Friday, May 28, 2010

Loonfoot Falls Graduation Day: 2010 - and an Informal Poll

It's graduation day: Families of the graduating seniors have been stocking up on helium-filled Mylar balloons and plastic plates at the Valderrama, down by the Interstate; Graduates are renting or borrowing graduation gowns - and, in some cases, learning the school song; the school's custodial staff is lining up rows and columns of folding chairs; and everybody has Memorial Day weekend on their minds.

Last week I wrote about the unique method Loonfoot Falls High School has for determining the day of its graduation ceremony. I've wondered if part of the idea was to give the graduating seniors a three-day weekend to celebrate in.

But that's speculation.

Folks who aren't involved in the High School's graduation are getting their fishing tackle ready, making sure their boat is seaworthy (or, in our case lakeworthy), or getting a rummage sale ready.

Rummage sales are a fairly important part of the Loonfoot Falls cultural scene. I haven't read any serious study of them, but I've seen the social and economic value of the institution. Which is a fancy way of saying that Loonfoot Fallers enjoy getting together on someone's driveway, or in the garage, to talk and get a little shopping done.

By the way, there's been some debate over what people who live in Loonfoot Falls should be called. I've used "Loonfoot Fallers" most of my life: but we're called everything from Loonies to Loonfeet. The Loonfoot Falls Chronicle-Gazette is conducting an informal, unscientific, poll to determine which names are most popular.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Graduation Ceremonies, History, Ducks, and a Rock

For generations, Loonfoot Falls High School has had its commencement exercise on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, or the next Wednesday. Each year the day is determined by an equation that fills two pages of the superintendent's manual.

The real mystery, though, is why the LFHS graduation ceremony is so late: long after classes are over and paperwork filed for the school year.

One story is that the ceremony was tied to the Memorial Day Weekend during the Great Depression, as a way to give people with strapped finances an excuse for not taking a trip. It's a good story, but there's no evidence to back it up.

Another account, first published in the 1920s when this paper was the Gazette, tells that the school principle, Mr. Herschel Thornton, lost his wife to pneumonia in May of 1919, and accompanied her body to Boston for burial.

As a mark of respect, the Class of 1919 delayed their graduation ceremony until Mr. Thornton returned. I checked: there was a Mr. Herschel Thornton serving as principal in 1919, and school records show that the spring 1919 graduation ceremony was delayed to late May.

But that doesn't explain why, generations later, Loonfoot Falls High School graduates wait to receive their diplomas until late May or early June: or why the date of the ceremony depends on such things as how many ducks are seen on Mosquito Flats and the date on which a five-pound rock breaks through the ice on Loonfoot Lake.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Minnesota Fishing Opener - or - No Column This Week

No column this week. Fishing season starts tomorrow, and space for this column was needed for a special report. I don't mind: legwork for that special report was a nice change of pace.

I'll be back next week.

Ed Brunsvold

(Actually, Minnesota has quite a few overlapping fishing seasons. The ones that start tomorrow are for lake trout, and stream trout in lakes.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Frost Advisory, Followed by Fire Weather: What, No Burning Hail?

There's an old gag: 'Minnesota doesn't have a climate, it has weather.'

There's something to that.

Recently, Loonfoot Falls had a frost advisory, and the next day the counties north of us dealt with a fire weather advisory.

That "fire weather advisory" didn't involve burning hail with occasional frog showers. Northern Minnesota had warm weather, and no rain to speak of. The snow cover had melted, and run off; and vegetation hadn't started sprouting yet: so quite a few counties were covered by kindling.

Then we started getting rain. Day-long drizzles a few degrees above freezing don't encourage outdoor activities, but it's put a stop to that “fire weather.”

Then it snowed. In May, just before Mother's Day Weekend. And the forecast says we should expect more. It doesn't stay on the ground: but our April showers brought May snow.

Oh. No. Mother's Day weekend. I'll be right back.

A brisk walk to Broadway Drug and Photo, punctuated by three distinct and separate sneezes, confirmed my worst fear: I've got a cold.

Mom, you were right. I should wear a jacket when I go out this time of year, even if I don't feel like it. I've been out several times over the last few weeks, convinced that it's 'shirtsleeve weather.' And now I've got a cold.

Friday's nearly over now. I've decided to take care of Mrs. Brunsvold's boy by staying in and living largely on chicken soup. Don't worry, Mom: I've got enough to last me a week.
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