2013-01-10 / Columns

From the Heartland

By Allan Burke

The week will start out in the 30s and end in the teens with lows decreasing from 25 degrees down to -6 degrees. Snow showers are mentioned for the weekend. Here’s hoping the brief warming trend will clear the snow and ice off the streets and country roads.

On the wedding circuit

We enjoyed the Haas- Grandt wedding in Minneapolis. Tim’s dad, Rev. Jason Haas, performed the ceremony. I cannot imagine keeping it together to do that. A sentimentalist, I get emotional and blubbery at much less serious moments. The groom and the groomsmen, including Fred, looked sharp in their tuxedos, and the bride and bridesmaids were stunning.

In addition to Jason and Kristine, we got to visit with Tim’s siblings, Toby and Tabitha. They worked for the newspaper occasionally when Tim was interning with us, and Tabitha was our cartoonist.

The ceremony, reception and dinner were held in the University of Minnesota’s McNamara Center (alumni center), and my bride and I had a great time. I forgot about my pneumonia recovery long enough so that Leah and I could dance to some of the tunes. I can only hope no one clandestinely filmed our gyrations with their phone.

Touring the big city

We spent a couple extra days in Minneapolis as a winter vacation. In addition to an obligatory stop at the Mall of America, we toured The Mill City Museum, once the city’s largest flour mill and for years the home of Gold Medal, on the historic Mississippi Riverfront. The tour included riding on a large industrial elevator which stopped at various floors for the explanation of various tasks involved in milling.

An excellent 19-minute film gave us insight into the history of Minneapolis and the milling district.

Sunday night we saw “Bye Bye Birdie” at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater. Fred and Marg had been there before with high school trips, but it was a first for Leah and me. The acting was excellent and so was the meal, including the dessert served during intermission.

Impressive press

As planned, I connected with Jon Drew, a Minneapolis printer, to look at a Cincinnati Army Press from the 1860s. Part of his printing company’s building in St. Louis Park is devoted to his antique collection. He restores pre-1900 presses for himself and occasionally for others, and his hobby is to do specialty printing on his relics. The small hand-fed presses he restored run perfectly, and the wood feeding tables have been replaced where necessary.

Jon helps out at the Minnesota Newspaper Museum during the Minnesota State Fair, and he demonstrates the small presses along with other veteran printers and newspaper people from around the state. The museum has a larger, slightly newer version of the Babcock cylinder press that we demonstrate at The Braddock News during the South Central Threshing Association event every September.

The Army Press, which came in several different sizes, could print one side of one sheet of a newspaper. Weeklies typically bought pre-printed newsprint that had state and national news on one side, and the other side was blank so that local news could be printed locally.

I am chomping at the bit to buy theArmy Press from Jon, but I’m long on enthusiasm and short on cash. My interest in it is that it is similar to what was used to print the first newspapers in the heartland, and it is small enough that it can be moved around for demonstrations, something I’m considering.

The wonderful world of coffee

We stayed with friends Jerry and Diana in Fargo on our way to Minneapolis and on our way back. Jerry understands how traumatized I am by their high-tech coffee makers, so he called me well ahead of time to warn me that they had a new coffee machine and that he would be patient in training me in its operation.

The machine makes one large cup of coffee at a time which means I had to operate it several times each morning to manufacture coffee for my bride and me.

Thanks to Professor Jerry, I caught onto how to run the thing. It has more flashing lights on it than the deputy’s patrol car when I was stopped a year ago for going 36.5 in a 35-mile-per-hour zone just north of Wilton. It also makes strange sounds during the course of producing a cup of coffee.

I got high marks from my teacher for operating the coffee pot, but he marked me down severely for dropping the coffee container on top of the coffee he ground the night before, thus spilling it all over the counter.

Yup. I’m ready to go back to throwing a handful of coffee into a pot of boiling water and calling it good enough.

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