Category Archives: Harry Welty


The string of seven and eight hour nights worth of sleep keeps chugging along. I must be doing something right. Recently I got two thousand dollar pledges to help with Art’s legal fight so that put me in a good mood. I’ll have to write and send out a first fundraising letter soon now that my time is getting freed up. Claudia does want me to check with attorneys to make sure there is nothing illegal about my helping a friend and colleague beat back an inquisition.

I spent an hour this morning in the cool spring air beating the heck out of cushions and pillows to get rid of dust mites. Every little cloud of dust that wafted over my patio from each whack with my old Wilson tennis racket was gratifying. I gave up with about 70% of the cushions complete and blisters had set in. I turned then to finishing the last of the newspapers that I have been stock piling.

One of them contained an obituary/story I found interesting about Vern Gagne. It reminded me of a handful of related stories about the world of professional wrestling I grew up with.

I remember driving through rural Missouri on a family trip in grade school when my Dad pointed to a car with a big handmade sign over its trunk. It announced the car’s driver “Haystacks Calhoon”. Dad told us that Haystacks was a professional wrestler and I was pleased to see a celebrity even if I didn’t know exactly who he was. We Kansans pronounced it “wrassling” and its practitioners were “wrasslers” even when you spelled it the right way with a “t.”

I paid scant attention to the professional wrestling shows broadcast out of Kansas City, just enough to know the sobriquets (nicknames) of a half dozen of the colorful characters who preened before their adoring fans. I was surprised when I moved to Minnesota in seventh grade to see a whole new cast of characters on the local wrestling shows. That’s when I learned that the whole nation was divided into a dozen wrestling fiefdoms each with its own world champion. That sort of championship, along with the histrionics of the athletes I would have preferred to be stoic, confirmed my disinterest in their world.

I really didn’t need to hear my physical education teacher, Luverne Klar, telling me in high school that professional wrestling was phony. He had been one of the light-weight wrestlers on Vern’s University of Minnesota Wrestling team. Mr. Klar never tired of telling his classes how disgusted he was with the sham. He never forgave Vern for becoming a millionaire by claiming that professional wrestlers were serious athletes. Claudia had him for homeroom and didn’t much care for him but Mr. Klar once defended me from a bully and I had a sort of soft spot for the old curmudgeon.

Then I found myself in college with the son of Vern’s business partner, the wrestling “promoter” Wally Karbo. Wally’s shtick was to complain about the bad wrestlers and how he was going to deal with them for their bad behavior. He had no grace or wit but the seriousness of his boring complaints was oddly entertaining. His son, Steve, caught my interest immediately because of the association. Steve joined my fraternity as a pledge immediately after I went “active.” He was several years older than me and had just come back from Vietnam.

I immediately took a dim view of him because of my goody-two-shoes remove from this father’s shallow and seedy world. But Steve had a few surprises for me. He once told me of an epic drunk while he was in Vietnam in which he commandeered (stole) a jeep and drove it around all night in a stupor with a loaded M-16 intending to shoot anyone who tried to stop him. He swore to me that had he been stopped he would have killed somebody but such was his luck that no one bothered him and he quietly, if drunkenly, returned the jeep.

I’m not sure why it came up but one night I began reciting the famous soliloquy from Hamlet: “Time creeps by in its petty pace” that Mrs. Fitzsimons had required her English students to memorize in my senior year of high school. I only memorized that single verse for a C, much to Mrs. Fitzsimons’s disappointment. I refused to memorize two more Shakespearian sonnets to get an A for that unit. She told me they would enrich my life but I’m not a fan of memorization. I still don’t know the 23rd Psalm or the Apostles Creed – by heart anyway.

It had only been a year since I’d memorized my Hamlet so I could get through it but stopped about twelve lines on where my memorization had ended. I was trying to impress the Vet with my superior knowledge. And then Steve Karbo continued the recitation. He must have recited two or three pages of the text at breakneck speed before I was sufficiently humbled. Lesson learned. After that I was happy to work for him at the local armory when he put on a wrestling card although I did feel a little sorry for Scrap Iron Gadasky who was a regular loser on every card he wrestled.

There is one more story concerning Steve involving the most shocking bit of personal history I’ve revealed on my blog but, as this is an election year, I feel no need to complicate my notoriety or the political task I have set for myself. I’ll wait until I write about my Mom if only my fellow board members stop giving me so much reason to write about them.

I’ll mention the last time I met Steve about thirty years ago. It was at a country club in Mankato. He was nervously popping pills when I asked him if he’d managed to achieve the ambition to become a millionaire before age thirty. He told me he had managed that.

Steve died a few years later. Heart attack I think.

My Fraternity

The last post is the first one in nine years to have mentioned the name of my college fraternity, Phi Delta Theta. This is the second. Searching the blog I only found two mentions of the phrase “my fraternity” in previous posts. One is unflattering the other harmless. I spent four years with some of my brothers and have complicated thoughts about my time with them – too complicated for a simple post or two.

Recent events in Oklahoma have been on all fraternity men’s minds lately. I’ve been so preoccupied I have probably paid less attention to them than most. I mentioned to one of the fellows while in Mankato that I found it ironic that it had been an SAE (Sigma Alpha Epislon) chapter that had its members shout racist stupidities. That’s because forty years ago, just after many national fraternities (including mine) had dropped their Aryan membership requirements, it was our local SAE chapter that pledged a black fraternity member. Then my brother explained that the offending Oklahoma chapter had a black member!!!!!! I’ll let the exclamation points speak for me. Continue reading

Goodbye Mom

Short posts are easy. Long ones take work. When I have something I want to say well I often fail to do so because I crank them out and then fail to edit them because of time. That was the case the day after my Mother died in December. I wrote a 2,500-word post that contained all the information I would need to have a splendid little memory but when I read it last week saw how rough it was. I had thought about sharing it with my Mother’s friends but even the hour I took to start editing it was not nearly enough.

The reason I looked at it again was the fruition of long talks with my brother about putting her next to Dad in Mankato’s Woodland Hills Cemetery. Somewhere in the files I’ve preserved over forty years is the reading I cranked out a day or two after my Dad died. (One of the reasons I am so eager to have a proper place to organize and store forty years-worth of memories. Maybe I’ll also find the remembrance he wrote the year before to read at my Grandmother’s memorial.

On that occasion 27 years ago I headed up to Mankato State’s library and hopped on a Mac computer and cranked out about seven pages of text only to have the computer seize up with about ten minutes left before the library kicked me out just before I got the chance to print it out.

Unlike that earlier time my Brother and I had made no plans to hold a memorial for Mom. It had been years since my Mother had lived in Mankato and we weren’t sure anyone would show up. We did, however, settle on a date. Our fraternity was holding a fiftieth Anniversary Gala of its founding and although between us we had only attended two “Founder’s Days” in the intervening four decades we thought a March date seemed fortuitous. I’d contacted the cemetery and arranged for an early Saturday interment. Continue reading

Throttling the Grizzly

Just short of 2AM I was in the midst of a colorful dream too peculiar to make sense of the details. I had been watching ant sized people conducting business on a lake surface which had frozen overnight. I was waiting to see if any of them fell through the ice when suddenly a huge wave washed over the ice from the appearance of what looked to be a twenty foot grizzly bear. I rushed from my home downstairs and out a back door onto the shore of the lake. As I did so the bear suddenly rose up from just below me and I reached for him to throw my arms around his head to protect the people below on the ice. Reaching for the bear over the side of my bed woke me instantly. Second night in a row for a 2AM wake up.

Last night I couldn’t bring myself to blog or read a backlog of newspapers. I threw on some cloths and hiked up Woodland Ave past the new Dinkytown and spent the early morning walking under the stars until daybreak. Tonight I laid in bed with a lot of thoughts to accompany me. When I was younger and slept through the night more predictably I thought sleep was greatly over rated. Lately I’ve read far too many news stories on the “science” of sleep and the conclusion that not getting enough shortens one’s life. Rats!

I’ve never been one to see much in dreams. Perhaps my Grizzly was the School Board but that’s an analogy that is too easy. Dealing with it won’t be easier if I stare at this blue screen any longer at 3AM. I just had a good yawn. Maybe all the other posts I imagined typing up will drift away if I try to catch a little more shut eye. Another yawn……Let’s give it a try.

Sticks and Stones

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. I said I wanted to write about Charter Schools. I even spent fifteen minutes at my Rockridge meeting talking about them this morning. But a piece of paper I’d jotted a dozen different subtopics on has gone missing. In my consternation I grabbed a snow shovel and spent better than an hour trimming away some of the snow and ice that has crept up on my home. Then I started thinking about an old friend and my Mom and a possible series of articles I could write about name calling from my own experience. I might collect them for a book or submit them to Duluth’s own Reader Weekly. Sadly the publisher of the Reader seems to be worried that my writing for his publication might put his publication in a fairness doctrine bind. Other School Board members might demand equal space. Oh well.

I’ll call my old buddy Joe. I got an email from him a week ago which I haven’t read yet.

It contains a long and dry exposition on the looming threat of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan as the US begins its withdrawal. It was published in a foreign service magazine. Joe should know what he’s writing about. He was a State Department economics expert who put in a couple years in Pakistan and Afghanistan during the worst of the IED years. I’m afraid his email is now on my backlog of things to attend to if I ever drain the swamp. Damn alligators.

I met Joe when I was a peripheral kid in junior high. A friend, my only school friend in junior high, talked me into joining the school’s gymnastic team and since I could do a handspring I thought that was just the ticket for me. I lettered in gymnastics several years in a row along with track once or twice making me one of the letteringest kids in North Mankato Junior High. (It was really Garfield Junior but everyone had forgotten the poor martyred President’s name by 1964.) Continue reading

Can the GOP take West Duluth? and a reminiscence

I think so if two serious challengers run write-in campaigns in Kerry Gauthier’s district.

I don’t know how many “conservative” votes there are in the old Jaros/Munger house seat. When I ran a campaign in the area back in 1980 I discovered that Richard Nixon only got 23% of the vote in far western Duluth. That was 1972 and the biggest ever blow-out Presidential election in America’s modern history. George McGovern got three times as many votes as Nixon in west Duluth. That’s a tough district for any Republican.

I’d guess that the four decades that have passed have taken a lot of old New Dealers with them. Today a good Republican should get an easy 35% of the vote out west especially in a Presidential election year.

Gauthier’s name will be on the ballot even though he’s decided to “withdraw.” I’d be surprised if he got much less than ten percent of the vote. For argument’s sake lets assume that he gets 7% and the Republican, Mr. Silver, gets 30%. That would leave the two (so far) write-in candidates fighting over 63% of the available vote. It would take a near miracle to get that many voters to cast a write-in but if that happened one of the newcomers would have to clean the other’s clock. Could an assistant fire chief pull such a thing off over a sitting City Councilor? Could the reverse happen?

The Republicans are in deep doo doo (Broadkorb, Sutton, et al) all across Minnesota this year but I’ll bet some Minnesota Koch-brother-type would love to kick in some money to see at least one satisfying and unexpected GOP victory this year.

I’d like to add one more thought.

To my mind no one has been irreparably hurt by this incident except Mr. Gauthier. Thomas Huntley called him a “child molester.” From what I know about this day and age in America and what I know about most boys over the age of 17 I find that description a stretch not withstanding my previous description of the young man as a “boy.”

So let me follow with a personal story.

When I was 20 years old I got a chance to be an intern in Washington DC. I lived in a run-down block about eight blocks from the Capitol Building. Next door was a gentrified house lived in by two gay men, both college professors as I recall. I was living next door in an ancient town house in a room I painted black and white. (The radiator was zebra striped) I’d been in the city for about a month when I decided I needed to cook something and bought a cake mix. When I realized I had nothing to bake it in I got the crazy midwestern idea of asking my neighbors for a baking pan. The first two doors I knocked on got me nowhere but the third door, the next door, brought results.

An effeminate man answered the door and was delighted with my request. He invited me into a house with a lot more class than my grubby black and white. When I returned the pan a few days later he and his partner invited me to have a martini (my first) with them. They took me to a very cool backyard patio/garden showed me a platter of ripe tomato slices collected from a nearby Farmer’s Market and we had a very nice chat.

I asked my housemates if they thought the neighbors might be gay when I got back later that night. To their credits my housemates were indifferent. I got invited over several times afterward and was introduced to a number of men who seemed like sophisticates. One was a British fellow who had been the premier danseur for a Parisian Ballet Company. They were fairly interested in me and my drudge-like work in the bowels of the Congressional Office Buildings. The subject of marijuana came up. I told them I’d read a survey that summer that reported that something like 70% of the staff of the Congress admitted to using grass. Even in the office of my conservative Republican Congressmen the staff was so casual that all of the staff under the age of 30 (including me) confessed to the Administrative Assistant to having used grass. Some of the fellows at the party had usedJus grass, one expressed interest and another was a little shocked by the subject. It was a good chance for me to reciprocate for the martinis I had been served a month earlier and I offered to bring a dime bag over for them to sample. They thought it a capital idea so I did and we toked up.

In some ways the evening ended rather poorly. Marijuana has a tendency to make folks a little paranoid and that was the affect on me this particular night. I was surrounded by five pretty harmless gay men who were obviously interested in me. When I was sober this was not a problem. After the intoxication kicked in, however, one of them, produced a kitten and placed it on the sofa next to me. When the hand petting the kitten went astray and rubbed against my knee I mumbled an excuse and abruptly left the house.

I felt a little bad about my hasty departure the next morning. Even so we stayed on cordial terms although I only stopped by their house once more to say goodbye prior to flying back to a new school year at Mankato State. Both the partners mentioned that they would be in Europe the following summer and invited me to be their house sitter. I rather liked the idea.

My father did not. I’d told him the men were gay and it was likely their friends would drop by. My Dad was alarmed enough about the offer that I sent my old neighbors my regrets. They were honest regrets.

The point of this is that even though I wasn’t at all interested in sex with men had I been this would have been a comfortable a place to do some exploring. The primere dansur told us a very funny story about his youth in the Paris Ballet. He told us that all the ballerinas tried to have sex with him because, in the trade, it was considered good luck to sleep with a virgin. All the gay men at the party in D.C. thought this was very funny. Of course, as they all appreciated, the primere’s good luck was wasted on him as he was really not into ballerinas. On the other hand, had it been me in Paris I suspect I might have acted with a little more enthusiasm had a ballerina placed a kitten on the couch next to me.

Kerry Gauthier is close to my age and I know that he lived through a couple cruel decades as a young man where shame and humiliation were about the best he could expect in the way of public support. He says he’s suffered from addictive behavior for the past thirty years which may be evidence of that cruelty. I’m pleased that we seem to be heading to a new more enlightened age. I wish Mr. Gauthier well and I wish the same for the young fellow who answered his ad. They both deserved better than a public rest stop.

Word Search of the Day

Mea Culpa

I make my share of mistakes. I don’t worry too much about misspellings, typos, and other pretty constant static in my blog posts. I’ll occasionally find a blooper and quietly correct it. For instance yesterday when I was going through “uncategorized” posts which I had simply forgotten to file in one or more of the topical categories on the right side of the blog I found one that mentioned Der Spiegaj…….Oops. I meant the German publication Der Speigel. I changed the j to an l without remarking on the correction.

When I do make substantive mistakes I take pride in noting them even when it burns a little to admit my human frailty. I just ran into an old post called “I stand corrected” and it made me wonder how often I’d used the phrase. Then I wondered about how many other ways I could locate past apologies for providing misinformation in the past.

Here are a few other trite phrases I’ve used to correct past posts.

I stand corrected

I was wrong

my mistake

How I became a Republican

A follow up to the previous post.

So Grandma got us a room in the Duluth Radisson.

Grandma and I call our Wednesdays with the boys “Wacky Wednesday” because they spend it away from their own home. We take them to the Mount Royal Library (thank you Duluth voters for voting to keep it open last fall) and then go to Bulldog Pizza where our grandson’s “pizza friends” serve up salad, pizza and chocolate milk. While we wait for the grub we read a few of the twenty books we usually check out.

We told the Tan Man and Jake-ee that this would be the wackiest Wednesday of all. They got to go swimming in the “round hotel,” eat in the 14th floor restaurant and watch Duluth at dusk circle around our table while we dined. The restaurant has been faithfully revolving for forty and more years. Continue reading

Craig Hunter – a most honorable man

I’m sure the Red Plan cheerleaders will be crowing over this set back and heaping abuse on the taxpayer’s attorney, Craig Hunter.

Let Duluth Vote interviewed quite a number of attorneys as we searched for a case that had legal merit. My first impression of Craig Hunter has never been betrayed. He struck me as a careful, thoughtful, idealistic and daring attorney. Taking on a Fortune 100 colossus like Johnson Controls Inc. is not something for the faint hearted. My admiration for Mr. Hunter has only grown.

In my own small way I’d like our community to know what a gem it has in Mr. Hunter despite this unfortunate legal setback. This anecdote that I prodded out of him touched me deeply.

At one of our conferences a few weeks ago I told him I’d enjoy getting together to share a bottle of wine with him. (I consider myself a connoisseur of any good wine I can buy as cheaply as possible) Mr. Hunter told me that he’d be happy to get together but that he didn’t drink.

I let this comment go for a while but my curiosity got the better of me and I asked him. “Well Craig. How come you are a teetotaler? Are you a member of AA or is this some sort of religious practice?”

No, he told me, he’d married a woman who had some trouble with alcohol as a young woman and he resolved to stop drinking as an act of solidarity to support her.

Craig Hunter is one in a million.

A very bad night

As I look through the dried, pink wine droplets on my computer screen I’m reminded of just one more reason that last night was a very bad night.

Yesterday was to be the day that we dramatically presented our petitions to the School Board to demonstrate that the community was behind us. It was not much of a surprise to hear Tom Hustad, last night’s acting chairman, say that we were more of an imaginary group than real and tell us that we were all being a little emotional about having our voting rights stripped away. Us and Martin Luther King Jr. Boo hoo hoo.

The wine stains came when I had to call a close member of my extended family to prompt them to honor an agreement over a long simmering family dispute. Reaching past my filled wine glass for the phone I managed to tip the glass over and soak everything in a three foot radius. I mopped up after that storm though all the nearby paper products, and my office is a bit of a mess after the past few weeks, have nice little pink reminders of the mayhem.

The spill was just the first post school board disaster. My phone call was too. Apparently honoring agreements in family disputes was a low priority. I gritted my teeth and went to bed stewing about this while trying to ignore the flashes of light from a storm passing overhead.

“Wake up the basements flooding.” I heard as Claudia rocked me violently to consciousness. My son had discovered an inch of water in the basement so I crawled out of bed in my skivvies and groggily made my way down the final disaster of the day. It had been raining to beat the band before bedtime. A report of a foot of water on Hwy 169 near Orr had flashed across the 10PM weather report. Our rain gauge read just over four inches this morning.

I made the mistaken assumption that all the water had flown in from the walls which occassionally happens. I quickly pulled up the drain cover thinking it would all magically disappear only to see a terrible black fluid bubbling up from below, discoloring the formerly tea colored water. I frantically tried to push the drain cover back on and then looked for something to bail the ugly water to pour and flush down the toilet. The Toilet flooded copiously. My drain was blocked.

Frankly it all reminded me of the folks trying to take away my voting rights. I washed up exhausted and left the mess for the morrow. I did a good bit of stewing before finally succumbing to the powers of Morpheus.

Anxious hours for a new Grandpa to be

My daughter called yesterday. She is about, it seems, to deliver our first grandchild. This baby is in a hurry and if delivered will be about three weeks premature. If so it will be something of a tradition because Claudia (the grandmother and my sweetie ) was a preemie. There was a question about whether the baby, who is only about four pounds at the moment, was getting enough oxygen.

Its not quite 5AM and we haven’t heard from the new Dad to be but we had planned to drive to the Twin Cities today anyway for Claudia’s work with the Minnesota Safety Council. I had planned to see my mother. We may spend the day instead at Regions Hospital in St. Paul.

Why an Official Loose Cannon?

“Official Loose Cannon” seems like a wierd job title, how did you guys come up with it?

Harry and I were sitting in Jitters discussing where I fit into his campaign. I was groping for a title that would encapsulate how I look for ideas for spreading the word, research certain issues, and do grunt work like editing posts and some gofer work. Creative director seemed a bit presumptious, publicity director is really beyond my experience, and Chris is already campaign manager. Given my unpredictability the description “loose cannon” popped out of my mouth.

Harry responded with glee, “Official Loose Cannon!” So until my job has more focus, other than getting Harry elected, I will be doing things as I see they need to be done.

And one of the things to be done is remind you to visit the campaign web site to pass the word and to make a contribution. Printers and T-shirt makers don’t work for free.

– Mel

Independence Party’s Platform

I’ll soon be applying for endorsement by Minnesota’s Independence Party. I printed out the application forms just before midnight will send them in. I also found the Party’s succinct platform. I support this platform unreservedly.

  PLATFORMWe, the Independence Party of Minnesota, stand for government and political leadership that serves the highest long-term interests of our state. We oppose politics based on self-interest, extremism, or special interests. We are advocates for public policy that prepares Minnesota for a better future and we support political leaders who embrace the values and goals described in this platform 

We believe defined values are essential to guiding political reform and assuring policies that benefit all. These are our core values:

  1) A democratic process with integrity and broad citizen participation 

2) A justice system that is fair, wise, unambiguous, swift, affordable, and accessible to all

3) A society that is inclusive, embraces diversity, and protects everyone’s rights

4) Government policies which encourage and expect personal responsibility

5) Government that is fiscally responsible: equitable in its collection of taxes, careful in its spending, and honest in its financial reporting

6) Government that is a good steward: protecting the environment, preserving our public institutions, prudently managing public assets, and leaving for our children a better world

7) Government that is controlled locally whenever possible

8) Rights of privacy and personal liberties under the US Constitution, the Minnesota Constitution, and the Bill of Rights of the United States shall be strongly defended

9) An educated citizenry with the knowledge and understanding to preserve our freedoms and maintain our prosperity

10) Political leadership that acts for the greater good and prepares us for the future

What can I do?

I’m just wolfing down a PBJ sandwich and some chocolate milk after five successful hours petitioning. Signatures are not hard to get. I’ve added another 100 and I still have a couple hours of daylight to get some more. I’m a fifth of the way to the minimum number I’ll need to get on the ballot. I have eight days left to get them.

I had a phone message waiting for me when I returned. It was short and sweet. “Harry, what can I do?” That was my old buddy Edith who has also suffered the slings and arrows of the outrageous party with me.

An email was also awaiting me from the friend I’d asked to be my campaign manager. He’s still thinking about that but he reported back to a query I sent him this morning. He told me that most of the pages on now fit on his smaller computer. Hooray! He also reported the my blogsite is askew on his computer. That may take a bit more work for me to straighten out.

Harry’s been strangely silent

And there is a good reason. Harry has been madly getting things ready to file for Congress. As if you hadn’t figured that out from all the not so subtle clues I’ve been dropping.

I’ve got my webpage up. I haven’t formally announced yet but I will soon. I still have to choose from the fundraising software available but I’ll probably use a PayPal account.

There’s been a lot in the news I would have commented on had I not been so busy but that’s life.

Oh, the new website is (typos and all):