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

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Selling the House


Only yesterday we were selling the home in Moose Lake where we lived and raised our children over the last thirty years. Although we exited the Moose Lake home a few years ago, I never totally cut ties with the area. A few small businesses of mine and writing this column for the newspaper have kept me heading “up north” about once a month. It’s enough to catch up on the local gossip. The biggest change going north meant a day trip rather than overnight. I no longer had a bed to go home to.

Moving on has never been a problem for us. We’ve done it enough in life. A half dozen times we set up shop in different towns along the Mexico/Texas border. My wife and I had become “snowbirds” while we were still in our twenties and we took advantage of the night life available on the other side of the border. This was back when Mexico actually liked Americans and our dollars and we were welcomed with open arms.

We spent three different winters a little farther north in the Texas capitol of Austin. The early 70s were a fun time to be part of the Outlaw Country movement where, of all places, rednecks made peace with the hippies. Singer/songwriters Waylon Jennings, David Allen Coe and Kinky Freidman were staunch Texas Republicans who helped bridge the political gap between cowboys and hippies. Texans knew that music trumped politics every time. Today there is little blending. It’s like America is stuck trying to blend punk music with Christian rock. Not impossible, but we seem to be making little headway.

We lived in many places in South Dakota, ranging from its biggest city, Sioux Falls, to some of its smallest such as Meckling and Burbank. For the better part of the 70s, we lived around the university town of Vermillion. My wife and I are both voracious readers and life-long students so naturally we stayed in college as long as we could. By the time the 80s arrived, we knew we couldn’t live the life of professional students for much longer. Our family began to grow and we needed to find a home to raise and educate our kids before we turned them out to the world.

We made a great choice and relocated to northern Minnesota. Actually, the move was never in doubt. Although we both dearly love the state where we were born, South Dakota was never in the running as a semi-permanent place where we wanted to raise our family. We were definitely suited to Minnesota, a state that more closely represented our view of life. The deal breaker was that Minnesota held teachers in high esteem. South Dakota for years kept teachers in the basement. That may sound a little harsh but the record upholds what I just said. After spending almost half a century ranked 50th amongst the states in teacher salaries, it is only in the past few years that South Dakota gave their teachers raises that were enough to catapult them out of the basement into the top forty-five among teacher pay. We weren’t about to wait around for that to happen.

Although we didn’t want to remain in South Dakota to raise a family, my wife and I will always remain South Dakotans as long as we live. Somehow, humans, just like birds and animals, place a premium on the place where they were born. And just like migratory birds, we too migrate back home at least once a year. When I am gone, my ashes will be scattered on the very spot of my birthplace, down on the edge of the Missouri River in Chamberlain, South Dakota.

Over the years, many of my Moose Lake customers upon finding out that Chamberlain was my home town, would ask, “Why would you ever leave there?”

This is a legitimate question worth answering. And my answers are always the same; very positive and praiseworthy about the place I dearly love. I could write columns about this small town on the prairie and never run short of superlatives. But I was born a nomad. I became a traveler early in life. Before I turned twenty-five years old, I had visited 48 states; a half-century later, Alaska and Maine still remain on my bucket list. I had traveled to almost every country in Europe including a dozen behind the “Iron Curtain” and even a couple in Asia and South America. I always love my border-friend favorites of Canada, Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. Although I would like to visit Africa and Australia someday, my life is complete without having to add the Artic or Antarctica. Forty years of living in northern Minnesota earned me any stripes needed to gain cold-weather status.

Although I said this several times before, this next move should surely be our last. With the best weather in America, this culturally-blended city in Southern California offers a lot. It has everything we desire in retirement, especially our grandchild. When you reach this age, it’s all about family. San Diego here we come!


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