Friday, May 23, 2014

WWII Military Museum - they can "talk" to us!

If they’re gone...
How can they "talk" to us?

  It’s the real stuff.  And it seems like these figures will talk to you.
Local soldiers from WWII are being honored in the coming holidays in Vince Cockriel’s “Cannon Falls Military History Museum” a couple miles southwest of Cannon Falls at 33504 Warsaw Trail.  Their uniforms and memorabilia have been donated by their families.

It might be a good idea to bring a collapsible camp stool along with you to the museum because there is so much to see that it’s overwhelming to stand and contemplate it all.

New exhibits from local families.

For starters, the walls are filled with $3000 worth of new posters showing the ideas and activities going on in WWII.

And there are 25 mannequins displaying uniforms and memorabilia of soldiers from WWII donated by their families.  Fourteen are local:  Bill Daniels, John Burch, Melvin Eckstrom, Donald Richardson, Robert Anderson, Randall Hughes, Edgar Olson, Loren Steenblock, Dorothy Daniels, Richard Dierke, Arthur G. Malon, Robert Midness, Arnold Sibbers and John G. Pasch.


And there are scrapbooks made by relatives or the soldiers to keep their mementoes and thoughts.
One is by Arthur G. Malon, the father of Joyce Malon Smith of Red Wing, MN.  He was on duty from Sept. 22, 1942 to April 6, 1946
Written in 1983... “As I Saw It...”  Malon recalls his first day as a Marine.  “...there were plenty of minutes when you prayed to God you were working back at Johnson’s Drug Store...”
In his first letters home to his wife he thought he must have sounded like they were convicts, “but way down deep we liked the stern attitude and businesslike order in which we were taught.”
And although he planned to write more about his later war experiences, T/Sgt. Arthur “Art” G. Malon never told about his tour of duty in the South Pacific and occupation at Tsingtao, China.  He died of a brain tumor in 2008.

A smidgen

But we do have a smidgen of his memories.  His monthly pay was $119.70.  He played catch on deck of his ship with Ted Williams - who became a major league baseball player! 
His “Worst memory: Start of War.  Best memory: War Over.”

They almost "talk"

As you view the uniforms and mementoes, they almost become alive again.  I was surprised that at 5 feet 6 inches I was taller than some of them.  They seemed so much bigger in the old war movies!

And you can almost hear their stories...  like when I saw the receipt one soldier had to fill out when he was being discharged.  He found out he would have to pay or reimburse the military unit he was in if he couldn’t account for his carbine, pistol, poncho, the pins for his tent or even a whistle!

I could almost hear him spouting off, “I’ve been living in a hole for a year and now when I’m getting out you expect me to pay for my whistle?” 

Maybe by studying these keepsakes the soldiers really are “talking” to us. 

More information is requested.

If you have information relating to local military persons please contact Vince Cockriel.  He would like information to fill in the stories of these war veterans.

This is the last year the museum will feature WWII mementoes.

The Cannon Falls Military History Museum is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Memorial Day Weekend, July 4th, Labor Day and Veterans Day Weekends or by appointment 507-263-3698.

Monday, May 19, 2014

"When you want to talk
and no one’s around"
Facebook friends were there for me!

A cold and rainy springtime plus a previous commitment took Paul away from setting up our annual Woodland Party this year... but I didn’t feel all alone.
As folks may know, the only place in the world that this endangered species of wildflower, the Dwarf Trout Lily, grows is on a few hundred acres in our river valleys.
Our time to see it is limited to only a couple of weeks each year because the little flower dissolves into the ground and hides until next year.  Unless we get more flooding and bank erosion and lose them altogether.
Folks are invited to our farm to see if they can find more colonies.  If so, we name them after the finder!   Last week I joined a group of  volunteers and Derek Anderson of the DNR to search.  It was cold and the little flowers were just budding out.  No one blamed them for hiding.

Visitors come...
  Other groups are welcome and we enjoy taking a walk in the woods with them.  Wangen Prairie Bible Study comes out each year and includes a little contemplation on the meaning the these flowers.  So far science hasn't found anything in the plants necessary for the human race.
But one thing we considered as to the importance of the little flower is that it is here for such a short time.  And points out to us the importance of being aware of the “moment”... taking time to “consider the lilies of the field”.
Although I wore my “Southern Belle” dress for the occasion, it had been so rainy that I didn’t put on my hoop skirt but chose my tall rubber farm boots to complete my outfit!
But the sun came out and many flowers started blooming across the forest floor.

All alone... or not!
Each year we have a Woodland Party.  We just invite anyone interested. Because Paul had his commitment - I was left alone to set up.
He promised to be back in time for the party!
But I had my Facebook friends to talk to!  Hey... nobody to complain to or laugh with out here!  So here’s how the day went.

Here’s what happened...
I checked the food... because it’s a party we have wine and cheese and juice and cookies... down by one of the flower sites along the Little Cannon River.  The supplies were ready to be toted down the trail.
I admit that I had thought that our treats would be a little more delicate than what we had bought.  Paul had picked up some wonderful “man-sized” cookies.
Because I didn’t think they fit the image of an old fashioned garden party I had asked him to pick up some more small cookies at the store.  He came home with two packages of Oreo cookies!  
Not quite what I was thinking!  They seemed more likely to accompany a glass of milk... but it was his party too!

Set up
Now - I’ve got to set up the display of pictures and art work that folks have done over the years after they have visited these flowers.
Then I’ve got to get the table and chairs and benches down to the river site.  This is accomplished by using Paul’s golf cart - which hasn’t seen a golf course for years.
The morning sun stayed out so I decided I could get some farm chores done... like getting the tractor out and dragging the horse pastures.

Facebook friends...
Taking mini breaks - I posted on Facebook:  OK - I'm finished with the tractor and dragging the horse pastures… now to change into Cinderella and put on my "southern belle" dress with hoop skirt to welcome our guests to see the endangered wildflower.
But there was a problem.  I came back inside and posted:  Oh, I just remembered… while dragging the fields I saw a tree had toppled over on the fencing for our stallion… Cinderella will have to wait… get the bow saw!
Next post:  OK - got the tree squared away… now another problem! What's with these "Southern Belle" dresses? I can't get the zipper pulled up all the way on the back!  Guess I’ll have to ask the first guest arriving to help me! 
 I don’t remember Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind dealing with this problem.   
And how do I drive a golf cart wearing a hoop skirt?   

Last post: The sun came out and Paul got back in time… I'm ready… IT'S SHOWTIME!

      (And if the lily is still blooming, stop by... we’ve got some Oreo cookies!)