Response to Essay about Humboldt


John Marshall Law School Professor


The name of my town was Palisade - about 20 miles NE ofAitkin, 80 miles west of Duluth. 212 people when I was growning up, nowfewer, maybe 150. The school, which was built by my father, only went to8th grade - - 2 grades perroom. For high school, I rode a bus to Aitkin,more than 20 miles because the bus took all the back roads to pick up people. Aitkin was (is) a town of about 1,500, but the high school was quite large- - I think my graduating class was well over 100. Large, because it drewfrom such a broad area. Some kids had to ride the bus much longer thanI did.

The Lutheran church, which was built by my grandfather,was the center of things for me because it was the only place where my interests- - musical and intellectual - - were at all accommodated. And the pastorwas usually about the only person who had experience of the world outsideof the county. The school did not do well in this regard because most ofthe teachers where essentially housewives who had gone to 2 years of 'normal'school, which, at the time, qualified them to teach.

I do not have a romantic, or even very positive, view ofthe place now. But as soon as I say that, several people come to mind wholived in the town and made a significant contribution to my life. The Lindfamily - - you met Helgi at my birthday dinner - - ranked high on that list. But there were others too, natives, family, mostly the immigrant generation,my grandparents' generation.

The Linds were driven out of Estonia when the Russianscame in 1940 or thenabouts, lived under pursuit for several weeks, and finallyended up in Germany. They came to the US in about 1948, sponsored by LutheranWorld Relief, and were assigned by mother church to our parish because theirEnglish was not so good. There were a lot of people in the community whospoke Finnish, but there was no Finnish church, and Estonian was as closeas the Swedish church could come. An odd coincidence occurred when theywent back to Estonia in the early '90s for the first time in 50 years -- just as the USSR was breaking up. They were visiting there when the Russiansoldiers again came into Estonia and again they had to leave abruptly. They have been back several times since then.

My Danish grandmother was a towering woman, both in physicaland moral stature. She gave me more, I think, than she gave her 26 othergrandchildren. I am working on her Danish / English diaries, written whileshe was in a nursing home in the early 70s. I am planning to publish themin the (small) journal of the Danish American Society.

Of course you did not want to know all of this, but - -you started it.

DACd it.