Shirley Bierbaum, longtime Schroeder resident, is turning 90 years old this month. Her many friends and family are organizing an open house celebration at the Cross River Heritage Center Saturday, Nov. 29 from 1 until 4 p.m. Coffee and cake will be served.
Shirley and her husband Bob founded Schroeder’s Northland Hardware in the mid-1950s. Long before Home Depot, Northland was our own local version of the hardware superstore, selling everything from nails to chainsaws to pots and pans.
Shirley practically lived in the store in those days and was the go-to person for locating obscure and hard to find items. When you asked Bob if they carried a #10 left-handed lag bolt ratchet driver in stainless steel, he would just turn his head and call out the description to Shirley, who would calmly and cheerfully walk straight to the shelf where the item was kept.
Shirley is also a talented musician and was the steady organist at Zoar Lutheran Church in Tofte for many, many years, among dozens of other community activities.
I know the whole West End joins me wishing Shirley a very happy 90th birthday!
The Cross River Heritage Center will also be hosting the annual Holiday Bazaar and Quilt Drawing Saturday, Nov. 22, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The 2014 Wall Panel honors Alta McQuatters’ famous grandfather, White Sky. Alta cross-stitched the dream catcher squares for the quilt and the Cross River Quilters created complementary squares.
Speaking for myself, I would be honored to own such a beautiful quilt with such a significant connection to the history of the West End. The drawing for the quilt is at 2 p.m.
I was at the Cook County Courthouse last week for the breaking of the election tie in the 1st District commissioner’s race. It was good to observe, firsthand, how competent and careful the whole election process is in Cook County. County Auditor Braidy Powers and County Attorney Molly Hicken demonstrated their deep knowledge and fair mindedness, reminding me of what a gift it is to live in a county that has such dedicated and honest elected officials.
It reminded me of an election tie that I got inadvertently involved with many years ago in Tofte. The race was for Tofte Township Supervisor between the late Steve Krueger and Tim Norman. Township election results are announced at the township annual meeting, held in the evening of Election Day, just after the polls have closed.
I was at the meeting because my mom, Mary Alice Hansen, had recently broken her hip and couldn’t drive herself to the meeting. She was the Tofte township clerk at the time. For some reason, the people in attendance selected me out of the crowd to moderate the meeting. It wasn’t too tough of a job until the election judges announced that Steve and Tim had received the exact same number of votes. Of course, none of us had any idea of how to deal with the situation and back then there was no instant Internet access to find out.
At my suggestion, the candidates agreed to decide the election by the toss of a coin. Steve made the call in deference to his status as a founder of the Tofte township and his long service on the town board. He won the toss, which was great, because he retired at the end of his term and Tim got his chance to serve after that. There were no hard feelings and everyone seemed satisfied.
About a year later, a citizen confronted me at the post office and told me that I had violated the law by deciding the election with a coin toss. It worried me enough that I called both Steve and Tim to see if they thought I’d done something wrong. They both very kindly assured me that the coin toss was fair and they were completely satisfied.
Sawbill Lake froze over during the day on Monday, Nov. 10. It probably was ready to freeze a day or two before that, but persistent winds kept it open. All of the lakes in the West End are now officially iced over, and looking at the forecast, it looks like they’ll stay that way.
Unfortunately, it does not look like ice-skating will be good this year because there is too much snow on the ice. I never give up hope, because freakishly warm weather or rain can resurface the ice into perfect smoothness, but that seems unlikely at the moment.
The snow-covered roads caused me to comment to my partner, Cindy, how I learned in Ding Dong School that the slipperiest road surface is packed snow at 22 degrees Fahrenheit. She was unimpressed with my knowledge of road conditions, but was highly amused by my reference to Ding Dong School.
Ding Dong School was the common name for the Driver Improvement Clinic that was a class specifically for 16- and 17-year-olds who got speeding tickets. A very nice Hennepin County judge gave me the no-brainer choice of Ding Dong School or a three-month suspension of my driver’s license.
My Ding Dong instructor, Mr. Erickson, was actually a very good teacher. His first request to our particular group of juvenile delinquents was that we not refer to his class as Ding Dong School. I wondered then - and now - what horrible crime he had committed in order to be sentenced to teach Ding Dong School.
I learned many defensive driving tips from Mr. Erickson that I still use today, 45 years after my one and only brush with the criminal court system. I do question his teaching of the 22-degree mark for maximum slickness of packed snow. I feel like the roads are greasier up near the freezing mark.
But who am I, as a Ding Dong School graduate, to question his wisdom?
(Photo courtesy of the Schroeder Area Historical Society with Alta McQuatters of Lutsen, and the quilt honoring her grandfather, White Sky)