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Column: A thankful trip through time

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The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us, one of the best and my favorite, as it is all about three important things in life: food, football and thankfulness, not necessarily in that order.

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Being thankful is a part-time endeavor. Much of the time, thankfulness is quickly replaced with being spiteful or selfish or many of the other lesser human emotions.

During my latest quest in the back rooms of the Focus, flipping through time, I wanted to find something to be thankful for, a kind of theme.

The inner nature of the common Generation X-er is not always conducive to being thankful. Some times we have to search for it.

In fact, we can be a rather sardonic bunch most of the time.

First up, this week in 1984 Chuck Johnson reported on the finding of an ancient Indian skull in Dead Lake.

A building project adding to the house of Dennis and Ruth McCurdy, owners of Heart Beach Resort, turned up the skull, a portion of the left leg and right arm of the remains, estimated to be at least 1,000 years old.

This made me thankful to be alive.

This week in 1994, Frank P. Sahli and Enterprise bookkeeper Harriet Mattfeld eulogized Harvey Smalley, the former owner and publisher of the Perham Enterprise, who had recently passed away.

"He frequently earned the ire of the local merchants by his writing and editorials so they got together and boycotted his paper for awhile," Sahli said.

I like the guy already.

Mattfeld described Smalley as a rather contradictory but kind fellow - a man after my own heart.

"He did not feel he had to explain himself to anyone...for the people who took the time to get to know him and understand him, he could be a very good friend," Mattfeld said.

This made me thankful to have a newspaper gig and appreciative of my rather quirky personality that has occasionally drawn the ire or affections of the other humans.

Sticking with years that end in four, it was either 1974 or 2004. I elected to return to the land of bellbottoms and post-Nixon tragedy to find none other than Harvey Smalley.

He reported on a visit to War Eagle, Ark., and a particular mill that had been built and rebuilt there.

But what really caught my eye were the smiling faces of Perham natives Clifford Abbott and his wife Louella at the bottom of Harv's column.

The St. Louis Park couple had recently won a quarter-million dollars in the Western Canada Lottery.

Clifford had kept the $2.50 ticket a secret from charming Louella, who was mystified when a long-distance call from Winnipeg told her she had won $25,000 and had a chance at $250,000.

Cliff was forced to own up to his lottery purchase. The couple was flown to Winnipeg and Cliff, 76, thought his wife would bring him luck, so he had Louella stand in for him at the Winnipeg Playhouse Theatre drawing.

Louella lived up to Cliff's expectations bringing home the quarter-mill.

While awaiting the transfer of funds from Canada, the couple was quoted to be "living life, as usual."

Not having a wife, I pondered if I should be thankful for that.

No, that's certainly a bit too sardonic for a holiday like Thanksgiving.

So, after a bit of brooding over the idea, I figured I had only one option.

I plan on purchasing a Powerball ticket on Wednesday.

When I win, I will certainly have something to be thankful for, and a wallet I won't have to dig too deep in any longer.

Thanks to the Abbotts, I'll retain the ideal to live life "as usual."

Thanks to Harvey Smalley, I'll be thankful for my job and all the great people I work with and finally, when I'm dead and gone, perhaps, just maybe, they'll dig me up and take a rather weird photo of my skull, for posterity and put it on the front page.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Robert Williams
Robert has been the Sports Editor for the Focus since 2010 covering multiple state and national championship teams and is a mainstay at state tournaments each season covering the successful, athletic programs of Perham and New York Mills High Schools.
(218) 346-5900 x223
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