Outside Looking In
We said goodbye last week to former Mascot volunteer columnist Barbara Fodness, who passed away after a six-month battle with colon cancer.
Her husband, Gene, stopped into the Mascot last week and I visited with him for several minutes. One of the things Gene said was how much his wife enjoyed writing her weekly column, called "Live and Learn", for the Mascot.
Barbara often wrote stories about incidents involving friends or relatives, although she didn't always use their names in her column to avoid embarrassing them.
Sometime those subjects involved her husband, however, and she did use his name in the story.
"She really enjoyed writing about a lot of things for the paper. She would write about different things going on in town or at home," Gene told. "Sometimes she would write about something goofy that I did at home. I would just say 'Thanks, Barb'."
Barbara wrote her column for six years, from 2001-2006.
In honor of Barbara Fodness, we are reprinting a random column that she wrote in her final year writing for the Mascot; this one appearing Jan. 11, 2006:
By Barbara Fodness
Way back in 1903, Walter went to a horse auction and bought an outstanding looking black stud horse. He was very pleased that he'd done so well and took the horse home to show his wife, Minnie.
Minnie looked the horse over with skeptical eye and agreed he really was a beauty.
"How much did you pay for him?" she asked.
Walter told her and she was surprised.
"That's sure a low price for such a nice looking horse," she said.
Walter proudly said, "That's because I'm such a great horse trader!"
That afternoon, they hitched up the new horse to the buggy and took a ride. The horse performed well and responded to the slightest touch of the reins. It was a beautiful summer day, and they were enjoying themselves.
Just then a young couple in another buggy came up behind them. The driver swung out to pass and Walter saw his new horse lay back one ear like he was listening. As the other horse and buggy came up along side, the big black horse laid both his ears back and took off like a shot. The race was on.
The young couple was soon left in the dust as Walter pulled up hard on the reins, trying to stop his horse and Minnie clung desperately to the side of the buggy.
But that horse just kept on running for another couple of miles. Finally, he slowed down and stopped.
Walter turned him around and the horse behaved perfectly all the way home. When they got home and started to get out of the buggy, Minnie commented sarcastically, "You are sure a great horse trader alright."
Walter found out later that he'd bought a former race horse. After another similar incident going to church the next Sunday, the horse went back to the next auction sale.
The moral of this story is: Beauty ain't everything.
Around town, he was known as "The Tortoise Man" to those who didn't know his name because of the unusual pet he had adopted.
Last year I went to Mike Janssen's home in town and was educated on everything there was to know about desert tortoises. He rescued and adopted a desert tortoise while living in Arizona and was required to fill out stacks of paperwork in order to bring the tortoise to Minnesota legally.
Janssen passed away at his home on April 13 following a 12-year battle with cancer along with some other health issues.
Janssen took good care of his tortoise that his grandchildren named "Dash". While he admitted that he didn't always eat well himself, Janssen made sure to buy fresh, fruits and vegetables for his tortoise. Janssen was often seen walking to Brad's Market for fresh produce.
Janssen would also take his tortoise for walks down the sidewalk in front of his home or in his back yard.
"I move slowly, too, so if we ever raced it would probably be a tie," Janssen joked during my visit.
We haven't learned who will be taking care of "Dash" as of this printing.
My regular visitor
Whenever I came down to Minneota, Virgil Buysse always seemed to know. As soon as I got out of my vehicle to go inside the Mascot, Buysse would be coming down the street in his golf cart and stop by visit.
He insisted that I move to Minneota and buy the newspaper. He was always looking for a house in town for me to buy and try to sell me on it like he was a real estate agent.
He was one of my favorite people to visit with and I would be disappointed when he didn't stop by if I was in town.
Buysse passed away on March 13 and I really miss him and our little visits.
Rest in peace Barbara, Mike and Virgil.