Friday, list member and long-time friend, Carol, sent me this photo from south Minneapolis…

South Minneapolis May 20, 2023

…which was date/time stamped May 29, 2020, at 7:07 a.m..  The photographer is looking towards nearby Lake Street.

This is not a routine photo to me.  My friend Ruhel’s GandhiMahal Restaurant on 27th and Lake was burned overnight on May 29, 2020.  The odds are that the smoke is the restaurant and other structures on that single block which had just burned in the wake of the George Floyd murder 4 days earlier [see postnote].

Ruhel thought his business had escaped the pandemonium of the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day, May 25, 2020.  But this was not to be.

Before the smoke carried it away, GandhiMahal was a crucial part of the neighborhood, a busy, hospitable place.  Here is a photo from a community party there Nov. 13, 2016.

Gandhi Mahal Nov. 13, 2016

This kind of scene was not unusual at Gandhi Mahal.  Often, I had been in that same room for an event.  I know of no successor place in that neighborhood.  (This room survived the fire, but it, too, had to be demolished and removed afterwards.)

To my knowledge no perpetrators have been charged in this fire.  Remember, this was in the worst time of Covid-19, and mandated masks and thus disguises.  Plus, Ruhel’s surveillance equipment burned with the building.  Lesson learned.

Gandhi Mahal May 31, 2020

Often since that now long ago day in May, I’ve been back to the GandhiMahal block, including yesterday.  The Post Office, also destroyed then, is nearing completion of reconstruction, but not yet open.  None of the other buildings on the block have been rebuilt and I’m sure what that means, three years later.

Yesterday at the still vacant lot from 2020, I looked for some sign of hope on the formerly vibrant block.  As close as I could come was the below sign of life, on the sidewalk right directly in front of the former restaurant.

Nature is resilient.  I think GandhiMahal can still be as well.

POSTNOTE May 30, 2023:  I asked the person who sent the ‘smoke photo’ above where the home actually was. Turned out that the house is about 1 1/2 mile WNW of Gandhi Mahal, so odds are that the smoke is unrelated to the restaurant, though certainly in the near area.  (If you click on the link below Gandhi Mahal, above, you’ll find all of the damaged properties at the time.  #59 is Gandhi Mahal.)  There was an immense amount of damage during the week of May 25.  There is no absence of pointed fingers: who to blame.  The most credible source I’ve found came down on the side that this was such an unprecedented event that it was impossible to do an effective response.  May, 2020, was also at a time when Covid-19 was raging, masks were mandated, and it was extremely difficult to identify much less respond to or even visually identify chaos actors.  A policeman from the Third precinct, a short walk from Gandhi Mahal, has gone to prison for the murder of George Floyd. as have other officers with him when the killing occurred.  During the ensuing problems, Police and Fire were rendered impotent: too many incidents, too high risk.  None of this will stop rumor mongering, even three years later.  Prospects of additional people being arrested are unlikely.)

I was personally involved with GandhiMahal on several occasions, holding events there each year between 2013 and 2019.  The last was May 1, 2019.  An event planned for April, 2020 had to be cancelled due to Covid-19.

I got to know the owner quite well.  He was truly a class act.

In September, 2020, in one of the last issues of a popular local newspaper, City Pages – it went out of business the next month – carried an expose of alleged problems of sexual harassment at the restaurant by some unnamed employee.  This resulted in a highly publicized Human Rights complaint under Minnesota Law.  I have no idea who the employee was, nor any of the publicized complainants who were pictured in the newspaper.  As of this writing, probable cause has been found, but there is a very long road to adjudication, if any, and to the best of my knowledge the accusation against the owner, my friend, was not his personal behavior, rather behavior of one employees against other employees.  Of course, the newspaper article came out close to the 2020 election, and certainly traveled quickly and negatively in the local progressive community.  I actually read the original article.  Anybody interested in the matter can simply search Gandhi Mahal Minneapolis human rights complaint and will find information.  As always with such: caveat emptor.

I last saw owner and friend Ruhel Islam at a fundraiser for a progressive non-profit about March 19, 2020.  It was literally the last event before Covid-19 closed everything down in Minnesota.

If the restaurant were to reopen, and I hope it will, and it was Ruhel’s, I would not hesitate for a minute to support the venture.



POSTNOTE 4: Minneapolis Star Tribune June 5, 2023: Antiwar STrib Jun 5 2023.  See also, Anniversary, May 29, 2023.

Some comments on Covid-19 at three years, here.


Monday is Memorial Day, and as is my usual practice, I’ll join the Vets for Peace commemoration at the Minnesota State Capitol Grounds (near the Vietnam Memorial at 9:30 a.m.).  Peace and War are always in attendance at this event.  This year,  overlaying the peace conversation is Ukraine.  Whether spoken or unspoken, should we be involved?  If so, how much?.  Personally, as a peace activist, I strongly feel that Ukraine, the U.S. and other allies are doing the right thing in pushing back against Russia’s brutal invasion of a sovereign nation.  At the end of this post is a recent presentation worth your time.


Today I want to devote my space to two Monuments: First is the monument to Spanish-American War veterans in Grafton ND which has been in place since 1900.  I visited the monument on April 24, 2023.  (My grandfather Henry Bernard and my grandmothers cousin Alfred Collette were part of Grafton’s unit, mustered in 125 years ago this month, initial training at Fargo ND, thence Presidio San Francisco.)

The second monument, in Independence MO, is to Andrew Jackson, seen by my brother earlier this month.  This display presents an interesting solution to a dilemma about monuments like these: how should different attitudes be respected as time passes.  Is there an alternative to just tearing one down?

The Spanish-American War Monument at Grafton ND, erected 1900.  Almost every town of any size has some memorial to war; almost never to peace.  Why?

The intention of the following is to encourage thought and discussion about War and Peace and their meaning in our own lives.  Personal bias: War will always exist and is never productive in the long term, and worthy of being questioned; Peace is and will always be aspirational, as we know from our own personal lives.  The soldiers, such as described below, are seldom evil; wars are sometimes necessary.  War, and Peace, can be very complicated.

Grafton ND Walsh County Courthouse April 24, 2023 (the Spanish-American War is the larger monument in background.  In foreground at left is a monument related to other wars, including Vietnam).

Here is the Grafton Centennial History account of Company C in what was called the Spanish-American War: Grafton ND Co C Sp Am War.  (Within the link, Grandpa Henry Bernard is easy to find in the large group picture – top row, farthest left.)

Here is all of the verbiage on the public monument itself, including (below photo), the contents of two of the plaques. Grafton ND Sp Am War Monument0001.

Grandpa was not neutral about this monument or his units service.  They served, and as per the above several of his colleagues were killed or died in the service of the United States.  The below photo shows Grandpa and probably the other last survivor, Gjert Heggen, at the annual observance at the monument, which I think was in August of each year – the time the unit arrived at Manila in 1898.  (As wars go, the war against the Spanish in the Philippines was very short.  Of course, there’s a longer story.)

Henry Bernard and Gjert Heggen of Argyle MN, honor their departed colleagues. The undated photo was probably in the 1950s. Grandpa died in 1957 at 85.  

Undated, may be a different year than other photo.

Some of the Grafton boys at Presidio San Francisco, Summer 1898, Henry Bernard standing at left; Grandma’s cousins, Alfred Collette, reclining on ground at right.

Grandpa had his 27th birthday in Manila.  Near 43 years later, Henry’s son, Frank, died aboard the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor Hawaii, Dec. 7, 1941.  He was 26.  Alfred Collette, who came home with the unit in 1899,  later returned to the Philippines, spending the rest of his life there, including spending most of WWII as a prisoner of the Japanese in Santo Tomas.  I knew two of his children, Alfred and Julie.  One of his children, my cousin Marie Josephine, was killed by shrapnel in crossfire in the liberation of Manila in 1945.  Another cost of war entered the family conversation.  (The 4th child, born after WWII, died of illness when a teenager, and he is interred in Bacolod P.I.)

The Andrew Jackson Monument at Independence MO, represents a different take on the historical treatment of conflict.

Recently brother John, beginning a recent bicycle trip over the first portion of the old Oregon Trail, noticed a plaque next to a  monument to Andrew Jackson at Independence  MO .  The two photos, taken May 1, tell their own story, and are an idea for those who think that the only solution is removal of an offensive monument.  The monument and the plaque engage in a civil conversation about an important historical issue.  Perhaps we can learn something from this.

May 1, 2023 Independence MO

Plaque to the right of the Andrew Jackson statue (above)

POSTNOTE: I don’t pretend to have any answers about resolving the conflict about war itself.  War and Peace are constant combatants. All I assert is that denying that there is no other legitimate ‘side’ to an argument is in the end self-defeating.  There will always be differences of opinion.

I don’t know why Grandpa Bernard volunteered to go to war in the Philippines, only four years after arriving at Grafton from Quebec, but he and many others did just that, and they were proud of their service.

The architect of the Spanish-American War was Theodore Roosevelt, later one of the most progressive of U.S. Presidents, admired for many things, but also promoter of the war that in more recent years has been correctly called the Filipino Insurrection (and indeed was so identified on the 1900 monument in Grafton).

There is also no question that sensational journalism and the sinking of the Maine in Havana harbor fueled patriotism in the spring of 1898.  And North Dakota was truly Teddy Roosevelt’s adopted home for several of his most important formative years.  In fact, the Roosevelt Presidential Library is being planned for Medora ND.  North Dakota was truly Home Team for Teddy Roosevelt.  He lived in North Dakota for several years in the 1880s.

MORE POSTNOTES: Viewing tip: Tuesday evening we watched the first segment of three on “Living With Hitler”.  The film is on Twin Cities Channel 2 (PBS).  If you can catch the film, anywhere, do watch.  The series is about how a civilized society didn’t wake up until it was too late, and the dream of a 1000 year Reich collapsed after only a dozen years.  The series  has lessons for us in the U.S.  Next showing of the first segment, “Our Last Hope” is Mon May 29 at 2 p.m.; “The People’s Community” airs May 30 at 8 p.m., again on the 31st at 2 a.m. and on June 5 at 2 p.m.; “Downfall and Legacy” airs June 13 at 8 p.m., June 14 at 2 a.m.  From the website: “LIVING WITH HITLER is a three-part series that explores how the German population – and those in occupied territories – lived through the Nazi era of 1933 to 1945. The regime which Hitler established during his time in power made a more damaging, enduring and controversial mark on Germany and the world than any other.

This commentary, “Violence as Brand” by Tom Sullivan, fits the above series ‘like a glove’.  Germany’s road to ruin under the Nazi’s got its early energy from sanctioned political violence against others….  Sullivan asserts we are living with political violence today.

Finally, very recently, an organization I’ve long been part of, Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (MAP), sponsored a talk by an advocate for Ukraine.  Thursday, we received a transcript of the talk, which I forward below for the information of anyone interested.

I present this without taking a position either in support of, or against, anything presented by the speaker.  I think the information is worthy of your consideration about these most difficult times in a land far away from the United States.

from Robin, MAP Leadership Team:

We are pleased to have a transcript of Andrea Chalupa’s presentation!   There was a lot of information in her 90 minute talk and the transcript makes it so much easier to review what she talked about.
Please share it with your organization members or friends you think might be interested.

POSTNOTE 3, Memorial Day:  I have a brief post for Memorial Day, here.  Additionally, are two columns about the seditious conspiracy conviction of Stewart Rhodes, by historian Steven Beschloss, here, and Robert Reich, former cabinet member in the Obama administration, here.


from Len: There is much to memorialize and be thankful Bless you Dick  Bernard!!!

from Fred: Very interesting retrospective, particularly re the Spanish-America War. Not many families can boast having a representative in the first Battle of Manila, more on that later, and a casualty in the 1945 Battle of Manila.

You might know that the Minnesota 13th Volunteer Regiment became the “tip of the spear” at Manila in August 1898. Actually it was believed the Spanish troops in and around Manila were ready to surrender. They were expected to give token resistance or none at all.
The 13th led the US right wing and moved out. Company G was in front when they were in engaged. You might have guessed Co. G was originally Red Wing National Guard unit. Capt. Otto Seebach, encouraging his men, walked among them as they returned fire. He received a bullet in the chest. Long story short, the 13th’s 23 members killed or wounded, proved to be the greatest number of casualties among  US units. Five RW men were hit during the battle, Seebach survived as did three others. One was killed.

NOTE from Dick: Fred also wrote an article on this for MNopedia.  You can read it here.  Most likely, the North Dakota unit was in the same group as the Red Wing contingent.

from Brad: Nice to read your blog, and very happy to see your continued work for peace.  I shared the pic of your the Spanish-American war with my brothers.  Both are married to Philippine women.  I never heard about Uncle Alfred in the war, POW status, or living there with family.  My father went to Manila at the end of WWII, and I doubt he knew either.

from Peter (commenting on the StarTribune article at the beginning postnote4): Reading the Strib piece, I’m sad but not surprised. The popular narrative about how the peace movement has died is greatly exaggerated. I expect many more such stories, probably less credible than the one you cite, in which the violent assault on Medea Benjamin seems very likely to have been the act of an agent-provocateur.

There is now a heavily-funded effort by federal agencies to “manage” media platforms. It’s all being done under “disinformation, misinformation and malinformation,” which has been in the news lately in various contexts.

Closer scrutiny to these operations reveals that the purpose is not to control false stories, but to shut down dissident voices. The tradition of journalistic skepticism has all but disappeared. Matt Taibbi’s reporting on this is definitive and well sourced.

But the general response has been to shoot the messenger, to paint him as a pariah in his own profession. So the credibility and integrity, such as it ever was, of the mainstream press has tanked.

Covid-19 at three years

The May 21, Minneapolis Star Tribune had an excellent editorial as we continue in year four after “normal” came to be redefined in March, 2020.

The editorial is here, and worth your time: Covid-19 editorial StarTribune May 21 2023.

My handy counter says that Covid-19 came up 143 times in my blog since March of 2020.  The most recent was two years ago, 3-6-2021.  So for me personally, the first year was the big year.  At least in terms of being “newsworthy” at this space.

The STrib editorial urges us to not become complacent.  Eyes can glaze over with statistics.  The editorial notes that Minnesota deaths from Covid-19 more than equalled the total population of Roseau County in Minnesota (one of our 87 counties).  Among the rest of the United State’s Minnesota’s death rate was lower than 41 of the 50 states.

The last four words of the long editorial, Covid in its variations is  “… a still-dangerous virus”.

Personally, we’ve thus far escaped the virus: vaccinations, prudent behavior and, of course, good fortune have helped.

The virus doesn’t fly around like a mosquito, and manifests differently in different people.

For several days in late February, 2022, my roommate at UofM Hospital was a young man in the grips of long Covid, an awful fate.  My roomie was not contagious, of course.  As a young man he had been an AAU level basketball player; he was probably in his 40s when I met him, and he couldn’t walk more than a few steps, and he was very depressed.  He was about to be transferred to his third medical facility in two months for continued rehab.  I think of him often.

Like everyone else, we know people who’ve been afflicted with Covid.

A useful outcome of this pandemic has been more awareness of personal behaviors, vaccinations, etc.  I don’t hear many scoffers any more.  Decent behaviors, like reasonable social distance in things like waiting lines, have taken root.

Of course, nothing is universal, but there has been progress.

If you’re ‘healthy and well’ today, celebrate your good fortune.

And stay prudent and careful.


PRENOTE: Several additions to the Oregon Trail post here.  Especially note John’s comment about “The Way”


It is impossible to stay ahead of ‘breaking news’.  It is almost enough to drive a sane person mad.  I say “almost”….

Some current events:

The Republican U.S. House of Representatives is holding the world hostage over a very simple issue: we won’t pay our bills if you don’t buy our extortion scheme.  The most recent summary from Heather Cox Richardson is here.

Most likely if you happen across these lines, I’m not a complete stranger to you.

With that caveat, the long tiresome debt limit saga is old news.  Those of us who buy stuff, whether on credit or for cash, know that bills come due – they don’t just disappear.  So it goes for official debts incurred by the U.S, Congress.  Debts include such things as the immense and unneeded benefits which primarily add to the wealth of the already super wealthy.  I know of no one who really believes you can increase debt without increasing revenue to pay the debt.  But that’s what the tax cuts of 2017 did.

The whole scenario reminds me of a suicide bomber wearing what appears to be an explosive vest; threatening to blow him (or her) self and everyone else up if his demands – unspecified – are not met.

There is really no way to know if the suicide bomb is real, so everybody walks on egg shells.

The opposition does what negotiators need to do: try to find some kind of face saving way out for the suicide bomber even he merits no mercy.

Part of me says tell the suicide bomber to go to hell; but that’s a danger not worth taking.  But any concession, however small, will be used as a declaration of victory by the bomber.  That is a given.

If agreement isn’t reached, and the bomb goes off, we all suffer.  I know as little as anyone else about what will actually happen.  Get educated and stay tuned.

In Florida, the insanity continues on many fronts, but most especially on the business of basic human rights granted under the U.S. Constitution.    My focus is on public education policy – my beat for an entire career.  There is an air of anarchy – pass a law prohibiting something, and turn vigilantes loose.

There is a reason that public education has always been called Public Education.  It is where young people learn to be part of a greater society or which they must become a part.  They cannot live at home forever.

Ironically, an excellent recent example of the crisis is in Escambia County Florida where an apparent vigilante teacher has been leading the charge to clean the shelves of supposedly objectionable titles.  A Law suit has been filed by PEN and Penguin Random House.  Read about it.

Guns.  Today’s Minneapolis StarTribune lede headline was “Mn Gov] Walz signs tighter gun legislation“.   As best I can tell, this is the text of the new Law  (please advise if I am using an incorrect citation).  There are a flood of commentaries on the internet, it’s not enough, it’s too much, whatever.

I am pleased.

Just a couple of days ago, I got my copy of the new book by Thomas Gabor and Fred Guttenberg, “American Carnage Shattering the Myths that Fuel Gun Violence”   This book is heavily footnoted, and easy to read, and deconstructs 37 different myths about Gun Violence.  Gutenberg’s daughter was killed in the Parkland Massacre some years ago.  Gabor is an expert in the topic.

There are a boatload of other issues.  Personally, we need to take considerable time to assess how we receive and process information.  Now, more than ever, deceit and deception is the strategy of choice in political propaganda.


In the end analysis, for every issue that relates to public policy in the United States, we the public are the ones ultimately accountable, through who we elect by our action or our inaction.  It is not enough to blame somebody else for doing something incorrectly.  Success on these and other compelling issue is totally up to us, and we have the time to make a difference.  The next election is November 5, 2024.  That’s 535 days.  Don’t wait till the day before the election….

Oregon Trail by bike, etc.

Pre-note: I heard Martin Sheen and his son, Emilio Estevez, describe the recently rereleased film, “The Way“, Monday.  The film sounded absolutely fascinating, and we went for the single day showing at a local theater on Tuesday.  The film far exceeded my already high expectations.  At this writing, I’m not sure of the future schedule for The Way on line or in theaters, but if you learn it’s available in your area, do carve out time to see it.  You will be enriched.   Here is an extended Washington Post interview with Sheen and Estevez.  It is NOT a “Catholic” film.  The characters are four strangers who find themselves, together, not always comfortably, on their individual journeys in life.  Trust me.  It is a film for personal reflection.


My kid brother John wears me out, just following he and his friends biking adventures.  (He’s 75 next week, and his biking partner is older than he, I think.  Go figure!)

In the last few days he and his friend finished biking the first segment of the Oregon Trail, from Independence MO to North Platte NE.  Last year they did the last segment from Boise, Idaho to Oregon City, Oregon.  Now, they’re now planning how/when to do the middle segments, totaling another 1,000 miles or so, through western Nebraska, Wyoming and Idaho.


John is an outstanding photographer.  The most recent segment as pictured by him is accessible here.  The last segment, from last year, is here.  Enjoy.

Where/What was the Oregon Trail?  It is over 2,000 miles of never easy travel if subject to the elements as bikers (now) and people in covered wagons (then) discovered.  If you were going west, there was a good chance this was at least part of your route.  Here is the National Park Service brochure.  The map is an interactive one.

Here are some words shared by John on the just completed segment: “First couple [photos] are the most interesting to me actually – a standard statue outside of standard courthouse in the standard town of Independence – what made it a little bit different was the statue was left in place, and and an explanatory placard was added…

Back [home] after about 520 miles and 11,000 feet of climbing in supposedly flat northeast Kansas and central Nebraska; as we did our thing on biking the general route of Oregon Trail. Did the initial segment from Independence Missouri to North Platte, Nebraska

As expected, not particularly visually appealing for this lakes and rivers and mountains and desert photographer – long stretches of empty plains; and cattle farms; and wind farms; and corn rows; and wheat fields, with circular irrigation rigs all over the place. Fortunately, most the time winds were not a factor, and we started early enough each day so temperatures were not factor either.

Still fully enjoyed the trip – particularly the stops at the various Cenexes and Casey’s that served as local hangouts. Got a chance to talk to a whole bunch of different groups of farmers and people, and really reminded me of North Dakota small towns. Managed to keep the conversation light – because more than likely I was going to encounter those people again as they passed me bicyling along in the various narrow roads and narrow shoulders in the area!

Regardless, overall a good time. Making tentative plans to continue the trek starting at North Platte and on into Central Wyoming – might be a little bit more technically challenging, because this time are able to do about 50 miles a day and go from hotel to hotel along the general route.

[Will] put a photo album together of various sites along the trip – but don’t really expect to see in my take that I like that much. Will leave you with the one screenshot image of the weather App rain picture on our last day going into North Platte, Nebraska. [below] Probably the heaviest downpour for the longest time that I’ve been involved on bicycle. At least it was the last day! Then we got into a rental car and drove the 1500 miles back to Davis.”

POSTNOTE:  Life does go on, for me, my brother, for all of us.  In our still free country, we are the ones who make or will break our democracy by our action or more likely, our inaction.  Wednesday night came two opinions from people I highly respect on issues of the day.  I encourage you to follow and subscribe to them.

Heather Cox Richardson on the National Debt and its international implications, here.

Joyce Vance on assorted matters of Law, here.


from John: I appreciate the kind words and the publication of the links!

I was interested to see that “The Way” was re released – it is a great movie about The Camino de Santiago. I actually think that [our sister] Mary did a small portion of it via car/hike a few years back.
As you may recall, I actually did the second half of that with my biking buddy, Jim,  back in 2019. We were going to go back in 2020 to complete the first half – but something happened, and we will likely never make it back to Spain. Here’s the link to that album.

from Amanda: That’s so cool!  My husband, a friend, and I did the trail with a road trip in 2011.  Amazing stories and scenery.

from Jeff: Monsieur  aa) We watched The Way many years ago, a very affecting film…richly made, well cast….definitely a “Catholic” movie, but spiritual for sure.

bb) will go back and look at your brothers info and photos…funny that movie made me think of riding the Camino on our bikes…but
I think it would take a few years to accomplish, I like the way your brother is doing his trip…will get back and look at that post for sure.
Have a nice weekend.
how are you doing by the way….all ok and back to whatever normal is?

from Molly:  Thanks, Dick. The photos are indeed top-notch, and thought-provoking, too.

Also appreciated the essay recommendations–both are such splendid writers & thinkers…and, frankly, there’s just too much daily for us information junkies to be able to gulp it all down, isn’t there… 🙄

from MaryEllen: Beautiful photos! Your brother is an adventurous spirit with a deeply thoughtful bent. I do like how Kansas chose to give a new perspective to that statue.

Reminds me of Shakespeare’s comment
‘the evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones.’
Will a more mature humanity be able to recognize both?

Mother’s Day

Once again, Mother’s Day competes with The Fishing Opener in Minnesota.  This has been going on so long that it is no longer news.  Some Mother’s are out fishing.  Happy Mother’s Day to all.

Woodbury MN May 11, 2023

I lead this message with a photo that would make my Dad smile.  Dad, I suppose, would be considered a little eccentric by all of us.  In his elder years, if we happened to be around him in the brief dandelion season, his flower of choice would be the dandelion.  More than once I saw him present a modest bouquet to someone or other.

We are in dandelion season here.

So, consider the humble flowers a gift from, and in memory of, Henry Bernard, who died 25 years ago.  I think his Mom, Josephine (Collette) Bernard, born 1881, died 1963, would approve.  So would his grandmother – the one he actually met – Clotilde (Blondeau) Collette – born 1846 died 1916.  And also his wife, my Mom, who preceded him in death by 16 years.  And on and on and on….

We all have biological mothers.  Someone had us – each one of us.

They had all of the emotions we all have about us as we make our course through life.   Probably they practiced most of the imperfections we see in ourselves.  Mothers (and Dads) and everyone come from that mistake prone species called human kind.  The practice of parenthood is not perfect.


For whatever reason, this particular day leads me to think of a movie I attended with my daughter, Heather, on Wednesday of this week.  It is perhaps an unusual one to focus on, here, especially by this old guy you might happen to know in person, but bear with me.

It’s the Super Mario Brothers movie 2023.

There are hundreds of reviews easily accessible.  It is popular.  I found myself getting quite engaged in it.

Mario’s has  a long “history”, starting in the early electronic arcade gallery game age (1983), to what seems to be the original movie in 1993.

My oldest son was an arcade guy.  He graduated from high school in 1982, and probably remembers the early days of these electronic games.

I don’t.

I’m not one to take in this kind of film.  Heather wanted to go.

There in the theater, in my mind, at least. Mario’s came across as a ‘moral of the story’ film, amusing, fast paced, silly, preposterous, any other kind of descriptor you want…but a happy ending film, as it proudly declared on the final screen shot before going to credits.  90 worthwhile minutes.

Give it a go.  Brian, from Brooklyn, it’s set in your town!

Happy Mothers Day, Mom.

POSTNOTE: Fred also recommends Pinocchio on Netflix.

Other recent posts:

Brownsville and Texas – our national war within; who are we?

The Great Placement – Immigration and Immigrants

Brown vs Board – Taking on segregation


from Molly:  When I started a bit of computer browsing this morning, I opened a note about Mother’s Day from my friend Dick–mentioning a new post on his blog.

This put me in mind of a powerful poem I recently discovered. Most of you receiving this note will, like me, have lost your Mom years ago. Hence, the connection. Be sure to read it at least twice.
Hugs, Blessings of this day–which is a green and rainy one here in the St. Paul suburbs.


That Woman

Look! A flash of orange along the river’s edge–
“oriole!” comes to your lips like instinct, then
it’s vanished–lost in the foliage,

in all your head holds, getting on with the day.
But not gone for good. There is that woman
walks unseen beside you with her apron

pockets full. Days later, or years, when you least
seem to need it–reading Frost on the subway,
singing over a candled cake–she’ll reach

into a pocket and hand you this intact
moment–the river, the orange streak parting
the willow, and the “oriole!” that leapt

to your lips. Unnoticed, steadfast, she gathers
all this jumble, sorts it, hands it back like
prizes from Crackerjack. She is your mother,

who first said, “Look! a robin!” and pointed,
and there was a robin, because her own
mother had said to her, “Look!” and pointed,

and so on, back to the beginning: the mother,
the child, and the world. The damp bottom
on one arm and pointing with the other:

the peach tree, the small rocks in the shallows,
the moon and the man in the moon. So you keep on,
seeing, forgetting, faithfully followed;

and you yourself, unwitting, gaining weight,
have thinned to invisibility, become
that follower. Even now, your daughter

doesn’t see you at her elbow as she walks
the beach. There! a gull dips to the Pacific,

and she points and says to the baby, “Look!”

                           –by Sarah Getty

                           from The Land of Milk and Honey

from Lindsay:

I have to say, Great Grandpa Henry’s love for dandelions was passed on to his great granddaughter. I love them!
There’s been a long stretch of rain and hail storms here in Colorado over the last few days, so all of our dandelions are folded up and unhappy, but the water droplets that are currently in their place are equally delightful.
And yes, the Super Mario Bros movie was a TON of fun!
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers on this thread! 💛

Brown vs Board of Education

My brother, John, is enjoying retirement years by doing a lot of biking, and his most recent jaunt, with a friend, has been along the route of the Oregon Trail.

Around my birthday, he sent a message with photo, as follows:

“Currently leaving Topeka Kansas – decided to take an extra day here because of likely heavy weather yesterday – turned out to be true. Lots and lots of rolling Hills – a little bit of a little bit of down but  biking is going fine.

Took advantage of the time to rent a car to go over to the Eisenhower boyhood home and museum in Abilene and swing back ..By the Brown versus Board of Education historic site – really a converted elementary school that was the center of the lawsuit to “end” segregation – the legal kind, and in one form.”

Topeka KS May, 2023, the Museum to Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka KS.

National Park Service summary of “The Five Lawsuits” .

Simply search “The Five Lawsuits” and you will find a number of useful sources of more information about each.  I won’t make a specific recommendation.

Thanks, John, for the tip.

The Great Placement*

About a month ago, I decided to do a post on a topic in which I’ve long been interested, but had spent little time on: the immigration of French-Canadians to the Midwest.  The results are in two posts, April 21 and 28, both accessible here.

Here’s a general map for reference.

Coincidentally, on May 11, Michael commented on the April 21&28 posts, and on the same day the expiration of Title 42 stirred up a great deal of political dust at the border between the U.S. and Mexico.  The dust storm continues as I write.

Michael’s May 11 comment is at April 21 and also follows below, following a few personal comments I had about yesterdays events, before I’d seen Michael’s.  None of this is rocket science – What I write is simply an off the cuff opinion; Michael’s was more informed, albeit about another immigration event over 135 years ago involving Quebec and Minnesota.  Perhaps the two of our opinions together will elicit other thoughts or maybe even comments about a current critical issue.

First, my first impressions regarding the refugees at the border and Title 42:

I thought first of the individuals who’d sacrificed all to be at the U.S./Mexico border these days.  Many words are being shed about how they shouldn’t have come, etc., but by and large these are people who were yearning for a better life and at least the possibility of finding it inside our United States, which is undeniably by far the richest country on earth.

Essentially, Michaels ancestors over 135 years ago had the same yearning, and faced their own great difficulties and uncertainties.

A completely open border is impossible to justify.  I don’t know anyone who advocates this.  The European Union perhaps comes closest; even there, the openness is to people who live in EU countries.  Having said that, the U.S. is a nation of immigrants.  Virtually every American is not far removed from immigrant ancestors; an amalgam of many ancestries from many places.

One of my grandfathers was in his 20s before immigrating from Quebec.  All of my great grandparents were rooted in Germany or Quebec; and except for Grandpa Bernard, all were in the United States long before Ellis Island.  Three of my four grandparents were first generation Americans.

Generalization: look at an “American”, regardless of diversity in national origin, language, religion, etc., you find common ground with everyone.  Except for Native Americans, we are all descended from immigrants.  Even the natives, if you go back sufficient tens of thousands of years, also immigrated from somewhere else.

My final first impression is disgust at our own government for being stalemated for many years on the question of immigration reform.  I think this goes back at least 15 years.  There is plenty of fault to go around.  There was once a close call at a bilateral reform, but that’s not enough.

Before passing the baton on to Michael, here are a few data sources which seem reputable for beginning a conversation.

An interesting tutorial on U.S. Immigration History (until about 1890, most immigration decisions were primarily state based, rather than Federal.)

About the Statue of Liberty (1886) and and Ellis Island (1890): here.

Here is Edna Lazarus iconic poem (1883) about “your tired, your poor”.

If you are interested in a religious perspective, this segment of a series by my Pastor on Immigration might be of interest to you.

A book which might be of interest: A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story by Tom Gjelten.

Joni and Tom at Statue of Liberty June, 1972

Now, Michael’s comment on the old days (which is passed along with his permission, and had nothing to do with Title 42 or the current immigration crisis.)

My great great grandfather, Alphonse Bédard came from the Quebec City area (Charlesbourg) in 1885 and came into the United States at Port Huron, then across and up to Crookston and off at Argyle, Minnesota. That’s the romantic history part of anyone’s story, but as I always ponder when I talk about that, the reality is also that he and his wife Euphemie Proulx Bédard had seven of their children at that time ages four months to 12 years old! And I also just shake my head when I imagine what a awaited them there in the primitive village of Argyle. They were homesteading, and as I used to tell my history classes to make things real for them in talking about homesteaders coming across the United States…… I reminded them that these folks would arrive at a place where there were no Home Depot‘s and no McDonald’s! There was only land. Now my great great grandmother‘s family was already there in Argyle so I am assuming that they stayed with them while Alphonse worked on building some shelter for them on their 177 acres of land. I am putting together their story on paper in the coming weeks in detail, but suffice for now to say I find the personal side of their story, like so many others, is just amazing, when you consider that these two in total had 19 children. Four of them had already died young in Quebec. they brought seven with them out to Minnesota And they would have eight more children after arriving there. That’s a lot of hardship involved in all of that which made up life in those days .

POSTNOTE; The Title of this post is a play on The Great Replacement, a far right white nationalist conspiracy theory.

“Placement” suggests adding to, rather than taking from.

Brownsville, and Texas

POSTNOTE 4:30 a.m. CDT May 9, 2023: America, Texas, everywhere, is full of decent respectful people.  I will witness this today, as I do every day.  So will you.  As I suggested below, I witnessed Texas in better days.  But even today, Texas and everywhere will seem to be a good place full of good people.  But then will come another piece of “breaking news”, the latest carnage or other outrage of a part of society gone insane.

There is a bottom line: In a free society, which we proclaim we are, we, the people, elect those who represent us for good or evil outcomes.  There are no excuses.  Change is up to us, individually, every time we cast a ballot, or don’t vote at all, for whatever reason.

The solution is us, period.

If you’re still open to reading, here and here, two excellent recent columns on U.S. Gun policy from Heather Cox Richardson.  Also, just released is a new book, American Carnage, Shattering the Myths that Fuel Gun Violence (School Safety, Violence in Society)  by Fred Guttenberg , about the epidemic of gun violence in the U. S.  Guttenberg is the parent of a victim of the Parkland school massacre of some years ago.  His is well informed passion.


The insanity continues.  A recent look at a map of the daily carnage in the U.S. emphasizes Texas.  The reports and the official rhetoric about places like Allen, etc., stand on their own.

We’re a big country, and why should a guy in the blizzard belt even notice what happened 1,500 miles away in Brownsville TX?

It’s pretty easy.

First, I know real Texans.  Good folks.

My parents retired to San Benito TX. a Rio Grande Valley town 20 miles from Brownsville, about five miles from the river, first as winter Texans for a couple of winters beginning about 1976, then year-round beginning in 1978 until Dad moved north in 1987.  Texas had become home. (Mom died in 1981).

Mom’s sisters and their husbands had preceded my folks to the Valley.  One of my cousins has wintered for years about 50 miles up river.

They and San Benito gave a pleasant introduction to a pleasant country.  We could walk across the bridge to Matamoros.  Spanish was the first language for some of the kids in the local public school, where Dad volunteered for some years teaching English as a Second Language.  My folks were church people, and got to know well hispanic parishioners at their church.  The only dramatic incident I recall from their years there was a pretty aggressive tropical storm about 1979; and at least once we were there visiting during a ‘norther’ where we experienced a bit of “winter’ at 30 degrees.  (Yes, it seemed cold.  In Minnesota it would have been almost shirt sleeve weather.)

In  Nov. 1969 I was at a conference in Houston, which included a jaunt to the Manned Spacecraft Center not long after the moon landing.

Apollo 11 Manned Spacecraft Center Houston Nov. 1969.  Photo Dick Bernard

I’ve been to San Antonio a couple of times, through west Texas by road once through El Paso (a forever drive).  On another occasion toured the massive King Ranch.  A nephew and family have lived for years in Houston, and a daughter started her teaching career in Houston.  I’ve even been to Luckenbach TX, made famous by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.   (If you can find someone who’s been to Luckenbach, ask them about the place…or you can ask me!  It will be a short description!  The video was not made in Luckenbach, rest assured.  But it was worth the trip.  )

But I depart from what I’d like to say.  There is a kind and gentle Texas today, but it’s increasingly well hidden by the ascendance of mean and nasty as official narrative.

A relative has gotten heavily involved in the plight of so-called ‘Illegals” just seeking a better life, but labelled as pariahs, un-welcome.

I’m glad I’ve been to Texas.  I have no particular inclination to to go back to a place whose leadership seems numb to tragedies, okay with rank injustice, especially to those just looking for a better chance; to a place which exports “illegals” with impunity and celebrates fences and walls and weapons and restriction of rights only to those who’ve clawed their way to the top of the decision making heap.

There are lots of good, gentle people in Texas.  They’ve been temporarily buried under mean and nasty.

There will be justice in Texas.  And Texas isn’t any different than the rest of us, except like being a bully, demanding attention.  It won’t last, Texans with too large an attitude.

To all people of good will, keep on, keeping on.



This morning I went to a Town Hall report given by our local State Senator, Nicole Mitchell.

Sen Nicole Mitchell May 6, 2023

Sen. Mitchell is in her first term.  She did an excellent job. Her one hour demonstrated to us how complicated a job we citizens give to our representatives.

There were about 60 of us in attendance.

Our Senate district has about 70,000 citizens.  We’re a state with about 6 million people, from large city to sparsely populated rural areas, people with all conceivable needs and circumstances.

Nicole pointed out what is not always obvious to us: there are state and national governments; city and regional governments; endless agencies, all legally constituted, and necessary, often representing competing priorities.

(Suggestion: Just make a list, sometime, of all your own representatives – the people elected to represent you and your neighbors, and make note of how to keep in touch with them.  Every one of them, from city office to President, are crucial to your well being.)

It is Sen. Mitchells job, and of her colleagues at all levels, to do the best possible job to represent not only her constituents but the entire state.

Not all of the priorities she talked about were of specific interest to me, but they were essential to others.

She estimated she gets about 100 e-mails a day, not all of which she can get to, much less respond.  Her job just doesn’t end with long lunches and time-on-your-hands.  There are no easy decisions, either for individuals or groups.  There are incessant demands lobbying for non-negotiable top priorities from this citizen or that special interest.

There are tens of thousands of Nicole Mitchell’s around this country of ours and we should be thankful.  In the audience today was a County Commissioner, for instance.  Asking questions were people lobbying this or that particular specific concern.

In our court, as citizens we have the responsibility to not only represent our particular priority, but to recognize that we are a country of incredible diversity – a country where we have to care for each other, and for the greater world as well.

Every country is similar.  We are part of a world that must work together.

I don’t expect that Nicole, or any of the other elected representatives I had a hand in electing to other offices, need to follow my whims.   It is impossible for them to do so.  They are elected to represent all of us.  It is our responsibility to elect people with Nicole’s qualities.

What we can expect, and what we generally receive, is our representatives honest efforts.

Generally, we can be very thankful.