When There's Good to be Done - Christy Harding's story

A little over one year ago, a Florida woman woke up in the recovery room at Fairview Riverside Hospital in Minneapolis.  She’d just had her kidney removed. A team quickly transported it across the Mississippi River, to Children’s Hospital. A team of surgeons had already prepped 2 year old Arianna Moore, and when the precious organ arrived, they transplanted it into the toddler. Today, that little girl is 3 years old, and healthier than she has ever been in her short life, thanks to a total stranger, Christy Hart Harding of Jacksonville, Florida.

I first heard about this incredible story in May of 2014. I was watching the local news on TV in Minneapolis, and the reporter said a woman from Florida had heard about a Pine River, Minnesota girl’s need for a kidney on Facebook. She had gotten all the tests, was a perfect match, and was flying up to Minneapolis for the operation. I was intrigued. How does someone make that decision, to be tested to donate a kidney to a stranger? What kind of person does that? I was determined to meet this woman, and ask if I could write about her.

Lester Schrenk - Survived WWII German Death March

The year was 1942, and Lester Schrenk's parents didn't want him to enlist. They lived on a farm in Long Prairie, and Les was 19 years old. Nevertheless, he went ahead and joined the Army-Airforce (all one branch of the military then). He went to basic training, mechanic training, then gunner training, and one year later he was overseas, going on missions in a B-17, as a ball turret gunner.

I interviewed Lester at his retirement home in Bloomington, on January 31. Curtis and I had played music for the residents there many times over the years. I asked the activities director if she knew of any residents who had a story to tell that might fit my grant project - people who had overcome great challenges in their lives. With no hesitation she said, "You have to talk to Lester Schrenk." 


Harvey Ronglien's story - "State Schooler"

The grant year started January 1, and I hit the ground running. The first interview I did was with Harvey Ronglien, in Owatonna, Minnesota. In 2010, Curtis and I did a concert at the Owatonna Arts Center.  In the back hallways, there were many glass display cases, filled with photos, articles, and artifacts from the 1930s and 40s. They told the story of the "State School," the state orphanage in Minnesota.   

Loretta and Harvey in the living room of Cottage 11. The kids were required to scrub and wax this living room floor, but they could never sit in there. It was for "show" only, such as when visitors came, which was very seldom.



Grant from Arts Board vs Rocking on the Porch!

When I was a little kid, sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch with the family on a warm summer night, we would watch the cars go by. Understand that I grew up in the country, right on Highway 36 (then called 212), which led  into downtown Stillwater, Minnesota. Nowadays untold thousands of cars pass that way each day, but in those days each car was an exciting event. I dearly wanted to know where each one was going.  What was their story - where had they come from, where were they headed, what would they do when they got there, had they encountered roadblocks along the way?

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Apr 23, 2019
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Fosston MN
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Lake City MN
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St James MN

The Critics Say...

"Loretta's almost operatic alto and Curtis' rich tenor form a lush, polished and varied vocal blend. The pair's instrumental interplay is equally compelling, with Loretta's harp textures dancing in and around Curtis' deft guitar and mandolin lines." 

.....Dirty Linen

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