#1248 – Dick Bernard: A bit of nostalgia; and “fake news”

This afternoon was picture perfect in my town. It was too nice to stay indoors, so I decided to take a short trip down the old Military Road, ending up at Old Cottage Grove, in front of the Boondocks bar (which, from appearances, seemed to be closed….)

(click to enlarge)

Old Cottage Grove MN April 1, 2017

It wasn’t a long trip – 8 miles – but going there is very much off the beaten path for most of us in this bustling suburb of over 60,000 in which we live.

Down the street from the Boondocks is the John Furber Farm</a> (7310 Lamar in Cottage Grove) and back a couple of miles is the old Cedarhurst Mansion (6940 Keats Ave) which was a very fancy country house back in the day. Both the Furber barn and Cedarhurst house are now used for fancy weddings and parties. People pay for nostalgia. (The places can be seen here.)

Cottage Grove goes way back (for this area). The sign a few blocks from the Furber barn gives the thumbnail history:

Old Cottage Grove sign, corner of 70th and Lamar.

I got to thinking about these places long ago. Cottage Grove, the sign said, was founded in 1843, the town platted in 1871. St. Paul began its life as a distinct place in 1841 – it just celebrated its 175th. In those days, communication was serious business. There was no such thing as express mail, or computers, or tweets. The telegraph didn’t exist until 1861. Literacy spotty, and bare basics.

It cause me to think back to a week ago, watching the segment on “Fake News” on CBS’ 60 Minutes. It was an excellent segment, perhaps still available, though the basics are very simple. Anyone who believes anything that comes from anywhere is taking a leap of faith, including the claims of how many people actually passed something along. We’re in the age where, ironically, we are probably much less likely to get the straight story, than were the folks who lived on the Furber Farm and at Cedarhurst way over 100 years ago.

A little earlier I had checked the stats page for this blog on my home computer, and found something curious. Someone had linked to some very ordinary photo I’d included in a post two years ago. Of course, I can’t answer the “why” question. I’ve heard (tell me I’m wrong) that every photo also has its own signature, and if pirated can be misused, perhaps as a fictitious tweet? Whatever the case, the old phrase, “caveat emptor”, comes to mind. “Let the buyer beware.” There is a great plenty of “fools gold” out there masquerading as the real deal.

Back home, I checked the phone and there was one message from a friend whose career has been as a voyageur, though he was gifted enough with the horn to be part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

He had an offer I couldn’t refuse.

We chatted a bit. He doesn’t do e-mail, but his daughter keeps up a website for his publications. It is here. I gave him my e-mail address to pass along to his daughter, and told him I’d send her a note at the website. Went there right away, but there is no “contact us” tab. Perhaps he doesn’t know that…or maybe it is his rejection of the modern technology. You can write him a letter, it appears, with a real stamp!

We joshed a bit, back and forth. In the Voyageur days, back in the 1600s, we wouldn’t be chatting by telephone! Even Luddites have their limits.

I can vouch, he does very good work. Very interesting.

And I think I can trust his scholarship much more than the next tweet or forward that I receive over the ‘net.

Have a great day.

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