Column II

This column appeared in the small town newspaper on March 26, 1999. Since this, I’ve learned that the genetics went two generations further up my maternal grandmother’s side, appearing with my great grandfather, Gunlik Bo, and his sons. The family defines the condition as; “G-pattern baldness.”

RE: A Bit of Baldness

It has been said, “God made a few good heads – the rest He covered with hair.”
As the hair recedes and thins, there is initially a period of denial. Rather than admit a receding hairline, people would rather have the condition referred to as a “high forehead.” Eventually, the high forehead extends over so much of the upper quadrant that the inevitable outcome must be accepted.
Years back, I had an instructor (who will remain nameless) who parted his hair on the side of his head slightly above his ear and combed long,thin strands over the top to meet the other side. (a “comb-over”)
I’ve also seen some slicked-down hair combed forward from the back of the head. If these people are going to such “lengths,” they might as well invest in a fake hairpiece. They are not really fooling anyone anyway. I am sorry if I just enlightened some of you.
Hats are not the real answer, especially cowboy hats. Hats become such an “image thing.” They are a nuisance at movies or concerts if you ever tried to sit behind one. Whatever happened to gentlemen who removed their hats indoors or at a dinner table? To me, hats are for protection from environmental elements, a recognizable sign of a uniform, or for a casual day fundraiser.
Acceptance to the condition of baldness is really what I consider the best answer. Tonics, medicines, hair implants, and spray paint for the scalp are so costly.
I even like the idea of classmates shaving their heads in support of a friend who is receiving chemotherapy.
Actually, a well-groomed shorn head is very socially acceptable these days. Look at all of the athletes and actors with buzzed cuts.
Coming from a family with four bald-to-balding maternal uncles, the kidding among the brothers created a strong, fraternal bond. When they arrived at our house, they teased and complained about the glare of the sun reflecting off the top of each-other’s shiny scalp. A comeback would follow regarding the other’s “chrome-dome.”
They laughed, shook hands, hugged, and of course, patted each other’s bald spots affectionately.
My two brothers had great fears they inherited their uncles’ trait. One of their friends was completely bald in his early ’20’s. No such luck – now in their mid-40’s, one has long rust/red hair and the other thick, salt’n’pepper (primarily salt) hair. They could have saved a bundle on shampoo and haircuts by now.
So remember, “Bald can be beautiful.” It’s the attitude and spirit that one holds inside that counts, not the amount or lack of hair on the top of one’s head. Accept and you will be accepted. After all, our national symbol is the bald eagle!
Sorry, I had to throw that one in!

Dream, Unveiled

A Message from a Dream Unveiled
Written by Val J. Kolle 2/18/2013

I dreamt of a room where children went to die,
To meet with a familiar child, I know not who, or why.
Who was this child so grateful I was there…
In a room with other children with vaulted ceiling, walls, and beds so vast, yet bare?

The children arose, introduced and greeted me,
I hesitated to shake their hands extended out towards me.
What fear had taken over me…
In a clearly pure, sterile world of theirs in which I had seen?

Who are they? Are they already gone from our world and waiting…
All alone in that room hesitating?
My dream ended as I had awakened…
Yet, where was this world to which I’d been taken?

I remember mosaics, and colored stained-glass windows,
Sunlight shining through the kaleidoscope of artwork shown.
Upon a tomb of Australian soldier who left this earth unknown.

Who were those children wherever they were, hopeful yet so alone…
In limbo, and waiting in a colorless, temporary home?

Their hair was short, and their eyes wide open…
What were they thinking…
And what were they hoping?
They were so quiet after their greeting with their mouths with words still yet unspoken.

There were feint smiles which showed on their faces…
In this room unlike any other places.
The image remained as I awakened…
I wrote this down, without hesitating.

I don’t know what this means except that I was touched,
By those children whose spirits yearned for so little, yet lacked so much.
Was the dream symbolic of what we should give…
To children exiting our world as they cease to live?

Their room should be filled up with colors of love…
Angelic images of Heaven above!
In a world with the beauty of the people of all colors and race,
The families should be there with the warmest embrace…
And, there should be doctors, nurses and caregivers with smiles, love, and God’s Grace!


Column I

Back a few years ago I wrote and published some columns, “Contributing to the Good Life,” in a small town newspaper.
Here’s one entitled, “Modern Conveniences” from 4/8/1999.
Occasionally, I feel slighted because I don’t have a cell phone, digital cable TV, satellite dish or a camcorder. I also feel out-of-date because I don’t have an E-mail address, a personal computer, website or fax machine. I do have caller ID and an answering machine.
In order to come back to earth, I look back to how my grandma lived until the late 1960’s. She and my grandpa raised eight children in a two-story house next to the baseball field on the northwest corner of Buxton, N.D. The house and Grandma are gone now, but the family’s memories still live.
Grandma’s house did not have indoor plumbing. She had to prime and pump her water in the kitchen. Across the yard was an outhouse where she made a shower out of a kettle with holes in it, sitting high on a shelf. She had to fill it with water.
Grandma did have electricity, a radio, and a television. She was an original “Days” (Days of Our Lives) fan, her only vice. She called the show her ” story.”
There wasn’t a furnace. The house was heated primarily with a large gas cookstove in the kitchen. Historically, Grandma warmed up a “sad” iron on the stove for ironing clothing. She made our breakfast toast and prepared large family meals with this stove. Upstairs, my cousins and I buried ourselves under piles of quilts Grandma had sewn on her treadle sewing machine. The quilts were a warm hodge-podge of velvets and wool “recycled” from old clothing that our aunts and uncles had worn.
I don’t remember Grandma with a car. My mom told me Grandpa once owned a Model T or a Model A, I forget which. Grandma travelled to California on the train and they both travelled to Hawaii to visit their children.
Grandma used a telephone. She had been employed as a switchboard operator in her ’20’s. She wrote letters religiously to her children and grandchildren. She always seemed to know when one of us needed to hear from her.
Grandma had the memory of a genius. She recited long poems to us that she had memorized as a child. She entertained us with a vast repertoire of hymns on a chromatic harmonica.
Grandma maintained a huge garden. She canned whatever produce she could.
When your family members yearn for the latest modern devices they “can’t live without,” here are a few suggestions:
• Play a record on an old turntable.
• Go for a walk or a bike-ride.
• Play cards or a board game.
• Go to an antique or collectible show or a flea market.
• Go fishing, camping, or have a picnic.
• Bring grandma, grandpa and the family for a carousel ride. Take time together to listen to their stories. Look through old photos.
Then decide what you really need!

Vivian, VI

Things that are important to her:
1. Family. Her 7 siblings, their families and her Hettervig and Gunlickson aunts, uncles and cousins are very important to her. She loves the reunions and the photos and stories of her extended family.
2. She is a wonderful cook. Her apple, cherry lattice, and rhubarb meringue custard pies were her specialties. She made wonderful rumegrot, sweet soup with fruit and tapioca, rosettes, lefse, krumkake, and other Norwegian goodies. As a young girl, I loved when she had a large bowl of raised dough. I had my own miniature pans for pies and cinnamon rolls.
3. Hats, gloves, purses and high heels.
Years ago, my mom had hats with pheasant, peacock, or other fancy feathers. One hat looked like a black turban with black feathers sprouting out the top like a wild, dancing wig. She had white or cream gloves of assorted lengths. Her assortment of seasonal purses always held perfumed handkerchiefs. She wore spiked-heeled pumps which poked holes into the snowy pathway as we walked to church.
4. Music, dancing, and rollerskating. At a younger age she loved dancing and rollerskating. She always sang little ditties from her youth. Songs like; “Does eat oats” and “All I want for Christmas are my two front teeth!” Her favorite type of music is Country Western.
5. Movies and musicals. She took me to “Gone with the Wind,” “West Side Story,” and many classic movies in the theaters as I was growing up. She also loves watching Figure Ice-skating, Dancing and “The Lawrence Welk Show.”
6. Her home and her work. I shared much of this already. She especially liked her kitchen. Like her mother’s home, the kitchen was the heart of the home. She also liked to sew, especially quilts, like her grandmother and her mother before her.
7. Animals, birds, and flower gardens. When she lived up in the woods up in the hills of Detroit Lakes, she fed and watched the deer in the winter. In the summer she fed and watched the hummingbirds, her favorite. She also liked woodpeckers, blue jays and cardinals. She had special ordered tulips of every variety which bordered the outside of her home.

This month, my Mom, Vivian, who is a great-grandmother, is turning 80 years old. She lives in a house in a small town in Minnesota. She still loves watching Hummingbirds.



Vivian, V

Filling in more pieces of my mom’s life; there were times when we traveled out West to see my mom’s siblings and their families. I was in fourth grade when we first crossed the Rockies, my first sight of mountains. We saw Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone Park, the Grand Tetons, the Snake River Canyon, Multnomah Falls, the Portland Zoo, and the Pacific Ocean. We also went through Glacier Mountain Park. My mom was a trooper as we went on the old curvy mountain cliffside roads in a station wagon pulling a borrowed slide-up trailer. We made similar trips again, once in the winter, where we had to put chains on the tires so they would grab into the deep snow through the mountain passes in Montana and Idaho’s pan handle.
As I and my brothers became adults and young parents, Mom continued to work, sometimes coming home from a long day to a household full of young grandchildren.
At one point she found out she had breast cancer. At first the doctor thought the tumor or growth was benign. Test results showed cancer. My oldest son, Kyle, was a baby at the time. It seemed to help to see him during that time, and seeing me, her daughter, as a young mom. She survived the breast cancer 36 years now. I lived in Wisconsin, then Illinois, during those years, returning to Fargo the summer of 1980. By then I had two sons, eventually moving into a house, where my daughter first lived. Both brothers lived in North Dakota at that time so my mom saw much of her grandchildren. The cancer made her look closely at her “mortality.” She started to enjoy her love of rollerskating, again.
She met and married my stepdad, and neared retirement. She opened her heart to her father-in-law while he was living. After he passed on, she helped with home-care of her 92 year old mother-in-law. this, she did while she was still working full-time at the VA.