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Getting to know John Knight

It was 31 years ago that I asked Ken Stickney, an entertainer from Perham who sang and played the guitar, to put on a program for us. A bonus was having him render several tunes with a 2-inch square of birchbark between his teeth. He tried to teach us how to do it. It sounded kind of like blowing on a comb -- not an unpleasant sound.

On Ken's second or third time here, he asked if he could bring along a young friend who could sing. The friend was John Knight, a bass singer in a couple of barbershop quartets. Soon John also brought a friend who turned out to be a young, shaggy golden lab named Blondie.

Blondie knew exactly why she had been born. It was to softly pad from chair to chair, sometimes bed to bed, where she rested her head on a lap or a knee, eyes closed in ectasy while loving hands stroked her.

Eventually, some 14 years later, rheumatism complicated jumping in and out of a car and kept her from coming. The same complaint decked Ken, so John became the sole survivor. This is John's story.

John was born at Wolf's Point in 1925 to Leonard and Lucy Knight. John's wife's name is Marge and she was a bookkeeper. John retired from the Perham school system after 25 years.

John's so-called "retirement" has been a busy one. He entertained at 10 nursing homes and senior centers along with filling in as a lay preacher for his church, sometimes preaching three sermons at churches 12 miles apart the same Sunday.

These days, what with Father Time being the relentless hard-boiled old boy that he is, John carries a cane instead of a guitar, the song books he uses are in big print, and he sits on a stool instead of standing up. The 10 nursing homes has shrunk down to four and he is driven to appointments instead of driving his own car.

But we don't care. He can still sing and he is our John, who knows our names and what songs we like. Come any Wednesday the fourth week of any month and you will hear him at the big birthday party.

John taught shop for 25 years, was a Boy Scout master for 23 years, has two sons and six brothers.


Assuming that most of you read the piece by Editor Steve Schulz in last week's paper about printing facts exactly as they are, I am telling you for sure that is the unvarnished truth. He does do it like that. Let me give you a personal example:

Do you remember last fall when that rookie cop on U.S. Highway 10 gave me a ticket because he thought I was going to run over him? It was the same time I had to pay a stiff fine but didn't get to go to jail, didn't get to walk the white line or even so much as sniff in that breathalyzer thing, remember?

Well, a day or so later when I took the copy for my column in to Steve, I kind of suggested that since I got left out of all the other benefits it would be cool if he misspelled my name in the traffic column. I could be Ethel Peterson, or Evelyn Paterson.

Would Steve do it -- even consider doing it?

No! Absolutely not, wouldn't you know it? At least it made those guys at the Boondocks happy.

In spite of all the downers on the same day, that night I went to bed smiling.

That cop forgot to check my seat belt. Hee, hee, hee!