Cousin Audrey’s youngest daughter, Terri, is the lure that will always bring me back to MInnesota…even if Robert and Marsha permanently decamp to Florida some day.
Terri seems to be a center around which the extended family of Hahns, Nesets, Tacks and more can revolve. Audrey is nearby in a nursing home but no longer able to be active physically or very present mentally. The eldest son Randy died some years ago, and brother David and sister Linda are in different cities, neither distant nor disconnected, but Terri seems to me to be the honorary matriarch, the youngest and the most family-oriented. While she is absolutely dedicated to her immediate family of husband, kids and grandkids, her connections with all of the rest of us remain solid. I am grateful; Aunt Helen (Dad’s youngest sister) and cousin Audrey were important people in my childhood, and Terri may have inherited the best of both of them…without some of our ancestral flaws. When I come to Minnesota, a walleye fry at Terri’s near Roseau is always on the agenda.
Roseau is prairie country just south of the Manitoba border. Best known for crops of corn, soybeans and Polaris snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles. In fact Terri met husband Brian when she was his boss at Polaris. Now they have this great extended family of kids and grandkids. And besides being a friendly and interesting guy, Brian is easily the best walleye-fryer in the north and has a most interesting family history. He’s the grandson of Governor Arthur Link of North Dakota, a Roosevelt-style Democrat and an environmentalist before that was the popular thing to be (still isn’t among most North Dakotans who are usually staunchly Republican). Arthur Link was a North Dakota state representative, a US representative and also served as the states governor in addition to a number of other local and state offices. He’s remembered as being one of those rare politicians who honestly did not care about personal aggrandizement or financial gain; he was a serious man who loved his state and his family and is remembered proudly by family members. He lived until he was nearly 96 and his wife Grace is still living in North Dakota at 103.
Here is the speech Gov. Art Link made on Oct. 11, 1973, in Mandan, N.D. The speech, which is sometimes called Link’s Gettysburg Address, became the centerpiece of a documentary on the former governor that was released in 2008.
“We do not want to halt progress; we do not plan to be selfish and say North Dakota will not share its energy resources. We simply want to ensure the most efficient and environmentally sound method of utilizing our precious coal and water resources for the benefit of the broadest number of people possible.
“And when we are through with that and the landscape is quiet again, when the draglines, the blasting rigs, the power shovels and the huge gondolas cease to rip and roar and when the last bulldozer has pushed the spoil pile into place and the last patch of barren earth has been seeded to grass or grain, let those who follow and repopulate the land be able to say, our grandparents did their job well. The land is as good and in some cases, better than before.
“Only if they can say this, will we be worthy of the rich heritage of our land and its resources.”
It is such a pleasure getting to renew my friendship with Terri’s kids most years and to meet the growing number of charming grandchildren…and see Tula the dog.