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Good things come out of small towns

There was a Protestant service on Sunday, residents council meeting and Welk show on Monday, as well as a bingo game, a chapel service, and evening program by Bob and Linda on Tuesday. Wednesday brought everyone's friend, T-Bear, and Kathy to visit. A sing along with Joanne and Sarah also happened that day. Thursday manicures and trivia took over while on Friday there was mass and a word game.

The Christmas coloring contest brought in many colorful pictures again this year. Again, it was hard to choose winners. Very few young artists chose dark colors, with the tone more upbeat and bright.

New friend Jean Fisher shared her story with us this week. She was born in 1929 in Todd County to William and Ida Umland. After graduating from high school in Verndale, she went to Minneapolis to work.

Jean married Robert Fisher and they lived on a farm near Verndale. Farm life suited both Bob and Jean as they liked to be independent. It is where they raised their two daughters. Bob looked forward to hunting ducks each year.

When the Fishers retired, they moved to Verndale, where Jean has enjoyed both the garden club and active Senior Citizens Center. Bob died seven years ago.

We discussed the pros and cons of living in a small town. Jean likes the friendly people. She is sorry there are no grocery stores in many places anymore but she thinks having the Friendly Rider available sort of makes up for it.

John Speelman introduced the first grocery store in Verndale, a Piggly-Wiggly, in 1913. He carried a small supply of many things, such as Lewis Lye, because he knew housewives made their own soap. We decided the discount store is a store that there are all too few of, crowded out by what's newer, faster or more popular.

Small towns have produced very important, well-known individuals, like General Lesley McNair. A couple of others I'll bet you never knew about or have forgotten are Civil War Volunteer Veterans Harrison Lyons and Charles Parker, both Verndale boys.

Harrison was the third one of four brothers who served during the Civil War in l839, in the First Minnesota Infantry. At 6 feet, 2 inches tall, he was the tallest enlisted man in the regiment, not the reason he deserves to be remembered, by the way.

Harrison was wounded while charging a Confederate artillery battery. He lay on the battlefield 10 days, being exposed to heat, cold and rain after his regiment retreated without him. He was eventually captured by Confederate soldiers and put in a Richmond hospital.

When Harrison returned to Verndale, he became one of the most influential members in the community and state, and Lyons State Forest is named after him.

Charles Parker, with not as colorful a background as his friend Harrison's, also served in the First Minnesota Infantry Regiment. Back in Verndale, he owned a dry goods store and was involved in other ventures with Harrison.

It is easy to understand why Jean is anxious to come back to Verndale, her friends, and one of those Senior Citizen Center dinners.