20th Century, Culture, History, Intercession, Jesus, Labor, Logging, Minnesota

Paul Bunyan

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1914
Paul Bunyan, the mythical lumberjacking giant who logged off most of North America, is created as an advertising gimmick by the Red River Lumber Company in Minneapolis.*

There’s something that makes me smile just reading the name, “Paul Bunyan”. His name is synonymous with the North Woods of Minnesota. For the past 100 years, most midwestern kids have heard about him at camp, at a summer cabin, or sitting around the campfire.

I won’t bore you with the breadth and depth of research as to the origins of his legend, but report a few quick facts. His stories came from the oral tradition of logging camps. They were most commonly credited to William B. Laughead writing promotional material for the Red River Lumber Company. Some researchers think his legend started with the French Canadian folk tales of Paul Bon Jean or Tit Jean. Bunyan phonetically is similar to the Quebec expression for surprise; “bon yenne”.**

So here begins my prayer, Lord, thanks for the legend of Paul Bunyan! Help me reflect on his folktales, and find their blessing.

Christ, I thank You for Your masterful parables. You chose to allow those who were looking for meaning to catch it, and for those listeners who were not, to breeze over its intent for their heart and remain relationally open to You. Stories seem to have a magic to get past our trip wires, and speak deeply and gently to us.

I thank You for the good these tales did for the loggers. They entertained, distracted from boredom, aches and pains, and maybe even planted seeds of inspiration. Who wouldn’t want to be the ultimate mans’ man in those rough work conditions? Paul laughed at fear and the elements, did an impossible workload each day, ate mountains of food, and maybe even created some mountain ranges playfully wrestling his giant blue ox. (Wink wink!)

So today, Creator of the Forests, I thank You for the gifts of hyperbole, folklore and camp stories. I thank You for the relationships born of telling and listening to “tall tales” like Paul Bunyan in Minnesota. I thank You for an example, though fictional, of a huge, happy man loving his hard work in Your outdoors!

May You enable this State to take to heart and to practice the rule of Saint Benedict to pray and work; “Ora et Labora”.**** May You bless us to practice contentment in our work until You come. May we forever return to You the free, yet costly gift of doing our best!

 

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Colossians 3:23 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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Bunyan
***https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pray_and_work
****http://biblehub.com/colossians/3-23.htm

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20th Century, Boys, Catholic, Christian, Civics, Culture, Environment, Exploration, Faith, Gender, Girls, History, Intercession, Jesus, Jews, Men, Minnesota

Minnesota Boy Scouts Organization Forms

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1910
A growing fear of “boys in trouble” leads to the founding of Minnesota’s first Boy Scout troop, only eight months after the organization arrives in the United States from England.*

What can I say about the Scouts? For openers, thanks that its’ founders sought a way to connect boys with each other. Each Scout is an important part of his troop. For many, this is a first affirmation of their maleness. He learns that he can do his part and become worthy of trust.

Even in failure, like forgetting key food items for a camping trip, the troop may rib him, but ultimately close ranks and support him. That Scout learns, “ I can make do if I’m in need, and overcome temporary discomfort.” What an important lifelong lesson!

Next, the Boy Scouts will get a child or teen out of his home environment. A city kid will see places that are truly wild and untamed. He will get to know nature, and learn a proper respect for living things. He may explore the deserts, make camp in the snow, or learn wilderness survival. The Scouts exist to both invite and instill a sense of adventure in young men.

Finally, a Scout becomes aware that he can learn expertise. A simple item, like a rope, becomes the means to teach him knots and lashings, but also symbolically recognizes his work by earning a merit badge. Why do the Scouts collect merit badges? Maybe, because its a symbol of honor given by significant males, and told “Well done!”

Lord, thanks for this important event in 1910. Thanks for, thereby, giving thousands of boys a place to belong, share adventures, learn life skills, and to receive honor. Will You help them thrive in helping Minnesota boys become men?

Further, will You forgive us our failures and rejections of of our youth? We simply fail to relate. We simply fail to intersect, spend time, and show interest in their dreams. We stumble because we do not know how a simple kind word, demonstration, or listening can pivot a kid’s life path.

For example, when I was a boy, my dad was very handy and could build just about anything. He wanted me to watch him work, but he never let hold the tools. It was a perfect day for this 9 year old Cub Scout when the leader gave me a box of nails, a wood block, and a hammer. He just let us pound a design of our choice into the block, and give the results to our mothers. I’m sure it wasn’t a perfect flour de lis, but it was a symbol of the day adults trusted me with real tools.

Will You give us inspiration as a society to create more pathways, like the Scouts, that call our boys and girls out of complacency and into a life of purpose, expertise, relationship, and adventure? Will You help us get out of the way and not rescue them right away? Will You help us put tools in their hands and let them try? May they “Be prepared” for life!

*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!

**More on the character traits taught by the Scouts. http://www.boyscouttrail.com/content/content/scout_law-1760.asp

 

 

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20th Century, Culture, Industry, Intercession, Labor, Mining, Minnesota

Mesabi Range Strike

Unknown

Jul 20, 1907 to Aug 15, 1907
The 1907 strike was the first organized, widespread strike on the Iron Range. The immigrant miners—mostly Finnish—had little experience with unions or large-scale strikes. Although the union (Western Federation of Miners)had been planning a strike, the immediate cause was the layoff in July of 200 union members by the Oliver Iron Mining Company. A strike was called on July 20. In early August, strikebreakers were brought in and “deputies” hired to protect them. By mid-August, sufficient numbers of strikebreakers, combined with improved economic conditions, broke the strike.*

What causes a man to be ready to say “enough is enough” Lord? Like many strikes, the motivations seem to be dangerous working conditions and too little pay. But is there more to this circumstance Lord?

I ran across the person of Charles Moyer, the leader of the Western Federation of Miners from 1902 -1926. This is a quote I found on Wikipedia regarding this strike:
“His experiences with the IWW led Moyer to the conclusion that the federation was too radical. Moyer was especially disturbed by the IWW’s refusal to ally with or endorse any political party, which had been the key to Moyer’s support for the creation of the IWW. In 1908, Moyer led the WFM out of the IWW, taking most of the IWW’s membership (which belonged to the WFM) with him. Concerned that the WFM’s reputation for radicalism was making it difficult to reach collective bargaining agreements, Moyer re-affiliated his union with the conservative American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1911.”
“This strike was not started by the I.W.W., but has been underway the past six years. We have appealed to every labor official in Minnesota to have the miners on the range organized, but we have been shuttled back and forth between the Western Federation of Miners and other organizations who passed us on again until finally the miners took things into their own hands and went out without organization.” ** M.E. Shusterich A leader of the Mesabi Range Strike
Philip Sheldon Foner, History of the labor movement in the United States, 1980, 4th edition, pages 493-494

So to briefly summarize the situation, Mesabi’s miners wanted relief from the stains of their labor. One union, the WFM, wished to settle with owners, and those influenced by the more aggressive IWW did not wish to settle. This is much more complex than I originally thought, but I ask You to help me unravel these motive conflicts. Like many of our struggles in life, our motives become less clear when loyalties to multiple relationships are involved.
Let’s start at the beginning, with the Finnish workers. Lord, You have seen how these men worked and know the exact conditions they strained under. Will You give acknowledgement to their labors, and remember the dangers they faced? Will You forgive any envy or discontent in their hearts if that led them to demanding more? Will You forgive their judgements and expectations of their employer; the Oliver Iron Mining Company?
Likewise, will You remember the strains of those in management at Oliver Mining? Will You hear their frustrations of trying to communicate with those who don’t speak the language of business? Will You forgive them their false assessments of these Finnish laborers? Assessments such as, “lazy”, “ungrateful”, and “not man enough for the job” come to mind.

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Another set of issues that added to the fog of this strike were as simple as culture and language clashes. These were readily identified and understood by the Italian Socialist Teofilo Petriella who joined with the WFM to assist with the strike.
“The WFM asked Petriella to organize these ethnically diverse miners on the Mesabi Range. In a 1907 report to the WFM, Petriella noted that the steel trust had earned a net total of $156,624,273, but had only paid out $47,765,540 in wages to the 202,457 men they employed. This was important information the miners needed to know because they had not been given a raise in two years. Unfortunately none of the WFM organizers spoke Slovenian, Italian, or Finnish so they could not effectively communicate with the vast majority of disgruntled workers. Petriella’s arrival heralded a new beginning for the organization efforts because he could address the Italians in their native tongue. He also brought in Finnish and Slovenian speakers to assist in the recruitment drive. With their help, he was able to establish or found new union chapters in Hibbing, Chisholm, Buhl, Virginia, Eveleth, and Aurora, plus many other smaller communities in the region. Within these organizations, Petriella split the membership along ethnic lines, which allowed immigrants to organize with their fellow countrymen.” ***

Will You remember these contributions towards clarity made by Petriella, Lord? Will You forgive the judgments made in this strike based on region? Will You forgive the Northern Europeans their prejudices towards the Southern Europeans, and vice versa? So many of our disputes stem from language and or culture. They did not reach clarity because of imprecise language skills to have a nuanced conversation. Presently, we still have the same problem. Forgive us our failures, past and present, to learn and speak each others’ language. Will You inspire future generations to know each other better by knowing both culture and language?

This event encapsulates the ironies of our human nature and heritage in the conflict of the WFM and the IWW. These two organizations both sought to represent their large memberships in labor disputes. Though their stated purpose was to unify miners, in this case, their conflict with each other left their memberships without representation in Mesabi.
Lord, will You forgive the judgements of the WFM towards the IWW? Will You forgive their assessment of the “radicalism” of the IWW? Conversely, will You forgive the IWW of their judgements of the “conservatism” of the WFM? Will You forgive these internal conflicts of labor leadership that left the miners on their own? Will You show us Your plan to resolve such situations? Will You unify us as Your people and forgive our denial of the other man’s talents?
When all is said and done, a huge elephant in this room is envy. It reveals itself to be a root cause of many schisms and revolutions, especially driven by the popular socialist thought that justice is necessarily economic equality. Yet, I question if the human heart would be pleased if we ever reached exact and total economic equality.
Why? There are too many examples in history and life where the difference between envy and contentment is a decision of the spirit, mind, will, and emotions. We may not be able to control our environment or living conditions, but we can choose our response.
For example, my wife worked with the Sisters of Charity in Haiti. These nuns owned two changes of clothes and a bucket. That’s it! No other possessions. Yet, they found joy in the midst of squalor, and their contentment brought hope and help to thousands of poor.

I do not diminish that it’s right to oppose evil. I do not think truth tellers should lose their jobs, be beaten, or even killed for standing up for themselves and others. What I ask of You is that You empower us to oppose evil without becoming evil.

Lord Jesus Christ, You know what it’s like to be poor, homeless, and friendless. Will You give us character that chooses contentment in spite of circumstances? Direct our eyes to You in our seasons of struggle when we are truly powerless and suffering. Will You take this envy from the Mesabi Strike of 1907 up, out, and onto Your cross? Will You be our Heavenly Mediator in our strikes today with oppression, economic injustice, and the envy of our own hearts, and bring a just settlement?

*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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Moyer
*** This quote is from a transcript on “Teofilo Petriella : Marxist Revolutionary” given by Paul Lubotina at Michigan Tech. http://digitalcommons.mtu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=copperstrikesymposium

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20th Century, Culture, History, Minnesota, music, Native Americans, Prayer, women

Densmore Begins Recording Indian Music

Unknown-1

1907
Red Wing native Frances Densmore embarks on a life-long study of Indian music and culture. From a single recording of a performance by Kitchimakwa (“Great Bear”) at White Earth, she eventually collects thousands of songs of the Ojibwe, Dakota, and 10 other tribes. By the time of her death in 1957, Densmore will have also written 22 books and over 100 articles on Indian life.*

What a fascinating woman, Lord! I love the paradox that Ms. Densmore studied piano, organ, and harmony at Oberlin, and found joy in music of the people. Perhaps she is a testimony of her school’s philosophy?
Father, I’m grateful that by chance she read a book, that led her to her first experience with Indian music, that led into a passion.** I’m grateful that she took delight in listening, which is an inherent quality of great recording engineers, musicians, and producers. One adds a personal statement while listening to other players.
Will You bless Frances and her generations with her love of music and culture? Will You bless all the tribes she recorded with appreciation for her remarkable gift? Will You bless the all non-Native Minnesotans with ears to hear the importance of their voice in our common history?
As Plato said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” May we listen to the music of each culture of this state, and so be enlivened! Amen!

*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!

**Explore more about Densmore at MPR feature “Song Catcher”. http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/199702/01_smiths_densmore/docs/index.shtml

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20th Century, Culture, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, sports

Streetcar Double Headers

April 1907
A heated sibling rivalry develops between the Twin Cities’ two pro baseball teams, the Saints and Millers. Streetcar doubleheaders are scheduled on Decoration Day, July 4, and Labor Day, with a game in each city.*

A bit of background is in order to help those who may not know much about the Twin Cities. There is definitely much in common between these two places, but it’s the distinctions that give each it’s flavor. They may not be thought of as ‘strong’ flavors by those who consider Minnesota ‘flyover country’, but that is a matter of taste.

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St. Paul is the older brother of Minneapolis. According to local legend, first two structures in St. Paul were a log trading post that doubled as a pub, and a log Catholic church. There are very strong communities derived from nations with a Roman Catholic heritage: Irish, French, Polish, Italian, and Mexican. This city leans blue-collar, tends to move slower, and with more respect for tradition.

1907 Spalding Guide - Hart - MPLS team

Minneapolis is the kid brother that just kept growing. It historically has been more Protestant, with residents mostly from Western and Northern European descent. It leans more white collar and entrepreneurial, with more nightlife to spend new money.

Holy Umpire, thanks for the heritage of baseball in Minnesota! What an awesome combination of sport with times for team play, and individual achievement! Baseball truly is a mirror of the best attributes of our culture.
Unfortunately, Saints and Millers reflect the darker sides of our nature too. Sometimes we, as fans attempted to “help” our home team. Check out this example of ‘sportsmanship from 100 years ago;

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“The newspapers joined the struggle, firing their artillery at enemy camps across the Mississippi River. In the 1890s, when both cities were represented in the Western League, the Minneapolis Tribune leveled a charge of “dirty ball” against its neighbors to the east, the Saints, who were owned and managed at that time by Charles Comiskey. “Manager Comiskey,” reported the Tribune, “will be served with a formal notice that the Minneapolis club will not play today’s game unless guaranteed that there will be no spiking of Minneapolis players, no interference on the part of the crowd, no throwing of rocks, no throwing of dust and dirt in the eyes of the Minneapolis players, and a few other tricks which the game yesterday was featurized by.” “ Thornley, Stew. On to Nicollet: The Glory and Fame of the Minneapolis Millers.**,***

God, thanks that You gave a home team to enjoy and be proud of. Will You forgive us for when we have gone overboard and over identify ourselves with a baseball team? Will You forgive harsh words that were sowed then between Minneapolis and St. Paul that still smart today?

Today I want to acknowledge specific sports offenses to You. We have loved winning more than losing, but doesn’t losing build character? We have loved showboat personalities more than the team at times, but innately we know that a single player can’t win the game. We can behave like spoiled brats at games, then lecture our kids about the importance of sportsmanship. God help our ERA and our era! Have mercy on our inconsistent batting average with beloved rivals of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Thanks that these hostilities birthed a solution; the Minnesota Twins! Will You help us find creative ways to find common ground with our rivals today?

*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!

**Peruse this wonderful link to the complete article by Stew Thornley. http://www.stewthornley.net/millers_paydays.html

***Dig into a book on the Saint Paul Saints, again, by Stew Thornley. http://www.mnhs.org/mnhspress/books/st-paul-saints

 

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20th Century, Awe, Culture, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota

Longfellow Gardens Opens

Robert (Fish) Jones

1906
City dwellers flock to the newly opened Longfellow Gardens Zoo near Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis to see the animals and the zoo’s colorful keeper, Robert “Fish” Jones. Dressed in his trademark Prince Albert coat and stovepipe hat, Jones is often accompanied around the park by his troupe of performing sea lions.*

“The zoo continued to prosper, although complaints from neighbors about noise and smell were perpetual. In 1930, Jones died. His family tried to keep his zoo open, but failed and the zoo had to be closed down. Many of the animals were sold or given the Como Zoo in St. Paul.” **

Why are we so inspired by zoos? Even the best of zoos are limited replications of natural habitat. What is it about looking a fellow creature in the eyes, watching the way it moves, or catching its scent that is so perpetually thrilling? Is it simply that we are afforded an audience with one of Your masterpieces?
Why is it that even observation of creative acts impact us so? We read excellent literature, and we are there in spite of a dim reading light! We see a great film, and are transfixed by the story so much that we forget our annoyance at the sticky floor. We view a majestic piece of art, and are taken in past the limitation of the frame, the space, and the white noise!
While this may be true, will You forgive our human propensities to miss the meetings You ordained for Minnesotans past, present, or future? We want to experience Your nirvana, but despise the travail of travel to observe it! It does not register what a priceless experience it is to look on a wild animal when it comes at virtually no cost!
Elohim, Strong Creator, thank You for the gift of our fellow creatures! Thank You for putting the vision for Longfellow Gardens into the heart of businessman Robert Jones! Thank You also for his passion and commitment to see it through to fruition! May this state forever cherish a chance to interact with (Your) nature…and dreamers!

*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!

**Benidt, Bruce Weir (1984). The Library Book. Minneapolis: Minneapolis Public Library and Information Center. ISBN 0-9613716-0-9.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longfellow_Zoological_Gardens

*** Photo and 1907 newspaper article that encapsulates the spirit of Mr. Jones. http://circusnospin.blogspot.com/2010_11_18_archive.html

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20th Century, Culture, History, Intercession, Jesus, Life, Minnesota

Wonderland Park

Unknown

1905
Wonderland Park in Minneapolis draws visitors with a 120-foot-high electric tower. Before going out of business in 1912, the park offers a carousel, a dance pavilion, a scenic railway, and a “House of Nonsense.”*

In Your creation, You ordained a day of rest, and have established a pattern for us. You worked six days, and then took a break on the seventh day. Thank You for showing us a plan for a happy life-balance.
Thank You for the creation of Wonderland Park in Minneapolis! Thank You for those who saw some land, and envisioned: a tower of lights for docking airships (dirigibles), a carousel, a scenic railway (rollercoaster), an Infant Incubator Institute for free treatment of pre-mature babies, a place where anyone could afford to ride a horse, and a place to meet and dance!
I particularly think You must have taken delight in the “House of Nonsense”! What good grandpa doesn’t relish the laughter, silly jokes, and just plain goofing off with his grandkids? You made a universe of discovery for us, and today I want to acknowledge and thank You for that.

Further, I want to acknowledge the burden of this amusement park on its’ neighbors.* The heavy traffic and noise caused a local church to sue for interfering with worship services. Thankfully, they settled out of court, and rebuilt further away.
In response, I find myself cringing in judgment of the Church of missing Your moments. Granted, the trash, glaring lights, and melismatic din of a permanent carnival could grow very tiring in an era where open doors and windows were the primary means to cool off. Yet, what opportunities to know and serve its patrons were missed in this transplant?
Will You forgive Elim Presbyterian for passing up the opportunity to demonstrate love to Wonderland Park? Will You forgive the same for the Church Universal? We get too caught up in the execution of religious ceremony to notice the chance for relationship with Your people outside it. Christ have mercy!

Will You bless those who experienced this park, and their generations? Will You grant us the grace to be a people who love the Sabbath rest? Will You give us the gift of having fun? Will You help us see the Wonderland just outside our doors?

*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!
**A nice article by Ben Welter of the StarTribune newspaper, and a bonus reprint of the opening day article from May 15, 1905. http://www.startribune.com/may-15-1905-wonderland-amusement-park-opens/142547735/

***Lawsuit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonderland_Amusement_Park_(Minneapolis)

 

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