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This is for real. Happy ….

This is for real. Happy …. This is for real. Happy ….

This is for real. Happy New Year! While the new year hasn’t passed the 100-hour mark yet, it is officially 2020 and let it all happen.

The biggest change is that the mild temperatures have melted all the snow that hung on our tree branches after the big snow on Dec. 30. I’m wondering if this is our January thaw, or is there more to come?

A couple of big events this year. For sure an election and hopefully we can once again return to our democratic way of doing things.

Then there will be high school graduations and once again I’ll see some of my great-grandchildren growing up.

The major league baseball season will begin, but not before some lucky people get to take in a spring training game. And that will be coming up next month already.


I did make one more trip to Holmen before the New Year started to see Sue and Mark. I had mentioned that her son John and friend Breanna were coming and John had big plans. I guess you could say we knew all about it except Breanna. She and John have been going together for seven years, but there was college to finish, then get a good job and finally the trip back to Holmen.

I never expected to be writing about the historic Seven Bridges just north of Holmen again, but as it turned out, it just happened to be one of John’s favorite places from when he grew up a few miles south. He took Breanna for a walk and at one of the bridges, proposed to her and gave her a diamond. So it was indeed a good reason to go.


Gaining a new granddaughter isn’t the only family acquired over the holidays. Tyler Steinke presented greatgranddaughter Victoria Dietsche with a diamond as well, so I also gained a greatgrandson in the deal.


The trip to Holmen did get postponed for a day as I sat out the big snowstorm on Monday.

What a picturesque day to take a drive on Tuesday. The roads in the morning were a bit snow covered but the countryside, especially between Neillsville and Merillan, could only be described as a winter wonderland.


This afternoon, with nothing rushing, I decided I could use a dozen eggs. It is one of those mysteries of life I guess. One dozen eggs cost me all of 49 cents. I told the young man who waited on me that I had a Sunday paper route years ago. I had it arranged so my last stop was at my friend Otto Becker’s parents. Otto would generally be home when I came and he treated me to breakfast. Then I would trade him the Sunday paper for a dozen eggs. I don’t know what eggs were at the time, but 49 cents for a Sunday paper today doesn’t even come close to comparable. Seems to me I paid $4 for the last one I bought.


I don’t consider myself a musical person. Yet there are a couple of songs that I always thought were my favorites. Ghost Riders in the Sky has got to be one of them and that dates back a few years. I think it was Vaughan Monroe who made it so famous.

Another Country Western song that I like is The Tennessee Waltz and I recall roller skating to that in my teens. The other day I ran across a magazine article which told the whole story. And the best part about it, I learned, it was written by a man from Wisconsin. Ever hear of Julius Frank Anthony Kuczynski? I hadn’t either, much less his stage name of Pee Wee King. All this was covered in a story in the Our Wisconsin magazine, which I know many of you read.

He was born in Milwaukee, but in later years claimed the little town of Abrams, Wis. as his home. He was kind of adopted by the folks around there and he liked it too.

He grew up in a Polish home, in fact the article said he only spoke Polish when he was young. His father worked in a tannery in Milwaukee and played the violin and concertina and had a little band. Frank started in his father’s footsteps and learned to play the harmonica at age eight. That was followed by the violin and concertina. Then came the accordion and at age 15 he had his own little four-piece band.

He became pretty well known in that corner of Wisconsin when a big break came. Gene Autry was touring the country and some of his band got hurt in a car accident. So a call came for Pee Wee to help out. He had to ask who Gene Autry was, but it was a good start. When Gene went back to Hollywood he moved to Nashville.

According to the article, he and his lead singer in his band, Rod Stewart, were driving from Texarkana to Nashville and wrote the Tennessee Waltz on a match box on the way. It was Patti Page who picked up on the song and really made it famous.


Years ago I had the opportunity to see Gene Autry in person. It was 1948, the year I graduated from high school. I was living in St. Paul at the time and still carless. That meant the street car for transportation.

Another classmate of mine was also living in the Twin Cities and we decided to take in a big rodeo that was going to be taking place at the St. Paul Auditorium. As a bonus, we saw there would be free tickets to Gene’s radio program, which I always listened to.

We waited in line to get in the auditorium and when the doors opened we pushed forward. Once inside the door we started looking for tickets and finally spied an usher. He didn’t know where to get tickets, but added, “You are inside now”. We discovered tickets to the radio program were free and we were in.

It was probably the only big time radio program I got to see live and it was interesting how sound effects were utilized in the program.

After the program, we got our tickets to the rodeo and discovered we had front row seats. The rodeo had been there a week, so I suppose the demand was pretty well down.

Once again it was fun to watch and was billed as Gene Autry’s Championship Rodeo.

Fast forward a lot of years and I attended a newspaper conference in Houston, Texas. Well, you know, Texas is where times are suppose to be big. As part of the conference we had a Texas barbecue. I guess the big meant the plate of baked beans we had.

Then came the rodeo. It was kind of like attending the Memorial Day 500 Mile Race at Indianapolis and then coming home to a backyard stock car race. So much for everything in Texas being bigger and better.