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Stories for the Storyteller

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S: Happy 60th Birthday

FC: Stories for the Storyteller Love, Your Friends and Family February 2010

1: Dad, I hope you enjoy this "birthday book". It is in place of a card this year. I was thinking for quite a while about what to get you that you would really enjoy. You always say that so and so was a great story teller - but you should know that you are the best storyteller that I know. You share your stories of the past with pride to your family and friends. You he;lp us to remember things that otherwise might be forgotten in time. And you have passed on to me a love for capturing memories - whether it be by stories told or written down, capturing it in a photo, or recording for home movies. I love you lots, Dad! Happy Birthday, Love, Sarah

2: Happy 60th Dad! You’ve inspired me in so many ways. I think back to when I was younger and just love thinking about the dad you were to me, so energized and fun. I certainly didn’t appreciate it enough then, but see now how lucky I was. I love listening to your stories over and over. You and mom have really made an amazing life together.

3: One of my favorite memories with you was about five years ago. I was home from some far away place around Thanksgiving time. You had one more day to go out and hunt and it was about 3:00 in the afternoon. You asked if I'd like to sit out with you for the final hour or two. We hiked up the field road and sat above the North field at the fence line. You talked about how deer scent us and shared some more of your hunting knowledge. Nothing really happened. We didn't see any deer or any other animals, but I remember it being significant. I think it was great just because we were spending time together. I shared this as one of my favorite memories this past weekend at my masters class. Thanks for being you, Dad. I love you! Em

4: From Sondra Ken knows a lot about birds. Pretty much more than anyone else I know. One day I called him to let him know about an unusual bird I had seen in my drive way. I was certain I had seen a red-shouldered hawk. When I called Ken to tell him about it he assured me I had to be mistaken. According to Ken there weren't red-shouldered hawks in this area. I thought I was certain, but maybe I had been mistaken, even though the bird had only been a few feet away from me. Next day I got a call from Ken sheepishly admitting that maybe I hadn't been mistaken after all. Apparently there was an article in the paper that morning about sightings of the unusual red-shouldered hawk in the area. Probably the only time I will ever best Ken when it comes to birds.

5: Joy enjoys: Making grandfather clocks for grandma and I think Val's folks. I think grandma did the finishing work on them. I always thougt that was such a thoughtful thing to do and what a great memory and something that could be handed down to family. His famous bowls that were so unique and all the furniture he made including my dining room table. A keepsake for sure and still getting compliments. | Years ago they would have a bunch of friends over for a party with swimming in the pond, music (I just don't remember if there was a radio or what but I remember dancing in the garage to music) and lots of people. It was potluck so lots of food and good times. Picking walnuts under the trees on the hill. Going home and cracking them and use it for baking. Grandpa was a good nut cracker and had the patients for it ( I would cheat and give them to him to crack sometimes).

7: I remember the night that Ken and Val came to our house to tell us that they were pregnant. We were watching TV in the living room and they came in and said that they had to tell us something. When they told us that they were pregnant....Lisa and I just started jumping up and down then Ken started jumping up and down too. We had lots of fun! Lisa and I started talking about babysitting almost immediately after the jumping! :-) I'm sure Dad got a couple of beers out or something. Great night........ I know that is just a little story, but it was fun for me! From Becky O.

8: Ken, Happy 60th Birthday!! You don’t look a day over 59! (Just kidding) It must be all those farm fresh eggs you’ve been eating that keeps you looking so young! Not many guys your age are still skiing, kayaking, and climbing trees! We have had many great times with you and Val over the years including kayaking, hiking, biking, fishing, and birding. One of our best memories though is traveling to Ireland with you on the John Smith tour. Listening to great Irish music in the pubs, hearing John’s songs as we traveled through County Donegal, and enjoying a Guinness with you – It doesn’t get much better than that! We are so fortunate to have you and Val as friends, and we look forward to creating many more fun memories with you! Love, Al & Jane

9: Dad, We used to take so many drives. Sometimes we just took the long way and others we just were out for fun. I remember one day out for a drive somewhere by Blair and we got lost. Well, at least you led us to believe that. Emmy and I were concerned because we only had warm kool-aid and didn't think we could survive very long on that. I also think back about driving through the refuge with the family. I loved when I got a chance to "drive" while sitting on your lap. I felt so important and smart being able to drive through there safely! And we always wanted to stop by the "house". Thank you Dad for all of the neat experiences you provided for me. Even those little one's like the "warm kool-aid road" will always make me smile when I feel lost today. Love you! Sarah

10: Carol P. remembers... I think Grandpa said he would get the gun if your dad thought he was coming back to see Val/ take her camping during the first one or two dates!! Also, there was the time they took you on a trip to Vermont and forgot your suitcase. Then the trip where they had to buy a different vehicle, because their old van broke down...maybe this was the honeymoon? Then the famous Richard comment to Ken when Ken showed my dad the farm they have now and dad said "Are you mad at flat land?"

11: Happy Birthday Ken!!! I have never been much for mushrooms. That was until I learned how to hunt for Morels on the KV ranch! Thanks for turning me onto those yummy bits of fried salty goodness!! Mmm Mmm Love, Mike

14: Stories from Mary I'm trying to remember things about Ken when we were kids, and since I can't remember what I did yesterday, it's kind of tough!! Seems like Ken liked me more than Wayne did, but then that could be because Wayne and I always fought like crazy!! I'm sure I was much nicer to Ken than I was to Wayne! I remember the three of us would be outdoors from after breakfast until it was time to eat again, and then right back outside until suppertime. If Mom needed us for anything, she would honk the horn 3 times and we would head for the house. I can remember having turtle races in the sand of the driveway, and the rabbit that was on the table in the basement, and riding calves because we didn't have horses (we learned the hard way to hang on to their tails going downhill!), and Ken and Wayne taking turns scaring me to death when it was my turn to go get the milk from the milkhouse!!

15: Wayne: Some of the fondest memories of growing up with Ken was when we would ride those two heifers around. Looking back on it I can just imagine what hayseeds we looked like. We went everywhere, including down to the Park. I don't think those heifers were too happy to see us coming for them with twine for a halter in our hands. Mary: I rode them too, but not as much as you guys!! You failed to mention that I should hang on to their tail when going down the hill by the Bear's Nest, and I ended up around the poor heifer's neck at the bottom. You two thought it was a riot!!! Wayne: You never should have let go of the tail!

16: Carol remembers... When they were snowed in at Traub's. It was Ken, Roger, Mom & Dad. Took Ken's van out across a field to the next farm. Unfortunately, Ken had used his van to haul calves, and hadn't cleaned out the "calf scowers" yet. Wonderful ride to M & D's house, and all stayed there that night. Ken and Roger in Ken's old blue van pulling old blue wooden trailer. When driving, trailer starts to pass them along guard rail by Decorah Peak. "Who hooked it up"!!!! Ken was checking out his neighborhood with his brand new pickup - little icy on George's hill - almost a big OOPS! Ken borrowed a "wonderful" trailer from Troy to haul a horse to River Falls, ba-a-d trailer, stopped by the cops, "well you will never lose the trailer, the log chain will hold it all together".

17: Dumping mortor down Ken's chimney to strengthen the metal liner. Dumping and dumping and dumping. After carrying 5 gallon pails of the stuff up a ladder to the roof. Well, he had a few blow outs!!! In the basement and other places. Finally got done - but after everything set up, hard, there was blockage half way down the chimney. "You know you're a redneck if" YOU USE A SHOT GUN TO REMOVE IT. Taking close aim "but not looking" - missed - second shot got it. Which car was the "rock crusher"?? Thanks, Ken, for the great geometry lessons, since Duane Fruechte certainly didn't make it clear to me! Ken always says he helped raise me.....must have forgotten to tell me that 10:00 is late enough to be out and about! Good thing that didn't get passed on....

18: Ken and I started dating in November of 1971 at RiverFalls. I remember when he came back from traveling down the east coast in his van. He came to a UW-RF basketball game and I was there. I was so happy to see him, but we weren't dating at that time. He had another girlfriend at the time. I really never thought about us going out together, but always had a good time when we went to parties or just hung out.. I remember when he asked if I would like a drink at Emma's in RF- downtown. Everyone went there. I told him I didn't drink, but he ordered me a Lake Country Red Cooler, and said he thought I would like that. I did. Then he invited by to his apt for a sandwich.. his mom had made him some braunschweiger sandwiches. I can't believe I ate one.. I hated that kind of food. But he made me coffee, so I guess I thought he was ok. Well, that's how it all started. I often went home to Tremp with Ken on weekends that school year. We often hitchhiked.. I didn't really want to, but I had confidence he would let anything happen to us.. I was always scared to death.. His mom would pick us up in Winona and then take us back there on Sunday. Wonder what she thought of us hitchhiking.. Everybody did it then.

19: In February we talked about marriage and on Feb 22(Washington's birthday) we decided we wanted to spend our lives together. We had dated 3 months. BUT, I had known Ken for almost a year.. Ken had told me he really wanted me to stay at his folks place over the summer, so I did. That was an interesting summer. I worked at the factory in Galesville making auto parts. After we go back from out west on our honey moon, we lived at the Sonic Motel next to Wason's in an efficiency unit. Then headed back to RF to finish up school. At least Ken did. Just a note about the wedding day in RF. We got to RF at about 11:00ish and there was a note on the priest's door that said, I'll be right back, don't worry we'll have plenty time to rehearse before the wedding. Well by the time started to rehearse with Mary and Robert as our bridesmaid and groomsman, everyone was there watching us practice. I can only imagine what Grandma Leech ( Florence ) must have been thinking. She didn't like the looks of the priest. He had long shoulder length hair. I thought he was handsome. She keep talking about him to mom and dad, and said he wasn't to be trusted.. That's Grandma Leech. Anyway, Ken and I headed for my girlfriend's apt to change, together. I had made my own dress, olive green, which I still have. The wedding went fine. We had only invited family, so there were only about 30 people at the most. Dinner was at the Walvern Hotel where I had waitressed for over a year, and cooked too. Ken had lived upstairs. All their hotel rooms had been converted into apts for college students. We had a wonderful dinner. I didn't plan any flower arrangements for our tables. So when mom got to RF, she had brought a beautiful vase and asked a florist to quickly make up an arrangement, which was on the table when we got to the restaurant. We left RF by 4:00 or so, headed for California. We had 14 days for our honeymoon. Lots of fun..

20: Ken started his first construction crew in RF when he was about 20 or 21. The RF Lumber Year hired him and he would get a crew and they would rough in houses. That's how he began Critzman Construction although he didn't call it that until he started with a crew in the Trempealeau area in the summer of 1972. He had to get a checkbook for the co, and so that's what he decided to call his Construction Co. I remember the first time I saw the Miss R and Tremp. We were all at a party in RF, and Ken said to us at about 3:00am at the party. You want to go with to Tremp? I have to take my dad's van home and switch vehicles. So we all piled in the back of the van, among tools and quickly fell asleep. When I woke up and looked out the window and saw the Miss R.. I couldn't believe it. Anyway we got to his folks place and everyone was gone. I just remember how much fun it was to visit his place. We weren't dating then, just good friends. Ken was always very energetic and excited about work and getting a farm, his cattle, and his construction business. When we were still at RF, we would come home and help take care of the calves we would buy at sale barns. That's a story in itself. Martha took care of the calves during the while we were at school. Ken and I would go to a sale barn, buy some calves, maybe 3 or 4. Haul them home in the back of our van. That was his idea.. Man did it stink by the time we got to Critzman's. UFFF ! And then he would try to nurture those calves, but often they died.. It wasn't a money making plan, but he sure tried hard at that endeavor.

21: Ken's always been very optomistic. Like the time he convinced me to hitch hike to Galveston, TX, I have all the rides documented. Then he talked me into staying with these hippies in Houston for a night. Didn't cost us a cent, but they made us feel very unconfortable and I was scared of them, so the guy we had met on the beach took us back to the Sam Houston Hotel. Ken and I felt much better there, even with the cock roaches in the sink. Then there was the time we hitchhiked from Chilicothe, MO because Ken thought we could beat the bus back to Rockford, IL where we had left our van at Grandma Anderson's. Yes, he was always really optomistic about a lot of things when he was younger. I used to tease him about his optimism. I hope you enjoy reading these little stories and reminiscing about some of the things you and I have done not so long ago. You may be turning another year older, but you're like fine wine. You get better with a little age. I love you lots, Val

23: Dad, I bet you could tell a good story about each one of these pictures on here. Thank you for inspiring us to tell some stories of our own. We all love you lots and wish you the best in your 60th year of life. With love, From your friends and family

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  • Title: Stories for the Storyteller
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