It’s time to start enjoying the outdoors

Published 2:05pm Saturday, April 27, 2013

Just the other day, I was finally able to do a little yard work and that in itself felt pretty good. Now I know that doing yard work is not a newsworthy tidbit of information, but as I was cleaning up the yard waste, it dawned on me that the cart that I was using to haul it away was a real relic. It’s rusty and the paint that is still there is covered with old cement. Looking back, I can remember that it was originally green with orange trim. I believe it was originally purchased by my aunt and uncle at the old Gambles store up town, which today would be referred to as downtown. When I was growing up, whenever the folks that I knew were going to town, they were going up town. Example: “I’m going up town for a while; be back in a bit.” Maybe my family was just a little bit dysfunctional or some might shrug it off as us just being Norwegian, but that’s what we called it.

When I was a kid, going to town was a big event that usually took place on Saturday mornings. I can remember going to town with my mom and aunt to buy groceries, and there was a store called National Tea located near the post office. What made that store unique was that it had a drive-in parking garage. I remember how much fun I thought that was when I’d get to go along and we’d park in that garage. I looked forward to helping my mom unpack the groceries when we got home, anticipating anything that a kid might like. Cereal was usually the most kid-friendly thing she would buy, and that would consist of Wheaties — the breakfast of champions — corn flakes or shredded wheat, which came in only one size back then.

Getting back to the cart, I can remember my Aunt Ruby, who was the original owner of the cart, yelling at my cousin Tom for pushing me around the yard in that very same cart. I find it hard to believe that I was ever that small. My Aunt Ruby and Uncle Harvey Christensen lived right next door to us on Bridge Avenue. They had a nice big yard which they really kept quite nice. As a kid, I spent a lot of time at their house and they would usually let us kids play in the front yard if the conditions were right. If the ground was wet or soft, Aunt Ruby would come out and shoo us off; but if it was dry, she would usually leave us alone to play. We mainly played football in that yard, because it was big and flat, so we had plenty of room to run.

Once in a while, Uncle Harvey would take me golfing at Green Lea. Of course I’d start out as his caddie, and when we’d get away from the clubhouse, he’d let me golf with his clubs. I thought that was pretty neat, but as I remember, those clubs were pretty heavy for a kid to carry for nine holes. That was the first time that I had ever heard someone yell “Fore,” and I actually had to have my uncle explain what it meant.

There were times in the early spring when he would take me fishing for bullheads at Pickerel Lake. We’d fish from the shore for those whiskered ones. Back then, you would park right alongside U.S. Highway 69 and fish the shoreline. In the spring of the year, the banks would be lined with folks hoping to fill a bucket with that early spring delicacy. It was fun, and I felt good about it, because I was being treated to a short fishing trip to a lake I didn’t normally get to fish.

There was a period of time when my uncle had a little office up on Broadway Avenue where he sold used cars. When I got a little older, he would sometimes find little odd jobs for me to do. I believe that the actual car lot was on the south part of town, but he kept that uptown office, which was very narrow and very small. It was located somewhere in the area where the old cigar store once was. I would ride my bike to town, and occasionally he would have me sit in the office and answer the phone whenever he needed to go somewhere. Come to think of it, I don’t remember if anyone ever did actually call while I was there. Most days he would have me ride my bike to the car lot and wipe the dust off the cars so that they would be nice and shiny in hopes of catching the eye of a perspective customer. I don’t believe that I got paid very much for doing that, but I didn’t really care, because it made me feel like I had a real job.

Now that the lakes are open and the weather is actually warming up, it’s time to scratch that fishing itch. This is a good time for perch, crappies and sunnies — not to mention the whiskered ones. Live bait is usually the key to early ice out fishing success, because the water is still cold. So slow presentation and live bait should work well for those hungry fish.

The May meeting of Crossroads Chapter 54 of Muskies Inc. will be 7 p.m. May 8 at the Eagles Club in Owatonna. Our speaker will be our chapter member Rodger Larson, who guides on Leech Lake. He will give his thoughts on what worked last summer and what you can expect this summer. Rodger will take your questions and give answers. Our meetings are the second Wednesday of every month, and they include informative speakers, updates, door prizes, a raffle and plenty of musky talk! Bring a friend. You do not need to be a member to attend. Help support musky fishing in southern Minnesota.

Until next time take a little time to enjoy our great Minnesota outdoors.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.


Dick Herfindahl’s column appears in the Tribune each Sunday.