DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me —Going Home Again

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

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — The Nostalgia Of Old Age

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.

Sigh.

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.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Crazy About Books

I said I wasn’t going to do it again.

But once again, I purchased another stash of used books, this time at an estate sale in our neighborhood in Bloomington, Minn.

I wish I had known the folks who owned this house. It was full of books on every conceivable subject, from great works of literature to volumes about home repair and cooking. I coughed up 10 bucks for a dozen of them. Most I’ll save for winter reading, when I have an aversion to being outdoors in the cold.

But two of the finds are on my night stand already.

  • “My Irish Cook Book” by Monica Sheridan. (I fell in love with that cuisine during our visit to that country last year.)
  • “Giants In the Earth” by O.E. Rolvaag, a novel first published in Norwegian and then in 1927 in English. It’s set in 1873 in what would become the state of South Dakota. Rolvaag attended Augustana College in that state and later St. Olaf College in Minnesota, where he eventually became a professor.My interest in Norwegian heritage has intensified as I’ve aged. My sister, Susan Vorland Hanson, is currently visiting Norway, and I’m eager to see her pictures and hear her stories. Perhaps I’ll get there myself one of these days.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Chuck Klosterman

I met many bright students during my long career at the University of North Dakota. One of them was a kid named Chuck Klosterman, who had grown up near Wyndmere, N.D., and showed up as a freshman in 1990.

I recall him as a slightly outrageous and very humorous writer for the Dakota Student newspaper.

Klosterman’s first book was “Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota,” issued in 2001 by Scribner, Ernest Hemingway and Scot Fitzgerald’s publisher.

His 10th book, “But What If We’re Wrong: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past,” was published in 2016. It visualizes the contemporary world as it will appear in the future to those who will perceive it as the distant past.

One critic wrote “I have often wondered how the times I live in will be remembered once they turn into History. It never occurred to me to figure out how to write a book about it, though, which is one of the reasons why Chuck Klosterman is smarter than I am.”

Dorette and I were in Park Rapids, Minn., a few weeks ago. I noticed the book at Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery, one of the two excellent bookstores in that small town. It now waits on my night stand to be read.

Klosterman spoke at the 2009 UND Writer’s Conference, but I see nothing on Google documenting that the University of North Dakota or its Alumni Association have given him any formal recognition for his achievements.

If not, it’s long overdue.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — The Sun Still Rises

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.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — The Art Of Drinking Beer

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.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Harvey Hornets Forever

I took this picture (below) a week ago today during a brief visit to my hometown of Harvey, N.D.

Since I graduated 56 years ago (gasp!), this former high school has been converted into a junior high and a new structure built elsewhere in town for the “upper grades.”

I’ve long realized the education I received as a Harvey Hornet was superior, thanks to an excellent administration — anyone remember Superintendent B.M. Hanson? — and faculty. My favorite teacher was Clyde Boyko, but there were many other good ones (Art Lies, for example, the only teacher from that era I’ve found on Facebook, who taught music and German (awarding me a D when I assumed I would be receiving an F in that difficult course).

Those who know me in 2017 might not guess I participated in sports: track, wrestling, and, believe it or not, football. The photo above is of the HHS team in front of what is now the junior high school.

No. 89 — that’s me.

DAVE VORLAND: Photo Gallery — Montana Moments

Bloomington, Minn., photographer Dave Vorland and his daughter, Kristi, recently made a trip to Montana. Here are some of the shots Dave took from a state that boasts some magnificent sights.

DAVE VORLAND: Photo Gallery — Paris 2017, Part II

Bloomington, Minn., photographer Dave Vorland, along with Dorette Kerian and her granddaughter, Avery Dusterhoft, recently returned to the U.S. after a visit to Paris, “the City of Lights” (“la Ville des Lumières”). Dave has been to Paris several times, so he knows his way around quite well, as is evidenced by these beautiful shots, included in the second of two galleries about the trip.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Odette And Swann

I took this picture May 31, 2005, of a movie actress taking a break during filming along the Seine River in Paris

She reminds me of Odette de Crécy, an unforgettable character in Marcel Proust’s “Swann In Love,” a component of his larger work “In Search of Lost Time.”

Although Proust died in 1922, “the Search” continues to be read around the world and France regards him as one of its greatest literary sons.

For example, in New York last year Dorette and I noticed the French Consulate on Fifth Avenue is named “Odette” and has a Proust exhibit in its library.

I’ve been re-reading “Swann” as Dorette and I prepare to leave Saturday for Paris with her granddaughter, Avery Dusterhoft. We’ll be in France for 11 days, including May 31.

It should be great, especially for teenager Avery. But can 12 years have gone by since I shot this photo?