Bloomington, Minn., photographer Dave Vorland recently spent some time in Chicago, the Windy City. Dave went to graduate school in Chicago at the Northwestern University in the mid-1960s. Here are some of the sights that caught his eye.
Here’s a final photograph, and some thoughts about it, from the recent trip Dorette and I made to attend the jazz festival in Chicago’s Millennium Park.
Marcel Proust, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe all said you can’t go home again. Wolfe even used the expression as the title of one of his novels.
But I keep trying.
For example, at least once a year, I revisit the North Dakota town where I was born and attended high school. It’s much changed. The last house of my dead parents is dilapidated and apparently abandoned, with no connection now to my inner life.
And then there’s this house at 810 Colfax Street in Evanston, Ill., photographed just the other day. It was my home in the mid-1960s while I studied at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
Like myself, it shows the effects of more than half a century of time.
Back then I had traveled by rail to Chicago, arriving at Union Station and connecting to another train to Evanston. After checking my baggage, I walked to Northwestern’s off Camus housing office, hoping to find inexpensive lodging.
I didn’t make it to the long lines of waiting students. A guy with a big grin spoke to me.
“Looking for a room?” he asked. I nodded. “Come with me,” he replied.
In his car, I learned his name was Lester Welty. We retrieved my stuff at the station and drove to Colfax Street.
The house looked great. For $50 a month, I rented one of two rooms he had available (the other was soon taken by a Medill classmate).
Lester’s wife had died recently, and I sensed he was providing sleeping quarters to students so as not to live alone.
Later that year, Lester mentioned he was a retired life insurance agent, although he said his first goal had been to become a Methodist minister.
He showed me several filing cabinets in the basement packed with the records of insurance policies he’d sold over the years. He asserted with pride that he’d done more good as a life insurance agent than he ever would have as a pastor.
And so last week, after tipping my hat to Lester Welty’s memory, I walked from 810 Colfax St. to the Northwestern campus, as I had every day when I was a student.
The distance seemed longer than I remembered, and at one point, I had to consult my iPhone’s mapping application.
So I guess it’s true: at my advanced age, you REALLY can’t go home again
Recently I sifted through some memorabilia and found the above picture taken in 1965, when I was a senior at the University of North Dakota.
With me in the photo that appeared in the Dacotah Annual were classmates Mike Schlax, sports editor of the Dakota Student newspaper, and Harriet Thorpe, who wrote editorials.
My title was “news editor.”
I had intended to run for the editorship, but Mike, who was member of the Board of Student Publications, told me the deck was stacked in favor of Sandra Kummer, a journalism student from Anamoose, N.D., not far from my hometown of Harvey.
So I talked to Sandy, offering to withdraw my application in exchange for appointing me news editor. She agreed and became my boss, so to speak.
It turned out we were a good team.
Afterward, I went on to grad school at Northwestern, and Sandy became an officer in the U.S. Army. She died way too young. Mike, a Vietnam War veteran who later worked for Northwest Airlines, died in early middle age. After graduation I lost touch with Harriet.
As the Maori people of New Zealand say, it’s best metaphorically to walk backward toward the future so as not to dwell too much on our losses and the brevity of life.
My sister, Susan Vorland Hanson, has returned from a two-week trip to Norway and after spending the night with us departed this morning to her home near Turtle Lake, N.D.
Also in Bloomington were Sue’s daughter, Ondrea Miller, and granddaughter, Allison, who moved in to an apartment near the University of Minnesota campus where she will begin her sophomore year. Allison’s dad, Scott, was in town, too, on business but we weren’t able to hook up this time.
Dorette and I had GREAT fun hosting and interacting with these wonderful people.
And not only that: Sue brought me a gift from Norway: a bottle of 41.5 proof “Linie Aqua Vit,” since 1805 for all practical purposes, Norway’s national liquor.
Produced from potatoes, it is flavored with caraway, dill, aniseed, sweet fennel and coriander, then matured in sherry casks. The casks are stored on the deck of a ship to be thoroughly mixed by the motion of the waves as it travels around the world. I couldn’t bring myself to ask how much Sue paid for the bottle.
I’m saving it for October, when we will be hooking up with our brother, Dan, in Sioux Falls, S.D.
The three of us are not getting any younger, so we’ll offer toasts to the good fortune we’ve had in our lives and to the adventures still ahead.
For example, I’m thinking that I, too, should walk in the home country of our grandparents, Hans and Anna Vorland. A few years ago, Dan sprang for airline tickets so the two of us could visit Paris together. Perhaps I should do the same for us to see Norway.
As the saying goes, there are no pockets in a shroud.
Like my father, I’ve been subject to enthusiasms. Playing tournament chess, which he didn’t do. Photography, which he did, along with other pastimes.
I was introduced to downhill skiing while I was a University of North Dakota student. A classmate (call her “Violet”) invited me to ski with her at the Huff Hills near Mandan, N.D. I overnighted at her parents’ house — they were a tad dubious about me — and we managed to snowplow down the runs a few times.
Turned out I liked skiing.
Soon thereafter, a high school and college friend, George Palms, and I drove to Terry Peak in South Dakota, where we snowplowed those higher elevations.
Eventually, I bought skis and, as the years went by, used them on hills near Bottineau and Walhalla, N.D., and Bemidji, Minn.
I was already in my 40s when I first heard of Big Sky, Mont. I began to rent a condo for a week or so and for several years went there in the spring to breathe mountain air, write my office annual report and visit nearby Yellowstone Park. Sometimes my daughter, Kristi, joined me.
After I hooked up with Dorette Kerian, skiing became an annual part of my life, at Big Ski and other resorts in the U.S. and Canada. After a few lessons, my breakthrough to parallel skiing occurred at Alta in Utah.
Last March, I joined Dorette and her family for a few days at Breckenridge, Colo. In January, we’ll gather at, you guessed it, Big Sky.
I used to say I could handle any groomed blue run in North America, but I suspect I’ll be limiting myself to the greens. Or perhaps to sipping cognac on the deck.
I took the above picture of Lone Peak and its ski runs in June 2015. Winter sports had given way to mountain biking and hiking, but there still was some snow on the mountain.
I’ve just reread Ernest Hemingway’s first novel, “The Sun Also Rises,” written when he was in his 20s and living in Paris.
The book is presented in the first person by the character Jake Barnes, a newspaper reporter who like Hemingway had been injured in the World War I.
I’ve always liked the novel’s first sentence, “Robert Cohen was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton,” and the last, Jake’s reply to Lady Brett Ashley’s regretful “Oh Jake, we could have had such a damned good time together.”
“Isn’t it pretty to think so?”
The action is set mostly in Pamplona, Spain, during the annual bullfighting festival, which still takes place. Several people were injured this year during the running of the bulls. I’ve been to Spain a couple of times, but have not visited that town let alone had that experience.
You may wish to consider reading Lesley Blume’s book “Everybody Behaves Badly,” which recounts the actual people and events upon which “The Sun Also Rises” is based.
Some of the novel is set in Paris, with references to places that still exist.
For example, in 2005 I took the above photo of the Boulevard Montparnasse with the bistros La Rotonde and Le Dome on opposite sides of the street. Not far away is La Closerie Des Lilas, a cafe/bar where Hemingway wrote much of the book.
I’m penciled in to attend an International Hemingway Conference in Paris next year. Here’s hoping circumstances permit me to do so.
I’ve been reading biographies of Ernest Hemingway, dead for more than half a century but who remains an author who can sell books, his own as well as those of scholars trying to interpret his life to the readers of 2017.
I’ve read six new ones so far this year, including most recently Nicholas Reynolds’ book, “Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures, 1935-1961: Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy.” It’s 357 pages long, including 88 pages of sources, acknowledgements, permissions, endnotes and index.
Despite the documentation, I’m not completely sold on the Reynolds book. It’s more than OK but contains too many qualifiers such as “could have been” and “perhaps.” Reynolds (not to be confused with Michael Reynolds, among the best of the earlier biographers) pretty much concedes Hemingway was never an actual spy, although he knew many of them beginning with the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.
I have another unread biography on my night stand: Lesley M.M. Bloom’s EVERYBODY BEHAVES BADLY,” centered on the real life events that resulted in Hemingway’s first novel, “The Sun Also Rises.”
After that, my goal is to reread “The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway,” all 650 pages of them, first published by Scribner’s in 1938 and re-issued in 1987 by Hemingway’s sons, John, Patrick and Gregory, with additional until then unpublished stories.
That should get me through the year.
As always, I wish my Hemingway mentor, the late University of North Dakota English Professor Robert Lewis, a founder of the Hemingway Society, was here to guide me through this reading project.
Dorette took this picture of me in St. Paul recently as we dined outdoors at Herbie’s on the Park. I decided to quaff a Hamm’s beer as I did long ago, including when I wasn’t old enough to do so legally.
It’s been decades since I tasted the Hamm’s brand, established in 1865 in St. Paul and now owned by MillerCoors and brewed God knows where. It tasted, what’s the word?
Insipid? Yes, that’s it.
Admittedly, I’ve become somewhat of a beer snob, thanks in part to Dorette’s daughter, Kara, and her husband, Paul, who as a gift subscribed me for years in a craft “beer of the month” club.
I now prefer the strong, hoppy flavor of India Pale Ale, although Guinness is excellent, too.
Dorette’s not much of a beer drinker, but on a recent trip to Paris, we found a milder-tasting French brew — Kronenbourg 1664 — we both like.
Not to worry, friends, that we may be slipping into an alcoholic haze during our golden years. Both of us watch our diets and try not to overeat.
Beer by definition is a food group. It’s made from grain, after all.
It’s said you can’t go home again. That was even the title of a book by Thomas Wolfe, and others — Proust and Hemingway among them — came to the same conclusion.
I accept the premise logically, but not emotionally.
So this past Sunday, I again found myself driving 442 miles from my current residence in Bloomington, Minn., to Harvey, N.D., and from there to nearby Wellsburg. I spent my formative years in this area before, like most of my friends, moving on to the larger world.
News reports in the Twin Cities had suggested North Dakota was suffering a drought, but I saw no evidence of that in this area. The weather was perfect — mild temperatures, bright green fields, and glorious blue skies.
The above photo was one of the first I shot, a view from the viaduct over the Soo Line tracks in Harvey, N.D. The yard is far from being as busy as it was when I was a kid. But it’s still a nice and prosperous town.
Having said that, I also saw and photographed some things there and in Wellsburg that gave me pause. Stay tuned for more on that topic in later FB posts.
One other thing for sure I noticed.
I ain’t as young as I once was. The total mileage on the two-day trip totaled nearly 1,000 miles, and it sort of tuckered me out.
The latest issue of the New Yorker, dated July 3, includes one of the best essays about Ernest Hemingway I have ever read: “A New Man: Ernest Hemingway — revised and revisited,” written by Adam Gopnik.
It is in part of a review of the new biography, Mary V. Dearborn’s 735-page “Ernest Hemingway.”
That one is on my book shelf waiting perhaps for this winter, when I will be more interested in reading than, say, walking around Lake Calhoun just minutes away from our place in Bloomington, Minn.
Here are some excerpts from the long piece. Anyone with more than a passing interest in the individual who is perhaps America’s greatest writer owes it to himself or herself to read it in its entirety.
Some of Gopnik’s commentary deals with Hemingway’s gender reversal fetishes, found most spectacularly in the novel “The Garden of Eden,” not published during his lifetime. The subject was considered immoral a half-century ago, but hardly raises an eyebrow now.
But, Gopnik says, “The new attempts to make Papa matter by making him a lot less Papa and a little more Mama are, finally, not all that persuasive. Hemingway remains Hemingway — the macho attitudes continue to penetrate the prose even when the gender roles get switched around. And those macho attitudes include many admirable things: a genuine love of courage, a surprising readiness to celebrate failure if it is bought with bravery, an unsparing sense of the fatality of human existence, a love of the small pleasures that ennoble it.”
He quotes a paragraph from “The Garden of Eden”:
“On this morning there was brioche and red raspberry preserve and the eggs were boiled and there was a pat of butter that melted as they stirred them and salted them lightly and ground pepper over them in the cups … He remembered that easily and he was happy with his which he diced up with the spoon and ate with only the flow of the butter to moisten them and the fresh early morning texture and the bite of the coarsely ground pepper grains and the hot coffee and the chickory-fragrant bowl of cafe au lait.”
Comments Gopnik: “The flow of the butter and the bite of the pepper” — there is more effective gender-blending in his breakfasts than in his bedrooms. The pleasure he takes in the world’s surface is more plural than the poses he chooses on the world’s stage.
“Always an epicurean before he was a stoic, Hemingway is at his worst when he is boasting and bluffing and ruling the roost, at his best when he is bending and breaking and writing down breakfast. Macho and minimalist alike, the sentences are thrilling still in their exactitude and audacity.
“Coming away even from the sad last pages of his biography, the reader feels that Hemingway earned the epitaph he would most have wanted. He WAS a brave man, and he did know how to write.”