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The Last Windrow: Why do I write?

Why do I write?

Someone asked me one day why I write these columns. The question took me aback for several minutes.

Why do I write these pieces of script? Surely not to get rich. Columnists are a dime a dozen and lots of people can write.

We all have something to say; some of us are just more disposed to write our thoughts down on paper or, as it is, on a computer screen.

I don’t know why I write. It may be a release for me, a way to detail my life experiences, which, coming from a small farm family, are becoming increasingly more remote.

Those who grow up on farms now have no idea of how I grew up. Times have changed. I accept that, and many of the columns I write detail the farm life and country life I grew up with in the 1950s and 1960s. That life is a far cry from the lives lived today.

I think one of the centers of my writing is to try to explain some of the life of a common people, a rural people who held fast to values passed on to them by their pioneer parents and grandparents.

These were people who didn’t worry about retirements or pensions or IRAs or anything more than day-to-day life. They didn’t aspire to move to the warm south in the winter months or put their savings in an off-shore account.

They put canned goods in the cellar to see them through to April. That was their IRA.

We’re having a bluegrass festival in my current community, Pine River, Minn., this weekend. We will be bringing in national and regional bands that will be performing bluegrass, from-the-gut, dirt-poor, rags-to-riches music to a throng of folks who mirror my history.

The music that will drift across the assembled crowd will echo the plaints of the common man who has striven against all odds to make a go of it in this USA.

This will be a diverse crowd. Some come from farms, ranches, small towns, huge metropolitan areas and subsidized housing. This is a cross section of the true America — not the America we hear about on the newscasts and on the reality shows.

The crowd that will fill their lawn chairs before the stage of the Lakes Bluegrass Festival will be a mix of all ages, financial standing and political feelings. It will be a picture of who we are.

I write this column for this crowd. I choose to admire them for their everlasting belief that this is a great country worth working and fighting for. I come from the common bloodline.

I have no regalness in my background. I was born on the sod of Iowa from parents that were born from parents who came here and homesteaded with not much more than the clothing on their backs and a dream to make a better life here than where they came from.

I find this bluegrass music speaks to my genetic makeup. I believe much of what is sung is true. I’ll be in that crowd soaking up the notes as they fly across the outdoor theater.

It will be a good feeling to know that somehow the common man still exists and he and she knows it. And, he or she has the right to celebrate that fact.

Let the banjos, mandolins and guitars begin!

See you next time. Okay?

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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