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The cold weather of the past week or so has brought back some old memories from my days as a youth growing up north of town. Looking back to those early days of my youth, I still get a warm feeling when thinking about spending time in our cozy little house on those cold winter days.

The other day as I arrived home from work, I was in the stairs landing taking off my coat and boots and one of those memories came back to me. I could see my dad coming in the door after he’d finished work and had shoveled snow so he could get the car in the driveway. In the winter time he always seemed to have an endless supply of moisture dripping off the end of his nose. I can remember how happy I would be when I knew that he would be “in” for the night. He would take his coveralls, jacket and boots off in the basement landing and set his boots on the first step going down. I guess this memory came to me when I found myself doing the same exact thing all these years later.

As far back as I can remember, Dad had always kept a horse or two. When we first moved to Bridge Avenue, there were hardly any houses. Ours sat on the north side of what is now Glenview Drive, and my aunt and uncle lived on the south side. It was barely more than a field road at the time and ended at the pasture fence at the back of our lot.

When my grandpa’s barn burned down, we got the old milk house and moved it to the back of our lot and my dad soon converted it to a horse barn. We kept horses there for many years until the land around us started to be developed and more and more houses started popping up.

My dad had two registered American Saddle bred horses that he was mighty proud of. One was named Champion (after Gene Autry’s no doubt) and the other was Easter Ann. I can remember my dad feeding Champion carrots and apples out of his hand. That horse would also pull a cigarette out of his shirt pocket and a handkerchief out of his back pocket if he left it hanging out. There were a few times when the folks would take horseback rides down some of the back roads in the area. I can recall one such time when Elmer and Mary, some family friends, had taken me along in the car as they followed along behind. Suddenly a car came over the hill and spooked my mom’s horse, causing it to rear up and then take off running, throwing mom into the ditch. Dad immediately rode off after Easter Ann, catching her a little ways down the road. That story was repeated many times over the years whenever mom wanted to remind dad that he seemed to be more worried about the horse than my mother. Luckily, she wasn’t hurt, but I really can’t say that I can ever remember seeing her ride again.

When my sister Judy was born Dad had to sell Easter Ann to pay for the hospital bill, and I don’t think that it was too long after that he had to find another place to keep his horse. I was never very interested in horseback riding, so it was kind of ironic my sister Judy eventually became the horseman I knew he’d wanted me to be. Over the years he’d owned many horses which he had kept in various locations. The one place I liked best was the old Joe Juve farm that stood where the football fieldhouse is now. I would ride with dad on many winter nights to help him with chores after he’d come home from a long day at work. Some nights went fast, but most of the time it would take way too long for my liking. He was meticulous in currying them and brushing their mane and tail. Dad always talked to the horses because he said if they recognized your voice they would feel comfortable. He was particularly patient with a horse he had named Pedro, a beautiful gelding and a registered Tennessee Walker. The previous owner had beaten and abused the horse, so Dad would spend hours working with the horse and eventually taught it to trust man once again.

Yes, the cold weather reminds me of those cold winter nights spent in the barn waiting while Dad took care of the horses. There was something cozy about that too; because the barn actually seemed warm to me when that cold wintery wind was busily whirling snow about outside.

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I have heard mixed reports on area fishing, but the one thing that seems constant is the number of small walleye being caught in the channel. This is a good sign for the years ahead. I have heard mixed reports coming from some that have fished Pickerel Lake. Everyone agrees there are good numbers of panfish, perch and northern, but not everyone has been able to entice them to bite. Outside of the channel the fishing has been slow on Albert Lea Lake and Fountain has been doing pretty well for panfish and perch by the beach.

Until next time, don’t let a little cold weather keep from enjoying a little “hard water” fishing.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers in the New Year because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.

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