For a kid growing up in southern Minnesota hoping he had the right stuff to become a fast-talking economic development guy, baseball's all-star game signaled the beginning of the end to summer. Farewell summer, we hardly knew ye, meaning a rural school with grades K-12 all under one roof would soon spring back to life.
Even in a dairy rich state like Wisconsin, and in the Dairy Month of June, there's still room for neighborhood lemonade stands in the St. Croix Valley. Running lemonade stands represent Free Enterprise 101 and the Basics of Entrepreneurship all rolled into one, whether the youthful operators realize it or not. More than one successful business person has said the lowly lemonade stand was their start in the business world.
Many recall Tom Brokaw as a news anchor at NBC. He's also the author of several books, including "The Greatest Generation." Brokaw was among the first to use "greatest generation" to frame Americans who were born in tough times, survived The Great Depression (not to be confused with The Great Recession), got tougher during a World War, returned home, started families, and above all, worked hard to keep America great, long before a similar phrase gained popularity.
The time honored tradition of commencements is here. Graduates will be reminded by more than one speaker that commencement is not an ending, but a beginning. And yes, there will be opportunities to hit the re-set button, whether the button pertains to getting one's act together or following one's heart to paths less traveled.
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.