Where there is a forest, there is a possibility of a massive forest fire. The area around Moose Lake in Minnesota, had just such a fire that started on October 12, 1918. The fire, known as the Cloquet-Moose Lake fire, killed hundreds of people and leaving thousands of people homeless. The fire burned a hug area at least 1,500 square miles. The fire, which began at the rail lines near Sturgeon Lake, did the most damage in the Cloquet and Moose Lake areas. This is a region of Minnesota, north of Duluth in the eastern part of the state.
The area was really a recipe for a major disaster of this sort. The timber industry used a crude slash method in the thick forests, thus leaving behind dry scraps that were perfect kindling for wildfires. They were not careful where they left the slash either, tending to leave the scraps lying around the rail lines that carried wood from the lumber mills. Train engines of that time often gave off sparks, and when the sparks hit the slash pies, fires were nearly inevitable. The months leading up to October 1918 were very hot and dry, which made matters even worse. The fire began that October 12th, and it quickly spread due to the high winds that day. More than 200 people died in the Moose Lake area, when the fire raced into the community. Many of the local residents tried to escape the raging flames by driving down Highway 73, south of the Kettle River. The road had a very sharp curve that proved to be too difficult to maneuver for drivers who were speeding away from the flames surrounding them. At least 15 vehicles went off the road within minutes, which resulted in 25 deaths.
In all, he fire destroyed 38 towns and villages. The total dead was 453 and another 85 people were seriously burned. The area lost 4,000 houses, 6,000 barns, and 40 schools to the flames.The fire came up so quickly that there was no time to try to get the livestock out, and hundreds of thousands of farm animals also perished in the fire. It was a huge loss for area farmers. In all, the region suffered close to $100 million in damages.
For years many Americans, myself included, were drawn into the Korean War, or at least one aspect of it, in the form of M*A*S*H, a popular television show about the way a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital was run…sort of. The show took on more than just the hospital side, by including a comical side that portrayed the antics of Benjamin Franklin Pierce, aka Hawkeye, and his best friend and co-conspirator, BJ Honeycutt. I can’t say just how true to life the show was, but we all cried right along with the doctors and nurses when they lost a patient, and cheered when they saved one.
In reality, the MASH units were a vital part of the war effort, and the saving of the lives of many soldiers. These were amazing surgeons who learned techniques that cut corners, making surgeries faster and more efficient, bringing lifesaving changes to medicine in the process. The MASH units were originally established in August of 1945, and then were deployed during the Korean War and later conflicts. The Army deactivated the last MASH unit on February 16, 2006, which I did not know, but I’m sure most of my military friends probably did. The MASH units were replaced by the CSH or Combat Support Hospital. I’m sure the CSH units are amazing units too, and maybe someday they will have as big a place in history as the MASH units did, but unless they do a television show that is as popular as the M*A*S*H show was, I don’t think their place in history will be as well known to the American people as the MASH units were. I’m sure that with all the improvements, the CHS units are probably better and more up to date than the MASH units were, but in the hearts of the M*A*S*H fans, the CHS units have big shoes to fill.
Many an evening has found Bob and I watching a M*A*S*H marathon. And during the original years, we watched it every night that it was on. We simply liked the show. I have to wonder if any other war has been watched as much as the Korean War…even though people didn’t necessarily realize that they were watching a war, or at least a part of it. While we may not have really learned a lot about the Korean War from this source, we did learn something about one part of the war…a vital part in all reality. Now that M*A*S*H is on again as re-runs, we often fine ourselves watching it again…even though we know how it will end. It is just one of those timeless shows. You just really never get tired of them…even the re-runs.
Bob and I went to the Wyoming Cavalry indoor football game last night, and there are media events at different times in the game, with things like a three person in one triple bag sack race, and kids on a bouncy ball. They asked the fans if these things took them back a few years, and that started me thinking about the things I did as a kid. One thing that came to mind was the skateboard. It was my generation who had the privilege of riding the skateboard first, and while we were first, we certainly didn’t take that ride to the skill level of the subsequent generations. I was thrilled when I could stand on the thing and ride. The thought of taking it on a railing, or up a ramp, or flipping it in the air and landing back on it, never crossed my mind…or the minds of the rest of my generation for that matter.
Nevertheless, at some point in time, some kid who thought that the old style tame skateboarding was way too tame for them, decided to step it up a bit, and something new and exciting was created from a fad that probably would have died a miserably quick death otherwise. Soon the kids were doing all kinds of tricks, and spending hours each day trying to perfect something that would let them outshine their friends. Of course, there were the normal, and not so normal injuries that went along with such endeavors, but that didn’t stop the kids from working hard to create the next big thing on a skateboard. They flew along curbs and railings, flipped their boards several times in the air and managed to land right back on the board. They held competitions…just for fun, at first, but these days they compete for money, titles, trophies. Every skateboarder wants to be dubbed the King of Skateboarding. They even came out with video games on skateboarding, which my grandsons absolutely loved.
Even the boards have changed from the clunky ones we had when I was a kid, that were really just skates with a board attached, and had very little maneuverability, to one that had just one wheel on each end, and twisted in the middle, to the long board that my grandsons liked, which probably mimics a surf board without the water, to many more that I have no clue about, much less how they work. I suppose that as long as we have kids who are willing to push the envelope in the world of skateboarding, we will have manufacturers who will make the designs they need to accomplish their unique skill set, thereby continuing to take skateboarding to the next level and beyond. While I enjoy watching the amazing tricks these people can perform, I think I will just stay on my own two feet, because at least that way, I won’t kill myself.