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LIVING 55 PLUS The Singing Cowgirl


Up close and personal with artists, apprentices and tat-covered bartenders

Thoughts on wrestling by author TERRY DAVIS Thoughts on Mankato’s progress by HENRY MORRIS The buzz on author


Courtney Forsythe FEBRUARY 2019

The Free Press MEDIA



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for Yourself.

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THE ROBERT TRENT JONES GOLF TRAIL AT CAPITOL HILL offers three magnificent 18-hole championship golf courses. The Marriott Prattville is part of the Resort Collection on Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. Visit or call 800.949.4444 to learn more. 2 • FEBRUARY 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

FEATURES FEBRUARY 2019 Volume 14, Issue 2


INK SPOTS Tattoos have become one of Americans’ top modes of personal expression. In Mankato, there’s plenty of ink-stained proof walking around, and plenty of places to allow your skin to be your canvas.





As February is Black History Month, we invited Minnesota State University’s Henry Morris to talk about some of the diversity changes he’s seen in his 30 years of living in Mankato.

Wrestling fans know Terry Davis as one of the sport’s great storytellers. Now he’s wants to say ‘thanks’ to the sport that made him famous.

ABOUT THE COVER Shown here at the Nakato Bar, Courtney Forsythe is proud of her many tattoos. She was photographed on the job by Pat Christman. MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2019 • 3

DEPARTMENTS 6 From the Editor 8 Faces & Places 12 This Day in History 13 Avant Guardians Lisa Gross


14 Beyond the Margin Stories and storytellers 16 Familiar Faces Jill Kalz 30 Day Trip Destinations Detroit Lakes’ Polar Fest 32 Living 55 Plus


44 Wine On to Beaujolais 45 Beer Counter Currents 46 That’s Life The bell rang! 48 Garden Chat French beans, oui?



50 Your Style A return to RED 52 Night Moves Trivia Night 55 Coming Attractions 56 From This Valley Sleep in, Don Rivet

Coming in March



Say cheese! Our annual photo issue takes over.


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FROM THE ASSOCIATE EDITOR By Robb Murray FEBRUARY 2019 • VOLUME 14, ISSUE 2 PUBLISHER Steve Jameson EDITOR Joe Spear ASSOCIATE Robb Murray EDITOR CONTRIBUTORS Amanda Dyslin Bert Mattson Diana Rojo-Garcia James Figy Jean Lundquist Jessica Server Leigh Pomeroy Nell Musolf Pete Steiner

PHOTOGRAPHERS Pat Christman Jackson Forderer

PAGE DESIGNER Christina Sankey ADVERTISING Danny Creel SALES Joan Streit Jordan Greer-Friesz 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 For advertising, call 344-6364, or e-mail


Ink, grapplers and pioneers


hances are, a good chunk of you reading this have a tattoo. Twenty years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to write that. Today, though? Well, times have changed. In fact, I’d venture to guess that between 40 and 50 percent of you have tattoos. Why would I guess a number so high? Because a recent survey found that roughly 46 percent of Americans have at least one tattoo. And unlike our ranking in the number of incarcerated individuals (both rate and raw number), we’re not crushing the rest of the world in the number of tattooed individuals. Tw o c o u n t r i e s are beating us in the tattoo game. Not by much, but they’re beating us. Italy leads the world at 48 percent. Sweden comes in at No. 2 with 47 percent. And the U.S., for purposes of this discussion, picks up the bronze medal. Not very cash money of you, U.S. You’re slippin’. This month in Mankato Magazine, we explore the wonderful world of tattoos. We talk to seasoned pros, up-and-coming apprentices and people who proudly display their creative sides on their skin for the world to see, a permanent reminder of who we are — or at least who we were at a moment in time. One of the artists in our piece is Kelly Bunde, who happens to be a friend of mine. I’ve volunteered with her husband for an area nonprofit, and I can remember being both baffled by the number of tattoos on his legs, and mesmerized by them (the tattoos, not the legs.) There are still those out there who cringe at the thought of

tattoos, and feel compelled to impose their values on the creative or life choices of others regarding tattoos. Fortunately, those voices are becoming fewer and fewer as society trends toward a place where people can just be themselves. And that’s a good thing. So go forth, folks, and ink up! Also in this month’s issue: n This month’s issue also marks the return of renowned author Terry Davis. Many of you may know Davis for his novel “Vision Quest,” which was made into a film starring Matthew Modine. (Davis is actually working on a sequel to “Vision Quest” right now, so you can look for that.) O n e o f D a v i s ’ greatest loves remains wrestling. And in his essay he talks about how the discipline required for wrestling served him well for the rest of his life, including his writing life. n February is Black History Month. As we looked for a means of recognizing this important distinction, we decided to hand control of that effort over to someone who could bring authenticity to it. Henry Morris came to this community 30 years ago, back during a time w h e n , d e m o g r a p h i c a l l y, the community was almost exclusively white. While demographics haven’t changed dramatically, there have been major shifts. And progress, Morris says, has been made. Robb Murray is associate editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at 344-6386 or rmurray@ Follow him on Twitter @freepressRobb.

Dust off those JPGS, folks, it’s time once again for Mankato Magazine’s annual PHOTO ISSUE! The photo issue is one of our most popular, and features dozens of photos submitted by readers. We look at ALL photos, but we give special consideration to photos taken by southern Minnesotans IN southern Minnesota. Wildlife and nature photography is great, photos of people enjoying southern Minnesota are better. And we love puppies.


PHOTOS by OUR READERS (including this kid right here)


Mr. Hockey Don Westphal St. Patrick’s Day


Take a road trip to


Emmett Blakesley, age 3 MARCH 2018


The Free Press MEDIA

■ Deadline is Feb. 8 ■ Send all submissions to: ■ All photos must be submitted electronically as JPGS — no prints will be considered. ■ Submit up to five photos per person. MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2019 • 7

FACES & PLACES: Photos By SPX Sports

Hog Roast for Heroes

1. (From left) David Clobes and Joe Steck served in the Air Force. 2. Pulled pork is dished out to hungry people by friendly volunteers. 3. Dennis Terrell poses with volunteers in the kitchen. 4. Children’s art work displayed on the walls commemorates veterans. 5. People signed a guest book as they came in. 6. The first Hog Roast for Heroes was hosted by the Eagle Lake American Legion Post 617 in Eagle Lake. 7. Volunteers posed for a photo. 3








FACES & PLACES: Photos By SPX Sports

Candy Cane Lane


1. Elena Gause and Rose McDonald help with holiday cookie decorating. 2. Caden and Adele Jellum enjoy holiday cookies. 3. Santa and Mrs. Claus make an appearance for the kids. 4. A variety of creative activities were available for the kids. 5. Nora Westberg gets her nails painted with Katie Westberg. 6. Angela Swanson gets Rudolph painted on her face by Alex Johannessen. 7. The event was held at the Lincoln Community Center in Mankato. 8. Watercolor painting and coloring pages were one of the many activities available.









FACES & PLACES: Photos By SPX Sports

Winter Wonderland Party


1. Christmas decorations were scattered across the library. 2. Families stuff plush mooses and decorate cookies. 3. A full event saw a long line of families patiently waiting to receive goody bags. 4. he North Mankato Taylor Library hosting the Winter Wonderland Party. 5. Mobile Teddy Bear Workshops were handed out to all. 6. Hand stuffing a plush moose was one of 2 the activities. 7. Santa handed out bags to families.







FACES & PLACES: Photos By SPX Sports

Kiwanis Holiday Lights Ice Sculpting 1. Joe and Chrissy Christenson begin sculpting Santa’s sleigh. 2. Tom Schiller sculpts his reindeer. 3. A group of spectators watches the artists. 4. The artwork was lit up for display after the competition. 5. Adam Scholljegerdes sculpts with a chainsaw. 6. Artists pose for a group photo. 7. The winners of the People’s Choice Award, Adam and Ashley Scholljegerdes, with their abominable snowman.









THIS DAY IN HISTORY Compiled by Jean Lundquist

$4,000 stolen from safe at piggly wiggly store Friday, Feb. 26, 1960 A veteran police captain said it was the “cleverest job I’ve ever seen,” after safe crackers stole nearly $4,000 from the locked safe in the Piggly Wiggly store, 602 S. Front Street (where Walgreen’s Pharmacy is now). Authorities believe there were two men, based on footprints in the snow. A baker at the store was working in another part of the store, but had no idea what was happening. Large paper bills were taken from the safe, along with all the quarters. Pennies, dimes and nickels were left behind. The thieves gained entrance to the building by climbing a ladder to the roof, pulling the ladder up behind them, then entering through a vent. Walking over refrigeration units and above the ceiling, they made their way to the office, where they expertly cracked the safe.

Corporate Graphics

Burke appearance here tonight may be her last in Mankato Thursday, Feb. 12, 1942 Mildred Burke was quite a draw in the area as she vowed to keep her unbroken win record intact during her last wrestling match before leaving for Florida at the North Mankato Municipal Building. Burke “made quite a hit with the local grunt and groan addicts,” according the to the newspaper. The reporter said she had a “clever and colorful style of grappling.” She intended to leave North Mankato with her wrestling crown “still resting on her auburn locks.” Her opponent, “the buxom Mae Weston from Kansas,” was her challenger. There were some men’s bouts on the card for the evening, as well. Marshals to seize hair-infested cheese Marshals to seize hair-infested cheese Federal marshals were dispatched to pick up 830 cases of cheese in New Ulm after Food and Drug Administration inspectors found animal hair in the batch. Each case contained 12 one-pound packages of Kraft Deluxe American Slices. None of the cheese was believed to have made it to the marketplace. No one was sure how the hair got into the cheese, nor was it revealed what kind of animal the hair came from. Councilman wants Indian monument removed Perhaps to the County Museum Tuesday, Feb. 16, 1971 In 1862, 38 Dakota men were hanged in Mankato near what is now Reconciliation Park. In 1912, marking the 50th year after the executions, a marker was placed at the site. In 1971, Mankato Council member Dave Cummisky asked the city council to remove it. Financed by a group of citizens in 1912 led by Judge Loren Cray, the question of who exactly owned the monument — and who owned the land upon which it had been erected — needed to be determined before it could be removed. Cummisky said he was not opposed to some other historical marker being in place, but, “Every Indian I’ve ever talked to is offended by the monument.” The monument was removed, and put into storage in a city garage. Twenty years later, Stan Christ, a former city mayor, claims to have driven the marker out of town on a truck, and vowed to never reveal its whereabouts.

AVANT GUARDIANS By Leticia Gonzales

Born to sing M

Lisa Gross found her groove on stage

usic was a family affair that developed before 32-yearold singer Lisa Gross could even speak. “My mom says that I actually sang my first sentence, ‘Pizza Hut, pizza to go,’ so I guess I started really young,” said Gross. While both of her parents claim they were the source of her musical genes, Lisa said her talents came from her mom. “She has always been musically inclined and would write songs on the piano and guitar when she was in high school,” said Gross of her mom. “My older brothers and I would sing in church for special occasions and around the house for holidays for our relatives. We all knew how to put the 8-track on or how to put the tape in the cassette player so us siblings could all dance and sing in our playroom.” Her love of music translated into dance lessons at the age of three. “I’ve always loved performing and anyone who knows me knows

I love the stage, and entertaining an audience,” shared Gross. She picked up the flute when she was in sixth grade, despite little interest. She admittingly never practiced, which she said wasn’t a surprise to her flute instructor, Mr. Jacobson, who also happened to be the choir director. “But when he was running the scales on the piano to see what my vocal range was, you could see on his face that he was pleasantly surprised at the fact that I could sing exceptionally better than I could play the flute,” she added. From there, it didn’t take long for Gross’ singing abilities to take off. “I was selected to go to L.A. to a conference for acting and singing,” she said. “There was a girl there who couldn’t think of a song, so I sang her a country song and the instructor said, ‘Lisa, you need to sing that song; your voice is country!’” Since then, Gross said she has really developed her “country twang.”

“You can hear my quick vibrato and my voice really shines when I sing country,” she said, likening it to the mix and blends of Jennifer Nettles and Stevie Nicks. She joined her first band, Dotty Peterson and Mustang Heart, as a backup singer while attending Bemidji State University, before founding her own group, Calamity Jane. Ten years ago, while living in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands with her brother Brian, a self-taught guitarist, The Midnight Mix was formed between the two and their sister Stacy. “It’s really fun to be like the Partridge Family of the 2000s, and you can’t beat family harmonies,” said Gross, who is also in a fivepiece cover band called Scarlet Sky, where she wears a wig and takes on a different persona. “ We ’ v e b e e n a ro u n d a b o u t three years, and just added a new member,” she shared. “We play bars, county fairs, street dances, that kind of thing. I really get the best of both worlds being in two completely different groups, which makes this music journey an absolute blast.” Gross’ voice has evolved since her early days of singing country music. “Now I sing songs from Rihanna, Bon Jovi, Run DMC, Twisted Sister, Lady Gaga, but there are always country songs in the set,” she said. You can also find her with a tambourine and shaker in hand, depending on what genre she is playing. “I just really want everyone to forget about their worries and have a great time, because that’s what music is for me,” shared Gross. “I love looking out into a crowd seeing people having a blast and getting lost in the music. It makes my heart happy.”



Stories and storytellers A February respite


he New York Times often does a summer feature on “73 Books to read while the sun is out and the days are long.” Consider this column “900 words to read while the sun is gone and the days are short.” In winter we try to find activities, however aimless, to kill the pain of another dark day where sunrises advance only a minute starting about two weeks after the Winter Solstice. So you go to the mall before it’s crowded and you peruse stores you haven’t seen or heard of before but most involve candles, body butter or kitschy paintings of dogs. Every once in a while, the Great Spirit takes pity on us in the upper Northern Hemisphere and rewards us with a find to bide the time. My time had come at the entrance to a store simply titled “Antiques & More.” It had a treasure trove of cool old stuff from classic beer cans, motor oil signs and Ford nameplates likely taken from an F-150. That name plate might have been worth a little more during the 2008 financial crisis when the automaker actually put its Ford nameplate up as collateral for a loan. They’ve since paid off the loan and retained rights to the nameplate. The proprietor of the “Antiques” store said it’s only open November through January because he didn’t want to work too hard. You’ve got to appreciate that approach. But I discovered a narrative of the Mankato working class wandering through aisles of Elvis memorabilia and old Pabst Blue Ribbon beer mugs. The spring 1975 issue of the “Medicine Jug,” a magazine published by Mankato State College students, was on sale for $9.95. The cover story profiling the workers at Dotson Foundry sold me. Editor Harvey T. Rockwood wrote a narrative about the workers and bosses at one of Mankato’s oldest businesses. The article was titled simply: “Dotson Foundry: Workers, Bosses and the Company.” The student journalists took a nod from the new reportage and narrative journalism that had taken hold a few short years after Watergate. Taking a page from the great Studs Terkel’s 1971 book “Working,” the student journalists were on a mission. It was a fascinating piece with long interviews of workers about the foundry environment, “slinging sand” and their survivalist strategies in an earlier industrial age. They were making America great from the foundry floor up and not the Wall Street boardroom down. From worker Hal Drenttel: “Right now I’m just working from day to day. I’ll never last until I’m 65. 55 years is about the end for a foundry worker.” 14 • FEBRUARY 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

From Wayne Simmons: “Needed a job. It was the only thing in town that was open, and it was a good paying job. I made $3.85 an hour. Now I’m up to $5.31 an hour. I wanted any job that paid … I don’t like to spend money foolishly. I bring it home for the kids, the food and the house. I’ve got something on the table.” Others said they appreciated working at the foundry and took pride in products only they could produce. The story was surprisingly fair and balanced given the evolving “advocacy journalism” of the time. Gerald A. Dotson, who ran the company, and his son, Dennis, who we know today as Denny, also were interviewed. As a balance to workers who complained, Denny Dotson noted to the reporter that many workers took their breaks early. “If you’ll look in there, you’ll notice they aren’t exactly breaking their butts,” he told Rockwood. He summarized his goal for the company’s workers. “In terms of a place to work, I’d like to make this a place where a guy can come in and say “Hey. this is a fantastic place to work.’” I covered Dotson Foundry as a reporter about 20 years after the Medicine Jug piece was published. Part of the story involved a narrative about how the workers and the company were a model of a labor union and industry working together to make the business innovative, competitive and future looking. And interestingly enough, the narrative played out again last fall when the company experienced a fire. The foundry had to shut down to rebuild, but it paid its workers anyway and they did community service projects on their time off. “It’s a good feeling to know your employer cares about you like that,” said Travis Kakeyere, who was to start at Dotson Foundry the day of the fire. These stories don’t happen without someone to tell them. Editor Harvey Rockwood died a few years ago. He did not work at The New York Times or The Washington Post. He worked for suburban weekly papers in and around Minneapolis. He died in March of 2016 at the age of 63 of Parkinson’s disease and Lewy Body Dementia. His obit said, in part: “Rockwood had a knack for feature articles that illustrated the human experience through well-crafted stories such as notable pieces about the aftermath of September 11, 2001, a family’s struggle awaiting a heart transplant for their young daughter and poverty in suburbs.” Rockwood also won two national awards for investigative reporting and community service for a series on suburban poverty. He was editor of the Bloomington Sun Current, which was ranked the runner up best non-daily newspaper in

the country by the Inland Press Association during his tenure. Rockwood left Mankato State student journalism about the time I was getting there, so we never met, but we’ve got Dotson Foundry in common. Stories are the currency of journalists over time.

Reading your brethren’s writing is a way to get to know him. Good to meet you Harvey. I’ll say hello to Denny for you. Joe Spear is editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at or 344-6382. Follow on Twitter @jfspear.


Familiar Faces

The latest BUZZZZ Jill Kalz’s book “The Winter Bees” has become a local favorite

I Photos by Pat Christman


Jill Kalz Age: 50 City of residence: New Ulm, MN Job title: Senior Editor, Capstone Brief work history: 17 years editing children’s books for two Mankato-based publishers—The Creative Company (3) and Capstone (14); before that, selling books at Barnes & Noble, working as a publications specialist at CWC/Firepond, and testing powdered resins at 3M

Education: MFA – Creative Writing, BA – English, both from Minnesota State University, Mankato

Family: a dog, Tuckerbean 16 • FEBRUARY 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

n southern Minnesota, we’ve been blessed with a surplus of great writers. You can’t step into a coffee shop (or tavern) these days without bumping into a Davis, a Helget or a Healy. Let’s not forget the titans who have left us; Rezmerski, Lewis, Lovelace. Not to put any pressure on her, but Jill Kalz may be the area’s next great writer. Author of “The Winter Bees,” Kalz’ loosely connected collection of short stories is rich with detail and uncanny in its ability to paint a picture of the southern Minnesota experience. The book is picking up lots of nice kudos and plaudits, all rightfully earned. Here’s a little more from Jill about her book, her writing process and her life. MANKATO MAGAZINE: Your first book came out in November and now you’re famous! Tell us a little bit about what it’s been like to have people read your work and what the feedback has been. JILL KALZ: I’ve wanted to see this collection published since I wrote the first story 20 years ago, so holding “The Winter Bees” in my hands and sharing it with readers is a dream come true. A little scary at first, pushing the “kids” out into the world, but I’m proud of the way the book turned out, humbled by its positive reception, eager to see where it’ll take me next. A number of people, regardless of whether they’re from southern Minnesota or not, have told me they “know” the characters, recognize their family and friends in them, and find those characters and their struggles lingering long after the stories end, which, for me, is one of the best things to hear. Means I’ve done my job. One of my favorite reader responses so far: “I know, I should have savored it, like a great meal . . . taken small bites, been mindful, stopped periodically and contemplated each story, but I was a glutton and just devoured the whole thing.” Big smile. MM: Where did you grow up? JK: I was born and raised in New Ulm, near the top of a small, sloped cul-de-sac sandwiched between some woods and my elementary school—perfect spot for a kid who enjoyed spending hours amongst the trees and the feathered and furry creatures that lived there, and loved school so much she skipped to it every day (NERD!).

MM: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? JK: I’ve always been a writer. Poetry, short stories, journal entries, essays, children’s books . . . Writing has always been a comfort, my best way of expressing myself, a means of gaining acceptance, a rock to hold onto when times are tough. I really liked performing/acting as a kid, and took a short detour as a theatre major in college, but writing is definitely “my thing.” I’m lucky I get to weave it into my full-time editing job. MM: What authors are you reading right now and why? JK: Elizabeth Strout—Just started “Abide With Me,” with “Everything Is Possible” waiting in the wings. Strout’s award-winning “Olive Kitteridge,” with its interconnectedshort-stories format, character focus, and masterful use of description/ language, heavily inspired my recent book. I adore Strout’s work. Not only do I love losing myself in her stories, I also learn so much about how to make my own writing better. She challenges and entertains me as a reader, motivates me as a writer. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama was under my Christmas tree this year, too, as was “Calypso” by David Sedaris. Looking forward to Obama’s candor and Sedaris’ sharp wit. MM: Tell us about your writing process. Up at 5 a.m. like Keillor or feverish, alcohol-induced 3 a.m. screeds like Hunter S. Thompson? JK: I don’t have a regular writing process, although I am constantly taking notes (physically and mentally) for future work. My writing goes in streaks, sometimes with months in between, relying on free weekends, holidays, or vacation time, when I can escape to my favorite writing retreat, the Anderson Center (Red Wing, MN). MM: Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits? JK: No special pen, paper, beverage, food, place, time, temperature, music, etc. required for me to write. I don’t write more than a couple drafts of something — I edit A LOT in my head, which beginning writers are always told is a big no-no; you’re supposed to just get it all out on paper and then go back and revise, revise, revise — but that’s not particularly unique or quirky, is it?

MM: “The Winter Bees” is largely set in southern Minnesota. A lot of great writing has been either written here or about here (the Betsy and Tacy books come to mind, and the fact that Sinclair Lewis wrote much of “Main Street” in a house downtown). What is it about the southern Minnesota ethos that makes for good fiction? JK: I think the innate humility and reserved nature many of us around here have, our renowned passiveaggressiveness, and our physical and mental hardiness (see “Minnesota winters”) all contribute to the making of good fiction. When so much is tucked away, left unsaid, or cloaked in metaphor, you open the door to misunderstanding, suspicion, fear, disappointment, anger . . . in other words, CONFLICT, which a story needs in some form or another.

Our hardiness means characters can be put through the wringer and still (though not always) come out OK — bent, but not broken. They endure, and readers appreciate a good struggle. Also, in rural areas like ours, we’re often expected to do with less, and I think that allows characters to appreciate the details, to find the small, quiet joys that touch us most deeply as human beings. MM: What was the hardest scene to write in “The Winter Bees”? JK: There were a handful, but probably the hardest was toward the end of the story “The Flight of Herman Engelmann,” the final scene between Herman and Lila. There is so much love in that kitchen, yet the moral codes of the two characters

won’t allow them to act upon it. Herman and Lila can see a life together dancing right in front of them, and the restraint they show, not reaching for it, is crippling, heartbreaking. I really wanted things to turn out differently for them. But to stay true to the characters and the story, I couldn’t give them their happy ending. And that hurt. MM: What are you working on right now (in terms of writing, of course)? JK: Since I’m a multi-genre writer, I’ve got a number of irons in the fire: finishing up a poetry collection, diving into new short stories, polishing a couple picture book manuscripts . . . MM: You chose to work with a new publishing company. Tell us about Minneopa Valley Press and how they brought “The Winter Bees” to life? JK: I’m so grateful that Brian Fors, Deborah Fors, and Nicole Helget created MVP when they did and said yes to my manuscript. The press, with its strong focus on the people and places of rural America, is the perfect home for “The Winter Bees,” a collection of 10 interconnected short stories based in rural southern Minnesota. From day one, the folks at MVP have handled the book with such care, love, and respect. They understand and appreciate rural stories and the people who write, read, and live them. (And then they got local contemporary artist Brian Frink for the cover art! Awesome!) MM: What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you? JK: In my eighth-grade “World of Work” class, we were all required to take a career aptitude test, a beast of a test that would steer us toward a career for which we’d be well suited based on our interests, skills, beliefs, etc. I expected to get “teacher” or “actor” or “journalist.” Perhaps even “TV news anchor.” Instead, I got “sanitation worker.” Yep. I suspect it had something to do with my saying that I preferred to work independently. And that I liked things organized and neat. Or maybe I just filled in the ovals on the test sheet wrong. Compiled by Robb Murray




I Remember Mankato By Henry Morris

Henry Morris came to Mankato nearly 30 years ago. As an African-American man, he has a unique take on the changes that have occurred in Mankato during that time. In honor of Black History Month, we proudly bring you his essay.


remember how Mankato used to be: I could walk down the street and rarely see another person of color; landlords wouldn’t rent to me. Security guards followed me around Brett’s Department Store. That was back in 1990, the year I arrived in Mankato. Today, though, things are much better. We’ve come a long way in nearly 30 years. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the spring of 1990. I was job hunting and I saw a job posting for the Director of Student Activities at a university called Mankato State University (MSU). I researched MSU and discovered it was a regional, comprehensive state university 70 miles south of Minneapolis. I also learned MSU was a lot like my current place of employment, William Paterson College of New Jersey (WPC). Both MSU and WPC were former teachers’ colleges transforming into regional comprehensive institutions. While the MSU and WPC were similar, their locations were vastly different. WPC was located in northern New Jersey, but very close to New York City. WPC was about 30 miles from downtown Manhattan and about 60 miles from where I grew up in the Bronx. Both Manhattan and the Bronx are two very diverse areas. The Bronx high school I graduated from was more 18 • FEBRUARY 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

than 80 percent students of color and WPC had more than 30 percent students of color. Further research showed Mankato was the summer home of the Minnesota Vikings and the “big city” from the TV show “Little House on the Prairie.” Minnesota seemed like a “real” state because it had professional sport teams. A few colorful facts and a handful of sports teams, however, couldn’t hide a few critical facts: Neither Minnesota nor the city of Mankato were large in population or had very many people of color. In 1990, Minnesota’s population was 4.3 million. Mankato’s was around 31,000. As for diversity, the diverse population in the state was about 155,000 and Mankato’s was less than 1,500. Now, Minnesota has a population of more than 5.6 million and more than 500,000 people of color. Mankato’s current diverse population is around 15 percent. What a change. After my research into MSU, I

was interested enough to apply. I submitted my application and was invited for an on-campus interview. Long story short, I accepted the job. So, in September of 1990, I packed up my U-Haul, hitched my car to the back of the truck and drove from New York to Mankato. The first person who met me when I arrive in Mankato was Dr. Michael Fagin. He shared with me that I was part of the largest hiring cohort of people of color in MSU’s history. That cohort included 11 employees of color and today, I am the only person from that group left at MSU. In 1990, MSU had a student population of about 4 percent students of color and, in spite of hiring 11 new employees of color, there were very few of us on campus. This reality would change over the next 25-plus years. Domestic students of color now represent 16 percent of the population and diverse employees comprise 10 percent of the employee base at MSU. At the same time the number of domestic students of color grew, so did the international student population. Combined, international and domestic diverse students make up more than 25 percent of MSU’s student population. While MSU did not have many diverse students, it did have an LGBT Center, a Women’s Center, and a MultiCultural Center that helped make MSU an inviting place for everyone. Later under the leadership of President Davenport, presidential commissions for diversity and women’s concerns were added. When I first moved to Mankato, I did not find the city very welcoming. I remember walking

the streets and not seeing another person color. I remember apartment hunting and when I went to see the property, suddenly no apartments were available. This was not my the first time having an apartment suddenly go off the market after a manager discovered I was a person of color. While not my first time, I was still very frustrated and angry. I remember not being able to find an ethnic restaurant and not being able to find a barber properly trained in cutting a black man’s hair. I had to go to the Twin Cities for my favorite foods and to get haircuts and hair products. I was traveling to and from the Twin Cities every weekend. A black barber is truly a positive cultural experience! I remember shopping at Brett’s and not feeling welcomed. It was not welcoming having security follow you around the store. I confronted the guard and manger but was not satisfied after those interactions. I never again shopped at Brett’s. By the way, you may have noticed Brett’s is no longer open. I remember the only mall in town was the Madison East Center and there were just a couple of car dealerships out past it — the hilltop area at that time was not the current bustling retail area you see today. I was happy when the River Hills Mall and the Mall of America opened because I now had many east coast shops to visit. Down from the Mall and past the car dealerships was farmland. I saw my first live cows in Mankato. My new reality was a big difference from the reality in New York/New Jersey. My first couple of months, I remember asking myself, “What I have gotten myself into by coming to MSU?” Nearly 30 years later, I am still here and very happy because of the many people who welcomed me: Malcolm O’Sullivan, Althea De Graft Johnson, Mary Dowd, Kelly Meier, Scott Hagebak, Ron Peck, Frank Brandt, Elmo and Janel Dowd, Mike Fagin, and Andy Johnson, among others. I remember the Thanksgiving dinners at Frank’s and at Kelly’s. The YMCA helped connect me to many people in the Greater Mankato area. I met many friends on racquetball and tennis courts. Two replaced hips later, I am still meeting new people at the Y. I’m meeting old friends and making new ones in the fitness Center. In my poker group, some of the

members have changed but the friendships are still very real. I am still getting together with them 25 years later. I also made many friends when I was doing volunteer work in the area. I’ve been involved with the United Way, the YMCA, the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts. Yes, I had a Girl Scout Card! I have seen many changes in my 29 years at MSU and in the Mankato area — all for the better. The state and region are more diverse, and I believe both the state and region are trying to understand what it means to be more diverse. As we continue to diversify as a nation, a state and a city, it’s important to ask: “What can we all do to make our city a more welcoming and inclusive place?”

I was lucky to work in an educated environment and to forge relationships with people who went out of their way to befriend me and give me opportunities. If we can all work toward cultural competence and serve as a partner in creating an inclusive community, Mankato will set the standard as an inviting living and learning environment for all. P.S. I met my wife on BlackPeople.Com! MM

Dr. Henry Morris is dean of instutional diversity at Minnesota State University. MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2019 • 19

Courtney Forsythe is a bartender at Nakato Bar in North Mankato. She says she proudly displays the artwork on her body, even in the face of occasional criticism from those who disapprove. 20 • FEBRUARY 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

INK SPOTS Body art is ubiquitous, these days. So if you’re thinking about taking the plunge and getting a tattoo, just know you’re in good hands, and in good company


By Diana Rojo-Garcia | Photos by Pat Christman

he art of body modification has been around for … well, for a really long time. Tattoos have been found on mummified bodies. Other cultures use the form of not only tattoos, but other body modifications — such as stretching ears. It dates back as far as 3,000 B.C., as evidenced in different cultures all around the globe. So, no, tattoos and piercings aren’t new, and the art form isn’t going anywhere. In the past decade, it seems more people gained the confidence to get ink’d. Maybe it has been the reality TV shows revolving around tattoo artists, maybe it’s Pinterest — who knows? What we do know, however, is that tattoos and other forms of body modification has taken to the mainstream.

The Veteran

“I remember when I was 13 driving in the car with my parents, and we were driving down Broadway in Rochester, and we drove by the tattoo shop, and I said, ‘In five years, I’m going in there!’ and my dad said, ‘You most certainly are not!’” In fact, that’s where Rob Foster, artist at Cactus Tattoo, received his first tattoo. “Oddly enough, when I first got my tattoo when I was 18, something in me getting it, I went ‘Holy s—. I need to do this,” Foster said. “It was just as simple as that.” Shortly after, he began to ask a couple of local artists in Rochester how to get into the industry. No one would give him a straight answer, and no one even mentioned the word “apprenticeship.” He said that in MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2019 • 21

Chris Dorn got a degree in art from MSU, then worked as a cook for several years before starting an apprenticeship at Cactus Tattoo in Mankato. the mid-90s, tattooing was more a guarded craft. It wasn’t until after he moved out of his parents’ house, shortly after graduating high school, that Foster stepped into a tattoo shop he’d never seen before and got his septum pierced. “I ended up being his first customer though,” he said. “Mike (the owner) and I got to know each other pretty well over the next few months and I went in. It was November of ‘96. I went in there and said, ‘How do you get into this business?’ and he kind of giggled and he said, ‘I was wondering when you were going to get the balls to ask me that.’” Jan. 1, 1997, he signed a non-compete agreement with Mike, and for the next two years he worked at the shop up to five hours a day, and eight hours at a factory. “Sixty-hour weeks. Just busting my ass.” With now 22 years in the industry (17 at Cactus) Foster has done a lot of tattoos. Including one of the weirdest tattoos in his career. “About 10 years ago, I did a (tattoo of a) redneck 22 • FEBRUARY 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

making sweet love to a sheep. Oh sweet, passionate love,” he said. To spare the details, it was … weird. The tattoo was located on the client’s lower leg. “And when we got done, he said, ‘Well, I guess I can’t wear shorts in front of my mom.’” A few years later, while waiting in line at Walgreens, Foster looked down at the calf of the person ahead of him. “I saw this guy wearing shorts, and I looked down, and it was that tattoo,” Foster laughed. “I looked up, and he’s just grinning at me and he says, ‘Yep, still wearing shorts.’” He’s had other odd requests, like a Hello Kitty tattoo featuring the beloved cat with hair curlers and pregnant while smoking in front of her trailer with a twister off to the side. A few other favorites that Foster recalls is a sleeve of a Bob Ross painting, a Jack Daniel’s bottle, a chest piece of the Vikings and a portrait of a client’s dog who passed away.

Rob Foster has been serving customers at Cactus Tattoo in Mankato for years. He began learning his craft in the 1990s, and says he’s inked his share of odd tattoos. Moral of the story? Get whatever tattoo you want, Foster said, because a tattoo is art. It doesn’t necessarily have to have a meaning. “It can mean whatever it wants to the person,” he said. “Sometimes things can just be fun and silly. I love silly tattoos, like the decapitated Santa I did. It was f— awesome.” And if you don’t know what you want to get, but you have an idea, talk to your tattoo artist. People like Foster spend years training in the industry to come up with the best tattoo for a person. “Having someone come to you with an idea, and then being able to take that idea and make it better than they even envisioned? It’s almost like a high,” he said. “It’s more of an art form. You can come in with an idea and someone can go off of that and create something unique for you. I think that’s huge.”

The Apprentice

“I remember as a kid, my soccer team used to go and get pizza next to a tattoo shop. I remember always

looking in there thinking, ‘That’s really cool,’” Chris Dorn, apprentice at Cactus Tattoo said. Dorn began his apprenticeship at Cactus Tattoo almost two years ago. Every aspiring artist who wants to become a licensed tattoo artist must first go through 200 hours of supervised tattooing. Dorn only has 50 hours left (at the time of interview.) Before he began his apprenticeship, Dorn received a degree in painting at Minnesota State University. “I couldn’t really find a job doing any artistic work after that,” he said. “So I worked as a cook, worked in kitchens for 10-12 years.” He spent some time in Texas, until he moved back to Mankato. Karl Schneider, another artist at Cactus, had mentioned that they were looking for an apprentice. “It’s something that I wanted to do for a long time. I kind of made a few minor steps to do it a few years MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2019 • 23

ago, but I wasn’t really prepared to do the hard work,” he laughed. “I just wasn’t in a place where I was ready to really do it.” Even though Dorn has a degree in painting, he had to basically re-learn how to draw. The process for drawing up a tattoo is completely different. “Before the owner was even going to trust me to touch anyone, it was just tons and tons of tracing,” he said. “She basically had me relearn how to draw completely, because you can be a great artist when it comes to drawing straight up, but some of those aspects don’t really translate to tattooing.” Tattoo artists need to learn how to redraw images to make them tattooable. “It was really retraining myself and getting into that kind of thought process.” Lines can be different, and questions like “How is the tattoo going to look?” And reimagining what the image is going to look like for it to be appropriate for a tattoo. After all, the canvas is going to be a human body. But before anything is tattooed onto a person, an apprentice must start by acquainting themselves with the gun. Dorn was given the task of taking apart and rebuilding some of the machines. After that, he began to tattooing grapefruits. “That was fun,” he laughed. “Just to kind of feel what the machines feel like in your hand.” After that, he began to tattoo on clients. Simple things such as all-black tattoos (no shading.) Now, Dorn has moved onto color tattoos. So far, his favorite part about the job is the interaction between his co-workers. Just like when he was in school, he had the ability to interact with other students. “You’re not in a bubble, you actually get to talk to other people,” Dorn said. “Here in the shop, if you’re kind of stuck on something, you got people there that you can kind of brainstorm with, or troubleshoot, to figure out what to do rather than sit there spinning your wheels in your studio.”

The Aficionado

Tattoo artists are just normal people. They have a family and kids, they’ve got bad days at work, they have all the same normal stuff. Well… except one thing. “We just have a really cool job,” Kelly Bunde, artist at Mecca Tattoo, said. Bunde has been tattooing at Mecca for nine years. Megan Hoogland, owner of Mecca, had asked Bunde if she would like to do an apprenticeship with her. But even before that, Bunde had started up an apprenticeship with Meg at Cactus Tattoo in the late ‘90s. “I had to give it up at the time because I was going to school full time and I was working 30-40 hours a week plus trying to fit in an apprenticeship,” she said. “It was a little stressful.” In hindsight, Bunde said she regrets having quit the apprenticeship at the time. But the second opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time for Bunde. What kept Bunde coming back? “I think my first tattoo that I got,” she said. “And I was always in art classes throughout high school. They didn’t 24 • FEBRUARY 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

have enough for me, so by my senior year, they had made some classes for me.” Tattooing, she said, is a way to do art every day. And she does. Every day. “I can create something new every day. It’s awesome,” she said. “And to see people’s reactions when you’re done? It’s super cool.” Even a simple tattoo that she had done recently for a customer, his reaction was “Oh my God, you read my mind.” “Just little things like that, it’s really cool. The fact that you can make people so happy about it is awesome. And you want to make people happy,” she laughed. “It’s on them for the rest of their life.” Bunde’s work focuses on geometric shapes, mandalas and flowers with delicate lines to give the feel of shading. “So that’s what I’m known for, I guess,” she laughed. “It’s my lines.” For those wanting a tattoo, too, you don’t need to know exactly what you want, Bunde said. “Bring us your stuff that you like, like reference photos, and we’ll put it together. That’s partly what you’re paying for, is that service.”

The Collector

Courtney Forsythe, 25, is a bartender at the NaKato Bar. She owns a house, has a dog, she’s lived in Australia, and she’s proudly ink’d. It all started when she turned 18 on a road trip to Colorado with a few of her friends. “I just thought, ‘Why not?’” Her first tattoo was the flower of life located on her ribs. Since then, she has collected more than a couple of dozen tattoos (and counting). Some are visible, like her sleeve, and she’s had a few questions about them. However, sometimes there are more judgmental comments toward her tattoos. “It’s definitely a conversation starter, especially being a bartender,” she said. “I get quite a few people that will make some pretty rude comments — random people — at the bar or the gas station, or the grocery store. Random things like ‘What would your kids think of that’ or ‘I wonder what your parents think of that.’” Though Forsythe welcomes questions about her tattoos, the insensitive comments can be left out. Tattoos are personal, she says. “I think it’s kind of insensitive to the fact that maybe people can’t have kids. Or maybe they don’t want to have kids or maybe their parents have passed away, which I’m in both those situations,” she said. Like the one located on her leg, in tribute to her father and grandpa.

Kelly Bunde of Mecca Tattoo has been putting art on skin for nine years. Says Bunde, “I can create something new every day ... It’s awesome.” “It’s a skeleton dancing in the desert. And my dad always used to sing to us girls growing up, ‘It ain’t no sin to take off your skin and dance around in your bones.’” Even with those types of comments, however, she said the best way to combat the confrontations is to “kill them with kindness.” And more often than not, most people are accepting of the art form because in reality, a tattoo is an art. “The artist has to draw it out. I

don’t think that’s really too different from a painting,” she said. But what if, personally, you don’t like tattoos? Well … don’t get one. “I find it odd when other people like look down on people with tattoos or think of it as like a negative thing because I don’t think that it has to,” Forsythe said. “You know, it’s cool if you don’t agree with it.” What about the old age question of “What happens when you get old?”

“I’ll let it happen. Let the skin sag! I mean, my body is going to be beaten to hell by the end of this journey. I would rather live it to the fullest,” she said. “And, you know, life is going to take its toll on me either way, so I don’t see that as any different than just having art on me. You know, I think if anything, it’ll be super badass to be an 85-year-old woman that has many tattoos and I can tell stories to people about the journey.” MM





It’s not what I did for wrestling It’s what wrestling did for me


ay back in 1979 my little first novel Vision Quest: A Wrestling Story, about a high school wrestler, was published by the Viking Press and Bantam Books. In 1985 Warner Bros. released a movie based on the story. It starred Matthew Modine and Linda Fiorentino, both of whom have risen to the highest ranks of actors; speaking of the highest ranks of actors, the peerless Forest Whitaker was a minor player in VQ all those years ago. The movie introduced people to the book. Over the years, quite a few people – mostly wrestlers – have gotten hold of me about the story, or asked me to sign a book, which I’m always honored to do. In the past few months, for some reason, the men – some of them coaches now, and all of them former wrestlers – have thanked me for “what you have done for wrestling.” What I think they mean is that because of the movie Vision Quest – and especially because the movie treats wrestling as a respectable sport and wrestlers as decent guys and committed athletes as opposed to the moron bullies so many movies make wrestlers out to be – wrestling is more widely known now and to a degree better understood. It would make me enormously proud to think I’d ever done anything for wrestling. The truth – and the subject of this little essay – is that wrestling did close to everything for me. My bipolar disorder raged when I was a grade schooler, an early and then a later teen. Mania – the manic phase of the disorder – was what got me into trouble. Let me say this one thing about bipolarity: some people think depression, the down phase of the disorder, is sadness; it is not sadness. Sadness doesn’t come close to covering it; depression is miles deeper down into the dark than sadness; depression is not a landscape without beauty; depression is the burnt-over landscape beyond the third bank of the river. Depression is desolation. I was also out of control in terms of behavior; I could not, for example, wait to raise my hand to be called on. Other kids – and especially the teacher – got sick of me; I didn’t blame the kids then, and I don’t blame them now. Toward the adult, though, a first-year teacher named Dick Kegley, I do still bear a grievance . Kegley took it upon himself to break me of this behavior. He instructed the class to shout out when I spoke without being called on, and he would say, “Young Mister Davis thinks he’s smarter than the rest of us” when I’d lose control and shout out an answer. He’d spring from his position in front of the class, grab the sides of my deskchair and push me across the floor to a back corner of the room; then he’d blaze back to his desk, and from a top corner hoist the classroom’s gigantic dictionary, blaze back again and drop it with a resonate thud on

my writing surface and instruct me to start copying. I’ll never forget the scraping, splintering sound the legs of my desk-chair made while he pushed me across the uneven boards of our wood floor. I developed a stutter in my sixth-grade year. In my sophomore year of high school; some of my old pals from early in school were wrestling, and I was sitting with them at lunch listening to them talk about it and envying them. I had a ton of pent aggression, and it dawned on me that wrestling just might be the way to jettison it. I walked into the little, narrow wrestling room on the second floor of the gym and introduced myself to assistant coach Bill Via and asked if I could try out. He said, “You bet,” and I jumped in with the neck drill. I was proud of being a wrestler. And catch this: even now, after all these years, when the marathons, triathlons and the hundred-mile bike rides are behind me forever, I’m still proud of having been a wrestler. Among the things wrestling was to me, it was a way to earn self-esteem. Practice was tough, and I worked hard at it; I also trained on my own. I took pride in that; the harder I worked the better I felt about myself. Every single day wrestling gave me a reason to respect myself. I’ve wished I’d had the chance to wrestle my old teacher Dick Kegley; I’d have put a serious hurt on the man. It might be possible to look at my experience with Kegley as positive; it is possible to look at it as motivational, which is positive; he did a number on me when I was at an intellectual and emotional disadvantage, and he created an atmosphere where I felt like nothing. But if I hadn’t felt like nothing in those years headed up to adulthood, I might not have tried so hard thereafter to do things that moved me to feel like something. Even now, even now everyday as I sit down to work on Son of Swain, the sequel to that little book I published forty years ago, I bring with me the simple but profound lessons I learned as a wrestler: never give up, keep stroking and the far shore will appear, never miss practice. MM

Terry Davis is a writer living in North Mankato. A retired professor of English at Minnesota State University, he is the author of the wrestlingbased novel MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2019 • 27

REFLECTIONS By Pat Christman


e humans sometimes take for granted where our next meal is coming from. For most of the animal kingdom finding the next meal can be a challenge in the winter. Kind folks with bird feeders help, but it doesn’t hurt to have a mild winter once in a while to make the pickings a little easier. MM




Jumping into freezing water is just one of the many delights to be found at Polar Fest in Detroit Lakes.

Plunge into the bold north at Polar Fest in Detroit Lakes


inter in Minnesota might not seem like the best time or place for a festival with outdoor activities to some. But if anyone puts the question to Carrie Johnston and Becky Mitchell, who serve on the committee for Polar Fest in Detroit Lakes, they have a simple response: Why not? “Detroit Lakes is a year-round destination. Winter brings us snowmobiling, ice fishing, skiing, etc., and Polar Fest allows us to get creative, gather friends and enjoy the bolder north,” Mitchell said. Polar Fest offers a number of indoor and outdoor activities Feb. 7-18 at locations around Detroit Lakes. The festival has been around since the mid-1990s with a growing number of attendees and sponsors, and many events raise money for area nonprofit organizations. The 2019 festivities begin with the lighting of King 30 • FEBRUARY 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Isbit’s Throne and Royal Courtyard on Feb. 7 at the Detroit Lakes city beach. Professional ice sculptures will be on display in the nearby city park starting the following day as a part of the MN Sn’Ice competitions. The second part, a snow sculpture competition for area high school students, will be held Feb. 13. Other outdoor events include the ice fishing derby and Great Polar Race scavenger hunt on Feb. 9, as well as the SnoWay But Up race for runners, cross-country skiers and snowshoers and the SnoWay But Round fat-tire bike race on the morning of Feb. 10. The final Saturday of the festival, Feb. 16, is full of fun outdoor events for the entire family. These include the ULTRA Vintage Snowmobile Rally, Swap Meet & Ride, helicopter rides, the Freeze Your Buns Run 5K, Polar Pile-up demolition derby and finally fireworks on the lake

from 7-7:30 p.m. “There are many free and family-friendly events that you can both participate in or be a spectator. The Frozen Fireworks over Detroit Lake is a family favorite,” Johnston said. Attendees embrace the cold during the activities, but there’s one event that is so extremely frigid that even Polar Pete, the festival’s ursine mascot, would have to stop to consider. At the 23rd annual Polar Fest Plunge, around 200 people in costumes will leap through a hole cut in the ice into the freezing waters of Detroit Lake. The event takes place from 1-3 p.m. Feb. 16, and although only a select few would be willing to take the plunge, everyone can jump on board with the cause it supports. “This event is full of chills and thrills as participants jump into icy Little Detroit Lake to raise funds to support afterschool and summer programming for the 600+ youth who attend Boys & Girls Club of Detroit Lakes,” the Polar Fest website states. When it’s time to warm up, there are plenty of indoor events throughout the week. Paul Schurke, a polar explorer and dog sledder, will give a presentation about his adventures to the North Pole on Feb. 11 at the Holmes Theatre. The last scheduled event of the week is a performance by the Deuces Wild! Dueling Pianos. According to the Polar Fest website, David Eichholz and Ted Manderfeld, both self-taught pianists from Minnesota, will give “a Las Vegas-style show of comedy and extensive audience participation featuring an unlikely and surprising mix of music and parodies that range from classic rock and country to rap and show tunes.” In addition to Polar Fest, Detroit Lakes has many indoor and outdoor activities year-round, according to Mitchell.

Whether people like to embrace the cold or not, it offers a great option for a day trip or longer getaway. “With a historic downtown, great restaurants, a performing arts theatre, a museum and so much more, we provide a small town feel with big city amenities,” she said. “If the outdoors is your passion, we have over 250 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, downhill skiing and tubing, endless cross country ski trails, over 400 lakes for ice fishing and ice skating.”


Where: Multiple locations in Detroit Lakes, MN When: February 7-18, 2019 Admission: Varies, with many free events

Visit for more information MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2019 • 31




Therapy Dogs The Singing


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Barb Lindholm and her therapy dog Nikko are members of Paws for Friendship Inc. along with Barb Maher and her therapy dog Tuunaq.

Therapy Dogs are four-legged

miracle workers By Bryce O. Stenzel


oth Barb Maher and Linda Murray are passionate about dogs; specifically “therapy dogs.” Both women are members of the Mankato chapter of “Paws for Friendship, Inc.,” a national organization for therapy dogs, which has been in existence for over 25 years. The Mankato chapter (with 27 members) is only one of approximately 20, nationwide. Like all the other chapters of its type, the Mankato organization is certified by the American Kennel

34 • LIVING 55 PLUS • FEBRUARY 2019 • Special Advertising Section

Club, which is a basic requirement to becoming a chapter of Paws for Friendship, Inc. To become a certified therapy dog, someone’s pet canine is required to be trained in obedience, along with joining this national organization, through a series of tests designed to assess tolerance to other dogs, acceptance of people, tolerance of wheelchairs, the dog’s ability to be separated from its handler, who is out of site for at least three minutes, and the dog’s ability to resist the temptation of

picking up treats from the floor. Paws for Friendship, Inc. members pay $60 per year for their first dog, and $30 for their second or more. These dues provide the members with insurance for their dogs (which covers an annual physical, as well as all necessary shots), vests that the dogs wear to identify them as therapy dogs, identification cards for their dogs, a neck lanyard and a certificate of membership in the organization. Dues for the local chapter are $10 per year. Many obedience school classes offer links to becoming therapy dogs; Linda Murray and Barb Maher both recommended obedience training regardless of whether the owner wants a therapy dog or not. They stressed that anybody who wants their dog to be out in public, even if it means something as simple as walking their dog in a public park, to have obedience training, Local clubs such as the Mankato chapter usually bring in 3 to 7 dogs at a time, to put on programs at area nursing homes, assisted care living facilities for senior citizens, memory care units for people with various forms of dementia, hospital wards, grade schools, the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota (twice per year), MSU and Gustavus. In most of these venues, the dogs present a program for the residents, in which their owners introduce them to the audience, describe what type of dog they are, and enable the dogs to exhibit their skills. Linda Murray pointed out that it’s not all about training. The therapy dogs also do tricks for treats, such as chase a ball, jump through hoops, vocalize “I love you,” etc. Of particular importance in today’s programs is movement, both ladies stated. Audience members like visual sensory cues to stimulate them and hold their interest, not just having the dogs sit there and talk about them. At MSU and Gustavus, the dogs don’t actually do a formal program, but rather students (many of whom miss their own dogs, while away at college) come to see the dogs and interact with them by engaging in “stress-buster” activities such as petting their four-legged friends. At the Mankato hospital, therapy dogs make room to room visits once a month, to children and elderly patients, alike. Barb shared an interesting story of a visit she made to the Mankato hospital to see a friend, which turned out to be a

convincing testimonial of the power of therapy dogs to heal the sick. While she was there, a nurse (who was aware that Barb worked with therapy dogs) told her about another patient—a man who was greatly agitated, and who wouldn’t respond to anyone’s attempts to calm him down. Barb brought in her dog, sat with the man, and let him pet her dog. While she and the dog worked their magic of calming him down, the nurse was soon able to obtain the man’s vitals, so he could be treated. Linda described a similar experience she had. In this instance, there was a woman near death in her hospital bed, with blood pressure that was so high, it was off the charts. One of the woman’s four sons gave his consent to let Linda bring her dog, “Mr. Dillon” (named for the televison show, Gunsmoke character, “Matt Dillon”) into the room and let the woman pet him. In less than five minutes after bringing “Mr. Dillon” in, the woman’s blood pressure dropped to a safe, normal level! Linda described therapy dogs as, “four-legged miracle workers.” The elderly in particular, really open up to these canine ambassadors of good will, and sometimes even share interesting stories, which they haven’t shared with anyone else in a long time, if ever. It’s not surprising then to realize that 25%30% of the current therapy dog clientele the Mankato chapter works with are senior citizens. Barb pointed out that the attitude among seniors toward dogs in general, and therapy dogs in particular has changed markedly, in the past ten years she has been involved in the chapter, working with two different dogs of her own. It used to be that many seniors (when the majority of the senior population was from rural areas) had the attitude that “dogs don’t belong inside.” On occasion, she still meets someone with this belief; but on the whole, now that the majority of the senior population is from urban areas, the prevailing attitude has changed to, “our society should [and does] treat dogs like family.” Having dogs inside has become the norm. At the time Barb got started with therapy dogs, she was doing volunteer work at a nursing home in Canada. She brought her dog along with her to the nursing home facility to interact with the residents she worked with; and in the process, discovered that

Nikko shows off his special vest.

there was an organization that did the same thing! Linda got started by taking her dogs to obedience school, where she met long-time resident and obedience school teacher, Mildred Zeno (known affectionately as “the dog lady of Mankato”). It was Ms. Zeno, who originally started the Mankato chapter of “Paws for Friendship.” Linda is now an official test administrator for the local program. As previously noted, she strongly recommends that dog owners enroll their pets in obedience training classes; because it is good for both dogs and people. Obedience training strengthens the bond between dog owner and their pet. It allows the dog to socialize with other dogs, and in doing so, promotes better behavior. This is true for the dog owners, as well. They have an opportunity to interact with others who share the same love and passion for canines as they do. Who ever said that “going to the dogs” was a bad thing? Therapy dogs, by their very name, suggest just the opposite.

Special Advertising Section • FEBRUARY 2019 • LIVING 55 PLUS • 35

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The Singing Cowgirl Brings Nostalgia To Seniors Story & Photos by Marianne Carlson


esidents at Oaklawn Rehabilitation Center gather in a circle. Some sits on chairs and couches while others scoot their wheelchairs close together. Smiles stretch across faces as Lisa Murphy, The Singing Cowgirl, strikes her first chord. Toes start tapping and hands start clapping. Some residents even sing-a-long to songs from the 1950’s and 1960’s. Her electric guitar strap with flashing stars catches the eye, her nostalgic music draws in the ear, but it is her personality and engaging banter that captures the hearts of the residents. Murphy plays through her 45 minutes set list. She works her way through some country hits, a few beautiful folk songs and even a little rock-n-roll. She asks the crowd if there are any Elvis fans. A few residents raise their hands. “Are there any Hound Dogs out there?” she asks as she counts all the men in the room. “Looks like there are seven of you out there.” Murphy teases one gentleman with a big smile, “How many ladies did you used to chase back in the day?” He laughs and says, “I chased a couple.” “With a smile like that, I thought for sure there would be more than a couple,” Murphy replies. She has a special set of sing-a-long songs that really get the residents excited. A woman resident calls out a request to Murphy, “Beautiful Brown Eyes.” Murphy tunes up her guitar and gladly performs the song. Murphy asks the residents if any of them are veterans. Several men raise their hands and proudly state the branch they served in and the war(s) they participated in. Murphy thanks them for their service and asks if they would like to do another sing-a-long. “This Land Is Your Land” rings beautifully

from her acoustic guitar. Suddenly the room is filled with the sounds of singing and clapping. Kaity Felsheim, Therapist Recreation Director, schedules three to four live performances each month for the residents at Oaklawn Rehabilitation Center and Murphy plays there every other month. “We always get a great turn out for live music,” Felsheim said. “Lisa really engages with the residents. She talks with them, jokes with them. She really makes them feel included. She makes them feel special.” It’s not unusual for Murphy to perform two or three shows in one day. Once she did 16 shows in one week, but quickly learned after pushing her voice a little to hard, that was simply too many. She said two or three per day is much more managable. “Basically, I get paid to harrass people,” Murphy said with a laugh. “And they love it. “If they have seen me before, they know what to expect and they give it back to me just as much as I give it to them.” Murphy tells the crowd that she is a real cowgirl. And she looks the part. Her brightly colored shirt matches her cowgirl hat that has been bedazzled to coordinate with her custom chinks. Chinks are similar to chaps but shorter in length. Her sparkly boots and flashing guitar strap complete her outfit. “I have 15 pairs of boots, 20 hats, several stage shirts that I’ve had made, along with 5 pairs of custom chinks,” Murphy said. “When I say I’m a real cowgirl, it’s true. I was riding horses before I could walk.” Murphy has been performing live for 38 years, since she was in junior high school. But in 2017, she became The Singing Cowgirl full-time. In 2018 she performed 382 shows and Special Advertising Section • FEBRUARY 2019 • LIVING 55 PLUS • 37

Murphy already has close to 300 shows scheduled for 2019. “I feel really blessed to be able to do this,” Murphy said. She started playing guitar when she was 10 years old. Murphy was inspired to learn how to play guitar after hearing John Denver on the radio. “I wore out his album in less than a year and had to buy another one,” Murphy recalled with a laugh. “Whenever things weren’t going well in my life, I turned to him as a positive role model. I never took lessons. I just figured, if John Denver can play the guitar, well then, so can I.” Now Murphy is a John Denver Tribute artist. She has 25 John Denver songs in her repetoire. Over the years, Murphy went to many John Denver concerts. During that time she became friends with the Martells, John Denver’s in-laws that live in the area. Murphy even got to meet John Denver, once when she was 15 and again when she was 18. “He was my idol,” Murphy said. “I was on the top of the world when I got

fairs, the Minnesota State Fair, Jackpot Junction contests, Ribfest, the Coffee Hag, live radio spots, malls, corporate and private parties, trail rides and even singing telegrams. However, senior living communities are her main venues. And she couldn’t ask for a better audience. “Usually, they don’t want me to go,” Murphy said with a chuckle. Nancy Goettl, Sales and Marketing Director at Old Main Village went to high school with Murphy. “I’ve known her a long time,” Goettl said. “Her show is really special. She is just so genuine and her passion for music is contagious. She shares that Murphy got to meet her idol John Denver when she passion with the audience, what ever was 15 and again when she was 18 years old. audience she is playing for.” Goettl recalled a day, a couple of to meet him. In 2017, I got to perform months ago when she was giving a tour at a special tribute show in Aspen with at Old Main Village. Murphy happened people from all over the world. It was to be playing that day, so the people on pretty cool. But the best was when Jim the tour got a little sneak peek of what Martell, John’s father-in-law told me, ‘He The Singing Cowgirl does. would be so proud of you for keeping “It was great for these people on his music alive.’ “ the tour to get to see, not just hear Murphy has performed at county about the life enrichment opportunties

38 • LIVING 55 PLUS • FEBRUARY 2019 • Special Advertising Section

that we offer, but really get to see and experience one of the things we offer our residents,” Goettl said. “We are grateful to Lisa for bringing so much joy to our residents.” Murphy said she truly loves her job and feels grateful as well. Although she performs hundreds of shows each year, she knows many of the residents by name and even thinks of them as family. “I love bringing the magic of John Denver’s music to retirement communities,” Murphy said. “I love performing songs that people can relate to. I love playing music that makes them remember.”

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Special Advertising Section • FEBRUARY 2019 • LIVING 1/2/19 55 PLUS • 39 4:20 PM

What is “Assisted Stretch?”

Introducing Flexibility4All, LLC, Mankato’s Assisted Stretch Service


icture yourself at age 10, standing at your grandmother’s side, helping her make taffy. She’s already done the mixing, boiling, and pouring of the hot, sugary mixture. Your job is to watch, then help her pull the taffy to make it thick and gooey. You see her scoop up a side of the taffy with a special knife, pull the side up and outward, then fold the side back into the middle, over and over

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again in a perfect rhythm. Now, it’s your turn to try. How hard could this be? Grandma made it look so easy. As you first try to pick up the side of the taffy lump, you realize scooping underneath provides much more friction than you’d anticipated. So, you scoop harder and pull up and out with great force. Uh oh! Your force was too great! Your taffy edge broke completely away from the main mass! You try again, this time scooping under the mass quickly, then pulling away slowly. You only pull a little distance away from the mass before you fold it back into the center. Grandma tells you to pull further, in order to add more oxygen and make the taffy cloudier. You challenge yourself to make the edge as long as possible before you fold it in each time. After about 20 minutes, you finally find the perfect length – the length which is long, but not so long that the edge separates from the center. Success! But, you’ve spent so long pulling taffy that you have to go home and can only take a few pieces with you this time. Someday, you will have practiced pulling taffy enough that you can reach ideal lengths and enjoy your taffy without spending all day pulling.

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Special Advertising Section • FEBRUARY 2019 • LIVING 55 PLUS • 41

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“Why are we discussing taffy pulling?” you might ask. We are discussing taffy pulling because stretching your muscles is very much akin to taffy pulling. A little over 11 years ago, Theresa Sedivy was in an accident that caused a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and as a result, she experiences severe spasticity. Spasticity is a condition in which certain muscles are continuously contracted. This contraction causes stiffness or tightness of the muscles and can interfere with normal movement, speech and gait.Spasticity is usually caused by damage to the portion of the brain or spinal cord that controls voluntary movement. Sedivy incurred several musculoskeletal injuries, including sciatica which is very painful. During these 11 year, she has worked very hard to stay fit and minimize her pain. Throughout her journey, she has learned a lot along the way and it has been her mission to share this knowledge. Sedivy taught “Exercise Is Medicine” and other classes to special populations at Mankato Family YMCA from March 2016 through November 2018. She learned that so many people have problems with their low backs, hips, knees, ankles, and shoulders. Improving flexibility has reduced Sedivy’s chiropractic visits from twice weekly in 2009 to about once annually.. And, while stretching is certainly not a substitute for proper medical care overseen by a physician, stretching has relieved many different kinds of pain and increased active living for not only Sedivy, for other’s she has shared these stretches with. Every medical and sports organization recognizes the benefits of improved flexibility. In suggesting physical fitness guidelines, AARP lists several benefits of stretching, “decreas[ing] the risk of injury,

prevent[ing] soreness, improv[ing] performance, and decreas[ing] pain and soreness after exercise.” One of the observations, Sedivy made during her time at the YMCA, was that many of her older clients need joint replacements, or at least training to help joints regain function, simply because they neglected to stretch or increase their flexibility since their youth. “If younger adults would stretch more and more often, they would likely avoid future mobility challenges,” Sedivy said. As in the taffy pulling example, muscles should be warm for a stretch session in order to be pliable. Muscles stretched too quickly could tear. And, there is an optimal range of motion (ROM) or length to which each muscle should be stretched, varying by individual person, as well. If you spend an immense amount of time stretching and getting to know your body, you’ll find nearly that length, Sedivy said. But, the best and most efficient stretch for you is done by an expert in “assisted (aka facilitated) stretch,” according to Sedivy. “In assisted stretch, an expert with great knowledge and experience with stretching the human body can take your muscles to just the right length that you feel very uncomfortable, get a really good feeling from the stretch, but not so far that you feel pain like your muscles have torn,” Sedivy explained. Assisted stretch is a new concept for most people who are not serious athletes, Sedivy said. But for people who grew up playing sports, they may have experienced assisted stretching through their trainers. Others my have had assisted stretches done by physical therapists. Sedivy wants to bring assisted stretch and the benefits that it provides to everone including a pain-free active lifestyle. If your doctor says you should see a PT, or if you want to have your insurance cover your assisted stretch, please continue to do so. But, if you just want a good stretch, Mankato now has its very own assisted stretch service, Flexibility4All, LLC (F4A). At Flexibility4All, LLC, Sedivy uses expertise and experience in exercise science and flexibility to “pull your taffy,” stretch muscles you didn’t know you had, and help you live a more active, pain-free life. (Sedivy cannot stretch you if your doctor says you should avoid stretch exercises. If you’re in doubt, please ask your provider.) Sedivy said she could never fully explain assisted stretch.

“The best way for you to learn how it feels and how I can help you live better is for you to book an appointment and come in for a 15 minute or a 30-minute stretch,” Sedivy said. “Every client’s first 15 minutes are free, without strings attached.” If you are curious and want to simply see an assisted stretch session, you can watch videos Sedivy made of herself stretching a volunteer. Visit or search YouTube for Flexibility4All. If you’re allowed by your doctor to stretch but cannot travel, sit on a low

table, or have other special needs, please call. Sedivy will work out ways to help you, and she is willing to travel anywhere in the greater Mankato/North Mankato area at no extra charge. Please call or email, Theresa Sedivy, at (507) 508-7344 or to make a stretch appointment, ask for more Flexibility4All, LLC information; or ask questions about this article. “I look forward to helping you live actively, more easily,” Sedivy said.

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Special Advertising Section • FEBRUARY 2019 • LIVING 55 PLUS • 43

Wine & Beer


By Leigh Pomeroy

On to Beaujolais T

southern mn style

he last port of call on our journey up the Rhône River was Lyon, known for its gastronomy and chemical plants (go figure). But it’s also the southern gateway to the renowned Beaujolais region, just about an hour north. Unfortunately, Beaujolais doesn’t enjoy the same reputation it once did, perhaps because quality of New World wines has improved so dramatically. Beaujolais hasn’t declined in quality, it’s just that there’s more competition for shelf space and restaurant wine lists out there. Growing up, if my parents served French wine with dinner, it was Pouilly-Fuissé for a white, Beaujolais for a red and, when they wanted to announce to us kids that my mother was expecting an addition to the family, Champagne. Pouilly-Fuissé is a white made exclusively from the chardonnay grape from the Mâcon region, south of the more expensive wine areas of the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune, and north of the Beaujolais region. Unlike the often sweet, overoaked and overly fruity California Chardonnays, it’s lighter, more lively and zippy, and goes great with seafood and many poultry dishes. The grape of Beaujolais is the gamay noir, plumper and generally higher yielding than the more finicky pinot noir of the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune. And the flavors are quite different. While the great pinot noir


wines from these regions can be awkward and enigmatic in their youth, with age they blossom into sublime, unforgettable experiences — along with rarity, the reason they command the high prices they do. Beaujolais, however, is generally meant to be consumed younger for its engaging fruit, though some improve up to eight years or more. The vines of Beaujolais are different from any I’ve seen elsewhere. While most vines throughout the world are generally pruned and trellised to be from four to six feet in height, many vines in Beaujolais reach no more than two or three feet. One wonders how the local vignerons get any harvest at all. I can only imagine they are picked on hands and knees. Like much of France, the rolling Beaujolais countryside is dotted with hamlets mostly composed of native stone edifices located a few miles apart, dating back to the Middle Ages and even Roman times. Because of French law and tradition, vineyards are small and family-owned like those of the rest of Burgundy. Because the vineyards are small, many of the growers have banded together in associations or cooperatives to produce wines from multiple plots under one label. Other growers choose to sell their grapes or wines made on their premises to large commercial enterprises like Georges Duboeuf and Louis Jadot. Most consumers think of Beaujolais in terms of Beaujolais Nouveau, which is released, freshly bottled, shortly after harvest. Yet the better wines of Beaujolais are labeled under their village names — Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Régnié, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Saint-Amour, Chénas, Juliénas, Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent. While I love the village-named Beaujolais, I have also relished the recent vintages of Beaujolais Nouveau, which have been fresh, fruity and eminently quaffable. But caveat emptor, Beaujolais Nouveau must be enjoyed within a year of

their vintage. The winemaking technique in Beaujolais is quite different from that in much of the rest of the world. The majority of Beaujolais is made using the carbonic maceration method, whereby the grapes are placed in a closed cement or stainless steel tank and fermented under pressure created by the release of carbon dioxide during the fermentation process. This yields a wine that emphasizes fruitiness, perfume and color over longevity. One hundred percent of Beaujolais Nouveau is made this way, as is much of the production of regular Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages (a higher rating). The village-named Beaujolais wines are generally made using more traditional techniques. Ah, but what about flavor? Beaujolais Nouveau and other Beaujolais made using carbonic maceration are incredibly fruity — great for slogging down as aperitifs and with lighter dishes, including poultry, veal, pork and veggie fare. The village-named Beaujolais can be paired with more flavorful dishes, like boeuf bourgignon, sweetbreads, escargot (snails), roasts and steaks. One of my first wine experiences occurred when I was in Annecy, France, a mountain town on a lovely lake near the Swiss border. I was 17 and with a young lady. We bought fresh bread, local cheese and sausage, and a bottle of Beaujolais, then carried it up to a grassy hillside overlooking the lake on a bright, early summer day, and enjoyed the most marvelous picnic. Red wines throughout the world can range from light and lively to deep, dark, moody and even mysterious. But Beaujolais is Beaujolais, from the frivolous Nouveaus to the more serious village-named wines. Once they have their hooks in you, you will never forget them. Leigh Pomeroy is a Mankato-based writer and wine lover.


By Bert Mattson

Counter Currents T he Romans originally considered winter a monthless season. When they finally saw fit to assign and name (what were then) the last months of the calendar, they called the very last one Februarius — from a latin root meaning purification. This probably stems from ancient festivals around the time, and their rites to cast out evil spirits. Ancient history. Some suggest seasonal craft beer release calendars are ancient history: propaganda for sluggish, old-fashioned, craft beer icons. Small Regional breweries release beers by social media on a bi-weekly basis. I’ve a nuanced view. A Minnesotan (cabin walls encroaching, waiting out the once immeasurable season) might desire a little light reading — like Sears and Roebuck catalogs lifting spirits in the whiteout, grain-belt shanties of yore. While an admitted late adopter of technology, I do, in a challenged way, follow social media. I also enjoy the old-timey rows and columns of a seasonal release calendar. I like what February has in store. Left Hand Milk Stout is a yearround staple. Last year about this time I remember experiencing some fatigue with respect to flavored stouts. At The Beer Dabbler on the State Fair Grounds I tapped out of anything featuring coconut or peanut butter. These started to seem like a prerequisite for establishing a booth. Well, I’m ready. Left Hand is set to release, a spin-off of the classic. A sip, smooth and slightly sweet, roasty in ways reminiscent of chocolate and coffee … layered with raspberry? Yup. Raspberry Milk Stout arrives just in time for Valentine’s Day. I have yet to experience any Hazy IPA (AKA NEIPA) fatigue. I confess. Bent Paddle Brewing Company’s rotating Pordij — previously an American Imperial IPA — is slated for release this February, but in a hazy persuasion. Its previous iteration was a “hop bomb,” bitterness forward,

malt backed, but through the pine substantial citrus and tropical fruit tones betrayed a bent for the j u i c y. I ’ m on the edge of my stool to see how it sorts out. (Trending: Raspberry. BPBC’s February release, in their Infusion Series, is Raspberry Chocolate Black.) During my junior year of high school, the Grateful Dead’s American Beauty album was as prolific as Peanut Butter Porter at the ’18 Dabbler. I was not going to allow overplay to kill it. The look I got for cueing up Mars Hotel (usually Pride of Cucamonga — Phil’s underplayed masterpiece) prepared me for the look I’d get years later for pouring people tulips of Oud Bruin. Yet, again, I’m ready. Dogfish Head’s Dead-inspired American Beauty Pale Ale returns in 2019, granola still the tongue-in-cheek adjunct. Good, while primed for American Beauty’s return, I am not ready for improvisation in the direction of falafel, fatty burritos, grilled cheese sandwiches, or the infusion of some other fare from those infamous parking-lot festivals. Bacchanalian has become the general term for such festivals, after Bachus, the Roman god of wine. His legendary drinking buddy, Silenus, god of beer, evidently bailed before the real bad decisions were made.

Bert Mattson is a chef and writer based in St. Paul. He is the manager of the iconic Mickey’s Diner.

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THAT’S LIFE By Nell Musolf

The Bell Rang! R

emember the scene in A Christmas Story when Ralphie’s pal, Schwartz, triple dog dares another classmate, Flick, to stick his tongue onto a frozen flagpole? Remember how Flick rose to that dare, stuck his tongue to the pole and was immediately a prisoner of his own pride? And remember how Flick begged Ralphie as well as he could with his tongue stuck to a flagpole, to stay with him and Ralphie shrugged as he replied, albeit regretfully, “The bell rang!” Off Ralphie ran to his classroom while Flick and his tongue remained stuck to the pole. “The bell rang!” pretty much sums up my husband’s and my take on life. We are both rule followers, both faintly appalled when anyone does anything other than run inside after the bell rings at the end of recess. Rules aren’t suggestions, they are rules and they weren’t made to be broken. Except for that one time. It was back in our starving college student days. Freshly married, we attended a college on the north side of Chicago and lived on the traditional student diet of Ramen noodles and generic peanut butter. A big night out for us was going to one of the many Greek diners in our neighborhood and ordering an omelet which came with hash browns. Throw in coffee and culinary bliss could be bought for around five dollars plus change. Yes, those were the days. One day we were walking back to our one bedroom, one bath, dining room, kitchen and living room for $250 a 46 • FEBRAURY 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

month apartment (see what I mean about those being the days?) when a rather oddly dressed woman approached us. “Hi,” she said in the too cheery tone of someone who wants something. “Hi,” we replied in wary unison as we took in her tights, stovepipe hat and what appeared to be one of those coats chimney cleaners wear. “Are you guys busy?” Mark and I exchanged glances. Yes, we were young and naïve but not that naïve. A stranger, especially one who looked a little bit like Mary Poppins after a bender, was best treated with kid gloves or avoided as much as possible. But we couldn’t be rude. The bell rang also applied to manners and one of the rules of bell ringer abiders everywhere is that when asked a direct question, one must answer. “No,” Mark finally said as I fidgeted next to him. “Great! How would you like to make five dollars? Each?” Five dollars each meant ten dollars total which equated two meals at a Greek diner or a large pizza. Throwing caution to the wind, I asked, “Doing what?” “I’m moving and I need a couple of boxes and a few other things moved. Shouldn’t take long. Maybe half an hour.” I suppose it shows how truly desperate we were for a meal out since without even discussing the offer Mark and I followed Mary Poppins down the street to her apartment. Her third floor apartment, I might add. Parked

in the alley was a small semi-truck overflowing with boxes, furniture and potted ficus trees. Another person, obviously a fellow recruit, was struggling up the rickety outside staircase carrying an enormous box loaded with at least 50 saucepans. Our enthusiasm for an omelet went on a mutual decline but we’d agreed to help so Mark picked up one box and I grabbed another. Slowly we made our way up to her apartment, passing the other mover as he came back down. “Not worth it,” he muttered. “Listen to me. It’s not worth it.” With that he reached the bottom step and vanished into the alley. Mark and I gazed after him. “Should we leave too?” I asked. “We said we’d help,” Mark reminded me. “And she said just a few boxes. She could fill an entire thrift store with that one truck.” “Let’s move a few boxes and see what happens. Maybe some other people will show up to help.” Knowing the bell was ringing on some playground somewhere, I followed Mark up the steps and tried to focus on what kind of omelet I’d order for dinner. My favorite was the Western omelet but ham and cheese was good too. Mark and I worked steadily for maybe half an hour without making much of a dent in the truck. I was getting tired and was more than ready to ignore than ringing recess bell in favor of a nice package of ramen soup and a generic peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I opened my mouth to tell Mark I’d had enough when a second truck also obviously loaded to its gills pulled into the alley. “There’s the last of my things,” Mary Poppins trilled. “We’ll be done in no time!” Mark waited until she went back into her apartment before fiercely whispering, “Run!” Grabbing me by the hand he pulled me down the stairs and into the alley. Within seconds we were free. “I feel kind of bad leaving like that,” Mark commented as we walked swiftly toward our apartment. I did too but I also felt relieved. The bell might have rung after recess but there was no way I was rushing back to that particular classroom.

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Nell Musolf is a mom and freelance writer from Mankato. She blogs at: MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRAURY 2019 • 47

GARDEN CHAT By Jean Lundquist

Frenching beans, perusing catalogs A

confession: I have so often said in my life, when I’ve been a bit dense at grasping an idea, “I’m slow, but I get there.” Such is the case with French filet beans. Last summer is the first time I grew some, and decided their small size made them not worth my time, though they were plenty tasty. This winter, eating the Masai beans I froze last summer, I decided they ARE worth my time. Then, like a ton of bricks, it hit me what French filet beans are — they are grown for Frenching. I sold my bean Frencher several years ago because it frayed my beans while slicing them. But, of course, I was not Frenching French filet beans. They are small and tender, and I will plant the rest of last summer’s packet. I doubt I will buy another bean Frencher, however. They truly are great from the freezer in the winter months. This time of year is the best time to peruse seed catalogs to find that new variety to plant, be it vegetable or flower.


I have not yet found what I will grow new this year, but I have found some interesting options. First, there is the yellow pea. It’s called the Opal Creek Snap pea, and it boasts white blossoms that turn into pastel-lemon pods. It’s said to be great for eating raw. Like purple cauliflower, this does not appeal to me. Whenever I see a yellow plant, or a purple one that is not eggplant, I assume it is sick and on its last legs. Speaking of peas, there is also a new introduction called the Asparagus Pea. It has pea-like foliage, covered with “interesting little winged pods.” It’s best when picked at an inch or less, and good in stir-fry, or steamed. Bending over to pick a vegetable that is at most an inch long makes my Masai beans, at about the breadth of a pencil, seem like a bargain. Also new this year, almost every catalog I have looked at is selling Blue Ringed Ginger Root, and Turmeric. These are interesting enough to maybe hook me into

buying them. Except for lemon grass, I have never had good luck bringing potted plants in for the winter after spending the summer months outside. Both of these plants will need to be planted in containers, and moved inside at the end of the summer. Still, I’m intrigued, maybe enough to try to grow them. The ginger takes at least two seasons to grow. But when it is mature, all you have to do is poke a finger into the pot and pull out as much of the root as you need. Most of the recipes I use that call for fresh ginger root specify how many inches of the root are needed. I have never used more than three inches of ginger in a year, including all the cranberry sauce I make at Christmas, and the shrimp scampi we enjoy. To buy that much ginger root at the grocery store costs less than a dollar. Still — wouldn’t it be fun to grow your own? Turmeric is a member of the ginger family, and also should be grown in a pot and taken inside at the end of the summer. If you time it right, you might have enough turmeric root by the end of the summer to use, either by sticking a finger into the soil and pulling out what you need, or harvesting it all and storing in an airtight container in a cool location. It is supposed to provide great health benefits, too. Turmeric is used in Asian and Indian curry dishes, and adds color to refrigerator pickles in the summertime. I have made exactly one curry dish in my life, and it did not call for turmeric. Sometimes, I forget to add the turmeric to my bread and butter pickles in the summer. Still, as much as we hear about the medicinal properties of turmeric, wouldn’t it be fun to drop into a casual conversation that you have grown it? Our dreams are so grand this time of year as we look forward to our gardens. I’m not going to order any of these things until reality sets in. Meanwhile, I’m having a blast with my catalogs and my dreams.

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YOUR STYLE By Jessica Server

A return TO



ed used to be my thing. Long before I knew what chakra it corresponded to (the root chakra, but I’ll get to that later), or what it did to my complexion, I loved the color red. Red like Georgia clay, red like hot flames, red like a fully-ripe tomato in my father’s homemade gazpacho. And back then, in high school, it felt really important to have a thing that was all mine. By college, my wardrobe was a spectrum of red. And still I craved more. I coveted a red wool pea coat, so my mom took me to 10 different stores over winter break to find the right one. After college, I bought red flannel sheets for my first studio apartment before hanging red lantern string lights overhead. It’s hard to say when my love affair with red tapered off; I’m now well into my 30s. All I know is that several months ago, I looked into my closet and thought to myself: Huh. When did I stop wearing red? My guess is, like most changes that come in adulthood, the shift was gradual and imperceptible — like the lobster in the proverbial 50 • FEBRAURY 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

pot of water, I had boiled away my red identity without even realizing it. So, what better time to embrace red than February? I’m not much of a Valentine’s Day celebrant (I pretty much reject the holiday), but I do think this dark, dreary time of year calls for something vibrant. Something fiery. Something that stokes your burning flame, even when what we all really want to do is veg on the couch (again) and watch Netflix (again). Maybe red is just the thing to illuminate this mid-winter month. When I trained as a yoga teacher, I learned about the chakras, or the body’s “energy centers.” Red is the color of the root chakra that some associate with physical energy, passion, power, and will. Sounds pretty good right about now, huh? Red denotes grounding, safety, and nourishment on an earthly level. I don’t know about you, but after the whirlwind of the holidays, taking stock of 2018, and setting 2019 goals, a bit of grounding, willpower, and nourishment seem just what the doctor

ordered. So, I’m coming back to red this month by adding it into my wardrobe, home, and kitchen. Scarlet, maroon, brick, carnelian, ruby, wine (the color and the beverage), you name it, I’m after it. I’m going to sport my worn red riding boots and red clogs whenever the weather allows. Inspired, I even thrifted a bright red wool coat to remind me of the one my mother bought me years ago. Sometimes, it’s fun to pick a theme and run with it. It doesn’t require purchasing a single thing, but you certainly could invest in red, if you wanted. If red isn’t your color (I personally think everyone looks great in some shade of red, but to each their own), pull on some red wool socks that only you can see, or pick a color you’ve been missing and lean in. Of course there are other ways to curate this fiery-warm hue in your life: red candles, red throw blankets, or a reading of “Little Red Riding Hood,” “The Scarlet Letter,” or (my personal favorite) “The Autobiography of Red.” Red food, too, may just help warm up the cold, gray days, so I’ll be adding red lentils, out-of-season tomatoes and red peppers, and plenty of paprika to my cooking. Who knows? I may even try making borscht. I miss red. I miss how it used to make me feel, how it used to be my thing. Of course, identity is everchanging, and my red relationship waned for a reason, or several. But now, I’m ready to reconnect. If you’re a fan of Valentine’s Day, then all the more reason to turn February into a celebration of rouge accessories, attire, books, décor, and cuisine. I can’t guarantee that adding more red to my life will give me willpower (I’m not sure even red sneakers could get me to the gym some days), fire up my passion, or help me feel grounded. But it may just evoke an aspect of myself and my style that I’ve been short on of late—someone unafraid to be bold, bright, and lit by a fire from within. Someone that used to wear her red pea coat against the white snow and gray skies of Boston, just to feel like a flame, burning winter away.

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Jessica Server is a writer who teaches at Minnesota State University. She lives in Mankato with her husband. MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRAURY 2019 • 51


NIGHT MOVES — Trivia Night! By Diana Rojo-Garcia

Crystal Peil writes down an answer as she and her husband, Vincent Noble, play trivia at the Loose Moose Saloon. Peil said they have been attending trivia night for a year and a half and when asked if they won a lot, she replied with a laugh, “We did at the beginning when there weren’t so many teams coming in.”

Here’s the next question …

Are you ready for TRIVIA?!

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lease don’t harass your waitstaff and servers for this round!” A couple of people chuckle at Michelle Parsneau’s request, as a few servers grin at the teams scattered throughout the Loose Moose Saloon. This round of trivia features 10 questions on 52 • FEBRUARY 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

alcoholic beverages. “What does IPA stand for?” Parsneau recites the question “And ‘inebriated person around town’ is not the answer.” Pens quickly hit the quiz-like sheets, as others look around the establishment for some sort of hint.

Becky Bates (center) talks with server Katy Rohlk (right) during trivia night at the Loose Moose, as the answers from a round of trivia are displayed on the wall and on screens throughout the establishment. “What does IPA stand for?” Someone sitting by the bar asks the bartender. Even bystanders of the game were trying to test out their knowledge, including a server. “Hey, I have an important question,” a server asked the bartender. “What’s in a daiquiri?” “Don’t be giving out the answers now!” He replied. Heck, even I started to answer questions in my notes. nnnn Let’s start with this — I love trivia. I’m also terrible at most of the general questions. Sometimes my team and I get lucky with a few niche categories in every other round: brother-in-law covers history, sister-in-law has an expertise in pop culture, my husband has a ridiculously great memory for movies and I usually cover music. But I’ll be straightforward and say that we’re not the best team out there (sorry, guys). Actually, I can’t say that we’ve ever won. What I can say, however, is that it’s an incredible bonding experience with the ability to flex our knowledge over a couple of cocktails. That’s what usually brings other teams in on Thursday nights to Loose Moose, including Whiskey Business and The Taters (they usually change their name weekly, ie. Insta Taters, Decapi-Taters, DebiliTaters, etc.) Both teams are regulars during trivia nights, and it’s not because they’re hardcore league teams in it to win. Whiskey Business, a team of a group of friends, likes the fact that the event takes place early in the

Aaron Mumford has a laugh at Emily Mumford’s guess to the trivia question, what is an old fashioned job and a name of a dessert? Emily wrote down her guess tart during trivia night at the Loose Moose Saloon. The correct answer is cobbler. evening. Emily and Aaron Mumford found out about trivia through a Facebook event about a year and a half ago, and on that particular night, they were available. So they thought, “Why not?” Plus, as parents, the early evening allowed them to go out and still get home before 10 p.m. Trivia starts at 6:30 and with six rounds, it usually ends around 8:30 p.m. “We just like doing it. It’s fun to do together,” Emily MANKATO MAGAZINE • FEBRUARY 2019 • 53

Michelle Parsneau tallies points from a round of trivia at the Loose Moose during trivia night. Parsneau has been the emcee of trivia night at the Loose Moose since it began a year and a half ago. said. “It’s friendly competitive with the other teams.” There’s reason to be a little competitive, too. This particular trivia runs almost as a league with four quarters throughout the year. Each Thursday night, the winning team gets to take home a nifty gift certificate to Loose Moose, like a free appetizer or wings. At the end of each quarter, the overall team wins a bigger prize, and each team starts with a clean slate at the beginning of each quarter. And if you’re ever at trivia, you’ll notice that Whiskey Business does a stellar job. They credit their success with each team member’s varying interests. “We scan through news headlines and current events,” Emily said. “A place that we score better is, like, 90s movies and TV. I think we’re the same age the person who writes the questions.” “Anything with pop culture, sports, history,” Aaron said. “We’re not really hot with science,” Emily said as Aaron laughed. Mostly, though, they come out to trivia to enjoy an early night out with friends. Same with the Tators. One of the members includes Parsneau’s husband, Kevin. Just like Whiskey Business, their team varies in members but you can count on the Taters, whatever kind of tater they might be that week, to be at trivia. Shannon and Ashea Three Trees, including their 3-year-old Cheveyo, also make up the taters. “This is where the people that we know hang out,” Shannon said. “And the taco bar is a pretty good deal too,” Ashea said. “I obviously come here because Michelle comes 54 • FEBRUARY 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

here,” Kevin said. “But originally going to trivia was just something to do, and all of a sudden you couldn’t not go because you were the only one who knew some things for the group.” “We usually don’t have that problem,” Ashea laughed. The group, however, comes to trivia to hang out with friends. “This is our day off and it’s nice to get out of the house and hang out with people who have similar views and beliefs with. Just joke around, and give each other crap,” Shannon said. “And not have to make supper!” Ashea chimed in. nnnn Though I wasn’t technically playing, I waited intently for the answers to the third round along with the other teams. All the sheets have been returned and scored. “IPA stands for India Pale Ale,” Parsneau said. “Grey Goose is made in France,” Parsneau reads off. Loose Moose filled with sighs, and a few claps from teams that apparently received the correct answer. The bartender looks at a bottle of Grey Goose behind the bar to verify the answer. “A daquiri, according to the International Bartender Association,” Parsneau continues, “Can be made with a rum, lime and simple syrup.” This was a tough round. I unofficially got 7 out of 10.

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Time to sleep in, Morning Man! A

bout 240 days a year, Don Rivet’s two alarm clocks go off within minutes of each other; 2 a.m, the digital readout says. By 3 a.m., Rivet pulls into a nearly-empty KTOE parking lot to begin prepping for his show: hHe’ll scan several newspapers, various websites, the AP online feed, a paid service that sifts various sources for surprising or funny bits — all to get a handle on what needs to be discussed. In two hours, thousands of alarm clocks across southern Minnesota will begin going off to the sounds of his sonorous voice. For more than 30 years — 7,500 days — that’s been the routine. Starting Feb. 23, Don gets to sleep in. Feb. 22 will mark the last Morning Blend show for Rivet. He’s planning a partial retirement, during which we’ll still hear his voice endorsing various businesses: “Hi, Don Rivet here for [so and so] ...” A number of loyal clients for years have wanted him to tout what they offer. But the man whose radio career has spanned more than four decades will no longer be a daily presence on local airwaves. nnnn In 1978, GM Bill Smith and Program Director Barry Wortel hired Rivet away from tiny Worland, Wyoming, where Don and his new bride, Dianne had first journeyed after Don graduated from venerable Brown Institute on Lake Street in Minneapolis. At first he did afternoon news and a Sunday shift, before taking Bud Quimby’s afternoon drive slot after Bud’s untimely death in 1981. Soon he was promoted to morning drive, where Don and then-News Director Jack Kolars developed their signature program, Chit ‘n’ Chat. In that 7:40-8 a.m. time slot, they’d chew the fat about weather, sports, show biz and various goings-on about town. The program continued through six news directors in all (including yours truly for 12 years), evolving and expanding to become the four-hour “Morning Blend” program in 2005, adding two additional voices and more interviews. Besides his weekly chats with guests about sports, gardening, finance and real estate, Rivet has interviewed everyone from Lauren Bacall to Dr. Elmo (“Grandma got run over by a reindeer”) to novelist David Baldacci. nnnn Forty years in radio in a town our size is an unusually long tenure. Rivet reflected on that recently: “[The late] John and Don Linder made it possible to call Mankato home. As owners, they gave us a lot of leeway to create. 56 • FEBRAURY 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

And this community has been so welcoming to Dianne and me!” So what will he miss the most? “The daily laughter! We laugh a lot on the show — hopefully we help our listeners laugh. Our listeners are the best. They’ve helped me through tough times — Red’s (longtime sidekick Red Lewis) and my parents’ deaths ...” He notes that regardless of what happens in one’s personal life, even if you’re sick or sad, “It’s not about you — you still have to put a smile on (listeners’) faces. Have fun. It’s like a party, even though you’re working! I’m gonna miss the hell out of it -- it’s been like my third child.” nnnn “It sounds so easy!” Don has heard that a lot from listeners. But that’s the real trick -- balancing many inputs -- the co-hosts and show guests, network hit times, changing weather, and eighteen minutes of commercials, all the while with an eye on the merciless clock. Rivet is legendary for exiting the building by 10:02 am, two minutes after his show ends. Of course, he’ll then go to visit his clients or cut commercials from a home studio he had installed. He jokes that many of his co-workers, especially the afternoon and evening show announcers, have never met him. In recent years, he has drifted away from his beloved game of golf. He says, without the daily obligations of the job, he might get back to it -- “if I can play to the level I expect of myself!” nnnn Radio is ephemeral -- like an ice cream cone or the perfect steak or a favorite Uncle -- it’s unbeatable in the moment, but before long, it’s gone with the wind. Twin Cities TV news legend Don Shelby once quipped, just before he retired, that as an anchor, he could personally call the CEO of Target to set a lunch date, while the day after he retired, if he called, that same CEO would answer his call with “Who??” But Mankato’s a smaller town; it’s a good bet that “Lord” Hentges and others will still enjoy joshing with Rivet at the weekly Friday afternoon “meeting” at a downtown watering hole. Current main sidekick Dan McCargar will move to Don’s chair on Feb. 25. Meanwhile, Don Rivet not only will not need his alarm clocks. This summer, he won’t have to go to bed three hours before the sun goes down. Peter Steiner is host of “Talk of the Town” weekdays at 1:05 p.m. on KTOE.

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