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Remembering Gene Larson


Fri, Jul 27th, 2001
Posted in

Monday, June 25, 2001

Writing is a solitary job. Most of the time I work alone, but that changed recently for a few weeks when I had the good fortune to work with Gene Larson. Our relationship began right after I bought an old house in Lanesboro. Quickly I learned I was way over my head and asked Ordell Garness if he could help with carpentry. He was too busy and suggested I contact Gene.

"I work kind of slow," Gene said. But after we worked together for a few days I told him I didnt think he was slow. Instead, from what I saw, he was steady, thoughtful, he didnt waste motion and paid incredible attention to details.

"Why are you doing this kind of work?" he asked as I scraped hardened linoleum glue off the maple floor.

"The work I do is too lonely," I said, stopping to shake my sore wrist. "Many times all I have after a days work is crumpled pieces of paper. Plus Ive been feeling pretty insecure about writing and I need to do something that will give me a sense of accomplishment."

Gene went to his van, came back into the kitchen and handed me his scraper. It was honed to perfection, reflecting years of sharpening.

One day Gene asked me to hold a piece of sheetrock against the wall while he set the nails. Perched on a narrow ledge in an awkward corner he twisted his body around to set each nail in place. Then he reached up and with one blow of his hammer punched in each nail.

"That was pretty slick," I said. "Youve got good eyes."

He cocked his head, his blue eyes looked intently. "I do pretty good for a man with only one eye," he said, then talked about loosing his sight as a result of a cataract. Then he pulled his wristwatch from his pocket, "Ill be back in a little while," he said and went to have his daily cup of coffee with his good friend Arlo Rexford.

After we hauled the old carpeting out, Gene let me use his polished metal pliers to pull rusted staples out of the floorboards. The pliers had the precision of fine tweezers. As he removed the quarter-round he talked about being in the Army. His demeanor became serious as he remembered the cruelty he had witnessed; he paused, then wondered what Italy would look like now.

As we shared our life experiences and learned about each other, I didnt find out anything that Genes friends and family didnt know. He didnt share any secrets. What he did was share the experiences, wisdom and tools of 77 years. As we tor .....
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Sam goes to the show

Fri, Jul 27th, 2001
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Monday, July 30, 2001

There was a Dog Show held at the county fairgrounds recently and I thought that it might be fun if I entered Sam. Sam likes attention and I was fairly certain that Sam would make a good showing at the First Annual Dog Sho ..... 
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Commute 003

Fri, Jul 27th, 2001
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Monday, July 16, 2001

I read an article last Sunday that said Americans are giving less attention to cleaning their houses. Once again, Im way ahead of a national trend.

My lack of cleaning skills is somewhat legendary in my family. ..... 
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"On Settlement Night, Harry always Had Fireworks."

Fri, Jul 27th, 2001
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Monday, July 30, 2001

The Art of Farming is a project of the Collaborative for Watershed Sustainability to gather stories about farm life in southeastern Minnesota before World War II. Stories have been gathered from individuals near Harmony, ..... 
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A Big Woods Wedding

Fri, Jul 27th, 2001
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Monday, July 9, 2001

A medieval scene greets guests as they walk down green paths through open woods and across hilly fields to a small white tent with open walls. The groom could be Robin Hood, complete with his Merry Men, anxiously waiting f ..... 
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The Run Has Begun

Fri, Jul 27th, 2001
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Weaver Dunes Field Report Early Summer 2001By John LevellMonday, July 23, 2001

As Spring 2001 draws to a close, the season's exceedingly wet and cool weather is still cause for concern to those of us working on the Blandi ..... 
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Carrots do Love Tomatoes

Fri, Jul 27th, 2001
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Virginia CooperMonday, July 23, 2001

This week I would like to share some excerpts from the darling of companion planting, Louise Riotte's great book Carrots Love Tomatoes. This is the sequel to her very popular Roses Love Onions.

On ..... 
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Antiques and Classics

Fri, Jul 27th, 2001
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Monday, July 16, 2001

There was an antique and classic tractor pull in town last Sunday. As I drove into the field where it was being held, I thought there must be some mistake. These tractors are like the ones my father made his living with a ..... 
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Olympic Games With Chinese Tendencies

Fri, Jul 27th, 2001
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Monday, July 23, 2001

If you havent heard by now, China will host the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The country has been working for the last 10 years to get the games believing that the international spectacle will give China the prestige ..... 
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