20th Century, Governors, History, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Republican

Governor Elmer L. Anderson: A Progressive of Head and Heart

January 2, 1961- March 25, 1963
Elmer Lee Anderson, the thirtieth governor of Minnesota, was born in Chicago, Illinois on June 17, 1909. His education was attained at Muskegon Junior College and at the University of Minnesota, where he earned a business degree in 1931. He established a successful career with the H.B. Fuller Company, first working in the marketing department and eventually becoming the owner and president of the company. Andersen entered politics in 1949, serving as a member of the Minnesota State Senate, a position he held ten years. He next secured the Republican gubernatorial nomination and was elected governor by a popular vote on November 8, 1960. During his tenure, a fair housing bill was sanctioned; a statewide sanitary law was authorized; highway safety measures were initiated; and a governmental ethics act was instituted.*

“I remind people I want to be known as a liberal Republican. If that’s a dirty word, so be it.” Elmer Lee Anderson **

Governor E.L. Andersen led a life of enthusiasms, that led into ventures, that usually led into success. Though his parents split at a young age, he discovered that he had capabilities to provide for himself and his family selling: soft drinks, candy, and newspapers. He loved birds, and wrote articles as a young teen that made it into the local newspaper.***

Already a natural salesman, he sold for Sheldon, a specialty school furniture company, and this is when he moved to Minnesota. After graduating from the U of M in 1934, he entered H.B. Fuller as a sales manager, and eventually went on to become its president. His formula of good sales seemed firmly based in his solid ethics. The following quote shows his heart-felt business acumen.

“Anything the customer wanted should be seen as an opportunity for us to provide it. Number two was that the company should exist deliberately for the benefit of the people associated in it. I never liked the word employee. It intimated a difference in class within a plant. We always used the word associate. Fuller’s third priority was to make money. To survive, you have to make money. To grow, you need money. To conduct research and develop new products, you must have money. The need for money can be desperate at times. But corporations must put the quest for money in its proper place. Our philosophy did not leave out service to the larger community. We put it in fourth place, behind service to customers, our associates, and the bottom line. Community service cannot be paramount to a business, but it ought not to be omitted, as it too often is. Business must concern itself with the larger society—for reasons of self-interest if nothing else.” ****

Maybe this heart and philosophy underscores some of Andersen’s key achievements during his governorship, and the scope of human interests they spanned? We see his love of nature and ornithology as the loon was named our state bird during his tenure. What ne plus ultra! What more fitting symbol of this place and people; our idiosyncrasies and achievements? This bird is capable aloft or underwater, but walks poorly on land and must run on the surface of the water to take off!?! Its beak is a spear for fishing, and its sharp eyes a vibrant red. Don’t be taken aback by the loon’s haunting lonely cry; it just wants to live in solitude. In this, Andersen is our Adam!

His administration officially recognized alcoholism as a health problem. Maybe the most impactful change for posterity of his term is in his sanctioning of a fair housing act. (Though the Fair Housing Act 42 U.S.C. did not see fulfillment until 1968, his was a quick response to just the problems that were brought to light in the public domain issues of the Rondo neighborhood.) *

Though succeeded by Karl Rolvaag after his one term in office, Elmer remained committed to the Republican Party, and his many pet causes and interests. Governor Andersen became a publisher, writer, and archivist while owning interests in ECM Publishing. He clearly was a bibliophile, and amassed a collection of over 12,000 rare books that went to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Library. He was known as the father of Voyageurs Nation Park, working ceaselessly with other famous Minnesotans like aviator Charles Lindbergh, to preserve this beautiful land and interconnected waterways for generations.***

We now bow to You: Governor of Governors, Sovereign of Sovereigns, Crown of all Crowns! As Isaiah rightly prophesied, “On that day, Adonai-Tzva’ot will be a glorious crown, a brilliant diadem for the remnant of his people.” Isaiah 28:5 CJB * We owe this land grant and political state of Minnesota to You alone Lord. What wisdom do You wish to convey through the life and events of Governor Elmer Lee Andersen?

We thank You that Andersen relished the pathway of sales from childhood throughout his life. What a blessing to realize one is talented in an area, and to remain in such a strength for life! We thank You that this particular salesman clearly articulated his raison d’être in writing for posterity, and approached his business with a sense of balance between profits and people. May You be praised in this, and give our salespersons your heart of community service within provision!

As a second proviso of well-being, we acknowledge Elmer’s willingness to name the elephant in the room; “Alcoholism”! Though he aptly called it a disease of the body, we remember to You that is also a disease of the spirit. A satisfied mind doesn’t need alcohol to amplify Your wonders; but a needy heart craves the next drink. We praise You that he chose to name this issue, and create pathways of help for generations of Minnesotans!

Prolonging his memory to You, we see his desire to end discriminatory practices in housing. He began the end of discriminatory lending practices; a practice of unnecessarily stratifying of a generation of Minnesotans. Surely there is a way to honor liberties of private property without racializing Your land! May we keep asking for wisdom in this! Willing You forgive us: in our business and finance industries, as communities, and as individuals made in Your image of this offense towards You and Your land which we temporarily occupy?

In sum, there is much praise worthy in Governor Anderson’s life. His love of books became a fruitful business, which circled back to bless the branches of the University of Minnesota. A passion for the Creation led him to advocate to preserve Voyageurs. In this, he is just like You!

Precisely because of Governor Andersen’s good character and habit of fulfilling good desires, I am reticent to criticize, yet I must add these words and questions to You, Lord. We, who love progress, must define what progress looks like to move society towards it. Often, progressive movements work through the machinery of the State to fulfill their purposes. Does not this oblige others to both sanction and fund a definition of progress that they do not hold in their heart?

Forgive my weak wordplay, Messiah, but who protects our figurative loons from progress? Who stands for those who are undefiant, yet choose to fly alone? Maybe I have an inordinate fear of progressivism because of it’s inherent humanistic roots; “the progress of man”. Where is Your place in this worldview? Does it make allowances for Your Kingdom of forgiveness, humility, and innocence? What place do virtues such as patience and persuasion hold in a climate that waves a banner stating “Advancement Now!”?

Yet this is where I arrive in watching this era of Elmer’s leadership; we need You to stand between us. We ask forgiveness where our version of progress diminishes another; in this age of the early 1960’s, in the present, and into eternity. We invite Your wisdom into the ways we must yield to each other. Keep us from conceit as we make concessions to the greater good. And may our self-defined greater good be submitted to our Greatest G-d.

“It is good to grasp the one
    and not let go of the other.
    Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.” Ecclesiastes 7:18 NIV **

*https://www.nga.org/governor/elmer-lee-anderson/
** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elmer_L._Andersen cited in Saint Paul Pioneer Press. 2004 article
*** Andersen, Elmer L. (2000). A Man’s Reach. Edited by Lori Sturdevant. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
**** “1941: Harvey Fuller Sells Company to Elmer Andersen”. H.B. Fuller. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
https://www.justice.gov/crt/fair-housing-act-1
***** “Publications: Princeton Union-Eagle”. ECM Publishers. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
****** Smetanka, Mary Jane. (1999). “Former Governor’s Gift Is Voluminous”. Minneapolis Star Tribune. Metro ed. April 1. p. 1A.
******* https://www.nps.gov/voya/learn/historyculture/index.htm
********https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Isaiah%2028:5
*********https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ecclesiastes+7%3A18&version=NIV

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20th Century, Agriculture, Business, Food, Food Science, History, Intercession, Minnesota, omnipresent history

A Jolly Green Giant in MN

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1928

“Described by Advertising Age as “a fugitive from a Grimm’s fairy tale,” a hulking green giant becomes the symbol of the Minnesota Valley Canning Company in Le Sueur. The giant gets jollier and more handsome as time goes on.” * 

To provide some backstory, the Minnesota Valley Canning Company was born of the collaboration of 14 merchants in LeSeur, Minnesota in 1903. They initially only sold Early June peas, but sought to market a new variety of a much larger and sweeter pea from England around 1925. “At the time, the company couldn’t legally trademark the name Green Giant to describe the peas, so they created a mascot named Green Giant and sold the new type of peas under that name.” **

We thank You for humble beginnings. We thank you for the vision of the originators of Minnesota Valley Canning Company; canning vegetables means more people can access them. We are grateful for the introduction of the “Green Giant” variety of peas to the diet of Minnesota and much of North America. 

We give You thanks for the technology of canning and vacuum packing! Canning existed long before the MVCC, Louis Appert of France by 1809 had invented a way of sealing cooked food in jars that fed their armies during the Napoleonic Wars.*** Yet, Green Giant would supply multitudes with vegetables that: kept for years, traveled well, were affordable, and quick to prepare. 

Further, psychologically and spiritually icons connect our heads to our hearts; we comprehend information and feel its’ meaning. We remember, Jesus Christ, that Your storytelling, parables, and use of imagery taught both the minds and hearts of mankind. For example, Jesus confronted the religious folks of his day and their masks. He confronted the idea of doing the right things with a wrong heart. 

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy–full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.” **** Matthew 23:25,26 NLT

So, we give You thanks for the humble tin can and its’ inner cleanliness. Will You clean us on the inside, too, so we don’t spoil quickly. We give You thanks for those farmers, packers, and owners who sought to serve their neighbors vegetables through a tin can made famous by a Green Giant! Amen!

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

** http://mentalfloss.com/article/75472/11-hulking-facts-about-green-giant

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

**** http://biblehub.com/matthew/23-26.htm

 

 

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19th Century, Business, History, Intercession, marketing, Minnesota, omnipresent history

Sears Starts Selling 1886

richardsears-young

1886

“Twenty-two-year-old Richard Sears starts selling pocket watches out of Redwood Falls. Encouraged by his quick success, he opens a mail-order company in Minneapolis. He then moves to Chicago, takes on a partner, and in 1893 forms Sears, Roebuck & Company. 

By the turn of the century, only the Bible has more readers than the Sears, Roebuck catalog. From its pages people order everyday items and oddities including clothing, harnesses, buggies, bicycles, guns, pianos, and parlor organs. 

1897 – Sears, Roebuck sends 318,000 catalogs across the Midwest. 

1908 – 3.6 million people receive Sears, Roebuck catalogs in a single mass mailing.” * 

God bless Richard Sears, and his embrace of the imagination you gave him. Thank you for fulfilling his vision to provide people with a new way to acquire needs, and wants irregardless of geography. Thank you that his catalog was a bridge builder between urban and rural, mountain and prairie, young and old, and many other stratifications of society!

Father You are generous with us. You allow us to express both needs and wants, and are infinitely able to provide for us. Your freedom allows our heart to be tested with what we have been given. Will we share our blessings? We will humble ourselves to make our needs known to others, or pridefully hide our lacking from the eyes of others?

Will you forgive the judgements cast on Richard Sears, his company, his employees, and his astounding success? He put possibilities in front of millions of eyes, and let them decide what was useful, or what was luxury. His business created heaps of jobs, and probably ended many smaller enterprises that could not, or would not, adapt to this new way of doing business. It is hard for us to admit when we have been outdone by another’s incredible effort. Have mercy! Will you forgive us this type of jealousy? Will you release us from the envy of another’s success in Minnesota? Will you give us hearts that rejoice at our brother or sister’s success?

In many ways, the mail order business predicated the modern world of advertising. Through it, we are tested daily to discern between our needs and wants, likes and dislikes. It is a good thing to have a choice! It is wonderful to have a plethora of options for nearly every item we desire.

However, the knowledge of many things often leaves us with a craving for many things. We often feel a lack by the simple knowledge of what we do not yet possess. Again, this option tests our mettle! Is it bad to know what we do not have? Sometimes it inspires us to new efforts. Sometimes a new tool gives us an inspiration for working a new way.

Lord, forgive us for choosing to focus on our discontent. Forgive the pining for something new that will bring us contentment! We too often love things, and use people! Will You break the roots of those cravings that came from the Sears catalog, and still bind us today? Will You help us in this struggle to want everything we see?

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

**More about this extraordinary pioneer of marketing? https://www.britannica.com/biography/Richard-W-Sears

 

 

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