20th Century, Americana, History, Uncategorized

Casey Jones on the Air

Roger Awsumb a.k.a. Casey Jones, lunchwithcasey.com

1954 to 1972

Lunch with Casey Jones (Roger Awsumb) becomes a noontime tradition for Twin Cities youngsters—and later for their children. 

Casey and his cast of regulars—including Joe the Cook, Roundhouse Rodney, Carmen the Nurse, and Clancy the Cop—will entertain kids with skits, songs, guests, and cartoons until 1972.” * 

Maybe the first thing you notice about Casey Jones is his big, resonant, but always friendly voice. Roger’s interests began with a love of radio. (Strike that, he was known to be an entertainer as a kid during the Depression making shows and programs with and for his neighborhood friends.) He began in “show business” as an announcer on WBOM at Macalester College of Saint Paul, Minnesota about 1948, and went on to become the station’s program director and manager. ** 

From there, he branched out into the exciting new world (then) of television: first at WCCO as a floor director, and then at WMIN in 1953 also as “floor man” and announcer. He got wind that the station was hunting for talent for kids programming. Hearkening back to childhood neighborhood shows, he pitched the idea for “Lunch with Casey”; inviting boys and girls to “join him for lunch, skits, songs and cartoons.” ***

Always one to include others, both on and off the air, some of Casey Jones TV friends were real life buddies of Awsumb’s. The first character of import to join the host, “Joe the Cook”, was played by Chris Wedes. Wedes also graduated from Macalester, and went on host his own shows: “Cartoon Carnival” and later J.P.Patches. This real life friendship and natural chemistry fueled the careers of both men. **** 

Similarly, the show would not be the same without the physical gags and antics of Lynn Dwyer a.k.a. “Roundhouse Rodney”. This manic and fun character, physically fit from years as a professional skater in the Ice Capades, often played the comic to Jones role as the “straight man”. Rodney would not back down from a challenge, and the breadth of his side character’s prooves it playing: Lippy Lois, Jimmy Durante, Grandma Lumpit, and comical spoofs of Superman and Tarzan. ***

To personalize the impact of “Lunch with Casey”, I rarely missed an opportunity to watch as a child. Sometimes, I would even be allowed to eat my lunch in front of the TV!? (in those days, this was a “privilege” and not a “right”.) I think I could feel the heart of Roger Awsumb to provide local Minnesota kids with an opportunity to learn something, laugh with someone, and sing-long with a kind grown-up who cared.

So, we turn to You, and remember the impact of this moment in Minnesota’s history. We start with acknowledging that You, first and foremost, model this heart of fathering and joy! You invite us each day into discovery and adventure, and look forward to meeting with us each day! You are a generous friend who gladly introduces us to others, and enlarges the circle of our relationships! Blessed are You, O Lord our G-d, King of the Universe!

Roger Awsumb was a reflection of this aspect of Your heart. Through his life, You molded into him the desire to be a loyal friend, connect with others, and bring joy to the world. We commend these moments to You; both the advent of kids television, and “Lunch with Casey Jones”.

We thank You that people like him envisioned using the new medium for the benefit of our young. We thank You that he had already caught Your wisdom that an ordinary day in an ordinary job can be an adventure if one looks for it! We thank You that Roger modeled friendship, both on and off the screen, and his genuine enthusiasm for others was contagious. We thank You for the years he actually worked shoveling coal in a rail yard as a teen. *** Somehow, he learned that hard work can be a lot of fun! 

Will You honor the way this man, and the pioneers at WCIM, (now KARE 11) extended right relationship to kids through TV? Will You bless their portrayal of the importance of meeting with kids daily, and somehow making that sack lunch into a feast? We ask that You bless the future of Children’s programming in Minnesota. We ask that You perpetuate in our actors, directors, storytellers, TV  networks the soul-deep revelations of Casey Jones: our children know what we believe by our daily habits, by sharing our lunch with them, by singing and laughing with them, and by showing them what friendship looks like! 

“As oil and fragrances give joy to the heart, so is he that is sweet to his neighbor in the counsel of his soul.” Proverbs 27:9 Aramaic Bible *****

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm 

The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

** http://www.pavekmuseum.org/Awsumb.htm

*** http://lunchwithcasey.com/main/about-casey-jones/

**** https://jppatches.com

***** https://www.biblehub.com/proverbs/27-9.htm

****** Listen to one “I Love Onions”; one of the songs made famous through this show?

******* The “Happy Birthday Song” was a staple of this show. Listen and hear the fun! 

Roger Awsumb, lunchwithcasey.com
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20th Century, Americana, Art, authors, Boys, Culture, Entertainment, Faith, football, Girls, History, Humor, Intercession, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, justice, Life, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Prayer, Uncategorized

Charles M. Schulz and Charlie Brown

Courtesy Charles M. Schulz Museum. “The New Yorker” October 22, 2007

1950

“St. Paul cartoonist Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts” appears in papers and soon becomes the most popular comic strip in the United States. Clearly drawn from the “Li’l Folks” cartoons he penned for the St. Paul Pioneer Press between 1947 and 1950, Charlie Brown and company eventually take their adventures to books and television specials.” * 

Commencing on October 2, 1950 this comic strip’s first publishing marked the fulfillment of thirteen years of effort. Schulz endured and yet thrived through many challenges in this span. What can we learn about his life previous to this time that enabled him to create, perhaps, the greatest and most ubiquitous cartoon of all time?

Citing a few facts from the Charles M. Schulz Museum’s website, we find some insights. ***

1940- He decides to take correspondence courses from Federal Schools based on their emphasis on cartooning.

1942- At age 20, he is drafted into the United States Army and serves in World War II. (He observed later in his life that “The army taught me all I needed to know about loneliness.”)

1943- His mother, Dena, dies of cervical cancer shortly after his induction to the service.

1945- From February through July 1945, he served in Germany.

1946-1947- He lived with his dad above a barbershop in St. Paul, Minnesota, and gained employment through his former art school, now known as Art Instruction Schools, Inc. He corrected students’ work for the cartooning division of the school, and developed his tastes and talents as to what kind of work he most wanted to produce.

1947-1950- Charles scores his first round of success publishing work for magazines: ‘Collier’s’ and ‘The Saturday Evening Post’, and for newspapers in the ‘Minneapolis Tribune’, and the ‘Saint Paul Pioneer Press’.

Now we pivot to You; the Master Illustrator and Storyteller of the Universe. We remember the Messiah’s ability and use of parables to convey in emotional pictures the deep things of our hearts. Dear Holy Spirit, how we need You today, as everyday, to come and bring revelation. Will You let us erase strife and remember the eternal joys You hold out to us right now? What do You want to say about the everyday heroism of Mr. Schulz, and his beloved storytelling through the characters of “Peanuts”?

As we reflect on this chapter of history with You, we look for a root motive from its author. The main character of Peanuts is an ordinary boy, Charlie Brown, who never stops trying to succeed, but is often hampered with failure and humiliations. His observations about life range from the humorous to the serious. His nature is just like ours; simultaneously plagued with self-doubt and yet unquenchable hope that one day he will be victorious. Let’s go to the mind of the author and see what he had to say about, perhaps, the most beloved and known character of a story of the entire 20th century?

“Charlie Brown has to be the one who suffers, because he is a caricature of the average person. Most of us are much more acquainted with losing than we are with winning.” Charles Schulz **

An omnipresent symbol for generations of readers is summed up in his interactions with Lucy playing football; she holds the ball, he does a tremendous run up for the kick, and at the last second, she pulls the ball away, and he goes flying landing flat on his back. Yet, he never gives up on the notion of making a huge kick-off. 

(Allow us an aside to pray this point, Sovereign Lord? Will You forgive the ways we have broken faith in You, ourselves, and others as children? Will You search our root arrogance and character deformations made in our childhood vows? Will You forever make Minnesota a place where the innocent beliefs and hopes of children are returned by their peers and communities? Will You make adults more visible and present in the lives of our future generations?)

Additionally, we see Charlie Brown living in a world of children and their pets. Adults, to my recollection, are never visible. “Peanuts” pulls back the curtain on the lives of his neighborhood kids, and demonstrates that even the very young have strong temperaments and unique character to their personalities. Maybe, this is part of what makes this story stand apart from legions of its competitors; even the small universe of a community or ordinary neighborhood is still a microcosm of our future?

So, we bring You adoration for Charles M. Schulz and the world of “Peanuts”. We thank You that he overcame so many times in the decade before his first publications and successes. He lost his mother, and yet dutifully went to the war. He, subsequently, lost his home, yet adapted to living with his father above a barbershop. He stoked the fires of his dream with commitment to his craft and desire for more for a decade. He shared what he learned with others. He believed in the characters of Peanuts, and we were blessed by his insights into their very small but exceedingly important world(s). 

As Minnesotans, we thank You for the fun and “5 cent Psychology” stand lessons of Peanuts! We thank You for a man who, like Charlie Brown, never broke faith on his dream to tell an Odyssey-sized story four cartoon panels at a time. Will You bless our artists, observers, and story-tellers to have the persistence of Schulz? One day, they will win, they will have a glorious kick-off because You are holding the football!

“1At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

2Jesus invited a little child to stand among them. 3“Truly I tell you,” He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5And whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me.” ***** Matthew 18:1-5 BSB

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm 

The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

** Schulz, Charles M. “Peanuts Jubilee”. 1976. Penguin.

*** https://schulzmuseum.org/timeline/#!/1940

*** More things to do from the official page. https://www.peanuts.com

**** See some fun pictures of Schulz and “Lil Folks” and support a 10 year old blogger to boot! https://lainie10.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/the-wonderful-world-of-peanuts/

***** https://biblehub.com/bsb/matthew/18.html

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20th Century, Americana, Architecture, History, Life, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Prayer

Urban Population Tops Rural

Richfield, Minnesota “History of Richfield, MN. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richfield,_Minnesota#History

1950

“For the first time, the census shows more Minnesotans living in cities than in the country. For example, the population of Cottage Grove Township grows sixfold in the 1950’s. Builders convert thousands of acres of farmland into suburban housing tracts that promise wholesome family living within commuting distance of downtown jobs.” *

1940 Census 

Total population in MN = 2,792,300 

Total urban population = 1,390,098 (49.80%) 

Total rural population = 1,402,202 (50.20%) 

1950 Census 

Total Population in MN = 2,982,483 

Total urban population = 1,624,914 (54.50%) 

Total rural population = 1,357,569 (45.50%) *

It’s a bit strange to think that Minnesota’s cities and suburbs are so young. We were mostly a culture of agriculture only 70 years ago, yet that farming tradition changed in roughly the span of a decade?! What prompted these changes, and the results of these new suburban patterns of life?

Let’s recap what happened previous to the fifties; Minnesotans had survived the belt-tightening of the Great Depression, and the duress of WWII. In order to win the war, massive factories like the Twin Cities Ordnance Plant and FMC needed oceans of laborers nearby.**,*** Many of our people who were raised on farms, followed jobs and a sense of patriotic duty to factory jobs in the cities. Our people shoe-horned themselves in the urban housing available at the time, but many looked for a solution to their dilemma of remaining close to work without sacrificing a connection to the land.

Enter the surburbs! Imagine the joy of these ancestors as they moved from tight apartments, trailers, or rented rooms to owning a brand new place in a brand new town with optimistic names like Roseville, Golden Valley, or Richfield?! Granted, their living space didn’t increase dramatically. Many of these early suburban floorplans were under 800 square feet. **** However, now their “apartment” had: two bedrooms, a living room, dinette and kitchen, private bathroom, a front yard, a backyard, a garage, and was at least a full 12 feet from the next-door neighbor’s wall?! They found solace in the idea that they were still close enough to work, but could still see some green every day or even plant a garden on their own land. 

1950’s suburban floorpan, https://www.thoughtco.com/minimal-traditional-house-plans-177538

So here we come to You in prayer! You are the Master of the Open Field, the Property Manager of All Cities, and the Mayor of the Suburbs. Will You give us insight as we remember this moment in our history with You? Help us think through the impact of shifting from country to city to suburbs. 

Let’s begin with some common sense. Living on a farm doesn’t a farmer make. Every people group has its explorers who want, and maybe need to go beyond the shire. It’s just in their nature to be curious about whats around the next corner. So we thank You for the explorers of Minnesota who left the farm to seek a new life in the city. We thank You that their willingness to relocate and adapt helped our society throw off real threats to our freedoms in World War II. 

Though we do not think of these “explorers” as refugees in the modern sense, we can acknowledge to You that they were surely displaced peoples. Although they shared the same rights, privileges, and duties of their neighbors in the cities it doesn’t seem a stretch that they did not share in the cultures or sub-cultures of the cities. What kinds of judgments did rural Minnesotans make towards their urban counterparts? How did those raised in the city judge the “small townies”? 

One profound difference that comes to mind is that rural people must “make do” out of necessity. When geographically isolated, one must become their own mechanic, carpenter, toolsmith, doctor, and nurse. There is not the luxury to rely on specialists found in the city. So we praise You for the resourcefulness that these rural Minnesotans brought into Minneapolis and Saint Paul. We also ask that You forgive them any judgments of the ineptitude and pettiness of those who only know the streets. 

Conversely, those that live in the city, perhaps, are more schooled in people. They can rely more on others because the opportunity for more mutually beneficial relationships exist. They can specialize in a craft or science because survival is no longer a threat. The variety and breadth of opportunity increases with our exposure to more relationships. So we thank You for this type of knowledge of people, and the expansion of opportunity found by the increase of our population living in town. Will You forgive them their judgments of the naivete of the rural, of not knowing or following their etiquette?

In all of these judgments’ past, we still retain their taste in our mouths. We sometimes think of our neighbors as: “hipsters”, “yuppies”, or “thugs” if they’re too urbane.  It’s right there on the tip of our tongues when we see a: “hick”, “redneck”, or “backwoods” person fumble to order a coffee. To live in a secure neighborhood surrounded by a small yard is now synonymous with being a: “Karen”, “soccer mom”, “Joe six-pack”, or even, gulp, “suburban”. (And these are the nice derogatory terms we think and feel in our hearts and minds.) 

So we land here, Lord, we are inheritors of a mixed fruit basket; some is delectable, and some is rotten. Will You forgive our judgements past, present, and future on their desire to have a safe place to call home? Will You forgive Minnesota our judgments’ based on our neighbor’s place of origin?

Will You bless our cities, suburbs, and rural communities to welcome new neighbors? Will You teach our society to honor those with a different place of origin than ours? You respect our need for place and property; only let us pay that forward. 

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:3 NIV

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm 

The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FMC_Corporation

*** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin_Cities_Army_Ammunition_Plant

**** https://www.thoughtco.com/thmb/wVF20PGrd_I7_tPAxq0IMH5kny8=/2840×1888/filters:no_upscale():max_bytes(150000):strip_icc()/1950smintrad-quiet-90009384-crop-57f66a0b5f9b586c35dcf125.jpg

***** https://biblehub.com/john/14-3.htm

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20th Century, Americana, Food, History, Minnesota, music, Uncategorized, women

“Hormel Girls”

Inspired_20160720_Text_Hormel-Girls_125-Consumers-1024x572.1498491328

The Hormel Girls, hormelfoods.com

1948
The “All GI Girls Spam Post 570” drum and bugle corps becomes the Hormel Girls—a 60-woman troupe of multi-talented entertainers. They star in a network radio show and hit the road in a 35-car caravan, making music and leaving cents-off coupons across the U.S.A.*

To properly put the Hormel Girls in context, one has to define their raison d’être; Spam. Though many of us now associate the term with unwanted solicitations and advertising on our electronic devices, it was and is an incredible food product. So what is Spam?
It’s a brick of spiced ham, sealed over by an edible gel, and then vacuum packed into a compact tin. **

Allegedly, the tinned meat was birthed out of necessity and Midwestern ingenuity. Hormel foods had tons of pork shoulder that would go bad. An employee had the bright idea to pre-cook spices, broth, and the leftover ham and sell it in a tin. Their frugality and common sense started a revolution; a meat product that seemed to keep forever.

As we entered World War II, Hormel already had the right answer at the right time. Over 150 million pounds of Spam were consumed by U.S. forces during it alone. *** In addition, Spam sustained millions around the post-war world through the “Lend-Lease Act”. ****

The incredible success of the Allies in WWII, as well as for Hormel Foods, brought new challenges and convictions to the mind of Jay Hormel. He wanted every vet to have a job and community upon return. Many of these veterans were women who had honorably served their state and nation as: WAC’s Women’s Army Corps, WAVES Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, and SPARS Women’s Coast Guard Reserves (Acronym derived from “Semper Paratus” Latin for “Always Ready”). To this end, Hormel created the all-female American Legion Spam Post 570 in Austin, Minnesota. Post 570, in turn, birthed the idea of the “Spamettes”; an all-female drum and bugle corp that would be an attractive and wholesome promotional tool for his company. *****

Locals, however, were less enthused. After three weeks, neighbors “filed a motion for a temporary injunction to stop the rehearsing.” ******* Maybe the fault was Hormel’s generous incentives to the young women. Given that they started with a base pay of $50/week, (they were only paid $50 a month in the service), they were offered a $100 bonus if recognized for leadership traits, another $100 each if they placed in a contest, and still another $100 if they won first place!?! ****** All their hard work paid off, placing them at 13th of 49 entries; a very respectable showing considering the men’s groups had been together for years. *****

Wanting to capitalize on the goodwill these young women created, Hormel sought to give them wider exposure through radio. Under the tutelage of choir director Richard Wendelken and orchestra director Eddie Skrivanek, the five dozen Hormel Girls landed on a big band sound with safe arrangements of familiar songs of the day. Many likened them to Sammy Kaye or Kay Kyser; hip but palatable for a wider audience. The first broadcast of “Music with the Hormel Girls” aired on a single radio station, KHJ in Los Angeles, on Saturday, March 20, 1948. *****

From this starting point, the group eventually garnered a nation-wide audience broadcast over 227 ABC radio stations. ***** To enhance their visibility, the group played local shows and made in-store appearances coast to coast driving 35 identical white Chevy sedans. Such a long entourage combined with the posters and promises of coupons, samples, and prizes by an advance team more than piqued local interest in the Hormel Girls, and by association Hormel Foods.***** Nearly sixty years later, World War II Veteran and Hormel Girl member Eleanor Jones recalled that “we really did connect with the housewives. They would flock around us and ask for our autographs.” *******

Lord, thank You for being an inventor. Intrinsically, each form of life is a masterful combination of so many refined systems working in balance. Extrinsically, each individual life balances within a framework of relationships within it’s ecosystem. We can be classified by species, genus, family, order, class, phylum, and kingdom, yet we retain the possibility of adaptation. Everything in Your creation seems to point us towards this paradox; we are individuals that operate as a unity. You are Eternal Father, embodied Messiah, and Holy Spirit. Will You guide us to ponder such inward and outward relationships as we remember the Hormel Girls?

To modern ears it may sound like sarcasm, but today we truly thank You for the invention of Spam; this hardy food helped millions outlast bitter times of war and scarcity! We thank You for the unnamed author or authors of it’s recipe. Will You bless the creativity and diligence of our food scientists’ in the present and future of Minnesota? Will You bless all at Hormel Foods from top to bottom? Will You bless the hog farmers, factory workers, truckers, longshoremen and shippers of Spam? We commend their hard work and overtime in an age of such incredible demand! Will You bless our present and future food industry workers to meet and surpass the needs of multitudes like they?

We thank You for Jay Hormel; survivor and Veteran of the Great War (WWI)! We thank You for the sympathy and empathy for all veterans seared into his soul through that experience. We remember and applaud his acknowledgment of the service and sacrifices of these heroic women!

Where others who had made vast fortunes considered its’ female employees a drain on the bottom line, he increased their pay four times! Then gave them bonuses!
Where others displaced female vets, he saw fit that they had their own place in Post 570!
Where others pushed women out of the factory, he mentored them out of the factory into the spotlight!

Sadly, Jay Hormel seemed to be the exception to the rule. War propaganda that taught our sisters and mothers to be “Rosie the Riveter” now pushed them go home. Dear Lord, for some, this about-face worked, but for others life had permanently changed. We have opposed those we could have lifted. We closed our ears and ears to their talents. We broke faith with them. Forgive us where we offended and wronged Your Image by sinning in these same specific ways against: the WAC’s, the WAVES, the SPARS, and all the women who worked the home front.

We thank You for each and every Spamette and Hormel Girl! We thank You for the lessons they absorbed during their time of service that prepared them for this opportunity. We thank You that they said “Yes!” to so many challenges: to the rigors of travel, the discipline of refining their individual talents, learning to perform for a live or radio audience, learning how to sell to a huge variety of people, learning how to professionally present themselves, gaining skills in representing a company, and symbolizing what is possible for the “girl next door”!

Will You bless all female veterans present and future to: take chances, think big, make mistakes, learn from mistakes, and retain such adaptability to go beyond their classification? Will You give them the same spirit of balance in relationships; to exercise moments of individual greatness while remaining a unity? Will You give them the same sense of humility to recognize Your moments’ for them; even if it’s disguised as an everyday, quotidian tin of Spam?
“The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.” I Samuel 2:7 ESV *********

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://www.foodwine.com/food/egg/egg0798/slth0798.html
*** Smith, Andrew (May 1, 2007). “The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink”. Oxford University Press. pp. 559–60.
**** Howard Yoon (July 4, 2007). “Spam: More than Junk Mail or Junk Meat” (npr.org).
***** Sullivan, Jill and Keck, Danelle D. “The Hormel Girls”. pp.282-308 https://www.public.asu.edu/~jmsulli/documents/FINAL_Hormel%20Girls.pdf
****** “It’s A lot of Noise Shippan Point Says: All-Women Drum and Bugle Corps, Seeking Legion Title, Arouses Community’s Ire,” New York Times, Aug. 24, 1947, p5.
******* Jones,Eleanor. telephone interview with Jill Sullivan, April 5, 2007. Cited in “The Hormel Girls”.
******** Want to give the Hormel girls a listen? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-4Ok5qI7J4 “Tater Pie by the Hormel Girls”. ArchiveMan78. YouTube. May 7, 2018.
********* https://biblehub.com/1_samuel/2-7.htm

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19th Century, 20th Century, Americana, Books, History, Movies, Uncategorized

Judy Garland Stars in “The Wizard of Oz”

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June 5, 1939

“Frances Ethel Gumm (Judy Garland) grew up singing and dancing with her sisters at her father’s movie house in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

The family moved to California, and in 1939 17-year-old Judy goes “over the rainbow” as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.” * 

Frances, also known as Baby, began her performing career at the age of two and a half years when she joined her sisters in a song and dance routine. She performed her first public solo at her parent’s vaudevillian theatre, the Grand Theatre, singing a rendition of Jingle Bells.

Her astounding career and work ethic speaks for itself. Few American artists have connected with the public and emblazoned their names on the hearts’ of audiences as she. Please peruse the link to her museum, and see her for yourself?**

She knew the golden rules of performing: know yourself, gains skills to express yourself through your medium or instrument, and embrace the vulnerability of being authentic in front of an audience. That said, how did this iconic performer and recording artist view herself?

“Basically, I am still Judy Garland, a plain American girl from Grand Rapids, Minnesota, who’s had a lot of good breaks, a few tough breaks, and who loves you with all her heart for your kindness in understanding that I am nothing more, nothing less.” **

So we go to watch with You today, Holy Spirit, and ponder this event. We remember that You are the Ultimate Artist and portrayed Your performance across the universe! With the Psalmist we confess that “the heavens declare the glory of G-d”!

We give You thanks for relating to Minnesotans through the story of “The Wizard of Oz”. We applaud its author, L. Frank Baum, and the way it could be read on multiple levels. To the children, it’s a fantastical retelling of an old plot: kid wants adventure, kid experiences life, and kid finds that “there’s no place like home”. 

To the adults of the era, another plot unfolds relating to the American economy of the late 19th and early 20th century. The scarecrow is a personification of the Midwestern farmer: the beatings he took in the Dustbowl, the poverty and hardships endured by the manipulations of the Eastern Establishment and Wall Street, and the judgments by the same that he was just an ignorant red-neck. ***  

Tinwoodsman recalls the lives of factory workers, miners, and timber industry. He symbolized the unemployment of the Rust Belt, and anguish of laborers. He was said to have no heart, but was that true or was the the projections of industrialists and their dehumanization of their workers? ***

The figure of the Cowardly Lion can be construed to represent the Populist movement, or its most vocal representative; William Jennings Bryan. An outstanding orator, he was referred to as a “lion” for his causes, namely Bimetalism which advocated backing American dollars with both gold and silver. Gold values, it was thought, were more easily manipulated by Wall Street and Lombard Street a.k.a the Bank of England. ***

Further, the Wicked Witches were symbols of economic elites on the West and East coast who controlled the rest of the country through the power of the Emerald City (Washington, D.C. or New York City) and the Wizard (the President of the United States). All the great power of OZ was based on gold. One must follow the “yellow brick road”, get to the Great Wizard, and pull back the curtain on his frailties. The Wizard is just a man with smoke, mirrors, and a loud microphone!? ***

In sum, we recount the self-acceptance of Judy Garland within her portrayal of Dorothy, and the dual plot lines of Baum calling children and adults to come home. We hear its distant warnings of the noise of our political machinery, the spirit of manipulation in the business of money, and the calls to use one’s brain, trust one’s heart, and take courage. We hear Your message of encouragement in an age of deceit, greed, lawlessness, and manipulated algorithms; “Though they intend You harm, the schemes they devise will not prevail.” Psalms 21:11

Will You forgive us, the Only Truly Wise One, of believing the putdowns of those who oppose us? We are made in the Image of Your Thought, therefore, we can think! We are made in the Image of Christ, Our self-sacrificing Messiah, therefore, we can overcome any offense through merciful, new hearts! You have been struck down, yet are risen, therefore, we will rise when struck with betrayals, tragedies, and self-hatred through choosing to live in Your courage!

“And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.” ESV Revelations 4:3

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

** http://www.judygarlandmuseum.com/judys-life 

*** https://www.thevintagenews.com/2019/04/12/wizard-of-oz-symbolism/

 

 

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20th Century, Americana, History, jazz, Minnesota, music, Uncategorized

WCCO Noon Hi-Lites 1933

503_wcco_transmitter_site_old_car_2

Minnesota.cbslocal.com

1933

“Piano player Norvy Mulligan, announcer Doug Baldwin, Cowboy Jim, and the WCCO Noon Hi-Lites are a midday hit on Minnesota radio.” *

In this era, WCCO became a famous local radio station owned by Washburn Crosby Company.  Initially, the radio station was a tool to promote Betty Crocker, (a fictitious personification of their company),  who in turn sold their fine flour and other baking products. The Noon Highlights show had six half-hour shows a week, and were sponsored by the Hormel meat company.**

Thankfully, these giants of the food industry acquired the talents of announcer Doug Baldwin, who recognized the considerable talents of a local jazz great; Norvy Mulligan.

In the 1920’s, Minnesotans favored the sounds of Dixieland, but Mulligan sought to move the needle forward. 

Local music aficionados compared Norvy to the iconic ragtime and jazz piano stylings of Fats Waller. More specifically, he played the same type of left-hand tenths with his thumb. He also favored playing the melody with his right hand while inventing a counter-melody with his left.** Consequently, the combination of a quality music, a solid announcer, and a cast of fun personalities made for interesting and memorable radio that impacted the Midwest and regions of Canada! 

We remember the Noon highlights with You today Lord. We are grateful that You masterfully lined up these creative forces for our enjoyment and benefit! You are the maestro of causes and effects, and condoned the unorthodox combination of: baking, meat-packing, cowboys, housewives, and jazz. 

Will You bless WCCO and its inheritance and legacy in Minnesota? Will You inspire our musicians to go further out like Norvy Mulligan? We bless the impact of radio on our state, and its ability to give the previously unknown joys of connection to our peoples!

We ask for Your imagination in our present forms of communication. Illuminate us to cross-pollinate our imaginations, and shirk selfish boredom. Give us an open hand with our talents and inventions, our businesses and pleasures. Move us to accentuate the highlights of life, and remember the good we know today! Amen.

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

** Goetting, Jay. “Joined at the Hip: A History of Jazz in the Twin Cities”

 

 

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20th Century, Americana, Communism, History, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, Minnesota, omnipresent history, poverty, Uncategorized, Unemployment, Unions

Hunger March 1932

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1932

“In the heart of the Depression, hunger marchers in downtown Minneapolis demand an $8 weekly relief grant.” * 

Minnesotans fared better than most during the first wave of the stock market crash due to the longstanding tradition of private charity. Eventually these reserves were depleted by the sheer numbers of the homeless and unemployed. Below is a citation of the intensity and desperation here by historian Raymond L. Koch:

“After the fall elections of 1930, which saw the Farmer-Labor party gain prominence at the state level of politics with the election of Floyd R. Olson as governor, pressure for action on relief needs rapidly increased from organizations of unemployed persons which had sprouted immediately after the great crash. The day after Olson’s first in- augural speech, a group of Twin Cities Communists arranged a march to the Capitol and staged a demonstration for unemployment relief. They were led by Karl Reeve, district organizer of the Communist party in Minneapolis and leader of a local chapter of the Trade Union Unity League, a Communist-front organization. The group distributed a circular that blasted the American Federation of Labor and the Farmer-Labor party and even accused Olson himself of being a “henchman of the Steel Trust.” Several weeks later the Trade Union Unity League scheduled William Z. Foster, a leading national Communist figure, to speak on March 2, 1931, in the Minneapolis Gateway district, a haven for transients and local homeless and jobless individuals. Mayor William F. Kunze banned the speech, but the league tried to hold a meeting anyway. The result was the “Gateway riot,” as it was called the next day after police broke up the assembled group.”**

For further amplification of the situation read the excerpt below:

“The summer relief crisis reached a peak on July 8, 1932, when approximately seven hundred “hunger marchers” demonstrated again in front of City Hall. They demanded a five-million-dollar appropriation for city relief, an eight-dollar-a-week grant to un- employed workers, and a slum clearance program. Invading the city council chambers, the demonstrators listened to two Farmer-Labor aldermen protest Mayor Anderson’s reappointment of one of the conservative members of the board of public welfare — Mrs. H. S. Godfrey — to another four-year term.”**

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer. We seek Your insights into this snapshot of a vitriolic moment in the history of Minneapolis. Will You come and restore us into a right relationship with You and others so we do not replicate its offenses and judgments?

We begin by repenting of self-reliance instead of looking to You. Maybe we forgot the Lord’s prayer; “give us this day our daily bread”? Or the coin did not drop into our hearts until we reached the point of daily and literal hunger? In any case, Minneapolitans have judged You and Your Church as being an incompetent providers. Will You forgive when and where we have denied Your Greatness and clung to our depression?

It also seems apparent that this conflict was not solely about what relief was given, but who would get the credit. Prior to this crisis, it appears we helped the poor by a team effort between the cities’ board of public welfare channeled through the direct care of private charities. Where the politicians sought to convert welfare into votes; have mercy. Where private charities blew their own trumpets, and diverted gratitude rightfully Yours onto themselves; have mercy. Will You restore us as a people so that we are more concerned about aid reaching the needy rather than being publicity greedy?

Another bone of contention between protesters and philanthropies derived from the question how the aid would be given. Some with a Marxist worldview advocated for aid to be in the form of direct cash payments. Traditionalists sought a solution of workfare; those seeking aid could barter their labor for food or other assistance. Will You forgive this offense to You, and the drive to power that couldn’t bear to experiment with both methods?

Ultimately, these events originated a rift still extant: will we be a people who value independence, or dependence? In either case, proponents of both philosophies may deny or contain misbeliefs about the concept of interdependence. 

Communism has some inherent motive conflicts; it wants equality of outcomes but must rely on capitalism to pay for its programs. It has inherent paradoxical beliefs regarding land and personal property. Simultaneously, it advocates the abolition of private property while seizing the property of those “haves” in order to give it to the “have nots”. It is also interesting to note in this context, that the proponents of a system which hates capital (money), simultaneously agitates for relief to be disbursed in cash rather than barter or another type of exchange in kind. Will You forgive these offenses within the Gateway Riot and the collectivists of the period? 

Capitalism of this era also contains perfidy and forms of double-mindedness. Can a market seek a fair price if it is manipulated by its regulators? How can the Federal Reserve system get by without an audit; ever?  Only twenty years after its creation it eliminates the gold standard that facilitates irresponsible investments, public debt, and the stock market bubble? Over 9,000 private banks that it conditioned to act as fractional reserve lenders went bankrupt; yet it had no motive in eliminating competition? If this is not duplicitous, then it appears intentional and criminal. Will You forgive the offenses by those who have manipulated the markets and the value of money? 

Let us not forget the divisiveness of the Depression that was pushed by the spirit of religion. By this, I mean religion that exists for its own growth rather than humbly pointing seekers to G-d. Imagine the charity that could have happened in this time frame if the Protestants religious leaders of Minneapolis had cooperated with the Catholic leadership of Saint Paul? Imagine the magnanimous state of Minnesota if the leaders of the religion of the Farmer Labor Party had not fought the leaders of the religion of the Democratic Party who fought the leaders of the religion of Republicanism? Too often, we have endured hardship because of pride. For too long, we have suffered rather than compromise with a religious or worldview enemy! In Your mercy, will You forgive us the worship of the mechanics of our religion rather than You? Will You forgive us the bitter judgments of our religious enemies in Minnesota? Will You heal our double-mindedness as a society? We have demanded a gift rather than asked for it from You and our neighbor. Will You make us poor in spirit so we can be rich in love?

 

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. The one who fears has not been perfected in love. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.*** I John 4:19-21 NIV

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

** Raymond L. Koch.“The Development of Public Relief Programs in Minnesota, 1929-1941.” University of Minnesota, 1968.

http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/41/v41i04p153-170.pdf

*** http://biblehub.com/1_john/4-19.htm

 

 

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20th Century, Americana, football, History, Intercession, Minnesota, sports, Uncategorized

All-American Gopher 1929

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1929

“Gopher football legend Bronislaw “Bronko” Nagurski is named All-American at tackle and fullback, the only player ever chosen at two positions. Later a star with the Chicago Bears, Nagurski signs a contract for $5,000 and pockets another $50 for endorsing Wheaties cereal. After retiring in the 1940s, he will buy and run a gas station in International Falls.” * 

“(MINNESOTA)…6’2”, 226…BRONISLAW NAGURSKI . . .BECAME PRO FOOTBALL’S SYMBOL OF POWER, RUGGEDNESS. . . A BULLDOZING RUNNER ON OFFENSE, A BONE-CRUSHING LINEBACKER ON DEFENSE. . . GAINED 4031 YARDS IN 9 SEASONS . . .ALL-NFL, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1936, 1937. . .HIS TWO TD PASSES CLINCHED BEARS’ 1933 TITLE WIN. . .HELPED 1943 BEARS TO NFL CROWN AFTER FIVE-YEAR RETIREMENT. . .BORN NOVEMBER 3, 1908, IN RAINY RIVER, ONTARIO. . .DIED JANUARY 7, 1990, AT AGE OF 81.” **

“Sports Illustrated named Nagurski one of the four greatest athletes in Minnesota state history (the other three were Dave Winfield, Kevin McHale, and Joe Mauer).” ***

What is it about tough guys that impress us so much, Father? More exactly, how do tough guys, like Bronko, reflect the image of their Creator? In the present era of kinder, gentler, and more sensitive maleness this could foster a normalcy bias crisis; how can a macho man give pleasure to a just G-d?

I think of the unnamed wife of Manoah that was addressed by the angel of the Lord; 

“You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” **** Judges 13:5

Granted, Nagurski wasn’t fighting for the survival of his people like Samson, but he was given the gift of his physicality and strength. That alone is not enough to create a champion. Bronko clearly battled his opponents on the gridiron with the unstoppable heart of a champion; a spirit that would not give up!

So, this day we give You thanks for life of Bronko Nagurski! We thank You for the strength of his body, and of his mind. We see the unfailing love of G-d better through this image!

We thank You for the amount of work he did as a teen: delivering groceries, plowing, working the sawmill, and laboring at the timber camps. We thank You for this part of his life too, and that he chose to help out his folks and do a man’s work because he could. We see Your rewards for being faithful in small things that lead to bigger things.

We thank You that he chose to become a Minnesota Gopher. He added an unforgettable gravity to a team already good. His work ethic pushed his teammates to give 110% effort resulting in championships. We give You thanks for the way he contributed to bettering the University of Minnesota: in acclaim, in momentary greatness, and in ticket sales.

What I learn today sitting with You thinking on this; You love when we discover who we are, accept it, and live out our potential. Bronko was a tough kid from a no-nonsense place up north. He was accustomed to high alert, dangerous, and very physically demanding jobs. 

Perhaps, this same work ethic is what made him a champion on the field? He give You thanks for Your work ethic on display through the life and career of Bronislau Nagurski. May we receive from You the same embrace of our gifts, a resolute spirit, and some holy toughness to power over, under, or through the challenges in front of us? Help us move the ball down field!

“He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength;

He goes out to meet the weapons.

He laughs at fear and is not dismayed;

And he does not turn back from the sword.” Job 39:21-22

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

** http://www.profootballhof.com/players/bronko-nagurski/

*** http://prowrestling.wikia.com/wiki/Bronko_Nagurski

**** Judges 13:5 http://biblehub.com/judges/13-5.htm

 

 

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20th Century, Americana, Architecture, Business, Energy, History, Intercession, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Uncategorized

Foshay Tower 1929

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1929

“Wilbur B. Foshay builds a 32-floor headquarters for his utilities empire in downtown Minneapolis. The Foshay Tower is the tallest building in Minnesota for half a century. 

The stock market crash, scarcely a month after the tower’s dedication, puts an end to Foshay’s fortune and the giddy speculation of the 1920s. The next year, the tower is put on the auction block. There are no buyers.” * 

Foshay was a vigorous young man who started as a gas pipefitter and electrician. By 1916, he worked his way up to owning a public utilities holding company. (A holding company is created to buy and possess the shares of other companies, which it then controls.) *** “By 1928, he was a prosperous man, at least on paper. His company owned utilities in thirty states, the then-territory of Alaska, Canada, and Central America.” **

“Foshay built the Foshay Tower in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which opened in August 1929. In 1932 he was convicted of conducting a “pyramid scheme” with shares of his own stock. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. President Franklin Roosevelt commuted 10 years from Foshay’s sentence, but Foshay only actually served three years in Leavenworth because of “good behavior.” President Harry Truman granted Foshay a full and unconditional pardon in 1947.” ****

What do You wish to say through Foshay’s tower story, Eternal Father? Let us listen and reflect with You, and more completely know Your heart. What is it that You affirm about this man and his age, and what is it that You wish to correct?

To begin, I see a man who started simply working hard in the field he loved; providing utilities. It seems to fit his character as an entrepreneur and a man of enthusiasm. Was it this same vitality that created the conditions for his downfall? 

Like Foshay, we are drawn to play to our strengths, but sometimes are blinded by our own glory. We lose our ability to harness our zeal, and do not operate with the self- control required to better use our giftings. Will You forgive Foshay the excesses of his spiritedness against Your will? Will You forgive us where we resist You today, not yielding an inch to be called out of the comforts of our best attributes if it means humbling ourselves before You or others? 

Conversely, will You forgive the judgements of Foshay’s detractors? Will You forgive any jealousies of his competitors in public utilities? Will You forgive those who modeled or endorsed the corrupt practices of his “pyramid scheme”? 

All of us, high to low, have fallen prey to greed at some level. Men like Foshay  inflate the value of their stock, bankers and politicians hide debt by devaluing currency, and the poor commit fraud against all kinds of social services overdrawing on the charity of society. We have negated fair rules and have sought a deck stacked for us and against our neighbor; have mercy!

  All of us, low to high, have taken the bait of envy. We have made ourselves look better than we really are, and have underscored the flaws of our equals to get ahead. Will You forgive us this debt to give honor back to our peers? Will You forgive our lack of gratitude for our competitors, or the awareness that You have uniquely positioned them (by Your wisdom) in our lives?

Regardless of internal motives, we acknowledge the work of Mr. Foshay, and the iconic tower still bearing his name. We are grateful that You understand us: whether we build empires with bad hearts, or have a poor work ethic with good hearts. We honor Your acceptance as the highest tower over our city. You are the Master Builder. Amen!

And then he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I’ll store all my grain and goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat drink and be merry.” ‘

But G-d said to him, ‘You fool! this very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward G-d.” ***** Luke 12:16-21 NIV

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

** An excellent summary of Foshay’s life by Britt Aamodt. http://www.mnopedia.org/person/foshay-wilbur-1881-1957
*** https://www.bing.com/search?q=definition+of+holding+company&form=APMCS1&PC=APMC

**** Excerpt from the Salida, Colorado museum where Foshay palyed a key role in the Chamber of Commerce after pardon. https://salidamuseum.org/history/wibur-foshay/

***** http://biblehub.com/context/luke/12-16.htm

 

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20th Century, Americana, Business, Food, History, Intercession, Minnesota, omnipresent history, women

Betty Crocker 1921

1ec8a567f93101785aa54dfd0330b3d3--writing-topics-general-mills

“The Betty Crocker Cooking School of the Air”

1921

“Betty Crocker, General Mills’ symbol of the perfect homemaker, will become known to nine out of ten American women by 1940. Created in 1921 to answer letters about baking problems, she becomes a network-radio personality and cookbook author, and lends her name and changing image to hundreds of products.” *

Betty Crocker became the personification of Washburn Crosby Company which later grew into General Mills. The iconic radio station WCCO, whose call letters are an acronym of the company’s name, was rescued by Washburn Crosby to become her voice. “According to Fortune magazine in April 1945, she was the second best-known woman in America, following First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Betty Crocker was known as the First Lady of Food.”**

Lord, how does one pray for a “First Lady”, especially a fictional one? We constantly interact with icons and symbols in the present era: through smartphones and devices, in all kinds of advertising, and through mascots of our favorite sports teams. You also use the power of symbols and icons, Good Shepherd, and lead Your sheep to better know and remember You.

I will begin with thanking You for the impact of Betty Crocker on the state of Minnesota. How many millions or billions of bags of beautiful Gold Medal Flour did she sell? How many farmers, truckers, railroad workers, dockworkers, millers, and barge crew members were kept employed by her friendly voice and baking tips? How many families ate dinners, cookies, and pies that were touched by her red spoon? For these, and so many other unmentioned aspects, I give thanks to her creators, the voice of WCCO, and the Washburn Crosby Company. 

Will You bless this company and the genius of personifying the fairly mundane product of spring wheat flour? Will You help the businesses of Minnesota to take joy in meeting the needs of its customers because they are worthy persons created in Your image? Will You bless the imagery of service that Betty Crocker implies: to her family, for her friends, and to herself through the soul-feeding acts of cooking and baking?

“And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.” Ezekiel 34:23 ESV***

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

**https://www.bettycrocker.com/menus-holidays-parties/mhplibrary/parties-and-get-togethers/vintage-betty/the-story-of-betty-crocker#!

***http://biblehub.com/ezekiel/34-23.htm

 

 

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