West End News Feb. 17

Bag Balm
Bag Balm

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The West End community has lost another of our shining lights. Virginia Tofte died on Feb. 8, just two days short of her 93rd birthday. It is impossible to think about Virginia and Casey without smiling: Virginia for her never-ending friendliness, and Casey for his never-ending supply of stories.

I remember a time when we were on a canoe trip. We were going through a lake and of all things Casey and Virginia paddled up to us, going in the opposite direction. Casey was clearly having a bad day. Head down, scowling, he was paddling like he was trying to imitate a 25 horsepower motor. Virginia, on the other hand was riding in the bow seat, combing her hair, applying makeup and engaging passing canoes with friendly chatter.

Virginia did well whatever she happened to be doing. Her skill as an artist, painting in watercolors and oil, was recognized by the awards and prizes she won over the years. Folks in the West End who have one of Virginia's paintings hanging in their homes appreciate her talent and inspiration. Even though Virginia and Casey moved from the West End a decade ago, her presence is still with us.

When the time came recently to groom the cross-country ski trails at Sawbill, to Bill's dismay the long track heavy-duty snow sled he uses to track the trails would not run. All kinds of expensive possibilities came to mind. Bill hauled the machine to the Mayo Clinic for snowmobiles, to Gerry Gervais, the Snowmobile Doctor at Tofte. Gerry made the diagnosis in short order after examining the machine. Mice had built a nest in the muffler, which built up tremendous back pressure. Treatment is a new muffler. Only a modest cost, TTL.

You all know that I am a weather nut. Weather trivia which most folks find to be worth a big yawn, I find to be fascinating. So here is the weather trivia for the week. On Friday, Feb. 12, there was a 40-degree temperature difference between the shore of Lake Superior and the highest elevations in the West End. I am sure that you wanted to know that.

This morning I heard Jay Anderson tell about a family in New England who make a product called "Bag Balm,” intended for use with dairy cows for an obvious purpose, which had found many applications outside of the cow barn. There was a parallel product in Minnesota. Our daughter lives in Maple Lake. When her kids were in diapers and suffered rashes, she found a product at the drugstore in Buffalo, which was a remedy for diaper rash. The family who owned the store was named Ertl. The product was called "Ertl's Butt Cream,” made by the Ertl family. The applications found for this product also strayed widely from butts. Give folks a chance and ingenuity will emerge every time.

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