One Big Happy At The Oval Table

Left to right:  Kevin Grinde, Ann Bailey, Naomi Dunavan, Chuck Haga, Gail Hand, Virg Foss

Virg Foss, Jeff Tiedeman with Ann Bailey in background

The kitchen is always the coziest and that’s where we were — for three hours – we knights of the oval table – reminiscing about the days when we all had desks or cubicles and our job was writing stories.

Virg Foss describes that time of our lives to a T. “We had some golden years at the Grand Forks Herald,” he said.

For 36 years, Virg was a sports writer for the Herald. He’s now retired, but from October through April, he writes a weekly column. On Jan. 4, he wrote about Bubba Schweigert coming back to UND as head football coach.

I LOVED that column and emailed Virg to tell him so. When he wrote back, among other things he said, “We alums from the Herald should get together for coffee or lunch once in a while, if not regularly.”

It’s not yet spring, but Virg had planted a seed!

I grabbed my nearest reporter’s notebook and started making a list followed by phone calls. Last Friday I was honored to have six of the “old family,” come to my house for morning coffee that spilled over into a light lunch. It was the most enjoyable three hours I’ve had in quite some time. I hope they all felt the same.

Some of us left the Herald for other opportunities, some are retirees, some were laid off and some still write a column for our former employer or articles for other venues. Whatever – the bond that goes way back remains intact.

Ann Bailey came bearing wonderful gifts: a loaf of bread her husband, Brian, baked and a dozen eggs from her chickens. We talked about the good times we had when Herald newsroom people were invited to Ann and Brian’s beautiful farm outside Larimore, N.D.

Chuck Haga, Jeff Tiedeman and Kevin Grinde brought their unique gifts of wit and wisdom. Gail Hand came with the same effervescent aura and exuberance for life that we all loved then and do to this day.

Both Gail and Ann are breaths of fresh air to me.

As always Virg was cloaked in his genuine and gentle niceness. Not only that, he had “show and tell.”

Virg brought two 8×10 photographs that are true treasures. One was taken in the fall of 1969 on football press day at UND. “I started at the Herald in June of 1969,” Virg told us, “so it was my first media day with the Sioux.”

Other media members he pointed out to us were Jim Adelson, Ed Kolpack, Bruce Tellmann, Doug Tegtmeier, Glenn Olson and Boyd Christiansen. Also on the picture is the late Ken Kleven, a Herald photographer who tragically died in an auto accident. What a blow that was to us who worked with and adored Ken.

And, there’s one more smiling face on the photo – a youthful Chuck Haga, who was a UND student at the time and working for the Fargo Forum.

How fun to see Chuck as he was then and also to see how young-at-heart he is today, especially when he speaks of his grandchildren. Incidently, collectively, we have more than 20 “grands” among us.

The other photo Virg brought was of the 1961-1962 hockey team at St. Olaf College when he was a senior there. “There were just 15 of us on the team,” he said, “and we played all our games outdoors.”

I would have been happy to have these former co-workers stay for dinner that night too, but in time they had to scatter and all to soon they were gone.

It’s energizing and uplifting to reconnect with former colleagues who are aging well. Deep down they are the same as they were when we rubbed elbows within the hallowed Herald halls. Yet again, Virg said it best. “It was a fun time getting caught up with some very good people.”

There were a few of us who couldn’t make the first gathering.

Just to let them know, Kevin Fee, Darrel Koehler, Mike Brue, Kate Sweeney, Jackie Lorentz, your attendance will be “required,” next time or your pay will be docked.

Until Soon