“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
Jericho March 2020 Sunday November 8: Saint Paul, Minnesota
2020 is a confounding year, to say the least. In it, we are experiencing: a mass pandemic, shutdowns, unemployment and under-employment, censorship of thought, absence of worship, limitations on sports and recreation, peaceful protests, riots, and a non-stop barrage of the politization and polarization of almost every aspect of life in Minnesota. Add to that list, perhaps, the most stratified and contentious election of our lifetimes at the Federal level. We have not had a normal form of government since March 13, 2020, but have experienced life under the authority of a Governor and Executive council making nearly all decisions through a declaration of a “State of Emergency”.
Though my family and extended family surely have deeply held values, we are doing our best to sidestep partisanship, and be the kingdom of G-d wherever and to whomever He places in our path. It is difficult sometimes. (Just yesterday, over 646 people were arrested for blocking Interstate 94.) At times, it appears we are even physically hemmed into conflict that we did not invite.
Just as we were prayerfully asking for a response to these crises, we came across a post by Dr. Taylor Marshall calling Catholics to prayer for justice and honesty to prevail in this Presidential election.* In his post, he calls Catholics and all who name the name of Jesus to: fast, pray, and invite Our Father as we walk around the capitols or courthouses of our respective States. **,*** He calls us, like Joshua, to invite His Presence into our battles!
For those unfamiliar with the Scriptures, let me cite this synopsis from “All About Prayer”.
Jericho March – Joshua 6 “In the book of Joshua chapter 6, we are told of the first “Jericho March.” According to the Bible, the Israelites were led by Joshua into the land God promised them. They crossed the Jordan River and were instructed to conquer the land called Canaan. Jericho was the first city to be taken for the Lord. It was a city of false gods. Joshua was instructed to silently march around the walled city once a day for six days straight.
Then on the seventh day the Israelites marched around the city seven times with seven priests, placed ahead of the Ark of the Covenant, carrying seven shofars or ram’s horns. As they marched, the priests were to blow the shofars. On the seventh trip around, they were to give one long blast in unison. Upon hearing that long blast, the people were to give a great shout. When they did this, the fortress walls of Jericho fell flat to the ground allowing the Israelites entry to take the city. It must have seemed strange to the Israelites to enter battle by way of a peaceful march.
The residents inside Jericho were also surely puzzled by the six days of quiet marches around their city. But on that seventh day, they certainly believed their gods would protect them. However, once again the one true God proved He is mightier than all other false gods.
This Jericho March was the instruction given by God; it was His plan and they succeeded. We may not always see God’s logic, but He is faithful when we are obedient to His Word. If a church is petitioning the Lord for a revival or a new pastor, be sure, the Lord will provide. The Lord may call you to Jericho March in behalf of taking back your city from sinful corruption or for divine guidance for your leaders. Have faith that the Lord hears every prayer because He may again call on us to bring down some walls to restore His Kingdom.” ****
To friends old and new, please consider taking this simple action of faith; circle your local capitol or courthouse in prayer this week. You don’t need a sign, a website, a hashtag to give you instructions. We are inviting the King of the Universe to succeed where we have failed, state by state, county by county, town by town! Talk to Our Father like He really is a good dad that is deeply interested in your troubles!
A small portion of our family, only three generations, decided to have a fantastic brunch, prayer walk in St. Paul, and bring (representationally) a few guests. We remember our suffering brothers and sisters of the former Soviet Union through an icon of Christ given me shortly after the Coup of 1991! We remember our adopted family in Bolivia, (Great Grandma raised dozens of orphans there), and brought St. Juan and the promise of John 17:3. We wore crosses to commemorate those like Ansgar, ***** who brought faith to our family in Sweden roughly 1200 years ago!
We serve a wonderful Authority who found us when we were prostitutes like Rahab! We know a Judge who cannot be bribed, and He WILL bring justice and peace. We have a Father, who has adopted us into His family as a continuum of blessing and faith! Let’s get with His plan! Only move forward! He will send us the next step on the way!
13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the groundin reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord[a] have for his servant?”
15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
6 Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.
2 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days.4 Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout;then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”
6 So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant of the Lord and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.” 7 And he ordered the army, “Advance! March around the city, with an armed guard going ahead of the arkof the Lord.”
8 When Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before the Lord went forward, blowing their trumpets, and the ark of the Lord’s covenant followed them. 9 The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard followed the ark. All this time the trumpets were sounding. 10 But Joshua had commanded the army, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!” 11 So he had the ark of the Lord carried around the city, circling it once. Then the army returned to camp and spent the night there.
12 Joshua got up early the next morning and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13 The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the ark of the Lord and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets kept sounding. 14 So on the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days.
15 On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. 16 The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city!17 The city and all that is in it are to be devoted[b] to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. 18 But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. 19 All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury.”
20 When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.21 They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.
22 Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her.” 23 So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother, her brothers and sisters and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel.
24 Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. 25 But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.
26 At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: “Cursedbefore the Lord is the one who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho:
“At the cost of his firstborn son he will lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest he will set up its gates.”
27 So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.
Photo credit:”Governor Luther Youngdahl”. St. Paul Dispatch. January 1949.
Jan 8, 1947 to Sep 27, 1951
Luther W. Youngdahl takes office as the state’s 27th governor.*
Luther W. Youngdahl, first known for his integrity as a judge, ran to become Minnesota’s governor in an era where inner moral challenges became greater than the external ones. His critics labelled him the “Sunday school governor” for his clear-cut stance against gambling, vice, and moral decline. ** He couldn’t change the hearts of some Minnesotans, but sought to work on enforcing and expanding the laws that protected innocence and virtue.
In the first place, he negated the effects of harmful laws. One year after the legalization of bingo, he was elected governor of Minnesota. During his campaign, Governor Youngdahl had pledged to rid the state of slot machines and, upon taking office, he began to make good on his promise. The number of taxed slot machines dropped from 8,579 in 1946 to 797 in 1950 to two in 1952. ***
Additionally, he created laws of good conscience. Youngdahl advocated for the most vulnerable Minnesotans, and sought ways to relieve the burden of our society on their loved ones. During his first year in office, the American Association on Mental Deficiency (AAMD) held its annual convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Their concerns were around parental advocacy and the needs and rights of developmentally disabled (retarded) citizens. ****
Just two years later, under the leadership of President Mildred Thompson, the group met in Minneapolis with the objective of creating a national organization. It was her opinion that a cohesive national presence would be the best way to help struggling parents. By 1950, we find Governor Youngdahl a vigorous supporter of their dreams. Please read the following speech carefully, and realize the heart of Youngdahl towards our most vulnerable citizens.
“The point is this, ladies and gentlemen, the retarded child is a human being … And for reasons for which neither he nor his family are responsible, he is retarded. He has the same rights that children everywhere have. He has the same right to happiness, the same right to play, the right to companionship, the right to be respected, the right to develop to the fullest extent within his capacities, and the right to love and affection…
We cannot discriminate against this child, deny to this child the rights other children have because of the one thing that neither he nor his family can help, because he is retarded …
He has a right to these things and his parents have a right to know that he has these rights. For they, too, are entitled to peace of mind about what is happening to a retarded child separated from them.” *****
As can be seen throughout his career, L.W. Youngdahl expressed a clear conscience informed by a great respect for our laws. Even his detractors gave obeisance to his character and wise judgments; he broke up rackets and built institutions for those who were rejected by our community.****** He went on to serve three terms as governor of Minnesota before being called by President Truman to serve as a Federal judge for the District of Columbia.*******
Now we turn in recognition to You as Lawgiver and Judge; Nomothetēs kai Kritēs! ******* We respond to You with the scripture cited by President Abraham Lincoln in his second inaugural address.“The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” Psalms 19:9 KJV We also recognize that the meaning of the word “fear” used here means reverent respect. We agree with the Psalmist that we feel “clean” inside when we practice honoring Your wisdom and living with a clear conscience!
Father of Good Sense, we ask forgiveness for the excesses and spiritual deficits of this era. We were just past the time of surviving the Depression and WWII, and then some of us turned aside to follow the gods of gambling. We looked past You for our sustenance and joy in this era past, and latched onto the rush of a “one-armed bandit”. Will You forgive us this offense of Your ability to provide us with enough? We have thought Your arms are also to short to save us from purposeless existence, boredom, and koinonia. Forgive this dishonor to Your riveting personality, humor, and ever-flowing vitality; You are the life of the party!
Balanced One, we recognize also our failure to protect and recognize those who most need it. We have failed, at times, developmentally disabled citizens of Minnesota, nor properly honored them as citizens of Your country. Furthermore, we have ostracized those who battle with: mental illness, mental disorders, depression, derangement, neurosis, neurotic disorders, nervous breakdowns, schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder, and dementia. Will You forgive us where we have devalued these neighbors whom You have honored with life and worthiness? Will you bring Your Healing Presence into our broken minds, our disrupted physiologies, and our traumas of spirit?
We acknowledge the shortcomings of Governor Youngdahl to You; in his humanity he is no better or worse than us. However, this day we commend a few of his victories for our state to You. He shielded many innocents from beginning a life of gaming by curtailing the use of slot machines. He added momentum to the AADM, and encouraged the parents and individuals with developmental disorders. He made a place for those displaced by our society because of mental illness. Will You give favor to those who continue his heritage of leadership on these issues?
It’s fitting that Youngdahl was a judge both before and after his political career. He made a lifelong habit of life-giving judgements, and made the way better for those whom society condemned. May we forever take the baton of wisdom passed down through examples like his, and run our leg of the race! May we run until Your mercy overcomes our injustice!
“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” Romans 14:13 NIV *********
“Gordon Parks had moved to St. Paul as a teenager and struggled through the depression working at odd jobs. One day he buys a camera in a pawn shop and in a matter of weeks has his first show at Eastman Kodak in Minneapolis. Thus begins a long, distinguished career as a photographer, composer, novelist, and filmmaker.” *
Ears that hear and eyes that see-the Lord has made them both. Proverbs 20:12
Gordon was born dead, or so the doctor thought, on November 30,1912 wrapped in a cloth and set aside. An observer had an idea to put the child in a tub of ice water, and gently rub ice over his body. Surprisingly, this homespun method worked, and he was revived! **
Parks was born the last child of fifteen to Andrew Jackson Parks and Sarah Ross. He worked on the family farm in Fort Scott, Kansas, and held a lifetime attachment to the land. Thought his youth, he wrestled with the dichotomy of a place that was legally free, yet socially informed by the south. He went to a segregated school, and was discouraged from applying to college by his high school advisor because blacks “were not college material.” ** Sadly, Parks did not finish high school, but it didn’t stop his momentum.
About 1927, his mother died, and he was sent to live with his older sister in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Though she cared for him, her husband was in constant conflict with him, and eventually he was turned out of their home at age fifteen. He struggled with homelessness and poverty in the frigid winters, but survived by doing odd jobs working as a: porter, snow shoveler, busboy, semi-pro basketball player, and piano player for a brothel.**
Eventually, his life stabilized by getting steady work as a server on a train. This job had the fringe benefit of exposing him to different people, cultures, and opportunities. Inspired by the art exhibits of Chicago, he bought his first camera, a Voightlander Brilliant, from a pawn shop and began taking pictures.
Mr. Parks recounted that day saying: “Eastman Kodak developed the first roll of film…. and when I went for the prints, one of the clerks complimented me on my first efforts. ‘Keep it up and we’ll give you a show.’ I didn’t take him seriously and he realized it. ‘I mean it,’ he said. ‘You’ve got a good eye.’” ** He continued shooting, and they did give him the show as promised.
Spurred on by this success, Gordon went to the finest women’s clothing store in Saint Paul, Frank Murphy Fashions, and sought to demonstrate his skills in fashion photography. Though he double-exposed his first roll of film, the one photo that turned out was so elegant that they were willing to repeat the process.*** This began his acceptance in the world of fashion photography.
The success of his Murphy fashion shoots caught the eye of Marva Louis, the bride of the famed boxer Joe Louis. She inspired the Parks’ to consider moving to Chicago as there would be more fashion work for Gordon there. He ended up taking portraits of society women, but it opened the next door for them to move to Washington D.C.**ibid
In a strange turn of events, he was hired by the Farm Security Administration on the weight of an exhibition of his pictures of life on the life of city folks from Chicago’s South Side. Under the tutelage of Roy Stryker, he learned to tell stories in pictures that words could not convey. It was in this era that his most famous photo was born.**ibid
His first assignment given by Stryker was to buy and overcoat, get something to eat, and to catch a matinee. Thinking he had won the lottery, he went shopping, but the staff wouldn’t fit a black man. Next, he went to grab some lunch, but the diner refused to serve him unless he came to the back alley. He was shooed away from the theatre.
The coin dropped for him; I can show the public what citizenship feels like as minority in the America of the 1940’s. He later struck up a conversation with Eva Watson, an African-American janitor in his building the same day. She was willing to have her picture taken by Parks in the lobby of the FSA building, and “American Gothic, Washington, D.C.” was born.**ibid
So here I am today, Lord, to watch and pray with You about Gordon Parks and his accomplishments in the arts. Let me reflect on how You are El Roi; the Strong One who Sees. You observe the events of time concurrently; past, present, and future. You see our externals, and our innermost thoughts and motivations.
I recall the promptings of the apostle Paul to the early church in Ephesus to use their hearts in “seeing”. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people…” Ephesians 1:18 NIV**** I don’t know much about the spiritual life of Mr. Parks, but it is clear that You have downloaded this gift into him.
We give You thanks for this dualistic vision of Gordon Parks; to see people, places, and things in the light of eternity. We thank You that he instinctively saw value and meaning and dignity in the lives of those to whom society was blind. In his own way, he saw through the eyes of Christ.
Will You bless the inheritance given to Minnesota and the United States through the camera lens of Gordon Parks? Will You bless his figurative and literal children to see with the eyes of their hearts? Will You make us soft and receptive to these images of pain, beauty, unrest, and exaltation?
Forgive us, sweet Holy Spirit, we are flooded with images each day through our vices and devices, but we are still thirsty for one glance that inspires. Our conscience has cataracts and we don’t acknowledge the pure, the real, the noble, or Your pure light beaming into our eyes radiating from the faces of our neighbor. Help us, like Mr. Parks, to see because we have truly listened to the human actors in the drama of each day!
Come and heal our blindness! Come and let us hear! Open the eyes of our hearts in Minnesota so we can perceive the messages You are constantly sending to us through others. Open the apertures of our consciences so that we can also see inwardly. Add to our personal and cultural memory; click the shutter so we remember the moments when catch a glimpse of the Immortal and Invisible!
“The brazen kidnappings of prominent businessmen William Hamm (June 15, 1933) and Edward Bremer (January 17, 1934) by the “Ma” Barker gang put an end to Chief O’Connor’s hands-off crime policy in Saint Paul. Both men are returned unhurt after large ransoms are paid.” *
In the Prohibition Era of our largely blue-collar city of Saint Paul, there was an empathy and a real motive to look the other way at bootlegging. Physically, the city is located on the Mississippi River, and is the first big stop downstream from Canada. There’s a plethora of natural caves, which made effective stealth warehouses for the product. One also wonders if its populace, mostly of the Catholic regions of Europe, did not share the same moral objections to beer and whiskey of their dry Protestant counterparts in Minneapolis?
To continue the narrative, its people were comfortable with playing dumb to Johnny Law if it meant lucrative cash jobs working for the gangs, and if it kept St. Paul a “wet” city. Civic leadership, allegedly, were on the payrolls of major gangsters from Chicago, and were apt to play it cool if the gangsters kept a low profile. Apparently, this unspoken agreement between Chicago crime and St. Paul police began decades before the Volstead Act.
“This collaboration began in 1900 with the Layover Agreement, an unofficial contract between criminals and Chief of Police John O’Connor.
In exchange for tip-offs about FBI raids and protection during their “layover” in the city, the gangsters first agreed to check in with the St. Paul police when they were in town. Second, they gave a portion of their gains to the police department. Finally, they agreed to commit no crimes within the city limits, though Minneapolis was fair game.”**
During the era of the Great Depression, Hamm and Bremer would likely stand out as targets for kidnapping. Mr. Bremer was affiliated with banking, and Mr. Hamm with brewing. Though very different personalities, Hamm being an affable sort and Bremer more shielded type, both men were visible leaders from noteworthy families in Saint Paul.
Ma Barker also led a prominent family known as the Barker-Karpis Gang. “Though her children were undoubtedly murderers and their Barker-Karpis Gang committed a spree of robberies, kidnappings, and other crimes between 1931 and 1935, there is no evidence that “Ma” was their leader or was even significantly involved.” What is apparent, however, is that she stuck by her sons and their associates throughout their criminal careers.
Alvin Karpis, the probable real leader of the gang, later said that Ma was just “an old-fashioned homebody from the Ozarks … superstitious, gullible, simple, cantankerous and, well, generally law abiding”.**** He concluded that,
‘The most ridiculous story in the annals of crime is that Ma Barker was the mastermind behind the Karpis-Barker gang. … She wasn’t a leader of criminals or even a criminal herself. There is not one police photograph of her or set of fingerprints taken while she was alive … she knew we were criminals but her participation in our careers was limited to one function: when we traveled together, we moved as a mother and her sons. What could look more innocent?’ *****
So we come to You, Jesus, to watch and pray over this event. What do you want to reveal to us today through it? What blessing can come from an enabling mother, this gang, the corruption of police, and the crime of kidnapping?
We ask forgiveness for these past offenses to You in our city and state. Will You forgive Ma Barker for being an enabler of her criminal sons, and the impact of their crimes to our city? Will You forgive us today of similar co-dependence within the families of Minnesota? Give us grace to face our failures as parents, commitment to stand by our kids going the wrong way, and love that affirms them, yet calls out their sin. Will You bless our present and future mothers of Minnesota, and especially the relationships with their sons?
We acknowledge to You the damage done to innocent lives through the willful actions of the Karpis-Barker Gang. Will You bring restitution to all who suffered their crimes, as well as the heritage of the Bremer and Hamm families? Conversely, will You cut off the curses passed down to any generation of the Karpis or Barker clans?
How we need Your healing for our men, and especially our men enticed into gang life! We acknowledge to You that we have not followed Your laws to honor our fathers and mothers, or practiced proper diligence in the raising of some of our sons. We have driven them away at times: from our families, from schools or job training, from the Church, and, most painfully, from You! Jesus, Son of David, have mercy!
Though we try, we have failed them somehow as: sons, husbands, fathers, and friends. Protect and shield our sons from the enticement of a life of crime, and the arms of surrogate families in the underworld. May these vulnerable boys find a good man to call out their holy masculinity. May they forgive their fathers’ offenses, and break with the spirit of vengeance.
We remember to You how we have subtly yielded to the Enemy in St. Paul, by looking the other way. Our police, it seems, were corruptible because they were internally incomplete. It is hard to bribe a content man. You have said, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely–be content with your pay.”******* Have mercy on these policemen past, and free those similarly tempted in the present. We ask Your protections over Minnesota’s police both now and forever; be their shield and very great reward!
We end by thanking You for Your eternal justice! You are our advocate within our broken families, though they may seem beyond hope. You bring us back to our Everlasting Father, no matter our state of lawlessness. You used the Catholic priest Lucien Galtier to rename the city of L’oeil de Cochon, so named for the alleged bootlegger and first resident of St. Paul, Minnesota; Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant.
“Pig’s Eye, converted thou shalt be, like Saul; Arise, and be, henceforth, Saint Paul!”
May 1, 1933
“Members of the National Farmers’ Holiday Association march on Saint Paul. Arguing that drought and bad economic conditions are beyond their control, the farmers demand an end to mortgage foreclosures and the development of a refinancing program.
John Bosch of Willmar leads the state’s Farmers’ Holiday movement. He promotes the nonviolence of Mohandas Gandhi. On May 1, 1933, the legislature—at the urging of Governor Floyd B. Olson—passes an emergency law stopping farm foreclosure sales until farm prices rise.” *
Thesis. Counter-thesis. Synthesis. Though we try Lord, we cannot live in a vacuum. We are individual cells that must function as a body. Will You give inspiration and insights into this Minnesota event today? Will You give revelation of the hearts of those involved and their inner motives?
Let’s start with getting a grip as to what motivated the Farmers Holiday Association. It’s national presence was started by Milo Reno, and soon permeated the Midwest. Its’ adherents believed that withholding crops and livestock from the market would drive prices up. A slogan from the time read, “Lets call a Farmer’s Holiday, a Holiday let’s hold. We’ll eat our wheat and ham and eggs, And let them eat their gold”.**
To provide further backdrop, please read the following except from Robert P. Murphy’s “Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal.”
“Murray Rothbard argues that if one looks at content, rather than labels, then a fair case can be made that the “New Deal” program of farm intervention began under Herbert Hoover, not Franklin Roosevelt. Hoover had supported the farm bloc throughout his political career, and during his first presidential campaign promised he would institute a price-support program. He proved true to his word in June 1929 ( three months after he was sworn in as President) with the creation of the Federal Farm Board (FBB). The FBB was initially allocated $500 million to give low-interest rate loans to farm cooperatives, and it also had the power (through corporations it had created) to buy surplus farm products off the market and hence prop up their prices. (Hoover won an additional $100 million for the FBB in the spring of 1930.)
As usual, throwing tax dollars at the problem only made it worse. In a market economy, if a particular group of producers, even the cherished farmer, can’t make a living, then it means that there are too many people in that line of work. Heartless as it sounds, the only sustainable solution to the problem of inadequate farm income was for the least efficient farmers to find other careers. Actual and promised government “support” allowed these marginal producers to limp along, so that there really was overproduction in the subsidized crops. (This is different from the belief that the Depression was due to a general overproduction in that sector but underproduction elsewhere.) Realizing that this practice of “buy high, sell low” was wasting tax dollars, and that the price supports were leading to ever-growing stockpiles in government silos, the FBB took the next “logical” step of ordering output restrictions (while maintaining price supports!)***
So now we know the big picture, but how does it apply to our State? Mr Bosch had a friend whose farm was to be auctioned off. To help this friend, local farmers would crowd so many around the auctioneer that no one else could hear the bids, and then they would bid “one cent” per each item so that their neighbor could buy his property back for a few cents and keep his way of life. Another foreclosure was stopped using similar tactics.
Bosch then pondered how to improve the plight of farmers. He came up with the following program:
“1) the farmers demanded a mortgage moratorium at once, 2) a price level for farm products equal to the cost of production, 3) abolish the Federal Reserve system, and 4) in the event of war all corporation profits involved in the manufacture of war materials were to be taxed 100%.” ****
Farmers were asked not to sell any farm products nor pay any mortgage debts until these demands were met. Also, they went further in blockading U.S. Highway 12 near Atwater, and asking drivers to return their shipments as a sign of support. These actions were recognized by the Roosevelt administration and led to remedial legislation. ****
So we pray to the Lord, Will You forgive our offenses to You through the broken relationships in the production, buying, selling, and distribution of food? Your Words tell us very clearly, “The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.” NASB ***** Yet, we have met offense with counter-offense, and an escalation of pain. Have mercy.
Will You forgive our politicians, both locally and nationally, of ways they benefitted from this problem? Both Hoover and FDR wanted to micromanage a problem that their policies had created. They wanted votes and support for their solutions, but did not do so within the bounds of the Constitution. Will You give honor to them where it is due, and rebuke to the vanity of our Federal government? Though the role of our Federal government is clearly defined, it has continually broken its boundaries with the American farmer. Have mercy, the government is not our Savior!
Will You forgive the offenses of these farmers, and the wider offenses of society towards them? No one faults a man who fights for his life. Will You forgive these farmers the pain their righteous indignation caused others who had not caused them harm? O G-d, we do it over and over again, we are most vulnerable to the Enemy of All when we are the victim. We do not forgive because we do not realize our depth of offense against the Only Just One. We transfer our victimization onto our neighbor, who transfers it to the next victim, and the next! Will You forgive these sins of the “good guys” in agriculture?
Will You forgive our bankers and financiers their contributions to this painful event? It is an interesting note that Bosch lists the Federal Reserve as an enemy worth abolishing. Though created to stop the manipulations of our currency, and the excesses of stock market driven panics, it has failed to do either.
It drives the value of the dollar to only a few cents of its former gold and silver backed value, drives the hidden tax of inflation, and silently confiscates the wealth of generations of American families and farmers! Which of our great grandparents would think that we show economic responsibility by our level of debt? Yet, we can scarcely buy or sell any large ticket item without the assessment of our credit? We have mostly accepted this false premise as citizens of Minnesota and the United States. Will You help us to reject it? Will You make us creditors rather than debtors? Will You call the FRS to account for the legalized slavery of Your people, Your assets, and Your natural resources?
We invite Your Farmers Holiday on all who grow, ship, or buy food! Help us tear up the other guy’s mortgage, and remain humbly grateful for the bounties of Minnesota! Amen.
“The Credjafawn Social Club was formed the evening of October 16, 1927, by ten young adults who sensed the lack of social activities for persons in their age bracket. The name was devised from a letter out of each of the names of the ten charter members.” *
Although conceived as a social/recreational club, the Credjafawns initiated some outstanding projects of importance for the Twin Cities Black community—opening a cooperative food outlet and a credit union, offering college scholarships, and working to integrate hotels. **
What a pleasure to hear of this group of African-American teens committing themselves to each other, and in writing no less!?! How insightful of them to be proactive with their concerns and wants. They refused to be bored because they realized that they had the power to make and attain goals!
We thank thank You for this example of covenant(contractual) relationships in St. Paul. Your Word underscores the importance of covenant: Noahic, Abramic, Mosaic, Davidic, and Messianic. We remember Credjafawn today, and ask Your blessing on Minnesota’s teens to replicate such committed covenant friendships, then, now, and always.
We thank You for their example to the ages! This group of young adults, at first, just wanted something fun to do and a group to do it with. We do not diminish the need or importance of fun. Perhaps it was this happiness and contentment, well ordained by You, that gave them the inspiration to better the lives of others? We commend to You their accomplishments: in providing healthy food through a co-op, in lending through their credit union, in impacting the marketplace through integration, and enabling higher education through scholarships! ***,****
G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we remember today that You, though G-d of gods, chose to commit in writing to human beings. Every commitment of friendship You have made to the human race has, is, and will be kept! We scarcely can entertain the thought that, though Infinite, You have humbled Yourself to relate to us so very personally. How do I grasp that the King of the Universe has committed himself in writing, to be forever remembered, to me?
Will You forgive us our preoccupation with ourselves? We are bowled over when we focus on the problems of society on our own. Will You forgive the fears, loneliness, and passivity of teens? Will You forgive us the parental roots of these sins, and our failure to have an answer for the longings of our youth?
Will You give us the grace to establish committed relationships? Will You give us the desire to live for the betterment of others? Will You remove our blindness caused by having so many focal points that we can’t see the one friend we can bless today? Will You bless Minnesota with Credjafawnic Covenants, so we also will bless our generations?
“Nevertheless, I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.” Ezekiel 16:60 NASB******
“St. Paul attorney William T. Francis is appointed U.S. Minister to Liberia. His success is the product of an active black professional community in the Twin Cities. Francis had at one time been the chief clerk of the Northern Pacific Railway and had served as a presidential elector in 1920.*
Mr. Francis first found work in the Twin Cities with the Northern Pacific Railroad, working his way up to clerk. By 1904, he had graduated from St. Paul College of Law, and became the chief clerk of the law office of Northern Pacific. This high position made him a powerful leader and advocate for black Minnesotans.**
As was common in this era, he voted and actively participated in Republican politics. (African-Americans, on average, supported Republicans from the time of Emancipation until FDR, shunning the Democratic party for its support of slavery and slave states in the Civil War.) After two failed attempts in local races, his stalwart support garnered him the status of being a most powerful African American Republican west of the Mississippi as well as serving as a presidential elector by 1920.**
His quiet authority eventually paid off when in 1927 President Coolidge appointed him the U.S. Minister and Consul to Liberia. American tire companies had made large investments in the rubber industry there critical to a country in love with the automobile. Francis, always alert for breeches of justice, made a key report that uncovered corruption of major Liberian officials taking bribes for supplying men for forced labor. Soon after submitting his report he succumbed to yellow fever, and died in Monrovia, Liberia on July 15, 1929.**
His death rocked the African-American community of Minnesota, and as a lifelong member of Pilgrim Baptist Church he was given the following eulogy by the mayor of Saint Paul.
“Whereas: The City Council has been officially notified of the death of Wm. T. Francis, U.S. Minister to Liberia…
Mr. Francis was a St. Paul product, a citizen of fine spirit, clean purpose and genuine devotion to the public good, held in high esteem of those who knew him. He fashioned his own career out of courage, determination and ability. Facing unusual handicaps he overcame them all by the quality of his character, and by single-handed struggle forced recognition of his worth. He won high honor on worth alone and earned a wide approval because he was sincere, kindly, human and gracious.
At the time of his death he was on the threshold of a distinguished career, and assured of a commanding destiny among men. His government associates were open in their praise of his achievements. Here in his home city he was respected for what he was- a true brave man, gifted with vision, cheerful and uncomplaining, and devoted to high aims. His untimely death is a tragic loss to his country and especially to his home community. He leaves behind him the memory of one who was unafraid of life, the example of one who was victorious against all untoward circumstances.”***
“…and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” I Thessalonians 4:11,12 NIV****
In Your mercy, hear our prayer. We thank You for the stellar example of W.T. Francis. We thank You for gifting him with the tenacity, perseverance, and humility to stay at his task and quietly do so much good for so many. We thank You that his years of trials, like Joseph, prepared him to be the first African-American to be an American ambassador. We thank You that his process of overcoming led to greater freedom for tens of thousands of Africans!
Will You bless those who follow his patient path to greatness? Will You bless his progeny, both literal and figurative, to be blessings to their families, neighborhoods, and cities? Will You bless African-American leaders to be imitators of his invaluable contributions to the company, state, and nation he serves?
We ask that You forgive the judgments and jealousies that fell on him from Minnesotans, and by those in his own community. We ask forgiveness of the offense of judging You by judging the success of African-American leaders. We ask forgiveness of You by judging the success of all leaders.
Will You forgive us of judgments based on partisanship, of our own mothers and fathers, across political party lines? In this case, will You forgive our judgments against Republican leadership? We have largely forgotten as a society that slave states were led by Democrats, and that the leadership of President Lincoln and Republican principles of liberty defeated the slavery of African human beings in the United States. W.T. Francis did not forget, but used his liberty to procure liberty of Liberians being enslaved and betrayed by their own countrymen. Will You raise a generation of African Americans in Minnesota that similarly burn with justice for Africa?
We thank You that his inner peace begat external peace. May we receive Your peace in Minnesota, and let it radiate outward. May we work for Your applause just like William T. Francis.
“The School Safety Patrol is founded in Minnesota. Starting at Cathedral School in St. Paul, the program is a school-police program for boys to help fellow elementary-school students cross busy streets.” *
Going back about a hundred years, there were few safety requirements for Minnesota drivers, and even fewer for pedestrians. To improve their safety, City Council member and Safety Commissioner Aloysius Smith tapped Sergeant Frank Hetznecker to carry out his vision for “school police” now known as school patrols.
The Sergeant went to the principal of Saint Paul’s Cathedral School, Sister Carmela Hanggi, who was an early proponent of the school patrol and a key developer of it. On February 21, 1921, at the intersection of Third Street (later renamed Kellogg Boulevard) and Summit Avenue began their work. Eventually, they added Sam Browne belts, the now ubiquitous shoulder to waist belts with badge that identified safety patrols’ official status. Similar student school patrols operate around the world, and greatly enhance the visibility and safety of kids crossing the street on the way to school.**
Lord, we thank You today for the freedom of travel we have enjoyed due to the automobile in Minnesota. We confess to You our propensity to want to exceed the boundaries of common sense with each new development of technology. Where we have failed Your laws and each other in this, we ask for Your forgiveness. We have rebelled against Your laws at times by how we drive, and the lack of peace in our driven natures.
Nevertheless, we thank You for those who created “school police” aka. school patrol of providing safety for children, and encouraging the responsibility of older kids to look out for the young ones. Will You bless the literal and figurative offspring of: City Council member Aloysius Smith, Sargeant Frank Hetznecker, and Principal Carmela Hanggi? Will You bless those who work in safety with ideas and methods that enhance the lives of future generations? Will You encourage the voluntary actions of kids helping other kids, and convince adults to release them into greater responsibility? We love You!
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Consequently, he who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. Romans 13:1,2 NIV
“The farmers’ Nonpartisan League, a reform group that advocates state control of the grain industry, runs candidates in the Republican primary. The NPL loses in the primary, but joins Minnesota’s branch of the Minnesota American Federation of Labor in forming the Farmer-Labor party.” *
“In the 1910s, farmers began to decry poor market conditions and violations of their economic rights. Middlemen in the grain elevator, stockyard, cold storage, banking, and rail industries regularly gouged farmers. To fight corporate interests, the NPL was formed in North Dakota in 1915.
The NPL was founded by former Socialist Party member Arthur Townley, who was also a failed flax farmer. The NPL advocated state-run mills, grain elevators, stockyards, and warehouses. In order to protect farmers further, the NPL fought for state insurance programs, pensions, and employment bureaus. After success in North Dakota’s 1916 election, the NPL began to expand. Minnesota became the center of its activities.” **
Lord, we say we love fairness, justice, and equal rights under the law, but our practice of these traits are very imperfect and human! Have mercy! Farmers of this era wanted to address the folly and failures of the Democrats and Republicans to represent their views and grievances. They wanted a way out of the “us versus them” paradigm in Saint Paul, and Washington! Lord, hear their prayers!
Will You forgive their root judgments based on politics? Will You forgive the Wall Street Republicans their willingness to commoditize a Democratic farming way of life, and to see all Progressives as revolutionary radicals instead of neighbors desperate for change? Will You forgive the Socialist and Progressives their judgments of the passivity of the Democrats, and characterizing all Republicans as greedy “Wall Streeters”? Will You forgive Democrats their judgments and fears of Socialist extremism, Progressive utopianism, and Republican heartlessness?
We have failed You as traders and transporters of commodities. Those who weighed the grain and set the prices for the train have dishonored You, and the farmers of Minnesota. Through Solomon, perhaps the greatest economic mind the earth has everknown, You have said: “The Lord abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.” Proverbs 11:1 NIV Will You have mercy on all forms of dishonest trading and transport of agricultural commodities? Will You restore our broken trust, and teach us better ways to raise, assess value, and distribute food?
Our Socialism, Progressivism, Democratism, and Republicanism has tested You as the owner of all the yields of the Land of 10,000 Lakes. We have ignored Your voice because we listen through the filter of all our ‘isms’. We have discounted each other in opinion and fact. Have mercy!
We listen and ponder this parable of Jesus:
“A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant, but that one they beat and treated shamefully and sent him away empty-handed. He sent a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.
Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘this is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” Luke 20:9-16 NIV
In its original context, this story was a rebuke of the misuse of authority of the chief priests, elders, and teachers of the law known as the Sanhedrin. The farmers of the vineyard symbolize the people of Israel. The servants represent the prophets of G-d whom the people rejected, the heir represented the Messiah, and the landowner is G-d the Father.
Yet, I see another interpretation of this text relevant to the NPL, the “isms”, and the economic forces of Wall Street. Perhaps each of these forces stumble over their self-importance: the farmer-laborer, the politicians, the bankers, and the traders? Is it possible that each sees themselves as the owner, therefore, possessing the final say over their property? Each has refused the reasonable messages of the servants and heirs sent to them?
Eternal Father, will You forgive us for attempting to own Your possessions? Will You forgive us the rejection of our opponent’s message and messengers? Will You forgive the misbelief in the revolutionary spirit of our heart that drives us to overthrow and possess? Will You forgive the independence of the NPL, the co-dependence of the Democratic and Republican parties and Wall Street?
We give You the false heart motives of this era, and ask that take them up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ. We ask that Your blood cleanses and frees us from every attachment of the Enemy that hinders the agriculture of Minnesota. We ask that You establish proper boundaries for all these groups both present and future. Will You be the Judge of Minnesota, so we can practice the blessing of being truly Non-Partisan?