The Last Windrow: Sometimes we just have to live with memories

During an in-state trip we relived parts of our past and I came away with the feeling that some things change over 50 years and some things don't. We'll just have to live with the memories.

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Some things change in 50 years. Some things don't.

My wife and I took a little "in-state" trip a week ago. We were at the height of the fall color change around north central Minnesota and we were not disappointed as we journeyed west and south of our house in the woods. Spectacular colors greeted us as we traveled through farm and lake country. The colors in and around Maplewood State Park have to be described as spectacular!

One of my personal reasons for taking this sojourn was to show my wife where I and my brother and friends had spent time in the sport of duck hunting. There was a time when my cohorts and I leased several duck ponds in the Pelican Rapids area.

I swear that many of the Terry Redlin prints were painted with this area in mind. Sharp rolling hills leading down to cattail surrounded marshes and ponds that in our heyday provided us with many made and missed shots.

Since I hadn't visited some of these places in more than 50 years, I was comforted to see that the small lakes and ponds named Grandrud, Lake 12 and Johnson's slough were still there. Just seeing them reminded me of the early morning hunts and of bluebills coming to the decoys.


Although one of the boat landings we used was now harboring a herd of cattle, other than that the waters were still as I remembered them. It was comforting to know that the Tolleffsons were still farming the same piece of land where we rented their farmhouse.

I also wanted to show my wife the live bait enterprise where I hauled tons of lively minnows from in the early 1970s. The business was the Urbank Bait Company located in the small village of Urbank. I related to my wife on our drive of the many trips I made there and of the office occupied by the then owner, Paul Koep. Paul's office was adorned with the big game animals he had harvested over the years. The place was always bustling.

I looked forward to showing it off to my wife.

Not to be.

As we drove into town I was looking at the site where the business had been located. Much to my disappointment, now what stood at that location was the city hall! No more Urbank Bait Company there. I found it had been relocated north of the town.

During my days there a restaurant/dance hall stood across the highway from the bait shop. No more. There was indeed a restaurant still there but a "Closed" sign hung in the window. Bummer!

I had secretly planned to buy a beer there, but that didn't happen. Things had changed.

We ventured to Alexandria where the Kensington Runestone is housed in the Chamber of Commerce building. We had both heard and read about the stone over the years and were happy to see that it still exists. I related to my wife that Mr. Tolleffson from our duck camp had plowed up a similar but smaller stone on his farm and he claimed it was also a runestone, but those he showed the stone to declined to validate it, even with the same type of scrip scratched across its surface.


Some things are hard to prove. Mr. Tolleffson was kind of miffed that no one believed him. But, the chamber history center was a great place to visit and I would recommend it.

We motored our way to Hutcheson, the birthplace of Les Kouba. Les is famous for his wildlife paintings and he had a connection with our current home in Pine River. His parents are buried in our local cemetery, and Les donated a number of prints to our local fundraisers over the years of his life.

Our town "kind of" claims a part of him.

Also, while in Hutcheson we viewed a "rock riffle dam" system on the Little Crow River. Such a dam is going to be placed on our own Pine River this winter. We were excited to see a blue heron fishing on a rock in the middle of the dam. Fishing must have been good there.

Our last stop was at the Minnesota Military Museum in Little Falls. My wife's father had taken his kids to the museum in their growing up years but I had never been there. I must say that we have been to many such museums around the U.S. over our travels and this museum is probably the best we have seen. You should go there.

Our trip was short, but we relived parts of our past and I came away with the feeling that some things change over 50 years and some things don't.

Grandrud Lake, Lake 12 and Johnson's pond are still there, but Urbank Bait in Urbank is not. We'll just have to live with the memories. And, the leaves were beautiful!

See you next time. Okay?


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