Monday, May 29, 2006

Old Stomping Grounds

We spent part of Memorial Day weekend traveling to and from the Twin Cities. Our overnight stop Saturday was in Winona, a place we once called home. It was interesting and challenging to find our way around town, primarily because we moved from Winona so many years ago (24) after living there but 15 months.

We drove by our old house and did a brief walking tour of the neighborhood. Surprisingly, a next-door neighbor is still next door -- a reality that makes us glad we did not stay any longer than we did. (We're not fans of loud motorcycles. Sorry.)

Winona, in southeastern Minnesota, is squeezed between the Mississippi River (top area of photo) and Lake Winona (foreground), which was formed when the Mississipi changed course who knows how many centuries or millennia ago.

The city is runner- and biker-friendly. It has asphalt trails around each of the bodies of water that make up Lake Winona. and we enjoyed a run around the larger lake -- good for 3.5 miles. (If only we were running when we lived there!)

We especially wanted to stop in Winona to catch up with a former newspaper colleague, Jim Galewski (pictured). We hadn't seen each other in years -- I think it was 1988 -- but had kept in touch through our respective Christmas letters. It was a pleasure to stop by the house to see Jim and his wife, Anne. Jim is one of the most remarkable people I know. He always has been a positive, "heart of gold" guy -- and he remains so despite being dealt some tough breaks in life. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the early 1990s, but continued to work at the Winona Daily News until he took disability retirement in 2003. Still, Jim works a part-time public relations job from his home, does wordworking and remains a volunteer for the Boy Scouts. He also writes a column for the Daily News. In visiting with Jim, I immediately found that he remains more concerned for other people; I dare say that most of us in his situation would have it the other way around.

Winona is embarking on a Martime Museum project. We told Jim about the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque, and suggested that he make the trip. It could be good column fodder, and perhaps enlightening to the people of Winona. We hope he takes us up on it.

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