Sharing the myriad secrets of the wondrous apple tree

My earliest and fondest memories of plants that embellished the campus of Minot State University were of the row of canna lilies that were planted each year in front of the lower lounge window at Crane Hall. Their intense red blooms and strong, rich greenery seemed to jostle for the position of the campus flower, which is the red geranium. These lilies were lovingly cared for by an older gentleman, who on bended knee each fall, removed the bulbs before the frost. Like the robins returning in the spring, he reappeared with canna bulbs in hand, and again on bended knee, he rooted them in their campus canvas.

My favorite tree on campus exists on the southeast corner of Old Main and has hugged the plum-colored bricks of this first building for a lengthy stretch. It brings forth not only beauty and shade, but apples! Last fall, Jan, Lydia and I, with a ladder in our sedan, headed for Minot State with a mission to harvest the ripened apples from this tree and others. When our four buckets were filled, we proceeded to the kitchen and created delicious applesauce. Ribbons of green peelings were fused with red cranberries, and in the pot before they blended, they performed the Beaver fight song! They brought forth a tasty apple cranberry juice perfect for punch making.

Now turn on your tap of imagination as we take a journey and realize all the talents these trees have seen and also the gifts they have received. You cannot tell me that a young, handsome and very athletic Tim Mihalick, who hailed from Youngtown, Ohio, with wavy hair and sporting a plaid shirt and suspenders, did not walk by this tree and leave some of his swiftness and financial savvy. Look, there is Dale Howard, and a bit of his passion for geography has been left. Coming up the lane is Doris Slaaten. She pauses and shares a bit of her vast knowledge of parliamentary procedure. Coming from the south is Ella Haas, and in her polite manner she leaves the recipe for the infamous Student Union baked beans. Originally from Watford City, Bertha Oakland shares a tried and true attention-getter for young teachers – play a loud chord on the piano. Adelaide Johnson has just stepped out of her yellow car, and at the corner she gives a bit of worthy advice for business education student teachers.

Now the tree continues to grow and each year gains more knowledge. Yes, that is Ken Becker with a basketball in hand. He stops and shares a good play that worked well when he coached in Underwood. Greg Fjeld comes looking very fashionable; after all, that is only natural since his folks have Fjeld clothing. Greg shares successful dating, as well as track, tips. Who is that with play books under his arm? Why, that is Kevin Neuharth! He donates advice on the effectiveness of a pause in a performance. With an accounting book tucked neatly in her case, Pearl Stusrud stops and explains the concept of a standard deduction. Taxing, yes; but so worth it!

Now let us not forget this tree was very close to the windows of Elaine Larson. She enjoyed the views from her cozy office, which was decorated with creative Scandinavian stitchery. She looks up from her desk with advice for positive student teacher placement. Is that Steve Files coming in his blue Vagabond jacket and singing “I wish I were an apple hanging on a tree?” His musical notes are worthy. With her flute in one hand and a piano book in another comes Lorraine Kozak all the way from Canada. She leaves, too, her musical advice. Not far behind her strolls Jon Kringen. Jon came to campus from Turtle Lake. He leaves advice on how to get involved in many activities when you are a student on campus.

Just like clockwork and early in the morning walks Floyd Fairweather. He stops long enough to share the joy of painting on newsprint. In a hurry and headed for Crane Hall is Herb Parker. He rests a minute to bring forth tips on how to be a great Beaver basketball player. With a good head of hair and a good head for math is Robert Holman. As he rounds the corner his advice still “adds up” today. Not far behind him comes Eric Clausen as he encourages students to join the Science club. Oh, here is one of those students – Jerry Boatz, asking students, “Why stop at one degree? Get four and maintain 3.98 average!” With long hair swinging is Jane Kostenko. She encourages students to know their campus by running for student body president.

If he could, he would come to campus on a horse. Instead, Walter Piehl stops and gives creative advice on how to paint “Sweethearts of the Rodeo,” and finishes if off with roundup of creative ideas for the canvas of life. At an allegro pace comes Sandra Starr from Campus School. She has little time, but lets the tree know that

music enhances all subject areas. Here comes Joe Hegstad with a plan to fit all the singers and guests into McFarland Auditorium for the performance of “Messiah.” His advice “where there is a will, there is a way” certainly is long lasting. It is the day for musical folks as Walter Hartman is also seen walking past the tree. His advice is “learn to play the piano and appreciate the beauty of a blooming iris.”

Yes, the apple tree is seldom without guests. Now Selmer Moen has stopped to charm the tree, opining that working with Dr. Fuller had been almost as delightful as his adventures in math and music. Speaking of Dr. Fuller, he stops in the early spring when the birds are sitting on the branches. He recites a thought-provoking Thoreau poem. Thinking about the “Northern Lights” film is Harold Aleshire. His advice is “remember your early heritage.” Another gem on campus has just strolled by – Garnet B. Cox, and she takes a moment and ponders the new rule of “no boys in the dorm after 10 p.m.” With a broom in his hand, John Fettig talks with Helen Pettit, who has a spatula in hers. They both agree that Minot State students are the best. On her walk home, Dorothy Rostad gleans solace from the tree after a busy day in the Student Union office.

The tale continues and you can learn more about this story and others by attending the Minot State University Gala on April 25. The Minot State University applesauce and apple cranberry juice will be nestled among the collection of McFarland keepsakes fashioned from the former draperies and stage curtains. Will the transfer of valued advice, information and knowledge be added to your collection? You will only know by tasting; so come prepared to bid for a good cause, and perhaps you will gain so much more.