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Art and culture around the world with Harriet Dragseth

Time flew the while I was listening to Harriet Dragseth's interesting story. Harriet was born in 1921 in St. Paul to Arthur and Harriet Stewart. Arthur was a St. Paul fireman.

Harriet graduated from Hamline University with degrees in education and art. During World War II, she served as a WAVE. After returning to Minnesota she taught art at schools in Sleepy Eye, Northfield and Comfrey.

Harriet married Joseph (Joe) Dragseth in 1947. Joe was a guidance councilor. They lived in Robbinsdale and Golden Valley for 50 years. They have two children, Jim and Maureen, near Sebeka, and Nancy and Roger in Henning, as well as four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Joe died in 1997.

The Dragseths traveled to many countries. Norway, where Joe had roots, was among the first. Scotland, England, France, Germany, Russia and the Holy Land, as well as others, followed.

Staying in each country two weeks or so gave them time to enjoy the culture as well as a bit of the history. For instance, Harriet recalled England to be fascinating, Russian folks were friendly, with each country catering to tourists.

The art in Italy and France captivated Harriet's artistic yen. Listening to her tell about it made Leonardo DaVinci's "Mona Lisa," painted in oil in 1503 in Paris, come alive.

They saw Michelangelo's "Last Supper," 15-feet-by-29-feet, painted in 1503 in Milan, Italy. It is in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City where it draws 4 million visitors each year. The bronze state of Peter on its marble stand is also unforgettable.

Of all the places Harriet has seen, the Holy Land was most memorable. Nothing is more impressive than walking where Jesus walked, the Sea of Galilee, Gethsemane, and much more. She would still like to have seen the Taj Mahal and Pyramids. A common denominator of wherever they went were beggars who chanted some rendition of "God Bless America ... give to the poor."

Harriet moved into Fair Oaks Apartment in 2001, where she visits with friends, joins in the activities, and takes the Friendly Rider to church and eat out upon occasion. She enjoys keeping up with her grandchildren. She takes in each game of the Twins via TV.

Observing nature, especially birds and most especially cardinals, is another of Harriet's interests along with reading.

I like visiting Harriet's apartment, where pictures she has painted don the walls. Real as life portraits of family display Harriet's skill in getting skin-tones exactly right. She is still ever the art teacher, where viewing her paintings is to learn something.

The past hour with Harriet has been a delight, taking me places by proxy I would never have seen otherwise.

Harriet's broken hip is coming along fine and I am looking forward to when she will soon again be my neighbor in Fair Oaks Apartments.