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This 69-year-old fishing license differs from those issued in the present. Anglers were asked to tally their kept fish and return the information to the state and the fees have incrementally increased. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

1941 fishing license touts dairy products, health

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Box after box stood in stacked towers and straight rows, impeding the movements of the family members carefully sorting through my grandmother's belongings.

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Helen Sylvia Luetgers, age 84, passed away on April 25, 2010, ironically on the date of her late husband Walter's birthday.

Teary eyes were periodically calmed by a smile as someone picked up an article and shared a story associated with the treasure.

Some of the items were kept by relatives as keepsakes of a family matriarch. Others would be donated to benefit churches and charities. Yet with a lifetime of accumulated possessions, the boxes filled up quickly.

So the premise was simple, if a family member came across something they could use amongst items in a box, they could have it, so long as they took the entire box and everything else inside.

As I helped with the cleaning, I came across a wonderful shoe-shine set peeking from beneath four cardboard flaps; a 100 percent horsehair brush, polishing cloth, shoe shine, wax and a steel shoe horn. This was something I could truly put to good use.

"Remember, you have to take the entire box," my aunt reminded me. The additional contents included some old markers that may or may not have worked, a handful of equally aged batteries in the same condition and a can opener. A few other uninteresting items filled the additional space and upon returning home, I placed the box in the garage, but not before grabbing my new, old, shoeshine set.

After several weeks I decided the garage needed a good cleaning and the box of goods from my grandmother was sitting in a spot simply begging to be inventoried. Rummaged through it, I discovering a plastic silverware tray, seven paperclips, four rubber bands, 28 thumbtacks and a small, red envelope with bold letters that read "FISHING LICENSE."

I carefully unfolded the documents to reveal my great grandmother and great grandfather's fishing licenses, issued June 27, 1941.

The license was made out to Mr. Albert Luetgers (my great-grandfather) and Mrs. Albert Luetgers. My great-grandmother's first name didn't appear on the license, as was common during this time-period.

The second interesting attribute was on the back of the license, which adorned a printed table with the various Minnesota fish species alongside. The Division of Game and Fish asked each angler to tabulate the number of fish kept by the license holder and return the information to the state office in St. Paul.

The fish species' names were slightly different than you'd see them printed today. Wall-eyed pike, larmouthed and smallmouthed bass, red-bellied sunfish, and strawberry bass are some on the list.

I had never heard of "strawberry bass," but after some brief research, found out that people sometimes call black crappie by that name.

And at the bottom of the license, in italicized print, were the words: Drink More Milk, Eat More Butter, for Health and Prosperity. I can only wonder what year those words were eliminated from Minnesota fishing licenses.

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