The Long Way Home 10.20.23

Today, an observation, a pair of mini-rants, and a bit of nostalgia.

An observation based on a Depression-era quote from Will Rogers and watching the Republican side of the US House of Representatives. 

“I am not a member of any organized political party. I’m a Democrat,” Rogers wrote.

A Native American, Rogers was a vaudeville performer, movie actor, and prolific and acerbic writer about current affairs. He appeared in 71 films and published over 3,500 newspaper columns. He died in a plane crash in Alaska in 1935, only 55 years old.

One is left to wonder what he would write about a Congress that has tied itself into a Gordian Knot as crises in Eastern Europe and the Middle East boil, and our government faces a debt ceiling-related shutdown in a month because one party is too disorganized to select a leader. 


Rant one. 

What’s up with the names given to grandparents these days?

Our first granddaughter popped out in Reno 21 years ago. At 48, we were relatively young to be grandparents, but when Stephanie, daughter number one and the new mom, asked what we wanted to be called, we said Grandpa and Grandma. We never thought there was an option, but Stephanie’s inlaws insisted on being called Nana and Papa. 

Growing up, I called my Swedish-born grands by the honorific Grandpa and Grandma. The American-born grands we called Grandpa and Grandma. Same on Becky’s side. We didn’t know there were options.

There are. MaMaw, Meemaw, Nana, Poppow, Papa, and so many more.


The best generation of my family sometimes calls me Gramps. But most often, it’s GRANDPA. It's much easier to remember when signing birthday and graduation cards.


Rant two. 

What’s up with all the festivals on the North Shore?

From Duluth to Grand Portage, there is a festival or fundraiser every weekend, spring through fall. The tourism folks in Lake and Cook County diligently ensured no weekend goes eventless. Grand Marais won’t end with Moose Madness at MEA weekend in October. It’s planning events into December and January. 

Many new folks living here on the shore probably think it’s always been so. Well, it hasn’t.

During the last part of the previous century, Cook County had just a few events in the summer months. Grand Marais held a Fourth of July parade and fireworks. The Art Colony hosted an arts festival shortly after. The annual Fishermen’s Picnic in August ended the festival season. 

Tourists and seasonal residents were still here in significant numbers during the rest of summer through the leaf-peeping season in those days. 

If you’ve been to one of these events, you’ve maybe been to them all. 


A bit of nostalgia.

The first week of October is National Newspaper Week. Newspapers hold a special place in my heart. 

It hurts to see how daily papers like the Duluth News Tribune have cut back to two editions each week. Seeing weekly newspapers closing at an alarming rate. The average age of people buying newspapers in retail outlets is far past the so-called “retirement age.”

So, I’ll leave with a quote from the inimitable Mark Twain:

 “A newspaper is not just for reporting the news as it is, but to make people mad enough to do something about it.”