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Gang of One


Fri, May 14th, 2004
Posted in Features

I have been Fan Shen’s colleague in the RCTC English department for the past five years, but never knew much about him until this past week when I read his book Gang of One: Memoirs of a Red Guard, published by University of Nebraska Press last month.

Shen grew up in China, and his world changed drastically when he was twelve years old. The year was 1966 and the Cultural Revolution brought his formal schooling at an elite boarding school for the children of communist party officials to an end. But in many ways, his education was just beginning.

Shen came from a family of proud Communist revolutionaries. In fact, his name, “Fan”, means ordinary man, one of a million—an idea intended to serve as an antidote for the greatest threat to communism: individual ambition. His parents were pleased that he excelled in language arts as a young boy and seemed destined to become a fine revolutionary himself.

And as a young boy, Shen did find Cultural Revolution exciting, if a bit baffling. He participated in rallies and book burnings, created posters, and went along on raids of “bourgeois” homes. But early on, he began to feel some doubt as to the virtue of the Party and the orders from the Great Leader, Chairman Mao. It would have been extremely dangerous to express these doubts, so he began two decades of playing the part of an enthusiastic revolutionary while hoping and planning for a way out.

His story is truly amazing, and he tells it well. He was one of the “Beijing Kids” sent far from the city to learn about being revolutionaries from barefoot peasants in the country. After toiling in the fields and working on a dubious assignment to make a hand-built dyke with the other revolutionaries, Shen became a local hero when, after a time of draught and starvation, he “speared” a hog carcass from the flooded river. His reward was to be made a “Barefoot Doctor” to the peasants, obliged to perform medical treatments, including amputations, after just three months of training.

Before finally obtaining permission to study in America, Shen endured years of hard work (job assignments always dictated by the communist party) and frustrating political maneuvers from mainly uneducated party officials. Yet even with all the setbacks, the story is uplifting because of Shen’s remarkable tenacity, cleverness, and humor in dealing with each obstacle. More than once while readin .....
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Judge Benson tells county he will not reconsider on Slabaugh zoning case

Fri, May 14th, 2004
Posted in Features

In a letter to Fillmore County Attorney Brett Corson dated May 7, Judge Robert Benson has denied a Fillmore County request to file a Motion for Reconsideration in the Slabaugh Zoning case. The county’s only other legal option would be to appeal the j ..... 
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The Talk of the Town

Fri, May 14th, 2004
Posted in Features

What does a retired English teacher, a German immigrant and an Angus beef farmer have in common? This is not the set-up of a joke, just a partial composition of the Bluff Country Toastmasters Club.

Paul Walsh, the teacher; Hanna ..... 
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Fillmore County Commissioners prepare to sell county farm

Fri, May 14th, 2004
Posted in Features

County Surveyor David Knutson reported his findings in regard to the county farm’s borders, and parcels the county wishes to maintain. Approximately 464 acres (including two old demolition sites) will be offered to the public through a bidding proces ..... 
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Lanesboro City Council grants retail sales permit at special meeting

Fri, May 14th, 2004
Posted in Features

At a special meeting on Monday, May 10, the Lanesboro City Council, by a 4 to 1 vote, approved granting a permit to Jennifer Wood to operate a retail home business on her premises at 203 Sheridan. Council member Jerome Halvorson was the lone dissenti ..... 
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Harmony Council remains firm in new delinquent utilities policy

Fri, May 14th, 2004
Posted in Features

When the city council adopted the new delinquent utility policy in February it was hoped that those residents who are habitually late with payments will be motivated to pay their bills. Since then, the policy has stirred much controversy in the city. ..... 
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New well under consideration in Rushford

Fri, May 14th, 2004
Posted in Features

At their May 10th meeting, the Rushford City Council opted to cancel the bid for a booster water pump in the city’s downtown area at the advise of the Water Commission. Bill Chang of BDM Engineering had suggested to the Water Commission to cancel the ..... 
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Hoffman named Preston city administrator

Fri, May 14th, 2004
Posted in Features

Joe Hoffman of Plainview has accepted the position of Preston City Administrator. The appointment was made at a special city council meeting on Wednesday, May 12.   Hoffman currently is the Executive Director of the Southeast ..... 
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Protesters hold rally in Preston against Heartland

Fri, May 7th, 2004
Posted in Features

PRESTON - Megan, an 18 year old senior at Winona High School, came because she wanted to help stop the tire burning plant.

“The plant will not only effect Preston but the surrounding area,” she said.

Megan ..... 
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