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Random thoughts flow as tide ebbs on sunny shores

Dear Shirley, If all goes according to plan, I should be sitting on a beach in Mexico today. In spring, summer and fall, I would just as soon stay in North Dakota. In January, February or March, I like a break. This is a break to a sunny spot, an...

Dear Shirley,

If all goes according to plan, I should be sitting on a beach in Mexico today. In spring, summer and fall, I would just as soon stay in North Dakota. In January, February or March, I like a break.

This is a break to a sunny spot, and when you sit in the shade, you have time to let your mind wander. You can think of the teachers you had in grade school and the friends you knew in first grade. I remember Junior Stevens and Kathleen Miller because I walked to school with them. Sometimes I wonder where I would be now if I had taken a different path at forks in the road.

What if I had taken that job at the Salt Lake City Tribune-Telegraph instead of going to the American News at Aberdeen, S.D., when I graduated from the University of South Dakota years ago? I would probably have married someone out there in Utah instead of Jack Hagerty. What if you had stayed in Pierre instead of going to California when you finished high school? You probably never would have met Frank Shinn.

When you are away from home and you have time to stare at the waves washing onto the shore, you can think of so many things. You know what, Shirley? I think eating contests are crude. I think they set a bad example of gluttony. And I think it would be fun to go on a trip with a long-haul truck driver. Once I went with a woman driver to Winnipeg to unload some fruit. And once, I rode with a trucker to Duluth to unload some grain.

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That's my idea of adventure. When I am away from Grand Forks, I think of the old Metro-politan Opera House building downtown, still standing brave and strong and mostly empty. I wish something could be done to bring it back to life. I know that is pretty far-fetched. I wish sometimes there could be a good train service between Grand Forks and Winnipeg and some daytime trips to the Twin Cities.

Sometimes I think of the golf courses in Grand Forks and wonder when they will open again. I wonder when the last snowdrift will melt in Grand Forks and if there still will be Christmas trees on the berms in April. I wonder what the new Grand Forks airport will look like and if it still will be called Mark Andrews International. It seems to me that dogs don't hold grudges and there are no ugly babies.

Sometimes I think about bridge games, Shirley. It seems to me the best players are also those who are most pleasant when they play. After all, it should be a sociable event. And then I think of the Grand Forks street crews. I think we should have a party for them down by my lift station at the corner of 15th and Belmont Road. I would bake a cake. They deserve it for all the good work they have done this winter. They sure do a better job than you find in some other cities.

There are times when I think of gathering news 40 or 50 years and how it has changed. There was a time when you could call "central" in any town and the operator would tell you what was going on. The operator knew everything about fires, accidents, storms. What was news years ago and now is different, too. We used to write stories about people taking trips to Europe. The closing of country schools was a big topic. The last village blacksmith was always worth a feature. And if anyone reached age 100, it was news. Nowadays, it is not that rare. There was a time when it was big news if anyone died and left an estate more than $50,000.

Thoughts come and go and stray. And it doesn't matter when you are in Mexico on a beach. And no, I am not sipping margaritas, Shirley. I was just thinking how we grew up closed in by the hills on either side of the Missouri River. We wondered what was out and beyond Fort Pierre Hill and East Pierre Cut. We wondered if Uncle Willie's car could make it over that East Pierre cut in the hill when they moved to Huron, S.D. We never dreamed of a Chunnel that was built under the ocean between England and France. But it happened.

Sometimes I think about how long it takes to become an old-timer in Grand Forks. I think Sioux basketball coach, Brian Jones, is finally one of us. He has been here five years. My thoughts stray to the Lamoureux twins -- Jocelyne and Monique -- and how exciting it will be to have them playing hockey at UND and in the Olympics. I wonder if the Sioux hockey team will make the Frozen Four this year.

I think that the outside aisles of a grocery supermarket are the best route to take. That is where you find the fresh fruit, the fresh produce, the milk, eggs and bread. The inner aisles are mostly processed foods. How can anyone figure out the best buy in toilet tissue? There are so many sizes and thickness descriptions -- it defies even trying.

Sometimes I wonder who is left in Milton, N.D. It used to be a thriving little town with a good newspaper. I know Donna Gillig, Ken Hallgrimson and Ellen McKinnon all came from there. And I think the coyotes around Alvarado, Minn., better be careful this weekend because there is a hunting event going on. Vinegar is best for cleaning. You don't need all those expensive concoctions in spray cans.

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And this is the week you celebrate the anniversary of your 29th birthday, Shirley. I hope you had a jolly time down there among the cactus of Arizona. I guess I won't get down to see you this year, but keep the couch available.

Love from your sister Marilyn soaking up sun in Mexico.

P.S. I have heard the average person has 25,000 thoughts in a day and intelligent people have maybe 35,000 or 40,000.

Reach Hagerty at mhagerty@gra.midco.net or by telephone at (701) 772-1055.

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