2013-05-23 / Columns

From the Heartland

By Allan Burke

After some nice rain last weekend, temperatures will be a little cooler this week with highs between 60 and 71 degrees and lows between 41 and 50 degrees. Showers are mentioned for the weekend. The heartland is a beautiful green, spirits that had fallen because of numerous grass fires are up and optimistic and gardeners are starting to seed their plots.

Movers and shakers

It is my firm belief that it is bad parenting to allow your children to live in an apartment any higher or lower than the main level. I drove to Grand Forks last Tuesday to help Fred move out of his apartment, to load his vehicle for his trip to Anacortes, Wash., and to load the van to the roof with items to be stored in our basement.

Thankfully, Fred’s friend Kyle helped. They hauled the heavy stuff, and I hauled 4,815 lighter boxes and totes to the vehicles. I swear I have never seen such long flights of stairs. Each must have 150 steps, give or take a couple. My estimate is that, in the course of the afternoon, I hoofed it up and down 72,954 steps, huffing and puffing all the way.

I was short on aerobic exercise before, but I should be caught up for at least a couple months.


While Fred packed his boxes (he did not need my help) Tuesday afternoon, I had coffee with long-time friend Mike Jacobs, publisher of the Grand Forks Herald. On behalf of the North Dakota Newspaper Association Education Foundation, I presented him a plaque for his service on the board and many contributions to the newspaper industry.

Mike and his wife, Suzette, lost their historic home in the 1997 flood, so they purchased a farmstead west of Grand Forks and built a new home.

Their acreage requires heavy-duty mowing equipment. Mike recited the equipment he has amassed, but I lost track after the little tractor with the sickle mower and a couple of riding machines.

To my amazement, he owns no fewer than four “man tractors” from the 1960s and 1970s. A man tractor is one that was used on a real farm to pull the big equipment of the day. They are lined up side by side in the Quonset, but none of them is running. When he left the restaurant, he was going to go to the implement shop to get parts for one of the beasts.

I was in awe of the fact that Mike and Suzette not only have a Quonset to hold their collection, they have the old house on the farmstead that is full as well. My dream is to own a Quonset or machine shed some day. I am not worried about filling it.

More hobnobbing

Fred and I had dinner with my friend UND Professor Lucy Ganje and her daughter, Heather, Tuesday evening at the Toasted Frog, one of Grand Fork’s celebrated eateries. The food was awesome, and so was the lively conversation.

Lucy began helping at The Braddock News letterpress printing museum last fall, and she purchased one of the surplus hand-fed presses for the downtown studio she shares with two other artists.

The University of North Dakota is shutting down its printing plant, so the Professor and I hope to salvage some of the antique equipment, tools and other paraphernalia that is in the historic campus building. It was the original hangar and now houses the printing operation, the theater program and other smaller operations. We poked around in the attic as well as on the main floor and came away excited about the collection that could well be headed for the scrap yard. We hope to intervene to prevent a travesty from occurring.

Lucy gave me the grand tour of the studio which is in the former hospital building. She has the 12x18 letterpress she purchased from the association as well as a couple smaller presses, and she has been doing some beautiful work. Another of our common goals is to print postcards on the historic presses to sell at the threshing show and perhaps online. It is true. Letterpress Rules!

Back home

Fred, Bert and I met Leah’s plane in Bismarck Saturday afternoon. It was so good to see my bride come down the concourse. Had I been thinking, I would have greeted her with roses. Sans roses, she did get to see Bert who was waiting for her outside the terminal.

Fred helped me clean the house so that it no longer looked like a hippie bachelor pad, and I even did the laundry, using Leah’s high-tech washer which I had never before operated. Fortunately, Fred had and patiently trained me. Unfortunately, Leah knows I mastered the washer and dryer. In the past, I have been able to use ignorance as an excuse for not helping with the laundry.

Yup. A man can know too much.

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