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Remembering Gene Larson


Fri, Jul 13th, 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 didnít think he was slow. Instead, from what I saw, he was steady, thoughtful, he didnít 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 dayís work is crumpled pieces of paper. Plus Iíve 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. "Youíve 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, "Iíll 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 didnít find out anything that Geneís friends and family didnít know. He didnít share any secrets. What he did was share the experiences, wisdom and tools of 77 years. As we tor .....
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One of a Kind

Fri, Jul 13th, 2001
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Monday, July 2, 2001

What this country needs today are strong, forthright and honest people in our government. What we really need are more men like Al Capone. When Al was around, people knew just where he stood. Whenever a problem arose, he t ..... 
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Commute 003

Fri, Jul 13th, 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, Iím way ahead of a national trend.

My lack of cleaning skills is somewhat legendary in my family. ..... 
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"We Could Fix Just about

Fri, Jul 13th, 2001
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Anything with Baling Wire."Edited By Beth WaterhouseMonday, July 16, 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. Storie ..... 
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A Big Woods Wedding

Fri, Jul 13th, 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 Great Wall of Weaver"

Fri, Jul 13th, 2001
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Monday, July 2, 2001

As if near record flooding along the Upper Mississippi was not enough already, mid and late Spring 2001 for the most part proves to be gloomy, cool and gray. With the exception of two or three consecutive sunny, unseasonab ..... 
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Reader Mail!

Fri, Jul 13th, 2001
Posted in

Virginia CooperMonday, July 9, 2001

Question: I need to move my perennials in late summer. Although this is not the right time for all of the plants, can you give suggestions of how to keep them alive? How should I prepare them? Should I trim ..... 
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A Stickler for Reality

Fri, Jul 13th, 2001
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By Wayne PikeMonday, July 16, 2001

Having been home from our trip to Colorado for a couple weeks, I have had time to reflect on some of the events and observations that we made. Traveling to another state can hardly be considered exotic, but i ..... 
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The Mighty Ducks

Fri, Jul 13th, 2001
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Monday, July 9, 2001

It has been quite awhile since I was a volunteer coach. My first opportunity came in my early twenties when Bob, a friend of mine, and I were coaxed into coaching soccer to a mixed group of six and seven year olds in a YMC ..... 
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