Long before Mr. Sam Walton became a dominant player in retail and distribution, he boldly opened Walton's 5/10 (Five and Dime) in Bentonville, Arkansas in 1950. His decision to take a chance in Bentonville was less than scientific — wife Helen liked small town living and the city's location in northwest Arkansas enabled Sam to take advantage of numerous hunting seasons in neighboring states. Success in Bentonville led to the first Walmart store in nearby Rogers, Arkansas in 1962. The rest is not history. History is still being made by the Walmart.
It seems "Help Wanted" signs have replaced "Garage Sale" signs as the least popular among community beautification advocates. Street right-of-ways are littered with "Apply Today" and "Top Pay for Second Shift" messages. Compare those to a real attention-getter and perhaps best garage sale sign from a couple years back, "Huge Baby Sale This Weekend." The curiosity factor alone was enough to stop for that sale.
Thin Mint. Peanut Butter Do-si-Dos. Shortbread Trefoils. Samoas. Just like the first backyard robin, Girl Scout cookie sales are another sign that Old Man Winter is on his way out and Spring is near. Hopefully. St. Croix County's economic development spin-master proclaimed his disdain for the winter of 2018-19 on numerous occasions. The bottom of the driveway is a prime location for his muttering. He has been waiting for a long-overdue robin as well as the first sleeve of shortbread treats.
Tom Wolfe penned a book in the late 1970's titled "The Right Stuff" about American test pilots who were part of the early research efforts leading to NASA's space program. The pilots flew experimental rocket-powered aircraft. Some returned to Mother Earth safely; others did not. Those who did were said to have the right stuff, meaning they possessed certain character traits, excluding luck, to succeed and thrive. Even with the right stuff, perhaps the best of all test pilots, Chuck Yeager, was not selected as an astronaut. The right stuff proved elusive for him.
St. Croix Valley residents will be relieved to put a wintry February in their rear view mirrors and may be thrilled to say, "Bring on March." Or maybe not. With March comes the so-called madness, defined any way residents wish.
We are creeping up on the anniversary involving a triumph of Goliath proportions. On Feb. 22, 1980, the men's U.S. Olympic hockey team defeated the Soviet team in Lake Placid, N.Y. An upset does not begin to describe the outcome. Hard to believe it's been 39 years.
Somewhere in a storage box marked "Personal Stuff" sits a palm-sized leather book containing handwritten entries from a savings account closed decades ago. For the younger generation, the non-cell phone object is referred to as a passbook savings book. Doubters can look it up, or they can ask an old person (grandparent) or a really old person (great-grandparent). It seems the younger generation cannot imagine bank transactions without the assistance of a cell phone or iPad.
The rocket ship with "2018" as its flight number has just about flamed out. It was ridden to its apex and now the chutes deployed. Splashdown in 7-6-5 days. What a ride. Before the bands play "Auld Lang Syne," there is still time for a little reflection and resolutions for the New Year. Back on Jan. 1, 1991, Miss Ann Landers, the queen of advice, offered these thoughts for a happier New Year. For good measure she ran the same advice a year later. They are edited slightly for brevity:
Before there was a Jordan, Kobe, Curry, or LeBron basketball shoe, there was the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star model. Make that the iconic Converse Chuck Taylor All Star shoe. Make that the nearly 100-year old All Star shoe. Yes, the same shoes worn by the mythical 1951-52 Hickory Huskers in the movie, Hoosiers. And Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future. And the cast of Happy Days. And now, worn by hipsters and fashion wannabes, young and old, who seek a retro-style.
The U.S. unemployment rate was recently announced at 3.7 percent making it the lowest since 1969. A few may remember 1969. Most will not. Wisconsin's unemployment rate has been reported at 3 percent or lower for eight straight months. It is not uncommon for some Wisconsin counties to report unemployment rates under two percent. St. Croix's is at a modest 2.4 percent for September.