Weekly Columns
That's my barber, really! PDF Print E-mail

By Byron Higgin

Imagine my surprise when the piano player forthe Whitesidewalls drew a remarkable likeness to the barber I had in Grantsburg, WI.pianoman
Once during the performance Saturday night he pointed to me and his mouth dropped wide. I took the picture.
I decided the man they call, “The Wizard” couldn’t be my barber.
Then, when Pat “Houndog” Brown introduced the rest of the band, he pointed to “The Wizard” and said he was from Grantsburg, Wisconsin.
My mouth dropped again.
There he was, the guy I only knew as a barber. I knew he was a musician, but never in my wildest dreams did I know he was a member of the Whitesidewalls. And he never told me that.
During a break in the music Saturday night I ran right up to “The Wizard” and asked him if he remembered me.
“Yes, I saw you out there. What are you doing here?” he asked.
I went through all the trouble of explaining how I came to be the publisher of the Minneota Mascot and “The Wizard,” smiled and said, “Good for you.”
We visited briefly, then he went on his break.
It's been an amazing six weeks at the Mascot, as I bump into all sorts of people who knew me from what might be called, “One of my other lives.”
Sunday I went to Clarkfield to visit friends and when I walked into the restaurant I heard my name, turned and found one of my former Clarkfield Advocate employee and her brother, who just happened to be in town visiting his family.  I used to cover him when he was in high school sports and when he played town baseball.
It was another sweet reunion.
Then, just as I was leaving the restaurant another man came up and said, “You’re invading my territory.”
He launched his hand toward me and smiled. It was another fellow named Byron and the comment was a joke, indicating he was used to being the only Byron in the neighborhood.
It certainly is amazing how you can run into people you haven’t seen in a long time, especially  when you’re least expecting to see them.
It brings to mind the time my wife and I boarded a cruise ship in Hawaii and as we waited to get our rooms, we went to the dining area.
It was crowded so I picked out a table with one lady and her husband that seemed to look like nice people.
“May we sit here?” I said. “Yes, go ahead,” the nice man said.
We began to visit. “Where are you from,” I was asked.
The lady looked at me and said, “Grantsburg, Wisconsin.”
The man watched my jaw drop, because we were from Grantsburg, Wisconsin. I was the publisher of the community paper and the couple thought that’s who I was but they were not sure.
So when they dropped the bomb, they watched my expression. Later we laughed at how surprised I’d been when they told me.

THANK YOU: I want to take the opportunity to say Thank You to some of the nicest people I know. You, the people of Minneota have welcomed me with open arms.
All the positive comments about the newspaper have helped me feel at home. Many people smile and wave and many are not shy to say they are happy I’m here and that the Mascot has survived.
It’s been almost overwhelming and I am so grateful for the heartwarming welcome.
By the way, if Minneota is blessed with one thing, it’s coffee drinkers.
The biggest problem I’ve had so far is deciding where to go to drink coffee.
Sometimes I’ve had to hit several sites in one day just to make sure I’m keeping up with everyone else.
LAUGH A LITTLE: “There was a clergyman who loved to golf. He woke up early Sunday morning on a beautiful sunny day.
He knew if he had to preach at 10 a.m. he would not get onto the course before noon, which would be the heat of the day. To take advantage of the Day the Lord Hath Made, he went to church, hung a sign on the door that said, “No Morning Service today, out of town.”
He went to the course, set up and hit the ball. To his surprise, it was a HOLE IN ONE.
In Heaven, the question was asked of God, “What are you going to do with this guy?”And God replies, “Nothing. Who is he going to tell?” — Joke contributed.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: As my Ole Pappy used to say, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” What did Ole Pappy mean by that, anyway!?

Teaching an old dog new tricks PDF Print E-mail

By Gayle VanVooren

So, how did you like to see the Mascot with some “color” last week? Was it a bit of a surprise? A welcome addition to our newspaper?  
To say things have changed around this office would be putting it VERY mildly
. We have been hit by a tornado and are still in the twirling stages.
There have been so many changes, and I am still trying to get my bearings with all of them.
We are so fortunate to have Byron Higgin in our midst. He has the experience in photography and journalism that I now wish that I had.
But lucky for me — he’s teaching me “new tricks” as we work on each issue of the paper. I can hear you....you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!!!
The one big thing that separates us is that he can “see” a story while I’m just taking down the facts.
These are two very different things, and I am learning to look deeper, to find the story that is tucked into each event that we cover.
Maybe it’s my Secretarial training — in keeping accurate accounts rather than finding the rest of the story. But I am learning.
It’s been wonderful hearing all of the positive comments from our readers. While visiting with Jon one afternoon, I asked him if he minded all this adulation over the new format, stories, etc. Without missing a beat, he said, “No, it was time for a change. I’m just delighted.”


The newspaper office is now open every day from 9 to 4:30, and we try to have someone in the office over the noon hour, as well.
It’s important to be here when you, our customers, want to bring in an ad, pay a bill, pick up a subscription, or just talk about an issue. So stop in any time.
I found out the other day that my new boss does get tired...and I was so glad to hear that.
He has been racing around talking to advertisers, working on stories, trying to meet all the new faces, and putting stories on our website, seemingly all at the same time.
He took a night off just to rest, and that was comforting to hear.
With fall athletics starting last week, school opening right after Labor Day, and Boxelder Bug Days the next weekend, we certainly have our work cut out for us. Let’s hope we can cover all the stories — for there are bound to be some good ones along the way.
Along with Jon, I am very happy that this newspaper is continuing.
When Jon first  put the paper on the market, there was a flutter of activity and then everything really quieted down.
We had many talks about the “possibilities” and he was willing to keep the doors open until a buyer came on the scene.     
The door has been opened wide, and we are all enjoying the new, diverse newspaper that is hitting the stand each week.
We hope you are enjoying it and are telling your friends and neighbors about this little newspaper out in Southwest Minnesota.
Check out the website at wwwminneota mascot.com where items of interest will be placed in a timely fashion.
We will try to keep you informed!

Veterans come to the wall PDF Print E-mail


A veteran sees a familiar name on the Vietnam Traveling

War Memorial while it was in Hanley Falls.


By Byron Higgin

The veteran walked over to me, looked me in the face and said, “You know what this is, don’t you?”
He handed me a string of multi-colored beads.
Then he said, “Welcome Home, soldier.”
I’ve been home from Vietnam since 1960, a long time.
Yet it wasn’t until this year I’ve been told, “Welcome Home.”
It happened this week in Hanley Falls at the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall on display in Hanley Falls.
The veteran was nearly bronze himself from the sun and he had on veteran’s gear and motorcycle leather.
“Welcome home to you, too,” I said.
It’s very sobering when you see the wall and names of men you knew jump out at you.
“I lost 13 friends in one spot on one day,” the veteran told me.
Again, I was humbled by the experience.
It happened to me one other time in St. Paul earlier this year when veterans from across the state of Minneota gathered to be honored for their contribution to the war in Vietnam.
“Welcome home,” a soldier said.
It felt so good to hear those words, even if they were late by several years.
This time in Hanley Falls I looked at the beads the vet-
eran gave me and I did know what they meant.
They meant sacrifice, honor, friends lost forever and a time that changed my life forever.
Vietnam left me with a sobering value of Freedom.
I knew after arriving home we were FREE in this country because other men died ... my friends, my comrades, my buddies in arms.
Some came home wounded — and others didn’t come home at all.
So when I saw the wall last weekend, it wasn’t just sobering. I’d seen the replica before and the real wall in Washington.
That time I actually dropped to my knees when I saw the name of my former bunkmate in basic training.
I hadn’t heard he’d died, so it was quite a shock.
But the fact is, there is nothing easy about knowing your friends died any time. It’s just harder seeing their names on a wall in front of you.
And each time, tears flowed as I thought about my friends ... gone forever, but never forgotten!

LAUGH A LITTLE: If an airplane crashed right on the Canadian Border and the United States border and all the people died — where would they bury the survivors?

Answer: “They don’t bury survivors, silly!”

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: As my old pappy used to say, “I think I think more than you think I think.”

Hats off to the Ghent community PDF Print E-mail

By Gayle VanVooren

The Ghent community had a fun time at their special celebration last week, thanks to a committee who had looked at all the community’s needs. There was something for every age group to enjoy at the Belgian-American Days festival.
We name these committee for you: Steve Sussner, Gary Laleman, Bill Maertens, Jordy Beek, Sabra Serreyn, Justin Thordson and Heidi Runia. They were the ones to get it all started -with a whole host of volunteers then stepping forward to assist as the weekend approached.
I was amazed at the games and activities staged for the youth of the community. The Ghent Park was a beehive of activity, with so many volunteers helping at each station. The kids were having a great time bobbing for apples, throwing a football, playing horseshoes, jumping in the sack races, and running obstacle courses. Parents and grandparents snapped pictures, kids laughed and enjoyed themselves, and you just know they’ll want to come back next year. And that’s where the success begins.
Staging events that are interesting for all ages bring people back year after year. They remember the fun they had, and it’s not hard to get them to return. That is a real compliment to the staging committee.
The garden tractor pull has also grown in this area, and has become an event that many follow. Ghent knew that, and had bleachers in place for the spectators, and an announcer to tell who was pulling, and the distance they went. It was easy and fun to watch - and the contestants enjoyed the encouragement from the crowds.
Younger entrants in this event had as much of a chance of winning as the older folks. It was fun, and you soon had your favorites to cheer for. This event is sure to grow in popularity.
The Classic Car Show was also a good idea - bringing such beautiful cars to town to show off, and give folks a chance to look at the vehicles of “the good old days”. These cars were shined up to perfection, and owners were more than willing to talk about their vehicles.
One such vehicle, a 1955 Ford Crown Victoria, was a combination of hot pink and white, owned by Ron Binnebose of Montevideo. He showed pride in this vehicle, saying “That’s my Barbie”. It was just one of the beautiful cars and pickups that were on display during the Ghent festival, drawing lots of lookers.
Rolle bolle, softball, and games of bean bag also drew many entrants, and watchers, alike. People could get in on the action, cheer for their favorites, and just have fun in a small-town festival.
The Ghent folks finished it all off with a street dance, food booths, a parade, water soccer, and a Belgian cookie cookoff. It was a fun weekend, and people have lots of good memories from their adventure back home to be with family and friends. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

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