The Long Way Home 11.04.22

Early in my mid-life career change to newspaper publishing, I learned a valuable lesson--always spell a person’s name correctly. 

After getting a nasty phone call or two, or maybe even a letter that gave off a little heat, I made it a priority that we check for the correct spelling of the name of anyone mentioned in a story or column and for sure the caption on pictures. Sometimes we’d miss.

It’s true that other errors bring a response. In one edition we had a photo that Jon Kettunen had taken of a few geese on the harbor shore in Grand Marais. The caption we wrote was something like, “Canadian Geese on the harbor.” Turns out they were Canada Geese, not Canadian as a couple of astute readers pointed out. I thought they might have been down from Ontario which would have made the caption correct.

Back to names. 

A rather gruesome photo of an old man (me) shaking hands with his One Small Step partner in front of the radio station WTIP was published recently. The caption on the photo misspelled my last name in a very common way--ending in “land.” 

Mine is a Swedish name, pronounced in the old country--at least I’ve always thought--as “Fairn-Looned.” I’m glad I never had to pronounce or spell it that way.

I’m quite used to that “land” misspelling, so I don’t complain when it happens unless it’s on a legal document.

When I played on the freshman basketball team I was the 13th man on a 13-man team. Our coach called me Fernholtz. Although my friends tried correcting him, he finally told me that he knew someone by that name and that’s what kept popping up when he thought of me. He’d think of me when our team was up by 20 points with less than two minutes on the clock and he would say, “Fernholtz, you’re in. Don’t screw it up.”, 

My longtime golf partner, when putting our names in for one thing or another at various events, would offer, “Fernlund, Fern like the plant, and Lund like Lund.” I like that so much I use it all the time now.


I recently read Anishinaabe Syndicated: A View from the Rez,  a compilation of newspaper columns called the Fond du Lac Follies written by Jim Northrup, a noted author, poet, performer, and activist. In one column he wrote a question that sticks with me. Paraphrasing here, why does the television weatherman read out the temperatures clearly printed on the weather map? 

I’m sure there are as many unsatisfactory answers to that question as there are to why we have daylight savings time.

Highly recommend anything that was written by the late Mr. Northrup. 


Finally, whoever first adopted the philosophy of “Live and let live” did not have mice in his kitchen cupboards or pantry. 

The wily rodents have been mousing around in the drawers and under the sink. They even were outsmarting my highly touted Jawz mouse traps. When they got in the pantry and chewed into a couple of bags of tortilla chips, however, it was the last straw. 

If the little buggers stay outside, I’m gonna live and let live. But pooping in the muffin pans and stealing the chips is too much.