By Bill Anderson
January, which has been content to let December claim the credit for most of this Winter’s ferocious weather, has decided to lower the hammer on the final weekend of the month. Predicted highs for this coming weekend, beginning on Saturday, January 28, are all below Zero, and the predicted lows, of course, are even lower. This siege of arctic cold is expected to last until Ground Hog’s Day on Thursday, February 2, maybe longer, depending on the mood of the Ground Hog, Rutland Roscoe, a cousin of Punxsutawney Phil. Anyway, we live in North Dakota, and we cannot expect to escape Winter’s wrath indefinitely. We can consider ourselves fortunate that it has held off as long as it has. We are lucky that we have not had to endure some of the winter weather encountered by our pioneer ancestors back in the 1880’s and 1890’s. John Bloomdale, one of Rutland’s original residents, recounted that in the terrible Winter of 1895-96, or maybe it was 1896-97, he was living in a small, tarpaper covered shack located toward the east end of the rail yard, near the old Great Northern stockyard which stood on the south side of the siding, just north of where Calvin & Wendy Jacobson’s home is now situated. According to Mr. Bloomdale, the cold that winter was intense. He said that on one occasion he had made a kettle of soup and set it just outside the door to cool. The soup froze instantaneously, he said, so fast, in fact, that when he pulled the frozen kettle of soup back into his shack, the ice was still hot to the touch. There was a tremendous amount of snow that Winter, and by Christmas it had completely covered his tiny home, threatening to cover the chimney and cut off the draft for his stove. Bloomdale said that he went to the hardware store and bought another 3 foot length of stovepipe to extend the height of his chimney. The snow kept coming, though, and he had to extend his chimney several more times. When the snow finally melted that Spring, he discovered that he had 18 three foot lengths of stovepipe towering above his shack. Another phenomenon Mr. Bloomdale described was the effect of the extreme cold on the railroad locomotives’ steam whistles. When the locomotives approached the yard limit, on arrival and on departure, they blew their whistles, but the cold was so extreme that the steam froze before it could do anything, even make a squeak, and the frozen lump of steam would fall silently to the ground. When all those frozen steam whistles thawed out simultaneously on the first warm day, Bloomdale stated, the racket was deafening. Some of the steam whistles, he said, were buried under big snowbanks on the shady side of the track, and they kept on thawing out, surprising folks with a whistle blast from a long departed locomotive until early Summer. Well, it was Mr. Bloomdale’s story, and, as the late Ray Erickson often pointed out, he could tell it the way he wanted. If anyone who was around back then wants to dispute his account, let them step forward and be heard. He was there, and we weren’t.
Sonja (Anderson) Christensen, one of the organizers of the 27th Annual Rudy Anderson Memorial Pinochle Tournament, recently posted the information that, as of Monday, January 23, 43 teams have now pre-registered for the event. The tournament will be held on Saturday, February 4, in the Rutland Town Hall. The Rutland Community Club will be serving morning and afternoon lunch to tournament participants, as well as a Noon repast featuring Rutland’s scalloped potatoes with ham, made with real potatoes, real ham and real cream. Any pinochle enthusiast interested in signing up to participate in the best run pinochle tournament in the region, or in obtaining more information about the tourney, should contact Sonja at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 701-899-1463 or 701-642-6793.
Family and old friends in Rutland were notified back on December 24, 2022, that Rutland native Nancy (Christensen) Worthington had passed away at a hospital near her home in Fresno CA. She was 74 years old at the time of her passing. Nancy was the youngest of the 10 children of the late Fred & Laura Christensen of this community. She grew up and attended school in Rutland, graduating as a member of the RHS/SCHS Class of ’66. Nancy was a member of the First Baptist Church of Rutland. After High School, she lived and worked in the Breckenridge MN area for several years, before moving to California. Nancy is survived by her husband, Mike Worthington of Fresno; her 3 daughters; 1 sister, Etta Lee of Denver CO; 2 brothers: Leo of Omaha NE; and Larry of Rutland ND; and by numerous nieces, nephews and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents and by 6 brothers: Carroll; Donald; Charles; Fred Jr.; Steven; and John. No information about funeral or burial arrangements was available as of this writing. The Rutland community extends its condolences to the family and friends of Nancy Worthington, a strong woman who endured much and overcame more.
Nordland Lutheran Church of Rutland held its annual Congregational meeting following the church service on the morning of Sunday, January 22, 2023, with Council President Wendy Jacobson conducting the meeting. The Congregation elected Sarah Pavek and Jill Anderson to 3 year terms on the Church Council. Mrs. Pavek & Mrs. Anderson replaced Mark Wyum and Bill Anderson, whose Council terms had expired on the Council. The Congregation approved several modifications to the TNT Parish Agreement, the agreement between Trinity Lutheran Church of Forman, Nordland Lutheran Church of Rutland and Trinity Lutheran Church of Havana that governs their combined ministry in the community. An operating budget for Nordland in 2023 of $75,616.00 was also approved by the Congregation. Additionally, an $18,000 building project to improve conditions in the Church basement was also approved. The basement work will be done by Innovative Basement Authority of Fargo and will include installation of a basement liner and a new ventilation system. Wendy Jacobson & Dawn Mahrer were elected to represent Nordland as delegates to the Eastern North Dakota ELCA Synod Assembly that will convene in Fargo in early June. BobbiJo Maly, Cameron Gulleson & Steven Wyum were re-elected to another 1 year term as the Nominating Committee. The regular monthly meeting of the Nordland Church Council is at 5:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month in the Nordland Fellowship Hall.
On the evening of Monday, January 23, the back room of The Lariat Bar was the site of a party to celebrate the 78th birthday of Bill Anderson of this community. Bill’s birthdate is 01/23/45. Approximately 30 guests attended the come & go event, enjoying drinks & appetizers served by the Lariat, as well as a large birthday cake that had been supplied by a friend, Joni Peterson of Milnor. The cake, a made from scratch chocolate cake covered with white frosting and decorated with patriotic red, white & blue stripes, bore the inscription, “Happy 78th Birthday, Bill! 1/23/45.” The cake had been baked & decorated by Danene Odegard of Milnor, and all agreed that it was an outstanding example of the cake bakers’ art. Sheila Wyum supplied a platter of brownies that were outstanding, as well. Those attending the party sang the “Happy Birthday” song to Bill, and then joined him in a rousing rendition of “The Marine Corps Hymn.” Bill said that he received many handshakes, hugs and other expressions of friendship & congratulations, including a big, slobbery kiss on the right side of his face from old friend Larry “Hot Lips” Christensen of Rutland. Bill also said that the service provided by the management and staff of The Lariat Bar was outstanding. The only problem, says Bill, is that, “Now I’m going home when I used to be going out, and getting up when I used to be getting home.” Well, Jim Huckell has an explanation for that phenomenon, and for other symptoms of getting older, as well.
This Friday, January 27, marks the 50th anniversary of the end of American military involvement in the Vietnam War. By January 27, 1973, almost all American ground combat troops, numbering more than 500,000 3 years earlier, had been withdrawn from South Vietnam. More than 58,000 Americans had died honoring our nation’s commitment to assist the government of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) resist the aggression of its northern neighbor, the People’s Republic of Vietnam (PRVN). Even though U. S. President Lyndon Johnson had started negotiations to end the war in 1968, the rug had been pulled out from under that effort when Johnson turned over the reins of the American government to Richard Nixon on January 20, 1969. By 1970, though, President Nixon realized that the war had to end, at least for America, and his administration began withdrawing American forces, and trying to get negotiations between the U. S., South Vietnam, North Vietnam and the Viet Cong guerrillas restarted. By the end of 1972, though, there was still no agreement between the U. S., the 2 Vietnams and the Viet Cong to end American involvement. The ’72 Christmas bombing campaign that hammered North Vietnam’s capitol city, Hanoi, and major seaport, Haiphong, finally brought the North Vietnamese to the negotiating table, and the agreement was finally hammered out in early January of 1973. Cavalier ND native Lynn A. Hartje, known to old friends as “Crowbait,” was a Naval aviator at the time, flying A6 attack aircraft off a carrier in the South China Sea. Lynn has been a friend and fraternity brother of Bill Anderson & Paul Anderson of this community since college days at UND back in the 1960’s. Lynn recalls that there was no letup in combat operations for American aviators after the so called “Peace Accords” had been agreed to. Even though everyone knew that the shooting had to end on January 27, they had to keep going full bore, flying bombing runs against North Vietnamese targets, day and night, just as if there was no agreement in place. Lynn said that he had friends who were shot down and taken prisoner, and some who were killed in action, during the time between the Peace Accords being agreed to and the last day of combat operations on January 27, 1973. It made little sense to those who had to fly the missions, and take the risk, to continue combat operations after the Accords had been approved. But he and his fellow combat pilots were not in charge. Their duty was to fly, and their orders were to do or die, so that’s what they did. Lynn flew his last combat mission over North Vietnam on the very last day of the war, 50 years ago, on January 27, 1973. To those pilots who flew on that last day, the end of combat operations was like having a huge weight lifted off their shoulders. Many pilots, and many planes, were lost between the date that the Accords were agreed to and the date that operations ended, a complete waste of good men and good planes, in Lynn’s opinion. Now, the War in Vietnam has been over, for Americans at least, for half a century, and the experiences of young men are now the memories of old men. The war is done, but the survivors’ guilt of those who lost comrades on the battlefield, the questions of right and wrong and the memories of violent life & death struggles remain in the minds of those who lived the experience. The number of those who possess the memories is diminishing as the years go by, and soon the only memories remaining will be those that have been recorded or written, messages from the past to the future. What Americans of the future do with those messages will determine whether or not they will be condemned to relive the experiences, recreate the memories and relearn the lessons of history. The history of mankind does not give us much reason to hope for a better outcome, but, every now and then there is a gleam of light, a ray of hope, shining through the gloom of ignorance, arrogance, fear and hate. Perhaps these words from a Christmas carol best express the hope of those who paid the price for the lessons of Vietnam, “Then rang the bells, so strong and deep, God is not dead, nor does he sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with Peace On Earth, Good Will To Men.” May it ever be so.
Well, that’s the news from Rutland for this week. For additional information about what’s going on in the little city that can, check out the community’s internet web site at www.rutlandnd.com and take a look at the Rutland Facebook page while you’re at it, too. Don’t forget to patronize your local Post Office and remember to keep the pressure on the U.S. Postal Service and the North Dakota Congressional delegation to SAVE OUR POST OFFICE! Later.