Opinions

Tue
16
Apr

VanHaren: The Bazooka-like power of olfactory memory

Marilyn and I volunteered to be part of the Beaver Dam Eye Study over 30 years ago. Since that time we have participated in several follow-up tests, as have many other city and town of Beaver Dam people in our age bracket. And in the last several years, our sons have also been included in the study. Interestingly, the study, which started out to study eyes, has evolved into considerably more than just an eye study. In the last several follow-ups, we have had our carotid arteries checked by ultrasound and have been tested for our senses of hearing and smell as well.

This is not going to be a commentary about the eye study – although that could make an interesting story because the Eye Study has gotten a lot of national recognition. A granddaughter of some good friends is a pre-med student at Emory University in Atlanta, and she was recently introduced to this now world-famous study.

No, this is about bubble gum. How do they connect? Well, I’ll tell you.

Wed
10
Apr

VanHaren: Picking wild berries was great country experience

Growing up on the farm provided me with lots of experiences which my “town” cousins and friends seldom had.

Picking wild berries was one such experience. Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and gooseberries grew wild in the woods and swamps around our area of Oconto County, and we picked a lot of them for fresh berries and jams and jellies which my mom cooked and canned.

Our farm was on the Oconto River just a couple of miles from the Machickanee Forest, just down river from our farm. The Machickanee Forest was a “managed” stand of pines that had been planted in the depression years by make-work projects of the government, and each year workers would go through and cut the lower branches and just let them lie on the forest bed. These “slashings” became fertile ground for lots of wild berries, especially the wild blackberries, and we made seasonal forays into the woods to pick them.

Wed
03
Apr

VanHaren: Goiter pills, cod liver and castor oil were once part of daily life

It’s funny how our memories work, isn’t it? Some of the goofy stuff that gets stored in our brains comes galloping back to us at weird times. And it’s hard to figure out why we remember them in the first place, not to mention why they come back to us when they do.

I recently had one of those goofy recollections. If you’re around my age, you probably remember goiter pills. At least that’s what we called them when I was a kid.

Tue
26
Mar

VanHaren: The nostalgia of Dick and Jane

Does the simple phrase “See Spot Run” push your nostalgia button?

It pushed mine. In a novel I was reading recently, the narrator used that phrase, and I was immediately transported back to 1945 at St. Anthony’s School in Oconto Falls – Sister Dominic’s first-grade classroom.

Our first “readers” were the “Dick and Jane” series. Dick and Jane, their mom and dad, their little sister Sally, Spot (the dog) and Puff (the cat) were characters in the series. I sure remember them, and I’m reasonably sure that anyone my age would, too. There was no diversity in Dick and Jane’s world. It wasn’t until the early ’60s (I was already out of college by then) that the series included some African-American characters.

As I am often wont to do, I went to the web to see what I could find out about the series. Well, I learned that Zerna Sharp was the woman who invented the characters Dick and Jane to help teach people my age how to read.

Wed
20
Mar

VanHaren: From six-on-six to the full-court press

I live in Beaver Dam, and the real buzz around here is the third consecutive state championship won by our high school girls basketball team. These girls have lost only five games in the last four years, and only one of those losses was to a team from Wisconsin. This year, for example, their only loss was to Miami Country Day, the No. 1-ranked high school team in the nation.

The Beaver Dam girls play a fast-paced, full-court, trapping defense that would be the envy of many boys teams. They routinely beat their opponents by 20 or 30 points while playing all 15 of their players. They don’t attempt to “pour it on” against anyone. The starters play very few second-half minutes.

Wed
13
Mar

VanHaren: Films capture the drama of scaling mountains

When he graduated with the Wayland Academy class of 1992, his classmates voted him “Most Likely to Succeed.” Three weeks ago he won the Oscar for his documentary film, “Free Solo.” “Free Solo” also won the People’s Choice Award: Documentary. Additionally, the film received the BAFTA Award for Best Documentary in 2019.

I did not have Jimmy Chin as a student in any of my classes at Wayland, but it was evident from observing him around campus that he had a special knack for dealing with people. Jimmy played soccer, participated in Model UN, was a proctor in the dorm, and worked on the school’s literary magazine.

Today, Jimmy Chin is a professional climber, mountaineer, skier, photographer, and film director. Jimmy grew up in Mankato, Minnesota, the son of Chinese immigrant parents. Living in Minnesota is hardly a good preparation for becoming a world-class mountain-climber and photographer.

Wed
13
Mar

Salute: Thanks for Love Basket support

To the editor:

The colleagues of HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital wish to thank our community members, fellow employees, and local businesses for their continued support through the years of our annual Love Basket Raffle/Luncheon. We had such a wonderful assortment of baskets this year, totaling 68.

Our gratitude to Eslien Law Office, Witt’s Piggly Wiggy, Dr. Ristow DDS, Riverview QMart, Patriot Golf Course, The Flower Shoppe, Forever, Keller Williams, Building Art and Soul LLC, Total Exteriors, The Antique Bar, NEW Credit Union, J Just Investments, United True Value, Deam Video Productions, Barnstormers’ Restaurant, Oconto Electric Cooperative, Lakeside Breeze, Norwex, Pink Zebra, and The Cottages.

Dawn Coppens,

Oconto Falls

Wed
13
Mar

Salute: Breakfast was a success

To the editor:

The Suring Area Historical Society would like to thank everyone who participated in making the Feb. 10 Paul Bunyan Style Breakfast Successful.

A delicious pancake breakfast was served by the Hayes St. John Youth Group at the St. John Multi-Purpose Room, which was enjoyed by all 206 guests. The recognition of Anna Holl, our former general store owner in Hayes, was the big attraction.

Anna always had bins of candy and snacks for sale, which attracted the children, so the SAHS had jars of candies, Fruit Loops and Cheese Puffs for the guests to put in a guess as to how many pieces were in the jars. Winners of this guessing contest were Jane Gondeck, Sharon Jansen, Willie Miller, Debbie School and Tina Hanson.

Wed
06
Mar

VanHaren: Memories of dipping smelt at Brookside

It doesn’t take much of a nudge to make the DVR in my brain slip into triple-rewind and bring back some amazingly clear pictures of stuff that happened when I was a kid. For example, in the process of looking for some information about something (I can’t even remember now what it was; how’s that for a memory problem?), I saw a church ad for a spring “smelt fry” somewhere in the Upper Peninsula.

Wow! A smelt fry! Have you ever been to a smelt fry? Or have you ever gone dipping smelt?

Before I get too far into this topic, does everyone know what smelt are? Smelt are small, edible, silver-colored, minnow-like fish that can grow up to 12 inches in length (but typically the ones we caught were about 4 or 5 inches long).

Wed
06
Mar

Salute: Thanks to fifth-graders and everyone involved

To the Editor:

For the past several years, Marinette & Oconto Counties Literacy Council has hosted an annual fundraiser by joining with Oconto Falls Elementary School for the following game: “Are You Smarter than an Oconto Falls Fifth-Grader?” This event has proven to be both fun and educational for the students, adult panel and audience as well.

The fifth-grade students are to be commended for their enthusiasm and their knowledge. Of course, the adult panel needs praise also, as it is not easy to come up with a quick answer when asked in front of an audience. Kudos to both groups as they did well when under pressure!

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