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Off the Editor’s Desk – 5-13-2015

Each week we mail this newspaper, not only to our loyal subscribers, but we send a copy of our publications to about a dozen or so weekly papers in our area. They are called exchanges and this keeps me up to date on what is going on around the area.

But, we also exchange with the weekly newspaper at Minneota, Minnesota, a small town down in the southwestern corner of Minnesota near the South Dakota border. How did that come to be, well, the publisher of the Minneota Mascot is Byron Higgin. I got to know Byron when he worked for the newspaper at Grantsburg, WI. Byron and Shawn decided that it would be a good idea to exchange and I am glad as I found this very interesting story he published.

In his weekly paper of a couple of weeks ago, a story appeared about 87-year-old Lawrence Buysse complete with a picture of Lawrence sitting on a big rock that he apparently sat on during his youth to watch the coal fired steam trains switch in the yard. “The trains carried coal and lumber and also freight west and returned later in the day with grain and livestock going east to market,” Buysse said. He also related that as a prank, the kids would grease the rails so the stream engine could not get traction to get moving. This must have been a prank that was not limited to Minneota, because my father told of the local boys greasing the tracks in his hometown of Birnamwood, WI. That continued until the railroad detectives came to town.

What drew my attention to the story were Buysse’s comments about growing up and getting firearms from his father. “At the age of ten, every boy would make his own slingshot, we would go around breaking all the glass bottles we could find,” he said.

“At the age of 12, your parents would let you have a BB gun.” Buysse continued, “My job was to shoot at the neighbor dog Buster because he would do the three legged squat on my dad’s new evergreen trees he had planted. BBs were five cents a tube.”

“At the age of 14, you got a .22 caliber rifle. Shells were 20 cents for 50 shots, either long or shorts.”

“When you turned 16 years of age, you got your first shotgun for pheasant hunting, a license would cost you $1,” Buysse remembered.

Things were no different growing up in southern Minnesota than they were here in Western Wisconsin.

Buysse concluded with this little tidbit: “My best lifetime education came from the school of Hard Knocks and I don’t even have a school loan to pay back.”

A couple of other exchange items that I thought might be of interest to our readers is one from the Bloomer Advance: Ten cars being pulled by Union Pacific engines derailed just north of 64 in the Town of Bloomer on March 28th. This was the fourth frac train derailment in Chippewa County this year.

Also from the Spring Valley newspaper is that the old nursing home at Spring Valley was razed by burning recently. That gave firefighters much need training. Apparently, the building was owned by the village and they tried to sell it and even give it away to someone who could make use of it, but to no avail. A few years ago a new facility was constructed on the west side of the village.

Thanks for reading! — Carlton