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Gartner remembers the old downtown gas station

April 2021

ROBIN FISH/ENTERPRISE

Nick Gartner started working at Steve's Service in 1983, then aged 17. In 1999, he bought the business, then located at the northwest corner of U.S. Hwy. 71 and State Hwy. 34 in downtown Park Rapids. In 2017, the old gas station was torn down to make way for a Simonson Station Store. Nick's Service lives on as a tow service and repair shop at 150th St. and Hwy. 71.

By Robin Fish rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com For almost 70 years, a gas station stood at the northwest corner of the main highway crossing in downtown Park Rapids. In a few months, pending completion of a Simonson Station Store now under construction, one will stand there again. Nick’s Service is gone from that location – as the repair shop, fuel stop and convenience store was known from 1999 to 2017. But Nick’s Service lives on, three miles to the south. Owner Nick Gartner shared memories about the old downtown gas station that has now passed into history.

Youth hangout

Gartner has a framed picture of the old filling station on the office wall at his garage’s new location at 14632 150th St., off U.S. Hwy. 71. It shows the shop as it looked on Memorial Day, 1963, as the parade grand marshal’s car drove past on State Hwy. 34. At that time, it was a full-service fuel stop with two service

Inside this issue... SUBMITTED PHOTO

A vintage fire truck rides in style on the back of a Nick's Service flatbed tow truck. bays and a small glassed-in office at one end. There wasn’t even an awning over the driveway. “It was built in 1948, and there’s always been a service station on that corner,” said Gartner, who grew up in Park Rapids. “My mom and dad were both originally from this area, and I think that was the

first thing to be on that corner, was a gas station.” Gartner said his parents, Walter and Helen, remember when the place was new. In 1983, at the age of 17, he went to work for Steve Thompson at a

GAS STATION: Page 6

2 How to start flower and vegetable seeds indoors 3  What can caregivers talk about during elder visits? 4 How to search for senior discounts in 2021 8  Retirement planning tips for women


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ALYSSA GOELZER / THE FORUM

Left: Starting seeds indoors is a fun spring project. Right: Clear containers from bakery or deli products make great mini greenhouses for starting seeds.

How to start flower and vegetable seeds indoors

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ou can always spot a gardener’s garage, because an entire section is dedicated to used cell packs, plastic nursery pots and stacks of old greenhouse trays that we’re saving in case we need them for something someday. Starting your own plants from seed is the perfect occasion to repurpose these supplies. Some vegetable and flower types are easier to grow from seed than others because they sprout quickly, emerge strongly and don’t require as much indoor growing time. In the easier category are marigold, zinnia, cleome, alyssum, cosmos, calendula, four o’clock, nasturtium, tomato, pepper, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, melons, cucumber and squash. Flowers that are slightly more difficult and require more weeks to develop include petunia, coleus, impatiens, salvia and moss rose. The overall plan is to sow the seeds, coax them to germinate, grow them in the seed tray until they’re large enough to handle, and then transplant each seedling into individual pots, cups or cell packs. Why not plant the seeds directly into their final packs or pots? Why go through the labor of transplanting the little seedlings? Most seeds require specific temperatures to coax germination, and it’s easier to give these ideal conditions to a smaller seed tray than a larger assembly of pots or packs. Transplanting seedlings also imparts vigor and creates sturdier plants. It’s best not to start too early. Suggested seeding dates are as follows: ► April 1: tomato, cleome, marigold and lettuce.

Growing Together BY DON KINZLER Columnist ► April 15: cosmos, calendula, nasturtium, four o’clock and zinnia. ► May 1: squash, melons and cucumber. Materials needed: Use mix that’s labeled for starting seeds instead of all-purpose potting mix, because seed-starting mix is milled finer. Containers should be at least 2 inches deep with drain holes drilled or punched. Clear plastic trays from the grocery bakery or deli work well, and holes are easily added. Method: 1. Moisten the seeding mix the day before using by adding water to the bag and mixing well. Dry mix is difficult to moisten after seeding, and seeds will often float to the surface. 2. Fill container to the top with mix. It will settle slightly when watered. Use a separate container for each seed type, because different types germinate at different rates. 3. Seeds can be broadcast over the surface or planted in rows. 4. Planting depth is shallower than we might think. Small seeds the size of a poppy seed should be sprinkled on the surface without covering with mix. Cover larger seeds to a depth about twice the seed’s diameter. 5. Label with variety and date. 6. Water gently with a fine mist or sprinkling-type watering can. Use warm water to stimulate seed growth. 7. Cover the container with clear plastic

wrap or a clear lid to conserve humidity and warmth. If watered well following seed sowing, trays usually won’t require additional sprinkling until seeds have sprouted. 8. Place seed trays in a warm location so the mix stays between 70 and 78 degrees. Electric seeding mats, available at garden centers, work wonders for coaxing seeds to sprout uniformly and rapidly. 9. Most seed types require seven to 10 days to germinate. As soon as seedlings are visible, move the container to a sunny window or under electric lights. To better eliminate the chance that newly sprouting seedlings will stretch and become spindly, locate the seed tray in bright light immediately after sowing. 10. When a majority of the seeds have sprouted, remove the container’s clear cover and remove from the heat mat, if used. 11. If growing seedlings under fluorescent or LED light fixtures, set a timer for 16 hours of light and eight hours of

ALYSSA GOELZER / THE FORUM

When seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant into cell packs or pots. darkness. 12. The best temperatures for “growing on” are 65 to 70 degrees. Let the surface of the mix dry between gentle waterings. 13. When seedlings are just large enough to handle easily, transplant from the seed tray into individual cell packs or pots for continued growth.

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April 2021

What can caregivers talk about during elder visits?

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ear Carol: My 95-year-old dad was doing well up until a stroke last year left him incapacitated enough to need nursing home care. This happened before COVID-19, so we were fortunate to get him settled. At that time, my biggest problem was what to talk about during long visits. His brain is sharp, but our conversation lagged quickly. Fast forward through months of video check-ins. With occasional help from the staff, Dad has done well with the required technology, but the problem of what to talk about persists, maybe even to a greater degree since we’re on video. Do you have any suggestions? ~ PE. Dear PE: Most of us who’ve spent hours with someone in assisted living or a nursing home understand your dilemma. You want to be present for your dad, but neither of you enjoys just sitting there with nothing to say or do. Now, as you mentioned, most people in your situation are using video, which adds another layer of awkwardness. One suggestion is to ask your dad to tell you about different events during his childhood, or achievements that he was proud of during his working years. These stories should stimulate some follow-up questions. You can also share photo albums from the past for a similar result. The idea is to try to think about what would interest him and go from there. Additionally, technology once again is coming to the rescue for caregivers, so in keeping with some of my recent columns that highlighted useful online services for older adults and/or their caregivers, I’ll offer these suggestions. StoryWorth: Once a week, StoryWorth would email a question to your dad that he could answer on his own. His stories would then be collected by the service and at the end of a year, they’d be bound into a book to use as a keepsake. This could be a shared project if as he works on these questions he tells you about his latest entry, which could then serve as a springboard for conversation while you visit; https://welcome.storyworth.com/. Vita Life Story: VitaLifeStory.com is just one example of a service that can provide you with

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Carol Bradley Bursack is a veteran caregiver and an established columnist. She is also a blogger, and the author of “Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories.” Bradley Bursack hosts a website supporting caregivers and elders at www. mindingourelders.com. She can be reached through the contact form on her website.

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A cataract forms when the clear crystalline lens of the eye becomes cloudy. The lens sits right behind the iris (the colored part of the eye) and helps us to focus. When the lens gets cloudy, vision gets hazy and blurry. Cataracts are a natural part of the aging process, so everyone will eventually develop cataracts if they live long enough. They usually start to show up around age 50, and surgery is most common between 65 and 75 years old. Factors that increase a person’s risk for early cataract development include sunlight (UV) exposure, smoking, diabetes, steroid use, and trauma. Cataracts usually develop gradually over many years, so patients are not always aware that their vision is getting worse. Cataracts usually cause a person’s vision to become cloudy, blurry or filmy. They can cause a dimming of your vision, so that colors appear faded and you may need more light to read. They also can cause increased glare and halos at night, making night driving more difficult. A cataract does not need to be “ripe” to be ready for surgery. Cataract surgery is generally a routine procedure that can be done as soon as your vision interferes with your daily activities. During cataract surgery, the cataract is broken up and removed from the eye, and a clear lens implant is put in its place. It is a painless process with minimal recovery time, and patients typically describe it as a “pleasant experience”. Patients often tell me “I don’t know why I waited so long to have it done, I wish I would have done it sooner!”

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ions to use together. The creator told me that these stories are intended to foster reflection, reminiscence and conversation, and they work well during video chats like you are having with your dad. Dabblesack: I’ve mentioned Dabblesack before in conjunction with dementia care, but this site also offers entertainment ideas for others. A history buff game that you and your dad could do together came to mind. There are many choices, of course; https:// dabblesack.com/.

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In the past, the lens implant that is inserted into the eye in cataract surgery has been able to correct the majority of your nearsightedness or farsightedness, so patients are much less dependent on glasses following surgery. However, the traditional lens implants have not dealt with astigmatism or near vision, so many patients are still slightly blurry without glasses, and almost all need glasses for reading. This is no longer the case, with the advent of toric intraocular lenses (IOLs) and multifocal intraocular lenses (IOLs). With this new technology, patients have the chance to be even less dependent on glasses for distance and near following cataract surgery. These new implants have been around for a number of years, but the technology has improved to the point where we are now comfortable recommending them for certain patients. We work with several surgeons who are using this technology to give our patients the best possible outcomes following cataract surgery. It all starts with an eye exam to evaluate your cataracts and determine if surgery is an option for you - give us a call today!


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How to search for senior discounts in 2021

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ear Savvy Senior, I just turned 60 and would like to find out the best way to go about locating senior discounts. ~ Looking to Save Dear Looking, One of the best, yet underutilized perks of growing older in the United States is the many discounts that are available to older adults. There are literally thousands of discounts on a wide variety of products and services including restaurants, grocery stores, travel and lodging, entertainment, retail and apparel, health and beauty, automotive services and much more. These discounts – typically ranging between 5 and 25 percent off – can add up to save you hundreds of dollars each year. So, if you don’t mind admitting your age, here are some tips and tools to help you find the discounts you may be eligible for.

Ask!

The first thing to know is that most businesses don’t advertise them, but many give senior discounts just for the asking, so don’t be shy. You also need to know that while some dis-

If, however, you don’t like or agree with AARP, there are other organizations you can join that also provide discounts like the American Seniors Association (AmericanSeniors.org), the American Automobile Association (AAA.com), or for like Google and Yahoo retired federal workers, and type in the business the National Active and or organization you’re Retired Federal Employcurious about, followed ees Association (NARFE. by “senior discount” or org). “senior discount tickTypes of discounts ets.” Here’s an abbreviated If you use a smartphone, there are also rundown of some of the apps you can use like different types of disthe “Senior Discounts counts you can expect & Coupons” app (avail- to find. Restaurants: Senior able on the App Store and Google Play), which discounts are common categorizes discounts by at restaurants and fastfood establishments – age and type. like Applebee’s, Arby’s, Join a club Burger King, Chili’s, Another good ave- Denny’s and IHOP – nue to senior discounts ranging from free/disis through membership counted drinks, to disorganizations like AARP, counts off your total which offers its mem- order. bers age 50 and older Retailers: Many thrift a wide variety of dis- stores like Goodwill and counts through affiliate Salvation Army, and businesses (see AARP- certain retailers like TJ discounts.com). Maxx, Banana Republic,

The Savvy Senior BY JIM MILLER Columnist counts are available as soon as you turn 50, most don’t kick in until you turn 55, 60, 62 or 65.

Search online

Because senior discounts frequently change and can vary depending on where you live and the time of the year, the internet is the easiest way to locate them. A good place to start is at TheSeniorList.com (click on the “Senior Discounts” tab), which provides a large list of discounts in categories, i.e. restaurant dining, grocery stores, retail stores, prescription medications, travel discounts and more. You can also search for discounts by provider. Go to a search engine

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belong to organizations like AARP. Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Celebrity and Carnival cruise lines offer discount rates to cruisers 55 and over. And, most hotels offer senior discounts, usually ranging from 10 to 20 percent. Entertainment: Most movie theaters, museums, golf courses, ski slopes and other public entertainment venues provide reduced admission to seniors over 60 or 65. And the National Park Service offers a lifetime senior pass for those 62 and older for $80 (see nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.htm). Send your senior questions to Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070 or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

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April 2021

SARAH NASELLO / THE FORUM

Sarah's Pistachio Pudding Bundt Cake brings an elegant touch of spring to your table.

GREEN goodness Pistachio Pudding Bundt Cake is just right for special occasions By Sarah and Tony Nasello Bundt cakes are among my favorite kinds of cakes to bake, and this ultra-moist Pistachio Pudding Bundt Cake has become my newest obsession. Covered with a snowy white vanilla glaze and studded with chopped pistachios inside and out, the lovely, pastel green crumb makes this Bundt a perfect springtime treat. The gorgeous color and texture of this popular cake come from the addition of a packet of dry pistachio pudding mix. This was my first time using pudding mix in a cake, and I doubt it will be the last. The crumb on this cake is wonderfully moist and tender, even several days after baking. Most recipes I encountered online were shortcut versions, in that they used a packaged cake mix instead of making the cake entirely from scratch. I have nothing against cake mixes, as many of the top brands produce reliably good cakes without a lot of fuss for the baker. Nonetheless, I love

easily from the pan. This is always the tricky spot with Bundt cakes and, while not every cake has come out perfectly in my half-dozen test runs, they have all been equally delicious. I have read (but not yet tried) that melted vegetable shortening may work better than butter, but cooking sprays BY SARAH & TONY NASELLO are to be avoided as they can leave residue buildup Columnist in the pan after several uses. If you know better, baked goods made from Another important I would love to hear from scratch and finally came technique in this reci- you. For an elegant presenupon a couple recipes pe is to cream the buttation, you can dress the that looked promis- ter and sugar together ing. I tested both and until well-combined, cake with vanilla glaze made a few adjustments which takes about three and chopped pistachios, along the way to create to four minutes. Cream- but a light dusting of a Bundt cake that is easy ing the butter and sugar powdered sugar just to make, full of flavor together before adding before serving is also and, of course, lusciously the other ingredients is perfect. I have added a new moist. the first step to trapping Bundt of the Month feaAn important rule the air that will produce to follow when baking a superior crumb. Room ture to my menu at Sara cake is to make sure temperature butter is ahBakes, and this Pistathat the wet ingredients perfect for this task, as chio Pudding Bundt Cake — butter, eggs, any liq- it bonds with the sugar is one of my selections. uids, etc. — are at room much more effectively Elegant, delicious and beautifully green, this temperature before get- than cold butter. ting started, unless othTo prepare the Bundt cake is perfect for any erwise specified. When pan, use a pastry brush day you feel like adding combined, room tem- to grease it well with perature ingredients melted butter, followed form an emulsion which by a light coating of flour helps to trap air so that, to help the cake release as the cake bakes, air can expand and create • FULL SERVICE Park Rapids Office CONSTRUCTION 618 1st St. E., Park Rapids a cake with a light and Tuesdays 10 am - 3 pm, other times by appt. • CONCRETE/MASONRY tender crumb. Using cold BRIAN HILLESLAND, NBC-HIS ingredients may produce BURTON CONTRACTING, LLC National Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist a tougher, and tighter, 218-255-2653 Toll - Free 1-800-631-4946 crumb. LICENSE #BC760041

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2 tsp. pure vanilla a touch of spring to your extract table. Pinch of salt Pistachio Pudding Garnish: ¼ cup shelled pistaBundt Cake 1-3/4 cups all-purpose chios, chopped Preheat oven to 350 flour degrees. 3 Tbsp. cornstarch In a medium bowl, 4 tsp. baking powder whisk together the flour, 1 tsp. kosher salt 1-1/4 cups whole milk, cornstarch, baking powder and salt until comroom temperature bined; set aside. 1/3 cup canola oil In the bowl of a stand 1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla mixer fitted with a padextract 3/4 cup unsalted butter dle attachment, beat (1 ½ sticks), room tem- the butter on medium speed until smooth and perature 1-1/2 cups white gran- creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and ulated sugar 1 package (96 grams) cream together on mediof Jell-O instant pista- um speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. chio pudding 4 eggs, room tempera- Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, ture 1/2 cup shelled pista- then add the dry pistachio pudding mix. Mix chios, chopped Shortening or butter, on medium speed for 1 melted, for greasing the minute until incorporated. pan Add the eggs, 1 at a Icing 2-1/4 cups powdered time, beating on medium sugar, sifted 2 Tbsp. milk CAKE: Page 6

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6 GAS STATION From Page 1

Union 76 station in town. “I worked there for a year, went in the Army for three years, and I came back in ‘87 and started working for him again,” said Gartner. “It was kind of where the kids used to work at night, and other high school kids would come and stop in and hang out a little bit and visit. It was just a fun place to be.” He remembers the exact date – May 1, 1988 – when Steve’s Service moved into the Conoco station on that corner. “There was an actual, old, full-service island, where if you wanted full service, you’d pull up there,” he said. “Later, when the self-serve got real big and stuff, there wasn’t very much desire for full-serve. But anybody that would come in that wanted their gas pumped, we’d always run out and pump it. So, we’d just do the fullserve at self-serve price. It was no big deal.” Other than in Oregon and New Jersey, where most gas stations don’t allow customers to pump their own gas, “you just don’t see it much any-

CAKE From Page 5

speed for 30 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the chopped pistachios and mix on low speed until combined. Add the dry and wet ingredients alternately. Add a third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk mixture, then repeat, ending with the flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed after each addition just until incorporated (about 15 seconds for the flour and 30 seconds for the milk). Melt 1 tablespoon of butter or shortening and use a pastry brush to grease the Bundt pan, making sure to coat all the nooks and crannies. Sprinkle a quarter cup of flour into the pan, and then gently turn the pan until the interior is evenly coated; discard

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SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Top Left: Before a remodel in the 1991, Steve's Conoco had a full-service fuel pump (under the awning) and two service bays. Top Right: After its 1991 remodel, Steve's Conoco had three service bays, a small convenience store, and both full service and self-service fuel pumps under a canopy parallel to the street. Right: One of Nick's Service's most memorable fares was this 1932 Rolls Royce. "Brand new," Nick said, "the owner told me it sold for, like, $12,000. Its value sitting there on my truck was $250,000." more because the pace of the whole world has changed,” said Gartner. Thompson remodeled the store in 1991, adding a third service bay, a convenience store and reorienting the canopy over the fuel island to run parallel to the street. “It wasn’t much because there wasn’t a lot of room,” said Gartner. “But we had some nice snacks and stuff that you could grab when you got gas.”

Taking ownership

On May 1, 1999, Gartner bought the station from Thompson and it became Nick’s Service, ultimately switching fuel brands from Conoco to Cenex. “I liked to be the hometown service station guy,” he said. “Everything was fun. I enjoyed being on the corner and working on cars, especially seeing people come in and out. Some for coffee and some just

to say ‘hi,’ and some to get their car worked on, and just gas and a quick hello. “It just always felt good to do an honest day’s work and help

people out and get the job done.” By September 2017, however, a lot more had changed than the trend toward self-service. In the beginning, he

said, “The demand on the gas was huge. Years ago, you just dug a hole, put in a tank and pumped gas.”

the excess flour. For best results, prepare the pan just before adding the batter. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan, distributing it as evenly as possible. Use a knife or offset spatula to spread and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven until the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 60 to 70 minutes. Remove cake from oven and place on a wire rack to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, before flipping to turn out the cake. After 15 minutes, take an offset spatula or thin knife and run it around the edge of the cake to ensure that there are not any parts sticking to the pan. Place a wire rack over the top of the cake pan and flip the pan over with the rack now on the bottom. Remove the pan and let cake cool com-

pletely before icing. In lieu of icing, you could also add a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar just before serving. Serves 12 to 16. To store: Store the cake in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. To freeze: The cake may be frozen either whole or in slices. Cover

the cake or slices with plastic wrap and then place in an airtight container or plastic freezer bag. Freeze for up to 2 to 3 months; thaw at room temperature before serving. To make the icing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth. The icing should be thick but still

spreadable. If you pull the whisk up, the icing should slowly fall in thick ribbons back into the bowl. If the icing appears too thick, add more milk, 1 tsp. at a time, until desired consistency is achieved. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet and place the cake on top. Spoon the icing around the top, circling around and

around, letting the icing drip down the sides. Sprinkle the top with the chopped pistachios and let sit at room temperature until set.

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“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.

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April 2021

ROBIN FISH/ENTERPRISE

Nick's Service continues to thrive just south of Park Rapids off U.S. Hwy. 71, at the former location of Ken's Transmission.

GAS STATION From Page 6

Then ecological problems arose, like tanks rusting out and gas leaking into the soil. The government responded with new regulations, requiring newer tanks and pumps as well as record-keeping and reporting practices. Gartner was faced with having to replace his worn-out pumps. “Putting in new pumps would have been tough,” he said. “I didn’t pump enough gas to make the investment worthwhile. Everything has gotten a lot more expensive, and then to monitor your inventory and all the testing that you have to do to make sure everything is sealed and secure, all costs money. And when you’re not pumping a lot of gas, it’s nearly impossible to pay for all that.” That’s when he received an offer to purchase not his business, but the land it was on. This allowed him to move Nick’s Service to its current location, formerly Ken’s Transmission. “I was fortunate to have the opportunity to sell it when I did,” said Gartner. “But I do miss the people coming in and out, the number of people we had compared to just working on cars, you know, because there was a lot of traffic coming in.” Still, thinking back to the old fuel stop, he says, “It was time for an upgrade there. It was old and inefficient and stuff. So, I was very fortunate

SUBMITTED PHOTO

Miraculously, no one was hurt on the Friday night in the early 2000s when this pickup wrapped itself around a tree. Another photo of the wreck shows the truck bed folded nearly in half, with a sign lying in it that said, "Get bent." SUBMITTED PHOTO

The grand marshal's car passes the old Texaco Station during the 1963 Memorial Day parade on State Hwy. 34. In the vehicle, from left, are then-Sheriff Bob Ruhnke, Baptist Pastor Lloyd Spreacher, grand marshal Norman Fulton and his wife, Gladys. The Texaco later became Steve's Conoco and, eventually, Nick's Cenex before being torn down to make way for the Simonson Station Store now being built. The Baptist church was on the opposite corner, where McDonald's is now. to have the opportunity to sell that and move down here. “And I really like it here. Being right on the highway, where the traffic is, and yet not right at the corner where there was so much hubbub. It’s really nice.”

Same but different

Together with four employees, Gartner no longer pumps fuel but still does auto repair and towing. “We do pretty much anything here, anything from oil changes to motor swaps. Tires, brakes, suspension work,” he said. Besides pictures saved on his phone, he has a pile of printed photographs testifying that he enjoys the memories of

his years on that downtown corner. Highlights from his towing business include fishing a submerged vehicle out of Big Sand Lake – which required him to wade into icycold water to attach a tow chain – and having an onlooker rush home and return with a pile of warm towels to help him dry off; using his flatbed tow truck to deliver an X-ray machine to the hospital; and having a 1932 Rolls Royce, worth $250,000 at the time, on his truck bed. “That was real fun,” he said. “It’s always interesting to get something different.” Nevertheless, he voiced wistfulness about the old gas station going

away – “to work there that many years and see it gone,” he said. Even with a new location for his business, one thing hasn’t changed. “I’ve lived here all my life,” said Gartner, “and I’ve always done my best to do fair work at a fair price, and try to take care of everybody that I’ve known all my life.”

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Dealing with the after-effects of COVID-19

last hugged my mom on Feb. 22, 2020. Little did I know, in a matter of weeks, the doors would be locked to visitors. My biggest fear was that Mom would have a fall during this lockdown – and sure enough, May 5 Mom fell and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. After many tests, x-rays and a long period in the ER, it was found she had a fractured pelvis. She just needed to stay off it and heal, but memory care couldn’t take her back. Another facility wouldn’t take her due to the type of insurance that she has, and the other had no open rooms at the time. Because of this she spent a week in the hospital until a bed opened

O

But what will we find once we are finally able to be reunited with our loved ones? I am not trying to sound negative because I have worked hard to find the positives throughout BY LAUREL HED this past year, but when Columnist I allow myself to think about the lost time with Mom I tend to go down a and she was then trans- lation from loved ones more negative path. ferred to a new facility. and lack of human touch I do want to recogAll of this happened has caused a tremendous nize all the amazing with no family to sup- increase in their dis- healthcare workers and port and advocate for her ease process, in depres- all the creative ways because of COVID-19. sion, anxiety, loneliness, that they have worked I am sure many of you escalated decline in their with their residents. I who are reading this are cognitive loss as well as have an “angel activities saying, “Hey wait, that increase in behaviors. lady,” named Lori, who is my story.” Too many So, when and where is always there for me to people have had to go will this end? Zoom with Mom, which through much the same As I am writing this, just blesses my heart and experience and worse. there is a vaccine that has Mom’s as well. Unfortunately for those been made available to Mom always says she with dementia, this iso- some, which is amazing. wishes she could reach

The Family Circle

out and touch me. I tell her that I will be there as soon as I can and to look out because I will be hugging her so tight. Then she smiles really big and says, “I can almost feel it! That will feel so good!” I think there are a lot of lessons learned from this past year. One is to never take human touch or contact for granted. Don’t ever take time with friends and family for granted. Don’t ever take your job for granted. I will never look at healthcare workers the same again. I so appreciate each one of you. Don’t ever take the gift of time for granted. I so appreciate my husband, my little dog Ral-

phie and where we live. I have been able to watch each season come and go this year where other years I “saw” it, but in a blur of rushing off here and there. This year, it was on my many, many walks that I saw it as it should be seen: amazing. So, as this new year unfolds, there will continue to be effects from COVID that we will be dealing with, but let’s try to not forget the lessons that we have learned this year and slow down and appreciate this gift called life. (Look out, Mom! I am coming there soon!)

Laurel Hed is a licensed social worker and geriatric care manager for the elder law attorneys of Thomason Swanson and Zahn Law Firm.

Three retirement planning tips for women

ne day in 1939, Ida May Fuller stopped by the local Social Security office in her hometown of Rutland, Vermont, and said, “I knew I’d been paying into Social Security and I wanted to learn more.” The following year, she received the very first Social Security benefit payment – $22.54 – and it arrived as check number 00-000-001. Ida’s story still holds lessons for women today—and it started with her getting the information she needed. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, let us consider the following retirement planning tips you should know. Today, signing up for a personal my Social Security account (https://www.ssa.gov/ myaccount) can help you get tailored information to plan for your retirement. It’s never too late to start planning. Ida was 65 years old when she started receiving benefit payments, but she lived well beyond her life expectancy of 65 years, 4 months. In fact, Ida lived to be 100 years old, and received Social Security benefit payments for 35 years. It’s important to create your personal my Social Security account as soon as possible. With your account, you can view estimates of future

Social Security BY CINDY HOUNSELL

President, Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement benefits, verify your earnings, and view the estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid. Verifying earnings is important because your future benefit is based on your earnings history. Your Social Security benefit payments will provide only a portion of pre-retirement income. That means you’ll have to save more to have adequate income for your desired lifestyle in retirement. Savings need to be an active part of your plan to take care of yourself and your family’s financial future. Ida never married. She supported herself. However, you may find yourself widowed or divorced – and having to provide for yourself for 15 years or longer. Unlike in Ida’s day, you can go online to see if you’re eligible to receive a current, deceased, or former spouse’s benefits. It might make financial sense to claim those benefits instead of your own – since the pay-

ments could be higher based on the individual’s own earnings history. In the spirit of Ida, we encourage you to plan for your financial future. Please share this information with your friends and family—and help us spread the word on social media.

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Generations - April 2021  

Generations - April 2021