I read the editorial (Jan. 15 Enterprise) about writing a letter.
I was born and raised in Arago, Minn. I graduated from Park Rapids High School in 1948. I moved to California when I was 25 years old. Recently, I have been taking a memoirs class at Long Beach City College.
The Park Rapids Enterprise has been a major source in triggering memories of the past. I have been a subscriber for a number of years. I thank you for still being there. I can relate to many of the stories and articles. I remember the Jerry Fuller columns. I went to high school with Charles Fuller. Presently, I enjoy and can relate to “Tales of the North” by John Zentz.
Some of the articles that jog my memory are the obituaries. For example, “Virgil Gartner, 88, passed away peacefully.” We lived on farms near each other, but I did not know him well. We never hung out together. His brother, Richard, married my cousin, Margaret, and his brother, Joe, was in some of my high school classes, but I never thought I had much in common with Virgil. When I read the obit I found that he had traveled a road similar to my own.
It states “Virgil worked for Malm Construction Co.” I recalled that I had worked for Cliff Malm in my late teens, pouring concrete – not with Virgil, but I remember Keith Gulbranson was one of our crew.
One incident stands out. My first day on the job. We finished digging the footing for a building and were ready for the concrete. Cliff was at the mixer giving instructions. I was told to lift a 95-pound bag of cement, shoulder high and dump it in the mixer. Then I should shovel in four or five scoops of sand – not little shovels, but huge, heaping scoop shovels. Cliff used a water hose to get the right mixture. He had me place a wheelbarrow in front of the mixer, then using a lever, he tipped it forward, filling my wheelbarrow all the way to the top. When I tried to lift the barrow up, if I got the rear stands two inches off the ground, the concrete would slosh over the front. A member of the crew was directing me where to dump the load. It was way around the back, farthest from the mixer. The ground was rough with rocks and clumps of dirt. I had to push up over a mound of dirt, and over a ditch covered with a narrow plank. Luckily, my arms and legs were quite strong, so I dumped the load without spilling much. It was then that I saw that the whole crew had stopped work and was watching. There was a big grin on Cliff Malm’s face. I had passed the test.
There were several other incidents in Virgil’s life where I could relate to my fife. We both worked as lumberjacks. He was a truck mechanic. I was a truck mechanic. He worked at a sawmill. I worked at Swede Pritchett’s sawmill. At that time, one of the sawmill crew was badly injured.
This obit triggered many memories and anecdotes.