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Palo Alto Ponderings

August 29, 2013
Emmetsburg News

I wish I knew more about bird migrations. In the past two weeks there have been a couple of days with more than normal numbers of specific birds. First there were all kinds of busy hummingbirds at the syrup and hanging flower baskets. Happily our pair of ruby-throated hummingbird summer residents are still here, but the large numbers are gone. My book says that they range from Southern Canada to the Gulf States and winter in Mexico and Central America. We did see one ruby-throat at our farm in Alaska one summer.

Then day before yesterday the neighborhood was full of singing orioles. What a thrill to hear them. By the next day they were all gone, headed, no doubt for the American tropics. Happily we still have lots of noisy sparrows, chickadees, and other birds to fill the void.

When visiting Son John's near Iowa City, much time was spent watching their red headed woodpecker flying and pecking about. With his entirely red head, black back, and white rump and splotches on his wings, he was beautiful. The last red headed woodpecker I've seen up here was by the Lost Island Nature Center years ago. Fortunately we have lots of flickers, downies and hairy woodpeckers.

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It doesn't seem possible, but school has begun again. School is either a joy or "the pits" depending on which child you ask about it. It's intriguing to hear of Iowa's emphasis on STEM-science, technology, engineering and math. Technology is something we had very little of when we were in school, but we had good educations mostly because of another "T," our good teachers. It's interesting to read that Alaska has an emphasis on STEAM. They've added art.

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One thing we've missed lately are the summer band concerts. Directors Dave Ballman and Aaron Phillips and their band gave a lot of people a lot of joy. Now we are looking forward to school entertainments and athletics. With volleyball, cross country, and football here, we still don't want to forget our summer programs.

We were proud of Jack Jackson who was named First Team All District in 2A baseball. And how about those golf hole in ones-Abby Hough and Matt Wellik? And what fun to read the placing of our summer swim team. How great that the children are able to learn so early the basics of swimming and have the chance for competition with Deena and Travis Fries as their coaches. Then there's all the Little League teams with all of their coaches. That's such a good training ground for not only the games they play, but sportsmanship as well. Our area is fortunate to have all of these wonderful people willing to give their time.

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The Retired Teacher's Group had their "First Day of School" get together-this time on the third day of school. It was the third because the room we usually meet in wasn't available until then. But that was all right because we got to see so many that we haven't seen for so long. Al and Bev Sutton came the farthest, having come from Albert Lea. Again, their former pupils would be surprised at how noisy their teachers can be. But, it was fun!

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And could there be anything more fun than Emmetsburg Main Street Community Theatre's production of "Bingo: the Winning Musical" at the VFW? The game of Bingo is far from my favorite pastime, so I worried whether I would enjoy the play. I needn't have worried. It was such a delight and as always, our area's talent was superb. I head that our theater's production was much better than that of the Okoboji Summer Theater. But that doesn't surprise us as Director Jackie VanOosbree and Music and Vocal Director Denise Haack always put out the best.

Jackie as a somewhat "bossy" Vern, Teresa Alesch as a "go along with the crowd" Patsy, and Kim Campbell as a "man crazy" Honey sang and acted their parts to perfection as did Jen Meyers playing two parts. Jen's Bingo Parlor "director" and her "ailing" Bernice were great. Brent McAllister's Sam and Frank presentations were excellent and he "got the girl (Honey)" in the end. Courtney Cook's beautiful voice lent itself well to the pathos of a daughter trying to mend relations for her dying mother with her friends of 15 years ago. Now that doesn't sound humorous, but one member of the audience said she laughed until she cried. And we were laughing with her.

Kudos to everyone including all the different crews that put it together, and particularly Faith Kennedy who was the Radio Announcer and took care of the sound op. Again, how fortunate we are to have these great people giving of their time and talents.

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The open house at Emerald Oaks was a big success, too. We head that there were around 350 persons attending and the cooks had to work double time keeping up with the wonderful brunch. For many, the viewing of the different apartments were eye opening. Such fun to see their reactions.

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We'll miss Roland "Whitey" White and we're sorry he didn't make it to his 80th birthday party, which he was looking forward to. His sense of humor was so great. It was appropriate that at the visitation there was a list of "Grandpa Whitey-isms" such as, "Of all my wife's relations, I love myself the best," and "What's round and has 263 squares? A roll of toilet paper." There will be less music in the world with the death of Bob Pettit, too.

After Jack Gappa's death, Marilyn had sent where to find a video on his life, which I forwarded to former classmates. Dean Dannewitz wrote back that his family had a connection with the previous funeral founder, J.J. Martin. He wrote, "The Martins were close friends of my parents and J.J. used my Dad's prize team of horses to pull his funeral hearse in Ayrshire. My folks farmed just across the intersection 1 mile west of Ayrshire from the Silver Lake Cemetery where all my older relatives are buried, so I suppose convenience was the point."

PARTING POINT TO PONDER: Getting back to our emphasis on STEM in our schools, one young man I know is convinced that the "T" stands for texting!



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