Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

Applaud the traveling newspaper


As a huge fan of the latest addition, “Where in the World,” to our Moose Lake Star-Gazette, I must applaud our owner, editorial staff and especially our customers who take time to proudly have their photo taken honoring the places around the world where our paper has traveled. I am particularly proud of the photo taken in Cuba.

In my opinion, one of America’s biggest policy mistakes for the past half-century was the boycott of the lovely island of Cuba. Politics aside, Americans lost a chance to travel, visit and trade with a nearby neighbor, simply because we didn’t like who was running the country. I, for one, do not dictate my travels by who the elected leader, or, in the case of Cuba, who the totalitarian leader of a country happens to be.

Following discharge from the Army after spending the past year in a country (Panama) ruled by the military dictator General Omar Torrijos, who was installed with the complicity of the United States, I hopped a plane to Europe to see how the other parts of the world lived.

Without meaning to, I ventured behind the Iron Curtain to communist countries like Romania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia.

I spent a month traveling Czechoslovakia after literally buying my way in. I purchased enough Czech currency that I was allowed a 30-day visa, which I had to spend in-country.

I was thoroughly searched both during entrance and exit. While the train was idling at the station, I made the mistake of getting caught taking a photo of a communist border guard.

He pointed his rifle at me and hurriedly boarded the train, allowing me just enough time to replace the roll of film in my camera. I still have that picture floating around somewhere as the guard was satisfied that he had confiscated my illegal photo.

Since that time, the Soviet Union has broken up, the Berlin Wall has come down, and relations with Cuba are finally thawing.

My travels throughout communist Europe over 40 years ago left no doubt in my mind there were serious problems with a communist style of government. When I think back to those days, I remember the excitement people living under this repression expressed when meeting people from America. There were very few of us back then. When my traveling partner and I would sit down in a park with his guitar, the youth would smother us with attention. What song did they always request? It was The Beatles tune, “Back in the USSR!”

The memory etched in my mind about my days behind the Iron Curtain could be summed up by “the color gray.” When I checked the dictionary for synonyms for gray, two words listed were depressing and dreary. In some instances, this referred to the people. However, the cities, buildings, and especially the communal apartments seemed to take on this gray. They lacked color and life.

Having already had a close-up view of life under dictators and communist rule, you might ask, “Why would you even want to go to Cuba?”

My answer is, “Food, music and vintage automobiles.”

Rather than dreary and depressing, most travelers to Cuba return with stories that emphasize the fun and beauty of the island and its people. This is not because of the Castro's, Che Guevara, and the Communist Party rule, but in spite of them. I am sure the people would like the freedom we enjoy.

When the Star-Gazette posted the photo of our newspaper in front of a statue in Cuba, at least one of our readers took offense. The very fact that the Star-Gazette was able to print a photo such as this speaks of our freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Our subscriber was in Cuba when they took the picture. I must ask this question of our dismayed dissenter.

“Just who did you expect, Jose Canseco?”


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