as much as he enjoys the race, pavement running isn’t really his style. Nothing against it, he insists, he just prefers a different form of locomotion: ultramarathons. An ultramarathon isn’t so much a race as it is a 100-mile long act of willpower within a 38-hour time span. And the thing is, ultramarathoners don’t always finish the race — more on that later. Imagine it, you train for months only to have an injury, one measly misstep on a scraggly root or craggy rock, prevent you from finishing. It happens all the time in ultramarathons. It’s happened to Langton more than once. Is the challenge what attracts people to subject themselves to this grueling task in the first place? It’s as good of a guess as any. “We’re all a little bit crazy,” said Kurt Keiser, owner of the River Valley Running store Langton manages, and an ultramarathoner himself. “There’s got to be

a little crazy in you to run 50 or 100 miles, but it’s all about the challenge.” When asked the “why” question, Langton doesn’t immediately bring up the challenge. It’s part of it, but it starts more simple for the Mankato man. “Roads hurt,” he said. “Pavement is hard.” Ah yes, and running 100 miles on a trail through the woods is easier? No, just different. More scenic. Not forgiving, but certainly more distance to make up for a poor stretch. “In a road marathon I might have a bad spot of



running and it’s probably going to wreck my race because it’s going to throw me five minutes off,” Langton said. “In a long race I expect to have a lot of those bad moments, and figure out how to get through them.” Or not get through them, while knowing you did everything you could to try. You rely on yourself out there, along with the kindness of family, friends and strangers who will probably become friends soon enough. Family and friends, like Langton’s wife, Lisa, make up what’s called a runner’s “crew,” the people

ready to meet the ultramarathoner at each checkpoint with refreshments, a quick bite for fuel, and encouragement. The most competitive runners might not stop for more than a couple dozen seconds during the race. The people who just want to finish, like Langton, aren’t stopping for extended periods either. “You can stop but usually because there’s a time cut off it’s going to be a short nap,” he said. “I might sit down and put my head in my hands for five, 10 minutes — something like that can do wonders.” Some stops are planned, others are not. You might be lucky enough to come upon a fellow runner frying bacon before they set off once more. Take Langton’s word for it, the smell of that bacon will be mesmerizing after you’ve been running through the night. Being deprived on your own out there has a way of making you appreciate it more. You learn a lot about yourself during an ultramarathon, including how to be grateful, Langton said. Not grateful for grand gestures, but for that strip of bacon, or a soft breeze when you’re overheating. It’s the little things that help you power through the times your body is pleading with you to quit.

Superior experience

Among the 5Ks, ultramarathons and the umpteen races in between that Langton’s run in his life, the Superior Trail 100 is the most important to him. He says it helps define him. Watching him talk about it, you can just about see his mind running north to the starting line at Gooseberry State Park ahead of the finish line 100 miles down the Superior Hiking Trail at Lutsen. He talks without a hint of jest about what a beautiful thing it is to run for two straight days through the woods. “I know that sounds stupid maybe to most normal people, but at night you just want to go to sleep, even if it’s a bed of lichen on the ground,” he said. “What’s cool is you get that first light and all your body cycles just change and start to be like ‘OK, I can accept this again.’ It’s a total resurrection kind of a thing.” A second wind, a new life, all made possible through running. It’s like a mini-metaphor for Langton’s life. The 47-year-old is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, clean for the last 11 or so years. He says he was born an addict, just waiting to find substances to satiate his desire for more. He never discriminated,


indulging in whatever substances he could say “yes” or “more” to, from beer to pot to heroin. “Once I found them, I was off to the races,” he said. In some cases, literally. “I even ran a 5K during my last drunk,” he said of a race in St. Clair in 2006. “I remember very little of that 5K, but I’ve got the T-shirt.” He wanted to die that weekend. “I couldn’t imagine how to stay sober, and I couldn’t imagine continuing to live the way I was,” he said. Running became a big piece of his recovery, a way to connect to the spiritual life. He’s a big advocate of finding the spiritual through the physical. Running became his way of praying. It became his meditation. Running also provided him with a community of healthy, clean friends and a new obsession. You see, Langton doesn’t just run. He works it, writes about it, blogs it, podcasts it, photographs it, lives it. A cynic might say he swapped one addiction out for a newer, albeit more healthy one. He thinks it’s a simplistic argument. “I prefer to think of it like this: When I was using, I was piling mask after mask on me,” he said. “I didn’t want to see who I really was. I didn’t want to look at that.” To run, for him, is to be unmasked. “Maybe part of recovery is taking those masks off,” he said. “In a long run you have no choice but to face who you are.” He writes about these masks in his book, “Superior: 100 Mile Endurance Run, One of America’s Oldest, Toughest, and Gnarliest Ultramarathons.” The book is part nonfiction novel, part memoir. He weaves his past as an addict, his spiritual experiences in running and the stories of other competitors into a cohesive narrative including the history of the race itself. One ultramarathoner featured in the book, TJ Jeannette, met Langton when seeking advice on how to help a friend struggling with substance abuse. Jeannette remembers Langton, a stranger at the time, jumping at the chance to help. Helping others in recovery is important to Langton, right up there with running. He’s drawn to other addicts and alcoholics in the same way he’s drawn to other runners. So it seems natural he combined the two passions when he was executive director of Southern Minnesota Recovery Connection, a peer-based recovery support organization. His work included organizing relay teams for people in recovery during the Mankato Marathon. “We were trying to battle the stigma that we addicts, alcoholics are just people who live under a bridge, to put it out there that we can live healthy lives,” he said. Jeannette said this willingness to help and ability to open up about his past struggles makes Langton a popular figure in the ultramarathoning subculture. “If you run into an aid station with Kevin, it’s like entering a club with a rockstar,” he said. “The whole place lights up and everyone there knows him.” It’s easy to see why people would react this way. People feel like they know him because he tells you

Ultramarathoning is brutal. On Langton’s most recent effort, he got 96 miles into a 100-mile race before being disqualified for arriving late to a checkpoint. Photo by Zach Pierce what he’s thinking, even if what he’s thinking doesn’t make him look great. In a social-media age where manicured, online personas may or may not fit the reality, having someone be so open about their faults must have a refreshing effect. “You can be an open person and not worry about being judged for your stupid little idiosyncrasies,” Jeannette said of being around Langton. “Because he’s got them too.” Idiosyncrasies like a mind that jumps around. He can seem all over the place at times, while still remaining thoughtful. These quirks suit him well for the trail running community, Keiser said. “It’s a different crowd,” he said. “It’s a little more eccentric crowd, becoming more mainstream, but it has a character about it.” Certainly not all, but a disproportionate amount of the ultramarathoners Langton encounters have overcome similar struggles. “I joke that you could probably start a race with the serenity prayer, which is how an AA meeting starts,” he said. You can see why Langton feels like he’s found such a strong community in ultramarathoning. And then ultramarathoning is just one subculture of the larger running community. Langton loves seeing new runners come into River Valley Running full of excitement about training for their first marathon. It’s like a welcome into a new family, a family that’s

treated Langton so well, finish or not. Langton hoped to finish his fourth Superior Trail 100, and eighth 100-miler overall in September. He knew his body wasn’t in top form leading up to it. An IT band issue, when connective tissue rubs up against the thigh bone, and plantar fasciitis stymied his preparation. As it turned out, he finished 96 miles of the 100 before missing the cutoff time at the last aid station. Coming so close must be deflating, but he said he doesn’t beat himself up about it as much as others might. He gets disappointed, but said he still had a blast. Running, to him, is about so much more.

If you go

While the Superior Trail 100 is a beast of its own in northern Minnesota, the Mankato Marathon draws thousands to southern Minnesota every year for the region’s biggest race of the year. The schedule for the Eighth annual Mankato Marathon is as follows: Saturday, Oct. 21: 5K, KidsK, Toddler Trot and Diaper Dash, My Bold Walk Sunday, Oct. 22: Marathon, Relay Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K For more information, visit www.mankatomarathon.com MM MANKATO MAGAZINE • OCTOBER 2017 • 29

Then & Now: Mankato Normal School By: BRYCE O. STENZEL

Minnesota State University’s Centennial Student Union.

The Founding of the Mankato Normal School W

inona had the first institution for the training and licensing of teachers, opened in 1864. Legislation authorizing the creation of two additional “Normal Schools” in Minnesota, at St. Cloud and Mankato, was passed in March of 1867. Although the state legislature appropriated $150,000 for the purpose, the bill was vetoed by Republican Governor William R. Marshall, who served from 1866-1870, and the project was postponed. On Oct. 7, 1868, the first term of the Mankato Normal School opened in the basement of the Methodist Episcopal Church, at the corner of Cherry and South Second Streets. The day was stormy; only 27 students enrolled on the first day classes were held. By the next day; however, there were already 35 students registered. Less than a month later, on Oct. 26, the Mankato Normal School was moved to the second story of the new brick store building, owned by John J. Shaubut, on the corner of Front and Main Streets. It would remain at this location until June, 1870, when it was relocated to a new facility, built expressly for the 30 • OCTOBER 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

purpose, at the corner of Fifth and Cherry Streets (current site of “Old Main” Senior Living Community). The first graduating class, consisting of eight women and two men, took place here on June 28 and 29, 1870. The original faculty of the Mankato Normal School was composed of: Professor George M. Gage (who served as principal), Edna Montgomery and Charles Boston. A month later, Susie Dyer, a native of Maine was hired, due to the rapidly expanding enrollment. Miss Dyer journeyed by train, steamboat and stagecoach all the way to Mankato, in order to accept the job. The principal building of Mankato’s Normal School (renamed Mankato Teachers College in 1921), built at Fifth and Cherry Streets, was gutted by fire on Feb. 5, 1922. It was rebuilt the following year at the same location. The college continued to grow and spread out from its original hub; by 1946, there were already serious discussions underway, led by President, Dr. Clarence Crawford to expand the campus beyond its current limits in the Minnesota River valley to an

area of undeveloped land on the hilltop, overlooking the lower campus area. Thus, began the era of “Valley Campus” (lower) and “Highland Campus,” (upper) which continued throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s, when the Valley Campus was finally shut down. By then, all operations had been consolidated on the hilltop location, where they remain to this day. The decade of the 1960s saw the greatest growth in terms of physical plant expansion in the history of Mankato Teachers College (renamed Mankato State College in 1957 and Mankato State University in 1975). With enrollment in excess of 7,000, cramped dorms forced the planning for new residence space and other expansion to Highland Campus. The first section of Crawford Center was occupied in 1959, and the first phase of McElroy was completed and opened during 1962-63. Later in the 1960s, an additional six buildings had been constructed and occupied on Highland Campus including: Armstrong Hall, Gage Center, Memorial Library, Centennial Student Union, the Performing Arts Center and Morris Hall. One of the most iconic of these, the “Centennial Student Union,” was named in honor of the fact that its construction in 1967 coincided with the centennial of the legislation authorizing the creation of the Mankato Normal School. While most of the activities being planned to mark the sesquicentennial of the University’s founding will take place in 2018 (150 years after classes first began), there will be a special Centennial Student Union

Dr. AngelA Schuck Dr. keith FlAck

50th Anniversary Celebration Oct. 7 to mark this important milestone. A personal memory I recall of the Student Union building (long before I was an MSU student) was that prior to the completion of the Wigley Administration Building in 1979, the main entrance to the Student Union opened on the east side of the building. That door is no longer in use; it was blocked off when the Administration building was built adjacent to the Student Union. However; there is

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still an alcove in the wall, showing where the door once was. For a time, it was used as a lounge area, with a large screen television set up in the opening. Even the “Old Abe Statue” (a gift from the lower campus, Old Main Building) stood there for awhile, before it was moved to its current location, just inside the lobby, that opens on the campus mall.

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guess we’re just caught up in Mankato Marathon fever here. We’ve got a few runners in the office, of course. But it’s not just us. It seems EVERY person in town goes gaga for marathoning and running, and they totally show up for this event every year. People are volunteering at the finish line and signing up for cheer stations. Some people are handing water to passing runners, others are acting as trail markers. There’s something for everyone at the Mankato Marathon. It has become a big, big deal that just keeps getting bigger and better. This month in Food Drink & Dine we talk to a few runners who know a thing or two about nutrition. Whether it’s carbo loading or just simply healthy eating, there are various ways to fuel your body for the big race. But there is only one way to get to the finish line: GO! In our wine column, Leigh Pomeroy introduces you to some of the people behind the wine, and Bert Mattson has a few tips on Octoberfest brews.


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— Robb Murray, Associate Editor, Mankato Magazine

food, drink & dine




Marathon vets emphasize importance of food as fuel By Amanda Dyslin | Photo by Pat Christman


aul Dobratz wasn’t a runner when he decided a few months before the first Mankato Marathon that he was  Ǖ Ǖ űǕ\ in great shape, having biked for 10 years or so, but when it came to running, he couldn’t run a mile. “When I was turning 40, I wanted to do a marathon,” Dobratz said. “And running and ǕǕ ǕŰ\ Ǖ ļ ǕǕ  ű year for the marathon, and that ǎ \   down stairs backward.” Dobratz also didn’t think much about the best energy sources for his body, or when to eat and drink before a race. Now, of course, with all seven Mankato Marathons behind him – making him one of only several dozen members of the Legacy Runner group – he’s learned a great deal about how best to fuel his body leading up to a big race. ļ    \ 3Ǖ  Mankato Marathon coming up Oct. 21, Dobratz and hundreds of other marathon participants have been in training for weeks. (Last year, 442 people ran the Mankato 34 • OCTOBER 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Marathon.) “For me, I’m a carb burner. I’ve been eating a lot more carbs, including grains and beans,” said Dobratz of North Mankato, who has been training for this month’s Mankato Marathon for weeks. “The night before, I make myself a big plate of pasta. (Carbs are) digested pretty quickly, and then I don’t eat the morning of.” Dobratz keeps a few energy snacks on him during the race, including energy cubes. “They’re gummy squares; it’s basically carbs. For me, that works. I tuck it between my cheek and gums and it dissolves,” he said. Alexa Cournoyer, campus dietitian at Minnesota State University, said carbohydrates are an important fuel source in the three to four days leading up to a marathon. Carbs supply the body with glycogen, which is the stored form of energy muscles need for long runs. She said the best carb choices for athletes throughout training and before the race are fruits, whole grain breads, cereals, pastas, rice and baked potatoes. Runners should try to steer away

from high-fat/high-carb meals, such as pizza, take-out meals and desserts right before the big race. “Nutrition plays a major role in training for a marathon,” Cournoyer said. “You want to supply your body with the nutrients it needs to build endurance and muscle as well as stay healthy. As you increase your miles, your calorie intake should increase as well.” Oftentimes, as has been the case with Dobratz, the increase in calories happens naturally. When more calories are burned during marathon training, the body sends signs that the person is hungrier, Cournoyer said. Cournoyer also emphasized the importance of listening to one’s body, as everyone’s ideal marathon nutrition will be

ǕŰ\ For Kurt Keiser, owner and operator of River Valley Running, he doesn’t change his diet before any big race. With numerous marathons and ultramarathons (any foot race longer than a marathon) on his resume, Keiser’s “old-school philosophy” is to simply eat sensibly.

“The best approach, and it sounds like it’s very common sense, is everything in moderation,” he said. Keiser said it’s also important to remember that the best fuel, and the best times and means of delivering that fuel, is individual to each athlete. “What works for one doesn’t work for another,” he said. “You ű ǕǕ \0 ǔ   ŰǕĨ    don’t. Some people do high carb, some do high fat and protein. But one mainstay is everything in moderation. Just be smart.” Personally, Keiser doesn’t add a lot of calories to his diet during training or a race. It doesn’t work for him to change his diet dramatically. “You want consistency so your body knows what to expect based on the fuel you’ve been giving it,” he said. “(The carbo load), I’m not big on that. You’re doing something to your body you’re not accustomed to. When you vary things right before a big event, that’s just a recipe for disaster in some cases.” Keiser said his body is used to

eating breakfast before a long run, and Cournoyer said it’s important to have that energy source. “Deciding what to eat before is very individual, as everyone’s

ǕǕǔǕ ǕŰ  some might be more sensitive than others,” she said. “My suggestion is during pre-marathon training, try Ǖ ǕŰ

 Ǖ how they settle in your stomach. Keep track of what foods caused an upset stomach and which ones didn’t. This will give you a good idea of what works for you.” Cournoyer said avoiding fat is usually a good idea before a race because it takes the most time to digest. Carbs and a little protein from a granola bar, fruit, toast or a sports drink are good options. Cournoyer also emphasized the importance of hydration. She suggested athletes weigh themselves before and after a run to monitor the amount of lost water. For every pound lost, a runner should drink an extra 2 or 3 cups of water. /Ǖǎ Ǖ  important. Research shows two windows of time that nutrition can help reduce muscle soreness,

Cournoyer said. During the first 30 minutes after a workout, consume carbs and protein at a 3:1 ratio. Carbs replenish muscle glycogen stores, and protein helps build muscles. “This can be done with a banana and two tablespoons of peanut butter, a glass of chocolate milk, or an apple with a handful of nuts,” she said. The second window is one to  ǎ Ĩ it’s a good idea to eat protein, carbs and a healthy fat. “This combination of nutrients will help reduce inflammation and repair muscle tissue, reducing soreness,” she said. “This meal could be a chicken breast with avocado and a piece of fruit, or an omelet with fruit on the side.” Cournoyer suggested runners check out “Nancy Clark’s Food Guide for New Runners: Getting it Right From the Start” for more information.

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Wine & Beer


By Leigh Pomeroy

The best wines are about people and family

southern mn style


veryone knows that wine is the product of fermented fruit, mostly grapes, and that the quality of wine is dependent upon where the fruit is grown and how it is treated in the winery. I say “mostly grapes” because I have tasted some excellent fruit wines. One that comes to mind is an Olallieberry wine made by Bargetto Winery near Santa Cruz, California. Back in the 1970s, when I worked for Bargetto, it was known for its fruit wines, an economic decision that scion Larry Bargetto made due to the abundance of berries and other fruit from that area, and because he was struggling to compete in the traditional grape wine market against larger, better known wineries in the state. And his fruit wines were very, very good. Like so many people in the wine business, Larry was a character. He dressed in the same plain olivegreen work shirt and work pants every day, the shirt featuring an array of pens and a notepad in the pocket, which one can see on the winery website in a photo by the famous photographer Ansel Adams. Larry loved his wine and cigars, and it was customary for him to invite his employees to stop working promptly at five (except during crushing season, of course, when everyone worked late) and join him in the tasting room for a glass or two of Bargetto sherry, which he favored, or whatever they pleased. Larry’s employees loved working for him, for although they didn’t make much money, he was kind and generous. Quick to laugh at a joke, he was well-read and ready to engage in nearly any subject. Larry was a devout Catholic, but he didn’t steer away from the occult when it served his purpose. For example, when the winery parking lot had to be dug up to replace a water line, he retrieved a dowsing stick from his office and promptly found the line that had been installed some 40 years earlier — an event that I witnessed personally. This was before the sophisticated electronic devices that we depend on today. Larry has passed away, but the winery continues under the next generation of Bargettos. It still makes fruit and mead (honey) wines under the Chaucer’s label, which you can find in Mankato, but it now focuses on premium wines primarily from its vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This includes the highly regarded Bargetto Pinot Noirs and Italian varietals like Dolcetto, Nebbiolo and Refosco under the La Vita label. When Gretta and I visit Napa Valley, we make just


one stop: at the home and winery of our dear friend Bill Cadman, whom I’ve known since we were in the same tasting group in 1972. At that time Bill worked for Heitz Cellars, one of the oldest and most famous wineries in Napa Valley, and for Joe Heitz, himself an unforgettable character and legendary winemaker. A few years later, Bill started his own winery, which he called Tulocay from a name for the native American peoples who used to inhabit the southern end of the Napa Valley. He specialized in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from grapes grown in the area just east of the City of Napa, which today is known as the Coombsville AVA. Like Larry Bargetto and Joe Heitz, he is an old-fashioned character, studiously adhering to his principles, shunning the corporatization of the wine industry and thumbing his nose at the Disneylandification of Napa Valley. His winery has changed little since he established it in the 1970s. It’s still located at the top of a knoll at the end of a very steep, unmarked driveway. The winery greeter is Buddy, a Chihuahua-Dachshund mix, and the “tasting room” is a large, old picnic table underneath the oaks in his front yard, where Bill presides at all tastings. Repeat visitors often bring cheese and bread to share, even lunch, and Bill supplies the wine. I have sampled a number of Bill’s Pinot Noirs going back as far as 30 years — all good, many fantastic. And during our latest stay he poured his Tulocay “Cadman label” 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, at 16 years old as great as any Cabernet I have ever been fortunate to enjoy. Given the tiny size of Bill’s winery and his personal attention, those who wish to visit must make an appointment. But if they do, they’ll be treated not only to Bill’s wines but also to his many wine stories told with a self-effacing sense of humor. And if you do visit, you might also meet Bill’s daughter Brie, who has now taken over the winemaking duties. Like Bargetto, Tulocay is not just about wine but about people and family too.

Leigh Pomeroy is a Mankato-based writer and wine lover.


By Bert Mattson

Decorating October Brews I

t’s tough to separate October from its traditions … for better or worse, it is defined by them. Die cut black cat window decals. Jangly jointed cardboard skeletons. Machinespun spider webs. Polyurethane pumpkins. Boo! Peel a corner of the commercial veneer and it’s clear these customs are of ancient origin. Generally, October festivals are rooted in filling up on food, and taking leisure, before the weather becomes genuinely frightening. For some reason, when people assemble for a feast and some fun, contests soon follow. Perhaps competition consoles people with the illusion of some sense of control over our environment. Whatever the case, I’m personally content in that competition between brewers keeps me in good supply! Spanning three days in October, with its global draw, Great American Beer Festival saw fit to bestow a silver medal upon Mankato Brewery’s Pumpkin Grinder. This is a Vienna Style Lager brewed with pumpkin and pie spices for fall release. Pumpkin Ale is a style perhaps prone to being over embellished. This one boasts a sturdy malt backbone but is not cloying. The squash and spice is present without overpowering — on balance, more tradition than trappings. It’s the rare specimen that leaves one wanting seconds. Considering it’s below 6 percent alcohol, and given the grain bill, it’s not too scary to try with something a touch spicy. I’m given to a dish of curried pumpkin that uses coconut milk. It’s tricky to talk about beer in October without mentioning Marzen, AKA Octoberfest. Minnesota boasts a few fine examples but perhaps a lesser known exemplar is Third Street

Brewhouse’s Oktoberfest Session Marzen. A blind tasting of 55 versions of Marzen-Oktoberfest last year, at the digital mag Paste, put it at number two overall! Them’s strong words, even among Minnesota brews, but the fact remains that it’s a welcome addition to the Fest scene at around 4.5 percent alcohol while still achieving bready, fruity hallmarks of Marzen. The usual suspects, at 6-7 percent, can quickly crimp one’s style standing around in the October chill for an hour or two. Trimming the alcohol content hardly dents the beer’s capacity for mating up with grilled meats. Pork is the meat of choice here, preferable ground, seasoned, and stuffed into a hank of natural casing. Brats are a no brainer. Ratebeer, the crowd sourced review site (of recent AnhheuserBusch InBev minority stake acquisition intrigue), has ranked Surly Brewing Company in it’s top hundred since 2007. It’s equally enthusiastic about Surly’s fall seasonal, Darkness … but for fall grilling, Damien Child of Darkness might be worth a harder look. This American Black Ale is made from the second runnings of the mash left over from the stronger Darkness. The offspring is smoother and less boozy, little sweetness, but retains some of the chocolate and coffee character, building on it with grassy and citrus hop flavors and aromas. It calls for char-grilled beef, be that a burger or porterhouse. Be unafraid to introduce a bit of blue cheese. Bert Mattson is a chef and writer based in St. Paul. He is the manager of the iconic Mickey’s Diner. bertsbackburner.com

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By M. Carrie Allan | Special to the Free Press

southern mn style

The 7 essential cocktails every drinker should know how to make S

ince the beginning of the craft cocktail renaissance, we’ ve b e e n g i f t e d (a n d occasionally cursed) with a massive creative explosion of new drinks. Good drinks, bad drinks, a few great drinks. New classics that spread around the globe, and drinks doomed to be forgotten because they were mediocre, or too complicated to catch on, or required ingredients we could source only at the top of a particular mountaintop in Sweden, or simply because - holy gin fizz, Batman! - there are so many drinks now that it’s impossible to keep track of all of them unless you’re some kind of maniacal bartending robot from space. I want to be clear: I love the creativity of this industry. As a customer, it’s still my favorite thing about going into a new bar: that moment of perusing a menu, reading the ingredients of a drink, assembling it in my mindpalate (to borrow from Sherlock) and thinking, “Wow, that sounds great.” And when I order it, about 10 percent of the time it is great. Thirty percent of the time, it’s at least pretty good. Then there’s the other 60 percent of the time, when the drink turns out to be out of balance, unpleasant or muddy, or when all the advertised flavors don’t show up in the drink’s flavor at all, causing the ingredients list to read as the cocktail equivalent of used-car salesmanship: big talk, nothing under the hood. But this is not a rant against making new drinks. It’s merely a plea to get to know the classics first, to understand the rules before attempting to shatter them. Start by learning the canon. There are 38 • OCTOBER 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

reasons these drinks have survived and become essential: They’re good, they’re simple to make and they’re replicable almost anywhere that has a booze store and access to basic grocery items.


Everyone agrees the martini is an essential drink: Its glass has become the universal sign of the cocktail. And yet for such a canonical beast, the martini is perennially personalized, a drink everyone dials in to their own tastes. Gin or vodka? Purists will argue for the former, but vodka has plenty of advocates. Vermouthto-base-spirit ratio? Debated endlessly, but if you’re using good, well-cared-for vermouth, it’s not to be feared. Shaken or stirred? The latter is the rule, but shaking has advocates. (They’re outliers. Even Bond, James Bond). Add bitters? Garnish with a lemon twist or an olive? Your call. Try this recipe, adjust to your liking, and then be prepared to adjust and argue about it with every new drinker you encounter for the rest of your life.


A boozy, classic deep dive into whiskey and sweet vermouth. These days, most craft cocktail types opt for rye, which has a spicier profile than bourbon, but the main thing is to pick a whiskey you like and a vermouth that’s worthy of it. (Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Torino is terrific; Carpano Antica can be a little dominant, but if you like its heady vanilla-spice pow, it can also be delicious). Small but interesting

tweaks can happen via new types of bitters (chocolate or pimento make for a nod toward autumn, Peychaud’s or cardamom will bring out other notes), but orange and Angostura are reliably on point.


Supposedly no one likes a Negroni the first time they taste one, and some drinkers never come around on this bright red flag of a drink. It’s an Italian liqueur that brings that fiery color and throws down the gauntlet: Campari, the deeply bittersweet, orangy and herbal aperitivo that complements equal portions of dry gin and sweet vermouth. It’s boozy, it’s strange, it’s a high-wire

balancing act, and once your palate adjusts to the bitterness, you may come to crave it - and regard it as the gateway to a spectrum of drinks incorporating bitter flavors.


Perhaps the first and most genre-defining of cocktails, the Old-Fashioned has been carried back into heavy sipping rotation by the craft cocktail renaissance and smart bartenders who stopped treating it as a vehicle for transporting bad fruit salad. Good bars opt to leave out the pile of pineapple and neon cherries that were once all too common. You may want a twist of citrus for its fragrant oils, but that’s all the embellishment that’s called for. A little sugar, good whiskey (it can be bourbon- or rye-based, depending on your preference) and the spice of bitters to button up the whole thing nice and neat.

Gin and Tonic

With two ingredients plus a couple of slices of citrus, the gin and tonic seems so simple it barely warrants a recipe. It’s gin, it’s tonic: Where’s the complication? But the flavors of juniper mixed with the tongue-livening bitter bubble of tonic have made this drink the essential highball for centuries. Its simplicity makes the quality of the ingredients and the right proportions critical. Once you can make the classic, branch out into new gins, tonics and garnishes. (Look to Spain for inspiration; there, variations on the “gin-tonic” are infinitely variable.)


Crisp, tart and elegantly simple, a good daiquiri is a pale, delicious thing of beauty. The classic version is not frozen, but it is still perfect for drinking beachside, or for bringing the beach to where it ain’t. Look for a good Cuban-style light rum (Havana Club, Banks 5 Island) to get you started, and then adjust as you get acquainted with the drink. (Aficionados sometimes graduate to older rums, but the light is classic.) A simple sugar

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syrup balances out the tartness of the lime and keeps the drink from getting too watered down by its icy shake.


Like the daiquiri, the margarita is a classic from the cocktail family known as sours, a simple but delicious clan of drinks in which the DNA is made up of spirit, citrus and sweetener. You should taste the tequila (use a good blanco, which is unaged, or reposado, which is lightly aged), the lime and sweetness from the orange liqueur; a touch of agave syrup boosts the sweetness and the flavor of the spirit’s origin plant. Salt is optional, of course, but it functions the way it does in cooking, tying the whole package together.


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ƫƥƘƨƩƲƧƬƥƷ By Jean Lundquist

Tomato deception If it sounds too good to be true ...


’ve been duped before, and I’ll be duped again. Still, I keep hoping that someday I’ll find something that sounds too good to be true ... but is true. I was taken in by three things this year. First was the Maglia Rosa Tomato. It was heralded as a roma-shaped tomato that tastes like ketchup. Maybe this one is actually my fault. I was so intrigued by the ketchuptaste claim, maybe I didn’t do enough research. First of all, this little gem is ¨—ØØúãʁãÊʈ,ÜôÊؗÊė¢ØÊô«Ã¢ cherry tomatoes years ago, but lo and 40 • OCTOBER 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

behold, I grew it in my garden this summer. In addition to the ketchup claim, the description also said it was a two to three inches long. That sounded like a petite roma tomato to me, not like the size of a cherry tomato. And truth be told, the tomatoes were nowhere near three inches long. I didn’t see one approaching even two inches. I grew suspicious early in the year when I saw all the blossoms on the plant, that it might turn out to be a cherry tomato. But I let it grow. The reason I don’t grow cherry tomatoes is twofold. They produce

more tomatoes than a family of 25 could ever eat, I swear. And they always crack. When they crack, they draw picnic bugs. I don’t like to wash picnic bugs out of my tomatoes so I can eat them, for some reason. Because they are so prolific, they fall to the ground before they can all be picked, and in the spring, a whole crop of cherry tomatoes takes over the garden. I’ll be pulling volunteer Maglia Rosa tomato plants from the garden all season long next summer. It won’t make me happy. Plus, I never tasted ketchup in one of these tomatoes. Now, like I say, some of this might be

my fault. In preparing for this column, I went back to research Maglia Rosa Tomatoes. Everywhere I looked this fall states that these are Italian cherry tomatoes. I swear there were no references to cherry when I bought it. I also found out this fall that in order to get peak taste, these tomatoes need to be picked and eaten before they reach peak color. That means, before they look ripe. My question is this, was all this information before me when I bought and planted the seeds? The answer is: Probably. Another plant that duped me is the Hulk Green Bean. I didn’t measure, but they were likely nine inches long, as promised. The duping came when I expected this to be a regular green bean, just long. In my experience, when a bean gets too ripe, the seeds swell, the bean gets thick and tough, and I don’t eat it. The Hulk grew long, but it also grew thick. The seeds didn’t swell, and it was perfectly edible, I suppose, but my psyche told me, “No, don’t eat it. It will be tough.” Of course, I ate some to see if the flavor was something special, but it wasn’t. There was nothing wrong with 㨗ĄóÊØʃŒèã,ôÊÃʰã¢ØÊô㨗¢«Ãʈ The third duping came from the red potato bags. I was gung-ho initially, when both the potatoes and tomatoes ,Õ¼Ã㗓«Ã㨗Âô—Ø—Êėãʁ¢Ø—ã start. The plants grew quickly and strong. Because of whatever the bags are made from, their mesh-type fabric did not allow the plants roots to dry out like regular pots do. It’s true that when I harvested the potatoes, there were none halved by my shovel. I just dumped out the bag, and there were all my potatoes … one smaller than the next. Unfortunately, when they went on sale in the middle of the summer, before I harvested my potatoes, I bought several more bags, so now I have a dozen of them. Next season, I’ll try putting just one cut up seed potato in each, and see if I fare better. I’m not sure how the tomatoes in the bags did. The chickens found the tomatoes as soon as they started to blush, or even before, and had a feast. Next year, I will find a way to hang the bags, and keep those pesky chickens at bay. And I’ll try to remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it PROBABLY is.

This FALL, prepare for


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Jean Lundquist is a master gardener who lives near Good Thunder. MANKATO MAGAZINE • OCTOBER 2017 • 41

ƷƬƥƷũƶưƭƪƩ By Nell Musolf

Fish bite toe me “Four billion brains and every single one is different.”


y father made that statement whenever anyone did something in not quite the same way he might have done it. He said it regularly when he watched the evening news and his tone was never judgmental but more respectful for the fact that yes, indeed, everyone might look pretty much the same on the surface but when it comes to thinking processes, fugetaboutit. Two more billion people on the planet would have ؗ¼¼úܗ㨫ÂÊėʈ I remembered Dad’s comment when I went out to eat with my friend, Mary, the other night. I ordered a large pizza with an eye toward taking home leftovers for Hubby, a wise move since I ôÜŒ¼—ãÊ—ãŒÊèãă¡ã¨Ê¡㨗Õ«ÿÿ before feeling like I was going to pass out from an overdose of mozzarella and Diet Coke. (By the way — all those people who tell you that someday you won’t be able to eat the way you did in your 20s aren’t lying. Turns out the calorie counting doomsayers are simply being honest. Cruel, but honest.) As I began happily and messily piling the squares of pizza into the cardboard takeout box the waitress had given me, Mary watched me for a second or two before saying, “Wouldn’t it be easier just to slide the whole pizza in at the same time?” She was right, of course. Especially since the pizza had been served on a piece of parchment paper that enabled me to move the pizza from its serving tray into the waiting cardboard box far more neatly and efficiently than my labor intensive (not to mention greasy) method. Mary’s suggestion to do the easiest and most obvious thing heavily underscores the battle I’ve been facing my entire life: I have never been able to see the easiest and most obvious choices. My brain finds the most ØÃ—Ã““«Ĝè¼ã¨Ê«—ʃÕÊè͗ÜÊà 42 • OCTOBER 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

it in pure relief for discovering some kind of solution and moves on from there without looking back. People like Mary enter a room they’ve never Œ——ëÌ—¡ÊؗÃ“Ü茍ÊÃ܍«ÊèܼúăÓ 㨗—ù«ãܶèÜã«ÃÜ—㨗ؗʰ܁ăؗÊØ someone they don’t want to talk to or some other disaster lurking near the onion dip. People like me enter a room, ăÓ㨗ׁؗÜãÊØ×؁Ó×諗ã¼úô«ã until they’ve been there long enough to leave without appearing rude — but only after I was able to taste all the passed hors d’oeuvres. I am pretty sure I was born this way. No, I know I was born this way. H×Ê¡㨗ăØÜãʭÊÂÕ¼—ã—ʮܗÃã—Í—Ü I ever uttered was “Fish bite toe me,” something I tearfully said when my big toe was (I swear) bitten by an extremely ¼Ø¢—ăܨ«ÃŒÊèãã¨Ø——«Ã¨—ÜÊ¡ôã—Ø on the shores of Lake Michigan. My family thought my mixed up sentence was cute and laughed at me but I wasn’t trying to be cute. I thought I was making my point quite clearly and couldn’t understand why they didn’t

understand that there was a possible Jaws-like attack about to take place — although I was sure they’d be sorry once one of them was eaten. I think ʭăܨŒ«ã—ãʗ—ʮô¨—×ó—ØÜÊ—Ê× (like Mary) points out a simpler way to do a task than however I’m tackling it. A lot of people apparently were born with short cuts in their heads, short cuts that enable them to get from the Library to the Lounge via a secret underground passage while others plod from square to square to square, eventually reaching the Lounge long after the murderer has been caught and everyone else has already gone to bed. I don’t mind having my illogical ways pointed out to me. It’s saved me a ton of time both at work and play and people are usually pretty nice about their suggestions. I do wonder what it would be like to have one of those “big picture” kind of brains, but I comfort myself by remembering that any one brain can hold only so much knowledge, and since mine «ÜÜãèė—“ãÊ㨗ŒØ«Âô«ã¨ؗØèÃÜÊ¡ “The Brady Bunch,” the state capitals and presidents memorized in grade school and way more than its share of mozzarella, I am guessing there’s not much room left over for logic. The world is up to about seven billion brains now and as my dad ʌܗØó—“ʃ—¨Ê׫ܓ«ė—Ø—Ããʈ,¶èÜã wish that at least one time I could enter a room and spot an exit before anyone else did. And if that exit took me from the Library to the Lounge in one fell swoop so much the better; that way I could get home faster to eat leftover pizza and watch reruns of the Brady Bunch. Nell Musolf is a mom and freelance writer from Mankato. She blogs at: nellmusolf.com

Your style By Ann Rosenquist Fee

Embracing makeup! Or not. One power-tool-user’s journey.


or a time in the early 1990s, and I’m talking about maybe two weeks, I went without eye makeup. It felt daring, and naked, like way too naked, and ultimately not good at all. I quit. Or resumed, however you look at it. The final straw was my best friend Christy telling me that maybe a little eyeliner would be a good idea. She claims no memory of this. I remember it just fine, including that we were both wearing army-green something-or-other jackets at the time, and Doc Martens, and a lot of other signifiers of ardent feminism. I did not hold Christy’s amnesia against her, recently, when she reached out for guidance as she navigated a new, daunting, personal pull to experiment with cosmetics. ANN: Why now? CHRISTY: It’s the confluence of occasion and opportunity. My wife and I see a lot of music, go dancing, especially in the summer, and when I wear my contacts, I notice my eyes look tired, old. And it wears on me. I’m not looking for some giant makeover thing. Just some basic concealer for the dark circles I get under my eyes are all I’m really after. Maybe a lipstick substance, depending on what my make-up shrink says. ANN: Which would be me. CHRISTY: Yes. ANN: Awesome. CHRISTY: It’s not like I’ve never worn makeup, or am opposed to it on principle. It’s just that I’ve never been comfortable in my use of it. As in, not knowing how to do it. Back in high school, makeup was the thing that made me different from all my friends. All of a sudden they were wearing it and I wasn’t and I felt like it was something I should just know how to do. But I didn’t, and it was the first thing that signified my difference from them. Although it would be a few years before I figured out why. And through all my young adult makeup-wearing occasions, and even with straight friends who loved to make me up in college, I was never comfortable with myself and how I looked with it on. It wasn’t me. As I get older, I’m more comfortable with how I am and how I look and so yes. I’m at that point. I don’t mind the thought of wearing a bit of makeup when we go out. ANN: What are we wanting to emphasize? Because, that matters. Pick your part. Mouth, that’s a certain kind of sensuality or maybe vulnerability. Smoky eyes, that’s soul. Strong brows, that’s authority. CHRISTY: I could see myself wearing mascara/eyeliner on a semi-regular basis. For a while, anyway, to see how it feels and what it does for me to carry that around. It depends on what I find. My mom has been after me for decades to wear lipstick. Nope. I’m not comfortable with the way it feels. I notice it. It’s heavy. Waxy. ANN: The feeling is key. CHRISTY: I’m thinking now about the difference between being self-conscious, and being present in your body. If that’s what you’re saying. If that’s it, I GET IT. (Expletive deleted.) It’s a form of connection to your body, the heaviness of the lipstick

or lip shimmer stuff, it’s an anchor to the present moment. It’s supposed to feel heavy. ANN: Yes. This is why you have to pick your part. CHRISTY: This is like using power tools. You don’t need power tools to be handy around the house (except for a drill driver — everyone should have one of those) but sometimes you want to venture out and try your hand at something new, so you scale up. You buy a compound miter saw and figure out by trial-and-error how to use it and you develop more confidence, and you like the feeling of being able to do different things, put new things together in a different way. Overall, I think it’s a confidence thing. Being comfortable in a new look, being able to not just wear it, but own it, so it becomes an authentic expression of (one aspect of) who you are and not a self-conscious performance. Actually, figuring out that analogy helps tremendously. This, I can understand. ANN: Did you wear eyeliner to chop up that tree the storm took down? CHRISTY: No. But I changed my clothes three times before I had the right shorts/shirt combination. And a hat. I should have done a bandana because I can rock those. But today was just a hat. Didn’t even think of my hair. Baby steps. Ann Rosenquist Fee is executive director of the Arts Center of Saint Peter and a vocalist with The Frye. She blogs at annrosenquistfee.com. Photo of AMRF by Keith Bridges. MANKATO MAGAZINE • OCTOBER 2017 • 43

Coming Attractions: October 1 Tutu Run

8 Oktoberfest Sunday Brunch

2 Colloquium Series: “Musical Offering”

8 Mankato Symphony Orchestra: Brilliant

11 a.m. — Dance Express Parking Lot — 2105 N. Broad St. — Mankato — $35 for adults, $20 for ages 12 and under — www.danceexpressmankato.com.

7:30 p.m. — Schaefer Fine Arts Building, room 308 — Gustavus Adolphus College — St. Peter — www.gustavus.edu.

3 A Night With Janis Joplin

7:30 p.m. — Verizon Wireless Center — 1 Civic Center Plaza — Mankato — $89.50, $59.50, $39.50 — www.verizonwirelesscentermn.com.

5-8 MSU Theatre Presents: “Little Women”

7:30 p.m., 2 p.m. — Ted Paul Theatre — Mankato — $22 regular, $19 discount (seniors ages 65 and up, children ages 16 and under, or groups of 15 or more), $15 MNSU students — www.mnsu.edu/theatre.

6-7, 13-14 36th Annual Oktoberfest

various locations — various admissions — www.newulm.com.

6 Authors and Appetizers Gala

5:30 p.m. — Mankato Event Center — 12 Civic Center Plaza — Mankato — $35 — 507-625-8056.

6 B.o.B with special guest Jay Sean

7-10 p.m. — Myers Field House, MSU — Mankato — $45 VIP ticket, $25 public — www.mnsu.edu/studentevents.

7 Aar Maanta and The Urban Nomads 7:30 p.m. — South Central College — North Mankato — 507-389-5549.

7 Stomp New Ulm

11 a.m.-6 p.m. — Morgan Creek Vineyards — 23707 478th Ave. — New Ulm — $5 admission — ID required for winery entrance — www.morgancreekvineyards.com/stomp.

7 Rock Knockers Brewfest

2-4 p.m. — Mankato Curling Club — 600 Hope St. — Mankato — $20 advance; $25 at door; $5 designated driver — 21 plus — www.mankatocurling.org.

8 University Contemporary Ensembles/Ellis

Street Singers 3 p.m. — Halling Recital Hall — Minnesota State University — Mankato — $9 general admission, $7 MNSU students, students K-12 and other children — 507-389-5549.


11 a.m.- 2 p.m. — Morgan Creek Vineyards — 23707 478th Ave. — New Ulm — reservations at 507-947-3597 — www.morgancreekvineyards. com.

Beethoven 3 p.m. — Verizon Wireless Center — 1 Civic Center Plaza — Mankato — $35 gold, $30, silver, $5 for students, free for ages 11 and under — www. verizonwirelesscentermn.com.

8 Mankato River Ramble

8 a.m.- 3 p.m. — Land of Memories Park — 100 Amos Owen Lane — Mankato — $35 regular, $30 BikeMN Members — www.bikerriverramble.org.

12 Good Thunder Reading Series: Marcus

Wicker reading 7:30 p.m. —Centennial Student Union, room 253 — Minnesota State University — Mankato — free — gt.mnsu.edu.

12 University Jazz Big Bands

7:30 p.m. — Halling Recital Hall — Minnesota State University — Mankato — $9 general admission, $7 MNSU students, students K-12 and other children

12-15, 18-22 MSU Theatre Presents:

“The Aeneid” 7:30 p.m., 2 p.m. — Andreas Theatre — Mankato — $16 regular, $14 discount (seniors ages 65 and up, children ages 16 and under, or groups of 15 or more), $11 MNSU students — www.mnsu.edu/ theatre.

13-15, 20-22 Merely Players Present:

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays — Lincoln Community Center — 110 Fulton St. — Mankato — $16 adult, $14 senior, $11 for ages 12 and under — www.merelyplayers.com.

14 42nd Annual Craft Fair and Garage Sale

8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. — School SIsters of Notre Dame — 170 Good Counsel Drive — Mankato — free — 507-389-4231.


Maker Fair MN 2017 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. — Nicollet County Fairgrounds — 400 W. Union St. — St. Peter — free, $1 parking — www.makerfairmn.com

15 Music on the Hill: Chamber Music

2 p.m. — Chapel at Good Counsel — 170 Good Counsel Drive — Mankato — $17 premium, $12 general admission — www.mankatosymphony.com.

16 Heartland Marimba Ensemble

7:30 p.m. — Halling Recital Hall — Minnesota State University — Mankato — $12 general admission, $11 MNSU students — 507-389-5549.

17 MSU Community Orchestra

7:30 p.m. — Halling Recital Hall — Minnesota State University — Mankato — $9 general admission, $7 MNSU students, students K-12 and other children — 507-389-5549.

19 Jack Klatt

7:30 p.m. — Halling Recital Hall — Minnesota State University — Mankato — $12 general admission, $11 MNSU students — 507-389-5549.

21-22 Mankato Marathon

all day — Myers Field House — Mankato — $174 relay; $89 marathon; $78 half marathon; $49 10k; $49 5k; $20 Boldwalk; $15 KidsK — www. mankatomarathon.com

22 University Concert Bands

3 p.m. — Halling Recital Hall — Minnesota State University — Mankato — $9 general admission, $7 MNSU students, students K-12 and other children — 507-389-5549.

25 Colloquium Series:

Transcontinental Piano Duo 7:30 p.m. — Bjorling Recital Hall — Gustavus Adolphus College — St. Peter — www.gustavus.edu.


Hairball 7:30 p.m. — Verizon Wireless Center — 1 Civic Center Plaza — Mankato — $25 day of show, $20 general admission — www.verizonwirelesscentermn.com.


Davina and the Vagabonds 8 p.m. — Hooligan’s Neighborhood Bar — 1400 Madison Ave. #210 — Mankato — $20 day of show, $17.50 advance tickets — 507-389-5549.


University Fall Choral Concert 3 p.m. — Halling Recital Hall — Minnesota State University — Mankato — $9 general admission, $7 MNSU students, students K-12 and other children — 507-389-5549.


University Fall Choral Concert 7:30 p.m. — Halling Recital Hall — Minnesota State University — Mankato — $9 general admission, $7 MNSU students, students K-12 and other children — 507-389-5549.

Faces & Places: Photos By SPX Sports



1. Mark Tarello from KEYC made sure he was able to get his favorite ribs at the Mankato RibFest. 2. Keith and Katie Stenzel bundled up to be a part of Mankato RibFest at Riverfront Park. 3. The Schmidt family shared ribs from two of the vendors. 4. Maiden Dixie from St. Paul was the opening act Thursday at RibFest. 5. Marshall Johnson ate his messy ribs with assistance from his mother, Lauren. 6. The crowd was getting larger in anticipation of the headliner band at the Mankato RibFest.







Faces & Places: Photos By SPX Sports


1. Jason Shaw grills up plenty of hotdogs at the Y’s Club Annual Corn Roast outside Mankato West High School. 2. Volunteers from the YMCA’s Y Club help dish up fresh hotdogs and corn on the cob for the organization’s supporters. 3. Many families participated in the Annual Y’s Club Corn Roast, with proceeds supporting the youth programs in the community. 4. (Left to Right) Joyce, Katelyn and Rob Prahm handed out assorted beverages to supporters of the Y’s Club. 5. (Left to Right) Jagger Zimmerman and Desmond Johnson enjoy some dessert after finishing their corn. 6. Madison Wersal enjoys her roasted corn at the fundraiser for the Y’s Club








Faces & Places: Photos By SPX Sports



1. Jaiden Smith and his dog, Price, competed in the junior competition of Dock Dogs. 2. More than 30 dogs participated in this years Dog Expo at Scheels. 3. The Boy Scouts of Troop 95 of Mankato sold food and beverages to raise funds for their troop. 4. Beth Baumann and her dog, Shye, just completed their first jump. 5. The Olson family took a break from Vikings Training Camp to see how far the dogs could jump into the water.






ĆŞĆ˜ĆłĆąơƏƭƜƚƼưưƊƟ By Pete Steiner

C H AR “‘they didn’t understand, ‘though I tried to make them see, one is only poor, only if you choose to be...� Dolly Parton


he didn’t send me a birthday card this year for the ÄƒĂ˜ĂœĂŁãÂ—ÂŤĂƒ“—Â?Â Â“Â—ĂœĘˆaÂ¨Â ĂŁĘ°ĂœŒ—Â?Â Ă¨ĂœÂ—Ă‚ĂşÂŒÂŤĂ˜ĂŁÂ¨Â“Â Ăş was the day they laid Char to rest. I had suspected something was wrong, because she had not called me at the radio station for two weeks, an unusually long interval. I knew she had entered hospice, and on Aug. 15, my radio colleague, Barry Wortel, said he had stopped at Hillcrest to see her, and if I wanted to talk to her again, I had better go soon. I went out the next day. A few days later, we got word of her passing. ĚŽĚŽĚŽ Char: it’s a typical shortening or nickname for Charlotte. It’s what nearly everyone called her. Like Elvis, Char only needed one name. She never had a computer or a smartphone, but she created her virtual community by reaching out to many via her land line. On her door at Hillcrest, a poem she had written read, “Have we met yet?â€? ,ÄƒĂ˜ĂœĂŁ—ãÂ¨Â—Ă˜ĂƒÂ—Â Ă˜ÂźĂşȽȚĂşÂ—Â Ă˜ĂœÂ Â˘ĂŠĘƒĂ´Â¨Â—Ăƒ,Ă´Â Ăœ Â?ĂŠĂ¨ĂƒĂŁĂ˜Ăş DJ at KYSM-FM, where she had taken a job cleaning the studios. She loved country music and often had song requests. When I moved to KTOE in 1988, Char changed her radio dial, at least for parts of the day; it helped that we carried the Twins, her favorite sports team. Char knew everyone’s shift, and nearly every day, she’d phone each one of us at the radio station when we came on-air. My colleague Dan McCargar thinks he spent more time on the phone with Char than with members of his own family. “I’m listening!â€? she would assure us, and then she would end the brief chat with, “God bless you!â€? Her virtual family included not only the radio crew, but also our wives and children. She memorized birthdays and loved sending cards to all. She also had a passion for local history and scrapbooking. At her visitation, her family displayed many of her scrapbooks of travels, and the exhibit ribbons she won at the Blue Earth County Fair. Her friend, Robin Guhlke of Becky’s Floral, whom she also phoned daily, kept some of the scrapbooks and recently showed them to me. When occasionally we got to speak at greater length, Â¨Â Ă˜ôÊ蟓ÄƒÂźÂźÂŤĂƒÂ¨Â—Ă˜ÂźÂŤÂĄÂ—Ęƒ¨Êô ĂœÂ—Ă˜ÂŤÂ—ĂœĂŠÂĄŸ¥—Â?Ă˜ÂŤĂœÂ—Ăœ¨ “ haunted her, including the death of her Mother when she was just 10. A few years back, she told me how Robin 48 • OCTOBER 2017 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Williams’ tragic death had also hit her hard and how she ¨ “ÂŤÂ“Â—ĂƒĂŁÂŤÄƒÂ—Â“ôã¨Â¨ÂŤĂ‚Ęˆ ,ĂƒÂ¨Â—Ă˜ÂźÂ ĂŁÂ—Ă˜ĂşÂ—Â Ă˜ĂœĘƒĂ‚ĂŠĂœĂŁÂźĂşÂ?ĂŠĂƒÄƒĂƒÂ—Â“ÂŒĂş ĂœÂ—Ă˜ÂŤÂ—ĂœĂŠÂĄ¨— Ÿã¨ issues to her current residence, Char continued to reach out to her extensive list of contacts, making sure to keep up on all the latest news. After that last visit with her, I was on the air on what turned out to be her last day in this life. I have no idea if she was even able to listen at that point, but knowing she loved Dolly Parton, I played a couple of Dolly’s tunes. I did something I rarely do anymore — a dedication. I said, “This is for Char.â€? One of the songs was “The Last Thing on My Mind,â€? which includes the line, “are you going away with no word of farewell?â€? The next day, we all learned we had one less listener. ĚŽĚŽĚŽ Char would send some some of her poems in those cards to us. Here, edited for space, is one she titled,

“Stay Strong�: I’ve face many challenges of life, they write about in a country song; it ain’t easy, but I learned, it helps to have hope and stay strong; some folks shop for love or a pot of gold, but real strength comes from faith, hope and charity — that’s what I’ve been told. Growing up on the farm, I had to be strong, with many chores to do; I spread that strength and a sense of humor over my years to come, too. I’ve now been on this earth 26-thousand days or so, one day at a time, in the same body and mind and soul, I grow. Stay strong, with each smile, song and prayer, by God’s grace, gotta keep pluggin’ along, ‘til someday, I’ll be with the angels in that Heavenly place.

Peter Steiner is host of “Talk of the Town� weekdays at 1:05 p.m. on KTOE.


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