so many Reasons for the Season

Sign by Becky Frank

 

A few of my followers grew up in my home village, Clearwater, Minnesota.  You knew where the Kniss’s Grocery  sat–on Main Street, downtown Clearwater. Ellis Kniss carried everything that any grocer carried in the larger towns. While it didn’t sell clothes that I can remember, the window shelves carried candy jars galore.  From lemon drops to root beer barrels, a kid could satisfy that sweet tooth for a penny.  Its main source of income was the sale of all sorts of meats, shelves of Fairway canned vegetables and fruits, juices, frozen goods, lots of fresh produce, and plenty of ice cream novelties–sherbet push-ups, Eskimo bars,  Cheerios, fudge cycles, ice cream bars and so much more for a dime or less.  But a few weeks before Christmas, Ellis also stocked evergreens for the holidays.  

 

The Foundlings

My father’s search to find our tree

would often take him out to see

if he could find at Kniss’s Store

a Christmas tree like years before.

 

Up against the mart’s north wall

stood evergreens so lush and tall.

But on the ground, my dad detected

a scrub-discarded and neglected.

 

A tree to touch his tender heart—

for orphaned man, his counterpart.

He dragged it home where we awaited

a tree to love—when decorated.

 

As it stood in stand, we realized

the tree was less than he’d surmised.

The bells and balls, a garland rope

just didn’t help. We gave up hope.

 

Out of ornaments, so what to do?

We finally admitted we were through.

Tinseled and lit, a star on top

that dried up tree was still a flop.

 

           Now years later . . . in memory,

   I think that I shall never see

  a poem as ugly as that tree—

         or one that means so much to me.

Christmas is magical.  Even during Covid-19 times, we have renewed hope in dire circumstances. We love the lights and the sparkle in little children’s eyes as they wait for Santa.  I remember well my inkling that he might not be real., but I didn’t want to ruin it for my little sister. The setting again is at the Abeln farm on Warner Lake, Lynden Township, Stearns County, Minnesota–just a few miles from Clearwater.

 

Yes, Virginia

Navy-blue, crystally winter’s night.

Glittering sifted snow, icing topped lake,

evergreens muffed in white.  I plodded

as Becky pulled me down the glossy road.

A bundle of blue, she sometimes followed,

sometimes led, sometimes jumped over my feet

as she chattered about baby dolls, Santa’s snack—

star-shaped cookies, his tummy and our chimney.

Late autumn’s whispered secret unmasked the man.

a grown up woman of ten, I played my part

for my younger sister that Christmas Eve,

although I no longer believed.

Carolers sang, “. . .won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

I grumbled, “It’s time to go home.”

As I turned, my eye caught a wink of light

dashing across the blue-black sky.

Becky and I tumbled through pockets of snow.

The yard glowed—lit house and trees.

I blinked.

Who’s that hunching in the shadows?

Mom, traditionally dressed in pink flannel gown,

pulled off our coats and pushed us into the living room.

Becky ran to a diapered doll and teddy bear.

I gazed at a white-veiled Barbie,

Betty Crocker Bake set, white fur-topped boots.

On the floor lay the empty green 7UP bottle

and a plate of cookie crumbs.

I ran to the window.  Cupped my hands around my eyes.

No reindeer, no sleigh.

But on that navy-blue, crystally winter’s night,

I decided to believe another year.

 

   @ Cynthia Frank-Stupnik

My prayers, like all of yours, are for better and healthier year to come, for more sunlight than darkness, for more blessings than pain.  

Merry Christmas and HOPES for a Happy New Year.

 

 

 

Dad

He was not a strong female character that I write about fin my Minnesota Main Street Women series  from Clearwater, Minnesota, but he held a few positions like in the village like mayor, church councilman, volunteer fireman, and good, steady father. Harold Frank would be 108 today. One hundred years ago, Feb. 20, 1920, he also became an orphan, along with his 2 sisters. Despite his loss, he was a quiet but strong role model for me and my two siblings. He also provided me with plenty of story and poetry material.  His strength and fortitude gave his two daughters and son quite a path to follow.

 

poems.

In hot pursuit

1 if by land, 2 if by sea…. Cindy Stupnik
is @ it again. Looking for clues on Lake Minnetonka…
Is she trying to find the footsteps of Simon Stevens,
founder of Clearwater and also the first white man
to lay eyes on Lake Minnetonka?
Is she looking for his mill site on Gray’s Bay
@ the headwaters of Minnehaha Creek?
Or more likely has she spotted the alcoholic beverages @ the bar…?
More adventures in the making.

Becky Frank

LAKE MINNETONKA

This huge body of water, circling the shores of many lovely towns like Excelsior, Deephaven, Wayzata, and Shorewood has intrigued me ever since I learned about Simon Stevens, Clearwater founder and brother John Harrington Stevens, Minneapolis founder.  Both men were born and raised in Brompton Falls, Quebec, Canada.  John Harrington, the older of the two, became colonel in the U.S. Army after fighting in the Mexican-American War. Simon followed his brother once he settled in Minnesota and helped build his house, the first house on the west side of the Mississippi across from St. Anthony.

Simon Stevens made his own history. Well-known around Minnesota during his life span, he and a group of fortune-seeking explorers paddled westward from the Mississippi River on the Minnehaha Creek approximately twenty-two miles.  The group portaged around a huge falls, but once they got to the headwaters of the creek, they viewed a huge body of water that would become known as Lake Minnetonka one day. At what would be called Gray’s Bay, they built a sawmill.  Simon did not stay around long but sold his rights to search for his own land to call home.  This would become Clearwater, at the mouth of the Clearwater River that flows into the Mississippi, and the setting for many and most of my works.

A couple of years ago, for a birthday trip, I asked my husband to take me to Lake Minnetonka to find the area where Simon Stevens and others built the mill.   This site has a wonderful hiking path, small dam, and offers lots of historic information, evening mentioning Simon Stevens.

So as I work on my next book and wanting to see if we could find any type of imprint of Simon’s, my sister Becky and I signed up for a cruise on Lake Minnetonka. We had beautiful weather, albeit a bit cool,  and viewed many luxurious homes, boats and their houses. We heard about some of the lake’s history, especially the Big Island where amusement called out to adventure seekers during the early 1900’s from nearly all over the world. Jennie Phillips, protagonist in Scruples & Drams visits relatives and friends in Excelsior, and even Jennie Phillips’s sister Ruthie’s autobiography refers to the the ride around Lake Minnetonka and Big Island Amusement Park:

The summer after my father passed away [1904] Pat [Ruthie’s older sister Harriet] and I were invited to go to mother’s sister [Harriet Ada Crossman] and family who lived at that time in Excelsior on Lake Minnetonka.   We had never been to a large city before so we were quite excited as we had to go to Minneapolis and then change trains to go out to Excelsior. . . I loved the trip over and we stood at the rail of the boat and watched the rainbow in the drops of water as they flew off the paddles of the large water wheel at the side . . .  So many beautiful homes and some places just woods.

We knew already that the park was no longer in existence. Yet, when the captain of our Lady of the Lake cruise ship drew close to the shore of Big Island and mentioned it was now a nature park, I was dismayed; I so wanted to see something of the past.

In past research for Pins & Needles, I learned protagonist Maude Porter’s aunt, uncle, and cousins settled near the lake in Excelsior as well.  Annette Robinson married Mark L. Knowlton.  Knowlton was the Clear Lake, MN, postmaster at the time.  The family eventually moved to Minneapolis and finally to Excelsior where he worked for the Pillsbury Company:

In the early 1900’s, [the Mark Knowlton] family was living in Edgewood at Lake Minnetonka and he would ride his motorbike from the Lake into Excelsior.  (Anyone owning a motorized vehicle in those days was noticed) where he’d park during the day, and catch the train or streetcar into Minneapolis.  The process was reversed in the evening.  In later years the family remembered the good bread that “Grandpa” brought home from the testing kitchens at Pillsbury.

On another trip a couple years ago, my sister and I toured more of Excelsior, trying to find where the Knowltons once lived. We found one house.  At one point in 1921, Mark Knowlton and his son purchased the James H. Clark’s home that was built to become a boarding house [and now is a bed and breakfast–the Bird House Inn] from the children of Clark and his wife. After Mark died, his son “J. E. “Jack” Knowlton who ran a horse and wagon delivery service around the lake via launch,  and was also the proprietor of Knowlton’s Cabin Camp adjacent to the south, at 411 Water Street, from 1932-1948 [took it over.]  His wife, Mrs. J. E. Knowlton,  always had roomers in the big house.  She was born Alice Howard, granddaughter of homesteader Silas Howard, for which Howard’s Point on Lake Minnetonka is named.”

Unfortunately, we saw nothing like horse and wagon, an old-fashioned motor bike, or even a mirage of a saw mill.  Our cruise did not even take us to Gray’s Bay because to get there from where we boarded in Excelsior would take a five – six hour cruise.  Since there is little to no public history tour of the lake, we had to admit that we had researched the people and had seen many  of the sites that were to be used in my next book.  (Please, if you know something we don’t know, let me know

Yes, I am  in a “hot pursuit” of characters, plots, and history again to bring alive another Minnesota Main Street woman for my next novel.  But I already have the makings of a couple HOT romances, some wiley twists and turns, a few not so nice individuals–with a juicy murder or two–and lots of historic tension.

Cindy

 

 

[wysija_form id=”2″]

On the road again

6th Floor St Cloud Hospital

ON THE ROAD . . .

–TO RECOVERY–For those who didn’t know–

I finally had a knee replacement on May 3.  Many of you saw me hobbling around.  I’d have good days and bad days, but this winter was the worst. Not only had I needed this surgery for quite a while, but the knee had caused my ankle to degenerate from the reconstruction I had in 2005.  This caused my podiatrist to have a brace designed and cast for me to wear to protect my ankle from further issues.  My doctors, family, and I took special precautions in order to commit to my recovery–blood thinners due to a previous pulmonary embolism, intensive, in-house rehab physical therapy for 2 weeks 3 times a day, and when I was released to go home, lots of care and more physical therapy 3 times a week with my favorite PT.  After 8 weeks of physical therapy, I’m doing great, and better yet, NO BOOT to protect the ankle.

–With REV. MARY MACNICHOLL-

I am putting the final touches on the powerpoint slide presentation for the first woman to be fully ordained in the Minnesota Methodist Conference in 1958. Most of you know that I earned a grant from the United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History to write her story.  Little did I know that this woman, Mary MacNicholl, who would be my minister in Clearwater, Minnesota, in the 1960s, had broken through her own ‘glass ceiling’.  How did I know back then our church community would be served by such a celebrity?  Not sure I or anyone else knew Mary Mac’s impact, but I know I felt honored to be noticed by her when I sang in the choir, attended Methodist Youth Fellowship,  enrolled in our short confirmation class (Methodist youth usually have only a six-week education), she came to my graduation party, and when she often stopped to have coffee with my mom. She awoke our consciences, our awareness of the world around us, and our knowledge of our Methodist tradition.  Sixty years after her ordination and forty years after her death, I hope to do justice to Mary MacNicholl’s story and service.  The essay is ready to be sent to the United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History.  The new and improved powerpoint will be tested when I speak at Wykoff United Methodist Church.  This was one of the three churches Pastor Mary MacNicholl was charged with after she graduated from Drew Seminary in  1949. I will be presenting her story on July 21 during the church service at 8:30, a.m.

–BRINGING THE STORIES OF STRONG MINNESOTA MAIN STREET WOMEN TO MY READERS–

I was busy up to surgery–actually, less than a week before I sold my books at the St. Cloud River’s Edge Convention Center.  Then the hiatus. Now, I am excited and ready to begin my busy time of the year–July through November.

After I present Mary MacNicholl’s story in Wykoff, I’ll be bringing my books, Minnesota Main Street Women series–Scruples & Drams and Pins & Needles, Around Clearwater, and Postcards from the Old Man to sell at the Clearwater Heritage Days at the Rendezvous at the dam, off Highway 75 and the north end of Main Street, Saturday and Sunday, August 3-4.

Come see me at the Clearwater dam where I’ll be participating in the Rendezvous. Here where the Clearwater River merges with the Mississippi, the village was first created.  In the 1850s, sawmills lined the banks and built the first houses and store buildings.  Feed mills, sawmills, stores of all kinds– hardware, general merchandise, jewelry, clothing, shoe, and furniture sat on the banks of the Clearwater or up on Oak Street and Main Streets.  These buildings and the people who occupy them are the subjects of my Around Clearwater history and Minnesota Main Street Women series. Each protagonist, Jennie Phillips in Scruples & Drams and Maude Porter in Pins & Needles,  a real woman pioneer from Clearwater, made her mark on the community.  They both see gender inequalities in the world as far as suffrage, health, education, and legal issues.  Their desire to make things right for the women and their families they encounter is a major theme in my series.

If you want to know history, Arcadia Publishing’s Image of America: Around Clearwater is the most up-to-date word on early Clearwater.” Burrowed below bluffs overlooking the Mississippi and Clearwater Rivers, Clearwater’s houses, its churches, and most of its original businesses resemble those that settlers had left behind in the East. With its arch-like trees sheltering Oak and Main Streets, the community remained home to many who lived and died there and those who had moved on only to return for yearly Old Settlers gatherings. This sense of community allowed Clearwater to thrive. Flour and pulp mills lined the shores of the Clearwater River. Mercantile, hardware, jewelry, and drug stores cropped up, providing the products for a growing community. Trade once powered by steamboats on the Mississippi was taken over by James Hills Great Northern Railroad. While the village and surroundings have changed over time, the original charm is still there, ready to be explored again.”

Whiting Building sat kitty-corner from the Masonic Hall.

–WITH SOME FINAL THOUGHTS–

Speaking of Clearwater, Minnesota’s heritage that I have been writing about for a number of years, Clearwater’s Heritage Days is coming up August 2-3, with the Rendezvous lasting through Sunday.  Along with coronation activities going on before the celebration begins, the parade comes back to downtown Clearwater on Friday night at 7:00 beginning at the Clearwater Dam.  What a great move back to come back where the village began by the Clearwater and Mississippi Rivers. The parade route will begin there and end up at Eagle Trace Golf Course.

This length of Main Street will take you by many of the historic sites– past the Boutwell Hardware and Pat Quinn’s Saloon (neither are standing–that I write about in Maude Porter’s story, Pins & Needles.  It will take you past the historic United Methodist Church  I attended when I was in my youth, and down to the drug store (now an apartment building) I write about in Jennie Phillips’s, the woman druggist) story, Scruples & Drams.  Three blocks further you will come to the Thomas Porter home and farm that he built beginning in the 1870s. He was a fur trader, farmer, village treasure and besides serving Wright County, and served in the Minnesota Legislature for a few terms.  Your final stop will be at Eagle Trace Golf Club, which was his original land that extends down to the Mississippi River.   I had trouble with the golf club’s webpage but this gives you at least the location: 1100 Main St.      https://www.yelp.com/biz/eagle-trace-golf-and-event-center-clearwater

 

Come join us for some fun.  I’ll keep up better from now on and let you in on the different spots I’ll be located over the next few months.

Cindy

P.S. Please “Subscribe” on my homepage.

 

 

 

AND FINALLY, YOUR INVITATION

It took a while, but I am so proud of my new book, Pins & Needles.  Here is the information from the back cover:

Maude Porter’s narrative takes place in the Mississippi River town of Clearwater, Minnesota. Daughter of village founders Tom Porter and Abigail Camp Porter, she owns a millinery store upstairs of Boutwell’s Hardware Store. From here, she can keep her eye on the comings and goings of the village. What she sees causes quite a commotion, but what she hears over her newly installed telephone could spell trouble. In this sequel to Scruples & Drams, readers see what life is like in the late 1800 and early 1900’s for the “new women” who were educated, strong-minded, and holding down careers. Women like Maude have concerns about the health and well-being of many women who are overworked, under-educated about their bodies, and become pregnant way too often. While Maude understands that suffrage and equal rights are important, she also sees how the consumption of alcohol ruins families and communities and causes some men to be brutal. At first Maude believes education is the key to ridding the town of the many drunks and their brawls outside Quinn’s Saloon. Ultimately, though, she and others, men and women, come to realize that prohibition is the only answer to setting their world in order.  For Clearwater, the answer is clear: shut down Pat Quinn’s Saloon.

One of my reviewers, Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner,  stated this:  “In this historic novel set in 1909 Maude Porter and Jennie Phillips balance their careers with fighting for women’s basic rights – some openly, others behind the scenes. These old friends, who we met in Cindy Stupnik’s earlier Scruples & Drams, continue to face fearsome adversaries with growing courage and conviction. Along the way, we meet the historic characters who populate the village of Clearwater, Minnesota and get a flavor of early white settlement and its challenges. Stupnik has a gift for drawing us into the time and place, and this book hits the mark.”

Sally Roesch Wagner, Ph.D.
Executive Director, The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation, Inc.
Adjunct Faculty, The University Honors Program, Syracuse University
Adjunct Faculty, St. John Fisher Executive Leadership Program
Public Scholar, Humanities New York

So come one, come all, to my book launch –Oct. 13, 2018, at the Clearwater United Methodist Church, Clearwater, Minnesota. Starting at 12:30, we will have music, lite snacks, cake, coffee, book signing, and around 3, a walking tour of the locations I write about in my books.

Cindy Stupnik

Sneak preview of “Pins and Needles” another novel in the Minnesota Main Street Women’s series

This week, Pins & Needles was wrapped up and sent to the printer.  I am so happy with the cover and the story.  I have had excellent editors along the way.  I hope you enjoy it as well.  It is the second in my Minnesota Main Street Women series.  My next book will be the prequel.  Once you have read Maude Porter’s story in the new novel, you’ll know who the protagonist is in the next story.

For the next couple weeks, I am offering my author’s discount for anyone wanting to place a pre-order with me.  From 28.99 down to $20 and 1/2 price  shipping (for a total of $22)  unless you come to the book launch in mid-October in Clearwater, Minnesota, at the Clearwater United Methodist Church when and where shipping is free.  AND this is where I’d love to see you to help launch this new book, have some fun, and eat cake.   Unfortunately, I can’t give a positive launch date, but the book is at the publisher/printer.

I heard that there is rain and humidity in the forecast for this weekend’s big events in Clearwater. Clearwater Heritage Days and Clearwater Rendezvous down at the Clearwater Dam, right off Highway 75.   Get out of the heat/damp weather for a while and come see and hear me at Clearwater’s Great River Regional

Library on Saturday at 11 until 12. Before and after this, I’ll be at the dam Saturday and Sunday. I’d love to see you.  I will be bringing most of my books to sell and sign.  We will have some of our “SUNDRIES” to sell as well–soaps, bathroom sprays, lotions, face creams.

 

 

 

Cindy