Friday, February 28, 2014

Low tech boyfriend control

You can twist the candle up or down,
depending upon how long you want the suitor to stay.
When they showed us the antique courting candleholder, Stan thought, hey, we've got one of those weird things at our house. In the basement somewhere. We'd never heard of a courting candle before. Have you? Here's one explanation that comes from the Munck's Quiver blog.

In the 1600's to the 1800's, courting candles were used by the man of the home to set boundaries for his daughter. When the daughter's suitor came calling, the father lit the candle in a sitting room where the couple conversed. When the candle burnt to the metal at the top of the candle holder, it was time for the suitor to leave. However, the father could change the height of the candle based on how comfortable he felt about the suitor. Also, the father could immediately snuff out the candle or add a second candle depending on what he deemed necessary. The courting candle served as a quiet, yet firm reminder to the suitor to end his date.

When we got home we had a look at the candle holder in question. 

Kathleen was right. Turns out we never had a real courting candle holder. For that matter, we've never had much control over the time that our daughters spent "courting" either.

While it is unlikely that a candle holder would have helped us with that. . . it sure would have been fun to try. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A closer look at Stanley's namesake

Update: I asked my old Army buddy Bob Morecook, with service in both the active and reserve army, to look this story over. He had answered some questions about the stripes on Stanley's uniform and the roles of black troops. I asked about markings on the truck and the brass on Stanley's uniform. He kindly responded:

Hi Stan
Thanks for giving me some more implied questions to address.
His brass is NOT engineers. They have a small castle.
It appears to be Quartermaster Corps. The quartermasters AND transportation corps both had many black soldiers in them during WW2.
Regarding the truck markings.

I found a typical posting here

So I am going to call the marking 

Advanced Section Communications Zone 398th Regiment Headquarters - Truck Company - 
[TC MIGHT mean Transportation Corps but I cant find any reference to support this] - Truck 43

The 398th was probably either a quartermaster unit OR a transportation corps unit.
They often had black troopers and many officers were white.
All the best

Stanley Gunsten and Irene Rosengren probably in Moorhead, Minnesota in the mid-40s.
His sleeve insignia indicates 18 months of overseas service, which is about how long it took to train for and 
complete the invasion and retaking of Europe.
In 1947 Erling and Beverly Rolfsrud named their newborn after Erling's best friend, Stanley G. Gunsten. Beverly says her son has never met or even heard of Mr. Gunsten because Erling and Stanley had a falling out, a disagreement that was never settled. When Beverly discussed this with a daughter a few years ago, Beverly couldn't remember what the argument was all about. And both Erling and Stanley are dead.
Yesterday Stan found a page of photos his father had saved in a scrapbook of "Friends." The page was labeled "Stanley Gunsten." Fortunately, that's a very unique name, ideal for an internet search, and now we know a lot more about The Rev. Stanley G. Gunsten.
Stanley Gordon Gunsten was born Aug 18, 1917 in Fennimore, Wisconsin and died Aug 6, 2000.
In 1940, Stanley graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where Erling and Beverly earned their degrees.
Stan and Irene got married,
we presume
In 1944, Stanley was one of 10 Cobbers who participated in the invasion of Normandy, France, the climactic event of World War II in the European Theater. Erling was 4-F and did not serve, remaining as a married professor in charge of the commercial department at Concordia, while his wife finished her degree.
This photo from
St. Paul Lutheran history
Gunsten was ordained as a Lutheran pastor in 1949. We know this, because a Portland, Oregon, church history records: "A surprise commemorative service and reception for the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Ordination of Pastor Gunsten was observed on June 9, 1974." So far, we don't know what seminary he attended. (It was Erling's unfulfilled, yet oft-stated wish that his own Stanley be similarly ordained in the Lutheran Church.)
While a casual internet search didn't turn up a marriage announcement for Mr. Gunsten, it did reveal a newspaper item reporting that a baby shower was given for Mrs. Stanley Gunsten in 1954.
(A brief search for Irene Rosengren, the other, more common, name on the scrapbook page, was inconclusive.)
The Rev. Stanley Gunsten served the American Lutheran Church in parishes on the West Coast and his name appears as an officiant in obituaries and wedding stories in local papers. An example:
"Miss Sandra Warren, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. T. Warren of Richland, became the bride of Wayne Hinchen, son of the late T. E. Hinchen and Mrs,. Katherine H. Moore of Spokane, the afternoon of April 23 in Christ Luthern Church in Spokane. The Rev. Stanley G. Gunsten performed the double ring ceremony and Mr. Warren gave his daughter in marriage. She was attired in a floor length gown of antique satin with bouffant overskirt of embroidered lace and net: The fitted bodice was rich with applique of the lace and was finished. . ."
In 1953, Gunsten became the pastor at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Bremerton, Washington. There are two references to him in the history section of their newsletter.
There is a blurb in the 1962 Cheney Free Press (Cheney, near Spokane) concerning a funeral service in the "Medical Lake News" column:
"The Rev Stanley Gunsten, chaplain of Fairchild, officiated at the military service."
In 1969, Pastor Gunsten accepted a call (that's what pastors do… they aren't hired) to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon, a post he held for 13 years. The official church history reports: "Pastor Gunsten ably continued the needed spiritual leadership and guidance and, in addition, brought new vitality to the church. …
"In addition to his pastorate at St. Paul, Pastor Gunsten served actively as Chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel) in the U.S. Army Reserve."
(Interesting side note: "At a special congregational meeting on January 7, 1973, the constitution was amended permitting women to serve on the council.")
St. Paul's history continues: "In July 1982, Pastor Gunsten retired from active parish ministry. A special retirement service banquet was held for the Gunstens at which time they were presented with a congratulatory trip to the Hawaiian Islands. Pastor and Mrs. Gunsten upon retirement, moved to a home they had purchased in suburban Spokane, Washington."
This looks like a basic training formation. No one wears any stripes or labels. The man in front would be a temporary
Field Grade Sgt, but the man in charge would be the white guy at left who is not standing at attention.
Even more interesting to cold weather armchair detectives are the photographs of Mr. Gunsten in his Army uniform. There are many clues, but a clear picture does not emerge. In the two front yard photographs of what appears to be an officer on leave, Mr. Gunsten is a first (silver) or second (gold) lieutenant, it is not possible to tell in a black and white photograph. According to the Concordia records he was overseas, so that explains the "fruit salad" of medals over his breast pocket.
His uniform has three overseas stripes, one for each six months of service, which would indicate that he spent a year and a half in Europe. Perhaps the photograph was taken shortly after his return and before the birth of Erling's son in 1947?
We know that later in life Pastor Gunsten was a chaplain in the Army Reserves and earned the rank of Lt. Col. He was ordained in 1949, so did he become a chaplain at that time?
But the most interesting photographs are the other two. In an attitude that lingers to this day, black men were considered unfit for leadership roles, except for other black men. Over 125,000 blacks served overseas in World War II and 708 were killed, but usually, in the ultimate Affirmative Action program, they were under the ultimate command of a white overseer. For the most part, they were kept out of combat roles, more likely to be found in support motor pools, supply and maintenance. There were many black officers leading the all-black units -- even a rare black general. Harry Truman put an official end to segregation in the Army in 1948.
Two of Erling's photos show black men in the Army. One is a platoon-sized unit of 18 slick-sleeved privates in formation, perhaps in basic training, with one white man, we assume to be Lt. Gunsten. The other photo is with an Army vehicle, presumably being worked on by a black mechanic with Lt. Gunsten in the foreground -- although Gunsten may be a Major, or even Lt. Colonel, it's hard to see the cap insignia, but it looks roundish. If he's had a promotion, this photo was probably taken in the states, since he was a lieutenant after 18 months overseas.
Where has this truck been? Who's fixing it?
Is that a Major or Lt. Col. rank insignia?
The truck is assigned to the 398th, according to the lettering on the bumper. That could have been the 398th Engineer Regiment that distinguished itself in France and Luxembourg, building bridges, warehouses, repairing bomb damage to railroads and harbors. Was Stan Gunsten ever associated with that 398th? The 398th history doesn't mention him on its roster of officers.
So all we know for sure is that Gunsten provided white leadership to a segregated unit somewhere, maybe in basic training, maybe in the reserves, we don't know.
We do know that over his lifetime he witnessed an historic shift in attitudes about black men leading white men which culminated, shortly after his death, in a black man being chosen by a majority, twice, to be the most powerful leader in the world.
It would have been interesting to hear the old pastor's perspective on all that.
She's wearing his overseas cap with a lieutenant bar on it, probably recently earned.
The house may be Erling and Bev's place in Moorhead, we'll see.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Intriguing page from Dad's scrapbook

This is a page from one of Erling N. Rolfsrud's many scrapbook collections, this one labeled "Friends." Cold weather makes a great time to dig through forgotten stuff. Stan and his late father never had a conversation about a possible namesake, but just think about it, would you seriously name someone Stanley if you didn't have a very good reason to do so? We know about Rebecca, Agnes and Virgil. Could Mr. Gunsten be Stan's namesake? Google says he died in 2000 at the age of 83, little else is known so far. Who is Stanley Gunsten? Looks like he married Irene Rosengren. Will Mom remember a Stanley Gunsten? And who are the Army guys in the photo? Let's find out. Research under way.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Kindergarten Ready!

Great great grandfather
Paul Brown
Kaia Rolfsrud (Ford and Jenn's daughter-- Steve and Nancy's granddaughter) got an introduction to kindergarten and liked it a whole lot. Check out their blog on the right for details. Meanwhile, we just love seeing her smile and think we can follow its genes for generations.

Monday, February 24, 2014

We went out to eat today

It's a big hot dog. Could have split one… but we splurged.
Busy day for a couple of retired folks. Our granddaughter made a quick trip to the emergency room, she's okay, extreme flu symptoms, some dehydration, she's home now, poor dear. She's sleeping, so that's good.
Looked in on Mom at Kell Avenue, she's fine. The new house is ready for residents two doors down. Bev, Lillian and Curt are fine. Jill and Marcia too. Had to work on their crossword puzzle. They were too busy to do it.
Got the U.S. mail restarted, newspaper restarted. Sold our broken Schwinn Airdyne exercise bike on Craigslist to a guy from Plymouth who says he knows how to fix it.
Downton Abbey finale last night did not disappoint. We were just laughing that we left for New Orleans the morning after the season began, we returned in time for last night's season finale. Downton Bookends, as it were.
Mom had hot dogs too. Kind of got us in the mood.
We got a load of frozen goods for Dan and Steve at Costco, and while there availed ourselves of the bargain lunch, a pair of all beef hot dogs and two soft drinks for $3. (There just weren't quite enough free samples available in the aisles to make up a balanced noon meal.)
Company's coming tonight.
Some bad news today: Wayne in International Falls reports that his snowblower has broke down. The cable is shot, couldn't take the constant pressure. The repair shop is all backed up, says he can't get to it right now.
There's too much to shovel. Wayne and Mary Ann are heading to Mexico, they've had it.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

And Harvey Korman as The Captain

It was difficult to not think of Carol Burnett's famous spoof of Scarlet O'Hara as we admired these window treatments hanging in the front room of the Big House at a Louisiana sugar cane plantation.
Photo by Stan Rolfsrud
Back in Minnesota this morning, Stan and Kathleen slid their way to breakfast at the racetrack, just to see if
everything was as they had left it. Over coffee, awaiting eggs medium, Stan asked: "What do you remember most about New Orleans?" Kathleen responded with one word: "Trees."

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sosie, do you know about this?

We don't know if the preacher in question was in favor of slavery or against it, but we do know that the Missouri Compromise passed in 1820 allowed slavery in Missouri, and according to this marker in Palmyra, Missouri, that is the date the first preaching in the county occurred. The stonecutting budget didn't allow for greater detail, so we're left to wonder as to what the text of the sermon spoken here that day may have been, the Holy Bible being somewhat non-committal on the subject of slavery.
The marker reads:
 "1820  1934, site of the first Preaching in County, Erected by Mt. Zion Ladies."
We stumbled onto this stone oddity today on our way home from New Orleans.  It was located at an obscure wayside rest at a convenient spot for travelers with a dog who needed to get out.
The wayside rest provided a welcome respite from our northward journey, apprehensive as we were about the miseries of Minnesota's Friday morning blizzard and warnings we had been given about the treacherous condition of the roadways.
When we arrived at the border, we were pleased to see dry and clear roads, cleared by diligent government workers just in time for our Saturday evening arrival.
We saw a convoy of about two dozen orange snowplows returning to Iowa at about 4 pm., made us wonder if there is some kind of mutual aid pact going on.
We arrived home at 6 p.m. tonight, safe and sound. Thank you!

Not much to report, despite a nasty Friday am. blizzard. Hey. This is not Atlanta!

First Street

Don't forget Archie's third son, Cooper, whose promising football career ended in college with a spine injury.

Columns were replaced after one
owner tried to completely change
the style of the house.
Archie Manning's Super Bowl winning sons, Eli and Peyton, were raised here on 1405 First Street. Archie never won the Big One quarterbacking the New Orleans Saints. He played briefly for the Minnesota Vikings back in the 70s. There are at least three local restaurants bearing the family name.
A more interesting house on First Street, however, is the one right across the street. A wealthy cotton farmer started the Pritchard house in 1858 and took many years to complete it. The large Greek columns were removed by another owner in the 1900s, but were restored in the 1990s by Dr. John Piggot. It's now one of the few examples of Greek Revival in the area, the grand columns making the house appear larger than it really is.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fair warning

We checked in to our Cape Girardeau, Missouri, hotel tonight and were enjoying a rack of baby backs when our Shakopee neighbor Tom chimed in with this cheerful photo of our front yard, apparently taken from the warmth of his vehicle late this afternoon. To put the best spin on it, it is good to see that the driveway has been cleared so we've got a clear shot into the garage tomorrow night.
Just in time to enjoy the Polar Vortex.

Overheard at the Audubon

"Hey Artie, Come here."
"A Rabbi, a Priest, and a Minister Walk Into a Bar.
Then a horse walks in. The bartender says "'Why the long face?'"

"Hey Artie, come back here. Artie! C'mon. . ."

King Vultures, photos by Stan Rolfsrud. 
When the King Vulture arrives at a carcass feeding site, other New World vultures give way. The King Vulture has the largest skull and braincase, and strongest bill of the New World vultures. This bill has a hooked tip and a sharp cutting edge. The bird has broad wings and a short, broad, and square tail. The irises of its eyes are white and bordered by bright red sclera. Unlike some New World vultures, the King Vulture lacks eyelashes. It also has gray legs and long, thick claws. -- Wikipedia.

Home bound across Pontchartrain this time

Here's the view of Lake Pontchartrain from space. We are residing in the bottom center of the white area, which is the developed area of New Orleans. We arrived here six weeks ago by driving around the western shore of the lake on I-55. We'll return on the causeway across the middle of the lake, which is slightly visible as a straight line in the satellite photo above. They only charge a toll for southbound drivers, we'll use the free 24-mile long northbound causeway when we depart in the morning and avoid the usual morning southbound rush. The bridge is the longest in the world over water and can have spectacular sunsets to break the boredom of the ride.
Severe thunderstorms here last night, calm today. Blizzard in Minnesota. We'll give them a couple days to clean up Minnesota before the big polar vortex settles in. We hope to slip in through the weather window.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Morning Call

Photo by Stan Rolfsrud
The boys and girls of the French Immersion Charter School at St. Francis of Assisi in Uptown love Birdie and run to the fence whenever she comes by on her morning rounds. There are 74 private schools in New Orleans, 139 public; student/teacher ratio is 14:1.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Reasonable terms, cash or credit, 133 Baronne Street, New Orleans

The Free Market determined prices for slaves. Supply and demand, cotton futures, anticipated return on investment, and other factors came into play. In 1850, a properly terrorized field worker, depending on his condition and age,  could bring as much as $27,000 in today's dollars, or roughly equivalent to the price of  a new Ford Escape.
A one-armed 67 year old? Not so much.
Here is 133 Baronne Street today, downtown, just off Canal Street

Hiking today in Minnesota

It was warm enough to hike in Northfield today, so out they went. Our daughter Jennifer with her pals Jeanine and James. We'll be home Saturday night, hope to squeeze into the window between Thursday's blizzard and Monday's Polar Vortex.

A challenge from Mother's fellow-funseekers

At 11:28 a.m. we received this urgent text message and photo from the Mall of America Underwater Exhibition.

Text: "Hello from Kell! We want to see how long it takes for this picture to get on the blog!"

Hang in there Mom! Help is on the way! We'll be home this weekend if you can just hold on 'til then!
Based on information received so far, Stan's 93-year-old mother is being attacked by a deadly Sting Ray and her co-funseekers are seeking immediate help or advice. All we can say, whatever you do,  Don't pull on its tail!
It's obviously a Big Day for the Citizens of Welcome Home, Kell Avenue. We would run a staff photo here as well, but we don't have one yet where camera shy Jill's face isn't obscured.

The Colony at Gilmore Park

A flock of talkative Brazilian parrots have migrated to Gilmore Park and made it their home. The noisy nest builders were yakking away this morning as Stan and Birdie walked beneath, unsure of what all the fuss was about. The resident expert on her morning stroll was quite sure of the Brazil story. She didn't know if they were speaking in Portugese, however.
We'll see if we can get confirmation and identification today at the nearby Audubon Aviary.
Perhaps they're not migrants. . . just escapees.
Gilmore Park is a neighborhood association just down from the Patois Restaurant at Webster and Laurel.
They've claimed this palm and are building an active community here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Run, Forrest! Run!

Photo by Kathleen Rolfsrud
This iconic grove of 300-year-old live oaks was not the setting for "Forrest Gump." That was somewhere else, nor was it the location for "12 Years A Slave," that was shot at a private plantation site two doors down.
"Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte" was shot here, so was "Primary Colors," as well as parts of television shows "The Long Hot Summer," "Days of Our Lives," "The Young and The Restless," and so on.
We spent a pleasant day here today at the Oak Alley Plantation, took an hour-long tour of the Big House where the Head Job Creator officed when not away at his New Orleans digs.
We then walked out back to look in on the 99 per centers.
Slaves built this entire gorgeous mansion from scratch, molding bricks from Mississippi mud into 16-inch walls and massive pillars, even creating astonishing faux marble fireplace fronts. Docents (ours was an ex-high school teacher who said she enjoyed finally having people actually listen to her) did an excellent job of interpreting this complex socio-economic system.
Cane sugar, entirely produced by forced labor, was the singular output of the region. Too wet here for cotton. Product was finished on site, floated downriver to New Orleans, then on to sweeten the tea in global luxury markets.

Dining room with faux marble fireplace; the be-tasseled fabric over the table is an elegant punka,
hinged from the high-ceiling, swung during dinners by a slave pulling on a rope from the corner.

"Of Such Is The Kingdom of Heaven"

Died of Yellow Fever

Born Aug. 29th 1878
Died Aug. 30th 1878

Born Oct 7th 1876
Died Aug. 30 1878

Born Dec 3rd 1873
Died Aug 31 1878

Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven

+ + + + + 

We saw a plethora of poignant and historic sights amongst the crowded above-ground burial units in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, but none as bizarre, if not crass, as the sight of a huffing and puffing jogger casually working her way down and back through the final resting places of the New Orleans deceased.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Afternoon stroll in the Garden District

Sandra Bullock's home since 2007, the Koch-Mays house at 2627 Coliseum, is just a few doors down from the Commander's Palace Restaurant. The most interesting feature of Bullock's house (above) is how the three main sections are staggered to maximize their exposure to sunlight.
In 1880, Emile Commander opened a saloon across from the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 on Washington. It was visited by such famous clients as Jefferson Davis and Mark Twain. Still one of the top restaurants in the country, its classic exterior takes up half a city block.
Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30 to 2 p.m.; Dinner 6:30 to 10; Jazz Brunch, Sat & Sun 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dress Code: No shorts or t-shirts. Jackets preferred at dinner. Men must wear closed-toed shoes. Menu by clicking here.
See another reason to wear closed-toed shoes below.
Strolling on a sight-seeing tour through any part of New Orleans is fun, but keep one eye on the sidewalk. Tree roots constantly destroy infrastructure everywhere here and maintenance is spotty at best. Our neighbor spent an
evening at urgent care and a day with a dentist after, as her smart-ass brother remarked, she broke a fall with her face. Nasty.

St. Charles to Carrollton

Oddly, unlike the bus on Magazine, most riders are white.
Vintage windows were flung wide open on the world's oldest continuously operated street car line today. Temperatures in the 70s persisted throughout the evening, aided by gentle southern breezes off the gulf. We took our first ride on this legendary line, a must for New Orleans tourists, and at 40 cents for seniors a practical choice to get to Camilla's for an omelette and a ham and corn beef muffeletta. We didn't want to leave town without taking a ride, so we picked it up in front of Tulane University after a brisk walk through Audubon Park. A lot more fun than a bus ride. Just why is that?

Our street car was somehow delayed so the next one caught up with it. Could this be caused by confused tourists
without exact change who wonder where Broadway is? Perhaps. Drivers exhibit the patience of Job. Well done.

You might want to stay a little longer. . .

We received an email advisory this afternoon from our dear Shakopee neighbor.

To: Stan and Kathleen
From: Sandy Story
Subject: You might want to stay a little longer. . .

I hope all is well in the sunny south. We got more snow this morning. I haven't heard a Shakopee total, but Chanhassen got 6". I have at least that much in front of the garage door, but it was blowing around quite a bit this a.m.
Our trusty snowplow folks haven't made it here yet but "it's only a bunch of old folks with no place to go."
It is piling up in front of your house ... See photo
You might want to take your time heading back north.
Sandy doesn't do Photoshop. . . but she knows a good camera angle when she sees one on the way to the mailbox.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mardi Gras warmup on a sunny afternoon

It can be hard to organize a one-float parade, even if you've been organized since 1890. Just sayin'

What the hell just happened?
Buzzard Queen and Royal Court
The wagon provides music as well
as nourishment for the marchers
Stan and Birdie were relaxing in their front yard on a sunny day, minding their own business at the corner of Constance and Webster, when they heard police sirens and horns off in the distance. Then, out of nowhere, two of New Orleans' finest arrived on rumbling police motorcycles to block off the intersection.
Stunned, Stan gathered his senses, climbed out of the lawn chair, opened the camera and leaned over the fence. By now an American flag and loud music was approaching. The flag bearer wore sneakers, a ruffled satin open-back dress and full-figure falsies. Which would be fine, but Old Glory was definitely being waved by a man.
Surprise! It's the Jefferson City Buzzards, est. 1890.
Don't you just hate it when you have to
stop in the middle of a parade to
adjust your brassiere?
We didn't get the memo.
The Buzzards, it would seem, is an elite krewe of muddy cross-dressers who parade around on Sunday afternoons in lipstick and beads, marching, yelling and drinking something through a straw. About 100 of these gentlemen surrounded a rustic wooden float -- mounted with speakers and pulled by an ancient Farmall tractor -- and sallied past our vantage point today. Quicker than you could say "Jack Daniels," the parade was over.

Their only unified message, shouted over the recorded din, seemed to be "Buzzards Forever!" or something like that.
Buzzards Forever!
It is difficult at times for a Northern boy, unaccustomed to overwrought exuberance on a Sunday afternoon, to comprehend such enthusiasm, and worse, Kathleen was away at the convenience store for ice cream and now he would have to somehow explain to her what she had missed.
Not to worry. The Buzzards route took a Louie off Magazine Street and Kathleen got a full dose of Nancy and his pals. Our novitiate was presented with a bright paper flower, which she proudly carried home with the ice cream bars.
For the record, she was not required to flaunt anything to earn it.

You can't run a manly Farmall tractor while wearing a dress.