Monthly Archives: March 2009

My dog Pat

Buddies Phil and Pat. This photo was taken circa 1953 before Pat "ran away."

Buddies Phil and Pat sharing a moment together. This photo was taken in about 1953, not long before Pat "ran away."

 Sometime in the early 1950s my parents and I left a second-floor apartment on Grand Avenue and moved to a new house at 2422 Dugan Court in Davenport.

Before long I had a pet dog named Pat. Pat was a playful, rambunctious, black and white, medium-sized dog. Perhaps he was a spaniel. I really don’t know; kids don’t care about details like that.

Pat was a handful from Day One. My folks had not yet fenced their back yard, so Pat had to be on a chain when outside. When he escaped, which he seemed to do quite often, he went absolutely wild.

One day I was playing with some toy trucks when Pat made an escape. He grabbed one of my trucks and took off running down the block with it, crossing busy Lincoln Avenue.

I complained to my mother, who hurried after Pat and tried to bring the truck — and Pat — back home.

But Pat would have nothing to do with it. This was a big game for him. Like dogs do he’d crouch down and wait for Mom to get close, then he’d take off.

I don’t believe I got my truck back that day until Pat was darned good and ready to return it. Then, since it was made of rubber, it had his teeth marks in it.

Pat sometimes did stupid things.

He was well fed, but once he apparently chewed on some small pieces of concrete he’d found and swallowed them. We know this because we watched as one by one he threw them up.

Once Pat got away and was gone overnight. I was worried about him. He’d never been gone that long.

The next morning he came slowly limping home, leaving bloody paw prints with each step. We didn’t know where he’d been, but he obviously had walked through a lot of broken glass and had cut all of his paws. I don’t remember if my folks took Pat to the vet or if Mom, a nurse, bandaged his paws.

It would have been late summer or fall of 1953 when Pat “escaped” yet again. But this time he didn’t come back.

My parents told me he had run away. Perhaps he had found a new home, they suggested. They said not to worry — they were sure he was fine.

Pat did, indeed, have a new home. The Humane Society.

Years later my parents confessed that Dad had dropped Pat off there on his way to work. I’m sure that hadn’t been easy for Dad. Even though Pat was what I’d call a “high-maintenance” dog, we all loved him.

When the truth came out about what had happened to Pat, Mom and Dad explained to me that she had been pregnant at the time with my brother.

And they were afraid the rambunctious pet would wrap his chain around her ankle and cause her to fall, endangering the baby.

So they had made up the story about Pat running away because they thought that would be easier for me to accept than the truth.

As a teen, I gave them some flack now and then about how they had deceived me. But in my heart I understood why they had done what they did. I might have done the same thing, had I been in their shoes.

I don’t know if I ever told them, but I forgave them for taking Pat away.

Copyright 2009 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises.

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Posted by on March 29, 2009 in Uncategorized


Supporting our troops with beef sticks

Dee Ann and Ted Paulsrud holding beef sticks for the troops. Photo courtesy of Joseph L. Murphy of the Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman.

Dee Ann and Ted Paulsrud holding beef sticks for the troops. Photo courtesy of Joseph L. Murphy of the Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman.

Note: This article appeared in the North Scott Press, Eldridge, Iowa.

They call her the Beef Stick Lady. And that’s just fine with Dee Ann Paulsrud who, with her husband Ted, farms east of Danbury. That’s in west central Iowa.

For the last two years, Paulsrud has run the Beef ‘n’ Up the Troops program. That’s where people donate money to buy Iowa-made beef sticks that are shipped as a gift from home to Iowa National Guard troops deployed overseas.

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation actually started the program when the War on Terror began in 2002. Late in 2006, when the foundation discontinued Beef ‘n’ Up the Troops, donations of $75,000 — 10 times the original goal — had paid for 15 shipments totaling 3.5 tons of more than 100,000 beef sticks to troops.

Dee Ann Paulsrud says the Cattlemen aborted the program because they could no longer “donate the time and the staff and so forth. It does take a lot of time.”

When the decision to drop Beef ‘n’ Up the Troops was made, she says, Ted Paulsrud was retiring from two terms as District 7 director to the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. “He was aware that they were going to abort the project. And he wasn’t a happy boy.”

That’s when Dee Ann decided to take up the initiative. Why?

For people like her husband, who served in the National Guard in the Viet Nam era, and her father, who was a second lieutenant in World War II.
“My dad was gone from home for over four years from training to being over in Europe. He made it home and, therefore, there’s me,” Paulsrud says.

Beef ‘n’ Up the Troops was “just something I could do with the phone, the computer and my kitchen table. But it has gone beyond my kitchen. I have actually gone out and done some speaking. But it’s all about the soldiers, it’s not about me.”

What’s in it for her?
“The satisfaction is, my dad would have loved to get something like this. As much as anything, I may do it out of respect and honor to my dad. My dad died young. He was 60 when he died.”

Her volunteer effort takes a lot of time and effort but “the benefits have been that we’ve gotten to know a lot of people across our great state.”

Since the Paulsruds are beef producers, people had some questions for Dee Ann when she became the Beef Stick Lady.

Was there profit in this initiative for her? Did she create a job for herself?
“No, there’s not a profit. No, the beef does not come from our farm,” she says. “And yes, I did create a job, but everything I do is donated. And there are lots of unsung heroes, people who’ve helped us along the way.”

One of them is Scott County farmer Gerald Boldt of rural Davenport, a vocal supporter of Beef ‘n’ Up the Troops.

“I really believe this is something I had a need to do,” he says. “I have donated several times in the past few years, and I am proud to have been part of the Cattlemen’s effort to help Dee Ann.”

Boldt is referring to the Scott County Cattlemen’s Association. He recently sought donations from members at their annual banquet. Their contribution allowed Paulsrud to order 4,000 beef sticks instead of the 3,000 she had planned to order. That took her over the 60,000 beef stick mark since she’s been running the program.
“That’s a lot of beef sticks, isn’t it?” she asks.

The nine-inch sticks are processed at Source Verified Foods in Ackley, Iowa, at 69 cents each when ordered 3,000 at a time. Then they are shipped to Sioux City free of charge via Fareway Food Stores trucks to the 187th Air Refueling Wing of the Iowa Air National Guard, which flies them at no charge to the troops.

“Each stick is vacuum packed in heavy plastic,” Boldt says, “with a ‘Cattlemen Care’ logo and a message that says they are a gift from friends in Iowa. They have a shelf life of 14 months, even in hot conditions.”

The Paulsruds enjoy doing something nice for the deployed troops. But last August appreciative troops did something in return for them. And it was a huge surprise.

The 185th Air Refueling Wing sent the couple an American flag that had flown on a KC-135R Stratotanker, an aerial refueling tanker aircraft, over Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan on a combat mission supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. It came with a certificate of authenticity and a letter of thanks signed by the soldiers.

When they opened the package, “both of us got the biggest lump in our throats, and we both had tears in our eyes,” Dee Ann Paulsrud recalls.

“And I said, ‘We’re doing this for the soldiers, they’re protecting our freedom and they’re taking the time to do that back.’ It meant the world.”

So Paulsrud keeps raising money — any amount folks want to give — and ordering and shipping more beef sticks. It’s a passion for her.

“The more I can get the story out, the more people want to contribute,” she says. “I just keep putting the money in the checking account until there’s enough, then I order more sticks.”
If you want to contribute to Beef ‘n’ Up the Troops, send donations to Ted and Dee Ann Paulsrud, 4980 320th St., Danbury, IA 51019. Or call (712) 883-2249 for more information.
Boldt says he hopes people will donate to “help put a smile on a soldier’s face, even if it’s just for a moment. A moment can be can be a long time when you are away from home doing your duty like they are for us.” 

Copyright 2009 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises.

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Posted by on March 29, 2009 in Uncategorized


A 60th birthday surprise

Clint and Phil, the March 1 birthday boys.

Clint and Phil, the March 1 birthday boys.


On Sunday, March 1, 2009, I celebrated my 60th birthday. Actually, let me rephrase that: I commemorated my 60th birthday. Although I’m thrilled to still be alive and in reasonably good health, I take no joy in having aged six decades. 

My, oh my, where did all the years go? It seems like yesterday that family, friends and co-workers were presenting me with over-the-hill gag gifts and “Happy 50th Birthday” cards and balloons.

On Saturday, Feb. 28, the night before my 60th birthday, my wife Sherry and I attended the Scott County Cattlemen’s Association Banquet at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds. We enjoyed the fine meal, listened to an interesting guest speaker, Trent Loos, and sat most of the way through a fund-raising auction of items cattlemen use in their work.

I sort of wanted to hang around until the end to  socialize with folks. But Sherry seemed uncharacteristically anxious to leave during the auction. So we did.

“I didn’t think you needed to stick around and bid on ear tags,” she said on our way home, jokingly trying to explain her reason for wanting to leave.

We’d left a front room light on at our house, but other than that, the place was dark. When we arrived home, I needed to use the bathroom. So I walked into the kitchen, turned on the light and headed down an adjacent hallway that leads to a half-bath and the dining room.

As I was nearing my destination, out of the corner of my eye I saw a figure appear in the darkness of the dining room. I froze and my heart, I’m sure, skipped a beat. Was this a burglar, a very bold burglar?

Before I could move, a voice said, “Wanna go out for a drink, old man?”

I immediately recognized the voice as that of our number-two son, Clint, as he stepped from the shadows into the light. He had pulled off a big birthday surprise.

With only my wife’s and his friend Joe Golinghorst’s knowledge, Clint had flown to the Quad-Cities from his home in Minneapolis at 5 p.m.

Joe had picked him up at the airport and they visited until Sherry and I had left for the banquet. Then Joe delivered Clint to our house, where he entered through a door my wife had left unlocked for him. Then he waited in the darkness to surprise me.

I’ve often told family members I’m not fond of surprises. But that only holds true for bad surprises. Surprises like the time my teen driver son, who had been behind the wheel of one of my cars, called to say, “Dad, I had a little wreck today in the high school parking lot.” 

Or the times my daughter, when she was in high school, tried out new recipes on the family at dinner — things like salmon loaf and peanut butter burgers — then got angry with my sons and I when we didn’t clean our plates.

And there was that bad surprise I received that morning in 1971 when I looked down the basement steps at our first house in Davenport following a night of heavy rain and saw possessions floating by in the more than a foot of water from a backed-up sewer. It’s surprises like that that I’m not fond of.

But this surprise — a visit from a son who lives out of town — while shocking, was certainly a pleasant one, and one I will never forget. Clint felt compelled to visit, he said, not only because I’d hit the big 6-0 but because we share the same birthday. He was born March 1, 1978.

On our actual birthdays, Sunday, March 1, daughter Andrea and her kids from Wilton joined Sherry, Clint and myself for dinner at a restaurant; then we had cake and ice cream at home.

Son Brendan and his boys, who live in the St. Louis area, called to shout “Happy Birthday!” in unison on the phone. And I got a happy birthday text message from son Dane and his wife Casey, who live in Minneapolis but were vacationing at the time in Hawaii.

All in all it was a great celebration — uh, I mean commemoration — of my 60 years on earth.

Copyright 2009 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises.


Posted by on March 18, 2009 in Uncategorized


Old newspapers provide a step back in time

I recently took an interesting step back in time thanks to Jim Lincoln of Walcott, who loaned me some sections he has of two old daily newspapers.

I was just 3 when the Thursday, Oct. 23, 1952, issue of the Muscatine Journal was printed. And the couple who would some day be my parents were high school students when the other paper, the Des Moines Tribune, was printed on Saturday, March 7, 1936.

Two things immediately struck me about the old newspapers. One was the “grayness” of them. There were no color photos, and there was no color ink; the papers were quite blah by today’s standards.

The other thing that jumped out at me was their huge size. The Muscatine paper’s pages were 16 1/2 by 22 3/4 inches. The Des Moines broadsheet measured 16 1/2 by 23 1/2. That’s not very reader-friendly.

Compare those sizes to the pages of many of today’s dailies that, largely because of high newsprint prices, have shrunk to 11 by 22 inches.

The 1952 Journal was packed with grocery ads placed by large markets to neighborhood stores.

Advertisers included Ogilvie’s, Bazley Cash Market, Oberhaus Market, Cutler Food Market, Benner’s Food Stores, Keenway Food Stores, J.A. Bloom and Sons, Trout’s Super Markets, IGA, Sycamore Food Market, Guy Duncan Grocery and Ray’s.

The prices? Well Bazley Cash Market offered a choice of sirloin, T-bone, Swiss or club steak for 69 cents a pound. And Oberhaus Market had a pound of coffee for 79 cents.

Other items advertised by the various grocers included Campbell’s Vegetable Soup for 12 cents a can, beef short ribs for 29 cents a pound, Caltop peaches at 25 cents for a no. 2/12 can and Pillsbury Pancake Flour, just 29 cents for 2 1/2 pounds.

Customers also could pick up two packages of Tide for only 49 cents and 12 cans of Edelweiss Beer for $1.59.

(As a point of reference, an interesting Web site,, notes that the average wage in 1952 was $3,850 per year. The average cost of a new house back then was $9,050, and the average cost of a new car was $1,700. A pound of hamburger went for 53 cents, and gas sold for 20 cents a gallon.)

Some stories in that issue of the Journal included one from the Associated Press warning eastern Iowa farmers to watch out for cattle thieves following thefts in Linn and Delaware counties.

A Journal-written story noted that Dr. Hyman Appelman had arrived in Muscatine to conduct a “city-wide evangelistic campaign” that would run all the way through Nov. 9.

Switching to the Des Moines Tribune, the front page noted that it was “The paper with the wirephotos.” Oddly, though, there was no mention of the newsstand price of the 1936 paper. Jim Lincoln guesses it might have sold for a nickel.

I also found it strange, judging by today’s way of doing things, that three-fifths of the first page of the first section was taken up by a huge fashion ad. The advertiser was Wolf’s, which was evidently a woman’s clothing store or a department store.

It advertised women’s blouses for $1.98 and $2.98 and women’s felt and straw hats for $5. Calf leather belts with “fancy buckles” were selling for $1, and hankies — “white or printed linen” — were just a quarter. “Hollywood wrap-a-round coats” were on sale for $18.

( notes that the average U.S. wage in 1936 was $1,713 per year. The average cost of a new house was $3,925, a new Studebaker sold for $665, and gas was 10 cents a gallon.)

The Tribune was packed with one- and two-inch stories from around Iowa. They made for some interesting reading. For example, an Emmetsburg taxi driver had suffered a broken rib and his son a dislocated shoulder in a collision that took place when another driver emerged from a “one-way cut” in a huge snowdrift without waiting. There was no mention of the name or condition of the other driver or whether he or she had even waited around for the police.

March 7, 1936, Tribune readers learned that a 7-year-old Centerville girl was hospitalized with a compound fracture of her arm. It had been run over when she had fallen under a school bus.

The paper also reported that Bill Laird’s Ford had been stolen sometime after midnight in Newton, and “the question of free text books will be the chief issue of the Corydon school election….”

There was a story noting that the March 15 deadline for filing federal income taxes had been extended one day because the 15th fell on a Sunday. And there was a full page of black-and-white photos showing flooding in Hamburg, Iowa, a train derailment in Owasa, Iowa, and other things.

(By the way, Owasa sits along Highway 20 east of Interstate 35 in Hardin County. I didn’t feel too bad not having ever heard of it when my research showed that in the 2000 census Owasa had a population of 38 and 19 housing units on .56 square miles of land.)

Auto ads in the March 7, 1936, Tribune included one from Iowa Auto Market Annex for cars and trucks priced at $50 to $150 with “easy terms.” The $50 cars included a Nash, a Dodge and a Whippet.

A letter to the editor from a Des Moines resident named R.E. Gould seems timeless: “Will the struggle between the two political parties end as did a battle we once saw between two old roosters? As the feathers were flying the thickest, a young rooster (Third Party) came running up and, getting into the fray, cleaned up both the old fossils. We are told that of two evils, choose the lesser. Why choose either?”

Thanks, Jim, for that glimpse into the past.

Copyright 2009 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises.

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Posted by on March 7, 2009 in Uncategorized