I have been joking for years about the fact that some of my shut ins, have redefined the definition of “shut in”. What I mean by that is that many times I go to visit a shut in and they’re not home. Many times, I’ve had to come back several times in a week only to find my shut ins are gone. There are all kinds of reasons for this, but just like everything in our world today it seems like we have to change the definition of certain things. I was recently visiting a nursing home and I couldn’t find my shut in there. I looked for them at bingo, and the beauty shop, and the library, but couldn’t find them. While at the library I made the mistake of browsing the shelves and as usual I found a bunch of books that I was very interested in looking at.

Years ago, when I first came to this community, I took out subscriptions to various newspapers. One of them was the Grand Forks Herald. There was a columnist in the paper who wrote stories that were interesting for a variety of reasons. Very seldom would she comment on the news of the day but she commented on things that happened in the past and somehow tied them in to something going on in the present. She reminded me of the old roving reporter in some small-town newspapers, who would go around on Sunday afternoons and list all the people who had visited various families, and why. I still remember laughing because the tag line at each end of the story was “a good time was had by all”. Here on the library shelf I found an entire book of columns that this woman named Marilyn Hagerty had written. I opened up to an article about the heroes of 1976. She had gone to various schools in the community and interviewed students about who their heroes were. She seemed slightly stunned that the popularity prize went to Henry Winkler, who played the Fonz on the comedy show “Happy Days“. She listed no sports heroes and that is incredible. The kids had interesting reasons for calling him their hero. One was “he never has to go the Doctor”.

Some of the girls wrote that Betsy Ross was their hero. Remember this is the bi-centennial of the Unites States so I suppose back then teaching students about the Revolution and the Constitution was important. The girls liked the fact that Betsy made the flag without any pattern except one that was in her head. They like the fact that she knew she was doing the right thing even thought it might get her in trouble. Today Betsy Ross is considered a racist and Nikki won’t sell a tennis shoe with the flag on it because some washed out football player says they shouldn’t. I guess the column focusing on “Happy Days” is apropos.

We started this blog talking about the connections up here in the North Country. Marilyn Hagerty crossed over into Minnesota and wrote articles about life on that side of the river too. There is a horrifying story that she makes funny at the same time. Evidently her family had some kind of reunion at Maple Lake which is famous up here in our neck of the woods. The family gathered on a dock to get a picture and the entire dock collapsed. She broke her glasses and everyone was in a kind of shock and then she states that one Aunt had a broken leg but all was well. That is annteresting take on a near tragedy that shows the sensibilities of the older generation. Yea, we destroyed a dock and all went into the water and I broke my glasses and one of the old gals broke her leg, but a good time was had by all.

Marilyn’s book is called “Echoes” a collection stories and columns by Marilyn Haggerty and published by the Grand Forks Herald.