Of Colleagues And Crocuses

A wise old man once told me, “You’re a farm girl, you can do anything,” as he placed a boot on the bottom rung of a barbed wire fence taking it nearly to the ground.

At the same time, with gloved hand, he pulled up on the top rung of barbs providing a safe crawl space for me to enter his lilac and golden yellow crocus laden prairie pasture.

For several springs during my Grand Forks Herald writing days, the late Herb Krueger, longtime farmer from Niagara, N.D., stopped by the Herald with a bouquet of crocus for me.

One spring, after I was no longer at the Herald, Herb and his late wife, Lovila, called and invited me to their farm to pick my own crocuses. After a lovely lunch and the fun of seeing Lovila’s elaborate button collection, Herb and I left for the pasture in his pickup.

The Kruegers had been faithful readers of my Herald column. I had written about growing up on a farm near Newburg, N.D., so that’s why Herb said what he did.

Little did he know, from that day forward, my motto has been, “you’re a farm girl, you can do anything.”

I never really knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. My mother wanted me to be a librarian. She thought that the most honorable position a young woman could hold.

I do, however, know this for sure: never in my wildest dreams did I think about writing stories of people’s lives much less working for a newspaper. Journalism had never entered my mind.

But oh my, had I not, what I would have missed!

After high school, I completed a two-year business/secretarial program at Minot State University (then Minot State Teachers College). My first job was as a stenographer in the Installment Loan Department at Minot’s American State Bank. Taking shorthand was my first love instilled in me by my high school shorthand teacher, Bob Hunskor. Some will remember Bob as a winning Class B boys basketball coach.

When Boeing came to Minot Air Force Base for the Minuteman Missile Program, it hired me away from the bank and eventually I was transferred to Cheyenne, Wyo., where I met my husband, Jim, also employed by Boeing.

With more transfers, Boeing brought us to Grand Forks Air Force Base, but when it was time to move on again, we just couldn’t. We loved it here and our elementary school aged sons needed roots. We quit Boeing, Jim went into Real Estate and I was hired by the Herald as a news clerk for the features department.

After six years of news clerking, Editor Mike Jacobs called me to his office to inform me I was being promoted to a writer who would have a byline. It was wonderfully scary news. Thus under the guidance of Gail Hand, then features editor, my writing career began.

Those of us who worked at the Herald in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s and 1990s,  thoroughly enjoy the times we can get together. We did that last Friday morning during a reunion breakfast in the Herald’s community room. Still vivid are the memories as we are about to mark the 20th anniversary of the Flood of 1997.

Along with Mike Maidenberg, former publisher, now living in California, and Jim Durkin, here from the Twin Cities, other local retirees and current Herald employees, we hugged and huddled for photos.

We revisited many flood pictures and reminisced about the places we set up shop while our downtown offices were being rebuilt.

Through it all we never missed publishing a daily paper and in the end received the Pulitzer Price for public service provided to our readers. We have all that in common. It’s our bond.

The day I drove to the Krueger farm near Niagara to pick wild prairie crocuses turned out to be a true carpe diem (Seize the Moment) day. Same goes for the times we former and current Herald colleagues get together again.

Someone always mentions the “family,” we were back then. In many ways we still are.

Until Soon

Tip of my hat to Marsha Johnson and Sue Lindlauf, current Herald employees, who threw a great early morning reunion.